Monday, February 27, 2012

Domesticity Will Kill You

Dear Ashley,

I tried to be domestic today. We had a bit of leftover baguette that was getting progressively harder by the minute, so I thought I'd make crostini out of it, to go with the hummus and cheese that we have. It didn't sound too hard.

Cut the bread thin, brush some butter on both sides so it doesn't stick, pop it in the oven for a few minutes.

I, however, did not have a way to finesse the butter step, and that was where things began to go terribly wrong. Since I had nothing with which to brush it on, I settled for dipping the pieces in the butter, and then putting them in the oven.

After about 15 minutes, a few of them were good, but most of them were still a bit too greasy. So I took them out of the oven, thinking that I would let them cool off a bit, then stick them in the toaster oven to dry them out the rest of the way.

But, it turns out, when you heat up butter again, it  becomes a liquid. Go figure. And it melts and drips into the all wrong places, and starts a grease fire, making the end result of your domestic attempt at crostini this:

A possibly ruined toaster oven full of baking soda.

I did clean it out, so hopefully it's not ruined, but I'm too scared to turn it back on and try it.

I will never be domestic.

In other news, I've found a program that I think I might like a lot. We're not sure where we're going when we leave Phila in June, but Ben definitely wants out of here. Baltimore is an option, as there are no jobs back home to speak of, and Billy Mccomiskey is in Baltimore and he and Ben would both like for Ben to keep taking accordion lessons from him.

For me, the University of Baltimore (a school I know nothing about) has an MFA program that is a combination of Creative Writing and Publishing. It takes you through all the steps of writing the book, and the steps of getting it into print, which could be extremely useful if I want to really start my own publishing company. I'm definitely looking into it, because they claim that the MFA would qualify me to teach at the University level. I'm sure they mean as an adjunct, but I could get a PhD later if I wanted/needed to.

Also, I got a flyer about a Summer Seminar for Writers at Sarah Lawrence College. Our friend Erin went there for her undergrad, so I'm picking her brain about it. Sarah Lawrence is a great school for writing, but it is the most expensive school in the country. For a bachelor's, it's more expensive than Harvard. Which is insane. This program is expensive too- $800 in just tuition for a week long seminar/workshop. It's going to take some serious thought, but the application deadline isn't until the middle of April, so I have a little bit of time. I'll let you know how things progress.

On the writing front, I'm really obsessed with Letters to Myself again, and today my goal is to write out some extensive character sketches and start looking for ways to add subplots and such.

I also need to keep looking for a real job, since I NEED to go to Europe this summer! Bratslava and Prague are gorgeous! Although that giraffe doesn't look like he agrees- he looks bored. I certainly wouldn't be, especially with people in masks wandering around, and cheap opera tickets. I actually like the opera- I didn't think I would, but for the most part it holds my interest.

Also- we should definitely road trip around the US. I've never left the east coast, and Ben wants to show me all of the places he's been to- like Montana. And there's so much cool stuff in the desert that I want to see- his parents take their RV to Arizona for the winter, and their pictures are incredible.

I think that's everything. I'm off now to work on some character sketches and maybe munch on my few pieces of crostini that didn't go through the fire.

I'm still never cooking again.


Monday, February 20, 2012

On Writing and Travel

That sweater does indeed make me go awww! It also makes me wonder why things that come in miniature are so damn cute. Except little dogs, little dogs are annoying, yippee, and they make me want to pull out my hair, but everything else little makes me smile like I have an IQ of about 60.
I loved everything about the Magician King and then I yelled at myself for reading it as soon as it came out because now I’m going to have to wait years before the next one and every once in a while well I’m in class and not paying attention I think about what will happen next because you know somehow Q is going to get back and there is defiantly something else with Alice – though I really don’t think this is going to be a happy ending kind of series  and for that I like it all the more.
I have indeed read A Great and Terrible Beauty, all three of them. A few times actually. They are one of my favorite YA series and unlike most over popular series these got progressively better until I was actually hoping for a forth. You’ll like the second one though three is my favorite.
I finally titled my NaNo piece and have borrowed your idea and made it into a book of letters. It makes more sense given the relationship of the characters for their contact to be written not face to face… Anyway it’s called For He Who Plays God and here are some snippets from the first two letters.
            It is perhaps the most selfish of actions to ask for forgiveness.
I ask it anyway.
If you will allow me to I will attempt to explain my actions or, at the very least, try to explain the circumstances that led me to act as I did.
I cannot pretend to know your pain and I cannot imagine the extent your anger, but it is my hope that my explanation will answer some of your questions. That my words will provide you with the why and not serve as the proverbial knife in the already open wound…  

            Do not speak to me of anger.
Do not speak to me of destitution.
You have no idea.
                Until you have watched as all of your options were stripped from you and thrown out the window as you stand by, a helpless observer. Until you realize, finally, what it means to have free will and appreciate it for what it is – the very essence of humanity – I do not want your apology and I certainly do not want your excuses…

So that’s just a little bit, but I like it so far. The rest is the same only now they’ll share her adventures (financed by him) through post as opposed to in person. I may throw a meeting in at the end, but I guess it really depends on how it plays out and being I probably won’t finish it for 10 years or so I have some time to figure it out :p
And now onto the fun part – pictures!
I’ve done quite a lot of traveling this winter and if anything could persuade me to be a student for the rest of my life it would certainly be the opportunity to travel, but anyway here are some pictures of Vienna (where I went to the worlds oldest zoo, in the backyard of a palace – must be nice, yes??),

Bratislava (where it rained all day, but I got to climb all over the ruins of Devin Castle which originates from the 800’s and made me feel super insignificant),  

and Prague( where I went to the opera for less than 5 dollars, and saw some of the Bohemian Carnival which basically meant that there were a couple of people dressed up doing a play, but the events list said they also had a masquerade ball in full costume and some other expensive things that I’ll do after we write and sell the Pan trilogy and I can actually afford it!!).

P.S. I’ve been talking to all of these people who have seen more of America then I have which is sad being I live there so I think we should plan a road trip!    

Monday, February 6, 2012

Progress Monday

Dear Ashley,

Sorry I've been terrible about blogging. I've been terrible about keeping up with my other blog too, so I've made a new rule. Mondays are for blogging. At least, as long as I have Mondays off, I have no excuse not to.

The accordion shop is...a job. About once a week I get really frustrated that I'm doing stupid, tedious stuff when I have a $20,000 education, but sometimes it's fun. I like it when I get to do cosmetic repairs on the accordions, instead of just packing and shipping and listing to ebay. I'm getting really good at replacing the tape on the edges of the bellows, and last week Mike (owner, who generally makes me insane because he's so disorganized, but that's why he hired me) and I replaced a whole keyboard. I got to chisel off the old ivory, which was all shattered like the guy had dropped something on it, and then we soaked the white part (plastic, because it was a newer accordion) off of a different keyboard, then filed them all down and made them fit. So this man's accordion has brand new, uncracked, white keys.

Stuff like that keeps me occupied, and feeling like I'm accomplishing something. Wrapping things in bubble wrap and packing tape does not. Testament to how dull my life can be: I got SO. DAMN. EXCITED. when Mike found a tape gun. Makes packing boxes so much easier.

I do miss the dogs occasionally, but not as much as I thought I would. I'm definitely glad I don't work there anymore. It's been ridiculously warm for most of the winter, but some days are still much too cold to be biking around for hours at a time. One of those days was NOT last Friday, when it was so warm outside that when I left the house for work all my windows were steamed up because it was that much warmer outside, than it was in the house. Crazy, stupid, winter. I don't know how people can think that global warming isn't happening.

No new query letters for Rain, because I did submit it to the Amazon Breakthrough Award thing. I'll find out the end of February if I've made it to the next round. I hope to at least make it through the pitch round this year. The more I think about it, the more I know it does need more work, I'm just not sure where to start. I've been reading a lot of Writer's Digest articles looking for the answer.

Right now, I should be working on my Letters pitch for Pitchapolooza. I'm thinking about making Ariah a little neurotic. I'm not sure- I've had a lot of ideas run through my head in the last couple of hours. Her parents could be getting divorced like you said, they could just be totally absent and unintentionally neglectful, she could suffer from depression, she could cut herself and completely over-analyze and internalize things to the point where she almost snaps, or, new thought just now: she could know one of her parents (let's say her mother for the sake of changing it up) is having an affair. But she doesn't know if she should, or how she should, tell her father. It could be a catalyst that drives her to push Tristan so hard about their relationship.

The more I'm thinking about that last one, the more I like it. It sort of fits with my whole running Dorian Gray theme, too. In the movie version, Sybil Vane doesn't know Dorian's name, she just names him Sir Tristan, after a portrait of a knight in shining armor that she has. (In the book he's simply called Prince Charming.) I'd forgotten about this until about 70 pages in though, when I realized that I couldn't change Tristan's name because it worked so beautifully with the recurring mentions of Dorian Gray that I had randomly thrown in (simply because it's one of my favorite books ever). Funny how my subconscious plans far more profound novels than my conscious mind does.

So Ariah can be looking to Tristan to "save" her from this awkward/awful situation that she's in, but at the same time, like Dorian Gray, he's not good for her. Well, he is, but he isn't. You know?

I need to break up all these words with some pictures. That's my new Mobius cowl- I'm addicted to them. It still baffles me how one simple twist means you get to build from the middle and work in figure 8s around the whole outside edge at the same time. Crazy. And the cutest thing I've ever made...

I'm not preggo, I swear. I just know a lot of people who are. Doesn't it make you go "awwwwwww!"

Now, back to the wordiness. I can't remember if I told that I finished The Magician King. I did. I freaking loved it, of course. So dark and horrible, but so good at the same time. I did question whether or not Quentin deserved everything that happened to him, though. I mean, yes, he's kind of a prick, and deserves some punishment, but I thought the end of the book was a little extreme. I felt bad for him, which was not something that I tend to feel towards Quentin.

I've forgotten what else I was going to tell you, since I got interrupted by the arrival of the postman with my new crochet book. You've read A Great and Terrible Beauty, right? I'm pretty sure I've seen it on your shelf. I got the second one (finally, I read the first one years ago) at the library today. I'll let you know what I think when I'm done.

Okay, off to polish draft one of my Letters... pitch and then I'll post it on facebook so you can read it.

Talk to you soon,
PS- I'm still insanely jealous every time I drool over look at your Italy pictures. I need to be there this summer. Need to.