cocoajava: Inquisitive (pic#128424)
We've only lived in Casa de Caribou 2.0 for about 5 months, but the grounds are already being cultivated into useful, productive, pretty land. Here's my progress from the last few days, as an example of what late summer looks like for a Midwest gardener and foodie.

Harvested:
  • Bush beans (large basket of purple, green and yellow beans, worked out to be 4 pints when canned)
  • 4 cups Moby Grapes, yum. Best snack ever and also makes a surprisingly good pasta sauce, if you have patience to blanch/peel them.
  • 6 Short stubby wonderfully fat carrots 
  • Green Onions (2, just for garnishes)
  • 4 cups VERY fat ripe raspberries
  • I'd picked almost a quarter bushel of tomatoes on Thursday and was waiting for them to fully ripen. They were ripe by Saturday, so I canned 10 pints.

Side Projects:
  • Gathered 8 big sprigs of Sweet Woodruff to share with a friend at work who wants to learn how to make May Wine. If you want to learn how to make it too, here's a quite pleasant article from one of my favorite food bloggers.
  • Cleaned up the carrot tops, discarding the long hard stem and just keeping the feathery green bits. Scissors make this easy. Now they are in a basket to dry, and then I will crunch them up and store in a glass spice jar. They make a fun substitute for parsley.
  • I saved aside a big handful of oversized beans from my harvest. These are too rubbery and tough to be enjoyable, but can be split open to get at the beans inside. These can be simmered for about 30 minutes and served as a wee side dish. I say wee because it takes a lot of tough old beans to add up, but it's a way not to waste them.
  • I'd cut all the flowers off my garlic chives early in the week, since they can spread like wildfire if you let them go to seed. For fun I stuck them in a green glass vase with some water, where they all bloomed spectacularly. Saturday I snipped the flowers from the hard stems and set them in a wicker basket to dry. Another goodie to chop up and store in a spice jar. They taste very peppery and a bit garlicky.
  • Since I'm planning to sautee salmon for Sunday dinner, I whipped up a sauce of avocado mayonnaise, small touch of mustard, cracked pepper, touch of sea salt, and a generous amount of dried Mexican Tarragon. Tarragon goes so nicely with salmon! So that's all ready and blending flavors, for later tonight. I won't cook it on the fish, just will have it as a side dip. Mmmm. 
Today I'm thinking about starting a double batch of chamomile wine, as long as I have the huge canning pot upstairs. It does double duty. And I may simmer up a small batch of what I've named "Moby's Pick" spiced tomato sauce, for later in the week. 

Next, the focus needs to be on clearing out encroaching weeds and volunteer saplings in the large raspberry patch, researching how to tame back the purple grape vines without harming them, edging back the grass from the bark in our curved beds surrounding the house, and pulling weeds. This place is weed heaven, they grow FAR too happily here. More mulch is needed soon to help squish them! 

And somewhere in between all this yard and kitchen work, I am shoehorning in tiny bursts of editing and writing, because books simply don't publish themselves, darn it! 
cocoajava: Sassy (pic#128381)
(for those tuning in late, we moved in late February, and have been doing a lot of landscaping and home decor work ever since. For the first time in my life, I have a room of my very own that is not a bedroom. It's exciting!)

The GirlCave is coming along. Yesterday my chaise arrived! Of course, I have to share it with Chives.




I still have a lot of blank wall space, and a stack of plastic bins that need to be elsewhere but just haven't been 'elsed' yet, so you don't get full-room pics as it's just not shareworthy yet. But here's a few teasers. There were three plain wood shelves on the wall, attached with utilitarian metal supports and brackets. Looked awful, so I attacked them with LACE.


And the most important spot in the room, where the writing happens, is quite pleasant, especially on days like today when I can have one or both windows open.


cocoajava: Skeptical (Default)
Back in 2015, my November NaNoWriMo project was a follow up novel to my Victorian era Steampunk Comedy YA book, The Flight To Brassbright. As usual, being the Pantser* that I am, I had a premise in mind and simply wrote until that premise had been fully explored. The premise was logistically tricky: Four letters, through a series of accidents, end up in the wrong envelopes and are misdelivered through the pneumatic tube mail system. However, the recipients don't know this happened, and assume the letters are for them. By acting on the information in each letter, many lives are changed. This basic idea got wrestled into four stories (one for each letter), plus a lengthy beginning that sets up the mayhem, and a hopefully satisfying celebration at the end.

Easy stuff, huh?  I call it Down The Tubes. Being the optimist that I am, I figured I'd have it tidied up and ready for publication in Spring of 2016. Well, here we are in Spring, 2017, and it's not published.

There's a couple of darn good reasons for that. First is, I have a day job, and the past few years have been very challenging on that front, leaving me very little time and energy at the end of the day to write and edit. I have managed to kick out some short kid's books AND a cookbook though, so I'm feeling good about that!  And I have been slowly polishing, altering and editing Tubes all along, too.

Then last month, my esteemed editor and spouse, Caribou Ken, suddenly had a blinding flash of brilliance and in one evening, came up with the perfect history and backstory for my fictional world. Suddenly, everything seemed more grounded and made a lot more sense. He incorporated my pantser-premises and gave them depth and meaning.

And now that I know the foundation that the planet called BrightHope and the country of Industralia is based on... Down The Tubes needs to fall in line. This isn't a huge game-changer for the novel, but it does alter enough mindsets and actions that I needed to go back to the beginning and smooth it through with this new information in mind.  At this stage, I think I have about 50 pages left to smooth. I also think some patches of the story got skimmed over too quickly and need to be explored in more depth. The first draft was about 52,000 words. Right now it's nearly 60,000, and I suspect it'll be 70-80,000 when completed.

So, Down The Tubes is coming.  Just a lot more slowly than ANYONE expected. 

And I really need to learn how to draw maps. :) 

*Pantser is a seat of the pants writer that doesn't do a lot of pre-planning, but just lets the characters dictate the direction. As opposed to a Planner, who does a proper outline before starting! 

PS: I've had the cover ready for this novel for a long time!  It's going to feel SO good to wrap it around a completed book. 



cocoajava: Skeptical (Default)
Hey look, I remembered I had a journal! Do I get a cookie?

It's a busy day, much to do! But it's overcast, warm and softly drizzling, which is very relaxing. And there will be fun scattered throughout the day. In Second Life, my book club is discussing Nine Princes In Amber and directly after that there's a salon on the topic of "Royal Ascot: the races, the fashions, the betting and the more nefarious, hidden side". Later on tonight at 7pm, I'll be sniffling as Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus performs one last time and then vanishes into the midsts of history. 

In other news, Voice Actor Lisa Hicks has produced an absolutely charming audio version of one of my short stories - actually, my favorite of my steampunk kids stories, The Steamkettle Kids Save The Day. I just pushed the "Approve" button and now It's being reviewed by ACX/Audible, and should be available to the public in a week or two. I'm excited about this - Lisa has *such* a charming voice for children's books.

If you are willing to post a review at Amazon (or anywhere else you frequent) and are interested in receiving a free review copy, just leave a comment here or drop me an email. When the freebie codes are available in a few weeks, I will send you one.

Now off I go to moosh henna into my hair and give Chives a treat. He's being a good boy.

September 2017

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