It’s ALA Midwinter weekend and I’m eagerly awaiting a call from the Unreliable Blogger Award committee. Maybe you guys lost my number?

So, it’s well past the point of apologies here on the blog, but I am sorry I’ve been so absent, I’ve missed blogging, and in fact, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to ease back into blogging more often. I’ve been great, all is well, the work is moving along, the next book is on the verge of being scheduled. I have so much to say about it, but can’t, until I get the go-ahead. Right now I’m in a stage that the writerly among you might be able to sympathize with: I’m working many hours, but with SO little forward progress. The work I’m doing right now requires intense identification with each individual character, combined with intense objectivity about each character, which is a tricky balance. It takes a lot of time and energy. The reason I’m doing this is to get a sense of whether each character rings true emotionally. So, I sink myself into each character emotionally to write a line. Then I become the outside objective reader and read the line I just wrote, in the hopes of getting an objective sense of whether it conveys the thing I was feeling while I wrote it. Because it’s not enough for a writer to feel something while she writes it. The reader needs to feel it while she reads it, or else effective writing hasn’t actually happened. This particular task involves a lot of backtracking, a lot of following one character through the story while ignoring the others, a lot of going back to the beginning. I suppose it’s a good sign that this is where I am, because this only tends to happen in the later revisions. I certainly hope this revision will turn out to be one of the later revisions. :o)

I’ll ease myself back into blogging today with a reflection on one of last year’s New Year’s resolutions: I resolved to bake bread once a month. “Bread,” in this context, meant something that needed to be kneaded. I mostly baked traditional yeast loaves (buttermilk, potato, rye, etc.) and at one point I baked a soda bread. I baked bread every month – except December! December got away from me. So, on Friday night, I started an extra special bread to make up for my December folly: the better chocolate babka at Smitten Kitchen. Oh my goodness. This was definitely the winner for the year. If you’re interested in trying the recipe but you don’t have a standing mixer, don’t worry, I don’t have a standing mixer either and it was just fine (though I strongly recommend using room-temperature butter!). Very gloppy to knead (because of all the butter), but everything came together well. Thank goodness, I got some super-sharp knives for Christmas (thanks, Mom and Dad ^_^); I wouldn’t have wanted to cut through the big tubes of raw dough with dull knives. If you make this bread, definitely follow the advice to stick the dough in the freezer for fifteen minutes before slicing. I left out the cinnamon and the nuts, checked them at 25 minutes and again at 30 minutes; they baked for about 35. Yummy! I suppose I should’ve taken more pictures in progress, but the ones on the website are lovely (and helpful). Here are the few I did take!

This is the dough’s second rise. This bread isn’t a big riser, so don’t freak out if not a lot seems to be happening!

Out of the oven.

Ready for the feast :o)