New Story in Progress: Witchwood

I’ve taken a bit of a break from the blog to work on a new book that somehow already has 20,000 words! I am not sure how that happened or when it happened to be honest. While it is nowhere near ready to hit the Worlds in Progress page, I’ll let y’all take a look at what its query might look like…

WITCHWOOD

They knew her as Crown Princess Blodwen Rydderch of Hearth– the woman born as the daughter of Hearth.  She would become the beating heart of the eight islands. As the last midnight bell tolled on her eighteenth birthday, she would look at the Ladies and Lords of the seven islands before her and choose who would rule beside her.

They knew her as resistance leader Raven– the woman born a witch’s daughter. Her mother long dead. Her birthright unknown. Her grievances against the crown carried on black wings out across the sea.

Only she knew they were one in the same.

When the resistance is cursed into the forms of the birds they once used, when they are caged by the crown they defied, when she is cast out by her father, Raven’s wings pull her into the safety of the Witchwood–where the Goddess lives and magic flows.

Pulling elements from The Seven Ravens, Snow White, and other beloved tales, Witchwood reaches into monarchy at the brink of change as it follows the generation who will dismantle a kingdom through nature, witchcraft, and embroidery.

(YA Fantasy, Estimated 80,000 words)

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The Validity of eBooks

“The ebook is a stupid product: no creativity, no enhancement,” says the Hachette Group CEO

Allow me to scream about this ebooks are stupid thing for a bit, thanks.

I work in a library so I am literally surrounded by books for a good majority of my waking hours. In my day to day life I can easily pick up physical books for free to read. I wouldn’t have to go out of my way. Having access to physical books is part of my life.

Why am I telling you this?

Here is a fun fact: I read more digital ebooks than print. If I were to estimate, it would be upwards of 90% of my reading is done via a screen. I say as I type this up on a screen and read that article on a screen and have another browser with a book I was reading up on my screen. While yes, many of us can say that, when a lot of reading is online. I say that with reading upwards of 100 books last year. Most of them were digital.

There are a few reasons I read a lot digitally, but honestly the main one is ease of access. I always have my phone with me. Let’s be honest, I don’t want to carry the latest doorstopper fantasy novel, however, if it is right there on my phone I can easily read it when I am out and about, or just sitting on the couch and don’t want 20 pounds of paper sitting on me. I have cats for that. Doorstopper fantasy novels really impede the cat cuddling. Phones do not. I am saying this as a person who has the capability to pick up that book and turn those pages.

What if you can’t do that? Ebooks make content, yes, the exact same text as physical books, available for a wider range of people. There is nothing wrong with that. That’s amazing!

For a brief moment, consider garlic. Before it can be used garlic needs all of that outside paper peeled off and then the cloves themselves to be chopped up. First you have to take apart the head of garlic. You need the dexterity and the strength to take them apart. Now imagine if your hands ache with every movement. Then you need to be able to do the delicate work of taking off the thin sheets of papery membrane that hide the meaty garlic from you. Now imagine if your hands shake with every movement. Now you have to mince the clove. Imagine you cannot grip a knife without it slipping from your hands.

Now imagine someone started selling garlic paste in a easy squeeze tube.

Oh yes, garlic is back on the menu. (As a human person who injures her hands on a regular basis, I love garlic paste.)

Ebooks are garlic paste.

Does reading give you eye strain? Switch the background from light to dark. It’s easier to read, and if I recall anything from my Education degree, a light font on a dark background can help some people with dyslexia and learning difficulties.

Speaking of dyslexia, you can swap out fonts. Generally, sans serif fonts are easier to read on screens than serif fonts, swap it out. Many eBook providers will also give a font option like OpenDyslexia ( https://opendyslexic.org/ ) providing even more people with access to information.

Are you hypersensitive to textures and smells? Bam! Digital books don’t have bothersome ink and paper.

Do you struggle with mobility? Downloadable content without having to struggle out of your house is a life saver. I’ll give a little library plug here with a lot of local libraries have access to various digital libraries. Overdrive ( https://www.overdrive.com/ ) is a great resource for  looking into that.  

If you have gotten this far and think: None of these situations apply to me. I would like you to consider two things. Thing one: empathy. Oh, that isn’t enough. Ok, let’s move on to thing two: being able bodied is a temporary state.

We age. We get injured. We become ill. It’s easy in the moment to think oh I love the smell and feel of pages beneath my fingertips. Until it becomes hard to turn that page.

 

As an aside: If you want to support writers and have no money, please please please check your library for a digital library before resorting to downloading a free copy from somewhere… questionable. If you can’t find what you are looking for, suggest it! Seriously. We want to know how to best provide for our community!

100 Books, 100 Quotations

As of April 7, 2016 I decided to read 100 books by the end of the year to get me out of a reading slump. I needed to keep track of them. So, to help me remember each book, I wrote down a single quote. This list is my literary year (or 9 months) in review— from graphic novels to cookbooks, from picture books to epics, from poetry to prose, from new to old, here they are…

1. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley — “Cookies are all about comfort. Sometimes something simple can comfort the most.”

2. Jin Jin the Dragon by Grace Chang, illustrated by Chong Chang —“‘Oh, I’m all mixed up,’ cried the little creature. ‘Doesn’t anyone know what I am?’”

3. Uprooted by Naomi Novik — “Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside out valley.”

4. Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson — “Why had this Guardian chosen her? She could protect no one. She had never done a very good job of protecting herself.”

5. Through the Woods by Emily Carrol — “It killed livestock, wrecked fences, came from the woods (most strange things do).”

6. The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality by Julie Sondra Decker — “What artists choose to make art about has absolutely no bearing on what they’re attracted to or what they might want to experience themselves.”

7. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente — “September could see it. She did not know what is was she saw. That is the disadvantage of being a heroine, rather than a narrator.”

8. Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann — “This poem is much more attractive. / With the Healing Brush Tool”

9. George by Alex Gino — “Scott snuck glances her way too, but where Mom’s eyes were filled with concern and confusion, Scott looked at George as if his sibling made sense to him for the first time. George had never been gladder to have an older brother.”

10. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay — “I have never considered compassion a finite resource. I would not want to live in a world where such was the case.”

11. The Aspects of a Novel by E. M. Forester — “History develops, Art stands still, Is a crude motto, indeed it is almost a slogan, and though forced to adopt it we must not do so without admitting it vulgarily. It contains only a partial truth.”

12. How They Met and Other Stories by David Leviathan — “Sallie’s doubts were only reinforced by her textbook. It defined a ‘couple’ as ‘two forces on a body of equal magnitude and opposite direction, having lines of action that are parallel but do not coincide.’”

13. Fairy Tale Comics edited by Chris Duffy — “Oh, I’ll marry him! He seems brave and kind and I much prefer adventuring to dancing anyway!”

14. One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva — “Alek put his hand on his brother’s shoulder. ‘Nik, there’s a difference between need and want. Remember that, okay?’”

15. Emperor of the Eight Islands: The Tale of Shikanoko by Lian Hearn — “Sesshin smiled and nodded. ‘I am what I am and what I have always been, a poor soul on a journey.’”

16. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce — “Alanna stared at herself in the mirror. Her twin stared back, violet eyes wide in his pale face.”

17. Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler — “‘Never forget that even the grandest of trees once had to grow up from the smallest of seeds.’”

18. Enchanted by Alethea Kontis — “Wednesday would put together an eloquent string of seemingly unconnected adjectives that one day, months later, would make perfect sense.”

19. Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers & Eaters tales retold by Jane Yolen, recipes by Heidi E. Y. Stemple, illustrations by Philippe Beha — “A storyteller never tells the same story twice, because every audience needs a slightly different story, depending upon the season or the time of day, the restlessness of the youngest listened or how appropriate a tale is to what has just happened in the storyteller’s world. And every cook knows that a recipe changes according to the time of day, the weather, the altitude, the number of grains in the level teaspoon, the ingredients found (or not found) in the cupboard or refrigerator, the tastes or allergies of the dinner guests, even the cook’s own feelings about the look of the batter.”

20. Are We There Yet? by Nina Laden — “No.”

21. Anything Could Happen by Will Walton — “There’s a pounding in my chest. That’s your heart, I think, all broken up but beating anyways. It’s trying to save you. Feel it go, Tretch. Feel your heart, working harder than ever. It is working to save me, and everything else is working to save it.”

22. Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci — “Being pretty here involves so much more than just being pretty, and frankly I don’t have time for it.”

23. Fairy Tales for Angry Little Girls by Lela Lee — “The new queen was attractive, but she was very insecure.”

24. Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale — “I didn’t really know what I was doing… but that didn’t seem like a good reason not to try.”

25. Fangirl: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell — “In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t google.)”

26. Extremely Cute Animals Operating Heavy Machinery by David Gordon — “Being… extremely cute… doesn’t mean…you can’t get… EXTREMELY MAD!”

27. I Want a Monster! by Elise Gravel — “Papa takes me to the Monsterium. This is the best day of my life!”

28. The Sword in the Stove by Frank W. Dormer — “Vikings! Who will steal our cookies and make us say… Gribnif.”

29. Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson — “The more I considered it, the more I realized how much I have in common with these koalas. We’re both immunocompromised, lightly diseased, exhausted, and full of toxins. I’m totally a koala.”

30. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst — “My magic was small and quiet, like the rest of me, and easy to keep hidden.”

31. Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt — “There is no experimental model of the transgender person; there is no lab protocol; no double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trials. There are just human beings, each of us understanding, often without thinking about it, who we are, male, female, or something in between.”

32. I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World by Eve Ensler — “This book is a call to question rather than to please. To provoke, to challenge, to dare, to satisfy your own imagination and appetite.”

33. Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede — “‘I am widely considered to be unduly suspicious of everyone and everything,” Kazul said in a dry tone. ‘Particularly wizards.’”

34. Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede — “This young woman didn’t look like a princess (except for the crown), and she didn’t act like a princess, and she didn’t talk like a princess.”

35. Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede — “She refused even to put on the tall, pointed hats most witches wore, and she dressed in loose black robes because they were comfortable and practical, not because they were traditional. All of this occasionally annoyed people who cared more about the propriety of her dress than the quality of her spells.”

36. Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede — “Mother had taught me a lot more about dragons than she had about princesses.”

37. A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass — “Reading always makes me tired because sometimes I get so caught up in the rainbowlike colors of the words that I have to read passages over and over.”

38. Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil — “I am slightly curious, however, as to what level my self-loathing will sink to today.”

39. Calamity Jack by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale — “The current plan happened to consist solely of pretending I had a plan.”

40. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth — “But all those times, no matter what the occasion, it had eventually ended up feeling sort of phony, like I was playing at a relationship with God, just like any little kid playing house or grocery store or anything else, but not like it was real.”

41. Shrill by Lindy West — “Mother or monster. Okay, little girl— choose.”

42. 45 Pounds (More or Less) by Kelly Barson — “Air-conditioning is my friend; sweating is not.”

43. Simon vs. The Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli — “But I’m tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.”

44. Texts From Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg — “IM FULL OF RIGHTEOUS FURY”

45. Don’t Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom — “How can I be this person who likes the way she is, has self confidence— or at least some semblance of what appears to be self-confidence— if I still have to spend so much time trying to change?”

46. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman — “My own survival required me to counterbalance interesting with invisible.”

47. Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki — “There’s nothing wrong with being unsolved. Unsolved just means not everyone gets it.”

48. The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga — “I got Little Miss Indy-Alternative-Goth-Gaiman Fan to like my graphic novel. They call that ‘crossover appeal.’”

49. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell — “Eleanor had never thought about killing herself—ever— but she thought a lot about stopping. Just running until she couldn’t run anymore. Jumping from something so high that she’d never hit the bottom.”

50. Faux Paw: Magical Cats Mystery by Sofie Kelly — “Marcus liked to tease that I thought pretty much any problem could be solved with a plate of brownies. That wasn’t true. I thought a blueberry muffin or a nice coffee cake would also work.”

51. Landline by Rainbow Rowell — “For a hallucination, this conversation was progressing very rationally. (Which made sense; Gerorgie had always been good at writing dialogue.)”

52. Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman — “On the third day, I slept at last and dreamed that I was alphabetizing an infinite library that turned out to be myself.”

53. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo — “It seemed to me that in this confluence of cultures we had acquired one another’s superstitions without necessarily any of their comforts.”

54. The Goblin’s Puzzle: The Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Called Alice by Andrew Chilton — “There was no point in saving the people from an oppressive tyrant if he had to tyrannize them oppressively to do it.”

55. The Bees: A Novel by Laline Paull — “Flora bowed to her hive, set her engine to hard ascent, and leaped from the board.”

56. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic: A Novel by Emily Croy Barker — “Anything that threatened her control of her own body seemed anathema.”

57. A Victorian Flower Dictionary: The Language of Flowers Companion by Mandy Kirkby and Vanessa Diffenbaugh — “The Order of the Thistle, a chivalric order founded by King James VII, has a famous motto: Nemo me impune lacessit, ‘No one harms me without punishment’, evoking the prickly aggressiveness of the plant.”

58. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline — “I don’t know, maybe your experience differed from mine. For me, growing up as a human being on the planet Earth in the twenty-first century was a real kick in the teeth. Existentially speaking.”

59. Cat Out of Hell by Lynne Truss — “If he had been a book, I would have hurled him across the room.”

60. If I Had a Gryphon by Vikki Vansickle and Cale Atkinson — “If only I could have a pet with strange, exotic powers, I know that I’d find lots to do to while away the hours.”

61. Talking Writing: 50 Contemporary Writers on Novels Short Stories, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Playwriting, Digital, Fantasy, Sci-Fi Blogging, Criticism, Comedy, Erotica, Crime, Young Adult, Screenwriting, Picture Books, Memoir and Much Much More by Kirsten Krauth — from the piece “The Importance of Being Rejected: An Incentive to Improve” by Adrian Deans— “This was a key moment in my development as a writer— realizing that I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. (At least, not yet.)”

62. The Sandman Volume 1 Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman, Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III — “I sprinkle sand into the waters of night. The grains burn as they fall, reminding me of another in times long passed away.”

63. The Serpent’s Shadow by Mercedes Lackey — “Air, though, they tend to be the scholars, the artists, or the entertainers. Lots of creative types in Air.”

64. Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide by Charles Foster — “Going after badgers is the best way to scorch your sentiment. They are great tutors. In the darkening woods they look you shrewdly in the eye, finger their corduroy braces thoughtfully, and then slash open your face.”

65. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch — “To the right, a stone walkway meanders into a forest of maple trees, a hidden path for midnight trysts or assassination attempts.”

66. In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce — “In the three years she had been disguised as a boy, she had learned that boys know girls as little as girls know boys. It didn’t make sense— people are people, after all, she thought— but that was how things were.”

67. Everything I Never Told You: A Novel by Celeste Ng — “These are the new rules, which no one has outlines but which she already knows: Don’t talk about Lydia. Don’t talk about the lake. Don’t ask questions.”

68. Grim by Christine Johnson, Ellen Hopkins, Julie Kagawa, Amanda Hocking, Claudia Gray, and Rachel Hawkins — “‘You are a kind and generous person, and I like you a lot,’ said the giant. ‘But we could fill this castle ten times over with the things you do not know.’”

69. The Woman Who Rides Like A Man by Tamora Pierce — “‘I think as a human being,’ she retorted hotly. ‘Men don’t think any differently from women— they just make more noise about being able to.’”

70. Saga: Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples — “My reluctance to use force isn’t ideological, it’s practical. Violence is stupid. Even as a last resort, it only ever begets more of the same.”

71. Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce — “‘The trouble with arguing with a cat is that cats don’t hesitate to say anything about you, no matter how crazy it is,’ she complained. ‘You can’t win an argument that way.’”

72. Saga: Volume Two by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples — “In romantic comedies this is called the ‘meet-cute.’ I’ve always hated romantic comedies.”

73. Saga: Volume Three by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples — “Over the years we met every kind of person imaginable. But no one makes worse first impressions than writers.”

74. The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley — “I remember being asked at a baby shower once if I wrote children’s books. I found it difficult to even respond to that, because I’d just published a science-fantasy noir book about a bisexual bounty hunter who lops off people’s heads for a living. There is of course nothing wrong with writing children’s books, but I couldn’t help wondering what that person would assume I wrote if I presented as a dude.”

75. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire — “Her parents loved her, there was no question of that, but their love was the sort that filled her suitcase with colors and kept trying to set her up on dates with local boys. Their love wanted to fix her, and refused to see that she wasn’t broken.”

76. Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig — “She thinks, I want an orange soda. And I want vodka to mix into the orange soda. And, while we’re at it, I’d also like to stop being able to see how people are going to bite it. Oh, and a pony. I definitely want a goddamn pony.

77. Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig — “Grade school— elementary and up— is like being dropped in a dunk tank filled with starving piranha.”

78. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale — “Her pulse clicked in her jaw, and she held on to that noise, tried to take comfort from it, as if the quarry and home were as near as her heart.”

79. Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale — “I am trying to choose words carefully, you see. Master Filippus lectured on the importance of word choice in our Rhetoric lesson. Words can fall hard like a boulder loosened from a cliff. Words can drift unnoticed like a weed seed on a breeze. Words can sing.

80. Saga: Volume Four by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples — “Admit it, you’re probably a very different person at work than you are at home. Everyone needs to be someone else sometimes.”

81. Saga: Volume Five by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples — “Cheer up, Beard of Sorrow.”

82. Saga: Volume Six by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples — “We’re all aliens to someone. Even among our own people, most of us feel like complete foreigners from time to time. Usually associated with invasions, abductions, or other hostile acts, the term ‘alien’ gets a bad rap. But over the years, the word has come to mean something very different to me… future friend material.”

83. The Black Book of Colors by Merena Cottin and Rosana Faria — “Thomas says that yellow tastes like mustard, but is as soft as a baby chick’s feathers.”

84. The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale — “‘Are you so afraid of a baby girl?’ Miri said, leaning toward him across the table. ‘How about me? Do I terrify you too? Watch out, I wear a dress and don’t grow a beard, and if you don’t keep me in check, I’ll steal all your power!’”

85. How to Be Brave: A Novel by E. Katherine Kottaras — “Liss teases me, ‘You can take the dork out of the classroom, but you can’t take the classroom out of the dork.’”

86. Sprout by Dale Peck — “In Long Island, all the roads were, first of all, streets, and they were also, you know, paved. Dirt roads belonged to movies set in other countries, other centuries. Yet here they were, their washboard ridges shaking our suburban car to pieces, as if to punish us for disturbing a quiet pastoral afternoon.”

87. A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction by Terry Pratchett — “So let’s not get frightened when the children read fantasy. It is the compost for a healthy mind. It stimulates the inquisitive nodes. It may not appear as ‘relevant’ as books set more firmly in the child’s environment, or whatever hell the writer believes to be the child’s environment, but there is some evidence that a rich internal fantasy life is as good and necessary for a child as healthy soil is for a plant, for much the same reasons.”

88. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins — “Americans called this time of the year ‘October’ or sometimes, ‘Autumn,’ but the librarians reckoned time by the heavens. Tonight was the seventh moon, which is the moon of the black lament.”
* I read this one on Halloween. Would recommend that.

89. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell — “‘It’s just that getting paid to do nothing is a constant reminder that I’m doing nothing,’ Lincoln said. ‘And doing nothing takes more energy than you’d think. I’m tired all the time.’”

90. Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg — “No one had ever told me that my writing was all over the place. I could feel heat spread across my face and into my ears. Take away my labels, fine. Just leave me the things I know I am, like being a good writer.”

91. Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture by Stephen H. Segal, N. K. Jemisin, Genevieve Valentine, Eric San Juan, Zaki Hasan — “I wish I could remember who asked me the question. Because I know for sure that my answer is what set me on the path that has brought me here, to you, on this page. The question was: ‘What was our religion when you were growing up?’ And my answer was: ‘Uh, science fiction, pretty much.’”

92. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin — “Fortunately, where reason failed, blind panic served well enough.”

93. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell — “(Which is my rough luck, pretty much always. As soon as you start carrying a sword, all your enemies turn out mist and gossamer.)”

94. The Story Book Knight by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty — “Leo was a gentle knight in thought and word and deed. While other knights liked fighting, Leo liked to sit and read.”

95. Everyday Witchcraft: Making Time for Spirit in a Too-Busy World by Deborah Blake — “By creating daily practices, a practitioner can feel more grounded and centered in reality, allowing for more mindful choices to be made on a daily basis. By consciously consuming and by choosing love-based human interactions, our empathy increases and so does our engagement in this strange thing called life. By bettering ourselves, we better the world, creating a solid path of living magick.”

96. Timekeeper by Tara Sim — “Here, he felt needed. Valued. The tower was a sanctuary, all gold lines and hand curves, glint and glass, standing old and steady under the thrum of time.”

97. Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman — “‘I think,’ said the bear, ‘as a responsible adult, I should point a few things out.’”

98. Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel: A Novel by Sara Farizan — “The class is silent again. I hate when this happens. I’ve never done will with awkward silences or pauses. I can always hear people breathing. I can hear myself breathe. It’s the most uncomfortable feeling ever.”

99. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz — “The problem with my life was that it was someone else’s idea.”

100. Invasive: A Novel by Chuck Wendig — “The future, it occurs to Hannah, does not frighten him the way it frightens her. That worries her. Someone with his power and experience shouldn’t have such raging optimism— and deception by powerful men is a danger as persistent as global warming, famine, or disease.”

I’m officially over my reading slump.

10 Bookish Cupcakes – Genre Edition

When every other plan in my life fails dramatically Authorial Furies will become a bakery. Some notes on my future endeavor’s cupcakes:

1. Mystery

Crumbs dust an otherwise empty cupcake liner. A stray fingerprint, brushed in powdered sugar, presses the intricately folded paper down.

2. Horror

It was just like every other cupcake in the case— perfectly frosted, perfectly baked. Nothing could go wrong. Nothing was wrong. Certainly nothing was wrong with the reddish filling slowly seeping from the base…

3. Fantasy ***

A tiny sword adorned with a faintly glowing pommel stone erupts from the center of a roughly frosted cupcake. The cake itself is rather hard. It might be best served in a lake of sauce.

4. Metafiction

A frosted cupcake baked within a cupcake. Which is then frosted itself in the selfsame frosting initially frosted within. Indubitably.

5. Historical

Mix one pound flour, one pound butter, one pound sugar, and one pound eggs. No leaveners needed in the 1700s— just a strong mixing arm.

6. Romance

Despite no discernible draft, the paper liner ensconcing the rich chocolate sponge flutters like a butterfly’s wings. A bright red rose spun of sugar blossoms atop a swirl of rich chocolate frosting.

7. Science Fiction

Freeze Dried – Check

Nutrient Fortified – Check

Bright Green – Check

8. Western

Baked in a heavily oiled cast iron pan, a scorched corn cake needs no liner. It’s held together by grit and lard and gunmetal.

9. Fairy Tale

A delicate cupcake baked in a glistening glass goblet. A shimmering glaze decorously covers the cake. A singular fondant pearl punctuates the apex of the desert. With the first bite, you realize… that cupcake was a muffin all along!

10. The Movie Makeover

After one of the cupcakes is completely done, scoop off the frosting. Then have a passerby randomly choose a new flavor to slap onto it. Some consumers will love the change others will hate it. No matter what everyone will be very vocal about it.

***Many will try to buy this, but only sell it to the person who retrieves the sword. For they are The One.

In Favor of Books

Given the rest of this site, hopefully that title is pretty evident.  However, today I am talking about physical books you can use for blunt instruments.  Their ability to be used as blunt instruments is neither here nor there, but there you are, another point in their favor I suppose.

I recently had the opportunity to take a paper making class during my final semester.  Let me tell you something: it is really, really difficult to make a book by hand. We went through every aspect of traditionally making a book, from the creation of the paper, the covers, and stitching the whole thing together. This whole process gave me a renewed appreciation for books as a physical product and form of art.

First step: making the paper.  When making paper by hand, everything gets wet.  Seriously, everything.  My shoes to my knees were soggy after an afternoon in the studio.  It’s a surprisingly messy process for an end product that is clean and crisp.

Soggy, pulpy, writerly gold

Basically, you have a mixture of pulp and water in a tub.  In order to form the paper, each sheet is created one at a time on a screen and frame not unlike a window screen.  The screen is dipped into the pulp and water then drawn back out.  While taking the screen out, you basically feel like you are panning for gold.

During our class we often used abaca— a species of banana native to the Philippines—for the pulp.  Abaca creates a naturally creamy colored pulp that is easily dyed to a variety of colors.

What is left when the water drains from the screen is a thin layer of pulp.  Flipping the screen over, you press the pulp onto a felt.  From here, you continue to make paper and stack it onto felts until you have a massive pulp and felt sandwich. Then, you place this sandwich into a press. Twenty thousand pounds of pressure later, most of the water has been squeezed out of the paper.

Next, you pull the slightly damp sheets of paper and place them between blotters with a weight on top to allow them to dry completely flat, or you can let them air dry for a more crinkly effect.

Japanese Stab Binding
Japanese Stab Binding

Once you’ve built up a sufficient amount of paper you can make yourself a book.  Although we learned several methods of sewing your book together, my personal favorite is the Japanese stab binding technique, which highlights the sewing, rather than hiding it underneath the cover.  In this method, you stab a line (or several lines) of holes through all your sheets of paper, including thicker pieces for each cover.  Then you sew a pattern through these holes, looping around the side of your book to ensure all the pieces stay together. The sewing on a stab bound book can take a multitude of patterns.  After tying off the thread, your book is ready to flip.

Finally…. Write your book!