Young and Fabulous

I survived my trip out, but two hours at the office sort of wiped me out. Man, how do you people WORK?

All righty. We’ve filled Young and Fabulous for Wiscon. Readers will be Catherine Cheek, Keyan Bowes, Caroline Stevermer, and yours truly. I’ll be reading from Hulk Hercules. Caroline says she’ll be reading some of Magic Under Stairs (be still my heart! Characters from one of my favorite series!) Kater is reading from Animal Magic.

I’ll be sure to post Keyan’s title when I find out what it is.

Off to get my taxes done tomorrow. It’s easy for me, because I haven’t published much yet. Envy me.


Muses Part II, but First, a Little Squeeing

What kind of genius did Rachel Swirsky have to be, to be nominated for a Nebula AND propose a Project Runway panel for Wiscon?

MY kind of genius, that’s what kind! I’ll be joining Rachel and friends for the panel at Wiscon about Project Runway. I’m almost more excited about this than my book coming out. Because I am that kind of geek.

Speaking of Wiscon, Catherine Cheek and I are still looking for readers who might have some Young and Fabulous middle-grade fiction they’d want to read with us. One or two more people would be ideal. I’ve sent in the proposed reading to the convention, on the chance that they could provide us with dance partners, but if you’re going and you have YA or MG and you want a group, we’re right here.

You don’t have to be named Catherine. Honestly.


Now, for some more musely links.

Tessa Gratton writes a great entry about her and her muse, Odin.

Saundra Mitchell talks about what I like to think of as falling into a work.


I’d better get some lunch. I’ve got to leave in half an hour to …(da da dum!) go the office.


The More Things Change, the More They Remain the Same

Guess who was enumerating goals last night about what she wanted done on the troll novel by Deadline X? Yup, guilty.

Had to remind myself that the important issue wasn’t figuring out which characters stayed and which left right now. Instead, the issue is to write new stuff, and see who really belongs to the story, and then make adjustments.

I am such a goal-oriented freak. As Scalzi-sensei says, puffing up the story is key. Later, you can pare it down and cut away everything that doesn’t look like this story. I expect there’ll be some brush and dead ends in there, but worrying about them has been holding me back.


Today I venture into the outside world to pick up a wide variety of tests and papers that need my judgmental eye. I cringe inwardly just thinking about what this might look like, but I don’t want to be completely avalanched the first day back next week.



Tater Tot Casserole

I’ve been informed by my Viable Paradise roommate Chia Evers that I should not be a tater tot tease. I am also discarding my Midwest-centric view that everyone knows how to make this.

A little bit about my history with tater tot casserole. School lunches in rural Iowa were frightening. Beef gravy that was mostly made of rubber cement. Blanditos. Soft vegetables from industrial size cans. We looked for oases where we could. Tater tot casserole turned out to be so simple that not even our lunch ladies could beat the taste out it. Ah, delicious and savory, warm tater tot casserole! Second only to Jello pudding pops and the cinnamon rolls homemade on the days they had chili!

Well. In college the cafeteria menu was similarly frightening. Texas straw hat, a scattering of corn chips covered with a scoop of tomatoey glop comes to mind. Gelatin with celery tossed in. Individual ham loaves that smelled…suspicious. There were occasions when I chose Lucky Charms for a dinner entree, but again, there were bright spots. One of them was tater tot casserole.

As a young married couple, my husband and I were reminiscing about foods we had liked in the past. We both remembered tater tot casserole from school, and we figured, gourmets that we weren’t, that we could easily recreate it. It wasn’t rocket science. It came from the Ore-Ida Institute after all.

Here’s how it’s done.

Continue reading “Tater Tot Casserole”


I need to get back to work. I have something like twice the usual number of things in my inbox, and while I’ve been monitoring from home, it’s beginning to bug me. Just sayin’. I plan to go in this weekend and clean up a bit.

I must be feeling better. The Type A workaholic is beginning to stir.


It’s been a pretty good day. I started off not napping, but instead reviewing one of my favorite things. Five hours of Paradise Kiss later, I realized that I would like a character like George, so I figure someone like him will crop up in the future. I love everything about that show, but you know, I”ve written about it before, so you know…

Then, after some exciting chicken soup, I settled down to revision. You know what feels good about writing? Getting something done. It’s an awesome cure for that I’m not getting things out there kind of feeling. Hartford, Alone is off to a few readers. I’m working hard on alternating readers for different projects, so no one feels burdened. I don’t want to take anyone for granted. Thank you in advance, kind people. Don’t pull any punches, however.

In the great tradition of easy cookery everywhere, I’ll be making wholesome, Midwestern Tater Tot Casserole tonight. What? We only have it once in a great while. Yes, I know the potatoes are processed. I know that. Let’s avoid talking about the sodium in the soup as well. Yum, though.

Now, I’m just a wee bit worn out. I need to take care of my lady cats, have another cup of hot liquid (that’s what you do), and settle down for evening. If I can get my groove back, I’ll be working up some interview questions.

Writing wise, we’re back to the troll story. I trust that the break from it and the fever dream/enlightenment will get this sucker moving. That will also be tomorrow.

All about happy accomplishment goal order addiction,


Hartford, Alone: Revised

There. The story is revised. Tomorrow I’ll give it the edit and proof pass and then I’ll be searching for readers. I’ve emailed a few folks, but if this sounds like you, let me know. I’m looking to have this back in about two weeks.

I’m planning to send it to That makes me nervous. I don’t know why. I’ve been rejected by people I know before.

So tomorrow:
1. Edit pass on Hartford, Alone
2. Questions off to first profiled VP XIII’er.
3. Back to troll story?

Logging off for now. Maybe to watch Paradise Kiss again?

I’m actually going to try walking outside to take the trash can to the garage, see how that goes. Oh boy! Remember, Cath, even though your voice is back, you shouldn’t get cocky.

Happy creating to you all.


ps Is it wrong that I want to see Hot Tub Time Machine?

Muse and Creativity

Carrie Ryan, who will be posting her own thoughts on this later, has started a very stimulating discussion on the muse on ye old Twitter. Here are some wonderful links that have come from that discussion.

Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity Do watch this. It speaks to the divine in creativity, as well as hard work.

Jackson Pearce gets pragmatic on waiting for inspiration.

Matt Cardin of Demon Muse writes essays:
A Brief History of the Daimon and Genius

A Writer’s Guide to the Psyche, Part 1: Muses, Demons and Egos. (I am particulary fond of the Lewis quote embracing mystery rather than measurement of the mind.)

A Writer’s Guide to the Psyche, Part 2: Daimonic Creator, Egoic Editor (I feel comfort in the acceptance of duality, rather than the concept of I. After all, I am a Gemini.)

Catherine Keenan’s article When an Author’s Muse Packs Up and Leaves discusses spark and motivation, and how slogging it out isn’t always enough. Mostly it discusses motivation and the need to write. It addresses brilliance early on, and the various paths authors take.

I hope to put more links here as they occur.


Battle of the Network Zombies

Mark Henry releases his third Amanda Feral book Battle of the Network Zombies. Looks like lots is going on for the launch.

Mark’s work is the right mix of comedy, parody, and horror. I’ve always thought of it as the undead answer to Candace Bushnell. You can catch up on Amanda’s first and second books, as they’ve recently been made available in a trade paperback format.

Go out there, buy the book, and have a great read!

Instinct and the Muse

When I was reading and Chris Kastensmidt’s story this morning, I felt the touch of the muse. I haven’t written about the positive spark for a while, and I figured it might be time, especially since Maggie Stiefvater wrote about books that fed her as a writer, and I re-read my upbeat post right after Viable Paradise.

There are three topics that seem to me to be relevant here: identifying your muse, keeping your muse happy, and nourishing your muse.

Continue reading “Instinct and the Muse”

The Elephant and Macaw Banner

I had the good fortune of beginning to correspond with Christopher Kastensmidt when we met each other as Cat’s Curious authors. Christopher then went on to encourage me to attend Viable Paradise, which was a game changer for me. When Chris announced that his story The Fortuitous Meeting of Gerard Van Oost and Oludara was going to appear in the April, 2010 issue of Realms of Fantasy, and he mentioned the kind of story that it was, I knew it was exactly my kind of thing, and I eagerly watched my mailbox for the magazine.

The Fortuitous Meeting of Gerard Van Oost and Oludara is the first of what I hope are many published stories set Chris’ backdrop of The Elephant and Macaw Banner world. My understanding is that Chris has around 200 or so books to liberally research this world. This has resulted in a solid foundation of knowledge about 16th-century colonial Brazil, where he bases his characters.

The beginning intrigues the reader: Gerard Van Oost sets out to seek adventure and exploration in the new world. He meets with little success securing a place in the ranks of other adventurers. One fateful day he encounters an unusual slave, Oludara, who comes from the lineage of a monster slayer. The first story is about how the two adventurers form their partnership.

Of course, this 16th-century Brazil, and the Africa from which Oludara hails, are full of a variety of threats. In Chris’ first story we hear how two dragons were slain, and are treated to a trickster’s magic. Kastensmidt skillfully weaves history, fantasy, adventure, and strong characterization into a compelling introduction. Now, I’m ready for the rest of the stories, and I would like to humbly submit to publishers that they give them to me.

As rich as the world of fantasy is, the time is right for Kastensmidt’s endeavor. As the current waves of Steampunk and mystic Regency fiction prove, there is an appreciative audience who loves fantasy set in alternative history. Kastensmidt captures adventure in the spirit of New World explorers with vigor. The backdrop is compelling, the characters are exciting, and the writing is solid.

Not much else to add, really, except to say go Chris. As in go to your desk and get writing.