Wednesday, March 25, 2009

C is for...Cookie?

Julie Larios, VCFA faculty member and poet and goddess of the inspiring challenge, recently posted about a blog-challenge going around in which you are assigned a letter of the alphabet and then must post a list of 10 things you love that begin with that letter. She volunteered to assign letters to anyone else who wanted to play, and I was given the letter C. Now that my second packet for school has been sent off and I actually have a few minutes to post something, please allow me to present my C-list:

1. Cats. My cat (Cleo, another C!) in particular and also cats in general. My family always had cats growing up, and while I like dogs too, I am definitely a "cat person." They are cuddly and cute and sure, they can drive you crazy, but don't the ones we love always make us a little nuts? Even when Cleo is contrary to the point where she makes me want to cry, all it takes is a few minutes of her curled up with me on the couch, and all is forgiven.

2. Coffee. A delicious over-sweetened cup while I'm sitting at the computer in the morning: complete contentment.

3. Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Surely this needs no explanation.

4. Creatures, especially of the mythological kind. Dragons, centaurs, unicorns, manticores, hippogriffs, what-have-you.

5. Children. The ones I write for; the ones that belong to nice friends, old and new; and the ones I am lucky enough to be honorary "Aunt Mikki" to (Hi Maddie, Sophie, Emily, Alex, and Evie!).

6. Computer games. Even though I'm on temporary hiatus (trying not to cave and get a new, supercharged video card until after I'm done with my MFA), I have very fond memories of hours and hours and hours spent at my computer playing role-playing fantasy adventure games like Fallout and Neverwinter Nights. I hear I am totally missing out by not playing Fallout 3 right now. I believe it. It is very hard to resist. When I play the D&D-style games, I am usually some sort of combo character, so I can fight and use magic—I can never choose just one specialty, which means I never fully realize any particular set of skills...but choosing just one is hard, when there are so many cool options available.

7. Cereal. I used to have a real problem with cereal—like, I would eat three bowls at a time—but I've got it more under control these days. Still love it, though. I try to eat relatively healthy cereals for breakfast, but I almost always have some Frosted Flakes on hand for emergencies. When absolutely required, I will go to the corner store and get some Lucky Charms. And I have a deep nostalgic love for Smurfberry Crunch.

8. Chinese food. My go-to take-out option and one of my top two comfort foods of choice (the other is Italian food, which is probably my top favorite, but that doesn't begin with C). I especially like chicken chow fun (usually with snow peas but no other vegetables) and fried rice and egg rolls. You know, the classics.

9. Cherry Garcia frozen yogurt, from my good pals Ben & Jerry. Okay, I guess this is really my top comfort food option. I have to make myself stop buying it. I crave it pretty much all the time, though, and get a little thrill every time I see that green-rimmed little container in the freezer section at the store. My favorite way to eat it is with chocolate syrup and chopped walnuts. (Actually, my VERY favorite way to eat it is with oreo cookies smushed up in it, but that way lies madness, and I never go there except when suffering serious illness or broken heart.)

10. And finally...yes, cookies. Oreos are my favorite packaged variety. My favorite bakery variety are the chocolate chip walnut cookies they used to have at the Ithaca Bakery, until one day they told me they were no longer making them. I hope they have since come to their senses. I will check the next time I'm up in Ithaca, which will hopefully be this spring. If I bake cookies, which does not happen very often, my favorite kind to make is cranberry oatmeal. Although you can never go wrong with good old-fashioned Nestle Tollhouse, either.

11. Can't believe I almost forgot one of my favorite C animals - chickens! Plump, cluck-a-licious bundles of white fluffy goodness. Okay, yes, I know not all chickens are the fat white blobs that I love so much, but some of them are, like my favorite children's book chicken, Minerva Louise. Also when I lived in Lansing, NY, there was a house I used to pass sometimes that had bunches of those perfect fat white chickens running around on the lawn. They made me very happy. :)

If anyone out there would like to play, let me know and I'll assign you a letter!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Support your local independent bookstore!

As I learned via Laurie Halse Anderson, author Joe Hill has declared March to be Love-Your-Small-Bookstore-Month. This seems like a great idea to me, and so I took a nice walk over to my own small local indie this afternoon and bought myself a couple of books. (What books, you ask? Here, I will tell you: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan and First Test by Tamora Pierce.)

My local indie, btw, is The Community Bookstore in Park Slope. (I live on the other side of the park, but it's an easy and pleasant walk.) If you live nearby, or if you live elsewhere and just happen to be visiting Park Slope, you should go there. They have friendly dogs and things. And books too, of course. And every time I've been in, they've had Library Lion in stock. What else could you ask for? :)

If you don't know where your local independent bookstore is, will help you find it.

Bookstore visit bonus: I'm pretty sure I passed Steve Buscemi on the street as I was starting my walk home. That was cool.

Friday, March 6, 2009

good day for the to-do list

I actually crossed off all three items on my to-do list today. What were they, you ask? Here, I will tell you:

1. Call the gym to reschedule my Tuesday morning training session for the afternoon.
2. Work on novel for school.
3. Work on freelance editing projects.

All three of these things were accomplished. And in addition to some more backgroundy, world-building, figurey-out-y stuff, I wrote ACTUAL NEW WORDS in the novel. A whole new scene. Three and a half pages. 1142 words. I feel very good about this, considering how panicky I've been feeling about not moving forward.

I also even managed to get out for a couple of hours tonight and saw Shayfer James play at Bar 4 in Park Slope. Very fun—I've been trying to catch one of his shows forever, and was very glad to finally make it happen. I'm a big fan.

In other news, yesterday I finally finished a website redesign for I think it looks a little more streamlined and professional than the old version, and hopefully it will be easier to update as well. Someday there will be a real redesign, by a real web designer, but I'm happy with this for now. Part of me was a little sad to say good-bye to my old site, which I did completely in HTML (and I liked getting to be all proud of myself for doing all that coding and stuff). But it was a pain to update, especially to add new book information, and so I hadn't been updating it, and not being updated is not really a good thing for a website.

Here's hoping for another good productive day tomorrow...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

writer's hours

I've been reading bits and pieces of various craft books lately for inspiration and advice, including Lawrence Block's Telling Lies for Fun and Profit. Today I was reading his chapter on writer's hours, and all the things that "count" as work and not-work to his writing mind. Bascially, nothing REALLY counts as work except writing—not editing, not revising, not reading, not correspondence with editors, not (he didn't say but I am certain he'd agree) blogging. And it's true, I am sorry to say. Even though it's all necessary and important, it still doesn't feel like Work with a capital W unless pages are being produced and word counts are growing. Fitting that I should read that chapter today, when I spent way too much time playing around with making the Dragon of Trelian countdown widget you can now see at the top right of my blog's main page. I won't even mention all the additional time I wasted trying to get the damn thing to work in Facebook. (It never did; I finally gave up.)

As much as I share Block's feeling about only writing counting as, you know, writing, I am trying to relax that mentality just enough to let me feel good about all the background and figuring-out work I've been doing on my novel-in-progress. Because all that stuff really is essential right now, and I can't move ahead with writing until I get some things figured out. But I hate that there's no way to measure it, really. I can't add it to my pages/word count log, can't brag to anyone about what a great writing day I had, can't point to anything concrete as the fruit of my labor. I know it's important. It is. I just have to try and remember that while retaining just enough of that uncomfortable this-doesn't-count feeling to help speed me along to where I'll be ready for the actual word and page accumulation to begin again.

By the way:

Finally updated "where I'll be" with upcoming festivals, etc.

Also, check out my friend and classmate Janet Fox's interview on Cynsations!

And today is the release of fellow VCFA'er Julie Berry's debut novel, The Amaranth Enchantment!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

as usual

Behind on blogging, writing, and everything else. Today I had a four-item list of things I wanted to do. Most were biggish things—making a plan of attack for the rest of packet 2, finishing getting my tax stuff assembled for my rescheduled tax appointment, dealing with some of my email backlog—but still, only four. So far, at 7:26pm, I have only crossed out the one small item on the list, which involved making a quick phone call. Sigh.

I did accomplish some other stuff today, including a couple of things that had been hanging over my head for a while and were good to get done. But I keep putting off the two main things I need to address—packet and taxes—and I know that I just need to stop jumping around to other things and focus already. FOCUS, ALREADY! They're both just so big and overwhelming. Well, actually, I did the worst of the tax stuff already, I think, so that won't even be so bad to just finish up. But the packet stuff is so...much. Hard to get my head around all the stuff I need to do. Which is exactly why I need a plan of attack. Especially since I was totally sidelined for the past week with what I believe was the very first time I have ever had the flu. (It was extremely unpleasant. I do not wish to repeat the experience. Ever.)

While I wasn't doing the big things I needed to do today, I joined Twitter. Not sure yet how I feel about that, but it seemed to be time. Lots of VCFA types on there, and you can follow VCFAwriters as a group if you would like to hear about all the great things VCFA students, faculty, and alumni are up to.

Oh and also—last Sunday was my birthday. Had a lovely Italian dinner with good friends the night before, which turned out to be good timing since the flu took me down out of the blue on Sunday night.

OK. Update achieved, I guess. Still time to make progress on my list. Focus, focus, focus. Srsly!