Friday, December 31, 2010

Squeeze one more in...

Tonight, I'll go out and eat gumbo with friends. I'll launch bottle rockets in the general direction of Bud Rip's, and I'll drink a cube of mojitos -- that's right.

And of course, I'll have to look back over 2010 with fond nostalgia.

After all, I'll only ever have one first book. There's the chance that I may -- someday -- have a first "New York" published book, but All Along the Pacific will still always be my first. That happened this year. It really happened.

This may seem a little redundant, but some days I still can't believe it. I'm eternally grateful to the people who have worked to make this happen -- my mom who did the illustrations, my thesis team, the staff at Open Heart, my husband for his patience, and anyone who decides my book is good enough to buy.

Thank you everyone for making 2010 one of the best years yet.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Taro and Bread

I finally pulled the taro up yesterday, after a few frosts had killed off most of the leaves. It certainly didn't get the full time in the soil that it should have, but I did get plenty of tubers to use. Half of the harvest I sliced up and put in the food dehydrator as a first step toward flour. I probably should have done a little research first. Seems it would have been better to make poi first and then dehydrate it, which in hindsight makes a lot of sense. Boiling it first would get a lot of excess starch out of it which might affect the bread consistency afterward. I'll try that next time.

I still have a bag full of taro tubers in the fridge as well. For, I'd say $0.99 worth of investment -- and some time -- I've got quite a bit of stuff to work with.

I've also got bread starter going right now, and have been baking everyday for three days straight. So far, the sponge method is working best. A cup of starter is mixed with a cup of flour and water and left to sit over night. In the morning, I make my dough by adding enough flour to get to the right consistency. That sits until it rises enough, then I bake it in a dutch oven. Today's bread is a take on brown bread. I added brown sugar, molasses, and corn flour, along with my regular white flour and whole wheat flour. We'll see how it comes out.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Today is My Birthday

Today I turn thirty-three years old. Eleven days ago my first book released. Here are some comparisons (first novel year minus birthday year, according to Wikipedia):

Stephanie Meyers 28
Anne Rice 35
John Steinbeck 27
China Mieville 26
Gabriel Garcia Marquez 35
Jane Austen 36

Those average to about 31.2, so I guess I was a little later than average, but still on a fine schedule if I can keep my workload up over the next few years.

This week, I wrote a speculative fiction story for an anthology. It had to be set in the 1920s, but include paranormal, science fiction, or horror elements. I went the sci fi route. I'm afraid it's lacking something -- a more dynamic meeting with the red herring, perhaps. A gun fight in an alley... I don't know, but as it is, I'm only 500 words from the limit on the anth, so I don't think I have much room to add anything.

I know I'm supposed to be starting back on Magpie, but that's going to wait until the New Year. I'd like to get a few more short stories out for anthologies next year. Maybe write one more before the end of the year. I'm also figuring that I should focuse more on literary fiction, so those anthology readers would buy my book. Sci fi fans may not want  historic fiction, but people who read literary fiction would, possibly.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Outstanding Student Writing

A few weeks ago, students were shown two pictures of the fall of the Berlin Wall. From those pictures, some vibrant writing grew. These students had a ten-minute history lesson before writing...

Berlin Wall
By Andrew
I pushed through the crowd. People stood, screamed, yelled, jumped, and chanted. So may people piled in the massive crowd. We crowded like ants fixing their hill, only we fixed our city. I fought closer to the front. I needed to get a hit in on the wall that separated my city, my people, my family. I finally arrive. There was a man with an ax. He chopped away at the wall. He wore a pink sweatshirt and blue jeans. His friends around him looked unusually calm to me compared to the other people in the crowd. I figured that they'd stood longest considering how close to the wall the were. I then realized I possessed nothing to hit the wall with. Disappointed, I watched the man. Once he became tired, I grabbed the ax and flung myself at the wall. I hit it. The cement chipped and cracked from the force of the ax. I hit it until the man made me give back his ax. After handing it over, I sunk back into the shouting crowd, my mission complete.
I Watch
By Amy

I watch as the Berlin Wall comes down. After living in East Berlin for twenty-five years, I can finally return home. Bang! Bang! The person near me hacks away at the wall.
"Hand me the crowbar," I say to the man.
He hands me the crowbar, a smile plastered on his face. I firmly hold the crowbar in my hands. My heart pounds in my chest. My breathing accelerates. I raise the crowbar in my hands and slam it into the wall. I bash into the wall over and over again until my arms become Jell-O. A large chunk falls out. An uproar ensues. I can't help but smile.
I look up to see everyone clapping. People from all around embrace me. Their warm touches got to my soul. I became weightless. Everyone around me and I took one step closer to freedom. No longer would Soviet Russia control us. They stare at us emotionless. If I came near the wall yesterday, I'd see this day from heaven. Now I just destroyed part of it, and they stood and did nothing. Boom! A large piece of the wall falls. I make a mad dash toward that area. A huge gap sits there. I look through and see my husband. Tears pour out of my eyes. I break through the crowd and dash through the gap.
"Dan! Dan!" I shout.
"Amelia!" Dan yells. He runs toward me and gives me a great big hug. "I've missed you so much."
"I've missed you too," I say. "Where are the kids?"
Sadness takes over his face.

"They tried to go over the wall to rescue you, but they were caught and killed."

Tears spill out of my eyes. A state of shook comes over me. I can't move. I can barely breathe. I fall on my knees and mourn.
by Hunter
I looked over my shoulder to make sure no one followed me. I took a deep breath. About ten people, including me, walked over to the wall. and tried to start to tunnel underneath it. All of the sudden there was a loud "Crack!" One very large man, that looked as if he could life a building, fell to the ground. We didn't waste a second. Everyone started scattering in different directions, searching for somewhere to hid. The bullets come down like rain, making no place safe.
My name holds no importance. Only escaping the wretched East Germany matters. The Berlin Wall stands in my way. I slowly started inching back. Then I shot off; I was lightning. I ran for what seemed like an eternity. When I finally slowed down, I knew exactly where to go. The man I wished to see held an East German official position. He could smuggle me across to West Germany because he posses a pass. I just hope he doesn't let the cat out of the bag.
I knew this man when I grew up. When I arrived at his house, I knocked three times. He answered and invited me inside. I told him that he must get me across now. After much deliberation, he agreed. He led me to his car and took off the fender. You couldn't fit a baby in the hole he showed him. He told me to get in, and I somehow managed to squeeze inside. I heard the engine rumble for a while, but then it stopped. I could hear voices. We must have arrived at the wall. I held my breath and waited. I heard laughter and salutations. They engine roared alive again and continued. We stopped and my friend let me out. I hugged him and ran away happy. Freedom tasted so good.

Christmas Tree

I put up our Christmas tree yesterday while the Buccaneers played against the Falcons... I bet you know who I was cheering for in that match-up.

We are starting on year two with living in half the house, so again we have a small tree, a white tinsel number, that sits on top of the Brunswick .78 player that belonged to my great grandmother. That means no listening to Bessie Smith for the interim. We are putting up only gold and white ornaments, hoping to make up for the sorry $20 Big Lots tree with the sheer decadence of the decorations. My ornament for this year was an air ship. It's silver, but I put it up anyway.

My birthday is in a month: thirty-three years old. I like double numbers. I'm one of those people that makes a wish at 11:11, so it seems like a nice year. To celebrate, I got tickets for the Tales of the Cocktail holiday event, Tales of the Toddy. We went to this last year, and it was awesome. This year may even be better because it is in the Monteleone, which I love.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

All Along the Pacific Released!

All Along the Pacific, my collection of historic fiction, is now for sale at

It went on sale last night. Please help me make it one of the best-selling books from Open Heart ever by placing your order now!

This book spans California history from about 1850 to 2005. The stories are loosely based on real events, with nuggets of truth burred in sometimes strange and wacky tales.

Thanks for your support and happy holidays!