Good morning, lovelies! How was your week? For me it was one of those weird weeks that’s not particularly busy but goes by SUPER fast. All of a sudden I blinked and it was Thursday, and I wasn’t quite ready to post any of the blog posts I’ve been working on. Sorry it was quiet around these parts this week!
This weekend I’m planning on *finally* unpacking the last few boxes from the move. Please tell me I’m not the only one who procrastinates on unpacking the things you don’t need right this second, but don’t want to donate/ throw away either? I know this is the most first-world of first-world problems, so hopefully I’ll get my rear in gear today.
Here are some of my favorite reads from the interwebs this week:
How was your week? It seems like everyone in Blogland is trying to hang onto summer at all costs, while I’m counting down to September and October. Fall is my favorite season, and it’s been so stinkin’ hot this month that I’m excited to finally be able to sit outside for 10 minutes without sweating. Dreaming big over here!
Here are some of my favorite finds from the internet this week:
We’ve all been there, right? You’re hard at work on a project, going full steam ahead, and then all of a sudden you think, “This is the worst book/ painting/ song/ statue in the history of the world, and everyone will see it and laugh at it, or even worse, at ME.” Those kinds of thoughts can really do a number on your self esteem.
So what do you do when self doubt is hanging around like your own personal storm cloud? My first instinct is to watch too many Food Network competition shows and eat a lot of ice cream, but that’s probably not the most helpful option. I’ve been experimenting with self-doubt coping techniques lately, so here’s what’s been working for me so far:
Have you seen Book Riot’s Genre Kryptonite series? It’s one of my favorites they have, and it got me thinking about my own genre kryptonite — what’s guaranteed to make me pick up a book and either take it to the cash register or put it on my to-be-read list.
Here are a few of the things that will pretty much guarantee that I’ll buy your book:
1. Talking animals (bonus points if they’re wearing sweaters): I’ve always loved stories with talking animals — from The Wind in the Willows to The Chronicles of Narnia to the Redwall series. And even though I wasn’t impressed by The Golden Compass, I loved Iorek Byrnison, the armor-wearing polar bear. Because how awesome is a polar bear wearing armor?! I’m totally with Hannah Oliver Depp on thinking that we need more stories with animals for adults.
2. Rival queens: This probably stems from The Royal Diaries series I read in middle school. There always seemed to be an older female courtier/ noble undermining the princess, causing all sorts of drama. I ate it up when I was 12, and honestly, I still do. I’m not into books about girls being catty just for the sake of being catty (I saw plenty of that in high school, thankyouverymuch) but when they’re competing for political power? Yes, please! The Rival Queensby Nancy Goldstone and Hissing Cousinsby Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer are both on my TBR list.
3. Unlikely detectives: I grew up reading every Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on, and I still love the mystery genre. I tend to skip the really gritty, gory mysteries in favor of the stories with unlikely detectives. I love the Flavia de Luce series by Arthur Bradley — who wouldn’t love a mystery with an 11-year-old detective with a flair for chemistry and a vengeful streak? I also love M.L. Longworth’s Verlaque and Bonnet series, about a magistrate and law professor from Aix. In both these series, the relationships are as important as the mysteries, and I really like that. I’m excited to pick up The Cuckoo’s Calling by J.K. Rowling Robert Galbraith.
4. Secret identities: Who doesn’t love a good secret identity? Superheroes? Awesome. A dashing British gentleman outwitting the nasty Chauvelin in The Scarlet Pimpernel? Yes please. A teenage thief in Venice from The Thief Lord? Sign me up. Any book that promises a secret identity is most likely going straight to my reading list.
What are your go-to genres? Do you have any that make you pull out your wallet after reading the blurbs on the back cover? After coming up with this list I’m definitely craving a trip to the bookstore!
How are you lovely folks doing? This week has been pretty great! Teddy got back from RTX on Sunday night and left on Tuesday for a work trip buuuut I’m really excited because he’s back in Houston for the next two weeks! He hasn’t been in Houston for more than 5 days at a time for over a month, so it’s great to have a calm weekend with no big plans so we can just hang out.
If you’re wondering where the quote in the photo came from, it’s from a journal a friend made for me in college. I’ve been looking for a creative outlet after I get my writing/ work done for the day, and so I’ve been flipping through the pages and filling in different prompts and lists. It’s been pretty fun.
If you’re looking for some fun weekend reading, here are some of my favorite links from this week:
I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I did a Baker’s Diary post! These scones have been on my to-bake list for ages, so when I saw a quart of raspberries for the price of a pint (normally) I snagged them for these scones. I baked three the night I made them and froze the rest, and they bake up perfectly! These are definitely going to be a repeat offender in my kitchen because they were just that good. The best thing about them is that with the whole wheat flour you don’t have to feel bad about having two. 😉
One thing to keep in mind with this recipe is that the ricotta makes the scones extra moist and soft. I loved the moist texture, but if you know a scone purist they might say these aren’t “real scones” because they aren’t flaky. I’m not a scone purist, but I know people who are a little snobby about scones. True story, a guy I knew in college told me he didn’t like the lemon glaze on my lemon craisin scones because ” the scones at Oxford don’t have a glaze.” *insert eye-roll emoji* The best thing was, he was an American, so it wasn’t like he grew up eating English scones. He probably wouldn’t like these scones, but it’s ok. More for us!
Here are some notes I took about the baking process:
How has your weekend been? Mine’s been pretty quiet, which is really nice because the past few weekends have been craaazy hectic. Honestly I haven’t even left the house today — I thought about it briefly, but then I checked my weather app and thought… Nah. So I’ve just been doing stuff around the house, daydreaming about novel things, and re-reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s been a pretty great Sunday.
Here are some of my favorite reads from around the web this week:
I’ve been chipping away at my work in process, but right around the 37,000 word mark, I had this uneasy feeling that wouldn’t go away. I tried to ignore it, assuming that it’s just my doubts popping up — “Hey, this is terrible. It’ll never be good enough. You should really stop now. Blah blah blah.”
But then I realized how much I didn’t know when it comes to my story. I have the plot line and I know my characters (ish), but I skipped a lot of worldbuilding. This might sound counterintuitive for someone writing fantasy, but in the past I’d get SO BORED if I spent ages planning I’d bail on my idea completely. So this time around, as soon as I figured out the basic plot (or the “bones” of the story, if you watch those house-flipping shows), I decided to jump in.
While I worked on plot and dialogue and character development, the story-world was simmering on the back burner, and it started expanding in huge and unexpected ways. This was both cool and terrifying, because I was planning on a simple fantasy story, and suddenly it became this potentially huge behemoth. I felt way over my head.
Luckily, before I could get really panicked, Chuck Wendig tweeted about learning to write through failure and it was literally exactly what I needed to hear. My favorite tweet was: “Fail fast. Fail with glee. Fail better. Fail upwards. Build a ladder out of trying things and getting shit wrong.” So that’s what I’m trying to do.
At this point, I’m bound and determined to finish my first draft (ignoring the problems I know I’ll have to fix later). Right now I’m trying to look at my story like those house flippers on TV: if a story has good bones, you can tear out all the carpet and knock down some walls, and maybe even gut the bathroom later. And then you’ll be able to focus on making the story “pretty,” instead of trying to hide the tacky paint color the previous owner picked. The only bad thing about this metaphor is that I can’t be too mad at the previous owner since in this case, the previous owner is me muddling things up during the first draft. Oops.
Does the house-flipping metaphor make sense for you? Or is it too much of a stretch?
How’s your weekend going? Teddy and I spent yesterday at the lake for his brother’s engagement party, and it was so fun! I rode a jet ski for the first time, and went tubing. I’m a little beaten up and bruised, but it was really nice to get away and spend time on the water!
5. Also via Nicole’s list from Eat This Poem, I loved Molly’s list of her favorite cookbooks and all the photos of dog-eared pages. So great! There’s a little nook in my new kitchen where my favorite/ most-used cookbooks live, and I think it’d be fun to copy Molly’s idea write a post about them.
6. Stephanie’s photos of her meal at Avec in Chicago look amazing!
7. These orange zest scones from A Beautiful Mess remind me a lot of my Dad’s famous lemon-craisin scones. (I’ve been sneaking orange zest in my scones lately… just don’t tell my Dad!)
8. I’ve been listening to this song on repeat this weekend.
I’m a little short on words today, so I’m going to get some patio furniture and drink mimosas on the porch. It sounds like the perfect way to spend a Sunday to me! I hope you guys have a relaxing day and a good week!
Confession time: I’m soooo excited that it’s almost August. July has not been my favorite month because I’ve been moving for the past three weeks. I know it sounds totally ridiculous, but Teddy was out of town for over half of July, which was stressful enough without me trying to move… by myself. Yeah, that went really well.
Semi-miraculously, I’m still on track with my novel, but this blog has been a little neglected recently. And I’ve been so stressed/ busy/ thinking about apartment stuff non-stop that my brain is feeling a little fried. So I’ve decided that August is going to be a month of settling into the new apartment and refilling my creative and emotional wells that so desperately need it.