Wednesday, October 18, 2017

And we have a winner!

Congratulations go to commenter Dianne Casey on the post, "So Why Would a Suspense Novel Have Recipes?". She will be receiving a copy of A Game of Deceit soon!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Searching for Mr/Ms Right



I recently, and reluctantly, asked for a reversion of rights for two of my culinary mysteries in the “Dinner is Served” series. Mission Impastable was in print. Prime Rib and Punishment waited in the wings.

It was very difficult to admit it was time to move on. My publisher had been wonderful to me, but her health issues over the past many years had made the future of the company precarious. For my own career, I decided to sever the connection.

It was clear it was the right decision, but that didn’t make it any easier. In fact, I delayed the actual request for rights until several months after I had made the decision. Maybe, it will work out. Maybe the company will right itself. But Maybes were all I had.

Last spring I compiled a list of small publishers of mysteries. There were quite a few of them who were open to submissions without an agent. Not a huge number, but still a respectable number to pursue. I prioritized them and wrote a query letter template. Still I stalled.

Procrastination. What caused it? Reluctance to start over. It’s a hard road, submission is.

Grieving for what had been was another cause. I thought I was done with submissions for this genre, and I liked where I had landed.

Fear of rejection was another. I’d been “accepted” to traditional publishing. Why did I have to prove myself again?

What if no one picked up my series right away? Did I abandon it? Indie publish? Continue submitting until I grew too old to hit the send button?

Serendipitously, I encountered an acquisitions and development editor for a small press at a conference I attended over the summer. I hadn’t come to the conference intending to pitch to anyone, but I quickly pulled something together and pitched my series while handing over a printed copy of the first book. I described book two. Told him I had three books completed in the series beyond the published one, and that books four and five were outlined. He loved the titles of books three through six: Potluck, Ancient Grease, Tequila Mockingbird, and Cooks in the Can.

He asked me to submit the traditional submission materials: a query letter explaining book two and the series, synopsis of book two, the first fifty pages, and a brief bio. I asked if he wanted a marketing plan, also. He seemed surprised I had one, and agreed I should attach that as well.

I sent it all off three months ago. And so the remembered-wait from previous submissions began. I am hopeful but not confident. Small presses only put out a few books a year. I was asking for one of those slots. So were hundreds, maybe thousands, of others. Did already having completed manuscripts give me an advantage? Or was it a liability to commit to a series before sales data on book one was in?

Another piece of the equation always is: so what if they do want me? Do I want them? Am I willing to sign with the first one queried? Shouldn’t I be searching for other publishers to get this process moving in multiple pathways and to soften the blows of rejection? I can always tell myself, “Oh, well. ‘Mysteries Are Us’ didn’t want me, but I still have ten more publishers to hear from.” 

But the procrastination continues. I’ll wait to hear from the conference publisher. If the highly-likely (given publishing odds) rejection comes, I do have my fall-back list of small presses to pull out, make my spread sheet, and send off submission materials. And wait again.

But my fingers, toes, and eyes are crossed in hope that won’t be necessary. You’ll be the first to know how it ends. Well, not really. But you know what I mean.

If you found this post interesting enough to share with your friends, you can make your own social media posts or copy/paste these.

Facebook: Authors, trad publishing has numerous submission heartaches especially when you have to change publishers. Sharon Arthur Moore-Author describes a recent process she has gone through. http://bit.ly/2xDuvAN

Twitter: #Writers face disappointment, long waits, and likely rejection when they submit to trad publishers http://bit.ly/2xDuvAN

Monday, October 9, 2017

Guest Post: So Why Would a Suspense Novel Have Recipes?


I met Kim at a Left Coast Crime conference and asked her to review MISSION IMPASTABLE on her wonderful blog, Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder. She is an extremely supportive friend to the culinary mystery family, and we’re delighted that she has joined us with her new book. I just read A GAME OF DECEIT and will be reviewing it here next month. Be sure to get your copy! Welcome to Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time, Kim!

Sharon, thanks for having me on Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time! I love your tagline: mysteries, recipes, cooking tips, food facts, and more. When a person typically thinks of mystery books they don’t automatically associate food with the story.
As I started writing my suspense novel, A GAME OF DECEIT, it had a darker edge and I didn’t plan on adding a food element to the story. However, over the course of several rewrites and the development of supporting characters, a variety of mentions of dishes started to creep in. At first I wasn’t sure what to think of the addition of food but the more culinary cozy mysteries I read the more I embraced the idea even though my book is a suspense. As a result, A GAME OF DECEIT became somewhat of a crossover book, mostly suspense with a bit of a cozy mystery feel.
My protagonist, Kathryn Landry, is a loner and definitely doesn’t cook. I created circumstances that would force her to learn to accept the help of friends, specifically her grandmotherly assistant, Marianne. Marianne, on the other hand, is a great cook and it was fun to write situations for her talents to shine.
When I first started writing A GAME OF DECEIT I was in my late thirties, a bit older than my protagonist, Kathryn. Over the course of my rewrites and putting my manuscript in a drawer and ignoring it for a few years (okay, a lot of years!), I became Kathryn’s assistant’s age. I think it’s safe to say that Marianne took on many of my own attributes such as a love of baking and cooking for others.
Sharing meals together and chatting about the ongoing mystery over food seems to be a more natural way to discuss important information and a way for the characters’ personalities to be exhibited. Once the dishes made their way into the story I started thinking, “Why not add the recipes?” At the encouragement of several authors, I decided to do just that.
I enjoyed experimenting and trying out my recipes to get the measurements just right since I’m more of a “little bit of this and a little bit of that” type of cook. I also decided that I really needed to research the proper way to write recipes. If I was going to share my recipes with people reading my book I wanted to make sure that my recipes were easy to follow. Fortunately there are several good tutorial books and information available online that are readily available.
The other thing that inspired me to include recipes with my suspense book is 2-1/2 years ago I started a blog called Cinnamon, Sugar and a Little Bit of Murder. My blog’s focus is to showcase authors, their mysteries, and recipes that they include in their books.
Cinnamon, Sugar and Little Bit of Murder has allowed me to connect to so many authors who have been very supportive of my own writing. In addition, my blog has given me a creative outlet in the kitchen along with developing my photography skills. Of course, the bonus is getting to sample so many yummy dishes and treats. Now when I read a book, I’m always paying attention to the food that is mentioned and often want to try the dish myself at home. I appreciate when authors take the time to include the recipes and wanted to do the same thing for my readers.

Please share this post with others. Thank you!
Facebook: Curious why a suspense novel includes recipes? See why I blurred the line between the suspense and cozy genres. And there’s prize! Just comment, and be entered in a contest to win a copy of A GAME OF DECEIT. http://bit.ly/2yn2ONi
Facebook: According to Kirkus Reviews, debut suspense novel, A GAME OF DECEIT, by K.A. Davis is “An impressive thriller…” and can be purchased at: https://goo.gl/8muPuf or comment to be entered in a drawing at Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time.  http://bit.ly/2yn2ONi
Twitter: Blurred lines between #suspense and #cozy #mysteries. Guest blogger, K.A. Davis, dishes about it http://bit.ly/2yn2ONi Comment for contest
Twitter: Kirkus Reviews: A GAME OF DECEIT, K.A. Davis, “An impressive thriller…” Contest http://bit.ly/2yn2ONi or buy https://goo.gl/8muPuf

K. A. Davis lives in Southern California with her husband, near wildfire country. During the Portola Hills fire in October 2007, she had to evacuate her two young granddaughters, one of whom has Rett Syndrome, as a wall of flames crept towards their home. Thankfully, due to the brave efforts of firefighters, their neighborhood was spared. She used that event as inspiration for one of the scenes in her suspense book.
In addition to authoring suspense novel, A GAME OF DECEIT, she writes the Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder blog and has several children’s articles published in a variety of magazines. When not busy with her granddaughters, she can be found writing her next book and blog, baking, or working on her photography skills. K. A. Davis is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Links:
Facebook:
Twitter: @Kookiesandbooks
Websites:

Purchase A GAME OF DECEIT:
Barnes and Noble: https://goo.gl/Q6uVZP

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Book Review: GRIME AND PUNISHMENT


One of my favorite cozy writers teamed up with her daughter (again) to write a new cozy series. Sylvia Selfman and Leigh Selfman created a housecleaner amateur sleuth. Talk about a career that reveals where the dirt is piled up! Livy is uniquely positioned to know information about victims and suspects that is helpful to the attractive detective on the case.

Okay, I’ll be honest. Livy, the protag, is great and I really like what it seems to be book one in a new series. But I’m in love with the Izzy Greene series that Sylvia wrote by herself. Izzy and her ensemble of crazy characters is just the best. If you haven’t seen her “Senior Snoops” series, you are missing a treat.

But that has nothing to do with this series which stands well on its own. It employs the same sardonic tone that the Selfmans use to such great advantage in their other co-authored books. I envy them. I want to write funny, too. I admire them for that and more.

This ensemble cast of characters include a caring, worried daughter, the gay best friend who shares pet-rearing responsibilities, the detective who wants her out of it, and friends and clients with very interesting quirks. Who will still be around in book 2? Can’t wait to find out!

In Grime and Punishment, Livy finds the husband of one of her clients stabbed to death. Who could want to kill the popular celebrity plastic surgeon? The wife is always a suspect. The secret girlfriend who suddenly disappears after his death? The sister of the secret girlfriend? The nosy neighbor? A disgruntled patient unhappy with the results? Someone from his past? A burglary gone bad? My mind generated lots of suspects beyond what the authors provided. That’s a sign of a well-set up mystery when the reader anticipates possibilities.

When Livy snoops around for clues in the various homes she cleans, she, of course, puts herself at risk by drawing attention to her unwanted delving. Even a violent encounter, however, doesn’t deter her curiosity. Will she risk even more as she continues her investigation? Of course she will! But, don’t worry. Livy will survive and thrive. This is a cozy mystery.

But, the twists and turns will keep your brain considering possibilities. An entertaining way to fight incipient dementia!

Given the penchant among cozy mystery writers for punny titles, I wondered what the team’s future books will be called. Suck it Up? Wash and Died? Cleaned Out? A Rising Tide? A Dust Up? Floored? Swept under the Rug? Polished Off? So many possibilities! I wish Sylvia Selfman and Leigh Selfman the best of luck with this new series. I’m already a fan! Get your copy here!


Facebook: A delightful cozy mystery review for Sylvia Selfman and Leigh Selfman’s GRIME AND PUNISHMENT. A delight new series by this talented team. Check it out at http://bit.ly/2xiSGJj

Twitter: @SylviaSelfman and @LeighSelfman’s funny new cozy GRIME AND PUNISHMENT reviewed at http://bit.ly/2xiSGJj

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Guest Post: Deputy Tempe Crabtree and the Food She Eats


I want to warmly welcome Marilyn Meredith back to Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time with another interesting post and with an announcement of her latest book. Marilyn is prolific and professional and personable. I am glad to count her among my friends. Enjoy!
 

Deputy Tempe Crabtree and the Food She Eats

Someone told me that Tempe and Hutch sure ate a lot in Not as It Seems. They’ve gone to Los Osos for their son’s wedding—and yes, there’s a lot about food. There are many great restaurants in the area and they had to eat somewhere. They also eat Ethiopian food at their soon-to-be in-laws’ home, and of course at the wedding reception.

I think one of the reasons I write about what my characters eat in so many of mysteries could be because in so many books I read, the main characters don’t seem to eat at all. I find that so strange—how do they keep up their strength for all the amazing physical feats?

Deputy Crabtree doesn’t do much cooking, but her husband does and though it’s usually simple fare I do write about it in many books.

In Seldom Traveled there is a lack of food because of the dilemma Tempe finds herself in.

In my latest in the series, A Cold Death, they are stranded in a summer camp during a winter storm with the owners of the camp and their guests as well as the caretakers, a husband and wife. The wife is a great cook. Yes, I wrote about all the meals, because if I were in that same situation, I’d be looking forward to what I was going to eat next.

Some of the menus I wrote in about in A Cold Death were what I’ve eaten at different camps I’ve attended as an adult, others are what I would have cooked had I been responsible for the meals. And yes, sometimes when I’m writing I make myself very hungry.

Marilyn

Would you like to share this post with others who like a good mystery? Copy/paste these for your posts.
Facebook:Marilyn Meredith wonders how book characters survive since they never seem to eat! Not in her books! Check out the foods and the mystery in A COLD DEATH at 

Twitter: @MarilynMeredith has a new Tempe Crabtree mystery out and she dishes about food in books at

Blurb for A Cold Death:

Deputy Tempe Crabtree and her husband answer the call for help with unruly guests visiting a closed summer camp during a huge snow storm and are trapped there along with the others. One is a murderer.

Anyone who orders any of my books from the publisher‘s website: http://mundania.com
can get 10% off by entering MP20 coupon code in the shopping cart. This is good all the time for all my books, E-books and print books.

On Kindle: A COLD DEATH

Marilyn Meredith’s published book count is nearing 40. She is one of the founding members of the San Joaquin chapter of Sister in Crime. She taught writing for Writers Digest Schools for 10 years, and was an instructor at the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat, and has taught at many writers’ conferences. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra, a place with many similarities to Tempe Crabtree’s patrol area. Webpage:  http://fictionforyou.com Blog:  http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com/ and you can follow her on Facebook.

Contest: Once again I’m going to use the name of the person who comments on the most blogs on my tour for the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery—which may be the last in the series.
  


Tomorrow I’ll be here:  September 28
How Sisters in Crime has Helped Me with My Writing Career

Monday, September 18, 2017

Liars and How to Write Them


Next week’s blog post will be a bit delayed to fit in our guest, mystery writer Marilyn Meredith. Please join her on September 27th as she talks about the food her character, Deputy Tempe Crabtree, enjoys.

In our mysteries and thrillers, we always have at least one person lying. Sometimes to protect themselves. Sometimes to protect another. How is your amateur or professional detective supposed to know who is telling the truth?

Unsurprisingly, there’s been a lot of research in the area of truth-telling. Bering, in his article, said that Macchiavelli’s book, The Art of War, instead should have been called
The Art of Lying since so much of his book focused on deception and deceptive practices.

Bering goes on to describe traits of effective liars which I found repeated in other articles. To synthesize, this post lists traits of effective liars and some ways to unmask them. You’ll have to decide how to use the info with your detective, amateur or professional.

Lying is a very common behavior, even among the law-abiding. Sometimes we lie to protect people’s feelings (“No, that dress doesn’t make you look fat.”), impress others (“I was at the top of my law school class.”), avoid trouble (“No, I didn’t take the last cookie.”), or get what we want (“If you do this for me, I’ll make sure you don’t regret the favor.”)

I have my culinary mystery protagonist, Alli, cross her fingers when she tells a fib or lie in order to obviate the consequences. The reader knows she’s lying and she knows she’s lying, but for her own “good reason” thinks it’s justified in a particular situation.

It makes sense that the more you have observed a person in normal circumstances, the more likely you are to spot the discrepancies that signal a lie. In your story, your liar could be someone the detective knows well, or it could be that the detective spends a lot of time with the liar in order to have more observations to compare.

By the same token, liars are on a continuum. Sociopathic liars, those without a conscience, are skillful and may not even believe they are lying since what they tell you is what is in their own best interest and therefore it is true for them. They go through their lives telling lies regularly. Whereas, the little old lady next door may be so truthful that even a white lie is easy to pick up on.

Minda Zetlin gives five ways to spot a liar: observe normal behavior for comparison, listen carefully (e.g., they should use words “yes” or “no”), look for “hot spots” (use body language giveaways), ask follow-up questions, and ask if they’re telling the truth.

Sara Murphy adds to the list with, liars are likely to: gesture with both hands, scowl and grimace, make eye contact, use filler language (like “um” and trip over words), and avoid first person.

Rick Newman says that liars: talk more than others, swear more often, and tend to speak in third person.

If you want to portray a liar, you would likely describe a babbler who makes faces and moves around/fidgets. Heesh doesn’t tend to use “you” or “me” in speech. Your liar looks you in the eye and tells the untruths thinking that you’ll be less suspicious of a someone who appears direct. Your liar will circumnavigate questions like “Did you steal from your company?” by saying, “I wouldn’t do something like that,” rather than giving a yes or no.

There are lots more articles and books out there, so keep digging to find the traits you want your liar to demonstrate. And make sure your detective knows how to observe those traits to unmask the deception.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Preparing for Disasters in Your Novel


Recent events have made me consider anew disaster preparedness. The west is ablaze, the east is awash. There are also ecological disasters and local disasters like a home break-in. Each kind of disaster requires its own preparedness, but what all have in common is a mindset to consider the impossible/unlikely happening and to have a plan, even if sketchy.

 
Being an author, I can see scenes of characters fleeing a forest fire or climbing into the attic to escape flood waters or rushing to the homes safe room in a home invasion or crowding into a closet during a tornado or isolating the family during an infection.

In your thriller novel, you can amp up the tension by creating a disaster, natural or man-made. When lives are at risk you have set up the greatest possible stakes. People can be at their finest and their worst when disasters strike. Fear and impending death bring out different aspects in your characters.

In order to describe the scenarios of the prepared and the unprepared, read articles on preparing for different types of disasters. FEMA’s general guidelines are: get informed, make a plan, assemble your kit, and maintain your kit and plan (meaning revise as necessary).

As an example, for real we have a list of must-grab-and-take essentials (maps, sleeping bags, non-perishable food, medications, soap, bleach, flashlight, extra clothes) and treasures (computer, important documents, paintings, etc.) at our cabin (forest fire fear). We also have an assembled emergency kit in the closet. We have bottled water and energy bars boxed and ready to grab. We know that if the two roads out of our mountain community are closed, we can take the SUV cross-country until we hit a highway. That’s our sketchy plan. Yeah, you’re right. We need to get even more specific.

How about, in your novel, if forest fire is threatening a family’s cabin? What if the only way out is blocked by fire? Does the cell phone work in this remote area? What is the terrain like in the opposite direction of the fire? What are the challenges/supports in the terrain? Is there an underground cellar to ride out the fire? How would the cellar get oxygen? Keep cool? Is there a river or lake nearby that could be used to shelter in? What if the fire were started by someone who wants the family to die so that person hunts them even as they try to escape the flames?

Can you describe how the family tries different escape scenarios? Maybe, but the more you know about the threats of a particular disaster and how to prepare for it, the better able you are to write the dramatic scenes of the forest fire and the escape attempts.

The exact same thing holds true for tornados, hurricanes, flooding, and other disasters. What scenarios require a substantial food and water supply? What if those aren’t adequate? Which scenarios require alternate travel options?

Research disasters and surviving them, then plan for your characters’ survival. The more you know the more you can write credible scenes. While not meaning to make light of others travails or exploit them, your accurate descriptions of disaster preparedness could help someone facing similar difficulties. Watch YouTube videos for disasters filmed by others and take notes so you can write accurately about your disaster.

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Monday, September 4, 2017

Food and Your Characters


Don’t you love all the quizzes on-line to determine what your favorite color reveals about you, or what animal you are most like. How about this one? “What Food Matches Your Personality?  Who makes up this stuff??? Anyway, when I took the quiz (because I’m a quiz sucker), here’s what it said:
You got: Sushi    You're sushi. Being raw fish never felt so good. You're smart, sophisticated, and fancy. But slap anyone who tries to dip you in soy sauce.

Huh? I mean, I like some kinds of sushi, but . . . seriously?

I took another quiz, the “Food Personality Quiz", and came out Gourmet. DH laughed. A lot! Sure, I like good food, but this farm girl is pretty simple when it comes to cooking. The description fit well, but I wouldn’t call it defining gourmet, would you?

Whether you are eating out or cooking at home, good food is important to you. As a gourmet personality you are likely to have a discriminating palate and be knowledgeable about food. You enjoy spending time cooking and preparing recipes that are high quality and are willing to make new recipes. You have enough experience cooking that you are comfortable changing a recipe to adapt it to your preferences. If you do not like parsley you can easily exchange it for cilantro. You understand that a recipe calling for a specific meat or vegetable can easily be substituted based on your preferences. You prefer recipes that are more elaborate than routine everyday recipes and could also include somewhat unusual ingredients.

Another one was fun, based on Myers-Briggs categories. After taking that quiz, "What’s Your Food Personality?”, I was rated ISFJ: The Apple Pie (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging)

Your personality is ISFJ! You are traditional, like the Apple Pie; you never go out of style with a timeless reliability that sets a warm and fuzzy mood for everyone you come across. You have an old enough soul in which you've accumulated past and present experiences, developing a world of wisdom and knowledge that you enjoy sharing with other people. You like to remain practical and are easily sensitive to the needs of others, making you the go-to delicious dish that that never steers us wrong!

So how much credence can you put into these things? Not much, I’d say. On the other hand, there are folks who study such enigmatic topics as what your food preferences reveal about you. I recently posted “What Coffee Drinking Reveals about Your Characters.”

For example, Dr. Alan Hirsch has tests to check out your food choices and match them up with factors such as partner compatibility, depression, and personality types. He believes there is a link between food choices and behaviors. For example, he found a link between a tendency toward perfectionism and tortilla chip eating. Also, there was a correlation between introverted personalities and cream crackers. You might want to use his data to help shape some of your novel’s characters.

A food behavioral expert, Juliet A. Boghossian, weighs in on our eating habits as revelatory of personality. For example, slow eaters live in the moment and fast eaters put others before themselves. People who organize their food on the plate need to loosen up and be more flexible. Those who cut up all their food before eating are preparers and one step ahead of others. Read the article to find out about the nine ways we eat food and what that says about us.

For those of us who write culinary mysteries, anything about food interests us. We mine these for ways to shape characters. These foodie articles are just some of the fruit to be picked off the personality analysis tree.

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Book Review: MAKE IT AHEAD by Ina Garten


It will come as no surprise that I read. A lot. In fact, I love the tee-shirt I’ve seen on Facebook that says, “A day without reading is like . . . Only kidding. I have no idea.”

I read a wide range of genres from lots of different authors. Sometimes I read like I’m taking medicine. I’m working on a topic and I need to know more. Most of the time, however, the reading is for pure pleasure.

Picking a book to review for this column is more challenging than for my other three blogs (see below). Because this blog focuses sometimes on mystery writing, and sometimes on food issues with recipes, and sometimes combines those two, what’s a blogger to review? Cook book? Mystery book? Culinary mystery book?

Ta da! I chose celebrity chef, the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten’s latest offering: Make it Ahead. The premise really fits my modus operandi, so I had to have this book. DH once said, “You put dinner on the table faster than anyone I know.” Compliment, right?

There’s a method to that. I “make it ahead” a lot. I am also a believer in mise en place, the French phrase that means get everything you need out and measured before you start cooking. It goes faster, easier, and you don’t forget an ingredient. I also pre-cook, make dry mixes to add wet stuff to, and other such make it ahead techniques.  

Also, just so you know, I write a food column for a small town newspaper each month. The name? The Quick Cook. You can see some of my columns by checking out The Pinewood News. My column, The Quick Cook, appears on page 7 of the issues it appears in. Recipes and cooking tips are the focus.

But back to this post, Garten is regarded as one of the celebrity chefs for us little people. She knows we’re not always serving 12 people a six-course meal. She knows that most of us don’t spend all day in the kitchen. She honors that we need to prepare family meals fast but that are nutritious and delicious. By the same token, you can find plenty of recipes in one of her nine cookbooks that are company-worthy. She’s your gal for a practical cook by your side.

And if you are planning a party, be sure to read her practical “10 Make-Ahead Tips for Parties” beginning with a week ahead up to a few hours ahead. She even tells you to make sure the dishwasher is empty before the party!

This particular cookbook focuses on entertaining without breaking your spirit or energy, so while the principles can apply to family cooking, this really is the cookbook for stress-free entertaining. The food chapters are: cocktails, to start, lunch, dinner, vegetables, dessert, breakfast, and make-ahead menus.

The recipes are gourmet without being hard to pull off. Clear directions for recipes that look like they took days make you look like the entertaining genius she wants you to be. I also love that she includes breakfast. For me, that is the most challenging meal for entertaining. You have guests who stayed overnight, and now they’re up and ready for you to feed them. She has some great make-ahead recipes for that scenario.

For fun, her first recipe is for whole wheat peanut butter dog biscuits. You gotta love someone who thinks of the family fur friend, right? I’ve shared here before the recipe for dog cookies that our pets have loved. But, I’d give this one a try!

Ina also has recipes for interesting food like homemade ricotta cheese (very easy!) so you don’t have to pay those high prices ever again and can have ricotta anytime the urge to make lasagna hits.

Here’s her recipe (rewritten for brevity):
Homemade Ricotta (makes 2 cups)
4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons good white wine vinegar

Line a sieve with two layers of dampened cheesecloth. Place over a bowl that allows the sieve to sit suspended.
In a stainless steel (or enameled) pan, bring milk, cream, and salt to a full rolling boil over medium heat. Stir occasionally.
Turn off heat and add vinegar. Let mixture stand one minute so mixture curdles.
Pour into sieve. Periodically discard the liquid in the bowl.
Let drain for 20-25 minutes. Longer drainage means thicker ricotta.
Transfer ricotta from sieve to a different bowl. Use immediately or cover with plastic and refrigerate.

This is delicious with fruit, granola, or in my family-famous veggie lasagna! Mangia!

In case you’re interested, my other blogs and some pen names are:
Romance Righter—relationships, personalities
Write Away—craft and the business end of writing
Caroline Adams—historical fiction and biographies


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Monday, August 21, 2017

What Coffee Drinking Says about Your Characters


A few years ago, I came across a fun little article/research piece on coffee. Now, I LOVES me a cup of hot coffee, so this sounded intriguing. And it was.

First some coffee/coffee bean facts:
Coffee drinking, that used to be commonplace and every day and ordinary and working class through the rich has become a status symbol. How many ways can you order that cup of joe?

Drinking several cups of coffee a day can reduce stress and heart attacks. 

Coffee has antioxidants that help keep you healthy. 
 
Eight of every ten Americans drank coffee in the last year, and half of those cups were gourmet coffee.

Still, current Americans are drinking less coffee than in the past. The peak of coffee drinking was in the 1960s (average number of cups drunk).

Rather than give up their morning coffee, Americans would first give up the morning news, sleep, brushing their teeth, and lunch.

One study in the article identified five coffee personalities:
Social (33%)—they prefer to drink coffee with others
Comfort lover (14%)—they like a warm cup in hand
Coffee Addict (14%)—they need coffee to jumpstart them
Task Master (11%)—they need coffee to focus
Coffee Gourmet (7%)—younger people are more inclined to like foo-foo coffee and older people go basic

Of course, as I read the article, my mind went to the psychological implications for characters in novels for each kind of coffee drinker. Some claim that coffee choices go beyond taste. So here are some of the (to me) more intriguing character profiles. Check out the entire article, “What Your Coffee Order Says about You” for more ideas.

     • Espresso: Instant gratification, a quick hit, "the most grown-up of all coffee options," cynicism, sarcasm, even an aggressive cool hunter. Disdains healthy lifestyles, is moody, and sets high standards, aiming for the leadership position with little time for gossip.

     • Black coffee: No-frills, minimalist, cool adult, prefers one-on-one contact, competitive, quiet and moody, although capable of occasional bouts of extroversion.

     • Latte: Watering down danger with milk and foam, prefers safety, wants to be liked, cutesy but conceivably stubborn inside, avoid direct confrontation and delegates the dirty work, a loyal family person, enjoys comfortable surroundings and gabbing with trusted friends. Sex is more snuggly than extreme.

     • Cappuccino: Optimistic extrovert who appreciates style and nice stuff, although not unduly acquisitive. Prefers to start things rather than see them through with all that dull detail work.

     • Instant coffee: No frills, straightforward, cheery but in no hurry to get things done, which might come across as shallow. Highs and lows come easily; not so adventurous in career or sex, but ponders both.

     • Decaf soymilk: More of an eco-worrier rather than an eco-warrior. For those who aren't allergic to cow's milk, the choice may indicate a faux fussiness with a touch of sincere narcissism.

     • Starbucks Frappuccino (and presumably other frothy whips): It's all about the foam and the froth. Trendchaser more than a trendsetter and, ouch, characterized as a flighty poseur with no sense of irony.

     • Non-coffee drinker: The authors reserve the unkindest cut of all for someone who rejects the black brew as being frightened of life and a child.

There are lots of articles out there. Here are a few if you want to read more on studies of coffee drinkers:

You can see from these descriptions that you can signal your character’s traits with mere coffee choice. Of course, unless people read the article, too, they might not pick up the subtleties, right? So flesh out that character with the traits above and end up with an intriguing, coffee drinking, son-of-a-gun!

Bloggers love it when readers share the post with others. If you would do that, I’d be most appreciative. Here are some copy/paste messages you can use.

Facebook: Writers, are you a coffee drinker? Do your novel’s characters’ drink coffee? Sharon Arthur Moore shares some data from those who have studied coffee drinking. Make your characters more interesting by highlighting their coffee habits. http://bit.ly/2wbVVRt

Twitter: #Writers, @good2tweat shares data about coffee drinkers that can shape your novel’s characters http://bit.ly/2wbVVRt