Tag Archives: ottawa writers

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?

 

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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…

I won! IwonIwonIwon!

I entered a short story contest put on by Radish a few weeks ago. Radish is an online story sharing app, kind of a pro-level Wattpad. Except that it just goes to Mac Apple products for now. (They are working on an Android app)

I entered a short story based in my world for Nets to Catch the Wind. It stars Thalia, one of the supporting characters. The contest rules were that it must involve flashbacks triggered by a shot in a bar. So I wrote some backstory to my backstory.

And it won best fantasy!

Great news to come back from Ad Astra to, eh?  Which was great on its own, btw.

So, I’m not sure how much I can say about my biggest bestest thing that happened, I’ll have to wait for permission, but it was awesome!

I also got to chat with amazing authors, buy tons of new books, and see a couple great panels. I got to party with a writer whose work I love. And… I seem to have been promised a panel or seminar on taxes and the authorpreneur at Can-Con 2016!

They want to call it “What to do with those fracking receipts!”  LOL, I can work with that.

 

My life so far….

Well, so far today.

Major pain from being in town yesterday. I had a Dr appt, where she doubled my morphine dose (that’s always a good sign, right?), told me the xrays of my back revealed “significant erosion” from L5 to L3, and there wasn’t enough healthy bone left to try to operate to fix the degenerating discs.

The good news was that the anti-osteoporosis meds I’ve been on for 4 years have started adding bone mass to my hips, just not the frigging spine! And she admires my upbeatness and my hopeful cheerfulness. Well, let’s be honest, dear readers. My back is Fracked!  I can moan and groan and be miserable, or I can love my family & friends with all my heart, throw myself into healthy cooking, my writing etc and be as happy as I can because after 36 years of this shit with my back, I’m still here. I’m still having fun.

This is where studying Stoicism comes in. I can only change what is within my power. Is a degenerating spine something in my power to change? No. But my attitude, my behaviour, and my character all are. So I choose to be happy. I choose to be strong. I do NOT choose to let the pain define me.

I love my life. I love my hubby, I love gardening (with the help of my minion Willow) and I love writing. And my back is what it is. Nothing will change it.

In other news of things to appreciate, my Yeti , who is still claiming to be a giant cat, is scary smart. His water dish was empty. He went to the sink to yowl for more. When that didn’t work, he came to my office, yowled for me to pet him, but backed out of reach. Every time I reached for him, he ran to the office door and looked at me.  When I followed him to the kitchen, yes he ran straight to the kitchen, he actually stood up to paw at the counter in front of the sink. It took long enough to sink in that he wanted me to follow him that I wonder which of us is smarter…

 

It’s pretty clear who he thinks is smarter.

Late again, but I have an excuse!

8000 steps yesterday, and every one hurt.

I’m supposed to do 1500-2000 steps a day. I did 4-5 X that much. Owie!

But I’m back, almost in one piece, and eager to get editing my fantasy epic.  April is Camp Nano, and I’ve chosen to edit my book so that it makes sense, tighten it by about 30k words, and get it ready for a couple of alpha readers.

Strange as it sounds, I’m very excited by this. I’ve taken the last 2 weeks away from working on it to clear my head and prep for my mom’s wedding next month. It didn’t totally clear, I kept getting flashes of ideas and writing myself notes.

I figure, that I’m starting April 5th, that I need to do 25-30 pages of the original manuscript per day, regardless of what it ends up in the edited version.  Today I did 25 pages. Go, me!

And I still can’t find my frigging dress that I bought for the wedding and put somewhere safe. You really would think I’d know better. So at least one day this week is to be spent tearing my bedroom apart.  Good chance to rotate the seasonal wardrobe, I tell myself. As opposed to “you idiot, where did you put the fricking dress? It matches the purse you just bought. The one that matches NOTHING else in my wardrobe.”

But, life will go on, my wardrobe will be there eventually. And my box of cool shit foe my om will go to NB with me.

Let’s be different today!

Today I am starting to organize myself for the Beltaine Craft fair on April 23rd.  Yes, that’s a long ways away, and yes, I do need to start this early.

Part of it is my chronic pain making the necessary bending and lifting almost impossible, and part of it is my #mybrainisajerk syndrome.  It works like this, I realize I need a specific item.  My brain says “Right, I got that sorted!”, and I promptly forget to do it. Every time I think of that item again, my brain says “We handled it, remember?”

I get to the craft show, and you know it, the item is missing.  So now I need to do it regardless of what my brain says, because it lies.

I’m also searching desperately for the dress I bought for my Mom’s wedding in May.  Because I put it where I can’t possibly lose it, and you guessed it…. #mybrainisajerk.  I have no idea where it is and it’s not in the usual places like the closet, or the top of the dresser with the purse it matches.

So, with all this going on in my head, I decided to cop out on blogging and share a recipe from my Fresh and Home-made Indian cookbook.

Coconut Chicken Curry!  I originally created this recipe for my Mom, who hates harsh or spicy curries. (But her fave Asian dish is Singapore Noodles, go figure! * Singapore Noodles are curried, FYI) She loves this recipe, even had 2 bowls the last time I made it!

This curry is sweet and creamy, though adding hot peppers, hot sauce or more curry powder will increase the heat if you like it hot.  I usually make this in the crockpot, just save the cashews and peas to the end, and toss everything else in slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours.  Add the peas about 15 minutes before serving, and top with cashews.  Serve with rice or quinoa.

Coconut Chicken Curry

Serves four.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup whole unsalted cashews

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

Salt to taste

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

1 garlic clove, minced  (or 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste)

1 can unsweetened coconut milk

1 can crushed pineapple, drained

1/4 cup frozen peas

1 red pepper, seeded and diced

 

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the cashews in a pie plate and bake for 5 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly toasted. Transfer to a plate to cool.

Lightly season the chicken with salt. In a large, deep skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil until smoking.

Add the chicken and cook over moderately high heat until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and reduce the heat to moderate.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and heat until smoking. Add curry powder, and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the onion, ginger and garlic, and cook until the onion softens, about 10 minutes; if the mixture seems dry, add up to 1/4 cup of water to prevent sticking.

Stir in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Return the chicken to the skillet and simmer until cooked, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the peas, pineapple and red pepper  and cook for 1 minute.

Transfer the coconut chicken curry to a bowl, sprinkle with the cashews and serve over rice.

12722017_10153215051681568_1421391997_n  Available on Amazon, Kobo, and ibooks

 

 

 

Easter family time VS Oestre observance

Easter dinner at the in-laws, nowhere near as bad as it sounds.

Rare roast lamb, Caesar salad to die for, asparagus… and plenty of wine. It may not be thanksgiving, but I have much to be thankful for.

Including the opportunity… nay, the duty…. to tease my niece about dating the son of one of our dearest friends.  Could we be related in a couple years?

I’d have no objection, my friends own a winery!  That’s the kind of family you need.

As most of you know (dear readers), I am not Christian, but much of my family and in-laws are.  If this is a deal-breaker for you, go on your merry way with my blessings.  But for those who don’t care, it may be interesting to understand how very very many types of non-Christians there are. I am a Pagan, a Celtic reconstructionist with strong Norse leanings.  This follows my ancestry from northern Scotland and Vinland in the pre-Christian era. Yes, I have Viking ancestors who met the local tavern wenches and settled down.

Most who identify as Pagan are some variant of Wicca, a magic influenced religion created (recreated?) in the 60’s. Ostara (or Oestre) is one of their holy days. A celebration of Spring on or around the Spring Equinox. It was originally a feast day, not necessarily holy, to celebrate the birth of the lambs and the rebirth of the natural world after winter. When I first set foot on my spiritual path, Wicca was the only open group I could find. So for many years, I followed their schedule of holy days.

But I made a semi-conscious decision a few years ago to stop.  I am not Wiccan, I am not a witch; I’m a druid. The holy days are different, the beliefs are very different. So too, are the morals, though ethics remain unchanged. (the difference between morals and ethics should be the subject of a future blog, it can be complicated)

I do celebrate the Equinoxes and Solstices, but no longer do anything for the add-ons: Feb 2nd, May 1st, Aug 2nd… But lets get real.  I still do Halloween.

I mean… Halloween, the day of the dead, the veil to the underworld grows thin and I try to commune with my father, my grandparents, the boy I wanted to date who died right after high school. I can respect a holy day like that. It speaks to me, deep in my soul. Death is not the end, it is only a new beginning.

Which circles around, back to Easter. The beginning of Spring and a new gardening season. I no longer feel silly dreaming over seed catalogues.

However you celebrate Spring, and whatever you call it; I hope that your weekend was special, filled with love and chocolate.  Mine was.