Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Wednesday Discussion: Seen Anything Outlandish Lately?

"You're kidding...right?"
"I was crazy back when being crazy really meant something." Charles Manson

Life always provides something outlandish to amaze, discuss, or even incorporate into a WIP.  Have you heard, read or seen anything lately that seemed totally outlandish? I have two examples to share.

The other night we ate at a fantastic local BBQ place. My kids had burgers, I had a huge slab of ribs, and my husband had brisket, pulled chicken and pulled pork.  It just so happened that the waitresses' black t-shirts were emblazoned with the huge white letters P.E.T.A.

Eeww, I thought, cutting into my meaty, fall off the bone ribs.  Then I laughed as I read what the letters stood for: People Eating Tasty Animals. Sorry, vegetarians.

My next example I found doing research on mens' sleepwear from the 1880's. Instruction and Advice for the Young Bride is a "Christian" pamphlet, written in 1894, that warns young ladies all about---(GASP) sex! For a good laugh, you'll have to read the whole thing, but here are some of the more amusing parts:

Some young women actually anticipate the wedding night ordeal with curiosity and pleasure! Beware such an attitude! A selfish and sensual husband can easily take advantage of such a bride. One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: GIVE LITTLE, GIVE SELDOM, AND ABOVE ALL, GIVE GRUDGINGLY. Otherwise what could have been a proper marriage could become an orgy of sexual lust. On the other hand, the bride's terror need not be extreme.  
While sex at best is revolting and at worse rather painful, it has to be endured, and has been by women since the beginning of time, and is compensated for by the monogamous home and by the children produced through it. It is useless, in most cases, for the bride to prevail upon the groom to forego the sexual initiation. While the ideal husband would be one who would approach his bride only at her request and only for the purpose of begetting offspring, such nobility and unselfishness cannot be expected from the average man.

Most men, if not denied, would demand sex almost every day. The wise bride will permit a maximum of two brief sexual experiences weekly during the first months of marriage. As time goes by she should make every effort to reduce this frequency. Feigned illness, sleepiness, and headaches are among the wife's best friends in this matter. Arguments, nagging, scolding, and bickering also prove very effective, if used in the late evening about an hour before the husband would normally commence his seduction.

By their tenth anniversary many wives have managed to complete their child bearing and have achieved the ultimate goal of terminating all sexual contacts with the husband. A wise bride will make it the goal never to allow her husband to see her unclothed body, and never allow him to display his unclothed body to her. Sex, when it cannot be prevented, should be practiced only in total darkness. Many women have found it useful to have thick cotton nightgowns for themselves and pajamas for their husbands.

Once the bride has donned her gown and turned off all the lights, she should lie quietly upon the bed and await her groom. When he comes groping into the room she should make no sound to guide him in her direction, lest he take this as a sign of encouragement. She should let him grope in the dark. There is always the hope that he will stumble and incur some slight injury which she can use as an excuse to deny him sexual access.

As I said, read the whole thing--you'll be amazed! I'll end this post with a quote from Dorothy Patterson (found in The Women's Devotional Bible) regarding sex in marriage from a Biblical standpoint.  Apparently, the author of the above pamphlet must not have been aware of this: 
One finds there a theology of sexuality, which, as designed by God, offers unfailing beauty and incomparable worth.  The Creator designed this most intimate union to reveal knowledge on the ultimate level (Genesis 4:1), to demonstrate the most absolute unity (Genesis 2:24), to unleash the deepest comfort (Genesis 24:67), to continue the generations through procreation (Genesis 1:28), to guard against temptation (1 Corinthians 1:2-5) and even to provide relaxation and play (Song of Songs 2:8-17, 4:1-16).

How about you? What's the most outlandish thing you've run into lately? Think you can use it in your current WIP? Thanks for visiting!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday's Writing Tip: Thoughts from Anne Lamott on Avoiding Perfectionism

Anne Lamott

"Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life...I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it." Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

"It doesn't have to be perfect..."
All non-perfectionists can now breathe a sigh of relief! Don't you love Ms. Lamott's wise words on avoiding it? 

In her wonderful book on writing she shows us that perfectionism is detrimental, because when striving for it in our manuscripts, we try not to leave too much of a mess to clean up.  But she points out that the clutter we leave behind can hide precious treasures that we'll discover later. And those treasures can be put to good use by providing more material to work with once we go back to revise and edit.

Being too tidy, according to Ms. Lamott, suggests that something is as good as it's going to get. In a previous post here, not looking back when writing a manuscript was discussed. 

The important thing is to finish.  Plow ahead, make a mess! Don't worry about every little detail or whether or not it's polished enough.  That comes later, at revision time.

Have fun with that first draft; avoiding perfectionism allows a really great story to unfold!  Do you struggle with perfectionism? Thanks for visiting and have a great day!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Recipe Friday: Maple Baked Limas

With warmer weather approaching, picnic season is just around the corner.  I know what you're thinking, what do lima beans have to do with cookouts?  Let me just say this, if you serve this as a side at your next BBQ, you may never want to go back to traditional baked beans!

This is a recipe I got from my mother-in-law years ago, and it is absolutely marvelous!  It's a hearty side, but so scrumptious, you'll think you're eating dessert!  Aside from the awesome taste, limas are really nutritious! Here are a few facts from E-how Health:

Lima beans are a good source of B vitamins including B6, niacin and folate. Lima beans also are a good source of manganese and iron.

Lima beans are a great source of dietary fiber. One cup of lima beans provides 65 percent of your daily value for fiber.

Lima beans help lower blood sugar levels. Because of their high fiber content, lima beans keep you feeling full and keep your blood sugar at an even level.

Lima beans are also a source of potassium, magnesium and iron. They provide 86 percent of the daily value of molybdenum, a mineral that helps detoxify sulfites.

One cup of cooked lima beans provides 216 calories. Calories from fat are very low--about 6. Limas are a very nutritious, low-fat food.

And to think I used to hate lima beans!  Here's today's recipe.  It's a crock pot dish, so take the time into account when you plan to make it.  Hope you enjoy!

Maple Baked Lima Beans

8 cups water
1 lb dry limas
1 cup chopped onion
1 slice bacon, diced
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup catsup
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1 bay leaf

In saucepan, bring water and beans to boil.  Simmer 1 1/2 hours.  Drain; reserve one cup of liquid.  Pour beans and reserved liquid into bowl and chill overnight.  Transfer beans and liquid into slow cooker, add remaining ingredients, stir until combined.  Cook on low 8-10 hours. Remove bay leaf

Do you like lima beans? If you don't, this recipe will change your mind! Thanks for visiting, and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Wednesday Discussion: Death of a Screen Legend

 "I've always admitted that I'm ruled by my passions." Elizabeth Taylor

I was sad to hear this morning that Elizabeth Taylor had died at 79.  She'd struggled with congestive heart failure for many years and finally lost the battle.

As a 10 year old in Hollywood, her flawless beauty (violet eyes, porcelain skin and raven hair) caught the attention of talent scouts.  By age 11 (1943), she'd been signed to a long term contract with MGM that would last into the 1960's.

Ms. Taylor blossomed from a beautiful child star into a stunning leading lady by her teen years. She became an accomplished actress and two time Academy Award winner (Butterfield 8, 1960 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, 1966), starring in comedies and dramas.

She will be remembered for her beauty, multiple marriages, jet setting lifestyle, charitable endeavors and of course her many films. 

I think my favorite film starring Elizabeth Taylor is Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1958.  She played a wonderful Maggie! What's your favorite Elizabeth Taylor movie?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday's Writing Tip: Time to Unclutter Your Manuscript?

"Do not overwrite. Oftentimes novice writers...tend to use way too many exclamation points, far too many adjectives and adverbs, and want to show off their vocabulary. Less is more. Stick to the meat of the story. Understatement is powerful." Marvin D. Wilson, Meet the Editor

I've been guilty of throwing useless clutter around my manuscript, but I'm improving!

Craft books tell you to watch the use of adverbs and adjectives.  Stephen King, in On Writing, says, "An adverb is a pernicious dandelion to be rooted out the first chance you get."

Adverbs, those words usually ending in "ly", modify verbs.  Robert Masello, in Robert's Rule's of Writing, points out that opponents of the adverb claim that if writers used properly chosen verbs, adverbs wouldn't be necessary. 

I'm glad to know Masello doesn't completely agree with this. I like adverbs, used in moderation, and  I have yet to read a novel that's completely adverb free!  Masello says that adverbs, in many cases, are used for emphasis.

Here's an example I've written:

Pam, the murder suspect, walked slowly into the room as though nothing was wrong.

Pam, the murder suspect, strode into the room as though nothing was wrong.

Pam, the murder suspect, strode leisurely into the room, as though nothing was wrong.

The last sentence uses a more effective verb.  The adverb is used for emphasis and reflects Pam's mood.

Adjectives modify nouns and pronouns.  They can be misused a lot more often than adverbs because they tend to be used in clusters.  Save clustering for peanuts and chocolate.  Adjective pile up can cause a manuscript to become a casualty in an agent's office and end up no further than the shredder.

Here's an example of adjective overload:

The young red haired boy ran wildly through the warm crashing waves of the frothy, turquoise Atlantic, enjoying the feel of the cool salty seaweed filled water against his skin.

That's just too much to wade through, but the example below is clean and tight:   

The young boy charged through the Atlantic, enjoying the feel of the frothy waves against his skin.

When adjectives are used at a minimum, and adverbs carefully chosen to add emphasis, they're much more effective.  And so is the flow of your writing.  As Marvin D. Wilson said in the above quote, "Less is more."

Is your clutter under control? Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cassandra Marshall's Spring Free Edit Contest

Want a chance to win a free edit of your manuscript up to 100,000 words? Then you'll want to enter Freelance Editor Cassandra Marshall's Spring Free Edit Contest!

This is a FREE substantial edit that covers plot, pacing, character development, etc., so don't miss out!

It's really easy to enter, just click the link and fill out the form on Cassandra's site.  Paste in a query or a short summary (about 250 words) so she'll know what you're writing about.
Cassandra Marshall

You're allowed to ENTER ONCE PER DAY!

Fill out the form again every time you link or tweet. Include direct links, and if you post somewhere, the post must be about this contest only. One entry per type of post (one twitter status, one blog post, etc) per day. To fill out the form again, refresh the page.

For 10 bonus entries, post her button anywhere on your blog! If you include the button in your blog post, that post is worth 11 entries! If you use the button, make sure you note that the button is included when you fill out the form.

Contest is open worldwide, but has to be in English, since everything is done by email. Contest ends midnight, Monday March 21st!

I'm ready to enter, are you?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Stylish Blogging

Last week Tanya Reimer, over at Life's Like That, awarded me the Stylish Blogger Award.  Thank you Tanya! Tonya had a very cool blog with all kinds of great, informative and entertaining information.  But unfortunately, today I couldn't find her blog so I can't provide a link. Tanya, where did you go? Hope you're starting a new blog, otherwise, you'll be missed in the blogosphere!

As requested by the award, here are seven items about me.  I'm listing a few things I'm passionate about:

1. God
2. My husband
3. My kids
4. Reading
5. Writing
6. Food
7. Staying Fit

Now for the fun part!  Time to pass the Stylish Blogger Award on to some very stylish bloggers:

1.  Jill Kemerer
2.  Austin James
3.  T.C McKee
4.  Catherine Lavoie
5.  Melissa at Through the Looking Glass
6.  Elaine A.M. Smith
7.  Jules at Trying to Get Over the Rainbow
8.  Myne Whitman
9.  Mary Vaughn
10. Lynnette Labelle
11. Norma Beishier
12. William Kendall
13. PK Hrezo
14. Old Kitty
15. The Happy Whisk

Check out these wonderful blogs today and enjoy the wealth of information and entertainment you'll find there! Thanks for visiting and have a great day!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday's Writing Tip: Sometimes It's Okay to Tell and Not Show

Writers have been hearing about the importance of 'showing' for so long that they've begun to forget the value of 'telling'--of exposition, of summary, of omniscient narration." Robert Masello, Robert's Rules of Writing, Rule 12. Tell, Don't Show

This rule sounds contrary to anything most writers have ever read or been taught.  It's of course important to show everything worth showing, such as dramatic interaction and heated dialogue.  But it is acceptable to tell a few things, too.

Utilize the power of description about surroundings, what's going on inside a character's head, or in the world of your story itself. Masello points out the opening of Dickens A Tale of Two Cities, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."  So if Dickens can do it...

Also, things that don't need to be seen don't need to be shown.  Who wants to read about a heroine getting ready for work? We know she'll shower, style her hair, put on makeup, get dressed, make coffee and eat breakfast. 

Only show these things if something important happens to affect the story. Perhaps she slips in the shower and breaks her leg, or spills hot coffee and scalds herself, etc., etc.

Masello mentions something that Elmore Leonard, a master of pacing, once said.  He keeps his books moving briskly along leaving out all the parts readers don't want to read.

Anything in your current WIP that can be told and not shown? Happy writing, and thanks for visiting with me today!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Recipe Friday: Beef Stroganoff

"Any of us would rather kill a cow than not have beef." Samuel Johnson

I must agree with Samuel Johnson! I love beef and here's an easy recipe that'll taste like you've slaved over a hot stove for hours, cooking it to perfection. You guessed correctly, a crock pot version of beef stroganoff.

Impress your spouse, impress your friends with a simple version that takes only minutes to prepare.  This is one of my favorite dishes from Mable Hoffman's Crockery Cookery. Hope you like it!

Beef Stroganoff

2 lbs round steak
1/2 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1 onion, sliced
1/4 t garlic salt
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t paprika
1 (10 1/2 oz.) can condensed beef broth
1 T ketchup
2 T dry red wine
1/4 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
3 T cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 cup sour cream
cooked rice or noodles

Cut steak into 1/4 inch strips.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place steak and onion in slow cooker.  Mix garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, broth and ketchup in a bowl. Pour mixture over steak. Cover and cook on low 6 to 7 hours or until steak is tender.  Turn control to high. Add wine and mushrooms. Dissolve cornstarch in water in small bowl. Add to meat mixture, stirring until blended. Cover and cook on high 15 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Stir in sour cream; turn off heat. Serve with rice or noodles.  Serves 6.

Do you have a favorite beef stroganoff recipe? Thanks for visiting, and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Wednesday Discussion: Are You Going to the Lori Foster Reader and Author Get Together?

Lori Foster

Attending a big conference is an awesome experience, but usually pretty pricey, and sometimes even overwhelming.

If you'd like to attend a smaller, more affordable conference with a big time feel, consider going to Lori Foster's Reader and Author Get Together, June 3-5 in Westchester (near Cincinnati), Ohio.  The conference cost is only $50 and that includes dinner on Friday night, and all three meals on Saturday!

This is the 7th year best selling authors Lori Foster and Dianne Castell, along with Barnes and Noble's Linda Keller, have put together this event for readers and published and aspiring authors. 

Although the conference is geared toward romance writers and readers, the information presented in seminars is useful to all pursuing a writing career.

Take advantage of agent, editor and publisher appointments and learn lots from programs offered regarding marketing, publishing and writing craft!  Hope to see you there!

Think you can come? Please share info on any affordable local writing conferences that take place near you. Thanks for visiting!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday's Writing Tip: Subscribe to Advanced Fiction Writing E-Zine

Randy Ingermanson

"I help turn wannabe writers into gonnabe writers." Randy Ingermanson

If you're not familiar with Randy Ingermanson's, you don't know what you're missing!  Randy is the author of Writing Fiction for Dummies.  He's also known as "The Snowflake Guy" because of this article.  It outlines the way he designs/constructs a novel, by starting small, then building up until it looks like a story. Hence the snowflake metaphor. You start with a paper triangle, then keep cutting until you make a more elaborate design emerge.

Randy, a writer and award winning author of six novels and one non-fiction book, is also a physicist and self proclaimed computer geek.  To learn more about him, click here.

His website is great, and his e-zine is free! It's a monthly publication that provides some great secrets for novelists who want to develop their craft and better market their fiction.  In addition, once you subscribe, you'll also receive his 5 day course entitled "How to Publish A Book," along with his free report on Tiger Marketing.

Visit Randy today and take advantage of all of his great free stuff!  Do you have a favorite writing website that you'd like to plug?  Thanks for stopping by, and happy writing!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Recipe Friday: Chicken Cacciatore

"You don't age while seated for a meal." Italian Food Quote

Italian Food is one of my favorites! Here's a quick and easy recipe for the crock pot that can be thrown together in minutes.  It's from Mable Hoffman's Crockery Cookery. Hope you enjoy it!

Chicken Cacciatore

1 3lb broiler chicken cut up
1 onion, chopped
1 t dried basil
1/2 t lemon pepper
1/4 t salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup rose wine
1 T sugar
1/2 green pepper, sliced
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
Cooked pasta

Combine all ingredients, except mushrooms and pasta in slow cooker.  Cover and cook on Low 5 to 6 hours Tune control to High and add mushrooms. Cover and cook about 10 minutes. Serve over pats. Makes 5-6 servings.

Do you have a favorite Italian meal for the crock pot? Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Wednesday Discussion: How Did He Get Away With That?

"All words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind." Kahlil Gibran

Getting those words published is the hard part! If you're a prepublished writer, have you ever read a book containing all the things we've learned not to do, then wondered, how did he/she get away with that?

I read something not long ago filled with head hopping, cliches and repetition--big no no's, so I've read and been told on numerous occasions! What kinds of things have you run across in published works that you wouldn't dare put in your own?

Please refrain from mentioning specific books or authors.  This is just a fun conversation not meant to offend!

Thanks for visiting, and happy writing!