Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This is Halloween

At this very moment, children are running around in the dark with their trash bags and pumpkin-shaped  totes. Drool runs down their chins as they bite into tiny pieces of chocolate - double-checked first by cautious parents.

It's crazy out there. It's Halloween.

Excuse me while I plug my ears. I'm not on candy duty, but the doorbell keeps ringing and my dog, Misty, is barking up a storm.

When I went to school today, I wore a simple costume - a T-shirt that's designed to look like I'm wearing Sailor Moon's top - the sailor collar, ribbon, and imperial silver crystal brooch. Ironically, it wasn't as popular as the Pikachu shirt I've worn the past two years (but then again, I barely left my office today. That might have to do with it).

This month has both dragged and skittered and I'm actually surprised that it's still October as I write my blog post.

Things I've Done

Somehow, I've managed to find time to make lovely-eyes at a few early Christmas presents. In an earlier blog post, I mentioned how I've been putting off ordering a burgundy Modcloth coat. Well... I'm still successful at that, but I ended up falling in love with another coat - the one to the right, called A Thrill in the Air by Knitted Dove.

After crawling my way through a difficult end to the month, I decided to indulge a little and went with this one. Why? Unlike the other coat, this one has reasonably long sleeves, a Penelope-like design, a detachable collar (so it'll look like a dress), and the neckline is high enough that I won't have to depend on a turtleneck or scarf to stay warm.

Yes. I've thought about this, haha.

When you're up early like I am, it's actually nicely chilly. When winter break comes, and I head into colder Florida places, it'll be nice to have something warm and fun to wear.

I squeezed three books into the mix too! I've finished The Diviners (and I hoping it becomes a movie because I really want to see it visually) and The Fault in Our Stars (it's about time, right? I'm presenting on this book tomorrow). I just started The Elementals by, like, my favorite author Francesca Lia Block (she's tied with Mervyn Peake). Block' newest book sings differently than her other work, but I'm enjoying it so far. It's just really wonderful to be reading something new (how many times have I re-read her books? Gads).


Who's participating this year?!

I'm going to do my best, though this is probably going to be my busiest November yet. Ah, graduating year - endless surprises.

My main goal for this month is to make at least a 25k dent in Birdcage Girl's sequel, A Horse to the Moon. My thesis work has set me back in terms of working on it so far, so I'm happy to finally crack my knuckles over this one. Because I'm still searching for agents, you guys won't see anything new from AHM - but never fear! For the month of November only, I'll be posting another manuscript of mine called Tread Softly. I haven't written the last couple chapters... and if I'm honest, I'll need to revise what I do have along the way. It's about time!

What are you writing this month?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Disney's Food & Wine Festival 2012

Hey! Autumn is lovely. We're nearing the end of the month and the weather here is finally shifting. There's a cool breeze now, even though the sun slices right through it. If you're up early in the morning, it's nice to wear a light sweater.

This is also a time for food. Disney's Food & Wine Festival is in full swing. I've gone twice already this year and I feel like I've got enough photos and food in my mind now to write up a meaty blog post, haha.

BTW: If you missed out on my first blog post about last year's festival, do make sure you check it out here.

What's new:

Last year, I reported that Disney installed fancy utensil dispensers - and they're back! What's more, Disney seems to be moving towards using paper dishes for most of the food. You'll notice that in the photos in place of last year's plastic dishes. I'm really impressed with the paper because it's strong enough to withstand even the most watery sauces and not leak.

A new booth joined the crew this year as well; Terra, the vegan booth. One of my friends is vegan, and ever since she had that decision, I've been curious about those foods and how inventive vegans are at creating tasty substitutes for meat and dairy dishes. You'll see the fake chicken dish below - it was delicious and, really, tastes just like real chicken (even though it's made of veggies. Amazing!).

This year, a new space opened up in the festival center called the Chase Lounge. The lounge is hidden inside the Ghiradelli showcase called The Chocolate Experience: From Bean to the Bar.

There are two awesome parts about the showcase itself.

1) Free Ghiradelli chocolate. You have to keep an eye out for it - a cast member holding a straw basket is the key, haha.

2) Chocolate sculptures. I mean. Woah.

All the chocolate sculptures displayed behind glass

Seeing the sculptures was surreal, especially because I've only been as close as the other end of a television screen to seeing one (Yes, yes, I watch way too many Food Network competitions). The details in each sculpture were amazing, but I'll just post one of 'em so you have an idea.

Deep inside the chocolate showcase, there's a small hallway that a cast member diligently guards. You have to show the cast member your Chase Visa card (hopefully you have one) that will allow you inside the top-secret lounge. I only have one good photo of the interior since the lighting wasn't friendly towards my camera. The walls were painted bright blue with stamps of the different countries. There were TVs and two small seating areas, as well as an odd, giant table with high chairs that looked more like a toadstool than anything.

The overall design of the room makes you think of a perfect picnic under a cloudless blue sky. The carpet is green enough to pass for grass if you're not looking straight at it and there are tiny booths that house the coffee and soda fountains. Very, very cute.

Me and the 'rents experienced the lounge on the opening day, so there had been a big spread of breakfast food like muffins and cinnamon rolls, as well as giant glass dispensers of orange and apple juice.

The second time (today), we found out that only the coffee and soda are staples in the lounge on a normal day. But that's okay. The best part about the lounge is that it feels like a secret. I'm enjoying it while it's still here (so fleeting - it'll be off limits again after the festival is over).

Foods I Ate:

Between my two visits, there had been a lot of dishes I ended up eating. Each one was delicious. I'm not even lying, haha. My favorite is still, by far, the fisherman's pie, but the potato pierogie comes in second (my first time trying a pierogie!). The only dish that wasn't too too good was the cheese fondue - only because the fondue itself was an unidentified concoction that didn't quite work (it was sharp, a little bitter, and had the particular zing of wine in it).

Here's a visual representation of what I ate (and feel free to see the similarities and differences from last year's - it's fun!):

Cheese Fondue with Sourdough Bread
Cheese Booth
Roast Bratwurst in a Pretzel Roll
Germany Booth
Sweet Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions
Italy Booth
Kielbasa and Potato Pierogie with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream
Poland Booth
Trick'n Chick'n Curry with Basmati Rice featuring Gardein Chick'n Breast
Terra (Vegan Booth)
Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise
Hawaii Booth
Lobster and Seafood Fisherman's Pie
Ireland Booth
Lamb Meatball with Spicy Tomato Chutney
New Zealand Booth
Seared Sea Scallop with Kumara - Red Curry Puree and Apple Radish Salad
New Zealand Booth

Little German Village:

So, sadly I haven't seen any super cool food celebrities this year (i.e. Robert Irvine from last year). The closest I got was missing Andrew Zimmerman (from Bizarre Foods) by one day. Ugh. Ugh. What a loss. Even so, attending the festival on a Sunday is pretty relaxing. The morning is slower, less hectic, and most of the booth lines are small. I checked in with the train village in Germany - just like I always do - and saw that it was decked out in honor of the festival again this year.

Don't know what I'm talking about? I made a post all about it here.

All the booths are out!

And the cranberry bog!

You'll need to see a bigger version, but the poor man in the chair has fallen over. I hope someone sits him back up again. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Debut of "Lookout"

Back in July, had hosted a Summer Reading Contest that I decided to enter because, well, it seemed like a lot of fun. You got to choose one prompt out of three choices and write a 500 word story. The prompt I had fallen in love immediately was this:

A high school student on his or her first summer job

Super. Well, as I brainstormed, I realized that my own experience with summer jobs was slim, at best. When I was in high school, my summers consisted of jumping in the pool, complaining about the lack of snow, reading, and plowing through a slew of video games. Oh! And brushing up on my rusty math skills before facing the fall semester. So what did I know about summer jobs? Well, only one thing: they're supposed to change you. 

I missed out, but I wanted to make sure that my story touched on that thought. And then, as I wracked my brain for a summer job idea, I came across Maia Flore's Sleep Elevations series. The concept of sleep, flying, and the whimsical backdrops for each photograph is stunning. You need to check them out. 

One in particular, pictured here, just slapped me upside the head and said, "OVER HERE! I'm your summer job!"

Well, yeah. You know how it goes. 

I wrote my story, featuring my shy protagonist named Lorelei Hall, who won the job of the town's lookout - basically, a glorified lifeguard. Lorelei is strapped to a cloud and keeps an eye on the beach-goers... but she also hopes that having this coveted job will allow her to make friends and come of out her shell. In 500 words, I did the best I could and posted the story. 

"Lookout" didn't stay up for very long since I realized that I couldn't keep up with the feedback-seeking demands of this particular contest. However, I still planned on coming back to the story again someday.

That someday is now. In stepped The Tripod Cat, a new literary journal that my fellow MFA friend, Alan, started. What's unique about this journal is that the issues are all audio. You hear the stories and poems being read, instead of reading them. It's kind of exciting. The issues are free and, if you decide to get them from iTunes (yes, free), you can listen to them on your mp3 players. Yeah. Cool. And scary, haha. 

Alan took a liking to "Lookout" right away; it'll appear as a serial at The Tripod Cat. In fact, the first segment of "Lookout" is already up. You can listen to it and the rest of the issue here

Fair warning: I'm the one reading "Lookout." No surprise, right? I'm the one who wrote it. However, it's hard for me to listen to my recorded voice... I think it sounds funny. *Kim reveals her kryptonite, bwaha* 

I'm not sure how long this serial will be (hence, I'm not saying, novel, novella, or even short story right now), but I'm looking forward to hearing what you think you think about the story. It's gotten bigger:

Lorelei Hall has been chosen as this summer's lookout in the seaside town of Helium, but it doesn't mean that she'll be spending her summer simply strapped to a cloud. A wild wind's approaching the town and only Sculley and his uncle Gallagher - two rascally wind peddlers - know about it. Sculley and Lorelei will have to work together if they have any chance at saving Helium - too bad their personalities clash. 

Clouds and Clouds

By the by, has anyone noticed how clouds have grown in popularity lately? Even the whole floating-in-the-air-strapped-to-a-cloud thing. I want to post two peculiar sightings to finish out my blogging for the day. 

Ellie Goulding's "Anything Can Happen." Brilliant song, brilliant video. I must have listened to this song a hundred times since its release. Did you see the scenes where Ellie's floating in the air with a cloud? It look EXACTLY like Maia Flore's photo! When I watched this video for the first time and saw it, I almost spit out my soda and started pointing frantically at the screen (I was alone, yet I felt I had to do this, haha). 

And this one, ironically a Guinness commercial (I still don't get), features a  brave and curious cloud that takes on the city. The narration gives me the shivers; I'm such a sucker for that kind of thing. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Publication News: Rose Red Review

Hallo! How's October treating you so far?

Although I'm still sweating in my shorts and tank tops, the world is starting to change. Ghosts hang like used tissues on tree branches. The grim reaper watches me as I dump half-price cheese balls into my shopping cart. I wish for bats, remembering how I saw them fly each morning while I wandered the outside hallways of my high school. Gads, I love Halloween spirit.

This month is also proving to be one full of, well, my stories.

This may be a late announcement, but the lovely Rose Red Review has published my short story called, "Scissors & Thorns." Hurrah!

You may want to read this story if you:

  • think scissors are magical
  • never underestimate the danger of thorns 
  • are partial towards clumsy boys with fishing traps

"Sleeping Beauty's Dream" by Catrin Welz-Stein
If you've been reading along, you already know that I have a thing for Sleeping Beauty. It's one of my favorite fairy tales. There are so many angles to explore, ideas to follow... and I feel like, one day, I'll end up with a giant pile of short stories and novellas that all center around it. After all, just look at "Tick-Tock Beauty," the short story I had written for Mossyhearth. I can't get enough.

In this case, the idea of what caused and sustained the thorny barrier in the original fairy tale was what started "Scissors & Thorns." Even if the good fairy had cast the spell to cover the castle in thorns, how could the thorns stay alive for a hundred years? Maybe by feeding on the all the boys that weren't the princess's true love... or maybe, well, the thorns weren't purely thorns at all. Hmm. Hmm. Go read the story.

In other news: two more stories will soon be published this month.

The first is a flash fiction piece that will appear in the first issue of the White Ash Literary Magazine.

The second is the first segment of an audio serial featured on the Tripod Cat.

Believe me, I'm excited to share these stories with you.