Writer Fuel

Writing recipes still counts as writing, right?

Sometimes chicken soup for the soul isn’t enough, and we need chicken soup for the body. Or non-chicken nutrifying liquid.

I couldn’t even manage to keep buttered noodles down last night (hopefully just a 24-hour bug — I did get my flu shot!). Though I’m not much of a cook in general, I made soup this morning, because throwing things into a pot seemed like a better option than driving out for a can of greasy yellow water with processed chicken flecks in it. I am not a food blogger and I’m not giving you a convenient recipe format here, but this was easy enough that I could put it together while sipping weak mint tea and generally feeling like crap…and I’ve been experimenting with my Instant Pot enough that I might as well have a place to collect the experiments that have worked.

Here, then, is some very informal, low-effort, Instant Pot (Frozen) Chicken Soup.

(with soft noodles)

one successful chicken soup experiment

* Place 3 frozen chicken thighs (we keep boneless skinless thighs as our go-to frozen chicken. breasts or whatever are fine) in the instant pot with a cup of water. Close. Heat on manual (high pressure) for 10 minutes.
* While chicken is pressurizing, chop up an onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, bust out a bag of frozen veg of your choice, or all of the above.
* When chicken beeps, release pressure and remove chicken from the pot. Turn off the pot. Using hand protection, remove, empty, and rinse the pot insert.
* Put 3 tablespoons of butter, margarine, ghee, oil, or your sauteing product of choice, into the pot. Once it melts, which should happen quickly because the pot will still be toasty, dump in the chopped veg. Hit the Saute button and swish the veg around for about 5 minutes / until soft.
* In between stirring the veg, cut or shred the chicken. Ignore any begging housepets that smell chicken and want to be your new best friend.
* Once vegetables are thoroughly conditioned, turn off the pot. Add 3 cups water with 2 bouillon cubes (or just 3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock).
* Dump chicken back in, along with seasonings. These can include salt, pepper, ginger (2 slices or 1 teaspoon), garlic (2 cloves, minced), oregano, rosemary, bay leaf, and/or a dash of cayenne.
* Add 8 ounces of egg noodles or similar pasta type object. Egg noodles come in 12-ounce packages, so this is kind of annoying. Add all 12 if you want, but add another cup of water with that.
* Pro tip: At this point, stirring is in order. If you let the noodles all sit on top of the other ingredients and out of the liquid, they will be unpleasantly crunchy in the finished product. I discover these things so you don’t have to.
* Close the pot up again, and set the release valve back to pressurize. Hit the Soup button and then leeeeeean on the minus button to bring the cook time down from 120 minutes to just 4.
* When the timer beeps, release the pressure. Et voila, it is soup!
(In case your noodles didn’t noodle, submerging the noodles into the broth and cooking for another couple of minutes saved my noodles.)

Essence becomes Aether

A while back, OF THE ESSENCE rights-reverted to me. I’ve been alternating between working on other projects and pondering what the best thing to do with it would be. It contained proprietary creatures and content from the HELLMAW setting, so any future action is going to require some significant changes.

Well, thanks to a handful of talented fellow authors, and a stack of very helpful reference books, I’ve found that angle. I’m currently about a third of the way through a new first draft, and excited about the way things are going. There’s a chance that you’ll be able to hold Quills’s story in your hands in the not so distant future. And then? She might have sequels. So . . . stay tuned!

Can it sell?

I’m going to be offering a new service to NaNoWriMo participants this year! If you’re writing for National Novel Writing Month, I’m offering to check your manuscript’s saleability.

Let me explain.

There’s no point to copyediting a first draft. The manuscript is going to change too much before it’s a final product ready for submission.

So…what’s helpful for first draft NaNoWriMo manuscripts? A general critique. Maybe a list of stylistic/technical/editorial issues to watch out for while you revise. And an acquisition editor’s perspective on whether your book is on the right track. Is it a publishable concept? What would make it more interesting/viable/sellable?

I’ll be offering this service at a rate of $10 per 10,000 words. I’m happy to look at a chapter, an outline, or an entire novel.

I realize there are communities for peer editing and critiquing, and I fully support the peer effort. But if you want a professional opinion, I’ll be fair, constructive, and honest.

 

Bad News Good News

The bad news: unfortunately, I’m not able to make it to DragonCon this weekend for personal reasons. I was excited to be an Attending Professional, with programming! And to debut my awesome General Leia cosplay. But, hopefully they’ll have me back next year.

The good news: I’m able to attend StrategiCon here in LA, where I’ll be running the Pathfinder Society scenario I wrote (at least two tables of it) and playing other assorted games.

Next year in Atlanta, my friends!

 

 

 

Verthandi

A while back, I wrote a mythological/historical fantasy story for an anthology called The Bard’s Tale: Stories and Recipes from the Black Dragon Inn, about one of the Fates and her interaction with a very special young girl.

That story is now available as a reprint on Curious Fictions, along with a lot of other great short stories by a lot of great authors. You can read for free, or opt in to support the site or specific authors. I hope you’ll go take a look.

(Of course, if you want to see the recipe that goes with the story, or the gorgeous story art by David Szilagyi, you’ll still have to buy the anthology. I recommend it.)

Taos Toolbox, day 0

Yesterday I met up with two other workshop participants in Albuquerque and drove them up to Taos, and then up up up some more to the Angel Fire Resort. After some kerfuffle, I got settled in and met up with the whole group for orientation and dinner.

We’re at 8300 feet or so up here, and I felt it more than I expected to, but less than would be worrisome. My manuscript is up in the first day’s round of critiques, and I made sure that I’d re-read the other two manuscripts before bed. I don’t sleep well my first night in a new place, but a couple random coyotes sang me to sleep. When I peeked out the window in the middle of the night, the stars looked low and close and bright.

My New Office Is Coming Along Nicely

009

I have officially moved house. If you need my new address and I’ve forgotten to send it, please contact me at one of the usual places. I’ve tried to at least update colleagues, but inevitably someone gets left off the cc: or it goes to spam.

My desk is the first thing we’ve set up here. That’s Toey, keeping me company. And snoring a little, after singing me the Song of Her People all night. I’ve been working on packing up the old house, moving, and doing revisions/rewrites on Hearts Are Jerks. I’m past the 25% mark, slowly but steadily giving it the polish and feels that it needs.

I don’t celebrate a Winter Holiday as such, but I wish you a pleasant one if you do.

Interview with the Editor

I was honored to have the opportunity to interview James L. Sutter for Lambda Literary. James was my editor at Paizo for Gears of Faith, and I was his editor when he wrote for my anthology When the Hero Comes Home 2.

Bisexuality is in an odd place in the matrix of queerness. It’s important to show out bisexuals in the workplace. We exist. We’re not defined by who we’re partnered with. And we bring a vision of diversity to the publishing workplace and the world of literature.

James L. Sutter Interview – Lambda LiteraryJames L. Sutter Interview – Lambda Literary