Sunday, December 26, 2010

Writing Update Dec 26

So, between Christmas shopping and festivities and a very sick dog, I didn't get any writing done this week. Hopefully, I'll be able to get more written in the coming week. And even more hopefully, I hope my dog gets to come home from the Animal hospital in the next few days.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Recipe: Mushroom and Steak Stroganoff

This recipe was an absolute hit with the family and is being posted by special request of a family friend.

Mushroom and Steak Stroganoff
(from Slow Cooker Recipe Cards, Taste of Home December 2010)

  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1-3/4 lbs round steak, cut into 1-1/2 inch strips
  • 1 can, 10-3/4 oz condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup onion soup mix
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 TBSP minced fresh parsley
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, garlic powder, pepper, and paprika. Add the meat and shake to coat.

Transfer the meat to the crock pot. In a medium bowl, combine the cream of mushroom soup, water, and soup mix. Pour over the meat. Cook on low for six or seven hours.

Stir in the mushrooms, sour cream and parsley. Cook for fifteen minutes or until the sauce is thickened. Serve with noodles, if desired

Tidbits of Christmas: Christmas Lime Tree

Due to an convoluted chain of events we ended up with an extra string and a half of colored lights for our Christmas Tree. As a result, there are now Christmas Lights on our lime tree and the piano. As a bonus, the good old Klingon Bird of Prey ornament doesn't fit into the new lights; so there's a Bird of Prey in the Christmas Lime Tree.

Here's a detailed shot of the Bird of Prey:

And here's the rest of the extra lights across the top of the piano:

Toy Story 3 Swing Clip

Here's a Toy Story 3 Short featuring Woody and Jesse swinging out.

And here's the lindy hop clip from ULHS 2006 that probably inspired the Toy Story Short. Watch the first phrase from Todd and Frida!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tidbits of Christmas: Doctor Who Christmas Special

With Christmas each year comes the Doctor Who Christmas Special which is enough to make just about any geek squeal with glee! For your viewing pleasure, I present the teaser for this year's Christmas Special.

Steampunk Signal Boost: The Circus of Brass and Bone

"The Circus of Brass and Bone" is an online Steampunk serial story about a circus traveling through the collapse of civilization. "The Circus of Brass and Bone" is being written to help raise money for the cancer treatments of the author's mother. The story is updated every other week and is an exciting Steampunk story. I've been really enjoying the anticipation of waiting for the story to unfold.

Here's a short excerpt:

The day the ringmaster died, so did civilization.

Knowing nothing of what was to come, we complained of boredom as the ship steamed from Bombay* to Boston. There was little to do except rehearse, drink, and gamble over cards. Everything tasted of salt, and bathing in seawater anointed us all with the perfume of dead fish. A plague of short temper spread through the troupe. I had no friends among them, so I took pleasure at seeing them snarl at each other like fighting dogs.

A three-day bout of seasickness* soured the ringmaster's disposition further. Though Mr. Loyale's health seemed to recover, his temper didn't. When Miss Miller (The Fabulous Lady Equestrienne Who Defies The Fiery Rings of Death!) declared her intention to begin her dress rehearsal without him, her expression was promising.

Promising that if Mr. Loyale berated her for not waiting, he'd better hope a gelding knife wasn't to hand.

Promising a fine show for us.


I definitely recommend checking out this story!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Writing Update Dec 19th

I haven't been as good about writing regularly as I would like but I'm still really excited about writing. I've got a new project to play around with in addition to my current projects. I'm hoping to get a piece written for the Steampunk Shakespeare Anthology. That will require some brushing up on Shakespeare's play for inspiration but I'm excited about it.

I've finally gotten my Steampunk murder mystery entirely plotted out. At the moment, it looks like there will be a prologue, seven chapters and six interludes. I may have to do some character work before I get too much writing done on the first draft.

Tidbits of Christmas: How to Wrap a Cat for Christmas

That is one very understanding Cat! I kept waiting for the cat to shred the paper and turn into a very angry cat.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tidbits of Christmas: Semi-Formal Swing Dance and Gingerbread Contest

Sunday Swing this Week is a Semi-formal
December 19th, 2010

The Scottish Rite
1507 SW Morrison, Portland, OR

7:00pm - Beginning Swing Lesson
8-11pm - Swing Dance!

$6 - Students with ID/Stumptown Dance Members
$8 - General

In addition to dancing, the evening festivities will also include a Raffle, 2nd Annual Gingerbread House Contest & Optional "White Elephant" Gift Exchange! This year there are two categories for the gingerbread contest: 1) 100% edible and 2) Anything goes. The winners of the Gingerbread House contest will get private lessons!

We will also be helping with a local ministry for the elderly and mentally ill homeless citizens right here in Portland. We are collecting clean, new or used blankets that will be distributed in Portland by Blanket Coverage (Operated by a family from our dance community.) FYI- Blankets can be purchased by the pound or on sale at various Goodwill or other second hand stores around town. Please wash the blankets before bringing them to the dance. Blankets do not need to be wrapped as they will be used right away to keep someone warm at night.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Review: The Clockwork Man by William Jablonsky

The Clockwork Man is the tale of Ernst a clockwork man created and put in service as a servant for his master's family. He falls in love with his Creator's daughter but his real adventures begin when tradgedy strikes his master's family. The Clockwork Man is presented as the journal of Ernst written for academics that will never actually get to see what Ernst has written. The Clockwork Man follows Ernst as his discovers what it means to be himself, he struggles with his sense of identity as an individual and property to be owned and the dichotomy that that creates. Ernst learns a great deal about both himself and humanity. Ernst learns a great deal about both himself and humanity.

I was surprised by the journal format of The Clockwork Man since I hadn't seen any reviews and had only seen that it was from the perspective of a clockwork invention. At first, I was disappointed by the journal format but as I continued to read it brought the characters to life in a way that might not have been possible using another style of writing. I loved the emotions given to Ernst and the way he reacts to his changing reality. I really enjoyed The Clockwork Man and would definitely recommend it to others.

Tidbits of Christmas: The Twelve Wrecks of Christmas

Another variation on the twelve days of Christmas, this time with terrible cakes! Jen over at Cake Wrecks clearly had a great time with the Christmas wrecks!

On the First day of Christmas my True Love gave to me; a chocking hazard in a tree!

For the rest of the song, you should wander over to Cake Wrecks!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tidbits of Christmas: Hot Spiced Cider

This is a favorite winter drink in my family. In fact, I currently have a mug of Spiced cider sitting next to me.

Hot Spiced Cider

You will need:
- A Crockpot/Slow Cooker
- 8-10 inches of Cheesecloth
- A ladle

- Apple Cider (A gallon of store bought apple cider pretty well fills our mid to large sized Crockpot)
- 3 Cinnamon Sticks
- 2 tsp Whole Cloves
- 2 tsp Whole Allspice

Lay out the cheesecloth on your counter. Measure out the Cloves and Allspice into the center of the cheesecloth. Break the sticks of cinnamon into smaller pieces. I generally break them into three pieces each and place them in the center of the cheesecloth. To tie the cheesecloth, I generally wrap the cheesecloth around the spices to create a long tube and tie the ends of the tube together. That generally forms a nice sized packet of spices that won't come undone.

Pour the cider into the Crockpot and place the packet of spices in. Cover and turn the Crockpot on high. Once the cider is heated all the way through you can turn the Crockpot down to low and ladle the cider into mugs to serve.

For an adult twist you can splash a bit of brandy into your mug of hot spiced cider.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tidbits of Christmas: Rudolph (You Don't Have to Put On The Red Light)

Fun little Mash-up with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Roxanne.

Fun Swing Clip from Killer Diller 2010

This clip is the Final at the Harvest Moon Ball from Killer Dillers Weekend up in Seattle a couple of weeks ago. I love the leap frog sequence at 3:12 and the tandem Charleston bit at 4:07. It was also interesting how different dancers covered up little bobbles and mistakes, it's most noticeable when they are coming out of air steps.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tidbits of Christmas: Sugar Cookies!

An annual family tradition is the decoration of the Christmas cookies. This is the final stage of our first batch of sugar cookies. I am especially happy with the snowman and the ornament. So naturally someone else has already eaten both of them.

Steampunk Signal Boost: Steampunk Shakespeare

Out of last Friday's Steampunk Twitter Chat (using #steampunkchat) comes a call for Steampunk short stories inspired by William Shakespeare.

Flying Pen Press will be producing an anthology of Steampunk adaptions of Shakespeare called: The Omnibus of Doctor Bill Shakes and the Magnificent Ionic Pentatetrameter.

For anyone interested, here is the details:

I, myself, definitely feel the need to brush up on my Shakespeare!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tidbits of Christmas: 12 Pains of Christmas- Doctor Who Style

A fun little mix of Doctor Who clips assembled to go with the 12 Pains of Christmas. It definitely made me want to watch all of the Doctor Who Christmas Specials again!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Writing Update Dec 12th

Since the end of NaNoWriMo, I've put my NaNo Novel away for the month of December. Luckily, I came up with three or four ideas to get started working on while I let my NaNo Novel cool off. I've also started making lists of what needs to be done when I let myself start in on my NaNo Novel again.

My new project is a Steampunk Murder Mystery set in a 1920's big city where the speakeasies of the 1920's have moved into airships. I've currently written a brief sketch or summary of the plot of the new novel. I've started detailed scene by scene outlines of the few two chapters and am getting more and more excited about getting to write the new novel. If it goes well, I might be able to turn it into a series about this particular detective.

Tidbits of Christmas: Advent Concert

Advent Concert at Tabor Heights United Methodist Church


6161 SE Stark, Portland OR

Featuring the hand bell choir, various vocal ensembles, and Helen Hollenbeck on the organ.

If you are a fan of hand bell music you may be pleased to know that the processional at the beginning of the concert will include a bell tree and tone chimes.

There will be a reception afterwards with tea and coffee.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tidbits of Christmas: Christmas Swing Dance

Saturday, December 11
At the Vancouver Ballroom, 808 Main St, Vancouver, WA

7:30 - Lesson
8:30 - Dance


Student - $6
General - $8

Wear your favorite ugly Christmas sweater and get in for $5!

The Vancouver Swing Society is pleased to announce a holiday swing dance and party. We will have light hors d'oerves, contests and plenty of fun! The evening will feature old and new favorite swing songs plus danceable Christmas/holiday music.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tidbits of Christmas: The Christmas Blues

An Old Favorite Christmas Song. I originally heard it on the Jazz to the World, easily one of my favorite Christmas CDs.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tidbit of Christmas: 12 Days of Christmas, Steampunk Style

Found on STEAMED!

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

12 Air Pirates

11 Painted Ladies

10 Clock Hands

9 Ray Guns

8 Pairs Brass Goggles

7 Aviator Caps

6 Cogs and Gears

5 Mad Scientists

4 Flying Cars

3 Top Hats

2 Dirigibles

And an Airship in a Pear Tree!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tidbits of Christmas: I want an Alien for Christmas

Hurrah for Geeky Christmas Songs!

OryCon 2010

This year I was pleased to be able to go the Orycon at the Doubletree Inn in Portland. Orycon was my first Convention experience and it both amazed and surprised me. I was definitely overwhelmed by the variety of costumes including a girl as a Centaur. I made it to three (two?) panels depending on whether you count a NaNoWriMo write-in as a panel.

On Friday Evening, I didn't make it to a single panel. I know, shame on me. I wandered the fan tables and got a general idea of the content of the convention and costume watched profusely! I eventually connected with a few of the Rose City Steampunks and spent the rest of the evening wandering from room party to room party: from Hospitality to the Pirate Luau to the Costumer's Guild Alice in Wonderland Milk and Cookies party and back to Hospitality. We ended the evening costume watching because no one was quite ready to drive home.

Friday Night's Costume After I Removed the Underskirt and Petticoat

Part of my inability to make it to panels was that on Saturday I was badly double booked most of the day. I had an big Lindy Hop workshop with Stefan and Bethany on Fast Dancing in the morning and a Murder Mystery Dance party at night. I managed to get to everything I wanted to on Saturday even though that meant I didn't get to go to some of the panels that I was really interested in. I also took some time to investigate the Dealer's room and Art Show. The Dealer's room was full of fun stuff though most of it was out of my price range, plus I was trying to avoid the book stalls since I was trying to concentrate on writing my NaNoWriMo novel. I really enjoyed walking through the art show and found a few small prints to bid on.

Saturday Panels I attended:

So you want to be a writer?

John Hedtke, Bruce Taylor, Gail Carriger, Gordon Eklund

The Panelists talked openly and honestly about the financial side of being a writer. They discussed the pros and cons of being a full time writer and being a writer with a "real job" to support the writing habit. They also talked honestly about the advance and what it means and the reality behind the royalty checks. There were a variety of types of writing represented: Original Novels, Tie in Fiction, Technical Writing, and writing for comics. The result was a nice down to earth discussion with something for everyone to take away.

NaNoWriMo: Shut up and Write-in!

We did a great job at the writing part but shutting up didn't go very well since we decided to go around the room and share what we were writing. I was the only one who was writing with pen and paper but I definitely had no intention of lugging my laptop around the Con.

Friday Night with a Fellow Rose City Steampunk

On Sunday, I only spent a couple of hours at OryCon but they were great. I attended one panel, watched the frenzy of a costume swap and picked up the single art piece that I won.

Sunday's Panel:

Steampunk: Victorian marvels of science fantastic

Gail Carriger, Camille Alexa, P.N. Elrod

I came in halfway through this panel and I really enjoyed the discussion between the three authors present. The discussion varied widely but my favorite part was the discussion of their favorite gadgets from their writings.

I went from the panel to the costume swap with a fellow Steampunk. I didn't bring anything to swap so I mostly tried to stay out of the way and watch the chaos while my friend scurried about. Nothing makes for entertaining people watching like a bunch of costumers scurrying around a room gathering costume pieces and swatches of fabric. Despite not entering the fray, I still came away with another costume as my friend shoved costume pieces at me. I finished my first convention experience by picking up the single piece of art that I had won: a print of dragons and flying cats by Sarah Clemens.

The Winner of the Costume Guild's Masquerade

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Speculative Fiction Challenge 2011

I have decided to give myself some accountability in writing and posting reviews by joining the Speculative Fiction Challenge being hosted by Amanda over at Floor to Ceiling Books, a book blogger whose opinions and reviews I respect highly. The challenge is to read and review 12 speculative fiction books in a year; speculative fiction includes science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, urban fantasy and any other related genre. I certainly read far more than that many speculative fiction books in a year and I am trying to be more consistent in reviewing.

Prospective Books:
  • Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
  • Clementine by Cherie Priest (I will probably have to breakdown and acquire an electronic copy)
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
  • The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C Hines
  • Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton
  • Heartless by Gail Carriger
  • Ganymede by Cherie Priest
  • Bloodshot by Cherie Priest
  • Kraken by China Mieville
  • Steampunk edited by Jeff Vandermeer
  • Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
  • Sequels of any of the above books
  • Older Science Fiction Classics

Winning NaNoWriMo

After the first half of November, you may have noticed that my daily wrap-ups evaporated. It probably doesn't come as a surprise that so did my daily writing sessions. I won NaNoWriMo by the skin of my teeth with a crazy 10K word day plus several larger than average word days. I finished with a total word count of 50681 words! My Novel has a long way to go to reach it's finished state including a whole plot line and crazy amounts of character development.

Things I learned along the way:
  • The sense of community really makes a difference: Large numbers of write-ins make the difference between 7K and 50K
  • Scrivener is Amazing! I discovered it too late to make full use of its feature with my NaNo novel but it is definitely making the editing process smoother.
  • I am definitely a plotter, not a pantser! I went into NaNoWriMo this year with an outline for probably a third of my novel and a general-specific idea about the rest. Yes, my ideas evolved during the writing process but a clear guide and destination made the process go a lot smoother.
  • Writing seriously on one idea makes the creative energy flow better and generates even more story ideas to try and distract you.
  • Attending two conventions in a month is terrible for trying to write consistently, but it was tons of fun!
  • Despite my best efforts to the contrary, my novel is not going to be a standalone.

Next Steps:
  • I'm putting away my NaNo Novel until January at which time I will attack it with the full force of my editing skills. Plus, you know, writing the bits I forgot, connecting all the plot points with filler, and fleshing out the point of view characters so that the reader cares. Not to mention removing all the extra words that NaNoWriMo forced me to leave in. All very important stuff.
  • Come up with a real title for my NaNoWriMo project.
  • Keep Writing!
  • Over the course of November, several story ideas burst into mind. I'll be working on plotting them out and starting in on first draft
  1. Short Story (Keeps Growing Longer): Zombies vs Unicorns
  2. Novel: Steampunk Murder Mystery, 1920's Airship Speakeasy
  3. Novel: Sequel to NaNoWriMo Novel
  4. Novel: Science Fiction, Viral Outbreak, experimenting with POV change
  • Graduate School Applications- an important next step in my life that has been feeling slightly neglected during NaNoWriMo
  • Catching up on Blogging: New Reviews, New Recipes, OryCon, SteamCon, Costume Updates
  • Rescuing Pictures from my Camera
  • Making Pop-up Christmas Cards