i show you a thing! two things! only one might make you go eww!
Work on the Magic Pens anthology is progressing. Author bios are getting finalized, and final story edits are due back in the next couple of days. My story got the benefit of a couple more pairs of eyes, and I'm thrilled with all the care and attention that this editorial team is bringing to the project. I'm also thrilled to see who else is in the table of contents with me; the Codex online writers' group is well represented.
And the cover art is finalized! I get to share it with you!
If you want to get a head start on ordering your copy, the preorders page is here. Note that the limited editions are only guaranteed available through March. Mid-May is what I'm hearing for shipping (of any edition).
Because you have come to expect foodie content on this blog, and I am loathe to disappoint, BEHOLD: How I learned to
love tolerate liverwurst.
Look. I picked some up thinking, "Hey, look! Liverwurst! I've never had liverwurst. I wonder if I'll like it?" because that's how I approach food. I sliced off some and spread it on toast and lo, I did not like it. The ingredient list said "pork, pork liver, spices," but as far as my mouth was concerned, it was just liver paste. I may have actually gagged.
But I didn't want to throw the rest away. I hate wasting food. So I found these sandwich recipes. I like the cream cheese and cucumber one best; it has enough bright, crisp flavors in it to
balance out mask the liver muddiness. And, as a bonus, there's literary content.
(I was also open to frying slices of liverwurst in bacon fat along with a bunch of chopped collard greens, as I remember actually liking a charbroiled liver and collards dish I got at the French Quarter Fest some years back. I had no fresh collard greens in the house at the same time as the liverwurst, however. Maybe next time. If there is a next time.)
And that's what I've got for you today!
heaven is a door you can close
- 1,137 words (if poetry, lines) long
As promised, the Friday Fictionette for February 7 went out today. For once it's just a fun bit of fluff, "How the Royal Stablemaster Won the War." The TL;DR summary is "A plan requiring a horse is doomed to failure if it does not take into account that a horse is a living being with needs, a will, and a mind of its own." The Douglas Adams quote concerning the inevitability of forming opinions about the person who sits on your back all-day-every-day makes an appearance. Here's your links to the Patron-locked ebooks and audiobook. I don't think the links are reversed anymore, but if the one takes you to the other, then the other will surely take you to the one.
So that's what I did this morning. Then this afternoon I darn near finished the entire text of tomorrow's release--another fun bit of fluff, which is probably why it came together so quickly--thus increasing the probability that it gets posted on time and I reach Happily Ever After that much sooner. On the other hand, my husband decided to take tomorrow off (it's his birthday!), and he proposed we use that time to finally watch Steven Universe Future together. So that brought the probability of a February 14 release back down again. I believe that makes a zero net movement of probability.
But about that afternoon fictionette work: I decided to bring it to downtown Brighton. I was going to be in Brighton for scrimmage tonight anyway, and City Hall has a convenient charging station I like to plug the Chevy Volt into, and also there's this library. And I got that work done at the library. And that is a minor miracle.
See, me and the library in Brighton have had a rocky relationship. It is a beautiful space with fantastic resources and very helpful staff! It is also completely devoid of that stereotypical "Sshh!" library culture. To some, that probably sounds refreshing. No stern-faced librarians shushing you unreasonably! But what it actually means in practice is kids of all ages yelling at the top of their lungs and running around. It means adults holding shouted conversations across the stacks. It means there is no reliable quiet zone anywhere in that sunny and well-appointed space. I suppose the community doesn't particularly want one. That's their right and their choice, but it's utterly alien to me.
Also I have had some really strange encounters there. Once, the staff member helping me out had to apologetically interrupt our session for the four police officers who'd quietly materialized around us. That was startling. Some ninety seconds earlier, there was this kid, I don't know what he was up to, but it was probably less than 100% above-board because the staff member told him No, Wait, Stop, and he ignored her until she damn near body-blocked him. I have no idea whether the two incidents were related. I have no reason to assume they were.
I don't know. I just find the whole place very weird. But it's so beautiful! So I keep going back! And having very unsettling encounters. And feeling this unreasonable sense of betrayal because IT'S A LIBRARY I SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET WORK DONE IN A LIBRARY WHY CAN'T I GET WORK DONE IN THIS LIBRARY?!
But last week it finally occurred to me that I could use a study room. They have three of them lined up on the sunny side of the building. All I needed to do was get a library card, and then a study room could be mine for a whole two hours. I could go in and close the door and make all the noise go away. Or, well, not so much go away as get distant. That's enough to make it something I can tune out, which is amazing, because I am not good at tuning stuff out. Some glitch in my brain is convinced that any words spoken within my hearing range are addressed to me and I need to pay attention. But I went in there and closed the door and all the shouting voices sounded far enough away that my brain accepted that they were not my problem. Even when the study room next door was being used today to watch a movie, the noise was muffled enough that just turning on my own music drowned it out.
Which hasn't ended the unsettling encounters, you understand. Some guy stood and stared at me through the study room door for an uncomfortably long time. I'm not sure why. (I have a few guesses.) But that door was closed, so once I turned to get him out of my peripheral vision, I didn't have to care. There was writing to do, and by golly, I did it.
So now I can get work done at the library in Brighton, and everything is right with the world. The End.
within range of the smell of the violets that grow atop Mt. Overdue
- 996 words (if poetry, lines) long
I released another overdue Friday Fictionette the other day! The January 24 offering is "Listening," the aforementioned Momo fanfiction piece. It turned out not to be nearly the act of character assassination I feared. It's just that she's a grown-up and so are all her friends, and grown-up problems are complicated and don't always have good solutions. The ebook, available at the $1/month subscription tier, is here; the audiobook for the $3 monthly sub tier is here.
Meanwhile, the text of the Friday Fictionette that was due last week, February 7, is done and ready for production tomorrow morning. Which in theory means the February 14 offering could be ready to release on February 14. Not making any promises, mind you; Friday afternoons remain difficult and low-energy. But if it doesn't go live on February 14, it'll show up not long after. And then I'll be back on schedule: one release every first through fourth Friday, requiring only 25 minutes of work per day for me to keep up.
Then I will be able to do so much short story revision! Three two-hour sessions of short story revision per week! Luxury! There's so much I want to do. I want to expand the creepy doll flash piece, for one thing; I just got a personal rejection from a big-name magazine on it, and that feedback has finally convinced me that the story needs another scene or two to make it feel less rushed and railroaded. And I was halfway through rewriting the potato salad story towards the end of December when I laid it aside because A. it wasn't going to make GALACTIC STEW's deadline, and B. right about then I began the aggressive push to get the Friday Fictionette project back on schedule. I'm eager to return to the potato salad story, not least because I originally wrote it something like six years ago and it's time, y'all, it's more than time I sent that sucker out. I've got at least a couple "science fantasy" style pieces released as part of the Friday Fictionette project that, with a bit of expansion, might be good candidates to submit to Escape Pod, especially considering how warmly the Escape Artists podcasts encourage Patreon reprints. (See also.) And I'm just finishing up the final week of a rapid-fire flash fiction contest, which means I have four new flash-length stories ready for revision attention.
All those short stories, waiting for my loving attention! Not long now, friends! I'll be with you soooooooon!
In news of imminent publication, I just turned in my biography paragraph for Community of Magic Pens, and the latest estimated release date I'm hearing for that anthology is mid-May. Pencil it onto your calendars, y'all.
on the benefits of high pressure fiction practice; also a recipe
- 983 words (if poetry, lines) long
- 1,021 words (if poetry, lines) long
Hey, I just posted another overdue Friday Fictionette yesterday! It was the release scheduled for January 17. It's called "The Huntsman's Assignment" (ebook, audiobook) which, yes, is a reference to the dude who gets sent out to kill Snow White and bring back her heart in a box. It isn't a Snow White retelling, but the assignment remains. Look, it comes with a content note for suggested harm to children. Best go in knowing that.
Now I'm working on the January 24 release in hopes to push it live tomorrow night. It's looking like Momo fan fiction. You know Momo? The lesser-known children's novel by Michael Ende, author of The Neverending Story? The little girl who listens, and the Men in Grey who convince everyone to "save time"? Ok, so, the Jan 24 story-like object is about her, but all grown up and living in a complicated world, and, well, apologies in advance, but I'm about to commit mild character assassination.
I do not always write grim cynical things! OK, the drabble forthcoming at Daily Science Fiction is pretty cynical. But the stories forthcoming at Cast of Wonders and Community of Magic Pens are sweet! Bittersweet, maybe. But they are guaranteed to contain a significant portion of your daily recommended intake of hope and heart! Promise! But... sometimes the grim stuff comes out. You're not surprised, right? I also write horror. You know this.
On a related note, I'm realizing yet another benefit I'm getting from the Friday Fictionette project: behind schedule as I am, I'm still getting a lot of practice at producing presentable story drafts in a very short amounts of time. The Magic Pens story has my Friday Fictionette practice to thank for its existence. Mostly written all in a single evening, but still polished enough to submit and sell? That's not something I could have done without some five years' practice writing four short-shorts a month.
So the project is stressing me out some as I scramble to get back on top of the release schedule, but my writing skills are improving in all sorts of ways because of it. And of course now I have this huge stable of reprintable flash fiction, which has led to two paid publications to date. So. Conclusion? Worth it.
All right. Time for a recipe. Let's talk West African Peanut Stew
I've been making a lot of this lately. And eating a lot of it, too. I could probably eat it three meals a day for three weeks and not get bored. It's hearty, nutritionally dense, and full of complex flavor and texture. It's super easy to make, and it's a great excuse to haul out Mawmaw's big iron gumbo pot.
(Gods I love that pot. Me and that pot, we talk chicken fricassee, we talk mushroom bourguignon, and we definitely talk gumbo. But, yeah, we've been talking peanut stew a lot.)
From looking around the internet, I can see this recipe from Budget Bytes is only one variation on a wider theme; the Wikipedia entry for peanut soup led me to a couple that look really interesting. But the Budget Bytes recipe is convenient, as it's not particularly time consuming or difficult to prepare, and its ingredients are all readily accessible at any bog-standard mainstream U.S. grocery store. I don't have to plan too hard about it. All I gotta do is pick up some sweet potato and a bunch of collards on my regular Friday grocery run. Maybe a can of tomato paste too, since I don't have much on hand all that often. It's also vegan and gluten free, which means I can make it for pretty much anyone I know who isn't allergic to peanuts. And as long as they like things like sweet potatoes and collard greens, I guess.
My vegetarian husband doesn't care too much for sweet potatoes and collard greens, which means 1. more for me, and 2. I can carnivore it up if I want. Last time I made it, I added bacon. I cooked three big slices of bacon until the grease covered the bottom of that iron pot. Then I took the bacon out, chopped it up, and set it aside to be added back in along with the broth, peanut butter, and tomato paste. So basically I substituted bacon grease for olive oil, because I fear no cholesterol (thanks, genetics!). But the other adjustment I made was to throw the chopped-up collard greens in to sautée with the sweet potato chunks, because I'm less interested in collards boiled in soup than I am in collards fried in bacon grease and then boiled in soup.
Meanwhile, I'm making the brown rice in the multicooker. This last time I actually used the BROWN RICE function, not the PRESSURE function. I still don't know how the two functions differ, but it worked just fine. 2 cups brown rice to 2-3/4 cups water, set the timer for 22 minutes, turn it off when it beeps and allow it to sit 20 minutes longer before releasing the pressure. Definitely turn it off; leaving the multicooker to KEEP WARM for too long resulted in burnt, dried-out rice that one time I made that mistake.
Also, don't mistake the BROWN function for the BROWN RICE function. "Why? Why are you beeping at me? What is your emergency? ...Oh. RIGHT. Got it."
It took me maybe three days, maybe less, to get through all of it. Now I am ready to make more. And tomorrow is Friday! Friday is grocery day! How convenient!
there will be book
I signed a contract today! You know what that means? DETAILS! Here are all the joyous details. Almost all, anyway. Everything I know thus far. Which is this:
My brand new short story, "One Story, Two People," will be included in Community of Magic Pens, a forthcoming anthology from Atthis Arts. It will be a multi-genre celebration of "the joy, power, community, and diversity of writing"--and it's going to be fun! You can preorder copies in hardback, ebook, or in special commemorative limited editions, right now! Shipping is estimated to be sometime in May. (I don't know the precise release date yet.)
So I already told the tale of how this story got written, how I stayed home from roller derby practice on Deadline Day, January 15th, to make sure it got written and submitted in time. What I haven't mentioned is how, after I got the story drafted and more or less in its final form, when I gave it one final line-editing pass, and I got to the end, the damn thing made me cry. John got home around about then, and I had to reassure him: "It's OK! These are good tears. These are 'I wrote a story and it appears to have emotional weight' tears." Except, between y'all and me, I cry at any damn thing. It's true. I am so known for it, I don't even bother to be embarrassed about it anymore. So I'm never actually sure how useful "Author cried during revisions Y/N" is as a metric for whether my story's any good.
But it did get accepted, so there's that. And in the acceptance letter, the editor talked about the story in terms that made me think that maybe I'm not the only one who got a bit weepy at the end...? So, not sure whether it's a metric, but it's a data point. We can correlate it with the more salient data point, "Story got published Y/N" and see if there's supporting evidence for the hypothesis.
As of right now, my story has been through an initial round of line edits with the editor. It may get tweaked just a titch more, since I took her recommendation that we give it to a particular other editor on the team for a look-through. In any case, the contract is signed and THIS THING IS HAPPENING. Excitement! Happy dance! Whee!
Now get over to the publisher's website and check it out!
this blog got that name for a reason
Given that this blog was initially intended to chronicle the day-to-day writing process, one might find oneself asking, "What are you actually writing these days, Niki?" And I might find myself answering, "A whole bunch of flash fiction at a ridiculously rapid pace. I'm getting caught up on the Friday Fictionette project, dang it--I mean it this time!"
You remember the Friday Fictionette project? Every first through fourth Friday, I release a new short-short story-like object, like 850 to 1250 words long, for the entertainment of my Patrons. Pledging at the $1/month tier gets you access to the ebooks (pdf, epub, and mobi format); pledging at $3/month also gets you the audiobook, which I narrate. It's part self-publishing experiment, part writing practice, and sometimes, as we've recently seen, it even results in reprint sales. There's really no downside to writing four new short-shorts a month...
...but there is a downside to getting behind schedule. And I've been behind for, oh, the better part of 6 months now. And I'm really, really tired of it. Literally tired! Carrying Mount Overdue on my shoulders saps my physical and mental energy, as well as putting a crimp in my time. I know that if I could just get back on top of that first-through-fourth-Friday release schedule, I'd have so much more oomph in my day! Also more time to spread around to other writing projects.
So for the past week, I've settled into a catch-up schedule which consists of alternating writing days (on which I draft and revise the next story) with production days (on which I compile the ebooks, record the audiobook, and publish the Patron-only posts). It's been working splendidly. Last week I was some four to five weeks behind schedule; as of right now this second, I'm behind by two. I pushed the Jan 10 release today, and if all goes well, Jan 17 will go up on Friday, and Jan 24 over the weekend or early next week at the latest, allowing me most of next week to work on the Fictionette that's actually due at the end of next week.
I've attempted major catch-up pushes before, with only partial success. I think this time's different because I'm taking advantage of my natural rhythms. I have this regrettable tendency where, if I have a fantastically productive day, the next day I'll simply crash and burn. It's like I've got to recover after all that exertion and, I dunno, virtue. But what I can manage to do on low-energy, crash-and-burn days are very mechanical tasks, programmatic tasks, mindless repetitive tasks, tasks that don't involve a hell of a lot of creative brain. On days when the brain cannot word, much less word elegantly, it can handle compiling an ebook out of Scrivener, editing its stylesheet, and tweaking its metadata just fine. So alternating between days where I write a whole damn brand new flash-length story, and days where I read already-written words aloud and poke listlessly at the computer the same way I've poked at it a hundred times before, is working great.
It also helps that the next two poke-at-the-computer days fall on Friday and Sunday. Friday and Sunday are already low-energy days, because they start with high levels of physical and social exertion--Boulder Food Rescue on Friday mornings, roller derby practice on Sunday mornings. The real trick will be getting enough writing in on Saturday. Saturday has some fun items on its agenda. This is why I'm saying "early next week at the latest" about the Jan 24 release.
But then I'll be all caught up on the regular release schedule. I'll be able to relax back into the project's original, undemanding pace of 25 minutes a day. I'll begin to gradually get ahead of schedule, by golly! Meanwhile I'll reclaim all that time and energy to spend on other things. More original full-length short fiction, for instance. Maybe a successful novel rewrite. Maybe 2020 is the year I finally start shopping around a novel! The mind boggles at all the possibilities.
Anyway, that's what I've been actually writing this week.
not that 2020 is done paying off its debt you understand
Hey, look, it's tomorrow, and I'm dang well writing a blog post. And I'm going to start it off with more maddeningly vague news of a celebratory nature: Today's email included two rejections (one a form and one personal) AND ONE ACCEPTANCE. That's three acceptances in a single month and I'm starting to wonder when the other shoe will drop.
Maybe it already has dropped. I mean, just for example, if you're a Rush fan--and I'm a huge one--January got off to a rocky start, to say the least. (I don't feel I can blog about Neil Peart's passing yet. Maybe not ever. It's too big and sad, and others have said anything I could have said about it much more eloquently.) And if you're a sports fan, you just got some pretty terrible news this weekend about Kobe Bryant. The year 2020 is being totally tactless about how it hands out its good and bad news, just utterly failing to read the room. "Hey, so, don't be mad, but I killed off one of your lifelong heroes. Sorry, kid. Everyone dies eventually. But, hey! I'm making sure you get a ton of stuff published! So... we still cool?"
2020: The year of Really Good Stuff and Really Bad Stuff. Just like every other year in human history, I guess. I hope others affected by the Really Bad Stuff have some Good Stuff of their own to balance things out and make the Bad Stuff easier to bear. Because 2020 owes all of us a goddamn debt, right? Let's make it pay through the nose.
So, OK. This post was supposed to focus on the Good Stuff, so let's do that.
My two big fiction sales in 2019 were reprints, and I was glad of them, but they did leave me wondering if I'd ever write any publishable prose ever again. The flurry of poetry successes isn't to be sneezed at, true! But short stories are where my heart lives, and I began to doubt whether that love was requited. Then came the sales to Daily Science Fiction and Cast of Wonders, which made me do the Happy Dance Incessant! And yet those were pieces written in 2014 and 2018, respectively. What if I just... never wrote anything good again? What if I was doomed to sub and resub the same stable of stories, either placing them or trunking them ("trunking" is filing a story away as unpublishable and not submitting it anywhere anymore), maybe reprinting a few, but never successfully finishing new publishable works again?
(I believe that cognitive behavioral therapy calls this "catastrophizing." I'm kinda prone to it, if you hadn't noticed.)
So, hey, turns out that's not the case. The story that just now today got accepted for publication was written in its entirety during the first week of January. Hm. Well. "First week" is overstating things. I'd say 90% of the drafting and all of the editing was done on deadline day, because me and responsible adult time management are hardly ever in the same room and also not on speaking terms. I stayed home from roller derby practice to finish it, which meant I finished it Under Pain of Regret--I'd have desperately regretted skipping practice and not had a story submission to show for it. But I did finish it, I did submit it, I felt good about it, and I went to bed hardly regretting the lack of skating in the previous 24 hours at all.
And now that story's been accepted, which not only makes me feel that much less guilty about skipping practice that night, but also helps to reassure me that, there, Niki, you see, you can still write new stuff and get it published! Look at you, writing and selling new stuff like a real goddamn writer and everything!
I'm also pretty pleased because one of the hardest things to do is take a story that was specifically written to a particular market's theme and then try to sell it somewhere else. I'm still kind of annoyed with myself for failing to revise that old bringing-potato-salad-to-the-cult-meeting story in time to submit it to Galactic Stew, and that theme was just "spec fic in which food is important." This theme was much more specific. You just know that the editors at all the other markets are going to be like, "Ye Gods, not another story about Kangaroos from Alpha Centauri! Rejections must be going out for the Marsupials in Space anthology. *facepalm*" (Note: My story was not about Kangaroos from Alpha Centauri. If you like the idea of a Marsupials in Space anthology, feel free to Kickstart it yourself, because I don't think it actually exists. Yet.) For this reason the Clarkesworld guidelines list "stories written for someone else's theme anthology or issue" among their hard sells. So I'm rather relieved not to have to worry about a new home for my very specifically themed story at this time.
OK, so, well, that was a heck of a lot of blog post to write about something I'm not even sharing useful details about yet. Hi. This is my brain. I hope you've enjoyed your visit. MORE LATER. Good night!
i reveal more details. i also jump up and down a bit.
- 990 words (if poetry, lines) long
So this past Friday I received an email indicating that the contract I signed Tuesday was complete, all parties had signed it and everything, so this thing is real and I can tell you everything now:
My very short story, "The Soup Witch's Funeral Dinner", originally a Friday Fictionette and the Fictionette Freebie for March 2018, will be produced and podcast by Cast of Wonders, part of the Escape Artists podcast family and the leading voice in young adult speculative short fiction. I do not at this time have a specific air date, but I will report the moment I receive one.
Or at least the moment I have a moment to blog after that.
I may have mentioned that this is one of my dream markets? Very much so yes. I've been listening to a lot of their recent episodes, pretty much every time I've got a drive of at least twenty minutes' duration--and January is a great time to listen to Cast of Wonders, since that's when they replay their favorites from the previous year with all new commentary from the staff member who fell in love with each story--and I keep telling myself, "This is awesome wonderful fantastic fiction and someone decided my story is good enough to hang with them."
I can't quite get over it.
The acceptance letter includes a reminder that, hey, obviously we like your stuff--please send us more the moment we're open to submissions again! So OK. I shall.
I'm currently writing this post off-line. Every other Monday I'm in Longmont for the evening, charging the Volt at Village at the Peaks and putting in a work session at The Post Brewing Company in Longmont. The chicken is amazing, the beer is tasty, and the bartender is good company. Unfortunately, their wifi has been kaput for a couple months now. But! I have a new flip phone! It's an Alcatel Go Flip, rather an epiphany after the 8-year-old Samsung M360 I was limping along with until it took a fall onto cement a couple weeks ago and cracked its housing and severed the connection to the display. And this brand new flip phone, it has a wifi hotspot as long as I don't mind spending my entire teeny tiny data plan allowance on it. So I was able to do today's Submissions Procedures session and enjoy the Post's amazing roast bird with garlic mojo--right up until I ran my phone out of battery. At which point I switched to composing blog posts offline.
(Update: I will probably be increasing my data plan just a little. Tonight's hotspot session used about 45 MB mobile data, and my grandfathered plan only includes an eensy 25 MB. Which was more than sufficient when I had a phone that never did more with data than send or receive the odd photo, when the sending or receiving of photos could actually be bothered to function. It didn't always. Hell, the Samsung couldn't even surf the web without choking on SSL. But things are different now, and I'd better adjust.)
This phone--well, it's kind of like when John and I got the Volt. We simply could not get over the fact that we now owned a vehicle with modern features like cruise control. I can't get over that I have a phone with wifi and an mp3 player and viable import/export of .vcf format contacts over bluetooth and the ability to access its storage via my laptop over USB. Things any old modern dumb phone ought to be able to do. Things that should not be so exciting except that I'm enjoying them for the first time now. Whee! "Hey, who else is available to time someone's 27-in-5?" says the coach, and "Me me me me!" says me. That's how stupidly excited I am to have a stopwatch with a lap counter on my phone. (The Samsung did not have a stopwatch. It did not have a timer. It had a function called "Countdown" which was exactly the same as a calendar reminder only without the ability to input a text memo.) Listening to podcasts in the car is a lot simpler now; the phone has less storage space than my laptop, but it's a hell of a lot less clunky to deal with at stoplights. Also it doesn't fool the car into thinking I have a passenger who forgot to buckle their seat belt.
Oh! So, if anyone out there reading this is familiar with the Alcatel Go Flip: I found one review claiming that it can handle .m3u playlists, but it didn't go into detail, and I can't for the life of me figure out how. Meanwhile I'm kludging playlists by editing tracks' Album metadata. If anyone is able to share a more graceful way to make the Alcatel Go Flip do playlists, I'm all ears.
All for now--I'm trying to keep my blog posts short and sweet so that 1. they don't take me an hour and a half to write a post, and 2. I stand a chance blogging once daily rather than weekly or, gods forfend, monthly. More tomorrow AND I MEAN THAT THIS TIME. Good night!
all right, 2020, you can stay
I have a couple new pending publications to announce for the New Year!
...Wow, that sounded a lot like the way last blog post started out. Of course, last blog post was almost a month ago. Twenty days, anyway. More or less. What'd I wrap up that post with, something about how "tomorrow" I was going to share a recipe? Sheesh. Hold that thought, though.
Here's the thing. When 2019 ended, three of my outstanding submissions were in HELD PENDING FURTHER CONSIDERATION status. Which is always a hopeful thing, but more often than not ends in REJECTION, PERSONAL. I have learned to get my hopes up only so far when I receive a HOLD notice.
And then on January 11, two of those HOLDS converted into ACCEPTANCES.
I can tell you in detail about one of them: Daily Science Fiction, well-respected purveyor of exactly what it sounds like, will publish my drabble, "The Rarest of Prey", in the coming months. The estimate I was given was two to three months, but thanks to intel from acquaintances I know this may in practice mean anywhere between 10 and 90 days. So you might as well just make a visit to DSF part of your complete breakfast. Read stories, love stories, rank and comment on stories, and maybe even support the stories so that the stories continue to appear in the green and white boxes. You won't be sorry!
The other story soon to be published will in fact be a reprint, and if you follow my Friday Fictionette project, you may already have read it; it's a past month's Fictionette Freebie. It is soon to be reprinted by one of my dream markets and I am over the moon. I should be able to reveal more details soon; I just returned the contract with my signature today.
I keep visiting each story's submission status on each publisher's interface and hitting REFRESH just to reassure myself that it's really real, it absolutely happened, two of my dream markets actually sent me acceptance letters this month. Payment's small beans because the one is only 100 words long and the other's a reprint, but it's a huge deal on my Wanna-be Writer Bucket List. Thus, I am happy dance for the forseeable future.
OK. So. I promised a recipe. Turns out I did already post the mirliton casserole recipe a whiles back, so you can click that link, or you can read on for...
Multi-cooker Recovery Dal: a tale in three functions
...for when you've just got home from roller derby practice (or tryouts!) and you're hungry but also too tired and brain-fried to cook anything complicated. Multi-cookers are GREAT for this. You may be familiar with The Instapot; I have a Lux Fagor Multicooker, which is less revered the internet over but does basically the same thing. Like so:
- SAUTE function: 5 minutes. Couple tablespoons canola oil (or a tbl canola and a tbl mustard if you can get it); half an onion, chopped; couple cloves garlic, smashed and minced. If you have a bunch of root vegetables from last fall you're trying to use up, chop 'em up and throw them in. It'll make it more filling. I like parsnips. When onions are soft, add black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, turmeric, whole cumin. Those last three are key. Don't stint. Toss in any additional fancy peppers and salts that make you happy. If you haven't got any mustard oil, toss in some ground mustard at this time, too. (Mustard oil must be labeled EXTERNAL USE ONLY/NOT FOR CONSUMPTION in the US because of reasons. I got mine at India's Grocery around the corner here in Boulder. If it's a massage oil product, double-check that it's 100% mustard oil and not full of random other ingredients. I'm all, erucic acid, sure thing, but shea butter? Hard pass. Anyway...) Stir the spices around in the sauteeing veg until your kitchen smells wonderful (about a minute).
- PRESSURE/HIGH function: 15 minutes. I add 3/4 cup red lentils and 4 cups water, give it all a good stir, and then seal the lid tight and start the pressure cook function. (I watch it like a hawk for the first few minutes to make sure steam isn't escaping out the sides; I think the lid's gasket is already starting to wear out. Boo.) When the 15 minutes is up and the pot beeps at you, turn the knob from PRESSURE to STEAM, i.e. perform a pressure quick-release. We are all far too hungry to wait on the natural release method, and besides, them beans are cooked. You can serve 'em up now and devour 'em. Or, if you can bear to wait just a few minutes longer, you can do what I do, which is to poach an egg in that glorious mess, like so...
- SIMMER: 5 to 7 minutes. Depends on how hard you like your egg poached. Just crack that sucker in there, hopefully without any bits of shell accompanying it, put the lid back on, and start the simmer function for the desired time.
When next the timer beeps, all that remains is to ladle yourself up a bowl and just try not to burn your mouth in your impatience. Which is thoroughly understandable. It's been half an hour since you got home and you need your protein!
Bonus: Enjoy in the bathtub with a soda and/or adult beverage of choice. LOOK, I DON'T JUDGE.
new publications for the holidays with a side of mirliton and fruitcake for dessert
I have a couple new publications to announce for the holidays!
First, for Winter Solstice, we have the latest issue of the Pagan literary journal Eternal Haunted Summer. It includes my poem "Hold the Door", a tongue-in-cheek contemplation of homesickness framed by an invocation to Papa Legba.
Second, for New Year's Eve or reasonably thereabouts, we have Episode 413 of the Tales to Terrify podcast. It features my story "Lambing Season" as read by the excellent Summer Brooks. It went live on the last Friday in 2019, and I've only had a chance to listen to it today. (I'm always nervous about hearing someone else read my stories. Then, when they're done, I always wonder why I was nervous.) It's longer than most of my stories, and a bit of a slow burn. Enjoy it with a mug of tea while wearing something warm and fuzzy.
On Winter Solstice, our Yule Log, a formidable chunk of elm, burned all night long and then down to ash. A friend and I had the first test slices of this year's fruitcake, shared some very tasty brandy, and worked on hand crafts together. Mine was a pair of socks that had been lurking unfinished in my bookbag for far too long. I finished them. (They are warm and fuzzy.)
John and I spent the last weekend of the year down in Colorado Springs with family near and extended, old and new, local and out-of-town. Mostly we cooked and ate good food, watched a lot of football, and took a healthy amount of naps.
One of the things we ate was a mirliton & shrimp casserole produced somewhat by committee: I brought seven mirliton that I'd bought recently and not yet got around to cooking, and I added to it the remaining portion of the shrimp Dad brought up from Louisiana and the onion, green pepper and celery that our hosts volunteered from their stash and chopped up. (The author's chronic homesickness was nicely assuaged, if temporarily.)
Another thing shared was a big chunk of the fruitcake, which was a lot closer to acceptably boozed up by then. The addition of candied citron turns out to have been an asset after all. Whew!
I may regale you with the casserole recipe--or, as "recipe" is saying too much, method--tomorrow, if I haven't already done that on this blog at some point or other. But not tonight. Tonight I am keeping my blog post short and to the point.
& so goodnight!