Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One Way Out

Recently I chatted with a dear friend who is deep into the NaNo experience. She's going to make the word count this year. Congrats, you-know-who! I'm so proud of you.

But we weren't talking about NaNo or word counts. The topic of conversation was one that anyone who's written a book knows intimately...

That's right. We were talking about the dreaded dragging middle. She's stuck in the middle, hating the experience and looking for some way out.

Me? I'm no help. I call it as I see it. No gilding the writing lily from me, sorry.

My advice...keep the butt in the chair. Deal with the draggy bits. Make them exciting, even if you hate them. Annoying characters? Give them a face lift, a keyboard makeover. Pull 'em back into line. Remember, you're the boss of this expedition. You drive the bus--tell those suckers sitting behind you to shape up...or else!

The only way to get to the Valhalla of writing words, "The End", is by going straight through the middle. There's just one way out if you expect that fabulous idea, cast of oh-so intriguing characters and fat file to actually become a decent book. Keep your butt in the chair. Keep writing. No shortcuts.

And, you don't have to like every moment of the process. I think some people think that writing a book is a lark. It's not. It's hard work.

But, if you keep at it, those two beautiful words are the last you'll write before pressing the save button. You know the words. Me, too. Currently I'm dragging a boatload of zombies through a jungle, working my way toward The End.

After reading this post, you'll probably never approach me for writing advice, will you?

Oh, boy. So, what's going on with you?

Wishing you a peaceful day!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Swimming with Zombies

The truth of it is that we never really know what sort of curve ball life's going to throw our way, do we? We can prepare, plan and prognosticate until you-know-where freezes over but it's pretty much a waste of energy. Plans are shattered. Preparations disposable. Prognostications fly like leaves in a stiff breeze.

I know it's early but I'm making a resolution. You know, the kind that comes with the beginning of a new year. But...earlier.

No planning for me. Not now. Not for a while.

Instead, I'm taking it as it comes. Just going with the flow, dealing with whatever life sends my way. Actually, that's exactly what I've been doing for the past couple of years. The only thing is that at this point I'm hoping (not planning, mind you!) for some fun, happy stuff to find me. Yeah, it's time.

Thanksgiving? Tough. But I'm past it now, feeling good and exploring new options. Options, you ask? That's right. Options.

Like, you know, zombies. Really, I'm writing something that keeps me smiling. And I've been plotting the story while I've been floating in the hot tub.

So, swimming with the zombies here.

What about you? What's going on in your backyard?

Monday, November 21, 2011


Oh my, chilly doesn't begin to describe this upstate New York morning! It's downright cold here! But we had the most gorgeous weekend, with blue skies and almost balmy breezes, so there's no complaining coming from this chair.

The answer to a brisk morning? Around here, it's a nice cup of cappuccino, so I'm off to brew a cup. Or two.

Then, I'm going to park my behind in my chair and get to work. Oh yes, I'm working on a new book. I'd begun something sweet, sexy and fun...and by chapter 3 I wanted more. Much more. So I closed that file, and intend to return to sweet and sexy at a later date. Now, though, I'm lost in something entirely new to me. Really. So new that it's a challenge, which is precisely what I need right now. I need something to stretch my creative mind, something that isn't a walk in the park to write.

Oh, boy, I've given myself the perfect diversion for what may be a rocky stretch. These are the first holidays I'll spend without my sweet husband, so I know I might have a tough time but I'm trying to keep my chin up, stay busy and look toward the future. I'm not forgetting to allow myself time to cherish the beautiful moments from my past. He was so good, and we were blissfully happy, so there are lots and lots of wonderful memories...

So, writing today. A challenging story. Filled with intrigue, sexual tension and way-out-of-the-box characters. One big question? Will they get a happily-ever-after? Honestly, I don't know yet. What I do know is this: Whatever happens, she's strong enough to survive it, and that's all that matters at this point. The rest will take care of itself. I think. I hope. We'll see.

First, though, cappuccino.

What about you? What's on your to-do list this chilly Monday morning?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cranberries. And Chocolate.

I love dried cranberries. And chocolate. And nuts.

Last night, I had all three. Just not together. Until I got busy in the kitchen. Ooh, I love this recipe!

Chocolate Cranberry Clusters

1 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
8 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

Combine the almonds and cranberries.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over slightly simmering water. Stir frequently.

When chocolate is melted, add the cranberries and nuts.

Spoon out heaping clusters of the mixture onto the waxed paper. Put the baking sheet into the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Store and serve at room temperature. That is, if they last long enough to store. Or serve.

I wish you a candy-filled, peaceful day.

Monday, November 14, 2011

In The Mail

I received the loveliest note yesterday from someone who recently read The Christmas Bargain. It was such a pleasant surprise to find such kind words in my mailbox! I can't tell you how much one little note lifted my spirits. It always feels so good to hear someone's read and enjoyed something I've written.

And this book has a particularly close spot in my heart. I wrote it during a very special time. It released when we truly needed something good to happen to us. It's just one book that really means a great deal to me, so knowing it's brought pleasure to someone else makes me smile.

So, that's my good news for the day. What about you? What's going on with you today?

Wishing you a peaceful day!

Iris Newgate’s grandfather left behind many things when he died, not the least of which is a condition in his will that states unless Iris finds someone to marry by Christmas day, she will be forced to take as her husband the most dastardly rake in London.

Lord James Whitman is well aware of what others say about him. He has heard his name whispered behind closed doors and learned of his character being maligned without cause. But after his unearned reputation causes Iris to decline his marriage proposal, he is determined to show her the truth and win her love!

Without her grandfather’s guidance, Iris must decide whether to trust the London gossips or the tune of her own heart. Could she possibly love a man who is as horrid as some say he is? Or should she trust her instincts and what the duke tells her to be true?

All Iris knows for sure is that Christmas day grows closer with each passing minute!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Snowdance features an amazing woman named Elinor. She's got many talents--one of her strongest is her cooking ability. Thought I'd share her recipe for cornbread. I hope you enjoy it!

Elinor's Fast Cornbread

4 T. butter
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425°.

Use butter to grease cast iron skillet. Place in warmed oven, wait until butter melts, then swirl around in skillet until all sides are evenly coated. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. I use an old Fiestaware bowl, a yellow one, but you can use any kind of bowl you've got on hand. Then, add the egg and milk and stir until the batter is well, you know. Like batter.

If there's a little butter left in the skillet, pour that into the batter and mix it in. Then, pour the batter into the skillet. Pop the skillet into the hot oven and bake the whole shebang for, I don't know...maybe a half hour or so. You'll know when the cornbread is done. It'll be golden brown on the top and a little bit crusty on the bottom.

Serve it with dinner, or for a snack. It's good hot from the oven and cooled the next morning for breakfast. But if you really want to have leftovers for breakfast the next day, you'd best double the recipe. Yes, I'd say make two if you really want to eat your fill.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

One Step Forward

You may have noticed I've been doing a lot of cooking and baking recently. I've been sharing recipes, hoping you might find some of them useful.

It took me a while to get back into the kitchen but now that I'm starting to find my way among the pots and pans, it feels really good. Vito and I cooked together every day and we spent so many wonderful hours in our kitchen. Months ago I couldn't stand the idea of being in the space without him but I'm slowly getting back to finding peace mixing, baking and cooking. I think he'd want me to feel good in the kitchen again. Who am I kidding? I know he'd like it.

Figuring out how to cook in smaller quantities is still a challenge. I try to cut back but consistently make way more than I can eat on my own. So, the freezer is full. And the neighbors are getting fat! No, not really, but they are tasting some of the extras. So far, no one's complaining so that's good. Eventually I'll learn how to cook less, but for now it's just okay to be wielding my spatula again.

Baby steps, right?

I hope you have a peaceful day. Any plans for this blustery day?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Neighborhood Cake

How to ward off an overly quiet afternoon? Toss together a quick cake, wrap it still warm from the oven and stroll down the street to visit with a neighbor. Yes, an impromptu tea-and-cake visit. It works.

This is one of my favorite, easy recipes. It whips together in a flash, is yummy with whatever berries you've got on hand and is pretty much irresistible so whoever you decide to share it with will probably welcome you.

I hope you enjoy it! Wishing you a peaceful, cake-filled day.

Crumb Cake

2 1/4 cups flour
½ cup granulated sugar
2 ½ t. baking powder
½ t. salt
1 egg
½ cup milk
2 T. melted butter
2 t. vanilla
1 cup sliced strawberries
8 T. butter
½ cup brown sugar
2 t. cinnamon

In a large bowl combine flour, salt, granulated sugar and baking powder. Add egg, milk, melted butter and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Pour batter into a greased and floured cake pan.

Arrange strawberries on top of batter.

Combine butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle crumb mixture over berries. Place cake pan in a pre-heated 325-degree oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Monday, November 07, 2011


I love soup. It just warms every little chilly spot, doesn't it?

I love butternut squash, apples and carrots. And, if you throw all that plus one or two more ingredients into a pot and let it simmer for a while, it becomes a yummy, warming soup.

I know, I's orange. But hey, what can you expect from carrots and butternut squash? Orange? Yes. Scrumptious? Definitely!

One of my favorite parts of making this soup is that it makes enough to put two jars into the freezer. The next time I get a hankering for orange butternut squash soup I'll be able to skip the peeling and chopping. Just pop it into the microwave and presto--soup!

Hope you have a peaceful day.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Romantic Lizards?

I've written myself into a corner. I hate when that happens! What's holding me captive?

A lizard.

Or two, to be precise.

Yes, I know. Lizards aren't generally considered romantic elements but hey, this pair is already in the story so they've got to stay. I don't have the heart to write them out. Remember, it's romance, not murder mystery.

So, the little buggers will remain. I just have to figure out a way for them to release me. Being held hostage by a duo of lizards doesn't make my day.

What's new with you? Anything interesting?

And, do you know how to get rid of two pesky lizards? Any ideas on that one?

No? Me, either. Until we meet again, have a peaceful journey!

Friday, November 04, 2011


I've spent many quiet hours lately, cuddled in a soft quilt before a roaring fire. It feels good to relax after the busy summer. And, I'm loving falling into some fabulous stories.

Last night I finished a great book. I'd read it before, found it on the bookshelf and (after giving it a dusting!) fell into it all over again. Hmm? The book? Oh, right! Sorry!

Sunshine and Shadow is one of the Benni Harper mysteries written by Earlene Fowler. I love the way this author writes. Her characters are amazing, coming to life so realistically I feel as if I know them all. Gabe, Benni's hunky man, is smart, caring and hot, besides. Dove, her grandmother, is persnickety enough that I love her. She cracks me up, which is a very good thing. And Benni? I just always think she's doing what a lot of us do--juggle many things without stopping to worry whether she'll drop any of the balls she's got in the air. This book is particularly fun because it goes back and forth between different times in Benni's life. I liked that aspect the first time I read this book. I liked it again this time.

It's good to know my taste in reading hasn't changed much. And enough has happened since I first read this book that I forgot a lot of the story so it was like reading it for the first time. Today I'll peruse the bookshelves again, and see if I can't find something interesting to dive into.

What about you? What are you reading?

I wish you a peaceful day!

Thursday, November 03, 2011


A few years ago I published a little cookbook called Tea Time. Every now and then, I pull out my copy and turn to one of my favorite recipes. It's fast, easy and oh-so yummy!

Thought I'd share it with you so your house might smell as heavenly as this one does! Enjoy!

And, have a peaceful day.

Chocolate Loaf

½ cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1½ cups flour
3 T. cocoa
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
½ cup sour cream
½ cup chopped nuts, optional
½ cup chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour two loaf pans.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs.

Combine dry ingredients.
Add to butter mixture.
Add vanilla, sour cream, nuts
and chocolate morsels.

Pour batter into pans.
Bake for 60 minutes.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Take the Cheesecake. Leave the Lizards.



Aloe vera.

Nothing in common? Surely you jest!

Yes, I'm writing. It's a fun romance filled with silly moments. Lots of heart. Some twists. Turns. Sunburns.

All good.

If you'll excuse me, I've got characters waiting. I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful day--one without lizards, sunburn or aloe vera. But, some cheesecake wouldn't hurt, would it?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

No, No NaNo

November is National Novel Writing Month. I participated in this month-long book writing challenge more than once. Last year, of course, I didn't even know it was November. I skipped the challenge.

I'm skipping it this year, too. I just can't bring myself to jump into the fun. Not now. Maybe next year, but this year my heart's just not in it. I'm writing, but at my own pace and in my own time.

So I'll hope the other participants have fun, achieve their goals and find themselves happy and satisfied by month's end. There are forums available to peruse and excerpts to read, so if you have a minute--or two or three!--why not go check out the action?

Do you have any plans for this month? Whatever you've got up your sleeve, I hope it's enjoyable and brings you peace.