Some recipes fail

Cheeseburger Muffins – NOT

Not a recipe day. Not a “save time, serve a delicious meal” day. No, not at all. How about a “Forget it. Let’s go to Burger King,” day? 

I had a half pound of hamburger and high hopes. The recipe sounded interesting. The “come on” sounded even better. Oh, yes! Words like, “when we’re dying for a yummy cheeseburger,” and “family favorite!”

I’d started with a pound of hamburger, planning a meatloaf, our personal family favorite. Yummy meal and several cold sandwiches in the future. But I succumbed to another idea. Must admit that was a stretch. Filled pepper. But that’s another story about something we did eat, but don’t plan to try again. Back to today’s disaster. First thing, it took an hour of my time. Second thing, it took a lot of other groceries that could have been better spent. Two eggs, a quarter of a pound of butter, two, count them, two cups of shredded cheese, ketchup, mustard, milk, flour, sugar. Sugar?

The recipe made way more than two of us could eat. (Especially since hubby ate only one.) I soldiered on, not sure why, and ate three. Or was it four? Nope, I’m sure I filled up with three. However, a few of those good words were, “freezes well.” So now I have at least a dozen of those little nuggets of delight in the freezer. Perhaps I’ll serve them to grandchildren, naturally using words like, “a go-to snack when you’re dying for a yummy cheeseburger!” I won’t show them the picture from the recipe book that shows them plump and rosy without those singed edges that resulted from the minimal cook time.

It’s Bazaar Time

11-19 christmas-bazaarI’m gearing up to sell my books at a local Christmas bazaar. Books will be in the minority of products. There will be sewn lovelies, cut felt hangings, hand-made jewelry, paintings, and a variety of decorated items wanting to be under someone’s Christmas tree. There will be commercial booths with candy and goodies galore that may not last until Christmas. (I know, any I buy will suffer that fate.)

Ah, but books? One can partake of their delights and still gift them to others. (That’s what often happen to my holiday purchases. However, one must hold the book only partially open so as not to crack the spine, definitely not dog-ear any pages, and never read while eating anything sticky.)

And after the bazaar? Will I count my money, always assuming I actually sell a few books instead of buying others’ goodies. Well, hopefully. But I’ll go back to promoting my book that is currently available for nomination at Kindle Scout. (You knew I wouldn’t miss that opportunity right now.)

That taken care of, I wonder how many of you participate in Holiday Bazaars. Or, do you suffer (like me), with ambivalent thoughts of—what? It isn’t even Thanksgiving yet.

Do You NaNoWriMo?


I should, I really should. NaNoWriMo, I mean. I’m between books, I have a pretty good sized kernel of an idea, and…it is the season. But, I probably won’t.

Make that, I should, I really should. I can do it, I really can. Fifty thousand words toward a new manuscript. How appealing is that? A big boost on creativity. And…it is the season.

But, I’m in the midst of working toward getting the completed one published. I’ve just committed to a rejuvenating critique group. I’m finalizing a couple of short stories. Thanksgiving is coming. November is a short month as it is (by one day, but who’s counting).

Maybe I can get all that done next week and start NaNo late. (You know, do the Scarlet option and think about it tomorrow.)

The first time I NaNoed I piled up just over the fifty thousand words.

Yeah, but the second time I really tanked.

But, but, that idea didn’t really pan out. And I successfully completed a mini-NaNo last July. Doesn’t that count?

At this stage, I must admit, I start all over at the top with the same arguments.

I think I’ll stay in Scarlet-land for a while. After all, it is a whole two more days until November.

How about you? Will you NaNoWriMo this year?

Lazy Autumn Day

autumn leavesWe’ve had a cold snap. The tree leaves are turning almost a bright red. (Some years they are more yellow, others a dingy brown.) It’s warmer than it has been for days. Who wants to sit inside to write?

Anybody? Hands raised? Ummm. Okay, let’s stroll outside in the autumn sunshine. It will be winter soon.

Letters to the Editor

Years ago a local woman regularly contributed to our newspaper’s11-15 writing letters page. Her pieces were well written and thought out. She wasn’t political or addicted to any organization or movement. She looked around, listened, made decisions and shared her viewpoint. If she missed a week, other writers wondered what happened to her. Definitely an institution, and the readership mourned her death. Sometimes a new scribe turned up, but it isn’t the same. For one, now the paper won’t publish any one person more than once a month. There must be other reasons. Perhaps they have other avenues of expression. Perhaps some are now bloggers with followers.

Sometimes I write to my newspaper. Once it was about a way out-dated front-page piece on medical procedures. (Something about it made me look up the original report cited. I learned it was compiled seven years before from queries compiled in the previous ten years and included the comment that it was deemed unreliable.) Some years ago it was more apt to involve absent coverage of our local school district activities (where my children were involved, naturally).

Not often, but occasionally, I’ll comment on something political. If I do, I’ll sign my name differently than I sign anything to do with my writing. That’s because, with the internet picking up everything, I once discovered my comment over a local issue right there, with my name, for everyone with a computer to see.

Okay, that’s good, right? Get your name out, can’t be bad. Except, the way I see it, our country is almost evenly divided, and very partisan. In fact, I see the same division within my friends and family. We all know which is which. We might even discuss our differences amicably. But that never happens in print. Don’t know why. Maybe it’s the newspaper with their unfunny cartoons lampooning both sides. It drives a wedge through a country that calls itself United. And, viewing all that angst, people take sides. They could easily say, “If she thinks that, I’m certainly not going to buy her books.” And who wants to alienate half of their possible readership?

So, do you write letters to the editor? Actually, I still do. Not often, I have other writing that calls me.

A Good Writing Day

Breakthrough! This morning’s writing gave me the ending for my short story. Needs fine-tuning, of course. It is a little different than I usually write—historic, long short, if that makes sense. You see, Forgotten Body, the sequel to Yesterday’s Body, takes place at a reenactment of the War of 1812 on Chesapeake Bay. The amateur sleuth in the story, Jo, wonders what her life would have been like in the nineteenth century. She’s in her late fifties, an unmarried survivor of two bad marriages. Would wife and mother have been her only options? Of course not, but what else would she do?

Originally, I started putting little snippets of an historic story in the larger mystery. But, they really didn’t fit. So, you might say, what I was working on today is an out-take of the book, rather like the out-takes they often show from movies or TV shows. And, for a while there, the story didn’t seem to have a future. Today was the breakthrough that I needed. I now have an historic romance (not mystery) of around 20 pages. A bit long for the usual short story, but I have plans for this one and another long-short I’ve completed—a prequel to Yesterday’s Body that is a mystery.

So, short story-long, it’s a good day in my world.

Testing The New Software

I got a new computer more than a year ago. I’d added software to the old computer to download pictures from my camera. No problem, I’d just shove that disc in the new omputer to transfer the software. Except—it didn’t work with Windows 7. Who knew that would have been a problem? But, some day, I’d figure it out. Sure I would.

But I didn’t.

I resisted taking pictures. Hey, I could download any that friends or family e-mailed me. The big snow we had last winter? Well, I did take some picture of that, but they sat on my camera.

Finally, I bought a new program, highly rated, in fact, number one for 2015. Geez, why did I do that? I have no idea how to use it. That takes study, time spent away from writing. But…

Hey, I’ll try downloading my camera. Shoot a few more images. I walked out my back door (since our house is on a hill, the porch is more of a balcony) and stand with my head practically in the trees. It’s one of my favorite places, with one of my favorite views. (I wonder, was I a bird in some past life?)

2014-1 021Now, to prove I’ve mastered the first basic lesson of my new software, I’ll display one of the pictures right here.

And now, to illustrate how long those 2014-1 010pictures have been in the camera, I’ll show an earlier photo taken from nearly the same spot. See those bare branches on the right? That’s the same tulip poplar tree shown above.

So that’s my latest new software. I’m hoping to do wonderful things, eventually, with my pictures. I’m a camera buff from way back. Just don’t ask me anything about cell phones that only incidentally make telephone calls.

Art In The Attic

A son visits his father.

A son visits his father.

The drawings on the wall of a third floor storage room have been there for over one hundred years. As the house passed through different owners, one promise was made—leave the pictures alone. They are pencil drawings, made by two boys who lived with their mother in the rented house. Some of them depict their older brother, Leo Hauck, who was a champion boxer.

How did this all get on the front page of my local newspaper? The current homeowner was curious. She asked questions and discovered a few amazing connections. Three of Leo’s children survive and live locally. Peggy, age 100, and Eddie, age 94, didn’t walk up the stairs to see their father as a young boxer. Joe, age 80, lives less than a mile away. He and his daughter visited the third-floor drawings and were amazed.

As a writer, I always think, what if? What if any one of the owners of the house had painted over those pictures? What if, the house was remodeled and windows replaced a wall? What if the area had been zoned for renewal and the place torn down and became a parking lot? What if none of those happened, but the connection was never made?

Joe Hauck was thirteen when his father died. He knew he’d been a fighter. He’d known those uncles who drew the pictures as children. He knew his father started boxing as a flyweight at age fourteen. He knew he was known as the “Lancaster Thunderbolt,” and often as Leo Houck due to a misspelled promotional piece. Joe’s father, who successfully boxed in every weight up to heavyweight (as he grew) is named in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Now Joe knows a bit more.

To see more pictures and the complete article, check out this link in LNP Newspapers.

Discovering Character-And Other Things

I should know Jo, my main character by now—I’ve just completed final edits of the second mystery, plus a short story prequel. But she continues to surprise me. I’ve been resisting.

Why? Hey, she and I started out the same age with the same childhood memories, but our personalities and life experiences are different. Over the years that I wrote and rewrote that first mystery, I aged, while Jo kept getting younger. By the time a small press said, “Is your manuscript still available? We want it,” I was nearly eighty and she was somewhere in her late sixties (never specifically stated).

As I started the sequel, I thought, 61. Yeah, sounds about right. But, as I wrote, I decided, maybe late 50s. That’s old enough to have the history I’d supplied. Some of those memories could be from Grandma, or a parent. Or, she’s into old stuff. Then I added a TV reference I remember watching with my kids. My kids are mostly in their 50s. So I wrote away, deciding she was that age. But, I still  had those ‘old’ references. Jo described herself as old in a variety of ways. I do not think of my 50s daughters as old. They do not look old. Perhaps—I just didn’t think.

Until, I saw an article about Valerie Bertinelli with her cookbook.8-13 Bertinelli cover She’s 55. Yoiks! How can that be? I remember her on TV as a teenager. I’m realizing that fifty is definitely the new thirty. Finally, I have an image of my fifty-something Jo—maybe not a beauty, definitely not a Valerie twin, but certainly not a hag. And a whole new image of my market. And the possible cover. And possibly a redo of the first cover. And, definitely, a redo of Jo’s attitude. She’s been much too laid back about the guy who’d like to know her much better. I mean, let’s have a little chemistry there.

And maybe I’ll try Valerie’s recipes. (I do love to cook!)



Do You Tweet?

Some days I tweet, some days I don’t. Today, for some reason, I put up several tweets on different subjects. I linked them to my blog, or to an Amazon site. I can’t say if Amazon got any clicks, but my blog got a couple. They were about books—nothing about any of mine, but comments about other books and favorite books. Did a clicker then go to the other books’ Amazon sites, maybe buy a book? I don’t know.

_Fish or Cut Bait coverSpeaking of tweeting, those of us who contributed to the Fish or Cut Bait anthology decided to tweet and retweet other’s promotions. I’ve done so a couple of times. But, there are so many tweets flying by, I haven’t seen any to retweet. (And that’s another thing I’m unable to check for any kind of benefit.)

I like to add pictures to my tweets, a book cover, usually. Does that make a tweet more noticeable? Probably. Or, does the reader just get tired of seeing so many, often the same picture repeatedly? Yeah, I’m sure that happens too.

I’m not all that savvy to use Tweet Deck or any such program. I’ve tried a couple, unsuccessfully. So, I’m not a tweet expert. I tweet in the dark, you might say.

How about you? Shall we just bumble along together?