Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ahh! Bag Monsters!

This has a little of everything I love: random public art, trash recycled as awesomeness, monsters.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Real Vodka Sauce

The infused vodkas are coming along wonderfully! You can probably tell the green one has bell peppers in it. It's going to be a spicy, peppery, bloody mary vodka. It wasn't spicy enough yesterday, so I added a few slivers of cherry bomb peppers. Here's hoping it's still drinkable by the time I get home tonight!

The bell pepper flavor was strong enough, however, so I removed all the bell peppers from the mix. I couldn't bring myself to throw them out, so I decided to turn them into a sauce. I cooked them for 20 minutes, and the taste of the vodka was still EXTREMELY evident. This might be why! So I continued to cook the heck out of them for another 30 minutes. After that, they tasted delectable. I added a can of fire-roasted tomatoes, some chicken broth, red wine, italian spices, and two bay leaves. I served the whole mixture over rigatoni and mm mmm good.

Tonight, I'm going to see what's going on with the vodka-soaked butternut squash...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Recipe: Ricotta Custard Dessert

I had half a tub of ricotta cheese leftover after making kluegel for Hanukkah, and wanted to make some dessert to follow up our tilapia dinner on Friday night. I threw this together with ingredients I happened to have around, and it was deeeliiiciioouuuus--rich, aromatic, subtle, warm.

Makes 2 romantic servings, best enjoyed fireside.

8oz ricotta cheese
2 eggs, separated
4 T sugar, separated into 2 T (add more to taste)
1 pinch saffron
1-2 pinches rosemary
whipped cream (optional)
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In one bowl, mix together ricotta cheese, egg yolks, 2 T sugar, saffron, and rosemary
  • In another bowl, use electric mixer or wisk to whip egg whites and remaining 2 T sugar
  • Gently fold egg white mixture into ricotta mixture
  • Pour into a greased loaf pan
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes; custard is done when a knife inserted into center comes out clean
  • Serve with a dollop of whipped cream hot out of of the oven, or refrigerate to serve cold

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Do the Christmas Wrap

I’m wrappin presents in the present, my sense of what you wanted so prescient. Just call me Santa Baby. They be lazy with the gift bags. I be puttin creases in my paper, my wrappin dapper as Don Draper—but with bows, not booze (that’s for Christmas Eve). If you believe in Santa, don’t hit snooze in the morning. Stop snoring, and come open what I gotchu. I’ma watchu light up like a Christmas tree with glee. You and me are family. Merry Christmas. Do the Christmas Wrap.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Presents in Production

Infusing vodkas. More details after Christmas, so I don't spoil anyone's surprise...

Are You Finished Your Holiday Shopping?

I am.

What about you? Still looking for something that hard-to-shop-for black sheep in your family? Four of you might luck out with the last of the items in my shop.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Cold Sting of Rejection

In college, Madison Smartt Bell talked to us about growing rhinoceros skin. It's the tough hide you need to deal with rejection after rejection. Rejection can seriously throw your mind into some strange mental loops. I've been through it most potently with short stories, which I've submitted to both large and teeny venues. When you get rejected over and over again, even an acceptance is tinged with negativity. You go all Groucho Marx and think, "It's obvious I suck. If this magazine accepted me, they must suck, too. I can only get published in a sucky magazine." It's a vicious cycle (circle?) of negativity that you can only overcome through blatant mental combat against yourself.

With firm consistency, your cold, hard, calculating sensible brain must remind your mercurial, sensitive, easily bruised ego the following:

1. Rejection does not (necessarily) mean your stuff is bad. Agents, as one example, can get up to and over 10,000 queries a year. You might have gotten to a cranky, sleepy agent before they had their coffee. You might have named your romantic lead Bob, and a guy named Bob just dumped your reader. Maybe the press only buys one fantasy per year, and they just inked that deal yesterday.Wrong time, wrong place type thing. It's not you, it's them.

2. Rejection is good because it means you have something to submit. That is an enormous accomplishment in itself. Print those rejections out and stick them to your wall like badges of honor. That's what I do. That's what the King used to do, too.

3. Rejection doesn't cost as much as it used to. Not too many years ago, you'd have to print out your whole darn 350-page MS and snail mail it to an agency or press, hearing the little "cha-ching cha-ching" every time you went to the post office. Email is on top now, and while it allows for faster rejections, it also allows for faster "let me see some more"s--and it saves the starving novelist time and money.

4. There are other fish in the publishing sea. You don't have to give up until you've approached all of them. If you get good feedback, make some revisions and feel free to approach them all again in 6 months. And if you're still not getting the bites, remember...

5. ... Self-publishing has lost a lot of its stigma. and CreateSpace are pretty writer-friendly ventures, especially if you have some friends who are handy with InDesign or copy-editing. You can also VERY cheaply make your own e-book and sell it on Amazon for a whopping 70% royalty. That's a pretty amazing fall-back plan that is new for this generation of writers.

Myself, I've put out some early feelers: 6 queries to agents so far. I'm still tinkering with the end, after which I'll buy my membership to Writers Market and execute my full-out plan. I've gotten 2 rejections so far. They weren't easy. Form rejections, they made me second guess EVERYTHING about my book.

But it's time for third guesses and second chances.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Well, Hello There

Boy, when I said "off for a while" I didn't exactly mean 8 months. But I'll tell you, it has been a MEAN 8 months. I've been extremely busy at my Clark Kent job, i.e. Proposal Manager Extraordinaire. So busy, in fact, that I become accredited by the Association of Proposal Management Professionals and had my first speaking engagement as such a professional, delivering tips on how to make your proposal more compelling through using Win Themes.

I'll bet you had no idea that I'm, like, an actual corporate professional with credentials and stuff. My proposals do not have two-heads.

So what else? I finally got off my butt and finished my novel, using NaNoWriMo as an excuse. I was about 25k away from finishing the draft, and wrote those words during the first 2 weeks of NaNoWriMo. Then VOILA! I had a complete draft. Holy $#!+!. It's the first and only full-length novel I've ever completed, ever written the words "the end" for. Even though I can really now call myself a writer, I don't have words to describe the feeling of that accomplishment. I'll save that for another post.

I am currently 75% completed with revisions and polishing. I have a completed synopsis and a query letter, which has been submitted as chum for the Query Shark. I will shortly be commencing the full-blow, ego-crushing foray into the Agent Submission Process, and guess where I'll keep you up to date?

Right here, where I write here.