Today it's my pleasure to welcome Cleo Coyle to Terry's Place. Cleo Coyle is the pseudonym for a multipublished author and New York Times bestselling media tie-in writer. In collaboration with her husband, she pens two nationally bestselling mystery series for Penguin—the Coffeehouse Mysteries and the Haunted Bookshop Mysteries. Today, not only is she sharing some writerly advice, but RECIPES! Read on.
On Writer’s Block, Thunder Thighs, Haitian Coffee, and the Most Common Hazard Authors Face
Crime writing can be a challenge at times, but it can also be barrels of fun—-double barrels. Where else can you get even with the employer who laid you off with the line: “I wanted to do this myself because it’s such good experience for me as a new executive!” (No kidding, that’s how she did it.)
In one of my mysteries, I cast this sadistically perky charmer as the murderess and brought her to justice via a nice, solid smack to her noggin with an extra thick bestseller. In another, her lifeless body was found on the chilly floor of a women’s room. (She’d mistakenly ingested a poisoned soy muffin. :-)
Yes, in the end the pen can be mightier than the corporate pink slip.
Of course this writing gig is not all fun and games. Every day we authors bang out thrilling tales about cops and firefighters, gumshoes and adrenaline junkies. We put our protagonists in deadly danger from car crashes, crazy killers, or (in my case) over-caffeination. And where are we the entire time? Sitting on our assets—not so great for the cardiovascular system.
For many of us, a trip to the fridge is what constitutes a brain break. New chapter, new sequence, new reason to nosh. What should Clare retort when Matt gives her grief? Perhaps I’ll find the answer inside one those blueberry turnovers I baked last night…
I guess what I’m trying to say is: Not counting inciting the wrath of a lampooned ex-boss, stuffing one’s face is the biggest hazard a writer encounters. My solution? Going to the treadmill to cogitate (instead of the fridge), and when I do go to the kitchen, I make sure there are plenty of raw vegetables and low-fat dips like this one: Get my Roasted Garlic Dip recipe by clicking here.
I also rely heavily on coffee.
Now when I say coffee, I am not talking “Thunder Thighs”—which is actual coffee shop slang for a mocha latte made with whole milk and extra whipped cream. For me, a simple cup of drip-brewed joe can tame the Snack Monster, especially with one or two of my Healthier Oatmeal cookies. (Click here for that recipe.)
Coffee almost always curbs my writer’s appetite. For me, it’s even educational, which is one more key to longevity in this career. The legendary Julia Child once said she loved the food world because she learned something new every day. That’s why I love the culinary world, too, along with this world of writing.
I seldom have writer’s block because every day I try to seek out something new that will spark ideas, fuel the creative engine, inspire my spirit. This is something most writers know, yet we all still need the reminder from time to time. So here it is—
If you have writer’s block, learn something new (or something more) about your setting, background, or your character’s occupation. I guarantee that block will soon disintegrate.
My own writer’s fog lifted recently when I discovered a coffee called Kafe Lespwa, which means “coffee of hope” in Creole. This coffee is grown by subsistence farmers in Haiti—yes, the very same country that suffered a catastrophic earthquake earlier in the year, which killed tens of thousands and left hundreds of thousands homeless.
As I learned more about this delicious coffee, several ideas struck me for future Coffeehouse Mysteries. Several other things struck me, as well. For one thing, the rural community that grows Kafe Lespwa has seen a large influx of refugees from Haiti’s earthquake. Consequently, these coffee farmers are now sheltering and providing aid to those refugees.
This discovery more than inspired me as an author of fiction. It got me off my assets to do something in real time to help this community. That’s why I’m making Kafe Lespwa my website’s Coffee Pick all summer long.
Every Monday, through June, July, and August I’ll be purchasing a 12-ounce package of Kafe Lespwa and giving it away to a random subscriber of my seasonal e-newsletter. The newsletter is free. If you’d like to subscribe, simply send a “Sign me up” e-mail to VillageBlend@aol.com and you will be entered automatically in all of my weekly coffee drawings.
You can learn more about this coffee (including its flavor profile) by reading the short post at my website www.CoffeehouseMystery.com – you can also purchase Kafe Lespwa directly by visiting www.JustHaiti.org
Thanks for listening. I’d also like to thank Terry for letting me run my mouth here today. And…I can’t help wondering—if any of you have trouble with the Snack Monster (and/or writer’s block), what are your own remedies (or recipes)?
Stuff you might want to know: Although Cleo’s virtual home is www.CoffeehouseMystery.com she has caught the social networking bug, which is quite contagious so cover your mouth. Feel free to friend her on Facebook (as Cleo Coyle), follow her on Twitter www.Twitter.com/CleoCoyle , or visit her at www.MysteryLoversKitchen.com where she blogs with five fellow culinary mystery writers who enjoy cooking up crime and recipes. And be sure to look for her next release, Roast Mortem, which debuts in August.