Recommended Reading: “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain” by Cat Rambo

I don’t usually fangirl like this. I hope you’ll forgive me, but I just can’t help myself this time. (Actually, I’ve long wanted to begin a regular feature on this blog, writing public fan letters to my favorite writers. Maybe this could be the impromptu inauguration of that tradition. Fan Letter Friday, anyone?)

Anyway. “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain” by Cat Rambo. Whoa. I can’t believe I’ve had this story in my possession since Worldcon in Chicago and not read it until tonight! I can’t believe it’s been available free online since Christmas Eve, and Cat said she felt it was her best story this year (and I’ve loved so so many of Cat’s stories), and even then, I still only just got around to it. In my defense I’ve been swamped. I had to retreat to the bathtub with the book to finally make time to read it. But I wish I’d read it months ago. I want to read it again, right now.

I loved this story SO much. I want to say that I love it so much I have no words, the way people sometimes do, but it’s not true at all. I have tons of things I want to say. About how the first page or two made me think perhaps this one wasn’t going to be a story I’d love, probably wasn’t really going to be my kind of story at all but that was okay I’d read it anyway. After all, I can enjoy a story that’s well-told even if I don’t fall in love with it. But then it snuck up on me, made me sit up out of my bathwater at the end, my heart beating fast and almost painfully because of a thing I didn’t see coming. Because some lessons in life—my life anyway—have to be learned over and over and over again, apparently.

I don’t know why I was so surprised.

Cat’s done this to me before with other stories. She has this way of writing things—situations and characters—that feel so true, almost more true than real life sometimes, as if the stories are a distillation of real world experience, sort of like perfumes or essential oils, and I want to stick them under people’s noses. “Smell this! It’s so intense! So good!” and “I know this feeling! Do you? People are really like that, aren’t they? That really happens! Have you felt this emotion too? She gets it exactly right, doesn’t she? Amazing!”

But I can’t have these conversations with people unless they’ve read the stories too, particularly because I can’t ever seem to summarize Cat’s stories to anyone and do them justice. I certainly couldn’t do it for this one. All I can do is tell people to read it. Read it.

I have more I want to say, but I don’t want to spoil the story for those few folks who are likely to read this post. Go read Cat’s story “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain.” Read it all the way to the end. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. I read it in her collection Near + Far, but you can read it on her website here.

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The End of the World is Upon Us

Lots to talk about and no time to write it all up, but I did want to make a quick post to link to my end of the world story at InterGalactic Medicine Show. It seems appropriate to post a link to it today, since the end of the world is all everyone’s been talking about.

Although it’s worth mentioning that this story’s not about the kind of end of the world that you’re probably thinking of.

Here’s the link:

Paper Airplanes into the Void

at InterGalactic Medicine Show

           The end of the world was pretty much what Jared had been told to expect, which was rather disappointing, all things considered…


P.S. If you are eligible to nominate or vote for the Nebulas or Hugos and would like to review the story, please feel free to drop me an email request and I’ll send it out to you. My email address is my name at gmail dot com. Or you can comment on this post with your contact information, if you’d prefer.

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Sale! “Chasing Unicorns” to Daily Science Fiction

I returned the contract today, and am happy to announce that my story “Chasing Unicorns” will be appearing some day soon in Daily Science Fiction.

I’m super pleased by this. Friends who’ve read this story seem to remember it, and often ask me about it. One person who read an early draft—definitely not a friend—even did a shoddy job of ripping off some particularly unique imagery from a moment in the story that she said she’d found striking and memorable. (Flattering, but not cool. Please don’t do this, writers. You have your own striking and unique imagery and stories inside you; look there and you will find them. I have faith in you.)

Anyway! I owe a huge debt of gratitude to a lot people who, when I might have given up on this one, encouraged me to keep working and revise it again. Thank you, you know who you are.

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Making Time

I don’t know anything about this quote except that Jim Rohn was some sort of self-help guru, but the words resonate with me. I wanted to share them.

Something I’ve wanted to do for a long time now but haven’t been doing is: write in this blog. A variety of complicated reasons compelled me to stop. Now I regret the silence.

I write posts, sometimes, but I never post them. It doesn’t really matter why I don’t. I’m going to try to change that starting today.

I have no agenda and no special plans as to what I’ll be writing about. Probably, I’ll write about whatever I’m feeling passionate about at any given time I make a post.

Right now that’s (in no particular order):

  • Things I’m reading. (But only the good stuff.)
  • Things I’m eating. (I like to cook.)
  • Things I’m making. (I don’t paint much anymore, but I’ve been doing lampworking for about a year and a half, off and on, and I want to start hand-making books again. I’ll probably post process photos of that.)
  • Things I’m growing. (I’ve been enjoying gardening a lot, as a part of my writing process. It keeps my hands busy but leaves my mind free for creative daydreaming.)

I probably won’t write about writing, except to announce publication of my work. The more I read, and write, and read about writing, the less interested I am in talking about my process. I may occasionally share links to other people’s process posts if I find them exceptionally interesting or unique. (That’s a pretty high bar, though. With only a few exceptions, the people writing about writing seem to be regurgitating the same stuff over and over again that other people writing about writing have already said.)

I know pretty much no one reads the blog on my website (why should they when I’ve so rarely posted anything to it?) and my lack of visible participation at Livejournal likely means anyone who see this on their flist is trying to remember who rarelytame is. (Terra LeMay – rarelytame is an anagram of my real name.) In any case, that’s what you can expect in future posts from me if you decide to stick around after you’ve scratched your head (“Terra who?”) and gone to my profile page or my bio page to jog your memory.

Writing on my blog is something I want to do, and I’m trying hard to make time for all the things I want to do.

How about you? Anything you’d like to make time for?

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German Chocolate Cupcakes

I’ve been craving German Chocolate Cake since my birthday, almost a month ago. It’s my favorite kind of cake, but I’ve been on a restricted diet for health reasons. Today, I finally broke down and whipped up some German Chocolate cupcakes. I’m sure I’ll regret eating them, but sometimes the pleasure is worth the pain.

Recipes adapted from here and here.

Simple Chocolate Cupcakes (makes 1 dozen)
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa (I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa.)
1 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon white vinegar.

Whisk together all ingredients until lumps are left. Pour the batter into a lined or pre-greased cupcake pan and bake at 350 F for 22-25 minutes.

Coconut Frosting
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6-8 ounces coconut flakes
1/2-3/4 cups chopped walnuts or pecans.

In a pot, stir together the yolks, sugar, corn syrup and evaporated milk. Heat over low heat, and don’t to allow the eggs to cook too quickly or they’ll scramble. Add butter, stirring until melted. Heat to a low boil, stirring continuously for 10-12 minutes as the mixture thickens to a custard-like consistency. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Stir in shredded coconut, vanilla extract, and chopped walnuts or pecans.

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Autumn Noodle Soup

It’s the season for winter squash, and the produce section of my local grocery store has an enormous variety. The other day, I picked up delicata and sweet dumpling squashes, which I love, and a gold nugget squash, which I’ve never tried until tonight.

The gold nugget squash looked a bit like a warty, undersized pumpkin, and when I finally chopped it open today I was surprised by how much it smelled like a melon or a cucumber, or some unholy union of the two. So strange! But it turned out to be delicious, so have no fear.

Anyway, I seeded it, then baked it face down in a casserole dish until it was soft. I also wrapped a sweet potato in aluminum foil, pierced it a few times, and baked it, too, thinking I might make a puree type soup. In the meantime, I poked at recipes on the internet, and remembered I had Swiss chard in the garden. Inspiration struck, and I invented an interesting vegetarian noodle soup, which I share here in case any of you might enjoy it.

Autumn Noodle Soup

1 small golden nugget squash. (Butternut or acorn squash would substitute fine, I’m sure.)
1 med. sweet potato.
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
1-2 celery stalks, diced
2 med. carrots, peeled and diced.
small bunch swiss chard. (4-5 stalks/leaves.)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/4-1/2 tsp ground ginger, to taste
salt and black pepper to taste
1-2 TB olive oil
3-4 cups vegetable broth, or equivalent bullion and water
2 cups dry wide egg noodles

Cut the squash in half, seed it, and bake it (350 degrees) face down in a ceramic or glass baking dish, uncovered, until it’s soft enough to pierce easily with a fork. Wrap a sweet potato in aluminum foil and bake it, too. It’ll probably take a little longer than the squash, but that’s okay.

Prepare egg noodles in a pot of boiling water. While egg noodles are cooking: Heat olive oil in a medium sized pot, add onions and saute until translucent. Add diced carrots and celery, continue to saute, stirring frequently. Add rosemary, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon. When mixture begins to stick, add 1 cup of broth. Remove stalks from Swiss chard. Dice and add stalks to broth mixture. Slice greens and set aside.

If you time this right, your winter squash should be ready to come out of the oven. Remove, peel (burn your fingers frequently on peel!), mash and add to mixture, stirring it in well. Taste your broth now, and adjust seasonings if desired. Add salt and pepper. (I added more cinnamon and nutmeg, but since I eyeball-measured to start, you may not need to.)

When mixture begins to boil, add remaining broth. When noodles are soft, drain, then add to broth mixture. Add Swiss chard greens. Remove sweet potato from the oven, peel (burn your fingers again!), quarter, then slice into bite-sized pieces and add to noodles and broth. Gently mix everything together well.


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Sale! “A Midnight Carnival at Sunset” to UFO.

I’m very pleased to announce that my story “A Midnight Carnival at Sunset” has been selected by editor Alex Shvartsman for Unidentified Funny Objects.

The story will appear free on the site in January, as promotional content for the anthology. I’ll post a link here when it goes up.

In the meantime, check out that table of contents! What a great list of contributors. I can’t wait to read the other stories.

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Hope to see you at Worldcon in Chicago!

I’ll be attending Chicon in Chicago in August/September (Labor Day Weekend). I hope to see some of you there.

This is my first Worldcon, so I haven’t volunteered for any programming, hoping to keep it low key so I can enjoy myself as a fan and tourist. (I lived in a Chicago suburb as a child, but I haven’t been back in twenty years.)

In any case, I’ll be around. If you will too, I’d love to meet you. Send me a tweet (@rarelytame) or an email (check my contact page) or comment on this post, and we’ll work out the particulars.

In the meantime, I’ll try to periodically update this post with information about where I’ll be during the convention.

Confirmed Appearances:

Thursday, August 30thNot Just Rockets and Robots: Daily Science Fiction Year One, the book, official launch. An author reading panel and discussion and signing. [I’ll be signing and possibly doing a reading at this.]

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