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.