nalohop's blog

Working out

Is it a workout if it only lasts ten minutes? (It's okay; I know the answer is yes, depending.) Turns out my stamina on my footbike at the moment is about the same as my current stamina for a writing sprint. Especially in rapidly climbing desert heat. But that was fun, brief as it was. Ester Dean's "Drop it Low" was the perfect rhythm (and exhortation) for the first part, and Stromae's "Formidable" worked pretty well for the slow, slightly uphill second part.

Now, errands. Meds and painkillers to take, plants need watering, need to buy groceries for dinner for friend coming over tomorrow, need to do some laundry and tidying of this insanely messy apartment. Plus I have to mail away a mermaid to someone who just bought one from me. And permissions for/copies of a couple stories to be reprinted. And receipts for reimbursement for an event at which I worked.

(This is one of the "Chubby Models" series by Casarotto.)

Writing: goal-setting, goal scoring

Huh. I like that. Thinking of writing goals as something you score, as in netball (which I played in high school), rather than something you meet, as in obligations. Cause really; which sounds like more fun?

Writing, June 15, 2014

Just shy of 1,000 raw new words today in the new novel.

Gunsy was back, with the big cast iron frying pans this time. “Faster, I said.” He clanged the frying pans down into the water. Suds splashed onto Clara’s apron and into one eye. She fished a plate out of the sink. A glob of chewed gristle was stuck to it, floating in yellow grease beside two gnawed pork chop bones and an oil-logged, wadded-up admission ticket. She winged the plate at Gunsy. It caught him on the shoulder. He howled, grabbing for his injured arm. She smashed another three plates on the ground before two roustabouts and the World's Strongest Lady shoved her down to the ground and held her fast.

Pistachio rose water ice cream (no lactose)

I made ice cream! I adapted the recipe based on whim and the ingredients I had at home: half honey, half pureed dates; the eggs may or may not have been free range; our apartment building has rose hedges in bloom, so I added some fresh rose petals; didn't have saffron, but did have raw turmeric root, so I used that instead of saffron. I only had salted pistachios, so I rinsed them. It left a bit of salt in them, but you can't taste it in the ice cream. Turned out pretty well, except that the custard wouldn't thicken forever. Finally, I looked up some coconut milk custard recipes, and one of them suggested adding starch, so I used some tapioca starch I had. That did the trick. The serving in the pic went slightly soft under the light, and I was too excited at having actually made ice cream to put it back into the freezer and wait till it firmed up some more.

Ice cream!

Josephine Baker pin

Retro "blackamoor" pin

Writing

Classes are over, but there's still admin work to be done. Today was reading, marking and meetings. But I still managed to get in a couple of pages of writing. Some raw sentences are below. I've also been invited to join a summer writing "collective" on campus. We'll each have our own office in a pleasant building that has the look of a converted cottage. It has a lovely kitchen, and a screening room where I may try to show films from time to time, if I have the energy. There's a lily pond outside, with what look to be guppies living in it. There are also signs that warn of the possibility of rattlesnakes. For some reason, this amuses me.

From the cupboard near the door of the hut, Clara pulled out the wooden box that held Mummy’s needles, awl, and good strong thread. She could have traded the box long since for food or some other freeness. She was glad now that she hadn’t been able to bear the thought of giving away Mummy’s tools. Clara hated sewing, but she knew how to use the needles. If she could beg or thief a scissors, she would have a trade with which to make her way in the world. “Selvon,” she said, “you know where I could find a scissors?”

Help me find my Amazon links?

You may know that Amazon is trying to strongarm Hachette Books -- my main publisher -- by obstructing Hachette authors' titles on Amazon's websites. Amazon has in some cases removed "buy" buttons and is suggesting other books instead. It is telling readers that Hachette Books are unavailable, and/or that they will take weeks to be shipped. So much for Amazon customer service. Yes, yes, I know that it's a battle of titans and that the giant multinational that owns Hachette has issues of its own. I know that within the bounds of the law, Amazon has the right to decide what it doesn't or doesn't want to sell, and how. And I have the right to dislike it. Amazon's market share is 40%. Their current business tactics are hurting writers and readers. Now, I'm not going to give anyone static for buying through Amazon. They sell more than books, they're quick, they're convenient, and if you don't have or can't access local bookstores, you may find Amazon a good option. Do ya do. For my part, even though I was already buying many of my books locally, from the excellent Cellar Door Books, I have cancelled my Amazon Prime membership and am making an extra effort to purchase my books and media elsewhere, from places that aren't actively trying to scuttle my sales. I'm also pulling any Amazon links from my web site. If you should happen to notice any that I haven't caught, I'd appreciate it if you could drop me a note.

New novel underway

School's sort of out for the summer -- which for UCR means till the end of September -- so, aside from marking and meetings and general admin, I've been able to begin work on the new novel that side-swiped me after the news of winning the Norton Award. I had been trying to continue work on one of the two novels I've had on the back burner for a few years now, when my concept for one of them began to change. In fact, it changed so much that it's no longer anything like the novel I'd planned. At all. The decade and the protagonist's name and sex are the same, but that's about it. Different location, different storyline, different characters, different dilemma, different solution. There was another key change as well; for the first time in a very, very long time, I didn't feel my energy ebbing away as I began to contemplate all the research, thought and writing a novel entails. I wrote up a two-page summary for my agent and began research and writing immediately. As of today's 471 words, I'm now 3,110 words in. Agent likes the idea, thinks it needs fleshing out. So do I. We'll have a telephone writing conference together sometime over the summer. Here are some of today's words:

Clara folded her dress and smalls around her pistol. She laid them down atop her boots in an alcove that stank of beer piss and dried jism. Her belly grumbled. All animal ichors smelled like food to the creature. Clara went over to Samuel. Knelt by his side. The beast inside sent a surge of joy. Yes. Prey. Feast. And then a bile of disappointment when it realized Clara was going to do nothing of the sort. Instead, she examined Samuel’s clothes. Not much blood on them. Some on the collar.