Week in Review 2/23/18

!CW

Y’all, I think my brain is broken. After getting my WDU Query Critique back last week, I compiled a MASSIVE spreadsheet with the list of all the agents I want to query, with sub-sheets for each agency and their submission guidelines, and sub sheets for those sheets with each agent’s #MSWL. (cue me pulling my hair out) But I guess if it was easy, everyone would do it, right?

[CW] New Yorker Comic

A Foolproof Guide to Achieving Literary Success
By

Thankfully, my coworker sent me this comic, which was some much-needed levity as I enter the query slush piles of doom. Which I can now say: I have entered the slush piles. I sent out five queries today. (cue internal screaming) But never fear, the endless stress is not over. Besides having what I believe to be a fairly solid query, there was one thing I did not prepare for: Writing a synopsis. Most of the agents I researched previously didn’t request one, so I hadn’t really thought much of it. But during my Query Attack Plan Excel Spreadsheet-Making™️, I discovered a few of my favorite agents that do require them. So, now I get to overanalyze and stress over writing that before sending out the next round of queries. Pray for me y’all. #amquerying

!CD

This week I had the pleasure of working with our representative from Wayfarer, the Burgundy-inspired Fort Ross Sea View project of Jason Pahlmeyer. Which, if you’re not familiar with Pahlmeyer, here’s the coolest wine story ever. In order to grow the best wines in Napa, Pahlmeyer and his partner knew they needed cuttings from Bordeaux. However, importing clones from Bordeaux was illegal. So, naturally, they stole them, smuggling them in through Canada. And they almost got away with it, too. Until their last truckload, the fifth one, was caught. And Jason’s partner? Told them everything. The government demanded they turn over the other four truck’s cuttings. But they didn’t do all that smuggling for nothing! So they went on down to UC Davis and bought some vine cuttings from them and sent those back to the government instead of their smuggled cuttings, aka the “suitcase clones”. But wait! That’s just the story of Pahlmeyer! We’re talking about Wayfarer. This project was a long time dream of Jason’s, and when Helen Turley saw the property come up for sale in Fort Ross Seaview, she called up Jason and Wayfarer was born. Planted exclusively to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (including some of those “suitcase clones”), they waited ten years to release their first vintage in 2012, wanting to make sure the wines lived up to their standards and the Pahlmeyer name. This week I worked with the 2014, and holy moly are they delicious. I can’t even put into words, other than: go getcha some. It’s worth every penny. Especially their Golden Mean, which is named for the mathematical rule of perfect proportions, this is a clonal study.

Our Golden Mean Pinot Noir celebrates a union between the Swan clone, with its elegance and enticing perfume, and the Pommard clone, with its earthy aromatics and powerful structure. This ruby-hued wine begins with delicate floral notes that lead into bright red fruit aromas with hints of powdered cocoa and the suggestion of an ocean breeze. On the palate, fresh strawberry and cherry characters are supported by soft tannins and well-structured slate minerality.

Cheers,
Erin Connor

SaveSave

Week In Review 2/16/18

!CLU

This past weekend, Lucas and I escaped the Chicago blizzard and headed to Minneapolis. Which sounds so backwards that they would have better weather, but never fear, the temps were in the negatives the whole time, just not snowing, thank goodness. We brought our sweet wolfpup Freya with us and she had tons of fun socializing with our friends’ dogs, and she slept for two days straight after we got back.

I got to meet my internet friend, Brenna, in person for the first time (!!!), which was super awesome. We also got to visit Lucas’s brother and our friends Tom & Toni, who we convinced to move to Oregon with us. It’s hard having friends and family that live so far away, so it was nice having a whole weekend of being with my people. And also a major win by recruiting them to pack up and head to the PNW with us so we don’t have to be so far apart. 🙂

!CW

I got my WDU query critique back this week! I won’t lie, I have been anxiously checking my email for the past three weeks. I felt like everything was riding on this critique–which is a silly notion, I know. Either (A) my query + first five were horrible and I’d have to start from scratch and be right back where I started or (B) it would be good and I could finally (and confidently) begin querying agents.

I’m so relieved to say it was the latter. I have a few minor things to tweak, but other than that, the query + first five were good. My assigned agent said she would have requested the full manuscript if she didn’t already have a few similar projects lined up. This gives me hope, because if I can interest her, surely others will be interested, right?! I’m allowing myself a day to celebrate (and breathe a sigh of relief) and then I’m sitting down tomorrow with an excel spreadsheet and mapping out my query attack.

All in all the webinar was definitely worth it. A lot of the information on the query process I had heard before through researching, but if you’re just beginning to research, it’s a great resource to learn a lot all in one go. And the one-on-one agent feedback is invaluable. You can see all the upcoming WDU workshops here.

I’m thinking about writing a whole post on what I’ve learned after I’ve sent out queries, if anyone would be interested. I feel pretty confident about my understanding of the “how to”, but I want to wait until I’ve sent my queries into the slush piles and see how I fare. Request for fulls? Silent rejections? Offers of rep? Who knows, but I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for coming on this journey with me.

Cheers,
Erin Connor

Week In Review 2/2/18

!CL

My lovely friend Claire has the coolest concept: combining a color palette, a moodboard, & a playlist. So I’m currently jamming to February Feeling. Check it out, even if just for the gorgeous graphics. But also the music is great as well: Some I knew, some where new. Such an awesome idea and can’t wait to see the next one!

!CLU

Anyone else feel like January lasted for seven years? Woof. I hope all of 2018 doesn’t feel this way. I have a lot of fun things on the horizon so I’m hoping this year gets a much needed adrenaline shot soon. But, all Eeyore-ing aside:

I submitted my query and first five pages for the WDU workshop, and now I wait!! I won’t lie, even though the critique deadline is February 17th, I’ve been obsessively refreshing my email since I got the confirmation of receipt on Monday. There will be no chill until I have been thoroughly critiqued. Lay that sweet, sweet constructive criticism on me.

Also, I’ve been a fan of The Lord of the Rings since middle school, but I’ve had a real need to rewatch the movies for about a month now. I own the DVDs, but when I found out there was an extended version??? You know I got ’em. It was so fun to see all the scenes that had been cut out. Some I understood why, i.e. some of the speeches were more impactful once shortened IMO, but some of the scenes really fleshed out the minor characters and it was great to see more of them. If you haven’t checked them out before, you definitely should. A great way to spent 3+ hours on a lazy weekend haha.

!CD

This week I had the pleasure of trying Attems Pinot Grigio “Romato”, which means “coppery”. We all know Pinot Grigio/Gris as a white wine, however, it is a purple grape. And before technology is what it is today, in ye olden times, Pinot Grigio was a pink (or “coppery”) wine. So this is a throwback to the old style, and the extra skin contact gives the wine a floral and fruity bouquet, with extra weight and fullness on the palette. Go getcha some and #drinkpink.

Cheers,
Erin Connor

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

 

Currently Reading

After devouring Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone in one day yesterday, I’m now onto Siege and Storm! I fell in love with Bardugo’s writing in her Six of Crows duology earlier this year and have been itching to get my hands on her first series. I was worried about reading backwards and that her first series wouldn’t have as much finesse, but I’m absolutely enamored. Bardugo creates such well rounded characters, and I love the main character Alina. Her blunt manner of speaking is so refreshing in a heroine, and I love the ordinary-ness and effortlessness in her humor. Cannot wait to dive further into this second book.

12/29/17 Week In Review

I know, I know, it’s late, but Friday isn’t over yet!!

!CD[CD] ColomeAs someone whose Fun Meter gets pegged easily, the holidays are exhausting for me both mentally and physically. I’m not going to talk about the wide array of things I drank Saturday night when we had ten friends and four dogs over at our house. I want to talk about my drink of choice for Christmas: Colome Estate Malbec. This wine was just recently named Wine Spectator‘s #18 wine for the Top 100 Wines of 2018, which is pretty cool. But the important thing to know about Colome is that it comes from Salta, not Mendoza- where about 80% of Argentina’s wine comes from. Salta is roughly two hours north of Mendoza, and the Colome estate is the highest elevation winery in the world, at 6,000-10,000ft, which is wild. For comparison, mountain appellations in Napa are about 2,500 feet. High elevation makes the grapes struggle more, which develops deeper flavor. All that to say, Colome Malbecs are darn delicious and not ridiculously expensive! (Unless you buy Altura Maxima, the 10,000ft vineyard bottling that is a treat to the taste buds but a wee bit more pricey.) But don’t just take my word for it, here’s what Wine Spectator has to say about the Estate Malbec:

Refined and rich-tasting, with effusive minerality to the red berry and cherry flavors, lathered with plenty of creamy accents. Pepper and cigar box notes show on the long and complex finish.

!CL

Okay, so this is probably one of the dorkiest things I will ever admit on the internet but one of my favorite things about the holidays is the Yule Log Channel on tv with the crackling fireplace. It’s so nostalgic for me. As a kid, even though it didn’t really ever get truly cold in Georgia, we always had a “Christmas Fire” that was started the first day of Christmas break and we didn’t allow it to go out until after Christmas. Since I don’t have a fireplace in my current home, the Yule Log just sounds like Christmas to me, more than any holiday jingles.

!CLU

I don’t know about you, but I am so ready for 2017 to be over. As someone who works in sales, while everyone else is excited about holiday parties, I’m nineteen different kinds of stressed trying to hit end of year numbers and asking for favors from everyone I know so that I can hit bonus for the year. This year, I’m happy to say I’m DONE with all of that as of today, and save for one last minute wine delivery tomorrow, I am worry free for the next two days! I’m going to celebrate by not leaving the house and talking to no one and going no where. I need to detox after all the socializing last weekend. I’m the Scrooge of New Year’s Eve. I never want to go out or do anything, I’m content to just stay in, have a drink or three, and marathon some movies. What do you guys have planned for New Year’s Eve/Day? Do you have any traditions?

2018 #Goals

2018

I’m a big believer in goals. And as a Slytherin, I’m one of the most determined people I know and will stop at nothing to achieve them.

My Goals for Living My Best Life in 2018:

  1. Be Kind. This is an Always Goal, but I don’t think kindness can ever be overrated. Kindness to others, and  kindness to yourself. You get back what you put out into the world. I’m highly critical, and while it’s important to be critical of the world around you, it’s important not to let that hinder your enjoyment of it. I’m watching the way I speak about things, what details I focus on. I want to remember the good in the world, in my world, and that doesn’t mean ignoring the bad or brushing it under the rug. Acknowledge it, but don’t let it steal your joy or your kindness. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, 2017 was a dumpster fire. And so much of it could be fixed, be healed if only we showed more kindness and understanding to those around us.
  2. Oregon. As I mentioned in my 2017 recap, our lease is up next fall, and we’re ready to go. There are so many goals tied into this one. We’re looking to buy our first house and stop throwing our money away renting. We want to spend more time outdoors and nature is so accessible in Oregon. We want to save money and getting out of Illinois will help with that. I’ve lived in three states since graduating high school, and I’m reading to find the one that feels like home, feels like forever, and I think Oregon is a big step in the right direction for us.
  3. Begin the publishing journey. This one puts butterflies in my stomach, makes me want to run around the house in euphoria and puke all at once. I’ve always loved writing, but it wasn’t until after I completed a major in culinary arts that I realized I need to write. I need to share my stories with the world. And I want to give it my all, which is why I’ve spent so much time editing DB, researching agents, and antagonizing over queries. This was a 2017 goal of mine, but one made out of ignorance. I wasn’t ready in 2017. It’s hard for me to prolong pursuing a goal, but I know I’ll be more prepared in 2018. Not only to actually achieve this goal, but to deliver at a calibre I can look back upon in the future and be proud of, rather than the rushed product I had in 2017.
  4. Travel. Even with moving across the country on the docket, I need to travel. As Alisa calls it, I’ve got the “go bug”. Lucas & I are making our yearly visit to Minnesota to see his brother and best friend who live there, and I’m going to meet up with Brenna! My best friend Karrie is coming into town for One Chicago in March, the #bifflesquad has a Nashville trip in the works, and I’m going to Spain and Portugal via work in April. And if that’s not enough, I’m seriously hoping I can squeeze in time to scuba in Key Largo with the parents. I’ve only missed a year of diving once so far in my life, and not to be dramatic, but I might shrivel up without my yearly dose.
    Travel is one of the few things in life I allow myself to splurge on. It’s so important to remember that the world is so much bigger than your town, your state, your country. It’s easy to forget that. We get so immeshed in our daily lives that we forget to open our eyes and really see. That’s what travel is to me. It’s not about flashy vacations, it’s about staying in touch with the world around me, remembering my own insignificance. The world is big and it is beautiful and for my small time on it, I want to see and experience as much of it as I can, in the way that those who live there experience it.
  5. Read more. My GoodReads “to read” list is getting out of control. I’ve been so wrapped up with DB edits that I didn’t do as much reading as I would’ve liked in 2017, so I’m hoping to change that in 2018 and knock a few books off my list.

 

Do you have any goals for 2018? Anything you’re looking forward to?