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June 2014




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Jun. 25th, 2014


(book review) The Street, by Paul E. Cooley

The Street by Paul E. Cooley (art by Scott Pond)


I promised some book reviews, so here’s the first!  This is an amazing book.  It is a horrifying, twisted, sick, wonderful book.  I really really really enjoyed this.


The Street, by Paul E. Cooley, (available here with his other amazing books) explores what happens to Sesame Street, the Muppet Show and Jim Henson’s other beloved creatures when the neocons take over and cancel PBS.  A puppet’s gotta make a living, after all, and when everything’s taken away from you, what do you do?


Whatever you have to.


In Cooley’s dark world, our narrator/guide is none other than Oscar the Grouch, who’s become the Nero Wolfe of The Street, as it’s now known.  Paid in Tuaca, Oscar leads us through the nightmare that is his world, as rival gangs divide up their turf and sell dough (cookie), seed and the services of puppet whores to whoever can afford to pay for them.  The Street that used to be clean and happy is now a drug-filled hellhole of broken dreams and trash.


Oscar isn’t a saint either, but he’s the closest thing the Muppets have to a good guy.  In this rough world, if you need to find a puppet, or stop a killer, you go to the guy in the can.  If he can’t help you, well, you’re screwed.


I loved this book.  Seriously.  I love the Muppets and always have – I grew up watching Sesame Street, Labyrinth, and the Muppet Show.  This takes those characters to a dark place, and they survive, because that’s what puppets do.  They survive.  You will never look at the Muppets the same again, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  I can’t wait to see what Paul does next (I’m kind of hoping for a Neighborhood of Make-Believe crossover soon).


Disclaimer: Paul and I are friends.  I bought his book and was not paid for this review.

Originally published at The words of Valerie Griswold-Ford. You can comment here or there.

Jun. 20th, 2014


(writing) Thoughts on writing, process, and language

I threatened a rant last week about chat-speak (I loathe it, for the short version of the rant), but as I didn’t have time to write it out when I was annoyed (probably a good thing, come to think of it), it mellowed and got intertwined with some other things.


Namely, this.


I love reading John Scalzi’s blog, because in addition to being a great writer, he has a wonderfully moderated community that actually TALKS.  Which I appreciate.  Because there is nothing guaranteed to make me grind my teeth faster than the “OMGWTFBBQ ur RONG!!!!” that are in a lot of other comment streams out there.  Yes, I know, the Internet is a wonderful place, and even those who can’t spell/don’t have a good grasp on grammar have things to share.  They do.  I don’t dispute that.


But for the love of whatever gods you hold dear, please stop making my eyes bleed.  Especially if you are chatting with/emailing someone in a professional capacity.  This includes writing your blog (especially if you are a writer), emailing your benefits center, or chatting with someone in a professional capacity.  Because really, to me, nothing says “I don’t actually care about what I’m doing here” faster than when I see an email on an account that starts “I c my acct, but I don’t c the option to do X. Pls process. Thx.”


Seriously?  SERIOUSLY?  (And yes, I write just about everything out.  Even text messages.  Ask my friends.)  But that’s neither here or there.  This is a piece of professional correspondence.  Which looks like a 3rd grader with a smart phone sent it.  Is that really the image you want to send?


Sorry, but that’s a huge pet peeve of mine.  And I see it every day (I work as a chat associate for a large financial organization).


I thought of that again today when reading Scalzi’s blog, because the comments talk about some things that self-publishers should be looking at.  And I realized something about myself.


I have a day job.  I have a day job that (luckily) pays my bills at this point, a day job that I enjoy (for the most part) and that I’m not planning on leaving.  My writing is for me to share with people.  While I have no intentions at this point of quitting my day job (even if I got a big contract), I don’t mind getting a bit of money from my writing.  But for me, at this point, it’s not going to tip the balance one way or the other .  (At least, not as long as my hubby is also working.)  That being said, I do self-publish some things, and I’ll continue to do that.  And when I do it, I don’t have a problem paying for things I can’t do.


I’m not a graphic designer.  I think in words, not pictures.  Which is why I pay talented folk like Starla Hutchton and J.A. Marlow to design my covers.  I am, however, a darn good proofreader and copy-editor, so people pay me to do that.  I sometimes swap services for services.


I also give away stuff for free here on the blog.  I will continue to do that, as they come up, because, well, I like to have people read my stuff.  And that’s the crux of it all.


I’m a writer.  Even if I never made another dime on writing, I would still write, and I would probably still share it here on the blog, if nothing else.  I get crazy when I don’t write regularly.


But I’m working a schedule now that means that I probably can’t write every day.  And I’m coming to terms with that.  It’s okay.  As long as I write on my days off (Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays), I think I’ll be good.  I just need sleep on the other days.


So yeah.  That’s what’s been going on in my brain lately.  Along with some other things.  I’ll be trying to write more on here too.  I’ve got two reviews I want to write ( for Feed by Mira Grant and The Street by Paul E. Cooley) that should go live either this weekend or next week.  And I think I’ll be dropping some other things too.

Originally published at The words of Valerie Griswold-Ford. You can comment here or there.

Jun. 7th, 2014


(personal) Upheavals and changes

I love summer.  I love getting out in the sun, swimming, picking berries, going to farmer’s markets, reading on the beach, camping, summer events…. summer is my favorite time of year.  It’s what I look forward to all year.


I do NOT want to spend my summer on crutches with this knee of mine.  However, I think that might be my fate.  We find out Monday.  Yes, I hurt it again.  No, I don’t want to talk about it.  (For the record, I was over helping my mother out, and stepped wrong on the stairs.  Not out being wild or anything.)


However, the biggest thing I love about summer is all the fresh food.  Everything tastes better in the summer, when it’s been freshly picked, or bought at the farmer’s market.  And although we’re eating pizza for lunch today, I’m getting ready to make some seriously fresh foods for the week.  Tonight we start with a ham steak and steamed broccoli with bacon and garlic.  And probably mashed potatoes, although we’ll see.  Nom.


I’m also going to make another batch of Chex Mix (maybe I’ll make that tomorrow over at Mom’s, since I’ll be at Mom’s for the day), and some marinaded chicken.  I need to get salad stuff too – I’m on a serious Caesar salad kick for some reason.  I think it’s time to pull out my cookbooks and see what kind of seasonal recipes I can find.  Also, I need to bake something.  I’m craving baked goods, and the good GF ones are expensive.  Maybe I’ll do biscuits?


I need to sew too.  Palio is next weekend (eek!) and I promised a friend I’d have her sari hemmed.  I need to go and get the thread for that, and then do it.  And finish my skirt.  And pants.  And go to work.  And write.


Good lord, what a life.  I love it.


Oh, and now we can officially announce it – my hubby started his new job this week!  So yay!

Originally published at The words of Valerie Griswold-Ford. You can comment here or there.

May. 28th, 2014


(personal/con/writing) A magical weekend

I just got back from Brigadoon – I mean, Balticon.  (Please don’t tell me that you don’t get the reference, because then I’ll feel REALLY old.  Just go with it.)  The best place in the world to spend Memorial Day weekend is Hunt Valley, Maryland, at the best con in the world.  No matter how down I’m feeling about my writing, Balticon picks me up and infuses me with all sorts of new creative juice.


I love the panels, where you can talk with people about all sorts of things writerly, nerdly and/or gamerly.  I love randomly running into people in the hall that I haven’t seen in five or more years, and being able to pick up our conversation right where we left off the last time.  I love the fact that no matter where you go, people are having amazing conversations about all sorts of things.  I love the live podcasts, the readings and the chance to find all sorts of new books (so many new books!) and authors.  Most of all, I love the chance to meet new friends and absorb all of the creative energy that infuses the entire weekend.


One of my panels this year was a reading, and I went out on a limb and read a scene from Into Thin Air.  It was really well received, which thrilled me, and I got a lot of questions about when it would be coming out.  I also got some ideas for the new book, and even got some words down!  Yay!


I hate it when I don’t write.  I feel stuffed up, like I have a horrible cold that nothing can help, and I get very grumpy.  My cats hide from me.  My husband asks me if I’m going to go up and write.  My work mates throw chocolate and stay out of my way.  It’s ugly.


But at the same time, if I’m writing crap, I’m also not happy.  Just throwing words on the page doesn’t work.  I need to be doing something that will be good.  So to have the impetus to write, and to get good content out of it, makes me very happy.


I need to keep this blog up.  So much is going on, so much is changing, that I need to keep this up.  A lot of the changes are good.  Most I can’t talk about right now.  But as I’m able to talk about them, I will.


And I will be writing.  Always writing.

Originally published at The words of Valerie Griswold-Ford. You can comment here or there.

May. 14th, 2014


(personal/writing) Yeah, I know, I know…

What can I say?  I’ve had a bad winter, and I haven’t been keeping this up.  There have been some personal things going on that I want to keep personal, but that have kept me from updating this, or writing a lot, or really doing anything other than going to work, eating and sleeping for the past month or so.  That’s changed now, I hope.


One of the good changes is that I have an office chair in my home office again!  Yay!  I don’t have to sit on a chair that has wheels falling off, or a hard folding chair that was just a hair too short.  Sadly, this means that I haven’t been on my big computer in like 5 months, so yeah, updates are a bitch.  That’s why I’m taking the time to write a blog post (while listening to the Red Sox) and cleaning out my email, since Dropbox is actually advising me “This will take a while.  Get a Snickers.”  (No, really, that’s what the program said.  Isn’t that hysterical?)


So if you’ve been waiting for something from me, I apologize.  If you’ve been waiting for more fiction from me, I apologize.  And if you’ve just been wondering where the heck I’ve been – well, it’s a cold, dark, lonely place, and I don’t recommend it as a vacation spot.  The sun is shining here now, my azaleas are in bloom and my lilacs are starting to peek out, and I’m feeling better.


Bring on Balticon!

Originally published at The words of Valerie Griswold-Ford. You can comment here or there.

Apr. 21st, 2014


(personal/writing) Blowing off the winter dust

You know, it’s been a LONG winter.  Maybe not GRRM long, but longer than I wanted.  Much longer than I wanted.


But it’s finally warm out.  The snow is gone and there is music in the morning when I go out.  I’m still adjusting to my work schedule, but it’s getting easier.  I’m not fighting it as much.  Now, of course, I have allergies, but I’ll take allergies over snow pants, seriously.


I’m still sort of on crutches, although I’m not using them very much.  I go back to the doctor’s on the 30th, and hopefully they’ll finally give me the go-ahead to stop using them fully.  I’m walking on May 5 in a charity walk, for MS research, and I will be damned if I do it on crutches!  But hey, if I have to, I have to.


Writing is going good – I’m working on the rough draft for Deep Waters, the 2nd Pendragon Casefiles novella.  The first one, Into Thin Air, is on schedule to be released at Balticon, and I’m hoping to have copies soon for reviewers.  Want to review it?   Drop me a line at val at and let me know!


I’m also working on FaeryTale Princess again.  I’m really liking this story, and my writer’s group is intrigued.  Also, at this point, the hero is kind of an ass.  Which is fun to write.  Don’t worry, he won’t always be.  It’s sort of a romance, after all!


I’ll have cards for my proofreading business and swag from Lake Knight Paranormal (the ghost hunting group in Pendragon) at Balticon.  I might even read from the first novella!


So yeah, life is looking up.  I find it usually does in the spring.  I just wish it wouldn’t take so darn long to get here.

Originally published at The words of Valerie Griswold-Ford. You can comment here or there.

Mar. 13th, 2014


(food) Bread! Gluten-Free bread, even!

I love bread.  No, trust me, you don’t understand – I REALLY LOVE BREAD.  And now I’m gluten-free.




Except that I finally found a bread recipe that works and tastes like BREAD.  So here it is.  The original recipe came from and was done by GlutenFreeGirl in 2006 – I’m giving you my tweaked recipe, which I found works better.



3 tsp ground flax seed

3 cups rice flour

1 cup tapioca flour

3 tsp xanthum gum

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

2 tbsp fast rise yeast

2 tbsp melted butter

2 whole eggs

1 tsp vinegar

Olive oil for the top



1. Proof the yeast with the sugar and warm water for about 5 minutes.

2. Mix together the butter, the eggs, the vinegar and the xanthan gum, then add the yeast mixture.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat for about 3 minutes.  It’s a VERY sticky dough.

4. Put on a greased cookie sheet and slash diagonally every few inches, if desired.  Or put in a regular greased bread pan.  Let rise for approximately 20-25 minutes in a warm place.

5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Bake for 40-45 minutes (45-50 for the bread pan option).  If you are doing the French loaves, cover with tin foil after 20 minutes.


SO good!

Originally published at The words of Valerie Griswold-Ford. You can comment here or there.


Mar. 3rd, 2014


(writing/personal) Monday, my old enemy, we meet again.

I’m trying really hard to keep updating this blog.  I feel bad that it seems to be only on Mondays – I promise, I will get onto more of a schedule soon.  Life has just been…well, life, lately.


Hubby is still job hunting, and any good thoughts (or job prospects!) that you folks can send our way would be awesome.  He’s looking hard, and in the meantime, I get to enjoy things like the house being cleaner than normal, and my laundry being done.  Honestly, if we could afford it, I’d love to keep him as a house husband.  He’d be happier too.  We need to win the lottery or something.


I’m still writing (yes, this is totally counting as words today, because it is after 11 pm and I’m brain-dead after a Monday), and I’m up to 23 days, I believe.  Not even hurricanes or hurricane-related hangovers stopped me, so one day of weird chats (and dear lord, were they weird.  Especially the guy who wanted to make sure he was still employed, because he couldn’t change his contributions online.  From his work computer.  While he sat in his office.  I swear, I can’t make this stuff up!) is not going to stop me.  And as my friend LC pointed out last week, the fact that I have a life means I have more inspiration.  And I do!


I’m hoping to get Into Thin Air out this week.  It’s on my list, and Wednesday after my PT appointment, I’m planning on heading to the studio and getting it out.  This is a labor of love – I really, really love these characters, and I think the story and the concept are awesome.  It’s a new universe, a new plotline – and I can’t wait to share it with you.  I’m thinking Wednesday I might post a scene for you.


Health update!  We think the kidney stone passed while I wasn’t looking (a 4mm stone, or so they thought.  My friend Bob uses pearls smaller that that in his jewelry. O.o) but I go to the urologist on Wednesday to find out.  There’s no pain anymore, which is good, but apparently now I’m prone to them (kidney stones, that is).  Joy.  It’s been stupid cold here, so my knees are not happy.  I think Wednesday might also be swim day, as I have a 3 hour block of time in between urologist and PT.  And the pool is warm.  I just have to find my swim suit.


But right now, I’m not going to think about sore knees, or bills, or anything like that. I just wanted to thank you guys.  All of you, who believe in me, who like the stories and the characters that I bring into life.  I want to be thankful that I can continue to write.  And I want to remind myself, and everyone else out there, that I always have my writing, and that’s a very, very cool thing.


Even if it is stupid cold out.  (Seriously, it’s -17 degrees F before the wind chill.  WTF?  It’s March!  It’s baseball season!  This is NOT AWESOME!)

Originally published at The words of Valerie Griswold-Ford. You can comment here or there.

Feb. 26th, 2014


(writing) Need for Speed

I’m not a fast writer.  I think my  best day was 8k, and boy, was my brain exhausted after that.  I average 300 words a day, which is a drop in the bucket for some people.  I know writers who routinely do 3-4k a day and consider that a light day.   I used to be jealous of those writers.  I thought if only I could push myself, dedicate myself to just sitting and writing, I could do that too.  Right?




Oh, I could do it for a while.  I did it through NaNo, and felt my brain turn to mush for most of December and January.   I’m still not sure I’m fully recovered.  It’s been a long, hard slog through the new year, and I don’t know that what I’ve written has been all that good.  Thank goodness I’m writing rough drafts, and I’ll have time to edit it.


But what I’ve realized, as I’ve been pushing myself to get more words, to get Secrets done so I can get it out for Balticon, that it’s okay to be a slow writer.  I’m not a fast writer.  I’m a slow, methodical writer.  I’m a writer who is dealing with a full-time job, a stress-aggravated illness (well, let’s be honest, several of them), and I have a life.  I have friends.  I have social commitments.


It’s okay if I don’t get 5k a night as well.


Just because I know in my head that it’s okay doesn’t mean that my heart understands it, or believes it.  I still feel inadequate when I see the wordcounts others post.  I still feel like I could be doing more.  Like I SHOULD be doing more.


I hate that word should.


I need to remember that SHOULD doesn’t need to rule my life.  I’m writing every day.  I’m getting words.  Slower than some, but still getting words.  And that’s all that matters.  I’m writing every day.  And that’s the important thing.

Originally published at The words of Valerie Griswold-Ford. You can comment here or there.


Feb. 20th, 2014


(personal) Life: 1, Val: 0

It’s been that kind of week.  Hell, it’s been that kind of couple of weeks.


Let’s see.  First of all, my hubby was laid off last week.  Then, my great-uncle died.  That was last week.  I thought, okay, I can handle this.  After all, I’m still employed full-time.  He’ll find another job.  I’m feeling better, so we can handle this.


Famous last words.


Sunday night, I suddenly got hit with excruciating pain in my left side.  Like, if there had been a knife handy, I would have been stabbing things out of my side.  I hoped it would get better, but at 10:30 pm, I had hubby drive me to the emergency room.  Five hours and a CT scan later, the verdict was a 4mm kidney stone.  OMFG, I never want pain like that again.


Well, okay, that sucks, but I have until Wednesday off, so I should be okay.  Just pass the stone (won’t get to my great-uncle’s funeral, but oh, well, they know we’d be there in spirit), and then go to work.  Simple, right?  Yeah, right.  The stone is moving, sort of (as of Wednesday morning, it was close to my bladder, so hopefully its gone by now), but the drugs that have helped move it have given me vertigo.  Serious vertigo.  As in, getting up from the couch makes the room spin.  So no work, again, today.  Call the doctor’s office, and they say “Oh, it might take 1-2 days for that to pass.”  Joy of joys.  So much for work this week.


And it’s just now, at 8 pm, that the vertigo has subsided enough for me to look at my computer without puking.  So these words are the only ones I’m getting today.


Tomorrow, we’ll hope, things will be better.  Hopefully.  I’m not saying more than that.

Originally published at The words of Valerie Griswold-Ford. You can comment here or there.

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