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Forager's pizza!

I'm listening to the movie Stardust, which is really good, and enjoying some terrific forager's pizza made by my honey. We made the pizza sauce last fall from the tomatoes we gleaned from a farmer friend and basil from the Victory Gardens For All project demonstration gardens. (We canned and froze them respectively.) The toppings included dried, foraged mushrooms gifted to us by our friend Elizabeth, the mycologist, green and red peppers from the Victory Gardens' garden, plus pepperoni and sausage. Mmmm, 'twas delicious. Check out my web site for the recipe, which will be called "Forager's Pizza."

I caught a glimpse of the sparrows who visit my garden for summer yesterday morning. The heather a few blocks away is blooming and I saw the first leaves on my catnip beginning to unfurl. Spring is coming, and I reckon this blog has lain fallow long enough.

I'm still writing about writing through my web site (www.candacehunter.com). I quit writing about herbalism and homesteading a couple of years ago. I was thelayherbalist, and that blog is still up on livejournal, but that name no longer fits quite right. So, I'm rededicating this blog to herbalism, homesteading, and living The Practical Herbalist lifestyle, at least for now. If you'd like to learn more about herbs and homesteading, check out www.thepracticalherbalist.com.

Here's to a bit 'o progress...

I've made some good progress on my current rough story last week. I made just a tiny bit of progress on my novel. I made lots of progress on thinking about my goals and strategies for getting my work published. It seems like the time is right for setting down some of those thoughts.

I have several writing goals for this quarter.
1. Write a short story for the L. Ron Hubbard's Writer's of the Future contest...and submit it, of course.
2. Write at least one short story for submission to a new market.
3. Complete another edit pass on my novel.
4. Submit my novel to one or more publisher(s) and agent(s).
5. Make some good progress on my second partner-project.

As some wise person somewhere once said...Writing alone does not a published author make. So, I have a few goals that ought to help me get my work published within the year.
6. Read the published anthology for the past year or two of the L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future contest.
7. Read all of the F&SF journals on my shelf as well as any new ones that arrive.
8. Read one or more Science/Fantasy/Horror fiction journals, which could be possible markets.

And, since short fiction is only part of what I'm working on:
9. Read at least two Science/Fantasy fiction novels. (Yep, my shelf's starting to bow under the weight of my pile of unread-but-dang-they-sounded-like-they'd-be-cool-novels.)
10. Find out which publishers and agents handle some of the authors I like to read or who's work is in some way similar to mine.

Looks like it'll be a happening quarter, don't it?


As the sunshine creeps further and further into my garage, I'm inching my chair back. Soon, I will be beyond reach of my credenza, but I don't care. I'm not going inside today. I'm double-dipping and that's all there is to it today.

So far, i've made $97 at my garage sale. I sold a set of deck furniture and a little television, a handful of shirts, a plastic chest of drawers and a toy sword-and-shield set. I may have sold a couple of other things. I forget. The feel of the cash in my pocket is where my mind is right about now. On that, and on the every increasing strip of sunshine that is just a few inches from my toes again. And, on the writing I wanted to be doing today.

I finally picked up my May/June copy of Poets & Writers Magazine and read Dan Barden's article entitled "Writer as Parent: No More Aching to be an Artist." That was one of my writerly tasks for the day. I got it done during a lull in the sale while my son was across the street playing. This would be one of those snatched moments of which he speaks. When it comes down to it, there isn't much I could add to what he had to say except that it was kind of nice to hear a father expressing the sentiments I've heard from many mothers, writers and non-writers alike, for ages. Raising kids is all-consuming and exhausting and joyous at once. There is very little room for non-family or non-parenting activities when the kids are young. And, just like Barden, I shoe-horn writing into those moments when I can.

The reading part of being a writer is actually the part I struggle with the most. I find more time for writing than I do for reading. I have a stack of magazines, newsletters, and books on the shelf behind my desk that I truly do intend to read. They used to be on my desk, but when I ran out of room I cleared my little bookshelf of the stuff I've already read and moved 'em over. That's how certain I was that I wouldn't be catching up any time soon.

So, today I brought out a couple of magazines and one of the fiction journals. They are neatly stacked on my credenza next to my now-empty pint glass. I am determined to catch up on at least a fraction of my reading while I sell, sell, sell...after I've re-filled that glass...and turned off this computer...and moved my chair back once again.

On "A Writer's Bed..."

I read Tova Marvis's "A Writer's Bed: The Center of All Good Things," in this month's Poets & Writers magazine yesterday and it made me smile. I'm amidst a transition to writing in my bed this month. My eleven year-old brother-in-law has been visiting for a couple of weeks now. He's been staying on the couch in my office. Slowly, my office is being taken over by DVDs and video games and young boy stuff. I've been avoiding writing since he arrived mainly because it just doesn't feel right up there.

I'm no stranger to writing in a variety of places. My first computer was a Dell laptop because I hated to be tied down to one space. I've set-up shop at the kitchen table and moved to the counter when it was time for dinner. I've spread my work about the bed, the sofa, the rocking chair, the patio, the parking lot, a Pacific coast beach, the car, a cabin in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, the shores of Lake Superior, and an airport terminal. I have shared an office with my honey and with my son. My dogs have always found space amidst my writing to curl up and listen. I've longed for an office of my own, and upon having my first room of my own I promptly took my computer out to the backyard to type away. My last office had two doors, one to the rest of the house and one to the side patio, and was lined with bookshelves. The bookshelves were heavenly.

I love my current office. I have a whole floor to myself. I have my own climate control in the form of a portable air conditioner and an oil-filled space heater. When I finish off the second room, I'll have a suite. After painting and setting up my little bookshelf, hanging my Crows and Raven, and setting my drums in their places, the space has become my own in a way that stirs my creativity and holds me comfortably at my work. Despite the beauty of having my own space, I think I'm welcoming this opportunity to retire to the bedroom for a spell of writing.

A big part of writing is about dreaming. It is in the freedom of the Dreamtime that I find inspiration and it is from that space that I draw the energies to create stories in the here and now. I've been accused of sleeping on the job on numerous occasions. It's true. I take a lot of naps as I work. Sleep fuels me. So, writing in bed is natural. When I was younger, I spent many hours weaving stories from dreams. Half-awake and half-asleep, I lived for the hours I could steal for dreaming. I rarely wrote those stories down and I was often accused of being lazy, but that didn't stop me. I've written many a tale from the bedroom.

It's been awhile, nearly a year I think, since I sought the refuge of the bedroom for my work. The more that I think about it, the more clear it seems that opportunity is knocking. This afternoon, I'm going to gather together my computer and the various other pieces I need to set up shop in bed.

Today, I'm thankful for:

1. Room-sized air conditioning. It makes my writing space better than bearable.
2. Dictionary.com and the internet.
3. The sunshine and the rain.
4. Life in general, and most especially my own.

First Contest Submission

I'm still gulping down great breaths, filling my lungs and trying to slow my speeding heart...

I posted my first contest entry on Monday. I've sent "The Faerie Hunter" to the L. Ron Hubbard's Writer's of the Future contest.

This counts as my first submission in a very long time. I'm celebrating. I'm nervous. I'm getting busy with another project so that I don't sit and think, think, think.

I'm working on my novel again. I decided to apply what I learned from the working on "The Faerie Hunter" to my novel. The biggest piece is in tightening my writing. The novel is complete. I could send it off as it is, but I know I can make the writing a lot better. I'm going to take this next quarter to do that. That gives me time, too, to do a bit more investigation on the proper way to submit a completed novel to publishers and agents.

Today, I'm thankful for:

1. Having a day of quiet with my son. It's just the two of us at home all day, and he's in a companionable mood.
2. Having enough money in the bank to pay the bills, buy all organic foods, eat out a couple of times a week, buy paint for our whole home, update our technology regularly, buy new clothing, and more.
3. Owning a copy of The Secret.
4. Living with the two most endearing hounds I've ever met.
5. Having time to write.
6. Having a Divine agent and loads of inspiration.
7. Having interesting and exciting writing partners.
8. Having had the opportunity to have lived with my father-in-law for the past couple of months.
9. Being healthy and strong.
10. Having a room of my own.
11. Being married to a strong, dramatic, funny, and sweet man.
12. Having a superb sewing machine and the money to buy all the materials I need for my next quilting project.
13. Knowing that I will have a signed book deal for publication of my first novel within the year.
14. Living in a luxurious home with a cute garden.
15. Being a part of the Wordos writing group.
16. Having the opportunity to work with David Lang.
I began a new writing project, wrote about 465 words, and got side-tracked by another project.

I turned in a story to Wordos. Dang, that was brutal. The written comments, interestingly, were far less emotionally charged than the verbal comments. I agree, surprisingly, that the story needs further work. I had felt that it was finished when I turned it in, but in retrospect, I have to agree that it's only about half a story. I haven't gotten back to work on it.

My great painting project is nearly complete. The weather turned cool, so I got very focused on getting the bulk of the work done. I missed this week's Wordos meeting due to painting. It wasn't exactly planned, the missing of the meeting, but it didn't feel so bad, either. I want my house to be settled and I want to get back to writing.

I'm still haven't signed up for the Willamette Valley Writer's conference. That's at the top of my to-do list. Dang, I need a good day or two of solitude just to catch up on that list. Perhaps I will send the guys off to the coast for a day this next week.