Month: October 2009 Page 1 of 3

My own personal NaNoWriMo advice.

I was blathering about last year’s NaNoWriMo strategy over at ***Dave’s writing site, Doing Write, and realized I always need more blog posts…

I’ve done four NaNoWriMo-style novels (30 days, 50K words).  The drafting, while a bitch, is the easy part for me; I need to learn how to rewrite efficiently, which has been quite the task.  So this year, I’m not drafting a novel, I’m doing a crash rewrite of Alien Blue.  (I’ll report on what I learned as I go along.)

But, with four years of NaNo experience, I do have some personal tips for people writing a first draft:

Write in chapters.  Do a chapter a day, and you’ll find yourself writing more words to make sure you finish a definable chunk.

Whether or not you do a larger outline, outline your daily work right before you write it.  Today, I want to get X from Las Vegas to California, in four easy stages:

  1. X leaves Las Vegas with a million yen and a body in the trunk.
  2. X is pulled over by the cops.
  3. X talks her way out of the situation without using bullets or sex.
  4. X gets a flat tire but doesn’t dare pull out the spare when a nice-seeming couple in a Winnebago pull over to help her.

Because you’re not necessarily going for word count, you need something to let you know when you’re done for the day.  Although the outline points don’t happen at regular intervals.

I particularly like outlining in four parts:

  1. Opening/setup.
  2. Complication.
  3. Further complication (i.e., twist).
  4. Resolution and hook.


  1. Opening/setup.
  2. Complication.
  3. Resolution.
  4. Further complication (i.e., cliffhanger).

Personally, I find writing to the end of a chapter and leaving a cliffhanger a BIG motivator for starting the next chapter.  Boring work meetings = WHAT NEXT!?!

Let me know if you have rewriting tips. I could use them.

Twitter Updates for 2009-10-30

  • Yesterday, I thought I had the flu. I think it's just sinuses, tho. Ray's feeling better, just stomach crud. #
  • Also, I need a food blog name. Something I've always wanted to do, and NOW I have the power of WEBHOSTING. #
  • Actually, my superpower is speedreading. But I have add-on regular powers, too. #

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Food blog: Need name.

I’m planning to separate out my food posts into their own blog.  Turns out, the names I want are either taken or lame.  Kitchen Alchemist – gone.  Likewise Kitchen Alchemy.  Crazy Noodle and Crazy Noodles have been nommed.   Foodienomicon?  Too geeky.  Odd Cuisine?  Doesn’t sound tasty.  Should I avoid bad puns and cliches in the title? It’s not about recipes so much as it is going from an idea to a dish, for which a recipe is a snapshot of how it was done.

Coming up with a name is going to be harder than doing the actual blogging.  I do have one name that I like, but I’m going to ruminate on it for a day or two, and I’m not going to jinx myself by saying it here.

I’ve been brainstorming chili recipes for the cookoff at work in mid-November.  Fish-taco chili with cilantro pesto?  Chocolate chili?  Cherry-pork chili?  Raspberry-chipotle chili?  Szechuan-orange beer chili?  Redeye chili?

I think I’m automatically in the “other” category in the cookoff.

I need a cheese-ball recipe for the zombie brain mold I borrowed.  And NO, I’m not going to name a blog “Zombie Brain Mold.”  I’d get the wrong class of hits all the time, and lots of pissed off Romero fans.

Twitter Updates for 2009-10-27

  • Brains hurt. #
  • For some reason, hanging out with Lee makes my brains stop hurting…for a little while. #

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Twitter Updates for 2009-10-26

  • New Belgium's "Hoptober" beer is a hoppy beer that I LIKE. Can they do no wrong? #
  • Bought fuyu persimmons. Fuyu=flat on bottom, less tannin. Have not braved the eating of. You can get bezoars from tannic persimmons (!). #
  • Ate at King's Chef Diner, a good place for watching snow. Good music, heavy food, comix. I read 2 ish Greyshirt. Like. #
  • @doycet @ktbuffy Picked up the third Mysterious Benedict Society Book. I don't need more books. Except that one, apparently. in reply to doycet #
  • @Dabeak Apparently the answer is 10 gallons, according to her Grandpa. in reply to Dabeak #
  • Starlings swoop over fields of L. Carroll's Looking Glass chessboard. #

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Twitter Updates for 2009-10-25

  • Going in search of pumpkins…why do I think of serial killers at moments like this? Oh yes, pumpkin guts. #
  • Steampunk: indeed. #
  • @annsurely Having a protein breakdown?!? in reply to annsurely #
  • Via @ianthealy Fiction and poetry markets: an EASY to use site. #
  • @dabeak Hey, I got somebody who wants to know how many cans of beer a tuba will hold. Any guesses? #
  • I bought a ghost pumpkin (white). Lee promptly turned it into a monster with one dangling eyeball and a spew of red food coloring. #
  • Had Lee's 337 wine tonight with spag with stuffed portabellas. Appropriately good. (Flip the bottle upside down.) #
  • Particularly liking Bjork's "Innocence." #

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Twitter Updates for 2009-10-24

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Twitter Updates for 2009-10-23

  • Came home from work and took a nap until Ray woke me up to take her to skating. Like getting up for band trips all over again. RUN! #
  • RT @Dabeak If Kellogs…talked to students about good choices…and the mascot was a Shredded Wheat guys, Would that be good moral fiber? #
  • Sorry, had to trim that one, too long w/ Andy's handle on it. #
  • The best time to send Stormwater Enterprise bill is NOT right before an election involving the question of whether it's legal or not. #
  • Time for the next PPW brag sheet. Send me a message of some kind if you have any previously-unbragged brags from 1 Aug to 1 Jan. #
  • Amen. RT @Three_Star_Dave Okay, it's parent-dorky to be excited about K's solo in the 4th Grade Concert. But I am. So there. #
  • RT @DaphneUn …we did the Time Warp in Nia, and the recording of the song we used changed "pelvic thrust" to something else. Why?!? #
  • I got Yotsuba&! #6, Boneshaker, and In Green's Jungles (Gene Wolfe) today. Yotsuba was devoured pre-nap. #

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Twitter Updates for 2009-10-20

  • @DaphneUn Grats on the new sign 🙂 in reply to DaphneUn #
  • @doycet Ray's been reading Dragonbreath at school today…and for reading homework tonight. #
  • Must be the flu. RT@copyblogger I'm looking California and feeling Minnesota. Actually, I'm looking more South Dakota and feel like Guam. #
  • Made a chicken double-broth soup for the first time tonight. The yumminess. Oh, the yumminess. #

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Kitchen Alchemy: Cookbooks.

I just finished reading the Colorado Collage cookbook, which contains lots of good recipes, based around local cooks and food that uses more fruits/veggies. Okay. Decent cookbook, but not what I’m looking for.

I’m not going to keep the book.  I recently weeded out my cookbooks and got rid of the ones that just provided ideas for recipes; if I’m in the kind of situation where I need a specific recipe, the Internet can amply, quickly, and deliciously provide about a million examples.  (I particularly like the Epicurious site, because most of the recipes come from Bon Appetit/Gourmet, and have been tested.  And often have good pictures.)

The cookbooks (and cooking magazines) that I kept have something in common – they all have a perspective on food that I find interesting.  James Peterson wants to educate you, to gently nudge you toward more sophisticated recipes, gradually enticing you to leave your comfort zone.  Mark Bittman wants you to trust yourself, to stop taking recipes as miniature Bibles, not to be questioned.  The Bon Appetit cookbook is excited about taking dishes we understand and screwing around with them.  Why NOT add chervil?  Just because you’ve never had it before?  Pfft.  Eat What You Love

I love ancient church cookbooks.  Ancient Southern cookbooks.  Cookbooks on how other cultures have translated their recipes into our languages.  Invitations to try new foods, to understand why I love familiar foods.  And Cook What You Love:  Simple, Flavorful Recipes to Make Again and Again.  Doesn’t that say it all?

Recipes.  I know how to cook.  I can find ideas for what to cook.  But the why, why to cook a particular thing on a particular day, for particular people, that’s the fascinating thing.  Why figs in the fall.  Why simple vs. complex dishes.  Why we crave such-and-such a dish.  How memory – how childhood – is stronger than the taste buds.  That’s the breath of life I’m looking for in a cookbook.

And Colorado Collage, despite its pretty pictures, tasty-sounding recipes, and attractive menus, doesn’t have it.

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