Week In Review 1/26/18

!CW

aka Currently Bleeding Out Of My Eyes From Editing My Query Letter So Much. (insert forced smile here) This week was my WDU Query Letter Workshop with the lovely agents from New Leaf Literary. But because I must Hermione everything I do (and yes, Hermione is now a verb), I already had a year’s worth of query research under my belt and a few rough drafts of my query that I obsessed over for four days leading up to the actual workshop. And then proceeded to stare at my query and nitpick every. single. word. for the past three days. Thankfully, my query is due tomorrow and then it’s done! I can’t touch it anymore until I get my feedback. All this to say: it’s a lot easier to write a 94,000 word novel than it is to write a 250 word query. Also, DB got about 9,000 words longer during my edits. Ha!

!CL

I’ve been on a real throwback kick lately, jamming out to 90’s and 00’s hits, from DJ Kool’s “Let Me Clear My Throat” to Real McCoy’s “Another Night, Another Dream” to Vengaboys’ “Boom Boom Boom Boom, I Want You In My Room”. I don’t know where this binge came from but they’re just so upbeat and happy. They have really carried me through this strange week of stressful writing and helped me keep my head above water.

!CLU

I wish I had something cool to update you guys on but my whole week has literally been staring at my query letter and the first five pages of DB. I’ve been spending a lot of time on QueryShark reading other queries and their critiques and trying to absorb and learn as much as I can. Anyone else in the query trenches? Any tips, tricks, useful resources?

OH! I almost forgot: The #bifflesquad #NashVegas2k18 trip is officially HAPPENING! My four best friends from high school are still my four best friends, but we all shot off to different parts of the country after graduating. Getting all of us together is difficult, and has only happened twice since high school. We managed a Friendsgiving two years ago, and of course made it to Lizz’s wedding in 2016. But we couldn’t wait until my Fall 2019 wedding to get the gang back together, thus: Nashville. The flights and the AirB&B are booked, and I. Cannot. WAIT. Moving away from home is cool and all, but also incredibly lonely sometimes and I miss cuddle puddles on the couch with my biffs. Never underestimate the importance of female friendships. That bond is invaluable.  Alright, I’m done being sappy.

!CD

Currently, as I write: Not drinking. But I’m about to be. Forcing myself to take a night off of query obsessing and going to one of my favorite restaurants that also happens to be an account both myself and the fiancé call on for work. They just put my favorite stout on tap, so we’re headed out to “thank them for their business”, aka drink all their beer. What stout you ask: New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk. It’s a bourbon barrel aged stout that’s super rich and dark, full of vanilla and dark chocolate notes. Dragon’s Milk and Ten Fidy (which I talked about in this post) are easily my two go-to stouts. Happy Friday, y’all!
Cheers,
Erin Connor

Erin Eats: Veggie Burgers

!erin-eats

Welcome to a new segment of the ole blog: Erin Eats! I might not use my culinary degree for much nowadays, but I can still cook my tail off. I’m the world’s worst at following recipes, and even worse at writing my own recipes down. So I’m going to attempt to start logging some of my favorite creations here. Now, a disclaimer: I don’t measure anything. Ever. So you won’t find any teaspoons or tablespoons or ounces here. Strap on your apron, pour yourself a drink, and have yourself a kitchen adventure. Cooking is an art, not a science. (That’s baking. Don’t ask me how to bake.) So to kick off this segment, I’m going to reference one recipe I created by accident, and have recreated multiple times on purpose: sweet potato & black bean burgers. (The accident was my ground turkey was spoiled so I had to get crafty.)

Not my photo, not my recipe, but it’s pretty right? In addition to measurements, I don’t really do food photography. But it’s a nice reference. So let’s dive in to what I lovingly refer to as my recipes. But as Jack Sparrow would say, the rules are really more like guidelines. So have fun with it.

Here’s what you need:
2 large garnet sweet potatoes (Garnet has more flavor imo, but regular works just fine.)
1 can black beans
1 cup oatmeal
2 tbsp(ish) garlic salt
1 tbsp(ish) black pepper
1 tsp(ish) cumin
1 tsp(ish) paprika

Optional but recommended accouterments:
roasted garlic hummus (or whatever flavor you prefer)
avocado
baby spring greens (toss in evoo, s&p for extra flair)

First, dice your sweet potatoes. I like them a rather small dice, about 1/4″ cubes. Size matters. They don’t have to be perfect but as close in size as you can get without spending hours dicing. Roast them in the oven at 350 for half an hour or until lightly browned. I don’t oil my potatoes but you can if that pleases you. (I cook on aluminum foil for easy removal and one less pan to clean.)

Put oatmeal and spices in a blender and pulse it until it forms a fine powder.

In a bowl, dump your can of beans, bean water and all. Don’t drain the beans, you need the moisture to hold everything together. Lightly mash the beans so you have some bean paste and some whole beans. Or just mash it all. Whatever suits you. Mix in your oatmeal-spice-powder. Fold in your sweet potatoes once they’re nice and crispy.

You can eat right away or store for later, usually makes 4-5 patties, depending on how big your potatoes were and how big you make your patties. The patties hold together better once chilled, so since this is fairly easy to make, I usually prep this meal while making another dinner so I have the night off later in the week. Because I’m worth it.

To cook: coat your pan with olive oil/butter/coconut oil, whatever you prefer, and cook over a medium heat. I mash my patties super thin–it’s okay if they crack or don’t hold together 100%, we’re not winning any points for presentation–that way I get lots of crunch and texture. Once crispy on both sides: you’re done! I don’t eat mine with a bun as this is attempting to be a healthy dish, so I like my patty served on top of a bed of salad greens, smeared with hummus and topped with avocado.

Happy eatings,
Erin Connor

Week In Review 1/12/18

!CLU

This is totally random but I’ve been burning a lot of candles lately. I’ve always owned them from people who gave them to me as gifts, but I was never very good at actually using them. In the past month or so, I’ve burned through three giant candles while editing DB, and I’m in the market for more. Any recommendations on cool small businesses on Etsy (or anything similar)? I’m down for Harry Potter or fandom themed candles. As a disclaimer: I really prefer clean smells or woodsy smells as opposed to overly floral scents. But as I type, I’m really liking the idea of fandom-themed candles, so throw those rec’s my way please!

!CD

With the weather being all over the place lately, I’ve been fighting to not get sick. For the past two years, my friends have been telling me to try “fire cider”, which is basically an old school cure-all. The recipes vary from person to person, but you can find them all over google. I didn’t have time for it to ferment a month in the fridge, so I just boiled fresh ginger, turmeric, jalapeño, garlic, onion and lemon together and then added the apple cider vinegar and honey. I really do think it’s saving my ass from a cold. I will say I recommend buying fresh of everything possible, versus powdered turmeric/ginger. (How Ina Garten of me.) Just do a small shot of it when you’re feeling under the weather and repeat as needed. It’s truly a lifesaver and if you’re like me and hate taking lots of meds, it’s great to have on hand.

!CW

I’m done typing up all 27 of my edited DB chapters!! (cue hip hop horn) So I am officially back in the writing stage! All I have left is to rewrite the last two chapters and I am done with round three of edits. I can’t express how much I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I have my query class coming up at the end of the month which I should be getting invaluable feedback from, and then maybe (gasp) I can start working on DB2 again! Oh, happy day!

Cheers,
Erin

Week In Review 01/04/18

!CRAs I posted previously, to celebrate the end of the year and having a long weekend with no responsibilities, I bought The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I absolutely devoured them. Only took me four days to read all three books. I’m a huge fan of Bardugo’s writing and grey characterizations, but I’ll admit I was hesitant to pick them up. I’d heard mixed reviews about this series, particularly that it was “slow”. I must respectfully disagree. Granted, I read incredibly fast, but I never found myself bored.
My only critique would be that all three books begin and end with a “Before”/”After” prologue/epilogue that are told in Third Person Omniscient, and I found the switch to first person surprising when I delved into the first chapter, but I quickly got over it. I’ve noticed Bardugo tends to favor prologues told not from the main character’s point of view. And I’m not sure how I feel about it, to be honest.
The main character, Alina, is beautifully written and incredibly real. I hate the trope of fantasy characters that discover magical powers and immediately flourish, even though other characters spent lifetimes honing their abilities. This doesn’t happen in this book. So if that’s a pet peeve you share with me, you’re safe in this series.
This is probably one of the only series that I’ve ever read where I heard more fanfare about the villain than the main character. And boy oh boy was I excited to meet The Darkling. He absolutely lived up to the hype. He’s one of the best, most fleshed out villains I’ve ever read. So to everyone slighting this series because their ship didn’t sail: did we even read the same books? If you like fantasy and strong female protagonists, this is a Deathly Hallows-esque quest set in a world based upon 1800s Russia with well thought out political and magical systems. Please read it so we can discuss!!

!CLThis is a fun one this week. My fiancé played me this remix of Pure Imagination from Charlie & The Chocolate factory, which led me to remixes of Dancing in the Moonlight and Mr. Sandman. Put it on autoplay and allow yourself some time to discover some fun remixes and reimagining of old classics.

!CWI’m done with my handwritten edits of Death Becoming! Now, just to type them all up. More importantly, I signed up for Writer’s Digest University Query Workshop. It’s being hosted by two agents from New Leaf Literary, which is basically my numero uno. The course includes an online tutorial on query do’s and dont’s. Then, you get two two-hour sessions to chat with your assigned agent mentor and ask questions about your query. Last, you submit your query and first five paged to your assigned agent. Three weeks later, they reply with critiques on your query! I’m super nervous but also very excited to tackle this step in my publishing journey. If anyone else has signed up, let me know! I’d love to have a buddy during the process.

!CLUHappy New Year everyone! I rang in the new year with a very low key evening full of Mario Kart and Uno, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Weather has been in the single digits or the negatives the past few days, so we’ve been holed up inside, buried beneath multiple blankets wearing multiple pairs of socks and drinking lots of hot tea.

!CDNo booze recommendations from me this week. I don’t know about you but I need a break after all the holiday festivities. And with all this cold weather, I’ve been drinking Rare Tea Cellar‘s jasmine tea like my life depends on it. I absolutely love jasmine tea, and I discovered Rare Tea Cellar through my local grocery store and I haven’t been able to get enough of it lately. If you can’t find it in stores, you can order online through their website.
As a side note, one of my most favorite things in the world of tea is Bingley’s Teas, a series of teas inspired by Jane Austen characters. My mother and I have drunk quite a few of them, and they’re all delicious. I highly recommend. If you’re not in the market for tea, but you’re a fan of Austen, read through the descriptions for each tea and why they’re associated with each character. They did an awesome job and it’s highly entertaining.

Cheers,
Erin Connor