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Call Me Christina | PuellaDocta
{Artist, Author, Geek}
{Artist, Author, Geek}

Call Me Christina | PuellaDocta's posts

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May 2017 Fly-By Status Report – Just Keep Swimming!

It’s time for another Fly-By Status report! And I’m up to my waist in MomoCon directing duties. But omg, we’re already a third into 2017! Dang, where does the time go? And I feel like I have very few brain cells to even process this blog post with everything going on right now.

Life keeps flowing along!

However, one of my part-time jobs just ended, so I have more time to do everything else I’ve been too busy to work on (in theory). SO, did I achieve my goals for the past 4 months?

Long Term

Doing some hardcore outlining and rewriting the style of my YA fantasy novel Sign of the Redwing in preparation for an editor to look it over agent hunting, –I’ve been editing, but I kept getting stuck around Chapter 3, so I realized I needed to break it down into smaller pieces. So I’ve been going over the original story draft and writing down all the major points I want to make sure I include in this next draft, and what I need to leave out. And because of crazy life stuff, this is still taking a while. Writing is hard, man–and ONLY THEN:

Outline the entire series that follows “Redwing”

Started thinking about it and making plans!

Finish a new round of research and go through gathered notes for my series

– I’ll put this on the back burner for now.

Short Term

Implement a new work/writing schedule

– I think I actually succeeded in putting together a schedule that works most of the time! Yay!

Get your house/health stuff back on track in the new year

– Eh, still working on that, but hey, it’s a process! And it’s included in the new schedule, so that should hopefully be something that continues to progress as well!

List some items in Etsy store in time for Valentine’s Day: Check it out!

– Not only did I post things on Etsy, I upped my #fafatl game by dropping lots of little heart magnets around Atlanta! It was a really fun project, and I enjoyed trying something new.

Once MomoCon is over in a few weeks, I’ll have some trips, as well as Camp Flix Photoshop stuff. And I might have some more vlog/blog posts in me if some of the events get particularly exciting!

So the next phase of the writing plan is to finish Draft 6 by fall, give it to friends to read, reach out to agents, and I even got a new NaNoWriMo idea, so I plan to do that this year! I’m glad to say that these four months have really prepared me for the next phase of my writing, and now that I know what I need to do, I’m even more excited!

I’ll be updating my front page with new events soon! So thanks for reading, guys, and I’ll see you in four months, if not sooner

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Flocks & Murmurations

Hey! Just popping in to tell a cool little anecdote.

I have a bird feeder in my yard, and a bird book and binoculars nearby so I can try to identify the birds I see. The cats love to watch them (I love how Zwartbles Ireland calls it “cat TV“), and Moss sometimes chatters at them when he gets particularly excited. It’s so cute, but I can never get it on film.

So yesterday morning, he’s poking his head through the blinds, and I go to open them for him–and stare outside in shock.

About 20 red-winged blackbirds were chowing at my feeder, like tourists at a hotel breakfast buffet! They flew away before I could get a picture, but then some came back, so I rushed to grab evidence.

Red-wing blackbirds at our feeder

This was cool by itself, but it’s even cooler in lieu of what happened around this time last year.

Last January I was on the couch, working or reading or whatever, and suddenly I hear a whoosh of chirping fly over my roof! I rushed to the window, but I didn’t see them. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one who heard them, the neighborhood association posted this, with videos!

I’ve always loved watching flocks of birds fly cross the sky. They’ve become a meaningful symbol of encouragement in my life, so much so that they’ve worked their way in my fantasy series! I’ve never seen a starling murmuration, but it’s on my bucket list!

Discerning readers of my site know that my first novel is called “The Sign of the Redwing” (unless an agent thinks I should change it and has good reason :P). In my book, a redwing is a predominantly red bird, and doesn’t look like a red-winged blackbird, but to have redwings flying over my house in giant, murmuring flocks…that’s super special and encouraging to this writer ^_^

I’d been wanting to post about the flock of red-wing blackbirds since last year, but the moment passed and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say. But when they showed up in my yard yesterday, I knew I had a story, and decided to strike while the iron was hot!

So I guess this means the red-winged blackbirds will be returning en mass to our yard again early next year? I need to do some research!

But not now. I just had a 3-week office work stint, but I’m back on the editing wagon now and have a lot of catching up to do, so time to buckle down! disappears once again



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Jan. 2017 Fly-By Status Report – My Favorite Time of the Year

I love Giphy so, so much

Merry Christmas and Happy 2017! I’m still over here celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas, doing a lot of nothing, and baking ^_^

But it’s that time again to think about all the things I want to do next year that I didn’t do this year. I’m pretty enthused for a fresh start!

Last year about this time, I wrote my 2016 New Years resolutions on a red Starbucks cup.


Lots of good intentions, but the ones that really, truly happened and stuck were landing my perfect job situation, as well as taking significant and progressive steps to getting more physically and spiritually healthy <3 Of course, there’s always more to learn and do, and there’s great stuff I did that wasn’t written on the cup, so I’m happy to say that I’m still going forwards, and not backwards ^_^

And what a better way to ring in 2017 than with another 4-month Fly-By status report!

Here’s my Fwinter (yes, Fall/Winter) Agenda 2016 plans from my home page. If it’s crossed out, it means it’s finished, or I’ve edited the original plan, and colored text next to it are my comments:

Long Term

Doing some hardcore outlining and continuing to edit my YA fantasy novel Sign of the Sparrow Redwing in preparation for an editor to look it over. I ended up taking a big break because I was super overwhelmed with so many things (like the holidays). But the new plan is to sit down for at least 1-2 hours a day and work on my book. Read through some drafts, decide what’s good as is and clean it up. Basically just finish this next draft quickly so I can send it to an editor, and get professional feedback before I pick it to death. So this will DEFINITELY be happening in the new year. I have all kinds of plans for it!

Outlining the entire series that follows “Redwing.” Happening after I send it out to an editor Small steps!

Finish a new round of research for my series. This will definitely be rolled into planning the rest of the series. I really love doing story research, it’s so rewarding, but I’ll try to limit my world-building research and note organizing til Draft 6 is done.

Short Term

Implement a new work/writing schedule. Didn’t happen this go round, but it’s happening now!

Rewrite “Redwing” in its new style during NaNoWriMo 2016. Haaaaaaaa, noooo. Rewriting Draft 6 from scratch was not a good plan, it just ground me to a halt.

Organize my art studio An ongoing process, but I’ve been hard at work!

Publish my first original crochet pattern Check it out! That was REALLY rewarding and cool ^_^

Do at least one Paint Love event I did 3 events this year! YAAAAY!

Finish a crochet filet piece for Intown Coffee House. I’ll finish it when I finish it But it will be in my portfolio once I do, and you’ll get to see it!

Finish my steampunk armband. See above

I’ll be updating the home page with my new plans, but here are my writing schedule plans so I can refer back to them here.

The writing plan is to work on this next draft, and then other writing projects, every evening (or when the mood strikes) for a few hours. Agent submissions will still happen this year, probably while I’m getting the book edited, so that might not even be a thing til summer. It all depends on how fast I get this draft finished. Or I could set a day aside where I write to agents as well, or have it be a day for publishing research and agent hunting.

I’ve been trying so many strategies to get it wedged into my schedule, so if the afternoon doesn’t work, I’ll try something else! And I just have to not think too hard about everything else I need to do, like getting back to a healthier lifestyle, and get back on the house management wagon. Adulting, am I right? Another thing I’m working on is mindfulness and baby steps, to keep everything in perspective and hopefully succeed while making it all less stressful. I’m not going to lie, right now I am terrified of failing. I just have to keep staying mindful and positive. I know, “just” is such a deceptive and hand-wavey word sometimes. I can’t keep shoving myself into rigid structure boxes because I know I’ll climb out, but I still need some structure or I’ll never meet my goals. But I know this works: if I break it all down into small enough pieces, hopefully I’ll have manageable goals that don’t stress me out, so I can continue to work hard, play hard and enjoy this new year! So, advice to me and you (and future Christina), keep taking those baby steps, and hold onto your goals determinedly but loosely, so you still control them, and not the other way around. It worked with weight loss, it will work for anything. Wish me luck, and good luck with all of your goals as well!

There will be another Fly-By report in May, aka THE SUPER MONTH OF BUSY-NESS, and hopefully by then I will have achieved my goals without the weight of my intentions burying me Castles in the sky need miles and miles of foundation work!

And so, once more…

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Oh my, teen fangirl me popped out and squeed uncontrollably!

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VLOG: A Fantastic Beasts & Harry Potter Party!

My in-laws do it again, with food, decorations and all around merriment, this time in the Harry Potter universe!


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NEW VIDEO: A Fantastic Beasts & Harry Potter Party! - My in-laws do it again, with food, decorations and all around merriment, this time in the Harry Potter universe! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Twitter & Instagram: @puelladocta My site:

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It's finally socially acceptable to start playing Christmas music! This one needs more circulation.

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Project S.T.I.R.: Authentic Armenian Fassoulia (Tomato String Beans)

On this warm, Georgian Thanksgiving morning, I begin my yearly personal tradition. I leave my dozing husband to stretch out in bed, while I take care of the cats and turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I’ll leave it on in the background (and cry at the sweet/sappy holiday commercials) while I cook two things to bring to our Georgia family Thanksgiving meal. The first is cornbread, with the recipe off the back of the White Lily cornmeal mix bag, and Armenian fassoulia, or as my family has always called it, tomato string beans.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous Project S.T.I.R. blog about rice pilaf, tomato string beans have been a part of my family’s Thanksgiving tradition since I can remember! And when I got married and started joining Wervyn’s family nearby for Thanksgiving, I didn’t even want to think about having the big day meal without tomato string beans!

Did you just say #Armenian folk dancing?!?! " class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" /> I’m making fassoulia right now! #MacysParade

— Call Me Christina (@puelladocta) November 24, 2016

It’s got simple ingredients and simple instructions! So if you’re interested in a new take on Thanksgiving string beans, you love tomatoes, and cringe at the thought of complicated recipes, dude, what are you waiting for? Keep scrolling!

This is the official family recipe my mom sent to me the year before Wervyn & I got hitched. I’ve modified it a little over the years, but very little; it’s almost too good to be improved upon!

Armenian Tomato String Beans (Fassoulia)

Ingredients ~ serves 10 (based off how many bags of green beans you use, ha!)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 or 2 large onions, sliced long (not chopped)

2 large bags frozen, french style string beans (or 3, depending on how many you’re serving)

1½ cups of spaghetti sauce (You can choose the consistency and flavors you like best! This year I’m trying large cans of no-salt-added tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.)

2-3 cloves of garlic, or a few dashes of garlic powder to taste (especially if you aren’t using bottled, flavored sauce)

1. Put the olive oil in a large saucepan, and add the sliced onion. Cook at medium heat for a few minutes until onions are transparent. Stir around with a wooden spoon.

2. If your sauce doesn’t have much added flavor, you can add a few dashes of garlic powder or a few crushed/diced cloves of garlic.

3. Add the frozen string beans and the amount of water indicated on their packages, and bring to a boil. Then cover the saucepan and simmer over a low flame for 15-20 minutes, or until all the beans are cooked and soft.

4. Only then do you add the sauce (if you add the red sauce before the beans are cooked, the beans stay hard!), mix together and simmer for 30 minutes.


5. If you think the beans need more salt after cooking and tasting, you can add a little more garlic powder and stir.

6. Spoon into a festive serving dish (or transfer them to an aluminum pan with a lid to take to your feasting destination), and enjoy!

Panger loves to be underfoot when I cook, and Moss often demands pets.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, guys! I’m so grateful that you’re reading this! Heck, with the amount of posts I’ve been making recently, I’m grateful that I have readers at all ^_^ I’m thankful for you! I hope you have a restful day, and remember many things to be thankful for today <3

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FREE Crochet Pattern – Curly Vine Pumpkin Garland

In art news, I just posted my first original crochet pattern in my portfolio! Check it out here, or add it on Ravelry!

I’m really excited to share it with everyone, particularly crocheters. If you try it, let me know! Thanks, guys!

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Sept. 2016 Fly-By Status Report – Super-Charged Summer

careens into blog, hair flying, adjusting glasses Whew! Hey guys! How was your summer? Mine was great, and relentlessly busy, including 4 trips in 4 months, getting an additional part-time job, and being in a play! Which, in addition to regular life stuff, means I had no extra mental space for blogging!

And yes, one of them was Disneyworld <3

I know it’s the last day of September, and I want to get my tri-annual update in to keep myself honest. So let’s see how much I got done that I wanted to do.

Here’s my Summer Agenda 2016 plans from my home page. If it’s crossed out, it means it’s finished, or I’ve edited the original plan, and colored text next to it are my comments:

Long Term

Doing some hardcore outlining and continuing to edit my YA fantasy novel Sign of the Sparrow (which might also include a title change) in preparation for an editor to look it over. Not only have I been editing, but I’ve decided to change the writing style of the story, to make it more fairy-tale like. So this has halted all endeavors to reach out to agents, since it will change so much.

Outlining the entire series that follows “Sign” Nope

Hopefully, I’ll get my book to my editor by the end of spring/beginning of summer, and then after May, I’ll get back to editing, finish that up, send it to my editor, and then I’ll start working on my query letter for agent and publisher submissions Ehhhhh, nope, all tied up with the reworking of the style. But that’s okay, this is an important change I really want to make.

Finish a new round of research for my series. I’ve in fact started a totally new vein of research that I like a lot better " class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" /> But series research will never stop! Until the series is finished of course " class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" />

Short Term

Update the Dragon Con Tolkien Track site. DONE! Super success!

Crochet Finny a costume for Dragon Con. Louise Belcher from Bob’s Burgers! Pics soon!

Get my manuscript edits finished in time for Pitch Wars, which officially opens to submissions August 3! Sadly this didn’t happen. See Tweet link below.

Finish Query Letter

Finish 1-page synopsis

Finish edits of the manuscript

Sadly, based off lack of time to finish my edits (and being out of town), I won’t be able to participate in #PitchWars, which is lame

— Call Me Christina (@puelladocta) August 4, 2016

Finish a crochet filet piece for Intown Coffee House. Never got around to it.

Finish my steampunk armband. Ditto

Help the kids design their movie posters at Camp Flix. Always a blast!

Do at least one Paint Love event. Nah, but they helped me get some great new photos of myself, and I plan to do one on writing this fall, with a fellow author!

Organize my art studio. Waiting til it gets colder, so planning to next month.

Learn to use a sewing machine. Nope. sigh Sew well XP

I’m looking ahead to the fall, not just for holidays, but for less time traveling and more time getting life organized before it explodes again in the I’m working out a new schedule to hopefully get more stuff done, particularly writing, so we’ll see how that goes. And I do intend to do some vlogs about my travels, and possibly Dragon Con, as things slow down. Hopefully these will not simply be good intentions that go nowhere I’ll be updating the Fall/Winter list of Plans and Plots soon.

See you guys on social media! <3
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