A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday 'fess up...Anni's making progress!

Hello my lovelies!

It's been a long week but a good one as far as writing goes.  This week's 'fess up is going to be pretty short because I'm wiped.  Been pulling a lot of overtime.  I'm going to keep pulling tons of overtime but I'm working towards making sure I have time to write every day.

I was able to get one fairly important scene added and the scenes around it rewritten in Only A Name.  I've added another scene that I will probably cut out again during my next round of revisions.  I already don't like it but I'm going to finish it and move forward instead of focusing on it.  I'm not having trouble writing it so I guess that's a good thing.

Cracked World got a thorough read through, though I haven't done much else with it.  Came up with a new story idea currently titled "Deirdre's Legacy".  It's not completed yet so I don't know where it's going.  But we'll see.  I haven't done much with "The Light" but I expect to get it finished soon enough as well.

Work is...work.  That's all I can say about it.  I'm exhausted because of the overtime but nothing much else has changed.

We had to make a hard decision this past week.  Because of both of us being out of work due to the bug that knocked us flat, we didn't have enough money to pay all our bills.  Car payment got deferred and rent got paid.  But the $200 I needed to make sure his guns and Monstrosity - my lovely Toshiba Satellite laptop - was used to pay other, more vital bills.  This means that I will not be getting my laptop back.  The guns are more important to him since they've been in his family for generations.  But neither of us can do anything about it.

I do have another laptop.  A friend of mine is letting me "rent" her old laptop for $20/week.  She says eventually I'll pay her the $400 she spent on it and I can have it for good.  So I tentatively have a Vaio laptop.  It's smaller and lighter than my Satellite...but it's VISTA.  I greatly dislike Windows Vista.  I need to upgrade to Windows 7 eventually but that's more money than I have right now.

I managed to get my vlog done, in spite of iMovie trying to eat it before I could get it posted to YouTube.  It's rambling and I get on my soapbox about a couple of things.  But it's got promise.  I'm still working on the vlogging bit.

That's it for this week's 'fess up.  Coming up this week, my new Writing Wednesday project with the lovely @KDSarge on Twitter.  Come back and see what we're up to!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Freaky Food Friday - SPAGHETTI

Hello my lovely foodies!

This week, my Friday spiel is on SPAGHETTI.  I don't mean just the typical spaghetti noodles and sauce.  Any noodle with a tomato based sauce, in our house at least, is called SPAGHETTI.  I've eaten a lot of this over the last few months and I've learned several ways to liven it up.  So I thought I'd share.

Vegetable Medley Spaghetti
1 can/jar plain spaghetti sauce
2 cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 package frozen stir fry vegetables (our fav is either the asparagus blend or the broccoli blend)
2 cans mushrooms
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
1 package spaghetti, angel hair, or linguini noodles

Cook pasta as directed.  Drain pasta.  Take all the other ingredients and dump them together in a big pot.  Cook on medium heat until veggies are hot all the way through and sauce is a little bubbly.  Mix pasta and sauce in the large pot.  Serve.  (You can also serve pasta and sauce separately.  We just dump it all together.)

Spaghetti with meat sauce
1 can/jar plain spaghetti sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes, chopped (or 1 can diced tomatoes)
1 lb. ground beef, italian sausage, or chopped beef, browned
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
Garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste
1 package pasta, cooked & drained

Brown the meat with the herbs and spices.  Drain the meat.  Heat up the sauce and toss in your tomatoes.  Wait until bubbly and then add the meat.  Mix the pasta and sauce together, or serve separately - all based on your tastes.

Spaghetti, realistically, is another one of those meals that has infinite potential when you're living on a budget.  Substitute chunks of sausage or ham and you've got a smokier flavor for your sauce.  Don't like meat?  Don't use it.  Don't like frozen stir fry veggies?  You can use fresh or frozen whatever you like.  How you dress up spaghetti sauce is all up to you and the tastes of those who are going to be eating it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Writing Wednesday - the Antagonist and THE END

When last we left our intrepid authoress...

Okay, so we've established who our protagonist is.  She's not entirely a lovable character but given that she's had everything stripped from her by the State, we can understand her bitterness.  Now we need to bring up our antagonist and tie everything together.

The antagonist is too big for a simple description.  It's "the State", the oppressive world government that now dominates all societies.  Our world is broken into six to eight city-states, each managed by a City Manager.  That Manager answers to the faceless group running the show.

The Manager, in Ashe's city, is Lucen.  Lucen is a middle aged man with a trim body and a quick mind.  He's a sadistic bastard who enjoys watching men and women get sterilized a little too much.  Moreso the women because their sterilization process is a bit different from a man's.  A man they sterilize them as they do now.  Women, they use a process that's becoming more widely practiced now - they strip the lining from the uterus.  In this world, they go a little farther than that.  They essentially strip the lining and use a form of chemical cauterization to prevent the body from regenerating.

Do be aware that for sterilization, you're not unconscious.  They give you a topical anesthetic and destroy your life.  Lucen makes it a point to be present at every sterilization.  In spite of what you might think, these sterilizations aren't all that common.  He is completely amoral, twisted, and power drunk.  As long as the tax revenues don't stop coming and no one revolts, the State lets him get away with a lot of shit.

Therefore the presence of the Deviants and Lurkers in his city, to a control freak like Lucen, is intolerable.  yet no matter how many times he sends the rat killers in he can't clear them out.  Even the most law abiding citizen won't tolerate a mass genocide of an entire section of the city.  So he just clenches his teeth and leaves them to their lives.  He just makes sure those lives don't intersect the lives of the "regular" people with constant security patrols.

We have a protagonist, we have an antagonist, and we have a setting.  We have the general theme: a group of misfits rises against the oppressive government.  Now, what's the actual PLOT?  I find writing a brief synopsis (which believe me is NOT easy for me to do) is a good way to explain the plot.  It also helps for "pantsers" like me to help us keep our vague ideas straight.

Ashe is a normal young woman exploring her world.  When her first episode in the breeding pool ends in rape and the virtual kidnapping of her firstborn child, Ashe turns to the comfort of her friends.  Her friends, and her world, are brutally stripped from her and she is branded an outcast.  Ashe does not go quietly into the darkness.  She is dragged kicking and screaming into the dark underbelly of the city.  There she meets others of a like mind and rapidly becomes the catalyst that ignites the spark of resentment.  Flames of discontent spread and Lucen knows that he has to find the head of the serpent and cut it off before it devours his control.  Problem is...she's not willing to die.  In the end, the first city-state to rebel against the Government in almost a century frees itself from their control.

We now know who, what, where, when (vaguely), and why.  Now all that's left is to tell the full story.  If you're one of those who likes to outline everything, this is where you'd sit down and lay out all your plot points, the scenes that lead up to them, and make a lovely diagram for your story.  For those of you who are like me, we've reached the stage where we just...WRITE!

And now, for your reading enjoyment...an excerpt from Ashe's story!  This is taken from the time after she starts living in the Alley.  She's been the bartender now for a year or so.


Ashe crouched behind the bar as the lunatic waved his gun in the air. "Deviants are unclean remnants of a dead society," he said. His eyes bulged and he pointed the gun at one of the patrons who hadn't been as lucky as the slender bartender. "Deviants are unwanted by our leaders. Deviants should die." He squeezed the trigger.

The woman's head exploded in a rain of brains and blood. Tiny bits of skull fragments peppered the wall behind where she'd been sitting. Her companion screamed. The shooter turned his gun on her.

"Come on," Ashe said, poking at the lock with one hand. The battered mechanism gave way and she was able flip up the lid. "All right asshole. Play time's over." She came up with a gun in her hands.

"Do you think that mere toy is going to scare me, Deviant?" the shooter sneered.

Ashe smiled grimly. "Shit, I've had assholes like you in here pointing guns in my face and shooting patrons since I started working here. Guess what? They've all died. Now you will too." She pointed the slender weapon at the fanatic. There was a tiny wheet and the man collapsed where he stood.

"What the fuck, Ashe?" one of her regulars asked, coming out from under a table.

"It's a Z-17 assassin's rifle," Ashe said. "I made Kurt buy me one when we had that good run about six, seven months ago. He promised us protection. He was damn well going to deliver."

"An assassin's rifle? Shit, girl, those things are expensive as all hell," one of the other regulars said.

"Which is why we waited until we had one of our big nights to get it," Ashe pointed out. She looked over at the woman who was still shrieking. She sighed. "One of you guys want to deal with that while I call in clean up?"

The regular who'd first asked about her gun - Jake, she remembered finally - made a face. "You play in the Alley, you're playing Russian Roulette with your life," he said.

"What's Russian Roulette?" Ashe asked, tapping a code into the comm system. The alert would go out to one of the Alley's clean up crews. It might take them a few minutes, or a few hours, but she'd be able to get rid of the bodies without drawing the notice of the regular security force.

"It's an old game, very dangerous, that used to be popular when you got drunk, stoned out of your mind, or just wanted to do something really fucked up," Jake said. "You take a revolver and empty all the bullets except one. Then you spin the chamber. You put the barrel in your mouth, or point it at your temple, and pull the trigger. The 'fun' in the game was you never knew where the bullet was so you didn't know who was going to be the one to die."

"Sounds like an ancient torture method to me," Ashe said.

"It could've started out like that. I don't know," Jake said. He walked over and bodily hauled the now weeping woman away from her dead companion. "Come on, lady. You live in the Alley, you see shit like this every day."

"We're not from the Alley. Karma wanted to go slumming. She said it would be fun and no one would know who we were," the woman said, beating at Jake's arms.

"Great," Jake groaned. "Top siders slumming it in the Alley. We're fucked for keeping this away from the authorities, Ashe."

"No we're not," Ashe said. The cleaners had arrived. "No bodies, no blood, no evidence she's anything but another crystal head top sider."

"They'll use ballistic tracking to see if guns have been fired," Jake pointed out.

Ashe laughed. "That's why I asked for this thing. Part of it's charm is it disperses a chemical that eradicates all ballistic traces."

"I'll tell them you have it. They'll make you give them the gun," the woman said.

"Sweetie, we're not letting you out of here until the cleaners are done," Ashe said. "By that time my gun'll be stashed and those fuckers won't find it."

One of the cleaners dropped a nanite cloak over both bodies. In a matter of seconds, the bodies were dissolved into their base chemical components and absorbed by the nanites. The net was collected and a bio-chemical wash was sprayed over everything else. The blood disappeared.

"Want us to clean her too?" one of the cleaners asked, his words muffled by his mask.


Next week: something entirely NEW! (Assuming I can pin down @KDSarge long enough to work on this.  *grin*)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday 'fess up...Anni's week from HELL


Hello my lovelies!  Thanks for dropping by today.  I'm sure there was some concern over my getting this up - since I usually pre-write it and schedule it to post first thing in the morning.  To be honest, I actually forgot to preschedule it so I'm here, I'm writing, and the 'fess up shall be live soon enough.  (Which, since you're reading this, it is live. LOL)

This week can be summed up in one word: HELL.  Between Tuesday and Wednesday, I spent 25 hours at the day job.  We were pretty slammed at work so no writing between calls.  My breaks were spent chasing down information for various reasons - doctors, insurance claims, my W2, etc. - so no writing done there either.

My husband also got sick, and ended up at the doctor.  He's feeling better now but it was pretty touch and go with the whole "coughing and can't catch my breath after" thing.  I've been doing the same thing all week but I'm finally starting to feel better too.  Have you ever tried to talk on the phone for a long period of time while hacking your lungs out every few seconds?  It gets very difficult very quickly.

I got into some trouble at work.  Someone made an unfounded report on me to HR and I found myself having to defend against an allegation of peering up some dumbass bimbo's skirt.  My boss and HIS boss were all in on this meeting and they were pissed at HR for even entertaining the idea.  Then our center manager for my department (the BIG boss for my portfolio at the call center) walked in and wanted to know the situation.  My exact thought was: "Oh FUCK!"  I'm proud to say I didn't utter it out loud.  But it was a close one.

HR is going to drop the investigation because they were pretty sure it was just an attempt by this person to get someone into trouble.  Why they picked ME I'll never figure out.  But when I got back from my lunch my manager told me to check my schedule.  I have a 2.5 hour meeting block set up to meet with him, his manager, and the call center manager.  I've been assured by all three (yes, our call center manager actually spends a lot of time wandering around and talking to us, his own schedule permitting of course) that this isn't a BAD meeting.  But it does leave one a little.....anxious....over the weekend.  I'm trying not to worry about it but of course the thought does keep creeping in a little.

As might be expected, with a hell week comes hellish writing conditions.  I opened Only A Name, closed it again, and didn't touch the revisions all week.  I was just not able to focus properly on them.  Likewise with Cracked World.  Didn't touch it either.

That isn't to say I didn't get ANY writing done.  I did do some fluff (aka fan fiction), and I did manage to make my free writes most of the days this week.  I even got some work done on Ashe's world outside of the WW posts I'm doing.  I also managed to get a few character issues resolved and some plotting done on The Fallen, my angels/demons/alternate world UF.  So things have been progressing - slowly, but they've been progressing.

I'm hoping this week will be better.  I've got a few hours of overtime on Monday and 5.5 hours on Friday, but other than that my week is short for overtime.  Hopefully I'll be able to get more done.  I did manage to get my vlog done this week.  Then I promptly deleted it and did a new one.  I need to NOT do a vlog when I'm overly tired.  LOL  This week's vlog is a little different.  I share a tiny bit of my writing on a short story I've been playing around with.

That's it for this week's Sunday 'fess up.  This next week will wrap up my series on world building.  But that doesn't mean the WW posts are going away.  I've got some fun ideas and I'm looking forward to some great times going forward with it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Freaky Food Friday - RICE


Hello my lovely foodies!  If you're a food snob, turn away.  This is going to get ugly.  If you're like me - a food snob forced to live on a tight budget - then stick around.  I've got a few recipes for you today.

Today's food of choice: RICE

Rice is such a versatile ingredient.  You can replace pasta with it in several recipes, giving them a whole different quality.  Now, I don't recommend changing rice for pasta for spaghetti.  But you can still use it for so many dishes.  And a 20+ lbs. bag of rice will last a long time.  Unless you eat rice for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and every snack in the day.

The rice I'm talking about is not Minute Rice or Uncle Ben's or any of those other quick or instant cook rices.  I'm talking about Thai Jasmine rice...sushi rice...long grain rice...short grain rice...any of the rices that actually require EFFORT to cook.

A tip about cooking rice: it's tricky.  I know I've either overcooked or undercooked it enough over the years.  Unless your rice cooking instructions tell you something different, the ratio for cooking rice is generally 1.5 to 1 or 2 to 1 water to rice.  As in 1.5 c water to 1 c rice or 2 c water to 1 c rice.

When you cook your rice, make sure you're putting the water and rice in the pan at the same time.  Wait for it to hit a full rolling boil and then turn it down to low.  Slap a lid on that pan and DO NOT TOUCH for at LEAST 15-20 minutes.  Usually by the end of 20 minutes, your rice should be done to perfection.

Or, if you're luckier than me, you may have a rice cooker.  I don't know anything about those, so for those just follow the directions on your rice cooker.

Onigiri (or Japanese rice balls)
4 c. cooked short grain rice (sushi rice really works best for this)
--scrambled egg
--peanut butter (creamy)
--cooked fish
--tuna fish mixed with soy sauce and lemon (do NOT use mayo with this)
--pieces of fruit
--cooked veggies
--whatever you want that'll fit
Nori (seaweed) and/or sesame seeds are optional but are really good with these too

Take a small shallow bowl and line it with plastic wrap.  Sprinkle a tiny bit of salt onto the plastic wrap.  Take a large scoop of the cooked rice (still warm) and drop it into the bowl.  Push it down a little.  Put a teaspoon of your chosen filling inside.  Using the plastic wrap, push the sides of your rice up a little.  Take another smaller scoop of rice and cover the filling.  Wrap the whole thing in the plastic wrap and use your hands to shape it into a ball.  Twist the plastic wrap closed and set aside.  Repeat as many times as you have rice to make them.

You can make all sorts of fun shapes with this.  I tend to do weird things with mine.  You can make it without the shallow bowl, but if you're just getting started, I recommend sticking with the bowl.  It makes the onigiri easier to shape.  I usually end up with baseball sized onigiri.  I've seen them made smaller.  I've also seen bigger.  Fit the size to what you need.  These are great to take to work for lunch.  They make people's eyes bug out when they realize what you're eating.

I've experimented with a lot of different fillings.  The ones mentioned up there are the ones that worked best texturally.  The fruit needs to be of a soft consistency, so things like apples and pears don't work.  Bananas, berries, and citrus are good.

Rice Stroganoff
4 c. cooked rice
1 lb. ground beef (or 2-4 c diced leftover beef roast)
1 chopped onion or 2 tsp onion powder
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup (the big family sized cans...2 cans if you're buying the smaller cans)
Garlic powder, chili powder, black pepper to taste

Brown the meat and onions together.  If you're using the onion powder, wait until you drain the oil off the beef.  Once the oil is drained off, toss in your cream of mushroom soup and the spices.  DO NOT ADD WATER.  Stir together until the mixture is well mixed.  Dump on top of the rice and stir.

(Okay, okay, it's not EXACTLY stroganoff.  But I thought that sounded better than rice, beef, and mushroom glop...which is the name it has in our house.)

Spanish Rice
2 T oil
2 T chopped onion
2 c cooked rice
1 small can chicken broth
1 c chunky salsa

Cook the onion in the oil until soft.  Throw in the rice and cook until the rice starts to brown.  Add the chicken broth and cook down until the liquid is almost gone.  Then toss in the chunky salsa.

This is a cheap, fast way to make Spanish Rice.  I modified the recipe from something I found on allrecipes.com.  The original recipe called for the rice to be uncooked but I found I kept massacring the stuff if I did it their way.  So I adjusted it to fit my cooking style.

Rice and beans
1 package dried beans, any type (we stick with navy beans or black beans)
4-6 strips of bacon, 2 c ham chunks, or 1-2 small ham hocks
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed but not chopped
4 c. cooked rice

Soak your beans overnight.  In the morning, rinse the beans and cook them based on the directions on their package.  Make sure you toss in the meat, onions, garlic, and bay leaves so the beans soak up the flavors.  When the beans are done fish out the bay leaves and serve the beans over rice.

This gives you a perfect protein.  Beans and rice are an awesome dinner.  They're very filling, and if you're like us and love hot sauce this meal gives you a chance to dig out your favorite hot sauce and use it to help flavor your beans as well.

Other favorites include making rice pudding out of leftover rice; having rice, milk, and cinnamon & sugar for breakfast; rice, melted butter, cinnamon & sugar for a snack or for breakfast...the list is endless. Rice is a very versatile ingredient I highly recommend for folks on a budget.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Writing Wednesday: World refined

When last we left our intrepid authoress...

We'd done some fairly large info dumps regarding this new world that's taking shape, so this Wednesday we're going to refine it down into something we can actually work with.  Once I do a bunch of info dumps, usually in the form of a series of snapshots into the character's world (i.e. really badly written short stories), I pare it down into the basics and make a notes file for it.

Let's start with the character, Ashe Rae Steinburg.  First thing I did was drop the 'Rae' part.  Yes, it's nice to know her middle name but everyone calls her 'Ashe' so it makes sense not to keep putting the middle name into everything.  First in the notes is the character's actual description.

Ashe is 5'8", 145 lbs, toned, and has flame red hair with ink black tips.  She has nine piercings not including her ears, her ears are pierced, she has a full back tattoo which everyone sees bits of because of her choice in clothing after a certain point in the story - which is also when she starts getting the tats.  She's got two partial sleeves on her arms and an ornate 'D' tattooed on the back of her neck.

Great.  Now we've established her looks.  Let's move on to the personality.

Ashe is a Deviant - both sterile and into BDSM.  She makes her living serving drinks when she'd rather bash people over the heads with the bottles for being mindless sheep.  She's very bitter towards the government because of her sterilization and the subsequent destruction of her dreams.  She's loud, opinionated, and isn't afraid of sharing those opinions.  She runs on adrenaline most of the time because she's generally always afraid.  Her loud behavior helps hide that fear.  She's a Domme in the BDSM subculture because that puts her in total control of whoever is her submissive.  She needs to feel this control because she has no control over the rest of her life.

So now we know what she looks like, and that she's always scared but uses her fear to fuel her rather outspoken personality.  Now...what about the WORLD she inhabits?

Dark.  Gritty.  There's no sunlight.  The city is under a perpetual cloud cover.  The ozone layer deteriorated enough that people were affected on a massive level.  To protect humans, at some point in the past someone came up with the idea to seed a perpetual cloud cover and add in all of the protections the ozone used to give.

Ashe lives in the Alley with the rest of the Lurkers.  The Alley is the area beneath the upper echelons of the city where all "law abiding citizens" live.  The upper part of the city is actually home to the middle and upper class.  Everyone else scrapes for scraps in the Alley.  Everyone in the upper tiers wears dark, sober clothing.  Nothing too tight, nothing too revealing.  This is in keeping with the laws about unauthorized breeding.

Down in the Alley, color and indecency seem to be the normal way of things among the better off Lurkers.  Public transport is the only method of transportation available, except to the exceptionally wealthy.  Public transports are crowded, smelly, and dirty all the time.  Buildings tower higher than even the tallest buildings today, driving up into the steel grey sky like spear points.  They are the major source of light in the Alley, and that light is very dim.

Now we have a glimpse - a snapshot - of the setting.  What about the people?  Who else besides Ashe inhabits this world?

Jan - m - Ashe's first lover; drops her after they're caught having sex outside the breeding facility
Liana - f - Ashe's second lover; commits suicide after she and Ashe are sterilized and become Deviants
Jack - m - Bar regular and Ashe's best friend in the Alley
Lucen - m - government leader who continuously butts heads with the Lurkers and Deviants

Lurkers - The poor, the deviants, the Deviants, and the eccentric who have either been forced or have actively chosen life in the Alley
Deviants - Sterilized by the government for having sex outside breeding facilities
Sec Pats - the security patrols who ostensibly keep order in the Alley but are almost as corrupt as the government

See?  Now we have something to work with.  Finally, the plot.  You can have all the characters, pretty settings, and interesting tidbits of fact you want but without a reason for them all to play nicely together you don't have a story.

Ashe has to get past everything that's happened to her in order to help make a better future for her world.  The government has become too corrupt and no longer cares for the needs of the people - just for the needs of their pocketbook.  All rebellions have been crushed with excessive force in the past.  Ashe and her Deviant friends must find a way to bring the life of the Deviants into the light again.

Not much detail in the plot, but that's okay.  Right now we're just going for the basics.  Yes, it's the typical "rebels are rebelling against the status quo".  But if it weren't such a fascinating cliche, it wouldn't BE cliche.

Next week we'll get our first look at how Ashe interacts with her world and learn a little more about Lucen, the face of the antagonist in the story.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday 'fess up...Anni found a new treasure

Hello to everyone on this cloudy, foggy Sunday morning.

As the title says, I found a new treasure.  I've been wanting a chance to read Knight Errant by K.D. Sarge (@KDSarge on Twitter) for some time - ever since she was kind enough to send me the bookmark advertising her book.  When it went up on Turtleduckpress' website, I read through the first three chapters.  I was hooked.  But I wasn't able to secure a copy for myself, finances being what they are.

Last night, after a particularly horrid day at work, I will admit to being rather cranky and depressed on Twitter.  K.D. offered to let me read and review her e-book version of Knight Errant.  I jumped at the chance.  Now, I am a speed reader so it doesn't take me long to read something.  Especially something that drags me in and holds me down until the story is over.  Knight Errant did that.  By the time I was done, I was giggling insanely and commenting to K.D. about how evil she is...and how awesome she is as a friend and a writer.

Here's the link to Turtleduckpress, where you can go buy her delightful book
Here's one of my reviews, posted to my book review blog

Now, on to the writing.

I found a website called 750words and I've been using it to do some free writing, and to work out some random plot problems.  It's really a very useful website.  It encourages you to write with no inhibitions, no distractions, and no other thought than just to write.  My friend Hawke pointed it out to me and I've been going there every day ever since to get my free writing done.  It's helped immensely.

Revisions are going slowly with Only A Name.  I took a break from the chapter by chapter revisions and read through the whole thing.  Once I did that, I began to doubt whether it'd be ready by June.  I'm still going to try to get it there, but I honestly don't know.  I thought it was a good story when I decided to revise it.

Yes, I'm doubting myself again.  I do that from time to time.

I've put some work into Ashe's world and her story.  There'll be some of that in the next Writing Wednesday.  I've also got a new short that might be going somewhere that I started with one of the days of free writing.  I'll have to figure that one out eventually too.

Still looking for an artist to help me out with cover art for the stories I want to toss up on Smashwords.  Still  revising and editing those too.  Read the style guide for Smashwords.  82 pages...my head hurt when I was done, and I'm still not sure I understand the whole thing.  I'll go over it again when I'm closer to being ready to upload the stories.

And, on a final note, my vlog.  This one isn't as interesting as the others - at least to me.  I'm mostly rambling...but I do introduce you to my new stuffy Lovin' Lion!  I collect teddy bears.  I also collect stuffed animals in general, but mostly teddy bears.  I lost my entire collection except for one little bear when we lost everything last year.  So now I'm rebuilding my collection.  Slowly, but it's started.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Freaky Food Friday - RAMEN


Hello my lovely foodies!  If you're a food snob, turn away.  This is going to get ugly.  If you're like me - a food snob forced to live on a tight budget - then stick around.  I've got a few recipes for you today.

Today's ingredient of choice: RAMEN

Ramen is cheap, filling, and highly flexible.  You can cook it as is and have a (very salty) soup.  You can substitute the flavor packet for any kind of canned soup and have a different style of soup.  You can boil it and then fry it up with veggies for a fried noodle dish.  Ramen, in spite of its lack of nutritional value, can actually be part of a fairly nutritious meal.

General rule of thumb for us is one package per person.  Sometimes, when mixed with other stuff, a single package of Ramen can feed 2 people.  We tend to overcook and have it for leftovers later.  These recipes are just a handful of examples of the versatility of ramen.

Ramen Veggie Soup
2 packages Ramen (Beef or Chicken works best)
1/2 package frozen vegetables OR 1 c. chopped celery, carrots, onions
1/2 - 1 c. chopped meat (leftover pot roast, leftover cooked chicken, sliced sausages, ham....whatever you have on hand)

Cook the Ramen as per the package directions.  While water is boiling, toss in the frozen vegetables.  Cook together until veggies are done.  Add the meat.  Serve.

Fried Ramen with Veggies
1-2 packages Ramen, cooked and drained
1/2 package frozen stir fry veggies OR 1 c. chopped celery, carrots, onions
1 c. chopped ham (or whatever leftover meat you have available)
1 T butter

Cook the ramen as usual and drain all liquid.  Put butter in a medium skillet and start the veggies cooking.  Once the veggies have cooked for a bit, toss in the meat.  If needed, add a little bit more butter and then throw in the noodles.  Cook on medium high heat until noodles start browning.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Tomato-Mushroom Noodle Soup w/Ramen
2 packages Ramen, cooked and drained
1 can condensed Tomato soup
1 can mushrooms
Basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and white pepper to taste

Cook the Ramen and drain it.  Prepare the soup as per the directions on the can.  Toss in the can of mushrooms and all spices.  Remove from heat.  Add Ramen.  Stir well and serve.

Any of these recipes can be adjusted at a moment's notice to whatever you have on hand.  Don't have tomato soup?  Try it with a can of cream of mushroom soup.  Want chicken noodle?  Toss the ramen into a can of condensed chicken noodle soup, maybe some leftover cooked chicken, and some veggies.  Turns the can of soup and the ramen into something more nutritious and filling.  Don't want to use frozen veggies?  Use fresh veggies.  Don't like meat but want protein?  Use tofu.

Ramen is one of the most flexible staples of a diet that is on limited funding.  I highly recommend giving it a try.  Just remember to be flexible with what you mix in with it.  Be creative if you can and buy what's on sale to give your Ramen a twist.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Character creation continued and a glimpse into a new world

When last we left our intrepid authoress...

We were discussing my latest pain in the rear guest Ashe Rae Steinburg.  Ashe slipped in one day during revisions on ONLY A NAME and refused to leave.  We know her general age, appearance, and a little bit of her background.  Over the last week, I have devoted some time to figuring out more about her.  This is what I've put together for my freakish little Domme.

Ashe comes from a world where all forms of sexual pleasure are forbidden.  It is, in fact, a world where breeding is controlled by the politicians in power.  The only time you have sex is for the continued procreation of the race.  You are implanted with a tag when you're sixteen years old if you're male, and as soon as you start menstruating when you're female.  You enter the breeding pool as soon as you get a tag, although typically unless your family is branded as heretic or you're so poor you go begging for the credits you can get for being part of the breeding pool you don't actually get sent to a breeding center until you're closer to 18 or 19.  You're kept in the breeding pool until you're too old to bear children if you're female - typically around 50 years old - and until you're 55 if you're male.

The tag also alerts authorities to unauthorized attempts at breeding - aka sex for pleasure, rape, etc.  Anyone who is caught doing this more than once is sterilized.  Now, this might not seem like such a bad thing considering the forced breeding programs.  But it marks you as a social outcast and most who are sterilized commit suicide, thus removing their "flawed" genes from the gene pool.  There are those who are sterilized, however, that continue to pursue their lives in spite of everything that they've been through.  The sterilization only takes away their ability to bear children.  It doesn't completely eradicate the desire for sexual gratification.

Those who are sterilized and don't kill themselves often become known as Deviants.  Deviants are those who pursue that kind of relationship without the benefits of government sanctioned breeding programs.  The benefit is people who come to the Deviants aren't considered as openly violating the laws since the Deviants can't produce children, so those who feel a desire for sex and aren't up for breeding can get their jollies off without punishment.  (It apparently takes two active tags to alert the authorities and the Deviants' tags are no longer active.)

Now, with this information, we can safely assume that Ashe - with her side job as a dominatrix - is a Deviant.  She broke the law and was sterilized.  So not only is she a sexual deviant in the broadest sense of the terms (BDSM fanatic), she is a Deviant according to her society.  So the religious beliefs of her parents probably came from a State religion exemplifying a pure life of complete devotion to the State until you are released from your obligations.  Did I neglect to mention most humans don't live beyond 65-70 in this world?  It's a rumor that the government uses the tags to release a poison but no one can confirm it.  I'm sure it's true, though...it'd fit in with the world that Ashe inhabits perfectly.  Though why they don't just poison the Deviants is beyond me, unless they truly do deactivate the tag and it's the active tags that can release the poison.  I still have that problem to work out.

Ashe's "college" days were probably the State's attempt at further brainwashing and propaganda by continued education of their most promising citizens.  Ashe was a brilliant computer programmer and was drawn into the upper echelons of the society by her quick mind and vibrant personality.  There were already some bids on who she was going to breed with.

I have a feeling Ashe probably did end up in one of the breeding centers.  For her it was nothing less than rape because she wasn't willing.  I don't know if they use drugs or not but I'm thinking they'd have to.  You  honestly can't tell me that a short session in a sterile chamber is going to make ANYONE all hot and bothered.  Well, there are those fetishists out there who might find it appealing but the majority of the population won't.

Right now, I'm going to assume they use drugs and got her pregnant.  I still don't know what happened to the child.  I do know she doesn't have it.  Was it taken away because she was considered "unfit"?  If so, were Ashe's parents really her parents?  Do they send the children of breeding pairs to other, non-breeders (i.e. older people they aren't using for breeding at this moment but are still in the pool)?  Do they put them in an orphanage style setting and let people come in and 'purchase' children to raise to be proper breeders?  I don't know that part of the story yet, but it's an important part of Ashe's character to know where her child went and what kind of environment she spent her early years in.

Ashe realizes she doesn't want the cold, unfeeling breeding.  She meets someone, gets it on with them, and gets into trouble.  I'm figuring once is overlooked as experimentation and typical youth rebellion.  When she does it a second and/or third time, that's when they sterilize her.  Instead of doing what they expect and suiciding, Ashe drops out of college (or maybe she's expelled once she gets sterilized...that might make more sense) and takes up as a bartender in a bad district in the city.  She turns to the darker sides of human nature and explores the world of BDSM and becomes a dominatrix on the side.

I have a feeling Ashe's story is going to be one of how a group of people who are considered outcasts and Deviants either change the world they live in - or learn how to live in the world they can't change.  I'm not sure how this is going to go just yet, but we'll see as the story creation progresses.  The Deviants aren't the only outcasts.  What makes someone outcast in this society - aside from being sterilized and removed from the breeding pool - I have yet to discover.

One thing I do know is the city she's living in is a dark and gritty place.  I'm thinking Blade Runner here for the type of city she lives in.  Ashe, who was once at the upper half of the middle class to the low end of the upper class citizens, is now the lowest of the low class citizens.  How's she going to take it?  Not very well, as evidenced by  her open rebellion against the "system", I'm thinking.

Okay, so now we know where Ashe came from.  We also have a view of her world.  A dark, gritty totalitarian society with a strictly enforced breeding program in a dystopian future.  The world is made up of massive city-states under the crushing authoritarian rule of a single entity.  I have no name for this world government, so right now it is just "The Government".  Most people don't bat an eye at the way things are run because it's been this way for generations.  The people in this world are, for the most part, complacent about their lives.  Some strive for something better only in terms of material wealth.  Getting out of this stagnant, rigidly controlled society is not a priority for them.

Ashe is an outcast in this society, as are her closest friends and her business partners.  I'm betting most of her clients are also outcasts in one way or another.  They either are in the same position she's in - sterilized but non-suicidal - or they're outcasts in some other way.

When I go to imagine the city, I think first and foremost of Blade Runner.  That movie was awesome, and the way the city looked makes me think of the city I see when I envision Ashe's world.  Her home is dark.  There is no sunlight.  The city-state she lives in is under perpetual cloud cover.  Why is this?  Did we do something like in "The Matrix" where we scorched the sky?  Or has the world become so polluted that it's not clouds but smoke/smog that conceals the sun?  I don't know yet.  That's a very important key factor I have to figure out.  If it's clouds, there's going to be rain.  If it's smoke/smog/pollution, there's the chance people will be wearing respirators or some other kind of apparatus that helps them filter the air.

It's a huge city.  That's pretty obvious.  Public transit is the general way to go.  Very few people have private vehicles.  In fact, you can't get to most places unless you take the public transit.  Most of the "normal" places are above the Alley.  The Alley is what they call street level living.  This is where the lowest of the low live.  It's where the black market thrives.  This is where the bar is and this is where you'll find most Deviants.

Clothing is usually very sober, dark, and not too revealing.  In the Upper City.  In the Alley?  Anything goes.  Which is why I saw Ashe wearing "weird clothing".  She chooses to wear clothing that helps her embrace her new life rather than hiding from it in the "government sanctioned" clothing.  It's not cheap but some of her clothing comes from her clients.  Other stuff she buys from the black market.  Much of what she wears is based on 20th and 21st century clothing styles.  It'd be like us buying and wearing stuff from the 40's or 50's, I'm guessing based on what I can see in my imagination.

So, now we have a character - Ashe.  We have an enemy - The Government.  We have a world - a dark, dangerous city.  We have a general idea of the plot - Ashe has to find her way in the world.  So...where do we go from here?  Well, we actually start fleshing out the plot, the side characters, and the setting.  More details are needed to bring Ashe completely to life.

Now, while all of this is interesting there is a tiny problem.  I don't write dystopian fiction.  I also don't write erotica or even really graphic sex scenes.  It's not something I'm generally comfortable or even overly familiar with.  I only recently started reading books dealing with dystopian futures (that I'm aware of at least).  But it's still a story begging to be told so I am going to tell it.  We'll see where it leads as we go down the path.

At the very least, the journey will be interesting.  Expanding my horizons is a great way to grow as a writer...if I don't crash and burn first.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday 'fess up...Anni's been BUSY this week

Whew!  Another week over.  Aside from being laid up for a couple days because of vertigo due to my sinus infection, I'm alive and well.  And boy, have I been a BUSY little writer.

First, ONLY A NAME has been revised.  I hit a sticking point with one of my VERY IMPORTANT PLOT DETAILS.  My husband, the wonderful beta reader that he is, read over the first couple chapters for me and pointed out that there are too many golden eyed mages around.  So I had to figure out something else.  What made me happy is he actually helped me come up with the new idea to fix the problem of identifying my mage race.  It's actually going to be easier to identify them - AND much easier for my refugees to hide themselves at first because his new idea can be easily hidden.  At least until they start flinging spells around all the time.  Then it's a little more difficult.

Second, CRACKED WORLD hasn't gotten any love this week.  I've been busy with other stuff so I haven't even looked at it.  I'm faced with the realization that it's going to continue to not see any love from me for a while.  At least until this current binge of revising ONLY A NAME and dealing with a new story that's kind of erupted in my head.

Third, my blog.  My blog is heating up - in more ways than one!  You're all aware of the new warning I've put on it.  That's because apparently my Writing Wednesday post offended someone with the mention of the BDSM lifestyle and the fact that Ashe is a dominatrix with a very Domme personality.  So I got flagged for adult content and was advised I needed to update my blog settings.  So I did.  And realistically, seeing where Ashe's story is going?  It's probably a good idea because I have a distinct feeling she's going to get a lot racier as time goes on.

Fourth, Ashe.  Ashe's story is beginning to take shape.  Using her for my examples for Writing Wednesday is helping me with twisting the story and getting it out of my imagination and into some semblance of written order.  I'm also interested in her story now and will enjoy seeing where it's going to go from here.  I have a feeling this next Writing Wednesday may give my "adult rating" a run for its money.  Nothing graphic, mind you.  I don't DO graphic (at least not yet...LOL) but it probably won't be all sweetness and light either.

Fifth, my short stories.  After making the change in ONLY A NAME I have to go back and edit "The Soldier and the Boy" and "The Pigeon and the Fiddler" because of changing the details.  Not a huge deal, and I need to do another revision on those two anyhow.  I'll probably try to get those done some time in the next couple weeks.  I've also got a few others that I'm going to be revising and getting ready.  I've almost decided to do the anthology self-published through Smashwords or Amazon's e-pub store.  I know, I know.  Self-publishing isn't the best thing for unpublished writers to do.  But I want to see if people will even read my stories.  If I get enough interest, either someone will notice me or I'll at least be able to point out my sales record for my e-book (assuming they're good enough).

Sixth, getting time off from work so I can attend Mayhem in the Grove.  I actually have to be at work for that.  I haven't been at work since...Monday.  When I go back next Wednesday I'll be putting in for those days off.

Seventh, my vlog.  Funny that we should mention my vlog...

Anni's Vlog, Ep. 4

That's it for this week's 'fess up.  Check back in next Sunday for the next round of confessions and confusions!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A letter of apology to my readers

Dear faithful blog readers,

I apologize for the new warning on the blog.  Apparently someone found my blog post for Wednesday Writing a little too risque for normal viewing so they complained.  I was informed that I needed to update my blog settings to mark my blog as an "adult only" blog or have it suspended.

I updated my blog settings but I'm going to eventually find a new home for Life, Writing, and Miscellany if random mentions of certain things get me tagged as being too over the top.  Of course, based on what I'm learning about Ashe's world I'd hazard a guess that those posts may actually end up being very risque all on their own without any help...I guess it's probably a good thing I've marked my blog this way.

Then again, I'm a grown woman and as a grown woman I can and probably will end up talking about things that interest me.  This includes research I might do.  And I will admit a marginal curiosity for the BDSM lifestyle.  In fact, Ashe's story gives me the opportunity to learn more about it.  I'm not saying I'm into that kind of lifestyle, or that it's for everyone, but at least I'll know more about it.  And no research is wasted.  For all I know this topic could turn up in another book or two.

So please accept my apologies for the new flag on the blog and please, if you don't mind, keep reading.  Writing is all about having someone to read what I write in the end, and you've all been very awesome to me so far.  I'm really grateful to you all for your support.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Freaky Food Friday - Eating well on a tight budget

Well, I've got the Sunday 'fess up and my Wednesday Writing posts.  I decided to go ahead with my other idea and start putting up some of the recipes and tricks I've learned having to figure out how to eat on $100-$150/mo for groceries for me and my husband.  Let me tell you...it SOUNDS easy enough.  But it isn't easy at all.  Have you seen the prices for things lately?  *shudders*

--First tip: Ramen, Rice, Beans, Pasta.
I can't tell you how sick I am of ramen.  But it's a staple when you're dirt poor and too broke to buy pasta on a regular basis.  If you can, buy a case or two of ramen.  A full case, for us, generally runs us about $4 or $5 and lasts us a full month.

To buy rice, go to an Asian market if you can find one in your area.  You can usually find the 25 lbs. bags of rice there for anywhere from $2 to $10 cheaper than at your regular grocery store.  The only exception to this is if you've got a WinCo in your area.  Then their prices are usually right on par with each other.  Once you get the rice, take old gallon pickle jars, large plastic containers, anything you've got that you can seal tightly and break the rice down.  I don't recommend using Ziploc (or any generic knock off) bags because they don't work as well.  Plus mice can chew right through them, if you're in an area where you might have to worry about that.

Beans.  Beans and rice are a perfect protein.  Together they can supply your body with a good dose of fiber too.  A few stalks of celery, an onion, and some garlic powder or a few cloves of fresh garlic - along with cheap bacon or some leftover ham - can really spice things up.

Another good staple is lentils.  They're not actually a bean.  They're part of the pea family (I think...I'm too lazy to go look it up right now).  A quick batch of lentil soup or lentils and rice can fill you right up.  They're also pretty cheap too.  You can buy them in bulk or buy the smaller packages.  You'll find them with the beans in the store.

Pasta.  Spaghetti is another meal that I'm hugely tired of.  But again, it's cheap and can be spiced up in so many ways.  A can of cream of mushroom soup, some leftover beef roast, and some egg noodles mixed together gives you fake Stroganoff.  It's not too bad if you have some garlic and onion powder and/or some chili powder to toss in.

--Second tip: Spice cabinet
I can't stress this enough: fill your spice cabinet.  Staples are garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, and sage.  Cinnamon if you're a fan of cinnamon toast is good.  But get the savory herbs and spices first.  If you're like us and have a trained chef in the house - hubby went to culinary school and then discovered he didn't want to cook for a living - you're going to want to buy the GOOD stuff.  The stuff that's $8-$15 a bottle.  That's okay.  Spring for the cheap stuff for now and save your pennies.  Replace it one bottle at a time with the good stuff.  You don't need a lot of it to season food and the more expensive spices tend to keep longer.

--Third tip: Buy in bulk if possible
This seems odd when you consider how short our budget is and buying in bulk is so expensive most of the time.  But what I mean by buying in bulk is buy the 20 lbs of flour, 20 lbs of sugar, 25 lbs of rice, etc.  You'll only be buying them once every 2-3 months, and if you plan ahead you'll be able to work your budget out to be able to afford them when you need to restock.  If you have to, plan ahead and stagger them so you're buying your rice one month and your sugar the next.

Same goes for meat.  Buy in bulk.  Buy the large quantity of hamburger.  Separate it out into meal sized portions and freeze it.  Buy a beef roast, a whole turkey or chicken, a large ham, etc.  They're spendy but they can be broken down into smaller pieces to last you for that month.

--Fourth tip: Save a few bucks for treats
I'm a major chocaholic and I LOVE me my Mountain Dew.  My husband is into chips and salsa and energy drinks.  We always set aside a small portion of our food budget for those kinds of treats.  If you don't treat yourself you could end up impulse buying and wipe out your food budget for the week.  Limit yourself to a few treats and splurge every once in a while when you've got some extra cash.  It doesn't hurt you (unless you go overboard) and a reward can go a long way in making you feel better about making your decisions to live on your strict budget.

--Fifth tip: Factor in snacks
I'm a grazer.  So is my husband.  We like to have easy, convenient things to eat during the day.  We usually eat one larger meal and 2-3 smaller meals.  Both of us are huge chips and salsa fans, and we also love pita chips and hummus.  These things can add up quickly if we're buying them every week (which we do).  We look for the large bags of chips - again, buying in bulk once or twice a month - and trying to find something we can both agree on for the dips.  We also buy ingredients for baking and I make cookies, flat bread, etc. to help keep our snacking budget to a minimum.

--Sixth tip: Don't go to the grocery store hungry or tired
The first one is a no brainer.  If you go to the store hungry you're more likely to break your budget by buying whatever looks good to you at the time.  The second one, oddly enough, is bad for you too.  If you go to the grocery store while you're tired, you're more likely to buy stuff that doesn't take a lot of time to cook - i.e. the frozen dinners or convenience foods like canned dinners.  This eats up your budget and you're out of food before the month is up.  Buying them occasionally, or if they're on a major sale is one thing.  But don't make them a staple.  Go to the grocery store after having eaten and being somewhat rested.  It's going to make your shopping trip a whole lot easier.

I'll be back again next Friday.  Next Friday I'll share a few of my recipes with you all, and offer a few more tips and tricks to eating well on a shoestring budget.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Character creation

(All right, I know that's a ripoff of the hash tag on Twitter, but it works for what I want to use it for.)

Let's talk world building.  I know, I know.  It's been done to death.  But I've been building on a world for around 20 years.  I think I've figured a few things out over the last two decades.

For me, I don't start with the world itself.  I start with the people inhabiting the world.  I don't mean the general population.  I mean the characters whose story I'll be telling.  Sometimes character creation is very simple.  I've got a vague idea of the story I want to tell, so I select the character TYPE I want.

Do I want a goody-two-shoes hero?  Do I want a Damsel in Distress?  Do I want a barbarian type with huge muscles and no brains?  Do I want a teenager with an attitude problem?  Do I want the perpetually doomed hero or someone who fights destiny tooth and nail?  Whose story am I telling?  This is always my first decision.

Then I go for physical characteristics.  What does this person look like?  What do they smell like?  What do they dress like?  How skinny/fat are they?  Are they muscular?  Tall?  Short?  Yellow with fuchsia polka dots?  Are they even human?  If they're not human, what are they?

Then it's on to the personality traits.  Are they scaredy cats or stupidly brave?  Are they shy?  Do they have a problem thinking they're the center of the universe?  Are they cruel?  Do they like kids?  Do they have a problem with either gender?  Are they ashamed of their own gender?  Do they even accept the fact that they have a gender?  (Yes, I've had gender neutral characters who really weren't hermaphrodites or asexual...they just refused to accept the limitations of either gender.  That person was weird.)  What is their sexual preference?

After that, it's on to the bigger picture.  Do they have a family?  What's their background?  Did they have to fight for survival in a world that was out to get them?  Did they come from a loving family?  Was their past tragic?  Are they just ordinary people who are shortly going to find themselves in an extraordinary situation?

Once I know WHO I can figure out WHERE.  But today we're just dealing with the WHO.  Sometimes, I don't have a story in mind.  Sometimes, as I'm working on other projects or something completely unrelated to writing, I'll have a character wander into the landscape of my dreams or my imagination and demand I tell their story.  If I ignore them they get more and more insistent until I finally pay attention to them.  There are two distinct types of characters who approach me like this: reasonable and unreasonable.

Reasonable characters are ones who have names, faces, and backstories.  I just have to sit and have a chat with them to learn about them.  Cel and Gabe from one of my UF stories showed up like that.  Their story is fascinating and I'm loving it when I can catch snippets of their world.

Then you have the unreasonable ones.  The ones like Ashe Rae Steinburg.  Up until today, I didn't even know that was her name.  All I knew was there was a character named Ash/Ashe (same pronunciation, just a slight variation in the spelling) who wanted me to tell her story.  That was it.  She showed up and demanded my attention but didn't give me anything to work with.

Today, as I was running revisions on ONLY A NAME, Ashe returned and gave me her name.  She's been plaguing me since Sunday and she FINALLY gave me her full name.  Ashe - DON'T call her Ms. Steinburg or she'll go postal on you - is in her early 20's, has hair down to her shoulder blades that's dark coppery red with about three inches of black at the tips, has dark brown eyes and wears a lot of make up, is all types of curvaceous but has a body that's hard as a rock (muscles, not actually made of stone), and is unashamedly opinionated and loud.  She dresses in odd clothing for her area, and she's bisexual.  She prefers women over men, but she'll take what she can get.

Ashe loves tattoos and piercings, and has several of each.  She's a college drop out who works as a part time bartender and does dominatrix work on the side when she can get it.  Ashe is a sex addict and a major control freak who goes in for the whole BDSM lifestyle where she's a Domme.  She came from a normal, semi-religious background but when she left home to go to college she found a darker world that fascinated her.  She started doing more research and dug a little deeper and eventually abandoned her religious roots for a freer (in her mind, at least) lifestyle.  She has violent tendencies and a wicked temper, but she won't hurt children, kittens, or any other young and helpless creature.

So far, so good, right?  I've got some idea of who this woman is.  Now the question is...WHO is she?  I know her looks, a little about her past, but what's her story?  Is it a literary fiction type piece about finding your way after losing your path?  Is it urban fantasy with some kind of magic or supernatural stuff?  Is it a very strange blend of degenerate behaviors that could fit into Aleran?  These are things I MUST know before I can continue working with her.

She's shut up again.  Which means that now I have to figure out what world she fits into.  She doesn't fit into any of my current projects, that's for sure.  So that means she's someone new.  A new story to play with.  Potentially a new world to build.  A new land to populate with creations - either new ones or those characters relegated to my "phone book file", a list of characters and their vital statistics that haven't found their way into a story yet.

Next Wednesday: We'll explore something of Ashe's world...assuming I've figured out enough about it to move on to the next step in my method of world building: the global scene.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Anni's conducting a poll...of sorts

Hey everyone!

I know, I know.  Not my usual day for blogging.  I'm generally a Sunday only blogger with random posts showing up from time to time when I think someone might be interested in what I have to say.  However, after reading my blog list for the day (when did I start follow so many blogs?), it hit me: I'm a failure.

Okay, okay, so maybe not a failure per se.  But I'm not using my blog to its fullest potential.  At least that's my guess based on everything I've seen and read.  I need to come up with something else to post about aside from my weekly 'fess ups.

Now, I'm not a published author.  I'm barely in the revision stage of my first reasonably decent novel length manuscript.  So I don't have any words of wisdom  on the whole query/indie publish/agent side of things.  I'm a fan of both paper books and ebooks so I can't really take sides on the e-reader debates.  I'm not politically motivated by anything, aside from telling my local officials how bloody STUPID I think they are at random times (e-mails are wonderful tools for that).  Besides, politics - to me at least - is a good way to turn people OFF of your blog, unless you do it well enough that they want to come back.

I'm not particularly tech savvy so discussing the latest and greatest in technology is out.  I follow blogs and news feeds to keep up with what's going on in the publishing industry but I couldn't possibly do any better when it comes to discussing these things than people like Nathan Bransford and Writer's Beware (their blogs are informative in different ways).

So, my lovely blog readers, what do you suggest?  What kind of posts are interesting to you?  What do you blog about?  I'm also working on my vlogs, and I'm going to focus a bit more on getting them into something a bit more solid.  I've considered talking about world building in my blog - hey, I've spent 20 years building Aleran...I think I could talk about that for a while - but then again, I've seen a lot of blog posts done really well regarding world building and don't know that I'd have anything better to say.

I think I'm talking myself out of blogging again...which I'm trying not to do.  So, PLEASE leave me your suggestions here.  Tweet them to me on Twitter (@annikkawoods, for those of you who may not know me there yet).  Drop me a line on my Facebook page if you prefer (same thing...Annikka Woods).  But leave me some ideas, and I'll see what I can do.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday 'fess up...Anni's not overly creative this morning


This week was rough.  My depression kicked my ass big time.  But I plowed through revisions on ONLY A NAME to the point where I can honestly say I am about 35% done with the revisions.  I was pretty crippled up with a massive headache for three days this week, so I didn't get as much done as I'd have liked to.  But I still made some progress.

Did the vlog on New Year's Eve.  Did a 'year in review' and 'goals for 2011' post on the blog.  I'm rather happy about my new goals.  No new short story for WordPress this week.  I was more focused on not dying from my headache and getting revisions done.

I got Sims 3 Ambitions from a friend for a late Christmas present.  I was so proud of myself.  I did my vlog, a blog post, and revised 1 1/2 chapters on ONLY A NAME before I gave in and cracked out for a couple hours.  I like this new expansion, so it's a definite time sink if I'm not careful.  But I make myself write/revise/edit for at least 2 hours before I let myself play Sims 3 so I'm not too bad off.

Hubby gave me a late Christmas present as well, from a gift card he won at work.  Why his work is offering Barnes and Noble gift cards when they sell cosmetics is a little beyond me, but hey, it's BOOKS!  I'm not going to look twice at a new book.  Or am I?  My husband bought me the Kama Sutra.  I think he's trying to hint at something but I'm not sure what.  LOL

I had a new character wander through my imagination yesterday.  Her name is Ash (or Ashe...same pronunciation, just an added 'e' at the end), and she is demanding I write her story.  Only problem is she isn't TELLING me what her story is.  I have no clue what to do with this obnoxious woman.  I don't even know her.  I'm keeping my notebook close at hand so when she does start spilling her guts I'll be able to make notes so I can eventually write about her.  She'll either tell me what she wants me to write about, or she'll fade away until another story comes along that she'll fit in.  I'll figure her out eventually.

On the whole, 2010 - in writing terms - was good.  I did a lot of it, and I'm getting better at it.  So I'm keeping up with it in 2011.  Including my Sunday 'fess up blog posts, to help keep me honest.  If you're curious about what else I'm adding to the 'fess up list, go check out the year in review post.

I fell behind on the #HTOTD hash tag this past week, so I'm going to make sure I get one posted every day this week.  Um...I think that's it for this week.  OH!  I've decided to make the vlog a weekly thing.  I'll probably post it on Friday or Saturday (depending on which one is my day off) and then show the link in the 'fess up as well as post it on Twitter.

That's it for this week's 'fess up.  See you here next week for more good news!

(Added the vlog post too!)