Category Archives: February 2011

The Other Passion

Writing is my passion, but cooking is a very close second.  I grew up watching my mom cook the most wonderful, very special, Southern, Sunday dinners. We would go to church knowing what she was cooking for lunch and it would have our tummies growling in the middle of the church service. We would come home and change into our comfy clothes and then line up to fix our plate of fried chicken, creamed corned, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and sweet iced tea. Oh, and don’t forget the  brown and serve rolls. We would always have dessert, but that would come after the nap we would take because we had stuffed ourselves to the point of hurting. Mom didn’t stop there, she would then cook dinner each night of the week. Some nights, we would have breakfast for dinner, and in the south, that would be grits, fried eggs, bacon or sausage, and toast (Sunbeam, white bread). Man, mom can cook, but let’s not forget Dad. Saturday mornings were dad’s time to shine. He made the best buttermilk pancakes and pan-fried bacon. I remember tons of butter and Aunt Jemima syrup, and of course, I had to make sure the syrup smothered the bacon. Dad also makes the BEST mac and cheese. I have tried to duplicate it a million times, and it has yet to taste like his. In my opinion, that makes it even more special. Southerners love their food and my family exemplifies the BEST of southern cooking.

Now that I’m all grown up, I have taken all the things that my parents have taught me and I’m having fun in my own kitchen. For me, every aspect of cooking is enjoyable. I love making my grocery list and the grocery store is my favorite kind of store.  My favorite one is Central Market in Dallas, TX, but since I’ve moved back to South Carolina, Bi-Lo does just fine.  Once I’m home and the groceries are put up, it’s time to fill the air with some yummy notes of wine and olive oil! I love the sounds of something sizzling in the pan, the chopping of vegetables, and the pop of a bottle of wine being opened.  There’s nothing like turning on some good jazz, sipping on a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, and getting lost in sauteing , chopping, and mixing. When it’s all done, there’s a sense of accomplishment of creating a tasty dish, and then I hear the “yums” come from my husband and a huge smile crosses my face. I love those “yums” and “this is so good”. I guess I’m tooting my own horn, but thanks to those wonderful times and memories with mom and dad in the kitchen, I think I’m a pretty darn good cook. Thanks mom and dad for instilling the cook inside me!

I love making homemade pizza!!

Cooking is all about being creative. It allows me to throw together ideas, put them in a pan, and then Voila!, a plate of goodness is created. Writing isn’t much different. I mix together words, put them together, and then Voila!, a sentence, a chapter, and a novel is created.  Either way, I can make whatever I want, and that is key for me to have fun in the kitchen and when I write.

Thank you for letting me share my other passion. You will see it my book, Amelia, and now you will know that it’s a part of me.

Hmmm…..I wonder if I should go and make some buttermilk biscuits with sausage gravy?!

My sausage gravy simmering away....oh, so good!!!

My homemade buttermilk biscuits

Until next time…..

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Filed under February 2011, Sunday, "Fun"day writing

“Your Destination Is Ahead”

I want to give a quick update on where I am with the book.  I’ve been working on it fast and furiously and I’ve been listening harder to where my characters want to go. I used to be very patient with them, but it’s time to ramp things up and get this done. I’m anxious to type the last word, and by the way, the last sentence of a book is SUPER challenging to write. I have no clue what the last chapter will reveal, and I’m just as anxious to know as I hope the readers will be while they are reading it.  What’s exciting is that I will know sooner than later!

I will be leaving for a wonderful trip to Italy on March 2nd and will be traveling through March 12th. There will be a lot of time spent on planes, trains, and buses. It is my full intention to use this time wisely and write, write, write. I would love to get on the return flight home having the book done, and then use that long flight doing some editing! That would be perfect!!

So here it is. I’m setting a goal of being done by March 12th, and I’m saying it LOUD!  A goal spoken, is something hard and tangible. It forces me to stay focused. I have to keep distraction free, which will be tough while traveling, but I need to use it as an opportunity and not a hindrance. Italy will be inspirational and I will be in a can-do state of mind!

This long, writing road is leading me to my  final destination and  I am getting very excited.  I know there will be many speed bumps ahead, but I’m going over the speed limit to reach my goal.  When I need to slow down so that I can listen and learn, my break is close by. There’s no fault in down shifting to make the final outcome as good as it should be.

There will be much to do after the final word is typed. That’s where I will be taking a completely different road and the sun will be shining in my eyes. I have no clue what to expect and the anticipation of learning about self-publishing and marketing is very intriguing to me. I’m not scared about it. I have wonderful support from family and friends, which means the world to me! And all the support on the social media networks astounds me. Thanks to all of you!! I have learned so much and I know that will continue through my journey!

I can see myself on one of those modes of transportation in Italy, both fists pumping in the air ecstatically, tears in my eyes, and then I look at my husband and say, “It’s done. I have arrived at my destination.”  Now that’s what I call victory. We will then buy a wonderful bottle of Italian wine (Amarone for sure) and then eat some marvelous, yummy pasta, followed by a wonderful dessert.  There can’t be a better way to finish such a special part of this journey!!

Wish me luck and I will keep you posted!

“Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.”  ~Winston Churchill~

Until next time…

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The Setting Visualized

I’m in Stowe, VT as I write this.

For those of you that know me, or you’re a friend of mine on Facebook and/or following me on Twitter, you may know that I have home in Stowe, VT. For those of you that don’t know me, well, I have a home in Stowe, VT, and it’s a very special place to me. It’s a very quite home, in a very quite village.

My love of Stowe,Vermont  jump-started everything. It’s where I picked up my pen and started my writing journey. So I thought it would be nice to share the reason I fell in love with this beautiful town and state..

The seasons are so very distinct and I love them all.

Spring mornings are cool and brisk and the afternoons are warm enough to sit outside for lunch. The rec path, with its beautiful bridges, follows a river that runs down Mountain Rd. and it gets busy with walkers, joggers, and bikers. The mountains start sprouting their spring-green color and the brown patches begin to fill in. Summer is a relief from the southern sun. The temps can be warm and sometimes hot, but that is rare. The grass is as green as any green you’ve ever seen. Sometimes when the storms roll in,  it’s feel like you’re in the middle of it because of  how low the clouds come down over the mountains.  Fall can be summed up in one word, SPECTACULAR. The temperatures are just right. Rainy, autumn days are better done Vermont style. The smells and sounds of nature are unreal! Then there’s the foliage. No matter where you’ve been to see foliage, and you thought, “Wow, this is beautiful”, it doesn’t compare to VT or, for that matter, New England. But of course, I’m partial.  The colors up here are vivid, deep, rich, bright, and when you put them all together, it’s truly like a kaleidoscope. Winters are like a beautiful, winter postcard. For some, it would be too cold or too snowy, but not for me. Being from South Carolina, I’m like a little kid when the first flake falls. Winter brings an excitement to the air of Stowe. Skiers and snowboarders are everywhere. You can see locals and tourist mingling together in the restaurants and bars talking about how good the runs were that day, or not. And the holidays here are unbelievably special, straight off  the front of a Christmas Card.

So, as you can see, Stowe is a wonderful place to be no matter what season it is. But it’s not just the seasons, it’s the people of Vermont. There’s creativity everywhere. Locals supporting locals….artists, musicians, farmers, store owners and on and on. There’s a togetherness that I’ve never seen before. When you go into the grocery store, big or small, the local products are front and center. I know there are other wonderful places like this out there, but I’ve never experienced it before. It has changed the way I live, even when I’m not here.

This small, quaint place is a big part of my writing world and there’s been so much created here. I can only imagine, as time moves on, that the memories created here will fuel many plots and characters. As I walk the village, eat at a restaurant, meet the locals and tourists, I’m writing in my head….so who knows what it may produce!

When you read “Amelia”, I hope these words will help you visualize the place that re-lit the fire in my pen.

“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books. ”  ~ John Lubbock

Until next time…

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Gotta Get It Done!!

I’ve come to the critical point in my book where I have to put all hands on deck, and  I have to stay focused. As much as I can stay in my book world, the better. I really enjoy blogging, but I may have to step back from it over the next couple of weeks or month.  I tend to think about my next blog post and I lose some time on my book and at this crucial point, the finishing of my book, I think it deserves 100% of my thought process.

I don’t think I’ll fall off the blogging world completely, just a little less time, that’s all. If something comes to mind and smacks me in the face, I promise to share it. Sundays are a “fun” writing day for me, so I’m betting that will be the way I take care of my blogging needs.

This blog is important to me. The process of writing a book is very involved, and lots of times, it’s very private. So, sharing my experience is therapeutic, and the fact that I need to buckle down and finish the book is just a part of the process. I wish I was good at multi-tasking, but I’m not. I get distracted easily and knowing this about myself, Amelia’s Stoweaway has got to take the front seat for now.

Wish me luck. This is a very exciting time for me. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be in this place, at this time.  I have worked hard at putting thousands and thousands of words together to make a good book. Finishing will allow me to move forward with more challenging feats. Taking it from my computer to your hands is a big task that I look forward to conquering.

My journey of writing Amelia’s Stoweaway will not end with the last word that I type. The journey will not end at all. It will always be a part of my life and heart.

Until next time…

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Be Curious About Your Author

Getting to know an author is important. I feel that as a writer, I have to somewhat fillet myself to let people see what sparks my writing. Doesn’t it make it more enjoyable to read something when you feel you know the person that has, most often, painstakingly written the words that are on the pages in front of you?

I will be completely honest, and I should get yelled at for this, but I used to buy a book, read it, and never learn anything about the person behind the words. Of course, now, I Google the author and find a little, or a lot, about them. I find that I respect and enjoy their book so much more! I have to bet that most people don’t know much about their favorite authors and that’s too bad.  And I bet more authors would become your favorite if you knew a little more about their story, why they write, and what inspires them. Trust me, most authors have their life on a blog or website somewhere.

Start with the books you have at home. Search the author and read their story, even the ones that you THINK you know. You probably only know the characters that they have written about, but there’s always a story behind the story. Writers, usually, like to reveal their inspiration. We like for people to know what fires up our pen, or makes our fingers type faster and harder.  That’s why we blog and open up our writing hearts for all to see. Maybe I’m only speaking for myself, but I want you to know why I love the written word. I want you know what has inspired my first book and the ones to follow.

To know your authors, is to know more about their characters and storylines. For example, Kristin Hannah is one of my favorite authors. I read a couple of her books before going to her website and reading the “About Kristin” tab on her website.  After reading it, I went from just liking her writing to respecting her writing. It’s amazing the difference it’s made when I pick up and read one of her books. It’s enhances the way I  get to know her characters. I pay more attention to where her books take place, and it’s fun to see the tidbits of her that fall into her storylines. As I’m reading, I’ll come across a small detail and subconsciously realize, that’s a small part of Kristin. I like that. (I also learned she writes longhand…I envy that.)

Whether you read casually or read aggressively, know more about the person behind the book. You’ll be glad you did. Let curiosity be your motivation.

Until next time….

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One Is Not Enough

I never thought that when I first started writing Amelia’s Stoweaway that I would want to make a series of it.  Getting through one book sounds like a huge feat, but keeping the story going through a series seems mountainous!  But as I started writing, I realized that I could keep Amelia’s story going and I kept thinking of future storylines. So, I decided that I will not stop at one book. I will have an Amelia Livingston Series. I questioned whether or not I should go for such a big adventure for my first go around with writing. But if you know me, then you know, of course I will go for it! Dive in head first. It’s more fun that way.

The hardest part about this is, when I end Amelia’s Stoweaway I have to do so in a way that will leave the reader satisfied and yet wanting to come back for more. I don’t want the reader yelling at me when the last page comes around. This has been part of my struggle with tying up the book in a nice tight bow, but yet leaving it open for more to come.

My favorite part of doing a series is that I can think in future tense. I get excited about where my characters will go and what will happen. I hope you as a reader will feel the same. I know when  I read a series I want the author  to know when to stop and say goodbye to those characters and end the storyline. I promise to pay attention to this so that it doesn’t get boring or dull. It will end with a bang. There’s no other way to do it!

One thing I don’t want to do is get in a rut of only thinking in “Amelia Livingston”. So I know I will have to challenge myself to work on other plots and storylines.  I will cross that bridge when I come to it. For now, I want to create characters that people love, or love to hate. I want you to want more. I want the readers to find themselves in one of my characters or at least feel that these characters could be in their lives. This is very important to me.

I say if you you’re going to do something, do it big, but not so much where you lose sight of what your goal is. Never forget about the passion that sparked the ambition and never lose yourself in the process.

Until next time….

 

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Bookstore or Web-store?

Here I sit in a bookstore. I love the sight of books. I love the smell of books and I love seeing people read books. Then I see someone with their electronic book device, and yes, I have one too. I recently had a conversation with someone about “real” books versus the electronic books and we both agreed that we love the feel of the book, turning the pages, the smell, and the way the pages get worn as you read it. There’s something about walking into a book store, picking up a book, reading the inside cover, and deciding if it’s the book for you.

Now, on the flip side, I completely respect the electronic books out there. It’s easy, it’s fast, and it’s more portable, especially when you’re traveling and you don’t want your bag weighed down with books you plan on reading.  Also, as a self-publishing writer, I know that it will be a great avenue for getting my book out there in a way that a bookstore may not provide. I have been able to download books by beginning authors that I would normally not get to read, and I hope I will be able to use this platform when my book is ready.  Another way I’ve seen them used is in schools. Wow!! How nice would that have been when I was in college? It would have been nice to not have to carry a load of books around, instead,  just pull out my Kindle.  How convenient! The list goes on and on of the versatile ways the electronic books have changed our reading.  So I give them applause.

I have to think that I will stay half a traditionalist when it comes to reading.  There’s always a place to let in technology. I just hope there won’t come a day when there’s no book stores. I need them in my life. If you haven’t made a trip to your local bookstore, do so. So many people go straight to the web and have them delivered to their device or doorstep. It’s just not the same. You find gems when you walk through the isles, and you will pick up books you would normally skip over on the web. I also challenge you to pick up something that you normally wouldn’t read. You will learn something about yourself when you do.

Maybe one day, you will see Amelia’s Stoweaway sitting on the “New Arrivals” shelf (a smile just went across my face typing that). We shall see!!

Until next time….

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