After working all my life with five children and a husband who liked to eat but had no imagination for cooking I came up with necessary ways around tedious meal preps without skimping on taste or appeal.
This is one of those meals.
6 sweet peppers (red, green, or yellow…or all or any combination thereof)
16 oz. tomato sauce (Italian style)
3 clove minced garlic
1 medium onion
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 lb package of mozzarella cheese cut into 1 inch squares
Chinese cooked white rice
1 lb. chopped meat
I don’t know about you but I don’t eat the Chinese white rice I get with my Chinese food order. I love fried rice so I usually order that. What can you do with the white rice? I began freezing it. One day I was out of rice when I thought to make stuffed peppers, then I remembered my stash in the freezer. I defrosted it and mixed it with my chopped meat, added two eggs, seasonings (oregano, basil, pepper, sauteed onions and garlic), four ounces of the canned tomato sauce, and a little parmesan cheese…blending well. Wash and cut the peppers in half, lengthwise, and clean out the seeds then stuff them with the meat mixture. Put them in a glass casserole dish and press a chunk or two of mozzarella cheese into the middle of the meat and rice mixture. Finally, pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the top of them., cover with aluminum foil and cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for forty-five minutes. Between prep and cook time this one dish meal is ready to eat with a red or white wine in under an hour.
I have a love/hate relationship with dialogue in general: I love reading it when it’s written well.
When I’m writing it, I don’t want to pause during the mental conversations that my characters are engaged in long enough to add tags or description. Hey, the conversation is in progress–no interruptions allowed, except from the characters. But without narrative something is lacking. Long dialogue passages frustrate and leave me unsatisfied. I’m frustrated reading scenes when I can’t figure out who is speaking, or being unable to identify where or when the dialogue is taking place.
When I’m reading scenes, including dialogue, I want to be in the moment, but it takes precise design to create clarity. Who is speaking? What sort of words do the characters use? How high pitched or deep is the character’s voice? Where are the characters? What does the location feel like? Look like? Smell like? Sound like? How are the characters moving? Acting? Gesturing? What is the point of view character thinking? When a scene can draw all that together…now that is a dialogue scene I want to read.
Things to check:
He saids/she saids may be necessary to keep from confusing the reader, especially when there are more than two characters. Name them or characterize them. Characterizing is a way of defining a character with an accent, favorite movement, affectation, or phrase. Always read through your dialogue to ensure the flow is clear, readable, understandable, and that it makes sense. Make certain a response isn’t too far from the original question or comment.
Mixing narrative with dialogue? Wonderful. Be careful not to interrupt too much of the interactive dialogue. Keep narrative limited to short descriptive actions until there is a natural breaking point to add more detailed narrative or deep point of view. Then when appropriate, begin interactive dialogue again.
So August is well established and I need to make a mark to claim 2018! This could be it…
I’m looking at houses while waiting for a buyer for my place. God help me, yesterday I wanted to establish a buyer application. Title it: Are you qualified to buy this home?
Will you appreciate the trees.? Allow the frogs and lizards and bunnies to live unmolested?
The concerns go on and on. At what point did my relationship with this property turn from being a landowner to being the caretaker? A steward?
Can you risk selling your memories to a stranger who may not appreciate them? A tree you planted in memory of a birth? A bush to commemorate an anniversary? The house you can change but the living things here on this land depend on me to protect them. I respect their lives and independence so much that when we added on to the house, I moved the trees. They are thirty years older and much larger than they once were but they are my friends. I hope I find a buyer who will appreciate their cooling shade and constant presence.
Those of you who have been reading my blog probably know I’ve been talking about this for several years. One of my daughters is a realtor in CO so thankfully I can get tips from her.
The big question everyone asks is where we plan to go. We have no plans, just ideas.
Plagued with the maladies of aging, my husband and I quickly discovered we weren’t capable of doing what we used to. That’s a mind-blowing, daunting realization if you haven’t experienced it yet. Nevertheless, there were repairs and changes we wanted to make, but the house had ideas of its own, too. The old grand dame needed sprucing up. She needed to shed some bloat: ie yard and attic cleanup. Thirty years of accumulated “stuff” ended up being packed away or in storage, dumped or donated.
The old gal needed updating so we started with ” lipstick and make-up” in the kitchen. I wanted to make certain to keep the asking price within a realistic range so everything had to be in working order and in a livable condition with room to add personal touches of their own. I didn’t want to make expensive additions or decisions for the next family, but I thought it should have upgraded carpet and new granite counters in the kitchen. The appliances worked: the dishwasher and microwave were new, the stovetop would last a few more years, and the double oven is self-cleaning and in excellent shape. Both central AC units have been replaced within the last couple of years. The roof is brand new. So the bones of the house are good, sturdy, reliable.
What next? The next family have options to make it theirs and room to do it in. The one acre private lot in the heart of the county is accessible to the best schools and medical services. It’s not in the incorporated city and not in a gated community with HOA rules and fees. The layout is large and the rooms flexible. The place is comfortable, roomy, and, best of all, light, yet it still bursts with more untapped potential.
I originally took a 2K square foot ranch style home and designed it into a 4K square foot modern style, multi-level, open plan, and yet I can still visualize so many other options. After thirty years of maintenance, makeovers, and makeup, the right family will be pleased to liven up the once popular neighborhood gathering place again. The walls miss the sound of kids and teens and dogs barking. The pool misses the splashing and music. The yard misses the soccer balls and wedding tents, baby swings and tree forts. It’s time for someone to build that wooden walk among the tress along the creek and a gazebo in the front by the pond.
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Join Me in My Secret Reading Room
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Even after purging the attic and closets twice there are boxes built up in the garage. Until we decide where and what we will live in, it’s impossible to know what we’ll keep and what we’ll give away.
I’m checking out RV living but where will I store all the stuff?
I’ve shown the house twice but it will take just the right family to be the perfect fit.
The day after a book release we sit and count the comments and bite our nails hoping this experiment works. It’s not about the money (Though who wouldn’t be excited about that?) It’s about the approval.
Writing is like giving someone a gift. You hope it’s a good choice. That they like it. That they can use it. That it’s exactly what they need at that particular moment.
I read Nora Roberts Whiskey Creek recently and gave out a sigh on the first page remembering why I enjoy reading her writing so much. It felt like coming home.
That’s why I enjoy writing. I want to give someone that experience of melting into my book. Escape from the moment.
I next turned to JR Ward’s The Chosen. Again, different author, different style, different genre…still that wonderful moment of escape. Relaxation. My drug of choice is reading.
This weekend, try something I wrote just for you. You can find something to take you away on my Amazon Author page.
I’ve been noticeably absent from my blog and the truth is I missed posting here. This is where my mind spills random thoughts I have had over night. Sorry, sometimes they’re worthwhile and sometimes not. This week I hope I can provide you with something useful. Everyone either has a job, a child, a sport, or an interest they can write about. I thank the brilliant people who share how to’s on YouTube. We look up everything there. I could probably do open heart surgery following a heart surgeon video.
SO I’m thinking about adding my how to #selfedit lessons to YouTube. SO now there’s a whole new learning curve for me and another social media nut to crack. I write fiction and I love doing it. But if I spend all my down time researching, it will reduce my productivity.
Last weekend I attended a social media workshop I found extremely helpful. I think this is the second time I’ve gone to this one and just one of many Each time I learn something new. Each time I discover how many things have changed since the last time I attended a class on the subject. And within a few days I practice what I’m comfortable with and avoid branching out. I can tweak what I know without the hours of R&D I’ll need for a new venture.
I have a very old Twitter account. This week I had a better idea of what and why I was doing some things. I have an old Pinterest account that I like because I saved all the pretty pictures, and occasionally check out hot guys for inspiration. I am Eliza March and I like hot men. There you know my weak spot. I do not know squat about how Pinterest can be used for promotional purposes. I get the idea at first…but when I try to visualize what to do…poof…nadda.
Facebook is a bain on my peace of mind, sanity, and my ability to control my opinions… and I believe on most of their users too. I’ve been on it so long…I get it. Then I don’t. Then I do, then I don’t. If you’re anything like me, you don’t like being played. I could give you an arm’s length list of companies I deal with daily that are playing with my mind and my life. How do you trust any corporation in this day and time? I’m beginning to suffer from borderline #conspiracy theorist issues. Should I accept my $29.00 (not a real figure) royalty check and keep my mouth shut? I want more. I’m tired of being invisible, suffocated beneath other books, and authors buying reviews, promoters with money, algorithms and bots.
How can I help you? Apparently, those of us who band to together, and share information with each other, and help each other, and inspire each other can pull ourselves up the ladder and drag a few others with us. The stronger you are the more you should pull up with you. Never forget that someone helped you up too. We need each other more than you can ever imagine until that day come when you put your hand up and there’s no one there to rescue you.
Detail has a purpose. It should provide something to the story. It should do something to the reader. The picture I used for my page has that romantic couple in a sexy pose. But in describing it, can you as an writer describe the scene accurately to draw a reader response? It makes me think of a sandy beach (yet it’s a wooden floor, reminiscent of Dirty Dancing) perhaps because of the way the light strikes the two characters. I think heat.
I remember the way the sun feels against my skin as it soaks in, the way it also heats me from the inside without the need for a kiss. Has he just finished kissing her or is he about to kiss her? The sensations before and after are different, and depending on expectation and circumstance, so are the emotions and response. In describing this moment, an author will know which words to choose to evoke the exact reaction intended from the reader.
Can you imagine the moment leading up to this point? Can you begin to imagine what comes next? Everything depends on story. Characters react to story. Having a plot in mind puts the characters in the story, then knowing your characters well determines how they will react. They have options if they’re three dimensional characters, so they may surprise you, and also the reader, with their reaction. How will he touch her? Where? What does he want? What keeps him from taking what he wants? Maybe he will. maybe he won’t. Details like background noises may define the moment. Maybe an interruption sends them into hiding…everything depends on what’s in the author’s head…and where the story has been as well as where the plot is going.
Think about this when you add detail. What he’s wearing or not wearing can set a scene for what comes next. With both of them scantily clad, sexual tension can elevate quickly, especially if they are forced into close proximity. Does he hear her breathing heavily? Does she notice perspiration form on his forehead? “Showing” these details makes “telling” the reader the obvious unnecessary, but it does put the reader in the scene and into the story.
Remember the books that frightened you? I had to take breaks while reading The Shining by Stephen King, I could “not” breathe. Normally, writers give the readers time to breathe between scary scenes. Not King.
Remember the books that turned you on? The one that comes to mind for me wasn’t an erotic book; it was a suspense…All the Queen’s Men by Linda Howard. I was on a plane and deep into the dangerous scene of the book, when the sensual tension began to build. OMG danger and suspense and sex! I was seated in an aisle seat in business class surrounded by men. Lost in the story, I must have been holding my breath because when I finally exhaled, the man across the aisle turned around, winked, and asked, “That good huh?” I flushed to the roots of my hair. But “yes” it was that good, and I immediately bought one of those paperback book covers to hide my choice of titles in the future. (Although that cover had had nothing on it but chess pieces, I wasn’t ready to get teased over something like Fabio’s chest. It’s nothing to laugh at!) Getting lost in the details is a reader’s pleasure and the author’s job. Authors must draw the picture, set the scene, create the mood, string the reader out until they want to scream in pleasure or fear, or cry or laugh, or clap and cheer. Emotion is key. If an author can make you feel something…the job is done. Details create sensations that develop the emotions. Make certain the details you choose move the story forward. Set the stage for the scene.
The original post was awhile back but it resonates today with man’s inability to connect with nature.
JUNE 17, 2007
Although I don’t know why, the place wasn’t what I was expecting. When I first glimpsed it as we drove over the rise, I felt a moment’s disappointment. It stood starkly gray out in a farmer’s sunny field. I shouldn’t have been surprised at the way it didn’t impress. What was I looking for? Even I don’t know what I anticipated that day —
Druids pacing? Lightning flashing? Magick?
DECIDING it was a normal place, after all — nothing spectacular beyond its impressive size, I recognized it as just another tourist trap. Like the rest, there were mugs, books, miscellaneous souvenirs and food for sale. Digging in with all the others, I bought a mug and a sandwich. Then I picked up the electronic hand piece and listened to the taped program as I walked the circular path around Stonehenge. I took pictures with my digital camera, listened carefully to the narrative.
THEN something happened. I became engrossed with the ancient history. The information was interesting and informative, but something else happened–this place was far from ordinary. The monolithe was deceptive standing innocently out there in the unusual bright English day. The Stones stood proudly alone, warming in the sun, massive in an open field with tourists munching sandwiches and cameras all a-flutter. But there was something more.
IT was old, it was ancient, it was powerful. It spoke to me. It was more than the story on tape, more than large stones hiding their secret mystery of how they appeared in the stoneless region. Their mystical force engulfed me as I walked the circle, listening, looking, searching, learning. I was drawn back to a long-gone time when wizards were all-powerful and Mother Earth ruled. In that time, Man took care with Nature, respected and cajoled it. But when Man left the pagan temples to tumble and halted the blood sacrifices of old to sacrifice Mother Earth to our gluttonous needs, things changed. Now Man plunders Her and lays waste to Her bounty.
STANDING outside the aged stones, I felt the call to battle.
GLOBAL Warming is a unique and imminent possibility. Is it an eventual reality? Will the dark salty waves of the North Atlantic soon lap over the lowly terrain where Druids stood? Will the great Stonehenge be nothing more than a pile of rocks standing against the pounding waves of the North Sea?
WHEN I returned home I printed my photos and fixed tea in my souvenir mug. The images all had blue ghosts surrounding the stone where the sacrifices were believed to have taken place. I reached for the mug and it shifted toward my hand.
That wasn’t the first or
the last time the ghosts appear in appropriate places in my pictures. In Italy, they appeared on the pictures I took of the portraits of St. George (who looks surprising like like my youngest son). So no matter what you believe a little meditation in ancient places can’t help but to ground you into good thoughts and good deeds. Have a wonderful weekend.
I’ve done both with a number of books, and though I thought I preferred the independence of self-publishing, and still do at times, I am leaning toward mixing it up again. I like the support of a small press and the comradery of having other authors in the stable who are willing to cross promote and bolster me up when I need advice. writing is a solitary undertaking, but promoting and dealing with the business of writing doesn’t have to be.
A publisher with a good track record, who is a good fit for you, can be your best asset. My needs were much different years ago when I started than they are now. Yet both publishers I began with each serves a different purpose for my writing needs now, and both are not only still in business, but successful and well thought of in the industry. That’s saying something in these times. I also recently published with a third small press and am excited to announce I’m thoroughly pleased with the team I worked with. Being part of another supportive group, specializing in the genre I write, has been a pleasure.
The trick is finding the right fit. I like a quick turn around on correspondence and edits. I like easy access to the team I work with. I like flexibility and custom service. If I need more than two rounds of edits…let’s do it! I want input on my cover and the marketing plan. I want to be able to participate. Some companies don’t work that way. Some authors don’t have any interest in working that way. It’s all about finding what works for you and your career.
My self-publishing experience has afforded me the flexibility to adjust with the market. In an industry of change and shifting markets, we need to adjust quickly and research to be prepared for the next wave. I like testing the market to see what works. In the process, I’ve found thinking ahead of the curve is a crap-shoot. As fast as we adjust things shift. So writing to please yourself is the best answer because…you can’t please everyone.
The downside to self-publishing is the number of hats I have to wear unless I want to hire someone to do them. Then there’s the cost. Once again, the loss of a certain amount of control. Waiting for someone else to do the work. Hoping they have the same vision…
And finally, the time-consuming time away from writing.
I’m considering a co-op of stable writers who want to form a group. Not only can we write together, we can write apart and still be there for each other. It’s been done before and may be my answer.
When I can’t depend on SMASHWORDS’ meatgrinder to accept my old formats…I need another set of eyes and a ton of suggestions. Thank goodness for GOOGLE search.
No. I mean a real tip. You know…money? I’m thinking about all the free books authors give away and call it advertising expense. Sometimes I get a really good book and think, perhaps I should give the author a tip. I could buy the next book, but that isn’t really expressing the value of the book I just read. So I rate it five stars and write gushing reviews. Still I feel something is missing. I see SMASHWORDS has an option under pricing for the reader to choose their own price. Anyone tried that? Reader? Author? I’m curious. Given the choice, how many or which books would you pay for? How about an option to TIP the author for an excellent read?
Instead of T-I-P (TO INSURE PROMPTNESS) satisfied readers could give extra TO INSURE PLEASURE? or PERFECTION? Or we could just insert a DONATION button. I’ve seen them on blogs (idea).
What about the ones when we can’t get past the first chapter? I’m all for emojis but I always seem to feel an emotion they haven’t developed a face for. A middle finger could work well for so much, but some would be offended. Nope. Not a good idea. Rudeness is available everywhere lately. If you can’t say something nice…don’t SAY anything, don’t TIP. don’t DONATE or leave a REVIEW. “NO” review speaks volumes. “BAD” reviews make you sound like a TROLL. I’m voting for tipping. If it’s a FIVE + STAR book, the only thing left is a TIP. For me? I’m okay if you buy my other books — I won’t be offended.
I started this thought, tongue in cheek, but it’s beginning to sound good. Where is that emoji for the face I’m making right now? Eh?
Oh and in case you haven’t signed up for my NEWSLETTER yet…now would be a good time. NO SPAMMING. In fact, unless I have something to offer you like a FREE book or a BIG DISCOUNT or a chance to WIN something … or tell you a SECRET no one knows about yet … I won’t bother you. I will give you my email address so you can contact me back with suggestions. Or just leave them here. I get them.
The link to sign up below will ask you what genres you prefer.
Sometimes it’s hard to decide. I think you can pick them all.