Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Other Walt, Happy Birthday!

Walt JohnsonI named a central character in my Haunting Danielle series after my father, Walt. Technically speaking, Dad’s name was Walter, but he went by Walt. Coincidentally my father-in-law, my husband’s step-father, was also named Walter. He went by Walter instead of Walt, which made it less confusing at family gatherings.

We have one grandson, Evan, who my daughter and her husband named Evan Walter–after Elizabeth’s grandfathers.

When researching names for the Haunting Danielle series, I discovered Walt was a common name used during Walt Marlow’s time–he was born in 1898.

Why am I posting about this today? Because today is Walt’s birthday–my father Walt Johnson. Had dad lived, he would have been 88 today.

Sadly, Dad passed away 23 years ago—far too young. He is missed, yet I rather like the idea one of my favorite characters has Dad’s name.

Happy Birthday, Daddy.

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In lieu of 2016 Writing Resolutions

The Ghost of Valentine PastOver in one of my author’s groups, there have been several New Year’s resolution threads. You know the ones—what is your writing or publishing resolution for 2016?

I haven’t participated on the threads yet, because I’m too busy working on The Ghost of Valentine Past, which goes to the editor the end of the month for a Valentine’s Day release.

I noticed on one thread, the discussion turned to what they would do different when writing—such as focusing on outlining, or making some change in his or hers writing process. This got me to consider my writing process.

Author James Patterson has an online writing course, and he’s big on detailed outlining. A while back, I read Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. A good book and Aaron is also a promoter of outlining.

I really wish I could follow their advise and create a detail outline—a complete roadmap so that when I sit down, all I have to do is write, because the story is already there—in the outline.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for me—and it doesn’t work for all writers. I believe each of us has our own creative process. We might learn and borrow another author’s method—we might even decide to do exactly what that author does when writing a book—but if the method isn’t working for me, it is futile to try shoving my circle shape neatly into the square box and expect it to fit.

I outline. But my outlines might be just one sentence for each chapter, and the order of chapters are likely to get shifted or changed all together. For me, the creative process escalates when I am in the midst of writing the book—it truly is as if there is that little voice in my head telling me a story—showing twists and turns which often surprise me.

It begins with an idea. Generally, I know what’s going to happen, how the story is going to end, and who did it. I may be wrong and learn along the way Professor Plumb didn’t do it in the library with the candlestick, as I initially planned—it was actually Colonel Mustard in cahoots with Mrs. Peacock.

So what is my writing resolution for 2016? The only thing I can think of—spend more time on my treadmill desk. Other than that, I’ll have to get back with you.

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Mushroom Spinach Quiche Recipe

Quiche

 

Oh yumm! I made up a quiche recipe, and it turned out super yummy!!

Last night I cleaned out our refrigerator and found a package of readymade piecrust I had purchased for Christmas and had never used. These days I don’t normally bake pies—but I had splurged and purchased the crusts—just in case we might need it.

I decided to make something I haven’t baked since we owned a restaurant—quiche. Of course, back then, I made my own piecrust, but that was almost 15 years ago.

Instead of following a recipe, I made up one, using ingredients found in the frig. I’m trying to get back to eating healthy—after my holiday splurge, which included sweets and red meat. While the piecrust is not exactly healthy, the other quiche ingredients are. Instead of adding ham or bacon, I went heavy on the mushrooms.

I have to say, the quiche smelled delicious when baking—and tasted even better!

So here goes, a recipe for two quiche pies. You can eat one now, and freeze the second one, like I did!

Ingredients

Package of ready made pie crust (package of two)
1 small yellow onion (diced)
10-ounce package frozen spinach (defrost and chop)
16 ounces fresh mushrooms.
1 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Cayenne pepper
1 ½ cups milk
9 eggs

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°.

2. Follow the instructions on the piecrust package and arrange each of the rolls of pastry onto a pie pan. Since this recipe is for two pies, you will use both rolls and will need two pans. I used deeper Pyrex pie dishes. Poke holes in the bottom of the pie with a fork.

3. Put about 2/3 of mushrooms into a food processor and pulverize. Dice the remaining mushrooms.

4. Bake the piecrusts for 10 minutes at 350° while preparing the ingredients (dicing and shredding).

5. In a blender, add the eggs, milk, and 4 or 5 dashes of cayenne pepper. I did not add salt, but you might want to add a few dashes. Blend well.

6. After the crusts bake for 10 minutes, remove them from the oven.

7. Divide the diced onion, and add to the bottom of each partially baked piecrust. Spread diced onions over the bottom of each pie.

8. Squeeze the moisture out of the pulverized mushroom (it will almost be paste-like) and then divide and spread evenly over the onion.

9. Divide the diced mushrooms, and spread them over the pulverized mushrooms.

10. Squeeze the moisture out of the spinach, and divide it between the two pies. Spread over the mushrooms.

11. Divide the shredded cheese, sprinkle over the spinach.

12. Divide the egg mixture and pour evenly over the cheese.

13. Bake the pies for 45-60 minutes, or when a knife comes out clean and before the edge of the crust turns too brown.

14. Let sit for about 15 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy!

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Why your Amazon Review Vanished

amazonreview

We all do it to a certain extent—namedropping. Sometimes we do it to make us feel more important, to let people know we have a connection to someone who is super cool, because of course that means some of their coolness might then rub off on us. Maybe the simple reason is that we respect and admire the person we mention by name and want to acknowledge their accomplishments, with no desire for personal gain.

Whatever your reason for namedropping—you might want to refrain from doing it if you want to be heard—in a review that is—specifically at Amazon.

When writing a book review on Amazon, mentioning the author by name or writing the review in such a way that a reader might wonder if you know the author personally, makes your review a target for removal by Amazon.

Not long ago, I discussed this issue with a group of writers. One of the writers—a New York Times Bestselling author—writes a blog and publishes a magazine. He has bonded with his fans; they buy his books, leave reviews, and some call him by name. They feel they know this author—he is their bud—in spite of the fact, the author has never met them in person.

He has seen virtually hundreds of positive Amazon reviews vanish, for this very reason.

The moral of my tale—when writing a book review on Amazon, it you want to increase the chances it will remain up, write about the quality of the book, and leave the author out of the review.

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