Saturday, November 27, 2010

Non-Writing Turducken Post

While this blog is mostly for writing topics there are a few times where other topics come up and today is one of those times. Since I've got a blogfest coming up for my other blog I thought I'd post here the slightly anticipated blog about my attempt at making a turducken.

What is a turducken?
So, glad I asked. A turducken is a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey. It's a tur(key)duck(chick)en. Most of the bones need to be removed from the turkey and all of the bones have to be removed from the duck and chicken then they are combined along with stuffing before the turkey is sewn up (or skewered in a way to keep it in one piece) then cooked.

The night before, while the birds were thawing, I created a brine. This is usually just salt in water but can also contain other seasonings like peppercorns and sugar. That gets boiled then cooled. After it's cool the birds can be put in along with water and ice. The ice keeps the temperature low enough to make it safer that way. If there is a lot of room in the fridge it could be kept there without ice but that's hard to find in most fridges I would imagine. It spent over 8 hours in the brine.

Morning came along with the hard work. Had to remove the bones, which took a couple of hours. Wasn't too bad as I don't have issues with handling dead animals or anything like that and having taken anatomy type classes helped, I think. The only bad part is having to smell the dead birds for that long is a bit nauseating.  I forgot to take pictures during the first stages, sorry. But finally I got them de-boned and my sister sewed the turkey while I held it together.

The end result is this:

After de-boning the birds I had a slight problem because the roasting pan I was remembering actually belongs to my dad and he lives in Utah. Mom (in Wyoming) doesn't have a roasting pan and we didn't pick up an aluminum one at the store this year because I was thinking we had one. Luckily, Grandma had a type of roast that plugs in and it was big enough. The first 20 minutes were on high at about 450 to sear a bit, then the temperature was lowers to about 275 for a slower cook to get the center done. We checked it regularly with a meat thermometer with the hopes of it reaching 180 degrees inside. It took around 6 hours to cook all the way.

But the overall result of the cooking came out well.

It looked good though if looking closely at the picture, yes there is a split down the middle sides. I think it's how the thread was placed through only skin in that area. Will have to work on the sewing and type of twine used if I try it again.

Then it was carved by Stepdad with directions from me on how to attempt it to let everyone get a piece of each type of bird, which wasn't as easy as it would seem. The turkey and chicken look similar but the duck has darker meat.

As you can see, we attacked the end result. There were only 5 people though so that is all we ate that night: less than half. Everyone liked it and I think it's something that I'd consider making again. It takes a lot of hard work but the end result is good. A few things I could improve on, like the treatment of the skins and how it was sewn up but other than that, it was a good meal. Had a good Thanksgiving with family, which is the important part.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Yep. After writing 50,000 words in a shortish amount of time was tiring and I haven't written much since then. But I'd better wake up and get it into gear if I'm going to make my goal. As long as I get more than 67k this month I'll be very happy but 100k would be awesome. Thank goodness for the 10k in a day challenge that is happening on the 28th. Check out the blogfest if you want to try and write 10,000 words in one 24 hour time period. 10k In A Day Blogfest

Hopefully I can regain that writing streak I had the first two weeks of the month and reach my goal but it's going to be a struggle.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

NaNoWriMo 50k Done

At the end of day 13,  I crossed the technical NaNoWriMo finish line. I had 50,055 words in my epic fantasy novel. Yay! There was a slight hope that I'd make it a little faster than this but that's okay. Aside from the fact I had microbiology homework the first 10 days I can also say that means I have another goal for next year to see if I can do even better. There will be a point where that ends because I know I am not capable of writing 50k in one day. For now I'm more than happy about my words accomplished in 13 days.

I'd post a fun winner picture here but umm... the web site doesn't have the goodies and win/verify until the 25th so I finished too early to get that yet. lol Not a bad little problem to face really. So, I found a picture online to celebrate the joy of finishing the first 50k already.

Friday, November 12, 2010

write in chapters or scene

Chapters versus Scenes

Normally when writing a novel, no matter the draft I'm in, I write in chapters. But before I made it to the full length of a novel, I started by writing scenes. The first few years of my writing life, the part where I figured out I wanted to write, was spent either writing poems or writing scenes of stories I wanted to maybe one day make into a novel. But by my second novel writing attempt (also known as NaNoWriMo 2007) I was into chapters and continued from there. I still do some things in scenes. The romance/erotica novel I'm sort of writing at the moment is being written scene by scene and technically the blog novel "Cinder Story" is also being written in scenes for different blogfests. The rest of my novels all have been in chapters...

Except for NaNoWriMo 2010. Yep. This year I am writing my epic fantasy novel in scenes and not chapters. Back when I was at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference, there was a workshop on editing where the presenter said he wrote his first draft in scenes instead of chapters. He wrote science fiction but I thought it would be a good thing to try for epic fantasy too.

But what is the difference between writing in chapters versus writing in scenes and why pick one over the other? I'm glad I asked. lol

A chapter is a planned (or random) break in a story that usually requires a page turn in a printed book though there are some exceptions. The online sources I've skimmed through say that a chapter has an average of 3 to 5 scenes in general, but I've never purposefully counted scenes when writing chapters. I just write what feels right and end at a point that makes sense. Some also say that all chapter endings should have some sort of cliff hanger and/or reason for the reader to want to read the next chapter instead of putting it down. They can actually be a variety of lengths. Some make it a full page and no more while other chapters can seem to last forever. Some people try to keep their chapters uniform in length. There is a member of a writing group that I run who tries to get around 2,500 words per chapter. I tend to fall in the other camp where I don't care how long the chapter is, though I do like to get over 1,000 words if possible because less than seems so short. Since this has become the common place method for my novels, I prefer to write in chapters.

Scene changes usually occur when there is a change in location, time, and point of view. A scene can be split between too different chapters and sometimes there is a preference to those that don't end the chapter at the end of a scene because it stops the motion instead of propelling the reader forward. Writing in scene helps with keeping track as to what goes on per scene with a little less worry over chapter length and how many chapters make up a novels first draft. Sure, the rewrite will later put them into chapters but for the get it written stage, it's okay to write the scenes instead of chapters. I fail a little with this, however, because I have a few "scenes" where I write more than one character pov but that's okay. It's a first draft.

Do you write in chapters or scenes?
Would you try the other way?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update

Okay, after a little over 6 days (and a little behind personal goals but still very pleased with the progress) I made it to a big number.

(image source:

That is 1/2 of the regular NaNoWriMo goal and 1/4th of the way to my personal goal. Yep, I am officially admitting in this blog that I'm trying to write 100k in a month. And I want the first 50k to be done in 12 days at the most because my current record is 50k in 15 days. Can I do it? Let's find out!

So, how are you?
How is NaNo treating everyone else?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The One, novel that is

How does a person figure out when a novel idea is "the one"? When is that feeling not Shiny-New-Idea Syndrome? Good questions that I don't really have an answer to but I'm gonna talk about them anyways.

(Image source: kaykays-corner)

First, a confession. I know have an idea that I know for sure is "the one." How do I know? Well, that's the thing: I'm having a hard time figuring out. Not too mention the temptation of the new idea can often make it feel like it's the one cause it's all shiny and fun.

What is "the one"? 
In this case, I mean the idea that is most likely to become the first book to get the writer an agent and/or published. While it is not always known before the query stage and when the call happens (or the email), there are some people who get an idea and they get that feeling. They know... It is a gut feeling that the characters, the story are that one amazing combination that is just waiting for them to put the words down on a page and to one day prepare in a way that is ready for the world to see.

And SNI Syndrome is what?
This is "shiny new idea syndrome" and it pretty much means getting distracted from a current work in progress by a shiny new idea that comes up because it is so pretty, and new and fabulous sounding while the other story is so much work. But the SNI becomes the WIP at some point and requires work and if every SNI is followed then it can be hard to finish anything. But it's an exciting feeling when a new idea hits that sounds super amazing. I get this problem often because I have so many new ideas and some of them are very tempting but so far I do okay at avoiding the temptations.

But how does one know it's "the one?"
I don't know. It's actually really cool to see when someone else has that moment. For me, it's easier to see as the outsider, being told someone else's idea, whether it sounds like it could be the one for them. I had this recently and she is the inspiration for this blog post. *waves hi to Ashy* Sometimes, when reading someone else's story description it just has that "this has to be a published book" feel to it. That internal light bulb goes off and I must immediately tell them how awesome they are along with the amazing awesomesauceness of the idea. But that doesn't help when looking at my own writing.

My main reason for posting this is to just get my thoughts into words when it comes to my own novels but I'd like your opinions in the comments for anyone who wants to comment on the topic.

Logically (not that amazing emotional light bulb that just appears) I feel like the mutant series have potential for being that first book. However, the YA books are first when it comes to the chronological story but I'm not sure if it's developed enough. I'm almost done with the rewrite but there is a slight uncertainty that bugs me a bit. The adult book doesn't require the YA as they both work as stand alone novels, technically, but book 3 has the YA MCs as secondary characters. My concern in general is the series are a bit convoluted and might cause problems assuming anyone asked for full and I'm not sure if that's the best foot to go forward. But other than that, I have a bunch of random novels either started or almost started but the only other finished draft is a romance/erotica novel that I don't feel is my desired genre and it's definitely not "the one." Of the other ideas, I don't know which one has "the one" potential. And it's a tad frustrating.

What about you?
Believe people can have a "the one" idea?
Do you have "the one" or are you still searching for it?

Monday, November 1, 2010

On your mark, Get set...