Long Summer Days

Morning spent mostly alternately writing and making soap. Afternoon, took Kavi in for her before-middle-school doctor appointment, which included three vaccinations: DTAP, meningococcal, and HPV. I feel so much better knowing my baby is safer from those diseases, and that we’re contributing to herd immunity.
 
That said, they were a little sting-y, and Kavi was briefly sad (like, for 2 minutes), so clearly we needed to reward ourselves for our ordeal with a treat — we went for a walk in downtown Oak Park in late afternoon, where they’re having a Parisian street fest.
 
We split a late lunch of farmhouse salad, chicken and mushroom soup, and chocolate croissant at Léa, wandered through the art stalls, picked up a freshly-made cinnamon-sugar beignet (she’d never had one before! how could we resist?), and then I found a cute flowered raincoat and a WorldCon party dress, plus a pink off-the-shoulder sweater for her on the clearance racks at 16 Suitcases. Score! Wandering around shopping with my daughter is ridiculously fun. I should do it more often.
 
While walking, I ran into a local constituent who went out of her way to thank me for some specific things I’ve done on the library board (aw…), and after I got home, I got a FB message reminding me that I’d agreed to meet someone else to give them political advice about running for office — so I jumped in the car, headed over to Eastgate Cafe, and poured out everything I could reasonably transfer in an hour over a glass of wine, and then some.
 
I think everyone who wants to run should get to run, and should be helped through the sometimes obscure process. Theresa Mah and Matt Fruth in particular were huge helps to me when I decided to run, and I intend to pay it forward.
 
A good, full day. Not quite over yet, either — I’m on deadline for Wild Cards, so I’m going to grab a little dinner (Kevin cooked while I was out) and then head out to the shed to write another scene…
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Spiced Swordfish Bowl with Red Rice, Cashews, Cranberries, Tomatoes, and Yogurt-Lime-Honey Drizzle

Experimenting with yesterday’s Sri Lankan spiced swordfish. Made a quick drizzle (1 T yogurt, 1 T lime juice, 1 t. honey), cooked some healthy Sri Lankan red rice (similar to brown rice, with a lovely nutty flavor), and stirred in some salted, roasted cashews, dried cranberries (sultanas would be more traditional, but I love the added tang from the cranberry), and fresh summer cherry tomatoes.
 
This was sweet and hearty; a comforting meal. If I were doing it again, I think I’d add some kale salad, either in place of the red rice, or in addition — the fresh green would be nice. And I definitely would want to up the spice level for me — sliced pickled jalapeños would be a great addition. But that said, yum. 🙂
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Outwrite in D.C.

Heading to D.C. today for OutWrite! Look at the nice graphic they made me.   I won’t make it there in time for tonight’s kick-off event, and I’m spending Sunday with family, so will miss the writing workshops, but Saturday, I’m there all day — two panels and a reading. (Ping me if you want to do breakfast or lunch, but not dinner, as I have another family event).

Hope to see lots of you there! I’m planning to bring a copy of Survivor (which just arrived at my house!) as a giveaway to the morning trauma panel, since it’s a SF/F anthology centered on trauma and survival. Now I just need to figure out how to arrange the giveaway — first one up to the front doesn’t seem like a good method (ableist, among other things).

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Things Happening

Three quick things:

a) I was invited to join Curious Fictions — it’s a site where authors share short stories, and you can subscribe to the authors you like, getting stories fed to you. A little like what I do on Patreon, but this would just be for fiction. I’m planning to put out 1-3 stories per week (mostly reprints), until I run out of stories or energy. 

(Interestingly, Jed and I were just talking about back when we founded Strange Horizons and various formats for introducing people to short fiction, and I have to say, if I were starting a magazine today, I’d probably be more likely to set up a format like this than a traditional magazine. But that’s a side conversation…)

b) I’ve had two panels accepted to AWP (Portland, OR, next March) — hope to see some of you there!  – Real Women Talk Dirty: Feminisms of Sex in Fiction & Literary Prequels, Sequels, & Spinoffs: Writing Fiction from Pre-existing Worlds —

​c) I’ve started narrowing down the recipes that will appear in a little vegan Sri Lankan cookbook, an e-book sampler.  If you’d like to weigh in on which ones I include, the best place to vote is here.

Thanks!  Happy Thursday! 🙂

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Sri Lankan-Spiced Baked Swordfish

This spice preparation is one we’d traditionally use for deep-frying. In a hot country, a quick deep-fry is perhaps preferable to having a hot oven on! But I rarely deep-fry anything, so I wanted to see how it would do baked. Delicious!
 
You could certainly flake it into a salad, maybe accompanied by grilled peaches and a lime-honey yogurt dressing. I’m planning to try it soon in a bowl preparation, with red rice and a sunny-side-up egg on the top. But for my lunch today, I just had one of the swordfish steaks straight up, with a piece of fresh fruit — perfect.
 
Ingredients:
1 lb swordfish steak
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 TBL lime juice
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 T oil
 
1. Preheat oven to 400.
 
2. Mix spices, lime juice, and oil together in a mixing bowl and add fish; coat thoroughly.
 
3. Optional: Heat grill pan on stove on high; when pan is hot, add fish steaks and cook 3 minutes. (This is mostly to get the pretty char marks and a bit of that flavor; you can totally skip this step if you want.)
 
4. Turn steaks over (char-side up) and put on a foil-covered baking sheet; bake 20 minutes. Serve hot!
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Schedules

So far, I think going to the shed + turning off FB for 12 hours the night before has been the most productive option I’ve found for actually getting hours of daily writing done. This morning, got up, got Kavi to music camp (Anand’s taking the week off from camp, and luxuriating in electronics), headed to shed, and worked on Wild Cards story for a few hours.

Then FB came back on, a little political work, now lunch break and dealing with some overdue finances for the two arts orgs. Afternoon of laundry, unpacking, making dinner, maybe a little crafting (rose soap!), and then turn off FB for a few more hours of writing this evening. I’m waiting on a clarifying response from George before I write the next bit, and also, I tend to have a writing-energy-dip in the afternoon. So I’m trying to embrace that and fill that time with other things, let the well refill and my fingers rest.

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Upcoming Travel

Lots of travel logistical stuff — D.C., San Jose, Paris, Winnetka, IL

– Visit to D.C. next weekend for OutWrite 8/3 – 8/6 (LGBT literature:  http://thedccenter.org/outwrite/). I’ll be at the conference all day Saturday 8/4.

– WorldCon in San Jose (https://www.worldcon76.org), though I don’t have my actual schedule yet. (They’re having challenges, and I feel bad for them — conference scheduling can be a nightmare.) Kev has a conference that week too, so we’re juggling so he gets back and I leave without leaving the kids overnight, which means I’m going to arrive Fri 8/17 and leave Tues 8/21 (v. early). I’m pretty sure I’ll be at the Wild Cards signing from 10 – 12 on Saturday, and the SLF will be sponsoring the SFWA suite either Saturday lunch or teatime, but the rest of the schedule is TBD.

– booked travel for the Paris Plurality University workshop (11/28 – 12/3, https://www.plurality-university.org) — it turns out I can add 2 days to the trip without cancelling any extra classes (due to this semester Tues / Thurs schedule), so I am going to do a little sight-seeing in Paris after all. (That said, if anyone has a place I can stay for free or cheap in Paris in late November / early December, please do let me know! They’re covering the three nights of the conference, but not the two extra nights, understandably. Also, ping me if you’re in Paris and would like to meet up. Savvy local guides appreciated.)

– OCWW workshop (Writing the Taboo): April 11, 2019, Winnetka, IL (https://ocwwinfo7333.wildapricot.org). “Dorothy Allison suggests (in her book Skin: Talking about Sex, Class, and Literature) that the best writing happens when one is terrified, and writes through the fear. That’s great advice, but the question is *how* does one write through the fear? It’s often frightening when you’re trying write about subject matter that is in some manner taboo: material that violates social norms, that might upset family members, or that is simply personally difficult to confront.

In the hands-on workshop, we’ll explore a variety of taboo topics. We’ll look at how brilliant writers have delved into material that was forbidden for their place and time (some of which might seem quite tame by today’s standards), and then work through a series of exercises designed to push you into challenging places. At the end of the session, you should have some tools to lead you to stronger, braver work that takes more risks. Maybe it’ll challenge your audience too!

Important note: You won’t be required to share this work with anyone, though I may ask for volunteers to read bits of what they’ve written.”

Whew!

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Forty-Seven

Forty-seven is pretty nice so far. This morning, I did a little hike with Kavya to Rainbow Falls as the sun was rising (hence the rather obscured birthday selfie, as I tried to capture the sunrise). Feeling particularly grateful for my health, and for my kids, who get more interesting and sweet every day.

We were talking in the car back from camp about why I keep starting projects instead of just lying around playing video games in my free time. I may have said something about the world needing fixing, and Kavi said that she was sorry she couldn’t help me fix the world yet, but she will soon. I bet she will too. (Anand is still holding out for more video games, but we’ll get him eventually. He’s only eight.)

The novel is progressing, though a bit lost in the murky middle now. I’m trying to trust the process. (The book is mostly terrible, but I can make it better later. Right? Right.) Jed is probably coming to join me and Kev and the kids for dinner and board games tonight, and if not, I’ll see him tomorrow for a birthday potluck, with various old friends at his house.

After a few roiling years of stress and chaos, feeling grateful right now for this moment of peace.

 

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Publishing

Okay, so for The Marshmallows of Serendib, I’ve:
 
– spent much of yesterday formatting, getting the photos in the right places for e-book, wrestling with pagination and headers (I cannot get Word to do left and right page headers correctly, I give up, SORRY), taking out half the formatting as not relevant for e-books,e tc.
– also wrestled with various e-book editors and the KDP process
– gotten good versions of MOBI and EPUB files and a decent PDF file (for some reason, having trouble with getting the cover on there, but working on it)
– called my bank and gotten my business account info so I could upgrade PayPal to a business account, which I’m not sure I needed to do, but oh well, it didn’t cost anything, and now I can easily see how to add HTML buttons again
– added a PayPal shopping link to the Buy my Books page on my website
– added a PP link to the Shop page on the Serendib Kitchen site
– posted about it on Facebook and Twitter
– posted about it on the Serendib Kitchen blog (which automatically propagates to my main blog and the SK Facebook group)
– posted about it to the women POC food writers group
– sent out my newsletter with the info
– had someone else get it up on GoodReads (without my asking, thanks!)
– solicited reviews
 
Most of today was basically publishing work, and it’s nice to self-publish something, but I’ve done no actual writing yesterday or two and am SUPER-CRABBY as a result. I have had to take periodic video game breaks to get all this done because I was getting so tense and crochety.
 
I do not want to self-publish all my books. I like publishers. Publishers are GREAT. Moar publishers please.
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