Posts made in July, 2017

3rd Place for Short Form Rhysling!

Posted by on Jul 17, 2017 in anthology:poem, awards, Blog | Comments Off on 3rd Place for Short Form Rhysling!

The Rhysling Award is the biggest award for genre poetry. Weirdly enough, I had three of my poems nominated this year, one in the short poem category, two for long.

Even weirder, my short form poem placed third. In a three-way tie!


Rhysling Winners 2017


 

I’m tickled by the whole thing. Who’d a thunk it? You can read “Box of Dust and Monsters” over at Devilfish Review.

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Sunday Quote has a new biscotti recipe out on Wednesday

Posted by on Jul 16, 2017 in Blog, Quote | Comments Off on Sunday Quote has a new biscotti recipe out on Wednesday

“I like best to have one book in my hand, and a stack of others on the floor beside me, so as to know the supply of poppy and mandragora will not run out before the small hours.”
~ Dorothy Parker

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5 Ways the Great British Bake Off Teaches You To Be a Better Writer

Posted by on Jul 13, 2017 in Blog, call of fire, writerly advice | Comments Off on 5 Ways the Great British Bake Off Teaches You To Be a Better Writer

I am dedicating my next book (Call of Fire, out on August 15th!) to the Great British Bake Off. Why? Because the show is my bliss. It’s a cooking reality show that thrives on niceness and support, where baking is appreciated by technical skill as well as taste. It’s a show that makes me smile. After a long day of writing and revision, it offers me an escape to the verdant, green British countryside, where I can behold amazingly “scrummy” desserts and savory dishes.

Bake Off also has a lot to teach writers about dedication, perseverance, and community. Let’s break it down with the help of some illustrative gifs.

Luis-doubleblender

– The Power of a Deadline
More than once, I’ve had people tell me, “I wish I had time to write. Maybe I’ll do it once my kids are in school/I change jobs/I retire.” Guess what? Life will always get in the way. Plus, writing itself can be a slog due to sheer procrastination (hello, internet), plot snarls, endless research, and so on.

Deadlines are powerful. Deadlines make you grimace, plant your hind end in a chair, and churn out the words. Deadlines make you take risks in your writing.

Bake Off operates within deadlines, too. Two hours to make an elaborate cake that you’d normally spend a day on! Four hours to make this obscure European pastry you’ve never heard of or seen before in your life! And the bakers are in. Like a writer, they may only have a vague idea of the end result, but the clock is ticking. They need to have something to present to the judges, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.

Paul_notgoodenough

– Constructive Criticism
Baking Show presents the absolute ideal of constructive feedback: the negative balanced with the positive. This is something every writer needs to learn, and it is not easy. It requires tact, both in giving this feedback and responding to it in regards to your own work.

If you need a visual on how it is done, watch Paul and Mary. They might be presented with a cake that is an absolute disaster as far as presentation, but they still cut it open. They judge the texture and the taste. With a gracious smile, they say, “Yes, it looks terrible–you know that–but the taste is spot-on. You know your flavors.”

That’s the very thing writers need to hear, too. It’s how we improve–and how we learn to build on our strengths. “Yes, it’s a messy draft and there are some major info dumps, but your characters are amazing. The dialogue sparkles.”

cake

– Innovation
Writers are often told, “Write what you know.” Cooks intrinsically do this, too; we learn family recipes, our cultural and ethnic lore through food, and the recipes of where we live. Writers and bakers also know that we can’t be confined by what we have directly known and experienced. There are infinite realities we can experience through taste and imagination.

The bakers in the tent often look to their roots for inspiration and add those flavors to the traditional British or European fare they are challenged to create. They mix, match, and defy traditional pairings, and something magical happens (whether or not that magic fully works is up to Mary and Paul). This is what writers must do, too. We twist around tropes and develop fresh stories.

soggybottom

– Reinforce Knowledge of the Basics
A writer doesn’t have to know how to fully diagram a sentence to be a real writer, but it is necessary to grasp the basics, the flow, that makes a story work. Writers also need to read. We need to understand what is expected in certain genres, or how to submit to markets, or query agents. There is a huge learning curve involved.

Bakers need those same skills. This is highlighted in the technical round that takes place during each Baking Show episode. The bakers are surprised by a new recipe from Mary or Paul–a recipe that has incomplete directions. “Make fondant.” “Make 1-inch diameter macarons.” “Bake”–with no temperature or time listed. The ingredients are all there, but the bakers need to understand the roles of fats and acids and rise times to make this new recipe come to a delicious result.

These basics are not static, either. There are always new skills to learn, whether you’re making a new cake recipe or a story.

remindmetobreathe

– Supportive Community
Writing is hard. Editing is hard. A support network is vital. The encouragement of family and friends means a lot, but unless they are writers as well, they won’t completely get what we go through. You need other writers at your level who are willing to share updates on a new magazine, willing to critique, willing to listen on those days when the rejections flow and the words don’t.

That kind of community is what makes Great British Baking Show so extraordinary. American reality shows are petty and mean; they relish in someone’s downfall, and add sound effects for good measure. Baking Show eschews that manufactured drama. The contestants become friends. They bond as they work on stations near each other, weekend after weekend. They are competitors, yes, but they are willing to share ingredients at times, or help get a cake out of a pan. There are no sly camera angles to show sabotage–that’s not even a thought.

When a baker has a bad weekend and must leave the tent, it’s a moment of sadness. They gather for a group hug. Tears are shed. The survivors are saying farewell to a friend.

This is something writers must keep in mind, too. We each endure travails in our lives. We each want to make it as a writer. And yes, we are also vying for those few available slots in a magazine or anthology. It doesn’t need to be a cruel kind of competition, though. The publishing world is small, and we need companions for the long journey.

 

Originally posted at Novelocity. #SFWAPro

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Bready or Not: Soft Lemon-Ginger Cookies

Posted by on Jul 12, 2017 in Blog, Bready or Not, cookies, lemon | Comments Off on Bready or Not: Soft Lemon-Ginger Cookies

Lemon and ginger join forces in these luscious cookies!

Soft Lemon-Ginger Cookies

I found the original recipe in a compilation from Taste of Home. I immediately thought, hey, that looks good but it needs more ginger… and more lemon.

Soft Lemon-Ginger Cookies

Because if it’s a lemon-ginger cookie, it should scream flavor, right?

Soft Lemon-Ginger Cookies

And these do, all bound up in a soft, chewy form. These taste delightfully fresh. Perfect for summer, really.

Soft Lemon-Ginger Cookies

… oh, these would be perfect for the holidays, too. They do have ginger, after all. Make them whenever you want. The dough can be made a day or two ahead of time and kept ready in the fridge!

Bready or Not: Soft Lemon-Ginger Cookies

Soft Lemon-Ginger Cookies

These soft cookies taste deliciously fresh thanks to the combined forces of lemon and ginger! The dough can be made hours or even a day ahead and kept wrapped in the fridge, too. It’s unknown how long they keep after baking–they tend to vanish rather quickly. Modified from Taste of Home.

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven at 350-degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, whip together the butter and brown sugar until it gains a fluffy texture. Beat in the egg, sour cream, and extracts.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, ginger, and salt; make sure to press any lumps out of the cream of tartar and ginger. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the other bowl.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto a baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned and no longer jiggly. Watch out--they can overbake quickly. Let them rest on the cookie sheet for just a few minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.

OM NOM NOM!

 

Soft Lemon-Ginger Cookies

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Sunday Quote has a new book out NEXT MONTH

Posted by on Jul 9, 2017 in Blog, Quote | Comments Off on Sunday Quote has a new book out NEXT MONTH

“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”
~ Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life

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