Monday, January 31, 2011

Broadly Speaking: Faith and Fear

Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Welcome to the very first Broadly Speaking edition of the Broad Pod.  Broadly Speaking brings you interviews and insights from women writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror - and all the realms in between.  Keeping with the Broad Pod's theme of Faith and Fear, Broadly Speaking will chat with Jennifer Pelland, Morven Westfield, and Gail Z. Martin about how they've used faith and fear in their writing, advice on how to do it well, and even how selling and marketing can be affected.  Join host Trish Wooldridge for some true tales of women's adventures in writing!

Download now or listen on posterous
Broadly_Speaking_1.mp3 (29720 KB)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Foodie Friday: Leftover Asparagus

Did you know how cool asparagus is?

Or, are you one of those people who aren't quite sure what to do with it or how to make the most of this veggie?

I'm back to writing food trade articles, and one of the things with the articles is that their purpose is for merchandising/marketing.  But, when I research, I get so much more information than that.  So, why not share?

Some nifty facts:

Asparagus is part of the lily family, so it acts more like flowers than vegetables.

Related to it's flowery lineage, it can grow up to 2 inches after it's been cut.  So, if you purchase it from the grocery store and keep it in your fridge on a moist pad or in shallow water, you may end up with more than you bought!

Also, because it acts like a flower, you want to make sure that you don't let water sit on the tips because then they will rot – like floral blooms would when left wet.

Purple asparagus can be eaten raw because it has a higher sugar count than green and white asparagus.

Cooking tips:

As most cooking shows and magazines will tell you, you really don't want to eat the bottom third to half, so you should cut and discard that.  The easiest way to find out where you should cut, bend a few slightly until they break.  That break point can be a guide for where to cut the rest of the asparagus.

Thick asparagus is really good for grilling.  Toss it with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little garlic powder, and cook either on the second rack or with indirect heat. 

Thinner asparagus is better if you just braise it or sauté it. 

Another trick for cooking asparagus is to have a tall, narrow pan and stand up the asparagus so that only the base is in the water, you'll get a more even texture because the woodier stalks need the more direct boiling while the tender tops can cook in the more delicate steam.

A Recipe-ish:

One thing a lot of people don't think of using asparagus for is pesto.  Add braised white or green asparagus, or even raw purple, or even a combination, to a basic pesto mix-and-match.

Choose 1/2 cup toasted:
pine nuts
shelled pistachios

Choose a good handful of fresh:

A good drizzle of white balsamic vinegar
A good drizzle of white wine vinegar
Juice and zest of one lemon

Vegetable (optional):
1 cup chopped asparagus (blanched white and/or green, raw purple)
1 cup spinach
1 cup sun-dried tomato
1 cup roasted red pepper

Add that to a minimum of 6 cloves garlic (Personally, I'll use up to half a head of garlic) and a few table spoons of grated parmesan, romano, and/or asiago cheeses in a food processor.  As you process the ingredients, add extra virgin olive oil until you get the pesto to a consistency and flavor you like.  Then, just toss it with your favorite pasta and enjoy!

* some facts and tips provided by Cherie Watte Angulo of the California Asparagus Commission and Julia Inestroza of Gourmet Trading Company; photo courtesy of California Asparagus Commission.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Horses for Fantasy Writers: Food and Hay

I'm at another cross-roads in horse ownership, so I'm taking the issue and turning it into a useful blog post for writers!  If you're writing anything with horses or horse-like creatures, grab your saddle and get comfy.

Some background:

When I moved Calico to the current boarding situation, I knew that the boarding was dependent on hay.  The family put aside enough hay from what they could have sold so that all the horses would have sufficient hay for the winter. 

Now, as I approach the last month covered in our boarding contract, a count of bales says that I cannot continue the contract as it is.

I need to find another source for hay and possibly need to change locations until the next cut of hay is available.

What does this mean for writers?

Well, in what is probably my 0 novel, I had my characters riding horses all over an alternate history UK with little thought at all to the food situation.

I got around a few things by creating a fantasy horse that was a mixed breed of unicorn and human horse… but really, there was a whole lot of poor - what am I saying? - there was no planning involved.  I am ashamed when I look back at it.

If you're going to have your heroes on horseback, or if you're going to have them board their horses at an inn, or if they are demanding quarter at someone's house, or if they're on a "very small" farm - and use horses for ploughing…

Well, these horses need to eat!

What do horses eat?  Mostly grass and hay, and often additional grains.

Great! You might think.  If we're traveling, the horses can eat grass when we eat. 

Is there plenty of grass - not scrub, not trees, not rocks, not desert, but GRASS - at every single place you stop?  Have you calculated at least two additional stops during the day besides overnight camping, with about two hours where the horses are untacked and grazing?

Now, if you've got donkeys, you can get away with harsher climates and scrubby weeds.  Mules are about the same… but I don't see a lot of heroes galloping off on a donkey or a mule.  They likely have a fancy horse of some sort.  (I won't go into steeds/stallions, mares and geldings… there is another great article on that here by Mary K. Wilson - who discusses more food issues.)

Onto the hay issue.  Hay takes up a whole friggen lot of space, first of all.  Your average bale - which is compacted - is usually 14 inches by 18 inches by 50 inches.  The average, working, horse will go through about one of these a day.  A larger, very hard working horse (what most farmers or knights or heroes will have) may go through up to two or three a day!  So, for a month, you'd need about 30 of these things per horse, at minimum. 

(There are also larger bales, like round bales, that are stored outside for large herds of horses - but they mold and rot in rainy areas and if they don't get eaten quickly.  In a desert setting, however, that's an option.)

Where do you keep them?

Well, if you're stationary, your barn will likely have a hay loft (or you may have a separate building to store hay and grain if you're not a poor farmer or peasant and can afford it.) 

But, in a properly rural, temperate setting (where you've got a seasonal change), you're going to have to stock hay for the winter and spring months.  Why?

Well, hay doesn't get harvested until about July.  (I learned this yesterday.)  I thought - and I probably wasn't alone - that hay could be harvested, say… around May or so.  I knew there was multiple cuttings of hay… some fields get up to three harvests in a year.

However, those three (and often only two) harvests need to last for an entire year.  If you run out in February… well, your horse starves to death.  Unlike current culture, where I have the opportunity to call several farms in the area that grow hay as a business, in a high fantasy setting, your characters will have had to plan their hay rations for the whole year - looking at what they needed, what they could produce, and what they could trade.

Hell, even in a contemporary setting, you have to consider your food resources.  I am!

If your 5-person adventure party shows up with their 6 horses (really, you need at least one extra horse to carry supplies!  I promise you.  At least one extra, if not two.) and needs to stay at this poor farmers' or peasants' cottage to rest their battle injuries, you'll be using possibly a month's worth of your hosts' resources in just a few days.  (Of course, the human rations are also affected - but that's a little more flexible because one of your heroes might be able to go hunting, right?  Too bad horses don't eat meat.)  If it's winter or spring, there may no way for your hosts to recover that lost feed - leaving them suffering months later when they cannot feed the animals they depend on to survive.

During times of war, if the peasants or poor have to quarter troops, the same suffering happens.  The lasting effects of using other people's resources is hardly covered in fiction and media - but it's what would happen.  How good are your "good guys" if they don't realize this?  (On the other hand, what a handy way to show how "bad" your "bad guys" are!)

An addendum to this, which I know I need to research (and have no excuse not to have done so because the "research" requires just chatting with the people I board with!) is how much land is needed to grow the hay.  If you're mapping villages, fiefs, farms, and countrysides, you need to know how much is farmland, and what is grown where.  SOME one in your maps - if not many some ones - ought to have fields and fields of hay! 

Because, your lords and nobles and reigning leaders will be collecting portions for taxes (they certainly aren't farming!)  Your merchants who use any horse-drawn carriages will be purchasing it (and needing places to store it - consider this in your city settings!).  The farmers, of course, will need it for their own animals. 

As for me, well, I'll continue to keep you posted on Calico, of course, and share the many lessons I'm learning because she's in my life.

Happy writing!  (And riding!)

*Photos: Calico by Kim of HIllview Stables; Bella and Blanca by BSER Volunteer Colleen; Hayley, Cassandra by BSER Volunteer Jane Derosier.

Monday, January 24, 2011

News! News! News!

Oh what a Manic Monday this is!

Three - count 'em THREE - deadlines this week!  Oh, and a car appointment.  And a Skype conference for the newest Broad Universe podcast: Broadly Speaking!

And some horse time!

Anyway, some Important Stuff You Should Know!

Keep your eye on the Bad-Ass Faeries Official Website.  :)  There's some nifty free stuff there, like wallpaper and fiction!  In fact, watch for a fun little flash by Christy and me starring Cameron and Roy from our "Party Crashers" short story in Just Plain Bad!


I am now the proud editor of an anthology along with the fabulous Kate Kaynak!

We even have an official Call for Submissions.  :)  Here it is:

Call for Submissions for the anthology UnCONventional

We're looking for stories that take place at fantasy/sci-fi conventions or other gatherings in which the convention/conference itself is just the cover for something supernatural or fantastic. Imagine time travelers using a steampunk con to cover their attempt to open a portal to return to their own times, werewolves holding a beauty pageant at a dog show, or vampires holding a treaty summit at Dragon*Con.

Suggested Length: 3,000-7,000 words. Up to 10,000 words is possible, but it will be a HARD sell.

Due Date: July 1st, 2011

Editors: Kate Kaynak and Trisha Wooldridge

Submission Guidelines: Please email your submissions to us at:
Put your story into the BODY of the email (no attachments, please!) and put "UnCONventional" in your subject line along with the title of your story. Legalese: We can only accept previously unpublished stories. Please do not used licensed characters or any trademarked or copyright-protected material without written permission in advance of submission (This is NOT the place for fanfic). Contributor compensation will include a $10 advance paid upon publication, a contributor copy of the paper version, a royalty percentage split between all contributors, and, of course, bragging rights. Stories should be appropriate for adult and teen readers (age 14 and up); please, no explicit sex or graphic violence!


I'm also blogging with the Worcester Bloggers!

Ok, so I've got a whole one post up, but more will come.  I promise.  Many will be pretty horse pictures.  Other stuff will be food-related.  :)  I'll try to keep it all fun!


I'm looking for advertising for the Bay State Equine Rescue Wine, Beer & Liquor tasting booklet.  :)  Get your products in front of eating and drinking horse lovers!  Contact me for rates and details. 

Advertise AND save horses. :)  You know you want to!  And you know I'll be begging you again in 4 months for the Blogathon if you don't.  <3


Next Manic Monday's post will be the first ever Broadly Speaking podcast.  It will feature interviews with Gail Z. Martin, Jennifer Pelland, and Morven Westfield about the writing in regards to Faith and Fear. 

It will be cool!

Tune in. :)


It is very cold in MA and my feet are only finally warming up entirely after a day of hanging out with horses.  A stomped-upon foot feels painfully strange as it gains more and more feeling.  The same for a poor typing hand that was squished between a door and a horse butt.  That is me; and I am Tired. 

So, that's all the news your getting. 

Happy Monday!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fantasy Friday I (because I'm sure there will be more)

After a horrific drive to my chiropractor appointment during Snopacalypse 3 of the past 2 weeks, I decided to wait for the state of Massachusetts to get its Commonwealth butt in gear to actually plow and sand the roads.  So, I pulled into Sturbridge Coffee House and wrote another scene and a half of Kelpie over breakfast and coffee.  When the sun came out, I noticed the lamppost and path through the woods directly in front of my car.

Which is where I wish I could tell you was where I lost all my time.

Alas, no.  It was work.  And snow removal (note how short the lamppost looks.  Yeah, snow.).  And a minor diversion into Volume Two of Skin-Horse, which I bought at Arisia.

And a conference call about a cool new editing/educating opportunity.

And calls for the dried fruit & nut article I'm working on.

That is why my blog is posting at, like, 11PM at night.

But it's here!

And it will be short(ish).  Because I still have sh*t to do!

Some briefs:

Great write-up of Arisia here, which specifically mentions the wonderfully well-run "Take Back the Sci-Fi" panel.

Every other panel was also a great time.  As I mentioned on my schedule, I had some amazing panelists behind the tables with me.  I was on 10 panels… and I'm so not ready to recap them all.  The Broad Universe reading went well, and our party was fantastic… full almost all night with lots of compliments on the food. :)  (I put together tea party like snacks: mini sandwiches (salmon mousse, cucumber, pomegranate sweet pepper), prosciutto-wrapped figs with goat cheese, prosciutto-wrapped melon, Danielle's fabulous hummus (with people coming back just for that!) … and yeah, Yay Broad Universe Party!

Also, Whee-Yay-Squee for the Pi-Con party which was happening right across the hall from the Broad Universe party. 

And now that the website says it, I can "Officially" announce that I am the Guest of Awesome at Pi-Con this year!  Wooooooooooo!!!  It's true!  The Interwebz provez it!  You will here more of me saying why else you need to come to the convention - trust me!

(Here's me at the Pi-Con party with Nchanter and Mike who does programming! - Thanks Justine for the camera, and Scott for taking the pic!)

Also, special thanks to Danielle, Roxanne, Justine Graykin, Kate Kaynak, and Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert for helping me out with both the party and covering table hours when everyone in Broad Universe was otherwise engaged. 

You are all made of WIN!!

And now, I must return to work!

Happy weekend. :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pretty Snow Pictures

… because I'm still getting my sh*t together after Arisia.

Which, I have to say, was a fabulous convention - as I've always found it.  I was on an excellent choice of panels with brilliant panelists; the Broad Universe party was hopping; and I had some really fun roommates to pass the precious down time with!

And then I came home to 200+ new emails in my inbox, a text from my editor who did not receive the review I sent on Thursday, a sink of dishes (because I was running late in food prep the day we left) and five loads of laundry (because that's normal after a convention.)

Oh.  And a snowstorm.

So, here's adorable pictures of Calico and Nylis from the LAST blizzard that hit just before we left for Arisia.

We'll return to our regularly scheduled blog on Friday!

Dis here snow? It sux and gotta go.  Nao. kthxbai!
Can you stop taking pictures, Kim, and DO SOMETHING about this?
The Husband-of-Awesome wants to share the snowday fun with Nylis! Let's see what happens.
Face scratching must be attended to, no matter how deep the snow.

I hate you! I hate snow! I will destroy you all!
Knee deep in snow, I am STILL beautiful!

PS - Thank you Kim at Hillview Farm & Stables for the pictures of Calico!

Monday, January 17, 2011

January Broad Pod: Faith and Fear

Bupodcast1 - 11Rev by Mel Graykin  
Download now or listen on posterous
BUpodcast1-11rev.mp3 (6830 KB)

Welcome to the BroadPod.  This month is hosted by Justine Graykin, freelance philosopher and science fiction author, among other things.  In this offering for January 2011, we bring you tales of Faith and Fear.  Readers Larissa Niec, Kim Vandervort, Kathryn Hinds, Rin Kintujo, and Phoebe Wray, question hallowed beliefs and probe the depths of anxiety, from the mythic to the medical.  Hold onto your amulet!

As you listen, you can also subscribe to the podcast via itunes by dragging it into your playlist. Subscribe and spread the word - so that more women's voices can be heard across the globe.

The BroadPod is brought to you by Broad Universe, an international, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, celebrating, and honoring women who write science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Posted via email from The Broad Pod posterous

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Some Important Writing Announcements!

(Icon borrowed from - which is what most of this post is about.)

Two important orders of business - and they are a bit lengthy, so forgive me. :)

First, Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory is up for an award over at Preditors & Editors.  Yay!!  Please go vote?  Here's the link!

Also, the Bad-Ass Faeries Official Website is up to vote on here:

Thank you!!

And for those of you who wish to stalk me at Arisia… well, you better eat your Wheaties!  I've got 10 panels, one party I'm hosting on the same night as a party I also will attend.  (Cloning mechanisms or time-turners make excellent post-holiday gifts!)

I also want to say that I'm extra-excited over my schedule, busy as it is, because EVERY panel that I'm on has at least one (if not MANY) people I love on it!  I was so thrilled to see these line-ups, so you're in for quite a treat this year.  :)

Without further ado, here it is:

Food Communicating Culture in Literature
Revere,  Literature Track, Fri 5:00 PM,Duration: 01:15  

How do writers communicate things about their cultures and characters via the food they use? What can you discern about cultures based on if they get their food in pill form, if they are vegetarian/vegan, omnivores, carnivores? How does the anatomy and physiology of your aliens or magical creatures dictate their food requirements? What about the terrain? Does the diversity of food culture - and what it communicates - on Earth get shown in literature?    

Trisha Wooldridge mod, Stephanie Clarkson, John Bowker, Shira Lipkin, Larissa Niec

Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
Hancock, Writing Track, Fri 8:00 PM, Duration: 01:30  

Broad Universe is an international organization of women and men dedicated to celebrating and promoting the work of women writers of science fiction, fantasy and horror. Come hear samples of the works of several members of Broad Universe.      

Trisha Wooldridge mod, Elaine Isaak, Justine Graykin, Renee Otis, Morven Westfield, Roxanne Bland, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert, Kate Kaynak, Larissa Niec

Beyond Binaries 101: Exploring Gender Roles
Adams,  Literature Track, Fri 9:30 PM, Duration: 01:15  

How do science fiction, fantasy, and horror explore beyond our existing gender roles? How often do we see authors fall back on traditional gender roles or just flipping gender roles? Or how often do we do it ourselves? Who has created unique roles separate from gender or dealing with gender beyond binaries? What would we like to see?  

Trisha Wooldridge mod, Greer Gilman, Steve Berman, Adam Nakama, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert

The Future of School
Douglas, Fan Interest Track, Fri 11:00 PM, Duration: 01:15  

Science fiction writers have often written about changes that technology might make to education, from the students' "desks" in Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" to R.A. Heinlein's observations and critiques of education in his juvenile fiction. What kinds of alternate education exist now? How does emerging technology affect the learners of tomorrow? Will school still get out for summer?        

David Nurenberg mod, John G. McDaid, W. "Ian" Blanton, Trisha Wooldridge, Kate Kaynak

Faeries of Color: Tales of the Fae Beyond Europe
Douglas, Literature Track, Sat 11:00 AM, Duration: 01:15  

People often think of fairytales as stories from British or Western European cultures, but what about Asia and Central Asia? The Middle East? Africa? American Natives? All of these cultures have equivalent fairytales that address our human relationship to the wild/natural world and reflect important cultural elements that define a society's values. What are some things all cultures share in defining humanity, and what can fairytales teach us about the differences?    

Vikki Ciaffone mod,Mary Catelli, David Sklar, Trisha Wooldridge, Tananarive Due

Take Back the Sci-Fi
Lewis, Literature Track, Sat 12:30 PM, Duration: 01:15  

Sexual assault and rape frequently get used as symbolic plot devices, with no consideration of how sexual violence actually affects survivors and the people around them. Let's discuss books that accurately portray the repercussions of and recovery from sexual assault, as well as those that merely use it as a shortcut to character development, those that end up glorifying it, and how sexual violence can be written in a way that is true to the character and respectful to survivors.    
Shira Lipkin mod, Genevieve Iseult Eldredge, Catt Kingsgrave-Ernstein, Ken Kingsgrave-Ernstein, Trisha Wooldridge

The Nature of Gender: Past, Present & Future
Carlton, Social Issues, Sat 8:00 PM, Duration: 01:15  

What is gender? How much does environment contribute to one's gender orientation? At one time, two genders were considered the norm. Now there may be four, five or perhaps more depending on your definition. Will gender still have the same meaning in the future? Will it mean anything at all?  

Bridget Joyce Boyle mod, Rabbit, Melissa Kaplan (Eustacia Vye), Michelle D'Entremont (Mijan), Trisha Wooldridge

What Women Want (in Their SF/F Females)
Adams, Literature Track, Sun 11:00 AM, Duration: 01:15  

Many panels discuss what women's roles in SF/F are and ought to be, but what do female readers really want to see? How do women feel about "token" female friends in works like Harry Potter or Percy Jackson? How do we feel about reimagining heroines like Alice, Arwen, and Maid Marion who are willing to pick up weapons and fight to achieve their destiny? Female readers, writers, and other SF/F creators will "let it all hang out" in this spirited panel!  

Vikki Ciaffone mod, Genevieve Iseult Eldredge, Vonnie Carts-Powell, Trisha Wooldridge, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert

Sexuality in SF/F
Revere, Fan Interest Track, Sun 12:30 PM, Duration: 01:15  

Sexual situations in SF/F books, movies, and television are just as common as in every other genre. Does SF/F do it differently, better, or worse? What discussions of sexuality in SF are significant to read or see, and why? How is a sex scene in a SF/F story different from porn? Where is the line between good and poor taste?       

Steve Berman mod, Meredith Schwartz, Genevieve Iseult Eldredge, Victoria Janssen, Trisha Wooldridge 

Broad Universe PARTY!!!!
Trisha's Hotel Room - TBA!  Sunday, 8PM, Duration: Till everyone's exhausted or we run out of food. 

Find me for the info or check out the Broad Universe Table.  :)  (With this schedule, it will be hard to MISS me!)

Pi-Con PARTY!!!
Party Floor - Look for Flyers!  Sunday, 8PM, Duration: Also, likely, until everyone's exhausted or the food runs out.

As I'm this year's Guest of Awesome for Pi-Con, it would be remiss for me to not mention and miss this one, too.  I'll be bouncing between the parties Sunday night, so please come to both!!  (Oh, and come to Pi-Con in Enfield, CT on August 26-28, too!!)

Other Cons: What Else is Out There?
Douglas, Fan Interest Track, Mon 2:00 PM, Duration: 01:15  

Many of us know that there is more than just Arisia in the New England area for fans of Science Fiction--Boskone, Readercon, Anime Boston and NEFE--but what about elsewhere? Godzilla fans may be interested in G-Fest in Chicago. Or if Doctor Who is your preoccupation, then Gallifrey in Los Angeles may be more to your tastes. Then there's Balticon, Otakon, and Shore Leave in Maryland to consider. All fans are welcome to come and talk about the various cons they've attended.    

Trisha Wooldridge mod, Rick Silva, Patrick Delahanty, Ellen Kranzer, Mimi Noyes

See ya' in Boston!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy New Year - Part 3

In my attempt to be more thorough and diligent - so that I achieve and attain more of my 2011 goals - I broke down and shared my process into multiple posts: comparison, evaluation of last year's goals, the spiritual side of planning, and now, the actual goal setting.  

Because I'm self-employed, a freelancer, a bit of an entrepreneur, my business and personal goals often overlap.  And that makes this sort of thing hard.  So, I'll break this down the best I can.

Business: Work I get Paid For

Goal: Sell to publication that pays > 20 cents / word.

Explanation: I keep looking for more writing gigs, but, really, I need better paying ones.  That means querying non-fiction work.

By January 28, come up with 3 article pitches.
Pay closer attention to the market listings in FundsforWriters newsletter.
Starting February 1, query/pitch to one non-fiction market each week that pays more than >20 cents /word.
Starting March 1, find one new article pitch by the end of each month.

Goal:  $xxx in editing projects for the year.

Explanation:  It seems bad form to discuss specific money on blogs. That, and I'm not comfortable with that, either.  But I have that number written for me.  That said, this is slightly more amorphous, but mind you, I prefer to focus on writing.

By Friday, January 14, entirely complete and bill for current editing project.
Any week where I am not actively engaged in an editing project should be spent searching for another.

Goal:  Maintain usefulness as food reviewer & local entertainment writer.

Explanation: I couldn't think of a better way to word this.  Basically, I want my food editor to keep assigning me stuff, so I need to keep pitching stuff.

On Monday, January 10, send restaurant list and weekly pick to editor.
Maintain current mini-review deadlines and assignments with updates.
By Thursday, January 27, send new list of restaurants to editor
By Thursday, February 24, pitch next set of "Woo" minis.
Every following final Thursday of the month, send list of restaurants to editor.
Maintain payment spreadsheet.

Business:  Promotion, Advertising, and Platform

Goal: Once per month, pitch/submit educational article in related/high-profile publication.

Explanation: This is another hard one to put into words.  There are a lot of publications - particularly on the web - that don't pay a lot (or don't pay at all) - but are places that look good to be published in, places that will draw attention to my business.

By Jan 31 (already have interview for January), compose list of 14 places I want to be published with 3 pitch lines for each.
Each week, pitch until schedule is full.

Goal:  Send monthly updates to webmistress.

Explanation:  In all honesty, my wonderful webmistress is responsible for any website updates at all.  She sends reminders, or tells me when I go into her store.  I know I didn't do so well on this last year, but that's no reason to not do better this.

Send calendar updates each month.
Starting March 1, every other month, update one page of content.

Goal:  Maintain blogging schedule.

Explanation: I did pretty well this year, but I never taught myself automatic updates.  And I keep meaning to switch to Wordpress.  (LiveJournal's advertising continues to get worse and aggravate me, blogger is not bad… but I cannot find a way to let people subscribe by email.)

Update every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday night.
Change to Wordpress.
Learn how to do automatic updates and how to keep updating Blogger & LJ remotely.
Make a blogging topic schedule.
Prewrite some articles for a cushion.

Goal:  Keep an outside blog schedule.

Explanation: There are a few blogs I keep meaning to add posts too, but I haven't yet.

By January 21, create outside blog schedule.
Post per schedule.
Prewrite articles for a cushion.

Business: Fiction Writing, Written Work

Another confession, one of my greatest battles is the need to pay bills versus desire to just do the fiction as my business.  Unfortunately, though the passion is there, the fiction  often ends up neglected.

Goal: Submit 1 piece of fiction or poetry every week.

Monday, January 10th, go through stockpile of fiction market info saved in inbox and submit 3 pieces.
Every following Monday, go through fiction markets and visit Ralan or Duotrope until a market to submit one piece is found; submit.
Maintain associated spreadsheets to prevent sim subs or repeat subs.

Goal: Submit 2 A Silent Starsong queries or packages each month.

January 18th, update Querytracker stats and follow up on agents beyond their return timeframes.
Make 1 query submission.
Every following week, research agents until quota is met.

Goal: Bring Kelpie to a submit-able level.

Finish rough draft by March 31.
Continue submitting scenes to Traveling Java writer's group.
Start on major edits May 1.
Complete 1st round major edits June 30.
Submit to Beta Readers.
Begin Beta reader edits October 1.
Complete 2nd round major edits before Christmas.
Set Submission Goals before New Year's.

Business: Fiction Writing, Co-Op

Goal: Finish latest Bad-Ass Faerie story by January 31; submit.

Submit next scene to Christy by Tuesday, January 11.
Maintain 24-48 hour turnaround for drafting and then editing.

Goal: Finish Shepherd's Blood to a Beta Reader level.

Create writing schedule with Christy.
Create editing schedule with Christy.
Maintain my end of schedules based on ability.

Explanation:  If there's someone other than yourself involved, there are parts you simply have no control over.  After last years lofty co-op goals failed, I'm lowering the bar on these.

Business:  Fiction Writing, Platform

I'm actually going to do an even more thorough breakdown on this, particularly my convention planning.  Stay tuned!

Personal:  Health

Goal: Lose 60 lbs.

Involve Husband-of-Awesome.
Create weight loss competition starting Monday, January 10.
Use Wii Fit on weekdays not spent with Calico or at convention.
Use yoga ball at desk a minimum of 2 hours per day.
Learn portion control.

Goal:  Ride Calico in a 10+ mile trail ride.

Work on flexibility and balance out of saddle with yoga and exercise
Ride at least 1x per week (allowances for outside circumstances, like weather.)

I know this is another lengthy post, but I hope seeing the steps I'm taking are useful to others - and that they are useful to me.  Please let me know what you think! 

Prosperous New Year!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fiery Friday

When you're looking to make changes in your life, like resolutions and goal setting, it needs to be more than in your head.  You need to get involved with these goals and resolutions on multiple levels: mental, physical, and spiritual.

The mental is what most people do already.  Physical is making the adjustments you can touch, feel, and interact with – and that really deserves a post of its own.  Spiritual is what I'm focusing on here.

Some people create the spiritual ties to their goals and resolutions through organized religion.  I remember New Year's masses that included a section dedicated to asking God to help us with [insert resolution here], for example.  And, of course, other cultures include goals and resolutions in their celebrations of the new year.

But, it's been a while since I've gone to a mass or felt spiritually tied to any church in the area. 

A few years ago, when I was starting my own business, I created a fire ritual.

Some background:

I was raised Catholic, and the older I got, and the more conservative the Church grew, the more I felt my faith was betrayed.

I was working as a customer service representative for a financial firm that was suffering and whose practices – especially concerning their employee treatment – I was growing increasingly uncomfortable with.

On a whim, I applied for grad school and got in on a full scholarship, so I said "adios" to work… and then had a huge gaping summer to fill.

My sister in law had also lost her job at this time.  The two of us started meeting every week for lunch and to frequent the many "New Age" and pagan shops in the area.  I was rekindled to start back with my Tarot reading, realized I was pretty damn good at it, and found a new spiritual tie to many of the pagan rituals, the love of earth, and the kindness of so many that I met.  In fact, I learned that a lot of the churc rituals that had meant so much to me, that moved me to my core, were originally pagan rituals.

From there, I started on the often rough journey of rebuilding and redefining "What I Believe In."

Tie that spiritual overhaul with my work-life overhaul (Thank all that is holy that my husband stayed the same and needed no overhaul!), and I needed to create my own ritual.

And its still under construction.

I was up last night, talking to a good friend of mine, Sunder, about the ritual.  Normally, I'd do this ritual with the New Moon, but everything this year has seemed to get in the way of that.  And last year, well, while I still feel it was a positive year, I felt the ritual hadn't had the same impact as it had in prior years.

The problem is that I didn't really have a good understanding of the moon's energy.  (It's still not great, so I'll suggest if you want a better explanation, do research or talk to a proper pagan who uses the moon.)  In any case, this year, the ritual will happen on the full moon, the first day of the full moon (while it's still waxing).  I need to look up that date, but I've got a few days to do so.

In the meantime, let me tell you what I do.

I give my wood stove a good cleaning – physically and with sage.  I also cleanse and sage the wood I will use for that night.  That night, the only things that go into the fire are for this ritual.

Now, weeks and months before, I've been collecting burnable trash that represents things I need to change and transform to make this year better than last, things that I need to move past, and things that I just want to "set aflame" with energy.  I organize and sort all of this into those categories, and then sub-categories, meditating and considering and visualizing what I wanted the fire of these things to become.

(I should have said it before, but this is a pretty involved ritual.)

The night I do the ritual, upon the cleansing of the stove, I start the fire with some sage and other herbs as kindling.  I also continually add incense and resins to bring my intentions heavenward.  I re-sage and re-incense between each of the abovementioned categories. 

I invoke my guides and angels and saints and God and the spirits of the world -  because I have fait in all these things – as I start my fire.  Then, slowly, and deliberately, I burn each piece, cleanse the flame, burn the next… and so on. 

The ritual usually takes 2-3 hours.

When it's done, I re-cleanse the flame and then let it burn itself out (usually about the time I go to bed.)  In the morning (er, when I wake up, which may or may not be what most people consider "morning," I clean out all the ash and clean the stove and take a moment to intentionally rededicate it to just being the tool that helps me warm my house. 

It's  powerful ritual; I'm usually in tears for most of it, and I truly feel the magic within it. 

In that burning power, I wish you a positively transformative New Year.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year! Part 2

So, for my Manic Monday, I posted the first part, a compare-contrast of 2009 and 2010.  Now, let's take a look at the goals I'd set for 2010 and evaluate them.  :)

Average 3 short fiction OR poetry submissions per month (same goal as 2009).

The total for short fiction and poetry was 32, so I was only 4 shy of my 2010 goal, so that makes this a realistic goal to continue striving for.

Get Yesterday’s Shadows polished and send at least 10 queries or submission packages (carryover from 2009).

Yeah, no.  But that was something we needed teamwork for, and if more than one person is involved, there's always even more of a chance of things going wrong.

Get A Silent Starsong polished and send at least 10 queries or submission packages (2009 carryover).

Yes, and exceeded. :)  I sent out 13 queries, got two partial requests and am still playing the waiting game on a few more.  Not too shabby!

Finish draft of 2nd Christy project, edit, send out to beta readers, prepare for submission.
Submit 2nd Christy project by July

Yeah, no… same issue as Yesterday's Shadows.

Attend at least 7 conventions, 5 as a guest/participant/dealer/volunteer*

I cut down the # of conventions because they are costly, but I attended every single one as at least a dealer with Broad Universe and running a Rapid Fire Reading, and all but one as a participant of some sort, so I'm happy with this goal.

*Calculate 2009 convention expenditures and spend 25% less.

Um.  Yeah.  I think so.  I cut out one convention (which, in 2009, was my second costliest convention.)  I also made use of my mother's house for all Western MA and CT conventions, and packed lunches or utilized the con suite whenever I could.  Air fare was crazy, though, but entirely out of my control.  However, I did plan enough to not have too many unexpected fees due to overweight baggage (though H-of-A and I did have to pay fees because we missed our stupid flight to Atlanta for Dragon*Con.)

Attend at least 10 non-convention events

Yeppers.  Though, I believe I will cut this down for 2011 because of cost.  (Most are either lunches or dinners or somehow require one to buy food.)

Set business goals with Stefanie for Aurelio project.

We dissolved the business relationship, but I am mostly done with the script for the first comic.  This ended up being out of my hands, too.


Western Faeries:  Nope.
Puhka-Shire Pond Castle Story:  Turned into a Novel that's almost finished.
1st Android Novel/Novella (?) Rough Draft:  Also turned into a Novel that's almost finished.
Wings & Fire:  Nope.


Max:  Yep.
Manipulation:  Yep, and 2 submissions.
Cemetery Angels:  Yep, and out on submission.
E-Hell:  Yep, and out on submission.
Pony's Guide: Dropped/back-burnered for now.
Full Withdrawal:  Yep, but want to do one more pass before submitting.
Oprah Funds End of the World:  Yep, must find place to submit.
Nonny:  Dropped/back-burnered for now.

Send regular monthly website updates to Del

More or less, but definitely a good goal to keep.

Blog at least three times a week

With a few reasonable exceptions, yep!

Blog at every other week

Alas, no.

Send Family Newsletter 1/month

The family moved to Facebook, so an acceptable drop.

Create/send Business Newsletter 1/month

Yeah, no… also dropped without my partner.  :(

Submit 6 Paid Non-Fiction/month

No.  I was closer to 4, which got really hard some weeks/months.  I really need to not write more, but write for more $.

Maintain 15 hours of Tutoring/week (save summer break)


2 Major Editing Projects

Just barely.  I squeezed the second one in just before Christmas.

Raise more than $500 for Bay State Equine Rescue


Submit more than 75% of articles at least one day early.

Probably not.  But, the only two "missed" or late deadlines were per miscommunication with the editor or computer issues, so a definite improvement.

Do a better job of tracking expenses/profits THROUGHOUT the year… possibly quarterly.

Looking over at the pile of envelopes.  Yeah, no.  I'll be scrambling with spreadsheets and crying again shortly.

Answer questions on LinkedIn /
Write useful Tweets and respond to people more on FB & Twitter

Another "yeah, no."  I don't think I did much of anything on LinkedIn besides accept requests and update the status via Hootsuite.  That said, I did a bunch of social networking through Broad Universe, Facebook, and my blog.


More horse training OR riding
1 Horse Clinic

Relaxing more and losing some weight is also in there

Last I checked on the Wii Fit, my weight is exactly what I started at in 2010.  Blergh!
Scott is still scheduled to leave for Taiwan, though end of 2010 or 2011 now (thanks to site conditions), so you'll hear my trials and tribulations with that.

Um… this is still up in the air. Yahhhh… We'll just leave this alone for now.

Believe it or not, I actually have far more notes outside of this - hard copy and on word files and spreadsheets.  I feel more prepared than last year - and I hope that displaying all my plans gives you an idea of the life of a professional writer, occasional editor, tutor… and helps you achieve your own dreams and goals.

This hasn't changed at all, really.  I have pages and pages of notes of things I must do, things I accomplished, comparisons… and spreadsheets galore.  (I rather like spreadsheets.)  I do feel more prepared than last year once again, especially considering some of the financial difficulties and loss of work… while adding more financial responsibility.

I'm also glad that I broke this exercise down further, and as I mentioned last year, I hope that sharing all of this with you is helpful to your annual planning.  It's all fine and well to make resolutions - especially about writing - but to really make them stick, there needs to be a lot of evaluation and introspection of what you are able to do.  Looking back over these blog posts, I've gotten a much better idea of what I can do in both long-term and short term - but it will likely be a learning process for all my life.

And that's ok.

I'll gnosh on these things and have a more detailed business plan of goals/resolutions for 2011 next Sunday.  And Friday, I'll share my fire ritual.  Because achieving goals is more than just the mental desire to do so… you have to satisfy your physical and spiritual needs too.

So, for now, continued positive wishes for 2011!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year! Part 1

It's that time again… time for me to look at what I've completed in 2010, and plan 2011 accordingly!  :) 

The New Moon falls on Tuesday, so I will do my Fire Ritual then.  (And post about it on Wednesday for those unfamiliar with it. :) )

I'm also going to change up my New Year's post a bit and break it into three parts, because the 2000+ words I've done in one post for the past two years: a bit long for a blog.

And, if you've been reading my blog for some time, you know I'm constantly trying to better organize things.  And breaking this down = better organization.

2009-2010 Compare and Contrast; 2010 Accomplishments


Short Stuff

Submissions:   25, which is better than 2009's 24 (and 2008's 18)
Acceptances:  1
Completed Written:  1 (not as good as 2009's 4)
Incomplete:  1 (Confession: 2 of 2009's five have been given up, 1 finished, 1 turned into a novel.)


Completed:  1  Until an agent or editor says otherwise, A Silent Starsong is done
Actively in Progress:  4 - Kelpie, Algorithm, Aurelio and Shepherd's Blood (with Christy)
Revisions: 1 (also A Silent Starsong)
Queries: 13 - I didn't actually give a # for 2009 or 2008, but I know this is better.
Partial Requests: 2
Live Pitches: 0 - no difference from 2009

Thoughts: I don't like how I was tracking progress in the earlier annual tallies, and I'm not sure I'm satisfied with this. 

I started Kelpie (the short story that turned novel) this year and am about 2/3 done with it.  Algorithm for a Soul has been an ongoing writing project for me for about 3 years now.  I love the story, but keep getting distracted from it.  With Shepherd's Blood, it got dropped mostly because Christy and I had one of our falling-out-of-contact periods.  Aurelio is a script for a graphic novel/comic book.  I may change my 2011 annual tally up to better reflect that, but for now, I'm counting it with the novels.  Now, those are the four novels I have been actively working on in 2010. 

The problem (sorta-kinda problem) is that I have multiple unfinished projects.  There's the completed-but-seriously-needing-edits Yesterday's Shadows that Chris and I finished in 2009 and didn't even touch in 2010.  And there are about 6-10 other novel projects that I have notes for on my computer.  Some have several chapters already done!  They get thought about with certain regularity, but I've tried to stay focused in 2010 on the stuff that I felt I could finish… which, sadly, only ended up being one thing.  As I plan for 2011, I need to keep this in mind so that I stay realistic.


(I took crappy notes last year, so here's fresh ones.)

Written:  5
Submissions: 7
Acceptances: 1 (not paid)
Chapbooks sold:  er… yeah, about 12?  I think/hope? Bad Trish for not keeping records!
Performances: 3 (one in front of ROGUE FROM THE CRUXSHADOWS!!)

Thoughts:  I know this isn't any major moneymaker, but it's part of me.  I have more plans in the works for my poetry.  What I find hard is that I hate token pay, which is what most poetry submissions are.  That said, I think I might just settle for some token pay so that I can get more of my work out there.


Total written, paid articles:  53 - Crap, that's a little over half of last year.  Blech!
Total pro-bono: I just know this is a few, too.  Mostly all for Bay State Equine Rescue.
Essays written: 2
Essays sold: 0
Misc.: Some minor hourly work for existing employers.

Editing (for others):

1 Academic chapter
1 novel
2 web page copy pieces


I love my tutoring job, but there's really not a lot to report besides that I do my job, and I like to think I do it well.  I'll write more of a blog post on it later this year, but for now, I'll just give it the credit it's due as my dependable income that I love, constantly learn from, and strive to better myself with.

Other Business & Life Accomplishments:

I got a pointed question, last year, from my accountant about books sold.  I will get it again this year if I don't hurry up and do a tally.  I just have not done it yet. 


Attended:  7 - one less than last year, but with finances, that is perfectly fine.
Attended as guest/participant (besides RFRs):  5 - again, lower number than last year, but one less convention I spent $ at.
Attended as dealer/volunteer:  7 - see, I worked at every single one even if I wasn't on the roster
This needs an explanation line.  I helped with the Bad-Ass Faeries 3 release party by sending Danielle macaroons, but I had to attend Wiscon that weekend as a member of the Broad Universe Motherboard.  That said, I also threw a most excellent party at Wiscon.  The Dealer's room at Arisia was basically a party and possibly one of the most profitable BU sales events of the year.

Broad Universe

This was my first full year on the Motherboard of Broad Universe, and this accomplishment deserves a reasonable explanation.  A year after being asked to be part of the motherboard, I am still deeply honored by this responsibility and I've dedicated a lot of time and effort to this organization because I so strongly believe in our mission of promoting, honoring, and celebrating the women of speculative fiction. 

In this position, the two biggest accomplishments I've had have been giving us a stronger presence at conventions through readings and events and creating our podcast, the Broad Pod, so that women all over the world can have their voices heard.  Closely related to that, I've helped with several other non-convention events, assisted with the redesign of our website, and helped us promote and appreciate members through advertising.

Most of this was started in 2009, but 2010 saw it all come to fruition.  I hadn't even included any of this in my 2010 New Year's blog post; I had no idea how big these endeavors would be. 

I love it when things grow beyond your wildest dreams!

Calico Silver

A summary of 2010 would not be complete without, perhaps, the biggest life change I've had in a while.  I adopted Calico Silver.

While I've had animals for more than half my life who I have loved - and still love - dearly, a horse is hardly comparable in cost in responsibility.  I had never dreamed this would actually happen to me, but it did, and though I still am worried about costs, I could not be happier I made this decision. 


And finally, perhaps the greatest accomplishment that 2010 marks is my 10th anniversary to Scott.  I would not be where I am now - citing all of these lovely accomplishments, moving forward from what I did not accomplish - without his constant love and support. 

And he's still wicked cute.

With the added explanation and reorganization, this post is almost as long as the compiled ones of prior years!

That's ok.  It's more functional.  As much as I share this openly in hopes of helping others with their writing careers and planning, this is also for me.  It's my accountability plan, my business research, and my goal setting exercise.

I just hope y'all enjoy it and join me for the following installments!

Happy New Year!

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