Who I Want To Be

I was going to talk about something light. I began drafting a post about shuffling scenes around, which is something I am most certainly in the midst of right now. It’s kind of liberating to have decided that certain discussions between characters are happening out of order. I’m really loving editing my stories and seeing that I am making them more than what they were. But that post wouldn’t come out, no matter how many ways I tried.

Instead, I’m drawn back to a question I’ve been wondering about for the past week or two. Who do I want to be? Not in the sense of where is my life going, I’ve got that part. But who I want to be, as the author Ashlee Scheuerman. What face am I putting out there, and what do my actions reflect upon me?

The other day when I was busy fretting over everything and nothing, I drew a Rune for a manner of insight. If you don’t know much about Runes, that’s okay, I’m just learning, myself. The Rune which came out of my little blue velvet bag was Mannaz, or Maðr. From my favourite online resource, Sunnyway Runes, we have the following:

Mannaz: (M: Man, mankind.) The Self; the individual or the human race. Your attitude toward others and their attitudes towards you. Friends and enemies, social order. Intelligence, forethought, create, skill, ability. Divine structure, intelligence, awareness. Expect to receive some sort of aid or cooperation now.

My attitude toward others, and their attitude toward me. Yes. Summed up one very key element to my worries: who am I, and how am I perceived? And more importantly, what do I want that to be? By nature, I am honest (sometimes to the point of trouble) and interested in others. I consider myself empathic, caring about people and animals and nature and life.

I want to be dependable, even though I am prone to flightiness. Blog frequently, release stories more than once every 12 months, reply to emails and messages and other people’s happenings. I want to support others, but in a well-balanced way so I don’t end up feeling like it’s a massive drain on my time. I want to be clever and educated and do things right, preferably without lengthy periods of trial and error, but I also need to focus on patience. Lots of patience.

Here I go back to Mannaz. “Intelligence, forethought, create, skill, ability. Divine structure, intelligence, awareness.” Again playing to my concerns. Forethought, and skill, and awareness. All necessary to my intent.

~A

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Dudes

Greetings my dear internet buddies. Today has been a very long day. Between having my super awesome photo shoot this morning, and covering extra shifts at work tonight, I’m feeling like sleeping a whole lot is a solid plan. But I’m also at a really exciting point in my writing, so I’m pretty drawn to working on that, even though I might blather pretty badly being this spacey. That isn’t always a bad thing, funny enough. There have been occasions where my subconscious has been 100% in control and poured out great work.

I missed blogging on the appropriate days, and this is just a short one, today. I’m sorry if I haven’t been seen around your respective blogospaces. I have honestly, really, truly been flighty and distracted, and even if I’ve read your posts and updates, I haven’t known what to say most of the time. I will make the effort to catch up soon.

Aside from not blogging quite on time and not commenting as I normally would, I have probably avoided doing a whole lot of other things I might normally find myself enveloped with. The good news to come from that, though, is I’ve been chipping away at various writing projects and other important related goodness. Making accounts and updating websites for writing-related ventures, certainly. I’ve also been subjected to candid video recordings by the husband, who proceeds to make the weirdest things he can with the footage. Somehow, I am not concerned by this. It’s actually pretty awesome.

I’m going to set a countdown timer for half an hour or something. Then I shall sit and klackity away, then get myself some reading in before sleep finds me. I hope you lovely people have been busy with all your favourite things.

~A

Tasting desserts, for science!

There’s a new brand of pre-packaged desserts available around these parts with one of those names which just challenges you to try them. Can they really be so delicious as to live up to their claims? Since they were on sale, and I have a sweet tooth today, I bought four different treats to try.

First up, I’ve got a berry cheesecake. The berry sauce over the top doesn’t even taste like berries, but there are seeds in it to prove at least once, this contained a blackberry or something similar. The cheesy part of this cheesecake proves to be pretty good. Nice lemony zest flavour going on, and a smooth texture. The cake crumbles for the base are pretty standard and boring, which is a shame because when the cake crumbles on a cheesecake are good, man, then they are my favourite part.

Conclusion: this cheesecake is acceptable, but does not live up to my expectations.

Now onto a tiramisu. I’m already biased here, because we have the best recipe for a homemade tiramisu, and I have only tasted one or two professionally made desserts which can match our own. This one seems to have a lump of chocolate cake, with the coffee cream cheese around it. The creamy mix is, in my opinion, too sweet and doesn’t have nearly enough coffee flavour. The cake is very dark, but doesn’t really taste like much at all.

Conclusion: it’s barely worth finishing this tiramisu, and I would avoid it next time.

Next, I’m getting into the profiteroles in a chocolate sauce. The sauce is super chocolatey and smooth, though not quite meeting the pure melted chocolate consistency you really want. The pastry from the profiterole is surprisingly dry. I’m having a hard time getting at the custard inside without having chocolate sauce all over it, but as near as I can tell, it’s a bland, vaguely vanilla custard. Taken all together, the elements don’t exactly work. Huh.

Conclusion: I’ve had far better profiteroles, but the sauce could be tasty on icecream.

And saving my favourite for last, a crème caramel. I think it’s fair to be a little afraid, considering the previous disappointments. It tastes decent, though the custard is a bit too firm and the caramel sauce is too thin. Nevertheless, the flavour is mostly right. And I’m picky about my crème caramels.

Conclusion: There are two other brands of premade crème caramel I can buy which are better.

Overall, it’s safe to say, there’s absolutely nothing omg! about these desserts, except that they are sad and not super tasty like one is led to believe. Maybe other people would like them plenty; I am particularly fussy about desserts (I’ll eat most, but it has to be something special for me to love it).

Science is disappointed. But I ate a lot of dessert!

~A

Snowflaking

The Snowflake Method is Randy Ingermanson’s brainchild of plotting out stories in very particular detail.

I would say I’m a Pantser, but I don’t think that fully covers the depth to which I imagine my stories before writing them. I percolate information for months leading up to most of the actual writing; scenes are imagined and noted, sub-plots are considered, the lives of the characters outside of the specified story are thought through.

But there’s a lot to be said for being a Plotter, too. I’m definitely not all Plotter, just because I don’t put it all down in nice, neat rows. But the idea is appealing. Some kind of romantic notion about having it all worked out beforehand, you know? Just watch me never do that in my life – but I’ll muse over it all the same.

This Snowflake Method seems promising, to a degree. For the sake of curiosity, I broke down a completed story into the pieces which Randy directs. The single line summary, the paragraph, the character explorations. It worked out alright, though I quit when it got to the longer steps simply because I’ve already written this novel, and if I’m spending that kind of time working, it’ll be on another edit.

What about other stories? I’m only halfway through writing the first draft of SL, and while I have a good idea of where it’s going, there are still scenes missing from my process, ones which I’ll make up on the fly. Could I break this one down and try Snowflaking it? I’m interested in giving it a try.

If I did use a method for these books, how would I then adapt it to suit the over-arcing story? Do I make a wider view Snowflake, encompassing the end plot? Or do I line up the individual notes, one after the other? Maybe by this stage, I won’t do any of the complicated layers for the existing works, and just try building the next few books with this kind of method in mind. It really does seem promising, and a good way to keep an even flow of a long-term series.

Better yet, I can more than easily do all the steps in my favourite novel writing software, yWriter. It appears set up in a pretty similar format, so the important parts should all slot in nicely.

I like the idea of order, I really do. I just live in a natural state of chaos.

~A

A Novel

I absolutely do not write this in criticism, I am purely curious, and to be honest, a bit confused.

I have been seeing more and more book covers include the text “A Novel”. Why? What is it for? What is its purpose?

Is this an artistic flair that’s catching on? Is it because the cover art is ambiguous as a work of fiction, so it is labelled with “A Novel” for clarity? Is it the counter-point to a novel in a collective including the book-series name (the So-and-So Trilogy, or the Whatsit Chronicles, and so on)?

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the act, though from a personal standpoint, it’s a superfluous line of text on a cover, and I prefer the least amount of text necessary to be on a front cover. But that’s me. The traditional industry likes to include blurbs (as in, a snippet of a quote from someone influential) on the front, or identifying information: “Award winning author of This Other Book”, or “International Best Seller”.

Frankly, I have never cared if an author is an international best seller, or has won awards (except in conversation when I’m trying to drive home the point that an author is kind of a big deal, even though the person I’m talking to has never heard of the writer before). To put that kind of text on a cover just irritates me; it’s wasting space, and often ruins an otherwise well-balanced layout. But that’s kind of off the subject.

I can’t see a reason to have “A Novel” placed right up there on the front. Why did the designer make this obvious statement? The description will indicate that it’s a fictitious narrative. I’ve never bought a novel without reading the description/back cover, so it’s not as though I will misunderstand the book is an invented (or exaggerated) story by the time I’m considering reading it. Also, I’m sure it’s happened, but I don’t recall seeing any which say “A Novella”, or “A Novelette”.

If I write something that’s 300,000 words, can I use “A Hypernovel” on the cover? (The answer to that is no, because if Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke manages to have just “A Novel”, nothing can lay claims to a larger novel classification.)

If anyone has insights, I’d love to know. I may never view “A Novel” as something entirely valid to include, and I probably won’t pass any particular judgement on the book if the label is present, but I certainly notice it. Every time. Thus, I am curious.

~A

Of baby things, part deux

A much-loved second child has added to my friend’s family. As baby number two is born within two week of my godson’s birthday, I’ve been passing on baby clothes. Even for someone who isn’t a mother of any human children, I find baby clothes to be so sweet and, of course, remember how adorable my godson looked in so many of those suits! (The four-legged furry children don’t take kindly to being dressed in clothes.)

A while after my godson grew out of his first batch of baby clothes, I was speaking to his mother about how she had a certain attachment to some of the suits, particularly the special “coming home from the hospital” t-shirt and pants set we’d picked out. I made the suggestion, why not “upcycle” the clothes into something the baby can keep? For those not in the know, upcycling is the trendy term for a kind of recycling, crafting new things from existing materials.

We came to the conclusion that upcycling her favourite clothes into a stuffed toy for the baby would be awesome. At that age, my godson had a fascination with owls (not without a bit of influence from me, of course…), so I sketched out a pattern for a big stuffed owl and spent a couple of days cutting and sewing together panels of his old baby clothes into a toy.


These days, Owl-cush is misshapen and deflated from all the baby love-wrestles he receives.

The belly-panel with the puppy picture, and the pale blue eyes, tufts, beak, and feet are from my godson’s coming home suit. The other pieces were either deemed super cute, like the grey elephants and mint stars, or I picked them for the matching colours. All in all, I discovered baby clothes don’t have nearly enough fabric for crafting with – which is why there ended up being so many sections – and it’s rewarding to make a keepsake which the baby will love, and the parents will cherish for the meaningful inclusions. Plus, no one feels like they’re keeping too-small baby clothes solely for sentimental reasons!

And it gives me more excuses to make cute things.

~A