I’ve been doing lots of waiting lately. In the meantime, I’ve been:
Writing: The first chapter of my new book. Actually I’ve been doing so much research and planning that I’m only doodling with actual narrative, a line here, a snatch of dialogue there. I’m definitely an outliner and I need a detailed plan with a lot of associated research and background before my stories form themselves into write-down-able words. The upside of this is that once the characters and setting and shape of the story are firmly fixed in what passes for my mind, the words themselves pour out.
Reading: actually re-reading. The World is Not Enough by Zoë Oldenbourg. Originally published in French as Argile et Cendres, translated into English by Willard R. Trask. One of my favorite historical novels of all time.
Also reading: Mary of Guise in Scotland, 1548-1560: A Political Career, by Pamela E. Ritchie. One of those satisfying combinations of reading for research and reading for pleasure.
Cooking: sautéed chicken breasts to be sliced over salads. I think I’ve discovered the secret to perfect tender sautéed chicken breasts: marinate or season to taste, then sauté the presentation side on high heat for three to four minutes, depending on the thickness of the breast. Creates beautiful color. Then reduce heat to low, turn the breast over, cover, and cook the second side twice as long as you did on the first side. Remove from pan and let rest for five minutes or so before slicing.
Eating: well, drinking, actually. A delicious wine sent to me by my friend, mystery writer Dana Fredsti. It’s Chariot’s Gypsy 2007, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Sangiovese from California vineyards. Unfortunately we don’t have Trader Joe’s in Texas, or this would become my co-favorite red wine with Roditis.
Walking: early mornings and late evenings because of the 100° heat. There’s nothing like walking with a beagle or two to take one’s mind off… well… waiting.
This year I’m rocking a natural, low-maintenance garden. After reading The $64 Tomato, I decided I’d just stick in my plants, water them every morning, and see what happened.
So far it’s working. The tomato plants are strong and sturdy (well, other than the one “Early Girl” that Cressie trampled), with burgeoning fruit and blossoms. The cucumber vines are exploding, twining up their posts with a little help from some plastic tape, and covered with bright yellow blossoms as well.
As you can see, grass and weeds abound. I whack off a little grass every so often, but that’s all. I didn’t rototill, didn’t fertilize. So far I’ve spent $23.28 for six tomato plants (I’ll have to charge Cressie’s account for the plant she broke off) and $2.95 for a packet of cucumber seeds. So even if I only get one tomato, I’ll still be doing better than the $64-tomato guy!
- Wildflowers of sixteenth-century Scotland
- Pierre de Bocosel de Chastelard
- Quatrains of Nostradamus
- Lennoxlove House
- Antoinette de Bourbon, Duchess of Guise
- Battle of Corrichie
- Clan Leslie
One of the great delights of writing historical fiction with sprinkles is that one can spend hours reading about the most fascinating bits and pieces of history and actually be working. Could there be any better job?
True ease in writing
comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest
who have learned to dance.
’Tis not enough
no harshness gives offence;
The sound must seem
an echo to the sense.
“An Essay on Criticism”
This morning at the crack of dawn (well, not quite, but almost) a little boy rang our doorbell and delivered a box of doughnuts. Why, you ask? Well, a couple of weeks ago that same little boy worked his little-boy wiles on the Broadcasting Legend™ and convinced him to buy a box of doughnuts for some sort of school fund-raising project. (We live a few blocks from an elementary school and the neighborhood is awash in cute kids selling stuff.) Why doughnuts? Because yesterday was National Doughnut Day. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as National Doughnut Day. The things you learn from second-graders!
Where did the word “doughnut” come from? Well, according to my beloved Online Etymology Dictionary, it was first recorded about 1809 by Washington Irving, who took a break from managing the first viral book-marketing campaign to describe them as “balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called doughnuts, or ‘olykoeks.’” So clearly the first doughnuts were hole-less, and actually resembled nuts. And hog’s fat. Yum.
I’ll take Krispy Kremes, thank you.