I’m torn. Or, I’m of two minds. On the one hand, tradition is a great thing, offering stability in these troubled times (a bit of angsty saga there, eh?). On the other hand, some might consider baking the same cake (yes, we're talking about cake here) as THE birthday cake month after month, year after year is akin to being in a rut.
I think it depends on the cake in question. Some cakes deserve to be consumed on a regular basis. For many years the only birthday cake in our house was an old-fashioned cocoa cake with cocoa frosting. Three layers of OMG this is freaking amazing. (Hubby is a rebel and always wants an apple pie for his birthday “cake”.)
As a youngster quite often my birthday cake was a spice cake with Seven Minute Frosting (cooked egg white frosting = food of the gods). So when I think of that cake, spice cake with the meringue frosting, I’m transported back to the halcyon days of my childhood. And that’s a good thing. That’s what tradition means. Comfort and stability and damn good cake.
So which cake will I bake for the birthday this weekend? I’m torn.
The life of an author ain’t easy. When I’m not actually writing new words, I’m revising or editing already-written words. But that’s only half the job. The other half is trying to get my books into the hands of readers.
The mother of uphill battles.
The good news is that I’m not alone in my travails. The community of romance writers is the nicest group of people ever. Always willing to share advice, experience, ideas, or just a kind word.
I’m so lucky to have wonderful critique partners to provide feedback, bounce ideas off of, and hold the occasional bitch session.
I’m also lucky to have close friends who are also fellow authors. The fact that they live in a different country in a different time zone matters not. We chat online daily. But it’s not just idle chit-chat. We chat with a purpose, which is to be successful as authors, self-published and with traditional publishers.
To that end we took advantage of the new year – with that whole resolution malarkey – and we set goals. Not wishes, not dreams (become the next Nora Roberts AND land a movie deal), but sensible, achievable goals. (I won’t turn down that movie deal should it arise.)
The key to sticking with goals, for me, is to break them down into manageable chunks. Saying I want to have the first draft of a new book written by April 30 does me no good. But with a little math and a little cogitating, I can set the goal of writing two thousand words a day, Monday to Friday. That will get me to my goal of a first draft by the end of April even if I have a sick day, or I take a day off to choose paint colours for all the white walls in this house. I know I can write 2K words in a day because I’ve done it many times.
Another thing about goals, they work better if you’re publicly accountable. Which is where my author friends come in. We “meet” online every Sunday at 8:00 pm AST to report on our progress for the week. Some weeks we applaud and cheer everyone’s success. Some weeks we discuss what went wrong and brainstorm ways to make the coming week better. We are not alone.
This past week I read a fellow writer’s blog (my apologies for not remembering who that was) in which she recommended including a word count widget on one's blog to keep track of writing progress. Another way to be publicly accountable. So I’m going to dig around on this blog thingie and try to come up with a suitable widget. (Heavens, the newfangled words we use nowadays!)
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According to one of those weird and whacky holiday calendars, we should be eating Sloppy Joes today. I can’t remember the last time I made Sloppy Joes. Spicy, saucy ground beef atop a soft hamburger bun or a Kaiser roll – Yum! I bet you can figure out what we’ll be eating for supper tonight.
There are many variations to the recipe out there. Whenever I’m flummoxed as to which version to make, I turn to the good folks at All Recipes. I read several recipes and compare ingredients. Sometimes I combine two or three recipes and come up with a new version entirely.
A useful tool at the All Recipes website is the reviews. (As an aside, nothing burns my butt quite like a review that claims the recipe was bad – and then goes on to list all the changes the reviewer made to the original recipe before making. Grrr.) I use the reviews to check for things like too much or not enough salt, the level of “heat” (I‘m a wimp and always order my Indian food mild), and too much or not enough liquid.
So after perusing the many, many variations on Sloppy Joes, I made my decision. But then I thought, “heck, I’ve made them before, which recipe did I use last time?” Well, ha! Turns out this one made the cut last time, too!
‘Tis the season… to meet the movers at the storage unit—watch them put all our worldly possessions into the trucks—hold our collective breath whilst the grandfather clock makes the journey—watch the movers empty the trucks into the new house—direct them where to put all the stuff—again hold our breath whilst the clock is situated—face the piles of boxes and wonder where to put all the stuff—fa la la!
Phew, just writing that made me tired and close to tears of exhaustion.
Believe it or not, we’re hosting Christmas dinner. You may be all agog wondering why we’d do something so insane. Well, I’ll tell you. Both of us want to hibernate. After the past six months of not having a permanent book on which to hand our hats we don’t want to budge. Not even an inch. For a few months at least. So we’ll hole up in our new nest and let people come to us. The kitties will be happy to not have their humans disappear for at least one day a week, too.
We’ll celebrate Festivus for the Rest of Us tomorrow by searching for the dishes, unearthing the flatware, and unpacking the pots and pans.
What are you up to this weekend? A mad scramble? Or a relaxing few days with a hot beverage and a good book? My, doesn’t that sound delightful?