Monday, June 6, 2011

Red Flag for Writers

Backyard Iris & Ajuga - Photo by Carol Newman


I thought I had a pretty little picture of the hummingbird feeder and iris and ajuga inviting the birds into my backyard. But then I looked closer at the picture. Yikes -- what's that red thing in the bottom third of the photo? Oh great.  A sprinkler head marker for the repairmen. Much as I tried to re-shoot, re-frame, crop, or move around, I could not escape that red flag. I thought you might not notice it there among the friendly purple ajuga, but that didn't seem exactly fair.

A few days ago I recieved a call from someone I'll call Irene. Irene had taken one of my classes quite a few years ago but had never written her book. Now, she had renewed her interest in the book and a New York company was very interested in her book and had offered to write a proposal for her for $5,000. Irene didn't know exactly what they were offering or what the proposal would include. Also, after the proposal is written, who would actually write her book as she now wants someone to write it for her. If this company offers to write the book, how much will that cost? Also, she would be making at least one trip, possibly more, to New York City to talk to the person with whom she was dealing. All that was needed was her check for $2,500 right now, and they would begin work on her proposal.

Maybe this is a really great company, but the fee amount and the offer were just like that marker in my garden -- a red flag. I strongly suggestd she do some further investigating by asking more questions, finding out exactly what is being offered, and what happens next.

Also, I suggested she investigate local people who might provide this service at a better price. She might check with the library to find local writing groups and contact the group leader. Look at community college and park department writing class listings and contact those class leaders. Look on the Internet for writing groups and writing  teachers. Most newspapers carry book news and listings of local literary events. Look at those listings or attend events.

We all want our book ideas to find instant approval, but getting published is tough these days unless you are a celelbrity. Watch for these red flags: sudden interest, high fees, out-of-town unknowns, and a rush to sign a contract.


Things I have rushed into. If you're like me, this would be a long, long, long list. You might want to confine your list to three things -- or not. Go on and make that long list. Then write about one or some or all of them. Meanwhile, I am going to write I'll think about it one hundred times so I'll be ready the next time I am about to rush into something.

CHOCOLATE INKWELL This recipe from is really, really quick and easy; but if you want it to be even quicker, just eat the two ingredients and skip the whole melting-mixing-cooling process. Of course, if you need something yummy to serve to others, better make it.

Chocolate Nut Bark
Yields: 3 dozen 1 1/2-inch pieces

Prep Time: 10 min


2 cup(s) semisweet, bittersweet, or milk chocolate chips, melted

1 1/2 cup(s) assorted nuts, such as hazelnuts, almonds, and cashews, plus more for garnish


1.Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. (Take care to avoid wrinkles.) Combine melted chocolate and nuts in a medium bowl. Scrape the mixture onto the foil and spread it into an approximate 12-by-9-inch rectangle. Sprinkle with additional finely chopped nuts, if desired. Refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes.

2.Transfer the bark and foil to a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces.

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