2017-02-23 07:38 pm
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Cardinal crazy

Took a battle with yahoo and play with flier, but here is one of my quilts I have a digital photo of: We'll see if it works...

2017-02-22 07:45 pm
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Quilty updates

 I finished the old blanket UFO I talked about a long while back - all greens on the new section, plus flattening out the fabrics in the center that didn't shrink with the cottons.

I finished a very colorful squares and rectangles crazy-isa quilt juste barely in time to get it in the Wisconsin Winter Quilt Festival this coming weekend.

My next UFO is a wedding quilt due this summer, which I've only barely started.  I'm going it will go quickly once I get going but I have to finish charting it before I can go much further: It will be a mix of two kinds of blooming nine-patch, and some Irish chain in between.

I understand there is a way to do pictures here but I haven't quite figured out that one yet.  I'll post some quilt pictures as soon as I do.

2017-01-11 07:17 pm
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tasty experiment

 I ended up cooking for some vegetarians this summer and expect to again so I have been experimenting with tofu.  Today's experiment wasn't too bad:
very firm tofu, diced, lightly fried
water chestnuts, sliced
dried coconut
dried currents
broth (some wine included to add a little sweetness or add a little honey to a savory broth)
bring to a boil and simmer about ten minutes
2014-06-03 09:26 pm

Stress Relief Quilt Design

When it is too hot to walk, and sometimes when walking isn't enough, quilt design has been a great stress reliever, as if ceativity triggers the happy part of my brain.  This past couple of weeks it has been Space Quilt 3, the one for me.  I'm doing quilt as you go, 15 X some other size blocks with backing, batting, and crazy pieces that I lay out as the mood hits: mostly black fabrics, black backgrounds with silver, gold, or bright colors, and some bright colors.  Stars, planets, big flowers that look planet like, especially when not whole.  i need something more sun like yet.  I take scraps, cut pieces, lay them out.  Some blocks are just shades of black, empty space, for the contrast., some edged in darker fabrics with a loosely defined planet or cluster in the center.  Several have bis of fabric flopping over the edges.  Pin, machine sew the main seams, hand sew the smaller seams, fill central gaps.  Lots of gaps around the edges.  When I sew the blocks together, I'll see what to do about the floppy extras and gaps, but they are unplanned, so lining up will be pot luck, decide as I go, just like the individual blocks.  That should result in the block seams mostly disappearing into the overall design.  Still haven't figured out how to post digital photos, but working on it, and collecting the photos meanwhile...
2014-05-17 10:53 pm

Creative mussings

I keep drafting blogs that I haven't posted, mostly because they are rants that I think aren't worth reading.  Maybe if I took the time to type and edit them they would be usable opinion pieces, but not sure anyone would care even then.  I'm on the train and the first leg is already behind schedule so this may be an extra long trip.  Away from work is good, but I have plenty else to be getting done, not least qult designs for the new round of UFOs (UnFinished Objects).  Sis and i have been discussing design a lot lately.  Not many of our quilters are really into that part of quilting, both lacking confidence and unwilling to try.  They'd rather follow an exact pattern than even try to follow vary-it-yourself instructions.  And those in charge of projects give more instructions than they need to, limiting creativity even when it would be perfectly fine.  Like a colorful, mixed fabric stripe: why insist on high contrast?  That as likely as not will detract from the look of a colorful stripe rather than aid it, by preventing color flow and blending along the way.  And there are already so many colors, contrast with the plain stripe next to is guaranteed, even if a few of the pieces were to be the same color as the stripe.

Our awareness of the oddity of our preference for creativity was prodded awake by plantings, actually.  We were considering one property but it's part of a historical association.with few rules but guidance like "match the area trends in landscaping".  Lawn and trees is most of the landscaping in the area.  The lady thought she was being creative to add a bush too close to the building, and no one had a problem with that so we shouldn't worry.  Really?  Our idea of landscaping is to avoid the continued existence of grass except as a small picnic area or path between flower beds, herbs, and vegetable gardens.  Our own neighborhood used to be either grass or ivy.  Now there are green accent plants, flowers, bushes of every sort, even in the curb area of many properties (and neighbors copied our new railings, too).  We don't follow trends.  We set them.  I wonder if that puts us in the category that some consider "bad neighbors"...?  Green has been the dominant color in sight on my train ride, too, with hardly a flower in sight even in the small town yards we pass by.  Do people not like flowers?  Is that part of the recent trend in "decluttering" to deny oneself even pretty sights?
2014-02-02 09:56 am
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I have managed some more cooking (one of my goals).  This past coupleo f weeks it has been sour dough waffles, sourdough bread with ground amaranth (the whole seed is not as sweet as amaranth flour), sourdough fruit bread is rising now and a king cake is planned when I figure out when Fat Tuesday is.  Oh yeah, and sour dough dumplings in stew.

Sour dough.  Add enough flour to make a thick dough.  Add egg, herbs if desired (I used herbs de Province this time), a dash of baking powder if you are impatient or like a really fluffy, biscuit-like dumpling.  Let rise.

Make your favorite stew or soup (I made leftovers beef stew).  Bring to a boil.  Spoon risen dough  into the pot leaving a little space around each dumpling.  Reduce to simmer and cover.  cook about 20 minutes.  Uncover and cook about ten more minutes.  To test for done-ness, cut open the largest dumpling and make sure it is not doughy at the center. 
2014-02-02 09:21 am
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Catching up

I hate having to re-enter a post.  I made the mistake of selecting a link for changing a setting I wanted to use, and of course lost all my work as soon as I navigated away.  Wish it would warn me!  so a short version:

Have one more quilt with a deadline: the UnfFnished Object challenge.  It's on the outer round, of course the last quarter is half the quilt.  Radius squared and all that.

Finished the Olympic-themed quilt top and have it hanging at work for the month, which is convenient since it i too long to layout or hang anywhere at the house (Its over 10 feet at the long end).  It's not supposed to have a long end but now that it is hanging, i can see how to fix it.

A little house-hunting.  Slow.  Either people aren't selling or flippers are picking everything of  decent price up and ruining it.   There's open, and there's stripped.  There's modern and there's modern disaster with nothing functional.   Everything on market has been for a long time because it's overpriced for profiteering despite serious flaws.  Highway expansion chopped off the front yard, so that makes it worth more?  Renovation removed all the closet space so that makes it worth more?  A "finished" basement takes up storage space, pretends to be more space than the same house with a perfectly usable unfinished basement, and that makes ti worth twice its assessed value?  Not.  Flaws we can accept.  High prices so that we can't afford to fix them, not so much.

Everything else is trying to remember how I survived night shifts.  I already have insomnia so don't have to worry about developing it...  Sis found me a tension rod to create an extra curtain to keep my bedroom darker during the day.  That starts this coming week.
2014-01-12 12:57 am
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Fresh Starts

The perennial new year activity is reviewing life and getting it going again with a fresh start or two, with new or old activities. an old activity was blogging and I'm trying to get back to doing that on a more regular basis, if only so I can keep on my e-mail. For older blog posts, you can check out my links to Explorations and Essentials, but it is difficult to impossible for me to continue posting to those at this time and their decline did not help me keep to a regular blogging schedule. Paying work also got in the way and is likely to again, but we'll see what we can do to work around it.

It is said that telling people your goal sometimes helps you achieve them so I thought I would put a few of them here. (I always have more than I can achieve, but if I have less, I tend to achieve less, so more is better and maybe extras will get done along the way)
  • Cook and bake more - My sister does most of the cooking, especially when I am working long hours, but she deserves a break when I can give her one and there are some recipes I want to try
  • Submit at least Red Squad to a large publisher (TOR seems the most likely candidate presently but I need to do some renewed searching in that regard) and maybe submit some other books to other publishers - which requires going through my workshop notes and making appropriate edits.
  • Finish Green Squad and draft Seven Divided (third and fourth books of the space fiction series We Are Seven that starts with Red Squad)
  • Quilt at least three of the quilt tops I made last year and this (I already finished three quilt tops this year, all of them started last year, but the quilting part takes longer so I have probably a dozen tops waiting, plus a few more nearly done, waiting for a border fabric or applique work or some other bit of thing to be done)  One is due in March, one is due in November.  The rest don't have deadlines or destinations, yet.
  • Figure out how to submit a quilt for sale on Etsy.
  • Find a new house.  (Well, that's more a hope than a goal; we already found a house but zoning and such fell through, and unfortunately, the ones that are readily fixed up to be like we want are being picked up by flippers who ruin them and want us to pay more for the privilege of rebuilding them, or they aren't for sale.) 
  • Organize and clean out at least one filing cabinet
  • Gut and revamp the bedroom.
  • Blog at least 52, preferably 100 times this year.
Fresh Eats - Diets are heard to keep up, but a periodic fresh start or a diet-for-a-day now and again can still improve health.  My current "fave", and so far most successful diet is to simply eat 25% less (and eat better) two times per week.  Like many diets, it is still easily undone by the holidays and weeks of neglect, but better to lose now and regain than to gain first and have to lose even more later.  Here are a few fun ways to cut back for a day:
  • Replace morning toast with grapefruit or yogurt
  • Wrap your favorite meat salad in a couple of large lettuce leaves spread with a little ground horseradish instead of bread and mustard or mayo
  • Cut your meat serving in half and put it on top of your potato instead of butter or sour cream
  • Prepare your chopped vegetables for putting on rice (steam with soy sauce and vinegar, stir fry, or whatever you normally do), then spoon them over a row of steamed broccoli (or better yet, asparagus) instead of rice
  • Use parsnip or celery root instead of potatoes for mashing (but this treat is an expensive substitution, so not a ready replacement for regular use unless you are more successful growing them than we have been or you are willing to increase your food budget for the health benefit)
What is your fresh start for the year?
2013-12-09 08:10 am

Earthlink blog not working

The Earthlink web site I had been blogging to is broken (again and for the longer term, it seems, though I'm still occasionally trying to get through). Inevitably, it broke when I was mid story so I'll probably end up posting the whole thing here but not tonight. I've been busy busy busy and suspect I am coming down with something, but it could just be spring allergies (trees were blooming until right up to the current cold spell because of the previous yo-yo weather) and fall allergies and such together. Also, I have the usual Christmas preparations. I'm ahead on shopping, behind on everything else, and working long hours. And how did Thanksgiving get so close to Christmas? I think I've been looking at the wrong calendar... With a late Christmas, the pre-Thanksgiving Christmas music is forgivable, the stores being open on Thanksgiving Day not so much. I've drafted an essay on what I think of the soul-sucking effect of stores ruining our holidays but am still polishing it. Depressing writings are not a good way to start the holiday season. If i can find something cheery to write, maybe I can find some ways to reawaken some holiday spirit at work and home, too.
2013-07-30 07:27 pm

The weather is not for August

But we are getting closer to choosing a house. There is a good chance it will, in the end, be the first one we looked at, full of imperfections but with possibilities, sources of ideas, potential, which we haven't sen in many of the other places. We have one or two more we might look at, potential on paper that may or may not have in person, then I think we're done looking. It was, after all, the first one we looked at, so maybe it was destiny.

Meanwhile, I did my Camp NaNoWriMo write-a-thon working on my third book in a series. Once it is done, I'll relook at the first one and start to try to get agent or publisher, probably starting with TOR. If not them, I can't think of any that do the kind of science fiction I do so I may try some of the e-publishers that are more like publishers and have an editor and arrange for cover art and such, not the we-publish-anything types. Maybe one of them will see some potential in my idea of science fiction, even if it seems to have taken a left turn somewhere along the way.

Odd thing. My earthlink blog got the highest number of hits in one day that I've ever had, hovering low before and after, a week or more after I posted anything. What causes a spike like that?
2013-07-16 02:44 pm
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House Hunting Some More

Found some possibilities, then found a cool but incomplete option (a collection of historic buildings that would have been a great museum if we could find a house anywhere in the area, even though it requires a massive amount of work to repair the neglect and bad decision-making that has preceded out interest) but couldn't find a tolerable house/land package anywhere near. Everyone seems to insist that to get what we want in any tolerable combination (and we are trying to be very flexible, knowing that there are plenty of changes that can be made over time if there is any viable core to work with) will cost more than its worth as well as more than we have available to spend. If there's no land worth the notice, they think taking out some walls and spiffing up the kitchen magically doubles the value. If there is decent land, then they think the land and location make up for the dumpy little house, even though land in the area just isn't going for that much and it isn't even good land. And sometimes the price is lower, but never enough lower for the pitiful little unimproved house that isn't of a deign easily expanded and small property at the same time. Really, they think they should magically get a huge profit just for owning the place a little while? The cool package options gave us time to eliminate all of the first possibilities from consideration for their faults and not living up to the cool half package.

So we've reconsidered what we are looking for, again (you can't query for multi-variable relationships in a house search, you have to define one sort of combination of land and house sizes and price ranges unless you want to go through hundreds of totally unacceptible combinations. So, instead of a larger property and midsize house, we're looking for a smaller property with a big house, so that we can take out walls to get bedrooms, library etc that are a decent size, and will deal with the reduced acreage with trees and other means.
2013-06-01 11:24 am
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Quilt top - Scrapple

Yesterday I made a quilt top, from design to finished. Just a baby quilt, but still, i was impressed. I called it Scrapple - Scrappy appliqued Rag quilt. Not a lot of "rag" but I took squares, zig-zagged the edges mostly because it is a baby quilt. Otherwise I would have left them unfinished, and appliqued them down onto the background by sewing large circles. That leaves the corners a little floppy. I cut out the circles behind the appliqued pieces and though I might applique them on the alternate squares, but mostly the alternate squares have cute pictures of ducks and bunnies and cows and Betty Boop in a pink cowgirl outfit and such so I left them like that and will use the circles elsewhere. Also, some of the fabrics are older and thinner and I left the background fabric in place for strength as this is definitely more play blanket than pretty for special occasions. I don't much like the colors. I aimed for pink with a kind of aqua-green but our baby fabric selection is more to the rainbow pastels, so it has aqua-green of a few shades (the darkest was the Betty Boop), and all the baby fabric whose blues leaned in that direction, and not much pink. A few reds, lots of white with pastels. It will get a pink flannel packing and maybe a darker pink silky edge if it still matches or if I have enough blanket binding left. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next weekend, probably not today as I have many other things I need to do, including on the time-stealing computer.

We survived the storm. Noisy until 1 in the morning, and more rain than we needed but the winds were most outside the city in either direction. Still overcast and storms expected again this evening.

The roof top garden is doing well. Only a few rather fibrous radishes but a good flavor. Some of the peas didn't make it (I think the package directions were wrong and they should have been planted earlier. They didn't appreciate the 90's we had a couple of weeks back.) The sunflower seeds drowned or the squirrels ate them, but I think it is early enough to plant some more. Maybe after the current storm series is done. Squashes, beans, cantaloupe, basil, I forget what all else and we lost the labels in the rain storms so maybe we'll see, are all holding on nicely for now. The pails and waste cans we use for larger pots have holes in them, and sometimes a second set if they didn't drain fast enough the first few rain storms.

The irises are done and the day lilies are only in bud but the spiderwort and one of the climatis and several heliobores are all blooming so we have a little of purple and white front and back. The lilac still hasn't bloomed. Not sure what we are doing wrong, but the tiny struggling rhododendrun (it gets too hot here for it to be happy) finally has a full flower and it is lasting quite a while though it is mostly hidden by other plants, it has grown so little.

We are looking at houses west of Madison.
2013-05-28 09:19 pm
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Spring Cleaning

Researching paper work besides trying to put away old stuff. Yes, researching paperwork, specifically for what might be needed to set up a small business or not-for-profit. Messy regardless and I think not something to actually do before we are ready to start or heading in that direction, but good to know what is expected, what is required, and how to speak the speak so that we don't accidentally confuse roles and upset tax people and supporters (Lesson of the week: Boards of Directors for not-for-profits don't normally get paid so you can only ask s much of them: managers of various sorts might if it isn't a volunteer-only role...).

Researching future cruises - they don't schedule them as far in advance as they used to, possibly due to the need to make changes more than usual in recent years, or the need to adjust prices... We aren't planning on one soon, just looking where we might want to go yet besides a general world cruise when we retire and relocate.

A little bit of fabric shopping but more thrift store shopping looking for an old comforter or two in light cottons to which other stuff can be appliqued, the best way to use up the stash of non-cottons in our "closet", I expect I'll make several in the next year or two, as well as several planned quilts this summer, including multiple "fall" quilts for self, charities, and maybe to try selling on Etsy to test the market's view of my idea of a good crazy quilt. (A lot of people confuse scrappy--meaning mixed fabrics on a repeating pattern--with crazy--meaning not much pattern, either, and ideally no pattern, so unique. But scrappy is more widely acceptable in my local observation, unless it looks specifically like a Victorian crazy quilt. I don't mind the latter, but since I hand quilt and embroider, it's not something I would ever expect to get paid a "reasonable" amount for. A dollar an hour for labor is more likely, so I'd keep, gift, or donate those for charity auctions, not try to sell as a means of earning money. Still, there are things that are not Victorian that are nice crazy quilts, with their own artistic value as well as comfortable for a bed, and some of them can be done with a reasonable time investment, if the style is something other people can appreciate.
2013-05-11 12:48 pm
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House Hunting went a bit better this time with some candidates in reasonable price ranges, that is, the price was sometimes lower if it needed lots of work. Nothing we totally fell in love with but a lot better than we had found elsewhere.

Made me aware how close we are coming to considering actually moving. Relative terms, but given how much time everything seems to take these days, close enough to be a prod to get some things done with the chaos here.

Got a story done and realized that one of the reasons that it seemed more let down than achievement (it isn't, after all, instantly published) is that I don't celebrate the fairly big step of just finishing. I haven't figured out what is a good way to celebrate, but I have to come up with something that I can do, and something that I can do each time I finish, (or publish or other major step) as an incentive and self encouragement. I need to do the same thing with my quilts, too. I sometimes let them sit unattended when i near completion, as if finishing were a bad thing, and I'm sure it is because I never tell myself finishing is a good thing. It's just a thing followed by figuring out what to work on next.

When I was working on my history studies, I celebrated the completion of papers by watching Harry Potter (the third one, I think, which had come out in video just before). Always the same one, but it was a celebration and a watchable movie every time, so it was a good incentive when I got really tired of the research. I never get tired of writing, but that's almost a disincentive to "finish", so maybe the reward serves a different purpose, but no less needed. maybe a reward of reading, instead? What indulgence would cheer me that I usually don't take?
2013-04-08 09:13 pm


Chaos rains at work and home and everything is due at once, not their there are concrete deadlines, just "yesterday" or "before I go" for conference, family visits, and a little vacation, all in April and mostly in Tennessee. You can't get there from here by train without like two or three connections so we're driving. It turns out not to be that long of a drive, at least not as much as we expected, though I'm glad there will be two of us driving.

I was wearing my northern winter coat at the end of last week. Today my suit coat was too warm. Hate these fifty degree jumps, wouldn't mind something just a little cooler for a lot longer, but there are 30s again in the forecast. As long as it says above freezing. We just got our garden planted.
2013-02-22 09:13 pm
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Well this one seems popular - date-nut coffee cake

This one is a modification of a recipe i had for King Cake, and is easily varied. All amounts are approximate.

Your favorite bread dough recipe, one loaf worth, uncooked
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped dates
1 T cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 c butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. ground almonds or almond paste or ready-to-make marzipan (dice finely if stiff)

2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 c. softened butter
3 T milk
Mix butter and sugar.  Add milk to form a very thick liquid.

Let bread dough rise in a bowl, per usual instructions.
Mix butter, brown sugar, and spices
Add almond paste
Spray a jelly-roll pan or large baking dish with oil.
Spread bread dough on flowered board to form a rectangle about 12 x 18.  The edges can be a little thick.
Spread butter-sugar mix across bread dough.
Sprinkle nuts and dates over the dough.

From one of the short ends to the other--use a butter knife to loosen if it sticks to the board--roll the dough and filler up, stretch the thick end a little and press to seal the roll.  Tuck the ends under a little and roll loaf onto the seam as you place it on the greased pan.  Spread top with a little oil.  Allow to rise.  It may not rise to full double and will probably take longer than usual to rise due to the weight of the filling.  To hurry it, heat oven to 250, turn oven off, place loaf inside, and allow to rise 1/2 hour.  Repeat if needed.  Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes until lightly browned.  Brush with water.  Allow to cool a few minutes, then pour glaze over the top.
2013-02-18 08:46 pm
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Urgh.  Have to write this post again because I clicked some button or another I shouldn't have!

In my quilt group, UFOS are Un-Finished Objects that have been stared (past the design phase into material gathering, at least) and every year we do a UFO challenge to get a neglected project out of the closet instead of just charging ahead with new ones.  So today I was scrounging in the attic and bins and found a "Window Pane" style quilt top that needs to be reworked (I made it at least fifteen years ago and moved since so some of the pieces have to be replaced and some of it needs to be remade as I didn't know what I was doing back then), finished, and quilted.  The other one is fabric that I've been collecting for a design I don't know the name of but entails putting together several sizes of rectangles in a not quite aligned pattern.  I started the idea based on a peace sign fabric and some garish flowers for an obvious "Flower Power" theme, and the last couple of years forgot so far as to start thinking of it as a sunflower theme, to the point that the recent sunflowers I picked up are in country colors that don't go at all.  Definitely time to make the original quilt and maybe more than one with the pile of fabric thus gathered.
2013-02-12 09:17 pm
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Observations of the day

We turned the tv off as soon as the state of the union address intros started.  The newsy pre-brief summary of both the president's speech and the opposing response set my teeth on edge.  We had just been discussing that the Democrats had been promising to get rid of the disaster they call "No Child Left Behind" which seems intent on putting all students behind where they could and should be, but all that the summary said was to push for preschool for all Americans, as if it matters what we teach tots when their later education is going to be a disaster. 

I got a chance to review some high school history texts when I was in grad school, with high school teachers among my fellow students.  Writing appropriate to he reading skills of upper elementary school at best and about as skillfully written as if by a high-schooler, with such a distorted focus on tiny pieces of history that a student reading it would know nothing of historical events or their cause and effect by the time they were done with the course, but they would have huge illusions about what could have been if the world were sweet and rosy and everyone had had equal opportunities for all of time.  The wrong lesson no matter how I look at it.

Anyway, I wasn't going to be happy with anything either speaker said and even the topics were pushing up my blood pressure so I have a movie and my computer for the evening.
2013-02-10 04:54 pm
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Initial observations

With so many social software sites, it's always fascinating to see who's on it and who's not, what's happening, and what's not.  I was surprised to find so many fanfic groups here on Dreamwidth, and so little other writing, when I expected to have found them on FB and failed to do so.  Fanfic seems to encourage pseudonyms both by its nature and because its a fun thing that people do as part of the community/convention atmosphere while FB asks users to use their real name, so that might be part of it.(I'm not a regular fanfic person, BTW, preferring to create my own fantasy and science fiction universes and characters, but I discovered them when a convention I expected to be a writer-focused SF con turned out to be a fanfic con, instead.  A fun and impressively diverse group with some good writing classes, though mostly not my thing.

I've also found a YA group, very new, that I am hopeful will be a useful and interesting chat group.  I had hopes for the writing groups on FB but they have had a tendency to become places for authors to tout their new books:  e-books, self-published, a few small presses, some of questionable legitimacy (which is to say, I have the impression that the publishers didn't have an editor or other source of quality control to filter out even the beginner first drafts of enthusiastic but untrained high-schoolers from being turned into e-books) with little effort to offer suggestions or advice to those of us still hoping to find real publishers, discuss the writing and creative process, or otherwise discuss any aspect of the writing and publishing processes in general or specific to the genre's specified in the group titles (like fantasy and science fiction writers: how can a group professing to be SFF writers discussing their craft not get more than two comments on a discussion of world building?  Where are the discussions about finding SFF readers as well as publishers (most of whom seem to have lost any concept of what fantasy and science fiction is supposed to be!  They don't seem to know that horror, speculative fiction, and popfic contemporary adventure are not synonymous, and of course do't care if they think it will sell, alas.)

Don't have a plan for a regular schedule of posts, yet.  We'll see how it goes.
2013-02-10 03:11 pm


In the past (and sometimes still) I post to http://enexplorations.blogspot.com/ and more often http://home.earthlink.net/~wyverns on writing efforts, quilting, the creative process, cooking, and other topics. I've tried a few other blog web sites, but so far most of them have proven impossibly slow or otherwise incompatible with my software, computer, internet access and especially the combination. So far this one has gone smoothly without excessive delay, so if I can find a way to sort my posts, this may become a new favorite. Also depends on what it does to formatted text, like recipes, and to what degree visitors can comment, since I like a dialog better than a monolog.