Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Holiday!

I hope everyone had a happy holiday! It was a very busy holiday this year...lots of gift exchanges to coordinate, parties, dinner, planning, shopping. Christmas songs stuck in my head. Hundreds of logs burned in the fireplace. Several bottles of wine consumed. It was all-in-all a successful holiday.

A couple of things I tried making:

Fruitcake! I don't like fruitcake, but I thought I could make one that I did like--not so dark, dense, and strong, but more of a light version. I soaked a bunch of fruit in rum, molasses, and orange juice overnight. I added it to the batter the next day. I splashed the pan with coconut rum before pouring the batter in. It came out very delicious.

Christmas ham for dinner. My mom and I made the glaze with honey, hoisin sauce, Chinese five spice, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and garlic. I stuck cloves into the ham and then I pinned pineapple slices and cherries onto it. I served the ham with potatoes and peas. Tasty!

Did you try making something for the holiday? 


Monday, December 17, 2012

Party - Apocalypse Christmas Party 2012

This year, we decided on an "apocalypse" themed Christmas party! After all, the world blows up on the 21st, so it only made sense. I trimmed the tree into a disgruntled shape, spray-painted it black, and put up some Mayan decorations around the house. We used red Christmas lights everywhere. I made a volcano so that we can make it explode. And we had a gift exchange in the theme of "what will help someone survive the apocalypse?" Fantastic presents were opened: gas mask, knife, emergency water, pez, cookies, survival book, knife sharpener, duct tape, anti-radiation lotion, and a splint. (My guests were very clever!) My guest brought over dry ice and flammable dessert to make it even more apocalyptic.

Snacks I prepared: Volcano Cake, Mayan Chocolate Cookies, Belizean Chicken, Ash Cheese with Crackers, Volcano Rolls, Coal Candy. (I also bought red hot Cheetos...) We bought stuff to make Lava Flow (pina colada and strawberry syrup) but I confess that we didn't have enough ice to make it.

"Party like there's no to-Maya."

Apocalypse wines:

 I tried to shape these cookies into a Mayan temple:

Pigs in a blanket -- except these are supposed to be people taking shelter from the apocalypse in a blanket:


 Our volcano!

 Flammable dessert!

Tree ornament:

Goggles and gas masks... we are so prepared!

Hope you guys enjoyed the photos. It was a very fun party!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

CLAN: Author Photo

I am slowly (but surely) checking off things I need for my book. One of the simpler things to finish is the author photo. I don't really have a professional, up-to-date photo of me. Fortunately, my partner Joseph is a great photographer so he took mine! Since CLAN is a serious book, we thought a kind of a somber look would suit it best. 

What do you think?



Monday, December 3, 2012

Some Portal News

It's been five years since Portal came out. I am very happy that one of the first games I worked on is still catching some good news:

Portal was nominated for the Best Game of the Last Decade.

"On Dec. 7, Samuel L. Jackson will host the 10th annual Spike Video Game Awards. To mark this monumental birthday, Entertainment Weekly has teamed up with Spike TV to celebrate the videogames that defined the last decade. "

Go vote for you favorite game here!

Also, Portal is going to be a part of the videogame exhibit in MoMA!

Do you know the fantastic webcomic xkcd? It's one of my favorites. And it featured a very touching comic last week with a Portal reference. Check it out:

Hope you all enjoyed some of the news on the videogame side of things!



Monday, November 19, 2012

Trip - Victoria, BC 2012

During the summer weekend, Joey and I took a ferry to Victoria from Seattle for a little chill time. I haven't been back to Victoria since I was a kid. (My father took me to Victoria when I was around seven years old--I remember that I thought I was in England.) Victoria is a super cute, old England-style city with lots of horse carriages and nice shops. Plus, it's only a few hours away from Seattle by boat.

For the first night, we stayed in the historical Empress:


My favorite... afternoon tea at the Empress:

Dining at the Empress:

We randomly went to a bug zoo--it was full of monsterous bugs:

Dino exhibit!

For out last night, we stayed in Abigail's... super cute!!!! It had a fireplace and nicely decorated interior.

That's all the adventure for this year... hopefully more trips next year!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Photo - Ghost Crabs

I went to North Carolina during the summer to visit my family. During the night, we'd go out with flashlights to see all of the ghost crabs skittering away. (My boyfriend Joey took the awesome photos!) I think they must be called ghost crabs because of their translucent skin:

Aren't they cute?

Hope you enjoyed the pics!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Writing the First Draft

It's NANOWRIMO time! Last year, I first drafted a quadrilogy and wrote these little tips down. I hope it helps with your first draft!

Here are the top six things that helped me get through my first draft:

1. Basic Structure. Before I wrote one word, I planted a few basic ideas in my head: the main concept, conflict, characters, setting, time, beginning, middle, and end. 

2. Keep going! I didn't stop and correct things. I didn't use the thesaurus, go back and fix parts of the story, or try to figure things out too immediately. (All that can be done in the next draft.) 

3. Write what you want. I wrote for fun. If I'm not excited, my reader won't be either.

4. Character chemistry. Above everything else, I think this is one of the most important ingredients for a first draft. I always want to discover early on if my characters spark with each other. If I can write unlimited dialogue between characters with ease, I'm heading in the right direction.

5. Pacing! Cut to the chase. Raise the stakes! If you can make each chapter important to the plot - a stepping stone - you should be able to find the momentum you need to churn out the chapters.

6. Simplicity. The more I try to keep the story simple from the beginning, the easier my revisions will be. (In other words, don't cram in too many scenes and complications--focus on a nice, clean story arc.)

When you're first drafting, you're balancing two things: one, to simply keep writing, and second, to save yourself a bad second draft headache later on. It helps to really pay attention to the world building and try to keep it simple. 

Do you have any tips for writing the first draft? Please share!

Have fun,


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Hope you're having a great Halloween! I hosted a Halloween party this year. I'll show you some treats I made.

Of course, Joey and I carved pumpkins first... I used the insides to make pumpkin pie. (The tricky part is squeezing the liquid out of the pumpkin so that the pie won't be mushy.) And roasted the seeds with garlic salt, olive oil, pepper, chili pepper, and a touch of curry powder.

Festive cupcakes! (Ok, the cupcakes are from the store.) We also had a small cauldron with Dragons Blood resin burning. Very witchy.

Vampire soup (aka borsht) with rye bread bats! And Witch's Fingers! (Used almond for nails.)

While I'm in Martha-Stewart-mode, here's a little fall-themed bouquet and assorted squashes to decorate the table. (The squashes can be used for cooking, too.)

Happy Halloween!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Trip - Kona 2012

I've been a little behind posting my trip photos! But I'm going to properly catch up. In April, Joey and I went to Kona. It's a great vacation spot for this apocalypse year--volcanoes, dark beaches, and a high mountain top to see the universe. 

My favorite... Mauna Kea! One of the highest mountains. We drove up above the clouds. I got pretty light-headed from the altitude, but it was worth it. There's even a geeky outer space store on the way there--awesome!! We drove up in time for the sunset.

So high:

Sunset above the clouds!

Here we are... all bundled up for the cold mountain:

This picture makes me happy because we look so geeky and adventurous:

On the drive to the mountain it was like... Sleepy Hollow land!!!! So foggy and creep and windy-roady. We even saw a dead turkey hung up on a fence. 

Black Sand Beach!

We went on a dolphin tour. I was snorkeling and saw several dolphins swimming far below me. Later on, I jumped into the water and came face to face with a dolphin for a split second before it swam away. It was pretty exhausting keeping up with those fast things! On the way home they swam along our boats. They were jumping around as they followed us. I was in heaven--I was sitting on the edge of the boat and I felt like I could pet them.

Lave tube!

Volcano! I wish I saw me some lava action! 

Hope you guys enjoyed the photos from our trip! I highly recommend Kona--the wild and beautiful island!