6.30.2009

Alexia's London: Supper June 30, 1876

Tea Drinking
Supper for Today, 1876, in a London Townhouse
  • Asparagus soup - asparagus tips in jelly broth.
  • Veal Cutlets en Papillottes - thin cutlets in a souse of parsley, green onions, shallots, lemon juice, and mushrooms broiled with thin slice of ham and udder
  • Cabinet Pudding - a bread pudding with raisins, lemon peel, cinnamon, Madeira, and brandy.



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
Fancy Man Enjoys Tea
Your Tisane of Smart:
Alice's Tea Cup in New York city not only looks like a lovely place to visit but also has an informative (if slightly cumbersome) website with an extensive section about tea.
Your Writerly Tinctures:
All about author bios and how to market a writer. I would just like to point out that, on the basis of my bio alone, I was approached by an editor of a major house. So it's true, write a good one, boys and girls!

CAKE in Space: With agent.
Soulless: Look, Soulless available through . . . uh, Target?
Changeless: Gone poof. Starting to gather corrections. Release date unknown.
Blameless:

Quote of the Day:
"There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

6.26.2009

How the Victorians Describe Italian Food

Tea Drinking
I recently pulled out my 1891 Baedeker's Northern Italy, as Alexia and cohorts are currently traipsing about Florence. Unfortunately, I don't have an earlier version, and a lot changed in Italy over the 20 years between Alexia's time and this edition of the travel guide (a complete rail system magically appeared, for example). Nevertheless, a 1891 Baedeker's is still better than my unreliable memories of the city (from when I was excavating near there some ten or more years ago). As I was reading along, in the wee hours of the night, muttering to myself about all the things I would now have to go back and adjust in Blameless, I encountered an unintentionally hilarious section. Essentially, intended as a food guide, it was really Italian cuisine as defined by the Victorian British pallet. Here are a few choice morsels for your amusement:
  • Antipasti: relishes taken as whets
  • Risotto: a kind of rice pudding (rich)
  • Salami: banger
  • Potaggio di pollo: chicken-fricassee
  • Funghi: mushrooms (often too rich)
  • Polenta: boiled maize
  • Gnocchi: small puddings
That last is my personal favorite. I can just see Alexia, wafting into some Italian cafe and demanding a dish of those "delightful green covered tiny puddings." You see how easily I amuse myself? This is one of the great pleasures of writing alternative history, I get to expound on the absurdity of the Victorian British abroad, but also use them as a vehicle through which I can expound on the absurdity of other cultures as well. As bad as Alexia can be about alien cuisine (she has much to say on the vileness of coffee, I must point out) you should see how she describes foreign mannerisms. The Italian language, for example, she cannot help but notice seems to be mainly comprised of "extravagant hand gestures." And, with that, I had best get back to it.



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:

Your Tisane of Smart:
Go librarians, go, rah rah rah!
Your Writerly Tinctures:
One of my favorite talks from BEA was Becoming an Agent of Trust: Publisher and Retailer Strategies for Harnessing New Social Media Tools to Grow Communities, it doesn't sound like it is aimed at authors but BOY was it interesting.

CAKE in Space: With agent.
Soulless: Still getting some lovely initial reviews but none of these will be posted until September or so.
Changeless: Gone poof. Starting to gather corrections. Release date unknown.
Blameless:

Quote of the Day:
"Heaven is where the police are British, the chefs Italian, the mechanics German, the lovers French, and it's all organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the police are German, the chefs are British, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss, and it is all organized by the Italians."
~ An oldie but a goodie

6.24.2009

In Which Gail Imagines What Jane Austen Would Say About Twitter

Blogging - WIth Computer
I have been battling Twitter all morning, Gentle Reader. This is very frustrating for an OCD former QA tester super-organizer with delusions of someday defeating entropy. I can only imagine Jane Austen on the subject: Twitter is a party of inferior refinement, wherein people of little consequence say things of no consequence despite the accepted fact that no one is listening, and even if they were, they would not respond. As you may have determined, I am disinclined to pursue any further avenues of social media today. Thus I give you only the Obligatory Parasol Photo and the Daily Dose.

Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
Ascot Lady's Day has been and gone, an event most Americans tend to overlook. But, since I adore hats, I couldn't let it pass me by without a mention. Attending Ascot is one of my life goals. Some day I too will be supercilious, elitist, and cranially adorned.

Your Tisane of Smart:
The Maya were big on tubers, manioc (yuca or cassava) in particular. Turns out they may be on to something, this member of the spurge family (yes, I said SPURGE - how Invader Zim is that?) is reputed to make the best French fries in existence.

Your Writerly Tinctures:
The Swivet's hilarious BEA wrap up

CAKE in Space: With agent.
Soulless: still basking in the library glow.
Changeless: Gone poof. Starting to gather corrections. Release date unknown.
Blameless:

Quote of the Day:
"I always like to know everything about my new friends, and nothing about my old ones."
~ Oscar Wilde
I thought this particularly social media apt.

6.23.2009

How a Review Reviews the Reviewer

Research - Tea and Books
Well, Gentle Reader, I have been getting some of my first book reviews in email and online. Some of these are from libraries, some from bloggers, and some from brick & mortar independents. These are the folks who got the first round of ARCs or picked one up at BEA. I'm not going to talk about the reviews themselves, because what I am finding most intriguing at the moment is how different they are from each other, and much each review tells me about the reviewer's focus and interests.

Those whose interest is largely fantasy orientated tend to write more about the world building process and manipulation of the Victorian era to accommodate the supernatural elements. Those who are fans of urban fantasy focus on the way Soulless deviates from other paranormals with regards to treatment of vampires and werewolves and any major aberrations from the pack. This, in Soulless's case is the idea of excess or absent soul. Those coming out of the romance field go into detailed analysis of the hero/heroine dynamic, flavor of the dialogue, and other personal interactions. Those who read widely and do not associate with any particular genre tend to talk a lot about characterization. I have yet to be reviewed within the steampunk community but I am looking forward to seeing how those folks lend their own personality to the opinion rooster.

With this book, my main worry was that I had my fingers in too many pies. I was concerned I might have the equivalent of a dinner party full of picky eaters, and serving up a meal with too many exoteric components. Fortunately, what I am finding is quite the reverse. It is more like a buffet, and so far, even the pickiest of eaters seem to be finding something to chew on.

So, Gentle Readers, this is my moment of gratitude. Not only am I grateful for the reviews, but I am grateful that by writing them you reviewers are sharing with me a little bit of yourself, which is a remarkable gift indeed.



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
The World Beard and Mustache Championships 2009 in Anchorage, Alaska

Your Tisane of Smart:
Great quote about the Assassins guild c. 1193 (yes, the Assassins guild did really exist). "Henry [VI, Holy Roman Emperor] even made a new alliance with the Assassins. The Old Man of the Mountains celebrated it in spectacular fashion: he invited Henry to a meeting on a cliff-top, where his followers demonstrated their fidelity by leaping, one by one, to their deaths in the abyss below, until Henry begged for the display to end. The Templars had little time for such frivolities." ~ Stephen Howarth (Then Knights Templar)
Your Writerly Tinctures:
Dave goes to bat over genre politics

CAKE in Space: With agent.
Soulless: Basking in the glow of compliments from librarians, some of the most important people in my life have been librarians.
Changeless: Gone poof. Starting to gather corrections. Release date unknown.
Blameless: No progress due to brief invasion of Western Coast by the Uber Nemesis of Podcasting Himself. You may, of course, blame him.

Quote of the Day:
"I got to thinking about the point in every freelancer's life where he has to decide whether he wants to A, have a social life, and do art in his spare time, or B, do art, and have a social life in his spare time. It has always seemed to me that if you have any hope of making a living as an artist – writer, musician, whatever – you absolutely must learn to tell people to leave you alone, and to mean it, and to eject them from your life if they don't respect that. This is necessary not because your job is more important than anyone else's – it isn't – but because a great many people will think of you as not having a job. 'Oh, how wonderful – you can work whenever you want to!' Well, yes, to a point, but generally 'whenever you want to' had better be most of the time, or else you won't have a roof over your head."
~ Poppy Z. Brite
(Considering Tee and I's discussion over the collapse of the Survivor Guide, I thought this quote apt.)

6.19.2009

Alexia's London: Supper June, 1876

Tea Drinking

Supper for Today, 1876, in a London Townhouse
  • Flounders - fish cooked in brine served with parsley and butter sauce
  • Green Goose - stuffed with sage, onion, bread-crumbs, pepper, and salt served with a gravy, apple sauce, and mustard (green means young)
  • Arrowroot Pudding - (actually a custard) made with bitter almond, lemon-peel


Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
Screen caps from Young Victoria still not in the USA, why?
Your Tisane of Smart:
Star Trek Reboot in 47 seconds - love the red balloon.
Your Writerly Tinctures:
Recently uncovered evidence of Khwarismian (Turkish) vampires from AD 1244 (post 4th Crusade): "Thirsting for and drinking blood, they butchered the bodies of dogs and humans, and eat them. The wear bulls' horns, that are armed with iron; they are short and squat, with compact bodies; they are invincible in war, and blood to them is a delicious drink." From templar records. Curiously indicative, no?

CAKE in Space: With agent.
Soulless: Reworking back cover tag.
Changeless: Gone poof. Starting to gather corrections. Release date unknown.
Blameless:

Quote of the Day:
"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists."
~ Joan Gussow

6.18.2009

They Came From the Squealer Side - In Which Gail Encounters a Fan Girl

Betas - Group Approval

Recently, Gentle Reader, I had my first encounter with a Fan Girl. I do not mean to imply I had never met such a creature before, indeed, I may have been one myself on more than one occasion (of the breathy variety and in the presence of a certain YA author). No this was my Fan Girl. She was excited to meet me in a manner that made itself known as mild bouncing and several intermittent squeaks that, once lowered into a decibel level appropriate to the human ear, could be translated as euphoric rhapsodies over Soulless. It was, to put it mildly, highly disconcerting. And I was not prepared.

First, and most importantly, I was not dressed appropriately. I was wearing my regular everyday clothing and not one of my nicer vintage outfits and stilettos. Please believe me when I tell you, Gentle Reader, that coping with unexpected social encounters is always best met wearing stilettos. Secondly, as my book is not yet out to the public, I was not yet anticipating fan-girlishness in any form. I was under the impression I had a good four more months to prepare, and even then one cannot depend upon fan girls, one can only hope to engender such zeal.

And yet there I stood, wide-eyed and mute, confronted by gyrating squeals, with an acute sense that I ought to have some other response than "I'm so glad you liked it." So that, in the end, is the question. How does one respond to such adoration and enthusiasm for ones little book? I am rather coming down to replying with a "Who's your favorite character?" or some similar question. Because, quite frankly, I am interested in knowing the answer and, in addition, I am considering coming up with a personality evaluation scale based on which character a given reader finds most appealing.

Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
I'm delighted to see lady-like knits for the masses. Some are even turning out sweaters that are short enough for a real retro look. For example here are some 1950's influenced ladylike items from Tulle, a favorite designer of mine.
Want to buy something? "luckybreaks3" will get you 35% off everything at check out.
Your Tisane of Smart:
Star Trek Movie Flow Chart

Your Writerly Tinctures:
Penguin Group's new Screening Room features a Project Paranormal Channel.

CAKE in Space: With agent.
Soulless: Given a little shout out over on Suburban Vampire
Changeless: Gone poof. Starting to gather corrections. Release date unknown.
Blameless:

Quote of the Day:
"The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail. The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell, together, as quickly as possible."
~ Mark Twain

6.17.2009

On Making Speeches and Other Forms of Torture

Romanticism - In the Square
I have to come up with a speech, Gentle Reader, for a possible event in a couple of months. It occurred to me that I use all of my best material online these days. Perhaps I should be a tad more reticent? I am hoping I will be given some guidelines on what to talk about – this always improves matters. Luckily, I am not one of those authors terrified of public speaking. That stage fright not cured by docenting for two years, was later cured by teaching for two years too long. At least with guest author appearances one hopes the audience is there because they want to be there, unlike most college students.

The ideal speech contains something relevant to the venue, that incorporates the book, and amuses the audience – a rather tall order, in the end. And of coarse, rather like writing, one cannot hope to please everyone. I have to be careful, my base line is flippancy, which most people find offensive, so it helps if I at least come up with some species of short outline beforehand. I always think back to Emma Thompson's Golden Globes speech back in 1996 from the screenplay of Sense & Sensibility.

For some reason I was watching this award show at the time (let me think, ah yes undergraduate – I was much less discriminating in my television viewing) and have always remembered this particular speech. I would hold it up as the best acceptance speech ever given. Now, I myself am not receiving an award, but if I could only do something half as good I should be quite happy.


Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
French 1930's style. I'm not wild about the hemline length in the 1930s but I do love the detailing and the hats. Some of the jacket shapes and button placements could easily be steampunked as well. If nothing else the 1930's offers us some great ideas, some of which were used on last year's runways.
Images originally posted on [info] lamodeillustree
Your Tisane of Smart:
An FAQ on everyone's favorite – Marmite!

Your Writerly Tinctures:
Dave discusses his jaunt into San Francisco

CAKE in Space: With agent.
Soulless: Appearing on Amazon UK despite the fact that, to the best of my knowledge, we haven't sold UK rights.
Changeless: Gone poof. Starting to gather corrections. Release date unknown.
Blameless:

Quote of the Day:
"Thankfully there were no dogs and no children."
~ Emma Thomson doing Jane Austen's opinion of the Golden Globes

6.15.2009

Writers in San Francisco - One Group Faces the Metropolis Armed Only with Booze

So this weekend I poodled into the City (AKA San Francisco) for David J. Williams's reading and question & answer session at Borderlands. Coincidentally, it was also worldwide Knit In Public Day. No I don't knit but there, listening to Dave's excellent dramatic reading from his second book, was a young lady with one of the Borderland's naked cats on her lap, knitting. Funny how cats gravitate to knitters.

Borderlands was, as always, a gracious venue and a splendid time. After, a group of us went across the street to the Phoenix to do what writers do best (no, not write) drink and eat. Dave has some excellent West Coast friends (all involved in a consorted effort to get him to move to this side of the world) and it was an interesting mix of techies and writers, fellows from Clarion, ex-co-workers, college roommates, and even high school alumni.

After that, it was off to Writers with Drinks, which was not at all what I was expecting. I was thinking some kind of Inside the Actor's Studio with multiple authors. (Perhaps this is a result of my Victorian salon mentality.) It was, in fact, more of a poetry-slam style variety show wherein each writer read from his or her book. There was even a stand-up comedian. I drank a very large screwdriver and don't remember much, although there was some very good Ethiopian food involved. All-in-all a most enjoyable evening.

Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
These days it's all about layered knits and cardigans. Missoni's fall runway showed a lot of layering of multiple shades, I like it, but it feels a little Lawrence of Arabia.

What I love is all the 1950's influenced cardigans, some with bows and some with military details.
Your Tisane of Smart:
A Harvard Psychiatrist Explains Zombie Neurobiology
Your Writerly Tinctures:
Steampunk literature as pastiche over on Steampunk Scholar.

CAKE in Space: With agent.
Soulless: A full and honest review up on Janicu's book blog. As a result of this review, I extend the mild raspberry of "I told you so" to a certain person who made me modernize the nookie - pttttt. As to the caricatures, wha ha ha, oh the shilly-shallying that will occur in Book the Second. The great fun of caricatures is mucking them about once you have set them up all prim and proper.
Steampunk short: Troublesome beastie is about an adventure of its own.
Changeless: Gone poof. Starting to gather corrections. Release date unknown.
Blameless:

Quote of the Day:
"Reading usually precedes writing and the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer."
~ Susan Sontag