cocoajava: Skeptical (Default)

My desktop computer, Scoundrel, is under the weather. His harddrive took a nosedive a few days back, and it will be a bit before the scurvy lad is back up and dancing. In the meantime, I have my laptop. As nice and helpful as it is, it doesn't have my Outlook files on it, so there's a lot of reference info I can't get at right now, and that means I can't get my monthly Postcards From Industralia newsletter out. Also, the laptop isn't mighty enough to run Second Life, so I'll be missing my storytelling hour tonight (again). I won't lose any data because we are careful about backups and redundancies, but it is an inconvenience. I'm offsetting all this by indulging in a binge of the original Dark Shadows. Bad acting and horrific production values will make the day wonderful after all!


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.

  • 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: Skeptical (pic#128378)
 BEANS! First picking. That colander is a foot and a half wide, so that's some beans. I'll have a snap-party in a minute, watch something on the iPad and snapsnapsnap.

It's 4000% humidity outside but I managed to pull two large buckets of weeds, picked raspberries (not many today but I have a lot accumulating in the freezer), pulled up some viney stuff, checked the grapevine and counted over a dozen halfway grown grape clusters, the grapes are about 1/2" big and green and beautiful. Then trimmed five tomato plants, and picked all those beans.

Sure glad we decided on a 'small temporary garden' this year. *eyeroll*

cocoajava: Skeptical (Default)
 While reading up on some Victorian era practices and fads, I came across this paragraph. I'll be giggling all day. "In 1898, Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radium, which (as its name suggests) is an intensely radioactive element that will poison the nuclear titfarts out of any living thing that comes into prolonged contact with it."
cocoajava: Skeptical (pic#128378)

Welcome to the busy, industrial port city of Steamkettle Bay, the second-largest city in all of Industralia. It’s filled with manufacturing factories, airship docks, inventors, artists, and lots and lots of streetwise, clever kids. It’s a warm Saturday in the summer of 1872, and somewhere in Steamkettle Bay, bad things are happening. Can Paisley Pockets and Christopher Cogan stop a crime in progress? They may be just a couple of kids, but where there’s a will and, some smarts, there just might be a way.

The Steamkettle Kids Save The Day is totally free on Kindle this week. Grab a copy for the kid in your life, or the kid that's still alive inside you. :)
  Paisley Pockets, Christopher Cogan and even little Jimmy Cupper are very happy to be climbing up the Amazon Free on Kindle charts!  After Friday, the eBook goes back to its regular price of $2.99.


cocoajava: Sassy (pic#128381)
I have tomorrow off work!  *dances*

I think I am going to spend half the day pretending I am a successful author. I need to update my monthly cost and sales sheets, get a bunch of scribbled paper notes typed into their proper manuscripts/plotbunnies/
reference documents, do some editing, and start finding good research articles online, or books, about bizarre Victorian era fads. Like eating mummies. So I will be ready for a panel discussion at Motor City Steam Con in July. And possibly throw all my costuming stuff artfully around the girlcave and try on things to decide on outfits to wear to that - three days, three outfits.

Then in the afternoon, I will lounge on our back deck with sunglasses, a glass of wine and my current book, which is this odd little charmer titled Elizabeth's Midnight,
written by an author-friend. 
cocoajava: Inquisitive (pic#128424)
Whee! I was wondering what news I'd have for "Postcards From Industralia", when just like clockwork, something new dropped right into my lap. I'll get that monthly postcard out tomorrow, cause right now I want my dinner, and then a good long read. If you're not subscribed, hop on the steamwagon now and you'll be all set to get the newsletter tomorrow night.

(Not to worry, I don't make a habit of advertising in my journal, but I do mention stuff from time to time. I have some new friends here at Dreamwidth, so thought I'd make a rare mention in case anyone's interested!)

powered by TinyLetter

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.
cocoajava: Skeptical (Default)
So, two people and one hungry cat need, oh, how many elaborate place settings of 50s era Noritake Roselane china, plus ALL the side frippery (including gravy boats, tiny fruit bowls, platters big enough to land a plane on, sugar bowls, creamer, teapot and that big lidded thing that probably holds... dunno? An octopus?) Basically everything casually common in an Edwardian estate home... oh, what's that you say? Fourteen place settings? Seems about right, yep.

We unpacked the china after the move, checked everything, and for the moment, repacked. I direly need a china hutch. I adore owning the family china, but couldn't resist mentioning the humor of two hermits and a cat who are capable of throwing a dinner party for royalty.

My brother Dave and I, and the cousins all had to sit at card tables stuck at the end of Gramma Levely's big formal table. But we got to use the china! I always liked when the gravy boat came around. It's got it's own formed platter (all one piece) so we never had to worry about drips.  Here's the whole buncha us. Brother Dave is in the red used car salesman jacket; I'm the only elegant miss in gloves.
And here are my grandparents, original owners of the china.

cocoajava: Skeptical (Default)
 Tis a perfect day in our little cowtown. I relaxed for an hour this morning on the back deck with coffee, dandelions and the iPad. Dandelion petal pulling is not for the impatient but it is rather fulfilling to the detail oriented sorts. This is Day Two of harvesting dandelion petals and I've got quite a pile of them. In a while, I'll call it quits and simmer them all up with some water to make the sweet, golden base for dandelion wine. I'm going for a double batch. If I'm going to do this much work I'd rather go overboard and be doubly rewarded down the road

Ken's mowing the lawn, and Chives is romping from open window to open window to watch his dad. Later we will have panko and mustard crusted salmon and herbed noodles, with some homecanned green beans. Then late night I'm off to virtual realms for Fantasy Faire's Literary Festival.

Life is good.
cocoajava: Profiteery (Vintage Girl Pirate)
 Motor City Steam Con will be here before you know it! Are you registered? Will I see you there? I sure hope so! Tentatively, I'll be on two panels: Eatin' Mummies and Other Strange Victorian Fads, and Writing for Young Adults. I'll also be part of the Character Creation Challenge (which Tee Morris rocks to bits and you should NOT miss his brainstorming!) and the Writer's Block Author's Slumber Party (pajamas encouraged!) I'll also read aloud to everyone at some point. Warning: Some events may contain hilarity or pithiness. Snacks may appear at random. Authors could be hiding behind any given potted plant, so approach anything leafy with caution.

If you are able to get to Detroit, Michigan for this one, do it!


cocoajava: Skeptical (Default)
So, last Saturday me and the Caribou spent 7 hours in hard plastic seats at a hard plastic table, which we'd arranged as attractively as we could, with my VistaPrint banner dominating the floor to one side and smaller table posters, stacks of books, piles of bookmarks and author contact cards, and a sign up sheet for my monthly newsletter. The venue was the Breslin Center, which is Michigan State University's big sports center, home of our NBA often-winning Spartans. The Breslin had been taken over (thus the event name Breslin Takeover) by a kid's carnival, petting zoo, dunk tanks, face painting, other fun stuffs, and vendor tables. Things I learned at the vendor tables:

* Small adorable children are attracted to brightly colored books and will happily stuff them in their tote bags at any opportunity.  This is followed by a sheepish conversation with the parents that the books are not, in fact, freebies.

* A table just outside the restrooms SOUNDS promising, since everyone eventually answers the call of nature, but we didn't count on the gawdawful loud hand drying blower machines, which brought conversation to a screeching halt every time someone dealt with their hygiene.

* Selling kid's books for $3.00 is a good deal but people will BUY them when you offer 2 for $5.00. This left me with a net profit of minus 23 cents a book, but hey! Books in kid's hands are good, right?

* Next time, bring snacks. And water. We found some, but it took some doing.

*People are honestly, genuinely thrilled when you offer to sign their book purchase. Most don't actually put two and two together and realize they are speaking with the author until that's said, in spite of my name being literally on everything and my introducing myself to each visitor to my table. That's kinda fun.

* Buddy systems for tables are vital. You need bathroom breaks (and boy did I abuse that hand blower dryer just to get even with everyone), plus, you need to walk around and find the OTHER authors to introduce yourself and give them some support and camaraderie, too.

* Face facts before you even leave the house. You will not get rich at a vendor table. You will rarely even break even. What you are doing is moving a few books BUT more importantly, you are introducing yourself to the community, and giving them a reason (and a bookmark with purchase info) to pop into Amazon and buy your books later on.

* Even so, every single sale is a huge validation and makes your insides go all glittery and free floating. Totally worth everything.

cocoajava: Skeptical (Default)
Organizing my thoughts and such for using this DW account. Unlike elsewhere, CocoaJava and Ceejay Writer will be sharing this journal. I set up two filters: First Life and Second Life, so if you add me, I'll be adding you back under one of those filters.

Since Ceejay is heavily involved in publications, venues and is active in her hometown, she wants to be able to crosspost announcements and news to the second life community here, and that's why she's hitching a lift on my journal.

Also, since I am clarifying - I haven't written fanfic in a long time now, I'm only mildly involved with fandoms these days, and I don't tend to chatter about such stuff in my journals any more. I rant about work, lament how busy life is, sometimes get goofy and sometimes am too blunt for my own good. I often chatter on gardening, food, and academia. I mention avocados a lot. Ceejay has her own issues, but her reality is *not* mine and she has her own interest base. So this could potentially get wacky.

So then! Feel free to adjust your reading list accordingly! I don't do drama and I don't pout over such things. I gave up drama for lent years ago and forgot to start it up again!
cocoajava: Skeptical (Default)
First entries in a journal system are supposed to be really profound and/or memorable.

I like pie.

September 2017

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