This is my personal blog and does not necessarily reflect the collective views of Hard Limits Press

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shadows of the past

The other day, I spoke to my oldest friend in the world for the first time in six years.

Our initial split could be described as ugly, if one were feeling charitable.

I can't explain how important this woman is to my development as a writer and a person. Hearing her on the phone, so different and yet so the same brought back so much I had forgotten.

The way I think this relates to writing is this. So often hopeful authors find themselves crawling through the slimy bowels of the internet, hoping for reassurance that their efforts will not go in vain. We all want to hear, of course, that we are writing something of worth. More than that, many people--maybe beginners especially--want to hear that they will one day be published. Publishing is so seductive because it is so validating. Someone chose your words, paid money for them, because they thought a goodly section of the populace at large would want them bad enough to turn over some hard won wages just to know what goes on between those shiny covers.

Frequently, though, what these dewy eyed writers find are grim pronouncements about how they must write six, seven, eight books in order to turn out something of even passing quality. The years all this will take stretches out before them like a path in the desert, featureless, the end--if there is one--obscured by a desolate heat shimmer.

This friend is the first person I remember creating whole worlds with. We had a series of self insert fantasies that were shamefully bad in that way only confused hormonal teenagers can achieve. Did we think about publishing it? I don't think so. That wasn't the point.

The point is, everything that has gone before, every childish tale about how she and I were really sword fighters, or motorcycle gang members on an abandoned planet, or exiled princesses with classic telepathic horse companions served as the foundation for the tales that followed, maturing as I matured.

If you, my fellow soldier, are struggling with the bleak death sentence set down by posts that inform you about how much you must do, remember that every experience you swallow, everything you suffer, all your joys, every terrible story and flight of fancy and roleplay game and fan fiction are not a waste of time. This is not a race but a journey, and when you do sit down to write the novel that haunts you in your sleep and dogs your trail in the waking hours, even the hard moments will feel in some secret way as though they are right, and easy, even if that ease is all relative.

I was once described as being made of words. My whole life I have created these bright bubble worlds to hide in, or to encompass myself and a few others under their ever changing domes. When my friend and I were thirteen we had rich tales but the skills weren't there. Now as I write the project that has consumed me utterly, those tales come out again, breathing life in to my work because I have spent over ten years dreaming, creating, narrating every day actions, imagining people and what makes them special, acting out characters with other people insane enough to dress up and pretend to be a different person.

Don't fear the work, new author. It isn't like levels in a video game. You never win. Writers are like sharks. Keep moving, and remake yourself in words.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

contributing member of society

I am employed for the first time in almost three years. This has been hell on my writing and blogging, though rest assured I am not complaining about having a paycheck. (Much)

Here is a quote for you today, as I use this day off to revise like a crazy person.

"Randolph pulled his shields away as though he were ripping blood soaked cloth away from raw flesh. Ashrinn’s exposed psyche cried out, caught between the terror of being immolated and the pleasure of being consumed. He swayed, convulsed, dropped to his knees."

So kids, how are those NaNos, hmm?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The ghost of NaNos past

My past NaNos were, of course, terrible. Here are some of the quotes I actually like, though:

A building that has had a murder committed inside it always looks larger to me than it really is. (NaNo 04)

Like the slow pulse of a waking heart, the need for cocaine began somewhere deep in her brain. (NaNo 04)

I still have affection for this NaNo. It was the first time I tried it. It might be worth something someday, torn apart and put back together.

In a field of corpse-flowers, the wolf of bones came to her. (NaNo 05)

Sadly, this was before I realized that perhaps characters shouldn't reference things that don't exist in their world, (that line is fine, but the rest is uh, not) and boy, did I love an adverb, but since it's a tradition to have ninjas break in to your nano manuscript I am not going to feel too much remorse.

Let's see yours! Maybe we should do the howlers too, hmm?

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I may actually do it this year.

For all those NaNo naysayers, well. I wrote my first novel thanks to NaNo. Was it a piece of self indulgent wanky shit? Oh yes. But I honestly don't know if I would have progressed to the writing I am doing now without it. If you're doing NaNo get rid of any notions that you will have a publishable product at the end. Comfort yourself with the knowledge that publishing isn't what NaNo is about. It's about giving you a starting point, getting you past whatever bullshit baggage you're carrying around about how you really have nothing worthy to say. Use it in that spirit.

Once my writing progressed to a certain point, I quit doing NaNo as such. Creating a first draft at a frenzied pace, with no thought as to quality, no longer served me quite the same way. Now though I think I might give it another try, and see if I can combine a more thoughtful pace with the goals of NaNo.

I am unemployed. I have nothing but time. Let's do this.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Write It Now

I use Write It Now. Honestly if Scrivener had a Windows version I would most likely use it instead; Write It Now has several unattractive quirks.

What it does have, though, are some very useful features. Storyboard, for example. I suggest writers find some way to use this or a similar tool, because it is such a help. Especially if you write by the seat of your pants like I do. It's a bit terrifying to see all of my effort laid out like that.

Quote of the day from the second revision of Sacrificial Magic:

"Fury. An agony that lived in the heart rather than in the body. The painful, scourging power of revelation. He looked beyond, in to the realm of all that was good and holy, and lifted his sword."

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Bellingham Diaries

Inspired by a recent discussion in the comments, I've decided to give you all the best of my journal entries. I wrote most of these over my last year in Bellingham, WA. They haven't been edited.

I read this to my mother and she smiled and said, "that's the Irish in you."


My mother sat on the couch in her underwear this morning and told me about how the clinic sent her another woman's report. The report suggested that this other, phantasmal Mc**** had cancer. I get to keep my mother, this frail bodied, steel souled woman a little longer.

Make no mistake, my mother is hard. Thin limbs recall the gangly child, high cheekbones and slender fingers evoke what I have come to think of as her spirit animal, the blue heron. Her flesh, however, even in her mid fifties is smoothed over muscle even I don't have at twenty eight.

Whenever I visit she tells me stories, and I realize that I have been wrong about her my whole life. I was sure she didn't care. Now she tells me about early labor, that damnable sense of feminine politeness, that kept her from asking for a seat on the bus at seven months pregnant.

She still cries when she tells that story, and now I hear what is unspoken as clearly as a single note struck on a tuning fork; what would have happened, if I'd demanded a spot? Did I curse you, make you what you are, ensure you came out half baked and part faerie because I couldn't assert myself?

My grandmother was like putty in dementia's withered hands by the time she was seventy five. My mother is only fifty six, but the specter of spooning pudding in to her mother in law's slack mouth still walks beside her, my mother's version of my impassive shadow-man.

It amazes me, the amount of pain humans shoulder every day. I still think grief is the strongest human emotion, love and sorrow together.

Sometimes, though, death is a transformation. As parts of my life fall away and change, I rise again from the grave. The life of a shaman is nothing but a series of deaths and the empowerment and lessons that result.

Portland. Seattle. My big beautiful dirty glittering cities, my depthless, bottle-green sea.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

On mental illness and creativity

The final world on romanticizing the locus of suffering and art:

"No one is creative when paralytically depressed, psychotic, institutionalized, in restraints, or dead because of suicide."

--Kay Redfield Jamison

Touched With Fire

Betsy Lerner weighs in

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sacrificial Magic, second pass

I am still trapped in the Forests of When to Introduce a Secondary PoV Character, located between Neuroses Island and the Briar Patch of Lifelong Regret.

I wonder if my writing is noticeably different when I am on medication, and when I am not. I am at least managing to get this second pass done now, after a week of nothing. I am seeing a lot of places where I can combine scenes and hopefully make things flow more naturally thereby. This is encouraging, of course, but I have hit the first stage of burn out. It's like the whiff of what might be a rotting opossum under the porch, evocative, fleeting, and capable of robbing one of the will to live. If nothing else I sure as hell don't want to look under the porch.

Anyway! Here's a quote for you. The MC is trying to call forth a happy memory:

Tehran, before the day everything had changed, where he and his parents had fled the country steps ahead of men who wanted to kill them. His mother, showing him how to make Sohaan-e Asali, the toffee still warm, the smell of saffron, the threads bruised by his mother’s callused fingertips, so real even over thirty years later. His father complaining about how it would be much simpler to go for a take away, making annoyed pronouncements from where he sat ensconced in his overstuffed chair. The complaining had been half the fun.


Over and out.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Banned Books week

Ok imaginary audience I pretend is reading this thing, I am doing a review of one of my favorite banned books in honor of Banned Books Week. Want to do your own review? Sign up here!

I am going to do Bridge to Terabithia. Check this space on September 30th for my review.

ETA: Funds have stymied my efforts for the moment, but I am hoping to fill this in soon.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Revision, it is me!

Time for one of these:

Project: Sacrificial Magic, the rewrite (it's only a working title. I swear I will think of something that does not involve the word magic)

New words written/reworked: 1,400

Things accomplished in fiction: Morphine is like a bad relationship. On the one hand you can't get enough. On the other it makes you want to puke.

Favorite thing of the day: "I got shot. Oh, and stabbed. I should think that would be evident."

Real life: Look, let's face it. My real life is pathetic. I sat at a coffee shop with a manuscript the size of a cinder block, trying to get my headache to go away by drinking straight shots of espresso one after the other. Because that's just how I roll.

How are you WIPS? Tell me tell me tell me!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Speak loudly

ETA: "But censoring books that deal with difficult, adolescent issues does not protect anybody. Quite the opposite. It leaves kids in the darkness and makes them vulnerable. Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance. Our children cannot afford to have the truth of the world withheld from them."

--Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak

I haven't read Speak, but I will say this.


Do NOT write the book some puritanical inner censor insists you write. Do not write for the lowest common denominator, the willfully ignorant that will conflate pornography and rape. Write a book that will actually touch a young reader going through a terrible thing. I think most of us can say that books helped save us, at some point. Dare to be the author of that book. Do not let people like this erase real victims and real people.


Silence is NEVER the answer.

Writing prompt!

A swift recap: over at WriteRightOn, we the members like to indulge in writing exercises. This is my on the fly answer to the prompt "Accent." These two are the main characters of Sacrificial Magic, currently in its first round of revisions.

“Pinecroft, huh? What kind of name is that?”

Ashrinn stifled a flash of anger; no sense in starting a fight. Not yet. It wasn’t as though conversational openers such as this weren’t familiar. Since joining the American military six months ago they were all but routine.

Ashrinn slung one leg over the mess hall bench and half turned to look at the voice’s owner, a tall, broad boy about his same age. He looked just about as wet behind the ears as Ashrinn felt, and the expression on his faintly vulpine features was one of honest befuddlement instead of hostility. Ashrinn’s hackles settled some.

“Are you certain you didn’t mean to lead with “what are you doing here, you goddamned Arab?”

“Just honest curiosity,” the boy nodded, the red-gold fuzz on his head making him look as miserable and awkward as a freshly shorn sheep, “I reckon you’re not the only one with an odd name.”

He tapped his jacket and Ashrinn raised an eyebrow.

“I have to admit, I don’t run in to too many Tielharts,” Ashrinn gave the boy another look, though now that the immediate threat had passed he took his time, lingering over the muscular arms and striking silver-blue eyes, “have a seat.”

“Thank you kindly. Name’s Malkai, by the way.”


“So,” Malkai said as he juggled tray and drink, managing to take a seat without spilling much, “about your name. I figure it’s likely British, but what I can’t place is that accent of yours. It’s so thick I could stand a spoon in it!”

Ashrinn chuckled. He’d gained a reputation in his short time in the Army for being a wild child, or, as his more vulgar acquaintances tended to put it, young, dumb, and full of come. Real friends, though, those he lacked. He had to admit, Malkai Tielhart was not only attractive, but likable.

“I was born in Tehran, and spent eight years of my life there. Farsi is my first language.”

“I thought you said--?”

“That I’m an Arab? No, that’s just what ignorant people assume when they see someone who isn’t white, black, or Mexican-brown. I'm mixed, and that just complicates matters. Gets me in trouble from time. If you haven’t noticed it isn’t a particularly popular part of the world just now.”

“What else?”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ve got more going on in your voice than that. You sound like a movie star.”

“That’s because I spent several years in Britain before coming here. Having a diplomat for a father ensures one never stays in place for too long. And thank you. So do you. Except in your case it’s John Wayne.”

Malkai puffed up and Ashrinn realized he’d taken the compliment very seriously indeed.

“If you don’t mind the cliché, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship,” Malkai said, grinning, “so long as I get to call you a sand nigger every so often.”

Ashrinn took a long drink of his soda, as though seriously considering Malkai’s terms.

“Do I get to call you a cornbread motherfucker?”

“You know it!”

They shook hands.

“Deal.” Ashrinn said.

Saturday, September 18, 2010



That was the politics siren. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.


Dear people who do not want a Muslim oriented center at Ground Zero:

Your feelings, I am sure, are very strong. They most likely seem very real to you, and because of that, you believe they lend legitimacy to your argument against building a mosque or any Muslim themed center at that particular location.

They do not.

Simply because you feel something does not make it real. As someone who has long managed an interesting stable of unpredictable mental illnesses, let me tell you that feelings are more often than not based on erroneous information, incomplete ideas, and faulty wiring. To speak about how you felt watching the towers come down in the same breath as your objection to construction at ground zero does not make your argument valid. In my opinion, it detracts.

Since very few others will say it, I will. On a human level, 9/11 was a tragedy. We should all respect and mourn those who died there. We should hold the rescue workers, fireman, and brave civilians who reached out, often at great cost, to help their fellow man in our hearts forever.

But 9/11 was not the greatest tragedy to occur, ever, and I am sick of people talking about it like it was. We reacted so strongly as a country partly because we are sheltered and privileged. It is nigh racist the way we go on about how terrible it was and how traumatized we are. We are, on a government level, allright with causing similar tragedies but we are not equipped to deal with it when it happens to us. At the very least it is a distressingly USA centric attitude and one that I feel requires great revision.

Furthermore, to prevent the construction at ground zero sends a clear message. It sends a message of bigotry and reactionary emotion. To paint all Muslims with the extremist brush harkens back to the worst days of American propaganda. It speaks of fear, and hatred, and the creation of a false Other.

For me the construction of a mosque/community center at ground zero is a message of hope and peace. Yes, of course there are political forces at work that have different agendas. But on a basic human level, it says: we will not be bullied in to a black and white mindset by a ragged group of extremists. We will not succumb to terror and ignorance and shut out Americans, we will not give up our religious freedoms, and we will not widen the divide between faiths and peoples.

The Muslims who would worship at the mosque/community center are Americans. That is supposed to matter. We are supposed to stand together and stand under the banner of freedom. Don't just talk about freedom. Don't just circle jerk one another about how great and tolerant we are. Make it real.

Support the construction. Read the Quran instead of burning it. Think instead of giving in to dumb base emotion.

That is freedom.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Unless you receive a mysterious box, and within that box lies a rotted ferret carcass with a slip of paper shoved halfway down it's throat, think twice about whining on the internet that you received a half sheet of unsigned paper as a rejection.

I would further suggest that you not do this embarrassing sniveling on Agent Query profiles.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Sometimes I run across things that make me wish to be both a better writer and a better psychologist.

This is one of those things.

Writing prompts!

Over on the Livejournal community WriteRightOn, we the members indulge in writing exercises every week. My favorite are the in character questions, designed to get a writer in to their character's special voice.

This week's question:

1. Tell us about where you grew up -- was it a city, town, farm, village? Who did you live with? Did you like the place, or did you want to run away as soon as possible?

2. What about where you live now? Same house, or somewhere new? Did you stay local, or move away from the area? Are you still in contact with anyone from your childhood or youth?

The writing I did is rough stuff and has only an uneven polish, but I think it's a valuable exercise and boy, these sure are fun, so here's my answer for the MC of Sacrificial Magic:

People look at the news these days and see nothing but a ribbon of green floating above a black crush of people, the hands rising from the crowd all the more shockingly pale because the rest of the body tends to be shrouded.

That is what people think of my homeland now.

But when I was a boy in Tehran, none of that had yet come. Not until the day that we, I only eight years old, had to flee to keep my father from the firing squad.

Americans are unwilling to believe that there was a time, when I was as young as five, that I could pass by a group of women reading, their legs bared to the sun, on my way to purchase ice cream from my favorite street vendor. (He always ruffled my hair and told me I was growing up to be as beautiful as a saffron flower. Sometimes he would pretend he did not know how to count, and undercharge me for those disks of golden dough, the rose scented ice cream hidden inside like a secret) not wish to talk anymore of my boyhood city. I loved it, even though just outside its walls those less fortunate starved and shivered with no food or power. It was not perfect, but it was mine. The revolution changed that. I can never go back.

Now? Well, I suppose now that my wife and I are divorced I can speak plainly. I never would have chosen Seattle myself. Too bloody cold. Britain was bad enough and as much as I had no love for the deserts I helped fight wars in, at least they were warm! I have to confess, though, that maybe I've come to love this strange, grey-green jewel of a city.

My life has taught me that there is no city on this earth that will protect a person from tragedy, and there is no structure that stands for all time. From here, at least, I can push the living room curtain aside and see the neighbors, my love Malkai and his children among them, playing in the street. I've always thought of American idiom as lacking a certain color, but in this case perhaps they are on to something with "home is where the heart is."

Home is, after all, something you carry with you, that you unfurl like a fine carpet or carry like a banner, wherever you decide to rest.

So. Seattle is not the Tehran I still dream of, but this is where I choose to plant my banner for now.

I think it will do just fine.

Writerly success

I am paraphrasing many a writer and humorist when I say that writers, overall, are the least able to handle criticism and disappointment, yet have the profession guaranteed to give them both in excess.

Masochism? Probably. There's some truth to that wounded artist trope, the suffering poet. (My father, given to embellishment, excess, and things fantastical, is a living example of the tortured Irish creator. Cue the chorus of "no wonder you're like that!" here) I also find that a lot of us create because we had nasty childhoods. (though not all of us, of course) We told ourselves stories as a coping mechanism, perhaps because we had a natural ear for language. Trauma, tragedy, unseemly curiosity, and isolation, however, served--and perhaps continue to serve throughout a writer's life-as a peculiar kind of refining fire.

Dreams are part of this creation process. A story is just a dream, a series of disconnected sensory details until given form. Nathan Bransford reminds writers that sometimes, we can dream a little too well here.

What I think Nathan is talking about is the success ideal. The idea of a single type of success for everyone is a harmful idea, intended to create those who have, and those who have nothing. Regardless of how suited a particular type of success might be for a person, they are expected to strive for it regardless and define their worth only by a very narrow list of criteria. I bet most of you can name a lawyer who really wanted to run a farm, or someone running a farm who really wanted to be a lawyer. In this case, it's making a spot on the New York Times Best Seller list the only sign of success you as a writer will accept. It is your "have." If you do not achieve it, even if you have good reviews, high sales, and a solid fanbase, you therefore "have nothing."

This is the dark side of the American Dream.

On the other hand, as much as I know that to be true and as much as I love e-books, I am not immune to the notion that the big guys in New York are the only legitimate way to go.

So what are your thoughts on success? What about small publishing houses and e-book publishing versus the traditional way? Would you ever go with one of these options?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the controversy meter!

Today the controversy is sex wherein one of the participants is underage.

My current WIP, The Bittersweet Vine, features this controversy as one of its major romantic subplots.

Recently I came across a small press that forbids underage sex. It's something the morality police particularly loathe, or so it would seem. I, however, think the idea that characters in novels should whip out two forms of government issued identification before having sex is odd and in some ways a trifle offensive.

It's such an American/Western idea! It's not something we like to think about, perhaps, but there are many cultures that operate on different norms than ours. Those cultures sometimes have definite ideas about age, sex, and adulthood that differ from the American perspective. Even in our own country, the legal age of consent is often younger than the assumed eighteen.

Not to give too much information, but I was certainly not eighteen when I first had sex. (as an aside the people I know who were over eighteen are invariably male. Go figure) No one I knew was over eighteen at the time, either, other than the exceptions covered by my bracketed statement.

What I am trying to say is that I find moral ambiguity and the reality of people's messy, inconvenient lives much more interesting than things that are considered proper. Real life is not an orderly thing, wherein we all fall in love with the people best suited to us.

How about you, though? Do you ever write about this topic? If so, how do you handle it?

Writing update

Work on The Bittersweet Vine, book two in the Sacrifice series, begins today.

I have a question for all of you, inspired by book two:

When you pick up the second book of a series, do you want it to begin right after the first book ends, or do you prefer a time jump? Why?

Generally I prefer that it begin straight away, so The Bittersweet Vine starts only several days after the last events in the first book.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Step one

The rough draft of my novel is done. It stands at 125,485 words.

Leaving it alone for a reasonable length of time is proving to be much more difficult than anticipated! The only cure is to start book two!

Speaking of series, and therefore having to keep things straight as the story gets increasingly complicated, check this out: Write It Now

If you are a panster, as the slang goes these days, a tool like this can be priceless.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

like a piece of chocolate.

this rant is short, enjoyable, and makes the person indulging feel ever so slightly guilty.

Look, if you hate e-books then I don't want to hear about it.

I hate to be negative (I don't hate to be negative) but I have no idea why print is so fetishized. Books are lovely things, and they can absorb a lot of nostalgia, but the words themselves should be the important part. You aren't all getting high of the glue they use to bind the pages, are you? IS THAT THE SECRET?

Furthermore, I am blind. I have some vision but a lot of times, I'm forced to pass on print books because I can't comfortably read them. If it weren't for my Kindle I wouldn't read nearly as much. That would be a Bad Thing.

So next time anyone out there wants to trash e-books, please think of the poor blind kids. And kittens. Because when you diss e-books, God kills one. (I am pretty sure that last part is totally true)

E-books are also green.

3k words today, and still going

My lord, I am so close to the end.

My favorite rough writing of the day:

"The corrupted water flowing through Chelan county had its origins here, the black heart of an unspeakable abyssal ocean."

Monday, August 30, 2010

some thoughts from the query front

When crit is constructive, I love it.

Sure, like most writers I would love to be told that I nailed it first try, that it's genius and no one should ever change it.

This never happens.

Well, maybe in my mind.

So often though I am just howling away by myself and getting a response is like meeting another wolf willing to duet for awhile.

There's one message I'd like to get across, though, after seeing one of my fellows in the trenches rewrite her query ten times.

You do not have to take everyone's comments.

What you need to do, when someone is giving you crit, is shut your face and listen. Don't argue. Swallow your bad attitude. If you're like me or every other author I know, you have an inner misanthrope that might get very up in arms. Even if the person commenting on your work is your best friend, expect this misanthrope to argue that you never really liked that person, anyway. Oh, and you've always thought they dress like a bag lady and smell of ham. Also, bitch, what is with that blush color?

I advise you not to give in to the very real temptation to say these things.


No writer should be so bereft of belief in their own work that they roll over and make every single change. It's important to remember that people commenting on your stuff bring their own biases to the table, and it may or may not be a bias you agree with. (to be extreme: "I didn't really buy the main character being gay. No manly man would be gay!)

Some people will ding you for things you know to be false. ("this should be shorter/longer/more sex/less sex.") If you've done your homework you already know what genre you're writing in, how much sex is acceptable, and so on.

Learn to separate wheat from chaff. Absorb comments before you rewrite. Walk away for a couple of days.

You'll get there. We all will.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

so this is what that heart in one's throat cliche means


That's right. I posted it for feedback. I need to go pass out in a dark corner somewhere.

Friday, August 27, 2010

tales from the bus stop and a little procrastination pretending to be work

So before I get to today's breakdown, I am going to ramble at you about an encounter I had on the bus. Gripping, I know. Stick with me.

There are a lot of blind people where I live. Two of them got on the bus with me this morning. This situation always makes me oddly anxious. Are the people around us wondering if we know each other? Are they expecting some kind of secret handshake? (I always picture this as a high five where both parties miss) Still, I find that I do want to reach out. I have a certain amount of oh hey me too style enthusiasm.

I managed to work in to the conversation that I was blind.

"Us too!"

The female half of the pair crowed, clearly tickled by the whole thing.

"Just remember," she told me a little later, as I stood to get off at my stop, "we're not blind. We're outta sight!"

Preach it, sistah. Preach it.

Inspiration for this little list taken with permission from Cherie Priest

Local authors for the win. Cherie writes good stuff. Read it. Love it.

Project: Sacrificial Magic (it's only a working title. I swear I will think of something that does not involve the word magic)

New words written: 1,382 (and counting)

Present total word count: 108,361

Things accomplished in fiction: Cults are creepy, guys. Just saying.

Favorite thing of the day: "The undulating presence that longed to explode through the gate that held it back, that bored black tunnels through his mind, grew and stretched towards the surface a little more every hour. "

Apparently I have a thing for eldritch, nameless horror. Who knew?

Cherie has a things accomplished in real life tab, but in my case let's just not go there, shall we?

cartoons 1, real life 0

I hope I am not the only one old enough to remember when Ren and Stimpy was on television, free and easily accessed by the young and impressionable. (if you had my parents, anyway)

My favorite episode was and still is Space Madness. (closely followed by the House of Next Tuesday) This is the episode where we get Ren's infamous ode to a bar of soap.

The point of this post, however, is that in the same episode Ren is shown with a tube connected to his head, through which his thoughts pass in unwholesome, pulsating chunks in to a memory bank for safe keeping and later viewing.

Anyone who has ever drafted the perfect query letter in their mind while falling asleep can understand how much I want one of those things.

In case you have to ask, it's gone now. It was so good too.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Your daily lulz

This is what the end of my WIP is like for the main character.

from Hyperbole and a Half

Eat around the tentacles

a..."relenteless international campaign to coax and, if neccesary, humilate people who hold on to phony allergies, bogus intolerances, nutritional nonsense, and provincial preferences."

Jeffrey Steingarten, It Must Have Been Something I Ate

I hand my mother a bowl of squid picatta. The pasta is tangled up with tentacles and rings, where I have sliced the pallid squid bodies into sections. I can't really see the look on her face--expressions have always posed a challenge for me--but I can sense it. It is the look of a little girl living in the Midwest, presented with something that by all rights should remain in the damn ocean where it belongs, thank you.

"You can just eat around the tentacles," I offer half-heartedly.

"Eat around the tentacles," she snorts, "that would make a great title for your autobiography."

My relationship with my mother began to knit, like a broken bone, over a plate of linguine and clams. Maybe because of this, she gamely tries a piece of squid. And isn't that all I can ask for, that she try it?

The quote above resonates with me because more and more I am beginning to feel that food preferences based on fear and misinformation are a disease, a blight on the culinary landscape. They cut the poor misguided sufferer off from cultures, from experiences, from people. Fear of food and/or overly restrictive regimens in America especially seem to me to be an outgrowth of a disgusting amount of privelge and prosperity.

Well, my friends, we will not long have that same luxury. Now it is simply not economically viable to save only the thick cuts of steak from a cow but throw away the tail (delicious in stews, fantastic ragu) the liver (coated in seasoned flour, fried in beer), the heart (sliced and tossed with pasta, seasoned with dill) and so on.

In the spirit of connecting to cultural tradition and eating things that challenge us, I give you Maneki. This is one of the oldest--if not the oldest--restaurant in America. It is hidden away in the International District of my hometown, Seattle Washington.

The menu page on their website appeals to the American diner. Familiar items--at least to your average Seattleite--dot the list, promising sashimi and a variety of brightly colored rolls.

While delicious, fuck that.

What you want is the monkfish liver. With a texture and taste much like high end tuna, the oceanic smoothness of this treat will open your eyes. Fuck the word liver. Don't let that silly squeamishness get in your way. Or maybe you want the whole squid? (the answer: fuck yes you do) Or maybe, if you're feeling truly daring, get what I had: the squid intestines in fermented soybean sauce.

The bit about tradition I mentioned? I am told, by the bartender, that this dish is very popular amongst the elder Japanese. It is something your grandmother would order, if your grandmother were an aged Asian woman with fond memories of old school food.

The intestines themselves aren't much different than the rest of the squid. They share the same texture and taste. The challenging part is the sauce. My god, is this stuff fermented. They are not messing around. It is like everything in your face about vinegar, ramped up ten times. Luckily, I generally like that sort of thing, but it does mean the squid is just a vehicle for more Punch You in the Face Sauce. (I am sure the Japanese name for it translates just like that)

My mother, god bless her, hovered nearby the whole time, asking questions about what it was like, living vicariously through me and my willingness to try what she, to this day, can't try for herself. Are our childhoods so ingrained? I choose to be the master of my own destiny and continue to fight whatever food prejudices I may have. (other than the ones against packaged, processed foods. those are damn well justified. One could also argue that isn't technically food) I hope you do, too. Tell me about a moment where the food portion of your mind opened just a little bit wider.