Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Who Would You Choose to Read Your Book?

Aloud, that is.

Today I ran across the recording of Sally Gardner's The Red Necklace read by one Tom Hiddleston, who, it turns out, has not only the most beautiful speaking voice, but is also a pretty impressive voice actor, with a good range of accents at his disposal.   (and he was in a few superhero movies, I am been informed)
And, I wondered, who would I pick, if I could have any beautiful voice in the world, to read my current WIP when it eventually becomes a real manuscript, and, hopefully, an actual book?

This was trickier than I thought. I love playing the casting game, picking actors to play our favorite characters thought I have gotten in trouble with a few fellow writers for my unconventional picks. Sorry, fellow scribes, I stick by my choices!
For my last manuscript, I have no idea. But the one that's on the drawing board right now? That would have to be Tilda Swinton. In fact, if I could get her to read me the passages as I write them, that would probably get this written a lot faster, so let's see if I can hook that up.

How about you? Who would you trust, with your words?

Film Count 2015 : 68 
Watched this week:
(*not first viewing)

Skeleton Twins
Jamie Marks is Dead
Earth to Echo
How to Train Your Dragon 2*
Frances Ha*

Things that are technically TV shows even though I only watch them streaming on the computer: 16
New this week:

Penn and Teller

Books of 2015 : 13
New this week:

Nothing as of this posting. Working on my own writing and rewriting for the past few days. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

On Finding Your Genre as a Writer

So, why do you write what you write? Is that the simplest hardest question in all of the writing world? 
Many writers work in multiple genres, of course, but they almost always have a foundation genre, the one they are known for, the one they totally own. And as we all know, one of the major obstacles (okay, THE major obstacle?) of going from wanting to write to actually writing is figuring out just what in the world we're going to write about

For me personally, it happened somewhere in the year after college, when I was working in a bookstore. 
I had been a writer since the first grade, and by the final semester of earning my BFA (in sculpture, of course) I had decided that I was going to start writing again, and taking it seriously. But what to write? 
Well, spending 50 hours a week surrounded by books is a very good way to go, if you're a little shaky on what exactly you want to write. 
That's where I found Middle Grade. Ah, my people! 
I love reading every genre, from memoirs to cozy mysteries to high fantasy to fussy literature, but when it came to writing, there was something about the middle grade category that seemed so freeing, and open, and inspiring. I thought of all the books I loved to read when I loved to read the most - as a kid. Suddenly, I had all the ideas in the world, and all the energy to work on them, hour after hour, through the many years that would follow, while I learned what an agent was, and how submitting to publishers worked, and how fantastic and supportive the kid lit community can be even across the country or the world, because they told me all these things, and read my earliest, cruddiest work. 

So, when did you find your genre? Did you always know what you wanted to write? Are you still looking?  

Film Count 2015 : 61 
Watched this week:
(*not first viewing)

Listen Up Phillip
Magic in the Moonlight
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2*
Top Gun*
Ferris Bueller's Day Off*
Marie Antoinette*

Things that are technically TV shows even though I only watch them streaming on the computer: 15
New this week:

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Books of 2015 : 13
New this week:

The Map to Everywhere
Wonder at the Edge of the World 

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Bunch of Little Things

1. Snow. Ugh. I love winter, but this one has been bitter cold and extra long, and I'm ready for some gardening, and running outdoors regularly, and not having to chip ice off of anything (especially my car) for at least a full day.

2. I cannot decide what to revise next. I have rough/early drafts of three different projects, which all have characters, plots, settings, all the good stuff, but need to be sorted into proper books, and every time I start working on one, I get ideas for another, and I really want to pick one and focus on rewriting and polishing, but I cannot. Alas. 

3. I love pottery. I don't know if I've mentioned it here before, but I had two uncles who were potters by trade, and one cousin and aunt who still work in the field. I love handmade pottery, and I'm very much in the market for a set of beautiful, unique dishes for use around the Cate household. But I'm also a complete klutz, of the kind that's prone to dropping things and chipping dishes in the sink, which is why we're down to three plates, and I am in the plate purchasing market. 

4. The word "dog" has come up a few times with the pre-teen child. Never in an instant way, but just enough to remind me that he hasn't forgotten a little discussion we had, in which I said we could maybe start entertaining the idea of possibly someday getting a dog. I know I could use the requirement to get up and out of the house every day. (working from home on your own business doesn't mean "loads of free time". It means, "I feel like I should always be working".) We do have a beautiful dog park about half a mile from here, and a big lake, and lots of pretty winding roads for walks and jogging. And two tremendous county parks within a five minute drive. The issue has been put on the itinerary for further discussion, is where we stand at the moment. The idea sounds fantastic in the summer and fall, and horrid in the snowy, snowy winter and the muddy, rainy spring. 

5. We also have one very old cat, who deserves a quiet retirement before we go bringing a huge slobbering animal into the family. She's already 17, and has her good and bad days. She was looking pretty pathetic the past few months, but I've been giving her lots of her favorite food (anything in a can, and lots of creamy things) and she's going through something of a renaissance. Trotting around the house, jumping up on the furniture, snuggling with us at night, which she never used to do. My mother in law stopped by with her dog earlier this week, and the old lady cat shrugged and went back to sleep. It was the "little" cat (youngest and biggest, of course) that was shocked, and spent the whole visit hiding behind my legs.

So that's about it for now. For those of you in sunny climates, my eternal envy. For those of you with even more snow and less mercury than we have up here, I salute you.

Film Count 2015 : 53 
Watched this week:
(*not first viewing)

John Wick
Chasing Amy*

Things that are technically TV shows even though I only watch them streaming on the computer: 14
New this week:

House Hunters International 

Books of 2015 : 11
New this week:

Nothin' new. I am getting behind, and it's high time to get to a bookshop! 
Sometime this week, I will go. Promise.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

What Are You Looking For in a Farm?

So, the search for the perfect farmshare begins! 
Step one, research. 
That's easy enough. Just punch CSA and your general location, and find your nearest CSA farms. 

Step two, pick your menu. 
Now, every farm in my area offers vegetables as the staple in your weekly share. You can't really select which vegetables you will get, but many farms provide a list of what they will be grown in the coming season, and when it will be available in your weekly delivery. 

We'll start you off with a salad.
Some of the farms I researched allowed a limited number of requests, such as less "weird" vegetables, more or less greens, but for the most part, you get what you get. Each week your share will include the crops that are ready and available at that time, which should mean your getting the freshest food possible, which is the main point here anyway. Most of my local farms also also offer herbs and seasonal fruit as part of the weekly share, but in much smaller proportion to the vegetables. 

And on to the main course

Many of the farms I researched also have egg and/or meat shares available. This would include any number of items from chicken, pork, turkey, duck, beef and lamb, depending on where you buy. I am not philosophically opposed to eating meat, but I am pretty thoroughly disgusted by the factory farming of livestock as practiced by large scale commercial agriculture. The whole process seems needlessly wasteful, cruel and environmentally dangerous. So if we're going to continue to be omnivores here, we should strive to be conscious omnivores, right? One of the main pluses of CSA food production is knowing exactly where your food came from, and how it was raised, which is preferably with plenty of room, good food and excellent care free of added hormones and antibiotics.
Ideally, I'd like to be getting as much of our food as possible from fresh local sources. So adding meat, eggs and honey to the weekly order sounds fantastic.
The main downside is the quantities - most available meat shares are for a LOT of pounds of product. We don't eat meat every day here, and we don't have a good place for a stand alone freezer to hold dozens of pounds of surplus chops and sausages. I may have to enlist some extended family members to make this work effectively.

Step three, location, location, location. 
So, where do you want to pick up your fresh batch of home grown deliciousness every week? If you live in an urban area, good news! There is probably a local drop location very close to you. 
For us semi rural folk, it looks like we'll be driving directly to the farm. The one I've tentatively decided upon has several strong positives- 
Good variety of seasonal veggies
Fruit with most shares
Long season (4 weeks longer than the other farms I've looked at, for about the same cost) 
Meat and egg shares available, though the meat shares are on a separate schedule. Veggies, fruit and eggs arrive every week, meat every month or so. 
Bridge shares - extra weeks at the start and end of the season - are also available.  

Looks like this might be the winner. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Foraging for Dinner in the Modern Age

So, I've been interested in joining a farm share, or CSA program for a while now.  If you've never heard of the concept, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it's a way of shopping super locally. How it works is, you buy a share of the produce from a local farm, and throughout the growing/harvest season, food is either delivered to your door or you pick it up directly from your farm once a week or every other week, depending on how much food you'd like to end up with. Contents of your share would include seasonal fruits and veggies, possibly eggs, butter, honey or meat, depending on what is raised at your farm of choice, and what grows well that season.
On some farms, you can even go work a shift or two during the week, to help grow your own food.
I am a horrible food grower. We live in a heavily wooded neighborhood, with a yard that's almost completely shaded by 80 year old oak trees. Not a great place to grow food. I can grow flowers and shrubs like a boss, but my attempts at adding anything edible have been a complete flop for the past 5 years running.
This year, I'm thinking we'll go with a local CSA.
This is the time of year to buy in, for us up in the North.
So I'm off to find a good local farmer, and I'll share the results of my journey as we go!

And now the updates -

Film Count 2015 : 49 
Watched this week:
(*not first viewing)

The Strangers*
A Good Marriage
Tommy Boy*
Stop at Nothing

Things that are technically TV shows even though I only watch them streaming on the computer: 12
New this week:

Nothin. Still 12

Books of 2015 : 11
New this week:

Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Best Movie to Not Watch Right Now

This week we did finally get around to watching Jodorowsky's Dune, a documentary that was released in summer '13, but which we missed to see something else at the time that I can't remember now. Anyway, a few days ago, we finally wrangled a copy and got a chance to see this. It's hard to explain how fascinating and painful it is to see a movie about a movie that doesn't actually exist. There is one other similar documentary that comes to mind, Lost in LaMancha, about Terry Gilliam's failed effort to make his dream version of Don Quixote. Jodorowsky's Dune similarly discusses an epic, tantalizing, but ultimately abandoned  attempt to adapt Frank Herbert's sci-fi masterpiece novel, Dune, to film. Whereas Lost in LaMancha is actually cobbled together from what was intended to be behind the scenes footage of the filming of Gilliam's project, including a live action accounting of the unfortunate misadventures that ultimately derailed the production entirely, Jodorowsky's Dune tells the tale of the most brilliant movie that was never filmed.  More than a little hard to watch while in the middle of the submission doldrums - seeing a project that looks so, so perfect on paper, that ultimately comes to nothing more than a brilliantly thorough production plan, and a dream that can never be realized.

Film Count 2015 : 42
Watched this week:
(*not first viewing)

Jodorowsky's Dune
Some Velvet Morning


Things that are technically TV shows even though I only watch them streaming on the computer: 12
New this week:

BoJack Horseman

Books of 2015 : 9
New this week:

Not a dang thing. This was a writing week

Monday, February 9, 2015

It's Paperwork Season!

So, today started off with finishing and filing taxes (oh, the joy!) which somehow turned into Office Day here at the Cate household. Looking through stacks of (un-filed) paperwork and sorting a bunch of nonsense that had accumulated in the I'm Sure We'll Need This drawer turned into making phone calls and getting some hustling done. Turns out that calling the car insurance agent, the student loan provider, and the village hall is way more fun when you pretend you're in a roadshow production of Glengarry Glen Ross, instead of just your kitchen. And getting some of your bills lowered because you are a responsible adult with an aging car and a depreciating house value (still more than we paid, so score. I realize how rare that is these days) makes one feel like quite the grown up. 
And now tomorrow is free for writing. 

Film Count 2015 : 39
Watched this week:
(*not first viewing)

The Imitation Game
Spongebob - Sponge Out of Water
Our Idiot Brother*
The Fifth Element*
Gone Girl

Things that are technically TV shows even though I only watch them streaming on the computer: 10
New this week:

The Blacklist

Books of 2015 : 9
New this week:

Trigger Warning
The Real Boy

Things I'm Eagerly Awaiting in 2015 this week:

The Babadook, which is out on video finally, I believe. Whiplash, just out as well, and the 4th season of Louie.