Archive for 'the dull details of my dull life'
What Stace had to say on Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
I hope you had a great new year. Personally, I’m hoping 2013 will be a lot better than 2012, which sucked for a number of reasons. Thirteen is an exceedingly good number, though, so fingers crossed.
I’ll have a post in the next week or so with some more details/info about the Terrible novella (which just might finally have a title!); it’ll be an FAQ-style thing, so if you have any questions please do leave them in comments or use the Contact form to ask away. (I’ve already had quite a few questions about it, so I figure this will be the best way to answer them all.)
But today I have something a little different! Emily Winslow is a pal of mine from Absolute Write, and I think her book sounds awesome, so I asked her if she wanted to share an excerpt here today (it was supposed to be for yesterday, but yesterday went a bit haywire for me. My oven was condemned last week–no, seriously, I didn’t know that could happen either. But it’s a very old oven [like thirty years, I think] and the gas man came to look at it and decided we shouldn’t use it any more. So our wonderful landlord has gotten us a new oven, which will be delivered Friday [it is sad how excited I am about this]. The problem is, our old oven is smaller than what seems to have become the standard size for ovens these days, so we had a choice: buy an oven the same size as the current one for like £800, or take three inches off our countertop and buy a slightly bigger oven for a lesser price. Our landlord and I both felt the latter was the best option. So yesterday I had a bunch of work to do in the kitchen, both clearing and cleaning/tidying, and making a meal for Stephen’s co-worker who brought his big impressive power saw over to perform a countertop circumcision. Of course, the worst/hardest work is yet to come, because our old oven has its own backsplash thingy, whereas the new one does not, which means I’ll have like thirty years of grime to scrub off the tiles behind it once it’s gone, not to mention I will then need to paint those tiles to match the rest of them, and all that stuff. Not looking forward to that, particularly, or to what I am certain will be a shockingly filthy floor beneath, but oh well. I get a new oven. And the bottoms of my pots will hopefully no longer be crusted with soot after each use, requiring a complicated cleaning system involving toothbrushes and scrubby sponges just to keep them from staining my shelves. I have digressed quite a bit).
Point is, I spent all day yesterday Doing House Things, so I apologize to Emily for not posting this then. The good news, though, is that here it is now, and I hope you all enjoy it!
In the office, Lucy was talking with the new girl, who brought a newspaper in with her every day. Sometimes she spread it out on the table and it would overlap some of my envelopes. I don’t like to touch newsprint. On this one, the greasy ink made a generic picture of the river Nene in flood, near Peterborough. The words said a body had surfaced in the water there.
Lucy called the new girl Enid, which is how I learned her name. She said, “Enid, that’s disgusting!”
“That’s what water does. They have no idea who she was or how long she’s been there, really. Less than a year. More than a month. There were some hairs left to say she was fair. . . .”
I couldn’t see my notebook. The paper was opened wide, not even folded once. My notebook had to be under there. I looked for its outline, but the page about the dead person lay lightly. It curved. Anything could be under there. Or nothing. The other side, the rest of the news, lay thick and flat.
“Hi, Mathilde,” Enid said. “We’ll all have to be more careful. Someone doesn’t like girls with fair hair.”
I have fair hair. Enid’s hair is shit brown.
“She’s joking,” Lucy said. “Seriously, Enid. There’s nothing about any other victims.”
Enid shrugged. “Just haven’t found them yet.”
“Mattie, are you looking for this?” Lucy took my notebook off the seat next to her. She held it by its binding, which left the pages to flap.
I couldn’t speak. I willed her to put it down. Instead, she stood and walked around the table, holding it out. I didn’t move. “I’ll just put it in your bag,” she said. The bag had slid down to my elbow. It hung open there. The letter poked out the top.
I swung at her with the bag and took the notebook with my other hand. “Jesus Christ,” she said, jumping back. No one was in the way. I got out.
From THE START OF EVERYTHING by Emily Winslow, a novel of psychological suspense, which launches in the US from Delacorte Press, a division of Random House, today (yesterday). In hardcover, ebook and audio. The UK edition will launch in June.
“[Winslow is] brilliant at portraying the ragged fragments of these lives. What emerges isn’t a single killer with motive and means, but a tangle of stories crossing and colliding, stray intersections of incidents and accidents, misunderstandings, and misreadings, all thanks to the myopia of individual perspectives and the self-centeredness of individual desires.”
- The Washington Post
“Outstanding… A literary mystery, there are multiple viewpoints, the use of present tense and jumps in time. This dark thriller will bring chills and heavy atmosphere up to the shocking end.”
- Romantic Times, 4.5 stars out of 5
“Winslow’s second novel is compulsively readable with a final twist; a treat especially for fans of Minette Walters and Ruth Rendell.”
What Stace had to say on Friday, August 3rd, 2012
So, there’s a certain “Italian” chain restaurant in the US. I bet you know the one. I actually tended bar at one for a time, even, and although it wasn’t a great place to work for it wasn’t as bad as some. Opinions on their food are somewhat divided, but I admit I have a special fondness for it, for a number of reasons, and I’m not ashamed, either.
But. One thing I haven’t seen anyone disagree on is the deliciousness of their garlic breadsticks. Because seriously, those are some awesome breadsticks.
The other night I was making pasta. Just a very quick pasta, with some homemade bolognese I made and froze a few weeks ago. And I had a craving for some garlic bread to go with it. Lovely, soft, buttery garlic bread. (Some of you may know that I recently figured out–finally!–how to make yeast work, with the result that I’ve been a bread-making fool for the last two months. Sandwich breads, focaccia, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls…yum yum yum. Anyway.)
I Googled the recipe for this particular restaurant’s breadsticks. And found a couple that looked likely. To my surprise, none of them used actual bread flour; they used regular AP flour. They were pretty basic, bread-wise: flour, yeast, water, salt, melted butter, and a little sugar. And the comments left on those recipes were pretty good.
But I started thinking. Hmm. They don’t use bread flour, and they’re supposed to be Italian, and I *bet* the restaurant uses something a bit spiffier than just plain old AP flour. Well, Italian 00 flour works great in focaccia bread, and in pastas. And 00 flour makes breads softer; something to do with protein levels and fineness of the milling, I don’t know all the science exactly, but I do know that 00 flour can generally be used in a lot of recipes where AP flour is, only it’s a bit softer. Since soft is exactly what these breadsticks are supposed to be, and since I had 00 flour (of course; I currently have about eight different types of flour in my pantry), I figured, why not?
Next I looked at the liquid. All just water, really? I’ve done some breads with all water, some with water & milk, and some with sour cream. The dairy ones are softer. So again, I thought, okay, let’s replace some of the water with milk. And while we’re at it, let’s add a little honey, because not long ago I made some dinner rolls with honey and milk and the hubs pronounced them “So good, you could actually sell these.” They really were good.
I don’t knead for long. Dan Lepard, in his SHORT & SWEET, makes a good case for a brief knead, and I’ve had great results with his method (oh look! That link goes to the HarperCollins UK site! Look what else is there–CHASING MAGIC, which was released yesterday!). So I basically knead just long enough to bring the dough together, then give it another short knead ten minutes or so later, and then another before I shape the dough. Normally I do two other ten-minute-interval short kneads, but again, I was going for very soft here.
So. This is the dough I made. I bought a kitchen scale a few months back, an inexpensive little digital one, so these are measured in grams. Also, I use ml for the liquids, because that’s the easiest way for me to get the temperature right, as you’ll see.
500g Italian 00 flour
10g fine salt (I used regular Morton’s iodized salt, but you could use sea salt or whatever)
whisk those together in a large bowl.
In a measuring cup mix:
1 Tbsp honey
100 ml boiling water
200 ml cold whole milk (not 2% or skim, I used whole, which I usually have to bake with)
(This will give you liquid that’s the perfect temperature for yeast; 100 ml boiling to 200 ml cold. It really works. You don’t even have to take its temperature. 300ml is about 1 cup, so you could do 1/3 cup boiling to 2/3 cold. But my measuring cup has both so it’s just as easy to use ml. You could of course mix it all and microwave it to the right temp., but I don’t have a microwave. I do have an electric kettle.)
Add to that:
2 Tbsp sugar
5g dried yeast.
You can use dried active or quick rise or whatever kind, it doesn’t matter. You don’t *have* to bloom the yeast if you’re using any kind but regular dried, but I tend to anyway just to make sure it’s alive. Give it a stir and let it sit for a couple of minutes while you melt:
2 Tbsp butter.
Let the butter cool for a minute or two, until you can stick your finger in it without it burning, and add it to the liquid/yeast mixture.
Dump the liquids and yeast into the flour/salt, mix it until it forms a dough, and knead it for a minute or two until it comes together and is fairly smooth. Then put it back into the bowl–some recipes say to oil it, and you can do that, but I don’t always bother; I’ve never had a problem with the dough sticking to the bowl, frankly–cover it with plastic, and let it sit somewhere to rise.
Two things about the rise: One, all the fat in this dough means it will rise slowly. It’s because the fat does something to impede the yeast a bit. So while a less-fatty dough may double in size in an hour, this one will take maybe 1 1/2 or even 2 hours.
Two, here’s what I do to make a nice warm place for the yeast to rise. You can try a few things, actually. If your oven is on you can set the bowl on top of it, but this could get too warm. Some people recommend turning the oven on its lowest setting for ten minutes, then turning it off, opening the door a bit, and setting the bowl inside.
Here’s what I usually do, and I do the same after the dough is shaped. I set the bowl on top of the toaster and flip down the levers to turn the heating elements on. I let it sit about ten-fifteen seconds then turn the toaster off. This sends a bit of warmth rising to the bowl, but not too much, and the warmth lingers. And, as I check the bottom of the bowl during the rise, if the bowl feels too cool I can repeat it quickly and easily. No messing about with oven dials and worrying it’s too hot or heating too slow or moving oven racks about or how-far-should-I-leave-the-door-open. I just flip the toaster on for a few seconds. Easy-peasy.
I rise my dough in a really cheap see-through plastic bowl. I’ve used my nice melamine bowls, but I like these better because they’re see-through, which not only makes it easier to watch the dough rising, but also because I am always convinced I’ve done something wrong and the dough won’t rise, and with the clear bowl I can lift it up and look at the bottom. See, as the yeast starts to work little bubbles form in the bottom, little pockmarks. They start at the edges and move inward. So I can make sure the yeast is working before I actually really notice the dough rising, by looking for the pockmarks in the bottom.
Anyway. It took about 2 hours, I think, for the dough to double in size. I kneaded it a bit, shaped it into hot-dog-bun-like rolls–mine were a little too big, I only made six of them. I think next time I’ll go for ten equal pieces. Anyway. Shape them into the rolls, set them on a piece of parchment on a baking sheet, and then back onto the toaster for another forty-five minutes or so until they’ve doubled in size again.
When you set the shaped bread onto the toaster, turn the oven on to 400F.
Stick the risen rolls into the oven and set the timer for seven minutes. Now in a small saucepan over the lowest possible heat, melt about 1/2 cup of unsalted butter with 2 tsp of garlic powder. The recipe I had called for 2 tsp of salt, also, but it turned out a bit too salty, I think, so next time I’ll cut the salt to 1 1/2 tsp. Anyway, mix the garlic powder and salt into the butter and stir and stir. Don’t let it boil or color.
And yes, you can probably use real garlic. I can hear some of you gasping at the garlic powder. But honestly, I’d be worried about real garlic coloring or cooking in the butter. I’d be worried that the flavor isn’t intense enough or is too intense, or rather, that you’d have to use so much garlic to make the flavor right that it would feel like you spend half an hour mincing garlic. But you could, sure. I use real garlic for my other garlic butters and breads. But I was happy enough with this one.
When the timer goes off pull the bread from the oven and baste well with the butter. Give it a nice coat. Then stick it back in the oven for a further seven minutes (rotate it as you put it back).
The bread should be done after that (unlike other breads, because of the melted butter and the extra softness, the sticks won’t sound hollow if you tap the bottom). Take it out and baste with the rest of the butter. Baste it well and baste it thick. I didn’t use all the butter but I used most of it, probably about 4/5 of it. It’s gorgeous, with the shiny wet butter and little bits of garlic powder.
Look at that garlic butter
Eat while still warm, if you can even wait for it to cool down enough to be called “warm.” I swear this bread is SO SOFT. SO delicious. So squishy and buttery-garlic-y and lovely. I was one happy little breadmaker. I barely even wanted my pasta bolognese. I just wanted garlic breadsticks.
What Stace had to say on Thursday, January 5th, 2012
I do apologize for not updating for so long; I am fine and feeling great, I’ve just been extremely busy finishing edits on CHASING MAGIC, working on edits of the short Downside story HOME (which will be published on Tor’s Heroes and Heartbreakers website), and working on a new project, in addition to the whole holiday thing.
Which was awesome. I cooked a lot. I made chicken stock from the carcass of our Yule roasted chicken. I made our now-traditional beef bourguingnon for Christmas day. I made a lasagna bolognese from scratch–long-simmered bolognese sauce and bechamel sauce–for New Year’s Day that was so gorgeous I wish I’d taken photos. I made a couple of batches of fudge crinkle cookies; I made Snickerdoodles; I made molasses spice cookies, some with white chocolate glaze and some with orange-flavored white chocolate glaze; I made pumpkin spice cookies with a vanilla-cinnamon frosting.
And we went out, a LOT, to do all of the shopping which had fallen by the wayside because of my recovery and the fact that hubs had to take a lot of unpaid time off work when I was in the hospital.
But it was a lovely holiday overall, a more fun and relaxing one than I’ve had in a while.
Oh! And, I played Dungeons & Dragons for the very first time! See, when I was a kid my big brother was a huge D&D head, but of course he never let me play with him and his friends. And I had the occasional boyfriend who played but generally when I’d go to their games they spent four hours creating characters, at which point I was bored.
But the hubs and I have a dear friend who used to play it with hubs when they were kids and he–the friend–still loves to play (he’s a Dungeon Master, which means, for those unfamiliar, that he “runs” the game), so he and his wife (also a dear friend of course) came over for spanakopita and adventure. He’d even created some characters for us in advance, which was so sweet of him. I was Lola Dragonslut, a warrior with semi-low intelligence but great charisma, and we explored a bunch of tunnels where there was supposed to be treasure. We didn’t finish the game, but we had a blast. Tons of fun; I’m looking forward to playing again.
Also, I got lots of pretty new nail polish for Christmas, so I’m hoping to start the fingernail posts again! This week my nails are peach with sparkles.
And…this morning I had an endoscopy done, a follow-up from the whole surgery thing. I’d warned them about my horrible gag reflex, and they’d promised to sedate me since the whole idea freaked me out. The upshot of all of this was that I don’t remember a thing from “You’ll start to feel drowsy in twenty seconds or so” to “Time to wake up!” But according to the nurse I talked the whole time, although they couldn’t understand a word (she said this with a bit of a giggle, which worries me. Could they really not understand me, or was I saying horribly dirty and rude things?). And according to the “Findings and Actions” sheet I was given, the intubation was “poorly tolerated” and they had to do it a second time, so there’s that gag reflex.
The bad news is the ulcer isn’t completely healed, so it’s back on ulcer meds for Stacia for another ten weeks, and another endoscopy when that ten weeks is over. Which sucks.
But again, the good news is I feel just fine and am back in the saddle. Well, it’s good news for me, and hopefully you think so, too.
There have been quite a few rant-worthy things happening lately, and I may blog about them soon. For the moment suffice to say that readers and reviewers have every right to express their opinions about books without authors responding in comments to tell them how wrong they are. (This also goes back to my posts about how once you’re published you can no longer use the “but I’m a reader, and I’m commenting as a reader” line, but again, something to possibly be blogged about later.)
So for now I’ll just say I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, and I’m hoping 2012 is a great year for all of us!
What Stace had to say on Monday, January 10th, 2011
I turned in Book 4 last night, at about one in the morning (I would have kept it until this morning, but we’re having this storm here and there were some predictions that the power could go out etc., so I didn’t want to take a chance). I’ve suggested a title that my editor seems to like, and my agent seems to like, although I can tell he’s not super enthusiastic about it, so we’ll see.
Final word count–this is after my edit, there’s still at least one more edit to come after my editor gets a look at it–is 122,920 words. That’s about 13k more than CITY OF GHOSTS, and that’s pre-epigrams (I add those in editing).
I’ve done a re-read of it and while I’m never happy with them–I feel this one is particularly dull–even I have to admit that at least the writing is good, which pleases me. So we’ll see what happens from here.
As I’d predicted/intended, it’s much more Lex’s book than anyone else’s. But don’t worry, Terrible fans, he’s still in there, and the next book will be extremely Terrible-heavy.
Anyway, there we go. I have a short to write which is due February 1st for a different antho–and I’m going to do a non-Downside story for this one–so I’ll be working on that, and at some point in the next week or two I’ll start Book 5. Which also does not have a title yet.
Neither of them have a release date. I promise, as soon as I have one I will tell you!
Later tonight I think I’m going to have the hubs take some pictures for an updated author photo, which is kind of scary. I hate the way I photograph, to be honest. And my current photo is, I believe, the best picture ever taken of me. So that’s going to be hard to top. Of course, if I don’t get one I like as much I’ll just keep that one, but we’ll see. It snowed here last night–the “winter storm,”–so I’ll have a snow-covered tree in the background, which will be pretty cool, I think.
I’ve had a lot of questions lately about the Downside Market. I’m working as hard/fast as I can to get all the designs transferred to Spreadshirt, and to come up with some fun new ones. Now that the book is turned in I’ll hopefully be able to get it up and running soon, maybe not with all of the designs in place–a few of them are too small for Spreadshirt’s qualifications, and I’m waiting for resized versions–but with enough, and in enough color choices etc. So again, if you have any suggestions or ideas for something you’d like to see on a shirt, don’t hesitate to say something!
So later I may very well be posting some pictures, and later in the week I’ll be doing some more relevant posts again, but for now that’s it.
What Stace had to say on Monday, December 20th, 2010
First, lookie! The German version of UNHOLY MAGIC, which will be published by Egmont Lyx in July 2011, has a cover! And a new title. SEELENZORN, which as far as I can tell means either Angry Souls or Soul’s Anger or something like that. (Also, Egmont is calling the books the “Ghostbusters series,” which is awesome and yet very scary in a trademark-infringement sort of way. So, um, I’m not the one calling it that, okay, Sharp Hawk-Eyed Lawyers? Totally not me.) Anyway, here it is:
Sigh, no bangs. But it's still cool.
There’s a blog, a review-and-interview-and-everything-books blog, called Floor to Ceiling books, and Magemanda, the lovely lady who runs it, has posted her Best Of… list for 2010. Guess who’s on it? Me! Well, me, for “Breakthrough Novelist,” which she says is in part because of YOU, and the fantastic little community you guys have made! So thank you all so much. Also–and I know this part will interest you far more–Chess and Terrible won for “Best Kiss.” Nice, huh? She doesn’t say which book it’s for, though, so I’ll ask you guys. What was the best kiss?
And I know you’re all dying to hear how my Twitter odyssey ended. It hasn’t. I did look into Destroy Twitter, which I liked the look of quite a bit–I loved that you could customize it and pick different themes. Unfortunately, not only is the info/FAQ/etc on the site really sparse, to the point where I had no idea what the thing would even DO unless I downloaded it and actually started running it, it was also a download program. Which makes me think it’s a opens-in-its-own-window thing, which as we know, I don’t want.
So it’s down to Hootsuite and Seesmic. I’m actually liking both of them. I’ve hooked up my Facebook page to Seesmic, so I’ve actually gotten a few FB updates in yesterday and today, which is nice. I don’t know if I’ll make Seesmic my only program, though. I do like it. The more I use it the more I like it.
The problem is, the more I use Hootsuite the more I like it, too. They both have things I really like and things I don’t like as much; the bad part is those things complement each other. Like I don’t like Hootsuite’s DM thing, because it doesn’t automatically show me the ones I send. But I like Hootsuite’s photo uploader much better. Plus Hootsuite has that cute little owl. But Seesmic’s FAQ etc. is more comprehensive. Seesmic allows me to quote part of someone’s tweet, and–I LOVE this–when you go to someone’s profile it tells you if they’re following you as well as whether you’re following them. So it’ll say, “This user and you follow each other,” or whatever, which I’ve always thought Twitter should do. But Hootsuite has some cool Google Chrome extensions available, whereas Seesmic has none. I love that neither of them force me to look at people they think I’d be interested in following. I detest that.
So I don’t know. For the moment I’m keeping them both open in separate tabs and switching back and forth between them, basically.
Also, an update on the Downside Market. I’m basically waiting to get bigger versions of the original designs, because some of them look really small on the shirts etc., and we don’t want that. I’m also going to get white ones to go on black or dark-colored shirts. I’m trying to make as many color options available as possible.
And I’m doing a few more with text, because that’s a bit cheaper, so again, lots of color options. I’m trying to get maybe a few Downspeech phrases in there, just some sort of fun stuff. And some of the really basic shirts are very inexpensive, which makes me happy. I’m also expanding the UF stuff a bit, more pro-genre/genre-related shirts.
And of course, if anyone out there wants to do some designs, please send them in! And if your design goes into the store I’ll send you a shirt. You can find the specifications right here, if you’re interested.
Oh, and I’m ripping out and rewriting like 40k words on Downside 4. More explosions! More violence! More dying! I’m hoping it’ll be a really good time when it’s done.
I think that’s all the updates I have for the moment.
What Stace had to say on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
Thanksgiving. I know it’s fashionable to hate Thanksgiving, but I actually don’t. I like cooking, especially the kind of big elaborate meal that I don’t bother with most of the time. I particularly enjoy any sort of dessert made with pumpkin, so the holidays are right up my alley; last weekend I made a pumpkin pie and a pumpkin bread pudding with toffee sauce, which was seriously amazing.
And usually it’s just me, the hubs, and the girls for Thanksgiving, which is nice. We eat–I don’t actually like turkey, but I’ll eat it on Thanksgiving–and we watch our two annual Thanksgiving movies, JAWS and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL. The last few years we’ve also watched the Saturday Night Live Christmas special.
And I admit, one of the most enjoyable things about Thanksgiving–about the holidays in general, really–is that no one thinks it’s odd if you start drinking at noon, and you can spend the entire day in a tipsy haze, which is most pleasant.
This year we won’t be doing a big dinner, for a number of reasons, chief among them we just don’t have the space to cook all that food. But you know, that’s okay too. One of my favorite Thanksgivings was the year Princess was a baby; she was about three months old, and neither of us felt up to a big celebration. So we had our typical Christmas Eve meal, which is cold cuts and cheeses and crackers and bread, maybe some scalloped potatoes or cocktail meatballs for something hot. I spent the day reading Stephen King’s INSOMNIA and eating corned beef on Ritz crackers, drinking Riesling and sherry (something about this particular holiday lends itself to girly drinks). It was a lovely day.
This year I’ll be working. We’re well over 100k on the fourth Downside book, and the end is in sight, finally. As I said on Twitter yesterday, I think my first draft will end up around 125-130k, and I know I’ll be cutting at least 15 out of that. CITY OF GHOSTS was 110k, so this one will probably end up right around there, maybe a bit longer. I am fairly pleased with it, I am, and wrote a scene I absolutely love the other day, in addition to, I think, one of my favorite lines I’ve ever written, and one of my favorite lines of dialogue I’ve ever written (which came, surprisingly, from Lex, but then he’s surprised me a few times in this one). So I’m chugging along, and I’m nervous about whether you’ll all like it but I’m feeling fairly confident that at the very least you’ll enjoy one particular scene.
Anyway. This is the time, because it’s a Thanksgiving post, when we’re supposed to share what makes us thankful and all that shit. But that’s so cliched, isn’t it? And really, we all say the same thing whether we mean it or not: our families, our health, blah blah blah. Those are all good things to be thankful for, sure, but really, it’s not very personal.
I do have something to be thankful for this year. I have books on the shelves, and I have readers who actually liked them and took the time to let me know, and that’s amazing. You guys have truly made this year one of the best in my entire life, despite the fact that some genuinely lousy things happened to go along with that, sigh, but that’s life. Anyone who expects to have good things happen without paying for them somehow is, well, they’re not living my life, that’s for damn sure.
Still, let’s not tempt fate. Rather than share what we’re thankful for this year, let’s talk about what we’re not thankful for; what we hate about the upcoming holidays, what irritates and annoys us. As always anonymous comments are welcome, if you’re afraid the friend you want to complain about will read where you say you want to smack her if she invites you “shopping” one more time and spends the whole afternoon in one store trying on things for herself.
One thing, though. Let’s keep it light-hearted and apolitical, okay? This is supposed to be fun.
1. I hate the insane crowds everywhere. I can’t even go get groceries without fighting my way through gaggles of people standing around staring at displays of green cookies.
2. I hate the fucking spam emails. I get enough email without getting constant offers from every online store I’ve ever shopped at, and every “customer loyalty” points group I’ve ever joined is offering me quadruple points if I will just please give them some money, any money, they don’t care how much, just please give them something and they will shower me with points like some kind of festive points raincloud.
3. I hate the pressure to do family things. Sorry, but I do. All those people around me all the time make me itch.
4. As I mentioned above, I don’t like turkey. I cook and eat it because it’s traditional, and I am obviously such a very traditional sort of girl that I can’t help it. No, seriously, I’m not, but in Thanksgiving dinner I am. It’s the only holiday meal I do according to popular consensus; like I said, our Christmas Eve meal is cold meats, cheese, etc. before we open presents, and Christmas day the last few years I’ve done beef bourgoignonne (or however the hell that’s spelled, I’m too lazy to go check). I do a Yule dinner, roast pork and vegetables, which is also traditional to large degree, but still. Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving, and everyone wants turkey, especially my husband and the Princess who like turkey and never get it because I do the cooking, so too bad for them.
5. I hate the preachy “heart-warming” homilies and shit we’re all supposed to smile and tear up over. Sorry, but suddenly acting like a human being from mid-November to January 1st doesn’t excuse the fact that you’re a completely heartless piece of shit the rest of the year.
How are those? What are yours? Specific ones, general ones? Go ahead and let it out. Let’s screw those holidays together!
What Stace had to say on Saturday, November 13th, 2010
We all know I’m pretty tech-stupid. We also know I bought a netbook a while ago. We may also know that I’ve been having problems with Safari (which I use on my Mac) for months and months; it freezes whenever someone even says the word “Flash” in its presence, for example. Or it’ll halt and stick when people have animations in their sig lines on forums. Stuff like that. But of course being tech-stupid–in addition to being someone with a semi-pathological hatred and fear of change–the idea of switching to a new browser made me Very Nervous.
Anyway. Last night I took a little break from working to mess around online. I’ve been using the netbook to write lately; I bought a portable hard drive to use for memory for it (it’s gotten lousy reviews, I see. Personally it works great for me, but again, all I’m using it for is extra memory for the netbook). I find the keyboard on that easier to work on; the keys aren’t as stiff as on the Mac so it’s less painful on my fingers. And–although this may change now–it wasn’t as easy to browse online on the netbook, which meant I focused more on work.
So I decided to do something bold, and download Google Chrome instead of continuing to use IE on the netbook. Yes, it was a crazy move, but I’m just wild that way. I also uninstalled Norton antivirus, because I’m sick to death of being constantly interrupted by it, and installed the Microsoft Malware/Virus tool thingie instead. If I could figure out how to uninstall IE and Netflix I would, because I like uninstalling things and making room.
Anyway. I played with Google Chrome for several hours last night, discussed it a bit on Twitter and io9, and today I decided I like it so much I wanted it on the Mac. So I’m not using it exclusively on the Mac and the netbook, and I’ve installed some nifty extensions (that I had no idea what they were until a Twitter pal and then my io9 pals told me about them and where to go) that make me all happy. It really is MUCH faster than Safari or IE were, and it’s pretty (you can customize the background & colors and stuff) and fun. So I’m recommending it, at least for now, assuming it doesn’t fall apart on me in the weeks to come. It imported all of my bookmarks and saves all of my passwords and does all kinds of nifty things. So I’m happy.
And, I’m about to get back to work. This is a pretty dull little post, I know, but what the heck. I’m in the final stretch of Downside 4–it’s never taken me this long to write a novel before, but hopefully it’ll end up worth it–and can’t really think of much else. All hell is breaking loose, and we have death threats and decayed bodies and nasty witchcraft and ghosts and bloodshed and the requisite personal intrigue and all of that. (And yes, I have used the name of my Name-A-Character-Contest winner.) So I’m at the point now where I’m having tons of fun and I’m about to have a LOT more. Heh heh heh.
And I’ll hopefully have a title to share soon as well; I just sent my editor a big long list of possibilities.
I’ve got a couple of longer ranty posts to go up, but those will have to wait until after the book is finished.
What Stace had to say on Thursday, October 7th, 2010
First, I have a little guest post up at the Paranormal Haven blog. They asked me a while ago, and of course I wrote it in my calendar and promptly forgot all about it, so I had to write it on the fly last night. Which means I’m not thrilled with how it ends, because a much better idea for the ending occurred to me this morning, but oh well. Later I may add it to the site here, and I’ll fix the ending then. It’s not a major change.
They asked me for any sort of Halloween-y post, like a memory from childhood or whatever. And I started writing that, and then thought, everybody’s going to write that (“Halloween is my favorite holiday blah blah blah.” Come on, we write fantasy. Of course Halloween is our favorite holiday) and decided to do a little short story instead.
It’s a Downside story, sort of; it’s a Halloween story, sort of. It’s actually a Haunted Week story; someone asked me a while ago if I’d ever write about Haunted Week itself so I figured why not.
As I say in the post, two points if you know who young Thaddeus is (I know you guys will all know, but random people visiting the site may not). Also, because I know there’s been some speculation and this will really fuel it, I’ll just say outright that no, Baltimore is not Triumph City. But it’s not too far away, cough cough.
Hubs and I were discussing Thanksgiving earlier. I’m getting a bit excited about it. Not because I particularly care for or about Thanksgiving, but because every Thanksgiving we watch L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, and I freaking love that movie, so I can’t wait. (We also watch JAWS, which I also freaking love. It’s a good time, in general.)
There was something else I wanted to link to for you guys or tell you about but I don’t remember now what it was, dammit. Oh! Wait, I remember. Southern Promo has a survey up about the Downside Market, and if you would all take a minute to fill it out that would be awesome.
Back into my cave…only 3500 words last night, but I’m fairly happy with them, which is nice. Please leave a comment on my Paranormal Haven story? You’ll make me feel all cheerful and warm.
What Stace had to say on Sunday, September 26th, 2010
Because I feel like it, that’s why.
I went to get my hair cut today (yes, I just bitched about this on Twitter. So? I have something else to rant about too, so if you’ve already read this–oh, your time is soooo valuable, you can’t read a little rant more than once–feel free to skip.
Last week hubs and I were doing a bit of online browsing at Daddy O’s, which we do quite often and have done for years and years now, almost since it opened. And we came across pictures of this model and her adorable hair, which we both really liked, and thought would be really cute on me. So I’ve been thinking about it all week, and hubs printed out the pictures so I could look at them, and I decided, yeah, today I’m going to get do it. Because yes, it’s shorter than what I have now, but it isn’t, like, microshort or anything. I wore my hair a lot like it fifteen years or so ago, and it never took long to grow out.
Problem, of course, is that I don’t know where in this area to go. The last place I got a professional cut closed, and even if it hadn’t I wouldn’t have gone back there, because it was too expensive and the girl really didn’t listen to me or do what I wanted, which just sucked.
I drove past a few places, but they were all, like, “Day Spa/Salon”s, which means they’re going to be outrageously expensive too. Finally I found an open place, walked in, and was greeted by this incredibly dour, frumpy little woman with that burgundy-auburn dyed hair, do you know the color I mean? Seriously, she looked like Rosa Klebb. Without the cheer.
I already had that sort of nervous icky feeling in my stomach, because I wasn’t sure I wanted to let Mama Steelboot there near me with scissors. But I showed her my pictures anyway, figuring who knows, maybe she’s an excellent stylist who just has bad person taste, right?
Her thick eyebrows rose up to her weirdly side-swept bangs. “You want to go this short?”
I don’t think the cut is that short, actually, and that’s what I said. She sort of looks at my hair again, raises her eyebrows further, and says, “Well, it’s shorter than what you have now.”
Um, yeah…that’s why they call it a hair cut. Also, duh, I can see that it’s shorter than what I have now; I even brought pictures to reference, and am perfectly capable of understanding the concept of varying lengths. Also, fuck you, lady.
She took my name, and went to start sweeping up, and I stood there wondering why I was even contemplating letting this woman who obviously didn’t get me or what I wanted, and who I suspected might deliberately sabotage my hair just for pleasure, at all near me, so I didn’t. I told her I wanted to think about it more, and ran.
Why is it so damn hard to find a decent stylist? One who will actually listen to what you want, and give it to you? I just don’t get it. This is why I cut my own hair. I just don’t feel confident I can do that cut myself, because of all the layers in the back.
Anyway. This leads me to another rant, which was brought on by a humorous discussion on Absolute Write, and I’m basically going to repeat what I said. (Hmm. Maybe I should have called this post “Recycled Rants.”
The discussion was about celebrities eating during interviews, and how just once it would be cool to see someone polish off a cheeseburger or something. I commented that only very thin actresses get to do that, in the guise of A) proving they’re not anorexic; B) proving they just naturally have the metabolism of gazelles, hee, and it’s just natural on them. Both of which are bullshit, and piss me off.
What pisses me off even more, along those same lines–and this is a blast from the past–is a scene in the Charlie’s Angels movie. Drew Barrymore, who produced it or whatever it was she did, insisted that there be a scene in it where the Angels sat down and ate burgers and fries, to convey the massage to girls women should eat and that they shouldn’t starve themselves to be thin or some crap like that. Except it’s bullshit, and Drew knows it.
If you want to be thin, you cannot sit down and tuck into plates of cheeseburgers and fries every day. You just can’t. Once a week, sure, especially if you’re fairly careful the rest of the time. But the idea that thin women gorge themselves at every opportunity is, IMO, just as damaging to young women as telling them not to eat.
It’s yet another unrealistic ideal for them to live up to. Not only are they supposed to be size 2s, they’re supposed to be able to eat half a cow and STILL be a size 2. For the record, I am a size 2 (actually, the jeans I’m wearing at the moment are a Juniors size 1, but they’re a bit tight). I worked hard to get to this size. I work hard to stay this size. That means I don’t get to eat burgers and fries every day. I don’t get to eat half a chocolate cream pie in the evening; in fact, I rarely eat anything for dessert except a bar of taffy (I like taffy, especially strawberry taffy. It’s not as good as Drumsticks–a taffy lolly I used to get in England–but I digress). When I’m hungry during the day I have a few pretzel sticks or something, or I don’t have anything at all.
In 2007, see, my weight hit 143 lbs. Yes, I know, for some women that looks great, but let me repeat that I’m barely 5’2, and very small-boned. I looked very round. Very round indeed. My features were distorted. I looked miserable, and I was miserable, and I got tired of wearing baggy t-shirts and having only one pair of jeans that fit me. So I started counting calories and making better choices, and by the time I was done in mid-2008, I’d lost 40 lbs.
Do I eat? Of course I eat. You have to eat to live. Do I get to eat whatever I want, whenever I want? No. I don’t. Neither do 99% of slim women, frankly. That’s a fact. It’s bad enough all the pressure on women to be thin, to be beautiful, to be perfect, to be sexy but not slutty, all that other stuff, without also adding the pressure that they should be able to have that perfect thin body without any effort, and that if they can’t stay thin while eating their weight in french fries there’s something wrong with them.
Not to mention, why, in determining that it’s necessary to show women eating–which is in itself kind of an insulting little thing to do, really–why choose burgers and fries? Why not a steak and baked potato? Why not some pasta? Why deliberately choose something extra fattening, that will make young women feel especially inadequate? If you want to set an example, why not have them sitting down to a really healthy meal? (Note: I honestly don’t think anything is wrong with burgers and fries as a meal, I don’t. I love them. I eat them probably once a week or once every couple of weeks, and my homemade burgers are delicious if I say so myself. But while I don’t think they’re the health disaster so many people do, I also don’t think they’re as good for you as fresh vegetables or leaner meats or whatever else, and I don’t see why, if you’re consciously setting out to set an example for young women, you wouldn’t want to set an example that shows them how to truly eat right).
We need to stop pretending that normal people are just naturally thin, and that no effort is required to maintain it. We need to stop pretending that our weight is something we have no control over, frankly, because that damages everyone (IMO). We need to stop sending the message, deliberately or not, that you are somehow inadequate if you can’t eat a plate of lard every day and not gain a pound. Oh, and you should be able to get up and run a marathon after, too.
Those super-skinny actresses are super-skinny, and they wolf down those burgers in interviews, because they probably haven’t eaten more than dry salad for a week preparing for that splurge. Being thin takes work. And you know what? It doesn’t look good on everyone, either. Certainly being super-skinny doesn’t. I always remember how pretty Laura Flynn-Boyle used to look before she became just leathery skin stretched over old bones.
If I had a different figure, I’d happily gain some weight. I would. I’m not a very curvy woman. I’m fairly straight-up-and-down; I don’t have a large bust, I don’t have a cushy, callipygian bottom. I am slight, petite in a word, and because of that every extra pound shows, and the only way I can feel comfortable and look good in my clothes is to be quite thin. If I was curvy, busty? Then I’d be happy to be curvy and busty, and I wouldn’t worry so much.
I don’t mean this post as The Personal History Of Stacia’s Weight, or as some kind of justification for my own appearance or anything else. All I mean it as is an attempt to be realistic, and to say something realistic to people. Yes, you can control your own weight, except in very rare cases. But yes, you do pay a price for that, and the price is food. Once you hit your goal weight you can relax a bit, sure, but you can never completely let yourself go (not to mention that after the first month or so your stomach shrinks and you just can’t eat as much anyway). Getting and staying thin is, for most of us, something we have to work at, not something that we can just tra-la-la through life not worrying about at all.
So why do we insist on lying to our young women about that? Why do we insist on making them believe that not only do they have to be thin, they have to be effortlessly thin? Yeah, I get the desire to keep them from becoming anorexic, but I believe that whether we’re honest or not about what it takes to maintain a certain weight, anorexia will still happen. I think it’s more dangerous to tell them there’s no connection between what they eat and their weight, personally, but that may be just me.
And yeah, all of this may be just me. But it’s my rant, too. I just think we put enough pressure on young women without adding another in the idea that they should be eating like hogs at every opportunity while still staying very thin and gorgeous and perfect. It’s time we were honest with young women, and everyone else, about how difficult it is to hold to those artificial and often harmful standards.
Or maybe we could just give up those ridiculous standards anyway? I know, I know, too much to hope for. Sigh.
I’m out of rant energy now.
What Stace had to say on Thursday, September 9th, 2010
Yep, I’m being lazy, and although I’ll be posting this Thursday morning it’s actually quite late Wednesday night as I write this, and I got barely any sleep last night, so I’m quite tired.
And because I’m quite tired I have very little to discuss. It occurs to me I should mention Dragon*Con. I had a wonderful time at the con, I really did. Friday I got to hang out with Caitlin and my family, in addition to sitting and chatting in the bar with a number of other people whose names I’m not going to mention because they probably don’t want to admit they were actually in public with me, ha. No, actually, it was just a lot of people. But I think a great time was had by all.
This was my stepdaughter’s, and my daughters’, first Dragoncon, and they were pretty awed by the whole thing. We left them at home on Saturday–that being the most crowded day, usually, and yeah, it certainly was–and wandered around ourselves. Ended up–surprise!–in the bar again. I did a little interview for a very nice girl named Day, and my friend Shannan came along, and somehow the conversation turned to a video I saw online once of a couple discussing their bestiality and how they really love their pet miniature horse. Hey, I just saw it, okay, I wasn’t in it or anything. And I wasn’t talking about it like it was a beautiful love story or something. It just came up in conversation, as these things are wont to do if you hang out with weirdos like me and my friends.
The point of my mentioning it is, apparently on Sunday people were hearing that I actually had a bestiality porn video on my phone, and was showing people. So there goes the rumor mill! I’m waiting for the tale of how someone caught me shooting up in the bathrooms or something to get out. Because, um, of course that never happened! Ha ha! No, not me! (Of course I’m joking. It totally happened. Ha! See what I did there? Oh, I am a card.) No, really, honestly, of course it didn’t happen, because I didn’t shoot up anything in any bathrooms because I am not a shooter-upper, but such is the nature of rumor that I’m expecting more outrageous stories about me, is all. My agent says that’s a good thing, because obviously if people need to talk about you you’re doing something right, and he said something else that was really wise and reassuring but I don’t remember now what it was. Anyway, I find the whole thing both terrifying and amusing, so we’ll see which of those wins out.
On Saturday too we hooked up with our pals Chris and Mike, and went for drinks in the restaurant, and then to home.
So Sunday I was pretty well exhausted. To the point where I started drinking around two pm just in order to stay awake. You know, hair of the dog and all. And it worked; I did in fact stay awake. I had a panel at 5:30 that my children got to come and see, which was pretty cool; they waved at me a lot and I waved back, and they really wanted to wear costumes so they were Wonder Woman (Faerie) and Batgirl (Princess). Sadly, hubs had to take them all home shortly after that panel ended, leaving Caitlin and I all on our alones. We didn’t end up in the bar that night, well, not the Hyatt bar where we’d been. Instead we had dinner with more friends, two very awesome ladies, and then we hooked up with other friends and hung out in the lobby area by where the comic artists alley was, drinking from the little bar there and looking at costumes and generally having a gay old time.
And that was it. We came home. Had considered going back Monday but I was exhausted and felt like absolute crap. Yes, all that vodka caught up with me on Monday; I was capable of movement and speech and all, but I certainly didn’t feel like my chipper self, and the thought of dragging my ass down to the Marta station, and from there on the train down to the con, and then around the con, just didn’t appeal. So I didn’t get to see the dealer room at all this year, which was again a disappointment since I wanted to get myself something. (Of course, it also meant there was no repeat of last year’s corset issue. And I admit, part of me wondered if that booth wouldn’t have a picture of me taped up somewhere with a warning not to let me anywhere near the store. Now I’ll never know, sigh.)
What else shall I mention, in my lackadaisical blog post? My stepdaughter went home this morning, so it’s been kind of a downer day here, which sucks since Caitlin is here. And then she leaves tomorrow which makes me sad too. And all my Dragoncon pals, of course, have already left, which always sucks.
On the plus side, though, work on the 4th Downside book is coming along nicely. Work on the t-shirt designs and other things is coming along nicely, and I’m quite pleased and enthused and I think you all will be too, at least I hope so. I have the deleted scenes from CITY OF GHOSTS and a list of other updates and tidbits ready to be added to the site, along with more really cool reader-made stuff that I think you guys are going to love. And I’m going to do a list of research books, and sort of suggested reading/things I read, for those who want to learn a bit more about that stuff. So I’m quite excited about the next wave of updates. And as always, if there’s anything you guys want to see on the site, let me know, and I will do my best. (And if you’ve done anything like wallpapers or artwork or something along those lines and would like to share it on the site, let me know that too.)
Oh, and several of you asked questions in the comments on my little “How Babies Are Made” series. I will get to them as soon as possible, and give you what answers I can, okay?
I think that’s it for today’s lackadaisical blog post.