Looking Back and Looking Forward

[Extras]

[Victim]

Note from the future: this post is (sort of) about [Victim’s Original Third Chapter]. You may also want to read Victim’s [afterword].

I’m in a weird position by rereleasing my books under an updated writing name. I have found that, in looking forward, I’m also looking back. Especially around Victim.

Before I continue, you’ll likely want to read this blog post: [Victim’s Stance on Guns]

I still get some frustrating feedback on that subject in Victim. Since I’m rereleasing my books under my updated writing name, now is also a good time to clarify that in the book itself. I’m not doing anything major. In fact, I counted six instances where I added a line, rewrote a line, or deleted something. For example:

“Although, perhaps, she was being a bit naïve. Maybe we both were.”

I added that to what some of my readers have called the “preachy bit” in chapter three. That bit was never intended to be preachy – it was intended to show their simplistic view of guns while also doing some world building. Admittedly, I wrote this in college. I would probably approach it differently if I wrote the book now. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read the above link.)

Here’s another example:

“She declared, emphasizing her strong (albeit, rather simplistic) view.”

That breaks up what was a block of dialogue text. It helps clarify their viewpoint, but I’ve improved enough as a writer to see that I should have already broken up that text. I held myself back from making too many of those sorts of updates – everyone improves, and I am not an exception. Although I did take this opportunity to clarify one other thing:

“I knew why it was happening. But I just saw Rina, my girlfriend. Not . . . that. She was perfect to me.”

That change isn’t about gun violence. It’s about why a woman reacts so badly to Rina on the train. This was a common point of confusion amoung readers. I’m still not outlining the exact reason in the text, but now it should be clearer that Mica is not narrating every detail about her. I’ll still allow each reader to draw their own conclusion about why people see her in a particular way.

I stand by these changes. I have my reasons, and they are documented above.

But I’m also looking forward.

(I did, admittedly, fix three typos that have been pointed out to me by readers. Whoops.)

Baking golden kiwifruit mini pies!

[Blog]

This is not typically a travel blog. Nor is it typically a baking one.

But congratulations if you got here from google! I’m an American science fiction writer who is currently backpacking in New Zealand. It’s a beautiful country and two of my roommates have brought home a lot of kiwi fruit. They just finished working at a packhouse for it, so I do mean A LOT of kiwifruit. Mostly golden.

We have three bins of it in the room while I type this. Each bin has at least three layers. So, again, A LOT of kiwifruit. This means that I decided to try something a bit different: baking kiwi pie.

But, how? That’s a good question.

I searched google and I asked around. I did get some interesting suggestions (like using it to top custard pie), but I ultimately decided to make my own recipe. It’s a combination of a gram cracker crust (tea biscuit edition), an apple juice variation of key lime pie, and cut golden kiwi fruit for the topping. I used apple since I don’t particularly like lime and I thought that it would go well with the kiwifruit.

The verdict? One of my roommates thinks it should be called a tart, I have now learned several variants for the word ‘awesome’ in Japanese, and everyone enjoyed it. I personally loved it so much I made it again. And I documented it a bit better this time:

Ingredients:

~200 grams crumbled chocolate tea biscuits. Personally, I got the countdown choc creams and removed the chocolate cream part (since then I could nibble on that while baking). If you do what I did you’ll need two packs of them.

1/3 cup sugar

~75+ grams butter, soon to be melted

1 can sweetened condensed milk. I couldn’t find any, so I made my own. You can find the recipe I used [here]. One can is (I think) roughly 3/4 cup homemade.

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup apple juice

~5 or 6 golden kiwi fruit

Directions:

  1. Crumble the tea biscuits and mix with sugar in a bowl. This will become the pie crust. When ready, start preheating the oven at 180 Celsius (regular baking, not fan forced).
  2. Melt the butter and mix it with the sugar / biscuit mixture. It’s listed as ~75 grams since the mixture needs to stick together enough to form a crust (but not so much that it becomes unworkable).
  3. Prepare your muffin pan. I used a very light layer of cooking oil to try to prevent the crusts from sticking.
  4. Press the crust into the muffin pan in the shapes of mini pie crusts. This means that the crusts should also come up around the sides (see above), and not just be on the bottom.
  5. Bake the crust in the oven for 6 minutes
  6. Make the filling by combining the sweetened condensed milk, egg yolk, and apple juice. Mix it quickly for about 2-3 minutes so it can thicken. I personally borrowed someone’s stick mixer for this, but you can probably whisk it.
  7. When the crust is ready, remove it from the oven. Add the filling evenly to each mini pies. Carefully return the pies to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.
  8. When done, the mini pies will need to cool. When ready, put them in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
  9. Remove from fridge and add cut golden kiwi pieces. Enjoy! 🙂

Reflections on a writing retreat

[blog]

I’ve been enjoying a very nice writing retreat. Technically I’m still doing the retreat now, so it feels a bit weird to be writing a blog post on it. But I want to process some of these thoughts during my retreat.

First, the what:

I’m doing my retreat in the afternoons. I currently live abroad, and international travel is restricted. In exchange for accommodation, I work an easy 1-2 hour(s) shift in the mornings, so sometimes I get some writing done beforehand. The remainder of my days (aside from basic maintenance like meal prep and the occasional social something) are being devoted to writing and editing. This retreat runs roughly from the middle of July through (at least) the end of September. Sometimes I write at the beach or the library, but I typically type in the kitchen or on the floor by my bunk.

The good?

  • My brain is loving the amount of time I’m giving it for creativity.
  • I’m getting a much more energized effect in my writing, I think because I’m devoting much more time than usual to it.
  • No one is pressuring me to work another job.
  • I can take the occasional day to rest that side of my creativity and focus on something else. Today is actually a good example of that. I still did some typing, but I also wrote this blog post, found and updated an old online resource, did some more drawing for IBwaD’s cover, and went on a nice hike.
  • IBwaD is plotted as my longest book yet (it’s already surpassed ItU), so it feels good to be almost done with the project
  • I typically have an extra dose of creativity in the mornings before shift
  • I’m progressing noticeably faster in writing and editing
  • I’m performing better and more reliably in consistency checks
  • There are less other constraints on my time since I’ve specifically set aside this time for a writing retreat
  • And I can get real Cadbury here 🙂

The bad?

  • I’ve found myself putting a bit too much creativity-related pressure on myself. I’m having to remind myself that taking the occasional day to do something else is actually a good thing since I can recharge.
  • The spacey air people tend to get from me seems to be getting worse
  • F*ck the nights are cold here (I currently live in the southern hemisphere)
  • I’ve been having a bit of a nerve pain problem. That’s more a coincidence of bad timing, since I had a really rough sinus infection in July. If I understand it correctly, the inflammation from the infection hit the nerve and set off mid-facial nerve pain (which has been causing facial numbing, weird pinching sensations, and aching pains). Cold triggers it.
  • I haven’t figured out a firm end date yet, which adds an unfortunate level of uncertainty around things like future travel plans, changing my writing name, budgeting, and discussions with family. That being said, the COVID-19 situation back home in the states also adds a layer of uncertainty.
  • Speaking of COVID-19, that is still background stress. This is also just unfortunate timing, although I would like to point out that this retreat was loosely planned before the virus hit the news (and I was already in the country).
  • I don’t have a car and I prefer to edit by hand. There’s nowhere to print in town, so I have to either get a lift from someone or take the bus roughly an hour each way.

Ultimately, most of the negatives listed are just coincidences of bad timing. The positives vastly outweigh the negatives to the point that I would like to have more writing retreats in the future.