Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween! Plus a roasted pumpkin seed recipe.

It’s after midnight, which means it’s officially October 31st. Happy Halloween! May your day be filled with pumpkins, treats, and people wearing interesting costumes. One of my favorite Halloween treats is roasted pumpkin seeds. YUM! If you’ve never made them before, here’s a recipe so you can try it this year. Pumpkin seeds are great to snack on while watching Halloweenie movies and TV shows, like It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Corpse Bride, Hocus Pocus, Sean of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, or Nightmare Before Christmas.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Step One: Obtain pumpkin(s). Decorate or wait to carve them (I painted one of mine this year).

pumpkins!

pumpkins!

Step Two: Put down newspaper. Get out carving tools and a large bowl to put the seeds in.

preparing for the pumpkin masacre

preparing for the pumpkin massacre

Step Three: Cut off top (or bottom) of pumpkin and separate the seeds from the gook.

we have seeds!

we have seeds!

Step Four: Grease a cookie sheet with a coat of non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Pour un-rinsed seeds* on to cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 250 degrees, stirring the seeds occasionally. Bake until golden brown and no longer wet. I usually taste them to make sure they are done. You should be able to smell them baking.  *You can rinse the seeds if you want, but they have more pumpkin flavor if you don’t rinse them.

roasted pumpkin seeds - yum!

roasted pumpkin seeds - yum!

Step Five: Eat and enjoy. :)


Happy Halloween everyone!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

signs for creative people

This morning, the song, “Signs,” by Five Man Electrical Band got stuck in my head, which made me think, “I need a ‘Gone Fishing’ sign, only I want it to say, ‘Gone Painting.’” I could put it on my blog for times when I’ve got a lot of artwork to do and won’t be around for a while. Then I wondered if anyone would get a, “Gone Painting,” sign. Or one that says, “Gone Drawing.” Or, “Creative at Work.” Or one that says, “Am Writing.” Then I started to question my sudden need for a sign. I’d never needed a sign before.

 ACK!

Since I couldn’t think of which sign to make, Daria the chicken offered to make one for me. This is what she came up with:

Silly chicken!

Silly chicken!

Nobody would believe that sign. I don’t even know how to surf! Although, with the weather getting colder, maybe I should learn how to surf this winter. I could go some place warm and tropical and … ack! A surfing sign is not going to help me to get my work done. I shook my head to clear out the surf fantasies.

“Meow!” Remus woke up from his catnap and offered to make me a sign, which was weird. Remus likes walking though my paintings when they are still wet and making a trail of colorful kitty tracks, but signs aren’t usually his thing. I went to make lunch. When I came back, Remus was finished with his sign:

Ack, the cat got ahold of the computer!

Silly kitty!

I started to worry about what Remus was trying to tell me. I gave him a toy mouse to play with/attack, just in case. It looked like I’d have to make my own sign, one that shows people that I’m working, even when it looks like I’m not. I still didn’t know what to put on it, until I remembered the mouse I used to write about and draw pictures of. Here’s my sign:

THinking up the great mouse novel.

Plotting out the great mouse novel.

What kind of sign do you wish you had? Or have you already made your sign?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ten tips to prep for and survive NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo can be a really great or extremely frustrating experience (my stats: tried 4x finished 2). Here are ten tips to help you prep for and survive NaNoWriMo this November:

Tip #1: Have a plan – it can be as simple as, “Start writing on Nov. 1,” or as detailed as a chapter outline with deadlines for finishing each chapter.

Tip #2: Start with a plot idea or an interesting character (or both) – you don’t have to know everything to start, you just need a spark.

Tip #3: If you get stuck, play, “What If?” – Ask questions like, “What’s the worst thing that could happen to my character right now?” or “What would embarrass my character?” or “What if my character witnessed something really horrible?” and “What did they witness?” (Note: for more “What If” ideas, check out two posts I wrote for NaNo last year on questions to ask your character and questions to ask when you’re stuck.)

Tip #4: Make a new plan (optional) – if your first plan doesn’t work, make a new one that works for you, even if it breaks the official NaNo rules.

Tip #5: No matter what happens, just keep writing.

Tip #6: If you revise as you go, keep two files. One with the revised version, and one for NaNo that has every word you write, because every word counts, revised or not.

Tip #7: Print out your work each day or have a daily writing file – it helps you to realize how much progress you’re making.

Tip #8: If you’re stuck, write yourself into a scene and ask your characters what should happen next. Or, bring in a character from another story to tell your characters what should happen (so you can get back to writing their book). It could help your narrative or just be fun to write while your subconscious is working on the real plot. Best of all, it counts towards your 50k goal.

Tip #9: If you need a break, take it, whether it’s for family (hello Thanksgiving), laundry (you have to do it sometime), or to save your sanity (chocolate and ice cream can help with that too).

Tip #10: Use NaNo to your benefit – if that means writing 50k of a new idea, great. If it means finishing a project or writing 50 easy reader books, that’s great too. Use NaNo in a way that’s beneficial to your writing. Nobody is going to call the NaNo Police on you if you don’t follow all the rules.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? If you are: Good Luck!

Am I? Yes, sort of. I’m rewriting a book for NaNo. It’s got a new plot and a different MC, so it’s technically a new novel. I have already started, but since I’m getting ready for a portfolio review, I won’t have much done before NaNo starts. That brings me to a final tip:

Tip #11: Start when you’re ready to write. It doesn’t have to be November 1st.

Happy Writing Everyone!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What’s your favorite mode of transportation? (Illustration Friday)

The prompt for Illustration Friday this week is transportation. If you could travel any way you wanted, what mode of transportation would you choose? I’d pick something fun, like flying by paper airplane, if it were possible.

Paper Airplane Night Flight
Paper Airplane Night Flight

Jumping out of the airplane might be fun too …

Parachute Chicken
Parachute Chicken

… as long as your parachute opens! Eep! Maybe I should stick to something closer to the ground, like skateboarding.

Skateboarding Chicken
Skateboarding Chicken

Then again, since I don’t have a skateboard anymore and I’m not a chicken, I’ll pick something I do on a regular basis.

Fun While Grocery Shopping
Fun While Grocery Shopping

But only until they invent paper airplanes that you can fly in. What kind of transportation would you choose, if you could choose anything? Have you ever had grocery cart races? (I have!)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Book Love: The Lighter Side of Life and Death / It’s Raining Cupcakes / Raised By Wolves / Paranormalcy

Today’s post is all about Book Love.* In my post for banned books week, I said, “Just Read. And when you’re done, tell someone about what you’ve read. Books are great things to share.” I’m taking my own advice and sharing four books that I read recently and loved. I hope you’ll love them too.

LighterSideLifeDeath Why I loved The Lighter Side of Life and Death by C.K. Kelly Martin: Mason’s brief romantic encounter with his best friend Kat and his relationship with an older woman were both wonderfully written, especially with the respect that he shows for both of them. The emotions, confusion and inner dialog that Mason has throughout the book make the romances feel specific to the character and yet universal. It’s not a surprise that The Lighter Side of Life and Death made Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Romance Fiction for Youth list. The book isn’t all romance though. Mason’s relationships with his friends and new step family aren’t all smooth sailing. The secondary characters are well drawn and their interactions with Mason add depth to the story and make it all seem like they’re people you could meet in real life.

RainingCupcakes Why I loved It’s Raining Cupcakes by Lisa Schroeder: I should have been prepared for the emotion and depth in this book after having read her YA novels, but I wasn’t. I was lured by the cover into thinking it was all about cupcakes. There are cupcakes, just like the cover promises, and they all sound delicious! However, the heart of the story is really about Isabel and her relationship with her mother. It’s about finding a way to succeed even if you aren’t number one and learning to reach for your dreams. It’s always nice to be surprised by a book. Like Lisa Schroeder’s YA novels, the emotion in It’s Raining Cupcakes is spot on and the story strikes just the right balance between serious subjects and an ode to cupcakes.

RaisedByWolves Why I loved Raised By Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: It feels like you are an insider in a world humans don’t usually get to see. You find out what it means to be a werewolf and to be Pack, yet the main character, Bryn, has the power to resist some of the dominance of the pack because she’s human. When she meets a newly turned werewolf and lets the pack into her head, the book gives the reader another level of understanding about what it means to be Pack. Another great thing about this novel is that the story doesn’t go exactly where you think it will; there are twists and turns that can’t quite be anticipated. I never thought another werewolf book could live up to Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause. I can honestly say that Raised By Wolves lives up to it … I might even like it more. The next book in the series, Trial By Fire, comes out in Summer of 2011.

Paranormalcy Why I loved Paranormalcy by Kiersten White: Evie is an orphaned teen living in a government facility filled with paranormals, a best friend that’s a mermaid, and an ex-boyfriend that’s a faerie. She’s the only one able to see through the glamours of paranormal creatures, so the government put her to work helping to capture and contain paranormals. It’s a light-hearted, girl power look at government control and the question of whether what they are doing is a good thing or not, with serious undertones and a possible romance with a hot guy. Evie longs to be a regular girl, but it’s clear that it will be a hard goal to achieve. Then again, if anyone can do it, it will probably be Evie. This is the first book in a trilogy. The second book, Supernaturally, is scheduled to be published in Fall 2011.

Read any good books lately? Spill – I love to hear about good reads!
*Book Love = books that I loved reading and why. It’s not a review. There are many blogs online that review books way better than I could. 
*Note to the FTC: I don’t get paid for Book Love or receive anything for doing this. I just like to share what I enjoy reading. If I am lucky enough to win a book or an ARC, I’ll mention it (but winning a book doesn’t mean I’ll like it or talk about it). Otherwise, I purchased the book because I wanted to read it.