Monthly Archives: October 2012

So, Tweet already, you Twit!!

Yeah, this is a couple days late.  And living thousands of miles away and thousands of feet above the eastern seaboard, I have no real excuse.  Except,well, doggonit, Twitter just really confuses me. Or to be more accurate it really confused me until I did something of a crash course. In the interest of full disclosure, I actually {blush} bought “Twitter for Dummies,” the pocket book edition. Yup, that’s me, a Twitter dummy.  And of all things I actually do sort of understand Triberr. How silly is that?

I’m the same person who flunked Chemistry in high school cause I couldn’t memorize the table of elements.  That’s right, I had NO problems with epic poems, with Shakespeare, even with my part in Gaslight.  But I could not get past Oxygen, Hydrogen, ummmmmmmm, nope, still wrong.  Sigh.

Seems like, when I take an aversion to learning something I just plain do not pick it up.  No idea why.  Maybe it’s the family curse of stubbornness.  Or maybe it’s just sheer cussedness. Whatever, I’m a failure at Chemistry, and was nigh on a failure at Twitter. Now, I can sort of maybe see failing Chemistry, at least for a Liberal Arts major. Okay, so I wanted to be a veterinarian, and the chem flunk talked me out of it, not to mention having to be nice to the dog owners.

But Twitter?  Seriously?  Well, obviously I had some sort of problem since it’s held me up from my Monday Promo Tips post.  And it’s not like I haven’t had a boat load of help with Twitter. In fact the break through was during a recent workshop with Kayelle Allen, one of my new idols.  Kayelle suggested following Karen Cote, or Kristen Lamb or even her own tweets.  Hmmm. Okay, so what am I supposed to be seeing here?  It just seems like the same confusing short messages, along with ### and blue words.

It took a blog from Jenny Hansen about Hurricane Sandy Tweets to FINALLY drive the lesson home.  Twitter is nothing but fragments of thoughts shared among friends. Kind of like getting together after work to share what went on in your lousy or wonderful job.  Since you know these people, you don’t have to describe everyone in detail, you can say “Miss Short Skirts” or “Mr. Bad Combover” and ZIP instant recognition. In the same fashion, you type out ‘Went to Step Class’ or ‘Set up the Course’ and the people who have been following you know what’s coming next, so they click on that shortcut to giggle along with your story. Or maybe to commiserate with your aching behind.

Huh.  I can do that.  I can share ideas with people, maybe pass along their ideas (otherwise known as RT or retweet)  And I can remember from time to time to add those ### which are known as hashtags, and give your tweet a bit more identity.  So if you add #MYWANA to your tweet, you’re linking your message to the We Are Not Alone concept of Kristen Lamb.  And that’s a pretty cool place to be, I’m thinking.

Participant 120x240So, tomorrow morning starts NaNo, that month of writing dangerously. or at least furiously. I’m in this year. I’ve made a commitment to block out at least one book, along with finishing edits on one of the stories dragged out from under the bed.  That’s what writers do, you know.  They write.  Rewrite. Edit. {{gulp}} Submit.  When they’re not discussing the fate of the world in 140 characters or less.


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Ramblings for the End of the Week

I’m sharing Kristen Lamb’s blog here, for a really quick Friday message:

Friday Fun, Change and Writers Behaving Badly.

Okay, fellow writers, if you’re not already signed up to Kristen Lamb’s blog you really need to get yourself there.  She has seriously helped me become a better writer.  And has also helped with the OMG what do I do NOW part of getting my book out there in front of the reading public without losing what little is left of my sanity.

Recipe teaser: Last night I experimented with a peanut butter low carb fudge.  I’m thinking it’s an even better reason to go low carb than bacon and that’s saying a lot for me.  And I’m wondering about a “ribbon” fudge with layers of peanut butter and chocolate.   Mmmmmmm

Recently I took a “logline” workshop.  Loglines are those one sentence descriptions of your work.  One of the most famous is “In space, no one can hear you scream.” I think we all know that movie!  Lynn Crain has a wonderful logline blog, and she’s showcasing what I came up with for My Killer My Love. Stop in and leave a comment, she’s promised prizes! Lynn Crain’s logline blog

That’s it for this second, I might be back this weekend depending on what happens.  Getting ready for NaNo, are you coming along for that ride?

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When Good Recipes Go BAD

Catchy title but I can’t really blame the recipe for my own carelessness.  Or whatever the root of the problem might have been.  Seems I gave myself a mild case of food poisoning.  I tried a new variation on the Pork Green Chile Soup, this time using country ribs, cutting the meat from the bone and browning the bones in a separate pan, then adding the browned

It looked good at this stage

bones to the crock pot.  Everything went fine, but somewhere during the process I left something out to cool too long or didn’t do something right.  There’s a myriad of ways we can mess up with our food and I think I did all of them at once.

At any rate I was barely functioning on recipe Wednesday.  The dogs went in and out, I did some editing on a very late project, and I went in to work, sans the welcome home soup I’d hoped to take to Tim and Martha.  And, of course, no blog. The plan was to share my success story for a low carb brownie but that’s been put on hold.  Somehow even chocolate doesn’t sound appetizing.

I’ve started the soup again fresh and this time there won’t be any wandering off and leaving it out to cool while I get distracted.  I hope.  Though I’ve been taking a workshop with Angela Knight…deep breath while I deal with feeling like a squealy fan girl…and that’s got my mind racing through possibilities.  And I won’t let myself get too distracted with thoughts of a signing soon at the wonderful local grille for Teach Me To Forget and My Killer My Love.  Nor will I let my mind wander to plotting out another story…

Oh, dear, I might be a hopeless cause!

Promise, next Wednesday will be another yummy recipe day. In the meantime, cook safe.


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So You Have a Blog, Now What?

You’re writing the best and brightest blogs ever seen on the Internet, or so your friends and followers (all twenty or so) tell you. Now what?  You can stick with this level of exposure, especially if you personally promote your blog on every Yahoo group you belong to. Or, before your friends stop opening your e-mails, you can take another step into the world of extended connections.  Which means Twitter and Triberr.  But before you do any of this, you need to sit down and think about your privacy.

We all get into writing through a desire to share our thoughts and words with the world, but for the most part we want to do so from the privacy of our home, preferably while wearing our favorite ratty old sweats. When the big moment comes and we’re published or about to be published, one of several reactions can occur.  Many of us take either the deer-in-a-headlights or the come-on-boys-let’s-party reaction.  What happens next depends on how well we’ve prepared. I didn’t prepare as well as I should up front and I have to tell you the catch up has been murder.

Think about who you are, as both writer and non-writer.  Do you have a family, do you live a private life, and do you want that life to remain private?  Then consider not using the “where I am” function on your cell phone.  When you set up your author Facebook page do not hand out your street address and telephone number, hoping friends you haven’t talked to for years will get in touch. If they really want to communicate, Facebook has a great message system.

You will want to set up a Facebook page of you as an author, whether you write under your name or an alter ego.  On this page you will share writer stuff, not pictures of your latest rash, nor pictures of the front of your house complete with address.  Yes, there are stalkers out there and they can find you no matter what.  Still there’s no need to give them an engraved invitation.

We can share our lives without sharing our location.

You need to sign up to Twitter to take advantage of Triberr, which is the “casting your seed in fertile soil” step.  Twitter is pretty self-explanatory, and has a good basic guide.  MFRW has numerous files on using Twitter to help.  Is Twitter a pain in the rear?  Yeah, sometimes and I freely admit I don’t totally understand everything about it. I’m learning slowly, and next week we’ll do the dance of Tweet progression together.  Think about your personal choices as far as privacy, and have a great week.

The insanity that is NaNo is coming up.  You joining in?


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Getting Ready for Winter with Chicken Broth

The wind has been blowing hard today, keeping me inside but distracting me from getting much done.  Not that it takes much to distract me these days!  Colder nights remind me of home made soup, including pumpkin, vegetable, and various concoctions with lots of hot green chile.  The base ingredient for all of these is a nice chicken broth.

Trader Joe’s has good chicken broth in a box, and for that matter they have some really yummy soups in a box.  But when you’re nearly thirty miles from the nearest TJ’s you need to think about making your own.  Especially with holiday cooking right around the corner.

The Barefoot Contessa did a knock your socks off chicken broth, starting with whole chickens, carrots, parsnips and half the garden.  I tried making that once and it was WOW but really?  Whole chickens to make broth for your own use?  Wouldn’t you rather be eating some of that chicken first?  Which is why I came up with chicken broth for we who just don’t have enough time no matter how hard we try to plan, and who really appreciate the simpler things in life.

It starts with those great rotisserie chickens we’re all using on rough days (and a lot of other days!) I’ll mash up some cauliflower the first night, maybe do lettuce wraps the second night, and pick off it for one more day.  Then there’s still a lot of meat left but I’m hungrier for fresh cooked, whether I do it myself or grab another one while I’m in the store.  So the rest of that carcass goes into the freezer.  When I have three or four, I grab my stock pot, some celery, onions, garlic maybe parsley. Pretty much whatever strikes my fancy and is in the refrigerator when I get started.  All of it goes into the pot, chopped or broken up, comes to a boil, cooks for a while.  Strain off the broth, cool the chicken so you can pick off any extra meat, and decide if you want to keep the veggies or not.

Cool some, pour into those nifty semi disposable plastic containers, freeze.  And you’ll have chicken broth whenever you need it.  Next I’ll be sharing some of my favorite soups made from this broth.  Yum.


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To Blog or Not To Blog

That shouldn’t be a question.  The blog is an author’s link to readers, above and beyond their books.  I’m sure some writers will get by just fine without blogging, but I don’t want to be relying on word of mouth for books published by a small press.  Do you?

Right.  So, what should we blog about?  From what I remember the original definition of “Blog” was a Web Log, or on line journal.  Obviously it has expanded since then, into everything from a step by step reveal of some people’s lives to dissertations on how to do anything and everything.  For the purpose of a writer’s blog, you want to think about what you’re going to put on the page before you begin.

If you are guest blogging, you will need to follow the parameters of your host.  Some request a blog based on the writing craft, some a blog with no promotion.  For example, the “cost of admission” to blog with Mona is a recipe. Unless you are a certified expert, you don’t want to be writing a “how to” blog.  If you notice, what I’m doing is sharing what I’ve learned, along with the links I’ve found to be helpful.

It only seems like we’re lost

For instance, there’s Kristen Lamb’s book “Are You There Blog, It’s Me Writer,” an excellent primer in social media.  And I found a knock out website recently: For Bloggers By Bloggers with articles such as “Your Blog is Boring Because You Suck At It.”  How inspiring does that sound??  And one more resource, Author Media, which has even more information on establishing your author platform, sooner rather than later.

If you have an other great links or resources please share.  Orange County Chapter of RWA has a great slogan “On Hand Reaching Forward, One Hand Reaching Back,” illustrating how much further we all will go when we work together.

We are NOT alone.

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Life in New Mexico


Gwynyfyr inspects the nearly finished job

On Fridays, I’m going to be sharing photos and ramblings of living in New Mexico, and also of pulling my life together.  It’s coming into Winter so I have to move on getting the snow fence up to keep snow back from the house this year.  I started with Tom’s brother Larry helping to set the posts, then I got the wire up. Now I’ve added snow fencing and some barricades along the bottom so I’ll have areas to plant behind the wind break.  What’s left now is securing the snow fencing so it’s not so saggy, and adding a narrow gate down the long side.  I’m trying to use found material wherever possible.

Kinda saggy but getting there

marigold bud

marigold half opened

I planted late season marigolds in the old horse feeder and have enjoyed watching them grow from much closer than before.  This is a marigold just before it opens.  Pretty neat, huh?


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Something to Stew About

Mmmm recipe day.  My excuse to come up with nifty new ways to enjoy my food without derailing my weight loss.  Today it’s Green Chile Stew, which can be made with pretty much any meat but I prefer pork, and since I like the comfort of slow cooking smells in the house, I hunted up this recipe: which gives the guidelines for chicken, beef, or pork.  And it’s a good recipe, especially if you’re stewing for a group.

I wanted something for one person, or for me and my guinea pigs friends who help with taste testing.  Plus I was dealing with buying dilemmas.  Pork roasts are available in LARGE sizes, and no matter how much I enjoy green chile stew I don’t want to be eating the same recipe all winter.  Plus I have issues with the “tender for YOU” pork I find in the grocery stores.  If I wanted to inject my pork with salt and other questionable ingredients, I have the syringe, I can do it myself.  So instead of a pork shoulder roast, huge at a low price, I picked up the thin sliced pork shoulder steaks, slightly higher price but a more reasonable quantity.  MUCH easier to cut up.

To this I added onions, garlic, coriander, chopped frozen green chiles and chicken broth. Simple ingredients; I chose

Bueno Autumn Roast

In the frozen aisle if you’re lucky

fresh coriander over cumin on a whim, and I’m glad I tried it. I make up the broth myself from leftover carcasses, which will make a great future recipe blog.  As for quantities, can I just say “some?”  My goal was more of a soup than a stew, so about two cups of the broth, 2-3 pounds of pork, a largish onion, a couple cloves of garlic, about half a bunch of coriander, and a couple huge spoonfuls of hot Bueno frozen green chiles.  If you’re not as worried as I am about carbs you can add in some chopped potatoes and maybe a can of white beans.

Cut the pork up into bite size pieces.  Brown the pork in your fat of choice (bacon grease will work obviously) set that to one side, cut the onion into wedges,brown it a bit.  Chop the coriander up a bit.  Put everything into a crock pot on high for four hours, or on low for six.  If you want, after your first cooking, you can strain the broth from the solids, chill both of them, and remove the extra fat from the chilled broth.  Then put it back into the crock pot.  This extends the cooking time but makes my house smell really nice.  And it means I can do the first cooking, chill everything, and set it up to eat the next night.  A dollop of sour cream makes it extra yummy.

If you can’t get the frozen green chiles you’ll have to use canned. You might see if your grocery will carry them in mild to hot since there is an increasing demand for them.  Naturally the grocery stores in New Mexico carry frozen and canned chile year round. as well as a bank of various jarred salsas and four rows of mustard. I kid you not, FOUR rows.  In season you can get the fresh green chiles in boxes or bags and have them roasted on site, then take them home to package up for your freezer.  Somehow I missed this year, so I’m stuck with frozen.

Now as far as experimenting. I was discussing this with a friend, who asked why chicken broth.  Ummm.  Hmmm. Good point.  So the next cooking will be with pork country ribs, which come with bones.  So I’ll get some without the tenderizing additives, chop the meat off those bones, brown everything, and toss it into the crock since those bones will give me extra flavor.  I’ll let you know how that turns out.

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We Built This Platform

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

Stephen King


Way back when, careers were built by attracting readers to the “essence” of a writer.  As In “I’d buy anything from Suzi Writer” or “If (***’s) name is on the cover, my money’s on the counter.”  These people established a reputation for a certain style of writing, or their publisher established it for them.  Those days are a memory now, the value of a “platform” is still there, more important than ever. It’s just that now, we build our own.  But we don’t have to do it by ourselves.

The tools and guidelines to building a platform are abundantly available on line, even more now than when I took myself seriously enough as a writer to send a story off to Black Opal Books And the first piece of advice I didn’t pay enough attention to is:


Which is one of those statement that needs to be inscribed on the mug you use to convey your magic elixir of choice into your bloodstream.  That platform needs to go up long before the book release celebration and it needs to be strong enough to lift you up, plus all of your fellow writers.  The more we help each other the stronger we become individually.

WE ARE NOT ALONE (WANA) is the catch phrase of Kristen Lamb , whose blog not only inspires, it also chastises and drives us to perfection. If you’re not already reading her blog, I strongly suggest you start.

Also take a close look at Marketing For Romance Writers . If you don’t write romance you can still use the amazing information and support system.   They are open minded about any writing as long as you’re willing to share the love (support.)

In a nutshell, the suggested progression of platform building is: Establish a social media presence: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.  Create your website and blog, which can be one and the same.  Link the blog to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.  Sign up to Triberr, join tribes.  When these building blocks for your platform are in place, your main effort beyond writing more wonderful books will be to regularly write a blog.  Yes, it is that easy.  And wouldn’t that be so much better than spending your precious writing time shoving books in people’s (virtual) faces?

I’m pretty sure you’re nodding in agreement.

I won’t be leaving you with just a few links to peruse.  We’ll be tackling those building blocks one at a time.  This week’s suggestion is to set up your writer Facebook presence, and your blog.  If you have anything you’d like to share on what’s working well for you, please feel free…if you’re blogging about platform building, let us all know so we can dash over to your blog.

Happy writing.


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Biscuits and Jam and Love From the Kitchen

In Teach Me To Forget, Jonathan Merritt makes biscuits for Bethany’s first morning at his house, and has his mother’s jams on the table to add to the steaming, butter laden yummies.  Hang on I need a minute to process since biscuits are officially off my menu for the foreseeble future. Oh, the memories.  Okay, I’m fine now.

Feeding the people we care about is a time honored tradition.  Who doesn’t preen when their “secret family recipe for the best cookies EVER” is praised?  I know most of hospitality centers around food in one form or another though it has been a challenge when I’m avoiding certain beloved foods.  But taking up the challenge for substitutes can be fun.  So far there’s not much I’ve found to substitute for hot biscuits.  Or bagels.  But for a simple treat to take to a brunch, I’ve found almond/cheese sticks go extremely well with any sort of hummus and are a great cracker or toast substitute.

The original recipe came from Low Carb Diet Tips for Busy People

Mom’s Low Carb Bread Recipe (bread sticks)

1 8 ounce bag Sargento parmesan cheese

1 cup almond meal

2 small or one very large egg (I used two largish)

2 Tablespoons melted butter (salted or unsalted depending on your preference)

Optional: Garlic Salt to taste (or garlic powder)

Mix ingredients well and chill. You can keep the mix in the refrigerator until needed and only cook a few at a time. Roll small portions into ball and then into cheese sticks.* Bake in preheated 350 oven for 10 minutes, turning after 5 minutes if necessary. You can make them flat on top so you can turn them over to brown on both sides.  You’ll want to flip them when they brown slightly on the bottom, so you can brown both sides. Don’t overcook.

That’s the basic recipe. I’ve since made it with grated cheese of various kinds similar to parmesan and with powdered parmesan/parm blends.  All yummy-licious.   So far I haven’t been able to create the pretty breadsticks in the original recipe since I’m always so impatient, but I can make an oval thick cracker sort of treat.  And I cook them a lot longer, to get more crunch. Often I’ll turn the oven off to let them cool down and get crunchier. I’ve also pressed some of the mix into a glass pie dish for a larger round of crunch, which makes a great base for whatever your imagination can come up with, not limited to pizza!

I would share Jonathan’s family biscuit recipe but that would entail research that might lead me down the wrong path.Teach Me To Forget Black Opal Books  There’s more information about the book here Teach Me To Forget and it’s available through Amazon, Black Opal Books, B&N and all the usual sources.  Enjoy and if you have a recipe you want shared on Wednesdays come on over, I’ve got the Keurig all warmed up.



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