Sunday, December 15, 2013

I miss school

I remember I once asked my honors project advisor what she felt like when she was done with college. She said she got a job as a journalist, and started a new routine, but she missed going to class. If I remember correctly, I guess she said it was a little boring not having to go to school anymore-- so, she went to grad school. She liked school.

That was funny and weird to hear, even though I've always been a bit nerdy. When I asked her that question, I was on my senior year at college, ready to leave school and start my life, and make all my dreams come true. I was, I guess, very impatient to leave. And I was very tired, too. I'd always been the type who wants to excel at everything, so school life always demanded a lot from me. What I wanted at that point was to start applying in real life everything I had learned.

Well, I guess I understand my advisor now. I miss school. I miss the stress that your life becomes when you have papers to write, books to read, classes to attend, friends to hang out with, and a boyfriend to visit in a different town. I miss life in an academic environment, and it doesn't help that I went to a small, residential private school, and that it was a very close-knit community. I miss, as weird as it sounds, living in a dorm where you don't get your own bathroom. I miss the cafeteria and the big windows facing Fox river. I miss my school's library. And the big oak tree I always saw on my way to and from classes.

If you're a senior at college, enjoy your last year (within reason, of course) as much as you can. I know you're probably very tired and anxious to leave. I know the feeling so well. But, I assure you, you'll miss it when it's over. If you lived in a healthy environment, and if you like your friends, you'll miss going to class, and you'll miss your friends bragging that they have more work to do and that they sleep less than you do, as if sleeping less is something to be proud of. Anyway, you'll miss everything and everyone. The buildings. Your classes. Your teachers. Your friends. Your roommate, if you have one. Your awful / awesome cafeterias. You'll miss your books, papers, chatting, the occasional partying, and the first time you felt independent, as much as you depended on your friends to remain sane. Enjoy it all.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Writing schedule -- I'm so behind!

I usually write 2,000 words per day. There are days when I write a little bit more than that, but only if the scene in particular is one I can't quit writing. And, I have two reasons for restricting myself to that word count: 1) It allows me to finish the first draft quickly, without losing steam. 2) If I write more than 2,000 words daily, I notice that on the day after writing too much, the front part of my head (the regions above and behind my eyes) feel achy and I just can't concentrate, and I feel lightheaded, too. I'm not sure why. Maybe, and I'm just speculating here, that's the region in my brain I use the most when I write. Or, maybe, I just have bad eyes and strain them when I spend too many hours squinting at the screen. Or both.

That's a moderately easy writing goal when I don't have to worry about anything else, other than taking care of my husband. I don't have kids, yet. But, since we've moved to Brazil, we've been hosting Christmas and New Year's, which means I write frantically on the first weeks of December, before my mom arrives. And that's... a bit painful. Don't get me wrong, I love my mom, and I love taking her out to see what Porto Alegre has to offer.

BUT, this year I'm really behind on my writing schedule. She'll arrive on the 24th, and I had planned out a writing schedule that allowed me only three days to work on each chapter, so the first draft of COUNTDOWN could be done by the 23rd. Now, if I want to catch up with my writing, I'll have to be done with chapters 5, 6, and 7 by December 12th... only two days from now. I'm almost done with chapter 5, but I still haven't started chapters 6 and 7. I'm doomed. I just can't write fast enough. I wrote a bit more than 6,000 words the other day, and the day after I woke up with an awful headache.

I know it is possible to write that much in two, three days. I saw people winning at NaNo on the very first weekend of November. That's insanely fast and good. But, I'm just not like that. I take my time. I ponder. I write by hand to feel the words, and then I type them up. It's a process that works when I commit to writing only 2,000 words per day. Well, I guess I need to keep trying. It would be great if I could be done before Mom arrives, so I could spend the two weeks she'll be here not worrying about it, and then begin revising it when she leaves. Any words of advice?           

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Writers, how do you manage to keep your house clean in November?

Hey guys,

My apartment is so messy. I don't even want to look at it. I am... you know... writing another book. My fellow writers will understand me.

I was just now doing laundry, and the floor in the laundry room sure needs some washing. If you're anything like me, you panic at the sight of dirty things, and think of all the hours you'll spend cleaning, when you could be getting writing done. Well, that will have to wait for now. I just need to take a deep breath and better organize myself.

This is just a quick post to celebrate the beginning of a new draft. I'm so excited about my WIP, guys. I don't remember exactly when I had the idea for Countdown. I think it was a year ago, while I was working on Curupira. Since then, I've tried writing it a few times, but it never felt right until now. The first five chapters of the story are very claustrophobic, and I don't think I was ready for them before. I still struggle with them a little, but I'm definitely curious about the plot and the characters.

Countdown is my second YA novel, and for now I'm describing it as a cross between The Truman Show and The Breakfast Club. In the future, perhaps, I'll tell you more about the story and the characters. Let's hope I'll finish the first draft this month (yes, I'm NaNoing), because  we're hosting Christmas again this year (meaning: December will involve lots of cleaning, cooking, and sightseeing with Mom).

Wish me luck. Are you NaNoing, too? If so, how do you manage to keep your house clean in November?

Beijos!
-- Becca

 

Monday, October 14, 2013

My ghost story

Hi guys. How are you doing? All right, if you don't like creepy stories, you shouldn't be reading my blog today. It's October, and with Halloween coming up in a few weeks, I thought I should tell you a ghost story. I'm sure my dear friend Elyana Noreme will love this.

I think this happened either in 2010 or 2011, I don't know for sure. My school offered summer jobs, and I was working as a custodian on campus. I worked for a month, and I was saving money so I could pay for tuition. There was the possibility of staying in the dorms while I worked as a custodian, but I couldn't afford it, so I asked a friend of mine if I could help her house-sit for her host family. The family in question lived near campus in a small, comfortable house, and they were really nice to allow me to stay at their place with my friend while they were in Ecuador.

My job started at 6:00 and went until 2:30, from Monday until Friday. I had never worked as a custodian before, and I learned a lot from the custodians I worked with. The other students working there were great, too. Although I'm not an early bird, I think I adjusted to my new schedule quickly. I woke up every day at five, ate breakfast in ten or fifteen minutes, and ran to work.

Nothing odd happened for the first few days. I went to work, spent an hour in the library after work, ate dinner with my friend, talked on the phone for an hour or two with my boyfriend (who's now my husband), wrote some, read some, and was in bed by ten. On my first weekend (and I was really glad I could sleep past 5 o'clock), though, something weird happened. I woke up at around 7 or 8 with a strange noise coming from outside my room. I couldn't tell whether it was coming from down the hall or from downstairs. It sounded like someone was jiggling a door handle, as if trying to open a door. But, I was so tired to go check what was going on and ignored the noise. I thought it had been my friend. Later that day, though, I checked with her, and she said she had heard it, too. That was scary. My first thoughts were that someone had tried robbing us. I remember telling it to my boyfriend and he was concerned. He told me to make sure the doors were locked before I went to bed.

A week later, again on the weekend, the same thing happened. The same noise. I was in my room and looked down from my window, but I saw nobody standing outside. I don't know if not seeing a burglar made me happy or nervous, but it definitely got my adrenaline going. It had to be the back door, then. So, I did that thing that makes people yell at their TVs when they are watching horror movies: I went downstairs to check what was the source of the noise. And...

...nobody was home. My friend wasn't home. No burglar. No raccoons. No squirrels. Just Sky, the parakeet we also were taking care of, watching me from his open cage. One day I caught him jumping up the steps all the way to the second floor, but I was pretty sure he couldn't open doors. I was nervous, but I wasn't scared. There's wind, after all, and wind could have jiggled the door. So, I went to make myself breakfast.

I had just finished eating and was about to start writing, when I heard a floorboard creak upstairs. I looked up and stared at the ceiling for a second. It sounded like it had come from my friend's bedroom, right above the kitchen. And then I heard it again, and this time it was loud and clear, and it was footsteps. It was like a person running from one corner to the spot in the room right above my head. I stood up quickly, every inch of me suddenly getting very cold. There was someone upstairs. I kept thinking someone had managed to get in the house while I was in my room and hid in my friend's room while I made breakfast. It all made sense. I looked at the back door, ready to dart out of the house in case the person motioned to the stairs. But, the house was again very quiet. There were no more footsteps. And, after summoning all my courage, I checked the rooms upstairs and found nobody.

When my friend was back, I told her what had happened. She hates these stories and thought I was messing with her, but I assured her it really had happened. She assumed right away it had been a ghost, or some other paranormal experience, and told me that her host family joked that there was a ghost in the house. That was really strange, but the ghost actually had a name. Harry. That's probably because the girls in that family love Harry Potter.

She told me that things disappeared in the house all the time, and they blamed it on Harry. She told me she was playing a card game with them one night, and one of the cards disappeared. It reappeared later that night, when someone found it under books. They all swore they had not put it there. There's a chance someone was pulling a prank. But, you never know.

When the family was back, they were very eager to know whether Harry had made himself noticeable, and I was half amused, half annoyed (just a little) they had not told me they lived with a ghost. They were happy to hear about the footsteps. It's needless to say staying there inspired me to write a book. I felt very much like Stephen King. So... that was good, I guess. Nothing else happened after that. When my time as a custodian was over, I went to Seattle to stay with my boyfriend, and of course he had a thousand and one explanations as to why floorboards always creak in Wisconsin. I personally think it was Harry.

So, this is my Halloween story. What's the creepiest paranormal thing that ever happened to you? 


And, remember, you're only safe if you are under the blankets and way in the middle of your bed. Just kidding! ;)
  

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

What's Up Wednesday


Hi guys. I found out about What's Up Wednesday when I read Juliana Haygert's blog today (you should go ahead and read her blog, by the way!) and I thought that maybe it was a good excuse for me to come here and blog. So, here we go...

WHAT I'M READING

I usually have monogamous relationships with my books, but I've been reading a few bookS, and I switch reading them depending on my mood: (1) ON WRITING, by Stephen King, (2) CITY OF BONES, by Cassandra Clare, (3) EVER, by Jessa Russo. I'm almost done with ON WRITING, and I think it's brilliant. Every writer should read it. I don't know why, but I'm having trouble with CITY OF BONES, and that's a shame, because I really wanted to be in love with it. I just started reading EVER, and so far I'm really impressed with the quality of Jessa's writing. She's an awesome writer, and you guys should go ahead and buy her books now. 

WHAT I'M WRITING

I'm currently working on a YA historical novel (the first part of the novel is set in England, and the second part in China), and I'm really excited about it and equally afraid to write it. It's completely out of my element, and I think that's why I'm working on it. I felt I needed a challenge as a writer, and there's a chance I'll fail writing it, but at least I'll know I tried. What I love the most about writing it is the feeling of visiting new places as I write. I always want my writing to take me on a journey with my characters, and I must confess that doesn't always happen, and it's usually because I insist on controlling everything. This time, thankfully, I'm letting my characters take the lead.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

Victorian England and the Qing Dynasty. I've been reading articles and more articles online about both subjects, and I love doing research. And, I must say ON WRITING inspires me, too. So, thank you, Mr. King!

WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO

When I'm not writing, I'm watching Anthony Bourdain with my husband, and we both dream of visiting new places. We were in Uruguay recently, and we want to go to Argentina soon, perhaps even before the end of the year. I've also been playing videogames during my free time... that is, I've been playing a videogame in particular, and I'm obsessed with it: Crusader Kings II. If you like medieval things, you should get it right now. I recommend it.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pay it Forward Giveaway


Hi guys,

My dear friend Rachel Russell is hosting the Pay it Forward giveaway today. She founded it because she wanted to say thank you to everyone who support her. I'm joining her today, too, in saying thank you to all of you who've been so nice to me. I've learned a lot from so many of you, and you've been true Samwise Gamgees in my quest toward becoming a published author. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

The prizes on my blog today are:

1) The most thoughtful, detailed query critique. I'm no expert, but I can tell you how I feel about it, and perhaps even give you suggestions about agents who might be looking for the type of MS you wrote.

2) An amazing author spotlight on this blog featuring you!

Don't forget you need to follow this blog and to tweet about the giveaway in order to enter the rafflecopter. Also, make sure you check the #PIFG for more giveaway opportunities and to say thank you to your friends. You might even get excited about it and start your own giveaway today.

Happy Pay it Forward Day!
-- Becca
@cavalcar  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Snow & Books

People wouldn't believe how cold it gets in Brazil during winter. Well, I didn't believe it got this cold in the south of Brazil until I moved here. We've been here for a year now, and this week is so cold, not even the heater in our bedroom can handle it (and that's the only place in our apartment that has heating).


It hasn't snowed where I live, but many neighboring towns saw snow. We get very excited about snow here, because it's rare. I lived in Wisconsin, and I'm used to snow, but I must confess even I spent a good hour peering at the sky the other day, waiting to see the much awaited snow flakes.

We're still waiting for snow in Porto Alegre; I'm afraid, however, this year we won't get to see it. The temperature we'll go up by the end of this week, which is not necessarily a bad thing, and we'll have to wait and hope that next year's winter will bring us snow.

As I waited, however, I got to read a few great YA books. The last one I read was Matched by Ally Condie. I'm not sure many people liked it (I read many reviews complaining that the reading felt too slow, and that it focused too much on the MC's relationship), but there were many topics in this book that left me thinking and made me cry (eugenics, euthanasia, and whatnot), so I'd still place it is a must read book. The main character left me mad a few times, but I suppose that's good. I'm not sure I agree with some of her choices, but I guess that's also good. My favorite character was her grandfather, who was a very strong presence throughout the book, even though he died at the beginning. I won't say more, because I don't want to spoil the reading for you, so here's the synopsis (taken from Goodreads):

Picture taken from Goodreads
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.



Where you can find the book: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Goodreads (and probably at other places where books are sold).

So, I guess even though I didn't get snow, I got reading done. I'm happy with that.

What are you currently reading? I've just started Legend by Marie Lu! 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What's your faction?

OMG, guys, I'm so excited!

I finished reading Veronica Roth's Divergent today, and I can't wait to read Insurgent. I'm... I don't even know how to put this... Well, I guess I'm slightly obsessed with this book, which is a good thing in my opinion. I read it in two days. Yes, it was that good.


Here's the synopsis (taken from Goodreads):

Picture taken from Goodreads
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.



Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Goodreads

I think what I liked the most about the book was that it reminded me a little of my days at military school. Wait, it was nothing compared to her training, but there were so many things about it that reminded me of my first weeks at military school. I was a small, skinny girl like Beatrice, and had zero physical strength... but, surprisingly, I quickly learned how to be brave, and stronger, and how to endure the elements, not to mention that I found the camaraderie and sense of 'this is my pack, even though I don't think I fit in very well' sort of feelings that Beatrice encountered, too.

When I was at military school, many of my best friends wanted to join the military when we graduated. Some of them actually had parents in the military, already, and sort of had a better sense of what life in the military felt like. For a year, perhaps more than that, I did consider joining the military. I couldn't become a pilot and join the air force, because I was too short and my eyesight is terrible, but I liked the Navy a lot, and considered a career in communications. For whatever reason, I never saw myself in the Army.

I changed my mind, though, when I asked myself an important question: am I willing to kill and to die for my country? The answer, call me unpatriotic if you wish, was a huge no. I'm a pacifist. I even struggle with self-defence. I feel I couldn't kill... I feel I couldn't point a gun at someone else. And, I feel I wouldn't be willing to be at war. I could defend my loved ones, and if killing happened to be the only way to defend them from harm, then, yes, I suppose I could kill somebody (or hurt them enough to disarm them and give us time to run)-- but, not as a way of life, not as my career, if you know what I mean. When I left military school, while my best friends were joining the army and the air force, studying to become officers, I began studying journalism.

That sort of dilemma is not the same Beatrice goes through in the book, but she does question her values a lot, and I had the same inner struggle. If we're to compare the book to real life, I guess I switched from Dauntless to Erudite? I don't know.

Read the book. It's pretty good. It's awesome, in fact. You won't regret it!

What's your faction? 

Monday, July 15, 2013

A new book by J.K. Rowling

Only a few days ago I was complaining about people spreading false news that Jo Rowling was writing an eighth Harry Potter book.

I come here today with the wonderful news that although she is NOT writing a HP book, she's published a new book under a pseudonym. If you're a fan of Jo's writing and if you like crime novels, then this book will probably interest you.

Jo kept it a secret until recently. This is what she said about it (information taken from her official website):

  • J.K. Rowling's statement regarding 'The Cuckoo's Calling' by Robert Galbraith

    "I hoped to keep this secret a little longer, because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience! It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback from publishers and readers under a different name. The upside of being rumbled is that I can publicly thank my editor David Shelley, who has been a true partner in crime, all those people at Little, Brown who have been working so hard on The Cuckoo’s Calling without realizing that I wrote it, and the writers and reviewers, both in the newspapers and online, who have been so generous to the novel.  And to those who have asked for a sequel, Robert fully intends to keep writing the series, although he will probably continue to turn down personal appearances."  
This is the synopsis you will find on Goodreads:

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)
Picture from Goodreads
A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide. After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.


You can find the book at... probably everywhere books are sold, but these are a few links to help you either buy the book or add it to your to-read list: Amazon | Barnes&Nobel | GoodReads.

Happy reading!    

Saturday, July 13, 2013

An embarrassing 'I'm a Harry Potter fan' moment

You know what's really mean? I'll tell you: misleading a Harry Potter fan into thinking that it is confirmed Jo Rowling is writing an eighth Harry Potter book is really, really mean.

Tonight, I almost died when a friend posted on Facebook an article that confirmed an eighth HP is coming soon. I gasped, and let out a loud "oh my God!" that startled hubs in the other room. He kept asking me what was the matter, which took me forever to reply, as I was rushing from article to article trying to find confirmation from Jo herself that one of my dreams was going to come true.

Now, think about it... a new Harry Potter book!!!

The article mentioned that the book wouldn't be about Harry, but it would follow the next generation. There was some talk that while Hermione and Draco hated each other at Hogwarts, the same wasn't going to apply to Rosie Weasley (Hermione's daughter) and Scorpius Malfoy (Draco's son). Wouldn't that be perfect? Well, now you know why I almost died.

But, it was a lie. That is, I can't tell you the news source was coming up with fake news, but this one is fake. In all honesty, I think they probably took the information from another website, which took it from another, and another, and another website... We know how many rumors about the continuation of the Harry Potter series are born every day.

This time, however, it felt true for a second. They even said Jo had given an interview to a major newspaper confirming she was working on a new Potter book and that she couldn't stay away from the computer for more than ten minutes. Now, everybody started looking up the original interview, and found nothing. The journalist who wrote this article had to add a red note at the bottom of the article admitting she couldn't find the source of the news.

That left me a little sad.

Those books... I really loved those books. I still do, in fact. I love reading, but I'm afraid to say that since Harry Potter I still couldn't find a book I had a real, emotional connection with. There were many good books I'd recommend, but probably wouldn't read a second time, if you know what I mean.

People, stop spreading lies about things people love. It's not funny. And, if you truly believe these news are true, double check your sources. It's like saying Ryan Gosling wants to meet me for sure next month, when he actually doesn't know I exist (mental note: I must write a character inspired by Ryan Gosling).

The whole thing about a new Harry Potter book left me thinking about the series, and how I embarrassed myself once (or twice) because of it. And, you know what, I don't regret it. I thought I should share this story with you:

I was an international student at Lawrence University, and one great thing LU does when you're either an international or an exchange student (yes, there's a difference, but I'll explain it another time) is it brings you before (almost) everyone else arrives on campus. So, we basically have welcome week twice. The first one is just with the foreign crowd trying to adjust to living in a foreign country, and the second is the foreigners plus all the freshmen, this time focused on adjusting to living on campus. I think that's pretty great for a few reasons, one of them because being jet lagged together helps people bond quickly. Seriously. Some of my best friends are international students, awesome people I met when we all were a little grumpy, confused, queasy, tired and homesick.

On the night before the American kids arrived on campus, we had a party. I remember I was sitting by the food (obviously!) at some point during the party, when a girl appeared out of nowhere next to me. I quickly noticed I had not seen her before, and she confirmed my thoughts by saying, "I just arrived from the airport!" She sounded strangely breathless, and I imagined her jogging all the way from the airport to our party, hauling her luggage behind her, her boots clicking on the asphalt.

Someone nearby overheard her, and asked her in an excited tone, "oh, where are you from?" That, my friends, was the number one question during those days.

"Bulgaria," she said with pride, a huge smile, glistening eyes.

The word brought tears to my eyes, too, although not for the same reason. I'd never met anyone from Bulgaria until then, but Bulgaria had a special place in my heart. 

"Bulgaria?" the girl talking with her looked confused. I guess she'd never heard of Bulgaria.

You probably know what happened next... I said, "Victor Krum!"

There were question marks all over their faces. I knew then and there I'd embarrassed myself. I had to explain what I said, though. "You know... Victor Krum? He's from Bulgaria. Um... Harry Potter."

"Ah," they said, and were gone the next minute. I don't think the Bulgarian girl ever talked with me again. Oh well.

That's it for now. That was my embarrassing Harry Potter story. But, like I said before, I don't mind it. So, do you have an embarrassing Potter moment, too?

Have a great weekend!
-- Becca
@cavalcar




Saturday, May 11, 2013

I need to know why you love food

Hi guys!

This is just a quick post to ask you a favor:

Well, as you know, I'm writing a book about a 17-year-old who wants to open his own restaurant. Miguel loves cooking, and he cooks instinctively. I've been doing some research and paying extra attention when I cook, but I feel like his universe still is a little limited.

I only describe recipes I've tried preparing myself, so I know what Miguel goes through when he cooks. But, there are so many great recipes out there, I'm just overwhelmed and lost. So, if you could help me with your favorite (easy-ish) recipes, I'd love you forever. It could be your favorite pancake recipe, things you like making for breakfast, or just your favorite tea, the things your kids like, sweets, sandwiches, more elaborate (although easy) recipes you make for dinner, and whatnot.

You don't have to describe the whole cooking process (although, if you did, that would be much appreciated). Just leave a comment with your favorite recipe and why you love it so much. You know, I'm also very into comfort food. I want to know what you eat when you're sick, sad, homesick, tired.

If you don't cook, feel free to leave a message on why you love food and what your favorite restaurants and bars are (and WHY you like them. That's very important to me). Miguel looks for the meaning and the right mood for every dish he makes. It can be international cuisine, too. Miguel is Brazilian (and he lives in Brazil), but his godfather is marrying an American woman, and he's been adjusting his cooking to make her feel more at home. He actually falls for her daughter when she arrives from Wisconsin to visit them, so he definitely tries to understand her better by preparing and eating the dishes from her country.

Thank you!
-- Becca
@cavalcar

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

A story about getting lost

I don't drive. I don't own a car, and I've never learned how to drive. My father-in-law has offered to teach me, and one day I will see if he's still willing to help me, but we live in different countries now, so that will have to wait.

So, I walk everywhere. Taking the bus is an option, yes. But, I live in a small city. That is, it isn't that small, but I always feel like I'm healthy and strong enough to walk to places, even if it's a 40-minute walk.

That's nice when I know exactly where I'm going. I just enjoy the walk. I pay attention to my surroundings, and make mental notes about the new restaurants, bars, and all the little shops I might want to visit one day. I feel good when I'm the person who says, "oh, you need to make an extra copy of your key? I know exactly where to go!"

But, it can be a nightmare when I don't know exactly where I'm going. The different routes confuse me. My terrible sense of direction kicks in, and I don't even have a phone with GPS to show me the way.

Yesterday was a nightmare.

The day before yesterday was a nightmare, too, but for different reasons. One of them involved walking back and forth to the mall a few times to check if the atm was finally working, and it left me really tired. I'm out of shape.

Well, I had to go to the mall a few times yesterday, too. After that, I headed to the bank. I had an idea, more or less, where the bank was. Now, mind you, this is our first month living in this neighborhood. I had looked the bank up on Google Maps, and I knew that if I went all the way down the street where I live and turned right at the end of it, and walked some more, I'd eventually find the bank.

That would have been right. If I had not tried to be all clever and decided if I turned right on this one street, it would be a perfect shortcut.

Wrong.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

I walked and walked, and ended up on Ipiranga Avenue, where I realized that route couldn't possibly take me to the bank. My feet were already very sore, because I was wearing winter socks. As the day warmed up, my feet started getting very abrasive as they cooked in my boots. It was painful. I was limping and ready to give up.

Taxi cabs went by and I tried waving for them to stop. But, they either couldn't see me, or they already had passengers. It was so frustrating. I angrily stomped my foot. That's when they noticed me, and I noticed them.

There were two city workers, a man and a woman in their late twenties, sitting not too far from me. They watched my ordeal with some interest. Their orange suits told me they are street cleaners. I thought, they go everywhere cleaning the streets, and more or less know where things are. There was hope.

I limped to them and asked if they knew whether there was a bank on Ipiranga. I mean, I was too tired to try to find the one I had in mind. But, if there was another one nearby, I could just go there. Right? Right!

The only problem: they didn't know.

I cried inside as I realized I had to retrace my steps and find a way to go back to the beginning of the street where I live, and take the route I was 99% sure was correct.

Getting back to familiar territory was difficult, though. I was very tired. My feet were destroyed by then. I had been walking for a bit more than an hour.

Two confused police officers showed me the way. I'm thankful they sort of knew where the street where I live is, because "sort of" turned out to be "for sure".

I launched a longing glance at the building where I live when I walked past it. I just wanted to go home. Sit down. Eat. Yes, eat, because I hadn't had any food and it was past three. But, I had to keep going. I still had to get to the bank.

When a cab drove by, I waved frantically, but the driver didn't see me. I think I looked sad, but I didn't bother too much. I was already doomed, and my feet had gone from sore as hell to numb.

Not too far from me, a man in his thirties waved at someone, too. His dog thought he was playing with him, and excitedly jumped around him. He almost tripped on his dog, actually. It would have been a little funny, if I had not been so tired and frustrated at this point.

He looked at me and said something I couldn't understand. I was so lost in thoughts, it was actually a bit startling to realize there was someone -- a stranger! -- talking with me on the street. He said, "I stopped him for you, neighbor!"

Neighbor: "CAB. YOU. SHALL. NOT. PASS!"

Huh?

The cab was there. Parked. Waiting for... me?!

"Thank you so much!" I said to him. I couldn't thank him enough. I don't even know his name. But, I'll call him Gandalf from now on. Yes. My neighbor was like Gandalf showing up at dawn on the third day.

It was such a big relief. The cab ride to the bank was very quick, but enough to help my legs relax a bit. It helped me regain strength.

On the way back, I got a bit lost, again, but I soon figured out how to get back. I even stopped by a grocery store to get bread. I bought cookies, too, because I was really hungry. And yogurt, even though we don't often buy yogurt. Strawberry yogurt looked looked very appealing all of a sudden.

Here I am, more or less close to home, bags of groceries swinging from my arms, when I spot two street cleaners walking down the street. No, they can't be the same couple I saw an hour ago on Ipiranga. I'm very myopic. It takes me forever to recognize people on the street. But, my instincts told me, even before my eyes did, that those indeed were the same street cleaners.

I'll pretend I don't recognize them, so maybe they won't recognize me, I thought. Getting lost is humiliating. I felt a bit ridiculous on Ipiranga Avenue.

They recognized me.

The lady asked me, "did you find the bank?"

"Yes. Yes, I did!"

My smile probably looked tired. I could feel the sides of my mouth drooping. But, I tried to be friendly. These people work so much, and walk way more than I do. They deserve many smiles from the world.

"I looked at you, and thought, that's the girl who was lost on Ipiranga," the guy said. Yeah. I guess that's my new nickname now. I laughed, and motioned to leave, but he quickly added, "can you give us some change, so we could get coffee?"

"Of course!" I said, and handed them money. And, they thanked me, and left.

I must confess it startled me a little that he was asking me for money. At first, I felt a little cheated-- that is, his friendly smile was the same smile he kept frozen on his face as he asked me, a stranger, for money. His mechanical tone surprised me. I don't know why it felt strange. I think it's because it felt like he was begging while he was working. Do you know what I mean? But, when I think of it, they work long hours, don't get paid enough, aren't treated well, so, what's the problem if they ask a familiar face for money?

The same way I felt there was no problem in going for them to get a free sample of their knowledge of our streets, they felt like they could ask me for money. It's all about what we think each other has to offer, isn't it? I'd say that knowing where the bank was, even though they couldn't help me with it, was way more valuable than what they asked me. Their knowledge is way more valuable than a cup of coffee. Way, way more valuable than anything I could ever offer them. It's actually ridiculous I just gave them 5 Reais, when they actually deserve so much more.

Shame on me. I can't imagine how those people handle walking so much every day, cleaning the streets, hauling a trash bin along everywhere they go. But, they have very good reasons for staying strong. They have families to take care of. They have dreams they want to see come true.

I wish I were strong like them, too.

At least, now I have another story to tell. One about getting lost, helpful wizards, workers who battle every day and have their knowledge neglected, and courage to stay strong.

Happy Wednesday, guys!






Monday, April 29, 2013

My new YA contemporary and cooking adventures

Hi guys!

How are you doing? 

I am so excited to announce I am working on a YA contemporary novel. This is the first time in so many years I write contemporary stories. I love fantasy, and my first novel was MG fantasy, which I wrote when I was twelve. But, before that, I was writing MG and YA contemporary short stories and novellas. I actually kept a notebook filled with stories about kids at school. My cousins were my loyal readers.

What I like the most about my new story is my main character's love interest. He wants to be a chef. When it comes to cooking, he follows his instincts and is very passionate about it. He is a prodigy and doesn't want to go to school or get formal training. Books and tests frustrate him. He just wants to cook and have fun with it.



I am not an expert and was never taught how to cook, and I think I cook like Miguel, too. I follow my instincts and try different spices, and in the end my recipes almost always turn out good. I make a few mistakes now and then, of course. I still remember how salty my feijoada turned out last week.

Well, because of Miguel, I've been paying extra attention to my cooking, so I'm able to better describe the process and how I feel when I'm preparing a new meal. I pay attention to textures, smells, colors, the taste of everything, and eat with all my senses on. It's been a great experience.


 

Well...  this exercise usually is fun, but... you know... accidents do happen in the kitchen, and I'm not talking about adding too much salt to your beans.

I was frying potato bolinhos last night, and a lot of hot oil spilled on the palm of my right hand and on my right leg. The burnt on my leg wasn't bad. I don't feel it at all now. But, the one on my hand was pretty bad. When hubs heard me in kitchen, he ran to help me. I kept my hand in cold water, but it was still hurting a lot. I had the not so brilliant idea of putting it in the fridge, and was dumb enough to touch one of the walls in the fridge. My already sore hand stuck to it, and I had to yank it back quickly. It was accident after accident. I first got burned with oil, and then with ice.


It's a bit swollen now, and it feels tingly and raw, but I'm fine. I didn't need to go see a doctor.

I guess I now know how to describe getting burned while cooking, in case Miguel has a little accident in the kitchen, too.

Hopefully, I'll be in one piece by the end of this book. Wish me luck.




All the best!
-- Becca   

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fun down the avenue


I only found my camera when they were already down the avenue. Awesome music. People in costumes. Living near a busy avenue can be really frustrating (it's loud when there's a traffic jam), but when a theater company shows up singing and performing, we're reminded of how amazing it is to live downtown.

Yes. I still can hear them. They are happily singing, despite the rain. In fact, I think the rain is what's boosting their energy.

Happy Friday!

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Good news!

Hi guys!

Okay, I *finally* I have news to tell you:

1) My crush finally said hi to me. Okay, let me explain: I've had a crush on Neil Gaiman since my first year at Lawrence University. I love his books. I love his looks. I love everything about him. He's very talented, and when I grow up I want to be like him.

I've always wondered what I'd feel like if I ever met him in person. I've pictured this a thousand times, and by now I'm pretty sure I will embarrass myself when I get to shake hands with him. I might even drop dead.

I still haven't met him in person, but he talked with me on Twitter! It was a day I will never forget. I was sick in bed, feeling like the world was going to end, eyeing Twitter, when I saw Neil was online. I thought to myself, I would feel so much better if he said hi to me. So, I tweeted it. And, to my surprise, he replied the next second with:


I almost had a heart attack. Seriously. I started saying, "oh my God" and probably said it so many times that I startled my husband. I couldn't explain what had just happened. So, I showed my laptop to him, and he was just as surprised.

Isn't he nice? He was busy, but was kind enough to send me a tweet. I think I was so excited that my fever skyrocketed when I saw he had just talked with me. But, a day or two later I did get better!

2) Hubs and I are moving into a new place. This is so exciting. Our new apartment is not that far from here, so it should be easy enough to move our stuff. There are so many things I need to do: packing, figure out internet, cleaning around our current place. But, we're happy. I'll celebrate my birthday at our new place. That's the best birthday gift ever!

-------

So, I guess that's it for now. I talked with Neil Gaiman!!! And we're moving into a new place!!! And... I hope more good news will come our way.

Happy Sunday! 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

An entry! Finally!

You know what I realized today? I hadn't posted a thing since last year!

I don't know if you know this, but I'm a contributor at the blog YA Stands. I blog every other Thursday about young adult literature and writing in general. This gives me the impression I'm always blogging. That's probably why I'm neglecting my own blog. Please, don't be mad at me. I swear I still care for you.

Truth is, though, there's nothing particularly interesting going on in my life these days, and I didn't want to bore you to death with my entries. Hubs and I have been focused working on our things, hanging out, and not going on as many adventures as we probably should.

Well, we did go to Rio a few weeks ago, and went all the way up a mountain to greet the statue of Christ, The Redeemer.



We stayed in a hostel just for a weekend, and it was very hot back then. It's unbelievable how hot Rio was. But, we had fun. There was this American couple there on their honeymoon. The guy is a retired pilot, and he kept telling us about his trips to Brazil (and to other places around the world). Seriously, he knows Brazil better than I do. It made me feel a bit lame. But, it encouraged me to get to know other facets of my own culture.

THAT was something different we did.

But, since then we've mostly been sticking with our routine. Hubs' been busy programming, and I've been busy writing.

Well, my birthday is coming up. Can you believe I'm turning twenty-five? I feel old. Hubs laughs at me when I say I'm ancient, especially because he thinks I look way too young for my age (most people do think, in fact, that I'm no more than fifteen and treat me accordingly). So, who knows, we'll travel or do something fun to celebrate it. I'll have more interesting things to tell you by then.

For now, we'll keep living like Bilbo before Gandalf left a mark on his door.

Best wishes!
Happy Easter!