Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Recipe? What? I thought this was a writing blog...

Because I'm in the process of trying to make better use of a couple of my social media outlets (namely, Pinterest and Twitter) I'm going a little off the usual grid here and posting something completely unrelated to writing or fantasy or geekdom or faith. A recipe for pasta salad.

I suppose you could relate it to writing because, hey, writers eat too. And they probably want to eat things that are easy and tasty so that we can get back to the keyboard full and happy. Because when we're not, we do awful things to characters. Wait--we do that anyway. Theory busted.

Well, devoid of any connecting theory, here's the recipe some friends have been asking about. If I'm lucky, I can also figure out how to "pin" it over at the very mysterious hub of distraction.

Pizza Pasta Salad
This is pre-addition of the pasta and dressing,
 but the ingredient colors make me happy.
A Lowbrow Yum Recipe by Becky Minor

  • 3/4 of a box of your favorite pasta, cooked and cooled
  • One envelope Good Seasons Italian dressing, prepared per package instructions, but make sure you use olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Alternately, use whatever bottled balsamic vinaigrette you like, but it's better if you do the "mix you're own" kind. I'm not judging.
  • One bell pepper, color of your choice, diced
  • One can black olives (more if you're like me and eat half of them while you're preparing everything else)
  • One tub of pearl style fresh mozzarella (if you can't get the pearl style, just get a ball of fresh and cube it small. But the pearls are cuter.)
  • 1 1/2-2 cups pepperoni, diced. (Diced pepperoni actually comes pre-done in a bag, if you're pressed for time and you can get it. Slices tend to stick together, which I find annoying)
  • One container cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 of a red onion, minced. (This is optional. Especially if you are serving it to Scott Conant on Chopped, since he will berate you for even considering raw red onion as an ingredient. I think he was beaten by red onions as a child.)

Combine all the ingredients. Consume right away, or chill for later. It's best served right around room temperature.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Realm Makers: Reflections from the Director

Yes, it’s taken this introvert a week and a half to even begin sorting my thoughts on Realm Makers: 2014. Mental fatigue is a formidable foe for me. On any project, I tend to idle for a long time, or else just tootle around through the early stages at the task at hand, and then, once lateness is a real risk, I go full throttle until the end. This makes for a long cooling period after any creative sprint, but thankfully, this pattern hasn’t burnt me out yet.

A lot of that avoidance of burnout has to do with the steady flow of encouragement that has been coming through a long list of blogs and emails and facebook posts that have been cropping up over the past week-plus. (And if you’ve emailed me to say thank you or contribute ideas, please know I am not ignoring you. I just can’t write checks and dig out my office and answer emails all in the short space of my evenings yet.) Those who have reflected publicly on their Realm Makers experience have shared a refrain: Realm Makers is unique. It’s not just another option among other, more professional, bigger conferences. It speaks to a deep need for a community that only exists as a subset of other events. It’s all this positive feedback that gave me the courage to keep opening the PollDaddy results and digesting them. (Imagine receiving like 50 critiques on your manuscript in the space of a week, most of them from folks you scarcely know.)

Realm Makers continues to stretch me in ways I only scarcely imagined it might—in project management, in
Steve Laube and Clay Morgan, embodying the spirit of the
Realm Makers conference. Come as you are. Come as a zombie.
It's all good.
willingness to delegate, in party hosting, in coping with conflict, and I am grateful for each of the challenges the conference presents, because they are truly where the iron sharpens iron.

The challenges going forward are going to be numerous: finding ways to grow the conference, continue to attract excellent faculty, run it smoothly, and still keep the atmosphere of people getting together with a gaggle of new best friends. Size is needed in order to provide the quality of content we want to deliver to Realm Makers attendees. But there’s an intimacy I really don’t want to sacrifice, if there’s any way to avoid that. The shared vision of those in attendance will go a long way in preserving that “among friends” feeling, but careful management of the atmosphere will be central to my decision making down the road.

The main sentiment I want to express here is my gratitude to all of you who have gotten behind this effort to make it so much more than I could have ever designed on my own. Like a friend said to me in an email this week: some conferences are only as good as the team the director has around him or her. I know, that the combination of my small team and the energy of those who attend carry far more responsibility for the conference's success than anything I planned. Because of your great ideas and the momentum you create together, I am fully convinced that Realm Makers is viable as an annual entity. Will it get easier? In some ways. But knowing me, I will change enough from year to year that each conference will be its own, labyrinthine adventure.