~~ "She has so many aliases, you'd think she was a spy!" ~~

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A serene and overcast Saturday

So far today, I’ve…
  • woken up early with a start to realize the lawn guys are here and I have to unlock the back gate. So much for getting a full 8 hours!
  • made my usual egg-over-medium and brown rice for breakfast
  • assembled a huge vat of spagetti sauce
  • done dishes
  • bought tickets to Def Leppard at the Santa Barbara Bowl (GA! Wooh!)

And on tap for the rest of the day…
  • bootcamp
  • shower
  • grocery and pharmacy runs
  • finish a short story
  • read at least 100 pages of the novel I’m editing (preferably 150 or even 200)
  • vaccuum TV room
  • tidy dining room
  • host Girls’ Night! We’re going to eat spaghetti and watch Thor.
  • maybe relax in the hot tub before bed?

It’s a serene, overcast Saturday, and I’m going to enjoy the fuck out of it!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Guest blog: "Tamales" by Kathleen Bradean

Today I'm delighted to host a guest blog by the gorgeous Kathleen Bradean. Kathleen and I have shared many a Table of Contents as well as at least one reading. Her writing is lush and evocative, and I can't wait to read her story in The Harder She Comes!

~ ~ ~

by Kathleen Bradean

I didn't realize how sentimental my story "Tamales" was when I wrote it. At the time, I was thinking about how fun and flirty the kitchen scene was and how it flowed into the bedroom scene and how much I'd like some green corn tamales from Border Grill….

I've never made tamales. So much for writing what you know! I make a really good Chile Colorado sauce though, with the pasilla chilies that smell almost like raisins (but aren't gross like raisins) and guajillos that look potentially lethal but are rather mild. I break them apart and let them soak in warm water. I've learned to wash my hands extremely carefully and clean under my nails after that one time after I'd washed my hands then rubbed my eye and holy moly—fell to my knees like a student protestor in Berkley. The chilies and the soaking water are blended and strained before going into a saucepan. While that's going, I slowly cook chunks of beef in beef broth until they're fall-apart tender then add the Colorado sauce to it and cook it for another half hour or so until the scent follows you half way down the block and drags you back into the house. We serve it with a little queso fresco or queso blanco (depending on what we can find at the market) and corn tortillas (always corn) and a salad. I also make a pretty good al pastor taco which is sort of the go-to taco here in Los Angeles. Slightly sweet from the pineapple and spicy enough to make you sit up and take notice, real al pastor taco meat should be cooked on a rotating spit the same way gyro meat is, but I don't have one of those fancy set-ups, and neither do the kinds of places I tend to buy my tacos.

Can you tell food is my passion? Well, no, eating is my passion, and so is writing, and cooking brings me closer to both. Cooking is my meditation. I clear my mind and concentrate on each step—a good idea considering the amount of knife work I do. I let each step flow into the other. All the problems of the day slink off to find someone else to bug. I'm left with almost pure sensory input. The sizzle of onions caramelizing in a pan, the color of summer squash and zucchini waiting to be grilled, the feel of a cold glass of lemonade pressed against my neck, the flavors of spices, and the luscious scent of fresh bread. It's so wickedly indulgent. But it's also creative and a good way to refresh my brain when I'm stuck on a story.  I've heard that other writers clean house or do laundry when they're stuck. At least with my way, I end up with cookies.

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Here's the full list of writers participating in the blog tour to celebrate the anthology—stop by and say hi to any or all of them!

May 1  D. L. King
May 2  Anna Watson
May 3  Evan Mora
May 4  River Light
May 7  CS Clark
May 9  Andrea Dale (hey, that's me!)
May 10  Beth Wylde
May 13  Shanna Germain
May 14  Charlotte Dare

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Do something that scares you

They say, Do something that scares you….

I have Neil Gaiman’s 2012 New Year’s wish on my bathroom mirror and also above my writing desk. You can follow the link to read the whole thing, of course—and if you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so.

It resonates with me in many ways, and also echoes what some of my writing mentors and friends have said.

Dean Wesley Smith, for example, often asks “What’s the worst that can happen if you submit something that’s not perfect? Will someone come to your house and shoot you?” Kinda puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?

Shanna Germain calls this her Year of Yes. I like that. I like that a lot. I like it so much I wish I’d thought of it.

Back to Neil. He says, in part:

Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. 
Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

Mostly I apply this to my work, my career, my passion, which is writing and, in this glorious new world, publishing. Writers are the worst judges of their own work, and although I’ve never had a problem submitting stories, I’ve struggled of late with finishing stories—or even starting them. A lot of this has to do with coming out of the emotional trifecta of my father dying, my eldest sister suffering a severe aneurysm, and Ken’s motorcycle accident…all of which happened in a year and a half. Oh, and menopause, which completely fucked my brain (and of course I didn’t realize how fucked it made my brain until I went on bio-identical hormones, and suddenly I was functional again. WHO KNEW?!).

Sometimes publishing can be scary, too. Is the blurb good enough? Is the cover eye-catching? I really, really need to learn the newest version of InDesign, and yet I keep putting it off, even though I don’t know why it scares me. Feh.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch says that when you’re writing, you have to channel your inner two-year-old, the kid who doesn’t get that there are rules and societal pressures and people judging you, the kid who’s fascinated by this new shiny world around her. The kid in a restaurant who eats mac-and-cheese with her fingers because that’s the fastest way to get that utterly perfect food into her mouth. Forks be damned!

I think about that a lot, not just in relation to writing. Little kids, they sing because they love a song. They dance because they’re happy. They stamp their feet and squeal because something has caused them to feel utter joy. At what point do we stop doing that? At what point do we become aware that others are watching and judging, that “society” frowns on these activities? That point breaks my heart.

I’m not a great singer. I love to sing, I love music beyond compare, but… In high school, I was incredibly shy and yet I barreled my way through where singing was concerned. I tried out for a solo where I was so bad I was cut off partway through the attempt. Yet I still had another solo in a musical because I went to the music room every day (many of us ditched study hall to “practice,” where “practice” sometimes meant practice and sometimes meant other things) and sang it over and over and over; and by the gods I got up on stage and I sang that damn solo and I didn’t suck. Ditto in college, where I took voice lessons and piano lessons. I think I have pitch problems; one music teacher has said I’m just lazy (when it comes to pitch). Maybe so. I’m not great, and I know it.

So when Rick Springfield announced that anyone who sent in a video of themselves singing a line from the chorus of one of his new songs would be added to the chorus of that song on the album, I thought, Do something that scares you. Sending in a voice recording isn’t nearly as scary as sending in a video (which might be used for promotional purposes, but wouldn’t necessarily be seen by the general public), so this was extra-scary. But fuck it. FUCK. IT. I did it. Scared or not, I fucking did it. Huge thanks to my friend Sara Rebennack for doing the videoing (and for agreeing to be videoed herself. I am such an instigator!).

Wow. In the middle of writing this, I checked my blog feeds (via GoogleReader) and discovered a recent post by Nerd Fitness that totally fits with this post.

This has gone on way longer than I planned. I’m starting to ramble. My point is, I did something that scared me, and I’m happy every time I think about it. In the end, it wasn’t that scary. The point is to remember that, every single time something scares you. It’s not going to be as scary as you think. And most probably, you’re going to feel fucking great afterwards.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Winner Take All - bared!

As I mentioned last week or so, I’ve got a new, fun story, “Winner Take All”* in a fantastic anthology, The Harder She Comes: Butch/Femme Erotica, and the other authors and I are doing a blog tour this month.

Today's my day! Please come on over to Lula Lisbon's** site and and say hi, so I don't feel all aloooooone and pitiful. ::makes big doe eyes like Puss in Boots::  I bare my soul in talking about my inspiration for "Winner Take All." Well, "bare" might not be the exact word….

*Yes, once again, I snagged a song title for my story title. Anybody recognize it?!

** Rather NSFW. Yummy, but NSFW. Unless you work somewhere I'd really like to work.