Seasonal Favorites

Oh yes. It’s that time of year.

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The Pumpkin Spice Latte looms and I have been guilty of giving into its siren song.This year, I have not yet partaken, but it’s only a matter of time before I surrender to the spiced seduction of it. I may not wear yoga pants out of the house (except to yoga) but I will line up at Starbucks when the craving hits me.

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Pumpkin. God, yes, pumpkin! I love the fall for many reasons, but the ready availability of pumpkin, squash, and gourds brings me such joy! Pies, baked seeds with chili powder and salt, roasted acorn squash, lattes, flavored puddings and creme brûlée – so much tastiness to be had. I’m a little obsessed and I am not at all sorry about that fact.

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As a food nerd and a trained chef, I appreciate and understand the importance and wonder of seasonal produce. Right now? It’s time for apples, pumpkins, fall squash/gourds, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, kale, and cabbage. If you haven’t tried any of these items or are curious about them, try and find a local farmers’ market this weekend and buy from small businesses. Getting the best ingredients from the source and cooking them in season is the ideal way to try or enjoy your food!

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But enough rants about fresh stuff – I’m here because of beer. I’m in most places because of beer, let’s be totally honest. Above is one of my favorite beers of the year: Warlock by Southern Tier Brewing Company. It is an Imperial Pumpkin Stout (meaning that it’s brewed with a high alcohol volume, lots of roasted malt character, and low carbonation but also with pumpkin spices in this case), available only in late summer through fall. Perhaps it is that rarity that most appeals to me, but something about anticipating the release of the this beer seasonally makes me even more excited about it.

There’s something about exclusivity and scarcity that appeals deeply to the human psyche. Could that be the answer to why the PSL is such a big hit? I can’t say. But the sweet combination of brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves will always keep me coming back for more.

I Like to Drink and Dress

Some of my favorite events of the year happen in the fall: DragonCon in Atlanta, The MD RennFest, my birthday, and Halloween. Do you know what these things have in common? For me, they usually involve getting dolled up in a costume and drinking together with other friends in costumes. Pirate garb is a common theme for most of these events and DragonCon, being an everything-pop-culture-convention, may result in wearing any number of strange outfits from comics, video games, or movies and TV.

And also more drinking.

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It’s a great excuse to see friends who I only get to spend time with a few occasions every year, and to do so in silly outfits, beer in hand. Here’s my crew representing Parks and Rec.

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I also like to stuff my poor, long-suffering husband in a costume most years and this year I think he liked his comfier-than-normal Jedi outfit. I think he had fun with this one.

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I managed to meet the Lead Writer of the Dragon Age series, Patrick Weekes, who is a sweetheart and a half. He has what I think might maybe be my dream job (a team writer for a video game franchise AND a freelance novelist). I should have picked his brain more!

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The weekend after DragonCon, we celebrated a friend’s birthday at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. RennFest days usually involve parking our butts on a bench at one of the taverns and drinking the day away. We are simple creatures, after all.

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Gosh my friends are pretty!

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Birb by Birb (peep peep!)

 

I’m reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird as I travel to Portland today (with two stops and one plane change – ugh!). I just wanted to share a passage with you that I loved so much, I underlined it in the only writing utensil I could find in my bag – a stubby little less pencil with a cheap eraser. 

 

 

This is a reality we must accept – most of us will never be published. Is being published really the be-all end-all of writing? Not for everyone. It is for me because of my massive ego, but I know that it isn’t the same goal that all writers hold. There’s nothing wrong with writing just for the sake of writing. Art for art’s sake, after all. 

So go on. Write. You’ll find an agent when you’re ready. But first you have to make. To do. To create. To finish.  

I, Too, Want to See You be Brave

Sara Bareilles’ radio hit, Brave, is more than just a fun song (and a great video) – it’s a helpful piece of advice.

Remember all of you (not just writers) that you have to be your own biggest fan and supporter throughout all of your work and life. You have to believe in yourself first or no one ever will.

How was I brave lately?

I went to a writers’ conference all alone, introduced myself to writers and industry pros, put my writing in front of three industry reps, and pitched my book to an agent. That’s a lot for one weekend, I think! I’m naturally a bit introverted, so it took a lot to really put myself out there.

There was a real possibility of failure! People could have hated my writing. Hated me. Hated my pitch. I could have made a mess of my name and ruined my chances at getting published forever.

Instead, I got great reactions to my personality, my writing, and my book pitch. I’m doing something right, it would seem! I met the lovely and thoughtful Patricia Nelson of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, who gave me great advice. I also met the incomparable Kristen Lamb, who told me she loved my writing and my pitch and has offered to help me find an agent.

I lucked out so hard! But then, luck is a bad word. I worked so hard. I worked for this and I put time and love and heartbreak into a manuscript and, after lots of work, finally started to see some payoff for it!

So tell me, readers: How have you been brave lately?