Thursday, December 16, 2010

Welcome to My World

So I hate getting my picture taken, but today I'm taking one for the team. Ta da!

I know a few of y'all were interested in seeing my new hair. Well, my co-worker was testing out our new Canon Rebel the other morning, and got me in the shot. So here's my hair, my ginormous monitor with the world's largest desktop scanner beside it, and the rest of my corner of the world. It's dusty, but well lit, and, most importantly for my canvas-backed friends, temperature and humidity controlled. It was really cold that day, hence, the scarf and velvet jacket, but today it's supposed to hit the mid seventies, so that's awesome.

And I've got my Christmas shopping and decorating all done, and Saturday I'm going to make a huge lasagne (seriously huge, like in a turkey roaster. What? I freeze at least half of it, I swear.), and possibly some eggnog tiramisu, like I saw Morimoto make on Iron Chef,  Battle Eggnog, the other night. He topped it with powdered green tea, or macha, but I'm not sure if I get that without going to the Asian market on the West Bank. The man also had a smoker built for him out of ice. He's a genius.

I will not be making smokers out of ice, because lasagne is the only impressive-sounding dish I can actually make well. Even this tiramisu is going to be a stretch, but I'm excited about it because the one thing I've never really liked about classic tiramisu is the espresso. I'm not a fan of coffee, but I do love eggnog. And Creme de Cocoa. And especially eggnog.

If it works out well, I'm going to make another one to go with Christmas dinner. Maybe it'll be my new tradition, which I'm all about this year. 

Do you have any Christmas traditions you can't wait to do every year? Are they old, or new? Since I don't have a lot of family nearby, I love hearing what others are doing.

So Happy Holidays from my corner of the world!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Across the 'Verse: Guest Post by Capt. Malcolm Reynolds

Well, look who it is. Yup, it's me, Mal, your favorite firefly captain. Thought I'd pop by your neck of the woods to sit a piece and tell you all about a little contest that's a brewing on Beth Revis's blog.

What? You say you don't care a bit for contests, seeing as you never win 'em? Well I don't give a good gorram what you think, since your chances of winning some plunder from this here giveaway are better than the odds of getting a fair shake from the Alliance. Heard tell there's somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 prize packs to be won. How you like them odds? You could even win a book signed by the author's own hand and a hold-ful of swag to keep you shiny. Were I into reading books and such, I might be moved to enter my own self.

Now, I ain't sayin' I read any of this book, but I heard the first chapter is mighty tearful-making for some. Not me, of course, but some. Powerful stuff.

So get on over to Missus Revis's blog for the best contest in the 'verse. You can thank me later.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hair Today...

Sorry for the horrible title, but as anyone who knows me can attest, I love a bad pun.

So... On Friday I decided to cut and donate my hair, which I did about two and a half years ago, and about five years before that. It wasn't such a drastic decision for me to go right below chin length since my hair grows like scary/crazy fast. But I was craving a change, something different. So I did it. I bit the big one and went for it.

That's right, folks. I got bangs.

(Cue horrified screaming)

Now, guys, (as in, ladies and any actual men-folk who may have stumbled upon this blog, to whom I apologize in advance for the following hair-related tirade) maybe some of y'all have already experienced the horror of a bad haircut, but there is nothing like the fear that comes over you, like a cold sweat, when you say to that stylist, "I want bangs."

Actually, I was too chicken to even say it. I just pulled out a picture I'd printed out of a bob Abby Lee Kershaw had this summer like a coward, and, hand shaking, gave it to the stylist, hoping all the while she was going to tell me that bangs are all wrong for my face and that I should try something else. But unless you've been going to the same stylist since the eighties, that never happens.

They're not going to try to talk you out of something you want (Also, I apologize in advance for stereotyping all hair stylists, but I need to skew the facts to make this writing analogy better. This is how the magic works, people.). They're in the business of giving the customer what they want. But, God bless 'em, they do their best to make that mistake work for you.

I looked great when I got out of the salon. Of course, I don't blow dry my hair EVER (unless it's really cold and I don't want to leave the house with wet hair), and I'm pretty low-maintenance. You can guess what's coming. Yeah, I can't get my hair to look anywhere near as good as the stylist did, even if I did pick up a few tricks from her. But why should I be surprised? I've never been good at making my hair look presentable, again: me = low-maintenance.

So by that logic... Why do I keep getting down on myself when my writing falls flat as my hair, and do things like tell myself it isn't as good as Suzanne Collins's work, or Scott Westerfeld's? I'm not Suzanne Collins or Scott Westerfeld, so why should I expect my work to be like theirs?

Comparing yourself or your writing to someone else doesn't get you anything but flat hair—er writing. Now, if you can pick up a few tips from the masters to make your own writing better, that's great, but sighing in front of your manuscript isn't going to make it any better than sighing in front of a mirror makes your hair.

I'll be as honest as a drunk ten-year old boy: I've been sighing over the manuscripts I've been working on. Which isn't fair to me or the manuscripts since neither of them is finished, and no one human has seen or offered feedback on most of either stories.

But ya know what? I opened up Evangeline after I'd gotten a few rejections from editors (the nicest rejections you've ever heard, of course), and I'm still in love with it. I can see things that I'd change, sure—style things, words I'd improve, voice things I'd make more Evie since spending so much time writing Mara from Strings, Cass from my (currently-titled) wip Aether, and my home-girls Renata, Georgia, Mel and Kris from Parallelbut it looks pretty good to me.

So I keep holding tight to that fact, that I wrote a novel I'm really happy with. A novel that caught the eye of a rock star agent. And it makes the sighing go away.

Until I look in the mirror. ;)

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Favorite Things: Or, Oprah's Doing it, So Why Can't I?

I have returned from a long month of candy and turkey, and stuffing, and pie. And the cranberry sauce, oh, gods, the cranberry sauce.

Cranberry sauce is one of my favorite things. (Suck on that, Oprah.) I make up excuses to use it throughout the rest of the non-Thanksgiving season. Anytime turkey is near, cranberry sauce is not far behind. And I don't care if it's made from scratch, or if it's the kind that looks like cranberry jello straight from the can no matter how you try to slice it up to hide the lines. (Though Ocean Spray's Whole Berry is the best out of a can, just so you know. I wouldn't want to die tomorrow without smearing that wisdom on ya.)

For years I was ashamed of this fact: I cannot enjoy Thanksgiving dinner without cranberry sauce, and what is more, it's just not Thanksgiving dinner until I've mixed everything up on my plate and topped it with gravy and those ruby-pink chunks of cranberry glop. I was teased mercilessly about that in my youth—oh, the cruelty of the kids' table!—but today I mix my Thanksgiving potatoes and turkey and stuffing with cranberry flavored pride. Pride never tasted so good. 

In olden days of yore, I was also embarrassed of the fact that some of my favorite books in my formative years involved a series of adventures of a certain half-elf, a curmudgeonly dwarf, and an irrepressible kender. Yes, that's right folks, I'm talking about the Dragonlance Saga. Don't lie, you read them, too. Who didn't cry when Sturm died? And Raistlin, oh, Raistlin, you were the coolest one of all, even if you were kind of (read: mostly) a jerk to everyone, especially the people who cared about you like your dear sweet oaf of a brother. I could go on, but I'll leave y'all to your own memories about raiding Xak Tsaroth for fun and profit.

Lastly, I love my blog. ("So why don't you marry it?") I missed it while I was gone for a month, rewriting an old novel because I was writing my wip into a corner. The writing went well, but I missed connecting with my fellow writers. And since I've been on sub, y'all are who I need the most. It's hard to keep my confidence up when every time a friend or loved one sees me, they ask if I sold my book yet. And it's growing tiresome to keep saying: not yet; it's a slow business; I've gotten some really nice rejections. Especially when I'm not sure any of them really understand the hard work, patience, and dedication it took me to get to this point. 

But so many of y'all do, which makes all the difference in the world when I'm feeling down about my own struggles. Recent posts by Beth Revis, Natalie Whipple, and Christine Fonseca have come at a time when I need them most, when I'm losing faith, feeling jealousy, and comparing my journey to the journey of someone else.

Thanks, y'all, for helping me feel focus on my own journey. And to everyone else, good luck wherever you are in yours.

Happy Holiday Season!