Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Best Fudge EVER!

Dickinson Family Fudge

Melt 1/2 lb butter in large heavy saucepan. Add 12 oz can of evaporated milk. Add 4 1/2 cups of sugar. Put over medium heat and stir constantly until it boils, about 20 minutes. Do not stir while it boils 10 minutes. (Boil slowly.) Take off stove and add 24 oz of chocolate chips and 13 oz marshmallow fluff. Stir together. Pour into mini loaves or a large pan for cutting into pieces.

Makes 5 lbs.

Warning: Don't eat it all at once! It's dangerous to the hips, but so good crossing the lips!

Monday, December 28, 2009

When in Doubt Ask Other Writers

Every writer, at one point in time or another, needs a support group. This can be as simple as a critique group or a larger writers group you attend monthly meetings at.

Writing is like any other job. The more you investigate and learn about the business, the more success you will bring to yourself and your writing. Even when you think you have learned it all, we can't lose sight that other writers have much to teach us.

If you are writing on your own and don't belong to a critique group or monthly writers group, I challenge you to join one. It will renew your spirit and continue to help feed your passion for writing. Where do you find such people? Search the internet for local writing groups in your area. Talk to people you know. Once I started doing this, I was very surprised at how many people write and don't ever tell anyone about it.

I have a weekly critique group and a monthly writers group. I love them both. They teach me something new every time we are together and most importantly, they move me forward with goals. Find your group. It will make a world of difference.


Friday, December 25, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life!

Of course, I have to recommend today that you watch the classic, It's a Wonderful Life. Every year I fall in love with Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey. I still laugh out loud during the dancing scene when they end up in the swimming pool. Such good fun!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ice Cream Cake

This is a fantastic recipe.

Ice Cream Cake

1 stick of margarine or butter
1/2 package of Oreo cookies crushed. I put them in a ziploc back and crush them.
1 block of your choice of ice cream. I use Cookies and Cream, but during the holidays it is fun to use peppermint ice cream.

Melt margarine in microwave about 30 seconds. While doing this, let block of ice cream sit on counter to get soft, usually about 15 minutes.

In a Ziploc bag, crush 1/2 package of Oreo cookies. Pour cookies into a 9 x 12 pan. Add melted margarine and stir. Spead out to make crust.

Remove ice cream from carton. Slice and lay on top of cookie crust. Use a knife to spread and even out the seams and make smooth.

Refreeze over night. Before serving, set on counter for 10 minutes. This makes is easier to cut. Enjoy!


Monday, December 21, 2009

It's the week before Christmas...

and all through my work center,
there are secrets within, not a child may enter.
I've hid a few presents, and I'm not telling where.
You'll have to wait four more days. Christmas is so near.
Now it's back to work I must go. There are stories to write.
Here's wishing you a Merry Christmas. May your holidays be filled with light.


Friday, December 18, 2009

The Blind Side

Happy Friday.

I went with my movie buddy to see The Blind Side that stars Sandra Bullock. It was fantastic. I know that some people did not give it a good review, but I disagree.

I loved seeing Sandra in this kind of supporting role. She had a spark to her that was interesting, and the story line never once allowed me to check my watch in boredom. I am usually a romantic love story kind of movie girl, but this was a movie that definately needs to be seen.

Some of the reviews focused on how there wasn't enough of Michael Oher's personal perspective. I disagree. This movie caused me to come home and Google Michael Oher. His story is fascinating. Plus, there is a book that the movie is based on called The Blind Side: Evolution of the Game. I definately feel this is a family movie to see. There are many lessons to be learned. Plus, it opens up another reading opportunity for the family. Go see the movie!!!!!

Ingrid. :-)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

White Chili

Last Friday at our weekly critique group, Ann made a delicious white chili for us. I asked her to share her recipe with us. Here it is.

White Chili

One roasted chicken from the store (already cooked), meat picked off the bones and cut or torn in bite size pieces.

4 cans of pinto beans (15 oz, drained)

One 16 oz. jar of the salsa with corn and beans (I used the Meijer naturals--medium spicy)

One 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes undrained

Two teaspoons cumin

Mix all above ingredients in Crockpot and cook on low for 4-6 hrs., stirring occasionally if you are there (not necessary, however). On Friday, I put it on high for 2-3 hours and it also worked fine.

This recipe is very easy to play with--I have made it with different kinds of beans and with mild salsa, too. You can also put in less cumin if you would like.

This is a super-easy recipe!


Monday, December 14, 2009

Cut Out Those Pictures

As I continue to write, I am discovering that I need a visual to help me describe my characters. This is when I started to cut out pictures of people in magazines or on the internet that look like my characters. In fact, I have started a book that I can pull out and use in the future.

If I see a picture of a person or a place or even a house that inspires me, I cut it out and put it in my book. Each book I work on has it's own binder. I put all the pictures that pertain to that story in the binder and often look at it to stay focused and submerged in my story.

I even researched "man kitchens" once on the internet to get just the right picture of my hero's very masculine kitchen. This little tip of cutting out pictures truly helps my writing. I hope it will help yours.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Jennifer Armintrout's New Lightworld/Darkworld Series

Jennifer Armintrout became a national bestseller with her Blood Ties series about vampires. If you haven't read them, they are The Turning, Possession, Ashes to Ashes, and All Souls' Night.

With her new series she has created a new world order consisting of the Lightworld, Darkworld and the Upworld. The veil between the magical world and the world of humans has been torn and fairies, trolls, demons, dragons, vampires, angels, elves, and all sorts of imaginary creatures now must exist on earth with humans. Of course, they can't all just get along.

Book one of the series, Queene of Light, tells the tale of Ayla, a half faery, half human, who can not escape her role in the ancient prophecy of the Fairy Court.

Child of Darkness and Veil of Shadows are books two and three in the series.

Queene of Light started a bit slowly for me. I had some trouble getting into the story because everything in the world building was new to me. I felt a little distant from it. But once I got to know the characters better, I couldn't put down the book.

The next day I picked up Child of Darkness and read it within a twenty-four hour period. Again I had a little difficulty with the book initially. I didn't particularly feel much sympathy for the main characters. They were showing all their warts and weren't very lovable. But as the action took off and the characters were forced to change, I enjoyed the story more.

I haven't bought Veil of Shadows, yet. But I'm greatly anticipating the conclusion to this unique tale of the Lightworld, Darkworld and Upworld.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mexican Dip

Here is a fantastic recipe from my sister, Sherrell.

Mexican Dip

Layer the following in order:

1 can of refried beans
mix together the following then layer
2 avocados mashed
2 TBSP of lemon juice
1/4 tsp of salt
1/8 tsp of pepper
mix together the following and layer
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayo
1 pkg of taco seasoning
1 bunch of green onions chopped
2 tomatoes chopped
1 can of black olives chopped
1 pkg of 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese.

Then decide what you want to scoop the dip out with. You can use tortilla chips. I personally like corn chips. Enjoy!!!


Monday, December 7, 2009

Working through the holidays

This is a difficult time of year to keep to the writing. I am easily distracted by baking, shopping, wrapping presents, and various other holiday activities. Plus I seem to find myself curled up on the couch under an afghan voraciously reading romances much of the time.

I have to remind myself that I consider myself a writer. And you know what? Writers write. If I'm not writing during this holiday season, then I'm not much of a writer. I don't want to get to January 1 and find I've made no progress on my WIP in two months.

So, I commit to you and myself to renew my weekly goals and write every week.

Friday, December 4, 2009

New Moon - Twilight Saga

Happy Friday.

Many of you do not know this little fact about me. I am a HUGE Twilight fan. And, I am not a teenager! :-)

When Twilight was released, I saw the movie about eight times in the theater. Now that New Moon is out, I bet my Twilight buddy and I will see the movie at least twenty times. Over the top you say? Maybe, but for me, it has turned into a whole new form of literary analysis. Let me explain.

Being a writer, it fascinates me when another writer creates characters that people love. This is what happened in the Twilight Series. When I go to the movies, my buddy and I are comparing details from the book to the film. We truly enjoy this. I guess some could view this as an obsession, however, there are worse ways I could be spending my time.

So, the reviews on New Moon. I really enjoyed it, but I felt a little let down at the end. Of course, the director changed some things. At the end, I felt we needed more from Edward and Bella. There wasn't enough of their important conversation like in the book. I actually had to go back home and reread the end of the book to feel complete. Maybe I have read them so many times, that I am too picky. Anyway, I give the movie a thumbs up. I can't wait until Elipse in released in June 2010.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Almond Glazed Sugar Cookies

I got this recipe from a tear-out card in a magazine years ago. It was an advertisement for Land O'Lakes butter. It is one of my favorite cookies to make for Christmas.

I just made a double batch for a celebration of Advent last night. That's why the glaze is tinted blue. :D

Almond Glazed Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 to 5 teaspoons water

  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Combine butter, sugar and almond extract in large mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add all remaining cookie ingredients. Beat until well mixed.
  • Roll dough into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Flatten balls to 1/4 inch thickness with the bottom of a buttered glass dipped in sugar.
  • Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets. Cool completely.
  • Stir together all glaze ingredients in small bowl with wire whisk. Decorate cooled cookies with glaze.
Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Don't Give Up

Happy Monday.

I am writing today as a self motivator. I am telling myself not to give up as my edits seem overwhelming. As a writer, each new book you write becomes a teacher. It teaches you how to become better at your craft and at the same time, it can really drive you crazy when you are editing. However, each book does get easier as you build your knowledge of how to write, and when you learn what mistakes not to make again in your next book. :-)

Stay focused. Take a few days off if you need to, but don't give up. I think of all the hours I really enjoyed creating this story, and now I need to work through the edits and make it shine.
As Winston Churchhill once said, "Never, Never, Never Give Up!" How true!!!!

Stay focused and finish the your WIP. It will be worth it when you are offered a contract.

Ingrid :-)

Friday, November 27, 2009


My hubby and I went to see our local university theater department's production of Rent, the musical. I had seen the movie version, which is awesome! So I was excited to see the live stage version.

I was amazed at the talent available here in West Michigan. The quality of the singing voices were great, but unfortunately poor sound mixing took away from some of my enjoyment. The volume of the band drowned out the volume of the vocals. And I didn't think the actors enunciated very clearly on the songs.

Nearly the entire story is told through the lyrics of the songs, so I was glad I already knew the story, otherwise I would have been lost during the show. My hubby didn't remember the story as well as I did from the movie version, so he enjoyed the stage version even less than I did.

Overall, it was great to see the local talent enjoying themselves on stage, and it made me want to buy the movie version so I could enjoy the songs over and over again. It's a great story full of love, heartbreak and hope. A true romance. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Day Before Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you for reading our blog!

Thanksgiving is a great time of year. One of my favorite recipies is from Rachel Ray. It is her version of a pumpkin role but in a fantastic little cream cheese filled individual cake. Really, they are easy to make and take a short period of time. I have made them several times and highly recommend them.

Go to and type in Pumpkin Whoopie Pies. You won't regreat it. They will become a favorite!!!!!!


Monday, November 23, 2009


I've really been struggling (or avoiding) for about a month to write my synopsis for my current manuscript. I feel like I've been hitting my head against a brick wall every time I sit down in front of the page that says Synopsis at the top. I'm getting bogged down in the scene details, and I'm struggling to step back and view the story from a distant perspective.

So, what's my problem? Why can't I get this thing written? How did I write the synopsis for my past stories?

Then I came across a blurb about an upcoming class on how to write a synopsis in fifteen minutes. In the blurb it mentioned "characters, goals, motivations, and conflict, how to create a satisfying ending, and how to develop and summarize the middle of the book." That was my eureka moment. I'd forgotten to go back through my library of writing books for a reminder of what to include in my synopsis.

According to Leigh Michaels in her book, On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel that Sells, an effective synopsis will address six specific points:

1. Hook - What's going to appear on the back cover of the book? What element in your story is going to grab the readers and make them say, "This is so different, so unusual, so intriguing that I have to read this book"?

2. Heroine - What makes her interesting? Physical description is usually a waste of space, as is most of the character's history. The editor is more interested in what kind of person the character is now and - only if it's crucial to the story - how she got that way.

3. Hero - Why is he in opposition to the heroine? What does he want, or why does he not want the heroine to succeed?

4. Conflict - What is the main character's difficulty at or near the start of the story? What is the problem that will keep the characters apart, force them to work together, and change their entire future?

5. Story - How is the conflict shown to the readers? How does it intensify? How does each event affect the main characters? What twists and turns in the plot will keep the readers fascinated and unable to put the book down? Sketch the beginning, middle, and end of the story in skeletal form, while still being as specific as possible.

6. Resolution - How is the conflict resolved? How does the ending come about? What makes the ending satisfying for the readers?

Easy peasy, right? :(
I'll let you know when I get it done.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Soup's On!

The winter is a great time to make homemade soup. And when you make your own, you can make it healthier by reducing salt and using fresh vegetables. Here's a healthy and delicious recipe for Minestrone.

1/4 lb turkey bacon
2 medium onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 sliced carrot
1 cup chopped cabbage
1/2 cup chopped turnip
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup peas
1/4 cup chopped parsley
6 cups vegetable stock or low-fat, low-salt chicken broth
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp basil
1 cup cooked white beans

Saute vegetables and then add broth and spices; cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add beans. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Here is an easy recipe for a cold day.


Fry up a pound of ground beef or turkey and season with salt, pepper and onion flakes.
While cooking meat, boil a half a box of macaroni noodles with salt to season. Boil for about ten minutes. Drain.

Add noodles to meat mixture along with two cans of tomato soup. Stir, simmer and enjoy. Sometimes, I put a little white sugar in it to sweeten it up. Either way, yummy.



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chapter 1, Scene 1, Take 4

Yesterday at critique group, Ingrid read my first chapter aloud to us. It was fascinating to hear my words spoken with a different voice. Her inflections and emphasis on different words made the scene feel new again. And it was new in this particular formulation.

It's taken at least four major revisions, but I think I've finally found the right combination of characters, action and dialogue for chapter one.

First chapters are so hard for me to write, and I'm sure for many writers. It's so important to get the first five pages just right to attract an agent's attention, so they'll want to read more. What really adds to my difficulties is that after working with my characters for so long, it's hard to go back and read chapter one with fresh eyes. It's hard to read it as a first-time reader who doesn't already know these characters, their backstories, and what is in store for their futures. It's hard to step back with clear eyes and feel the emotions for the first time.

And that's why I love my critique partners. Because their eyes are fresher than mine when it comes to reading my work. Thanks, ladies!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Love Happens

Happy Friday.

This week I went to see Love Happens. It stars Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart. I have to admit, I saw the movie preview when I was at the theater about a month ago. It looked good. I thought I was going to see a love story.

Well, it was a little misleading. I thought the story would be more about the way they fell in love. It was more focused on Aaron's character, Burke, and his journey. Yes, they did fall in love in the end, but I was left with a feeling of wanting more. I kind of felt mislead. I went to see two people fall in love and instead, I saw a man's journey to heal himself from past hurt. Not exciting when you are looking to find love at the movies. It's a bummer to feel that way.

In my WIP, it is my goal to make sure I tell the story of Jackson and Micaella and how they fell in love. Even though each character grows as a person and changes, their love is still the main focus of the story. Since I've been writing, I find that I tend to analyze books and movies unlike I did before. This has good points and bad points. Either way, it as made me really focus on the story I want to tell and how I want to tell it.

Hope you have a great week.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Easy Peasy Pizza

My kids love pizza. Whose don't? This recipe is a great way to make pizzas without a lot of work, and you can make them healthy by adding a little veggie matter to the toppings.

Easy Peasy Pizza
4 pitas
8 oz. can of Pastorelli's pizza sauce (yummy!)
8 oz. shredded mozzarella (shred it yourself and skip the potato starch in the pre-shredded bags)
Your favorite toppings - pepperoni, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, mushrooms, olives, red pepper, go crazy!

Place pitas on cookie trays, spread evenly with sauce, then cheese and toppings. Cook at 400 degrees until cheese starts to brown, about 15 minutes.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Doing the blog

Last year, when I told my friend, Monica, that I was writing a historical western set on a cattle ranch, she said I had to go online and check out a blog by a woman living on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma. I kept putting it off. I mean I thought it might help a little with my research, but how interesting could a woman blogging about living on a ranch in the middle of nowhere be?

Oh, was I in a for a big surprise!

This woman is every woman's dream of the perfect friend. She's funny, smart, loving, out-going, goofy and self-deprecating in the best of ways. She can cook up a storm and take beautiful photos of the process at the same time. Talk about talent. I would surely drop my camera in the batter bowl every time. She also does weekly give-a-ways of spectacular prizes.

From the little blog site she started three years ago, she has now won numerous awards, has published her first cookbook and has been televised on The Bonnie Hunt Show!

And what I appreciate the most from her is that she always puts a smile on my face when I read her daily blogs.

So ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, let me introduce you to Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Plotter or pantser?

Writers tend to fall into the category of plotter or pantser. Me? I'm a plotter. Even when I try to write by the seat of my pants, I find myself opening a new Word document and typing in notes for backstory and future scenes and bits of dialogue. I guess I'm afraid I'll lose some of my ideas if I don't get them typed into a document.

Besides if I don't know where I'm going, how will I know how to get there? Definitely a plotter.

Though there are different levels of plotting. I'm still trying to find my level of comfort. With my last manuscript, I followed Karen Weisner's plan as she described in First Draft in 30 Days. I did the draft in June of 2008. In the fall when I tried to sit and write the story, it had no zing. It felt worn out. I had thoroughly dissected it and had no interest in bringing it to life. So I put it on the shelf and worked on other stories until June 2009.

In June I dusted off the 3-ring binder and opened a new Word document. Then the scenes spilled out of me. I was writing a new chapter every day for about a week. It was exciting and new and fresh again.

I wish I could say that excitement and speed lasted throughout the entire writing of the book, but alas no. Middles and endings can be so long in coming sometimes, but with the regular weekly meetings of my critique partners, I plowed through and finished the manuscript at the end of September.

It was an interesting experiment in major plotting. At times I felt my story lacked spontaneity and creativity because everything was already prescribed in my outline. I did change things as needed, as my characters took me down different paths, but mostly I stuck to the outline.

Now I am trying the completely opposite method. I've started a new project, and I haven't written a single character sketch or background timeline or scene outline. But I have opened an extra Word document to type some notes about backstory.

I guess I'll never be a true pantser.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Off Schedule

Okay, I've been remiss, and I owe all our faithful readers an apology. I know you've all been sitting on the edge of your seats waiting for my next blog post. Yeah, all two of my family members who check this page maybe once a month. Ha!

But seriously, as an aspiring author, I need to be in the habit of regular blogging. And I have so failed this month.

So, what happened, you ask? Umm, I don't really know.

Must of been the submissions to agents at the beginning of the month. They put me in a nasty funk of self-doubt. It's hard to come up with something pithy, entertaining and educational to blog about when I'm feeling the inner demons shredding my soul.

Yeah, that's it. That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.

Happy Way Off Schedule Thursday!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Baked Beans

Happy Wednesday. I often find myself looking forward to comfort food mid-week. Here is a great recipe that was passed on to me by a friend. Enjoy!

1 large jar of Randall's Navy Beans drained
1 chopped onion
1/2 cup catsup
1 1/4 cup of white sugar
1 tbsp of vinegar
1/2 pound of bacon (bake the bacon in the oven on a pan at 350. Then cut into small pieces and mix into the bean mixture)

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour then at 250 for 2 hours. I also make this in the crock pot on low all day.



Monday, October 5, 2009

The Edits!

Happy Monday!

This past week, I learned a lot from my critique group. They keep me grounded and make me work harder. About a month ago, I finished my first WIP. Each week, I have been bringing a few chapters to read, and last week I floundered. As my critique partner, Andrea, was reading my work to me, I got those bad feelings we all get when things aren't going right.

In other words, I didn't like my own work. So, it was back to the laptop this week. I ended up chopping about five chapters and rewriting the ending. I'm much happier with how things turned out. In fact, my main female character, Micaella, gave me a surprise at the end.

So, I learned this week that it is very important to have someone read your work to you. Then, you can decide how it sounds and if you need to rewrite anything.

Have a blessed day.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ho-Ho Cake

I know it's hard to start thinking about Christmas, but here is a recipe that you don't need to wait that long to make. It's a great thing to make on a cheat day when you want to eat chocolate and feel good about yourself. I know the little girl, Gillian, in my WIP would love this!

Ho-Ho Cake

1 box of chocolate fudge cake mix (Betty Crocker)
Prepare as directed on package, cool completely.

Filling: 2/3 cup of Crisco
1/2 cup butter
2 tsp of vanilla
1 5 oz. can of evaporated milk.

Cream Crisco and butter until smooth. Add vanilla and evap. milk. Beat for 10-15 minutes. The longer the creamier it gets! :-) Spread over cool cake and refrigerate until set.

1 Tub of chocolate fudge frosting.
warm in microwave for 25 seconds, stir to soften and spread over filling. Let set.



Monday, September 28, 2009

To step back or not

As my critique partners and I adjust to life after summer, we struggle with adapting to the new rhythm of our day. We have to set our alarm clocks and wake before the sun rises. We have to remember to pack lunches the night before. We have to return to our day jobs, carpools, and emergency I-left-my-trombone-at-home calls from school. Through the new demands on our time, we have to learn to make space for our writing - mentally, physically and emotionally.

The other day I received a plea via email from one of my critique partners. She wrote that she hadn't been writing all week. She didn't know where her WIP was going. She felt burned out and discouraged, at an impasse. She felt she needed to step back and rest. She was looking for suggestions for getting her story and characters animated again.

Here is what I wrote to her:

Dear Friend,
This happens to all writers. I have certainly had many days like that during my current WIP. Different writers will give you different advice. The most common advice is to keep writing everyday no matter what. Even if it is only 5 minutes of writing.

The book I just finished reading Chapter after Chapter by Heather Sellers, talked about learning how to write badly. She called it writing good enough. It is advice I have heard in many different ways.

On the days that I don't feel like writing or the writing feels hard or flat or boring or going no where. Those are the days I have to write as if no one is looking. I have to write just to put words on the page. Make really bad sentences, run on paragraphs, grammatical errors, omnipotent POV, head hopping. Whatever it takes, but I just have to get words on the page. Eventually my characters will start talking to me again and tell me where the story should go or what they really want to say.

Writing is about getting through these hard days by still writing.

Okay, that's the advice that most writers will give you, and I follow it about 80% of the time. The other 20% is me doing what I have to do to take a break from writing. On Friday I sat on the couch and watched movies on TV for 5 hours. I didn't plan to take Friday off. But by Saturday, I was chomping at the bit to get back to my writing to finish this d*#% WIP. And I had a really productive day on Saturday. Now I am within 700 words of finishing.

But the fear for most writers is that if they take a day off, it will become 2 days off, which will become 3 days, etc. and they will find themselves 6 months to a year later with a partially completed manuscript. They will have lost their ties to their characters and no longer care about their story. They will have forgotten that they are a writer.

My suggestion would be to take 1/2 the time off you think you need, but don't forget you're a writer. And writers write! :D

I love you buckets!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Apple Cake

It's autumn. One of my favorite seasons, spring is the other. Time to cook with all the delicious apples that are ripe and ready to be picked off the trees.

In my current WIP, my heroine is mother to a five-year-old girl. Apple picking and baking Apple Cake are two of their favorite fall activities. But because the book takes place in May and June, you can't read about them doing it... maybe the second book in the series will take place in the fall...

Anyway, enjoy Apple Cake. This recipe comes from my husband's father's family.

Apple Cake
1 - Combine in large bowl: 3 cups flour and 3 teaspoons baking powder.
2 - Combine in small bowl: 1 cup oil, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.
3 - Combine in medium bowl: 4 eggs beaten and 2 cups sugar.

Add 2 and 3 to 1 and stir to make batter.
Core and dice 6 medium apples (you can peel them if you want or not!).
Combine 5 teaspoons sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a very small bowl.
In 8-inch greased and floured tube pan, pour a bottom layer of batter, then 1/2 the apples and 1/2 the sugar/cinnamon. Repeat layers.

Bake 90 to 105 minutes at 350 degrees.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Writing is Really a Job!

Happy Monday!

It really is for me. On Mondays, I meet with two very special women--my critique group. It's the best way to start out the week.

As I continue to write, I am trying to find ways to work smarter. Writing is like any other job, you have to practice to get better at it. You need to have others read your work and get positive feedback. Then, you need to use that feedback and make your WIP better. If you never do anything with suggestions, you can't grow as a writer.

I have no idea what I would do without my critique partners. Not only do they help make my writing better, they support me in friendship. There isn't anything better. What job can you go to on a daily basis and say, you adore all of your co-workers? When I go to work on Mondays with these ladies, I can honestly say this.

One of the things that has kept me writing is posting goals on our monthly blog site for writers. If I put these out into cyberspace, I'm committing myself to achieve those goals. In addition, each Monday the critique group meets we always bring at least one chapter. For me, it's all about accountability.

Ann and Andrea, thank you for being so supportive and challenging me to get better each week.


Friday, September 18, 2009

The Troubleshooters Series

There is one author that I have been studying for the past year. She started her career by writing category romances, developed a series within category romances, then made the move into mainstream fiction with a romantic suspense series. She is brilliant at deep POV, and she has taught me so much with her writing. And the best part is that I've heard she's a really nice person, too!!!

She has developed two series that focus on U.S. Navy Seals. Really hot, dangerous, sexy men who love their women ferociously and only second to their dedication to the United States. The category romance series is called Tall, Dark and Dangerous. Several of the eleven books have recently been reissued by their publisher. The mainstream series about U.S. Navy Seals is The Troubleshooters Series.

If you are looking for a new series with incredible storytelling, deep POV, intense drama and fantastic love scenes, then check out Suzanne Brockmann's The Unsung Hero, book one in the Troubleshooters Series. Then come back and tell me how much you enjoyed it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Typing "The End" and Digging In!

Happy Wednesday!

This is a special week for me. As a new writer, one of the big moments is writing "The End." This happened on Sunday for me. I cried. It was fantastic. Then I wanted to eat to celebrate. :-) Why is it we always go for food when we want to celebrate and not the nearest kick-boxing class? I think we all know the answer. Because we love the way good food tastes.

Since I'm trying my best to work the Body for Life program, I couldn't eat what I wanted. So, I'm posting what I would have made if it was in my eating plan for the day. This recipe is from a very good friend of mine. It is excellent for those cooler fall days coming up. Who knows, maybe I'll make it on my next cheat day. Enjoy.

Artichoke Dip

2 - 14 oz. cans of artichokes drained and chopped
1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese. I use finely shredded.
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of mayo

Mix together and bake in a dish for 25-35 min. at 350 degrees until it looks bubbly and golden brown on top. Serve with good crackers. Best of luck not eating the whole dish at one sitting. :-)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Character Arcs

As it was in the beginning, it shall not be in the end.

In a good romance story the heroine will change from the beginning of the story to the end. She will have learned something about herself through trials and tribulations that make it possible for her to achieve her happily-ever-after.

In my current manuscript as I work on the last two chapters, I see that Sierra has changed, but I wonder if I have shown her working through enough hard spots to reach her transformation. The answer: No.

So, what do I do now?


I just read in Heather Sellers' book, Chapter After Chapter, that revisions means a "re - seeing" of the story. It is nearly time for me to go back through my story and re - vision the writing. One of the pieces that I will be looking at is my hero and heroine's character arcs. Do they change from the beginning to the end? Do I show enough conflict in the middle of the book that details how the characters have changed?

So, even though I am near the end of my story. It is only the beginning of the re - visioning.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Body for Life

Happy Friday!

My hero in my WIP is Jackson Pierce. One of the things I adore about him is that he adopted the gym as his surrogate family. He is very physically fit! So since I created Jackson, I thought I better get myself to the gym! :-)

I want to review Body for Life. It's a fitness/eating plan that I am committing myself to. I've been working it for about three weeks now. I have to admit I haven't been perfect. But, what I am doing is creating very good habits. I've almost completely given up pop. Yes, I LOVED my Diet Coke. At first, it was very hard. Now, I really do crave water. And since Monday, Andrea's iced tea!

I am eating six small meals a day that have one carb and one protein per serving. I need to add veges to at least two meals. What I am finding is that planning is the key. If I make my lunch ahead of time, it works. If I mess up, I get right back on track the next meal.

In addition to eating, working out at the gym is a must. I'm getting much better at wanting to go. I take my husband with me, and he is good inspiration.

It's amazing what you can learn from the characters you create. Enjoy the weekend and post your thoughts.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Herb Bread

It's back to school time and all that! So, I thought I would post a recipe that makes itself while you go do something else.

It's time to get those bread machines out and put them to work. This is a family favorite recipe. We just had it last night with Beef Stew. I'll post Beef Stew in the coming weeks. It was yummy!

Herb Bread
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons instant dry milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian Herb Seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons Bread Machine Yeast

Combine ingredients in loaf pan according to bread machine instructions. Process in basic/white bread cycle; medium/normal color setting. Press start and walk away!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Finding the Balance

September is already here, and kids are ready to go back to school. This means different things to many people. For some, it can mean more time. For others, it will mean more things to do.

For me, it adds another helping to my plate that was already very full. I have spent the last week trying to make a schedule for myself that will allow me to be a mother, wife, teacher and writer (not necessarily in that order). :-) Can you hear me laughing?

The order will all depend on what the universe has in store for me at that moment. It could be that my husband needs me to pick up our son from football practice. Or, that my son needs me to run his mouth piece up to the practice field. Either way, I'm blessed with my family, but I can't forget that the writer inside of me needs attention too.

So, here is what I planned. I'm giving up some of my beloved television shows. Yes, I actually spent time today checking out the fall lineups. Last summer, I mourned the fact that there was nothing good on television. I read a lot, but didn't write at all.

This summer, I fell in love with writing. I had all day to devote to my laptop. That's not the case anymore. So, I'm taking the advice that many writers have said in the past. Write every day. That is my goal.

Sunday, I ran a million errands and found myself missing my characters. Finally at 9:26 pm, I sat down and greeted them with a smile again as my fingers hit the keyboard. After all, a writer can't sell their book if it isn't done.

I encourage all of you writers out there to make a schedule and go for it. Enjoy!


Friday, September 4, 2009

Battlestar Galactica

Yes, it's sci-fi. And yes, it's romance! Tons of romance in fact.

Here is Wikipedia's synopsis:
The story arc of Battlestar Galactica is set in a distant part of the galaxy, where a civilization of humans live on a series of planets known as the Twelve Colonies. In the past, the Colonies had been at war with a cybernetic race known as the Cylons. With the unwitting help of a human named Gaius Baltar, the Cylons launch a sudden ambush on the Colonies, laying waste to the planets and devastating their populations. The handful of human survivors flee into space aboard any spacecraft they can reach. Of all the Colonial Fleet, the Battlestar Galactica appears to be the only military capital ship that survived the attack. Under the leadership of famed military leader Commander William "Bill" Adama, the Battlestar Galactica and its crew take up the task of leading the small fugitive fleet of survivors into space in search of a fabled refuge known as Earth.

A friend of my hubby's lent us the first season of Battlestar Galactica on DVD for our vacation in the U.P. in July. Every night after putting our boys to sleep, we curled up on the bed with my laptop and watched episode after episode of this great series.

We raced home from our vacation and immediately called hubby's friend to get the remaining seasons of the complete series. And now sadly we have only a few episodes left to watch. We've begun to pace ourselves, only watching one or two episodes at a night as the remaining ones dwindle.

So do yourself a favor this weekend, and get your hands on the pilot of BG. It was initially broadcast as a miniseries on the Sci Fi Channel, and enormous popularity caused it to be picked up by the network as a series.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Strawberry-Cranberry Dessert

Happy Wednesday!

I was thinking this week about my female character in my WIP. Her name is Micaella. She is very independent, yet hates to cook. She has a three year old daughter, and I can see her making the following dessert for them both to eat. It is easy, even for the person who hates to cook.

I make it every holiday and ordinary times of the year. It is all made in a blender so no messy bowls to clean up. I hope you enjoy!

Strawberry-Cranberry Dessert

Put all ingredients in blender in the order.

1. 1 6 oz. package of suger free strawberry jello.
2. Add 1 1/2 cup of boiling water. Blend to mix. Make sure you hold the top of the blender. Sometimes the jello can leak and stain a countertop. I put a dishtowel under my blender.
3. Add 1 block of cream cheese (can use fat free). Blend.
4. 1 can of jellied cranberries. Blend.
5. 1 10 oz. unthawed tub of frozen strawberries. I get them at Meijers.
6. Blend one final time. Your blender should be full to the top.

Pour into a pretty dish. Cover and let sit until firm. Then, frost with Cool Whip.


Monday, August 31, 2009

Making Space

I've been organizing my magazine collections over the past two days in order to straighten up some of the shelves in my office. Did you know you can make great magazine holders out of cereal boxes? A little cutting and some colored paper taped to the outside, and VOILA! a new FREE magazine holder.

As I was re-shelving my magazines in their new holders, I realized that I had more space on the shelves now that the magazines weren't spilling all over themselves and everything else.

So, what does this have to do with writing?

I was thinking about how I was making space and how important that was to my writing. In this case I'm talking about making mental space.

I have to make space in my thoughts during the day to think about my WIP. This helps me work through scenes that I may have struggled with while at my computer. It also gives my muse space to create the dialogue for a new scene.

So, how do I make mental space?

1. I have to unplug. I don't listen to any music on my mp3 player. It's only loaded with books. But if I want to listen to my own thoughts, I have to remove the earplugs to my audiobooks.

2. I do something routine that doesn't require thought. Two of my favorite places to make mental space are my shower and my neighborhood walk. Water is full of powerful, creative energy for me. Standing under the hot shower as I wash my hair always gives my muse an invitation to visit my thoughts. Whereas walking my neighborhood fills my senses with nature, and the fresh air clears the dust from my brain. It also gives me a chance to try speaking dialogue out loud where no one can hear me.

Making space - how do you do it?

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife

Happy Friday!

I'd like to say a few words about The Time Traveler's Wife that I went to see this week with my movie buddy.

First, I should "explain" my movie buddy. She is a very good friend of mine, and our movie dates started when we entered the "Twilight" craze last year.

No, I"m not a teenager. Yes, I love Twilight, and I think Stephenie Meyer is beyond wonderful. My movie buddy and I went to see Twilight eight times in the theater. Each and every time, we found something new we loved about the characters that we didn't notice before. They kept us coming back for more. I was so intrigued by the characters, I found myself checking facts in the book against the movie. Stephenie created great characters.

What about The Tiime Traveler's Wife you ask? Well, I couldn't find any reason to go back and see this movie again or even rent it when it comes out. I have to admit I have not read the book. Maybe I would like it. However, the characters on screen lacked a depth for me that I look for in a good movie or a good book. I want to see the chemistry between two people who love each other on screen, and it was lacking between Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana. I just didn't feel it.

Now, the concept of time travel is very cool. I've personally always wanted to go back in time. But, I had a few other problems with this movie. For instance, every time Henry (Eric Bana) time traveled, he lost his clothes. Yes, he would end up in his birthday suit where he traveled to. And, he didn't get to pick his destination. So you ask, how did he solve this problem? He broke into people's homes or cars and stole their clothes. Silly if you ask me. I wasn't buying it. Purpose please, anyone?

Since I spent $6.75 on this movie, I had to ask myself what I learned from seeing this. Here's what I came up with. As I write my contemporary romance novel, I want my readers to feel the connection between my characters. To believe that they are in love and truly are destined to be together. I want that spark of chemistry flying off the page. In the movie, I felt all of this was missing. We've all seen movies or read books that we just can't get into. This was one of those times for me, and I was bummed. I left the movie depressed. I don't want my readers to ever feel depressed.

I'd love to hear other thoughts and reactions to this film. Enjoy your weekend, and I hope you enjoy our website.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What's for lunch?

Tomorrow I will be serving my critique partners lunch at my house as we plow through our latest chapters in our WIPs (work in progress). We rotate houses every week, and it's fun to experience each other's cooking.

Ingrid is a fantastic cook. She watches the Food Channel all the time and experiments on Ann and me. I asked her to make the Strawberry Shortcake Cake from Pioneer Woman's website last week. Ingrid knocked it out of the ballpark. Oh! If you could only have tasted it! The last time Ann hosted, she made comfort food for us with a warm chicken salad with crushed potato chips on the top layer. Gotta love anything with potato chips, right?!?

When it's my turn, I tend to look for low-carb or low glycemic index foods. My body reacts violently to sugar and flour by gaining major pounds in a short period of time, so I try to keep myself stable with less carbs. This week I will be serving an easy Greek salad, crusty bread, sliced watermelon, and fudge brownies (yes, I still eat dessert! A girl still has to enjoy life!).

In my current WIP, my hero's heritage is Greek, so in honor of the Pello family. Here is a simple Greek salad.

Greek salad
Greek salad

Greek salad, or horiatiki, is a rough country salad of juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumber, sliced red onion, green pepper, crumbly feta cheese and plump kalamata olives. Serve this delightful combination as a side dish or as a light meal with some crusty bread.

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1½ tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic—minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and extra for garnish
3 tomatoes—cut into wedges
¼ red onion—sliced into rings
½ cucumber—sliced into thick half-moons
½ green pepper (capsicum)—julienned
4 oz (120g) feta cheese—cut into small cubes
16 kalamata olives

PLACE the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano in a small jar with a screw-top lid and shake to combine. PLACE the salad ingredients in a large bowl. POUR the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine just before serving. Garnish the Greek salad with a little freshly ground black pepper.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Your true colors are shining like a rainbow.

Welcome to the new True Colors Writers blog where three aspiring writers share tales from their journey through the publishing world.

On Mondays, our writers will talk about all aspects of the writing life - craft, art, rejection, contracts, pitches, creativity, distractions, etc. You get the idea!

On Wednesdays, we will answer the age old question: What's for Dinner? Does your skin crawl as much as mine when the kids ask that at 10:30 in the morning? Look here on Wednesdays for new ideas for putting dinner on the table. We may even throw in a breakfast, lunch or dessert recipe.

On Fridays, The Reviews are In as we will wrap up the week. They may be books, movies, TV programs, or music, but we'll give you our opinion on something!

So, welcome and thank you for joining us on our new adventure.

Andrea, Ingrid and Ann