I consider myself an above average cook with the ability to decipher seasonings, choosing what might be best for which dish. I enjoy making, and usually make, all my cakes, etc., from scratch. By scratch I mean I do not make boxed cakes. Why would anyone use that stuff? Okay, okay…forgive me. I know sometimes people just don’t have the time to mix and measure, but for me, it’s the best way to go. And it’s healthier.
I have also been a cookbook collector over the years. I’ve collected a couple vintage cookbooks as well. Some books I’ve kept, some I gave away to a friend or to the Goodwill, etc. Others I’ve sold to used bookstores once I tired of that particular book. Needless to say, I love cooking and baking from scratch with tasty ingredients.
However, at the same time I’ll be the first to admit I shy away from new things. I received a PDF copy of the cookbook, Tried and Tested: 101 Recipes, from author, Carol Jones, some months back in exchange for review. It took me some time to go over it and check out some of the recipes. I give the book 4 Stars (on Amazon) for a small book that was big on flavor and carried many different recipes.
I really liked this cookbook and think a print edition would be a good edition to my cookbook library, and for the current price of .99, one can’t go wrong with the e-book. Some of the ingredients in the dishes are not something I would’ve tried usually, and I couldn’t try everything, of course, and not all foods are suited to my taste, such as liver. Yet, this cookbook has something for everyone, and for me I found many of the recipes interesting, and they urged me to try them. I had to do a little recipe tweaking here and there or find a substitute ingredient or food as the author is British and not everything was easily found in my neck of the woods.
Some of my favorites of the recipes I tried from Tried and Tested: 101 Recipes by Carol Jones are:
Italian Chicken Casserole
Stir-fry Beef with Ginger
Grilled Tuna with Olives and Tomatoes
Asparagus Stir-fry (*Note: I really do not care for asparagus, but this recipe made this vegetable delightful!)
Mexican Bean Burgers
Moroccan Mushrooms with Couscous
Macaroni & Cheese (*With nutmeg? – I never would have guessed!)
Cherry & Almond Loaf
What I’d love to have seen more of in this book are soups. Other than that this is a pretty great book; small but chock full of great and tasty recipes. Also, I’d like to see it in print. Make sure you download a copy from Amazon!!
Check out Amazon for the e-book here:
I recently finished reading Crystal Promise: The Shattered Crystal, by indie author, James Funfer, and left my review on Amazon and Goodreads. I’m copying it here to share with you as well.
I am not great at reviewing. Some reviewers like to start with “This story is about a…”. I don’t do that because I’ll end up retelling the story and spoiling it for everyone. So here’s my review. I’d like to add that this book is a quick read and it keeps one questioning. There was barely a dull moment. It’s a little YA, a little fantasy, a little sci-fi. Happy reading!
My review re-posted from Amazon:
“When I read the blurb on the back cover, I was not sure what to expect. It didn’t relay the same message as the description here on Amazon. I was a bit confused at first. When I downloaded the book, I knew it would involve or center around young people, but at the same time I expected a whole lot of adult conspiracies going on, weaving in and out of the story, and more of an adult-packed novel with elders trying to take over this world. I expected a lot of young victims from the story in my head.
While there are young victims, it’s not the adults who totally stir them, but they, themselves, who do the stirring. I did not get what I expected. What I found is a pleasing array of personal stories nicely intertwined into the fabric of a place I’ve never been (and in the case of Novem, a place I’ll never go except in Funfer stories!) along with history, culture and war. Not just former war, but looming revolt. I saw a truth about how everything we do affects others down the line, in the fabric of time, and how no matter what, we have to do what’s best for us at any given moment. Yes, it’s a good thing to be selfless, yet at the same time we sometimes – given the circumstances – have to do what we need to in order to live. Oh how love, survival, and friendship can be thorny roses, indeed. I found myself racing through the pages to see what would happen next and to whom and was barely bored a moment.
I was drawn to several of the characters, my two most favorites being Jacoby and Julio. I was even angered by some of the characters to the point that I talked out loud to myself! When a character incites me in such a way, the author’s done their job. I’ve read books by well-known best selling…I mean, really best sellers with high sales…and their characters didn’t evoke feelings like some of these characters did for me. I tend to observe characters more than story in books; I have to know they’re not the author. I want to see that they are themselves, and are alive and well. James Funfer does that in this story. He lets these characters live.
Because there’s truth behind it, I thoroughly enjoy when an author includes young people facing situations that might change their lives drastically, forever, and there are seemingly no level-headed adults around to lend guidance. And the ones who try end up sucked up in the darkness. It’s like this for the teens in this novel. Dare I say, although it’s not described this way here on Amazon, this makes a great young adult or coming of age novel that adults, both male and female, can enjoy.
I refuse to add any spoilers, so let me just say… I got to the end and did not find the result I anticipated, or assumed I might find. I also realize that while this book is a story in and of itself, and some of the tales told in it have been tied up, this story is also a seed. It’s not meant to be an end, but a beginning. This is not a tale of what was, but what will be. If you like a series with a “book 1″ that plants the seeds for more…that will only get better…this one’s for you.
I’ll be waiting for the next book.”
Link to the book & other reviews on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Crystal-Promise-The-Shattered-Book/dp/0615665195/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1364917068&sr=8-6&keywords=crystal+promise
The author & this book are also on Goodreads. Incidentally, it’s listed as a Giveaway. Enter to win March 19 – May 1, 2013. Link to the book on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15790188-crystal-promise?ac=1
Or “organic writing.” Interesting words, all.
I first read the term organic writing somewhere on Internet a couple months ago. I don’t know how long the term’s been around, or who coined it, or why. I just know it fits me fine.
I’ve never sat down and wrote a synopsis in my life…first. In school, I wrote the paper or essay then made the paragraph or two-long synopsis. I hate outlines too. I hated it when I had to do a science experiment and write a long paper describing every step, turning point, find and assessment. Oh, don’t forget your outline!…said every teacher everywhere.
I know what the teacher expected. She wanted us to think through what we were going to do and make note of the steps first. Not! I didn’t do it then either. I never made the steps. I just threw gasoline on the fire and jumped up and down smiling like a lunatic at the blaze, then wrote a report.
I write my fiction quite like that as well. If you hear me use the term outlining that usually means that I’m making a list of characters, character traits, and all the places they’ll visit. Do they like pizza with or without mushrooms? Outlining might include, or actually be, character mapping. For my “vampire” related series, the vampires and others in the story have family lines and some characters are reincarnates, so I had to do a tree to keep all the peeps or history in order.
In my new release, Someday Always Comes, I did absolutely no outlining, nor did I write a synopsis beforehand. Sorry, I can’t work that way. The most I did with them is a little cataloguing of who they are and their entrances into the story. I did this because there are characters who are mentioned at one point in time, then disappear. I wanted to keep track of these characters so that I could clear up loose ends and tie things together, leaving no strings lying about.
I started a synopsis, for the first time ever, for a story idea I’ve been toying with – a novel called The Ghosts of Willow Marsh. I started it a long, long…long time ago, and the synopsis is at about 1 ½ pages, while the story is much further along. Whenever I pull up the synopsis, I just stare at the blinking cursor. So, se la vie, synopsis.
One of my favorite things is when the synopsis actually turns into the story, as it did with Someday Always Comes. Hey, biotches, you can’t stop the muse. I highly doubt I will ever outline anything…I mean, while being true to the definition of outline anyway.
Currently, I’m dabbling with three or so different writing projects, and they’re all vying for my time and attention. It won’t be long before one of them wins out over the others and I’ll start pecking away diligently at the computer.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I do work out scenes, and sometimes write them out by hand. In fact, for one of said projects I’m working on now, the very tentatively titled, Rise of the Witch Clan, I have several scenes on paper. Unfortunately none of those scenes are bridged to any other scenes, and collectively make zero sense. Also, I have questions written down, with different ideas or answers. A question about a ring. A question about a book. Yadda. Then I have tentative answers.
I keep an electronic folder for deleted scenes, or scenes I might save to possibly rework into the story, or its sequel. I mean that whole scene about the missing Suri being found, then summoned through a water fountain, gown flowing, hovering there like a goddess…Hell, surely there’s room for that beautiful scene somewhere. Of course, I know it doesn’t sound beautiful to you, but it does in my head, and once the reasoning behind it…the why and who, etc….is accurately revealed, it’ll be lovely to you too when I describe it thoughtfully. You just wait.
But also, I have no real structure to anything I do. I like to plot and plan, but I don’t like to stick to any rigorous schedule. I’m the type of person that would tour a foreign country with a group, stray from the path, slay a few beasts, meet and marry someone who looks like Leo DiCaprio, and wind up living with magical elves in northern Wales…er… or somewhere, for eternity. Never returning home again.
Okay. Back on track. I read an article in March/April 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest called “Go Organic”, by Steven James. Steven James is supposed to be a best-selling author of many things, even some critically acclaimed things. But, I never heard of him, so I had to look him up. Yes, he’s done a lot. For shame, perhaps I should read one of his books.
Geeze, where was I? Oh, Steven James wrote an awesome article called “Go Organic.” Right. We established that. And, guess what? I have the same view points as he does. I write in the same fashion as he does…as far as mechanics goes. I don’t have a best seller, but we’ll see later. I also love that he quoted from one of my favorite books on writing. Yep, “On Writing” by Stephen King. James describes how he “loves Stephen King’s analogy…comparing stories to fossils that we, the story-tellers, are uncovering. To plot out a story is to decide beforehand what kind of dinosaur it is.” He quotes King, “Plot is, I think, the good writer’s last resort, and the dullard’s first choice.”
James goes on to say that the analogy helps him to think of his writing less as something he creates and more of something he uncovers. I like that. That’s how I feel too. Wouldn’t you know it? Me, Steven James, and Stephen King all think alike. Spooky!
With Someday Always Comes, I just wrote it. From start to finished. But each day, I’d go back and read the work from the day before; sometimes from several days before, but always striving for realism and fluidity. Continuity. I didn’t want my characters to say back on Tuesday that they were going somewhere on Sunday, then didn’t go. I didn’t want their personalities changing accidentally. The changes, if any, would be gradual and as a result of some event.
I don’t want to create some roadmap for every story and follow it to the tee. Then what happens when the muse slaps your marbles around and…wham!…story line change. But guess what? We have this outline…the story’s progressed by the outline. We can’t change it!
No, I’m not a fly-by-night writer. Okay, well sometimes I fly around at night. But that’s a whole other blog. I want my stories to have depth. I want strong, natural bridges and scene changes. I want my characters to make their own choices when backed into a corner, when being approached by Big Foot on a road less traveled, or while wondering what to do while staring into the eyes of their true love for the first time in ten years.
Whaat? Who the hell has time for pulling out maps in those situations! Really? When would anyone have time to pull out a map and ask directions while running across desert sands from a man-eating shark with legs while trying to find Amelia Earhart? I’ll tell you who are the only people who could pull that off…that whole…“Stop Mr. Landshark, I know not in which direction we goeth! Please, let me consult the Map of Sultan before we fall into quicksand or some other shit and lose our pants”… the Wayans Brothers. So, I’ll leave that dramatics and comedy in their capable hands.
So, I will remain organic. I am so glad someone invented that really cool term. And guess what all you English teachers of mine, give me an F if you must. But no more forced outline writing for me. How can I write spectacularly that way?
Steven James has a good opinion and idea in his Go Organic article regarding creativity:
“Forget all that rubbish you’ve heard about staying on track and not following rabbit trails. Of course you should follow them. It’s inherent to the creative process….What you first thought was just a rabbit trail leading nowhere in particular might take you to a breathtaking overlook that eclipses everything you previously had in mind.
Without serendipitous discoveries, your story runs the risk of feeling artificial and prepackaged. Give yourself the freedom to explore the terrain of your story…embrace the adventure.”
As I said, it’s a good article. Make sure you grab this copy of Writer’s Digest.
I did some snooping on the internet regarding organic writing. My view is that there are several organic writers out there and many described the roots of organic writing the same, yet they have their own way of going about it. A little bit of this, and a little bit of that. No junk.
I just can’t create any other way. Are you an organic writer too?
Whew! I finally finished editing Someday Always Comes. I have a few minor changes to make but that won’t take too long.
I always save each chapter individually as I write so it’s easier to find things and edit instead of writing my books in one long, boring, scrolling document. So, with editing complete, creating the merged scrolling document is also complete, now I just have to convert to PDF for upload to the publishing site.
This has not been a fun experience. I never thought I’d see the damned end of it. I’m glad I just have to do some double-checking for grammatical errors and I can move on. Hunting down mistakes will be easy now that I’ve merged the chapters into one document. I hate nothing more than seeing “your” when it should be “you’re,” or “there” when it should be “their.” Ugh! And being a self-published author, I don’t want my readers to have to endure that nonsense either. Now if I can just get “into” and “in to” in order, we’d be fine.
That being said, I hope I don’t get my copy and read through it to find all sorts of crappy errors. Thank the gods for print on demand! I can change it in an instant if anyone finds mistakes. Please tell me if you read a copy and find any crazy errors.
I’ll let you all know the release date as soon as I do.
Thanks for your support!