Friday, February 19, 2010

Weeks 12, 13, 14

Hey everyone!

Arghh again! 3 weeks! 3 full, long, awful weeks?? You gotta be kidding me! Where did the time fly? And what on earth has happened in those 3 weeks? Uh, nothing...?

Crikey, what am I gonna do with my life? Oh, idea - to see what's happened, check the Twitter feed on the right of the page. I try and update that one everyday, so at least there's that. Might prove to be a fit reminder for myself as to what's taken place lately.

But to be truthful, I know what took place. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote... and hit an iceberg the size of the Titanic-buster. That's gotten me completely off track. So in between writing and not writing, I've kinda been lost. Strange, wouldn't you say? I'd reply that this is what a deadline does to you. More on this bit in Perception Tunnel.

Otherwise, what else has been happening?

- Kid on the Block
Is being his usual cheeky *big* little self. Someone please tell me - do kids have growth spurts every other month or something? Every time I look at my son it seems to me he's either taller or more bulked up. Yeah, that's right - he bulks up. Nearly 7 years of age, the top of his head touches my shoulder, which makes him close to 5 feet tall already, and when you'd expect him to be a lean, string-bean kind of guy, he's bulky! The works-out-type too! Don't laugh, it's true! He's active in sports at school. Man, if he keeps that up, I may be ending up fending girls off my front door in a few years!
And oh yeah too - he sure is growing up too. Gave him a haircut the other day (yups, I cut his hair, and hubby's too. Saves us like 500 bucks every 6 weeks coz that's how fast they outgrow a cut!). So it's hot here, and I give him a short cut (not buzz, slightly longer, but it nearly dries up with one energetic rub of the towel). Guess what - he's not at all happy! Reason? He wants hair like Anakin in The Revenge of the Sith(yeah, Hayden Christensen, and that's actually long hair! See here, right.). He's not at all happy that his hair looks just like his dad's, coz even though they got literally the same kind of head, dad's got a widow's peak that makes his hair 'cool'. Go figure... and we thought girls were the divas!

- WIPed out
You know what - I'm not touting my horn here - but on the weekend of January 30 to February 1, I actually sat down and wrote over 20K to my WIP. That was like 5 chapters. I saw the story move forward in ways I hadn't imagined, and it was soooo flowing. Really thought I could've made my personal deadline of February 5 on it.
But here we are today and I've got like 4 chapters left to add on it. So yes, it's not near finished yet. What does that mean? I'm a failure as a writer? Maybe. That I'm human? Definitely so. Being wiped out happens, and we writers should really try to prevent this from even being to close to happening. But most often than not, we don't listen to our body, to our gut, that's telling us to slow down. We rush and rush and then we hit the wall nose first!
So where am I standing today? I'm at the black moment. The last time I wrote a word on this WIP was last Wednesday (not the 17th, the 10th actually!). I purposefully took myself off the story to allow it to come back. It's a bit of that strange love 'wisdom' thing - if you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it meant it was supposed to be with you. Or something like that, you get my drift.
Did this with the WIP, even getting acquainted with the idea that maybe I'd have to let my editor know I wouldn't be able to hand this to her. Yeah, I did consider that option. Made my peace with it, if you want, and let it all go. Thankfully the strategy worked. The scenes have clinked again, and my personal writing Titanic repaired her iceberg-torn hole herself. I've not started writing again yet, but I'm going there soon. Wish me luck (just don't ask me to break a wrist!)

- Perception Tunnel
So yes - a deadline. Never really worked with one before. Of course, I've had them for projects, assignments, portfolios, freelance writing briefs, that sort of thing. On a story, nope. Never a 'hard' one imposed by your editor or your pub house. I've always worked within my own own bubble and sked, and this time it was different.
The thing is - life happens. And along with it comes things that do crowd your mind and put you in an unfavourable writing mindset. Not to mention the fact that when you're sorta forcing something to come out, well at one point, you're left with no juice to squeeze. What happens when you find yourself in this boat and you have a deadline on your head? A whole lot of grief and angst. You go through phases - shivering withdrawal-like phase where you keep thinking all paranoid, my editor is gonna kill me! Then comes the angst with all its fiery passion - why can't I do this, dammit??? Then you force it - bl**dy computer, you better inspire me asd I sit before your blank screen. After that you break some china, the geatting-to-grips phase as I call it. Lastly, you're in a zen mindstate - face it, you cannot force it and what has to happen will happen. You free your mind, you brace yourself to face the consequences, and wham! Before you know it, you've been through the trial by fire and you're 'cleansed'. The block, like an opaque veil, lifts and you start seeing your story clearly, really catch the forest for the trees.
An act of faith...? I'm not judging on that!

- Back to the domestic goddess
In between breaking my china (don't worry, it was the chipped and to-be-discarded ones. Not the wedding porcelain!), I did spend quite some time in the kitchen lately. Yeah, that's how bad this block was. I've made liver pate, that's actually tasted good! Swapped the mould for a muffin tin, and ended up with these little patty-like pates. Really easy to wrap and freeze up and control portions. I've baked a coconut-flavoured cake that's reminded me of a cake sold in a now-closed bakery, that I used to buy some twenty years ago (yikes, my memories are getting that old, meaning I'm getting old too!). I've made lima bean curry and chapattis. I've made paella in the pressure cooker. But this is the one I'll be sharing with you -
Chicken Basquaise

1 full chicken, cut into small pieces (you can use other cuts too, like 4-5 thighs, depending on what you prefer)
1 can tomatoes
2 bell peppers (I use green and red, for colour)
2-3 shallots
2 spoonsful oil
4-5 spoonsful flour
1 cup chicken stock (or water, if you don't have any stock on hand)
Salt and pepper

Peel and chop shallots. Cut, clean, and dice peppers.
Season chicken with salt and pepper and cover with flour.
In a deep pan or casserole, heat oil and brown chicken pieces. Add shallots, peppers, and the can of tomatoes. Stir. Bring to boil.
Reduce heat slightly, add stock and stir until the liquid thickens. Bring to simmering, cover, and let simmer for 15-20 mins.
Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley and a side of steamed white rice.

- Reading Log
Thanks to the block, I had to take my mind away from the chaos of the WIP. Consequently got some reading material and browsed through it. The one I literally devoured was The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen. Not my usual type of reading - I'd checked The Surgeon and The Apprentice before and they'd reminded me of CSI episodes on paper. Back then I didn't think I could enjoy this kind of drama on paper (coz I love it on TV. And no, the sights do not repulse me at all!). But thanks to the lack of good romance books out there right now, ones that don't take you for an utter idiot or worse, ones that mistake readers for lobotomy survivors, I turned to the 'dark' shelves at the library to find stuff to read. Thing is, hubby's getting into books too lately, and I usually end up picking up his reading stuff. He's into the 'dark' stuff and half the time I was choosing for him, I found myself going, oh I'd watch this if it were a movie!
So I took the bet on Ms. Gerritsen's work, as much for the book as for the respect I have for her (I had once read that some readers were giving her grief because she'd started out writing romance for Harlequin, and later became known for her gritty mysteries. Apparently, in some twisted logic, that's she'd written romance once meant she'd 'sold out' on the mystery readers! Gimme a break! That's exactly what I told her in an email I shot to her, so much I was incensed by the pointless grief they were giving her. Completely thought I'd shot a stone in water, you know. Well, less than 48 hours later, Ms. Gerritsen had replied my email and when I was reading it, it was obvious to me she had not only read my note but was replying to everything I had said in it! Lol, you can tell me someone else could've penned that, an assistant maybe, but I liked that she'd replied and that she showed consideration for her fans and for people who got in touch with her. She was human, approachable, and that she's so successful didn't seem to have gone to her head. And yeah too, she doesn't seem to take her readers for lobotomy survivors!)
So about this book - you may or may not be familiar with Ms. Gerritsen's duo of female protagonists: Detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles. This duo have been at the heart of many of this author's mysteries, and they're like one of those on-screen duos you just root for from the minute they appear in front of you. They've battled criminals, twisted minds, serial killers. And in The Mephisto Club, they're battling an ancient evil so scary it's literally got you holding the book with one hand and biting your cuticles of the other hand! The writing flows, the descriptions are vivid, and the characters are alive. The evil guy in there, oh my God! You don't wanna encounter someone like that even in your nightmares! But there's also the human factor, like the fact tough cop Rizzoli is having to play referee between... her mom and dad who are on the point of splitting up coz the dad has shacked up with a tart! Tell me if that ain't a slice of 'normal' life!
Go get that book if you're into mysteries and just want to read a good story! Ms. Gerritsen does not disappoint! She walks the fine line between believing in the mystical and the rational side of science and law enforcement, and before you know it, you too are on that fence, right there with Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles!

- Hottie Alert
No pics today because I posted a rather chunky one yesterday at Pop Culture Divas. Check it out, the link is right down here in Promo Maven.

- Promo Maven
I've done a few chats these past few weeks, on Yahoo loops. You'd need to be a member there so that's why I'm not listing them here.
But do check this slightly OT post of yesterday at Pop Culture Divas - New Shoes: Casting Director.. or so I wish... It's about an aspect of writing *wink*

Until next Friday, cheers!!

And don't forget:

Live. Laugh. Love. XOXO


J Hali said...

How, oh how, do you fit it all in, Z? lol

Chicki said...

I absolutely LOVE Tess Gerittsen. Do you read her blog? (
She may only post once or twice a week, but her post are always interesting and informative. For someone who writes such gritty, of gruesome stories, she had such a sweet, sensitive spirit. That's why the things people say often hurt her.

I think I'm going to try that recipe. It sounds delicious!

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Hey gals!

Lol, J, I have no idea how all this happens! I often re-read my blog and go, did I cram all this in?

Chicki - do try the recipe, it's amazing, easy to prepare and it tastes great. The peppers give it this light flavour that's spicy but not at all overwhelming.
I do read her blog, not as often as I'd want it unfortunately, but yes, she writes really good stuff. Her books really captivate the reader's mind.

Thanks for dropping by!

Big big hugs!

Sandy said...

I love Tess Gerittsen, too. I'll definitely try her book.

The recipe sounds good, but you know His Ronness won't eat chicken. Smile.

Erin said...

it's been a really long time since I read your blog. i'm actually doing blog catch up this morning. i can't believe you wrote 20,000 words in one weekend. i'm lucky if i can get 3 pages written in one day. so you're officially my hero.


Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Hey ladies!

Lol, Sandy - I never tried the recipe with anything but chicken but fish would work well with it. Just bring the cooking time down by half. Lamb could also work but in a pressure cooker or slow cooker.
Another Tess Gerritsen fan! We gotta group, let her know we all like her writing *wink*

Erin - So good to see you! Lol, yeah, I can't believe I did that too. There was no men at home, and I even 'forgot' to have lunch that day. It was as awesome as it was scary! Lol, girl, you're a heroine too, for everything you've been through and coming out the victor! So you're MY version of hero too!

Huge hugs, thanks for dropping by and for the comment!

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