Thursday, September 24, 2009

Research and Weekend Plans


I'm behind. I'm a week behind on the book, and probably two weeks behind on blog posting. Won't even talk about my laundry, but the kitchen is hanging on by the skin of its teeth.

Such an odd phrase - skin of its teeth. Especially since teeth don't have skin.

I'm a little loopy. Frankly, I'd love nothing better than a nap but I'm fighting those instincts and trying to get things done. Like blog.

I called the Art Institute of Portland today to see if I could schedule a tour of the campus. I came clean about being a writer - having a phone conversation as your character is exhausting enough, trying to be them in person seems daunting. While I half expected the admissions office to blow me off so they'd have time for real students, the office was very helpful, even directed me to their PR person.

We get to do that Saturday. Also on tap Saturday, earlier that day, is a meeting with my web designer. We've kind of tried to put things together over the phone - not something I'd recommend. It's like giving advice about a painting over the phone. So we're getting together, hopefully over cupcakes. We'll also take some additional author shots for the website; the kind of shots we get and what I wear will decide the color palate for the site. There are decisions to be made. I kind of suck at decisions. For a while I was thinking, two days, I'll only pack for two days. That's not much! But now I'm realizing I'll need to bring clothing options and books for props...this is all practical, mind you. None of my over-packing tendencies are coming into play here.

Cupcakes, on the other hand - I'm great with cupcakes.

After the tour and after the web meeting, we'll most likely be heading down to Powell's to look at their rare books. More and more of Simply Sara seems to revolve around rare manuscripts, and I've really enjoyed the research. Finally found this site for terminology, so I finally know what it means when pages are "foxed."

I had intended to head to the U of O's Knight Library to look at their collection, but I couldn't come up with the energy. The books aren't going anywhere, and when I'm spending this much time stressing over the book, it's nice to have another afternoon at home to work.

Tonight we're helping my brother and his wife move into their new apartment, which brings back memories of moving into ours. I remember waking up in the morning, stumbling into the living room, and sorting through the boxes of belongings and wedding gifts.

An update on the basil: it is still alive. However, it's been fairly unhappy with me since I left it for a short period of time in a hot car on a 100+ degree day (I don't usually take it for drives; the reason it was in the car was that I had to take it to my grandmother's before the Canada trip, and thought it would be prudent to run errands before hand. Little did I know).
These days, it gets a little wiggy if it gets too much sun. I'm hoping to keep it alive through the winter, though, so here's hoping.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Baby Steps

I just realized recently that I have difficulty breaking things down and planning. I get overwhelmed with the number of things to do, to the point that I get completely overwhelmed.

This is not an advantageous character trait for someone who writes 85,000 word novels for a living.

Pretty much, if I try to do much else than the book - you know, laundry, forage for food, that sort of thing - I tend to get wigged out.

So my new thing is to break things down into steps for myself. My new stationery item o'choice is magnetic notepads for the refridgerator. (It used to be post-it notes, lots and lots of post-it notes. While I still have an affection for them, I don't work at a proper desk very often. The fridge, however, isn't going anywhere.) The method at hand is to write the things I want to do, specific to the day, on the pad. Then I'll write the other things I want to accomplish over the week.

We'll see how goes. In other news...

My editor sent me this link in my email this morning. While Angela Hunt is at the top of her writing game, I'm still convinced that when it comes to procrastinating, I could take her.

Also, with the Toronto International Film Festival going on until Saturday, all the likely Oscar contenders are being rolled out. Can't tell you how much I'd love to be there. Because I'd love to see this -



And this -



And, honestly, I thought The Young Victoria was the one I was most excited to see. It had princesses, right? Well, then I saw this trailer -



It had me at "Jedi Master."

I'm giggling just writing about it. And sure, while we could have a conversation about how psychics are at best fooling people, or at worst demon-possessed, I figure we're in a fictive world. If George Clooney wants to knock over goats with his gaze, I say go ahead.

In fact, my mom has a look (the death mommy look) that would probably knock a goat over. George Clooney doing it - maybe not out of the realm of possibility.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

An Amish Epiphany


Okay. Spot the bad hair day. What? You can't??

Got my hair cut today. I have the cut that most of our mothers had when they got married. (This was not intentional). The spirit of Farrah is alive and well. (No offense to our mothers, who should remember they don't have that haircut anymore either).

So I'm going back tomorrow morning (willingly, at 8:45, and for anyone who knows me, the 8:45 part is impressive). And I'm working on my book. My book about the Amish. And I got to thinking, Amish women have a leg up on us.

They don't have bad haircuts. None of them. Granted, this is because they don't cut their hair, but it's possible they're on to something.

Can you tell the book is slow going? I feel perpetually stuck, although my husband's suggestion of a snowstorm lifted my spirits.

And when my hair is cut again tomorrow, my spirits will be further lifted. Possibly because they're not weighed down by the perfect feathered flip.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Writing and Scones

Simply Sara is going well, but I have to admit that a part of me sees clever writing as an un-renewable resource.

Whenever I start a new project, I fear that this is the one where I realize I’ve used all the good words, the best jokes, the vivid characters, and there’s nothing left…

…until I come up with a really good idea, followed by another idea, and oh, wasn’t that a funny line? And I’m back to normal. The best part is, writers like Anne Lamott feel the same way (I found her
Bird By Bird to be very reassuring). We’re all a little odd, a little fearful. I suppose that’s what happens when your job is to write down the voices in your head.

In other, less philosophical news, I made really yummy scones yesterday.

We went blackberry picking weekend before last. Danny’s the best person to pick with because he’s even taller than I am, has very long arms, and doesn’t like blackberries, so he’s not eating and picking at the same time. We gathered about 10 cups of berries.

After two batches of cobbler, I decided to get a little creative. I used
this recipe and altered it for my purposes. I omitted about 1/4 c. sugar and the raisins (blech!) and added the zest of 2 1/2 lemons (basically, the amount of lemons I had on hand), 1 c. blackberries. When they cooled, I gave them a thin coat of lemony icing, using fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar (no particular amounts here, just start with the sugar and add lemon juice until it’s where you want it).

I worried about the dough because you’re not supposed to over-handle it, but it was so loosey-goosey I kind of had to manhandle it into submission, and getting the blackberries in took some work. I worried I’d made them too tough, but they came out perfectly. One note - I froze my blackberries so they’d keep their shape when I worked with them. Realize you’ll have to bake scones longer if you insert frozen berries into them (I didn’t, and had to keep putting them back in the oven).

If you live in a part of the country that’s lousy with raspberries, they would certainly work well too. Blueberries would be fine, but blackberries and raspberries are a bit juicier for this sort of thing.

If you try the recipe, let me know what you think!