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And now, for a little color!

December 15, 2009 at 6:51 pm

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An homage to editors

December 14, 2009 at 5:00 am

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I have this blog.

I think I can write. People tell me they like what they’re reading here so my head inflates like a balloon and makes it hard for me to clear some doorways.

Not quite every day something gets entered here, either about the state of the publishing industry, the books I’m working on or some quirky event in my life that might fit. Remember, my only requirement to guest bloggers is that they say the word “book” at least one time in the post, and they’re in.

With this pseudo writer’s practice pad, my blogging action has blossomed into something more audacious.

I am writing a book.

I don’t want to say a lot about the book right now (and I wear an evil eye bracelet to protect me from any ill will wishers) but for some reason, I think I can do this. In fact, pages and pages of writing are flowing out of me in a way that startles me. How the heck do I get the nerve to write a book?

Nerve is something I’ve always had in overabundant supply and combined with some inspiration from God-knows-where, it’s true. It’s real. It’s a book.

I think it’ll be a real book by spring. Stick with me here and you’ll hear more about it.

But the real reason I’m telling you at all about my new project is because as the words flow like honey page after page every morning starting at 6:00 am, I’ve run into the truly difficult part.

Editing.

A REAL editor advised me, after reading a few pages, to not look back for a good while. Keep going forward with my writing and save the cleaning up, the editing for sometime down the road.

I took her advice and experienced writer’s nirvana for 100 pages. It was my goal to begin editing when I reached that place. I’m on page 120 in my writing and am creeping along on page 30 with my red pen.

It’s freakin’ hard! Editing should be the easy part, I thought. How hard could it be to slice, dice, and rearrange some characters on a page?

Very.

Excuse me for my beginner’s arrogance. Now I sit completely humbled by this thing they call editing.

I can’t even place which parts of the process challenge me so. Reading, re-reading, changing a word here and there, deleting an inane paragraph, cutting out the “fat.”

I had no idea that this manuscript repair job took so long. I’m still not quite sure why that is.

What I’m doing is just MY version of editing in order to put my manuscript in a state that won’t embarrass me when I give it back to the real editor. I think it’s only fair to do my own excavation first. Why put her through more than is necessary.

I know, I know. Editors out there (you real ones) are thanking me for this.

In all seriousness, this post is my thanks to all the editors out there who spend most of the hours in their days doing this tedious, meticulous and mind-stretching* job. It’s probably the most important part of book writing and the least appreciated.

I appreciate it and I appreciate all of you editorial types.

Kudos to you and your infinite patience.

May your red pen inscribe you into the literary book of life.

* Mind-stretching was formerly “mind-numbing” and changed due to the comment below. My apologies for using a word choice that was less than respectful. See why I’m not an editor??

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What’s down the rabbit hole today?

December 13, 2009 at 9:15 am

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Anyone know?

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All this talk about privacy on Facebook, how about an anti-censorship song from Hannah Friedman

December 11, 2009 at 10:33 am

What a better way to end this week than to enjoy a deftly crafted tune about censorship from our gifted author-songwriter, Hannah Friedman.

For HCI, she wrote her debut memoir: Everything Sucks: Losing My Mind and Finding Myself in a High School Quest for Cool and for Judy Blume she recently wrote and performed an poignant and trademark-Hannah, witty song. Our young author was one of a star-studded list of talent who honored the legendary Judy Blume at the 35th anniversary event of the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC).

Sit back, relax and enjoy. Be sure to turn up the volume so you don’t miss a word!  And, whatever you do, remember to celebrate your freedoms. Happy weekend to you!

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Enough about books, let’s eat! Two more recipes from Vegan Yum Yum

December 9, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Two yummy recipes from the you -don’t -have -to- be vegetarian-to-love culinary masterpiece by Lauren Ulm, VEGAN YUM YUM!! Enjoy (and be sure to scroll down for the donuts)

Eggplant and Basil Stuffed Tomatoes

Makes 6 servings as an appetizer or side

6 ripe tomatoes, cored and drained, (see instructions)

8 cups eggplant (2 medium eggplant), unpeeled and cubed about the size of playing dice

1 teaspoon salt

black pepper, to taste

1/3 cup olive oil (use up to 2 more tablespoons, if needed)

4 slices bread, toasted and cubed (white or your favorite)

1/2 cup basil, chiffonade (stack leaves, roll, and slice into thin strips)

2 to 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar for balsamic reduction, if desired

Step 1 With the tip of a small paring knife, cut a cone out of the top of the tomato, removing the stem.  Carefully remove a bit more of the inside until you see the seeds.  Using a knife, a spoon, or your fingers, remove the seeds until you have an empty cavity.  Drain them upside-down on a paper towel until ready to stuff.

Step 2 Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Step 3 Toss the eggplant, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a large bowl.  Heat a large skillet or wok to high heat.  Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is very soft, no longer cube-like, and browned.  It should be sort of sticky and mushy and much reduced in volume, which can take 10 minutes or longer.

Step 4 Toast your bread, cube it, and then add it to the eggplant along with the basil.  Toss until well combined and turn off the heat.

Step 5 Place the tomatoes in a baking dish that has been lightly coated with oil.  Fill the tomatoes completely with stuffing, so that it’s overflowing out of the tomatoes.  Bake, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes until the stuffing is browned on top and the tomatoes are tender.  Drizzle with balsamic reduction if desired. Serve.

Balsamic Reduction

Makes enough reduction for the tomatoes

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Step 1 Heat the balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan on X heat.  Don’t stand right over the pan, because once it heats up it will start to release some vinegar fumes that are not fun to inhale.  Simmer this over medium heat until it’s syrupy.  It usually takes me about 5 minutes to go from stone-cold pan to syrupy reduction.  You’ll want to reduce the liquid by half, so in the end you’ll have only 2 tablespoons.  Use a rubber spatula to stir the vinegar.  This will help you stir it once it starts to thicken, and you can see it getting syrupy because it’ll start to coat the spatula.

Don’t overcook it, keeping in mind that it will thicken a little more once cooled.  You can tell you’re overcooking it because it’ll start bubbling up like sugar (really big, excited bubbles with an increase in volume).  That’s not what you want! If you think it might be done, or close to done, take it off the heat immediately, place a little on a spoon, blow on it to cool it well, and taste it.  It should be syrupy, sweet, tangy, and a little caramelized.  You can always put it back on the heat to cook it more, but you can’t fix it if you overcook it.  If it doesn’t taste burnt, but becomes way too thick after it cools, try adding a little bit of water.  That should loosen it up and get you back in business.  If it does taste burnt, you need to start over.  Sorry!

Vegan Yum Yum

and for dessert…

Mini Baked Donuts

Makes 20 donuts

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon (scant) nutmeg

1 tiny pinch or shake cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:

1/2 cup soymilk

1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Egg Replacer for 1 egg

4 tablespoons vegan margarine

Step 1 Preheat the oven to 350º F

Step 2 In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients with a whisk to mix thoroughly. Combine the wet ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium low heat and mix until the margarine is melted. This mixture should not get too hot; you should be able to stick your finger in the mixture and feel slightly warm. If you burn yourself, 1) it’s not my fault! and 2) it’s too hot for the dough!

Step 3 Add the wet ingredients to dry ones and mix until just combined. It should form a very soft dough or thick batter.

Step 4 Using a tablespoon measure, scoop out the dough into your ungreased nonstick mini-donut pan. Smooth out the top of the dough with your fingers, clearing off the post in the middle of each one.  This will make for more even, prettier donuts, but isn’t crucial.

If you over fill, your donuts will come out looking like they have muffin tops. While not the end of the world, it’s not very donut-like either.

Step 5 Bake for 12 minutes until the donuts are almost browned on top, and a tester comes out clean. Invert a hot pan over a cutting board or cooling rack to release the donuts. Allow them to cool completely before decorating, with the exception of the powdered sugar donuts.  If you let them cool loosely covered with plastic wrap, the donuts will stay soft and fluffy.

To Glaze with Sprinkles:

1/2 cup powdered sugar (lump free!)

1 tablespoon soymilk

Bowl full of sprinkles (1/4 to 1/2 cup)

Whisk the soymilk and powdered sugar together. Dip the “bottom” half of the donut (the side with the nicer shape) into the glaze, let some drip off, then dip glaze-side down into sprinkles. Transfer to a wire rack that has been set on top of some parchment paper. The excess glaze will drip through the rack onto the paper for easy cleaning later.

To Chocolate Dip:

This is the easy part. Melt one bar of your favorite dark chocolate in the microwave.  Remove from the microwave and stir every 15 seconds until chocolate is smooth and barely warm to the touch. I should mention that you should be very careful not to get any water in the chocolate or it could seize, and no one likes that!

Dip your donuts one-by-one into the chocolate. Place the donut on your wire rack and decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

For Striped Donuts:

Dip the donuts into the powdered sugar glaze first, then drizzle with melted chocolate.

For Powdered Sugar Donuts:

Roll warm donuts in a bowl of powdered sugar. Yum!

postscript from blogmistress KW: ENJOY WITH RELISH!!!!

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