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Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween! (Oh, and I finished The Book)

Yes! The Book is done. The very first, extra rough draft of Can't Stand the Heat clocked in at 397 pages, a cool 101, 186 words. Needless to say, I'll be looking for extraneous material to cut when I go back through to polish it up before sending it to The Editor. There are several things I already know need to be changed (for instance, the first half of the book is set in early fall, the second half in late spring) and some things I'm worried about (like, is the heroine an irretrievably unsympathetic meanie?) but overall I'm pretty happy with it. I think. I won't really know until I do my read through, today and tomorrow.

Anyway, now I can focus on my Halloween costume! Would it be a terrible cop out if I just wore a red dress I already own and a black witch hat? I'm not sure I have the energy for anything more elaborate. If anyone else has party plans, especially costume party plans, I'd love to hear about them.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Yay, 90k!

90k means 90,000, right? I'm always getting confused. Anyway, yay, because I hit it today. 90,000 words and counting! I mean, the and counting part's not my fave, I'd rather be done, but it won't be long now.

I'm very hopeful I can finish in the next few days so I have at least a day or two to think about my Halloween costume. My friends and I are throwing a big party, costumes not optional. I really need to rack my brains for something good. Especially since Stinger is going to outclass us all. He'll be ringing in All Hallow's Eve as Chris Knight, Val Kilmer's immortal character from the movie Real Genius. If you haven't seen it, rent it immediately. It's the most fun you can have with a subatomic particle stretcher, or whatever the hell the gadget is that they design in the movie. Anyway, it's fun. Some memorable quotes:

Chris Knight: Have you ever seen a body like this before in your life?
David Decker: She happens to be my daughter.
Chris Knight: Oh. Then I guess you have.
Kent: Uh, I'll catch up with you guys. I have to go to the bathroom.
Chris Knight: Okay, Kent, but I don't think that's going to help your confidence any, do you?
Chris Knight: Kent puts his name on his license plate.
Mitch: My mom does the same thing to my underwear.
Chris Knight: Your mom puts license plates in your underwear? How do you sit?

All delivered in Val Kilmer's best charming deadpan monotone, to the accompaniment of a shit-eating grin. It's priceless. Stinger's got the whole ensemble, from I Heart Toxic Waste t-shirt to bunny slippers.

Obviously, I will be covered in shame if I can't come up with something at least as good. Any thoughts? I'm open to suggestion.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Slowly but Surely

The book is getting done. Which is a big relief to all of you, I'm sure, since you're probably all sick of hearing about it. Not as big a relief as it will be to me, though--the deadline is November 1st! As of this moment, I have 88,405 words. My contract stipulates 90,000, so I figure, worst comes to worst, I can always just hit 90,000 and then type "and they lived happily ever after." The End. You can picture it, can't you?

"Oh, Reginald! What are you doing with that meat cleaver? Surely you aren't going to--" and they lived happily ever after. The End

Brilliant, no? I'm sure my editor will love it. Almost as much as I loved this.When, oh, WHEN is Hell's Kitchen coming back on? I miss Gordon desperately.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Don't tell my editor! I ought to be writing, but it's just so beautiful outside. I love fall, it's always been my favorite season. My birthday season! And one of my favorite things about it is the precious, last few weekends of farmer's markets. Here in Ohio, they go through October, but not much beyond. My favorite local place, Kramer's Market, is jammed full of pumpkins, more squash in different sizes and colors than the eye can properly differentiate. It's a sight. My church, the sweet little Episcopal place downtown, hosts a mini-farmer's market on alternating Saturdays, just for local people to come and sell their garden produce, loaves of bread, homemade desserts, etc. It's less formal than a "real" farmer's market; no stalls, just folding tables and chairs and a lot of people chatting and having fun. On a recent trip, I bought a sack of lovely potatoes, some of the first, pretty fall apples (specifically, ones that are good for baking--I'm determined to perfect my tarte tatin this year), and a loaf of honey wheat bread. It was a good haul! We've already used some of the potatoes to make Julia Child's version of latkes, crazy French potato pancakes made with cream cheese, Gruyere, and cream (oh, those wacky, wonderful French!), and we've devoured the bread making fried egg sandwiches and cinnamon toast. Yum!

I'm still waiting for the right moment to make my tarte tatin. Maybe this weekend when my sister is here visiting...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Out of Commission

Many of you already know, but for those who don't, we had our ultrasound a few weeks ago. The test showed multiple serious complications with the pregnancy and we were told there was less than a 1% chance of making it to term. A week later, we lost the baby.

I'm physically fine, and coping emotionally by throwing myself into finishing my manuscript before its due date of November 1. Yikes! Still have about 18,000 words to go. Anyway, that's why I've been AWOL for the last few weeks, and deadline is why I'm about to be AWOL for a few more. I'll try to post the fun little blogs I've been piling up pictures for on my camera, but we'll see how it goes.

Ray of sunshine: None of the above means we won't be able to have kids later on, or that we have any increased risk of this crazy rare thing happening to us again. Obviously, huge relief there.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Comfort Me with Casseroles

Fall has technically been in play since September 21, but it's only recently started to feel like it here in Ohio. Almost overnight, it seems, the air turns brisk and bright, certain trees start to color up, and I start to crave comforting cold-weather food.

My mother was here last weekend, and we worked her fingers to the bone in the kitchen. She made my grandmother's beef vegetable soup, a tortellini soup, tortilla soup, and Mark Bittman's eggplant parmesan (in which he takes the name seriously; there's no mozzarella or ricotta or any of that junk--only fresh-grated parmesan.) As you can imagine, we're only now running out of leftovers. So last night I made a lamb pasticcio from one of my favorite chefs' cookbooks, Tom Valenti's Soups, Stews, and One-Pot Meals. It was pretty divine--ground lamb and sauteed onions browned in olive oil, mixed with roasted tomatoes, Italian parsley and oregano and then combined with the largest batch of bechamel sauce I've ever made. A full stick of butter! A whole quart of milk! Nearly a cup of flour! It was awesome. There's some pasta in there, too, and the whole thing gets topped with more becchamel mixed with a cup of parmesan cheese and browned in a casserole under the oven. It made a huge amount, so it's lucky that we enjoyed it last night, since we'll be eating it for days.

Comfort food for two is tricky. Most comfort food recipes feed six to eight (or, more reasonably, twelve.) Sometimes I halve the recipe, but it never seems to turn out quite the same. Meat and veg, okay, but sauces can be finicky. And anyway, we like leftovers.

What are some of your favorite comfort foods?

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