Okay, so not bragging, but….. I’ve been hard at work….
The Healer’s Daughter in The Ear
The Healer’s Daughter is a departure for me. It marks a turns in my writing that came about just this year. It’s more mystical. Risky, maybe. A woman’s daughter describes her mother’s gift and discovers she has her very own gift, but will she actually use it?
The Healer’s Daughter will be featured in my summer release of How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party. It’s a book of short stories, all of which have a special or surprising twist.
Friends, Lovers, and Liars in Home Renovation
Originally titled Deception, it didn’t find a home. In fact, the topic of lies and cheating offended one editor. I think it may have hit too close to home. It, too, will be released in the summer release of How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party.
How to Throw a Psychic Surprise Party in The Electric Press Magazine
The title story for the book of short stories. Inspired by a show in which I saw a television host throw a “surprise” party for a psychic. It struck me – How do you throw a psychic a surprise party?
This story may answer that question. Maybe not. How much empathy can you muster?
Hunger and other poems as well as some photography in Voices of Eve
Not in the book of short stories. But well worth the read. Hunger is one of my favorite poems.
Also in the book of short stories –
The Crier: In a time when emotions are unheard of, people need a release.
The Mirror People: Ever wondered what’s inside the mirror? You know there’s something, right? Here’s a woman who collects them – she knows.
Bowie and the Basket Case: Anna’s things keep disappearing and reappearing. At first she thinks she’s misplaced them, but then she’s sure she hasn’t!
Anne Enright – Author of The Gathering, The Green Road, and winner of the Man Booker Prize. (reblogged from The Guardian online).
1 The first 12 years are the worst.
2 The way to write a book is to actually write a book. A pen is useful, typing is also good. Keep putting words on the page.
3 Only bad writers think that their work is really good.
4 Description is hard. Remember that all description is an opinion about the world. Find a place to stand.
5 Write whatever way you like. Fiction is made of words on a page; reality is made of something else. It doesn’t matter how “real” your story is, or how “made up”: what matters is its necessity.
6 Try to be accurate about stuff.
7 Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die.
8 You can also do all that with whiskey.
9 Have fun.
10 Remember, if you sit at your desk for 15 or 20 years, every day, not counting weekends, it changes you. It just does. It may not improve your temper, but it fixes something else. It makes you more free.
For most writers, getting a contract from a traditional publishing house is the golden biscuit, the grand reward after a struggle with run-on sentences, superfluous commas, and tired clichés. Many people will then spend years looking for an agent, and then have an agent try to place their work with a publishers, big or small.
But here’s reality: unless you’re J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, you’re almost certainly not going to receive the red carpet treatment you’re no doubt envisioning. Once upon a time, not a long time ago, self-publishing was considered the literary outback, the place for hacks. Now, in an ironic twist, we just may be witnessing the reversal of fortune. The Bix Six seem to be wallowing in their formulas. Meanwhile, much fresh thinking is coming from self-published authors who build their followings online. So rather than wait for your genius to be appreciated, here are six reasons you should consider being self-published:
Your hired editor may suggest changes, and you should listen. But ultimately you stand or fall on the product. You won’t have to deal with the agent who refuses to read a manuscript because she never looks at anything that begins with dialogue, or one who says she won’t consider a novel written in the first person, or one who says the work cannot have a “Prologue” or an “Afterward.” Ask yourself if a reader ever put a book back on the bookstore shelf for any of those reasons and you’ll begin to see how silly and random the process can be.
With self-publishing, your works can live on forever. Or, if later on your freshman effort embarrasses you, you can make it disappear with the click of a mouse.
If you’re unsure how to design a cover (and it involves a lot more than putting your title over a picture and your name on the bottom), google some freelance artists who do it. Study their work and contact the ones you like. If you don’t want to shell out the cash, and you have access to some design tools yourself, find covers of comparable works and study what you like, then try to imitate it as best you can.
John Grabowski worked in advertising, television news and public relations before daring to write his first novel. Entertaining Welsey Shaw was praised by Kirkus Reviews for being witty, fast-paced, and “filled with flirtatious banter.” A collection of his shorter fiction, Violet Rothko & Other Stories, will be published in September 2019. authorjohngrabowski.com
There’s nothing more helpful than having someone read your work and give you the fresh perspective needed to improve.
Recently, my writing partner found a tiny mistake, despite having others read it, reading it aloud, and checking, rechecking, and re-editing it a thousand times. So helpful! I would have been embarrassed had it gone out with that small spelling errors that even spellcheck didn’t catch.
HOWEVER, there’s one thing that’s troublesome about critique groups or partners. The one who does not actually want the advice. I’ve worked with people who, every time I commented on their work, responded by explaining what they’d planned, meant, thought they wrote. They felt they accomplished what they wanted to do and didn’t plan on changing a thing. In other words, they’re weren’t listening. Why they even brought the story to the group, I have no idea. Perhaps they thought the story would be endlessly praised.
Ladies and gentlemen, some praise is necessary and warranted. You may have heard the sandwich method of response. First, say something positive about the work. Next, suggest and improvement. Finally, end with a positive.
In my classes, I actually students to say at least three positive things about any piece of work before we launch into the “room for improvement.”
Showing others their work is exceptionally hard for some people.And there are always good things to be said about any attempt.
But a good critique is learning to be open to hearing what is being said. Respond not with denial and deflection, but consideration of the comments received.
When I’m reading or editing, I ask the writer’s purpose and hopes for the piece. This helps me focus the response a little better. I also discuss the critique so I can be more specific with their desired outcome. Therefore, I do try hard to take into consideration the writer’s ideas.
After the last group with the writer who spent the whole time denying and explaining rather than listening, I avoided responding to that writer. A good critique is work. Not listing to other’s ideas will not win you friends and improve your work.
One writer wrote recently that they’d received some really nice reviews, but one reader sent an email blasting him for some part of his novel. He took this to heart and let it destroy his mood and his confidence in his writing.
One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch of readers.
The cold, hard fact is – writers need reviews. But I’m not sold that a bad one is actually a bad thing to have. It shows that people, other than family, friends, and hardcore fans have taken the chance. Critical readers will look at the review closely to see what the person took issue with. Reviews that just say, “terrible,” just like reviews that say, “it was great,” doesn’t tell the readers anything and they’re likely to overlook these. If the reviewer said something more specific, “weak characters,” yet others have said the opposite, they’re likely to judge for themselves.
There’s another cold, hard fact – most readers don’t leave reviews. I know I’ve sold far more books than the few reviews that I have. It’s not write, or even ethical, to pay for reviews, although such services exist.
So – readers – review the novel, book, ebook, story, etc in an honest and fair way. If you didn’t enjoy it, but it wasn’t terrible, be gentle in your criticism. The writers behind these books are human and did put a lot of work into them.
Writers – don’t get upset by a bad review. Not everyone is going to like your work. That’s the value of diversity in our society. Everyone has different tastes. Focus on the good reviews, but do read the not so favorable ones.
Where have I been? A tad busy: End of semester biz, daughter about ready to burst with baby, and baking.
I wandered accidentally, whilst grading on the couch listening to background noise on the tele, into baking and cooking shows. They have reawakened my passion for dessert chemistry.
I’ve posted pictures of these cookies on my instagram and facebook and the original recipe ideas link on my pinterest page. These recipes are not mine – but I always do some this and that to make it my own and have been asked to share.
These are Mesquite Chocolate Chip cookies (on my favorite Roscher porcelain).
Although they don’t seem very holiday-like, they are delicious. Softer in ways than a regular chocolate chip.
I wanted to halve the recipe; the original recipe makes 50 cookies. I didn’t need that many. I wanted to sample before I committed.
Here are the changes I made.
1 cup of flour
3/4 cup of Mesquite flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup of butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup of oats
1 fully generous overflowing, maybe more cup or so of chocolate chips. I used semi-sweet and bittersweet. (My faves!)
Then I followed his directions, including the pat down which I originally thought of as strange – but they do get puffy.
Of course, we ate them right out of the oven –
Some of the middles were stuffed with chocolate; this was definitely the winner. If/when I make them again, I may try to purposefully load the center.
We had more when they cooled, then more later, then more the next day. Fortunately, I have willing taste testers who will try them at all stages.
The mesquite flour makes them light and airy. (I intend to bread some chicken with it and see what that gets me).
The cookies were delish! I wonder what other types of cookies this flour would compliment?
I’m going to try to post a recipe a day for the next few weeks – if you’re interested, like, follow, favor. 🙂
Some years ago, John Voso Jr. put together a cookbook, Italian Recipes from my friends; the proceeds from which went to the Richie White Fund. Richie White was a young boy who spent most of his young life in the hospital battling cancer. He lost that battle a few days after his fourth birthday.
This year, John has put together Ethnic Recipes From My Friends. The proceeds benefit a number of good charities.
The book contains JackFruit tacos. You’ll remember that some months ago, I tried JackFruit tacos at a vegan restaurant and loved them.
When John Voso, his wife, Debbie, and myself met for dinner, I was surprised to find this recipe in the book! I, personally, can not wait to make them myself.
The book contains recipes from a number of different people and cultures:
Angel Wings from Poland,
Sonoran Style Carne Asada,
and don’t forget about dessert, A Nut Kuchen!
Ethnic Recipes from My Friends will make a great gift and it supports great causes. Contact John Voso to order your copy!
I both love and hate the Farmers’ Markets.
I like the samples or, at least, I used to. Some time ago, I witnessed a man reach his fleshy hand in a bowl, dig out some cut up apricots with his fingers, and put the chunks of fruit in his mouth along with his fingers. Then he reached his slobbery hand into another bowl for the pluots.
Disgusting! I no longer partake of the cut up sample bowls.
THERE ARE TOOTHPICKS OFFERED FOR A REASON!
I saw one woman holding her dog while she squeezed peaches. She readjusted the dog, putting her hands under his belly, then turned him over like a baby in her arms, and reached down to handle more peaches.
Kids regularly reach their little hands up onto tables, into bins, fingers in the sample bowls.
But, in all honesty, I have not been turned off from farmers’ markets – until possibly this weekend.
I picked up a lovely, healthy looking bunch of kale and put it in my sack. When I got home, I started to put it away and got a whiff of it. It stunk. It smelled like a dirty sponge. I washed it and let it dry. I tried again – mildewed sponge smell stuck to it. I washed it again and laid it to dry. This time the aroma of old bleach wafted from it’s thick leaves.
Unwilling to take a chance and eat something that might make me sick (that’s what happen last week after my farmer’s market visit, I got sick. I didn’t then chalk it up to my farmers’ market finds, but now I’m wondering), I tossed it.
I’m not bothered by the loss of my few dollars, but more feeling betrayed by the farmer who tried to pass this off as fresh. I’m not sure what happened to turn the lovely kale into a dirty dishpan scented germ haven, but I do have the feeling the person on the other side of those leafy greens knew what he was selling.
It occurred to me that the farmers’ market is much like a buffet in a restaurant, minus the sneeze-guard. Yes, we’re going to be responsible and wash the food before we eat it, but is that going to be enough?
Beyond the numerous hands touching the produce, the unclean fingers lingering on the individual items, what about those – like I witnessed this weekend – who cough and actually sneeze near the food?
There’s no one checking on these open air food markets.
I’m certain many of the farmers are proud of their produce and wouldn’t allow infested products to line their tables; however, how many can afford to lose money by tossing away bins of forgotten water-logged or other problematic food?
I’m unclear how these farmers and their sales people can keep people from coughing, sneezing, molesting their fruits and veggies – I mean we are, in some sense, avoiding the supermarket system and trying to buy local – but how do we do this safely?
I imagine I could go back and talk to the guy who sold me that wretched kale, but what would that do? I have every faith he’d offer me a refund or replacement. But that’s not what I want. I want to feel this food is of a higher and safer quality than what I buy in the grocery store. I want to support the local farmers.
But I don’t want to get a staph infection from an avocado skin or the flu from a persimmon nor do I want to pick fleas off my peaches.
I was inspired the other night while watching netflix; a character mentioned Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies. I put the show on pause and sought recipes.
I found the usual 2 cups of flower, 1 cup of sugar run-of-the-mill types of recipes; then I happened upon something exciting!
I have a habit of looking up a ton of recipes, then mixing and matching and making my own. It seems the author of this blog does something similar, researches others and then works in her own special touches.
This recipe uses only 6 tablespoons of flour. More room for the good stuff!
I used a little more than 1/3 a cup of baker’s chocolate and I replaced the bittersweet. Although I’m a fan of bittersweet, I decided to use semi-sweet in its place. This makes my cookies a little sweeter than the original recipe. If you like it more sweet and want to risk a trip to chocolate heaven, I suggest mine. If you are a less-sweet chocolate lover with a desire to live a long healthy life, try it as recommended on the blog.
I tried unsuccessfully a few weeks ago to use a double boiler method to melt chocolate, so I was hesitant to try again. However, I followed the instruction in the blog and used a bowl in a pan. It worked great.
I melted a cup of semi-sweet with the butter and baker’s chocolate, cooled it, then added the recommended amount of semi-sweet chips to the batter as suggested.
I also used regular chili powder and omitted the cayenne. The chili pepper doesn’t make it spicy; it just brings out the other flavors. I’d be willing to try it with cayenne and/or a little spicier – so if anyone does, let me know how it turns out!
Everything looked gorgeous and tasted so good, I had to share.
This recipe was to die for as announced by my taste-testing kids.