Wednesday, July 31, 2013

But That's Your Story Idea

Authors, have you noticed how people give you story ideas? “Oh, you’re a writer. You should write this story about . . .” Fill in the blank.

Like I am not inundated in my head with story ideas already! Should I be insulted? Do they think I am out of ideas?

When I respond, “But, that’s your story. You should tell it.”

The protests begin. “I’m not a writer.”  “You could do it better.”  “No, I am giving it to you.”

And sometimes, you know, they’re pretty dang good. And I might choose one or two of them to develop. But what’s the protocol?

I decided I would recognize the source of the premise or story strand in the acknowledgements section. That seems fair to me. After all, it’s not like a premise is the realization of the story. It’s the germ, the yeast, the focal point. But that’s a long way from a novel.

Recently, someone was responding to a FB post about a book release. Her comment was that she had a story idea but found a book in which someone else had already written it.

Are you kidding me?

A story premise (and there is a finite number of them, btw) can take so many twists and turns. That is a huge part of the planning process for me--the “what if’s” I generate and spin out. Brainstorming with someone for her novel is great fun for the same reason. Love it!

So don’t tell me someone wrote your book. The characters you choose and their reactions and interactions would be unique to you and your storytelling. The obstacles you put in the way are your plot points. When you put it together, no one would write your story in your way.

So, Doug, thanks for the idea about how a killer could throw off the police investigation because of a DNA change due to a concealed blood transfusion.

And, Sandy, love the idea of writing a play with two seniors discussing their medical marijuana misadventures over lunch.

I think I’ll put those on my to-do list. Let me take you two to lunch when they are blockbusters. It’s the least I can do! Truly. The least.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Beautiful Food--NOT!

I had a conversation recently with a fellow author/personal chef/cooking-school-trained friend about food presentation. (By the way, if you haven’t read Carolyn Hughey’s books you are missing out on some tasty treats!)

I was whining about how my food tasted okay, but that the “plating” (as the cooking shows call it) was mediocre on a good day. Let’s not talk about the bad days! Shudder!

I just sort of slop it onto plates and platters and bowls and hope people don’t notice because it smells so good. See, I think if I overwhelm one sense that deadens the others.

Carolyn pooh-poohed me. Of course I could do it. It consisted of a few simple techniques and an understanding of color, texture, and proportional sizing. I do get it--intellectually--but I can’t do it. I am convinced plating is a specialty area in the realm of art. Food porn at its best. I am not at all artistic.

Have I ever done a coulis? Well, inadvertently, I guess, when the chicken juice dribbles on the plate, though that is not technically a coulis. And I am known for the powdered-sugar brownie plate--but that is lack of aim, too.

 I am thinking of having Alli and Gina deal with this in one of the cooking classes they teach in Prime Rib and Punishment. I can just imagine Alli giving the students directions on how to plate and then being challenged by one to show them not tell them. (Sound familiar, Authors?) A huge advantage to being a personal chef is you leave the prepackaged food for the client to “plate”.

At my house, we mostly avoid the issue of plating by serving company buffet style! Voilà! No one need know my little secret. Shhh!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

MJ and Me

DH says he hopes the NSA never does an analysis of my computer searches. Undetectable poisons. Airport security breaches. How to fool a lie detector test. And more recently, marijuana types and how to grow and cook with them.

I tell him to stay alive, and it shouldn’t be an issue. Seriously, do I really believe the government is watching us all the time? (Uh, given recent revelations, maybe so.)

Still, I have an alibi, right? I can show them manuscript pages and book contracts and blog posts. I’m safe. I think. For now.

Who has time to worry about that stuff anyway? I don’t write thrillers (yet); I write cozy culinary mysteries. Book three in my series is re-titled (Thank you Author Carolyn Hughey) Pot Luck.

Here’s the premise as of now:
AZ and other states have medical marijuana laws so Alli and Gina whip up some ganja/MJ/pot recipes, much to Gina’s despair. They have a client who needs to ingest rather than inhale her marijuana prescription, and they come up with recipes for her. Alli sees making mixes to sell as a way to supplement their income because they are still struggling personal chefs.

Alll re-establishes a friendship with a local medical marijuana provider, a friend from HS days (Mostel from book two) and his grower. When the grower ends up dead of a heroine overdose, Alli doesn’t believe it and seeks to solve the mystery. She is sure someone killed Seth instead of it being an accidental drug death, but is it the HS friend, a local druggie known for petty thefts, a rival provider, a doctor known for generous prescribing, or the political crook who has a lot to lose if his addiction is made public?

In this book readers learn why Alli is reluctant to make a commitment to Evan. She doesn’t want him to know a secret she has carried for years. Also, Alli’s brother is released from prison after helping the police in Prime Rib and Punishment. She finally realizes Cal is unredeemable, and that he lied about knowing where her family is.

Alli is on the search for tasty mix recipes that she can add MJ to. Of course she’ll do brownies. Any other suggestions for her?