On Writing

As part of my intention to enjoy certain aspects of being single I decided that trying out things that I’ve always wanted to do was a good idea. Along those lines, I decided this year to take an introductory class in creative writing.

When I was in college I had very little time, or money (no surprise there, what student does?). As such, I didn’t end up taking very many electives, and everything I did take was related to one of my two degrees. There are several classes that I would have liked to experience but never got around to. Among those are included a studio class on painting and one on drawing and a creative writing class or two.

This spring I finally carved out the time and money to take an intro creative writing class in the hopes that I would find inspiration and learn some of the basics that I felt were lacking when I started writing a novel late last year. I am six or seven weeks into the class and sorely regretting my decision to take it.

Positive aspects of the class –

  • I like the book we’re using, (Imaginative Writing, The Elements of Craft by Janet Burroway)
  • I like that I didn’t have to pay all that much for the class.
  • I am having to devote at least some time to writing things that I find challenging.

Negative aspects of the class –

  • The teacher enjoys the word ‘like’ more than any functioning adult should. (Like, you know, she was like blond and like skinny, and like, I’m totally serious man.)
  • I am in a class of 18 – 20 year olds, most of whom would rather not be there.
  • For a writing class, we really don’t write all that much. Throughout the course of the entire semester, we have three papers due in total.

The first six weeks of the class was the creative fiction section – that’s the section I was looking forward to the most, and it was sorely disappointing. The next few weeks are creative non-fiction, which has potential (I’m supposed to be reading that chapter right now, but I’m procrastinating by writing about it) The last six weeks are poetry – which I am dreading. I can only hope that it ends up being better than I think it will. Oh, and did I mention that I’m pretty sure the teacher likes me about as much as I like her? I just hope the class itself doesn’t kill my desire to write entirely.

(Note: If you’re interested in writing, I really enjoyed Stephen King’s book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)

 

On my way home

I flew down to Texas this weekend for my grandad’s funeral. It was a lovely service, me and my cousins got up and sang a song. It went surprisingly well, even though we only had one day to practice. It involved one of my cousins learning to play the bass guitar. Just about to get on the plane to fly back to Denver.

4 Free Ebooks

Image.ashxHello Fellow Book Lovers!

I freely admit that the authors below are friends of mine, that this is promotional, and that it would really help the authors out if you downloaded their books. (at least that’s what they tell me. Feel free to share with your friends) Each book you download counts as a SALE, not a freebie, towards the book’s ISBN number and boosts it up through the ranks of what it ‘popular’. You have to sign in to your account and put in a card # to get to the ‘check out’, there you can put in the code, and it will change the price to $0.00. It does this because it really does count as a purchase for the authors, not a free give away.

Kobo books (technically Kobo Writing Life) and The Tattered Cover book store are giving away 4 books (in e-format) for FREE! This expires 3/1/2014.

I would encourage you to go and download the following books because:
a) it’s free (I haven’t read all of them yet, but Sam Knight does great work)
b) it would really help the authors out.

c) you get four new books to add to your e-devices.

In order to get them for free you have to ‘buy’ each one of them individually using the code tatteredfree if you have more than one in your cart, the code will only be applied to one of them, so download them one at a time.

Here are the links:

A Whiskey Jack in a Murder of Crows by Sam Knight
http://www.tatteredcover.com/ebook/9781628690194

Gears and Levers 3 By Phyllis Irene Radford
http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/gears-and-levers-3
Penny Dread Tales Volume III By Christopher Ficco
http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/penny-dread-tales-volume-iii

Voices on the Wind By Quincy J. Allen
http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/voices-on-the-wind

If you follow the links, and select “buy e-book now”, it will take you to the book’s page on Kobo. If you select buy now, it will ask you to sign up for Kobo if you don’t already have an account (you need an account to keep track of what books you own) or put in in your cart if you  do have an account.

MAKE SURE you use the COUPON CODE! Don’t buy it! This is a special promotion! It’s free

COUPON CODE is:      tatteredfree

 

It’s been a while…

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I haven’t blogged in a long while, and that’s because I’ve been being busy living life. There’s been a bunch going on.

To start with, I wrote a novel at the end of last year, and I’ve been busily editing it and making it generally fit for other people to read. I’m entering it in a contest in a few weeks, with the hope of winning a publishing contract. That has taken up a surprising amount of time and energy.

I decided to try my hand at writing short stories as well. I’ve submitted my first short story to a magazine, and I’m waiting to hear back and see if it’s been accepted. If it doesn’t get accepted, maybe I’ll post it here.

I am also taking a creative writing class at the University. It’s been a bit challenging trying to keep up with the reading homework, but as there isn’t much in the way of writing yet, I’m keeping up. My first short story for the class is due next week, and I have a suspicion that the first draft will be way too long. I am not thrilled with the selection of readings that the teacher is using, but I suspect that’s because I tend to prefer fantasy/sci-fi to the realism pieces that she provides.

In other news, two of my gaming groups are going strong. In one, we’re testing out the newest version of D&D, in the other we’re sort of vaguely using the 3.5 rules in a homebrew world where just about anything can happen. The third gaming group has taken a hiatus, half the members are out of the country at the moment, which works out well with the class I’m taking.

It has been really cold here in Colorado for the past few weeks, so as much as possible I’m avoiding the outdoors. Even my dog doesn’t want to go outside. Yesterday the high for the day was 3 degrees, today it’s 10, but we had a freezing mist when I came in this morning.

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I’m afraid I’m craving warmer weather, and the thought of lying on a beach in Mexico has been haunting me for the past few weeks. Maybe it’s time for a vacation!

Thanksgiving Vacation

Thanksgiving Vacation

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So, I decided not to go home for Thanksgiving this year. I decided instead to go on an honest to goodness vacation. I haven’t done that in a long time. It took me a while to decide on where to go – I wanted somewhere close enough to drive, that I hadn’t been to before, and that offered some fun tourist activities. My options were north or south, west being impractical due to possible weather in the mountains, and east – well, that’s just flat, and there’s not much there. North didn’t honestly seem like a good idea in November – particularly late November – since that’s usually when the real snow starts around here, so that left south.

Santa Fe, as it turns out, is only about a 6 hour drive, with one mountain pass to cross, I’d never been there, but it came highly recommended by several different folks. My original plan was to head down there for four days of alone time to explore and possibly enjoy the benefits of some ritzy spa. Instead, some madcap impulse took over, and after three entertaining dates with The Writer, I invited him along.

It actually worked out really well. I am a huge fan of Groupon, and I found a deal on a hotel about a block off the square, the Eldorado Hotel and Spa.

We drove down on Thanksgiving Day – beautiful weather the entire way, no traffic to speak of, and my roommie had agreed to take care of all of the pets for me for the weekend. We left a little later than anticipated, but since there was no rush it wasn’t a problem, and we pulled into Santa Fe at around 6pm. On the way down, we discussed dinner options – it being Thanksgiving, I figured reservations would be necessary. We found a likely place, Italian, called Osteria D’Assisi. I cannot in any way recommend this restaurant. For Thanksgiving they had a prix fixe menu. (For those of you that don’t know, a prix fixe menu is a complete meal offered at a fixed price) Whereas their normal prices were around $18 a plate, the prix fixe was $45 a plate. I can actually live with that, I don’t mind paying for good food, the problem was, it wasn’t good food. About the only decent thing included were the candied walnuts on the salad, and the breadbasket. Though I am not a fan of Coffee, The Writer is, and even I know that serving someone coffee with curdled milk is bad form. Luckily, this was the only truly bad dining experience all weekend.

Friday, whereas I might have been inclined to keep myself in the hotel room all day, a particular failing of mine, The Writer dragged me out and made sure I explored the area. This proved particularly useful since he had to work during part of the weekend and if I hadn’t gotten my bearings earlier, I definitely wouldn’t have gone out. Dinner Friday night was at the Blue Corn Café in downtown. Perfectly tasty Mexican food, and for Santa Fe, reasonably priced. I don’t think I spent less than $50 on any meal all weekend. I did make a trip over to the Georgia O’Keefe museum. As it turns out, it was right behind the hotel. I also found a gem for The Writer to explore – a rare used book shop, also directly behind the hotel. Since it was the day after Thanksgiving, Santa Fe seemed to be having a special event – there was a band in the plaza, all the Christmas lights were on, and there were a million people around.

Saturday was another day of laziness, shopping and eating good food. On our way out, hunting for a place to eat, The Writer spotted a tiny little sign that looked promising – the San Francisco Street Grill. We went up three flights of stairs, following tiny little red arrows, through what was obviously a very back way, to emerge on a well laid out, large, and mostly empty restaurant. Bonus, there was an accordion player performing traditional music AND pop from the 80’s, and the food was good.

I’m afraid we didn’t actually get around to seeing some of the other touristy things – I’ll just have to go back. Oh by the way, if you’re getting Christmas presents, it’s likely they’re from Santa Fe. That’s the only hint you’ll get.

Sunday we headed home – another lovely drive in beautiful weather. We made good time and only had to stop for gas twice. And I’m very thankful that I went last week and not this week. After the low 50-degree temperatures of last week, this week our highs are hovering around 8 degrees.

Denver Botanic Gardens

20131030-112520.jpg Well, originally I was going to write a blog about the office cutie, and I still will at some point, but right now I’m sitting out at the Denver Botanical Gardens on a glorious fall day, in an unexpected nook, and I find myself completely enchanted.

Tucked away in a back corner of the gardens is an enclosed iron gazebo, perhaps technically a greenhouse, painted green to mimic the color of aged copper. There are windows to keep out the elements, and a lovely set of wrought iron lamps to light it for use at night. (For special occasions I suspect) The wrought iron scrollwork that covers the outside is, I think, really what has captured my imagination. I can just see this place on some rich estate, where two young lovers meet up to tryst, or where a bevy of older ladies meet for mid afternoon tea, or where you would shelter from an unexpected rainstorm. It seems like something you would see at Downton Abby. It is well supplied with tables and comfortable outdoor chairs, wicker looking, but considerably more comfortable.

The fall colors in the trees surrounding the building are an absolute riot of oranges, reds, yellows and greens. And it’s so very peaceful. This could well be my current new favorite spot in Denver. Occasionally one of the visitors to the gardens will wander in, poke around and wander out again, and it’s not silent; I can hear children laughing a good ways away, and the conversation of sedate adults as they enjoy the scenery.

I expect once winter sets in, it’s really too cold to sit out here much, and I equally suspect that during high summer it’s much too hot, but right now, at the end of October, it’s perfect. Here’s hoping that November has quite a few pleasant and warm days!

Mile High Con 45

Whereas MalCon was the Unexpected Convention for me, and I waffled back and forth, once I had secured a pass for MileHigh Con I was certain I was going to go. This time, instead of working for musicians, I was working for Author Paul Lell of Kalijor Press. (Go check him out; his books are fun).

There wasn’t all that much time between MalCon and Mile High Con, but even so, I determined that I wanted to create a new CosPlay outfit, portraying the main character in Paul’s books. So I started poking around online, and seeing how much it would cost, and I emailed Paul to see if he had any suggestions. Boy am I glad I did – he had already created the outfit for one of his previous helpers, and I was welcome to see if it fit (and it did!). That saved a lot of time and effort on my part (Thanks Paul!) My contribution to the outfit, other than boots, was the purchase of a LOT of temporary tattoos. Read the books; then you’ll understand why.

Friday I was able to leave work early and head down to Denver. Thankfully a friend offered to help me apply the tattoos. I should have counted how many we used, but sadly I only just now thought of it. Needless to say, there were a lot. After I’d managed to get into my costuming, I headed over to the con. There was a bit of a snafu at check-in, they didn’t seem to have my badge. But since I had proof of purchase they wrote up another one for me. As it turns out, Paul had picked up my badge, so I had an extra one. I gifted it to the daughter of a friend of mine, and she had a –great- time.

***

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It’s really interesting walking around in a wig, with contacts instead of glasses, and covered in tattoos – even fake ones. A number of people came up and asked if the tattoos were real, and a few people said they were too intimidated to come up and talk to me, until I spoke to them first. There were a number of people who didn’t recognize me, a few of whom had to talk to me for several minutes before they figured it out. The fact that The Ex was one of those people amuses me to no end.

The con itself was fairly mellow. I was able to chat with several of the regular con-goers and catch up. I met a lot of new people, and in a weird twist of fate, I –actually- remember their names. That never happens. I even started up a new flirtationship! Those are always a good time, and he seemed in no-way offended when I declined to get together with him outside the con.

I had the opportunity to hang out more with The Writer, but since he was working, and I was also working, we mainly waved in passing during con hours. I did get the chance to go to an author reading with several different folks and hear him read a short piece, and also to get together briefly for ‘drinks’ with him at one point.

On the whole, the con was fun, but thankfully not exhausting. Working for Paul wasn’t terribly taxing, but even with the relaxed schedule I didn’t get up to nearly as much mischief as I have at past conventions. Onward to the next one!

The Writer

20131013-184104.jpg Well, so I haven’t blogged recently on dating because I haven’t been dating a lot lately. Since the move I’ve been trying to settle in, and then there was the flood, and well..etc.
This past week I recently met up with a new gentleman, we’ll call him The Writer. His company has proven to be exceptionally entertaining, and I hope to enjoy considerably more of it. We’ve been out several times in the past few weeks, and seem to have a fair bit in common. During our conversations, at one point I was explaining my plight with the insurance company (Basically I have 15 days or so to finish buying stuff for reimbursement from State Farm) He suggested we visit several of his favorite bookstores in a wild attempt to replenish my bookshelves all at once. I think we did an admirable job. I now have several first run copies of classic fantasy and sci-fi, including a rare young adult book by Isaac Asimov that Amazon values at near $100. I got it for $2. I would not have even thought of getting it if not for my new friend. In addition, I found several new books to read, and several authors that I love.

My main bookcase is now stacked double on all but one shelf, and I had to free up space on my secondary shelf to make room for all of the new cookbooks. After our lovely trip around to the bookstores he treated me to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant and then left me to get ready for the costume party I was going to later in the evening.

The costume party was great fun; I ran into several folks that I know. Apparently they were all of the mind that I should have brought my earlier date with me to the party, the more the merrier. I’m not sure how he would have felt about that though. One thing at a time I suppose. I anticipate I will be seeing him again.

Malcon – the Unexpected Convention

20130930-162629.jpg I was originally planning on going to this convention, and then, due to the high potential for drama with the Ex and his GF, was planning on not going, and then I wobbled back and forth several times, and then Thursday morning I was chatting with the owner/organizer and she commented that she’d already printed up my badge with my name on it and everything…so then I was going.

This was a great first year convention. I got there Friday evening and the registration table was well organized, people seemed to know what they were doing, and directing people to the right places. The t-shirts, programs and badges designed by Chaz Kemp looked awesome. I had the opportunity to catch up with a number of my friends, and people that I pretty much only get to see at conventions. It was really great to see everyone. Thankfully Friday night I managed to crash with a friend in Denver, so I didn’t have to make the drive home.

I really love going to conventions. It’s a fun place to flirt outrageously with everyone, and not be taken too seriously by anyone. I wouldn’t want to live in a convention atmosphere all the time mind you, it would get old not ever getting taken seriously but for a weekend now and again it’s great. Sadly, on most of my dates if I flirt pretty much at all, my date immediately takes that to mean that I want to hop into bed with them. Some people take life way to seriously. Flirting is easily half the fun, and should not be taken to mean more.

Saturday I didn’t actually show up at the convention until late. I had some prior adventures already planned, and they took longer than anticipated. (And were also a lot of fun) I did get there in time to hear Pandora Celtica’s set at the Buccaneer Bash. (Which was great. If you’re local to the Front Range, and you like acapella music you should check them out.) I spent a good portion of the evening flirting with a lovely writer gentleman. Very likely he falls in the category of “really I should know better, he’s a bit old for me” but I had a great time, and as we didn’t exchange numbers, likely he will end up being one of my convention friends that I see a few times a year, and not someone that I will go out with on a regular basis. I left about half way through the kilt blowing – there are some things I just really don’t need to see more than once.

Sunday I finally managed to get down to the convention around noon. Despite the relative simplicity of my outfit, it required some tailoring before it fit properly, and that took a little while. As always on the Sunday of a convention, I made my way through the dealer’s room and purchased the couple of items that I wanted. Mostly books this year. (If you go to any of the local conventions and you like tea, make sure to check out the Dryad Tea booth. They’re always awesome.)

The vast majority of the rest of my day was spent flirting with another wonderful gentleman that I run into regularly at these conventions. That is one thing I enjoy about being part of the convention circuit. You make friends, and even if you only see them a few times a year they’re almost always happy to see you, and because you only see them a few times a year they’re not bogged down in whatever everyday drama is going on in your life. Nor do you have to be bogged down in theirs. It’s very refreshing. As the day closed out on Sunday I made one last trip through the dealer’s room to say goodbye to folks. Networking is a wonderful thing. As I was saying goodbye, one of my author friends, Paul Lell (go buy his stuff), offered me a ticket to Mile High con if I’d come help work his table. So, hopefully I will be seeing most of the wonderful people I saw this weekend again in three weeks.

May you live in interesting times is not –always- a curse.

Edit: for those of you wondering Malcon is Myths and Legends Convention

Cooking for one

20130926-113128.jpgThere are many different aspects to being single, not just the entertainment of the dating scene. (Though that can certainly be fun) I’ve slowed down on dating a bit, as I try and wrap my head around being in a new place, a new job, having to walk my dog twice a day, and dealing with a bunch of stuff surrounding the recent flooding in Colorado. (I’m fine, I did not flood, but there is a bunch of stuff to be dealt with anyway).

One thing that I hadn’t considered before is the annoyance of cooking for one. When you’re living with someone you can cut most recipes from four servings down to two if you don’t want leftovers. I am not a fan of most leftovers, and find that they don’t get eaten, go bad in the fridge and become a science project that I then have to clean out later. I prefer not to waste the food, or the money. This does leave me in a bit of a fix though, as I do enjoy cooking and eating good food.

There are a couple of work around options to this – I could patronize Whole Foods a lot more often. I hear that their takeout sushi is actually half way decent, and they do have a wonderful looking hot foods section. Of course I would in pretty short order go bankrupt from paying their prices, but I would eat well in the process.

I could go vegan like the rest of Boulder. This doesn’t really solve my cooking for one problem though, as the vegan cookbooks are also geared towards cooking up at least four servings. And really – I like steak. And chicken. And fish. And although cutting back on meat IS good for you, I’m not actually convinced that eating nothing but vegetables and tofu is.

I could cook for two and take the leftovers as lunch the next day (that way they’re leftovers for less than 24 hours) – ok, so this is a decent idea, and I do this about half the time.

I could keep everything on hand to make cheese and cold cut plates all the time. This works great in the summer, particularly when it’s too hot to cook anyway. It’s very tasty, if you’re getting expensive cheeses or sausages, it can be pricy at the outset, but since they usually last for a while you’ve got meals for at least 3-4 days. It’s great for summer, but winter is coming. I need some hot alternatives.

I could live on pasta with a variety of sauces – ok, so this is what I have actually been doing as it gets chillier. I like pasta, it’s easy to cook, cheap, tasty depending on the sauce, and has very little nutritional value unless you dress it up with veggies and/or meat. But since I’d prefer not to gain 50lbs in the next 6 months, I need another option.

Keep an eye out– as I come up with decent recipes for one person I’ll post them here.