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 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

 

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?

Week In Review 12/15/17

[CD] whiskey hot chocolate

(image credit: my dish is bomb)

Currently Drinking:

Repeat after me: Whiskey, Hot Chocolate, Caramel, and Vanilla Bean. Hello, winter! I was craving both whiskey and chocolate the other night, but alas I don’t keep sweets in the house. (But we always keep whiskey stocked, never fear.) So naturally, I did a Google and discovered that whiskey hot chocolate was, indeed, a thing.  I found this lovely article which has 17 different boozy hot chocolate recipes no matter your booze base preference. In true Erin fashion, I never follow a recipe. I prefer to read 2-3 different recipes and then wing it. (I referenced these: [1] [2] [3]) I didn’t have marshmallows and was too lazy to make whipped cream, so I just made a caramel sauce, mixed in some whiskey and vanilla beans, frothed some milk, added cocoa powder and bam! whiskey hot chocolate deliciousness. Trust me, you gotta get in on this.

Current Life Update:

So, if you know me, you know I love Harry Potter. This week, a new chapter was making the rounds. A new chapter? What?! A new chapter called Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash, written by a predictive keyboard taught all seven books. It’s utter nonsense and I haven’t stopped laughing for the past few days. And in true Potter fandom fashion, there is already fan art for it. Thank Merlin. You can read the chapter here, and then immediately go here to see all of Megan Nicole Dong’s comics for it. You’re welcome.

Currently Listening:

I’m super late to the game but I’ve been jamming to LANY lately, particularly ILYSB. Other than that I’ve been in a major music funk lately. I just can’t figure out what I’m in the mood for. I think all this end of the year craziness is driving me up the wall so much I can’t even focus on music right now. I also listened to recordings of Leviosa’s Harry Potter and Young Adult Literature Convention from July 2016 just to keep my brain in writing mode. There are interviews with agents and authors, and they tackle topics like researching, editing, querying, and world building.

Currently Editing:

Still in the editing trenches with Death Becoming. I’ve edited all the way through my Big Finale™️ and due to the immense amount of changes made thus far and in previous edits, the last three chapters have to be scrapped and rewritten, but I’m excited to tackle it over the weekend. Alas, I have a free weekend and I’m going to spend it writing DB and finishing up my Christmas cards!

Cheers,
Erin

Week In Review 12/08/17

Current Life Update:
Remember Claire Laminen, whose book I read & posted about a few weeks back? Well, she’s not only an amazing author, but a dear friend of mine. She lives in Ventura with her husband, and I’m sure you’ve all heard of the fires currently ravaging California. They had enough of a heads up to get out safely, but their house was lost to the fire. You may or may not know Claire, but if you have the means, we’ve set up a youcaring for donations to help them restart and rebuild their life. They’re absolutely wonderful people, and I’m completely devastated that this has happened to them, especially so close to the holidays, Claire’s favorite time of the year. Also, there is a gofundme for the town of Ventura and helping the citizens rebuild after the fires, if you’d feel more comfortable donating to that. If you aren’t able to donate, please keep the people of California in your thoughts and prayers. I know this is a heavy way to start off the post, but sometimes life is heavy and this is an issue very near and dear to my heart. Mother Nature has not been kind in 2017, and those of us who have been fortunate enough to make it through unscathed should give thanks and lend a helping hand to those in need in whatever capacity we can.

Currently Editing:
I’m still deep in the trenches with my DB edits, but I’m happy to say I’m two-thirds of the way through my edits. I’ve hit a snag on a bit of foreshadowing, but I think I’ve solved it. Work (and life in general) has been crazy busy so I haven’t had time to sit down and work on it, but I’m excited to get back to it.

Currently Listening:
Lucas was fortunate enough to get free tickets to the WKQX The Nights We Stole Christmas concert last Friday, where we got to see Sir Sly, Cold War Kids, and Foster The People. So I’ve been jamming to FtP’s new album Sacred Hearts Club. All three bands were fantastic live, and Sir Sly has a serious showman for a lead singer.

Currently Drinking:
Now that it’s cold at last, I’ve been sipping on my fave: Bourbon. More specifically, an Old Fashioned. I finally got my hands on a jar of Copper & Kings Cocktail Cherries and they are delicious. Copper & Kings are primarily known for their brandy, but what you need to know about them is their love of music, and how they use subwoofers in their cellars to age their spirits via pulses from the jams they jam down there. And if that’s not cool as hell, I don’t know what is. (“Ah, yes, this brandy has subtle notes of DaRude’s Sandstorm, do you get that on the mid-palate as well, good sir?”)

Week In Review 11/24/17 & 12/01/17

Okay, I have to come clean. I meant to update last week, honest! But in the excitement of the holiday I completely forgot to sit down and queue anything up, so I’m going to combine highlights from the last two weeks, and boy were they fun.

Currently Reading/Writing EDITING:

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Overhauling these two categories this week as I took the plunge and printed out the behemoth that is Death Becoming. I’m *loosely* following Susan Dennard’s editing process I mentioned in my earlier post, and I’m loving it. Color coordination galore which pleases my OCD tendencies, and forcing myself to sit down and read DB from front to back has made me feel more in control of the manuscript than I’ve felt in a long time. Feels good, guys, feels real good.

Currently Listening:

HP Symphony

Fangirl Time: I attended the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s production of Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone and I’ve had the score stuck in my head since last Saturday. It was absolutely phenomenal. I knew John Willams (Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, the list goes on…) was an amazing composer, but hearing it live took my breath away and gave me chills on numerous occasions. Who knew quidditch could be so intense? Also, whoever plays the xylophone must have thought Christmas had come early when they announced this project. The amount of times the iconic Harry Potter jingle is interwoven throughout the film kept them very busy, haha.

[CD] JG Bluegray

Currently Drinking:

Juan Gil Estates Orowines, 2014 BlueGray: Named for the color of the slate soils, this Priorat is 45% Garnacha, 30% Carinena, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 12mo in French Oak. Medium body, firm tannins, lots of bright red fruit on the front followed by ample amounts of yummy autumnal spice and chew. I recommend anything from the Juan Gil portfolio, always. Go to your local Spanish wine section and look for anything with “gfe: gil family estates” on the back label and you’re in for a treat that overdelivers for the price.

Current Life Update:

The past two weeks have been full of family & friends, editing, and LOTS of jasmine tea. My obsession with tea is making its yearly revival, and it’s safe to say I’m roughly 50% tea at all times. Except for on Thanksgiving, when I was 50% mashed potatoes. No shame.

Thanks to Cyber Monday, all my holiday shopping is complete, and I’m excited to sit down with a mug of tea and write out my cards. I have a tendency to get way too into it and make numerous terrible puns that I know will elicit groans from the recipients, but hey, it’s me: What do you expect?

What is your favorite holiday tradition? What are you looking forward to the most in the coming weeks?

Week In Review 11/17/17

ATFS2

Currently Reading: Across the Formidable Sea by Claire Laminen

The death of her beloved father changes Laura Elliott’s life irrevocably. The spirited young American has barely begun to recover from her loss when her mother remarries – to a British earl. The two of them are whisked across the Atlantic to the green expanses of Coventry, where Laura finds herself adrift in high society, unable to fit in and lonelier than she’s ever been. Then, two new people enter her life and turn her world on its ear. Her stepfather’s new accountant, the handsome and accomplished Graham, shows her the kindness she has been missing since arriving in England. But Sarah Byrne, a modern young woman from the toughest part of Birmingham and youngest sister of its notorious crime family, has intentions of pulling Laura in an entirely different direction. As Laura manages her new friendships, she finds herself faced with the questions that plague twenty-year-olds in every era: who she is, what home means to her, and what the consequences of her choices will be.

I’ve been a bit exhausted with fantasy and all of its tropes as of late, so I picked up Across the Formidable Sea and it has been wildly refreshing. It’s the perfect lazy Sunday or rainy day read (or any day, really). Laminen does a wonderful job of creating a vibrant 1920s backdrop that you can’t help but dive into as her beautifully flawed main character, Laura, navigates the waters of both high society and the dangerously inviting world of Birmingham’s underbelly. Highly recommend for fans of Peaky Blinders and Pride & Prejudice.

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Currently Writing:
Death Becoming

In the home stretch of round two of my edits. I did a full re-write of my “finale” scene, and am currently working on polishing that, which has led to a series of subplot edits in order to make sure everything ties together nicely in the end. But not too nice, because I can’t let my characters off too easy… I can’t say much more than that without spoiling anything, but if you were one of the few to read the original manuscript, say goodbye to your darlings and strap in for an even wilder ride the second time around.

 

ringCurrent Life Update:

I haven’t been on here in ages, so guess I should start with the Big Things™️ first: As of August 11th, we’re engaged! We’re super excited and can’t wait to party it up with friends and family at the wedding… in 2019, haha. We’ve got big plans for 2018, and we’re pretty excited about the future in general, and I’m so lucky to have my rock by my side through it all.

Currently Listening:

I’ve been jamming to this Spotify playlist lately. It’s 16.5 hours of instrumental pop song covers, and it’s pure gold. I’ve always struggled to find a balance between orchestral playlists and modern music for writing playlists, and this is the perfect in-between.

Currently Drinking:

If you know me, you know I’m not a fan of cold weather. But I am a MASSIVE fan of the drinks that come with it. Whiskey? Hot toddies? Red wine? Stouts? Give me all the heavy sippers. Currently sipping: the stout that started it all for me, Oscar Blues Ten Fidy, so named because it’s 10.5%ABV, so sip slowly. But you’re not gonna want to rush through this chocolate, caramel, coffee goodness.