Food, Wonderful Food!

Saturday I got to spend the entire day playing in the kitchen! I made stock from bones stored in the freezer. I cut up and dehydrated sweet potatoes for the dog (who knows the words “sweet potato” and runs to the freezer when I say them). I started currywurst in the slow cooker for dinner and got to drool over the thought (and scent) of that all day. Finally, I wanted to make cookies, and ended up making macarons because it’s been too long since I’ve eaten really good, fresh ones.

IMG_2761Like many who enjoy puttering in the kitchen, I couldn’t stick to a known recipe. This was, after all, my second whole attempt at macarons (the first being many years and 3 kitchens ago), so “bucking authority” was obviously the way to go. I ended up making chocolate macarons with a chocolate-cinnamon filling. They were–are! I mean, they ARE–delicious! And they don’t look too bad, either, which is always a bonus.

So, why the bout in the kitchen? I was in a wonderful mood. And why is that? Because I’d just gotten the news that this July I’ll be at Taos Toolbox, a novel writer’s workshop in Taos, New Mexico, run and taught by Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress, along with a changing cast of special lecturers. Which means that my Jessamin Stow series will benefit from all this awesomeness! I can’t wait.

Will I see you there? Have you applied? Applications and acceptances are rolling, and ongoing until the class is full, and I know you have time yet. Until then, have a cookie!

Posted in food, Writing Workshops | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

A Good Review from SFRevu

Abyss & Apex editor Wendy S. Delmater notified Issue 56 authors of a wonderful review of all our stories (and an amazing review for one in particular–no, not mine, but I’m thrilled for the author, and the editor, anyway!) over at SFRevu.

For those who won’t pop over to read the whole thing, let me give the highlights here: my story, “The Giveaway Box,” is “Nicely done!” while “Brown Eyes” by Kelsey Snyder “is so beautiful, poignant and perfect that it will be on my Hugo Shortlist for Best Novelette.” Finally, “The 56th issue of Abyss and Apex is one of their best!” 

HURRAY! It’s such a nice feeling, knowing that readers really like what you’ve written. Congratulations to us all!

I hope you can make time to read this issue. If you’re as impressed as the reviewer, would you consider making a small donation to the site? Let’s fund the next great read, shall we?

Posted in goals, publication, Writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Starting 2016 with a Sale!

With the contract signed, I feel I can share the good news that I alluded to earlier: I made my first sale of 2016! The new speculative fiction publication Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores has accepted my story “With the Taste of Oblivion in Her Mouth” for publication.

They’ve indicated it may be published quite soon (February or March), and it might even be illustrated! (!!!! OMG, really? squee!!!!) Needless to say, I’ll post here once I know more, and certainly when it’s available. But right now, I’m just basking in the warm fuzzies of acceptance. :-)

Posted in publication, Writing | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Fantasy Scroll Magazine Year One Anthology

27822923The first year of Fantasy Scroll Magazine has been assembled into an impressive anthology by Editor-in-Chief Iulian Ionescu and Managing Editor Frederick Doot. Titled “Dragons, Droids & Doom,” the anthology totals 51 stories by 49 authors–that’s a lot of wonderful reading!

While I’ve had to step away from slushing at Fantasy Scroll, I fully believe in this worthwhile magazine, and hope that you’ll consider a purchase of either the print or ebook version for your favorite SFF fan (which might well be yourself!).

Posted in signal boosting, What I'm Reading | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Guest Post: How Dinosaurs Can Fix Your Flower Gardens

I often talk about gardens, plants, and gardening here on Everyday Magic, and this post is no different in that regard. The different part is that this is the first Guest Post I’ve hosted! And, while yes, it’s on gardening–it’s set 65 million years ago!

Author Daniel M. Bensen is celebrating the release of his new book,  Groom of the Tryannosaur Queen, by holding a blog tour with all the posts relating to “How Dinosaurs Can Fix Your           .” Of course, I thought this sounded like a ton of fun (um, really, no pun intended), and signed right up with “Flower Gardens.”

But before we get the answer to that intriguing question, let’s learn a bit more about Daniel’s book. Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

Former soldier Andrea Herrera isn’t happy with where her life’s taken her. Specifically, to Hell Creek, Montana, 65 million years before the present. As far as careers go, making sure the dinosaurs don’t eat her paleontologist clients comes in a pretty dismal second choice to serving her country. But when their time machine malfunctions, Andrea and her team are trapped in a timeline that shouldn’t exist with something a hell of a lot more dangerous than terrible lizards: other humans.

Groom of the Tyrannosaur Queen (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018UD6DH2/) is a time-travel romance with Dinosaurs available now as a kindle book.

Sounds great to me! OK, here’s Daniel M. Bensen to take it away!

How Dinosaurs Can Fix Your Flower Gardens

A museum worker I follow once commented on the kids who come up to him and asked to be directed to the “dinosaur plants.” Adorable. Can’t you just picture that dinosaur plant, spiky and gnarled, primeval mists dripping off its scaled fruit as it uncoils its fronds into the steaming jungle? Or, you might imagine cycads and dawn redwoods, monkey-puzzle trees or ferns or gingkoes. But flowers? Heck no! Dinosaurs were big and mean. They ate big mean plants, not tender daisies! Well, it depends on what time and place you’re talking about, but the home ofTyrannosauus and Triceratops, the setting for my novel (http://www.amazon.com/Groom-Tyrannosaur-Queen-time-travel-romance-ebook/dp/B018UD6DH2 ) was just crawling with flowers.

Tyrannosaurs and Triceratops (along with big duck-bills like Edmontosaurus, armored Ankylosaurus, and speedy predators like Dakotaraptor) lived and more importantly died and were fossilized, in what’s called the Hell Creek Formation, a layer of rock in the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming. It’s mostly chilly badlands now, but 65 million years ago, Hell Creek was the sweaty floodplain on the edge of a shallow sea. The place was similar to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, complete with palms trees and crocodiles. Plants had broad, sub-tropical-looking leaves, and included lots of bushy undergrowth. Although some modern plants like grasses or orchids did not grow in Hell Creek, a modern botanist transported into the environment (and I just happen to have included on in my novel) would notice familiar-looking beeches and sycamores, hung with American bittersweet, spreading their leaves over magnolias, tulip-trees, buckthorns, katsura (or caramel trees), and laurels. They might be able to find food hanging from grape-vines, or fig, cacao, mulberry, or pawpaw trees. Ginger grew at ground level. They might even find something like hops or marijuana.

Hell Creek was deep green and black with sprays of yellow, pink, and white reflected in the sluggish brown water below. Insects hummed and birds sang. The air smelled of salty mud and chlorophyll. If you were from Florida or Louisiana, you might mistake Hell Creek for home, until you saw your first tyrannosaur.

Post script:

After I wrote this essay, my three year old daughter told me I’d gotten it all wrong. The Diplodocus could stamp its foot in the ground to make a decorative pond. The Triceratopscould dig up rows with its horns for your annuals. Dinosaurs poop a lot, and that’s good fertilizer. That’s how dinosaurs can fix your garden.

References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell_Creek_Formation#Plants andhttp://www.dmns.org/media/370845/pseries3-12red.pdf

61XdM6VI4DL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_Where to find Daniel online:

Dan’s website

Amazon

Goodreads 

TV Tropes 

Tumblr

Facebook

Twitter

Deviant Art

 

Want to see what else dinosaurs can fix? Here’s another post in the series.

 

Posted in Guest Post, Links, publication, Reading | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Writer’s Desk, 1/20/16

The desk is on vacation today! I am writing from the dining room table, and earlier I sat outside in a sunbeam on the lanai, which meant the dog slept on his cushion in a sunbeam nearby–his favorite place. While it was warm in the sun, I was still wearing a sweater. But, um, yeah. It feels pretty decadent for this Ohio-born girl to be sitting outside mid-January without a hat, coat, mittens, scarf, Thinsulate boots, woolen socks, etc.

Out the window: Full sunshine and blue skies of that intense shade that hurts your eyes if you look too long. After last night’s hard freeze (26°F–brrrr!) and this morning’s etchings of frost on the palms and covered garden plants, it’s really nice to feel the warmth the sun brings back in the afternoon hours.

On the desktop: Or, um, the table, as it were. A teapot of Jasmine Green Tea, and a large cup (not a mug) with stylized Asian dragon in blues and gold on white to drink it from. An empty glasses case (glasses on my face). A purple tablecloth. A change of scene.

Today’s Work-in-Progess: I’m editing the first draft of my Jessamin Stow urban fantasy series’ first book. Nearly halfway through–hurray! The really messy parts were the opening scenes and the upcoming ending scenes. I’m not sure if this says something about my writing or just about this story in particular, but I’m pretty pleased with how the opening has changed after my beta readers gave me the long and the short of the mess I’d made of it first time around. Sheesh! This is exactly why you should never compare your first drafts against another author’s published novel–all those in-between drafts are really necessary!

I also finished up reading the Codex Weekend Warrior contest submissions for my division–26 flash stories of 750 words or less this week. Once I posted my comments, I got to see how my own dear story was faring. Not bad! Not first place by a long shot, but also not the bottom. And I’m getting great comments on how to gussy it up (with additional words, of course!) and get it sold, so you can read it! That’s the real “win” of the contest: more words written, more stories to send out. Wheeee!

And Another Three Things: 1) I will have good news to share with you later, and I’m very excited to do so, but right now I have to sit on my hands and be patient.

2) Soon I’ll have my very first guest post here, which I’m really excited about! You should be, too–it’s cool, and very fun!

3) And finally, I will probably go oddly quiet here now and again. Another family health crisis–2016 isn’t starting off very good that way, and it’s been hard to juggle all the parts of life with another heavy wrench thrown into the game. So thanks for bearing with me.

Keep thinking warm.

Posted in Personal Life, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Links for Sunday, and a Happiness to Share

Here are two tidbits that I thought might keep you interested and warm on a day that many of you are finding snowy, windy, and far too cold for comfort (sorry sister-dear! I’m sending warm thoughts your way).

First off, Fireside Fiction is holding a fundraiser of a different stripe. No, it’s not a Kickstarter. Instead of repeating their whole schtick, let me just send you to their site and ask you to consider subscribing, making a one-time donation, or becoming a Patron. They publish some fine work, and I for one would hate to see them close shop. And for some of the Patron levels, you’ll get artwork by Galen Dara–which is just awesome!

Also, just do some reading there. All the stories are free on the site, and as I said, they’ve got some great stuff to fill your mind with wonder and glee.

***

dashergrinIf you’ve read this blog for oh, any time at all, you’ll probably notice that I really love dogs. So, when I read this article about Darwin’s Dogs, I hopped right over, signed up, and filled out the forms. It was fun! And they’re going to do DNA analysis of my dog using his saliva–how cool is that?!? I’m all for research that will not only add to canine understanding, but also human health.

I got a new year’s email from them, and here’s a fun excerpt:

At the start of a new year, we are excited to send out the inaugural Darwin’s Dogs progress report. We can sum it up in one word – WOW! When we put out the call for dog owners to join our project, we’d hoped to enroll thousands of dogs over the first few years. We clearly underestimated you. Enrollment has jumped to over 2300 dogs in under 3 months

Their stated goal is 5,000 dogs. While they’re well on the way, it’s not too late to sign up, fill out their surveys, and help genetists and canine behaviorists find the connections underpinning our best friends’ health and happiness–and maybe our own. You needn’t live in the US (although for the DNA analysis you might), and your dog can be purebred or mutt. All are welcome to join.

***

My happiness? I started a new story yesterday, for a contest I love. Today I finished it (first draft form, of course. But still!)  :-)

That’s it for today.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

My Writing 2015: A Review

OK, so here we go at last–my year’s writing in review. I really like these posts, because whenever I start the research for this, I’m pretty glum, thinking that I haven’t really done “all that much” or “all that well” for the year. I mean, I could’ve done so much more if it hadn’t been for x or y, and I expected to get so much more accomplished on project z. I usually feel pretty much like an abysmal failure.

And then, I run the numbers, and begin to cheer up. You can’t argue with the stats (well, you can, but you’d look pretty foolish).

In 2015, I made about 51 submissions. From those, I garnered:

  • 5 acceptances, including my first reprint! (wheeeeee!)
  • 1 “no response” (boo! market closed)
  • 1 withdrawal
  • 3 still pending
  • 12 personal rejections (a couple very complimentary)

Then I looked back at last year’s stats and saw “54 rejections, 23 personal, 6 acceptances, 4 pending.” Hmm, less writing than last year? That’s not good, right?

But it is good. Because this year I also finished the first draft of the novel I didn’t finish the year before, and began figuring out what was broken on it and how to fix it (a major chore, since it’s my first really completed novel). On top of that, I planned and wrote a novella and have detailed outlines for the next two in the series, which I hope to self-publish in 2016. So in effect, I’ve finished 2 novels this year, and planned a couple more, in addition to all those short stories submitted. See, this is looking pretty impressive now, isn’t it? :-)

My 2015 goals were to:

  • finish the novel (check)
  • revise novel via outline (check)
  • write at least 12 new stories to submission stage (check)
  • do concept ideation and outlines for novella series (and double-check, since I exceeded this by writing the first draft and started editing it before the year was out! Go me!)

See why all this is cheering? I didn’t do badly at all, did I? I really love the stories I wrote, and the markets I was published in. I came pretty darn close to a couple more sales at really awesome markets, and am gratified and amazed by that (especially when I see the quality of the stories that did get accepted!), and I continue to be supported by the conviviality and community of both the Codex Writers’ Group and my VP 17 cohort, as well as some lovely people here on this blog. Having good peeps to see you through the tough times=gold.

Thus I come to the end of this posting, cheered and fortified to continue onwards in my writing, and questing towards publication “glory.” (Um, yeah, whatever. I just want to keep improving, keep trying new things, and maybe see some tangible signs of success here and there.)

For the new year (which, yes, is already getting a bit long in the tooth, I know), may all your nouns and verbs agree, and may none of your participles dangle! Happy reading and writing and carrying on with good living!

 

Posted in Reading, Rejection, Writing, Year in Review | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment