Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nov. 30

How is your creative work going? Did you do NaNoWriMo? Did you accomplish a lot? Was it fun? What did you learn?
I did not do NaNo- but this month I wrote three partials. One went to my agent and, today. I plan on sending the second one out. The third I plan on writing a full before sending it out.
For next semester of school, I need to read a book and critique pages for the workshops in January. There is a lot of creative work going on here. Most of it is fun. Some is work, but that is the way it goes with any job.
What are you planning for December? Are you taking time off or charging full speed ahead?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nov. 29

It's late Monday. What a holiday week. My parents came and went. My kids were here. The men left for their annual hunting trip. This morning I took my darling daughter back to her school. I am left with a deadline and school work and a bunch of leftovers in the fridge. But that is the best kind of holiday, isn't it? We had a lot of fun, talking, laughing, playing board games, and eating too much. My only complaint is the rental car I rented for the weekend reeked so badly of cigarettes. I put in four vent odor eliminators- only to get that weird fresh cigarette scent you used to find in hotel rooms. Bleh. I complained. Got a free upgrade on my next rental. I can still smell it in my hair and on my coat. (Yes, I'm one of those complainers. lol)
Please tell me how your holiday went, inquiring minds want to know. Cheers~

Friday, November 26, 2010

Another recipe-Black Forest Brownie Pecan Pie

Oh My Goodness- this one is good and not hard to make- and I made a coconut crust so it is gluten free, for those who have wheat/gluten sensitives.
2 cups shredded coconut
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup light or dark corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate chopped into pieces
3 tablespoon butter
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 21 ounce can of cherry pie filling
Whipped cream

Heat over to 350 degrees F. Toss 3 tablespoons of melted butter with coconut until well blended. Pat in a round 8 inch cake pan. Place in oven and bake crust for 15 to 20 minutes until slightly browned.
Combine corn syrup, sugar and salt in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add chocolate pieces and butter to syrup mixture, stirring until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Cool for 5 minutes.
Pour chocolate mixture slowly over eggs, stirring constantly. Add vanilla and pecans;mix well. Place pan with crust on a baking sheet or pizza pan for stability. Pour mixture into crust.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 50 minutes, until the center of the pie is slightly puffed; cool at least one hour.
To serve, top each slice of pie with about 1/4 cup of cheery pie filling and a dollop of whipped cream.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pistachio cookies

In honor of the holiday I thought I'd post the recipe for chocolate chip, pistachio cookies. They are easy to make and look fancy.

1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 package (3 1/2 oz) of instant pistachio pudding
1 egg
2 cups flour
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 3 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2 teaspoons shortening

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease cookie sheets. In large bowl beat the cookie ingredients until well blended. If necessary refrigerate dough for up to 45 minute for easier handling.
Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. With thumb make imprint in the center of each cookie. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes until edges are light golden brown. Cool.
In small bowl, combine all filling ingredients until smooth. Spoon teaspoonful into center of each cookie.
In small saucepan over low heat melt glaze ingredients, stirring constantly. Drizzle over each filled cookie.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nov. 23

Here in the states we do have dramatic weather and yesterday was no exception. Oddly enough the warning sirens went off here around eleven am., telling everyone to "take cover now!" But according to the radar there was very little weather in the area. Only the gray dripping warmth of a front that had passed through. By 4:30 p.m., we had tornadoes to our west, to our south and to our north, but of course, no sirens. The lack of sirens was because the severe weather missed us by ten or twenty miles. What we got was darkness, wind, and rain. As I was watching the weather unfold-two towns were badly damaged and a school bus overturned-(six kids inside were banged up but safe), I saw that there were blizzard warnings in the Rocky Mountains and across the northern plains. It was almost as if Spring had come. But no, we are decidedly into the winter season. It is cold and clear here today. The sun shines, mocking yesterday's weather performance.
If you are keeping a season/weather notebook for your writing, please note that no matter the season, you can have any weather you want. You simply have to make it believable. Oh, and keep weather notes nearby in case your copy editor wants to quibble.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Nov. 22

It rained last night and now the bare trees all look like they are covered in diamonds because the fat drops are clinging to them and sparkling in the morning light. It is a pretty sight for Monday morning. This week is a holiday week here in the US. Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. I have family coming in starting tomorrow night and I can't wait. Do you have big holiday plans? Are you traveling? If so, stay safe. The most important thing, though, is to know that something will go wrong- it always does. But I think it helps make the holiday more human. Okay, off to write- then my favorite-start baking. Cheers~

Friday, November 19, 2010

Nov. 19

I admit that I have issues with Amazon - I call it the evil empire. But then Google wants to upload all books for free reads without regard to copyright. So they are all evil. LOL. But today I went to check out a friend's wonderful new book cover and I saw her Amazon author page. It made me sigh and think, fine, I should get one of those. Perhaps link a blog to Amazon. Get with the program. Keep up with the technology. Make sure I can be found everywhere on-line. Except-here's the deal. Everyone can be found every where on line... The more places I add to my on-line presence. The fewer numbers of hits each page gets. In other words. There are only so many readers looking for me on-line. When I first joined Facebook and Twitter my web site hits tripled, but the longer I'm on these social networks, the lower my hits go. People go there and not here. Internet marketing is a very wild animal. I know a debut writer who used twitter to get to know booksellers and set up a book tour. But my books are found on-line and in libraries-so that is a wash for me. Facebook is fun and creates a "family" feeling-but of the 2,500 "friends" only 102 "fan" me. Where do you go to visit your favorite authors? Authors, where do you find the most buyers?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nov. 18

My father, Ted, used to raise show rabbits when I was a kid. He was a judge and kind of a big deal in the community. He read my blog on e-books. The one where I explained the realities of everyone who writes a book self publishing and mid list authors putting up back lists. The one where I mentioned the only way to make money on e-books is to stand out in the crowd-such as already being a best seller or somehow managing to get the best seller word of mouth going. My father e-mailed me after reading that blog and said that FYI "Kindle" means a litter of rabbits. Which is kind of apropos, don't you think? Imagine a litter of rabbits each having a litter every thirty days. Which ones do you buy? And why?
What I find most interesting is, if you pay attention, the non bestsellers claiming to make money on e-books are making money by convincing people they too can make money in e-books. "Read my books and see..." is their slogan.
It would be nice if every book sold. It would be great if everyone's hard work paid off. But there are real market reasons for editors, publishers and marketing departments. I don't think they are going anywhere. Keep writing my friends, for you, for your muse and for those who enjoy the story. Cheers~

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nov. 17

I'm not big on tabloids or following celebrity gossip. I don't know who the latest reality stars are or why I should care, but --you knew there was a but coming, didn't you? --I find it kind of creepy that Prince William gave his newly minted fiance his mother's engagement ring. Consider all it stands for. The hype of a fairy tale that a 19-year-old woman fell for, marrying a prince who was far from a prince and as is tradition in royalty didn't really want to marry her but did it for God and Country. The disaster that played out across the world stage. Her untimely death...it's all too creepy. William is playing it up as representing his mother and the good works she did. But to me it's sad.
My advice to anyone who dreams of marrying a prince, read your history. It's not pretty. At least this girl appears to be going into this thing with her eyes wide open. I wish the press would do the same, but that's not what readers want. Is it?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nov. 16

We have reached the time of year in the great white north when its dark even when the sun is out. The shadows are long like a late summer's evening even though it's nearly noon. The biggest flocks of birds have already passed through. The morning frosts have pushed the insects into hibernation. There are a few stragglers, of course, there always are, but they huddle in the spots where the sun hits the house. The wind blows cold and smells of the snow that it has already deposited west of us. We, humans, fill the darkness with holiday lights and meals that cook all day, lending warmth and comforting scents to drive away the darkness. Happily in only six weeks the darkness will have its day and the light will slowly return to bring us hope and warmth and new birth. Cheers~

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nov. 15

We've hit the midpoint of yet another month. I have discovered that time is not going faster, I am the one who has slowed down...like an older computer it takes me longer to get going. I remember ten years ago I went to a conference with friends who were ten years older than me. I could not believe how slow they were. Being with them was like entering a time bubble where everything moved in slow motion. Now I find time goes by faster than it should. I think that means I have entered my own time bubble. But then, perhaps, it's not age but the fact that I live and work in my head where the stories are. When I stop and pop back to real life, I blink and think- "wow, what happened to the time?"
Or so, I tell myself anyway. LOL. Does time effect your writing?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nov. 12

The word is that Google is signing agreements with publishers to offer e-books for sale. They will have a format readable on everything but the Kindle (Amazon's proprietary reader.) The New York Times announced they would start listing an e-book best seller list. Some authors are evangelizing that the e-book revolution is here! Authors can self publish and make money hand over fist. Except- um... no. Reality check, millions want to be writers. If 10 percent finish a book that's what 100,000? So 100,000 books go up for sale on the web. How do you get buyers to buy your book-to pick your story out of 100,000? Imagine the library. (Most libraries don't have even close to 100,000 books in their four walls.) What books do people check out the most? Authors they know. Authors that make the hard cover NYT bestseller list. So, guess which authors are selling 20 or 30 percent e-books? Yep the big names splashed across Oprah and the Times. Guess which authors will make the NYT e-book list? hmmm.
In truth the sad state of affairs is that bookstores are disappearing. Shelf space is diminishing and many good, solid authors, who never made the Bestseller list, but have a following are being let go. That shelf space is only for the big sellers. Many mid-list authors are pushed into e-books-so, yay, for a venue for these wonderful artists. But e-books don't pay advances. In fact they pay in approximately $.70 increments. So, how does a midlist author make a living? By e-publishing every book they've ever written...To put this in prospective I've written 50 complete manuscripts and published ten. So let's say every author who has published ten now puts 50 up for sale. What happens to the 100,000? It goes up exponentially. The sad truth is that you have to e-publish a lot to make money, but the more you e-publish the more competition there is and you spread the buyers' dollars thinner. Thus there will be less money to make. Can anyone say vicious circle?
Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that there is a new place to sell wonderful books that publishers' marketing departments rejected because it didn't fit the statistical model of a strong seller. I think it's great to hear so many new and old wonderful voices. But don't let anyone drag you down the fairy path that there is fame and fortune to be had in e-books.
A friend said that writing is like a gold rush. A lucky few stumble onto a solid vein and get rich quick. But the only people really making the money are the people who sell the tools and groceries. I'm not saying don't live your dream. I'm simply asking that you live it with your eyes wide open. (It breaks my heart to see writers on Facebook and Twitter write: "Please buy my book. I need the money.")

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nov. 11

Happy Veteran's Day to all who are serving and all who serve their country. War or no war you put your life on the line for people you don't even know. That's a big thing. I know you didn't do it for the pay. LOL


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nov. 10

Do you judge a book by its cover? I think we all do. We can't help it. Certain colors attract us. Certain images attract us. There are people who buy books based on author name whether they like the topic or not. Then there are the back blurb readers, the front inside flap readers and those dreaded end of the book readers. As authors we have control of the blurbs, usually. But no control over the covers. We have to trust the art department and the judgement of editors. Book sales are not usually about the book but the way it is presented. Knowing this, I've changed book titles and changed sales pitches and tried again when a book gets rejected. Sometimes it works. The unfortunate truth is, it isn't always the book that's rejected, but the cover or the way its sold.
Readers, how do you pick a book? Writers, have you ever changed the way you pitched a story and started again?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Nov. 9

The view from my window certainly looks cold. All the trees are bare. The sky is that painfully bright blue of cold air. The angle of the sun is such that long shadows stay the entire day. The lake dark blue and covered with geese. But the windows are open. Its balmy out~ well for the great, white, north in November it's balmy. LOL Just another point that looks can be deceiving and when taking notes for your scene setting-the weather isn't always "average."

How's the writing going? Cheers~

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nov. 8

For those of you who experience the time change, does it work for you or does it mess you up? It plays havoc with the poor animals who don't understand having to wait longer for dinner. It messes with the amount of light in my life and makes me sad. It gets dark here at 4:45 pm. It will continue to get dark earlier and earlier until the end of next month. Studies have shown that more heart attacks happen when time change occurs. So, why do we do it? Supposedly it's good for business. Daylight savings time means longer evening hours and therefore more time to shop. If that's the case, why do we switch back to standard time at all? Why not make DST the standard time and be done with it? Thoughts?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Nov. 5

I manage to write yesterday. I have no idea if it's even in English, lol, but I put words down on paper. I had hoped to nap but the nose spray has steroids in it and so, I'm awake. I see on facebook and twitter writers putting up massive numbers of words-up to 7,000 for the contest. Good for them. I wonder if, at the end of November, they ever edit, revise and send the book out? That's the next step. It's a step many writers are scared to take. As long as the book is done and in your computer, you can say-huzzah! I am the greatest. :D But then sending it out and getting rejected and perhaps a revision letter-what a let down-still that is an important step to getting published. So, if your goal is to be published-then don't forget to send it out. If your goal is simply to write books, then enjoy doing that.
Have a happy weekend my friends. Cheers~

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nov. 4

I've been whining about being sick for two days now-twitter, facebook, maybe even here. I can't remember. I don't know what day it is. Stupid, stupid head cold. I'm still attempting to write 1,000 words a day. Should be piece of cake, right? But no, am fighting through the pain of feeling as if I'm punched in the face, the nausea of the room spinning. I woke up dreaming the room was spinning. Bleh. I saw the doctor yesterday. He did not think it was funny when I told him I was hoping to cancel the appointment due to sickness but the family wouldn't let me. Sigh. He says, we'll try to manage the symptoms-so decongestant, nose spray, lots of fluids and time. Time, that's the killer. I have an end of the month deadline. I don't have time for headaches and spinning rooms.
Okay, enough whining. I promise to stop as it really changes nothing. :D It's just the spinning room thing is new to me. If this is how other people feel when they get sick, then I've not been nice enough to them. Cheers my friends and may whatever this is, skip you and your household.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nov. 3

It's one of those perfect November days~ cold and rainy and dark. I expect to smell turkey roasting and to hear football on TV. Today is enrollment day for the Spring semester for my MA. It is my last full semester and I am ready. Someone teased me and said I have senior-it-est. Perhaps. When you know you are this close to the end of a big project, you simply want to be done. It's that way with writing a novel sometimes. Although others slow down toward the end because they aren't ready to give their characters up.

Which is it for you? Ready to finish or not wanting to let go? Cheers~

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nov. 2

We had thick frost this morning. The entire world was painted white. The lake steamed in the early morning light. Geese formed pairs of dark outlines floating in and out of the mist on the water's horizon. A train whistle echoed in the heavy quiet. Then the sun rose high enough to melt the frost and more birds came out adding their song to the morning. Fall is preparing Winter's bed. I'm not ready! :D


Monday, November 1, 2010

Nov. 1

We had a great turnout of kids this year~ close to 100. We gave away 5 bags f candy totally 80-95 pieces each. I like to give at least two pieces. Some of the kids had more candy in their bags than we had in the house. Crazy! Sugar is not cheap in today's market, but, with a down economy, it is fun to give little costumed children a couple of pieces of candy each and feel as though you have a million bucks. :D

This month many writer friends are attempting NaNo~ a race to see if you can write 50,000 words in 30 days. I've never done the contest, but I have written that much in two weeks when an editor surprised me and asked for a full. So, I know what it's like and I'm cheering you all on.

I was surprised to get a rejection letter in the mail on Saturday. No, there were no sad feelings. I had sent in this query and partial in July 2007--yes, 2007-- and so had long ago written it off as a rejection. It was a well written rejection-not a form rejection. She really liked the chapters and my writing, but her list was full. (Funny but she was desperate for this type of story 3 years ago...) Such is the fickle finger of fate in the publishing world. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. If she had bought that book, I would not be writing what I'm writing today. I may have not gone for my MA. So, there you have it. Life in all it's wonderful interesting curves.
How was your weekend?