Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Too Much of a Good Thing and Chocolate Devil Bars

Hi Friends in Chocolate and Writing and Whatever else Strikes Us At the Moment,

I have a new camera (a gift from my gentleman friend), and it is way smarter than I am; but here is my first shot with it.

Since our last recipe, posted lo so long ago, was "Barking" Crackers, it reminded me:
This week our thoughts are on our doggie friend, Colby, a sweet mutt (excuse me Colby) from a shelter. He woke last Thursday unable to stand on his front legs. The vet checked him out and found no problems. No tick bites. He receives tick medication regularly. Now his People are waiting to get him in to the doggie neurologist next week. Meanwhile, Colby and People are uncomfortable and anxious, but they are keeping me posted on any progress.

And since the draft of this blog post was started, lo so long ago, I am happy to report that Colby has made an (almost) complete recovery.

Now, back to the Barking Chocolate recipe. Beckyy wrote from Texas that it is a familiar favorite in her area. Leslie wrote that the recipe also can be made with Matzo crackers. And, Rachel said she served the Barking Chocolate and the Ice Cream Cake for the 4th. And, best of all, she sent along an easy recipe of her own to share with us. Thanks, Rachel.

I hope you have been as lazy as I this summer. But, with the help of our wonderful, cool weather, I am feeling ready for fall life story classes. Registration is open.
A Beginning Life Story Writing Class will meet at the Powell Community Center in Mission, Kansas on Tuesdays, from Oct. 7 - Nov. 11, 9:30 - 11:30 am. The center is at 6200 Martway, near 68th & Lamar. Fee is about $50 and includes a workbook. This is sponsored by the City of Mission Parks & Rec so call them to register: 913-722-8228.

And -- big news -- there will be an Advanced Life Story Writing Group, open to anyone who has taken one of my life story writing classes in the past. In this advanced group we will have more writing time and more sharing time. The advanced group will meet at Lenexa United Methodist Church on Thursdays, from Sept. 25 - Nov. 13, 10 - 11:30 am. The church is at 91st Terrace, 2 blocks east of Pflumm in Lenexa. It is just north of Old Downtown Lenexa. Fee is $40. Pay at first meeting. E-mail or call me, 913-681-1168, to register.

Life story writers (actually, all writers) often ask about including uncomfortable or excessive detail. I suggest they imagine a conversation with a casual friend. How much would you tell that casual friend?Well, I had not taken into account the likes of Paula Deen, the popular restaurant owner, cookbook author, and cooking show host. I have been zipping through her co-authored memoir, It Ain't All About the Cookin. Talk about TMI: Too Much Information! I absolutely could have done without the description of bird poop and roaches in her house. (Uh-oh, did I just give TMI too? Yes? Guilty.) And I could have done without the image of her and her husband lying in bed nude chatting. (I can't quit.) She excuses it by saying "I promised ya'll the truth." To which I reply, "Please, spare me."
As I always say, everything in writing is on a spectrum. Choose your place on the spectrum. If you feel uncomfortable, you've gone too far. If you feel bored, you haven't gone far enough. Paula Deen is definitely true to her persona, way out there at one extreme edge of the spectrum. You can find a place comfortable for yourself.

And now --

Chocolate Devil Bars (Rachel says that name appeals to her...)

1 pkg Devil's Food Cake Mix
1/2 c quick-cooking rolled oats
1/3 c butter, softened
1 egg
1 can chocolate Ready-to-Spread frosting in a can
8 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/2 c chopped nuts
powdered sugar
Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour 13x9: pan. In large bowl, combine all BASE ingredients at low speed until crumbly; press in prepared pan. In small bowl, combine frosting, cream cheese and egg at low speed until well blended; beat at highest speed until smooth. Stir in nuts; spread over BASE. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until firm. Cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into bars. 36 bars.

Monday, June 23, 2008

So You Want to Write a Book 8,9,10 and Weird Chocolate Recipe

Good Afternoon Greetings,

What did you do this weekend? (I started this on Monday. Got sidetracked.) Something to write about? I'll bet you did. Think about it. Can you remember last weekend? If not, just make up something and write about that.

Saturday I visited Holy Trinity Orthodox Church where I spoke to a small group about Five Fun Ways to Write Your Life Story. From what my friend, Betty, told me, and from the church website, I learned the following: Holy Trinity Orthodox Church was settled in 1917 by Russian immigrants in the Kansas City, Kansas neighborhood known as Russian Hill. Over the last 85 years, Holy Trinity Orthodox Church has grown from a small Russian-speaking parish to one whose members are primarily American-born, English-speaking converts to Orthodoxy. The growth of the parish mandated the sale of the small Russian Hill church, and a much larger temple was built a few years ago in Overland Park, Kansas at 119th Street and Pflumm Road.

This history is wonderfully documented in photographs lining a downstairs hallway. The heading over the photo collection perfectly captured our mission in exploring life story. The heading read: Respecting the Past . . . Embracing the Future.

Thank you Betty and the women and men of the church who were such a a warm and interested audience Saturday.

Now, let me ask you -- Are you tired of this dragging on? Let's do it! Here are the last three items on the Ten Things You Need to Know if You Want to Write/Publish a Book:

8. How is your book unlike other books in its category? Show how your book is even better than other similar books and will be even more successful and fits a more compelling need. (Remember -- Number 7 was how is your book like other books in its category.)
9. How many chapters/sections/divisions will your book have? Is it long enough to be a book? Do all the chapters stick closely to the subject?
10. How are you uniquely qualified to write this book? Don’t worry if you don’t have an advanced college degree or publishing credits. If you are writing about how you were mother to a handicapped child who lived 22 years longer than doctors predicted, who better than you to write about such a subject? If you are writing your life as you are living with Stage IV cancer, who better than you to write about it? Your life experience qualifies you. If necessary, you can hire someone to help you with the mechanics. Publishers are looking for compelling stories told by the people who lived them.

Our chocolate recipe for today was found under the heading of weird desserts. Actually, it is only the name that is weird -- Barking Crackers. Let's change it to Chocolate Bark Crackers or better yet, Chocolate Toffee Crackers. (You know my love of all things toffee.)

Anyway, this recipe is from Carroll Pellegrinelli, the dessert authority at About.com. When I read it, I realized I had tasted this a couple of years ago at a party. I think it was this recipe. I kept asking, "What is this? What is this?" Everyone else seemed to know and had the recipe so all I got was that it was "Oh, it's that cracker toffee." Salt, chocolate, crunch, nuts. This recipe has it all.

Barking Crackers

40 (plus) soda crackers

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar, packed

12 ounce package (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup finely chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a jell roll (15 x 10-inch with sides) pan with foil and grease lightly. Completely line pan with crackers. Boil butter and brown sugar for 3 minutes. Stir constantly. Pour mixture over crackers. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle chips over pan. Let chips soften so they can be evenly spread. Spread nuts over top. Refrigerate for 1 hour and then break apart into bite-sized pieces. Store in refrigerator.

If you would like to schedule Five Fun Ways to Write Your Life Story for your group, contact me at: carol@angelinyourinkwell.com. Scheduling now for fall.

Meanwhile, find writing tips and other fun stuff at my website -- (updated monthly) www.angelinyourinkwell.com

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Help a Fellow Artist - Eat Ice Cream Cake

Dear Friends,

If you are an artist of any kind, imagine your work floating in water. That's the situation for some Iowa artists. Jane, an oral historian of Iowa women artists, tells us how we can help. I have copy/pasted a message from her below. Don't worry. It's not all bad news. We can still indulge in chocolate -- and ice cream. Recipe at bottom. It's summertime after all.

(1) In cooperation with the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, Legion Arts has established an Iowa Artist Relief Fund. This fund will provide support to individual artists who have lost studios and tools, equipment and musical instruments, canvases and manuscripts, photos and archives, even their homes, as a result of the flooding. For more information on giving to this fund, and to check on future information on applying for help: http://www.legionarts.org/

(2) Have you or do you know of a professional craft artist who has experienced a recent, career-threatening emergency? You or your friend may be eligible for Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) assistance. CERF emergency relief assistance includes small grants, no-interest loans, access to resources, waivers and discounts on booth fees, and donations of craft supplies and equipment. If you need help:
http://craftemergency.org/programs/relief/ To contribute to the fund: http://craftemergency.org/support/contribute/

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Cake (or Pie) Wow! This recipe has it all!

1 (18 ounce)package small chocolate chip cookies

1/4 cup margarine (my theory is -- use butter)

1 cup hot fudge topping

2 quarts vanilla ice cream (hm, I might go for chocolate -- all the way.)

1 cup whipped cream

12 cherries

Crush half the cookies (the recipe says about 20) to make crumbs. Combine crumbs and melted margarine and press into bottom of 9-inch springform pan or pie plate. Stand remaining cookies around edge of pan. Spread 3/4 cup fudge topping over crust. Freeze 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, soften 1 quart of ice cream. After crust has chilled, spread softened ice cream over fudge layer. Freeze 30 minutes.

Scoop remaining quart of ice cream into balls and arrange over spread ice cream layer. Freeze until firm, 4 hours or overnight. To serve, garnish with remainder of fudge topping, whipped cream and cherries.

OR -- put some crushed cookies, ice cream and fudge sauce in a bowl, top with cherry and eat it standing at the kitchen sink or while watching Oprah.

Find Writing Tips, Writing Prompts, Life Story Writing FAQ, Resources and Fun Stuff for Writers at http://www.angelinyourinkwell.com/. Updated monthly. Except I might take a break in July.

And -- scroll way, way down to the bottom to find links to other blogs. Maybe. I'm trying.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

So You Want to Write a Book Six and Chocolate Nut Toffee Bars

Hi Writing Friends,

What's with this photo? I took it several years ago at the hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It has only a tangential connection to anything in this particular post. Guess it's related to my love of all things cowboy. (See little story below.)

I've missed you. Ta-Da! This was a very busy spring. Lots of classes, but now Lifestory Writing Classes are over until fall so I think I'm going to do better on keeping up with the blog. Look below. Tip Six on what you need to know if you want to write a book.

So You Want to Write a Book -- Tip Six: What books are similar to yours? Often, writers proudly say, “There is no book like mine.” Unfortunately, that is not necessarily a good sign. If there are no such book, it means the publishers have chosen not to publish such books. Re-think your premise. You might be able to save your project.

I have been attacking some neglected chores. Like cleaning up my office. Here is where I make a confession. I cannot resist the offer of a free magazine. That means I have a stack of single issues. Like the November 2006 issue of The Writer I came across. In it is mentioned a writing problem I have -- and I sort of like it -- sometimes I just leave these in -- but sometimes I'm strong and remove them. Two examples from The Writer: Don't write: "I gave him a smile." Do write: "I smiled [at him]." Don't write: "I gave his hand a shake." Do write: I shook his hand." Okay -- that second one I agree with. Even I wouldn't write, "I gave his hand a shake." Unless, of course, it was Blackie, the black lab who used to live behind us. Then I would probably write, "I gave his paw a shake." Actually, my personal favorite is, "I gave him a look."

And now -- what we were waiting for -- chocolate. No surprise -- I haven't actually tried this recipe. Note it is copyrighted, but since the author is extensively credited and her newsletter is plugged, maybe I will be forgiven.

I wanted to include this toffee recipe because it reminded me of when I was a child and was confused by toffee and taffy. I knew I liked one of them and the other pulled out my loose tooth. That was almost as bad as my confusion about calvary and cavalry. Now I was a great fan of western movies when I was about five. What a relief when the cavalry arrived. Soldiers on horseback, uniforms with gold buttons and braid, bugles. The fort was saved. I loved it. So I was very excited when I learned we were going to visit my grandparents' church -- Calvary Baptist. I waited and waited, through the entire sermon. Finally, I complained to my mother. She tried to explain to me. I tried to explain to her. Finally, I gave up. That was the day the cavalry did not arrive. Different kind of being "saved."

All the more reason to savor today's toffee recipe. It would take the calvary to keep me away.

Chocolate Nut Toffee Bars Recipe
Peggy Trowbridge Filippone,Your Guide to Home Cooking.FREE Newsletter. Sign Up Now!
Toffee cookie bars are loaded with chocolate chips and peanuts, then topped with more chocolate and Butterfinger candy bits. It is important not to over-bake these cookie bars. You do not want them too crispy.

1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped honey-roasted peanuts
1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, at room temperature
2 (1.76 ounces) Butterfinger® Crisp Bars, crushed (see Note)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 15-1/2- x 10-1/2-inch jellyroll pan with nonstick foil. In a large bowl, beat brown sugar and butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and
vanilla, beating until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in flour, half at a time. Stir in miniature chocolate chips and peanuts by hand. Mixture will be thick and sticky.

Spoon mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer with the back of a mixing spatula. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until lightly golden. Do not overbake. The cookie bars should still be a bit soft.

Immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips and let rest for 2 minutes to let them melt. Spread the melted chocolate into an even layer and sprinkle with the crushed Butterfinger® pieces.

Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes to set chocolate, if necessary.

Bring to room temperature to serve. Cut into bars to serve. Yield: 36 to 48 bars, depending on cut size

Note: Instead of the Butterfinger® candy bar, you may use toffee baking bits or even crushed bits used for ice cream toppers. Chocolate Nut Toffee Bars Recipe © 2008 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Monday, March 24, 2008

So You Want to Write a Book Five and Both Worlds Chocolate

It was a chilly early Easter morning when I went in search of the Easter Bunny as someone had requested. There she was, much smaller than I expected, and snuggled in a pink sweater, popping out from my new hydrangea plant. (Thanks, Suzette, for the fun idea.)

We are now up to point five on the Ten Things to Know if You Want to Write a Book.

How would a bookstore or library categorize your book? Oh let them figure it out. Nope. Won’t work. If the nice book publisher, bookstore lady or kindly librarian doesn’t know how it should be categorized, what is she to do? You have noticed, haven’t you, how people today are overburdened at work? Help them. Look at the signs above the bookstore bookcases. Where would your book fit? Also, look on the back cover or inside some of your books to get an idea of categories. For example, at top of the back cover of my copy of the novel, Gilead, there is the category: fiction. At the top left of the back cover of Kitchen Table Wisdom, I see the designation, inspiration. A book may have more than one category, such as writing/self-help, found on the back cover of Writing As a Way of Healing. The category may sometimes be listed on the inside of the book. There now, your book is one step closer to being on store shelves.

And one step closer to our chocolate recipe. This came from Lynda after Halloween, but it will work with Easter candy too. The hardest part is finding "leftover" Snickers bars. (Oh, just eat what you have on hand and go buy more.) It isn't really a "recipe" so it didn't have a name, but, considering the ingredients, (healthy apples and yummy Snickers bars) I named it.

Best of Both Worlds Chocolate Dessert

Chop leftover Snickers bars.
Peel, core and slice a few apples. Place apples in a baking dish.
Sprinkle the chopped candy bars over the apples.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream.

See www.angelinyourinkwell.com for more writing tips, writing prompts, fun stuff for writers, life story faq, and where I will be speaking or having classes.

Other Blogs of Interest
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Monday, March 17, 2008

So You Want to Write a Book 3 & 4 + Bonus Brownies

I've lost track of myself in the past few weeks. We had a couple of nice days so I went out and rejuvenated . Last Friday I strolled through Family Tree Nursery on Farley, just north of 87th Street in Overland Park, Kansas. Tables and tables of pansies. I came home with a couple of purple and yellow to have on the kitchen table where I can see them. And today is so bleak, they are needed.

Where were we on ten things you need to know to write a book? Below are points 3 and 4. I'm including point 3 again. You'll see why.

3. What’s the point of your book? Write a one-sentence answer to this question. Practice saying it aloud. If, when asked this question, you find yourself drawing a deep breath and saying, “Well, see, . . . .,” then you need to refine your answer. The answer is often referred to as an “elevator speech.” Imagine yourself at a writers’ conference. You are in an elevator with just the editor you want to meet. The door closes, and she asks, “What is your book about?” You have until the elevator door re-opens to answer the question. Knowing the answer to this question will help you maintain focus as you write your book, and it will help you when you pitch your book to an agent or editor. As you write, you may discover your answer changes. That’s okay. Just keep a clear answer and clear focus in mind.

4. What is the purpose of the book? This sounds like the previous question, but isn’t exactly. Think about the reader. (Always be thinking about the reader.) What will the reader get from spending her time and money on your book? What do you propose to give the reader? Information, inspiration, motivation, entertainment, historical perspective, understanding, or something else? Do you watch American Idol? Have you noticed the judges repeatedly say, Pick a song that suits your voice. Do the contestants do that? No. They choose a song they love to sing for their grandmother. They choose a song they love to sing at church. They choose a song they love because it makes their dog howl. (Okay, maybe not that last one.) Anyway, you get the point. Writing is the same. It doesn't matter what you love. Think about what the reader will love.

Below (in pink) is an e-mail from Mary Anne Demeritt, author of The Twilight Ride of the Pink Fairy. You can find more information about the book by going to www.angelinyourinkwell.com and clicking on Fun Stuff and scrolling down to Books.

I am going to be at Border's Bookstore at Metcalf on Saturday April 5th for a storytime at 10 am and at the Booksigning Event for Educators in the afternoon from 12-2 p.m. It should be a lot of fun. I will wear my fairy godmother costume and little girls can come dressed as fairies. FYI. Mary Anne

And speaking of love -- here's the chocolate.

The "recipe" is from The Dinner Doctor by Anne Byrn. I renamed it Bonus Brownie.

Bonus Brownies

Make brownies from a mix.

Cut brownies into rounds with a biscuit cutter. (Anything involving a biscuit cutter means we are really baking.)

Sandwich two rounds together with raspberry jam.

Dust top with confectioners' sugar.

Now here's the bonus part I figured out all by myself. You have to do something with all the pieces left after you cut out the rounds. Bonus! Eat them immediately.

See more stuff you will like at www.angelinyourinkwell.com. Updated monthly -- or so -- depending on if I am on a quest for sunshine & flowers.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Enough Winter - More Chocolate - Book Tip 3

Yesterday as I looked out at the frozen flower pots on the patio, I tried to remember what they had looked like last summer. Okay, you! No cracks about my memory. I bet last summer seems a long time ago to you, too.
Scrolling through my unorganized Adobe photos in search of something summery was like looking at one of those little flip books -- flip the pages and the images appear to move. My photo images moved through the seasons. There were daffodils, begonias, ornamental grasses, fall trees, snow on the pasture, all flying past. How about geraniums? A good hot weather reminder -- until the real thing appears.

I recently read an article about how to make a successful blog. One of the points was that the blogger must fulfill any promises made (to the blogee). With that in mind, I thought I better return to what I earlier promised -- Ten Things You Need to Know if You Want to Write a Book. Here is Thing Three:

What’s the point of your book? Write a one-sentence answer to this question. Practice saying it aloud. If, when asked this question, you find yourself drawing a deep breath and saying, “Well, see, . . . .,” then you need to refine your answer. The answer is often referred to as an “elevator speech.” Imagine yourself at a writers’ conference. You are in an elevator with just the editor you want to meet. The door closes, and she asks, “What is your book about?” You have until the elevator door re-opens to answer the question. Knowing the answer to this question will help you maintain focus as you write your book, and it will help you when you pitch your book to an agent or editor. As you write, you may discover your answer changes. That’s okay. Just keep a clear answer and clear focus in mind. (Here's an extra tip: Chocolate will help you focus. See below.)

Cold weather or hot. Any time is perfect for chocolate. A couple of years ago, before Rachel Ray had her own talk show, I saw her on Oprah making her "Rachel Ray's Five-Minute Fudge." The recipe is probably on the Internet or on her website, but I scribbled it onto an index card -- and I do mean scribbled. You know how fast she talks. At the time, I just hoped I had written everything. My concern was soon allayed. At the grocery store, having purchased only the ingredients for the fudge, the checker, a boy who was maybe 17, said, "Oh, are you making fudge? I make that every Christmas. It's great." With two powerful endorsements, I knew this fudge would be good -- and it was. Enjoy!

Rachel Ray's Five-Minute Fudge

Melt together over low heat:
12 0z. pkg. chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup Eagle Brand milk (You know, the thick sugary stuff.)
1 tsp. vanilla

Rachel Ray was making this for Christmas so she put the empty Eagle Brand can in the middle of a round cake pan and poured the mixture around it to decorate later as a wreath. I just put it in an 8" x 8" pan, refrigerated for 30 minutes, according to the directions, dumped it out, cut into squares, and let the good times roll.

Taking My Own Advice

After yesterday's snow (non) storm, during which most of the local television stations had a little freakout and went on full snow coverage, reporting on how to use a snow shovel and how to build a snowman, it seemed a good time to enjoy the roses my gentleman friend had delivered in time to enjoy both before and after Valentines Day. The candy in the heart-shaped box had already been deployed to the sitter part of my anatomy.

Then it seemed a good time to take a dose of my own good advice. You know how I tell writers how much writing can be accomplished in only ten minutes a day? The same ten minutes applies to any task: ten minutes of (gasp) house cleaning, ten minutes of prayer, ten minutes of watering plants. After Christmas I bought a treadmill and told myself just ten minutes a day. The old ten-minute-plan is working. I walk ten minutes, then ten minutes more. So far, I am only up to twenty minutes, but if I follow my advice, maybe I will get up to the half-hour or hour Dr. Vigorous has in mind for me.

What goal did you set for yourself this year? Maybe the ten-minute-plan will work. Give it a try. To help, here is one of my favorite recipes from my favorite cook book, given to me by my mother for Christmas in 1973 -- Southern Living Party Cookbook.

Chocolate-Pecan Meringues

2 egg whites
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1 (6-ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate bits
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Line cookie sheets with plain white paper. (Parchment paper for baking.) Beat egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar until frothy. Add sugar gradually, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold in chocolate, nuts, and flavoring. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto paper. Bake at 300 degrees about 25 minutes. Remove with sharp spatula. Store in airtight container. Yield: 36: double the recipe for a tea for 40 to 50. (Tea? I doubt it. I'll be snarfing these down as I watch Oprah.)

For new Writing Tip, Writing Prompt, Life Story FAQ, and Fun Stuff for Writers, visit my website: www.angelinyourinkwell.com. To find when and where I will be having classes, click on Calendar.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Six Lines

Did I miss a couple of weeks here? You know how it is. I was trying to get ahead so I could go to an out-of-town conference, and now I am trying to catch up. The conference was all women writing about their lives. Wonderful writers. Powerful stories. And, besides meeting wonderful people, I hope I learned a few things.

One of the workshops I attended was about "the critic." It is amazing that it all boils down to fear. We each have our own particular fear, but there it is -- fear. We all have been wounded by unthinking parents, cruel teachers, imagined demons; and we fear that pain -- go to any length to avoid it. Even if that means not writing. Let's agree to lace up our steel-toed writing boots, sit down, and kick (writing) assignments.

The February update is up on the website, http://www.angelinyourinkwell.com/. In January, I mentioned a favorite hymn, "I Come to the Garden," and invited you to send your own six lines.

Barbara sent some wonderful lines, and I have copied them below. Thank you, Barbara.

I come to my studio alone/ To create in my mind/ To create with fabric/ To create on canvas/ To create on paper/ To become lost in my world

What are your six lines?

Also, thank you Sherry Antonetti for sending instructions on setting up this blog to accept comments. I think I followed her instructions. Give it a try and see if I did it correctly. Meanwhile, visit Sherri's blog, Chocolate For Your Brain at http://sherryantonettiwrites.blogspot.com.

And thank you, Lissa, for spending time with me on the phone to try to change the book list, at the bottom of the posts, from all caps. Can't be done. Template problem. I deleted the list and will incorporate it some other way.

On the subject of books, I had been listening to Richard Russo's Bridge of Sighs on CD in my car as I ran errands. I think there were thirteen disks. Anyway, I didn't have enough errands. Only made it to disk three. The book was due, and I had to return it to the library. I would recommend it and will either get the book or check out the audio version again. True, my mind wanders as I drive, but here's how it seems to be going. The book begins in the voice of a young boy. Later the book shifts to the friend of the boy, now an adult, an artist living in Italy, and ill. I was definitely hooked by the time the Overdue! notice screamed into my Inbox.

On the plane to and from the conference, I read The Geography of Bliss by National Public Radio correspondent, Eric Weiner. Good writing. I really like his light style. I won't be giving anything away if I tell you the country with the highest "happiness level" is also the country with the highest suicide rate. The author explains it so it makes perfect sense.

Here's a recipe that sounds yummy and easy. It has all my favorite ingredients, including brown sugar, walnuts, and butter.
Apple-Walnut Mix for Grilled Pork Chops

2 cups Fuji apples, sliced
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup walnuts
8 tablespoons butter

In saute pan add all ingredients. Saute until apples are soft and sauce becomes a carmel color (about three to four minutes). Serve over grilled or pan fried pork chops. (Source of this recipe? hmm, can't tell. A magazine. The bottom of the clipping says The Kansas City Originals.) Enjoy.

For added enjoyment, visit www.angelinyourinkwell.com for more Writing Tips, Prompts, Fun Stuff for Writers, and Life Story Writing tips.

Monday, January 21, 2008

So You Want to Write a Book -- Two

Where were we? Oh yeah. Week before last we had started on ten things you must know if you want to write a book. Here is item two: (Read or skim all the way to the bottom for another item two -- a second chocolate recipe.)

2. Who is your intended reader? Be as specific as possible. No fair saying, “Oh everyone will want to read it.” That won’t cut it. Narrow it down to sex, age, education, interest, and experience.

Be real honest with yourself. Who will really want to read this book? If you are writing a book about a medical problem, and you are critical of the medical community, will they want to read your book? Sure, maybe they should read your book -- but will they? You better have a compelling story, told in a compelling way, and some real credentials or experience to make it work.

A good example of such a book, that works, is Rachel Gifford's book, A Gift in Wolf's Clothing: Life with Diabetes. Not only has Rachel lived with diabetes, she is a research and medical expert in the field. And, the Forward is written by an M.D. who goes so far as to say: " . . . a book that so entertainingly, yet devastatingly points out the stupid and unfeeling things that health professionals do in the course of treating diabetes. . . . If you care for people with diabetes . . . buy this book and take its lessons to heart."

Note that all-important word -- entertainingly. So even if your intended reader doesn't want to read the book, make it so well written that they can't help themselves. You can do it.

On another subject -- last week I ran into Bonnie Tolson at a birthday party. Hadn't seen each other in years. After the "You! Oh my gosh," we hugged and caught up on things. When I got home I looked at her website, http://www.bonnietolsonart.com/. Take a look for yourself. Bonnie is an all-around interesting and creative person, writer, and artist.

This Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball recipe is from Judy (a great source) by way of her future daughter-in-law. We will let her remain nameless, just in case she isn't thrilled with the idea of being mentioned on some stranger's blog. Don't want to get Judy in trouble before the kids are even married.)

Something different for Super Bowl Sunday -- Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter, softened (1 stick)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 c. powdered sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 c. mini chocolate chips
3/4 c. finely chopped pecans

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually add sugars until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Shape into ball and roll in pecans. Refrigerate. Serve with chocolate or honey graham cracker sticks. (I don't know what honey graham cracker sticks are, but you can figure out something to serve with this.)

Meanwhile, until next week, work on your statement of your intended reader.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Lesson on Editing from Friend Becky

Dear Writing Friends,

When Becky, who took one of my writing classes last summer at ARTichokes Art Gallery, (
http://www.artichokeskc.com/) called to tell me about her venture into editing, she had such a great explanation of how she went about it, I asked if she would write about her experience and send it to me in an email at (carol@angelinyourinkwell.com) so I could post it on the blog. I had no idea her message would be so complimentary of me, but, hey, I'm as vain as the next person so I here it is. The point, though, is how you might use Becky's methods. And, thank you Becky, for sharing your experience with us.

Becky wrote:

"Much of writing is arbitrary." "Pre-writing, writing, re-writing is important." "Writing is not competition." These are phrases I heard and copied during the Write Your Story in Eight Weeks workshop presented by writer, Carol Newman.

Recently I learned how important these messages became to my writing. Our church Evangelization Committee asked several members of our parish to write one paragraph on “what our parish means to them” or “what their faith means to them.” I was asked to edit these responses, which were not one paragraph as requested but many were lengthy. I agreed to do this as best I could.
I began by selecting the key points of the response and worked on all sentences to get the general thought on the page. It was a fun realization that it can be done and the thought of the writer is still there. The response was reduced to one paragraph (100 words) and enjoyed by the readers. It is all about editing (re-writing) with the thoughts of the writer kept in the front of me and listening to what they are expressing and make it say what they intended to say using less words.
The staff was complimentary about my work and questioned how I could do such good editing. I give credit to my love of writing and the affirmation I received from Angel in your Inkwell writing classes presented by Carol Newman.

And remember, there is more, more, more at www.angelinyourinkwell.com -- updated the first of each month.

Monday, January 7, 2008

So You Want to Write a Book

Yesterday was bright and sunny -- a day of possibility. Today is gray and overcast -- a day of possibility. Doesn't matter. If you are a writer, any day is a day of possibility. Especially here at the first of the year. Time to crack open the new calendar/planner. I love filling in the plans and appointments I already have for the coming year.

Look ahead with me to new classes to anticipate -- see: Calendar.

But I also like looking back at my old calendar, flipping through the pages and remembering all the events of the past year. Of course, I always wish I had done more, but for a short while, I savor the accomplishments.

Now, here it is the beginning of a new year and you want this to be the year you write your book. Here are ten beginning basics you must know. It is often a struggle to answer these questions, but answer them you must. Here is the first one: (Read to the end for a sweet reward.)

Is your book fiction or nonfiction? Not sure? Nonfiction is written about true events or people. Biography, autobiography, memoir, life story, how-to, history, essay are all nonfiction. For example, Angela’s Ashes is a nonfiction book Frank McCourt wrote about his life. Okay, you’re ahead of me here, aren’t you? Right. Fiction is invented. Novels are fiction. Gone With the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird are fiction. While they are both set in the south, in a certain time, the specific characters, specific setting, and specific events were invented by the authors.

Look at the books on your bookshelf -- or in my case, and probably yours, too -- bookshelf, end table, kitchen counter, bedside table, and floor. Which books are fiction, and which are nonfiction? Not sure? Check the back cover; sometimes it says there. Or check the placement in your public library. Ask a librarian. Ask a bookseller.

I know, this seems like a really, really basic question, but I have been surprised by the number of writers I work with who can't answer.

Now for the sweet reward: If you are going to be doing lots of writing this year, you and your family will still need to be fed and friends' birthdays celebrated; but you will want to do the food preparation fast. My friend, Judy, brought a delicious cake to a recent birthday gathering. Have you ever had Texas Sheet Cake? This cake tastes like it, but is so much quicker and easier. I plan to bake this for my gentleman friend's (husband, Tom) birthday this month. Here is the 3 ingredient recipe for chocolate cake:

Chocolate Applesauce Cake

1 box milk chocolate cake mix (Judy says this is a new flavor.)
3 eggs
16 oz. applesauce

Mix all well and bake in 9"x13" pan according to the box directions. Top with milk chocolate frosting from a can.