Creativity, Inky Girl, New Year intentions, Writing

Make This a Great Year Without Obsessive Resolutions

Happy New Year to all of you!

I’ve spent a little time reading inspiring blog posts this morning and found a few that supported my view of New Year resolutions.

Most of these have to do with writing but I’m sure the advice works in different areas of one’s life.

First, the post from author K.L Krane who writes “New Resolution for 2019: No Resolutions.” She details her exhausting reading and writing goals for 2018 (which left me way tired) and compares this to a new perspective. Check out her blog post.

This drawing from the talented Debbie Ridpath Ohi illustrates what many of us writers do to ourselves. The wisdom given by historical fantasy novelist Juliet Marillier is well said.

From Comics for Writers by Debbie Ohi

In 2018, author K. E. Garland began a new way to create resolutions. She resolved to remember five concepts.

After formulating what she intended to focus on she typed out the ideas on paper and stuck them to her mirror where she’d recite them daily.

Wow, simple, doable, and placed in an area she knew she’d be every morning and evening. I like her idea and am planning to adopt her method and post on my mirror and on my laptop.

Myself? I’m a fan of focus words and intentions. More about that process here.

Whatever you resolve, intend, or conceptualize for yourself this year, believe in your process and I hope you have many happy adventures.

Mexican Holiday food

Tamales, Sugar Cane, and Nuns

Frida Kahlo with poinsettias in her hair and parrot from Champagne Confetti Co. on pinterest.com/champagnecon/
 Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light. Frida Kahlo.
Champagne Confetti Co. on pinterest.com/champagnecon/

I’ve been busy with tamale making for the past three days. We added an extra day for the vegan tamales.

Tamale making (or tamalada) is something my family prepares for days ahead and that I’ve talked about in previous years.

For Christmas, there are ingredients we use for our tamale making session and for Mexican traditional beverages: Champurrado, Ponche, and Rompope. Personally, I don’t make ponche or rompope because I’d be in the kitchen for an additional day.

These ingredients are hard to find unless you live in Southern California. We have several Mexican supermarkets in the city where I live. There is no “Hispanic” aisle in these stores. The whole store stocks Mexican products.

It’s not unusual to see this:

sugarcane, alvaradofrazier.com
Sugarcane used for Ponche Navideño. Tamarind and fruit is also used.

The sugarcane is used to make Ponche. If one wants an alcoholic addition to this beverage, you’d pick up these:

Rompope Santa Clara

Rompope is an eggnog-like drink with eggs, cinnamon, and rum. A couple of these and you’re not fit to make tamales anymore.

I enjoy the family time where we don our aprons, grab our butter knife or spoon to spread masa, and reminisce about Christmas tamalada’s past

Ingredients for vegan tamales: vegan masa, pollo asado vegan, vegan cheese. alvaradofrazier.com
Tamale making for the vegans in the family

After the hours of spreading masa on ojas (corn husks), folding, lifting huge pots with four dozens of tamales within, we sit and relax a bit. This is when I start making the champurrado.

Two hours later, the tamales are ready. We enjoy them with a cup of champurrado, this year doused with a little Irish cream, and enjoy a late evening movie.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and feliz navidad to everyone!

vegan champurrado, Irish style
Vegan Champurrado with vegan Bailey’s Irish Cream
https://www.amazon.com/PALABRITAS-Fall2018-Ruben-Reyes-Jr/dp/1790492963/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1544741026&sr=1-1&keywords=palabritas
Latino Literature, Writing

Building A Writing Portfolio One Story at a Time

https://www.amazon.com/PALABRITAS-Fall2018-Ruben-Reyes-Jr/dp/1790492963/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1544741026&sr=1-1&keywords=palabritas
An Anthology of Poetry and Prose, Harvard College Press

Once in a while, one of my mom’s stories gets a hold of me and begs to be written. A few months ago, she told me of an experience she had. She saw spirits.

I wrote a blog post about it, but her story was more than seeing ghosts.  It’s what the story meant to her which begged for a longer look.

The idea of life and death, the spirit realm, and Mexican culture inspired me to create a short story about Mom’s experience.

An example of an ofrenda for Dia De Los Muertos

A couple of months ago I read about a call for submissions for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry entries from a debuting literary magazine, Palabritas out of Harvard. There was no submission fee and the post said that an editor would assist in the rewrites. What did I have to lose, except another ‘no’ response? And from Harvard!

One of my writing goals is to submit stories for publication, once a year. My main goal is to submit my manuscripts. To date, my manuscripts have been ‘liked’ but not ‘loved’ enough for a lit agent to take a risk of offering their representation. 

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.

George Orwell

So, submitting short stories are something I do to develop my writing skills and to keep up my motivation. Published short stories add to my writing portfolio and that’s a good thing. To date, I’ve had three short stories published.

Short stories are a good way to write within a framework of an established work count, learn how to trim the fat and I do love receiving free feedback from an editor.

I took a chance and rewrote the blog post about Mom seeing ghosts and developed it into a short story.  Lucky was born.

On the day I posted, on a couple of Facebook groups I belong too, about how bad I felt from rejections of my manuscript,  along came an acceptance letter for Lucky.

The letter pulled me out of the doldrums and reinvigorated me. The editor requested revisions (twice) and the story was accepted. Last week the anthology was published. 

Yes, my story published, in a book, very nicely formatted and with a cover as you can see up there at the top. 

I’m so excited to be in this anthology alongside excellent poets and writers. It is these events that keep me going-and writing- for the long haul.

One of these days, one of my novels will be published. And I’ll celebrate and take a picture of that cover too. 

Travel

Reasons to visit the NYC Library

Patience the Lion, brother of Fortitude, greets visitors

I’m here in NYC visiting my son for an early Christmas.

While he takes off to work, I go sight seeing. Today I visited the New York Public Library, the Schwarzman Building.

Now, visiting the library might seem boring but for book and architect fans this is the place to put on the itinerary.

First stop is outside the building. Fortitude and Patience are the impressive marble lions who’ve guarded the library since 1911. This month they’ve donned pine wreaths.

Second stop is the foyer.

Look closer and see how many birds you can identify

Take the stairway up to the second floor. The area is a gorgeous example of Beaux Arts style with elegant chandeliers and marble walls.

Third stop: Walk through the arch way and 🤫 shhh

A good book is the precious life blood …

you’re in the reading room. Wall to ceiling books in an area that is almost the length of a football field. I wanted to stretch out on the benches and gaze into the library sky.

I did sit and gaze.

Pause for a few minutes

Fourth stop is only for researchers with appointments. They are the lucky ones who get to enter the special rooms which contain valuable manuscripts and Charles Dickens writing desk.

There are also rooms to do genealogy research.

Fifth stop is on the ground floor where you’ll find the gift store. Walk around the corner to the children’s section and check out the two LEGO lion replicas of Patience and Fortitude.

The kids area is small but very cute with a good array of multicultural picture books, tiny kid chairs and larger adult seats.

The highlight in the room is the display of the real Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed animals.

Piglet is tiny but mighty

My last stop-which should have been my first-was the free film exploring NYPL’s history and collections. I suggest you watch the film first.

If my stomach wasn’t rumbling with hunger I would have stayed longer than two hours but hunger won out.

I jumped on the subway and headed to Little Italy for pasta carbonara.