Today’s Word: Engastration

*First in a running series, part-humor and informative (and partly to add a little structure to my messy writing life.)

Engastration is the cooking process of shoving parts of one animal inside another animal carcass for enhanced flavor. ‘Turducken’ is the best example, being all the rage now.

Supposedly, it dates back to the Middle Ages, which means there was certainly a male royal chef (no woman would do this) armed with alcohol and perhaps a purse at stake, on a dare.

Still, for most of us, how bored and/or drunk would you have to be to come up with shoving one tasty animal inside another for cooking? And was this done artfully with a knife (if one can ever ‘shove’ artfully) or just, find an opening and go for it?!

Blurry hand holding knife over stone floor

Sentence:

Me: “I heard your brother’s going to attempt a turducken himself this year. Isn’t that engastration stuff kinda barbaric?”

Sister-in-law: “Oh, seriously,” she agreed, pulling out the first to-go box of fresh-boiled lobster. “Who would do that?”

If it Wasn’t Arduous

My mother-in-law recently took the family and I on an awesome trek to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. Though the journey to and from wasn’t the most memorable part, I will share what it looked like coming home:

Thirty hours in transit.

Boat to Zodiac to bus to airport and so on.

Four airports (two in Spanish-speaking Ecuador).

Customs, leaving Baltra (Galapagos) and arriving in Miami (90 minutes, zombies after an overnight flight).

One hotel room for eight hours, enough time to watch a Spanish-language “The Martian” and some soccer (for those of us who can’t sleep-on-demand) and veg and think about dinner. (At some point, fear of falling asleep and missing a flight overrides a need to try to sleep.)

Waiting, and sitting, and waiting, and pacing, and…

I could go into more detail (the poor service of American Airlines, the do-not-drink-the-tapwater order in Guayaquil) but we’ve all been there before. Life shunted into a string of waiting spells, shuffling, patience–international travel these days.

So it’s no surprise I’m reminded of the finishing steps for publishing a novel. The tons of work and countless (countable?) hours. The waiting and pacing. The parade of decisions and second-guessing and, yes, retracing of steps (your own, and thousands of others before you). At the end, you’re fried.

Sound familiar?

It’s no exaggeration to say I’ve read through my novels 20 times each beyond the initial writing phase. Who hasn’t edited a paragraph 13 times (the tone, the word choice) only to come back on a second read-through and cut it entirely? Fat, superfluous, saved for another work.

(Ironically, this journey home was in one ‘straight shot’ whereas the completion of a book is spread over, say, 3-4 months.)

Of course, if the whole process wasn’t arduous, would it even be worth it? If you weren’t so sick of reading your own work (or cramped seat 17E) you could go ape-shit by the end, have you worked enough?

So, as I begin the finishing process for a fifth time (Destruction) I’m going to pin up a copy of this picture. The big Galapagos sea lion on his beach, basking and stretching his back and playing king. Because sometimes the world is this pristine. Sometimes the water is that blue.

A Galapagos sea lion showing off his stuff, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

My First Podcast Interview

Hey, guess what!

Yours truly was interviewed by the wonderful Pat Rullo at Speak Up Talk Radio. Listen here!

The half-hour chat was a chance to talk about my books (I guess not all writers want to do so) and the mistakes and trials of getting to where I am as far as storytelling, confidence and craft are concerned. (Financial success is, naturally, another matter.)

This podcast will, in time, be available on channels like iTunes and iHeartRadio and others. So, have a listen and ping me with any questions or feedback.

Author Justin Edison dabbles in politics, helping out Dr. Kim Schrier for WA's 8th District

Rock on, guys!

One Writer’s Year in Review

So, 2017 definitely had its ups and downs (like all times in life).

Rather than focus on general life stuff (got older, gained more weight than I could stave off with exercise, drank 200 gallons of coffee, suffered 500 hours of depression) I’m looking at the year the way Kai┬áRyssdal would.

My accomplishments for the year:

Blog posts (including this one): 63.

Short stories: 2 (Fur, Droplets of Regret)

Poems: 3

Words: Too many to count, honestly

Novels published: 1 (Tempest Road)

Novels worked on: 2 (Frozen at the Wheel, Destruction [Woman at War, book 2]

Books I’ve read: 21+ (Your Republic is Calling You, Artemis, The Secret Life of Bees, The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-time, Old Yeller, My Sister’s Grave, Persepolis, Finding Zoe, Reputations, A Laird for Christmas, Born a Crime, A Long Way Gone, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Gone Girl, The Prince of Tides, The Illegal, The Short Drop, Long Way Down, Broken Pieces, All the Light We Cannot See, The Bridges of Madison County, maybe more…)

Sales: (And this is where Ryssdal would probably shake his head and say, “Give it up, man.”) Estimate 25-30 books

Reasons to give up writing: 2 (Not enough people see/read the books, not enough money in it)

Reasons to keep going (shaking my head all the way): Too many to count!

Justin Edison's three available books on a shelf

Justin Edison’s three available books on a shelf

Happy 2018, Everybody!

 

Weir’s Artemis a Fun Space Adventure

For a book that is not and could not be The Martian (the surprise hit of the last 15 years) Andy Weir’s Artemis is a fine stand-alone adventure in a new setting. It’s life, death, bad cuisine and worse decisions in 1/6 gravity.

His heroine is the brilliant but troubled Jazz Bashara, a welder’s daughter and almost-lifelong resident of the only city on the moon. She’s a foul-mouthed smuggler (delivery woman) who is fortunate to have numerous friends of every stripe–by the end of the book, she’ll need every one of them to survive.

Justin Edison's review of Artemis by Andy Weir

Through Bashara’s eyes, Weir presents a multicultural (if fractured and flawed) society in a bubble (5 domes, actually). Though her first-person ranting, and woe-is-me attitude and proclivities (booze, sex) occasionally get tiring, Weir still imbues her with a likeable, pragmatic approach to everything. She needs money, she knows how to get it (not by prostitution, thankfully).

Without giving too much away, Weir presents a how-to for all functional aspects of life on Earth’s gray, lifeless satellite. (Though Bashara doesn’t say it, she sure has to ‘science the shit out of’ a lot of things.) Who knew, for example, you could create ample amounts of oxygen from properly smelting aluminum and silicon from regolith (moon rock)? The book is part- fun romp through chemistry and physics, as well as part-market economics lesson. Life on the moon, of course, wouldn’t be possible without a fair amount of corruption–and the financial opportunities such an environment creates. Our narrator, a streetwise Saudi woman (by birth) is keenly aware of this.

In many ways, it’s a more relevant look at our own modern world (with all its flaws and limitations) than the one presented (peripherally) in his debut bestseller. Ironically, the greatest punishment faced by Bashara (besides death by misadventure) is banishment to Earth. Complicated and anything but easy-going, Artemis is the only home she has ever known.

We’ll just have to wait 50 years to see how prescient Weir is.