Monday, September 9, 2019

Seeing red

Last year I didn't can any tomatoes, but then again, last year the garden wasn't knocking at the back door, or leaving tomatoes on the neighbors' porches during the night.

This year, I canned tomatoes.

Even though the other reason I put it off is the bad layout of our kitchen (to be remedied in the new year, once craft show season and book release are dealt with, and I've recovered from what part of the holidays I choose to participate in).

But I did it anyway. Instead of using my ginormous canning kettle, which can only sit on the extra-large burner next to the fridge (which doesn't like the extra large burner and makes resentful clunking noises), I borrowed a high stockpot from my neighbor and canned in smaller batches on the regular burner.

That meant I could only do 5 jars at a time, but they're done.

Since most of my tomatoes were Juliets, which is a large grape/small plum size, I didn't bother to skin skin or core them. I just cut off the stem end, cut them in half and put them in my crockpot to cook down. Once they were mushy, I hit them with the immersion blender, which conveniently clogged with the larger bits of skin, so they were retroactively skinned.  I did two full crockpots of tomatoes, then today I got them into jars.

I also made candied jalapenos for the first time, using both jalapenos and poblanos from the yard, and a few Spanish padrons which had turned red (and hotter). The syrup on those is cider vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed, mustard seed, cayenne and garlic powder. It smelled delicious.

Today's high only hit 80, so the kitchen wasn't the worst place to be, and I won't remember the heat when I crack a jar of tomatoes in February and the whole kitchen smells like summer.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Sometimes old is best

Technology is all well and good, but sometimes you just have to go old school and break out the index cards.

Working on my Great Depression book - currently called Dear Sister - and I got stuck at about the 3/4 point. The chapters were supposed to be alternating between the two sisters, and for the most part had been cooperating.

Then I hit a snag, which I didn't realize until I was 3/4 of the way through my second draft. I'd been so busy thinking about changing the point of view from third to first, that I forgot I had this issue where each sister had two consecutive chapters and they threw the timeline completely out of whack.

The whole point of writing from both their viewpoints is to contrast their lives, and there I was, leaving readers in one place for far too long, with nothing to compare and contrast with. Thus the cards.

Each scene is written on a card, with the character's initial and a general idea of the date. I laid them all out, figured out which dates were written in stone (i.e., something that happened for real) and which were not. Then I drank some coffee and rearranged. More coffee, more futzing. Shampoo, rinse, repeat.

I finally got the storyline where I wanted it and took two days off writing to let the ideas marinate. And last night, before bed, I realized that I didn't actually want the second sister's POV in the book after all. It takes away from the character I really want to write about, and Clare's story, and the all-important contrasts therein, can be shared in their frequent letters, which is where the Dear Sister title comes from.

So, draft 3. I see you.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019


I have an ISBN!

This is another step closer to actual publication, and I did another little dance of joy around the house yesterday when I received the email from my publisher.

Now I've set up an Author Page on Goodreads so you can follow me there if you want to. Songbird is already listed (because it has an ISBN and is a pending book, if not an actual one at this point in time).

The cover here is not the cover that it will be published with - I haven't received proposed cover art yet, but I've made a placeholder that I'm quite happy with. Let me know what you think!



Saturday, August 24, 2019

It's there somewhere

I don't really believe in writer's block. I mean, it happens, those awful times when the words in my head won't come out my fingers and onto the page, but the way I've always dealt with it is to just write anything.

It may not be what I want; it may make no sense in the end; but I can edit words. I can't fix a blank page.

I've just encountered one of those write anything sections in my Great Depression book. I finished the first draft at the end of June, and after taking a few weeks off to let it sit, I started in on revisions. So far, so good, until the 75% mark, where I apparently left myself such a shit storm of "fix it later" that I'm going to have to take another week to figure out how to fix it.

As far as the graphic goes, this really is what it feels like sometimes. The idea is so clear, but the distance from the idea to the finished story is a maze not of my own design.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

How it started

I wrote my first stories on a typewriter like this. Or, rather, I typed my first stories. I wrote plenty before that, but my handwriting has never been all that good, so when I discovered typing, it was the way to go.

My dad was a Philadelphia firefighter, but like most of them, he also had a part-time job (both because such an important job didn't pay enough, and because he wanted to keep me in sufficient toys; I was an only child). His part-time job was a shared maintenance gig at a local college - he and two of his friends split the job between them; the college didn't care who did what, so long as the hours were covered.

He brought home random interesting things that were going to be thrown away, and one day he hauled in this ancient, black Olivetti typewriter, the kind that was completely open on top and had black and white enamel keys.

It was very similar to this one which I trashpicked a few years ago, my old one having disappeared during a later childhood move (thanks, Mom). This typewriter lives in a corner of the room that serves as our library/my office, otherwise known as the house's original dining room.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Garden bounty

You can't afford to look away in August.

Thursday, August 15, 2019


Cats. Walking on books for centuries.
I may not mention it here often, but I'm grateful for this blog, and for all of you who are still out there reading it after all these years.

I would be grateful to the blog, even without readers, because the one thing it has always done is keep me writing. Even when I'm writing nothing else, the blog has been there, keeping me limber.

Once upon a time, before my life was so full, I wrote all the time. Every day after work, or before bed, or in the morning. Whenever an idea struck me.

Then I got older, got busier, got married, got a lot more things to do that I didn't even always want to do, and writing for me drifted away for a while.

But the blog, which I started because I wanted to keep up with my far-flung sewing friends, remained. And I remained faithful to it, in somewhat sporadic fashion, and when the urge to write came back to me, at least I still remembered how to word.

Because of this blog.