Anyone who reads my blog knows that I read Chuck Wendig’s blog. His writing advice, love of great adult beverages presented in comfortable-for-this-old-soldier language coupled with a few parenting insights and yummy recipes make his blog one of my top five go-to’s each and every day.
He posted a recipe not too long ago and I happened to be struggling with a narsty Spring bug. Pho or its Chinese sister Hot Sour are always welcome when the snot monster and comfort-food siren comes a calling.
I was lucky enough to be able to use mint leaves, cilantro, parsley, and green onions from my own garden. This recipe makes me want to grow my own ginger, too. YUM.
This was fun to do and not hard. I highly recommend you try this out, too.
The second time I made this I used thin sliced portobellos because this carnivore seems to not do too well with the animal products any more. It was just as, if not more satisfying. But I didn’t take pictures that time.
Regardless, this recipe is kick-ass and doesn’t include some of the stuff I don’t really like about Beef Pho ( you know that intestinal grossness!). So Faux Beef Pho, gets four thumbs up around here. And The substitution of Portobellos in the second-go-round: Fabulousness!
I received an email this morning that I had been nominated by fellow writer, Sheri J. Kennedy, via the FoodStoriesBlog.com. Now if you haven’t seen Sheri’s blog RIVERSIDE you need to put it on your RSS feed, Blog Roll, Google Reader, et al. Her art — both visual and words is fabulous. I want to be more like her when not only my writing, but my person grows up. In the meantime, I’m humbled and honored by her nomination.
Funny this came on the heels of a theme of conversations I had over the course of last week on whether or not people pay attention to the work we artists put out over our blogs. What is really the benefit — save a bit of personal sanity — of putting these words, images, thoughts, ideas (and for many of us, recipes) into the digital realm. At this point, I can’t not do it and the other artists and writers I conferred with regarding this understood that our blogs, the internet, facebook, is one of the best tools ever available in the history of humankind, especially to the creative creatures we are.
When I was a young lass, baking with my mother during the holidays was both a much loved and much dreaded occasion. I loved the feeling of accomplishment of getting there — eating the cookies, pies and cakes we beat, rolled, and coaxed into existence. But, the process sometimes was grueling and frustrating — a juggling act of timing. But I know that my mother expressed her love and gave to us what she could through these baking sessions. Knowing that when I post my Harvest Creations here — both literary and worldly — I’m conscious of the passion and love behind them. I think there is power in food preparations and the stories surrounding those activities throughout all of history are some of the best. Therefore, I know I’ll keep making my own — recipes and stories alike.
As part of the nomination process for this award, I am to nominate five other people. I have dozens and dozens of blogs that I follow. So the choice of who else to say “look you light up my blogging world” is tough, of course.
But decisions, always, must be made. My nominees are:
SHERI J. KENNEDY RIVERSIDE: Sheri’s posts always remind me to live in the here and now and appreciate the grace of life right in front of me.
Avant Garde In My Backyard: You need to be watching this fabulous artist. She has an eye and a mind that fascinates, pushes your thoughts and your appreciation for that which is other.
Lyn Midnight Against The Odds: For those of us who tip-toe on the darker side and whose brains are pelted with voices of character. Lyn gets it. She puts it into a perspective and allows a dialogue about the creativity we crave, need, and exist.
Gluten-Free Girl & The Chef: My son has developed a gluten intolerance and as I age I don’t handle any wheat-based food very well. So, I turn to this site often for creative ideas.
The last nomination is probably a given for anyone who’s living as a writer as I am. But he also understands being a parent. Liking Whiskey. Oh, and cooking up food you want to not only eat, but sometimes just live in.
Chuck Wendig: Terrible Minds is a terribly important blog for any creative sort. Quit effing around and get to it now.
Thanks for noticing — Sheri and all those who are keeping regular tabs on my little corner of the internet. Remember no one is going to notice if you’re not working it. So keep working it.
In the realm of social media, I follow a lot of industry leaders: agents, publicists, writing-business gurus, and of course successful authors. The articles, blogs, and other news items that they post, I will often open and leave open on my desktop for reading during my appointed reading time. Currently, I’m behind. Truth be told: I read slow. Yet, I think I retain the information I read better than some that read more quickly. So this morning I poured myself a mega-mug of coffee and donned the reading spectacles and went to work at reading all these open tabs about the latest and greatest in book publishing, trends in the business, blogs about what the who’s who in the writing world is reading, and most notably (since I’m gaining momentum in that direction), what’s what in the world of epublishing/ebooks.
All day I’ve been digesting one of these articles. I have concluded that any writer trying to break into the publishing world, especially if you’re planning on doing the ebook route, needs to read this: What Amazon’s ebook strategy means, written by the author, Charles Stross. Not only do you need to read this article, but you’ll likely need to do like I did and set up a Google alert on some key phrases (digital rights management, epublishing trends, amazon business strategy) so you can continue to follow everything that happens with this very critical piece of the publishing puzzle.
In the honor of full disclosure, Mr. Stross is one of my favorite authors when it comes to hardcore science fiction/space opera. He is a 2005 Hugo award winner, which is nothing to sneeze or poo-poo your literary snoz at. But he’s also a computer guy whose spent a good portion of his writing career providing expository on technology and human interface. The fact that the Linux penguin, Tux, is the icon for his URL endears me greatly. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t read his post on this subject matter without looking at it critically. But even taking point by point and examining it and playing devil’s advocate, I can’t find a lot of holes in the information he presents. And for those who are just learning the business of the write life — he outlines some nice terms for which you need to be aware.
Here’s my bullet points from all the information Stross provides, which are really sticking with me personally (your Casz’s Exec Summary, if you will, featuring non-technical, non-business-ese language):
Amazon can placate emerging writers with contests and grants all they want; but, it won’t take away that on both sides of the coin — author or consumer — we’re all getting screwed by the Bezos’ empire (by the way, he is worth more than $40 billion, mind you).
Amazon is the entire planet’s Wal-Mart. And we all know what Wal-Mart has done for the little guy.
Learn about Digital Rights Management, it’s impending death (which would be good in the long run for authors and publishers and consumers).
Don’t be fooled by the fact that this element has the word “Rights” in it and sounds like it would be something good.
When dealing with ebooks remember Stross’ words here, a special heads up to bibliophiles like myself:
Now, most ebook customers are not tech-savvy. It is possible to unlock the DRM on a Kindle ebook and transcode it to epub format for use on other readers; but it’s non-trivial. (Not to mention being a breach of the Kindle terms and conditions of use. Because you don’t own an ebook; in their short-sighted eagerness to close loopholes the publishers tried to make ebooks more like software, where you merely buy a limited license to use the product, rather than actual ownership of an object.) So, because Amazon had shoved a subsidized Kindle reader or a free Kindle iPhone app into their hands, and they’d bought a handful of books using it, the majority of customers found themselves locked in to the platform they’d started out on. Want to move to another platform? That’s hard; you lose all the books you’ve already bought, because you can’t take them with you.
As with most things in this global economy, it’s all more complicated than it seems. Because, being able to be listed on Amazon is a marker in this modern write life. Having folks find your work easily helps sell more of your work. It’s a vicious circle thing. But the power of the internet is this: we can all be Amazon. I think of many books I’ve purchased as of late, even ebooks, which sometimes is the only way to get some of the newest writers out there, are purchased through independent sources, whether they be brick and mortar stores or through the author’s web site directly. The point I’m trying to elude to here, albeit clumsily, is that as writers if we’re just automatically going to Amazon to purchase our books — we’re feeding the Monopoly and Monopsony. Take a little more time and support the independent book and mortar stores (sounds like the big six are going to need more revenue for legal fees) and/or go to your favorite author’s site and purchase directly from them or their publisher. Buy the real book whenever possible. Ebooks are great for checking out an author and testing literary waters, but if you want to own those words forever — an old fashioned book never ceases to satisfy.
It’s disheartening being an emerging writer and having to also spend time on a business model that seems to change every six months. But it’s a necessary evil. I encourage folks to do their own research and tell me in the comments below what their own tactics, strategies and knowledge is on the business of writing. All I know is that right now I’m thinking that perhaps a bad habit of writing industry reading really isn’t such a vice.
The writing group that I founded more than three years ago now, SnoValley Writes!, just completed its third writing competition, third volume of our literary journal, and our third public reading. So many threes we decided that the journal’s theme would be THREE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER.
We increased our writing contest entries four fold this year – breaking the whole “three” theme we had going on. But it was totally worth it. We especially got slammed with entries from the category of writer age 17 and under. What incredible stories we got from our writers in the making! The adult category was stunning as well – and a very, very hard decision. Incredible, however, that so many of the young writers got the submission guidelines dead on and about half the adult writers missed the chance to be judged because they didn’t follow instructions. It’s great to think outside the box, except when it comes to submission guidelines, folks! Our 2013 contest should be announced by October or so. So stay tuned. In the meantime you can read the winning entries from both our winners on our web site.
Speaking of increases, the quality of the writing the group is producing and as is featured in the journal has increased threefold, if I do say so myself. And the fact that our first run in the journal is all but gone is testimony as well. However, more can be procured via our page on LuLu.
For some in the group, this journal presents a unique opportunity, if their only one, towards publication. As someone whose batting average is barely above nil for my personal submissions this year, I know the occasion for publication is few and far between. But self-publishing is changing all that. Self-publishing is providing new prospects and openings for those who would otherwise not get a chance, especially given that for most it’s all about a numbers game and less about quality (sometimes). Some self-publishing gets a bad name because of poor assembly and internal editing, but I think we cleared that hurdle even higher this time (yes, one could say even…*cough* threefold). We’re fortunate enough to have some visual artists included in our ranks of SnoValley Writes! including painters, designers, graphic artists, and photographers. The design of this book shows off their talent in that as well.
Putting the book together is quite daunting and I’m refusing to do it again without a proper desktop publishing program. But it also taught me a few things as I work to finish up the first collection of Martius Catalyst episodes in Adventure One: Tangled Treasures.
As far as our Word Jazz performance is concerned, I think it was our best one yet, albeit the least attended. I’m blaming the plague that has descended on our little Cascade Foothills community. Those who participated were allowed yet another break in reading to an audience – something any successful author must expect to do throughout the course of her career. I shed the jitters and applied the lessons I learned from the AT SECOND GLANCEreading back in February. I had fun. My brother saw the photos from the event and said I looked as if I was spell-casting. In a sense anyone who does a proper reading does (and should) cast a spell on their audience.
The biggest lesson from the whole experience – contest, reading, and publication – is that you can create your own literary magic. It’s a lot of work; there may be mistakes made; but it’s all worth it in the end. Feel free to come get a piece of this magic we made, order your copy of THREE IS A MAGIC NUMBER today.
Tomorrow the doors open on NorWesCon 35 and I’m excited but feel completely unprepared. Last year I was a virgin to such a con. I was overwhelmed and overstimulated quickly. I got the high points of the conference, but plan to attend with a much more discerning eye and mind this year. So why the anxiety over preparation? I don’t have to travel — I can drive there and leave there each night and sleep in my own bed (albeit, last year I said I’d book a room; alas, it wasn’t in the cards for me this year). Also, it’s not like I’m on a panel, although I scored a professional panelist’s guest pass for the weekend, which is the only way I’m able to afford going. I plan to have my Creative Word Lab business cards; bookmarks (if the lot is printed by noon tomorrow as promised) for Martius Catalyst; and more bookmarks pimping SnoValley Writes!;, as well as, my brain in sponge mode to learn as much as possible.
Once again, I think my favorite part is going to be the Philip K. Dick awards. For those that know me, it’s an award for which I’d be honored to have my work — one day — nominated. PKD is one, if not maybe, my most favorite author. He and Vonnegut duke it out in my brain constantly. Vonnegut, obviously the more intellectual, but PKD pulls out some laser gun or little pill and the fight descends into more chaos, typically of the insane-making variety. Kind of like this blog post. But back to NorWesCon and the PKD awards — I’ve read most of the books nominated (and should finish the last two before Friday evening). So, the awards ceremony this year should be interesting. Honestly, I’m having a hard time picking a favorite myself. I don’t envy whatever panel is choosing. Last year the folks I was rooting for didn’t get acknowledged; but, it’s like they say, “It’s an honor to be nominated.”
Another favorite part is all the readings. The first I plan to attend is Thursday afternoon: Jay Lake. I’ve been following Jay’s blogs and stories for a few years now. I was too shy to say hi to him last year; so I’m hoping the fan girl in me shuts the hell up and I’m able to say hello this year and wish him good health. I also want to see Cat Rambo read and Lisa Mantchev. Cat is the consummate professional and each time I’ve been in on a panel of hers ore even just reading her blog and G+ posts, I learn something. As far as Lisa is concerned, I still want to know how she balances being a mother of domestic goddesses and such a prolific author.
I found last year I moved in and out of the reading rooms a lot. I’m a writer, a bibliophile, a story lover. Why wouldn’t I love the readings. And dammit, I know if I was the one reading, I’d want every chair filled. So, it’s the least I can do to support authors I like.
Another enjoyable part is all the costumes! The cosplay can be so intriguing and is as much a part of the con experience as anything else. My cosplay will likely exist of notable “conversation” tees and hoodies and jewlery. I have no steampunky bodices or leather straps that turn into pistols; no fairy wings; no crazy colored hair. I look like what any person might imagine an introverted writer who lives in the Cascade foothills might look like. I may on Saturday evening don my “Inkster” persona. I don’t know, though, because I will have left Twin Peaks early in the a.m. and don’t plan to carry much with me. I’m more of a voyeur, in that regard, than participant. Regardless it will be entertaining to just watch.
I’ll likely be live tweeting from the con, so check out my twitter feed for my observations from the con. If you’re going, let me know, too.
If you’ve been to this conference or others like it (maybe last weekend’s comiccon or the simultaneous Sakura-Con), what is your favorite part about it? How do you overcome your shyness? How do you keep your fangirl in check? And most importantly, how do you get the most out of it?