drusillas_rain: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] drusillas_rain at 10:35am on 14/02/2011
1. Much ♥ to everyone on my flist! I love that you're all a part of my life!

2. I've been branching out into Sherlock and Hawaii 5-0 fandoms, and I love that I'm seeing some familiar names from HP fandom.

3. Salon's been running "The Good Sex" Awards. I haven't had the chance to read any of the excerpts yet (7 books were profiled), but I like that it focuses on the positive, rather than bashing.
EDIT: I also found the descriptions of their criteria (ie what makes a good vs bad sex scene) really interesting to read.

4. Lately, I've found I have no tolerance for people bashing creative endeavours. Everyone has a right to their opinion, and everyone has different tastes/likes, but I don't really understand why people who never try to write/compose/paint/create seem to take pleasure in tearing down those who do. I think I need to find news sites and places that encourage artists. (Also, no I don't think that every piece of art is wonderful and perfect, but there is a difference between constructive criticism and bullying.)

5. It's 5° out today and it's making me want to run around in a t-shirt and shorts. I'm so ready for winter to be over!

6. I just finished reading The City and The City by China Mieville and I can't recommend it enough! The style is "new weird" which basically means books that have fantasy/sci-fi elements, but are otherwise set in our world. He's also such a strong writer - he sets such a vivid scene in only a few sentences that might take another writer pages. The book itself is a mystery/detective story with fantasy and conspiracy theory elements. It's also a fascinating example of what it's like to live in a place that is geographically next to an almost identical culture, where foreigners don't see the differences, but where the differences are critical to collective self-identity. (For example, Croatia vs Serbia) Overall it was just such a pleasure to read!

drusillas_rain: (Sailor Moon by thistoshallpass)
Title: Ordinary
Wordcount: 100
Character: Sally Donovan
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Prompt: #47 - Paint

She hadn’t always been ordinary. Once upon a time, Sally Donovan used to read Agatha Christie novels under her blankets with a flashlight. She wrote stories of a young girl who solved crime. She would carefully lay down newspapers around her watercolours and paint a cheerful scene in a meadow, the body, hidden just under the tree, waiting to be discovered by the plucky heroine. But that kind of thing was wrong and bad and we mustn’t draw such things.

When Sherlock Holmes calls her ordinary, she calls him a freak and doesn’t mourn the girl she used to be.
drusillas_rain: (Default)
Or the ongoing saga of a story I'm determined to get published.

It's been two weeks since my critique group gave me a ton of feedback on an original short story and every day I plan on revising it so that I can send it out (I've already got an anthology that it fits to send it to first, along with some potential mags). Of course, since I'm writing on lj, I haven't done more than remap the arc and waffle.

[livejournal.com profile] tripperfunster gave me the idea to talk to some of the ppl in my group on what to do now, and that was helpful in terms of deciding how to make sure it feels like a short story vs the first chapter of a novel. The rest though has been along the lines of "don't listen to person x, y or z" and "ultimately you decide what to do". The don't listen to person x/y/z I already figured out on my own. It's the second piece of advice that's kind of making me want to tear my hair out.

There are multiple directions I could go in with this story, from changing or removing certain characters, strengthening one element vs another, etc, and being the on-the-fence kind of person, I'm having a really hard time making the kind of decisions I need to make. I think I need to talk it out with someone, but I have no idea how to go about doing that.

Any suggestions for what you do/how you do this?
drusillas_rain: (Angelina Jolie)
I decided to make a fairly ambitious meal for Christmas day this year. I made a gigantic spreadsheet, totalling over 100 lines. In total the meal took me 3 days of prep work + everything that needed to be done on the actual day.

picture of the spreadsheet and of my tetris-fridge )

I've never really done a full dinner quite like this before, but I had the company of good friends on twitter (who got to hear all about it live). That was actually one of the best parts. But I also had fun planning everything, double checking I had the timing done properly, etc. I was also kept in line by one of my dogs, Basil. picture of Basil in the kitchen (plus 1 of Chloe) )

Here's the menu. Each lj-cut leads to the recipe and pics:

1. Julia Child's Steam Roasted Goose with Port Sauce
No picture and no recipe for this one. It was really tasty, but since it was last minute, I didn't manage to take even 1.My thoughts on making goose )

2. Boeuf Bourguignon, sans boeuf (Julia Child inspired)
This was a rich and wonderful vegetarian stew and the highlight of the meal. Recipe can be found under lj cut. )

3. Mashed potatoes
No pics or recipe - although I did use potato water instead of huge amounts of butter and milk - it makes it nice and creamy. Next time I think I'll try adding kale or spinach.

4. Brussels Sprouts
This is such a simple but tasty recipe. A bit plain for a basic dinner, but really nicely balanced with everything else served. )

5. Baked Butternut Squash with Apples and Maple Syrup
These were so incredibly tasty and pretty, although cutting through raw squash was not my favourite thing. Pic and recipe under the cut )

And here are the desserts!
(Most of the pics taken are here ^_^)

7. Gingerbread Trifle with Candied Kumquats and Wine-Poached Cranberries
I loooooove trifle. I try to make a different kind each time, and these are absolutely fantastic! Best trifle recipe I've done. )

8. Bûche de Noël (chocolate roll)
This recipe was the most work, but was incredibly tasty and successful. Next time though, I'm probably going to try to find a slightly different recipe, one that isn't based on a mousse filling. )

Also, you get a different bonus recipe for the chocolate mousse (which acts as the filling for the roll - it's a recipe I make at least half a dozen times a year, because it's so good and so easycontinue to recipe and pics )

9. Mincemeat tarts (individual)
I love making pie crust. There's something about how the dough comes together based on how you feel its coming together, rather than precisely measuring it all out. This particular one came out perfectly! )

So there you have it. I'm not the most domestic person in the world, but I love my kitchen. I hope you enjoyed reading this and find some recipes to copy to your own files.

a few more pics under the cut )
drusillas_rain: (Sailor Moon by thistoshallpass)
posted by [personal profile] drusillas_rain at 09:37am on 17/01/2011
I'm not the biggest fan of winter, but today the snowflakes are massive and falling very slowly, like in a Hollywood-style feel-good movie.
drusillas_rain: (Sailor Moon by thistoshallpass)
Dear anxiety, how I've missed you *stabs at anxiety*
Bah. I have a ton of email that I'm avoiding reading right now, and a ton of messages/comments I want to send but haven't been quite capable of for the last 4 days. Instead I'm procrastinating in a productive way (erm, well today at least). I've decided to try to do one of those 100 prompt tables for [livejournal.com profile] 100_women and I'm going to try to post one a week.

Here's my first drabble:Read more... )

Title: Doodling Hearts
Wordcount: 100
Character: Sara Sidle
Fandom: CSI (Las Vegas)
Prompt: #96 – Memories

Sara Sidle didn’t feel very different from the person who filled out the journal 8 years before, but she couldn’t wrap her head around the fact she’d been so oblivious to her own pain. That and how hopelessly immature she had been about Gill, the hearts next to his name making her cringe with embarrassment. That was it, she thought as she snapped it shut and packed it, writing “Memories” on top of the box. She was just about to move to the next pile, when she stopped, drew a heart in the corner and filled it in with “S+G”.
drusillas_rain: (Sailor Moon by thistoshallpass)
As my emo post yesterday indicated, I went through a critique with my local group last night. I brought in a short story that I was hoping they could help me fix up so that I could start submitting it to anthologies and magazines.

Here are the highlights:

1. Overall it didn't go as badly as I thought it would. I'm not sure if it's because the comments were more positive or if I'm just better at hearing the positive comments.

It also helped that the other woman who's story was being critiqued is one of our best and most published authors. She's also in her 60s (or 70s) and she was just as nervous as I was. We joked about how we should just slip out or how we both considered not coming. At the end of the night we hugged for surviving it. (It also helped that her submission was a rough draft of an experiment so it was a lot less polished than usual.)

2. There was a surprisingly large group last night - there were even a few members that I haven't seen in about a year, as well as some new folks that I've only met once or twice before (including the usual crowd). I heard comments from 20 people.

Mostly, I'm overwhelmed with the amount of feedback. The night is structured so that each individual gets 3 minutes to say what they want to say (or maybe it's 2, I can never remember, but that's why we have a timekeeper). And I took copious notes. Then there's a free-for-all discussion, which was interesting but less useful, and then they each give me a marked up manuscript.

3. Almost everyone thought it was the start of a longer piece. This one is problematic, because while I'm not done telling stories from this universe, I don't want to commit to a novel for it. I already have another novel I want to work on in 2011, and to be honest, I'm tired of writing the first chapter of different novels. I want something I can finish and submit. Someone else suggested writing a suite of short stories, and I think that might be the way to go in the future.

In the meantime, I need to cut down on the set-up - it's too slow and epic given the length of the piece.

4. I need more detail. The detail I have is vivid, but I need even more of it. When Jeff read it (he reads everything I write) he thought it was the most descriptive story I'd ever written. But, everyone's feedback was that if I want to write high fantasy, it can't be minimalistic, because otherwise readers are going to fill in their own images. E.g., if you allude to an old wizard they're going to think Gandalf or Dumbledore, even if they look different.

5. I need to clarify in my own head who's story I'm telling - the short immediate piece or the long quest.

6. Some of the feedback I received was less helpful - what does it mean to vary tone? How do you actually go about doing that?

7. Best feedback of the night (which a few members after apologized to me for) was a rambling dialogue in which I think he wanted me to reach for better and not write fantasy because I don't need magic to be creative. (And by best I mean, he kept trying to explain what he was saying, and I kept trying to figure out what the hell he was talking about. He's our most famous member of the group and generally the best editor too, so everyone was a bit wtf are you on?) To be honest, it mostly made me lol.

A few of us went to the pub last night after the critique and I got some good guidance on what to do now. I had planned on emailing a few ppl from the group to see if we could meet and figure out an editing process, but I think I might actually be ok to try it out on my own first.

I really appreciate everyone's comments from yesterday. It helped me from retreating into my own head and encouraged me to seek advice from the others in person, rather than collapse in a sobbing heap while locking away all the notes never to be looked at again.

drusillas_rain: (Default)
For the past few years I've been part of a local critique group. We meet every 2 weeks and about 8-12 of us give our feedback to 2 authors who submit either a short story or a chapter of a longer story. Tonight I'm up.

Last January I submitted a short story that I couldn't go back to to until about a month ago. The comments were all valid - the members are very good about giving praise as well as what needs to be fixed - but it's just so hard for me to figure out what to do with the feedback once I receive it. It's also incredibly crushing to hear that many people tell you that you suck. Well, it's not that they do that, it's just what I hear and what I'm left with.

I've learned a lot about writing over the past year, and over the past month I went back and completely rewrote what I submitted last year. Tonight, the new draft is being re-critiqued.

I really thought I'd be fine, but I have the feeling that tomorrow I'm not going to be ok. It's like today I love the world, but tomorrow everything will be more gray. Part of me doesn't even want to show up. Another part of me is curious what they'll say.

I want to be published. I want this to be the best story I can write. I know that the only way this is going to happen is if I get feedback on it, because inevitably I'll have missed something (or a million somethings). I just don't know how to be ok with the process.

Part of it is that it's in person. Part of it is information overload. And that not everyone in the group reads or likes fantasy. The group is also of varying levels - some are published and others (like me) aren't. Some have a really good sense of how to fix a manuscript, others are clueless. I know all these things, yet, last time I went through this process (and the other 2x I've submitted things) I found it incredibly difficult to separate out the good feedback from the useless.

Tomorrow, I want to be ok. I don't want to get depressed and mope and stop writing, which is what happened last year. I don't want to leave this story for another year and not submit it anywhere. Or not even be able to look at it. I'm tired about thinking about writing and not actually writing. I want to be ok with what I've written. And with myself.

I've already decided that my mantra for this year is to keep on fighting. I guess tonight is my first big test.
drusillas_rain: (Angelina Jolie)
posted by [personal profile] drusillas_rain at 07:13am on 06/01/2011
So we hosted Xmas dinner for the inlaws this year (if you follow me on twitter you were spammed with all the details. I'm planning on putting up a big post with pics and recipes soonish here on lj). We don't usually decorate the house, but since we had guests we put up some lights and trees, etc. Jeff's been itching to get them down, since it's now January, but I haven't been able to do it yet since in my family we would always leave it up until Epiphany (Or 3 Wise Men Day as I used to call it when I was a kid). Which I just realized is today, so I suppose it's coming down by Saturday.

So, how long do you leave your trees and lights up until?
drusillas_rain: (Sailor Moon by thistoshallpass)
posted by [personal profile] drusillas_rain at 10:01am on 05/01/2011
1. Man I love Castle. I love how meta it is. I love that the characters use phrases like meta. Watching it kind of feels like a hollywood version of lj-fandom sometimes, except with murder. Um yeah.

2. I've been watching Hawaii 5-0 even though it's really not that good. But what they get down perfectly is the bickering between Steve and Danny. It's hot (yeah, I know it's not meant to be) and kind of adorable in an I want to eat your face kind of way.

I've just discovered a fic that captures that bickering and which leads to bickering-not-really-hate!sex. It keeps them in character and keeps them as testosterone-fuelled men. This fic is a fantastic example of how to successfully transition from a heated conversation to sex - something many attempt but few, imho, succeed at.

I Have a History of Taking Off My Shirt by [livejournal.com profile] queenklu (link is to AO3).

3. And one last [livejournal.com profile] hd_holidays rec: Of Hoof Picks, Centaurs, and Flight by Anonymous.
Fun and funny - reminded me of oldschool HPDM while still set post-canon.


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