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The Doneness

And by that, I mean my current novel project.

Yes, it is done! As soon as I finish polishing my pitch materials, I will begin querying agents. So, for the time being, this project is completed and it is time to begin the next one.

First, a small celebratory dance  <dances around apartment until cat bites her>

Ahem. Alright. That’s out of the way. What’s next?

One of the things I most enjoyed about working on Project Awesome was delving into the mind of an outsider trying to find her place in society. I’m pretty sure I’m not finished with this idea and that it may play some role in the plot or theme of my next project. But, I also know that I want to try my hand at a new genre. I love urban fantasy and I’m sure I’ll write more of it down the line. Heck, if I sell Project Awesome, I’ve got plenty of ideas for sequels. For now, though, I’m thinking along the lines of a science fiction novel.

I really want to explore some of the ways society will change under the twin pressures of time and technology and I like the hopeful idea that we’ll one day succeed in making it off this rock and out into the vastness of space. So, that’s where I’d like to venture in my next novel.

Before I get too far down this road, though, I need a primer on the universe. My knowledge of the solar system, galaxy, universe, and our place it in is pretty rudimentary. So I’m brushing up by taking a few courses on Coursera. I’m enrolled in an AstroTech course from the University of Edinburgh, one on the Origins of the Universe from the University of Copenhagen, and a class called Imagining Other Earths from Princeton. All for free! I love Coursera!

All the traveling I did early in the summer impeded progress on these classes, as did finishing Project Awesome. But now that I’m in Brooklyn full time for the remainder of the summer and Project Awesome is off my plate…it’s time for some learnin’!

Stay tuned. I’ll no doubt share some of the fascinating things I come across in the classes, as well as my evolving ideas for the next novel project.

What are you working on?

I’m launching a new blog. No, it is not a replacement for this one. I’ll keep blogging away about my writing life here on Comedy or Tragedy, but I’ll also start posting recipes over on Gluten Free, No Substitutes.

So, yes, the new blog is a food site devoted to recipes that those (like me) who eat gluten free can safely prepare and eat. BUT, it is also a food site devoted to really good food that just happens to not include gluten. So, by no substitutes I mean no weird tapioca-rice-potato flour bread or strange corn-sawdust pasta or sad almond-sand-gravel pancakes.

When I went to my doctor whingeing that I was abnormally tired all the time and that my digestion sucked, she suggested I might have a gluten intolerance. I scoffed, mostly because I thought it would be TOTALLY FREAKING IMPOSSIBLE to cut wheat-based products from my diet. No pizza? No hamburgers? NO CAKE? Forget it.

Finally, though, I gave in and tried it. Honestly, giving up those foods was not really very hard. The actual hardest part was finding recipes and meal suggestions that weren’t all about desperately trying to still have pizza, pasta, bread, and cake but made into sadder, inferior versions.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are a few pretty acceptable substitutes out there for gluten and wheat flour. But mostly they are awful and, frankly, not exactly good for you. So, my idea is to provide a resource for just avoiding the whole thing altogether by eating simple, fabulous foods in balanced healthy (mostly) meals that don’t include gluten or gluten substitutes.

If you’re interested, click over to Gluten Free, No Substitutes. I’ve got a couple of meals worth of fantastic recipes up and plan to post 2-4 new ones per week. My favorite so far is the most decadent (of course!), the Lemon Mousse with Red Currant Puree.

Let me know what you think!

Summer in the city

The worst/best part about summer is that it’s summer. As a college professor, I have the whole summer off from work. This is, of course, glorious. And it could (should, that is) mean I get obscene amounts of writing done.

But free time is a dangerous thing.

Free time can be used for writing, yes. It can also be used for a lot of other things that do not include writing.

So when summer rolls around I have to be extra vigilant and very organized.

Step one: schedule lots of writing dates with your writing buddies.

Luckily for me, a very awesome fellow writer lives quite near me. We meet up periodically in coffee shops around Manhattan and Brooklyn and force each other to actually write (well, I mean, we chat an awful lot too, but what do you expect??).

Today we’re headed to Chelsea to check out Fika. I plan to slog through the last few pages of edits to the novel and then work on the cover letter, which is currently in a malaise of mediocre.

Wish me luck!

I’m back, again, in New York, and thus end my whirlwind travels for the summer.

Only 6 days after returning from Italy, I headed out again to visit my family in the Pacific Northwest. It was everything a summer vacation should be: warm, sunny, and relaxing (see gallery below for evidence).

Now it’s time to buckle down and get to work.

I have a number of projects lined up for the coming months:

1. Finish polishing Project Awesome and usher it out the door to agents and editors

2. Educate myself about astronomy via several Coursera classes

3. Brainstorm, outline, and begin drafting my next novel project (which will draw on the aforementioned classes)

4. Get ready to participate in the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference and Pitch Slam, taking place here in New York at the end of July

5. Work on my new blog, a site devoted to gluten-free recipes that don’t involve the use of unhealthy, yucky, scary substitute products (more to follow on this as it develops)

And I think that’s enough to be getting on with.

To work!

The Return

It’s 4:30am, Day Two of the Great Jet Lag Escapade, and I’ve just returned from a whirlwind tour of Italy, in which I consumed every edible, drinkable, and cultural experience I could lay my hands on.

The trip was fantastic, offering a glimpse of what the Grand Tour of yore must have been like (you know, if you had a chaperone, gobs of time on your hands, a well-developed sense of superiority, and infinite money). Still, to wander the loggia of Florence, admiring the sinuous bodies of marble sculptures, to climb the towering domes of ostentatiously beautiful cathedrals, and to stroll the shores of rivers like the Tiber and the Arno, turgid with history, was all pretty spectacular.

And the food. And the wine. I partook of it all and I have no regrets (well, maybe a few…eating all that gluten wasn’t exactly without consequences…).

Now I’ve returned to Brooklyn and am eager to get back to work. The last few edits to the novel, and some more work on the query letter, await. I have some ideas for new short stories and plenty of brainstorming work to do for the next novel project. I’m also taking a couple of Coursera classes on astronomy, which are turning out to be very interesting.

A few small items to mention: I have a recipe published in the latest issue of Flash Fiction Online, titled Norwegian Waffles (for weekends, before or after the apocalypse), as an accompaniment to a delightfully creepy story by the wonderful Sunil Patel. Also, upcoming in August, my story The New Arrival will be podcast on Pseudopod – details to follow!

Before I leave you, I thought I’d share a few photos from my journey through Florence, Tuscany, Rome, and Pompeii. Enjoy!

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Progress

Well, I finally finished revisions to Project Awesome. There are still edits and some trimming to do, but this baby will be ready for the light of day very soon. Yay!

For personal reasons, the last 6 months have been the hardest of my life and I’m really proud of how, in spite of everything, I never let this project fall by the wayside. Progress may have been at times slow (frustratingly) but it was always steady. I finished the draft a little before Christmas, got all my Beta reader feedback by mid-late January (thanks, guys, you are the best!), and just finished making all the plot/character-level revisions Friday. Not as fast as I’d like, but pretty good under the circumstances.

Today and Wednesday will be devoted to drafting the query letter and synopsis, and this coming weekend I’ll be making my annual pilgrimage to San Antonio for the Paradise Lost Writing Retreat. I anticipate having lots of time to work on editing and getting some feedback on a few of the bigger changes I made to the novel. Plus, writer friends! And sunshine.

Even though work remains before the novel is truly done, I’m gonna chalk hitting this milestone up as a win and let myself feel good about it.

Go me!

Brooklyn Blues

I’m back in Brooklyn, y’all. And lo and behold, winter is still clinging on by its toenails. There have been some rumors of 60 degree weather, but they have yet to materialize, so I’m holding tight the memory of warm sun and sand between my toes.

The vacation debrief. In short, it was fantastic. Perfect weather. Calm waters. Very few people. A friendly beach dog. Good times with my Pop Pop. Great food and plenty of drink. What more can you ask for?

It was also pretty productive. During the hottest part of the afternoon, when a shady porch and the fan were advisable, I managed to revise about 8 or 9 chapters of the novel, bringing me within striking distance of the finish line. I also read a metric ton of books on the beach, everything from Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga and Marko Kloos Frontlines books to Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent series and a couple murder mysteries on the side.

So, I’m settling back in to reality. Teaching. Cold weather. Work and family-related travel. Some not-very-fun medical stuff coming up. etc.

Still, the echoes of vacation linger.

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