Democrats and Money, Redux

I’m about to post a couple of asks for campaign money (for other people, not me). Before I do that, I want to repost something I wrote during my own campaign two years ago; people seemed to find it helpful.
We have a very short window now until the mid-terms, and if you have money to spare and want America to move in a more progressive direction, now is absolutely the time to choose a candidate (or several), and support them with cash.
Right now, personally, I’m prioritizing helping to flip the House blue over anything else political. America’s government right now is like an open wound — flipping the House would dramatically slow the bleeding. We’re even prioritizing that over giving money to worthy organizations like the ACLU, SPLC, Planned Parenthood. They still get our monthly donation, but all additional funds we’re putting towards specific campaigns. Here’s why campaigns need cash help:
“Someone asked me yesterday why I couldn’t just use free digital avenues to build support for my campaign, instead of asking for money. I thought it might help if I explained some of the costs, which frankly kind of shocked me after I started my run. This may also be helpful in understanding why money is such a HUGE factor in politics (and why Republicans keep winning).
I do plan to keep leveraging every digital avenue I have, but there are lots of people who aren’t on Facebook or Twitter, or really, much online at all, especially older voters. And the people who bother to vote in off-year elections (about a tenth of the local populace) are often among our older population.
To reach the voters, you can do things like go door-to-door (which I’ll be doing), but at least around here, most people are working during the day, so your window to reach them is very limited. There also aren’t that many days between now and April 4th, so I’m not going to have time to knock on every door, even if I wanted to. You can stand outside grocery stores and train stations, and I already have some of that in the schedule too. But the main other thing you can do is spend money.
Let’s say I want to do a basic flyer, about me and about what the library board does. If I send it to all the likely voters in this election, about 6000 people, that’ll cost $3000 just for the postage. $3000! I admit, I was really startled by that number. If you want to make five hundred buttons, that’ll cost perhaps $300 for design and printing. Full color bookmarks? That might run another $1000, if you want to send them to all the voters. Political palm cards, with info about you and the date of the election, that can be tucked into the doors that you’re passing — another $1000 or $2000. A full-page ad in the League of Women Voters program book will cost something; so will a newspaper ad. And let’s not forget pizza for your weary volunteers!
When I started this, I thought, oh, I don’t even know if I’ll need to raise money at all. And then I thought, well, I’m sure $2-3K will be plenty. Now I’ve realized that I could easily spend $10,000 on print materials alone, and even that wouldn’t guarantee that all the voters in Oak Park would even see my name once before they got to the ballot box. And someone told me recently that it usually took about seven ‘touches’ — seven mentions of your name — before someone decided to actually vote for you.
So, hope that helps explain why I’m asking for money, and why, if there’s anyone whose campaign you want to support, contributing money is actually really helpful.
Democrats, in particular, I think are more likely to be reluctant to give money to political campaigns (rather than non-profit orgs), feeling like money in politics is somehow a little corrupt, that we ought to be able to win on the purity of our ideas alone, the rightness of our cause. I know I gave to the ACLU and the SPLC long before giving to any candidate. But I’ve recently come to realize that before the voters can vote for the good guys, they need to know their names, and ideally, a little of what they stand for.
Money helps tremendously with getting the word out.”


The kids made the chocolate cake from a box, pretty much entirely on their own, and having a lot of fun doing it. Well, I sprayed the inside of the pan with Baker’s Joy, because you have to push the spray thing a little harder than is comfortable for Kavi. It’s funny the things that are still surprisingly hard for her — often not what I’d expect. They did everything else, though, including dropping an egg on the floor and cleaning it up.

We then did a sort of improvised cake toppings bar. I took some frozen berries, cooked them down with the leftover champagne from the morning’s garden club mimosas, a few squeezes of lime juice, brown sugar, and some crystallized ginger, to make a gingered-berry-champagne compote. I also melted some chocolate chips (a couple minutes at half power in the microwave), set some of it aside for the kids, and stirred in some chili powder and salt to what was left to make a salted spicy chocolate sauce. Then set those out along with some ready-made frosting and sprinkles, so that everyone could have cake the way they liked it.

The box cake was still a little fluffy and light for my tastes — I like my chocolate cake to be denser. But the flavors were delicious, Kevin agreed, and the kids were happy with their version too (heavy on the frosting and sprinkles), so I’d call it a pretty decent success for birthday-cake-from-what-we-have-on-hand-because-we-are-too-lazy-to-go-to-the-store.

Happy 48th, Kev. We love you.


Three hours yesterday writing in the shed + four hours today writing in the shed. Shed good. Very focusing.

I’ve gone through a host of critique comments from Acorns workshop, Deborah Elaine Moeller, and Jed Hartman (thank you all!), and the novel-turned novella-turned 45K word thing, the novella now retitled _Kriti_, has finished another pass. It is better.

I don’t think it’s final quite yet, but it’s starting to take the right shape, I think? After spending much too long in the wrong shape. I am seeing consistent themes carried through now. I have pruned away excess plottiness. My protagonist actually protags, although maybe more in a lit fic kind of way that a more typical space opera kind of way.

I have no idea who will want to publish this little thing, but that is a question for another day. Now, send it out to beta readers and forget about it for a bit, switch back over to all Wild Cards, all the time — I have a 9/15 deadline on that story, and I have quite a ways to go on it. I couldn’t seem to focus while this was in my head, though. There are apparently limits to how many worlds I can carry in my head at any one time.

Coffee, a few e-mails, read workshop stories for our in-person meeting tonight, and then Wild Cards Wild Cards, Wild Cards.

Mango Passionfruit Caramels

Usually I make exactly what I write in the recipe, but the truth is, I find cutting caramels labor-intensive enough that it’s something I only plan to do once a year or so. So I’m not going to make these again anytime soon, even though they’re quite delicious, and even though I think they would be just the tiniest bit tastier with the proportions I’m going to write down below. I made these with 3/4 c. mango pulp and 1/4 c. passionfruit pulp, because that’s what I had on hand, but I think they would be even better with 1/2 and 1/2, so that the tartness of the passionfruit would better balance the mango. But honestly, I think any ratio of those two would be delicious, as long as you ended up with 1 c. fruit pulp total.

Based on a Gale Gand basic caramel recipe. Makes at least 60 caramels.

5 c. sugar
1/2 c. mango pulp
1/2 c. passionfruit pulp
1 c. water
6 T butter
1 c. cream, warmed a little
flake salt for topping (optional)

1. In a very large pot (it will boil up a lot), mix sugar, fruit pulp, and water.

2. Bring to a boil and continue cooking without stirring until hard ball stage (250 degrees on a candy thermometer).

3. Turn heat off and stir in the butter and then the cream.

4. Pour into a 9×12 pan that has been lined with parchment paper and buttered. Let the caramel cool and set until firm, at least two hours and preferably overnight.

5. Once firm, turn caramel out onto a board, cut into rectangles, and sprinkle with flake salt if desired. Wrap in decorative clear plastic (you can get squares online that are meant for caramels, that twist and hold well).


Candy recipe-testing takes so much more patience than I normally need for recipe-testing!

I took a basic caramel recipe, swapped out the water for mango & passionfruit pulp, and then realized that that wasn’t thick enough, so I just went ahead and added the water back in. So now I *really* have no idea whether this will set into caramels or not. I may end up with a sticky messy that is impossible to cut. I may end up with toffee instead. It’s going to be hours before I have any idea.

I am feeling my way through candy-making, and I have to remind myself that my early attempts to modify my mom’s marshmallow recipe were equally confusing, and now, at least, I have that down. It’d be nice to get a solid desi-inflected caramel recipe down — we’ll see.

Ah well. I suppose this means it’s time to go and write for a while? Or sort clothes? Something.  I suppose if it doesn’t set, I’ll have mango-passionfruit caramel sauce, which is not a tragedy.

Egg Bites with Red Pepper and Leek

I love having a quick, warm (30 seconds in the microwave) eggy breakfast on a busy weekday morning!


Not writing out the recipe because it’s not perfect yet. The sautéed leeks are tasty, but the texture is a little too much for something this light; I won’t be using them next time. The fresh bell pepper is good, but I want a little more cheese. Got a brûlée torch, which I’ve been wanting for awhile, and it does help make for a pretty presentation, though I admit, most mornings, I just eat them straight out of the little jars with a spoon. Will likely make another batch this weekend, so perhaps a proper recipe next week.


K.C. Ball

The Speculative Literature Foundation is saddened to hear about the passing of K.C. Ball, winner of the 2012 Older Writers Grant, and juror for the 2014 Older Writers Grant and 2014 Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds grants. K.C. was an excellent speculative fiction writer and a keen juror with sharp insight. Our thoughts are with her loved ones during this time. We hope young and old continue to be intrigued, captivated, and entertained by her stories for years to come.

Passionfruit Brittle

Passionfruit Brittle
So I admit, I set out to make caramels, and I got brittle instead. On the other hand, a) the brittle is delicious (fruity tang blending harmoniously with the dark sweetness of the caramelized sugar, yum), b) now I know how to make brittle, and c) I can still try to make caramels tomorrow.
I’m going to call this a win-win. 🙂
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. passion fruit puree
2 T corn syrup
1/2 t. salt
1 c. sugar
1. In a large pot, combine all ingredients and stir to combine. Butter a large Pyrex dish.
2. Heat pot on medium, stirring periodically, until a candy thermometer measures 240 degrees F (soft ball stage).
3. Pour candy out into baking dish and let cool a few hours. Peel up from the bottom of the dish (otherwise it may stick hard), and the chill in the fridge until quite hard, another hour or two. Break apart into brittle pieces and enjoy.
(Don’t lose a tooth!)