Sunday, December 18, 2011
I had my good this year. I made some new writer friends, I was elected President of my writers' group, and I've been able to do some much needed home improvements. I even stepped out of my comfort zone and learned belly dancing!
The challenges came too, as you know, if you know me or follow my blog. My mother passed away in February and I passed through my first Mother's Day, her birthday, my birthday, Thanksgiving and now Christmas without her wildly cheerful inviting presence.
Hmmm...what will the new year bring? Or rather, what will I take to it?
Next year, I want to be more involved in charity work. I want to write more. I want to worry less. I want to appreciate my blessings more.
What about you? What are your year-end thoughts?
Saturday, November 19, 2011
I have kept a journal since I was a teenager. Of course, in the teenage years my ramblings were more of a "Does that boy in English class like me" type of thing, but the point is, I was memorializing my instant thoughts and experiences. That is important for a writer to do.
There will never be another moment of clarity like the moment right now. Memories grow dim, circumstances become enmeshed with other circumstances, we forget half of what we mean to keep and so on. You get the picture.
One reason I started a serious journal several years ago was to leave my sons some idea of the people they come from. So much of my family's history, particularly on my father's side, has been lost to anquity. I can't do much about that now but I can leave them with what I know. It is important that they know their heritage.
As time goes by, I find I journal about practically everything in my life. Why and who cares? Well, I do. I suppose many people step away from journaling for fear that something they've written will be read by someone who might judge them, and that could happen, of course. But don't discard journaling due to the fear of someone else perceiving you as human. I think you might be a most unsuccessful writer if you did that!
Journaling releases tension. I no longer have to carry the turmoil of the day or the situation or the heartache with me. Once I commit it to paper, it is outside of me, sort of like a good belly-aching cry. I can then move on to more positive things.
Journaling also builds writing skills and don't think it doesn't. The more you engage in it, the higher your writing skills become. What better place to work than in your journal where you can write about anything at any time, raw, uncensored, no reservations. You can even write about writing. Journaling builds discipline, and writers need to be disciplined about the craft.
Also, within journaling, you may discover a germ of an idea, something that has legs and can breathe and explode into a successful story. There is no doubt in my mind that this is entirely possible.
These are just a few reasons why keeping a journal is important. What are the reasons you keep one?
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
I've been back from the Ozarks Creative Writers' Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas now for ten days. So, I've had ten days to let it all gel, absorb it all, reflect. Eureka Springs in October is gorgeous. The view from my hotel room was of the woods, autumn leaves hanging heavy on the trees, dappled sunlight spotting the woods in the morning. I had a wonderful time, met amazing people. Ate far too much. But.
Conferences are social networking at the very least. They are a book contract and representation at the very most. Why is social networking important? Why pursue it?
Here is my take on the importance of social networking for the writer. As writers, we spend a lot of time in solitude. We spend a terrific amount of time in our own brains, moving all the boxes around. To stay on the cutting edge, to keep up on the industry, you simply must network. The best place to do that is not on Facebook. Facebook can help on a minor level but what I am talking about is the face to face, eye to eye, contact, the stimulation of a conference. It's the year after year recognition of "hey, it's you, how're you doing, what have you written since we last met?" I saw plenty of that at OCW. I should explain this was my first year there so nobody said that to me, but maybe next year.
You know, hunting enthusiasts hang out with other hunters. Surfers hang out with other surfers. Writers hang out with other writers. Isn't that a revelation? It's not weird. It's not ego-mania. It's simply making a connection that a writer won't make anywhere else. You will find it refreshes you, enthuses you, puts a new fire in your pen or your keyboard.
There is typically something for everyone at a writers' conference. Whether you are traditionally published (or wish to be), or self-published, into e-books, or some other publishing medium, there will be something for you to learn and absorb. You will learn invaluable information from your peers at these gatherings. And, you'll make some truly amazing friends. The downside? Well, eventually, you have to leave and go home.
Check into a writers' conference for 2012. Go, and come back refreshed and enthused about your craft.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Monday, September 5, 2011
Sunday, September 4, 2011
This afternoon, some kind of hunger for fettucine al fredo came over me. Now, I love pasta, and I love sauce. Al fredo? Not so much. However, and who knows why, but I wanted fettucine al fredo this afternoon.
I had no idea how to prepare it. And thus, the experiment was born.
I chopped half an onion and two cloves of garlic. I threw 1/4 cup of butter into a sauce pan and let it melt, afterwich I threw in the onions and garlic and let it saute until glistening and limp.
In the meantime, I salted a pot of water and brought it to a boil and dropped my fettucine into that.
Once the onions and garlic were ready, I threw in 1/4 cup of flour and let it cook down.
After this, I pour in about a 1/4 c. white wine into the onions and garlic to deglaze the pan. Now, here is a note to remember if you cook with wine. I recommend using a sturdy pinot grigio for cooking. I generally say, cook with a wine you would drink. BUT. A lot of people that I know drink moscato or reislings or chardonnay. Do not cook with any of those. Reason being, they are sweet wines, more inclined for an evening on the porch watching the sun go down, than for sturdy cooking. Certainly do not use a sweet wine for this type of dish. If you don't drink, feel free to use more chicken stock, and that is fine too.
Well, tonight, I dropped the wine in, let it deglaze and then I poured in maybe another 1/4 cup of chicken stock and then a small carton of half and half. All the while, I am seasoning and reseasoning with salt, pepper, red pepper, and just a little thyme. How much of these seasons you use depends on your palate. I say that all the time but it's true.
So, now the sauce is beginning to take shape. By now the pasta should be boiling away nicely at a slightly lower temperature than full bore. It's going to take about ten minutes for the fettucine to cook.
I now pour some olive oil into a separate pan and once it is hot, I drop in boneless chicken breasts which have been seasoned with salt and pepper only. That's it. That's all. Let these chicken breasts brown and crisp up in the olive oil.
Pour, I would say, 1/2 cup shaved parmesan cheese into the sauce. Let it melt. Reseason to taste, with cheese or salt, pepper, whatever makes you happy. Drain the pasta, allow just a little bit, maybe 1/4 cup of the boiling water to remain. Here is the reason why. You're going to pour your sauce onto the pasta and mix it together. The pasta will absorb so much moisture that you need a bit more moisture to balance it out. Reseason with salt, pepper, and red pepper, maybe even a touch of nutmeg.
Pull it out onto heated plates and serve with hot bread, a good salad, and yes, if you wish, a good pinot grigio.
Mange, mange! Blessings to you!!
Saturday, September 3, 2011
I'm doing a call-out to all writers tonight, any writer within the sound of my voice as it were, all writers who need to know, who need to believe in their voice, to all writers who need to connect with the soul of writing.
Here is what I want you to do:
Go into your private place, the place where you write. Never mind what it is; it can be a handwritten tablet on the couch in front of the tv, or your typewriter set up on the dining room table, or whether you have an actual room, complete with a door, and computer keyboard. Point is, just go. Go to that place.
Sit down, get comfortable. No phones now. No tv. Absolutely no internet now. No distractions. Ask your husband/wife to get the kids a snack. Close the door now, if you're lucky enough to have a door. Tune into yourself. Turn on whatever music you need to begin the process. I've been told that Stephen King writes to hard rock, I've also been told that Mozart stimulates the creative side of the brain; no matter, turn on whatever brings you inspiration, whatever wakes your writing side up. If you prefer silence, fine. Just bring yourself into that place where you can write.
Now, write or type the first thing, the first thought that comes to your mind. Write it down, don't worry about it being physically perfect, just get it out of your brain. Let it go now, let it breath, let it take on a life of its own.
Don't think about it, don't analyze it, simply let the process begin within you. You're giving birth now. Isn't that a gas?
Write another sentence, and another and another, and allow yourself to enter into that place where you begin to flow...let go...let go...it's not scary. You can do it.
For a first time experiment, I'd say give it twenty or so minutes, although I will not tell you to watch the clock. Your internal clock will dictate. However, if you quit sooner, or if you sit all day writing, don't worry about it. Point is, get the thoughts out of your brain/heart and onto the page. See where it goes...just follow along. Don't worry about formatting. Don't worry about anything proper. Simply get those words out, drop them out of the bucket in your soul and get them on the page.
Come back and tell me what you wrote and what your experience was.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
As I left the restaurant, one happy camper, I noticed a book lying on a ledge in the entrance way to the restaurant and at first, I thought, well, someone's left their book here by accident, how sad. However, at closer inspection I found a tag on the book, an intriguing, mysterious, inviting tag. The book had been left there on purpose today, just minutes before I exited the building. The note told the finder to go online and let the "leaver" know that the book had been rescued, read the book, leave it elsewhere for someone else to find. What fun!!! Sort of like a treasure hunt, yes?
Pick Me Up, the note says. Report me to http://www.bookcrossing.com/.
I open up the front flap, ever so carefully, reverently even, and I find some sort of registration card taped to the inside cover. How interesting. As the rescuer of the book, I am to read and then release it back into the wild for someone else to find and enjoy.
I'm sold. It's an easy reading murder mystery, a nice light summer read I think.
Pick Me Up. Okay, I will. And I will let the rest of you know how it turns out. I'll be passing it on for sure.
Has this ever happened to you? Isn't it fun? So unexpected, yes? A nice diversion, yes.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Sunday, July 31, 2011
This week my colleague and friend, Julie Kibler, recieved The Call. You know, The Call, The Call we all want, The Call that will transform our lives, The Call that gives us validity, The Call that says, yes, you are a writer and you are recognized. This week Julie recieved the call from an agent, indicating interest in representing her. Not just any agent, but Elizabeth Weed.
I "met" Julie years ago, in an online writing class conducted by Barb Samuel and back then I was struck by the honesty of her writing, the depth, the beauty, the intelligence, the knowing. Have to say a little envious too. Julie's work is like a rich tapestry, bold beautiful colors embedded in silken threads. She is also one of the founders of "What Women Write," which I follow and you should too.
If anyone deserves to be recognized as a writer, it is she. Julie, to my knowledge, has had Elizabeth Weed in her sights for as long as I have known her. Julie's worked hard, she's perservered, she's risen to the call.
Congratulations, my friend. Bravo!!!
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I grew up in a quiet God-fearing farming background. My people were agricultural, people who loved and respected and used the land for the community's good. I came from farmers. Pure and simple. And I love that, for so many reasons; maybe the first of that is because I believe in real and I believe in hard work and I do believe in America, still, even though we have our problems and challenges. I believe in working with one's hands, producing good, and I believe in sweat equity. I believe in those things.
Pure and simple is good, quiet, unchallenging, traditonal....peaceful...Okay. Get up.
Think about tables stretching long, laden with bowls of glistening orange cantelope slices, mounds of green-husked corn on the cob, perky red strawberries, crisp roast potatoes, mounds of some meat smoked and grilled...think about that.
Well, I thought about that, and I came up with the following recipe. I came up with it simply because I remember sitting with my grandmother in the summertime as she taught me how to shell peas and break green beans. I remember, when our grandfather could no longer eat corn off the cob, how Grandma Davis tenderly sliced the corn from the cob onto Grandfather's plate. What love that was, yes?
And so, here is the recipe for my corn-tomato bake, a certain summertime treat.
3-4 slices bacon, sliced and fried until crisp.
1/2 C. onion
1 bag frozen corn, a large bag.
1/4 c. butter
basil to taste
Thyme to taste
salt and pepper
2 roma tomatoes, sliced and diced
Okay, cut up the bacon into bite-sized pieces, and brown.
In another skillet, melt the butter, drop the onions in for about five minutes, and then add the frozen corn. Drop in the basil and thyme to taste (you know what you like). Let this simmer for 5-6 minutes. Spray some non-stick coating into a small casserole dish and preheat oven to 350°.
By now you should be able to mix the bacon into the corn mixture. Pour this into your casserole dish and then throw the tomatoes in and scramble it about a bit just to make sure the tomatoes are seriously represented. And then, bake at 350 for 30 Minutes and all should be well.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
I feel fortunate on this writing journey that I've made some friends in the writing world along the way, and I'm talking real friends, not facebook acquaintances.
What I want to share with you today are some thoughts on an article my friend, Barb Samuel, posted to Writer Unboxed. If you, as a writer, are not connected to that magazine, you really should be. I find it invaluable. The title of Barb's article is, "So you want to be a professional writer, " and it was posted on May 25, 2011 if you'd like to find it for yourself.
The dream is to be published, but what does that dream look like? How do you visualize yourself in that life? Barb asks these questions to make us think, really think about what that dream is versus what we imagine it to be. Next, she clues us in on qualities that we will need to fall back on as professional writers.
1.Flexibility - you have to be able to shift with the times and the market. If you only write one thing (and a lot of us do), there will be dry spells. As writers, we need to hone our voice and skill to flow with the changing tides.
2. Positive thinking - Barb says the writer who persists and succeeds knows that good things might happen tomorrow.
3. A hide like a rhinoceros - well, let's face it and it's true. Not everyone is going to like your work and some are going to be quite vocal about it. Sometimes their reasoning for hating it have nothing to do with your work at all. But, like #2, good things might happen tomorrow. Don't let it break you down.
4. Animal cleverness and devotion - well, Barb says professional writers are like cats, independent and clever, making quick leaps. Professional writers are also like dogs, hungry for attention. As Barb says, why would anyone sit for hours in a room, tapping away on a keyboard if they didn't want someone to pay attention to them?
And finally, Barb states that there is a "deep bone of satisfaction" in seeing that row of books against the wall, work that would never have existed at all unless you stuck to it.
So, as writers, we need to link arms, support one another on the journey, make friends along the way, and persist. I want to feel that "deep bone of satisfaction" as I gaze across a row of books, my books. How about you?
Saturday, June 4, 2011
It makes me think of summertime food. Delicious, carefree, summertime food. Pork and peaches. That's what I thought about this morning. That's summertime food, no? Yes!!!
So, in keeping with my summertime thoughts, I dropped two pork loins, sufficiently rubbed with the following in the crockpot:
1/4 cup chili powder
1 TBSP cumin
1 teas. ground cloves
1/4 teas. cayenne
1/2 teas. cinnamon
1/2 teas. garlic powder
1/2 teas. onion powder
1 TBSP salt
1 teas. oregano
and, I also poured about 3/4 c. water and dropped two beef bouillon cubes into the mixture, let it go on low for about ten hours.
Well, after all that time, I was able to pull the pork loins out, shred them, and put it all in a bowl for others to come and dump on a toasted bun with bbq sauce, cole slaw or whatever else they pleasure in a pulled pork sandwich.
So, that was the pork. Let's get on with the peaches.
Peaches, is there no more a sweet summertime fix than those pretty, blushing pink peaches??
I don't think so.
I had a bag of peaches in my freezer from last year at farmers' market, no kidding. Not sure whether it was a quart or not, but probably pretty close, and a quart is a pretty good measurement for this recipe. At any rate, take those frozen peaches, and drop into a bowl. Let thaw. Pour about 3/4 c. sugar over, squirt out the juice from half a lemon and 5 TBSP flour. Now, dump your peach mixture into a casserole dish and cut up about two TBSP unsalted butter, drop over. Pour into your casserole dish, cover tightly with foil. Make sure oven is preheated to 400°. Bake at 400 ° for about 45 minutes. Take dish out.
Now. Gather one egg, 1/4 c. milk, 1 1/3 c. buttermilk baking mix, such as Bisquick, and take the other half of that lemon and squirt over all. Mix until smooth. Dump in spoonfulls all over the peach mixture, put back in oven for about 15 more minutes. Take out, serve warm with ice cream.
It's simple, it's doable, it's not a big chore.
And it's really nice and delicious.
Happy summertime, everyone!
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Sunday, May 15, 2011
This morning I was astonished to realize that my precious Sunny- girl could no longer jump up on the bed to herald me to awakeness. Instead, she remained on the floor, peering up over the top of the bed, whining to be let out for her early morning pee, rather than jumping up and leveling my belly with her two front paws as she once did, every single Saturday and Sunday morning for years and years and years.
This new occurence tells me that I don't have too many more Mays with her, not too many springs and summers, falls and winters. She will turn 12 on July 29th, after all. That may not seem old to other dog owners but, for Sunny, I see the turning of the leaves, the orange fur turning white, the once golden snout becoming more grey, those once bright eyes becoming darker and more autumn-like as the days fly by.
I told a friend before my mother passed, that I believed my losses would go this way: my wonderful mother first, my beloved dog second, and my dear father last. I see now that, since my mother is gone (this past February), that it is now my dog, and my precious father remaining but that Sunny is no longer able or interested in defending my property against intruders. It is harder and harder for her to mount the back steps, she prefers sleeping at my feet above nearly all...she contends with Ella but she'd rather not and her protests about same amount to merely a whine sometimes.
Sunny has been my constant companion for nearly twelve years, the keeper of my secrets, the bearer of all that is me, the only being in my world who hasn't judged me for any of it. I find myself more often than not, lying down with her, spooning as it were, with my faithful friend. Even now, as Ella barks out the front window at some non-existent threat (a bird hopping about in the front yeard, maybe or just the wind blowing a branch past the front window), Sunny remains sleepy, posed on the brink of reality, tired and quiet.
When the day comes that she is no longer trotting happily by my side, when I can no longer stroke that blessed velvet head, I will be truly (again) berefit.
Have you had a pet that meant everything to you? If so, tell me about it.
Friday, May 6, 2011
Sunday, May 1, 2011
What a week. So many things to write about, so little space...
The Royal Wedding. Okay, so some may scoff and I also tend to make fun of it (no, I'm making fun of myself more than it), but here in the US we got a little break from the mundane, the every day grind, the fact that nobody in America is royalty, and the closest family we ever had to royalty, well, they tend to die young and tragically and leave a mess in their wake.
Let's celebrate young love and hope and promise and let's just have fun with it, shall we?
I began on facebook and I said something about how I couldn't find my "good tiara," and how my butler, Jeeves, had already left me to fend for myself in searching for the wretched tiara. Not the camo one, I said, the good one. Where did the fictional Jeeves go anyway? Probably out drinking a pint at the local pub, oblivious and uncaring to my very important distress. After searching ALONE for some time, I located a tiara made from newspaper, which I decided would have to do for the royal nuptials. Well. I then planned to move forward with my diatribe about how, when Jeeves finally returned, how he had no idea how to navigate the minivan (seriously, I don't own one of these) across the Atlantic (is he not FROM there???), and how we got stranded in Ireland and although the grass was plenty green there, I was not pleased and demanded a ferry to jolly old England. The planned ending to the whole thing was that Jeeves and I arrived, albiet very, very late and no one was at the cathedral when we arrived, my newspaper tiara was in ragged wet tatters, and so.
I missed the whole damned thing. In my make believe diatribe, that was.
Well, in reality, I watched it all. Sucked it up, every single moment of it. How beautiful Catherine was, how handsome William was...the ceremony, the pomp, the tradition...the fairy tale. How, when she got into the carriage, she was so sweet to everyone around her, those arranging her train, William holding her flowers, all those wanting to make sure the new Princess was comfortable. Oh my.
What were your reactions to the Royal Wedding?
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Sometimes we write to process the things that happen in our real worlds. Often it's a pause behind a door, a process of digesting painful truths. Sometimes it's a distillation period, a conduit for someone else to say, "yes, I felt that too." Sometime's it's solace. Sometime's it's celebration.
How do we balance our solitude, time spent with only the words in our heads, and our real lives?
It is said that writing is examining a life worth living. Let me ask this question: can you spend your time only writing?
It's a delicate balance. How do you do it?