A writer’s best friends!

When I write, I immerse myself completely in my story. I call myself a “method writer”, Similar to a “method actor” but less annoying. (Why is my hubby laughing?)

I surround myself with tokens of that world; an intricate ring, a photo of a misty mountain, a particular scent… Then I disappear completely. Not always good for something on the stove, but great for imagery in the book.

It’s the burned offerings for supper that annoy me. I know better than to ignore something on the stove. But it happens, rarely, but always the most expensive meals.

So I have decided that these two things are my best friends in the kitchen. A crockpot and an Instant Pot. These two are programmable, useful for more than one thing, and holy guacamole, do they make supper easy!

*I get a small percentage of sales off these 2 items if you purchase them through this page. The crockpot is an incredible price! And if you buy through this page, Amazon won’t close my acct for inactivity.

Both are programmable, so you can pile everything into the pot in the morning, set the timer and ignore it all day! My kinda cooking. The Instant Pot also has 7 functions, including slowcooker. So technically, you only need the one.

I have made chicken and veggie curry in 25 minutes (from frozen) in the Instant Pot. I’ve also made broth so strong it gels in the fridge in 2 hours. THat usually takes at least 24 hours in the crockpot.

I also use them both for making stuff to can; jams, leftovers, stews…. The Instant Pot even lets you pressure can up to 4 500ml jars. Like leftover 20 minute chili?

 

Can-Con and Canning

So, it’s the first of September. I sat down to look at Facebook, and WHOOSH! The summer’s over. I may have ignored the garden way too much, I still need to weed the bloody sweet potatoes, but a lot of writing has been done.

I sold a Halloween shifter story to Endera Press, a women oriented anthology publisher. I’ve been asked to submit a Christmas story, as well. I pitched a cookbook to an awesome publishing group, and am twitchy waiting to hear back. I got a scary short accepted for a private anthology, Ottawa Independent Writers 30th anniversary edition; 30 at 30! But, I turned 55 this summer, can I still be in it?  LOL

And this month looks to be lining up for more craziness!

canning and zombies

This week I am canning 150lbs of tomatoes, blue plums, and hopefully beets, carrots and caramelized onions.It’ll likely take a couple friends, and a sale at No Frills (in Fall they usually sell carrots, beets, onions and potatoes at $2/10lbs.) If my sweet potatoes are doing well, I may can puree.

Next weekend, I’m giving a presentation at Can-Con on Authorpreneurship; those receipts are worth money! I’ll be talking about whether you are an employee or an indie writer, what is deductible and when, why you are throwing money away if you don’t keep receipts, why you should incorporate, when to start filing as a business (it’s earlier than you think) and more.

I love Can-Con, my local SFF convention for readers and writers. I get workshops and seminars and panels by some of Canada’s greatest SFF writers! And if you buy your tickets early, it’s only about $50 for the full three days! I have met wonderful people, like Tanya Huff (she’s back this year!), Julie Czerneda (so is she!), Marie Bilodeau (she’s now an organizer) as well as Linda Poitvin, Robert Sawyer, SM Carriere, and more.

This is my result from one of those FB quizzes. This explains why I have a diploma in Small Business Accounting, and am a painter and writer. I am renaissance woman, hear me scribble.

rightbrain vs left

Nightmare at the airport, sorta…

This weekend was my 15th wedding anniversary and my mother in law’s 80th birthday. So my darling hubby and I were flying to Winnipeg. We expected to arrive about midnight.

Not exactly….

The first plane was delayed by an hour. So we got to Toronto with about 20 minutes to make our connecting flight. We raced through the airport, luggage piled on my lap, hubby pushing my wheelchair at top speed. We need not have rushed. Second plane was also delayed by an hour or more.

We finally get to the runway, despite the woman demanding special treatment and the old guy losing his ticket. We’re  on our way.

Oh. No we’re not.  The flight computer is dead. So we sit for half an hour while they try rebooting and trying to figure out the error messages.  Finally they decide to use a new plane. We taxi back to the airport. Well, better the waste of time than finding the computer doesn’t work at 30k feet.

We had eaten at 430pm to get to the airport in time. It was now after 11pm. I was getting both tired and hungry. And cranky.

But we get on the new plane. They’re going to have snacks. Both planes had only pretzels. Sigh.

Got to Winnipeg around 4am Ontario time. Almost 12 hours since my last meal, all of it awake and annoyed.

The airport in Winnipeg had only one wheelchair. One. There were 3 people on the plane who needed one to deboard.

430am. Finally got off the plane. Bed by 530am, 24 hours after getting up. Tired doesn’t begin to cover it.

When I’m tired and cranky I’m downright antisocial.  I’m an introvert to start with, and get peopled out really easily.

Darling hubby is one of 7 children, they pretty much all have kids, those kids are now getting married and having kids.

Did I mention the antisocial? And the tired. And the jonesing to work on my novel. Or the yule short story for an anthology.

But at least there’s wine and ice cream cake.

This week in writing…

So I am flying to Winnipeg tonight at 8, arriving about midnight. So I can spend the whole day freaking out about forgetting stuff. It’s my M-i-L’s 80th birthday, and we are having a 5 day celebration! Four if you don’t count the rack of lamb for last night’s dinner.

This is going to be a break from writing, and a chance to catch up on two books I promised to review. So I’m taking my tablet, but not the laptop. Tablet is great for reading on, lousy for writing.

I need the break, I’ve been writing so much I’m starting to confuse conversations in the book for conversations with my hubby. I also had my author’s photos done!

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So, I’ll be offline for a few days. Try not to bring on the apocalypse while I’m gone.

Climate change and Senate seats?

I’ll start with the Senate. Further to his agenda of making the Senate (in Canada) non-partisan, PM Trudeau II has opened the senate to 35 non-partisan, self-nominated appointees.

What this means is that if you feel you’d make a good senator, don’t religiously follow one party, and can find three other people who think you’d be a good senator, you can apply to be appointed.  Last time there was an open season on senate seats, there were 300 applicants. That makes it a 1 in 10 shot.

I’ll take those odds. Although I have asked 10 people to write me a letter of support and only ONE has done it. Does no-one but me think I’d be a good senator?

I’m educated, open -minded (about everything but Harpes) and a strong supporter of  equality, human rights, equal pay, religious freedom, climate change strategies, and more.My foster son, with whom I’m still close, is a gay person of colour, so I’m keen on both those groups having rights and protections under the law. I have worked with and done a documentary on Indigenous groups at risk, including the devastating poverty of remote reservations.

I follow politics and keep an eye on legislation for its impact on specialty groups. I’m not quite so open minded that my brain falls out, but I’m willing to listen. I’m white, from a poor family, but now have a foot firmly in the middle-class. I know what it is to be hungry, to choose between hydro and lunches at school. I have also seen the widening gap between the haves and have-nots.

I’m mobility impaired, I know how insufficient disability support is at both federal and provincial levels, I know how poorly executed a lot of “accessible” buildings are.

I’m a firm believer in stopping omnibus Bills (one bill = one changed/ new law), and in having Bills written in plain language, if you mean X, say X, don’t leave it open to interpretation and abuse.

I’m also a very spiritual person, I formed and led Ottawa’s largest open neo-pagan temple in history. I have been a spiritual elder for twenty years, and am well respected in the community. I have published articles on paganism for a non-pagan audience, and have written for pagan magazines.

As a senator, I would watch closely every Bill that may impact individual freedom of choice, pay and job equity, religious and cultural freedom, health care and any that slide into omnibus status.  I would fight for the average, lower-to-middle-income guy. I would fight for the environment.

I just need three letters from people who’ve known me more than five years, although “fan mail” would also help. LOL

 

And speaking of climate change.

This is my garden 3 years ago, and this year. See a difference?

2013

2016

20160623_133630   Can you see the difference? I sure do! It is getting hotter and drier even in Canada. Since when is 35C+ the norm ? I used to wear sweaters in August!

Desks and writerly rituals

A friend (also an author) posted a photo on Facecrack of his new writing space. It’s the spare bedroom in their apartment, now with a Murphy bed and his desk, bookcases, laptop, etc. It’s gorgeous. It’s pristine and decorated, and the exact opposite of mine.

The left one is mine.  Jamieson‘s looks like something from a magazine.  I tell myself I’d never get anything done there, too clean, where would I put my notes? The cat says I’m just jealous. Yeah, but where are his Crabbies? Where is his ingredients for a Gimlet (and if I used the gin made in Canada, would it be a Gimli?)

I’m thinking that we could make this comparison of desks/ writing space a thing. Karen Marie Moning recently posted a photo of her incredibly beautiful writing space on Facecrack. I was overcome with the greenies. And decided to try traditional publishing for my novels, and self publish or sell to anthologies, the short stories. Like my writing hero, Gail Z Martin, (I’d love to see her writing space)! She self publishes short stories on Amazon, based on her traditionally published novels. She is also incredibly prolific!

As for rituals, well… I get up 8ish, as I have a big insomnia problem and it takes hours to fall asleep. Then I feed cats, get coffee, do email and FB until about noon, then write until my hubby comes home. Some days, if it’s really flowing, I chase him out of the living room, and continue to write.

What do you do to tell the muse it’s time to show up? Other than shower, weed the garden or try to sleep?

I’ve rearranged my living room to make an “author’s photo booth” so I can get a proper author’s book cover photo. The cookbook cover photo is fun, but not appropriate to all things.

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In fact, it’s barely appropriate for any cookbook other than the Asian one. But I like it and it’s big enough to pass the sniff test on a printer’s upload program.

BTW, both the Asian and Indian cookbooks have gone into a second printing!  Go, me! And they will soon be reviewed by a professional chef and caterer. Not sure if I’m excited or scared witless.

 

My dear hubby and I are renewing our passports, decided to go for the 10 year one, as I’m not going to get any younger.  lol

Although I must say, 55 (my birthday was the 6th) has been pretty awesome. One short story in an anthology, a publisher ASKED ME to submit another story for a feminist fantasy anthology. And the writing is coming so easy! If only the garden could weed itself.

So, that’s a view into my warped brain for this Monday. Stay tuned…

Old friends and birthday surprises!

A few days ago, I turned 55. Many would shy away from admitting such an age, but I take pride in it. I am less thrilled with asking what age the senior’s discount starts at, but frugal is an art form where I’m from. 🙂

Laurie Stewart 6-7-2015 Besides, this is me at 54. Not too shabby.

A bit of backstory on my chronic pain and degenerating spine…. in 1980 I was diagnosed with Scoliosis, my back was curved wrong. Not too bad, and not painful. But this shiny-eyed young surgeon had an experimental technique he thought would fix the curve and let me live a better life.

He convinced my parents to sign off. The operation was a “limited success”. Years of body casts, hip to neck braces and pain followed. In 1985, he tried to fix it again. Messed it up worse, and informed us that I’d be in a wheelchair for life by age 35.

Well, suck on this, Mr. Expert! Not only am I still walking, I garden! And I paint and write and occasionally produce films! Twenty. Years. Later!

Okay, I do use a wheelchair or scooter in conventions, festivals, malls or big stores, but most of the time I walk. Just, not far or for long, but that’s beside the point. I can still walk!

I have also not just survived, but thrived after partners who broke my ribs, beat me into a miscarriage, cheated on me, stole from me….  And I met and married the most wonderful man, ever! So, HA! to those guys too.

As for the surprise birthday party, well… it starts with Blue Gypsy Wines. A small fruit winery owned and run by awesome friends, where we often have BBQ dinners and buy way too much cranberry wine. It also starts with planning a quiet luncheon with a couple friends, then driving to the winery to try out the new sangria slushies. (May I just say O. M. G!) And in a hilariously accurate attempt, my auto-correct wants to change slushies to lushes!

So we drove for an hour to my friend’s house, with dearest hubby even doing a little moaning about the drive for veracity. And we had a lovely visit. And incredible lunch! Hummus crusted chicken breasts, GF herb-cheese scones, deviled eggs, 3 kinds of cold cuts, salad with home-made herb dressing, quinoa salad, and a shortcake with berries and whipped coconut cream. This was about 4 days after my birthday, so I thought nothing of the cake being anything other than yummy.  I was so stuffed I waddled.

After chatting all afternoon, we realized that the winery closed in about an hour, so we hurried over. I needed to try that sangria slushy.

I walked in to masses of friends! Including one I see only every few years! It was awesome! We talked and laughed and caught up until long after they should have closed. But being wonderful, awesome friends, Louis and Claire kept the winery open for us.

We had another dinner, and I practically needed to be rolled out by the end.

Claire is also an amazing GF baker. She made me a salted caramel birthday cake with caramel sauce held in by fluffy caramel frosting. It was a real cake, light, flavourful… perfect. (Claire runs Indulge! the food fare at Blue Gypsy.)

Only one skinny piece was left to take home. Soooo good!

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The lone surviving piece! I would have taken a photo of the whole thing, but it disappeared too fast.

 

Write, Paint, Film, Create!