Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Great Writer's Advice, a Book Sale, and a Granola Recipe too!

Havoc overtakes a peaceful North Idaho town when feuding brothers combat a proposed safari camp. Mustard's Last Stand is the first in the Havoc in Hancock humorous suspense series.

Creating Believable Lies … and Granola

Thanks so much to Conda for inviting me to guest blog today! My post is about making fiction (and lies) seem real. I hope you will love the recipe that follows as much as I do. And that's no lie.
My novel, Mustard's Last Stand, is on sale today as part of an Amazon Countdown. Only 99 cents for a humorous suspense Kindle book that retails for $3.99. It's also available in audio format

In a recent conversation with my spouse, I said, "People will believe almost anything if it is told with conviction." We actually weren't discussing writing, but birding. Never an ornithologist, my dh proposed coming up with his own "life list," of birds observed, naming them whatever he chose. Today's was the Guatemalan Junko. Don't ask what it really was. Neither of us has a clue.

At any rate, the comment about belief in statements told with conviction transfers easily to writing: create a believable setting with strong characters, and readers will believe it exists. I was finishing up a mystery novel last night, set no doubt in a fictional town. The protagonist went to a cafĂ© that served food so appealing that I considered trying it on my next visit to Pennsylvania. Then I remembered I was reading a story! The details made it come alive … the smell and taste of the food, the aromas abounding in the room, the personality of the server, the feel of the chair cushion beneath the character's (ample) butt. Add a sprung wire in the cushion, if you wish. Or a cranky host. Read a great sci fi novel, and soon you'll be looking for some of the inventions that made up daily life in the story world.

That is the result we're seeking when writing, and one way is to add flaws: perfection, even if it exists, doesn't seem real. 

Just this week, a reader posted a review of my novel on Amazon, and said, "What I liked most about this story was the very realistic and fascinating characters. By 'real' I mean that they did stupid things; they did wise and courageous things." 

It is cool when a reviewer makes your point for you. 

Are you a good liar, or do you stretch the truth only in fiction? What do you do in your writing to make it seem real? 

The recipe I'm including today makes a great hostess or last minute Christmas gift, and as granola goes, comes close to perfection. I tell you this in all sincerity. Believe me. Or try it and believe. With many Merry Christmas wishes, everyone.

Spiced Pumpkin and Brown Sugar Granola

Servings: Makes about 5 cups (large batch: 15 cups)

           3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (large batch: 2 1/4 cups)
           1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (large batch: 1 1/2 cups)
           2 Tbsp. canola oil or olive oil (large batch: 6 Tbsp.)
           1 Tbsp. vanilla extract (large batch: 3 Tbsp.)
           2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (large batch: 6 tsp.)
           1 tsp. ground cardamom (large batch: 3 tsp.)
           1 tsp. kosher salt (large batch: 3 tsp.)
           3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (large batch: 9 cups)
           1 cup roughly chopped pecans (large batch: 3 cups)
           1 cup pistachios (optional; large batch: 3 cups)
           1 cup golden raisins (large batch: 3 cups)
           1 cup dried cranberries (optional; large batch: 3 cups)

Active time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Preheat oven to 325°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, cardamom, and salt. Add oats, pecans, and pistachios (if using), and toss to coat. Spread evenly on prepared baking sheet and bake 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Stir in raisins and cranberries (if using), and continue baking until oats are just crisp, about 15 minutes more. Stir one last time, then set aside to cool completely. When hard, break into chunks and store in an airtight container.

Kathy McIntosh, a recent voluntary transplant from Boise, Idaho, to Tucson, Arizona, is enjoying the change in scenery from cottonwoods to cactus. She often sees javelinas, coyotes and roadrunners strolling through her neighborhood. She assures her concerned readers that she can still write about Havoc in Hancock, her humorous suspense series set in North Idaho, and will finish book two, Foul Wind, as soon as she rappels from the stack of moving boxes! Read more at and visit her blog today for a delightful, easy Cinnamon Pecan recipe, just in time for the holidays!
Thank you, Kathy, for this delightful blog post and recipe! And dear readers do you have your own believable lies to tell in the comments? And/or a recipe to share?
And don't forget to pick up a copy of Mustard's Last Stand while it's on sale!


Kathy McIntosh said...

Thanks for hosting me. I love your books and their covers, and I am happy to be here.
Happiest Holiday wishes to you and yours.

Kathy McIntosh said...

If this appears twice, then you are doubly thanked for hosting me on your fun blog. Hope you and your readers enjoy the recipe, and the advice. I've posted another recipe on my blog,
Happiest of holidays to all!

Conda Douglas said...

Kathy, you are most welcome! I love your writerly advice and your recipes--well, I might need a new wardrobe!