Dragon Friday #18

(Sorry.  A little late this week.  Stuff happened.  Y’know.)

The Dragon, The Wench, and Her Wardrobe
(working title)
© 2013 Sheila McClune
Part 18

Lucinda pulled up outside Maddie’s apartment building and switched off her car. Maddie’s windows were dark, but that didn’t mean anything–the living room was on the other side of the two-story building, and if Maddie was kicking back after a stressful day, that’s where she’d probably be.

Except…her car wasn’t in the parking lot. That wasn’t a good sign

Lucinda pulled her laptop and suitcase out of the back of her car, then climbed the stairs to the apartment door. She knocked first, but when there was no answer, she let herself in and switched on the light. “Maddie? You here?”

“Rew?” A long-haired calico cat padded out of one of the bedroom doors and came over to rub up against Lucinda’s legs.

“Hallo, Paisley.” Lucinda set down her bags and crouched to stroke the cat’s silky fur.

Instantly, the cat began to purr, butting her head against Lucinda’s knee, then curling back around so Lucinda could stroke her again. “Rew?”

Laughing, Lucinda complied. “You never did learn to meow properly, did you, cat? It’s “meow”. C’mon. Repeat after me: Meow.”

“Rew.”

“Meow.”

“Rew.”

Lucinda snorted. “Fine. I give up.” Giving the cat one last stroke, she stood and looked around. Maddie’s keys weren’t on the hook near the door. Another bad sign.

“Rew.” Paisley head-butted Lucinda’s leg, then stalked pointedly over to her empty food dish. “Rew?”

Lucinda followed the cat into the kitchen. “Guess that means Maddie’s really not here. Either that, or you’ve just figured out how to trick me into giving you a second supper.” She opened a cupboard and squinted at the stack of small cans.

Paisley stropped herself against Lucinda’s legs with renewed vigor. “Rew? Rew? Rew?”

“Either you really are hungry, or you’re the best method actor I ever saw. ‘Cause if I didn’t know better, I’d say you hadn’t been fed in weeks. Maybe even months.” She sorted through the cans. “So what’ll it be? Grilled salmon and cheddar cheese? Ocean whitefish and tuna? Turkey and giblets pate? Damn, cat, you eat better than I do.”

“Rew! Rew! Rew!”

“All right, all right. Pate it is.” Lucinda popped the lid emptied the can into the cat’s dish. Or at least she tried to, but Paisley thrust her head between the can and the dish, and she nearly dumped the food on the cat’s head instead. “Hey, you gotta let me put it in the dish first.” Pushing the cat aside, she finished emptying the can. “There.”

Purring madly, the cat began to wolf down the food.

“At least you’re easy to cook for. And you have better table manners than some of my roommates.” Lucinda tossed the empty can into the garbage and started toward the sink to wash her hands.

The sound of a ringing phone interrupted her. “Holy crap. Maddie still has a land line?” She located the phone on a table beside a stack of mail and debated whether or not to answer it. After all, it could be Maddie, checking to see if she’d gotten into the apartment okay. But why wouldn’t Maddie call her cell phone?

While Lucinda debated, the answering machine picked up. “Hi, this is Maddie. I can’t talk right now. Leave me a message and I’ll call you back.” The message finished with an emphatic beep.

“Maddie?” Lucinda didn’t recognize the man’s voice. “Maddie, it’s Paul. If you’re there, please pick up. I’ve been trying to call your cell phone for over an hour, and it just goes straight to voice mail. I stayed up waiting for you to text me when your plane was ready to take off, but you never did, and then I saw the news on the television, about the thing at the airport there, and I started to get really worried—”

Lucinda snatched up the phone. “Hello?”

“Maddie?”

“No, this is her sister, Lucinda. I’m house-sitting for her.”

“Oh.” Lucinda could practically hear the man’s shoulders sag even over the phone. “So have you heard from her?”

“No. Her boss tells me she sent her off to the airport at about nine o’clock. And she can’t reach her either.” Lucinda’s knees suddenly went wobbly. Fortunately, the phone cord was long enough to reach the nearest armchair. “Say, are you that guy she was going to Boston to meet?”

“She told you about me?”

“Not in so many words. But I put two and two together.”

“I see. Well, yes. I’m Paul. Paul Rogers.”

“Pleased to meet you.”

“Likewise. So how do we get in touch with your sister?”

Lucinda sighed. “I wish I knew. I wonder why her phone’s turned off?”

“What if it’s not turned off? What if it’s broken? I mean, if she was on that train when the tunnel collapsed, her phone might have gotten smashed. Then it would go straight to voice mail. Wouldn’t it?”

“I suppose.” Lucinda didn’t want to think about that. If Maddie’s phone had gotten smashed, Maddie might have, too. “I don’t know how we tell the difference.”

“Me either.” The man sighed. “Look, surely there’s something you can do from your end. I mean, can’t you drive out to the airport and look for her?”

“I doubt it. They said the airport was closed. If I try to go out there, they’ll probably just arrest me. Hell, they’ll practically arrest you if you take too long getting out of your car at the drop-off.” Lucinda reached over and grabbed the TV remote from the coffee table. She switched on the set, then hit the “mute” button. “I’ve turned on the TV. Maybe one of the local stations has a number you can call for information.”

“Or maybe it’s on their website. Hey, that’s a thought.” Lucinda heard clicking noises. “Here it is. Got a pen?”

“Hang on.” Lucinda fished around in her purse for a pen and grabbed an envelope from the pile of Maddie’s mail. “Okay.”

Paul read off the number. “After you call them, will you call me back right away and tell me what they said?”

“I’ll need your number, too. Oh, and Maddie’s flight information, if you’ve got it.”

“I do.”

Lucinda scribbled more numbers. “All right. I’ll let you know what I hear.”

“Thanks. I’ll stay up until I hear from you.”

Lucinda settled more deeply into the armchair and dialed the information number. “Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line, and we’ll answer your call in the order it was received. Thank you.”

“Argh!” She studied the phone until she found the “speaker mode” button. Then, keeping an ear open, she hauled her suitcase into the spare bedroom and pulled out her pajamas. Not that she expected she’d get to use them anytime soon.

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Writing Thursday: Advice for Aspiring/Perspiring Writers #3: Supernatural Forces Do Not Govern Your Writing

Since I seem to be on a roll with advice for aspiring/perspiring[1] writers, here’s my third entry, and I’ll admit up front that this one may be controversial:

Supernatural forces do not govern your writing.

So here’s the deal:  Yes, some days, it’s easier to get the words to come out of your head and onto the paper/computer screen than others.  Some days, in fact, I’m pretty sure it’d be easier to pull out all of my own teeth with a pair of rusty pliers than to write even a few words.

And when that happens, it’s easy to blame it on forces beyond my control.  “I really wanted to write today, but my muse just wouldn’t come.”  Or:  “Dang.  I’ve got writer’s block really bad today.  Can’t do anything until I break through that.”

Yeah.  Okay.  But if you’re being really honest with yourself…isn’t the real reason something far more mundane?

Could it be that you’re really just more focused on that big presentation you have to give at work tomorrow?  Or maybe you’re worried about that funny noise your car was making on the way home, or the note your kid’s teacher sent home, or your mother-in-law’s impending visit.

In other words, you’re distracted.

Let’s face it:  very few of us are independently wealthy and able to focus full-time on our writing with few or no distractions.  And you know what?  Sometimes Real Life is going to get in the way.  Sometimes you’re going to have to spend the evening mending your daughter’s jeans, or cleaning up cat gack from the living room carpet, or rehearsing that big presentation one last time, instead of curling up with your laptop and your latest WIP[2].  And that’s okay.  Really.

Other times (as happened to me this past weekend), the day’s tasks are just going to leave you too dead-dog tired to even think straight.  When that happens, just admit it and retire early.  No need to blame your lack of writing production on an absent muse, or an imaginary brick wall.  It’s all right.  The Writing Police are not going to materialize from your ethernet port and arrest you for being human.

The other thing that can happen–at least for me–is that I just plain don’t know where the story should go next.  I stare at the last bit I’ve written, and I simply can’t tell where the next scene should start.

Part of the problem, I know, is that I tend to be more of a pantser (someone who unravels her plot “by the seat of her pants” as she goes along) than a plotter (someone who constructs outlines for her stories, or at least has an idea of the overall plot of the story).  I always have a starting point, and I often know where/how the story should end, but the path joining the two is usually murky at best.

Lately, when that’s happened, I’ve had to bite the bullet, sit down, and at least write a rudimentary outline.  I don’t always follow it, and it often shifts around along the way.  But when I feel as though I’m stuck, sometimes looking at the outline helps me figure out where to go next.

Other times, I’ll be in the middle of a scene and I don’t know what a character should say or do next.  Or I have them say or do something, and it just feels…wrong.  Usually that’s because I don’t know the character well enough.  If I take a little time and either write up a character sketch, compile the character’s background and motivations, or “interview” the character, that helps to point me in the right direction.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, by any means.  But what it comes down to is that when the words just won’t come, there’s usually a good, down-to-earth reason for it.  If it helps to call that reason “writer’s block” or “muse failure,” once again, the Writing Police aren’t going to write you a ticket for it.  But it might be worth checking to see if the real reason for your “writer’s block” is something within your control, rather than beyond it.

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[1] The “perspiring” part seems particularly appropriate here today–it’s the first week of September, and we’re still suffering through high temperatures in the upper 90’s (F).  Aren’t things supposed to be cooling off now?

[2] Work In Progress.

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Writing Thursday: Advice to Aspiring/Perspiring Writers #2: Writers Write

Okay, since I sort of started down this path last week, when I talked about the fact that first drafts suck, I got to thinking about some other advice I’d give to someone who wants to write fiction.

And I decided that the second most important piece of advice that I wished someone had given me years ago is this:

Writers write.

I know.  It almost seems simple enough to be stupid.  But you’d be amazed at how many people out there say they want to write.  They’ve got a great story they’re just bursting to tell.  And they’ll get right to it…right after this week’s episode of America’s Next Big Fake Media Star, or the campaign they’re running in WoW, or one last check of Facebook after supper.

And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have other hobbies, because you should.  Especially the kind that feed your creative spirit and set your mind free to explore new possibilities.  Nor am I saying that you should neglect family, friends, job, or basic household chores.

But if you really want to call yourself a writer, you have to write.  And the best way to do that is to try to get into the habit of writing on a regular schedule.  Whether it’s every day, or every other day, or once a week on Sundays, if you’re going to write, establish a schedule and try to stick with it.  I usually find that I can squeeze in (or squeeze out, depending on the kind of day I’m having) about twenty minutes in the morning before work, and twenty minutes before bed at night.  That’s not a lot of time.  But, as it turns out, it’s enough to let me eke out between three and five hundred words a day.

Doesn’t sound like much, does it?  But 300 words times 360 days (giving myself a few off for holidays) is over 100,000 words.  More than enough to produce a big, meaty novel every year.  That’s nothing to sneeze at.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always take this piece of very good advice, though.  For whatever reason, I find it difficult to be productive, writing-wise, in the summertime.  Too many distractions, I guess.

But one thing that’s been helping me this summer is that my friend Kristin put together a little band of writers whose goal is to write at least 250 words a day.  Every day, members post to the group about their writing progress (or lack thereof).  It’s not a critique group; rather, it’s more of a support group and cheerleading squad.  I’ve found it very helpful as far as prodding me to make at least a little forward progress on my current writing projects.  Even though some days it’s not easy!

But what it all boils down to is that words don’t just fall out of the sky and land on your computer screen.  You have to make them happen.  And if you choose to do that, on whatever schedule works best for you, then you’re a writer.

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Dragon Friday #17

Okay, since it’s been a while–a long while–since I did one of these, a few words of introduction are probably in order.

Once upon a time, I decided to write a story in weekly installments and post it here, more-or-less live.  It went along pretty well for a while, but then Life Happened and I kinda got out of the habit.

So this is me trying to get back into the habit.  But since it’s been so long, and I know I’ve picked up a number of new readers/followers in the interim, a bit of a refresher is probably in order.  You can access past entries via this link, or by clicking on the “Dragon Friday” button on the menu above.  They’re fairly short, quick entries, averaging around 750 words apiece.

Once you’ve caught up, here’s the latest, hot-off-the-wordpress installment:

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The Dragon, The Wench, and Her Wardrobe
(working title)
© 2013 Sheila McClune
Part 17

Over at the bar, the manager–his name tag said, “Drew”–poked a forefinger at the register’s computer screen. He scowled. “I see two charges on your card here. This one,” he held up Lucinda’s ticket, “and another one for…seven dollars and eighty-five cents more.”

“That’s what I was afraid of.” Lucinda took a deep breath. The manager didn’t deserve the full brunt of her anger. He was trying to fix things, after all. “I only had a burger, a side salad, and two house margaritas.”

Drew nodded. “Got it.” He prodded the screen again. A few seconds later, a charge slip spat out of the printer beside the register. “Okay. Here’s the slip showing the cancelled charge.” A second slip emerged. “And this one shows I’m comping your drinks, for your trouble.”

Lucinda blinked. She hadn’t expected that. “Oh. Thank you.” She took the second slip, marked an emphatic zero on the tip line, and totaled and signed it.

Drew took the slip back and raised an eyebrow. “So your service wasn’t great tonight?” A grin teased the corner of his mouth.

“Well, let’s see.” Lucinda peeked at her cell phone. “It’s what, almost eleven now? I’ve been here since eight-thirty. Plenty of time for more than two drinks, don’t you think?”

“I’m really sorry about that. For what it’s worth, Dee Dee’s going to be looking for a new job about five minutes after you leave.”

“Thanks for that, at least.” She slid her charge slip into her purse and started to turn away.

“Say, wait a minute. Let me give you a couple of gift cards for the next time you come in.”

“You don’t need to do that. Really.”

“But I want to. Wait here just a sec, let me run back to the office to grab them.” Flashing her a grin, Drew ducked down the short hallway that led to the restrooms, the back door, and–presumably–the office.

Lucinda let her attention wander back to the television screens over the bar, then did a double-take. The three that had been showing sports recaps had all switched over to news reports–all showing reporters with DIA’s distinctive roofline in the background.

Unfortunately, the sound was turned down on all of the sets. She was just scanning the counter beside the cash register in hopes of finding one of the remotes when Drew returned.

“What’s up?”

“Something must’ve happened out at the airport.” She gestured toward the televisions.

Drew pulled a remote out of a drawer beneath the cash register and pointed it at the nearest television.

“…don’t have a final word as to what caused the collapse, or whether there are any injuries or fatalities. We’ve seen a number of emergency vehicles go by, including several ambulances. In the meantime, the airport is officially closed pending an investigation of the tunnel collapse, with flights being diverted to Colorado Springs, Salt Lake City, and Cheyenne.”

The screen split to show a news anchor sitting behind a desk. A frown creased his immaculately groomed brow. “And how long ago did the collapse happen, Brenda?”

The newswoman hunched her shoulders and covered her ear for a moment. Then she straightened up and pinned her steely gaze back on the camera. “Just after ten this evening, Ed. At least, that’s what we’ve heard from passengers who were evacuated from the B and C concourses by bus. They were stranded in the remote concourses when train service stopped.”

“And do we have any idea how many people might have been on board the train involved in the collapse?”

Brenda shook her head. “No, though I’m told there were only a handful of flights left to go out tonight, and that there probably weren’t many passengers on board the train.”

“Thanks, Brenda. We’ll check back in with you in a few minutes.”

The picture shifted to show just the news anchor. “And if you’re just tuning in, one of the train tunnels out at DIA appears to have collapsed this evening, and that at least one train was operating in the tunnel when it collapsed. We’ve not received any word of the cause of the collapse, though authorities don’t suspect terrorist activity at this time.”

Drew hit another button, and the word “MUTE” flashed on the television screen. “Huh. I always thought those trains were a bad idea.”

Lucinda pulled her phone back out. “My sister was supposed to be flying out to Boston today. I hope she wasn’t involved. Though I think her flight was supposed to have been earlier.” She punched in Maddie’s number and hit “send.”

The call went straight to voice mail. Lucinda waited for the beep. “Hi, Maddie. You’re probably asleep or something right now, since you’re two hours ahead of here, but when you get this message, can you please call me? I just saw the news reports about the train thing out at DIA, and I wanted to make sure you’re okay. Thanks. Talk to you later.

“Didn’t answer?” Drew leaned forward, elbows on the bar.

“No. But if she’s still in the air, her phone would be turned off, wouldn’t it?” Lucinda bit her lip. “I’d better get going.”

Drew might have said something to her as she left, but she was too distracted to notice. Yeah, the odds were thousands to one against Maddie being at the airport at just the right time to have been caught in the tunnel collapse. But she hadn’t answered her phone, and that was unusual for her.

Lucinda didn’t even make it all the way to her car before her phone rang. She snatched it out of her purse and hit the answer button without even looking at the caller information. It had to be Maddie, didn’t it? Who else would call at this hour? “Hello?”

“Is this Lucinda Anderson?” a woman’s voice asked.

A chill ran down Lucinda’s spine. “Yes, it is. This is about Maddie, isn’t it? Is she…is she dead?”

“God, I hope not. This is Teri Sardachowski. I’m Maddie’s supervisor. She has you listed as her emergency contact.”

“Oh.” Lucinda reached her hatchback, clicked the button to unlock it. “So is this an emergency?”

“As I said, I hope not. Have you been able to reach Maddie at all?”

Lucinda plopped into the driver’s seat. “No. Have you?”

“No, and that’s why I called. You see, we had a big project we had to finish up today, so I changed Maddie to a later flight, and….”

“Oh. My. God. And you think she might have been involved in that thing out at the airport?”

“I really hope not. But her flight was scheduled to leave just after eleven, and I put her in a car to the airport at about nine o’clock, so chances are good she was there when it happened.”

“And now she’s not answering her phone.”

“Yes. I’m sorry.”

“There could be lots of explanations for that, though, couldn’t there?” Lucinda pulled her legs into the car and closed the door, pushing the button to lock it. That small action made her feel a tiny bit better. “I mean, if I know Mads, she’s probably just run her battery down, or lost her phone, or something. She’ll figure it out pretty soon and find a way to call us. Or maybe she caught a cab and is already back at her apartment. I’m on my way there now.”

“I hope that’s it. Can you do me a favor and call me back at this number, either way?”

“Sure thing. Right after I finish yelling at her for making us worry.”

“Thanks.”

Lucinda cut the connection and started the car, turning the heater on full. But before she pulled out of her parking space, the forced herself to take several deep breaths. Maddie would be at her apartment. She had to be.

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Writing Thursday: Contest Results and Writing Advice

Hi, everyone!

Yeah, I know.  I haven’t blogged about writing in a while.  Frankly, while I’ve still been writing, I haven’t had a lot going on that I considered blog-worthy.

This week, that changed.

A couple of months ago, I decided to enter the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ “Colorado Gold” contest, and this week I received my feedback from my two judges.

It’s the first time I’ve entered a contest at this level, but I think it’s been a good experience for me.  Before I entered, I tried my best to make sure my expectations were realistic, and it turns out they were–I didn’t make the finals, but I did get some encouraging feedback, and some respectable scores.  Both of my judges marked me well on craft and format, and one pointed out that the story in general, and the beginning of it in particular, could use more tension.  Which I kinda suspected, but having outside confirmation feels good.  And the other judge paid me the compliment of telling me that if she was an agent, she’d definitely ask to see more pages.  That felt really good.

This week, they also published their list of finalists, and I was pleased to see a friend of mine on it.  (Terry Kroenung, for “Paragon of the Eccentric.”  He read a scene from the story at MileHiCon and it was hysterical.)  Good luck, Terry!

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In other news, a friend of mine has decided to try her hand at writing fiction, and asked me for advice.

The first thing that popped out of my mouth was, “First drafts always suck.”

And really, that’s arguably the best advice anyone can give a new writer.  For people who have never actually sat down in front of a computer screen or a blank piece of paper and tried to compose a work of fiction, the revelation that perfect prose does not fall freely and automatically from one’s fingertips often comes as a shock.  I’ve heard many people talk about how discouraged they became when they discovered that editing might consist of more than just cleaning up spelling and punctuation errors.  Even worse, they might have to go back and edit the same piece…more than once! {gasp!}

Well, yeah.  The reality of it is that even though you might have gotten all As in your high school English classes, and you know how to compose sentences and even paragraphs that are grammatically correct…you’ve probably never learned how to go about writing a piece of fiction.  Oh, you might’ve gone over the basics of a story arc in your eighth grade composition class.  You might have gotten lucky and had a semester of creative writing.  You might even be a competent and experienced non-fiction writer.  But none of those things will teach you everything you need to know to become a writer.

So, yeah.  The chances are very, very good that your first draft won’t be very good, especially when you’re just starting out.  (Even later on, when you’ve learned more about the process–and practiced it more–your first drafts will still suck.  They’ll just suck in different ways.)  Things like pacing and character development are hard to gauge while you’re in the thick of writing.  And whether you’re a pantser[1] or a plotter, you’ll sometimes still find your plot or characters taking unanticipated turns, ones that need to be smoothed out later.

The point of all of this is to say that it’s okay if your first draft isn’t quite Pulitzer-worthy.  It’s even okay if your second, third, and fourth ones aren’t.  The key is not to get discouraged.  Keep plugging away at it.  Trim a few excess words here.  Beef up a conflict there.  Slay a few darlings[2].  Skim off those excess dialogue tags.  Polish that rough diamond until it sparkles.

But in the meantime…give yourself permission to let that first draft suck.

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[1] someone who approaches a writing project without a real plan or outline; someone who writes by the seat of his/her pants.

[2] bits of writing that you really, really adore…but which don’t do anything to further the plot or develop the characters.

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Blog Housekeeping

Okay, so I’ve finally gotten my blog and my domain name and my e-mail account to all be on the same page together.  Yay!

So sheilamcclune.com should bring you here, and e-mails to sheila(at)sheilamcclune(dot)com should reach me.

I’ve only been trying to do this for a year.  I could get the domain name and the blog to talk to each other.  Or I could get the domain name and the e-mail to talk to each other.  But I couldn’t have both at once.

But I have it working now.  Yay!

Just don’t ask me what I did now that’s different from what I’ve been doing, because I don’t have the foggiest.  And that might cause me to whimper.

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Recipe Wednesday: Blasts From The Past

I’ve got some new cooking adventures to tell you about (including the easiest curry you’ll ever make), but Beloved Husband and I keep eating all the evidence before I can remember to take pictures of it.  So that’ll have to wait until a less hungry week, I guess.

Meanwhile, the two of us have embarked on a new project.

It started when I acquired a metric boatload of e-book versions of historical cookbooks for free via the interwebs.  (That’ll be a separate entry later, I think.)  Anyway, I was organizing them, and being totally gleeful about obtaining a copy of Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cookbook (which I have in hardcopy, but it’s stored away in a box at the moment).  My glee only lasted until I opened up the e-book…and discovered that it had been processed via OCR (Optical Character Recognition)–and that not only had the people who’d posted the book on the interwebs not bothered to clean up some of the typos, but every single fraction in the book had scanned as gobbledygook (yes, that’s a technical term, I’m quite sure).

And, since almost every recipe uses fractions in the ingredients list…it meant that the book was all but useless.

Well, nuts.

So I went back out onto the interwebs.  And I found a couple of sites that had better versions, but not as downloads–you have to be connected to the internet to access them.  I want a copy I can store on my netbook and have handy even when I’m someplace where there’s no wireless (like my in-laws’ house, for example).

A bit more poking finally yielded a scanned version of the book where the scans had been saved as whole-page images, rather than having been OCR’d.  Which works fine as far as addressing the fractions issue…but when I want to look up a specific recipe, I can’t do a search on the title, or on an ingredient.

So what I decided to do in the end was to use the whole-page version to correct the fractions on the e-book version.  I discovered a program called Sigil, which essentially allows you to open up an e-book file and tinker around under the hood.  It’s actually pretty cool…and I’m planning to use it to edit a few e-books I’ve downloaded that had typos in them.

But…when I sat down to work in earnest, I discovered two things:

One, flipping back and forth between the two versions of the book was giving me motion sickness.  And there’s no question of just keeping both apps open side-by-side on my trusty netbook’s tiny screen.  (Now if I could haul my two mega-monitors home from work, I’d be a happy camper.  But alas, I can’t.)

After a bit of hemming and hawing, I came up with a solution:  I asked Beloved Husband for help.  So now, once a week or so, we sit down with our two computers, and he reads to me from the page-image version, and I make changes to the e-book version.

Of course, we hadn’t been at this long when we discovered a major problem:  The page-image version was from the 1898 edition of the book, and the e-book version is from the 1918 edition.  A surprising amount stayed the same in those twenty years, but there are enough changes to keep us on our toes.

We’ve been at it for a little over a month now, and we’re through the chapters on soups  (Soups With Stock and Soups Without Stock are two separate categories, by the way, with subcategories within each.  Who knew?)

So far, the worst-sounding recipe we’ve found is for mock turtle soup, where you use a calf’s head instead of turtle.  I was okay with it until I reached the part where the instructions tell you to cut off the face  and dice it.  Something about dicing a calf’s face just squicked me out. {shudder}  I’m sure there are folks who would consider it a delicacy.  Well, they can have my portion.  And Beloved Husband’s, too.

As we continue our journey through Fannie Farmer, I’ll post some other notes and observations.  And of course, once I have a corrected version of the e-book, I’ll find some way to make that available to people.

But that’s what we’ve been up to.

What sorts of cooking projects are other folks working on?

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