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Improbability is in the Details
Abra Staffin-Wiebe's Journal
17th-Aug-2019 04:10 pm - Recipe: American-style Taco Filling
This was my first try substituting mushrooms for half of the meat, and it worked perfectly. My kids loved their tacos. This makes me ponder how well a vegan half-mushroom, half-TVP version would work.

2 Tbsp. butter
1 pkg white mushrooms
1 onion
1/2 lb. ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cayenne (optional--I leave it out because I use a pretty spicy chili powder)
1 c. double-strength beef broth
1 1/2 c. chopped tomatoes
2 tsp. cornstarch

  1. Clean mushrooms. Trim mushroom stems. Pulse in food processor until chopped into roughly 1/4" pieces.
  2. Mince onions.
  3. Melt butter in large pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until onions are translucent and starting to brown. Put mixture into bowl and set aside.
  4. In the same pan, saute meat until beginning to brown. Add minced garlic and tomato paste. Continue sauteing until thoroughly browned.
  5. Add spices and stir in.
  6. Add tomatoes and beef broth.
  7. Whisk in cornstarch. Add onion-and-mushroom mix back to the pan.
  8. Continue stirring until thickened.
  9. Salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Serve with your choice of lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, olives, chopped tomatoes, sliced radishes, salsa, and cream cheese.

Originally posted at https://cloudscudding.dreamwidth.org/1130776.html on Dreamwidth.org.

One of my tiniest stories is now out in Changelings & Fairy Rings: An Anthology of Nature Spirits & Elemental Creatures, a collection of 40 tiny stories and poems. This is only available to purchase through Lulu.com.
Book cover

(There's a new Aswiebe's Market List out, with lots of market list updates: http://www.aswiebe.com/writing/markets.html)

Originally posted at https://cloudscudding.dreamwidth.org/1130661.html on Dreamwidth.org.
3rd-Aug-2019 03:28 pm - "July" Writing Update
Thoughts in Passing
Summer is a busy time for me both personally and professionally, with both kids home from school, assorted SF&F conventions, and family gatherings. Once again, I vastly overestimated my ability to get writing done in the midst of all this. For some reason, I always imagine family vacations as a writing retreat where I'll have a chance to get more done, when in fact I end up spending almost all my time riding herd on the children and participating in planned activities.
(Yes, I got to practice archery at the family gathering this year!)
I've been squeezing writing in where I can by saying that I'll write three sentences and then I can take care of whatever other urgent thing I have to do. But I've also started attending group BICFOKing sessions (Butt In Chair, Fingers On Keyboard--and yes, the acronym makes me laugh) where no distractions are allowed and you are just writing for an hour and a half straight, followed by a half-hour or so of socializing. There's a lot of value in using multiple approaches for getting words out. And I know that in September, how I manage my time will change again. I'm looking forward to it.
What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:
Just ambling along, as and when I can. Oh, and I did the narration for M. Darusha Wehm's "A Most Elegant Solution," which you can read or listen to here at Escape Pod. It's a short, sweet, SF thought experiment about nanobots and colonization and adaptation. Recommended.

(This is the personal bit of my writing markets newsletter, which you can read in full herehttp://www.aswiebe.com/writing/archive2019.html#080319)
Originally posted at https://cloudscudding.dreamwidth.org/1130252.html on Dreamwidth.org.
11th-Jul-2019 04:29 pm - Homemade Tater Tots Recipe
Potatoes eager to grow, unaware of their fate...
Sprouting potatoes, unaware of their fate.

Food processor, microwave

2 lbs potatoes
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp dry parsley
1 tsp. dried minced onion (or 1/2 tsp. onion powder)
1 tsp garlic powder
fresh ground black pepper to taste

1/2 c. flour
vegetable oil for frying


Peel and rough-chop potatoes. Submerge in bowl of ice water for 30 seconds.

Drain potatoes. Using food processor with shredder attachment, shred potatoes.

Transfer half the potatoes to a clean dishtowel and squeeze as much water as possible out. Put in a large microwaveable bowl.
Repeat with a new clean dishtowel and the second half of the potatoes.

Microwave potatoes for 1 minute, stir, and then microwave for one more minute.

Add all seasonings and stir quickly with a spatula to combine. Do not over-stir.

Heat 1/2" of  vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large pan.

Put flour in a shallow baking dish. Form small balls of potato mixture and roll in the flour.

When the oil sizzles, add the potato balls and cook, turning once, until golden-brown. Drain on paper towels.

Delicious served hot! No pictures of the final project, sorry, because I accidentally used purple potatoes and they looked a little odd when cooked.

Originally posted at https://cloudscudding.dreamwidth.org/1130063.html on Dreamwidth.org.
26th-Apr-2019 11:15 am - Events! Writing! Stuff!
I can announce it now! I will be a Special Guest at CoreCon in Fargo, ND, May 23rd - 26th. The theme is cyberpunk. I'm very excited about it, I've got some excellent panels planned, and if I suddenly start talking about cyberpunk a lot, that is why! I hope to see some of you there.
Register at Fargo CoreCon.
I have a thing coming up locally, too, that may be of interest to Minneapolis folks.
On April 27th, I'll be at Books and Beer: Cider Edition, a pop-up bookstore taking place at Number 12 Cider in Minneapolis. Come say hi, have a cider, find a new favorite book!
What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:
Still working on finishing my contemporary fantasy thriller-in-progress. Still so close! I am taking a leetle bit of time for a couple of smaller, quicker projects, which makes me feel less trapped-in-quicksand (while also slowing down my rate of escaping the quicksand). I wrote a quick flash piece for a contest, a very short piece that needs to be a little bit longer to properly breathe. So that's one for my to-edit stack down the road, but in the meantime, I wrote it and it is in the contest and I do think it is quite good. And later today I'm going to a draw-in at an art gallery for an art-and-writing collaboration project. I don't actually draw, but I have hopes that I have a crafting approach that might produce something that at least looks interesting.

(This is the personal bit from my writing markets newletter. To read the whole thing: http://www.aswiebe.com/writing/markets.html)
Originally posted at https://cloudscudding.dreamwidth.org/1129764.html on Dreamwidth.org.
I'm in the home stretch of the contemporary fantasy thriller that I've been working on for mumble-mumble-don't-ask-please. All the pieces are coming together, the writing is flowing easily because of all the momentum pushing it forward, and I'm really pleased with how it's turning out. Don't get too excited, though. Final stretch for me means another couple of months. I have hopes I'll finish it before the kids go on summer vacation. I must say that I do miss the faster feedback loop of short stories, though. The long slog of a novel is brutal when you don't know if anyone will ever read and love it. I'll probably write a whole batch of short stories once I finish this bigger project.

See market updates and all the rest at http://www.aswiebe.com/writing/archive2019.html#031919
I'm putting this bit here so I can keep the journal-ish parts archived.

Originally posted at https://cloudscudding.dreamwidth.org/1129588.html on Dreamwidth.org.
17th-Feb-2019 03:19 pm - Monthly Writing Update!
What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:
I'm focusing on consistency--writing every day. I find that when I tell myself I only need to write three sentences, but I need to write those first (before doing whatever else it is I want or need to do on the computer), it is much easier for me to get past that initial resistance-to-writing and I usually write more than three sentences. So yay! I found something that works for me! YMMV and of course what works often changes, but if you're having trouble getting started, it's worth a try.
Things Shiny or Useful
Archive of all shiny or useful links: http://www.aswiebe.com/writing/shiny.html  
5 Places to Get Paid to Write About Writing: https://horrortree.com/5-places-to-get-paid-to-write-about-writing/

The Mysterious Discipline of Narratologists: https://www.tor.com/2019/01/29/the-mysterious-discipline-of-narratologists/

Emergency Triage for Writers: Bring Out Your Dead: http://dankoboldt.com/emergency-triage-writers/

The rest of the market list update: Ambiguous Horror Needed (Or Is It?) and Other Publication Updates

Originally posted at https://cloudscudding.dreamwidth.org/1129440.html on Dreamwidth.org.
30th-Jan-2019 02:41 pm - Writing Thoughts in Passing

It's still only January, but so much has kicked into gear for this year already! Some I can announce, some I can't yet.
Several people have subscribed recently, and it is the beginning of the year, so I thought I'd give you a refresher on where else you can find me. I have not one, not two, but three email newsletters!
  • Aswiebe's Market List - This one! A monthly update on new publications accepting science fiction, fantasy, and horror, along with a few of my favorite writing links.
  • My teaching newsletter - Get notifications when I'm teaching classes or running free workshops in the Twin Cities area.
  • Abra's Quarterly Compendium of Delight - A quarterly(ish) author newsletter with news of my publications, recommended free fiction, exclusives, and assorted other fun things. Subscribers also get quick updates when I have something new out.
Other places you can find me!
My author website is at http://www.aswiebe.com/. If you go there and click on "Stories," you will find links to read many of my published works. Some are free! I'm in the middle of building a new website that looks like it was made in the last decade, so pardon the plaster dust and redirects.
What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:
I've been working on a grant application for an artist residency. As an SF writer, this is a tricky needle to thread, but it has jumpstarted the process of me creating an author website that looks like it was made in the past decade. Part of the application requires an online portfolio, so that is up and will exist for the next month or so. Three of my favorite stories are up there, free to read for a limited time, so go take a look!
header semi-final.jpg
(This webpage will probably redirect you--the domain is in the middle of being transferred. And pardon the plaster dust and thumping sounds as I renovate my website.)
Road of Dreams - Transcendent150w.jpg
My short story, "Road of Dreams," is now out in the Transcendent anthology, a large compilation of stories inspired by dreams, nightmares, and hallucinations. Don't read before bedtime. ;)

Read the full newsletter here: http://www.aswiebe.com/writing/markets.html
Originally posted at https://cloudscudding.dreamwidth.org/1129107.html on Dreamwidth.org.
24th-Dec-2018 02:56 pm - The monthly writing post
Thoughts in Passing
Happy Holidays! I hope you are having a joyful Christmas Eve, if you celebrate it. Me, I like Iceland's idea of  Jólabókaflóð, the Yule Book Flood. In addition to our usual Christmas Eve festivities, I absolutely plan on settling in with some chocolate and a book this evening after the children are asleep.

If you are reading this after the holidays, perhaps because you've chosen to unplug for a while, go you! I hope you feel relaxed and refreshed.
And don't forget that ebooks are a great way to spend the last few dollars of that gift card you got, and novellas are particularly affordable. Here are the Nebula award nominees for novella this year and here's my small yet epic fantasy.

What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:
I am embracing the idea of a writing session being a success even if you only write 3 sentences. It's removed a lot of the pressure, and so I feel less of an urge to procrastinate and end up writing more. Usually for me, it isn't the writing that's a problem, it's the starting to write. This helps, and I'm happy with how it's encouraging me to keep my mind in my project and to write every day. Because after all, I can do those ten urgent other things after I've written my 3 sentences, and if I feel like writing more once I get started (I usually do), then those ten other urgent things can wait a little longer.

Things Shiny or Useful
Archive of all shiny or useful links: http://www.aswiebe.com/writing/shiny.html  

Basic client negotiation strategies: https://twitter.com/imemi/status/1065700145948434432
Ultimate list of the best book review blogs: https://kindlepreneur.com/book-review-blogs/#sci-fi
Featured Market
New pro themed anthology! Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove wants all genres, pays $.06/wd.
  • Stories must meet two basic criteria. First, they must take place over the span of five minutes. Second, they must take place at a specific era, location, and time of day within the rooms or grounds of the Hotel Stormcove.
  • In order to maximize ease of writing across genres, we are not adhering to a strict Earth location and timeline. Contemporary writers will find the current hotel equipped with modern amenities. Historical fiction writers would be best writing generic stories in an era, but not based on specific local events. Fantasy writers may find low or urban fantasy easier with this theme, but I don’t doubt your ability to work in high fantasy elements and hope you will enjoy the challenge. And steampunk writers, well you can stage a whole mechanical speakeasy in the cocktail lounge. Mystery has the gift of finding a dead body in the hotel room, but you know, have fun with it. And so on.

Basics: all genres--themed, under 4,000 words, no reprints, pays $.06/wd, due 1/31/2019. Guidelines: https://www.atthisarts.com/stormcove/.
(This month's full markets newsletter can be found here: http://www.aswiebe.com/writing/archive2018.html#122418)
Originally posted at https://cloudscudding.dreamwidth.org/1128755.html on Dreamwidth.org.
21st-Nov-2018 11:20 am - Writing Thoughts In Passing
Thoughts in Passing
As we approach the holidays, the publishing industry slooooooooowwwws way down. Many magazines close for the month of December. Very few new magazines choose to start up during this time (January is a different story). So if you have something you want to send out on submission, get it out now, before Thanksgiving happens in the United States. Skip sending out submissions in December, as many publications will be on hiatus anyway. Take a break, write new things, and spend time with family and friends!

What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:
This month, I performed at a couple of big reading events. It went well! One was for a new release that I have a couple of stories in, The Subverted Fairy Project, a collaboration between artists and writers. If you enjoy twisted fairy tales, art, or flash fiction, I recommend it!
Subverted Fairy Project - cover.jpg
Tor.com also posted a wonderful and completely unexpected review of The Unkindness of Ravens, my epic fantasy novella. Squee!

(This is the personal-ish tidbit from my writing markets newsletter. The whole thing, with all the details about new markets, can be found here: http://www.aswiebe.com/writing/markets.html)
Originally posted at https://cloudscudding.dreamwidth.org/1128501.html on Dreamwidth.org.
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