Friday, March 27, 2009

Fargo Flood '09

I want to update more, but we are having a flood crisis in Fargo at this time. Our apartment is just fine at this time. We are not along the river, but on a possible floodplain a few miles away on the edge of town. My place of work is downtown and they are evacuating people at this time. We didn't go to work today, but we are taking one day at a time.

My heart just jumped a bit, hearing sirens in the distance. It is noon. I am not used to that sound. Tomorrow the Red River is supposed to crest at 43 feet, beating the record in 1897 by two feet. In 1997, it crested two feet below that. I am hoping the noon siren is the only one most of us will hear.

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers. I hope to return here to write soon.

Natasha

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Too Beautiful to Live, or if you are one of the Tens, TBTL

In the summer of 2008, sadness clouded my work day. My favorite NPR show at the time, The Bryant Park Project (BPP), had its last episode. Now what would I do for two-three hours in my afternoons at work? I need to listen to something that will take my mind away from the clock, but also give me a good dose of what is going on in the world with a hint of quirkiness.

I then heard about the BPP's former co-host, Luke Burbank, who has his own show in Seattle! I didn't hesitate and downloaded it. I am now addicted, and sometimes when I hear the songs between segments, I think about the BPP. Now it just doesn't hurt as it once did.

TBTL has its own charm. They talk about what they love, and they have some crazy moments. It is hard to describe the show, so I will just recommend checking out their blog first. Things to look for: an archive of all their shows, their Collectors Series if you want to catch a taste, and TBTL 101 to catch up on the lingo.

Check out the Tens blogs (fans of the show, for "tens of listeners") here. Look out--- my blog is listed there!

If you are in Seattle, you can listen to KIRO from 7-10PM. If you are not in Seattle, you can listen to it on their website from 7-10 Pacific Time, or download the podcasts from their website, ITunes, or Zune.

Rawr!

Natasha

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Graphic Novel Launch


"You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it.” Neil Gaiman


A few years ago, my husband Joey started talking about a story idea. He kept adding more and more details as time went by. Then, one day, he started to write. He completed his first draft , and I gave him my advice on a few things. He kept adding and building, and had over 1000 changes before he completed the manuscript. He built it as a movie script, but then he began to imagine it as a graphic novel. He then came up with the idea of having it as an online graphic novel.

Joey and I cannot draw very well so we made up a list of artists we know. Eventually, we found an artist who accepted the challenge. They have just released the front and back cover, as well as the first few pa
ges. They will add new pages every Monday. I am very proud of both of them, and very excited to see the response that it will get. We have worked hard to get this together, including two nights of readings to get feedback from a small group of friends. I read for four hours and had create voices for characters as I went along. It was so hard to keep a straight face at times!

We had a preview party on Sunday with food and friends. Joey put on a nice presentation for our guests and they gave away limited edition prints of the cover. If you would like to win one you can go to the Facebook Fan Page. My previous post has the recipes of the things that I made for the party.

The website has a blog, character pages, transcript page, and eventually a store. Also, Joey and his artist plan on attending Core Con the first weekend in April where they will have a panel talking about the comic. If you plan on attending, do stop by and check it out! Otherwise, stay tuned to the website on Mondays!

Thanks to everyone that came to the party! It meant a lot (and thanks B. for the wonderful bars!).

Natasha


(Note: The comic is not recommended for children.)

originally posted Jan 12, 2009 10:22 PM by Natasha Heck

Pictures: 1) Joey and artist signing prints for the party. 2) Joey's speech at the preview party.

Preview Party Recipes

I thought I would post the recipes that I used for the Comic of Revelation Preview Party. Hope you enjoy! If you like or take the recipe, feel free to leave a comment! (I promise I will post something healthier soon!)

Pinwheels

4 soft flour tortillas
1 packet of ranch
2- 8oz. cream cheese
4 oz. pimentos
4 oz. diced green chiles
2 green onions

Mix ranch, green onion, and cream cheese.
Chop others and dry.
Spread cream cheese on tortilla and veggies evenly
Roll Tight
Cool in refrigerator for 2 hours
Cut and serve.

Heath Bars

1 package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 package smashed Heath

Mix cake mix and butter (should be thick)
Spread cake mix evenly in cake pan
Pour sweetened condensed milk over and pour Heath evenly on top
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes

Texas Caviar Dip

4 Cups Black-eyed peas (3 cans, drained)
5 Jalapeno peppers (chopped)
1 tsp. jalapeno juice
1/2 medium onion
1/2 lb. Sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 lb. Butter sticks (Fleschman preferred)
1 clove garlic

Mix 1st three ingredients in blender
Melt cheese, butter, and onion
Then add to blended ingredients
Serve warm in small crock pot

Makes 5 Cups.

Note: For the Texas Caviar Dip, I omit the onion and buy a jar of sliced jalapenos. Use the juice from the jar and add jalapenos to taste (I use about three-four spoonfuls, including seeds).

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Japanese Inspirations

When I am writing KIN, I listen to the music of Joe Hisaishi. I have some of his soundtracks from Hayao Miyazaki's Ghibli Studio movies. Disney brought over the films a few years ago, and we completely fell in love with them. My favorite song at the moment is from Princess Mononoke called "The Legend of Ashitaka Theme". It is the ending credits song of the film, and truly feels like a five minute sound epic. I might have to pop in the movies to find help rediscover a child-like view of Japan to help with my book if the music has been helping me this much! Joey and I hope to travel Japan within the next few years. I really want to go during the cherry blossom (sakura) season in March or April. When I see pictures of cherry blossooms, it brings back some memories.

The house I grew up in had a huge yard. The yard was completely surrounded by trees, and when you drove in, there was a circle of grass. In the middle, there was a large bush. In the spring, it would grow the most beautiful, fragrant pink flowers. My mother called them Japanese roses, but I can't find anything to back it up. The flowers would bloom for a little time in the spring, and then the petals would fall and scatter all over the yard. They were perfect to pick up and throw like confetti or flower petals at a wedding. I think going to Japan during cherry blossom season would be magical since it would bring back those memories, surrounding me in them. If I could have that tree in my future yard someday, that would be so wonderful.

Sometimes when I listen to Joe Hisiashi's music, I think somehow I go back that place of innocence, of pink flowers, of dreams. I hope somewhere in this book, it reflects that as well.

Natasha

Picture: Be sure to check out the Flicker account. The pictures on there are quite beautiful and amazing.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The List Maker

I am a list maker. I have always wrote down things to do with much detail. Usually I add unnecessary details, but I just need to pull those thoughts from my mind. In middle school, they gave us planners to keep track our assignments. I am not sure if it started then, but I know I took full advantage of the books by writing anything and everything in it.

In high school and college, I used to write New Year's resolution lists and put them underneath my unicorn globe. I did it until a few years ago. Now I just post it online somewhere.
Here's this year's list:

1) Write something every day, no matter how little. Grocery lists don't count.
2) Gain better confidence in myself.
3) Visit these local places: Plains Art Museum, Buffalo River State Park (or something nature-ific), Dinosaur Museum (West Fargo), and a zoo.
4) Start a "professional" website to advertise my writing.
5) Find a good recipe for bread, a vegan bake good, and something to share at parties, etc.
6) Attend at least one theater show.
7) Read 50 books and/or comics.
8) Plan a trip for one of these destinations: Japan, Great Britain, San Diego, Florida, or Seattle.
9) Donate to at least two charities or non-profit organizations.
10) Make more time for myself.

Right now, on my desk, I have a pile of little pieces of paper. I have lists of things to do including what to do for this blog, notes from things I listen to on podcasts, story ideas, and even things I need to pick up from the store. I then bring them home, and put them on this pile. I go through them when I feel like it. I just feel better when I create lists, and sometimes I just e-mail things to myself. Maybe it is just a way to pull unnecessary things from my mind to form a blanket of comfort. Yes, that must be it.

Do you make lists, and what do you make them for?

Natasha

Picture: My lists along with my Star Wars calendar, Leia action figure, Momji doll, Zelda papercraft and word papercraft made by the husband, and a Ty kitty from Joey's Grammy. Yep, I love cute things. I bet they read my lists when I am at work.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Quiche Lorraine

When Joey and I returned from France, I had all these ideas of baking homemade bread, pastries, quiches, and who knows what else. I haven't done the bread yet, and really, I am a better cook than a baker. I don't like to measure very much (measure to taste, I say!) and baking really won't let me get away with such behavior. I will try baking bread soon, but since turning vegetarian, I need to focus on cooking right now.

I did find a recipe in my Betty Crocker cookbook for a Quiche Lorraine and we made two of them (since the ingredients we bought was perfect enough for two). We had just turned vegetarian, so I substituted the real bacon with half fake Morningstar bacon and some Bacon Salt, the peppered flavor. We used the store bought pie crusts since they are just so easy, but taste just as good. I also used FRANK'S® RedHot® instead of regular cayenne. What can I say? I use what I have!

Betty Crocker Quiche Lorraine
You can serve this classic French egg dish, featuring bacon and Swiss, as a main course anytime of day.
Prep Time: 25 min
Total Time: 2 hours 5 min
Makes: 6 servings

Filling
8slices bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled (1/2 cup)
1cup shredded Swiss cheese (4 oz)
1/3cup finely chopped onion
4large eggs
2cups whipping cream or half-and-half
1/4teaspoon salt
1/4teaspoon pepper
1/8teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)








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1.In medium bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).
2.Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.
3.Heat oven to 425°F. With floured rolling pin, roll pastry into round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch quiche dish or glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in quiche dish. Unfold and ease into dish, pressing firmly against bottom and side. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of pie plate. Fold and roll pastry under, even with plate; flute as desired.
4.Carefully line pastry with a double thickness of foil, gently pressing foil to bottom and side of pastry. Let foil extend over edge to prevent excessive browning. Bake 10 minutes. Carefully remove foil and bake 2 to 4 minutes longer or until pastry just begins to brown and has become set. If crust bubbles, gently push bubbles down with back of spoon.
5.Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Sprinkle bacon, cheese and onion in pie crust. In medium bowl, beat eggs slightly; beat in remaining filling ingredients. Pour into quiche dish.
6.Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Very easy to make and tasty. A great glass of juice goes wonderful with it and it keeps you full all day. Enjoy!

Natasha

Picture 1: Pastry shop down the street of our hotel in Paris nearby the Rue Cler and on the corner of Champ de Mars. It was amazing! Picture 2: Our first homemade quiche!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Evolution of Comics (to be continued...)

When I was younger, I wanted to read comics. I didn't have a comic book store within a 100 mile radius, and what I could get my hands on were Disney related comic books. I finally gave in after not having much luck, and just focused on reading books. Then I heard about Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 and my comic book/graphic novel collecting began. Sure, I loved the super hero movies, but I knew I was too far behind to catch up. With Buffy, I could start from where I left off with the series. It was genius!

When I tell people I read comic books and graphic novels, all they hear is "graphic". They think of TV ratings and graphic materials. I have to explain to them that comics rely on graphics, it doesn't describe the content of the book. I am hoping that this will change sooner than later!

Also, I think females have been a growing audience and it will hopefully continue to bring in more readers of both sexes. Mainstream publishers, like Bloomsbury, published Shannon Hale's Rapunzel's Revenge. Diana Gabaldon will have a graphic novel set in her Outlander series, which are generally 1000 page historical fiction novels (but also full of time travel and other nifty things, but no real set genre).

DC may have canceled its series for young girls, but people of all ages might see some treats showing up on the bookshelves over the next few years. I just hope people stay open to the changes in the books and comic industry. I don't think comics/graphic novels will ever replace regular novels, but I think it will tell stories that might never have seen the light of day otherwise.

There are also several popular web comics on the scene like Penny Arcade or Sinfest, but what about online graphic novels? My own husband wrote one and has the cover and teaser synopsis up and will start posting the first pages 3:16. There are so many oppurtunities with the Internet, not just publishing. It is just amazing!

In regards to my own writing, I think I might have something up my sleeve someday. I am completely open to it, and I am interested in seeing what others authors decide to do in the future. So, don't be surprised. This is just the beginning of another evolution of comics, graphic novels, and writing in general!

Natasha

Currently... Update Edition

It's ridiculous how long it's been since I've updated here. Life seemed to pick up and fly. I decided maybe the best way to upda...