Showing posts from 2012

Keep the Christ in Christmas

I was behind a car in traffic today, dark green SUV with a white sticker depicting a nativity scene. Mary and Joseph bowed over baby Jesus in the manger and they were shielded by the barn. They were just like the ones my mother used to put up every year when I was a child. I loved putting the little white shapes up on the windows. Stars and snowflakes and manger scenes with little animals all over the windows of the house. Our big bay window held the nativity, flanked on either side by plastic snow. She even took the screens out of the windows so anyone pulling in could see the scene. We'd spend an entire Saturday decorating. Scrawled across this particular manger scene in large black letters was "Keep the Christ in Christmas". It gave me pause. Keep the Christ in Christmas. That's so exclusive. Christ in Christmas. Even just saying it sounds like a club name, something we made up in grade school. Other kids couldn't play with us before they passed some sil

For Writers: The Hero's Journey

In talking with one of the members of my crit group (who is awesome, by the by), she passed along this link. I have found it helpful and I will, in fact, be using it. So I don't lose it, I am going to keep it here on my blog. Multiple copies can't hurt, right? the hero's journey : summary of the steps This page summarizes the brief explanations from every step of the Hero's Journey. Departure The Call to Adventure The call to adventure is the point in a person's life when they are first given notice that everything is going to change, whether they know it or not. Refusal of the Call Often when the call is given, the future hero refuses to heed it. This may be from a sense of duty or obligation, fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy, or any of a range of reasons that work to hold the person in his or her current circumstances. Supernatural Aid Once the hero has committed to the quest, conscio

For Writers: Professional Bio

I am absolutely horrible when it comes to writing any sort of bio for anything. I hate talking about myself, I hate talking about myself in the third person and I either give too much information or too little. Just when I think I've got a winner, something comes along and changes it in three months and I have to update. I never know how to truncate my bio for something like twitter where I have only a few characters to tell you all about me. The writers at The Undercover Recruiter suggest having three different bios to fit different size limits. The smallest of your bios should be able to fit in your twitter bio, so fewer than 160 characters. It should be one or two sentences telling everyone how you're unique. If someone's twitter bio doesn't reach out and grab me, I'm hard pressed to go in and look at their tweets to see if they're someone I want to follow. In the business world, this brief statement about yourself is called a "brand statement&quo

For Writers: Personal Brand

As stated in  my last post , a lot of publishing companies are requiring writers to market for themselves. Rather this is to keep costs down so publishers don't have to charge as much for books or if it's to keep small and indie presses flowing smoothly, it's something we all are going to need going into the future. How do we market ourselves? In the research I've done, it seems like a pretty simple thing. All we have to do is what the business world calls a "Personal Brand". A personal brand is simply the face we put forward into our professional scope. To create a personal brand, you really only have to do the things you're already doing. Blogging How many of us  don't  have a blog nowadays? Most everyone has a blog, including inkslinging monkeys banging their face against a keyboard and leaving it for the world like some primate Picasso. I have this blog  for writing and storytelling. I have another for cooking recipes and yet another for

For Writers: Email Presence

When I started searching for publishers a few years ago, there weren't many of them who mentioned having an online presence. I was always under the impression your publisher would help you with your professional presence and promotion when you were signed for publication. In the last few months of reading and research, more companies are requiring writers to have their own marketing plans and online presence; many requesting an established online presence. Thankfully before this all came about, I jumped the gun and started with my web presence while I'm still penning my book and well before I even started editing. I figured that would be the easy thing to keep up on while I was writing and somehow someone would stumble upon it and think I was interesting enough to follow. I mean, how hard could it possibly be to create an online presence? That's easy! Put it out there and you're gold! Write a bunch of stuff in a blog, post on Twitter and you're set. Easy Peasy.

For Writers: What's in a Prologue?

Now that I'm back from moving hell and actually at the point of just putting things away instead of clearing space to actually live in, I thought I would sit down and start writing again. Where I left off in that writing course was at a prologue. The original "first chapter" of my story should be a prologue. It includes too much information that should be given as flashbacks or remembrance or the like. I started editing the prologue before the move. I did a rewrite from what I left in the cuts I did. Now I'm considering rewriting again and doing it from another character's prospective. The more I thought about it, the more I questioned it. Throwing up my finger in triumph I cried, "TO GOOGLE", startling my poor neighbor who was walking past my window. I pulled up a result from Kirt Hickman in his blog and the advice there seems to fit what I'm trying to do. An opening scene begins the story that you’re telling.  A prologue conveys something t

For Writers: Beginning, Middle and End

I'm still working my way through the self-study course and I needed to make some notes. This is part of the problem I've been having. I'm forcing too much story into one book, I think, and couldn't figure out where I was going wrong. I think I had too many plot points I wanted to include. There were too many things weaving around one another for it to be a linear storyline that made sense. Therefore, I've taken a few notes for posterity. Beginning Present the setting, time and immediate context at the beginning of the story. Establish the tone the reader will rely upon. Compel the reader to move to the middle. Introduce the opposition. This should be done with a subtle notice in the beginning and move on from there. You should introduce your first door of no return here. Readers are introduced to the hero's world. A disturbance interrupts this hero's world. The hero may ignore the call. The hero crosses into a dark world. If the hero could quite easily

For Writers: The Dreaded Outline

I am not an outliner. I never have been. I most likely never WILL be. I enjoy the ways the story takes me, the art of crafting it and the surprise of writing it was my characters take me along their story. This, however, is not how you sell books, by all accounts. Unless you're naturally good at your characters sticking to what's important, you have to have some idea where the story is supposed to go. Several years ago, someone sent me an email telling me he could make me a writer, all I had to do was sign up for his classes and he'd take me from a wannabe writer into someone published and profitable and beloved by all. I could have been J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyers before they were them by his accounts. He'd helped hundreds of writers become kings of writing by his program. I declined his offer and told him thanks but no thanks. Being maybe 25, I was probably a smartass about it. He took it upon himself to instant message me and ask me about my writing and

Gamer Rage: Vial of the Sands

In order to make the Vial of the Sands, I'm going to start backward with what you need to do first. If you are a miner, go mine yourself up: 12 volatile earth 24 elementium ore Smelt your elementium ore into 12 elementium bars. With your volatile earth and elementium bars, any alchemist can make 36 pyrium bars. These are essential to make the 12 Truegold you will need later. Once you have the pyrium, you will need to get yourself: 120 volatile air 120 volatile fire 120 volatile water These volatiles combined with the pyrium bars will make 12 Truegold. Keep in mind, each Truegold the alchemist makes has a 24 hour cooldown. This means they can make ONE Truegold each day. Period. Make good on your tips for each one they deliver you. I recommend at LEAST 25 gold a pop if you're cheap. I pay mine 100 each if they're not in my guild. (We have a very strict "no buying/selling to guildies" policy) Your Truegold is going to take 12 days to make if you use

Book Review: Bloom

Bloom by Julie Anne Lindsey My rating: 4 of 5 stars Bloom is an adorable love story about two people who haven't quite learned to love. When Cynthia goes home to visit her potentially crazy grandmother, she rides back into her old life filled not only with the people she knew and loved but with her flawed past and a new man in town, Mitchell Fallon. What she doesn't count on is falling head over heels with the sullen newcomer. When her job is outsourced, Cynthia plans to open a business starring her grandmother's prize cooking. After Mitchell's former flame comes back to profess her love and a few miscommunications, Cynthia heads back to New York to try and find her way. Will Prince Charming come to the rescue? This has to be the cutest story I've read in a long time. It's just sweet without all the hardcore open-door sexy scenes. Excellent read. View all my reviews

Recipes: Simple Summer Spaghetti

Prep:  20 min Cook:  20 min Yield:  4 servings Ingredients: 12 oz package dry spaghetti ¼ cup olive oil 5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped Pinch crushed red pepper 2 cups cut up zucchini 1 cup cut up summer squash 1 cup cut up red bell pepper 2 cups quartered cherry tomatoes ¼ torn fresh basil ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese Directions: Bring a large pot of slated water to boil. Cook until just tender. Drain. In extra large skillet, combine olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook over medium heat about three minutes until garli begins to soften. Do not let garlic brown. Stir in zucchini, squash, red bell pepper, tomatoes and torn basil. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low. Heat thoroughly. Serve spaghetti noodles topped with vegetable mixture and top with a sprinkle of each cheese.

Recipes: Veggie Quesadillas

Ready In:  30 minutes Yield:  4 servings   Ingredients juice of 1 lime (around 1/4 cup) 1/4 cup olive oil 1/2-1 teaspoon chipotle powder 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt) 1 clove garlic, peeled and pressed through a garlic press 1 medium zucchini, trimmed, and thinly sliced (1/4 inch) lengthwise 1 red bell pepper, ends sliced off, cored and seeded, and cut into wide strips 1 red onion, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick 12 corn tortillas or 8 flour tortillas 1/2 pound grated cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese a handful of cilantro leaves, washed and dried sour cream and salsa for serving   Directions Preheat your grill on high. Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, chipotle or paprika, salt, and garlic. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet, and pour half the dressing over them, turning them to coat the slices evenly. Turn the grill down to medium-low and roast the veggies, turning them and adjusting the heat as nec

Recipes: Quick Chicken and Dumplings

Ready In:  60 minutes Yield:  8 servings   Ingredients 4 cups milk 2 bags frozen peas and carrots 4 cups cooked, cubed chicken 4 10.34 ounce cans cream of chicken soup 4 cups Bisquick 1 1/3 cup milk   Directions Heat 4 cups milk, peas and carrots, chicken and soup to boiling, stirring often. Stir Bisquick and remaining milk together until soft dough forms. Drop by spoonfuls onto chicken mixture. Reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered over low heat 20 minutes. Cover and cook 20 minutes more.

Book Review: Letters from Greece

Letters from Greece by Lori Green My rating: 5 of 5 stars I first read Mariposa by C.L. McCullough and then delved into The Stone Crow by Lori Green, so, naturally, I had to pick up Letters from Greece written by the two of them. I do not regret my decision. This story is a compelling read from start to finish. Kate and Min meet online amidst the passing of Kate's mother and Min's isolation. The two become online friends and the story begins with a letter from Min telling Kate about her husband losing his mind and hurting her. Then contact stops. Kate, worried about her friend, goes to find her. (view spoiler) [When Kate arrives, Min has a huge black eye and her husband has been beating her. When given the opportunity to leave the country and fly to Greece with Kate, Min jumps at the chance to get away. When she arrives, she sends a letter back home to tell her husband she wants a divorce. (hide spoiler) ] The pair pick up a life in Greece with Kate running a taverna and M

Recipes: Pomegranate-glazed Skirt Steak with Roasted Green Beans

Ingredients 1/8 teaspoon chili powder 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar 1 ½ teaspoon salt 1 ¼ pounds skirt steak ¼ c honey ½ c pomegranate juice 2 T balsamic vinegar 1 lb green beans, trimmed 2 T olive oil fresh ground black pepper ¼ c slivered almonds ½ c pomegranate seeds   Directions Preheat the oven to 425. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, brown sugar and salt. Rub the spice mixture into the skirt steak and set aside 25-35 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the honey, pomegranate juice and balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer until reduced by half and thickened, 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. The glaze will continue to thicken as it cools. Spread green beans in an even layer on a large baking sheet, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast until crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and toss with the almonds and pomegranate seeds. Heat

Recipes: “Better than Sex” Chocolate Nutella Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream frosting

Adapted from Cupcake Project and Chockylit Ready in: 2+ hours Yield: 15-16 cupcakes Ingredients: 1/2 C butter, room temperature 1 cup Nutella 1 1/4 C sugar 2 large eggs, room temperature 3/4 C flour 1/2 t baking powder 1/4 t baking soda 1/4 t salt 1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder 1/2 C milk 1 t vanilla   Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 2. In a mixing bowl, beat butter until softened and smooth. Add sugar and beat for a few minutes, until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each until well combined. Mix in Nutella. 3. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In a separate small bowl, combine milk and vanilla. 4. Add about 1/3 of dry ingredients to butter and sugar and mix until combined. Add about 1/2 of wet ingredients to mixture and mix until combined. Continue alternating dry and wet, mixing in between (finish with the remaining dry ingredients). 5. Fill cupcake tins about 1/2