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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wedding Horror Stories and a Bridesmaid Short Story on sale!

My honey Bruce and I at our niece's ceremony, fun, but a little damp!

June, the month of brides and weddings, just ended. Whew. We attended my niece's ceremony in a tiny town outside of Austin. A delightful time, although my niece worried because of what happened while the minister was giving the vows. We were out in a large tent and an enormous thunderstorm blew through, emphasizing the minister's words with thunderclaps and great rumblings, as if the skies objected. The rain managed to find every single crack and hole in that tent, dousing a number of people, including the groom! Upsetting to the bride until Bruce mentioned that this would be a memorable occasion and a great story.
In honor of all those June wedding disasters, The Bridesmaid Wore Stains is on sale for only 99 cents until July 4th! Get your copy here.

So dear readers, let me know in the comments your tales of weddings past, present and maybe future?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Carrot Cake Muffin Recipe, A Free Cookbook, and a Link to Bottlecap Jewelry Making! Summer Fun!

Hopefully this kinda unappetizing photo of a Carrot Cake Muffin will give you a smile, for this Smile Power Day! Recipe follows.

It's time for summer fun, so let's start out with what to take on a picnic. These muffins are gluten, soy, egg and dairy free and delicious, I promise! They also travel and freeze well.

Gluten Free, Egg Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free Carrot Cake Muffins

Crusty outside, moist inside

Makes 6 good sized muffins

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups gluten free flour mix (consistency will differ a little depending on mix)
¼ cup dark brown sugar or molasses (muffins will not be very sweet, can add more sugar if you prefer, molasses will make a bit sticky)
2 teas bicarbonate of soda
2 teas baking powder
2-3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¾  to 1 cup food processed until fine carrots
½ cup sultana raisins (may be omitted, I always omit these because I don’t like raisins in food)
1 cup nuts, walnuts or pecans (may be omitted)
¼ cup vegetable oil (coconut oil works best)
 2 teas apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
1 cup applesauce plus ¼ cup coconut, almond, cashew or rice milk
2-3 teas vanilla

Directions:
Add the ingredients into a mixing bowl in the same order as listed.
Mix well. Mixture will not be terribly thin, if it is add flour
Place muffin papers in a large muffin pan.
Scoop mixture into papers until well filled. Gently tap down until you have a imperfect “muffin top.”
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.



More easy, cheap and "regular" dessert recipes can be found in The Mall Fairies Sweet Tooth Recipes, along with short stories of the fairies from my Mall Fairies  series FREE today only here.

Bottle Cap Jewelry are fast, cheap and easy to make gifts, here are a few ideas for Christmas ones.

Visit my post on Lois Winston's blog Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers for how to make cheap, easy bottle cap jewelry, great for summer fun for kids and adults alike! Lois is the editor of Bake, Love, Write: 105 Authors Share Dessert Recipes and Advice on Love and Writing. On page 99, you'll find my recipe for Soda Cracker Pie, another easy recipe and cool and delicious for those long hot summer nights!

Enjoy! Celebrate! And what's your favorite thing about summer?
.
   


Saturday, June 6, 2015

Rejections, Schmections, They Often Don't Mean a Thing!

The logo for our publishing company, Barbarian Books.

When my partner and I first opened our publishing company, I figured I wouldn't learn all that much about the publishing world. After all, my career spanned decades and I've sold to/dealt with all sorts/levels of publishers.

Wrong, so wrong. It's different being on the other side, especially in terms of truly understanding what publishers actually mean when they say things like, "Rejections shouldn't be taken too seriously." As an author, I'd think, "Yeah, right." As a publisher I think, "Yeah right."

After recently teaching a class about the publishing world, I realized how seriously most authors take those horrid "sorry, but we won't take it," and how desperate they were for "feedback from the publisher so that they can fix the problem."

There's three reasons authors don't get feedback from publishers. I've loosely ranked them from least important to most important (and you may disagree):

1.  Publishers simply don't have time for personal rejections.
Barbarian Books is a quite small publisher, with a very limited focus as we publish genre fiction in eBook format only. We still get 100 to 200 submissions a month, with about 10 percent of those worth consideration, which is a lovely high percentage, but means we're considering as many as 240 manuscripts a year. 
All submissions, 1200 to 2400 a year, must be processed and responded to as well. As one of my author friends noted, "That's a full time job in and of itself." We don't have an employee who only does this job.
We don't have time for personal rejections. There are a few exceptions when we'll send a rejection with some notes about the manuscript. This is always when the submission needs, in our opinion (see the most important #3), a little tweaking, just has minor problems, because... 

2. It's not the publisher's job to teach authors how to write.
This is a hard one for  newbie authors because of the belief that the publishers are a resource in the process of writing, instead of being where an author sells their finished product. Publishers are businesses, not writing instructors. They are only looking for well-written, well-edited manuscripts to sell.
I think part of the confusion is from the oft quoted, "When you have learned how to write, written, edited, and had beta readers critique your manuscript, then submit it. If several publishers comment on the same problem then perhaps you should address that as a problem in your work." Many new authors only hear: If several publishers comment on the same problem then perhaps you should address that as a problem in your novel.
Now, this doesn't mean that you, as an author, should obsess and try to make your work perfect. (The difference between perfect and done is the subject for another post.) It will never be perfect, even when published. And there are a great many pitfalls to even attempting to do so, of which one of the biggest is...

3. Often, it's a completely subjective rejection and there's nothing to fix.
This harkens back to rejections not being taken seriously. If a manuscript is at the level of being well-written, with a writer who knows all the basics and beyond, then most if not all of a rejection is subjective.
For example, I love mysteries. I've always been a reader of mysteries and now write a mystery series. I have very strong likes and dislikes when it comes to mysteries that are completely personal and totally eccentric. So I have "rejected" some mysteries simply because they are not to my taste!

So dear authors, please try to avoid endless angst over the rejections you receive.

Questions? Comments? I'd love to hear what you think!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

My Bridesmaid Romance Story on SALE, Plus Happy Rocky Road Day with a recipe!

Now on sale for 99 cents for a limited time only! Get my humorous romance, The Bridesmaid Wore Stains, now here!

 My publisher and I, in honor of June brides, has placed The Bridesmaid Wore Stains on sale, in which will Kat's trademark clumsiness condemn her to a bridesmaid's worst nightmare? Enjoy!

But wait, there's more...in honor of today, Rocky Road Day, here's an easy, fast and cheap recipe for Rocky Road Bites, with how to make it dairy, soy and egg free as well. Who knows, the bride of The Bridesmaid Wore Stains may very well have served this at her wedding! She's that kind of gal.


Rocky Road Cups


These Rocky Road Cups are ooey-gooey delicious and for that reason work best in cupcake or muffin papers. Although licking your fingers is not only allowed but encouraged.

Makes six, may be doubled.

Ingredients:
1 cup milk chocolate morsels or dairy and soy free chocolate morsels
1 cup mini marshmallows, check to make sure they are egg, dairy and soy free
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped with fairly big pieces

Directions:
Place large cupcake papers into a large muffin tin.
In a saucepan, slowly melt chocolate on low heat. Or place in a microwave bowl and melt slowly by microwaving for 30 seconds at a time for about a minute and a half, stirring between times. Do not overcook. If in a saucepan, stir constantly to avoid scorching and burning the chocolate. It will turn grainy and nasty if overcooked. Trust me, I’ve done it.
When melted beat until smooth.
Stir in marshmallows and walnuts or pecans.
Spoon by generous tablespoons into cupcake papers. The Rocky Road mixture will be irregular in shape—that’s part of the fun.
Chill to harden. I leave the cups in the fridge or freezer and take out one by one and let soften for a few minutes before eating. Will last for a week to 10 days, I think, in the fridge and longer in the freezer. I say I think because they never last that long! Sometimes it's difficult to wait until they set up!

And everyone, what are some other holidays you enjoy celebrating?



Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day Memories and a New Recipe Book with Old Fashioned Recipes

A Virtual Bouquet for Memorial Day

Memorial Day, a perfect time to remember...and here's one of my favorite memories and the recipe that came from it!

My mom was raised during the Great Depression by her British-born mom. So growing up, I got used to many of her recipes being from cheap ingredients. And quick and easy to prepare, as my mom worked full time and then some in our art gallery, the first in Sun Valley. Slumgullion, the Scots-Irish word for mixed up leftovers, was my mom’s favorite dish to prepare, despite inedible disaster often being a result. She hated to “waste” food, no matter what the state the food happened to be in, including that of waste. This is why my dad always said that nothing ever came out of our refrigerator unless it crawled out on its own. In self defense, I learned very early on how to cook and bake. Nowadays I often thank Mom for her terrible cooking.
            One of the things I learned early on is that there are several ways to make slumgullion without it tasting (and immediately being) garbage. If you just follow a few simple rules then you might find yourself making a delicious slumgullion often and well! And saving food, time and money!

Dear Readers, what are your Memorial Day memories?
 

Yummy Slumguillion!

SLUMGULLION RULES

Think of like with like and ingredients you'd use together in dishes. For example, I often take leftover chili (steak, chili sauce, and tomatoes), leftover Mexican casserole (hamburger, corn, chilies and carrots) and leftover pasta and combine. I promise it’s yummy, although may look odd...as illustrated above.

If you have a lot of one leftover and a little of another, but not quite enough to make a meal, consider another item that would combine well with your ingredients. I might add beans or some spaghetti squash to the recipe above. Or add a side dish too, a salad perhaps.

Avoid mixing too strong of flavors, sweets and sours, for example. If my character from my Starke Dead mystery series, Aunt Maddie, was making the chili/Mexican/pasta slumgullion above, she'd add apple pie! Okay, an extreme example, but Aunt Maddie is pretty extreme herself. Also avoid too many different added spices. Both these mistakes will make the food taste strange and murky and possibly not like food at all.

If you have "simple" leftovers, such as cooked vegetables and chicken, consider which spices to use and try different ones for a "refreshed" dish. (I might use coriander, thyme and pepper for the vegetables and chicken, for example.)

Avoid mixing tomatoes, vinegar or lemon juice with peas, green beans and/or broccoli as the green vegetables will turn brown and bitter.

One last trick: You can always pour gravy over everything, yum, or use the gravy as a base for a refreshed slumgullion soup, yum!

Readers, questions, suggestions, tales of culinary disaster?

A flyer for a booksigning of Family Recipes from the Snake River Plain, which includes my slumguillion recipe and other great recipes from great cooks, fry sauce, dream cake, zucchini rounds, but you can get a copy today here! Enjoy!




Monday, May 4, 2015

Leave Politics, Agendas and Rants Out of Your Public Social Media: A Rant

All proceeds from sales of Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing go to libraries!

The newest publication I'm in, Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing, inspired me to this rant.

Nowadays if you're an author selling titles you have to be on social media. But there are some guidelines if you want to have a good effect, i.e. have people buy your books, when you are using Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.

A major one: be professional and share only content that would be interesting/funny/informative to your public audience. Or at least not annoying.

Or to put it another way: if you are using social media in an "I'm an author" public way then no proselytizing of any kind about politics, religion or any agenda. No rants, she says ranting.

There's one simple reason for this. It turns potential readers off.

How can you know what the impact of any post will be? It turns readers off quickly if they don't agree with whatever. You're assuming your audience agrees with you in all ways. Or that you can change their minds by floggings by social media--which almost never if ever happens.

The surprising thing is that it turns potential readers off even if they agree with whatever it is you're ranting about. This is because of several things. The first is that there's a certain air of smugness, an "everybody thinks/believes as I do because I'm right and I know it" about those sort of posts. There's also sometimes an implied mild threat of "you'd better hop on board with this or else..." Or else what? You won't let them read your work?

Most of all, writers with an agenda can push that agenda to all exclusion of everything else, including good writing. Readers know this. Sure it's possible to write a powerful, award winning agenda driven manuscript, but it's very difficult to do. Most are rants.

If you have Facebook or Pinterest or whatever just for family and friends then go ahead and post those rabid political cartoons, get into a comment fight with your granddaughter about some news item, or whatever. It's a personal page and therefore limited, not an author page with a public persona.

There's one sorta/kinda exception and that is if the issue is part and piecemeal of what you write. For example, if you have a character who struggles with a disability, than news items about something particular to that disability might be okay to post. Or personal stories around the issue. Same might be true around a subject in your nonfiction titles, new nutrition facts if you write cookbooks--if you keep it specific and/or personal. The line between okay and annoying is thin.

So, dear readers, do you agree? Disagree? Rant away in the comments!