nalohop's blog

Brain pan overfloweth

Writing synapses firing on all cylinders, ideas coming almost too quickly for me to write them down. I feel as though my eyes have turned inwards and are contemplating my own brain. Seeing new, textureful connections amongst elements of Sister Mine. Have been stopping every few minutes along my walk to haul out my notebook and scribble in it. I'm at the gym now, about to do a workout. I may have to carry my notebook to the treadmill with me.

Sister Mine rewrite, snippet

I'm up to p. 86 of the first pass rewrite. This is a snippet-in-progress. It could change, or disappear entirely from the final manuscript;

Mister Cross's eyes widened. "Motherhumping...do you know what that ignorant chit has gone and done?" He began a flow of impressively inventive invective.

"Hey!" said Suzy. "Quit it with the language, please? I had a hard enough time of it trying to explain when Naima heard the word 'fuck' on television and asked me what it meant."

Right away, he stopped cussing. He smirked at her. "Don't know why you're trying so hard; she'll be teaching herself what 'fuck' means anyway in a few short years."

"She needs to learn in her own good time, not in yours," Suzy replied. One good thing Suzy'd figured out over the years was that she didn't have to mind her p's and q's so much now that she and Mister Cross were practically in-laws, thanks to her fool sister. But you'd think Margaret would have had more sense than to take up with Boysie. Look at all the mess it had caused.

Suzy went over and took baby Winston back from Mister Cross. "Actually, she needs to learn in her parents' good time while she'll still listen to us, cause Roger and I have our hands full enough trying to deal with her at six, let alone at sixteen." Honesty scored you points with the old guys.

He smiled that eerie smile. "I feel you, cous, I really do. Kids, eh? One of our kin's trying to rip open the fabric of space and time right this minute. And all totally innocently, can you imagine? But don't young 'uns all try rip their worlds apart at some time or other?" He frowned. "Though it might be happening right now, or maybe a year from now. You folk are so finicky about time, living it in straight lines like that. It's enough to drive a body to drink."

"If that was a hint, I'm not giving you any white rum," Suzy replied.

Rewriting, refashioning, ICFA

The rewrite of Sister Mine is being fun. It's not going as quickly as it needs to, but I think it will. I just received notes on the manuscript from my agent, who happens to also be a very good fiction writing instructor. He has a knack for helping you find what's core to the energy of the book and for showing how to crank those elements up a few thousand notches. I've added his comments to the ones from my editor. I think I'll save both sets of comments for the second pass through the book. Or I may combine everything and do one pass after all.

ICFA is in a few days; the International Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts. It happens annually in Orlando, Florida. I try to get to it as often as I can. There's something heady about the mix of scholarly and writerly. I like to pack a few dresses for ICFA, It's warm there and the space feels celebratory, so I like to femme up a bit more than usual. I think one of the dresses I pack will be my most recent sewing project;

Gluten-free beet bread

Gluten-free beet bread. Pretty, but its flavour's actual... on Twitpic

Beet bread

Gluten-free experiment -- beet-ginger bread w salted kumquat ... on Twitpic

Mung bean sprouts

Sprouting mung beans for a veggie stir-fry dish for tomorrow&... on Twitpic

First try at gluten- and egg-free chocolate eclairs

So, the chocolate eclair experiment looks good and tastes great, and the apartment is suffused with the intoxicating smell of semi-sweet chocolate. The recipe needs to be refined further. The buns would be less greasy if I could bake them rather than fry them. But at the moment, the batter is too liquid to hold its shape on a baking tray. Really, that's the biggest issue. Once I'd made the buns, I was delighted to realize that plain, they would make great sandwich buns. I could also make them with a bit of curry powder and cumin in the dough, then slice them in half and fill them with curried channa (chickpeas) to make gluten-free doubles.

The eclairs look like a lot of work, but they're basically only three simple stages which you then assemble as easily as making a peanut butter sandwich. I began by using 2 cups of the following home-made gluten-free flour blend (if you don't have chia seed, try the same measures of xanthan gum);

FLOUR BLEND:
  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 2/3 cup potato starch
  • 1/3 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 tsp chia seed
  • Stir all together.

    PASTRY:
  • 2 cups flour blend
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/3 c. tepid water
  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 2 cups tepid water
  • Mix 1 tsp. sugar with 1/3 cup tepid water. Sprinkle yeast on top. Let sit for 5 minutes, till yeast begins to foam. Add yeast mixture and 2 cups tepid water to the flour blend. Mix into a fluffy dough/batter (its texture is somewhere between the two). Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place to rise, 1.5 hours. After first rising, stir the dough flat again. Cover with the cloth and leave to rise a second time, 1/2 hour.

    Another starred review of The Chaos

    Publisher's Weekly this time, in the March 15, 2012 issue;

    Mixing mythology and massively ­surreal events, adult fantasy author Hop­kinson (The Salt Roads) explores questions of identity and image in her YA debut The Chaos, set against the backdrop of a world gone mad. Canadian 16-year-old Sojourner “Scotch” Smith is trying to find her place, with her mixed Jamaican, black, and white heritage making it hard for her to fit in. Her relationships with her family, friends, and ex are in flux, weird black spots are growing on her skin, and she sees floating horse heads wherever she goes. Then, in a heartbeat, the planet is thrown into bedlam, with reality running wild and nightmares stalking the streets (“in London, Big Ben was now blowing giant soap bubbles.... There appeared to be a new island off the coast of Jamaica, and it seemed to be made of gumdrops”). Scotch must find her lost friends and family and come to terms with her own changing nature in a journey filled with peril, self-discovery, and terrifying moments. Hopkinson’s use of language and imagery is almost magical, and her characters add much-appreciated diversity to the genre. Ages 14–up.

    Rewrite, Sister Mine

    I'm up to page thirty of the first pass rewrite. I'll need to speed up if I want to do two rewrite passes by April 1.

    He led me into a tiny, stuffy office on the main floor. One scuffed desk, dark brown formica fake wood grain. No chairs; George perched on the edge of the desk while I bent over it to fill out the application form with the chewed ballpoint pen he lent me. "It's a good place," he said absently. "I gotta get another super, but that won't take long. If you need anything, just ask Brian, or one of the other tenants. They'll help you. Only not the chick in 213. She's a little crazy. Nothing to worry about! She gets nervous around strangers, is all. She stays on her medication, she's just fine. I'm helping her out, giving her a break on her rent till she's back on her feet. In any case, Welfare sends her rent cheque right to me, so no worries there. Anybody else can give you a hand if you need anything, and you have my number."

    He was talking as though I already had the apartment. That was a good sign. Nervously, I handed him the completed application form. It had asked for three references. I'd skipped that part. Wished I could put my uncle down, but Death didn't exactly have a street address or a phone number.