Monday, August 24, 2009

Give us this day our daily bread...only don't use wheat, please.

Yep. Pretty hard to imagine living without wheat. And I'm not just talking about bread. I'm talking about pancakes, waffles, toast, Subway sandwiches, hotdog buns, crackers, tortillas, corn dogs, pizza, bagels, cookies, cake, ice cream cones...even licorice has wheat as an ingrediant!

I've lived without sugar for a period of time (including fruit sugar). I've gone off dairy. I avoided peanut butter for years. And I've had a severe chocolate allergy for 18 months now. But when my doctor told me that I had a wheat allergy, I couldn't believe it. Nor did I dream that this would be the hardest food group of all to avoid.

My sister and I were both diagnosed with the allergy at the same time, and we both set to work to correct the emotional component of it. My sister was cleared several weeks before I was...but was told that she had a definete gluten intolerance (wheat is the main part of the gluten stuff to avoid, but rye and other grains are in there as well). While she could have gluten occasionally, she had to generally avoid it or it could cause serious problems later on.

This was rather scary.

You see, it's very hard to live without eating wheat. You can't simply go over to someone else's house and expect to find things. You have to talk to them ahead of time, or bring your own food along. It's not an easy way to live, but the consequences of rebellion (in my case, stomache and headaches) are crippling.

Last week we did the last work on clearing my allergy, but I was also informed that at this point in time I can only have gluten six times a week.

Most of us eat gluten 2-3 times a day - 14-21 times a week. Or more, if we're snacking.

So why am I saying all this?

No, it's not to make you all feel sorry for me or my sister. We don't need that. However I realized today that what we're going to be living with is something that many other Americans struggle with. I thought that in addition to everything else I blog about, I would occasionally put up a post about the gluten-free foods we find that actually taste good.

(Most gluten-free stuff is rather gross)

Skim over it if you aren't interested, but if you or someone you love find yourself struck with a gluten-allergy, you can always come back and catch up.

Gluten-free meal of today?
Feta Cheese - great taste, great protein
Honey - sweet, but organic honey from your area is good for you and can actually help with allergies.
Poached egg - filling, and HOT! :) I do mine without yokes, but if you leave the yoke in it is another source of protein.
A good fruit source for this meal would be apples - they're delicious with both feta cheese and honey.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Ink and Fairydust"

I would like to introduce the project that has tied up much of my time this past weekend.

"Ink and Fairydust" is an e-newspaper published by the members of the Fairy Tale Novels Forum (of which I am administrator). It's a brainchild I came up with about a month ago and was quickly approved and thrust into action by the rest of the forum.

We are still learning how to go about all this...but I'm pretty please with our first issue! We have a variety of items - articles about ReginaCon2009, faith reflections, real life fairy tales, poetry, photo contests, fairy-tale humor and more!

Our first issue is due out September 1st and will consist of 10 pages. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please send your e-mail address to our newspaper inbox at InkandFairydust [at] yahoo [dot] com. Please note the subject as "Ink and Fairydust subscription." You will recieve a .doc attachment consisting of the newspaper on the first of every month.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Sisters Black, 3&4

Chapters 3 and 4 of "The Sisters Black" are up on!

Direct link here.

Why FanFiction is NOT a sin...

FanFiction is not a sin.

Of course, in my book, poorly written fanfiction is pretty close to a sin, and it's definetely a terrible habit to fall into.

But well-written fanfiction is not a sin.

"Okay..." you say. "So what is the point of pointing this out?"

It's important to point out because I don't think very many people realize the benefits of writing some grammatically correct, well constructed, well plotted and nicely populated fanfiction. I think "serious" writers tend to brush it off as "amateur" and real amateur writers fail to see how fanfiction can help them polish their craft.

I say this because I've been there, but I've also really grown from writing fanfiction and I feel it's worthwhile to encourage the rest of you to do so as well.

Last summer I was in a particularily difficult place with the novel I was writing. I had spent a year and a half on it, and had reached the 100,000 word mark, but had been told that the plot was really no good. That meant a total rewrite, which was the last thing I wanted to do at that time.

So I set my novel aside for the summer and just read a lot of books, hoping that eventually new ideas would come to me.

Well new ideas came, but not of the sort that I was expecting.

Around the end of July, beginning of August, I finally had the nerve to pick up "Twilight" and its sequels. I found myself immediatly sucked into the franchise and before I quite knew what was happening, my friends Meg and Andy and I were starting work on a Twilight - fanfic...although it dealt primarily with our original characters and didn't significantly alter the fates of any canon characters (The Cullens and the Wolfpack were setting, not major players).

It was a fascinating project, but I kept moaning that it wasn't "real writing." I desperately wanted to get to work on an original project...but my idea generator was dead. No matter how many nights I paced up and down, or how many ideas I bounced off friends, I couldn't come up with anything that "worked."

So I went back to the Twilightfic, pounded away on that, and started developing an independant sequel that would give me room to develop the relationship side further.

Well, as I worked on that independant sequel, I realized that the characters I was developing were really extremely intriguing. I loved the way they interacted...and I loved their backstory. I realized that these were characters that were worth writing about - and worth sharing with the world. I also realized that they and their relationship would fit almost perfectly into the original story I had abandoned...and by now I had a new premise that had a lot of potential.

So I put the fanfic away and started writing my original novel again...and it bloomed, far richer than it would have been without the training ground of the fanfic.

So that was when I realized that, while I didn't have time to do fanfic all the time, it was a worthwhile experimentation ground to play around on once a year or so. I can try things there that I don't have space to play with in my novel, and I have the luxury of pre-created characters and setting to make the process go that much faster.

So, here are my thoughts on the subject...

1. DON'T use fanfiction as an excuse to push off your original writing projects. That's laziness.

2. DO use fanfiction to keep your writing sharp when you are genuinely stuck on your original writing projects.

3. DON'T be tempted to write sloppily. It's easy to fall into, but it's a bad habit to cultivate. Force yourself to write the very best you can.

4. DO share your fanfic with others. Let them comment on it - and use their comments to improve your writing.

5. DON'T feel confined by the story you set your fanfic in. Use it as a chance to explore character motivations, and stretch your imagination by adding your own twist on the story.

6. DO remember that even fanfics should be about more than romance. One of my friends is writing a brilliant fanfic that IS actually a romance - but he has hidden the romance so well that even professional writer/editors have been fooled into thinking it's an adventure story. But no one wants to read a fanfic that is just a ton of kissing, angst and dreaming. Bring in the mystery, action and politics! ;)

I could probably come up with a lot more do's and don'ts, but the last thing I wanted to say is a hypothesis I have about fanfic. I have a feeling that if one wrote a really good fanfic, and had a really large following on a site like, that popularity would mean something to a publisher who looked at a submission of your original work. It's proof that you are a good enough writer to earn and keep reader's interest. Seriously. Just because you are writing a fanfic off of a popular story like Twilight, Star Wars, or LOTR doesn't mean that you are automatically going to get hundreds of followerers. Your writing and your premise have to be GOOD. So taking the time to do a fanfic well could actuall benefit your original work later on.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Writing Quote of the Week

Young Writers should be encouraged to write, and discouraged from thinking they are writers. If they arrive at college with literay ambitions, they should be told that everything they have done since their first childhood poems, printed in the school paper, has been preparation for entering a long long apprenticeship.

At least in the beginning, that apprenticeship does not have to be served in a classroom. Letters can be a part of it, journals, anything that will force the expression of experience in words.
~Wallace Stegner, "On Teaching and Writing Fiction"

Girl Genius

Adventure. Romance. Mad Science.

Those are the thrills that "Girl Genius" promises to bring readers. And I can tell you it not only fulfulls the promise - it exceeds it.

My friend Bowman lent me the first three volumes of Girl Genius when I was down in Virginia this last week for the FT-Novel get-together. I read all three of them in just about 24 hours and I was completely hooked. Once I got back home I went online and read the remaining six volumes online. Now I am eagerly awaiting Friday for the next page to be released.

"Girl Genius" is the story of young Agatha Clay, a girl who lives in a Steampunk Victorian era Germany. This world is dominated by stories of the family Heterodyne...and the "Other" that tried to destroy them. Nowadays it is the Baron who keeps the peace...but he keeps his eyes open for promising young inventors, who possess the creative genius that makes them known as "sparks." When the Baron comes to Agatha's city, and his son Gil discovers that Agatha is a spark, her world changes forever...

There's some risque humor and violence that makes it for the 16-and-up crowd, but overall it's a very good story, with excellent characters, plot, and humor. I highly recommend it for the appropriate age group.

"Girl Genius" is an online comic which means that every single page is availible for free online. New pages are posted every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A New Tale

Some of you may know my friends MJ and Bowman, who are fellow members of the FT-Novel Forum. They are also writers like myself, and recently the three of us have begun a Harry Potter fanfic. It is the story of Bellatrix Lestrange and Narcissa Malfoy and I'm quite excited by the challange of delving into their characters and choice. It promises to be a fascinating exercise in contrast and descent into darkness.

MJ is writting Bellatrix's chapters, I am writing Narcissa's, and Bowman is editing. The story can be found here, where we are posting it under Bowman's account at Enjoy - and please review!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fiddler on Facebook

So the other day I started thinking...what would Fiddler on the Roof be like if it took place on Facebook? Inspired by a similar Pride and Prejudice piece which I linked to awhile back, I decided to write my own Fiddler spoof...which may be enjoyed here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fiddler Pictures

I've been asked to post some "Fiddler on the Roof" photos so here they are. You'll see some familiar SOTB faces amongst the cast. :)

How is Life?

It's August.

Does that strike anyone as funny? Do you think perhaps it should still be July? I had a dream last night that I was trying to plan a wedding and I kept thinking it was July.

Well today I had the blessing of waking up and finding out that my work was canceled for the day. Which from a financial standpoint isn't great, but from a "I'm-in-the-middle-of-performance-week" standpoint, it's wonderful. I got an extra three hours of sleep - yippee!

Performances have been going really well. Except for getting rained out of the second half on Friday night, they've gone off without a hitch. Everyone knows what they need to do and everything just falls into place.

What I love about acting is the sudden burst of energy that comes when you have an audience. You can practice a show a million times, but you'll never get it to the level that suddenly appears when you have your audience.

And for me, that's heaven. I love stepping out on stage and really performing. No longer practicing, but really telling a story for someone.

I think it all goes back to the fact that I'm a storyteller at heart. It's what I do. It's what makes me come alive.

And on that note...draft #3 of my novel is DONE! And for the first time I feel like I'm really getting to the end of the writing process on this one. When I reached the last page I thought "Wow. I'm done." And I'm not really done...but I'm getting very close. Hopefully starting the publication process is only weeks away, as opposed to months. I'll be talking to Regina Doman and her husband when I go out to their place next week and see if they have advice on the best place to start.

Oh yes! The second Fairy-Tale-Novel Get-Together is happening NEXT WEEK. I know some of you are coming...looking forwards to seeing you there!