Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Abandoned Books

What am I reading now?  No, I didn't forget to blog. And I didn't forget to read this week, either! 
Annnd . . . what do I think so far? 
However, I did start and abandon several books! I don't rate books that get less than 3 stars, and I'm not going to blog about those books. So I don't have a new book to recommend this week.

Some reasons I'll abandon a book include:
1. It gets vile early on. I think it will only get worse--dump it.
2. There are so many typos and missed punctuation that I'm completely pulled out of the story. I'm okay with a few, but every page is where I draw the line.
3. Large chunks of text committed to talking heads. I don't know what the characters are doing, except that they're talking.
4. Nothing happens. I'll give a book 10-20 (I think I'm generous) pages for grabbing my interest. If backstory goes on and on, I won't.
5.  Poor story flow. By the time I'm good and lost, I don't care to figure it out.

I do have a fabulous recipe to share with you…
Cheesy Bean Dip
Nickname: Sabbath Dip
I had planned to serve artichoke dip one Sunday dinner. When I started pulling everything out of the pantry, I noticed that I didn't have artichokes (kinda required) or the right kind of cheese (guerre). Can't shop on Sunday--I couldn't make it. Still wanting a wonderful appetizer, I improvised with what I did have. The result has become a family favorite.

1 can white northern beans, liquid and all
1/2 block softened cream cheese
1/4 cup mayo (Please, if you use Miracle Whip, I don't want to know.)
Puree those together using an immersion blender or your regular blender.

Stir in:
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup fresh basil, rough chopped
1 cup warmed (frozen) spinach (pat dry with paper towel before mixing in)
3 cups grated mozzarella
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Pour into baking dish
Top with 3/4 cup of grated mozzarella

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes
Serve with tortilla chips or chunks of bread

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Paired Readings

What am I reading now?  My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters (Sydney Salter)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  It’s the end of junior year, and summer is about to begin. The Summer of Passion, to be exact, when Jory Michaels plans to explore all the possibilities of the future--and, with any luck, score a boyfriend in the process. But Jory has a problem. A big problem. A curvy, honking, bumpy, problem in the form of her Super Schnozz, the one thing standing between Jory and happiness. And now, with the Summer of Passion stretched before her like an open road, she's determined for Super Schnozz to disappear. Jory takes a job delivering wedding cakes to save up for a nose job at the end of the summer; she even keeps a book filled with magazine cutouts of perfect noses to show the doctor. But nothing is ever easy for accident-prone Jory--and before she knows it, her Summer of Passion falls apart faster than the delivery van she crashes. In her hilarious and heartbreaking debut novel, Sydney Salter delivers a story about broadening your horizons, accepting yourself, and finding love right under your nose.

Paired Readings
This blog is about fiction and romance. But today I wanted to post a pairing of books that are about the same topic--one fiction and one non-fiction. Both of the books paired today deal with finding and appreciating your own unique beauty.

So--What else am I reading now?  How to Embrace Your Inner Hotness (Leta Greene)
Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  We all experience loss and pain when our lives don't end up looking like we dreamed they would. Professional beauty expert and speaker Leta Greene looked that in the face and made a choice. Happiness and permanent hotness followed. Yours can too, right now, as Leta shares how to create the life and look you want in 15 simple steps—a transformation that will make you irresistibly and lastingly hot.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Audience and Theme

What am I reading now? A Different Blue (Amy Harmon)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  Finished. Love it! Telling everyone I know to read it.

Blue Echohawk doesn't know who she is. She doesn't know her real name or when she was born. Abandoned at two and raised by a drifter, she didn't attend school until she was ten years old. At nineteen, when most kids her age are attending college or moving on with life, she is just a senior in high school. With no mother, no father, no faith, and no future, Blue Echohawk is a difficult student, to say the least. Tough, hard and overtly sexy, she is the complete opposite of the young British teacher who decides he is up for the challenge, and takes the troublemaker under his wing. 

This is the story of a nobody who becomes somebody. It is the story of an unlikely friendship, where hope fosters healing and redemption becomes love. But falling in love can be hard when you don't know who you are. Falling in love with someone who knows exactly who they are and exactly why they can't love you back might be impossible.

Audience and Theme
Recently Deanna and I were trying to title one of our stories. Seriously--it's had so many different titles we can't remember them all. At first it was just called "Book", then as titles came and went, we referred to it as Delia's story after one of the main characters. Although we've written over 60,000 words on this version and there have been four earlier versions that had that many words too, the book isn't done yet so no hurries!

One day when we were brainstorming titles, I asked, "What's the theme of the book?", hoping to get some insight into more related words. We looked at each other. Stared. Then started laughing. We couldn't name the theme. YIKES! We are rewriting, yet again, with a clearer focus for connecting the meaning of the story.

I recently read a newsletter article by David Farland discussing what writing novels is really about, and I liked this statement from him:

You can get on a mailing list for his newsletter HERE.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Nunes on Romance

What am I reading now?  My Last Kiss (Bethany Neal)

Annnd . . .what do I think so far?  
I have to start off by saying that I don't read a lot of murder mysteries. I like books with humor and farce much more. However, this book held my attention, and I read it every chance I could. The story is told from the point of view of the dead girl, Cassi, who is trying to find how how she died. It's an engaging story, full of confusing (in a good way) twists that left me guessing at who would finally be the one.

Rachel Ann Nunes' 
6 Steps to Unforgettable Romance

1. Characters who have goals, and whose actions are justified by motivation 
2. The plot is relatable to the reader
3. Emotional reactions between characters create tension
4. Intimacy feels real and earned
5. Reader satisfaction
6. Beta-readers to give feedback on reader's response

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

S'more Strata

What am I reading now?  The Kiss of Deception (Mary E. Peterson)

Annnd. . . what do I think so far?
5 Quick Thoughts About The Kiss of Deception
First, I'm so glad the love triangle wasn't what it could have been.
Second, I like the change of the two main characters over the book. (I'm not telling which two.)
Third, I hate huge cliffhangers. (yup, that's why it lost that last star.)
Fourth,  I will definitely pick up the next book to learn more about the magic elements that were just developing. And for the resolution to said cliffhanger.
Fifth, the next book isn't out until 2015? Nooooooo!

S'more Strata

• Combine 3 c. milk and two packages instant chocolate pudding mix
• Combine 1 1/2 c. milk and one package instant white chocolate pudding mix
• Melt 1/2 package white chocolate chips
• Melt 1 package chocolate chips

• Stir the chocolate pudding and melted chocolate chips together
• Stir the white chocolate pudding and melted white chocolate chips together

• Place a layer of graham crackers in the bottom of a 9X13 cake pan
• Smooth half the chocolate mixture on top
• Place another layer of graham crackers on top
• Smooth all the white chocolate mixture over them
• Place another layer of graham crackers on top
• Smooth rest of the chocolate mixture over them
• Optional: Place another layer of graham crackers on top

Chill overnight (or 3 hours)

•Place 15 marshmallows, one for the top of each piece of strata, on parchment on a cookie sheet and brown them under the broiler. Serve immediate when you top them (cooked marshmallow gets chewy when it cools and is hard to get off the parchment)