05 April, 2017

Is there a support group for my addiction?


What did we do before Post-Its? Is there a Post-Its Anonymous I can join?

Like many (most?) writers I always carry a small note book in my purse to jot down those priceless ideas that pop into my mind at inopportune moments. When I'm home, however, I tend to use pads of sticky notes—probably because they take up less room than having a notebook in every room of the house.

This has led to a rather unfortunate decorating style, or lack thereof. Sticky notes adorn the table next to the couch, the wall next to the commode (don't ask), and the bed stand, not to mention the refrigerator.

At one point, I even tried color-coding the notes: blue for plot, green for dialog, yellow for description, etc. I gave that up when I ran out of blue Post-its and grabbed whatever colour was at hand leading to a total breakdown of my system. Since then I've managed to control my OCD and use whatever colour is nearest. So proud of myself.

Some people are more organized and can actually develop an entire plot using Post-Its. I can only imagine the chaos if I tried that. (Example below is NOT mine!) But I do use small ones to mark passages in books I want to reread/save.


I love my Post-Its.  I love buying them in different sizes and shapes. I love using them even if it takes me forever to sort and transcribe them.  I just plain love them.

Now if I could just afford to buy stock in 3M, I'd be rich, too.


28 March, 2017

Must Haves for Writers



Some "must haves" for aspiring writers are obvious—a computer or pen and pad, a good dictionary, a Chicago Style Guide—but I'm thinking more of personality traits.

I've been writing seriously for about eight years now. I've finished two mysteries (the first being totally useless) and I'm working on two others. So far, I've received a large number of rejections and not a single agent has jumped at the opportunity to sign me up. No surprise there, but it does highlight a special writer need: perseverance.

The dictionary defines perseverance as "steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success."


Sounds about right. Writing is hard work and it takes time, both to complete the writing (and never ending editing) and to find an editor or publisher. Louis L'Amour received 200 rejections before a publisher took a chance on him. It took J.R.R. Tolkien 12 years to write Lord of the Rings. And just remember how long it took JK Rowlings to get published.

Sure it would be nice to be an overnight wonder, a first-time-out-of-the-box NY Times bestseller, but that isn't reality for most of us.


So here's my daily mantra: Don't let the bastards get you down. 

Now get back to your keyboard!

04 January, 2017

New Year Goals

Everyone is familiar with New Year's resolutions -- and how quickly they get broken or forgotten -- so this year instead of resolutions I've made goals, goals with no set timetable, just something to achieve.

One of those goals is to simplify and declutter my life, starting with my office and computer.  Between them, my hard drive and filing cabinet have over 4,000 untested recipes.  A staggering number, but one I hope to whittle down by both cooking and simply admitting that "I'm never going to make that!"

So my goal for 2017 is to try at least 2 or 3 new recipes each week, to toss the bad ones, and share the good ones.

I started the year with a tomato soup which was pretty ghastly, so that recipe went straight into the trash.  My second "taste thrill," as new recipes are know in our family, was a cheddar chive scone.  Delicious and easy.

I hope you'll check back here occasionally and try out some of my successes.  And maybe have a good laugh at my failures.

Cheddar-Chive Scones
 
 
2 cups     unbleached all-purpose flour  
1 tsp    salt  
1 Tbsp   baking powder (make sure it isn't expired!)  
2 tsp    sugar  
4 Tbsp   cold butter, cut into small dice  
1 cup    coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese  
1/2 cup    snipped fresh chives  
1 cup
heavy or whipping cream, divided  



 
1 Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with Silpat mat.
2 Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Work the butter into the flour until the mixture is crumbly, but with some of the butter remaining in larger pieces.
3 Mix in the cheese and chives until evenly distributed.
4 Add ¾ cup of the cream and stir just to combine. Do not overwork as that will make the scones tough.  Squeeze a small amount of dough together; if it's crumbly and won't hang together, or if there are crumbs remaining in the bottom of the bowl, add additional cream until the dough comes together. Transfer the shaggy dough to a well-floured work surface.
5 Pat the dough into a smooth 7" disk about 3/4" thick. Transfer the disk to the prepared baking sheet. Use a knife or bench knife to cut the disk into 8 wedges, spreading the wedges apart a bit on the pan.
6 Brush the scones with a little cream, if desired.  The cream helps the scones to brown.
7 Bake the scones for 22 to 24 minutes, until they're golden brown. Remove from the oven, and cool on the pan. Serve warm, or at room temperature.
 
Makes 8 large scones

Make ahead Tips
Make scones up to the point they're on the baking sheet, cut and ready to bake; don't brush them with cream. Freeze, then remove from the sheet, and wrap each one individually in plastic wrap and store in an airtight plastic bag. When you're ready to bake, remove however many you want to bake from the freezer, place on a baking sheet, brush with cream, and bake in a preheated 425°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown.
Baked scones may also be wrapped in a damp paper towel and reheated in a microwave for 1 minute at 50% power.