Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday - Company Green Beans

Thanks to Jenny for her encouragement yesterday. I think we all found some inspiration there.

I discovered this recipe from my mom when I was going through some files. She called it "Company String Beans" because she made it when she had dinner guests, or had to bring a veggie side dish. It makes a nice alternative to the classic green beans/mushroom soup/fried onion rings standard, and it's what I made for Thanksgiving this year.

Company String Beans

3 pkg. French cut green beans, cooked & drained.
2 T butter
2 T flour
1 t salt
1 t sugar
1 t pepper
½ onion, grated
½ lb. Swiss cheese, grated
1 c. sour cream
Corn flakes
Butter

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stick-to-it-iveness

Today my guest is Jenny Milchman.Jenny is the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, and the Made It Moments forum on her blog. She teaches writing and publishing for New York Writers Workshop, as well as online, and has designed curricula to teach writing to children.I'm pleased to welcome her to Terry's Place.

I thought I’d talk today about perseverance.

They say success in this business is 1% talent and 99% perseverance, so it must be pretty important stuff.

But what is perseverance? The dictionary defines it as: “Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”

That definition pretty much sums up my own journey to publication. It took me almost eleven years to sell my “first” novel. And my first was really my eighth. Along the way, I was lucky enough to have three terrific agents, and fifteen editors who wanted to make offers on one or the other of five novels submitted.

Whenever I reveal these numbers, I get met with a range of responses. Some writers don’t want to hear them. And I don’t blame them a bit. Writing even one novel is hard. Really hard. During that process, the prospect of doing it again, and again, and again and again and again (you get the idea), before ever getting published is not a pleasant one.

I felt the same way. When I had just finished my first novel and was sending out queries to agents, my mom had one of those mother-is-always-right moments, though neither of us knew it then.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tips For Finding Your Groove

What I'm reading: The Fifth Witness, by Michael Connelly


First, today is the last day to request a copy of FINDING SARAH. If you want a copy, email me at bookstore @ terryodell (dot) com with Thanksgiving in the header, and tell me whether you want a Smashwords coupon or a Kindle gift. This is NOT a contest. Everyone who asks can have a download. My only 'catch' is that you download the books when you get your email, since this giveaway ends today. If you want to preview the book, you can find the first chapter on my website.

And pop into the Deals & Steals tab to see how you can enter my contests.

As faithful readers of this blog might know, lately I've had little time to work on the WIP. I was sidetracked by edits for DEADLY SECRETS, my upcoming mystery. One daughter came to the states from Northern Ireland to visit. Hubster and son had birthdays. Our other daughter competed in the Iron Man in Arizona, which meant two driving days each way plus the event itself. Then came Thanksgiving.

Since I'm not under a deadline, I didn't even try to move forward on the WIP. Didn't even have my laptop. But now that I'm home, our daughters are back to their own homes, and the laundry is done, it's time to get back to work.

How to deal with lapses in writing time? I'm sure everyone has his or her own system, but the following works for me. Your approach will differ, depending on your own writing system.



1. Get rid of chores that will nag.
If you are going to worry about cleaning house, paying bills, going through email, take the time to get the critical things dealt with. Otherwise you're not going to be focused on your writing.

2. Do critiques for my crit group.
This might seem counterproductive, but freeing your brain from your own plot issues and looking at someone else's writing can help get your brain into thinking about the craft itself.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Free Book Offer Ends Soon

A reminder that I'm giving away downloads of FINDING SARAH to anyone who asks for one. Email me at bookstore (at) terryodell (dot) com with Thanksgiving in the subject line. I'll give you either a Kindle gift or a Smashwords coupon. Be sure to tell me which version you want in your email. Expires Monday, so don't wait.

I've hit 400 followers via Google Friend Connect. If you want to win some books, you have to tell me. Check the Deals & Steals tab for the details. I'm still hoping for 500 by the end of the year ... that will be a BIG BUNCH OF BOOKS, so tell your friends to follow this blog.

Next giveaway will be when I get 20 more newsletter signups. You can do it at my website.


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Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Field Trip: Iron Man Arizona

What I'm reading: Fatal Judgment, by Irene Hannon.

First, a reminder that I'm giving away downloads of FINDING SARAH to anyone who asks for one. Email me at bookstore (at) terryodell (dot) com with Thanksgiving in the subject line. I'll give you either a Kindle gift or a Smashwords coupon. Be sure to tell me which you want. Expires Monday, so don't wait.

I know a lot of you read my post about my daughter's first Iron Man Triathlon, and know that we drove down to Arizona to watch her amazing effort. Here are some pictures of the event. For anyone who doesn't know what an Iron Man is, it's a 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride, finished up with a 26.2 mile run. Nicole spent the year training and it paid off. She finished strong, with a smile on her face, and was very close to her projected time. You can read her race reports to see what it was like from her side at her blog, Banana Death.

These athletes are either nuts or way too dedicated--or both. We saw athletes who were running with prosthetic legs--one man even carried a spare. And a tandem bike, which was used by a blind competitor.

The first event was the swim, which began right around sunrise. Imagine over 2500 people in the water waiting for the start.


This was the leg of the race where it was virtually impossible to pick out individual competitors.


We found a spot near the point where the swimmers exited the water. Nicole had predicted about 1.5 hours for her to complete the swim, which is her weakest event. She was very close to that time.


And if you want to know what it's like to watch the swim portion of an Iron Man, I tried a short video with my cell phone.

video

Next came the bike ride.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving - and a Free Book

It's Thanksgiving, and I'm sharing (again) one of our own family traditions. For those who celebrate the holiday, may yours be a safe and happy one.

Among so many other things, I'm thankful for my readers, and for the holiday weekend, I'll give anyone who asks either a Smashwords coupon OR a Kindle gift of FINDING SARAH, Book #1 in my Pine Hills Police series. Email me at bookstore @ terryodell .com (remove spaces). Offer ends Monday, Nov. 28.





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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giveaway #2 Winner

My random number generator selected Elizabeth Main as the winner of my second giveaway. Congratulations. Next giveaway will be at 400 followers--almost there and/or 20 new newsletter subscribers. (To subscribe, go to my website and fill out the form)

What's Cooking Wednesday - Curried Fruit Bread Stuffing

Thanks to Katherine Grey for taking care of Terry's Place while I was on the road yesterday.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought I'd share the stuffing recipe my family insists on. I first made it on a whim, because it was supposed to be used for stuffing a duck (or was it a goose?). At any rate, it works fine for turkey and became our tradition.

Curried Fruit Bread Stuffing

1 c finely chopped celery
1 c finely chopped onion
½ c butter
2 t curry powder
1 large pkg herb seasoned stuffing mix (cubes)
⅔ c raisins, plumped in hot water
1 can diced peaches, reserve syrup
Salt to taste

Saute celery & onion in butter until tender. Stir in curry. Toss w/ stuffing mix. Add raisins & peaches. Sprinkle w/ ¼ c syrup and toss. Season w/ salt.

Add more liquid as needed. Broth, cooking juices, etc.

From here, it's up to you. I've made this for decades, long before anyone considered actually cooking stuffing inside a turkey as a potential health hazard. Since there's no egg or meat or anything like that in the recipe, and I don't normally cook huge birds, there hasn't been a problem. However, nowadays, it's recommended that you bake stuffing (which then becomes called "dressing") outside the turkey. If you do, I suggest that you add some of the turkey drippings to the dressing before you bake it. Or when you reheat it. As with all my recipes, feel free to do what works for you.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More Napkins, Please

Today my guest is author Katherine Grey. Katherine writes historical romance set primary in the Regency period. Her debut novel was released in August, 2011. In today's blog post she tells us how she learned where her story ideas come from.

Have you ever wondered where writers get their ideas? Or as a writer been asked, “Where do you get your ideas for your books?”

The first time I was asked that I floundered around for an answer like a fish caught on dry land. I didn’t know what to say, my mind jumping from one thing to another and discarding them all for fear of sounding like a person who needed some serious mental health care. Maybe, because at the time, I wasn’t really sure where my ideas came from. They were just there, some fully formed, some not so much.

A few weeks after that embarrassing incident, I was in a local restaurant having dinner with a few family members. A loud voice suddenly said, “What do you think I’m an idiot?” I looked behind me and saw a man and a woman sitting two tables away. He looked angry and had his hand wrapped around the woman’s wrist where it lay on the table. She was just staring at him, not saying a word. I turned back around and my sister asked in a low voice, “Do you think we should get the manager?


Monday, November 21, 2011

My Writer's Knowledge Base Interview

Tomorrow's the deadline to enter Giveaway #2. Don't miss out. Details in the Deals and Steals tab.

As I type this, I haven't left for Arizona yet. As you read this, I'm on my way home. Since Nicole hasn't run the Iron Man in "real time", I can't give you any results or trip highlights, so I thought I'd run part of an interview I gave to Elizabeth Spann Craig for the Writer's Knowledge Base newsletter in September.

ESC: You do a little genre-blending with your books. How would you categorize them and what are the pros and cons of genre blending?

TO: I like to think of my books as "Mysteries with Relationships" although the publishing industry calls them Romantic Suspense. I think with the explosion of the indie market, it's easier to blend genres. Readers like a wider variety of genres and subject matter than the NY print publishers are willing to risk money on. I have one 'straight' mystery that was rejected by publishers because they said it was a blend of police procedural and cozy. I'm seriously considering publishing that one myself, because I think readers won't mind the crossover.

ESC: You’re not a plotter, but you’re writing complex mysteries. Can you tell us a little about how far you plan ahead in a story or what your writing process is?

TO: I don't normally know what's going to happen more than a few scenes ahead of time, although I have a very (VERY) broad, general idea of the framework for the story. If I can write without needing to know specifics, I plow ahead. For example, in When Danger Calls, I knew Ryan had a disc that held some Very Important Secrets. I didn't know exactly what they were, or how they were encrypted until I learned more about Frankie's talents – because it made good "writing" sense for her to be the one to decipher the code. In Danger in Deer Ridge, I knew my heroine had taken something from her husband, but I was probably 2/3 of the way through the book before I knew exactly what it was. And if I don't know, then I certainly can't be dropping brazen hints to my readers.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Today's the Day!

Iron Man Arizona starts at 7 AM this morning (in Arizona). Her sister hopes the sign will help keep Nicole motivated. Or maybe we should have made one that says, "Will swim, bike & run for cake." But that would need to be much bigger. Hope you will be keeping her in your thoughts today.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Field Trip - Potpourri

We're on the road today for Iron Man Arizona (see yesterday's post for why). I hope I'll have some new pictures for next weekend, but for now, more from my hard drive. (A lot of these were taken with my old camera, and I wasn't saving them as very large images, so apologies if they don't open larger. I'm learning!)

Remember, I'll be drawing a name for Giveaway #2 when I get back, so be sure to enter. Can't win if you don't!  I only need a few more followers. And 20 new newsletter signups will kick off yet another giveaway.





Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's a Marathon, not a Sprint

Tomorrow, daughter #1, Hubster and I are heading out for Tempe, Arizona, where daughter #2 (by 3 minutes) will be competing in her first official Iron Man triathlon.

She's been training for triathlons for a couple of years now. She started by joining Team in Training to help raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She thought she'd give it that year, but went on for another year, this time as a coach. That grew into her setting up her own business, NEO Endurance Sports as a coach for endurance athletes. (And yes, there's a writing tie-in, so please keep reading)

During that time, she ran her first full marathon. That's over 26 miles, for those who might not be familiar with the distance. And, the first marathon runner died at the end. Not something a mom likes hearing when her child says she's going to run that distance.

Nicole finished the race, and said she'd probably never do it again—she just wanted to prove she could. You can imagine my surprise last year when she said she'd signed up for the Arizona Iron Man. She's going to run a full marathon AFTER she swims over 2 miles and bikes 112 miles.

How did she prepare for this? Slowly. Gradually increasing distances, doing more workouts (even if it means getting up 2 hours early—she has a full time job and husband as well), and totally changing her eating habits. This was the child who existed on bread and potatoes, with the occasional ear of corn. Her idea of a green vegetable was canned green beans. Now she's making and eating things like kale, and adding veggies to every meal. According to her records, since January 1st, she's spent 200 hours on her bike logging 3115 miles, 108 hours have been spent running 568 miles, and 293,451 yards were swum over 125 hours.

As writers, especially those of us stepping into the world of indie publishing, it behooves us to remember that we're entering a marathon. We see authors like J.A. Konrath, Bob Mayer, or Barry Eisler who are bringing in huge sums of money. But these authors started in traditional publishing and came in with their established brands and followings.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday - Crockpot Roast Chicken

First and foremost. Happy Birthday to the Hubster. I should have a recipe for birthday cake, but I made this last week, and it was torture smelling the chicken as it cooked, and I wanted to share the recipe here.

And I've hit a milestone with likes and followers, so be sure to check the Deals & Steals tab. You can't win if you don't enter.  And on to the recipe. 

I have a large crockpot with a rack insert, but you can probably adapt the recipe to slow roast in your oven. Or, roast it in your crockpot on a bed of root vegetables to keep the chicken from being immersed in its own juices.(Which might not be that bad, either.) Anyway, the recipe is modified from the cookbook that came with the crockpot.

Lemon Roasted Chicken

Click for the recipe:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why Do I Write?

Today my guest is author Randy Rawls. I met Randy and his trademark cowboy hat when I attended my first SleuthFest in Florida many years ago. I'm delighted to have him here at Terry's Place, sharing why he writes. Welcome, Randy.

(And it's my day at The Blood-Red Pencil, so while Randy's holding down the fort here, pop over and see what I have to say about the Rule of Three.)

Why do I write? I've had people ask me that since I began some fifteen-plus years ago. Most of them see the list of books I've had published and think I'm rolling in dough. Ha! The joke's on them. Sure, I've had good sales along the way, especially when you consider that each of them was published by an independent (small) publisher. But show a profit — no way. I've spent far more in promotion and travel than I've ever made.

So why do I write? It's a hobby, yes, but so is reading. And reading is a lot less frustrating. I used to be an avid golfer. Several times a week, I was on the course — after work and weekends — banging that little white ball around. But I gave it up. Tennis was another sport I enjoyed. Played a better game than my golf, but I let it slip away, too. Many other hobbies have come and gone: coaching, photography, bridge, small stakes poker, gardening, etc. But reading has stuck with me through each of those, and writing has hung around longer than the others.

So why do I write? Oh, like many others, I suppose there is that dream of fame and fortune, a book tour where I sit on the sets of all the big TV shows and discuss one of my books. Of picking up a newspaper or a magazine and seeing a starred review of my story. Of hosting a signing and having the room full of people, perhaps even overflowing. Of signing my name on the title page until my hand begins to cramp. Of seeing my characters converted to the big screen or the small screen. Of getting a royalty check that causes me to consider that special car I've always coveted. Yeah, all those things would be ever so wonderful, but, as we say down south, ain't gonna happen.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Caring About Characters.

First -- Happy Birthday, Jason. Hard to believe you've hit the Big Four Oh. 

Next, I'm a guest blogger at Just Romantic Suspense today, and there's a giveaway. Pop on over and leave a comment. 

Once a week, Hubster and I watch a Netflix movie. Since we've never been big moviegoers, we have a lot of "new to us" movies to pick from. And we just put whatever strikes our fancy in the queue, because trying to find something we know we'll both like would make choosing a movie a challenge. Our only "rule" is that we each promise to give the movie 15 minutes. So, if I pick a romantic comedy, or he picks a slapstick, we're not obligated to sit through the other person's movie. Often, rather than leave the room, we'll have laptops out and divide our attention between the movie and solitaire.

Recently, we've watched a series of train movies. We saw the remake of The Taking of Pelham 123, which we liked, so I ordered Unstoppable. When I tweeted the latter as our Netflix Nite selection, someone suggested Runaway Train a 1985 movie, so that went into the queue.

Unstoppable was pretty much the same story as Runaway Train. Both had the same basic conflict. A train was out of control and if it wasn't stopped, bad stuff would happen. The people responsible were of two sorts—those who had reasonable solutions, and those who were more concerned with saving face for the company.

Unstoppable was a compelling movie. Hubster left his laptop on the coffee table. Runaway Train should have been a compelling movie, but solitaire got more attention than the screen. Why? Runaway Train got decent reviews when it came out, but I wouldn't have given one, and it had nothing to do with the performances of the actors.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Field Trip - CO Wolf and Wildlife Rescue Center

Since I'm still mired in edits, I'm rerunning an older post (April of 2010). These images were taken by Jason at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Rescue Center. Although it's close enough to our home so that we occasionally hear the wolves howling, we have yet to get there ourselves. Thanks to Jason, again, for sharing. 

Welcome to my new followers. I'll be giving away more books soon, I'm sure. Only a few more clicks of the like button on the sidebar, and a few more followers will do it. 


And it's Veteran's Day, 11/11/11. Take a moment to thank someone who's served his or her country. I don't normally do promotions here, but I'm making an exception. If you're looking for something to read, with all proceeds donated to the Veteran's Research Corporation, you might want to check out the SEAL of my Dreams anthology. I know many of the contributing authors, and I've already pre-ordered my copy. Or just enjoy the cover! 




And now, away from Seals and onto Wolves. (And a fox)






Thursday, November 10, 2011

Digital Publishing Workshop Recap

What I'm reading: The Reversal, by Michael Connelly

I'm closing in on another giveaway.  I need a few more likes and follows (see the sidebar).

I'm continuing with recaps of workshops from the Emerald City Conference. Since I'm working on getting my next book, DEADLY SECRETS, ready for digital publication, I thought I'd share another workshop given by Angela James. She spoke about digital publishing, and gave a fascinating overview of the topic. This is a short post, and more like bullet points, because I'm working on edits! But I've got a prize for anyone who can answer my questions, which I hope makes up for it. Quiz at the end of the post.

Digital publishing has a North American focus. We tend to think that everyone has the same options and opportunities, but that's not the case. But today, almost everything is available in digital format. More and more authors are taking advantage of being able to publish their own books, be they original or previously published titles. As she put it, "Self publishing is the new black."

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday - Karen C's Crab or Shrimp Muffins

Frequent visitor and commenter, Karen C, has accepted my invitation to share a recipe, and I thank her (and I know you will, too). Plus, this gives her an extra entry in my contest...hint, hint.

Crab or Shrimp Muffins

1 Pkg. English Muffins (I use Thomas’)
½ cup butter or margarine, softened (1 stick)
5 oz. Kraft Old English Cheese (I use Cheddar)
7 oz can Crab or Shrimp
1 Tbsp. Minced Onion (I use dehydrated)
½ Tsp. Garlic Powder
½ Tsp. Salt
¼ Tsp. Pepper
Paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut muffins in half. Beat butter and cheese; add spices. Drain crab or shrimp and pat dry (on paper towel). Add to mixture and mix thoroughly. Spread on muffins and sprinkle with Paprika.

Bake on cookie sheet for 12 - 15 minutes. Cut into halves or quarters and serve immediately.

The muffins can be served as appetizers or for breakfast.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Finding Inspiration

Today I'm welcoming back author, photographer, and pilot Mark Danielson to Terry's Place.

Sometimes it’s easier to find Nemo than it is inspiration. You sit down to write and then mindlessly stare at the silent keyboard and blank screen. The closer you are to a deadline, the more difficult it is to find the words. Authors refer to this as writer’s block. As a pun, Writer’s Block is also the title to my next murder mystery, which happened to be one of the easiest novels to write. Since my characters led me through this story, I never had to search for words and it was fun learning from them. Now they are leading me through its sequel.

People often ask, “Where do you get your ideas?” Honestly, most have been fermenting for some time, and when some event triggers my brain, suddenly I’m delving into the new story. But sometimes my ideas come out of the blue, perhaps in a dream. This was the case for the sequel to Writer’s Block while I was well into a different one. I ended up postponing that story to write the new sequel based on a true haunting in Fort Worth. Both stories are fun.

The problem with subconscious thoughts is they are so transient they may be lost if not immediately written down. Later, I’ll create a Word document to keep these ideas for future use. Thankfully a few key words mind can usually take me back to the story behind the thought. Assuming I don’t lose that document, I probably have enough ideas to last decades.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Writing With Triggers

What I'm reading: An Invitation to Sin, by Jo Beverley, Sally Mackenzie, Vanessa Kelly & Katilin O'Riley; Island Nights, by P.J. Mellor

Only 5 more likes and 12 more followers before I give away more books. And don't forget to sign up for my newsletter on my website, which also enters you in the giveaway. Details on the Deals and Steals tab.

Today it's another recap of an Emerald City Writers Conference workshop, this one given by Bernadette Pajer. She called her approach "Trigger Writing" and she made some interesting points, giving another way to look at the "show don't tell" rule.

Pajer defined a trigger as a carefully crafted description, rich in innuendo or emotional responses. She said the beauty of triggers is that they engage readers by allowing them to be an active participant in the story.

When you use triggers, you're using implications and connotations rather than denotations, or strict definitions of the words. You're trusting that the reader will have the same associations with the word that you're trying to get across in your prose.

For example, if you put a Dumpster in a scene, odds are your readers are going to see and smell the scene, even if you don't go into details about what it actually looks like or smells like.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Friday Field Trip - My Hard Drive

No theme today. I was just poking around my hard drive and randomly selected some images to share. I'd love others to share theirs.

Don't forget the contests. I'm only 5 "likes" and 12 follows away from another giveaway.











Thursday, November 03, 2011

Branding Is For More Than Cattle

What I'm reading: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin (don't laugh; I never read it). And I'm reading it primarily because I won a copy of Pride and Prejudice: The Jewess and the Gentile by Lev Raphael, and figured I needed to read the original before the mashup.

I picked up more books at the Emerald City conference, and many of them are going into my Giveaway stack. Be sure you check the Deals and Steals tab for all the different ways you can enter the contest. I'm very close to Giveaway #2 with my "likes"

I hope you'll read through today's post, because I'd like some opinions, and I've asked a few questions at the end.

At Emerald City, I went to Angela James's workshop on Branding. She's an editor for Carina Press, which is part of Harlequin, and she made some excellent points. She also spoke about digital publishing in another workshop, which I'll save for another post.

As to Branding: it's more than a tag line. Branding is how you become known to readers.

1. Branding is a promise. She used the example of McDonald's. When you go into a McDonald's, you have expectations, because they have a very strong brand. If tomorrow, they said, "we're going to become a vegetarian restaurant", consumers would feel cheated.

2. Branding is how you stand out from the crowd. JD Robb makes a different promise to her readers than she does as Nora Roberts. Branding creates marketing opportunities.

3. Branding draws consumers in. Angela spoke of seeing a store in a shopping center called, "Wine Anthology." It immediately called to her, and she thought it would be a great place to shop. Then she noticed that there was a sign saying, "Clark Circle Liquors is now Wine Anthology." The image of Clark Circle Liquors was totally different from Wine Anthology, calling up images of seedy men carrying open bottles in brown paper bags.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday - Joy's Eazy Peazy Meat Dish

Thanks to Elizabeth for her post yesterday, and showing us how to use our darkest memories to enrich our writing.

Today, I'd like to welcome Joy Isley to Terry's Place. She's sharing a recipe that's perfect for those days when you don't really feel much like cooking, or don't have a lot of time to assemble ingredients. I hope more of you will follow with favorites of your own. Remember, if you share a recipe, you get an additional contest entry.

Joy says: "When I don't have time this is what I fix, and my family often requests it."

Joy's EAZY PEAZY MEAT DISH

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a baking dish, place a round steak that has been cut into 4 sections. Pour over it 1 can of Campbell's Golden Mushroom soup and 1 can of Campbell's French Onion soup. Pour over that 1/2 a can of cold water.

Cover and bake for an hour or until fork tender.

Serve with cooked rice.

YUMMY

Thanks, Joy

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Giveaway #1 Winner

Thanks to everyone who entered. My random number generation has spoken. The winner of a selection of books from my overflow shelf is Dee Bibb. Dee, your prize will be on its way to you.

Don't forget - there will be more giveaways, so tell your friends to follow the blog, like the blog, sign up for my newsletter on my website, and share photos and recipes.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Dirt Yields Gold

Today I'm pleased to welcome Elizabeth C. Main to Terry's Place. A Central Oregon author who writes mystery, romance, and young adult fiction, Elizabeth has discovered that writers shouldn't bury painful memories. Dredging up traumatic episodes from the past often produces the best writing.


“The flowers that bloom in the spring,Tra la,Breathe promise of merry sunshine--”

Do those lyrics from The Mikado make me long to hear the rest of the song? Not really, though I have nothing against flowers or spring, especially with sunshine to follow.

But beauty and warmth don’t cut it in chapter one, though they have their place. Something bad has to happen fast to snap the reader to attention, so skip the sunshine and muck around in the dirt.

Discover a dismembered body under the blooming flowers and you have the beginning of a mystery. Unearth a moldy stack of letters from the soil and a long-concealed romance emerges. A half-rotted sign pried from beneath your garden could provide words that lead to a poem.

An even more productive location to find dirt, metaphorically speaking, is in the sifting of your own memories. I’m talking about the distressing memories we all harbor, sometimes shielded even from ourselves. Those memories, though painful or humiliating, deliver the best stories . . . the gold we seek as writers.