Writing, beaches and sand wishes

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Another weekend, and more heat

Day by day the sun is increasing in strength as summer approaches. Day by day the sweat factor increases although the heat doesn't bother me as much as it used to.

I went to a (rare for me) party Saturday night and ran into an old buddy I had worked with. What a surprise.

I met a delightful group of folks and had a great time. All work, no play makes this Mac a dull sort. A friend picked me up, now this was totally so not planned or in my Saturday night schedule which is usually an at home movie and early to bed. I hoped on the back of the motorbike with a shrug and ended who knows where for a couple of hours. I quite enjoyed the new conversation and was totally impressed with the friendly group. I taxied home and my poor friend, the one with the motorbike, well sufficient to say the bike is parked somewhere in the city and the owner doesn't remember where. Hey, stuff happens.

So not convenient when you've misplaced your wheels.

I am still quite a "foodie", did a lot of posts long time passing in praise of the mung bean which has become and remains a staple in my very tiny household. Mung bean soup, hummus, salad, fried mung beans. Truly a perfect bean without the usual problems associated with beans. High protein/mineral/vitamin content, the mung bean is a wonder food that is not well known. It should be. Perfect meat replacement leaving the diner without craving for something of substance.

Here's a quick mung bean soup recipe:

wash then soak the beans

when soaked for a few hours or an hour if you have a pressure cooker, start them off with at least three times as much water as beans

after pressure cooking for half an hour or so, give or take, depending on how long the beans soaked add what you love

lots of onion, two or three, carrot, garlic if you imbibe, tomato, any green veg, broccoli, collard greens, spinach, peas, green beans cabbage if you like it,  potato, squash/pumpkin, celery, add the seasoning you like. I am salt free but do enjoy ground pepper. If you like heat add some hot chili peppers. You can put anything in it.

Let it chug and bubble back on the burner away for another 20 minutes to half an hour, depending on how fast the veg cooks. If the beans have soaked for a shorter period of time you may need to add more water.

Hot and delicious, I like it with a hard seven grain bread. If you are a meat eater, the meat can go in anytime depending on the cut and the "tough" factor if it's beef. Chicken or just the chicken bones can add a wonderful taste if you're a carnivore.

Add any spice you like, I don't use bullion cubes (can't find any here without msg). Although I'm not completely vegetarian I make this without meat. I do add chicken bones if I'm sick with a cold/flu. It tastes excellent when fresh, even better day two or three. Sprinkle grated cheese on top if you like or croutons or even some sour cream.

Don't take my word for it, try it if you want a cheap nutritious meal in a bowl. It travels well for lunches. I eat it hot, cold, put it on bread (it kind of gets thicker by day two) and it is low cal high fiber and why didn't I discover this little green miracle food years ago?

I make a stone ground wheat pan bread that is a good companion. That's fast and easy. I put a lot of oregano and pepper in it and finely chopped onion in it. Good to go. The bread takes about two minutes prep and about ten minutes pan time using a hot fry pan. It's crumbly, I might try mixing a little regular flour in it to give it a more "bread like" texture, but it's fine if you like different bread.


The case of the missing plane gets more strange with each passing day. Heart goes out to the families and loved ones. The Nation, one of the English papers here, has an interesting editorial on six possible scenarios. A little clinical but very informative.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Malaysian Flight 370

Dreadful news. I've been churning over this event. Can't imagine the horror the families/friends are experiencing.

Life has been ticking along in Bangkok. The Bangkok Post and The Nation have done a pretty efficient job keeping us informed and updated. Traffic is better now that intersections have been opened and athough the squabbling won't end soon at least the mood is calming down from what I read.

I said goodbye to three students, one off on a PhD in N. America, another off to an 8 week intensive language course of study in the UK and one more is off to NZ for 10 weeks exchange where he will attend a NZ school. Each one takes a bit of your heart as they leave the nest but teachers have to let go when the time is nigh.

Not ready to get into novel conversation about my manuscript yet. Going to ease back into it.

Did a bit of travel, Koh Chang, Kancanaburi, (where the River Kwai is), paid my respects at the cemetery. Always a bit of a shock to walk through these beautifully kept grounds with so many headstones from so many countries.

I can't really express the extent of emotions that hurtle through me as I walk through the headstones. This was my second trip and as powerful as the first.

After a long time I'm back

I've been pretty busy these last couple of years. I'll be posting regularly, this is actually a test post to see if the blog is still functional.

I guess it is.

Later skater!

Wilkins MacQueen (but you can call me Mac)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The query and the synopsis - my 82,000 word novel

I worked from 3:30 until about 8 pm on these two items.

Taking shape, taking shape. The market is very tight for writers. E pubbing which is faster, higher return etc. may be the route to go.  I am not sure at this pint.

I still have a lot of tinkering and massaging of my manuscript. It never ends. I love my story. I love my characters.

I'm leaving it alone for a week, maybe longer, a vacation of sorts? I need a break from it. Each time I go back it takes a better shape.

Writing is re-writing. Again, again, again, again and a few more (several) agains.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

By the by Stickman put one of my short stories on.

Many of the reader submissions are tales of expats and their misadventures in Asia. My story Living the Bells of St. Trinium's can be read here:  http://www.stickmanbangkok.com/ReadersSubmissions2012/reader7485.htm

It is at the very bottom of the Readers Submissions column, scroll way down to the bottom of the page, look for Wilkins MacQueen dated 18/6/12 for a slice of a day in the life.

This story was destined for a monthly column I was to write that didn't materialize in a neighboring city monthly magazine.  The magazine was going to publish it and then tell me after it was published they couldn't pay me. So I yanked it. Hey, no hard feelings, I'm just glad I was able to pull it before it was published.

A boost by Rob Parnell last week & The Horse Whisperer Revisited

My unease as I finish my novel is behind me, at this moment. Rob's site is one of the top ten writer sites on the internet according to Writers' Digest. Rob went through some correspondence I sent him and published parts of it, commenting on my observation, queasiness, doubts, you name it. Overwhelmed is the word I used.

He walked through it, commenting, pointing out things that I had noted.

My panic, the sleeplessness, the loss of appetite, the stress - the last things I expected to go through as I worked very, very hard to reach my goal. But I did. I topped my manuscript out at 82,500 words.

From start to finish this piece has taken me about 5 months. I used to be happy with 500 - 800 words a day.  Now I easily can hit 1,500 a day and if I don't work at my day job I can put out 2,500. That's my record for one day.

You can't churn out garbage (although that happens often enough) they need to be good words, they turn into great words (we all hope/pray) with the endless rewrites.

Anyone can write. Few can write every day, face it every single day, without a break, all the endless rewrites and finish it. To revise again and again and again, and again.  The experience (this is my fourth novel, I also have a whack of short stories and poetry)  from the other three gave me sharper tools so I could immerse myself in it non stop almost every waking moment and reach the goals I set for myself a short while back.

I'm barely done this one, I will start on book two soon, the twins I hope will grow into triplets. .

It is based on a true story involving a real horse and a very prominent person who is still involved in horses. The more research I did early on, the more I knew I had to write it. It wouldn't leave me alone.

I owned, bred and showed horses. My novel is authentic in the jumping and dressage details of training and competition. I took up competitive jumping when most riders are retiring. It was great to put my experience to good use on the page.

Everyone who loves horse stories has likely read the book The Horse Whisperer. Great book with an unbelievable, disappointing ending that had no truth in it. The author didn't understand the nature of the horse and I guess no one told him what he should have known to get to the right ending. The ending didn't stand up and made me cringe and angry. He tricked us. He didn't knowing enough about the subject to a get a believable ending out. It happens.

The movie had a better ending. At least Hollywood avoided repeating his mistake.

So I need to sort out this blog, get the Thai stuff back on, the photos and the early days here when I was fresh to Thailand. I think I'll start up a fresh blog, just for writing and the odd thing that catches me, a photo. I never wanted to fill and maintain two blogs, but maybe I'll look at that.

I'm still having a lot of trouble with Thai showing up on my blog. The dashboard, the banner, why can't it all stay in English? Too much to ask I guess.

Anyway, I've written today from 12 noon until midnight. Time to read a few pages and get ready to do it again tomorrow. The more you write, the more you can write. I never experienced "block" of any kind. I doubt it exists.

I do know without writing a lot, without reading a lot nothing anyone produces will get any better.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Serious about writing? How much are you writing

every day?

I'm writing about 1,200 to 2,000 words a day. Every day. The only thing that varies is the amount of time I have available. I work. Until recently I worked 2 jobs, yeah, 7 days a week. The only days off I got were national government mandated holidays. 3, almost 4 years of that. I still wrote every day, but not as many words at each sitting, a girl has to sleep sometime.

I don't do that anymore.  Being in the habit of writing every day I can churn out my story like you wouldn't believe, because I acquired the habit.