Category: Completely Unrelated

New Year’s: Done

New Year’s: Done

Like many others, I can’t help but look back on 2016 and look forward on 2017.  I think it’s beginning to be a blog tradition for me, anyway.

2016 was a crazy year for me.  Crazy fast and crazy amazing.  And I can’t wait for what this next one brings!

It started off with a trip to Japan:…Which I won’t be forgetting any time soon.  We arrived just in time for the cherry blossoms (sakura).  I guess I didn’t realize how quickly they peak and begin to die: in the beginning of our trip, the sakura in Tokyo were at peak (like above in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden).  We then spent a week traveling to Gotemba, Kyoto and Osaka.  By the time we came back to Tokyo, the sakura were gone or dropping petals.  The timing was amazing!

I was more than a little inspired by Japan, and have begun to learn more of the language, as we are planning a second trip in 2017!  The inspiration reached even further, and might be finding some influence over my next book series, which is currently brewing.

Once we returned, I had to buckle down and finish up A Rift Between Cities.

Lots of things (including our trip) stole time from my writing schedule, but I managed to complete it in time!  Seeing the trilogy finished was an incredible part of the year.

Turns out I couldn’t say goodbye to Sylvia, however.

In 2017, look for a short story prequel following Sylvia’s adventures before the war.

The new series I’m working on is in the world-building stages, which I have learned is probably my favorite part of writing.  I’m tentatively planning a 4 or 5 book series, which I can’t wait to share with you!

In 2017, I’ll also be selling and signing my books in the Artist’s Colony at Connecticon!

Despite a lot of negativity and bad things that happened in 2016, I don’t mind saying that I had a great year.  The New Year gives us a chance to turn the page on the old, and start blank:

Survive in Japan with these Five Words

Survive in Japan with these Five Words

Now that I’m (mostly) done editing A Rift Between Cities, I finally have some time to work on this series of blog posts I’ve been dreaming up ever since our trip to Japan this spring.welcome-to-japan

It was cherry blossom season, and we visited Tokyo, Gotemba (to see Mount Fuji), Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, and back to Tokyo.  I was a bit worried about not knowing enough of the language, but quickly discovered that five staple words were enough.

Most people we encountered knew a bit of English–and several were kind enough to offer us help in English when we clearly looked lost.  Don’t be surprised if someone asks if you need help on the metro, or if you’re wandering the streets looking confused–they’re genuinely trying to be helpful.

Japan metro
The signs in the metro flash between Roman words and Japanese.

One woman even helped us put money on our Suica cards–the machines in the metro station we had stopped in were entirely in Japanese, and some of our cards were running low.  She walked us through the machine and showed us which buttons to press.  We couldn’t have been more impressed with the kindness of strangers.

In all situations, however, we discovered we needed these five words to get us by:

  1. Konnichiwa- こんにちは – “Hello” or “Good Afternoon”

    The first and most useful word you should learn.

  2. Sumimasen-すみません – “Excuse Me”

    You’ll definitely need this one on the metro.  People will kindly move out of your way if you announce your need to get through with this phrase.

    You can also use this as a greeting if approaching someone for help.

  3. Arigatou – ありがとう – “Thank You”

    In any language, this is the most important word in your arsenal.  A single Arigatou can go a long way.  Accompanied by a minuscule bow of your torso, use this to express your thanks in any situation.

    If you’re feeling extremely grateful, use Arigatou Gozaimasu ありがとうございます–the equivalence of “Thank you very much”.

  4. Kudasai-ください – “Please”

    Equally as important as Arigatou, please use Kudasai when asking for anything!

    There is also a more formal version: Onegaishimasu おねがいします, but we only heard this once or twice, as Kudasai is more widely used.

  5. Gomennasai-ごめんなさい – “I’m Sorry”

    Remember this one for the metro, especially since you’re probably carrying luggage.  It’s impossible not to bump into anyone, so be sure to offer a Gomennasai if warranted.  You might also hear native speakers use an abbreviated “Gomen”.

    The deer in Nara Park speak the language of food.
    The deer in Nara Park speak the language of food, particularly the biscuits you can buy for ¥150.

     

Bonus Words:

Though not strictly necessary, these words were also useful on our trip:

  • Ohayougozaimasu-おはようございます – “Good Morning”
    Used in greeting.  Can also shorten to “Ohayo”
  • Konbonwa-こんぼんは – “Good Evening”
    In greeting
  • Kore-これ – “This”
    I paired this with Kudasai, while pointing at something on a menu: “Kore Kudasai” was pretty easy to remember.
  • Sore-それ – “That”
    The partner to Kore, this one is also easy to remember.
  • Dozo-どぞ – “Go ahead”
    You might not use this one, but you’ll probably hear it a lot when a shop keeper uses it to call the next person in line!  You might also hear it expressed as “Hai Dozo”, as in “Yes, go ahead”.

What about Numbers?

When making a purchase, I noticed there was either a cash register which displayed the cost, or the cashier would type the total on a calculator for you.

I thought I had learned the numbers before our trip–but would often forget them under pressure, so therefore didn’t end up using them much.  Overall I would say they’re not strictly necessary.charms at Japanese temples

What about ordering food?

In eating establishments, almost always they will use Roman words alongside the Japanese.  In some cases, we didn’t even need to speak to anyone to order–several ramen shops we went to had vending machines where you purchased a ticket with the food you wanted, and these would always have pictures.  Then, you simply hand your ticket to the person waiting your table.

ordering crepes in Japan
Pictures with numbers, or often plastic replicas of food will also help you order.

That’s it!

With those five words we traveled the Tokyo metro, took several Shinkansen across the country, ate in plenty of different types of food establishments, did tons of shopping, bought tickets for parks and aquariums, visited temples and shrines, and were able to thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

For my first time in Japan, I think I can safely say those five words are all you need–though, of course, now that I want to return, I’m learning a bit more so as to interact with people more!

またね Matane! (See you Later)

 

One Month On: Bullet Journalling

One Month On: Bullet Journalling

Have you heard of bullet journalling?  I. Am. Hooked.

I came across it on Instagram one day about a month ago, and was highly intrigued.

It’s a combination calendar, to-do list, diary, daily inspiration, goal tracker, fitness tracker, (ANYTHING tracker), and, one of my favorites: a place to keep important info.

Did I lose anybody there?  Probably.
The first step is admitting you have a problem, and I have a calendar problem.

The bullet journal can be all of those things above because it starts with a blank notebook. I went with a grid lined spiral notebook.  Spiral, because I like to be able to rip out pages if I need to, and have no trace left behind.

bujo year

There’s lots of official terms and ways of bullet journalling, but here’s the breakdown:

You start with a yearly calendar (aka “future log”…I refuse to call it that), including big important dates, holidays, birthdays, and the like.

Then, you drill down…

bujo month

Next is the current month.  Here I put big dates that weren’t likely to change–although the erasable Frixion pen I have has been the best thing that ever happened to bullet journalling, in my opinion.

In August, I tried using a page to track things I was grateful for on a daily basis.  I started off fine, but about mid-month I starting missing days–which irritated me, because I put 31 spaces to write things.

This month, I’m going with a more flexible “happy moments” tracker.  This way, I can write more than one–or none–in a day.  The leaves I don’t fill, I can just color in later!

bujo weekThen we have the weeklies.  I’ve made five weekly spreads now, and each of them has been different.  I think this is why I like bullet journalling so much.  After a point, I figured out how much room I really needed per day, and discovered some things I could insert to fill the rest of the spread.  Things like fitness trackers, dinner planning, weekly goals or tasks, inspirational quotes, and a few times now: space to doodle or color in.

bujo booksIn between these planning pages, you can add anything you want.  Some extra pages I’ve added are a Dinner Ideas List, Books I’ve Read/To Read page, and now that I’m learning to read and write Japanese, syllabaries for hiragana and katakana.  すごい!

To keep track of all these calendars and random pages, you create a table of contents (“Index”) at the beginning, and number each page.

Only a few weeks before I started bullet journalling, I looked longingly at some planners at the bookstore, but I knew better than to buy them.  I have never had any luck using a regular planner. I always liked the idea, but never stuck with it.

The obvious benefit of using a journal like this, is (personally) when I write down a task, I feel like I’m committed to completing it.  So when I wrote “Write more blog posts” as a goal for September…well, here we are.

I can see how it appeals to bloggers and people who are lucky enough to work from home.  Perhaps some day that will be me! #AmWriting

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Konnichiwa

Konnichiwa

How embarrassing is it that my last blog post was from New Year’s?

This year has already been an intense, non-stop, time-gobbling year.  At first, I didn’t have time to write because I was buying a house.  Then, I didn’t have time to write because I was going on a two week trip to Japan.  Then, I didn’t have time to write blog posts because I was busy writing the final book in the Arcera Trilogy!  I think that last one is a valid excuse.

Since I’m in the final stages of editing A Rift Between Cities, I am buckling down and finally writing the posts I’ve been wanting to write.

As I mentioned above, I went on a trip to Japan this spring, it was すごい!  (amazing)  So, of course, I’ll be writing a series of blog posts about Japan, things I learned there, and most importantly, the best food we ate!

Also, I’m learning Japanese.  こんにちは!

I recently started using a bullet journal to keep organized.  I thought I’d give it a try, and I’m totally in love.  It is literally my favorite things combined:  making calendars, being organized, doodling, making lists, and of course, washi tape.  I’ll be talking about it more soon, after I’ve completed a whole month.

Let’s just say you can’t spell check with a pen, and I obviously can’t spell exercising.

With the impending completion of A Rift Between Cities, I feel like I’m at an awesome crossroads with my writing.  I am ready to start something new, but I will always have the world of Arcera.

Come catch me at a few events this fall, and you’ll get an early peak at the cover for ARBC!

The Big E (Celebrating 100 years!)
I’ll be in the Connecticut Building
Saturday, Sept 17- 10am-1pm
Wednesday, Sept 21– 4pm-7pm  *Connecticut Day
Saturday, Oct 1 – 1pm-4pm

The Connecticut Renaissance Faire
Saturday, October 29th
Yes, I’ll be dressing up.

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Twas the Night Before Release…

Twas the Night Before Release…

… And all through the eve’,
Liz Delton was thinking
’bout Sylvia, Ven and Neve.

Okay, I’ll stop now.

Anyway, The Fifth City will be released tomorrow, going out into the world to be read!  I can’t wait.  Oh, and Meadowcity is free right now.

So I embarked on a new creative project tonight for a little art therapy (and I’ve been wanting to try this for a while!).  Check out this sweet custom sharpie mug I’m making:

It hasn’t gone in the oven yet, because A. I don’t know what I want to put on the other side yet, and B. Not entirely sure how long to put it in for (because all the instructions differ).  If it comes out good maybe I’ll do another post on the DIY breakdown.  So far, so good; I got the Oil-Based Paint Markers everyone (aka “the Internet”) says to use.

If you’re in Connecticut, come see me at the East Granby Public Library tomorrow from 6-8 for some free food, and to get your signed copy of The Fifth City!

Saturday I’ll be at Hartford Public Library from 12-3 doin’ the same thing (minus the food).

Three hours til launch; let’s do this!

Baking Traditions

Baking Traditions

It’s that time of year again…time to make Christmas sweets!

In between formatting Meadowcity for paperback, coordinating the cover design with the cover artist, and outlining my marketing plan, I managed to make two batches of fudge and one batch of caramels this weekend, all to great success.  It mostly involved me standing in front of the stove all day, stirring!

The fudge recipe is no secret, so I’ll share it here.  My mom has used this recipe since I can remember, and it always comes out perfect.  I experimented with a different flavor for the season, and it turned out really well, if I do say so myself.

Fluff Never Fail Fudge

  • 5 Cups Sugar
  • 10 oz Evaporated Milk
  • 1/4 lb (1 stick) Butter
  • 1 jar of Fluff
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1.5 tsp Vanilla
  • 24 oz  Chocolate Chips

– Combine first five ingredients in a tall saucepan on low  (I put it on “3” out of 11).  Stir until blended.

– Once blended, increase heat to medium/low and slowly bring to a boil (I raise my burner up to between 4-5).  Stir constantly!

– Once it has begun to boil, set a timer for 5 minutes.

– Use the “soft ball” test to determine if it is finished after your 5 minutes.  Get a glass of cold cold water and drip some of the mixture in.  If it forms a small ball by itself as it falls through the water, then it’s ready.

– Remove from heat, and add the chocolate and vanilla.  {Adding the vanilla is my favorite part, because it gets all frothy for a second!}

– Stir like the wind, and pour into a buttered pan.  Let it cool for a while, then cut.

This year I made traditional milk chocolate, but I wanted to experiment with the second batch.  So I bought some white chocolate chips, and two boxes of candy canes to make White Chocolate Candy Cane Fudge!

First, I learned why crushed candy canes are $4 for a tiny container–while unwrapping 24 candy canes from their ridiculous cellophane wrappers of doom.  It was a good thing the candy canes I bought were about to be crushed up, because ONE candy cane out of all that I opened was whole and complete.  The rest were in three pieces at best.

 

I love my tiny food processor.  It has two settings–keeping it nice and easy.

And chopping things into small bits is always fun.

 

Right?

 

 

 

Anyway, instead of adding 1 cup of walnuts like the original recipe calls for, I added 1 cup of candy cane powder/bits.  It did turn the fudge a little pink, but the taste is great!  You can definitely taste both the white chocolate, and candy cane, and there are some small bits of candy cane that you can crunch on.

 Overall, I think these will go quite nicely nestled between milk chocolate fudge and homemade caramels in my goodie boxes.