Wednesday, December 18, 2013

53. Nano '13

I made it again this year! My seventh NaNoWriMo, my third win (simply writing 50,000 words for those that are unfamiliar with how one wins National Novel Writing Month).

I really didn't think I'd make it this year. With moving and trying to finish a project right at the end of October, I didn't really get to plan ahead on my story. To tell the truth, I never plan as much as I would like to, but this year I hadn't even decided for certain on which story. Also, usually I get extra word count while I'm at women's retreat, but since it started on the first, I hadn't gotten into any groove yet to use my extra free time wisely.

So, that is how it ended up  that I wrote on 13 different stories- mostly old stories and a few new stories that popped into my mind, whatever got the words written until I decided what I wanted to work on the most... which I never really decided. Here's a list of the stories I worked on, a description, and their word counts. (Titles in quotations are just what I call them so I know which story I'm talking about, not real titles.)

(words that don't go to a particular story) 27
Evil Ilva (2007's Nano) fairy tale- 3048
Quiet the Voices (2008's Nano) scifi- 864
"Roses" (2009's Nano) fantasy adventure- 269
Miss Nary (2010's Nano) Christian romance- 359
"Prism" (2011's Nano) fantasy- 566
Eventually trilogy (2012's Nano) fantasy- 5347
"Gaelisha" (random old story barely written on) time travel- 100
When You Wish Upon A Rock Star (story someone told me to write a long time ago) romance- 444
"Mad" (random old story barely written on) spy? romance- 16352
The Enchanted Widow and the Insignificant Other (new story) fantasy/scifi 10447
"aliens" (new story) scifi childrens?- 10034
(a blog post I was trying to write) 284
"branch girl" (recent story) children's fantasy- 1346
"penguin ninjas" (recent story) children's- 552
"tree hair" (new story) children's- 81

I haven't gone through to see if there are any excepts worth posting this year, but if you want to read some of the previous years: Posts #44 and #46 for Eventually, #27 for Quiet the Voices and #23 for Evil Ilva, or visit for excerpts and descriptions of all of my previous Nano-novels except Evil Ilva (for some reason it only gives the option to list the novels back to 2008 and I started in 2007).

This year was more of a rebel win, and I can hardly believe I actually made it. I somehow wrote 7500 words on the last day. I am pretty sure I've never written that much at once before. For some people the words pour out, for me they are a fight. I never would have made if I was at home the last day, but I spent the afternoon at the library with others from my region. The word wars there and on facebook were all that kept those words coming out.

To be honest, I hardly feel like I won. There isn't the same excitement with a million different stories, it isn't as gratifying. I have hopes for those stories still, but I can't look at them the same as previous years and feel like I halfway completed a book. I don't know if it's my lack of excitement that means others aren't quite as excited for me, or that I just didn't have as many friends who seemed to notice or care that made me less excited also. 

Still, each year it seems a little easier to write that many words.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

52. Updates

I need to blog more... I keep saying that, and I have several posts half written (they're mostly out of date now...)... but, if I'm not going to write long blogs (and do you really want to read long blog posts anyway?.... I should at least throw out a few updates every once in a while. If you care, that is.

So, just a couple for you, and anybody who actually knows me will have seen these on Facebook:

My nephew turned 1 at the beginning of this month! (And his mother, my sister Gem, turns 30 in a couple days, Happy Birthday sis!)

It's been 4 years, I'm pretty sure, and I've been going back and forth for a little while, and maybe I'm just tired (I've had a couple really early shifts and it's past 11 pm) and am forgetting a reason not to, but I cut my hair tonight (about half of it... maybe 10 inches), and I'm happy.

I'm moving... at some point in October. Not sure where I'm moving to, so I'm not sure when exactly I'm moving.

If you remember that project I was working on that I mentioned in post 49 (Heart Art), I'm still working on it. Getting close to finished, but I tell you that project took a lot more effort than I expected, especially since I'm not really sure what we're going to do with it... and the picture included in that blog did end up becoming a small piece of the overall thing.

While a few wonderful people around church took well-earned vacations, I ended up helping out in Jr. Church and the children's Sunday School class a few weeks. I wouldn't say I did much to help, but an extra body is always useful and I checked the kids in because I know who most of them are from Awana.

Anyway, there's an update for you, hope this keeps you happy and finds you well!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

51. Job 2:5-6

Job 2:5-6
But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!"
And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life."

This is true of many, that when things don't go their way, when they are afflicted with a deadly disease, they turn their backs on the Lord, saying He isn't real or if He is, He is not a loving God.

Lord, I know people that have deep hurts that are suffering from health issues. I pray that they will continue to rely on You, that they will not curse You, but bless You, praise You and glorify Your name in all things. 

God is in control "but spare his life," Satan is only allowed to do what God says he may. No man can die before his time. Satan insisted that God stretch out His hand against Job, but instead God gave Satan permission to do so. Does God stretch out His hand against anyone, or only just allow Satan? Does He only stretch out His hand (against someone) in judgement?

Lord, give me faith please to trust You through the times when I don't understand who You are or what You are doing.

Job 2:3-4

Monday, July 8, 2013

50. Fire

Hope you all had a nice weekend; I'm just starting mine now. I ended up with three days off so I'm going to visit my sister who recently moved about 3 hours away.

But, I thought I'd post my sketch for the week, or actually month now.

This week's word was fire.

Strangely, the only fire idea that popped into my head was totally out of season.

Started with the fireplace and drew the window with the little hands pressed against it, but all I could imagine at that moment was a sad little kid looking in the window at an empty place with a fire, and that didn't sound nice at all, so I set it aside. Later, when looking at it again I felt the urge to have the child sticking his tongue out, so I drew him, and then had to decide what he was sticking his tongue out at. Decided there had to be someone who didn't want to play outside, but stay in by the fire.

Don't forget to check out OakMoonStudio for more.

Friday, June 21, 2013

49. Heart Art

A lot of people don't know that I draw. It's not their fault, I don't brag about it, I'm not that good. I don't really talk about it because I'm rarely actually working on something. Although, because one friend bugged me enough, I posted a whole album of art on facebook and occasionally I update it when I draw something new.
But since I rarely draw, there is hardly ever something new to post.
A couple weeks ago though, I stumbled across an idea and kind of kicked myself into drawing again, and though I have had so many other projects at the moment that I haven't been able to finish the whole picture, I  know what I want to draw.
It seems to me that I rotate my hobbies, that is, I'll do something for a while then get bored with it and get distracted with another one for a while. Well, I want to keep the drawing hobby around for a little longer, I could use more practice. But, to practice I need something to draw... and the main reason I don't draw is because I don't know what to draw.

A lovely lady and wonderful artist I know, Beth, posted on facebook that a blog she follows, Oak Moon Studio, had decided to do a weekly word sketch link party thing.
Cool, I can join in and someone else will suggest words/ideas... but I still have to sit down and draw.
So, it's been going on for a couple weeks and I still haven't joined in, but this week the word is heart, and because I actually drew some things that included hearts, I figured that I should post at least one of them...
Now, the reason I was drawing things with hearts this week has to do with a secret project my Mom gave me, so I can't post most of them just in case any ladies from church are reading my blog, at least, not yet. This picture may or may not have anything to do with the finished idea though and it's only a part of an idea, so it's safe to post.

I really should take pictures during the day with better lighting.... especially since I draw so lightly.

I did sketch one picture while thinking about what to draw with hearts. I think my mind was remembering last week's word too- circus.

When I was in college I took Basic Design (in black and white and in color, with the same teacher) and my teacher wouldn't let us use hearts. She said they were overdone. And, I generally would agree with her... though I did sneak in one or two (see left) when I was really out of ideas, I just didn't use them for any final drafts. She probably wouldn't like it if she found out that my dishes have hearts on them. (I didn't pick them out... but I like them anyway.)
And just for fun, because I sorted through some old drawings, here's a few others that include hearts. I don't recall what was up with the girl's on the left. I designed the dress on the right, along with a lot more back in junior high/ high school. If you look close you can see this was labeled #262.
If you really love hearts, be sure to check out Beth's art work, where she hides them beautifully in almost everything, and her other blog and her sister's blog, where you can see hearts that most eyes miss.

And be sure to check out Oak Moon Studios.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

48. Sweet Potato Salad

I rarely cook.
I don't usually find cooking fun and I hate cleaning up... but mostly I just don't like deciding what to eat. But, occasionally... well.

We had a potluck Sunday after church since it was our annual meeting and of course everyone is always starving after that.
And for once I actually made something.
Well, two somethings that is. I made chocolate cobbler because I had the link saved and it looked good (and was good)... but this story isn't about that. (Yes there's a recipe here for sweet potato salad, if you've read the title and that's what you want, but you're going to have to go to the end to get to it... and why not read the story on the way down?)

I had time (well, not as much time as it took, it would have been nice to go to bed earlier, but what can I say,  I seem to like cooking in the middle of the night best.)
But I wasn't sure what to make. What did I have?
All that came to mind was that I had three sweet potatoes.
What can I make with sweet potatoes? I've only made a couple things.

This sweet potato and black bean chili by Food Wishes. From this recipe I learned that it's pretty simple to just chop up a sweet potato and bake "fries", so I've done that a couple times now. I also learned that I needed decent knives... because it wasn't very easy to chop a sweet potato up with the knife I was using. So, I bought nicer knives... and that's helped me cook more. Chopping things up with a knife that cuts is almost fun!

I've also made jerk sweet potato by Sorted Food (and sweet potato quesadilla, also by them), though using ingredients I had, so no star anise or lime... but I did learn that lemon goes interestingly well with sweet potato.

But I didn't want to bother with trying to keep the chili warm, and though it didn't cross my mind to try the other recipes I don't think they would have worked well for a potluck.
Then I wondered if there was such a thing as sweet potato salad. This was partly because of a conversation with a customer at work that day who had been unable to find radishes to go in her (regular) potato salad. I hadn't ever heard of radishes in potato salad, but it sounded interesting, so the idea of potato salad was stuck in the back of my head.

So, I looked it up online, and there is such a thing as sweet potato salad... but there were so many versions!
In fact, if you want to check them out, here's the one's I looked at:
apple cider vinegar, red onion, baby spinach, honey, cumin-- but don't like curry
orange zest, scallion
lime juice, cilantro, red onion
red onion, garlic, lime, cilantro- didn't feel like adding black beans (this time)
cumin, cayenne, red onion, garlic- don't think avocado sound right
honey, red onions, mentioned mustard- actually a regular potato salad
red onion, cinnamon, honey, radishes
garlic, cumin, cayenne, lemon juice, cilantro
cumin, scallion, lime, coriander (cilantro)
cilantro, lime, lemon, cumin, red onion, celery
red onion, celery, honey (or maple syrup)- the maple syrup and cranberries weren't quite right

As you can see, I marked where the ingredients I used (or similar ones) were suggested (plus a few I didn't like but that you might).
Now, this is how I made the salad, but not necessarily how it should be made... so, I'm basically including the recipe twice. First, you can read the details of how and why I did some things (and laugh at me for taking so long to make something simple) and then I'll put the actual ingredients and simplified directions highlighted at the end.

I started with running to the store around midnight to pick up a few ingredients I decided I wanted in the salad but didn't have.

When I got home I cut 2 sweet potatoes into cubes, coated them with olive oil, minced garlic, and spices. Put them in the oven, almost forgot to stir them so the edges were overcooked slightly. Pulled them out when they were as tender as I wanted them.

While they were cooking I chopped up the vegetables (really thin because I don't really like crunchy stuff in regular potato salad, so though I thought it'd be better with sweet potato, I wanted it chopped small).

I poured around a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a bowl, zested half a lemon and half a lime and then juiced half of each and added some honey because it seemed right since both vinegar and citrus seem ...acidic or tart... and a couple recipes mentioned it.
The honey I have at the moment is weird, well, it's not weird in a bad way, it's called spun honey and it's, like, purposefully precrystallized. (I bought it because it's in a tub and since my honey normally ends up crystallizing before I use it, it's really hard to get out of a squeeze bottle.) Anyway, I heated it up so it would be runny like honey and then put it in, but as soon as it hit the cold juice and cider it hardened. So I'm not sure how much I actually added and since I added the cinnamon at the same time, I don't know how much of that either. Something less than a teaspoon. Just, to taste I guess.

Around this time I decided I wanted to use the third sweet potato, so I stuck it in the oven with the olive oil and spices (but didn't add more garlic).

I put the chopped vegetables in the fridge and spread the sweet potato cubes out to cool.
I wilted a couple handfuls of spinach on the stove with butter (too much butter really, I ended up using a paper towel to try and get rid of some butter) and then chopped it thinly and spread it out to cool with the sweet potato.

After the potato and spinach was mostly cooled I put it in the fridge in a separate container from the vegetables, then decided to add the dressing to it and stuck it back in the fridge for the night.

In the morning I mixed them all together and decided that since the dressing had pretty much soaked in and wouldn't coat the veggies too that I'd make a little more, so I put some more apple cider vinegar, the other half of the lemon and a bit more honey in a bowl with some salt and pepper, tasted it and decided it was still missing something. Tested a piece with miracle whip and a piece with mustard and decided miracle whip was the way to go. I added somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon, just enough to barely coat everything when mixed with the other dressing ingredients. Then I hand stirred the veggies, the sweet potato and the dressing all together to make sure there wasn't so much that it would be runny.

Stuck it back in the fridge for about a half hour until I left for church. I just set it on the counter, so I don't know if they refrigerated it more or not.

The reason I actually wrote up this whole blog post in the first place was because a couple ladies actually liked it so much that they wanted the recipe.
Wait... then I had to remember what I put in it.... uhoh!
Luckily I had the day off so I could spend time thinking about it (and cleaning up the kitchen). I looked through my grocery sack and through my spices, wrote down the details of what I did, and I hope I remembered everything. I actually didn't remember about the vinegar until a couple hours after I thought I remembered everything, and the cinnamon I forgot about until around 10 or 11 at night.

But, here is what I estimate to be the recipe (or at least, what I plan to do if/when I make it again) Sorry that there isn't specific measurements on some things.:

2-3 sweet potatoes
enough olive oil to coat
1-2 cloves minced garlic
spices (cayenne, ground mustard, cumin)

couple handfuls spinach leaves

2 stalks celery
4-5 small radishes
1/3 cucumber
1/4 red onion
green onions

1 lemon juiced
1/2 lime juiced
zest of half a lemon and half a lime
apple cider vinegar (maybe 4 teaspoons?)
honey (less than a tablespoon?)
cinnamon (less than a teaspoon?)
touch of salt and pepper
about 1 tbsp miracle whip

Coat the sweet potatoes in olive oil and spices. Spread out on cookie sheets. Bake at 400-425 degrees for 25-35 minutes, stirring once or twice, until tender.
Wilt spinach in pan. Lay out to cool then chop and mix with sweet potatoes. Store in the fridge.
Chop the vegetables and store in the fridge in a separate container (at least until the sweet potatoes are fully cooled, but I would wait until you are ready to add all of the dressing).
If you aren't serving it until the next day, I would mix together the dressing ingredients except the miracle whip. Mix half of the dressing with the sweet potatoes to soak in. Then, maybe an hour or two before serving, mix the other half of the dressing with the miracle whip and mix everything together.
But you can try it whatever way you want!

If you make it, enjoy and please tell me about it!

Monday, April 29, 2013

47. Job 2:3-4

Job 2:3-4 
Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause."
So Satan answered the LORD and said, "Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life."

Job is still upright in God's eyes, he still held fast to his integrity.

Lord may I be like Job, still holding tight to you when things aren't going the way I expect. After all, there is none like You. 

Satan is king of excuses, he says, oh sure, Job still holds on, but that's because it was just family and possessions, no, what a human really cares about is himself.

Lord, if I ever have such a disease or such as is about to come upon Job, help me to remember to always put You first in my mind. There is no need to fear death, because with such death comes eternal life with You. I pray that I would not give all I have if it would save my life, especially if it means denying You. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Job 2:1-2                                                                                                                                 Job 2:5-6

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

46. Camp NanoWrimo

So, I'm trying Camp NaNoWrimo this April. I started to try it one other year but wasn't in to my story enough to really work at it, but I've a story to write this time.

I'm so forgetful, I realized that I never told you I won NaNoWriMo back in November (that is, I reached over 50,000 words, yay!) It's hard for me to write that much, I'm not a wordy person, and that makes it even more satisfying to reach the goal. 
However, by the end of November I realized that my story wanted to be a trilogy... and that the story I was writing was actually the second, at least chronologically.
So, this month I'm working on the prequel so that I can figure out some motivations of secondary characters in order to be able to finish Eventually. I'm still thinking that if I ever finish the stories I'll publish Eventually first. If I do the prequel first it gives away too much of the secondary characters past, plus the main characters in the prequel and sequel are different than in Eventually.
One of the nice things about Camp is that we can now choose our own goals. 50,000 is much too high for me to aim for more than once a year, so I went with 30,000. Still a high goal for me, in fact I'm behind by about 5000 words at the moment, but I caught up a lot from how behind I was earlier today.

So, I thought I'd give you a bonus scene from Eventually. This happens about a third of the way through the story:


The pirate captain was leaning off the bow of his ship, watching them carefully. Evan felt his presence before he saw him, but was startled anyway when he realized that a huge ship had appeared out of nowhere. He held tightly to Adelaide’s arm which caused her to start. She began to ask what was wrong, but as Evan began to reassure her that all was well, the pirate spoke.
“Ahoy there ye landlubbers! How fares the lady fair?”