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Detours Teacup Posts Writing Life

Five Random Thoughts

  1. My ideas come in herds. Some days, some weeks, some months, the creative bubbles are few and far between. Then some weeks I can barely keep ahead of them. There’s no rhyme or reason to the clusters. It isn’t related to how much writing I’m doing or the regularity of it, and it doesn’t track with the weather or the seasons. (YES I AM THE DATA DORK WHO WILL TRACK SUCH THINGS.) July was a creative flood month, with ideas like “Pachinko Life” which would be a story about how we bounce along from event to person to event from birth until death (complete with sound effects), Winter Cold Kindness, which is only a title and a non-wordable concept in my head so far, and a Felicity & Justin short that would frame some of his backstory. That one really, really wants to be written but I have two other worlds requiring my time first. Alas.
  2. A thing that’s been bugging me because I keep seeing articles about “duty” applied to people’s jobs. As in, “you have a duty to show up.” NOPE. No employer deserves the level of life investment implied by the word Duty unless oaths of fealty were sworn (see: military & religion) Employment is contractual: by definition it means employees commit to doing a job as defined in return for compensation. PERIOD.
    Belief that any job or a career is anything more is the result of cultural brainwashing and insidious corporate propaganda. I say this despite also believing passionately in the goal of doing work that means more to the world than bringing home a paycheck. Conflating the importance of the work with the intrinsic worth of the institution administering that work is a dangerous error.
  3. I’ve been recording a lot of life stuff on this blog that I haven’t published and likely won’t ever publish. They may be too personal or private or plain too surreal to inflict on others. I can’t judge right now, the world is too surreal, and until I can, they stay in draft mode. I needed to write them. (this blog is my version of the neat little notebook many writers have. I don’t do handwriting. At. All. DON’T JUDGE ME & I WON’T JUDGE you) But I don’t need to share them. I think everyone should have an outlet like that. Point 2 up there almost ended up being one of those unposted thoughts, but I decided, meh, why not.
  4. This may end up being My Year of Series Re-Reads. So far I’ve revisited the Liaden Universe, caught up with the Chronicles of the Kencyrath, and re-read all the Valdemar novels, Dresden Files, and Guild Hunter books. And I am now embarking on an October Daye marathon that should keep me booked for a month.
    If none of these series sound familiar, I recommend all of them, some with caveats, some without.
  5. Expect more listish posts like this one when I have no major ideas to expound on, or reviews to post, and I forget to post the little things one at a time over teh course of a given week.

Until later!

Look, a pretty picture of a book & other buyable things!
Categories
Authoring Teacup Posts Whimsy Writing Life

Latest in New House Adventures

I promised a more cheerful post. This is as close as it gets.

The header photo comes from my yard, where spring is springing on.  Happy little crocus flower, reminding me the world keeps turning and the best thing to do is keep on keeping on. (Which for a crocus means fighting frost and dodging bunny teeth. In my case it means practicing kindness, taking ALL the precautions, & looking for new ways to help others.)

Working on fiction is hard when the real timeline is doing the whole “truth stranger than fiction” thing. Not much to share on that front.

But!  There was progress on the basement renovation before things slowed to a cautious COVID-19 related crawl. Let’s peek in on that, shall we?

First, the whatnot room. I don’t have “before” pics of this zone from the real estate listing or from move-in. It’s hard to take a good pic of an unlighted room filled with paint-splashed chunky workbenches, low-hanging pipery, gnarly wiring, and beadboard walls enclosing some sealed plumbing leftover from a 1930’s vintage throne-style toilet.

Yeah. So the first image I had of this area was taken after extensive demo & cleanup, and it was none too appealing even then.

And now

Look, new floors! And lighting!

The window has a deep frame just begging me to put plants there, and there are LIGHTS, and VENTILATION, and in the background on the right? That’s going to be a half bath soon. We’ll go from 1 toilet to 3 when it’s complete, and let me tell you, I am giddy about that.

See, the 1st floor bathroom has also been out of commission during the construction–to get the drains & pipes upgraded. Well worth it, and I don’t regret the decision, but…um…let’s just say that now that Spouseman & I are both home all day long every day, I am really looking forward to having multiple toilets again.

Anyway. Onward to the mechanicals area.

This was another hard zone to get “before” pics of, due to lack of lighting and general ick factor. Now it’s all brightly lit and open, with a window that works, and an upgraded circuit breaker box behind that swank wood panel.  Washer & dryer are scheduled to arrive Tuesday, so I’m hoping things stay below the Dire Catastrophe level & delivery goes as planned.

(Small digression to point out this hope is grounded in wanting PEOPLE TO NOT BE DYING, not about me not being inconvenienced by a deadly fucking pandemic. Does that sound grumpy? Well, I might be a little bit raw from CONSTANTLY seeing my name associated with a zillion tweets & memes about being insensitive, selfish, pushy, whiny, entitled, tone-deaf, arrogant, clueless, nasty, and generally awful. Maybe. But I’ll rant about that in another post. THIS MY HAPPY POST.)

ANYway. Back from digression to take a look at the main hall. The part of the basement people see first, coming downstairs. It kinda sets the whole tone.

Yeah. That sets a tone.

Now. Lights! Doors! Window frames!

The floors here are under protective covers right now while the trim & moldings go in, but it’s fresh & bright and so easy to see how comfy & cozy it will be when it’s done.

And it SMELLS good. (happy, happy sigh.)

Okay. that’s more than enough for one update. As usual, I’m now questioning whether I should even post it, (see above re:self-doubts on the topics of selfishness & tone-deaf bragging etc)  But I AM gonna post it, and here’s why: when I get scared & overwhelmed, being reminded of good things happening anywhere lifts my spirits.

Things are hard right now for so many people, in so many ways, and this a big happy in my life. So if even one other person feels the way I do about collecting other-happies, that makes sharing (inflicting?) this on the world worthwhile. Right?

I’ll just have to hope so.

Until later, friends.

Categories
Authoring Teacup Posts Whimsy Writing Life

CapriCon 40 coming right up!

My first convention of 2020 is only 20 hours away!
CapriCon is happening February 13-16, 2020, Westin Hotel, Wheeling, IL

Several wonderful author friends are sharing a dealer’s room table with me. We have quite a variety of delightful books and book-related shiny things. Wait, let me try that again with more exclamatory excitement:
Seven authors! So many sub-genres! Meet us! Browse the pretties! Maybe buy a thing or two! (BUT NO PRESSURE!) 

I’ll be in several programs too, conveniently listed below. Plus Friday night at 5:30 I’ll be doing a a Book Speed-Dating event in room River C. Join the panelists for entertaining & thought-provoking discussions!

O Captain, My Captain
Thursday 6:30 PM
Room: Ravinia B
Join us as we recognize women in roles of leadership in SF/F. Captain Janeway, Commander Ivanova (who is ALWAYS right), Captain Marvel, Admiral Honor Harrington, and Captain “Starbuck” Thrace demonstrate that it’s not strictly a “boy’s club” anymore. Who are your favorite women in leadership roles in SF/F? Your inspirations?

Nonfiction for Fiction Writers
Friday 10:00 AM
Room: Botanic A
We often hear writers advised to read widely, both in and out of our genre. What are some kinds of nonfiction reading that can help broaden your fiction writing? Our panelists recommend memoirs, history, cookbooks, podcasts, subreddits, true crime, whatever else has caught their interest and driven them to write more deeply.

Just Deserts
Friday 11:30 AM
Room: Ravinia B
Tropics doesn’t just mean Caribbean islands or fabulous tropical rainforests. Deserts are part of the tropics too. Many recent fantasy stories have desert settings, many bearing more than a passing resemblance to North Africa. Camels, beautiful horses, long robes, independent tribes, and more than a little misogyny fill these stories. Can we do anything else with desert settings? What other societies could develop there?

The Future Climate of Chicago and the Midwest
Saturday 11:30 AM, Room: Willow B
What do global warming trends predict for Chicago and the Midwest? As our local climate becomes more tropical, what will the impacts be on people, plants, animals and our environment?

Pirates are Not Just in the Caribbean
Saturday 2:30 PM
Room: Botanic A
Captain Dan Seavey stole lumber, alcohol and even whole ships right in Lake Michigan. Piracy was a global phenomenon that persists to this day. Our panelists discuss the past and future of global piracy. Why do we romanticize historical pirates, who were often really vicious bad guys? What does modern day piracy say about the socioeconomic impacts of the world we live in? Is climate change playing a role?

So Bad it’s Good
Saturday 8:30 PM
Room: Willow B
Our panelists discuss their favorite “so bad it’s good” films. And what about supposedly “good” movies that are actually bad?

When not at these events, I’ll be most easily found in the Dealer Room.  This is a super-friendly, super-fun, convention. I’m excited about meeting new friends and catching up with old ones.

See y’all on the other side of the con.

Image by adamtepl from Pixabay

 

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3. Other Things Teacup Posts Whimsy Writing Life

Recording my latest baking adventure

It’s fall, so I’m baking All the Things even when I maybe could be doing other, more conventionally creative activities. This recipe started years ago as a basic sweet roll recipe, but I keep adjusting it and tinkering, and it keeps getting better.

So I’m sharing.

Ingredient List (all measurements approximate)

  • Yeast starter:
    3+ tsp active dry yeast (when I’m working with old yeast, I get v generous & use 4+)
  • aprox ½ c. 110 degree water
  • a heaping spoonful of flour

Wet component:

  • ⅓ c. butter
  • ½- to ⅔ c. milk
  • ¼- to ⅓ c. honey

Dry:

  • 3 1/2+ c. flour
  • ½ tsp salt

Filling

  • 1 c. dried cranberries soaked in hot water until plump
  • 1 c diced up fresh apples

(or whatever fruit or other filling you want in the bread. I do a cinnamon goop version without fruit, diced apples w/cinnamon & ginger, and another favorite is butter-top rolls w/diced-up dried apricots inside.)

Steps:

1. Stir together yeast, the spoonful of flour & warm water in a big bowl (this is the one you’ll use for rising the bread) until yeast & flour lumps are dissolved. Set aside. It should start bubbling up and get frothy/spongy-looking

(I know, I know, yeast doesn’t need proofing these days, but doing this gives the yeast a growth boost before putting it in a too-sweet environment. Also, there have been times it didn’t start bubbling because the yeast had..expired. ANYway.)

2. Put butter, milk & honey in a container you can microwave, zap until butter melts. Stir it all up & set aside to cool.

3.     Prep your fruits/filling & set aside to kill time.

4.     Stir together the 3 1/2 c. flour & salt in a bowl

5.     Add the flour/salt mixture & the cooling milk/honey/butter to the bowl of bubbly yeast. Stir just until well mixed. Cover with plastic wrap or wax paper or whatever.

6.     Let. It. Sit.  An hour, a couple of hours, however long the dough needs to double up.

* It rises best in warm rooms, so in winter, I use this as an excuse to bump up the thermostat. Or I start it while I’m roasting something in the oven. 

** It’s often a super-sticky dough at this point, wet and annoying. Bear with it, the results are worth the hassle. Wet your hands when handling it. I know, that’s counter-intuitive, but it works.

7.     Knead it until it gets stretchy and stops quite being so ANNOYINGLY STICKY (about 10 min in my stand mixer gets it to about the right state)

8.     Form into a ball & let it sit AGAIN until it doubles in size. Because it gets more flavo the longer you let it rise. …Or skip straight to step if you have better things to do.

9.     Punch it down, squish out all the bubbles and shape into a rectangle about 1/2–1”  thick. About twice as long as it is wide.

10.  Spoon all the fruit on top and spread to cover evenly.

11.  Roll up from the short end, fold the ends under & pinch the dough to seal — or knead and fold again several times to evenly distribute fruit through the dough. However you want to have you  filling. There’s no one right way.

12.  Set the resulting round loaf into an oiled 8×8 baker…

*or shape in some other way, I sometimes make 4 small loaves out of a batch, or a pan pf pull-apart rolls or a small loaf and freeze half…whatever suits my mood. Have fun with it!

13.  Turn on oven to 375 degrees.

14. Let your shaped dough sit about a half-hour to settle & proof into shape

15.  Bake for 45-55 minutes–or less or more depending on what kind of loaf shape you went with.

This is how the latest batch came out. It gets stale fast but then makes EVEN BETTER toast than when it’s fresh.

 

Until later, all!

Categories
Authoring Teacup Posts Whimsy Writing Life

October Word 5

Today’s timed act of typing

October 5. Malady

There’s a problem with malady, and it’s that I have to process the word before I can write about the meaning of it, Words dance, now and then. I’m not diagnosed dyslexic, but…words don’t always behave well. Malady NEVER looks right. There’s something wrong about it. There’s some amusement value there, no? Malady suffers from a malady? Anyway, I’ve misspelled it three times.  But I don’t misspell “misspell.” Go figure. Nothing wrong with my spelling. And now I’ve nearly run out of time and I didn’t even get to complain about malady being a mealymouthed, fainthearted kind of a word for describing being sick…and now Im’ wondering about the origin of the word mealymouthed and I’ve run out of time.