Thursday, December 15, 2011

Creamed Lobster on toast

I have no photos of this most incredible Nova Scotia vice - call it a meal if you want to, but once you see my recipe you'll understand.  Anyway, I looked around the internet to see if I could find any pictures I could use, and that's when I discovered that we prepare this differently than what seems to be the official way.  This doesn't bother me one bit, and I invite you to try my very unscientific and completely unofficial way.

First, get some fresh lobsters from the man at the bottom of your street for $5/lb.  Can't do that?  Oh, I'm so sorry.  Acquire lobster.  If you must, you can use the frozen, canned stuff but be advised there is no tail meat in there.  Still, for our purposes the frozen stuff beats no lobster every time.  If you're using fresh lobster, 3 ~1lb lobsters will give you about 2 cups of meat.  That (or one can) will feed two easily.  Maybe more.

If you're using fresh lobster, I recommend having your husband buy it, cook it and get it out of the shell before you get home from work.  Saves a lot of time.  Actually, why don't you just have him do the whole job.  Here's what he should do:

Get a medium saucepan and put about 4 Tbsp of butter in it, melt that.  Cut the lobster into smallish bite-sized pieces and put it in the butter. Sprinkle with a pinch each of salt and pepper.  Pour enough coffee cream to just about cover it, and heat it on medium or a tad bit higher.

Now the Experts say don't let it come to a boil, lest it curdle, but I am not an expert.  (I've never had mine curdle.)  Good thing, because I want you to simmer this and reduce it down by about a third.  Then taste it and decide if you want more butter.  (Hint: yes!)  Now comes the hard part - stay with me - add more cream.  Back to where it was before, just about covering the meat.  Simmer.  Repeat.

Serve Hamburger Helper to your children.

Once in a while, come over to the stove and poke the mixture with a wooden spoon.  You want it to know that you don't have all night and you're hungry.  Careful, don't drool into the pot.  You'll know it's ready when the meat begins to sort of come apart and become one with the cream.  It all turns pinkish.  Taste it, check your seasonings.  You can add more butter if you want - that's between you and your conscience.

Now you get some white bread and put it in the toaster.  When it's toasted you can butter it.  (I mean, why worry about it now?)  Spoon some of the creamed lobster over the hot buttered toast. 

At this point your husband will probably offer you the first plate.  You should refuse, but just enough to be polite and not enough that he actually eats it himself.

Then you should take your bathroom scale and hide it in a safe place.  In case there's leftovers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Carbs: How do I love thee?

I was getting ready for work this morning when my husband asked me if I had made a lunch.

"Yup!" I huffed, stuffing my leg into my jeans and buttoning up (with a little difficulty) on my way down the hall.  Then I paused in the kitchen to pack what I had assembled.  I laughed. 
I had:
A bagel (bread)
Crackers (fried bread)
Cookies (bread with sugar)
and a sandwich (bread with meat)

My husband rolled his eyes and helped me make a salad.

I think maybe I should cut back on the carbs a little.  It's just, I love them.  I love toast with my tea.  I love toasted cheese buns with hot chocolate.  Ooh, you should try this: crush up some Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips in your tomato soup.  I love sweets, and chocolate.  Yes, I do.

Don't get me wrong, I also love meat.  And cheese.

Vegetables?  Not so much.  Not at all, really. 

BUT there's good news!  There's an app for this.  A free app!  If you're an All Recipes junkie (like me) you'll enjoy this: try the DinnerSpinner.  You pick your dish type: main dish, side dish, soup, or SALAD - then ingredients: seafood, chicken, beef, cheese, VEGETABLE - and the time you have to spend: 20 minutes or less - and it brings you suggestions.  It's fun, which helps when you're faced with the prospect of preparing food that you don't really want to eat. 

Want to share?  What are your favourite vegetable recipes?

Monday, November 28, 2011

...And we're back

Sort of.  I've decided not to hire anyone right now.  So there.

It's been a little rough, and sometimes I'm not sure just which direction I ought to go.  So for now, we're going to hang out where we are, and wait for the answers to come to us.  If a good one wanders too close to me, I'll snatch it and put it in my pocket.

As for writing, I've been having a terrific time.  I wrote myself through the first act without any sort of outline, dropping breadcrumbs for subplots and singing softly to myself.  I have arrived at the second act and some of those trails are heating up.  Funny how life informs the plot of whatever you're writing - and brings you in directions you wouldn't otherwise have thought of.  I like some of the ideas that are bubbling up.  And apparently, I end many of my sentences with prepositions. 

I need some coffee.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Progress. And then not.

I've been training a new assistant for about two months now.  My shop is a complex beast filled with gizmos, thingies, whatsits and hoojits - and before I can walk out that door during retail hours, I need a somebody I can trust to talk to people about all that stuff.  Computers, you know.  Shit happens.

We reached the point where I could relax a bit.  The other day I even left two hours before the store closed - 2 hours!  I went home and cooked supper and then I went to parent teacher conferences.  Woot!  But I felt like a real mom.  I felt like I was getting to where I need to be - a place where I can span that space between work and home with a balance that feels more natural.  More me.

And today she quit.  Dammit, I liked her.  It wasn't the job - she's decide to move back home to another province.

So I did what I do.  I called my husband.
"Aw, shit."  He said.  And then: "Well, post your ad."
"What's the point?"  This is the third time I've needed to hire a new assistant THIS YEAR.  It's a soul-draining process that involves me wasting a lot of paper and disappointing a whole bunch of people.
"Don't go there," he said.  "Just start again.  Keep moving forward."

Keep moving forward.

So that's what I shall do.  Those of you waiting for me to read, this won't make me any faster, I'm sorry!  But I'm on it.

As for my own writing, I think I'm forging a place for that which can exist outside everything else.  I am finding that I can retreat into this story in a way I haven't been able to in my previous WIPs.  Maybe it's just more alive to me, somehow.  Maybe this story is The One.

You know.  The One I'll actually finish!

In the meantime, I have some...uh...stuff to look after.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


November.  I'm wearing socks today, for the first time in a long while.  I guess it's time - on the way in to work this morning I saw people breathing steamy white clouds of breath.  Like it or not, something chilly this way comes.

On the weekend I managed just about 2000 words, putting me at nearly halfway to my skinny first draft year-end goal.  Looking at the overall word count and comparing it to to the events I've already written, I am thinking about pacing.  I am trying NOT to think about pacing.  Or structure.  At all. 

What I want to do this time is JUST WRITE the story - front to back, start to finish.  This is an exercise in trusting myself, letting my subconscious guide me in an effort not to get all caught up in the things that are not writing.  Index cards. Outlines. That stuff.  I hang myself with that stuff.

However, I catch myself holding a few events back.  There are some juicy bits waiting to be revealed, and I am hoarding them, hiding them.  I think I need to release them into the story, so they can become a part of the fabric of the thing.  That's what I love about writing this way - I'm never stuck.  What happens now grows into what happens next, instead of me already knowing what's next, and twisting my plot into a mobius strip trying to get x y z in order.

So I hope you had a Happy Halloween.  Put your pen on the paper and follow your heart!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Little Moments

"Hi, um, my car is doing a thing."
"A thing?"
"Yeah.  It's shaking.  Or, like a wobble."
"A wobble."
"More like a shimmy, a tremor?"
He sighs.  (This is the best I can do, honest.)
"Can you feel it in the steering wheel?"
"It's not doing it right now.  Yes, I think so."
A pause.  Then:  "Pull over, I'm coming."

BamBam, talking to Pebbles at the bathroom sink: "This toothpaste is awesome. It fights cavities, sensitivity, bad breath and TAR TAR."
Pebbles, impressed: "Ooh. What's TAR TAR?"
BamBam" "I don't know. But it doesn't sound good."

The van stops in front of me on the shoulder of the highway.  A handsome man climbs out.  I hop out, kiss him, and steal his ride.  As I pull away, I see him in the rearview mirror, bending to look underneath my car.

Pebbles:  "I spelled ice cream!
BamBam: "Ice cream?"
Pebbles: "YES!  BWAH HA!  IN YOUR FACE!!!!"

"So, you made it home."
"You checked the car?"
"So? What was causing the wobble?"
"The wind."
Pause.  "Really?"
"Oh.  Well, I have to go now."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Protest, by all means. But don't forget why you can.

In Halifax, as in many cities, we have protesters downtown taking part in the "Occupy Wall Street" movement.  I understand what the protesters are complaining about - the Beast of Corporate Greed scares the schniz out of me too.  And like the protesters, I haven't many good, clear suggestions what ought to be done about it.  It's capitalism, whatcha gonna do?  (My favourite quote about the whole thing so far is I something I heard in passing on the news, where one of the protesters borrowed a slogan from the gay community and declared "We're here, we're unclear, get used to it!)

So anyway.  All that is fine.  These questions are important.

Today in the news you'll find the mayor of the city wants the protesters to move out of the parade grounds so the place can be prepared for some city stuff - such as the Remembrance Day ceremony.  Because this is Nova Scotia and we are Really Nice People, he's even offered them space on the Commons.  No doubt the city will continue to provide porta-potties for them there, too.  But I heard some of the protesters talking on the news this morning, saying they don't think they should move.

Excuse me?  What?

Shame on you.  This is Remembrance Day.  You have the Right to Protest because people fought and died for you to have that right.  You owe those people more than just respect, but you can start there.  Pack up your stuff.  Come back later if you want to, but Remembrance Day is not about you. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Just Jabbering

It's a beautiful Indian summer day, 15 degrees (celcius) with a breeze that smells fresh and clean.  That's probably because it really rained here yesterday - all day pouring rain that had some of the major thoroughfares closed due to being under water.  On the eastern shore they measured just over 104mm of the stuff - more than twice the record for that day.  New high score!

Climate change?  What climate change???

In other news, Jennifer Hendren's book dropped this week!  BY THE PALE MOONLIGHT is an edgy YA novel about a murder, a sexy werewolf named Ty, and a race for the truth - a race against the full moon. (Love that line!)  You can find Jen here.

I can't wait to read it.  It's the very next thing on my list! 

So as for my other word-count foolishness and hijinks, I am leaving my goal as it stands.  This is because I reviewed what I have, and my draft is very lean.  It's skinny.  I think I'll get to the end of the plot (as I know it right now) at about 40K, and that might be something I can accomplish before year's end.  After that I need to flesh it out, fill it in.  Feed it a few cheeseburgers, add some foreshadowing, extra description and slow down the pace because Iwritetoofast.

So thaaaaaat's what I'll do!

 Kait wrote a good post about YA relationships today.  So if you read my YA, don't be expecting anything steamy.  At all.  I MIGHT let them kiss (glares suspiciously at underaged characters.)  MAYBE.  If it's important.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Reality Check

So I'm being stupid.  Anyone surprised?
Shut up, you in the back!

If a typical YA is 60,000 words and there are 11 weeks left until the end of the year and I write (as I have these past few weeks) roughly 1500 words per week and a train leaves Cleveland, Ohio travelling at 145 km/h, there is no possible way for me to finish this book this year.  The truth would be closer to 29 weeks, which is more like...the spring.

In order to finish this book this year I would have to suck at everything else.  I say that like it's even an option, which of course it isn't.  So I'm going to have to change my goal. 
The thing is, if I take that long - 5 or 6 more month - to write it I'm almost certain to lose interest.  This is what happens to me every time.  Real life is first.  My kids, my husband, my job - these are my First Things.  Writing is after, and I wouldn't change that.  I just need to sort out how to get more words written.

So, while I make a plan to make a plan, Trixie (my MC) has just been poisoned.  I should go see how she's doing.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

In which I try not to be creepy.

Def Leppard!  The answer is Def Leppard.  :o)

So anyway.  The word count is coming along well, I've progressed about 1500 words this week.  My next challenge is to present Trixie's older brother Henry, who has been missing for four years.  He's a murder suspect, wanted by the police.  Trixie used to think he was innocent, but these days she's starting to see that there's more to her broken, messed-up family than meets the eye.

I have to figure out how to make him "hot," when Trixie certainly doesn't think so and I'm not supposed to think so, since he's like 21 years old and that would be a little creepy.  I don't know.  I'm new to this YA thing.  And to tell you the truth, lately I'm a little startled to find out that some of these really good-looking guys in the movies are barely grown up at all.  Hmmm.  Disconcerting.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Don't be like me

So we got to talking, here at work.  There was a Theory of a Dead Man song on the radio, and I said it sounded like Nickleback, which led us to discuss what his connection with the band was - he produced some of their stuff I think.

Anyway, I commented that there was an 80s band that had the same producer as Bryan Adams and they sounded just like him and

I think it starts with P?

So I took to the internet because I hate when I have this stuff in my head and I just can't spit it out.  Every little while I can feel it there on the tip of my tongue....anyway.  I went online.  I surfed.  I browsed.  I probably have viruses on my computer now. 

And I ended up watching Peter Cetera videos on YouTube.

Now I'm listening to Air Supply.

I hate myself but I just can't seem to stop.  Look!  Richard Marx!

Friday, October 07, 2011

A cunning plan...

I've decided to rehabilite my writer-self, and I've made a plan.  Want to hear about it?  No?  Well it's my blog, so there.

October: Write 100 words a day.  Every day if possible, and catch-up words for - let's face it, it's going to happen - the days I don't make it to the keyboard.

November - Write 200 words a day. Every day if possible, and catch-up words for the days I don't make it to the keyboard.

Scintillating, isn't it?  Brilliant!  Well, it doesn't need to be brilliant.  It just needs to make things better, and I think it will.

In other news, someone I really like has decided to self-publish her book.  You can check her out at

Today's word count so far: 700
It's a good day.

End of day: 950 words.  Wahoo!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


Hello, October.  You've snuck up on me again.  You're clever like that.

So, here is the fall.  Summer went and winter is coming, and that is how life is.  My kids are growing.  They need me a bit less - and that's the tricksy part, that.  They need me, yes.  They love me, yes.  They no longer fill every waking moment and now that they have scampered off down the hall to make a world between only them, quiet descends...

Sort of.  There's the occasional squeal of bad temper from the little one, followed a moment later by her laughter.  And there is the sourceless, endless percussion that comes from having a healthy, happy boy in the house. 

...and in the quiet, my arms are empty, and my hands are still.  Until a finger twitches, and then another.

I reach for a pen.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I'm just sayin'

I hate it when I call someone and they answer their phone, only to tell me I've called at a bad time.
So don't answer, ya big jerk.  That's what VOICEMAIL is for.

The telephone part II - sometimes at work, we dial a wrong number.  Shocking, right?  You know what I don't understand?  Some people will see that our number came up, and CALL US BACK to find out what we wanted.  Sorry, wrong number.  I'm not inviting you for supper and you didn't win anything.  And then one day a lady called us back and before my co-worker could even explain it was a wrong number, the woman was all vicious and DON'T YOU EVER CALL THIS NUMBER AGAIN!  And she hung up.  I mean, wow. Really? 

I love it when I pass a home selling blueberries on a table at the end of their driveway. 
No one is there, just a sign saying how much, and a Becel container for you to put your money in.  This is where I live.  This stuff fills my heart.  Not that other stuff.

I hate it when I'm trying to merge onto the highway and the drivers in the lane I need won't move the hell over into the - empty - passing lane.  (Seriously, are they afraid to change lanes?  Is that too risky?  Or are they just clueless and inconsiderate?)  So you have to slow down and wait for them to pass, which is just not what an On Ramp is for - a way for drivers to reach highway speed in order to merge with highway traffic safely.  You know this.  I know this.  So who taught these people to drive?

And Part 2 of this - when I'm on the highway already and someone is merging with highway traffic, I move into the passing lane (if I can.)  Then I see the vehicle still in the merge lane driving merrily along at 20 km/h under the speed limit until the END of the merge lane, at which point they follow the little white line right onto the highway without so much as a shoulder-check.  Luckily for that guy, I'm the sort who MOVES THE HECK OVER, so we're both still healthy.


Highway part III - I love it when the median is filled with lupins, it's like driving to work through a giant flower garden that nobody has to maintain.  Gorgeous.  Then, you see some well-meaning innocent who has parked his car and is picking them.  You laugh, because BUGS live in them there purdy flowers.  LOTS of bugs, but they don't come out until the flowers are unattended in a vase on the kitchen table.  All the other drivers are going by thinking MWAH-HA-HA, you sorry fool.  


Thursday, June 02, 2011

A storm


Midnight, a thunderstorm.  I stood in the hall, watching the clouds explode in the night through the window over the front door.  The sky was continuously alight, and yet it was eerily silent.  No thunder.  And with no electricity, even the house was quiet - there was no hum of fridge or gurgle of fishtank, and this is when Pebbles called out to me.

"Yes, Boo?"  The room, of course, was pitch, except for the outline of the window around the shade, which flickered and burst with light. 

"If there are no colors, what color is that?"

"Black."  I held out my arms and she climbed into them, sweaty and sleepy and mine.  I took her back to the window.  We watched the storm together, she and I and my husband, who circled the upper floor restlessly, eyeing the towering Jack spruce and pine trees around our home. 

The storm moved on and the thunder came, crashing and booming and shaking the house.  We checked on her brother - who was snoring - and she smiled.  All her life he has been there.  He is her best friend, her worst enemy, and the yardstick by which she measures herself.   He does things without her - school, sports, sleepovers - but seldom does she have experiences that he does not.  I watched her take this one and tuck it away for sharing the morning.  In our bedroom I opened the drapes and we climbed into the big bed, where we cuddled watched the lightning until our eyes wouldn't stay open any more.

So I'm sleepy today, and I wouldn't change a single thing.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Silly Fairy Fun

What's your fairy name?

My fairy name is Nettle Iceshimmer
She protects the vulnerable and brings justice to the wronged.
She lives in brambles and blackberry bushes.
She is only seen when the first flowers begin to blossom.
She wears purple and green like berries and leaves and has icy blue butterfly wings.
Get your own fairy name from The Fairy Name Generator!

So there goes 3 minutes of your life, and you'll never get it back.
You're welcome. 
Now go write something!

Monday, May 30, 2011

No outline, no problem!

As far as I can recall, I started writing A HAND TO HOLD - my ghost story - three years ago.  Its present length is 56K, and yes, sections of that have been rewritten, and rewritten again, and chunks have been hacked off and jettisoned.  They totally deserved it, in all cases.  AHTH was carefully plotted, index-carded, and planned, and I am finding the last third of it just hell to write.  I know what I need but the words just won't come. 

I cannot rack up experience and hone my craft like that.

Enter my more recent project.  It's now called Rundiamair, which all good Googlers can find out is Gaelic for mystery, or hidden.  (If anyone knows how to actually SAY that word, please fill me in.)  With this one, I am writing just for exercise.  Just for joy.  And I have written over 10K in the last three weeks.  Just about 20% of the word count for the last three years, in THREE DAMN WEEKS.  Can I tell you how good that feels?  And the thing is, I don't really know what's coming except for the next short bit - which leaves plenty of room for a Swamp Monster to attack in Chapter Three, a Certain Someone who is not who he claims to be (but who is he, you ask?  I DON'T KNOW!  Isn't that awesome?) a fairy changeling, and a near-death by poisoning. 

So yes, I'm having fun.  :o)  I'll have to remember this, the next time I'm stuck on project. 

What I'm curious to learn is whether the actual outline, the beforehand plotting of a story, really kills it for me.  Why would that be, I wonder?  How does that work?  My brain is having zero trouble developing subplots, characters, and story arcs - at least on this end of the story.  It's true I'm writing my usual "lite" first draft, which means I will go back later to flesh out my descriptions, add explanations for things I might not know just yet, plant foreshadowing and other plot devices.  But still.  The story comes as fast as I can type, and with the exception of a major plotting decision I need to sort out, it's effortless.

All of this makes me think a lot of writing happens in areas of my brain where I'm not actually allowed to go, as if there are NO TRESPASSING signs in areas where I'm likely to screw stuff up if I start interfering.  Heartbeat, breathing, blinking, and yeah, maybe writing.  You know, the really critical stuff.  I'm going to look into this some more this week.  There are a lot of people who can't write to an outline, are you one of them?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Something lost is always found... may not look the same.

This is my favourite song lyric right now.  It comes a Hayley Sales song - the title track on her new album - When the Bird Became a Book.  There is no YouTube video for it, but you should go listen.  It's a cheerful ditty about perspective and I listen to it about fourteen times a day right now, because it is still effing raining.   

Anyway.  Something lost is always found, it may not look the same.  But some things have to change.
Quite apart from what this means to me as a mother, it also has meaning to me as a writer.

I mentioned that I started writing YA Fantasy all of a sudden, and it was a lot of fun because you get to do whatever the heck it is you want to do.  And then I thought, well Cindy, you know your OTHER stories are fiction too, such as the ghost story you are trying to avoid.  And then I wondered why on earth I should feel imaginitively restricted writing paranormal fiction.  That makes no sense (even for me.) 

So what was lost has now been found.  For all the staring I have done at my screen, the gnashing of teeth and organizing of index cards, it slipped my mind that I am actually in charge of this story.  If I'm bored, likely the reader will as well.  What's even more important: I want the kind of writing life that pushes me creatively.  Not just in terms of discipline and arse-glue and word count, outline, POV.  I need it to be fun.

So, my lost has been found.  Chances are I'll still labour over the development of my MCs relationships, and I'll have to figure out what happened to that sister-in-law who hasn't shown up anywhere since the second scene.  I think, though, that I have gained some insight as to why my ghost has been standing there with her arms crossed all this time.  Girlfriend is bored. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Dust motes drifting in a shaft of sunlight made me sneeze,  and I swiped a grimy wrist over my forehead and scowled.  Spring cleaning always makes me wonder how I ever let things go so far awry - an uncomfortable parallel for my life in general. It was then I spotted it, on a high shelf at the back, under a silk paisley scarf: a battered wooden jewelry box.  I lifted it down reverently, remembering with a rush of longing and affection what I'd put inside.  It was so long ago.  I lifted the lid carefully, slowly, and there it was, just as I'd left it.  My blog.


So, how have you been???  We're pretty soggy; it's been raining about a month now and there's more coming, from what I hear.  But someone told me we're expecting a warm, dry summer, so I should be able to get the mildew out from between my toes by the first of July.  I would so love a warm sunny day.

Writing-wise, A HAND TO HOLD is in the final stages of the first draft.  It's about 57K right now, with big sections still to be imagined.  I haven't quite connected with my antagonist yet.  She won't look me in the eye.  She's elusive.  Demanding.  Unreasonable.  Dangerous.  So you can see why I've been leaving her alone.  She'll come to me when it's time, I think.  And if she doesn't, there's always the delete key.  There are lots of bad little ghosts out there who would love to be in my story, after all. 

In the meantime, I decided to play with an idea that I've had for a while now, up on that same shelf I told you about.  It's different for me.  It's YA.  It's fantasy.  That makes me a little nervous, since I don't read fantasy. It might never be anything - no, that's not quite true.  It is, even now, good exercise.  This story lets my imagination out to play, like a puppy in the backyard of my brain.  And I really need that right now.

I wonder if that is why so many people write fantasy.  (Is that even true, stats-wise?  I am scientifically uncertain of my remark. Forgive me, I'm an artsy type.)  Anyway, there are really very few restrictions for settings, characters, or crazy shiz that can happen.  It's very fun.

Speaking of fun, I must go and reconcile my bank statement.  Ha.  Good times.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


It's snowing in Nova Scotia today, again.  I don't mind it at all, I'd really rather have snow than rain.  And it does lend a hand with a few aspects of writing for me.  One, the customers are probably going to stay home, so there will be fewer interruptions.  Two, I've got a few dark scenes to write, and this weather puts me in the perfect frame of mind for that.

The biggest challenge lately has been keeping my ass in my chair, but I have to say that getting near the 60K mark has given me some momentum.  I'm really getting close!  Mind, this is my first draft, but even so, I'm looking forward to seeing the thing as a whole.  Then I'll be able to get down to revising!

So keep your writer butts in your writer chairs, and have a great day - snow or no.

Thursday, January 06, 2011


The ROW80 challenge is 4 days old, and I have already stumbled.  I missed 2 days. 

It has to do with some personal things - the loss of a family pet, my company's year end (which is an awful lot of work!) and a health issue with one of the littles.  Not laziness.  At least, not completely.

So I'll make it up, it's not so bad. 

I also realize that I'm not properly registered for this challenge, and I will look into addressing that as soon as I can.