Because love doesn’t always mean wheat

14 February 2010 | 8 Comments

We are big fans of wheaty goodness in our house, but, as Love Story reminds us, love means not always having to eat the wheat (or wait, maybe it was something about sorry… which I always thought was deeply silly. Call me wacky, but I think love means sometimes saying you are sorry even when you aren’t.).

Today I made my sweetie a non-wheaty treatie…oh dear, I am becoming punchy and must go make more tea immediately.

Enjoy your day and all the love in your life, whatever form it may come in.

Banana oat muffins

  • 1 cup oat bran
  • ½ cup oat flour
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup canola oil or other vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 1 or 2 ripe bananas
  • ½ to ¾ cup raisins, depending on your taste
  • ½ to ¾ cup sweet dried cranberries, depending on your taste
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Oil or butter the muffin tins.
  2. Whisk the oat bran, oat flour, rice flour and backing powder together in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the oil, honey, egg and milk.
  4. In a separate bowl, squish the banana(s) into paste with your hands, then mix in the raisins and cranberries.
  5. Stir half the liquid into the dry ingredients until just blended. Add half the fruit and stir. Then add the remaining liquid and fruit, stirring until just blended.
  6. Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full. Bake at 425° for 15-25 minutes, until the muffins are brown and a toothpick in the center comes out mostly clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Makes 12 – 15 muffins. If you wish, you can cook 6 at a time and keep the batter in the fridge (keeps up to 2 days). Stir cold batter well before baking.

The big time differential depends on your oven. I do 16 -20 minutes on convection, and it generally takes 25 minutes for my oven on non-convection. Don’t be afraid to let them get brown on top.

Everything, briefly

12 February 2010 | 2 Comments

From artist Jamie Bell, A Brief History of Pretty Much Everything. Brilliant.

This is the final piece for my AS art course, a flipbook made entirely out of biro pens. It’s something like 2100 pages long, and about 50 jotter books. I’d say I worked on and off it for roughly 3 weeks.
Song is French Cancan by Jaques Offenbach.
Additional sounds credited to Valve, specifically from their game Team Fortress 2.
Other stuff is from the 300 trailer and O Little Town of Bethlehem.
– Jamie Bell, artist, A Brief History of Pretty Much Everything


Enjoy your day.

Two scoops of Hax

10 February 2010 | 6 Comments

I have said before that I think Carolyn Hax is made of awesome sauce, and, well, here I am to say it again with two recent columns that made me talk back to my computer screen (You go, Carolyn!)

The first column starts out being about elevator rudeness, but read the entire column (which is an ongoing conversation). Really, we’re talking about what tolerance means, and how assumptions and judgments hurt people. I’ve had plenty of personal experience of this, and so has Nicola, and you know what? All you people who have ever rolled your eyes at her because she doesn’t look sick enough to meet your standards can just fuck off.

I don’t know why people feel entitled to get up in the face of strangers who are making non-hurtful-to-anyone-else choices about how to spend their time and energy. I think it must be a spirit-bruising way to live. I can put on my Judge Judy pajamas with the best of them, but I am trying harder to save it for times when people are hurting each other, not just themselves.

Robert Heinlein said, “Hurting yourself isn’t sinful, just stupid.” I don’t like the word “stupid” — it means something particular to me and I hesitate to apply it across the board this way. Because we’ve all made choices that hurt ourselves. And sometimes it really is stupid, and sometimes it’s just… I don’t know. Sometimes it’s just learning. Which seems to me to be the opposite of stupid.

But deciding whether other people have a “right” to take the elevator or not is stupid.

Here’s my other helping of Hax for you today: why do people protect their bitterness? I’ve got bitter slippers in my closet just like everyone else (they like to snuggle up to those Judy Judy pajamas…) but mostly, I prefer to wear the Cloak of Everyday Happiness and drink champagne and appreciate kindness when I find it in the world.

It’s raining in Seattle. Nicola and I went to the park anyway. We got very wet. Because of the rain, Nicola wore her hat again. People walking by in the park tend to either avert their eyes when they see her in this hat, or smile tenderly (seriously — tenderly), and we finally figured out it’s because they think she’s a chemotherapy patient. At least they don’t roll their eyes.

Enjoy your day.

It’s funny when it isn’t you…

6 February 2010 | 2 Comments

Here is what I am finding amusing lately — Clients From Hell, a collection of pithy client-horror stories from anonymous designers.

To be clear, I don’t have any actual clients like this. At all. But I have sure met some of these people. And when one is not actually having to deal with them, they are remarkably funny to read about.

Some personal favorites:

  • Once I get out on parole, we can really get this thing off the ground.
  • Hi could you please fix my website so that people in Canada can’t see it? It makes fun of hockey and I don’t want to get hurt.
  • I got together 6 of my trusted friends, we each had a bottle of wine and printed out all 47 pages of the website you designed. I have written the notes out on every page – we have a lot of tweaks.

Ooh, the last one sounds a lot like an editor! (Just kidding! Just kidding! I do not drink when I work…)

I hope you’re enjoying your weekend and that it includes no one from hell.

Publishing questions

5 February 2010 | 2 Comments

From a reader through talk to me:

Are there any concerns involved in posting one’s writing works on a blog? For example, would publishers be less inclined to pay if a work, say a short story, or a novel draft, was already publicly available on the internet? What about after you get published, what control do you have over how you may distribute your writing outside of your publisher? What other rights issues are involved? I figured you might be able to answer me since you’ve posted some of both your published and unpublished work on this site.

Thank you! I am a great admirer of your work.

And thank you for your patience!

The answer is, maybe. It depends. (Don’t you hate that kind of answer?) If you’ve published an entire novel on your website and have had very few visitors, most print publishers won’t see that as a threat to their market: but they may wonder if there is a market for your book at all. If you have thousands of visitors, the publisher may assume you’ve already reached your audience — but clearly there is an audience for your book, and perhaps that audience can be expanded either for this book, or your next one.

Short stories are more problematic. If I had posted a short story on my website before publishing it in a professional market (online or print), I would make certain the editor knew it: and I think the editor might regard the story as “used” rather than “new,” But again, it depends on the individual editor, the overall market, and what kind of traffic you get.

I can’t speak for publishers or editors. I can only speak from my perspective. But I can also call upon Great and Powerful Resources for you (grin): here’s a blog post on this topic from Moonrat at Editorial Ass, who is an actual Publishing Person and has informed opinions. Make sure to read the comment conversation as well for more discussion. (And follow her blog: she’ll give you lots of insight into publishing and editing).

As far as rights after publication, that depends entirely on your contract for the story or novel. The publisher will generally take exclusive rights for first print publication in some form (English/North America; world English; first serial rights for short fiction; etc.) During that time, you may not publish the work in its entirety with anyone else, although generally everyone agrees that it’s a good thing to post a sample chapter or a story on your website, or the publisher’s website, and to possibly serialize the first bits of the book to bring readers in.

When you sell a short story to an online or print magazine, you generally sell one-time rights. When you sell to an anthology, you generally sell world rights and hope the anthology will be translated into a zillion languages. In all cases, after the story has been out a certain amount of time, you will have the right to re-sell it to other markets (reprint rights). And the right to post it on your own website, as many writers do.

The publisher will always take some form of electronic rights and you will get them back when hell freezes over.

I never publish sold work on my website without either having the rights myself or negotiating clearly with the publisher (as in the case of my stories that appear both in Dangerous Space and on this site). The only time I publish unsold work here is when I’ve decided that it is unsaleable. That may change as the overall publishing model changes, but for now it’s how I work.

A lot of writers blog work-in-progress because they just can’t wait for readers; just can’t wait for people to see their work. But unless the writer is an established writer posting work-in-progress for a specific reason (writers do this to raise money for themselves or others, for example), then I don’t see a lot of point. Posting work without a) an audience already in place, and b) a skilled hand at the writing wheel, seems to me to be wholly driven by impatience: I can’t wait, I want people to love my work right now!

I get what that feels like. I am sometimes so impatient this way that I think my head will explode. But writing doesn’t get better just because it’s in public. It’s either good enough, or it isn’t. If your goal is to see your name on a story online, or a print book, then self-publish it. If your goal is to be professionally published (as it is still currently defined, although we all know it’s becoming a moving target), then do what pros do: keep your work to yourself until it’s really ready, and then go out and sell it.

That’s my two cents. To the reader who sent this question, let me know if I’ve answered it fully for you. To everyone else: mileage varies enormously in this area, and different opinions are welcome in the conversation.