And now, how to make cake vodka milkshakes!

I got asked about this on Facebook, but thought I would post it here for the edification and satisfaction of all! If you’ve heard me speak of the wonders of cake vodka milkshakes and you’d like to try them for yourself, this is what you need to do!

You will need:

  • A bottle of Three Olives brand ‘cake’ vodka. Three Olives is a brand with several different flavors, and the ‘cake’ flavor is decorated with birthday-style balloons and streamers. (It tastes like somebody took cupcakes and made them into alcohol. It is delicious ALL BY ITSELF. But stick with me, my story gets better!)
  • A good brand of vanilla ice cream. The Murkworks recommends Alden’s Organic vanilla, but if you have other vanilla ice creams of which you are fond, by all means, use those!
  • Optional, if you want a chocolate milkshake instead of a vanilla one: your preferred brand of chocolate syrup. We’re using just plain ol’ Hershey’s chocolate syrup.
  • Milk. We favor 1% at the Murkworks, but use whatever milk you prefer!

How much to use of each thing:

  • 2-3 scoops of ice cream
  • 2-3 tablespoons of the syrup, to taste
  • 1-2 shots of the vodka
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of milk, to taste

Toss it all in a blender and mix thoroughly. Experiment as needed to get desired consistency.

Drink and enjoy!

Christmas at the Murkworks

The holidays are always a pretty low-key and kind of drawn-out affair at the Murkworks. As happens every year, Housemate Paul went to Virginia to see his family; thus, we held off the house gift exchange until he returned. Mostly, the holidays for Dara and me meant a relaxing vacation that nonetheless also involved working on music (on Dara’s behalf) and working on Bone Walker (on mine).

That said, Paul’s back now and we DID have our house gift exchange! Also on hand for the festivities were longstanding house pal Mimi as well as visiting guest Cygnet. There was tasty handmade chocolate given by Cygnet from a chocolatier she likes! And Meems gave me the third season of Due South, which I still need to get caught up on! (Seriously, you guys, I’m behind on so many things I should be watching.)

BUT! The two biggest coolest things were from Paul and Dara. For Paul’s gift, I present a bit of backstory! Back in 2007, some of y’all may recall, we went to Japan for Worldcon and had ourselves an Awesome Vacation of Awesomeness. One of the things we noticed while we were over there, though, was that Kit Kats in Japan come in approximately eight hundred and thirty-seven flavors. Way, WAY more than you ever see in the States. It got to the point where I kept ducking into corner convenience stores just to see what flavors of Kit Kat they were carrying. Which is, in fact, a Thing there–different stores having different flavors!

So for this year’s gift exchange, Paul gave me a big ol’ gift box from Japan full of different Kit Kat flavors! It’s laid out like an Advent calendar (only, y’know, totally wrong religion and all), with little windows you can punch open to find out what flavor of Kit Kat is inside. The one I tried last night was Citrus Golden Blend and I swear it tasted like an orange creamsicle. SO TASTY. It is probably for the best that these are not available in the States. Because I would be buying ALL OF THEM.

Behold the pics of tasty goodness!

And if that wasn’t awesome enough? Dara TOTALLY warmed my heart with what she had made for me. She got a Faerie Blood cover, printed on really good paper, matted and framed for me. Sniff. <3 And now this lovely, lovely thing is hanging right by the couch where I usually do all my writing! When we do the Bone Walker cover, that’ll be joining it as well! Check it out!

Kendis for Posterity
Kendis for Posterity

What an awesome way to start off 2013!

Good news everyone!

This is definitely one of those times where I need me an icon of Professor Farnsworth from Futurama, because he’s totally in my head right as I type this!

But the news, oh, it is good. It is SHINY. Internets, I’m getting promoted! QA Engineer II, baby! This comes from an excellent year of slurping up Python and finally bending my brain around class-based coding–this is what I get for having learned how to code long enough ago that object-oriented programming wasn’t really a thing yet, so it took me a while to get the idea down. But it’s in there now and WOO! PROMOTED!

*does a little dance*

There is compensation involved, a raise as well as a bonus, and oh, there will be a Shiny Thing. A very, very Shiny Thing. It’s about time to upgrade my Macbook, and this news is going to let me do it!

Winnowill, mind you, has served me well (and only those of you who are fellow Elfquest fans will understand the number of giggles I get out of typing that phrase, ha!) and does hold the record to date for longest-operating laptop I’ve ever owned. I got this MacBook back in December of 2007, which means that as of this December, Winnowill will be hitting her five year mark.

However, that’s an eternity in laptop terms and Winnie IS getting a bit long in the tooth. Specifically, she is just a touch too old to be able to run Mountain Lion. So I want a laptop that’ll let me continue to be upgradable along with the OS, at least for the next five years or so! The only question is going to be, whether I commit to a higher-end Macbook Air (because SO SHINY), or whether I go with a Macbook Pro.

There must be much comparison of specs. And thinking hard about what I need out of the next Laptop of Awesomeness to join the Murknet.

Though I gotta admit, if I wind up with an Air, that box is totally getting called Aroree. <3

As to what I’ll do with Winnowill–actually, I’m not convinced yet I’ll be decommissioning her. Winnie DOES dual boot between Lion and Win 7, and having Win 7 around is handy sometimes, not only for testing purposes but also just for playing our games! And as Mac OS continues to develop, it’ll be handy as well to have a somewhat older version around. So we’ll see. If I wind up with an Air, Winnie could also continue to be my iTunes box since I DO have a certain number of bands for whom buying physical CDs is still absolutely essential! (Great Big Sea and Le Vent du Nord, of course!) So many choices before me!

And SHINY THINGS! And promotions! And another awesome year to look forward to at Big Fish! Which, I might add, is now the longest job I’ve had EVER, as I’ve passed my previous record of 3 years, 7 months–which was how long I was at Attachmate. This coming January will be my four-year mark!


Fun with rainbows!

So there I was taking a nap yesterday afternoon before we all scampered off to see Skyfall, when I jolted awake hearing userinfosolarbird charge down the stairs yelling “LOOK OUTSIDE RIGHT NOW!”

Groggily, I did so, and perked up when I saw a rainbow out the library window! Which was lovely and all–except Dara was way more excited than a single rainbow warranted. And I heard her yelling about three of them. So I shook myself awake, stepped out onto the porch, and saw THIS.

That's Some Pot of Gold
That’s Some Pot of Gold

I had never seen a rainbow skewing off at an angle like that–double rainbows, sure, but never a triple configuration like that! So I grabbed the iPad and snapped a whole bunch of pics. This was one of my better ones. Dara, being way better at taking pictures than I am, got even better ones which she posted here and here (Dreamwidth), or if you want the LJ mirrors of the posts, they’re here and here!

Dara reported that Facebook had theorized that the third rainbow was caused by reflecting off of Lake Washington, a theory supported when Cliff Mass, our local weather guru, posted about it here! One of his readers sent in a pic of the rainbows from a different viewpoint, too, so that pic’s flipped around!

So very, very cool. It’s wacky fun like this that recharges my ability to deal with Seattle’s rainy falls and winters. And I swear this is going into a book at some point, because it was a sight full of magic.

And now, in praise of supremely awesome people

One of the things I’ve always loved about Great Big Sea fandom (and a lot of you who have read my posts over the years can back me up on this) is that it’s filled with genuinely wonderful people. I have been deeply privileged to discover that the same can be said for the extended community of Quebecois music fans–because I’m tellin’ ya, people, we have some fabulous people in our local Quebec music session crowd. Dejah Leger, I am looking AT YOU.
Yesterday, during my general blue funk in which I worked from home (on the grounds that it was generally better for all parties concerned if I didn’t have to deal with people face to face), I started getting hints that the funk was doomed to fall.
First wave: cell phone pic from the aforementioned Dejah Of Awesomeness, from the Le Vent du Nord house concert in Portland on Sunday night.
Second wave: friend request on Facebook from Réjean Brunet. As in “the accordion player and bassist for Le Vent du Nord”. To wit: EEK? *^_^*;;
Third wave: Dejah dropping me a massive hint that I should come to session tomorrow night. Because she has a Thing, and I have to show up at session to get it, and she ain’t saying what it is. Uh oh. *^_^*;;
And this afternoon, this happened:

Oh Dear I Think My Screen Just Got a Little Blurry *^_^*;;
Oh Dear I Think My Screen Just Got a Little Blurry *^_^*;;

People, do you see that? Do you see that boulder that just smacked me upside the head (that French-speaking, violin-playing, astoundingly thoughtful boulder)? I talk a good talk with the whole fangirly thing, I can blather about hypersonic squee with the best of ’em. But that? That made an actual audible squeak pop out of me. Let’s count the various ways this is choking me up here.
One, somebody (wherein ‘somebody’ is pronounced ‘Dejah’ and HI DEJAH I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE you beautiful person you) spread the word to the boys of Le Vent. And while we’re on the topic of Awesome People Who Are Awesome, Susan of whom I’ve already sung many praises fessed up to emailing the boys as well, to wit: awww. *^_^*;; (And yes, I know, I’m using that emoticon a lot! It’s been that kind of a day!)
Two, M. Demers made a point of bringing me that wall post. For those of you who aren’t Francophones, he’s basically writing on behalf of the entire band, telling me that they’d heard about our car troubles and that we missed the show, and that they hope they can see us at a future show next time they come out west. And that he thinks we’ll like the symphony show in Vancouver if we can come to that.
Internets, this means Le Vent du Nord reached out to me, on purpose, just because I missed their show. I do not have words for how touched and honored I am by this. And I’ve written three entire novels, am about to finish a fourth, and will soon be starting on a fifth. I’m GOOD at words. Verbosity is my goddamn superpower.
Three, holy crap he wrote to me in French. Which triggered an immediate “oh shit what the hell do I say in reply?!” bit of panic–but here’s the great part of this. What I wrote in reply was composed almost entirely of words I already knew, which I’ve picked up in daily language study with SuperMemo. I had to look up verb conjugations (because great jumping gods, French verb conjugations are a lot more complex than English ones), and how to say “our car broke down”. But the rest of it? Right out of my head. Because let’s hear it for SuperMemo!
(My brain would have fallen right out of my head if I’d been called upon to actually say this in person, but that I can throw words together with only cursory assistance from Google Translate and the grammar checker is, I think, a reassuring step in the right direction. :D )
And oh yeah–what I said in reply, again for those of you who aren’t Francophones, was: “Hello Olivier, thank you very much, thank you a thousand times, for thinking of us! Yes, our car broke down. I was very unhappy to miss your show. I really wanted to see you play, and I very much want to see the show in Vancouver! I love the Symphonique album. Again, thank you very much!”
But anyway, the point here is, he wrote to me in French. Which meant he had enough data to be reasonably sure I’d figure out fast what he was saying. Also a reassuring step.
And the upshot of all this: do you guys hear that tectonic shift in the earth? Can you feel that rumble?
That’s the sound of Le Vent du Nord becoming my new official Favorite Band.
Those of you who know how much I love Great Big Sea know that if I’m saying this, I’m not saying it lightly. Do not mistake me. It’s not like I’ve stopped loving Great Big Sea; it’d be biologically impossible for me to stop loving my belovedest of B’ys, especially after seeing them perform in Newfoundland this year. I will always love them too.
But let me emphasize again: touched and honored. Enough that I’m tearing up a bit, little happy tears, as I’m writing this. If a band’s music makes their fans happy, that’s a thing of beauty and a joy forever, to be sure. This level of amazing thoughtfulness, though–not only from the band themselves but also from others who love them too–takes that joy up a whole extra order of magnitude. It’s a joy that springs from people being good to one another. A joy that rebounds right back to me, and makes me want to work all the harder to improve my French, not to mention learning to play more of the tunes of Quebec myself. And a joy that’ll kindle a little sun right in my heart, every time I hear “Manteau d’hiver” or “Lanlaire” or “Vive l’amour” or “Cre-mardi”.
And if all of this wasn’t enough, towards the end of my workday, it seemed like Puget Sound itself was giving me a sign that it approved of the turn my day had taken. I happened to look out the window by my desk at the exact right time to see a breathtaking sunburst of light over the water:
Le soleil dessus l'eau
Le soleil dessus l’eau

Go, people! Buy Tromper le temps! And while you’re at it, buy Dejah’s album too!
Because when beautiful music is made by supremely awesome people, the sun itself will sing.

One week and counting down to the Great Canadian Adventure!

PEOPLE OF ATLANTIC CANADA AND QUEBEC! There are but seven scant days until userinfosolarbird and I will be among you for two weeks of hanging out, meeting up with people, and general musical awesomeness!

We are looking very, very forward to meeting up with userinfocow, with fellow Le Vent du Nord fan Susan, with userinfoframlingem hopefully (HEY EM ANSWER YOUR MAIL mmkay?), with userinfolyonesse if she’s still in Montreal by the time we get there, with userinfoscrunchions, with Krista in St. John’s, with userinfolethendy, and with anybody else we get a chance to talk to at Memoire et Racines, the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival, or the Great Big Sea show in Torbay!

Internets, I AM EXCITE! Almost as much for the chance to see Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer as I am Great Big Sea, really–because this’ll very likely be my only shot to see the Charbonniers, and did I mention the part where HOLY CRAP THOSE MEN CAN SING? And did I also mention the buying of French Canadian SF/F, and of tasty maple sugar products (I am informed that maple sugar ice cream is a thing that exists and THIS MUST BE SAMPLED IT IS REQUIRED), and of taking the Haunted Hike tour through downtown St. John’s (research opportunity WOO!), and of going to the Duke of Duckworth pub, renowned to me in song and story and Twitter updates?

Save us some bagels and Growers cider! We’ll be there next week!

Pretty things in my mail!

Susan, The Most Awesome Le Vent du Nord Fan on the North American Continent (and very possibly the entire northern hemisphere), has arranged a show for those boys in August in Uxbridge, Ontario! And as part of that, she got a whole mess of promotional posters! And, being the super-awesome Susan that she is, she promptly flung me an email to ask me if I wanted one!
For the record, Internets, when someone asks you if you want a poster of pretty Quebecois musicians, the correct answer is YES PLEASE I’LL HAVE SOME! I said as much to Susan, after hastily checking with the equally awesome and local Dejah to see if she wanted one too! Two please, I requested of Susan!
Internets, she sent me FOUR of these pretty things. (And she also sent me four posters! >:D ) They showed up in the mail today and I found them waiting for me when I got home tonight! Who knew four Quebecois musicians could fit into one poster tube?
took one look at these posters and proclaimed, “That’s one sexy hurdy-gurdy!” He is quite correct!


Now to see if I can safely hang up one of these lovelies by my desk at work!

A few quick site updates and one great big announcement

First and foremost, re: that poll I had up for y’all the other day, I have reached a formal decision. For reasons I still can’t tell you about yet (but which I will be doing ASAP), y’all should look for the name of Angela Highland to be coming into play on this site in the near future, probably later this summer. I’ve already bought the domain name, which as of right now redirects on my servers to, so nobody has to worry yet about changing any bookmarks. Stand by for further news on this as I can give it.

Meanwhile, given that Faerie Blood has gone out in ebook form to Kickstarter backers and the print copies are Very Very Nigh, I have taken the liberty of updating Faerie Blood’s official page with updated information about it. The beautiful new cover is there, as well as links to the four sample chapters I provided to Kickstarter backers. I’ve refreshed the data about my offer to hand-sell ebook copies to people until I can deploy for general release. And I’ve put in a bit about what to expect for how to get the print copies as well. This page will be updated again as soon as the book becomes generally available, so keep an eye on that link as well as my update posts!

On a related note, I’ve also updated the sidebar to properly reflect the Very Very Nigh-ness of the release of the Second Edition, and also just because I wanted to give the new cover some prominence on the front page of the site!

Lastly, I updated my In Progress page with a couple of tweaks to the information on Lament of the Dove, as well as adding Mirror’s Gate since it wasn’t in there before.

And now, I CAN share with you the first of the Things I Haven’t Been Able to Tell You About Yet because important pieces of paper have been signed. Here we go, drumroll if you please:

I have an agent! I have accepted literary representation from Miriam Kriss at the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, who will be working with me on the Other Thing I Can’t Tell You About Yet but will be ASAP! Miriam came to me highly recommended, and I was very, very fortunate to get a chance to query her. Y’all may take it as read that I am MASSIVELY EXCITED, to levels I normally reserve for imminent Great Big Sea and Le Vent du Nord concerts!

Watch this space for more revelations as I can share them, in between updates about deploying all the Kickstarter goodies! This, O Internets, is shaping up to be one HELL of a summer!

And now, a fangirly PSA: Le Vent du Nord in Oregon in November!

It appears that the boys of Le Vent du Nord are beefing up their application for the position of My New Favorite Band, because this morning, this happened on Facebook!

Aw, They Were Thinking of Me!
Aw, They Were Thinking of Me!

How thoughtful is that? And I mean, it ain’t like I wasn’t going to go already anyway, but if I hadn’t already known about the show they’re going to do in Oregon in November, this would TOTALLY have convinced me to!
Because oh my yes this is happening. November 10th. A Saturday, ever so delightfully enough. There will be a very likely plan of scamper down from Seattle on Saturday morning, hit the show in the evening, and hit Powell’s on Sunday afternoon before heading home again! (Because you cannot be a Pacific Northwest geek, go anywhere near Portland, and NOT go to Powell’s.) Interested parties in the Portland area are highly, HIGHLY encouraged to attend this show if possible. Do it for the podorythmie! Do it for the hurdy-gurdy! And do it for the chance to join me in showing Nicolas, Réjean, Simon, and particularly Olivier how we do La Danse Verticale in Cascadia!
Still need convincing? Three words: Tromper le Temps! You don’t even have to learn French, people, they’ve given us translations of the lyrics. Because they’re just thoughtful boys like that.