How Lando Calrissian and VegDucken Stole My Muse

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Nov 18, 2015 in Writer's Life

So you know how you come across a recipe for VegDucken, (a zucchini, stuffed in an eggplant, stuffed in a butternut squash) and you have to write a novel about it? No?

Well, something like that happened to me. I woke early up a few days ago with my muse thumping on my forehead, with the line “I slipped out of my bedskin” playing over and over again in my mind. I was already writing a novel for NaNoWriMo, but an idea for a short story perhaps? Well, in any case, she 20151020_212300clearly was not going to let me go back to sleep. “What the heck is a bedskin?” I asked her. Well, obviously it’s something you sleep in made of skin. “Ew…What kind of skin?” I implored her. Alien skin, of course. Sort of like that space faring beast you’re reading about right now in “Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThornBoka.”

“You’re completely right, dear Muse!” So then I begin to think on the kind of people who would need such a bedskin. Desperate people, probably. Desperate space faring nomads who hunted down giant majestic vacuum breathing creatures. But that wasn’t enough. What if they lived inside the beast, like a zucchini stuffed inside a big ole’ butternut squash?

Uh oh. Suddenly my idea for a fun short story turned into a novel idea, and since it’s NaNoWriMo, it needed to written immediately.

So here’s a brief excerpt:



The gristly undernap of our family sleepskin seems impenetrable as I rub my hand over the surface, looking for the exit seam. I’d underestimated the depth of the darkness that would surround me, and without vision, without hearing, and with my mouth and lungs and stomach filled with sleep balm, touch is the only tool to help me escape.

I feel the flesh of my mothers and fathers beneath me, bodies limp and near lifeless as they await the construction of our new world. Me, I am not that patient. This is my first excavation, and I don’t intend to miss it. Matris, my head mother, and our clan’s matriarch, had been raised from our sleepskin well before my sedatives wore out, probably as soon as the herd was in sight. My fingers twitch, imagining Matris as she took aim and dealt the crippling blow to the space-faring beast. At our next exodus, Matris promised that she would let me drive the helm, but that is still some twelve years off.

Beneath my desperate hands, the undernap goes to partially healed scar tissue, smooth and thin. I pull the bone shard I’d smuggled, my laugh the silent jiggle of liquid filled lungs, and nothing more. If Matris knew her lash counters had missed it, she’d have them strung up by their thumbs for a week. My incision is slow and precise, matching the original, hair for hair. I can’t leave any evidence of my excursion. A soft blue light seeps through the cut. I push apart the layers and press my head through. Air hits my face, and the instinct to cough catches me by surprise. No waste, I think to myself, but it is too late. Sleep balm spews from my mouth, my nose, as sweet air fills them, quickly washing away a metallic aftertaste.

“Daidi’s bells,”  I curse upon the memory of every heart father there ever was. I recoil, and cover my mouth with balm-slick hands. I’d imagined my first words upon this new world would be something more profound, something graceful and fitting of the clan’s future matriarch.

I look around, the cargo hold half full of other families still in stasis. I can smell the pretension through their sleepskins, prominent families who don’t care how the gristle is shucked as long as they wake up in a perfect replica of their former homes, details ironed out to every button upon their sofas, every scuff upon their cycl-scaled floors, and right on down to the creek of the boneboards beneath. Matris says they have forgotten that we are nomads, and that it is for the best. It is better for them to focus their efforts on infusing the economy and advancing technology, than worrying over the droll trivialities of beastwork.

Beastwork. The promise of seeing our new beast before the excavation begins thrills me to my core. I hope that I am not too late to witness the beastworkers sink their siphons into the first artery. I hurry, pulling my body through the incision that I now realize is too narrow for my hips. I twist, trying to finesse my way through. My feet stand purchase on the familiar rip of my Bapa’s abdomen and the indistinguishable arm crook of one of my mothers. The delicate seam tears, running jagged this way and that. I ignore the pit in my stomach. It is still early. Maybe it will heal in time. Maybe I can bribe the lash counters to look the other way instead of tattling to Matris.

“Psst, Seske!” comes a voice from off in the corner of the hold, somewhere hidden behind the neat stacks of deflated sleepskins. Adel’s head peeks around, and she smiles at me, her hands and face already blackened by the beast’s ichor.

I clench up, my stomach raw and sore with disappointment. “I’ve missed the first letting.”

“You slept two days too long.” Adel looks around, eyes darting around the hold like a rodent. She approaches along the wall, slipping in and out of shadows until she’s upon me. She inspects the seam rip and the steady blurble of sleep balm wasting over the edges. “Sonovan can take care of this. Like it never happened.” Then, with a beastworker’s strength and grace, she hoists me up and out of the sleepskin like my bones are made from mad vapor.        

“Why didn’t you wake me?” I ask Adel.

“This beast has spirit. Your Matris called all hands to steady it. It’ll last us fourteen years, the head mothers agree already, and you know how often they agree.”

“Great,” I grumble. That’s two extra years I have to wait to see the next first letting.

“Don’t be mad.” Adel pulls a stiff roll of fabric from her pack, the iridescent blue of a beastworker’s suit. The natural creases of beast hide still run through it. She hands it to me and I slip out of my nakedness and into my disguise. “We’ve got two hours before we need to get this back. And you back. Lash counters are on edge. My amas say they’ve never seen them so flighty, especially during excavation.

I bite my lip. Adel’s amas–Matris, soothe their sweet little hearts–are older than anyone I know, and have been through seven beast cycles. Two of her amas had begun their courtship as teens, but didn’t take on their third until they were well past their childbearing years. They bucked convention, and some had even dared to call them a “couple”, though they fervently denied it, claiming they were just taking their time searching for the exact right woman. They were every bit as sharp as they were eccentric, though, and if the amas say something is amiss, then something is amiss.

“Don’t pout,” says Adel, tugging me forth. “I’ve got something even more exciting to show you.”

“What is it?” I ask, my hand sticking in hers, and in an instant I’ve forgotten all about the ichor  boiling in vats, filling the beast with breathable atmosphere and all the scents of home. “Are we going to the gills?”

“Seske, are you crazy? Do you know what your Matris would do to me if she found out I’d gotten you gaffed on mad vapors? She’d have it out on my hide, and my mothers would be sure to tear up any pieces she’d overlooked! This is way better anyway.” Adel produces a lightpen from her pack.

“Bonework?” I grunt. What could be more boring than boring holes in the beast’s bones?

“Nuh-uh. We’re going to the womb. This beast…it’s pregnant.”

“Pregnant!” I shout, forgetting where I am and who I am. My voice echoes through the hold. I cringe. Adel tugs me into the shadows. It isn’t long before we hear the footsteps of a lash counter. Adel nudges me between the layers of flacid sleepskins, then dives in after me. My lips are upon Adel’s ear. “Maybe she won’t notice the rip,” I breathe the slightest of breaths.

Adel turns so that we’re nose to nose. “You must have already taken a sip on the mad vapors, Seske. You know they notice everything.”


No Comments >>

Happy New Year!

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Jan 1, 2015 in Writer's Life

gaghLast year was pretty exciting. I put myself out there, saying “Yes” to new opportunities, and did some nerdy/cool things. I attended Austin ComiCon, saw a real live astronaut speak, attended a symposium on African Writers. Plus I made Klingon Gagh.

But 2014 is in the rear-view mirror, and it’s time to look ahead!

Here are my lofty goals for 2015:

1. Finish NaNovel (Currently at 65% First Draft)

2. Finish a NaNovel from a previous year.

3. Start a new NaNovel in November

4. Research and blog about 6 pro short story markets I want to break into, and write two stories tailored to each. (More on this soon.)

5. Bounce for 500 hours on my new exercise trampoline!

That’s it! Sounds pretty simple. I’m trying to get into a two-book-a-year groove, which I think is pretty doable at a moderate pace. I just have to use all of my time wisely. Also, I’m very excited that this will finally be the year we get our hoverboards!

Bounce on, people!

No Comments >>

Eighty-five Ways to Turn Goat Offal into Savory Sweets!

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Nov 30, 2014 in Writer's Life


I’ve written 50,000 words this month! I’ve been getting up at 3am, 4am, 5am pretty consistently to bang this thing out and it’s done. I’ve got 38,000 of workable novel (still have about 30,000 left to finish the story), plus 12,000 words of crap in the form of culled storylines, stream of consciousness tirades, double middle names for everyone, and nixed contractions. Plus there’s this…an excerpt from the book my main character stumbles upon in the library while waiting for his brother to show up. It’s also translated into pig Latin, which gave me another 2,500 words. I’m not proud. Okay, so I am. I wrote a frickin’ novel in thirty days.


Now without further ado, Eighty-five Ways to Turn Goat Offal into Savory Sweets!


So your Narrow Season has come and gone, and now You are left with a picked over goat carcass…do not let that meat and organs go to waste! What once was peasant food is now posh dining when you add spices and crèmes and sugars to even the most awful of offal. Each dish includes full-color photos and step by step instructions, cooking times, and serving suggestions and presentation ideas that will impress coworkers, clients, and the in-laws alike.

These recipes will have you begging your butcher for access to his organ trough and bribing your neighbors for a spare tongue or udder. If you enjoy these recipes, buy a copy of this book for a friend. Give the gift of offal to someone you love!

Goat a-la mode: Some people stick to having Goat as the main meal, but it can be used as a base for a dessert as well. This recipe explore the cross mingling of savory and sweet, by bringing out the flavoring of seared goat with heavy creams, natural sugars, and caramel. See page 13 for photos and recipe.

Goat Berry Pie: This culinary delight, uses fresh fruit juices to resuscitate the dried remains of that Narrrow Season dinner. Just toss the leftover mean and fresh berries into a pie crust and top with whipping cream once it is cooled. This simple crowd pleaser will having you scraping your goat down to the bones. See page 18 for photos and recipe.

Sunrise Goat Sorbet: This wonderfully cool treat uses pureed goat liver as its main ingredient, along with lemon zest and orange juice to make a chilled dessert bursting with flavor. This one will have your kids begging your for more. Add a shot of tinibu for an adult version.

I-Heart Chocolate-Banana Goat Pops: Get ready to spoil your taste buds! This recipe uses three simple ingredients, but it’ll taste like you slaved away in the kitchen for hours. Choclate sauce, pureed banana, and goat’s blood squeezed from the heart is all that is needed to make this all-time favorite snack. Bring the mix to a boil and pour into moulds. Freeze for four to six hours and serve to your family and friends.

Goat Brulee: This recipe requires a bit more effort, but the results are worth it. You’ll need a torch to get the caramelization just right. Do not skimp on the ingredients here, and if You are dieting, pass this one over. The heavier the cream, the more your tastebuds will delight. Ask your butcher for the thinnest cuts, and you’ll save time. Layer meat and creme – seven layers is ideal, but this will depend on your dish. Definitely do not do less than five or more than ten, because your risk the dish being over or undercooked.

Goat Floats: Another quick and dirty recipe. Three scoops of malted toure in a glass, pour over two cups of Tinibu, and top with curried goat cubes. You can get theses pre-cooked at your grocer, so you can skip the stove all-together for a quick after work treat.

Goat Jam: Not a dessert per say, but equal parts minced goat and peaches canned in a cup of sugar makes a yummy spread for a quick breakfast. Make several batches at once, and it’ll last you through half of the year.

Airy Three-goat Cake: This recipe requires the lung meat from three goats, hence the catchy name. This one will take some practice, so do not get upset if your first attempt is a flop. Lay out the lung meat in a single layer in a pan and drizzle with honey and lemon zest and let sit overnight. When it is set, it’ll have a spongy spring to it and the surface will bounce back quickly into place after you release. Coat liberally with cinnamon, cut into shape using your cake pan as a template, and then incorporate as the filling between two layers or more layers of cake. An extra pair of steady hand is useful here, so enlist some help and share the delicious results.

Vanilla Goat Wafers: This one is so easy, even the kiddos can make it. Cover a pie plate with Vanilla Wafers, and carefully cover with two packets of prepared goat pudding. Store bought is fine. Chill and serve. A sprig of mint on top is all that is needed to fancy this up enough for guests.

Chocolate Goat Fudge Chocolate: Okay, chocolate lovers, this one is for you. There are several variations of this one running around, but this is the best I have come across. Put the minced goat directly into your fudge at the beginning of your cooking process. I know this sounds counterintuitive. The flavor will be more delicate, and the goat chucks less pronounced, but that is what we’re going for with this one. Subtlely. This is a dessert you want to enjoy slowly, with a glass of wine, picking up the fine notes of the goat blended with those of the chocolate. Dark chocolate works best here. Whip these up for Narrow Season gifts. Your family will thank you!

Raspberry Goat Ribs: When the summer heats up and You are feeling like a braai, throw some raspberry goat ribs on the grill. Marinate the ribs overnight in raspberry jam, and You are all set for a poolside crowd pleaser.

Sugared Goat Balls: When you’ve got a mouthful of these, you’ll know no greater pleasure in the world! Puree one cup of goat meat (any parts, but thigh meat is best) and combine with two cups dough. Knead thoroughly, and then roll into one and a half inch balls. Drop carefully into oil and fry for three to four minutes, or until a crisp golden brown. Drain on towels, and sprinkle with powdered sugar while still hot.

Goat Meringue Pie: Do not let this one intimidate you if You are a less experienced cook. Yes, it can be hard to get that elusive perfectly pert meringue, but even if you fail, the results are still delicious! You might be tempted to sweeten this one up with citrus, but if you sugar is all you need to make those goaty flavors shine through in this dessert. The secret here is to puree the goat meat, cook it down, and then puree it again for that extra smooth blend that just slides down the back of your throat. Do yourself a favor and do not pass this one up!

Fruit and Goat Salad: You are on a diet, and you still want to enjoy a savory-sweet treat? A quick, fresh fruit and goat salad is the way to go. Chop your meat into small cubes for the best result, and then blend into a syrup consisting of four tablespoons of light cream, two tablespoons of lemon juice, and a teaspoon of sugar. Warm in a sauce pan and drizzle over a bowl of your favorite fruit.

Hooves and Horn Glace: This one’s just in time for those Narrow Season leftovers. The goat meat has been picked off the carcass, the bones have been made into broth, and all you’ve got left are those horns and hooves you mother taught you to discard. Not so fast! All you need is a fine cheese grater to grind those extra parts down into a vitamin-rich treasure that make the perfect glacee pops for kids and adults alike. Follow a standard glace recipe (or see page 433 for an example) and sprinkle in the horn and hooves shavings for a little texture and taste. I recommend cherry flavored pops, but really, any fruit will work nicely.

Spiced Tinibu with Drippings: Another Narrow Season favorite, this recipe double the entrail flavor in your favorite holiday drink by using the goat drippings as you prepare your festive meal. Simply place empty the drip tray midway through your goat preparation into picture, mix in six twelve-ounce cans of Tinubu, three cups of heavy cream, a splash of vanilla and cloves to taste. A few dashes of cinnamon will leave your tastebuds as high as your spirits when you taste this concoction, and keep you warm throughout the season.

Nutty Pecan Pie: This recipe is great all year round! Mash two pounds of goat testes and simmer with a cup of white wine, a cup of sugar, and a cup of butter. Pour filling into a homemade or store bought pie crust and bake for twenty minutes. Top with crushed pecans and cook an additional fifteen minutes or until slightly browned. Be sure to keep and eye on it! The last thing you want is the taste of burnt nuts in your mouth!

Apple n Knuckle Fritters: Do not just toss those leftover bits of cartilage! Carefully slice them up into strips along with apples, dunk them in batter, and spoon them onto a hot skillet for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. A handful of raisins tossed in make a perfect addition to this recipe if you have them on hand for a little added sweetness. No artificial sweeteners needed for this one!

Strawberry Goatcake: This isn’t your typical goatcake, but a variation straight from North Ancho Ancho Answar. You are probably used to chunks of meat throughout the cream cheese filling, but in this recipe, the goat meat goes right into the crust! Half a cup of minced meat and folded into your favorite graham cracker crust recipe will get you there quick. Top with filling and ripe red strawberries, and chill for three hours. Perfect summer treat!

Goat-a Mocha Cake: Make these cakes in single serving pans and have all your party guests raving. Moist chocolate cake with a rich dark chocolate and goat chunk filling will delight even the most refined palates. Best served with dark roast coffee, but beware: once your guests take a bite, they won’t be able to stop themselves!

Pineapple Hoofside-down cake: Technically, the goat is just a garnish on this one, but it is so much fun to serve, we had to include it. Use a traditional upside down cake recipe, and after it is plated, use four hooves removed at the ankle knuckles and carefully place them into the cake so that their evenly spaced out and the hooves all face the ceiling. Top each hoof with whipped topping and a cherry. Tuck the goat tail under the serving plate for an extra touch of whimsy.

Lemon Bladder Bars: Bladder meat is often overlooked, but it adds double the tang to a traditional lemon bar recipe. Just toss them in a saucepan with a fourth cup of water and a dash of apple cider vinegar and let the magic happen on its own. After about ten minutes you’ll be left with a clear sludge that will blend in perfectly with your lemon filling, so do not worry about your bars looking ruddy or gritty. The only tell that goat bladders are used is that gamey tang as they melt in your mouth. Yum!

Tongue-n-Cheek Pralines: If you plan this one ahead of time, you can ask a few of your neighbors to save their tongues for you, but otherwise, unless You are having a huge Narrow Season celebration, You are going to have to get the goat tongue from your butcher in bulk. You’ll need at least ten, though if You are keen on harvesting the cheek meat also, you can get away with six or seven. I recommend the cheek meat, though if You are running short on time, it won’t hurt to skip it. Cut the tongues into quarters (or sixths if you have tongues from larger goats), and soak overnight in salted caramel sauce with the pureed cheek blended in. Carefully transfer onto a baking sheet and place in the oven on warm or your lowest temperature setting. Bake for three hours, adding an extra coat of caramel and pralines halfway through. These are meant to be a bit of a challenge to bite through, but if You are not feeling cheeky enough, just use a fork and knife.

Basic butt-n-butter bread: Some say this is peasant food, but a good butt-n-butter bread covered in jam is the perfect way to start a day. It is easiest to cut below the stomach and yank the intestinal tract out with one hard pull all the way to the anus. Purist will say to use both large and small intestines as not to let anything go to waste, but if You are up for a special delight, use the lower only. You’ll get a perfect rise on this one if you use stone ground wheat. Add a bit of honey for a little sweetness, and you won’t even need the jam! Use an extra cup of water if you want a version that’ll pour into a waffle iron. Best breakfast you’ll have for under fifty cents a serving, no ifs ands or butts!

Cinnamon Apple Heart Tarts: Your heart will skip a beat for these taste treats! A perfect way to celebrate an anniversary, this recipe turns one heart into two. You’ll need a heart-shaped mini-pan to pull these off. Harvest organ as fresh as possible. If You are doing your own slaughter, run that suck into the kitchen before it stops beating and toss it into a blender. Add in the cinnamon, apples (sweet or sour…depending on how you’d classify your relationship…) and agave syrup. If You are low-carb, you can skip the crust on this one since the bottom will caramelize perfectly, just be sure to wipe the pan down liberally with oil. Bake for thirty minutes, top with apple slices, and back ten more minutes. Serve hot out of the oven. Try it a la mode if you and your mate are already sizzling.

Udderly Delish Blackberry Cobbler: With so many udder meat recipes out there, it was hard to narrow it down, but this is one you do not want to miss. It can be tedious, but for the perfect presentation, You are going to want to cut the under into strips more or less the same width–about two inches. It is okay to include the teats, though if You are a stickler for conformity in your crust, you can cut them off. You’ll want to soak them in an egg and milk bath overnight and blot them dry. Line a greased 9 by 11 pan in a weave pattern, then pour in the blackberry filling. Bake for 45 minutes, and the filling is bubbling and just starting to caramelize along the edges. Dust lightly with graham cracker crumbles, and bake for five more minutes. Serve with whipped topping and milk for a titillating experience.

Coconut Cake with I-See Icing: Wake up a simple coconut sheet cake recipe by adding this gooey icing. You’ll need four sets of eyeballs for this, irises cored so that only the whites remain. An apple corer will work fine, or you can simply slice around it. Puree for thirty seconds, then folding the coconut icing and whip for twenty minutes. I hope you’ve got a stand mixer, but if you do not, believe me the ache in your arms will be worth it! Spread icing on a cooled cake, and serve. This tropical delight will be gone in a blink!


I close the book. I may never want to eat again. I turn the cover over, and find the same title page, only it’s written in pig-latin! It’s difficult to read, but I’ve got forty-five minutes to waste, so what the hey!

No Comments >>
Copyright © 2015 Diary of a Short Woman. All Rights Reserved.