food is innocent, people—even evil piles of oiled spaghetti

Wanna hear my latest pet peeve? (You do.)

Mean cooking shows. What the hell is wrong with this country?

I don’t watch a lot of shows besides Downton Abbey, Girls, New Girl, Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix (where has that show been my whole life?), One Tree Hill on Netflix (TOTAL crap, but I can’t stop), Louie and (best show ever) Felicity which I only watch on DVD since Netflix uses the wrong songs in some places and it ruins entire episodes. Don’t mess around with my Felicity. You’ve been warned. There may be some shows I am forgetting to remember... Oh! Nashville. So gloriously trashy! So aside from all of those, I don’t watch a lot of shows. I forgot Shameless.

But I totally love cooking shows. They are like delicious white noise. Almost anything on the Cooking Channel or the Food Network—LOVE it. I usually watch a little of The Chew (how much do I LOVE that show?) while I eat my lunch and lately ABC has been advertising a new show called The Taste and it is just all mean. There are other mean cooking shows, too. And they all suck. Not that I’ve watched them. I refuse on principle.

Can we just allow some things to be nice? It’s food, not the giant trash heap in the Pacific. Or global warming. Or malaria. Or the wrong songs in some places on Felicity ruining entire episodes.

(Okay, I’m done with that.)

So, you can anticipate only one blog post from me this week. (Take a moment if you need to. Alright... you okay now? Good.) I am into heavy edits on The Mosquito Hours and very busy scrutinizing every word and examining every theme. And—because what would my life be without freaking out about pretty much everything (I’m exaggerating—it’s only almost everything)—I find myself concerned that not every single thread and theme and thought and metaphor and motif and other literary devices I don’t remember from AP English are not fully realized.

This is a 101,826 word document. Do you know what it that is like?

I can’t even explain it.

(I’m a writer—I should try.)

It’s like an enormous and evil pile of oiled spaghetti—you prop up one area to have a look and the rest droops and slides away. You prop up some other area to have a look and the rest droops and slides away. You prop up some other area to have a look and the rest droops and slides away.

(I think you get it.)


My workspace. Totally overwhelming pile of notes and one of my favorite pens. Yes, that is One Tree Hill on the screen.

You have to try to remember every way you did everything for the sake of consistency, make sure the story doesn’t get bogged down anywhere, too speedy anywhere, make sure the prose is interesting yet clear and the story lines are believable, find and fix all typos (totally impossible), insert/adjust the excellent ideas and feedback from your friends who have graciously read the 101,826 word document.

(Aren’t you freaked out now, too?)

But then I remembered that writing is truly a collaboration with the reader. My readers are smart—I have to allow them space to find the themes and the connections. Find the meaning and metaphor. And that might be somewhat different for each reader. And that will mean the book itself will be essentially different. Each reader brings his or her own perspective and that will shape their experience with my words. And that is really pretty amazing. So, thank you ahead of time, as I know you will find wonders in my book of which I had not even conceived.

It’s gonna be great.

In the meantime while you wait to read The Mosquito Hours, do not watch mean cooking shows. Or Felicity on Netflix. Seriously.

lasagna is too math-y

Making lasagna is hard. Or it might be that I am too dumb to make lasagna. Every time—every time—I boil the wrong amount of noodles. In this instance, I am not exaggerating at all. EVERY SINGLE TIME. 8x8, 9x13—doesn’t matter. I will not do it right.

See what goes on? Odd noodle cutting and arranging.

Then the layering part always messes with my head. This, this, this, repeat. I always—always—screw it up. Maybe it’s the “repeat” directive. Why can’t they just write it all out again? We live in the digital age—how much effort would it take to copy and paste? It’s not as though some poor monk in a hair-shirt has to write it out longhand with quill and ink by candlelight. The problem with lasagna is that it steers a little too closely to mathishness. And I do not do math—proud hater since 3rd grade.

I can’t even write out a lasagna recipe for someone. I make a few really good lasagnas (such as roasted butternut squash lasagna) and when people request the recipe, I sort of gloss over the how many noodles to boil part and the how the hell you layer it part. I just leave it up to them, as if to indicate even a monkey could figure out those parts—I won’t bore you with the details. But truthfully, I’m simply incapable of figuring it out to tell them.

I had a really good idea about lasagna recently—I call it the “whatever’s beginning to rot in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator lasagna.” Dice up whatever that might be (I happened to have lots of peppers, eggplant and zucchini) and throw in some diced onion, toss it all with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast until tender and browned. Pour in some sauce (homemade or jarred) and use that as the filling with the usual stuff, like ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan. Boil some noodles (you know how many, right?) and layer it all up (or have a monkey do it). If you have a ton of this veggie filling after you roast it all up, dump half into a zippy bag and freeze. Then some night when you totally don’t feel like cooking, you have the fixin’s for whatever’s beginning to rot in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator lasagna! Brilliant!

Is that not the most unappealing food photo you’ve ever seen?
Even with the bag folded over ever-so-jauntily.

But enough about math and monkeys and disgusting looking baggies of food.

How is NaNoWriMo going? Very well, thanks for asking! I am right on target. This is my 4th year and I am almost never ahead with my word count. I am the sort of person who possesses the best intentions in terms of getting ahead of the game and then consistently working right up against deadlines and only to the extent that I must. So, I write almost exactly 1,667 words every NaNo day. What is the novel about, you ask? A large cast of women characters—archetypes of sorts—who experience the gamut of female experience. It’s sort of a group interrelated short stories, but I think it will be more complex than that in the end. Intrigued? (You know you are!)

Well, you’ll have to sit tight on this one. First drafts are almost always some degree of crap or another. But I think I am getting better at novel-writing and this one won’t require 43 years of editing. At any rate, it’s easier than lasagna. Which is really hard.