Thursday, August 22, 2013

Personal Chef-ing for Fun and Profit

Mission Impastable should be available this fall. In that book, Alli, and her friend and business partner, Gina, start a personal chef business. A bold and brave move they take while seeking their goals of self-worth, independence, and financial security. Gina has always been the professional worker, while Alli has pasted together a series of temporary subsistence-level jobs.

However, Alli and Gina are quite naïve when it comes to starting a personal chef business, or any business, for that matter. Gina has worked for others, admittedly in a supervisory capacity. Still . . .  But, Alli? Well, you know Alli. She’s sort of like Maria in The Sound of Music (“a flibbertijibbet, a will-of-the-wisp, a clown”). Bright and shiny things draw her attention so she has a hard time staying focused on details, especially if she thinks they’re boring. She says that Gina makes things happen but Alli is the one conceptualizing the happenings.

In preparation for writing this book, I read about personal chefs, I checked out some of the official personal chef associations websites, I looked for requirements, and finally I talked with a personal chef who also writes mysteries and romance books with recipes. Carolyn Hughey was a great help.


By the time Carolyn got her hands on me, Mission Impastable was off to the editor for publication in a couple of months. Think, think, think!

Ah, ha! Got it! I know how to fix all the errors they are making in book one of the “Dinner is Served” series.

Things are not going well with the PC biz in book two, Prime Rib and Punishment, so they take on a teaching job at the local culinary institute. While there, they teach a couple of courses on how to run a PC business. Doing the research for that (and meeting a PC in the region) helps them figure out what they need to do to fix the reasons they aren’t successful. They acknowledge what they did wrong and then rectify their mistakes. Business picks up, life looks good! This takes re-working the first part of book two, but that is relatively easy at this stage.

Just like in real life, if things don’t go the way they are supposed to, step back and analyze the options. Yanking the book back and re-writing it was NOT a good option. I think editors lose patience if you don’t know what you’re doing. In this case I can have my personal chefs learn, just like all of us do in reality.

In case you are interested in how personal chef-ing works, try these resources:

1.     American Personal & Private Chef Institute & Association ...
American Personal & Private Chef Association excels in Personal Chef Training, Certification, Personal Chef Support, Conferences & Personal Chef Association ...

2.     United States Personal Chef Association - Personal Chef Training ...
Personal Chef Education and Personal Chef Membership: United States Personal Chef Association (USPCA)

3.     The Personal Chef Association
With this in mind, the United States Personal Chef Association was able to allow this new career field to flourish while maintaining and regulating the manner in ...

4.     Personal Chef Certification (CPC)
Personal Chef Certification (CPC). CPC - Certified Personal Chef. In 1996 the United States Personal Chef Association created a certification program with a ...

5.     Personal Chef Association - Hangin' With People Who Love Food
Social Networking site for foodies, personal chefs, culinarians, and other folks who simply love to prepare and eat glorious food.

6.     Find and Hire a Personal Chef - Personal Chef Search.Com ...
Find and hire a personal chef, the American Personal Chef Registry invites you enjoy the ... Hire a Personal ChefAmerican Personal & Private Chef Association.

7.     2013 Personal & Private Chef Summit in Baltimore at Stratford ...
The American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), based in San Diego, promotes the “business of doing business” as a personal or private chef ...

8.     the American Personal & Private Chef Association's Discussion ...
American Personal Chef Association the Industry Leader in Personal Chef Training, Certification, Support, Annual Conferences & Networking. Find and hire a ...

9.     American Personal & Private Chef Association Forums
American Personal Chef Association the Industry Leader in Personal Chef Training, Certification, Support, Annual Conferences & Networking. Find and hire a ...

10.  Personal chef - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Various training programs are also offered by the United States Personal Chef Association and the American Personal & Private Chef Association.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr

This post is a day late because I am a techno-turd. Not nerd. I wish. I always have such trouble figuring out the simplest things, but that’s not your problem. Here is the post meant for yesterday!

Ta Da! Introducing Meredith Schorr, chick lit author extraordinaire! She is one of the Chick Lit Goddesses I hang out with on FB. I love Meredith’s genuine writing of authentic characters, situations and reactions. If you haven’t picked up Just Friends with Benefits or A State of Jane, why not??? But, even if you haven’t read her earlier work, you are just in time for her newest release, Blogger Girl by Booktrope Editions.

What happens when your high school nemesis becomes the shining star in a universe you pretty much saved? Book blogger Kimberly Long is about to find out.
A chick lit enthusiast since the first time she read Bridget Jones’s Diary, Kim, with her blog, "Pastel is the New Black," has worked tirelessly by night to keep the genre alive, and help squash the claim that "chick lit is dead" once and for all. Not bad for a woman who by day ekes out a meager living as a pretty, and pretty-much-nameless, legal secretary in a Manhattan law firm.
While Kim's day job holds no passion for her, the handsome (and shaving challenged) associate down the hall is another story. Yet another story is that Hannah Marshak, one of her most hated high school classmates, has now popped onto the chick lit scene with a hot new book that's turning heads--and pages--across the land. It's also popped into Kim's inbox--for review. With their ten-year high school reunion drawing near, Kim's coming close to combustion over the hype about Hannah’s book. And as everyone around her seems to be moving on and up, she begins to question whether being a “blogger girl” makes the grade in her off-line life.

A born and bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related emails way more than she was probably supposed to, and was famous among her friends for writing witty birthday cards. After trying her hand writing children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling writing “real” chick lit for real women.  When Meredith is not hard at work on her current work in progress, she spends her days as a trademark paralegal.  Meredith is a loyal New York Yankees fan and an avid runner.  Blogger Girl is her third novel.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Phony Housekeeper in 13 Steps

Back in the day, one of my favorite “cheat” cookbooks (as opposed to the real deal like Julia Child) was The Phony Gourmet by Pam Young and Peggy Jones (still available at ) Their sassy, familiar tone filled with family dynamics made the book fun to read, and the food was pretty darn good, too.

The philosophy was that you could fool people into thinking that you were a better cook than you were and/or that you spent days preparing the repast when in fact you whipped it up in minutes.

What’s not to like, right?

One morning in water aerobics, some of the ladies were talking about household cleaning cheats. It sounded like a topic many of us could relate to: The Phony Housekeeper.

In my culinary mysteries series (Mission Impastable out this summer from Oak Tree Press), Gina is the compulsive one who cleans just because; Maria cleans out of habit; but Alli isn’t so drawn to the domestic duties of cleaning. Oh, she doesn’t kick piles of clothes out of the way--well, not often--but she sees little need to dust something because it will just get dusty again. Same with her bed--in only a few hours it will be messed up again, so why bother.

I kept a cartoon on my bulletin board for a long time:

         Clean and Hide--another example of when two different words
mean the same thing.

I think Alli would like these 13 “Phony Housekeeper” tips culled from my own and others’ experiences:

“I never put the vacuum cleaner in the closet. It stays by the front door. That way, if unexpected guests drop in, I say, ‘I was just getting ready to clean’.”

“If I have company coming that includes tall people, I clean the top of the refrigerator, otherwise, leave it. Nobody will know.”

“I’ve been known to put all kinds of stuff in the oven and dishwasher to stash them until after company leaves. But don’t forget them and run the appliance. I’ve lost some good magazines that way.”

“I keep a can of furniture polish and a rag on a table in the living room. If somebody comes to the door, I tell them they interrupted my cleaning.”

“If the house looks tidy, it doesn’t have to be clean. People assume it is.”

“I throw stuff in the shower and pull the curtain. Voila! Instant clean.”

“I spot clean the floor rather than mopping the whole thing. I look for spots and wipe them with a wet paper towel.”

“Have you ever stuffed clothes that need folding  under chair cushions. It works if you only have a few pieces and somebody shows up at your door. Once I looked for a blouse for three weeks before I remembered where it was.”

“I blow dust off surfaces on my way to answer the door.”

“I answer the door with a cleaning rag and bucket in my hand so it looks like I was interrupted.”

“I keep a little spray bottle of Mr. Clean behind a shelf door. I spray each room with it and it smells like I just finished cleaning.”

“I have a pretty basket in the living room. When the doorbell rings, I throw big stuff, like toys, into it and cover them with magazines.”

“I never apologize for how the house looks. I ignore the dirt and clutter, and then my guests must, too.”

What are your Phony Housekeeper Tips? Or, are you afraid to share them so we all know?