stuck.

February 2, 2010 at 12:24 pm (writing) ()

I am stuck. Seriously, mood-crushingly, tar-pit stuck. In the weeks surrounding Christmas and the New Year I wrote between 15,000-20,000 words on my current project, it flowed beautifully. Good stuff, natural dialogue, lovely. Then. . . nothing. For weeks. Literally. I’ve gone through all my usual tricks– research, new music, working on other stuff, editing the section from the beginning, but I think I’ve written maybe 1000 words since The Stop. I’ve since written three short stories (approx. 18,000 words), so nothing shabby there, but it’s not the same for me. I want so much for this project to come together, I’m in the home stretch (I think I’ll be “done” in about 20,000 words, and on to the editing stage), I just need to rally and push through but everything I write reads like zzzzzzzzzzzzzz and meh.

I’m not sure what’s wrong. I know what I want to do with this and why and (kind of) how, but I pull up my Scrivener file and just end up staring at it. It’s very disheartening, and it’s been making me really, really, really unhappy. It’s gotten so bad I’m worried everything about this project will be a wash, I’ll have to start over, and I know sometimes it goes like that, but I really thought I had something here. I mean, Christ, I do have something– I have a something that is currently 131,000 words (Jesus Christ, the editing down is going to be painful), so for it to dissipate at this point seems bizarre and stupid.

Hopefully something will happen and I’ll receive some sort of inspiration in the form of a chisel that can crack the concrete surrounding my creativity. Hopefully.

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noms to write home about

January 20, 2010 at 3:05 pm (cooking, vegan living) (, , , )

I haven’t posted about food-related stuff for a while, so let’s get down to it. First, I want to give a shout-out (the “big ups corner” spot for the week) to Divvies, a company I just discovered because they had a big basket of their cookies at Whole Foods. They are completely awesome! I tried the choco-chip cookies, but I’mma try others next time I go back, to be sure. I really like their slogan: “made to share!” Friendly, and much appreciated I’m sure by anyone in an office or at a party who’s vegan or has egg, dairy, or peanut allergies. They make cookies, candy (chocolates, jawbreakers, and gummy stars, to name a few), and cupcakes. Check ’em out!

As for me, I haven’t been cooking as much variety as of late– mostly I just do rice and tofu and veggies for dinner these days– but I did make a kick-ass pizza the other night, with the cashew goat cheese I made during VeganMoFo, thinly sliced pears, black pepper, and some seitan browned with some shallots, and that was fucking delicious. That said, I actually bothered to document a food experiment last night (!) that eclipsed pretty much anything I’ve made of late. I got the base recipe here, after doing an internet search for seitan satay, but I modified it and used a different methodology, which I’ve outlined below:

Seitan Satay

1 large shallot or two small, peeled and cut into chunks

4 garlic cloves, ends cut off, maybe halved if you care to

2 tsp canola oil

Equivalent of 4 tsp ginger, peeled and cut into chunks

4 Tbs tamari

The juice of two limes

2 Tbs toasted sesame oil

4 Tbs agave nectar

2 Tbs siracha or other asian chili sauce (I use the kind with the rooster on it)

24 oz seitan, cut or torn into chunks (I used 2 boxes of the WestSoy kind from the supermarket)

Preheat oven to 45o degrees F. Take all ingredients except for seitan and throw into a blender, blend until smoothish. Put your seitan in a 9×13 baking dish (lasagna-style) in a single layer, then pour the slurm over everything. It will look like this:

At this point, let the seitan marinate for about 30-45 minutes as you make your rice (I used jasmine), and then bake it for about 15 minutes in the marinade– what I mean is just throw the whole thing in the oven and let it go. While it’s baking, make your vegetable. I made some green beans sauteed with minced garlic (about a teaspoon), 3 cloves of pressed garlic, toasted sesame oil, and salt and pepper:

Pull out the seitan, it should be bubbly and the exposed parts of the seitan should be browned and luscious. I plated everything together, rice, seitan on top, green beans off to the side, and for extra deliciousness I put some cilantro leaves on top, and I also added two condiments: a lime wedge for squeezing, and some peanut sauce out of a jar for adding a touch of peanutty sweetness. OMG.

I really can’t say enough about how utterly delicious this was– I struck gold with the original recipe (the marinade is delicious on its own) and the saucy-method pleased my curry-loving self. So today, wanting a redux of those flavors, I used my brand new To-Go Ware lunchbox and packed myself a feast. Layer one, rice and seitan:

Layer two, green beans. I used the dressing cup to hold my cilantro:

Ready go go:

And speaking of, it’s lunchtime! Posting all this has made me hungry.

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back to it

January 14, 2010 at 12:01 am (reading, this and that, writing) ()

Huzzah! The contest is now over, the entries published, and I can now get back to my regularly scheduled nothing-much around here.

Things have been good around my neck of the woods, but as usual, once I felt like “yeah! I’m truckin with the novel!” I got seriously, unhappily stuck. Thems the breaks. I really want to get back on track, it sucks. Oh well. Something will trigger me sooner or later!

I did however bang out a short story earlier this week. I’m not sure if I like it. It is kind of gross and kind of weird and kind of about morally bankrupt people and. . . well, that’s not usually my thing. I can’t decide if I’m going to submit it to the venue I wrote it specifically for. We’ll see.

I’m thinking about applying to go to Clarion.

I’ve been making kimchi at home. Somewhere along the line I stopped doing homemaker-ish things and I kind of miss it. I’m trying to do more stuff like that, and kimchi is fun and delicious. Mine is too salty, I need to do something about that in the future. The past two days I’ve also been making awesome smellywater to humidify my home, as my husband’s yoga guru (I’m really not sure what the heck she is, he goes to her for yoga and massage and also apparently for little bottles of nose-oil and recipes for a turmeric-based sinus tea that has now stained my pots, my cutting board, and my mugs) suggested some of his sinus troubles might be related to a dry home. The smellywater (it’s not really potpourri since it’s not dry, I guess?) is just water in my crockpot, into which I throw lemon peels, cloves, rose petals, rosemary, and some essential oils, mostly rosemary and eucalyptus. So my house now smells like that, when it doesn’t smell like catfood (though yesterday Jesse came over when the cat-food smell was strong and asked me what the “tasty smell” was. This is not slander, this happened).

Other than that, meh. Stuck on the novel! It’s making me mad.

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traveling, news, contest stuff, good books, etc.

December 29, 2009 at 11:01 am (this and that) (, , , , , )

I am currently in the throes of the annual trans-Florida cross-state family-visit whirlwind holiday extravaganza, and thus kind of didn’t do a Bloggiversary post as I had intended. Then again I didn’t do anything for my 100th post either, so whatever. Regardless! The contest is long closed, and the 8 official entries and one completely, utterly disqualified entry (from Jesse, who else?) are archived for reading when I get back to my home base in Boulder on the 31st. I should be announcing soon after that, such is the beauty of flash fiction.

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down to the wire, and newspile

December 17, 2009 at 4:46 pm (editing, this and that, writing) (, )

Counting today, there are only ten days left for the entire internet to submit to the Paper Fruit Bloggiversary Contest! So far I’ve got five very fine submissions and counting, so the competition is getting stiff. Remember to email your submission to paperfruitcontest at gmail dot com before December 26th! I am going to visit my family in Florida on the 27th so while flying cross-country and then driving cross-state I will be reading the submissions and will announce winners around the New Year after I return.

In other news, here is a list of search-terms WordPress is telling me that people have used to find my blog:

animals looking cute

“gpa for my master’s

penis toes (this is most certainly my personal favorite)

atop write

finnegans wake tallahassee

vinegar spray bottle

russian colonel hat

Also of note: I received my very first personal rejection letter today! While being rejected nearly always sucks, it was cool that the editor of the magazine chose to comment on my story. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the criticism– take it as something I should “fix,” or just chalk it up to personal preference– but still!

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koi kaze: against the grain (to say the least)

December 7, 2009 at 3:41 pm (this and that) (, , )

Here is a list of three true facts about relationships in modern Japan that I have learned from watching years of anime:

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newsfeed

November 25, 2009 at 2:49 pm (editing, this and that, writing) (, , , )

Life have been so busy in Tanzer Town I feel like Richard Scarry should write a book about me. While I haven’t been slaying any terrible dragons, I just finished up my very first proofreading gig for Prime Books, which was a tremendous amount of fun. The delight I receive from marking up a manuscript with a red pen is beyond acceptable, but when I mentioned this to Sean, my editor, he responded that, quote, “anyone who is in publishing is certifiably insane.” So OK then.

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in which i briefly speak of big news

November 18, 2009 at 4:29 pm (this and that) (, )

So it’s official: I am the Assistant Editor of Fantasy Magazine. Seriously. I am beyond stoked about the opportunity to work with everyone there. This is an honor and a privilege.

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crazy updates like woah: world fantasy and san francisco

November 6, 2009 at 4:20 pm (this and that, vegan living, writing) (, )

I’m back from World Fantasy, looking and feeling haggard, exhausted, and ready to eat meals not at restaurants for a while, but overwhelmingly happy about the experience as a whole. I met many, many lovely people, made a few new friends, interviewed Garth Nix (who is every bit the gentleman I’d been led to believe he is), hung out, got maybe a little tipsy my last night there, and came home with a bag full of books from the con and from Borderlands in San Francisco, thanks to the awesome efforts of Jeremy Lassen who was so patient with me and knowledgeable and recommended more things than I could fit into my suitcase. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

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cowardice versus diplomacy

May 13, 2009 at 5:10 pm (thinking, this and that) (, )

Today I received an incredibly bigoted email from a family member. It contained a re-hash of the whole Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed controversy that happened in 2005, and an incredibly racist, inappropriate email (warning: do not read if you are both easily offended and even mildly not-racist toward Muslims) that a professor named Indrek Wichman composed in response to a Muslim student protest at his university. The group had apparently committed sinister terrorist acts such as serving cocoa at a meetup and claiming that the cartoons constituted hate speech. Professor Wichman’s electronic letter contains many classy sentiments toward Muslims that you can read in the article, but the worst part is that this man is being used now as part of a whole crusade (yes, I am using that word intentionally) against so-called “political correctness,” an irritating bit of neo-con terminology that should have, along with endearing terms like “feminazi,” fallen out of common usage with the close of the 90s.

This should stir up an overwhelming “wtf?!” in the minds of all rational people. Apparently, according to the email sent to me this morning we are “in a war” and “this political correctness crap is killing us.” Excuse me? Apparently in the minds of my family-members and I assume whatever batshit-crazy conservative penned the original email “not being an asshole” and “having the decency and intelligence to not paint an entire group as being identical to their most vicious, vocal minority” is akin to “political correctness.” Whatever “political correctness” is. So OK.

I wrote a response regarding the wisdom of using this delightful piece of bile as a rallying point for anti-Muslim sentiment and how the ethics behind championing this man as some sort of hero are spurious at best. It’s long. I think it’s good. It’s sitting in my drafts box on my Hotmail account.

Why? Because I am a coward. 

I am afraid of controversy. It’s the same part of my personality that makes me shy away from confrontations about veganism, politics, animal rights, etc. I hate “stirring the pot” as my mother would say, especially with close friends and family members. I can only recall one instance where I did so, and I kind of regret it even though it ended up being pretty OK.

Usually I justify my cowardice by saying “I’m being diplomatic” or repeating to myself that “It’s not worth it, you won’t change anyone’s mind.” But I can’t help but question that. I am a person who (at least this summer) goes into a classroom every damn day and tells people stuff they don’t like to hear. To wit: I used the words “penetrator” and “penetrated” several times in class much to my students’ evident dismay. So why am I afraid to stand up to my family (and, if I was truly daring, the entire email forward list)?

I don’t usually think of myself as someone who is afraid to speak her mind. But I guess I am. Maybe it’s the family thing– I have a vexed relationship with my family in that we differ wildly in our perception of the world, and typically we just agree to disagree. This leads more often than not to great silences on both our parts, but it works. Years ago I asked to be taken off the list for conservative email forwards and they’ve been pretty respectful of that. But this, today, was kind of a violation of that agreement– and I’m not sure what to do. Fire a warning shot over their bow by requesting again to not be sent crappy emails? Ignore it? Declare open warfare by sending my response?

I think my family would find it inappropriate of me if I were to respond to the entire listserve with my thoughts. I don’t think they would read my response if I sent it just to them. Or, if they did, it would just piss them off. 

Argh. This is dumb. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m leaning toward just reiterating that I do not wish to receive such emails from them in the future. It seems easiest. But I’m not sure if it’s the most honest way of handling the situation. 

For anyone curious about reading my response to the championing of Professor Bigot as a spokesperson for “values” in the “war against political correctness it’s behind the cut:

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