Oi! Subconscious! Pick an idea and stick with it!

Uh, I had actually divulged my ideas for my new writing project to some of you and I have to say that, in the wave of a revelation about Henry, Ephraim, and Jack (who were previously on a timeout for being uncooperative [and poor Finny and her lighthouse never even crossed my mind]), Ned, Vera, and what’s-his-name (it’s probably not a good sign that I STILL haven’t come up with a name for my second lead) have now been sent to the corner to think about what they’re supposed to be doing.

So now instead of WWII, I’m focusing on Napoleonic!Britain/States? Or maybe Gold Rush!California/Australia…

Oh, my goodness…

…have I really not posted anything since the Thanksgiving post? I think I’ve been in a blogging funk since the pictures didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, so here’s a quick update:

  1. The previous post was to be the first in a series of three – that one was Eat… to be followed by …Drink… because in addition to all that Thanksgiving food, I also got two liqueurs started (Parents, they better still be there when I come home for Xmas!), a cranberry liqueur and an eggnog one. The cranberry one looked nice the last time I saw it – the eggnog one, I have my reservations about. I think I may have overdone the orange extract and it smelled pretty strong (yes, even for me!). But I’ll be sure to let you know how the finished products turned out.
  2. The third post was to be …and Be Merry! showing you pictures of my family’s Thanksgiving craft project – pop-up turkeys made simple by the genius that is Robert Sabuda. I always end up feeling a bit inadequate when I do arts and crafts projects with my parents – my dad always ends up making something very realistic and gorgeous (frankly, my mom and I had a hard time telling between his turkey and the one we were meant to eat) and my mom ends up making something that’s perfect and pretty. Mine? Looks like it was made by a 6 year old. Who’s bad at doing arts and crafts. Want to see? (It’s drying flat here, but it did pop up once the glue was dry.)
  3. Let’s see…what else… Oh, my mom and I repainted the walls in my living room – they were a very pretty but very dark sort of eggplant kind of color, but the room is just too small for it – combined with the abnormally low ceilings in here and it really was like living in a cave. But now the walls are white and I’m going to wallpaper up to a chair rail with this (I think it’s a bit more of a teal color in person):
  4. My parents gave me an Xmas tree of my very own! It’s fake, but it’s a good fake and I love it – it looks very festive in here now. So far (knock on wood), the cats don’t seem to be very interested (even in the ornaments) – I’m hoping that, because it doesn’t smell like squirrels and the outdoors, they will leave it alone …
  5. I got nowhere near completing NaNoWriMo – I blame Thanksgiving, but either way…Anne FAIL! But 5,000 words is better than nothing, so I don’t feel entirely like a loser. 😉
  6. I’m busy, busy, busy planning our Xmas dinner (here’s what I did last year). I can’t decide if I want to do another crazy gingerbread project – I wasn’t super-pleased with last year’s (good old Frank Lloyd Wright still gets my blog visit count way up in December, though) and I have an idea that involves a four-layer cake, so I may call that my General madness activity for the season. We’ll see…
  7. Tonight is the last new Glee episode until April. APRIL?! But at least Better Off Ted is back and Chuck‘s return is imminent. Scrubs is on, too, but I’m not sure how I feel about that… Did they really need another season? I thought the end of last season served as a good way of wrapping up the series, but I guess the network had other ideas. I’m sure I’ll keep watching, though!

As you can see…

…I’m DREADFULLY behind on my NaNoWriMo. I managed a fairly big push today, mostly by being very bad and skipping ahead to write a scene that won’t happen for quite some time but that I had pretty set in my head. That ate up about 2,000 words, but still. (I ought to have hit approximately 16,000 words today and I think I’ve only just barely hit 5,000.)

Part of the reason I’m behind is that I am the world’s best procrastinator and managed to make no less than two soups, Brian’s Potato Cheese Soup (of which I have no photo, but you know what soup looks like) and Sweet Potato, Corn, and Jalapeno Bisque, both of which were very tasty. The potato cheese soup was pretty traditional. The sweet potato, corn, and jalapeno bisque is less so, but still very, very good – it’s a little sweeter than I was imagining, but the molasses adds a nice smokey flavor to it and the jalapeno and cayenne bring out a warmth that cuts through the sweetness.

Accompanying that, I also made cornbread and honey butter to go with it. Mostly because I had extra buttermilk left over from the butternut squash casserole I made a while ago and from the lemon cake I made after that to try and use up the rest of my buttermilk. I had to do a bit of searching for a cornbread recipe – I prefer sweeter cornbread – and stumbled across this one along the way. It’s perfect – moist and sweet (without being cake-sweet or anything). Yum!

Then I made the aforementioned lemon cake from Ina’s recipe (how can you go wrong, right?). It was very easy – though my hand got very tired from zesting and juicing all those lemons! – and very tasty. I decided to put this in the freezer since I also have the cornbread to get through, so I’ll try and remember to let you know how well it survives that experience.

And then I made Linguine with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Pine Nuts. I had never done the whole char-the-vegetable-and-the-skin-comes-right-off thing and this was the first time I’d used my broiler here, but it all went off without a hitch and ended up being super-tasty. I think I might add some goat cheese next time, but it was still very good even without it.

And, quite by accident, I also discovered a very tasty cocktail called an Applejack Rabbit. I happened to have calvados around from making El Grito and lemons from making the lemon cake and maple syrup because I love waffles and always have it around, so I whipped one up (because I don’t really know what to do with the calvados) and it’s super-super tasty and, just as the original recipe says, perfect for fall!

So all of that (and this post) are the reason my NaNoWriMo total is so low. That and the fact that it is much harder than I was expecting! But I’m plowing ahead still – I may not actually hit 50,000, but anything’s better than nothing, I suppose. Wish me better luck this week! Janis, I hope you’re making better progress than I have been… 🙂

NaNoWriMo: Day 1

Holy cats, this is harder than I thought it would be! I’ve been staring at the computer all day (1, 667 words a day does not leave me time to write it out and then type it in) and have only done 1,452 words so far. I’m not giving up yet – I still have an hour before it’s time for me to go to bed…

I’m not planning on posting the whole thing here, but I thought I’d at least give you my first paragraph:

Ned had no idea where he was. It was dark and cold and there were loud noises that sounded like explosions and he had no idea where he was. Actually, that wasn’t true. Ned knew exactly where he was. He was huddled in a doorway in the high street just outside the tube station and the longer he sat there, the clearer it became that, although he knew where he was, what he didn’t know was when he was.

I’m hoping I can get the widget in my sidebar here to work eventually, but, failing that, I’ll at least keep you posted as to my progress. Wish me luck!

How are you doing, Janis? 🙂

Oh, for crying out loud!

I just realised that November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and, at the pace this year has gone, it will be here in no time. I have always wanted to do it, but have never actually done it or even tried.

Anyone up for a go with me? (Janis, I’m looking at you!)

It might just be the key to getting over my enormous (i.e., 3-year-long) case of writer’s block…

Nonfiction

Blitz: The Story of 29 December 1940 by Margaret Gaskin

The next in my Blitz research readings, this book took me nearly forever to finish. And I can tell you why, too. The entire book reads like front matter – I kept sighing in frustration and thinking ‘Man, this Introduction is LONG’ only to realise that I was on page 100-and-something, deep in chapter 14. The first half of the book is background information, leading up to December 29 – the raid which resulted in the second Great Fire of London and the famous, famous picture of St. Paul’s rising, somehow unscathed, from a dense cloud of smoke as the City burned around it. Led astray by yet another subtitle (Margaret, either get there quicker or change your subtitle)!

When we finally get to the main action of the night in question, the pace really picks up. Until it immediately drags to a glacial pace again. I see what she was trying to do – throughout the introduction, she introduces certain characters (some are firemen, some are journalists, some are American, most are Londoners, some are women, some are men, all of them are real) that she is then going to follow through the events pretty much as they happen. Unfortunately, I found this hard to follow. It may have been my fault – not realising where she was going, I didn’t know that I needed to remember all these different names (the only one I could recognise each time was Nev Coates). It also made it sort of difficult to get a sense of the night all in one go because it was chopped up as she jumepd back and forth around the City, checking in on the different people. I think it would have been easier to follow – though perhaps less pretty – if she’d just taken us through the night person by person.

(I have to say, though, that the sections of the book are fairly cleverly named – I didn’t get it until I got to the section of the night itself which is called “Fugue” – that’s when I realised what she was meaning to do with the different characters, weaving their experiences together to create one tapestry of the night [I’ve always wanted to use that tapestry metaphor and it just fits here – I don’t care that it’s cliche!].)

She had lots of interesting information and she definitely captured the feeling of being there, right in the midst of the towering flames and the bombs falling, but I feel like I should have been glued to the page, holding my breath to find out what havoc was going to be wreaked on London. Instead, it just felt like a burden to pick this book up each night. So I see what she was trying to do and I’ll give her points for it (and for using the St. Paul’s photo on her cover), but it’s not what I was hoping for.

My rating: B-