Friday, December 31, 2010

Catching Up

Still revisiting the year-end bookkeeping so everything will be ready for the accountants to do W-9s.

EASTERN SHORE LIFE AND LURE went back to press for the third time, to correct problems with the cover, but that's about all I did this week.

Galleys went out to Terry L. White for VIENNA PRIDE.

New books are up on the Website for January.

Have the best of success for all of us in the coming year.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Black-eyed Peas for New Years - Recipe

Maggie Dix’s Heart-Healthy Black-eyed Pea Soup

2 ½ cups dried black-eyed peas (1 pkg)
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. imitation bacon flavored pieces
1 handful of dried cholesterol-free (No Yolks) dumplings
Dash of salt
Pepper to taste

Water to cover plus one inch. If water has cooked away, add water to cover plus 1/2 inch and bring back to a simmer before adding dumplings.

Place all ingredients except dumplings in a 2 quart pot. Cover with water. Boil fast for 15 minutes, then simmer until peas are tender. Add dumplings. Cover and Simmer 10 more minutes. Serves four. This works equally well with lima beans or other dried beans.

Traditionally, one uses cubes of ham and ham fat for the flavoring, but Maggie's recipe tastes almost as good and helps cut down on the cholesterol.

Maggie Dix is not an author, but is the artist who does our covers. We just couldn’t leave her out

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Free Promotional E-Books sites - Writing tip


I received an e-mail today from an author telling me she could get free promotion for her book if she'd send a copy to a site that gave e-books away for free. It's only one copy and the site has lots of traffic and they "pay 70%." Isn't that good? she asked.

It didn't seem to occur to her that the "only one copy" of her whole book would be copied and given out as many times as someone clicked on the button, all while earning her nothing. I did wonder how they could pay 70% of nothing, for if they were giving the books away free, then sales would earn nothing. After checking the site, I discovered that the payment was for advertising, which they were perfectly will to sell me, if I'd give them my books for -- well, for nothing.

The author is the copyright holder. I cannot legally stop her from doing this and creating a site where people can get for free, what I'm trying to sell on various distributor sites so as to make her money. Worse, this web site isn't even a "pirate" because they ask permission of the authors and so what they're doing is perfectly legal.

Now, if they have her permission to post her book, and if she sends it to them it constitutes permission, they have a perfectly legal right to give it away as many times as they want to. Setting it up in competition with any and all legitimate outlets that pay us.

This is not promotion folks -- it's just another way for a web site to take advantage of authors, especially inexperienced and self-published authors.

This web site has been recommended on some of the authors lists as a good place to promote and authors appear to believe they are a legitimate market.

Please, please don't fall for this kind of scam.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No Wrong Way to Do It - writing tip

Someone responded to my blog on outlines, by emailing me to ask how I could write a story without knowing what was going to happen first?

That's a good question. Well, I never have a detailed outline, or even a Triple-O. But I do know what the main character wants and usually what the general outcome will be. If I know that, I can sit down and write and the sub-conscious will take over and create the obstacles and bleak moment that shape the story.

If toward the end of the story, I find I need a "telling detail" to foreshadow something that happens later, I just go back and put that in.

Other, and usually more productive, people have to know all the details before they start. THEY never end up with drawers full of half-finished projects where they lost the thread, either, but we all do it however we can. One way or the other, it's born in us. It may be a "right-brain" thing.

I'm reminded of that old question from Psych 101, where the professor said, "A kid is lost in the woods. I can give you beaters to comb the brush, or a helicoptor to try to spot him from the air, which would you choose?"

About 90 percent of the class chose the beaters. Those of us who took the arial view were told we were "right brain" creative people, but lacked logic, because the woods might be too dense to see our kid from the air, while the beaters would search every inch.

The "beaters" were told they were "left brain" people who had little imagination. They looked at life logically and took things one step at a time, but they lacked the ability to see the whole or the end result, rather than just the first immediate next step.

I don't believe those who are "left-brain" lack in creativity or imagination. I know some wonderful writers who are able to outline in detail and who write two to five books a year. I also know how hard I've tried to do that and how flat my efforts have fallen.

The important part of this tip is -- there's no wrong way to do it. Write using whatever method works best for your individual talent. Don't force yourself into a mold created by someone else's expectations of how it "should be" done.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ginger Cookies - recipe

Brenda Boldin’s Ginger Cookies

2 cups self rising flour
(OR 2c. flour, 1tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. baking soda, ½ tsp. salt)
1 tsp. ginger
11/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
½ cup shortening
½ cup molasses
1 egg yolk

Mix sugar and shortening; add molasses and egg yolk. Sir in dry ingredients. Roll on lightly floured surface, 1/4 inch thick. Cut out shapes. Bake on lightly greased cookie sheets at 350-F or 177-C degrees for 10 minutes.

Cool before removing from cookie sheet.
Makes approx. 30 cookies.

Contributed by Brenda Boldin, author of the Alex Masters Series, Dead Birds Don’t Sing, Jailbird, and A Bird by Any Other Name...Alex Masters is back, calling herself “Lexi” now, and working a real job in her brother’s software company. Money disappears, disks go missing, then a dead body turns up, and once again Alex/Lexi is suspect Number One.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Will be taking a few days off.

Happy Holidays, everyone. May each of you be blessed and enjoy success in the coming year.

See you on Monday.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Continuity needs work - writing tip

A former student e-mails: I received a comment in a critique that the "continuity needs work." What does that mean in terms of a short story? I can't see anything I did wrong, but don't want to argue.

Answer: In simple terms, continuity is not getting the horse behind the cart. People shouldn't arrive at their destination before they leave. If someone answers the phone, it should ring first, not after it is answered. If someone lights a cigarette, they should put it out before they light another. No one should go upstairs when they already ARE upstairs. Don’t laugh, I’ve seen all of those happen, and in published work, too!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Italian Cookies - Recipe

Ray Morand’s Grandma Carchia’s Italian Cookies

5 cups white flour
3 Tbsp baking powder
1 cup milk
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tsp flavoring (anise, lemon, orange or vanilla)
½ cup oil
½ cup milk

Beat eggs, sugar, baking powder and flavoring. Gradually add flour up to 3 cups. Add ½ cup milk. Mix well and gradually add rest of flour, then milk mixing as you go. Pour ½ cup oil over mixture. Knead well about 20 times.

Pinch off a ball about one inch in diameter. Roll into long rope and tie in a knot or cross rope over itself. Bake about eight minutes at 400-F or 204-C degrees.

2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp milk
5 drops food coloring
¼ tsp flavoring (your choice)

Combine all ingredients and drizzle over cookies as they cool.

Contributed by Ray Morand*, author of MODIFIED.... The year is 2106 and the human race finally united under one world government, but a slave race of Artificial Intelligence Clones want their freedom and genetically engineered soldiers were created to combat them. The Space Marines are fighting a losing battle and one genetically engineered female Navy Seal may be the secret to winning the war.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Winter Solstice - annual poem


God’s gifts are all around us
He sends us, peace, life, snow, cardinals aflutter in winter sunshine
Friends bring books, ceramic pigs, and pecan pie coffee
We are blessed with a caring circle, who
Gift us with love, and life renewed

A man whose heart is generous,
Steady, willing, he smiles and offers:
A strong arm to stir chocolate chips into stiff dough,
Patience, music – sweet good-night kisses
And treats to a gray cat, first thing in the morning

A woman without a country
heart is open as a Chesapeake sky
Dynamite in a small package, eh?
The love in her heart, warms each of us
She offers caring, cheesecake, and a rich turkey-rice soup.

A son returned from a long cold journey
Bleak years led to open arms, and joy untold
Able hands offer service, a caring heart, forgiveness
Friendship, kindness – he blesses our life with
Cookies that smell like Christmas.

A man, who gives much to all those around him
Friendship, patriotism, the bite of sharp Swiss cheese,
Sunshine, generosity, understanding, prayers of Grace
He never waits to be asked, he comes
In times of need and says, "What can I do?"

Apple cake and life are the gifts of her hands
Flowers bloom and thrive in her care
She gives humor, bright smiles, and warm yellow squash
Sun-baked and fresh from the garden
In a full and busy life of service, she still finds time for friends

So many gifts touch our lives
Not the kind that are bought in stores,
But gifts of generosity, of caring, of kindness,
Gifts sent by God, brought by friends and family.
Each of you is a gift, a blessing and a joy untold

– Arline Chase, Winter Solstice 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

On Outlines - writing tip

Question: Do you use an outline? I've been trying to use the kind of Roman Numeral and letter outline I was taught to use in school, but can't get it to work in a story. I read your synopsis blog and someone told me that is an outline, though it isn't at all like I was taught. Is that an "outline?"

Answer: Yes and no. A synopsis is what is meant when an agent or publisher says, "Send me an out line with three chapters. For that purpose, "synopsis" and "outline" are the same.

An outline can also mean a plan for your story. Some use a scene list. Or a chapter by chapter plan. Some writers "just sit down and write." I'm one of those. If I plan a lot ahead of time, then something else happens when I sit down and write, so it's a waste of time for me to plan.

Those writers who swear by them can't imagine "flying blind" with the story and want to know every detail before they begin writing. They write detailed, sometimes scene-by-scene outlines and most writing courses advise anyone to use that method.

When I taught writing, I always taught students to outline, because that is by far the easiest way to write, if you can do it that way. I taught the Triple -O method of outline.

Here it is:

Triple-O Outline in three parts.

Every story is about someone who wants something and whether they get it or not. Any story plot can easily be broken down into three parts: Objective; Obstacles; Outcome, sometimes referred to as the Triple-O Outline. There are hardly any new plots, so don’t be discouraged if “it’s been done.” The challenge for any writer is to make the characters so fresh and interesting that the reader forgets they have seen the plot before.

Plots for short stories should be short. If too much action is incorporated, the story will grow longer and longer and may become unwieldy. If too many obstacles occur, the reader could grow impatient and give up.

Be careful not to confuse “back story” (information needed to explain the character's personality and problems to the readers), with current plot action. Whatever has happened before the real action begins is “back story.” Be careful not to confuse explanatory action, with a plot turning point. A plot turning point is always when something CHANGES.

To use a classic example, in the story Cinderella her mother’s death and her father’s remarriage are all “back story.” The mean way the rest of the family treats Cindy is explanatory action used to set up the objective. Because the Objective for Cinderella, is that she wants to go to the ball. Until Cinderella decides she wants to go to the ball nothing has really happened, everything is going on as usual. Remember, plot always happens when something changes.

When the character knows what he or she wants, that is the objective and the objective is always the beginning of the story, the beginning of the plot. Now the character has a problem to solve – how to get what s/he wants. Once there is a problem statement, it’s time to get on with the story.

If there is no problem, nothing is happening, and there is no story. Stories are about overcoming something. If there is no “overcoming” then there is no satisfaction to the reader at the end.

Here are The Triple-Os

Objective: The objective (some call it object, but I like objective better) is what the character wants. Once your character knows what s/he wants, s/he has an objective. Cinderella wants to go to the ball. Her sisters are going and she darned well wants to go, too.

Obstacles: Whatever stands in the character’s way of getting what s/he wants are plot obstacles. There's an old writer's axiom called the "rule of three" that tells us not to include more than three things in any one sentence. For hundreds of years three has been a magic number in our culture. Genies grant three wishes, Cinderella had two ugly sisters, there are usually three turning points or complications in a story plot, with the last one resulting in the crisis/bleak moment (some people call it the “black moment” and Carla Neggers calls it the “big gloom”), just before the resolution. So it is unwise to plan more than three obstacles in any plot.

Cinderella’s obstacles are not the ugly step-sisters, the way she is treated by her mean and jealous step-mother, or her father’s inability to see through his new wife. These are her obstacles:

1. She has nothing to wear.

2. She has no way to get there.

3. She has a fairy-godmother (who solves the first two), BUT she must be home by midnight or the magic wears off!

As with most story plots, obstacles one and two are overcome, but obstacle three leads to what I like to call the bleak moment. In every story there is (or should be) that moment when it looks as if all is lost. For Cinderella, that moment happens when she’s in the Prince’s arms and the clock strikes 12. She runs, for she knows that when the clock finishes striking, she will be standing there in rags. For Cindy, the party is over and she’ll never see the prince again. (Bleak moment.)

Outcome: The outcome is simply how your story ends. Every story has an outcome. Some are happy, some sad, but whatever the outcome the main character or his or her circumstances should change because of it. In our sample story, the Prince finds the slipper. Truly smitten, he searches for Cindy until he finds her. And the Outcome, of course, is they marry and live happily ever after.

Not every story has a happy ending, of course, but there must be a resolution and the story will be better received if that resolution is satisfactory to the reader. Take the movie version of Titanic. (Another Cinderella, story plot.) Unlike Cindy, Rose is rich, but she is also a victim of her family and of her abusive fiance. Here, quoted from the movie, is Rose’s problem statement:

"I saw my whole life as if I'd already lived endless parade of parties and cotillions, yachts and polo matches...always the same narrow people, the same mindless chatter. I felt like I was standing at a great precipice, with no one to pull me back, no one who cared...or even noticed."-- Rose DeWitt Bukater

Rose’s Objective: Is to escape the life she lives and a loveless marriage so that she can find freedom.

Rose’s obstacles:

1. Her family and fiancé who punish her when she doesn’t conform
2. Depression that leads her to consider suicide.
3. The ship’s sinking and Jack’s death (bleak moment)

Rose’s Outcome: Though Jack dies, Rose is rescued and goes on.

Rose is Cindy in reverse. She’s a girl who has everything, money, position, and a millionaire fiancé. Yet Rose is severely depressed and feels confined by her life. Then she meets Jack, a free spirit. Instead of going to the palace ball, they dance with the peasants in steerage. Even though Jack dies when the ship sinks, Rose goes on to dump her fiancé, and to live out all the dreams she and Jack had planned together. This is evidenced by her photo collection, Rose as a pilot, on a roller-coaster, riding a horse, and treading the boards as an actress. Not a happy ending to the romance, but a satisfactory ending, because Rose has escaped from the narrow-minded people and her confined life, to find a fulfillment for herself.
Even though the hero dies, Titanic is still a romance. The ending,
while sad, resolves the issues, and is satisfying to
the reader.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Catching Up -- bonus Shortbread recipe

Catching UP and Chase Family Shortbread Recipe

Have had my nose into the year-end bookkeeping all week and done very little toward paper books. The good news is everything reconciled.

No books went to press this week.

No galleys went out.

No corrections were done.

BUT the accountant now has what she needed, so I am a happy camper. Will be making my shortbread this afternoon. The dough is in the refrigerator, just waiting for me. Will be taking some holiday family time over the next week or so, then get busy on getting people paid.

Chase Family Shortbread Recipe

It's 3 parts flour, 2 parts butter and one part sugar. This recipe is for a small batch of cookies and the one I use for experimenting but it doubles or triples with no troubles. Just maintain the ratio.

Shortbread Cookie Recipe

3/4 cup flour, sifted

1/4 cup superfine sugar

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup room temperature Land 'O Lakes unsalted butter

1/2 cup black walnut pieces

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon almond flavoring

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Work in the butter with a fork or pastry cutter until the dough has the consistency of short crust.

Pulsing in a food processor will work also.

Sprinkle a board or your counter top lightly with flour. Scatter walnut pieces over the flour. Turn the dough onto the board and knead until it's smooth and all walnut pieces are absorbed. Refrigerate the dough for a couple of hours or overnight.

You should have approximately 8 ounces of dough. Divide the dough into four equal portions for large cookies or eight equal portions for small cookies and shape into balls.

For consistency you might want to pull out your kitchen scales.

Place each dough ball on a baking sheet sprayed with Pam and flatten them with the bottom of a glass, or your thumb, to about 1/4 inch thickness. Prick with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 to 30 minutes, until the cookies begin to brown slightly. Allow the cookies to cool and solidify on the baking sheet, before trying to move them or they will crumble.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Six layer apple stack cake - recipe

Mary Bible's Six Layer Apple Stack Cake
2-cups of all purpose flour
3-teaspoon baking powder
11/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup shorting
1-cup of milk

Sift all dry ingredients together. Add all other ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
By hand beat 4 minutes. Stop each one minute and scrap the side of the bowl.
If by mixer, beat 30 seconds scrape side of bowel. Beat at high speed three more minutes.
Pour batter in three eight inch greased cake pans.
Bake at 350-F or 177-C degrees 30 to 35 minutes. Insert toothpick in center of cake. If it comes out clean the cake is done.

Turn layers out on a cooling rack. Cool completely. Split layers in half by taking a sewing thread about 18 inches long holding each end. Place thread half way down on back of cake layer. Hold thread tight and pull toward you, bringing the thread through. Now you have six layers.

Separate the layers with the crust side down. Leave them for one hour. Spread apple butter on each layer as they are stacked on top of each other. Frost the cake with apple butter. (If too thin pour the apple butter into a sauce pan. Add two table spoons of corn starch heat until the apple butter is thicker. Let cool before using it.)

Contributed by Dorothy Bible Kawaguchi, author of HER NAME WAS MARY...the story of a mountain woman’s struggle to raise her three children alone, during the Great Depression.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Plot ? - writing tip

I had an e-mail from a former student who'd had a return from a prospective agent, saying her "plot was all over the place." What does she mean by that, my friend asked in a 17 paragraph missive.

Well two things could be at work here.

First, the plot could truly be at fault, non-cohesive, or missing some of the elements. Those elements are a central problem the main character tries to solve throughout the story (if there's no central problem, there's no story); complications that arise from efforts to solve the problem, that fail; a bleak moment, when it looks as if all efforts will fail; followed closely by the climax, in which the problem is faced head on; the resolution, either happy or sad, where the problem is solved or not.

Or noncohesive could mean there's too much "good stuff" that happens to the character between the bad stuff. Don't stop the story for a carousel ride. Keep the character at risk of losing everything all the time. My friend Carla Neggers says the way to plot is to put your character in a hole and every time they try to climb out, throw more dirt down on them. If you throw enough dirt, according to Carla, the Big Gloom (don't you just love all these technical terms) her term for the bleak moment, will arrive without looking contrived. This can be hard to do, because most of us love our characters and we enjoy writing the parts where things are going well. Readers, however, want to get on with the story.

Second, it might be the writer's inability to "tell" those elements in a simple, abbreviated, synopsis form, without embellishment or including unneeded detail. If she puts lots of stuff that isn't part of the plot into her synopsis, you have no direct plot line from beginning to end, but a wandering path. And the agent, looking at that wandering path, may well say "all over the place." Even though the story itself is a good, and well-written one. Writing synopses is an art form of its own, one that breaks all the "rules of good writing" and it would behoove us all to learn to do it well and briefly. My advice for that kind of writing is to the point: TELL ALL.

For instance:

Boy meets girl and they fall in love, but their families have a longstanding hate relationship. (Central Problem)

Boy and girl secretly elope despite objections from both sides (complications that arise from the central problem), that keep them apart. They decide to run away together.

Girl fakes suicide in order to escape her family and go live with her husband.

Husband finds her, believes she is dead, kills himself. (climax)

Girl comes to, discovers her husband dead, and kills herself. (resolution, as the family war is no longer of consequence to either of them)

And, yes, you're right, the plot IS Romeo and Juliet.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hot Prawn Canapes - recipe

Nancy Madison’s Hot Prawn Canapes

12 slices of thin bread
1 lb. shrimp, boiled, chopped fine
12 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp onion, chopped fine
1/4 Tsp pepper
2 Tsp paprika
1 cup butter, clarified*
4 Tsp lemon juice, fresh
2 Tsp horseradish
½ tsp salt
1 cup Parmesan cheese

Cut crusts off bread. Cut each bread slice into 1/4, either round, oval or toast point. Mix the shrimp and other ingredients except Parmesan. Cover bread slices with shrimp mixture. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over bread. Place on cookie sheet and bake in 500-F or 260-C degree oven 3-5 minutes until cheese melts. Serve right from oven. 12 servings.

* To clarify butter, melt in a saucepan and measure out only the clear yellow oil from the top, leaving behind the whey residue at the bottom.

Contributed by Nancy Madison, author of WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW... In this romantic comedy, the rocky road to love just got rougher. Jake Malone's dead sure he doesn't need anyone to complete or complicate his life. Meeting the self-assured loner, Carly Anderson disagrees and vows to pursue Jake until he catches her. In her quest, Carly's helped or hindered by a wanna-be Stallone, a larcenous film producer who preys on lonely women and a granny with a black Labrador and a Harley.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why are you a publisher? - writing tip

My e-mail this morning brought a note from a frustrated author, asking:

If so much work is involved, and you make the same as me (which is practically nothing), why do you stay in this business?

Answer: Your question reminded me of a story my doctor told of going to attend a patient at the local “hospital for the mentally ill” which is situated on the banks of a lovely river. When he came out, he discovered he had a flat tire. While he was changing the tire, a patient wandered by and threw all his lug nuts into the river, while another patient, who was raking leaves nearby, watched.
“What am I going to do now?” the doctor wailed.
The second patient leaned on his rake a moment, then said, “Just take one lug nug off each of the other wheels, put the spare on, and drive to a parts store so you can buy some more lug nuts.”
“Wow, that’s great!” the doctor said. “How did you ever think of that?”
“I’m in here because I’m crazy, not because I’m stupid,” the patient replied.

And that's my answer. It's been said, often, that "None but a crazy person would work except for money." Yet this business gives me something beyond a monetary profit. It gives me hours of enjoyment, a bunch of friends (many of whom I've never met), and satisfaction.

Yes, I'm working on the year-end bookkeeping--summing up and counting my blessings.

We are coming up on the quarter again and sales reports will go out in January, along with W2s for all those who made more than $600. in 2010. Most e-publishers or POD-publishers don't need to send out W2s. There's a rumor going around on the writers' and publishers' groups that we MUST send them to all authors this year. Not true. Only to those who make MORE than $600. Those who did, will receive W2s from us as the law requires.

That doesn't mean the rest of you can't or shouldn't report your writing earnings as income. Trust me, the IRS isn't going to come back and say, "Oh you didn't make that money, because you have no W2." Only if you report earnings is it wise to deduct writing expenses from your income tax.

Another myth is that you have to make a profit if you claim expenses. No business is required by law to make a profit. Trust me, I know. But it will look mighty funny to the IRS if you stay in business ten years and never report any earnings. If you have sales, even copies you sell yourself at shows and signings, you have earnings. Save your quarterly letters, too, and report your total yearly writing earnings in the calendar year in which you receive them.

We report ALL sales, from all our outlets, both e-book sales and paper, even the new print-on-demand stations in the larger cities' B&N stores, where customers can order the book, go have a cappucino while it is printing, and pick it up and take it home the same day. We report quarterly and we pay every cent quarterly in the quarter after it is received (some outlets hold funds for three months or more before sending us a check), even if it's only $0.69 Only authors who have sales are notified, however.

Sales usually depend on the amount of promotion the author does as we are a small company and cannot afford to do national advertising.

Authors who social-network and who join and participate in online authors' and writers' groups, who list their books and where to buy them in the signatures of every e-mail they send, who set up a free author's page at sites like, who have their own domains and home pages, who send out press releases about coming signings and events, in short those who do the most promotion, do best.

A few authors sell very well. Many sell one or two books a quarter. Some sell none. All our authors are chosen because we admire their writing skills and believe in the worth of their work. In the past ten years, we have published more than 500 original titles and we have been proud of every one of them.

So the second, and perhaps the most honest, answer to the question that started all this is: we do this because we like to do it.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Catching Up

Still working on the bookkeeping.

No new books went to press this week.

The proof copy of EASTERN SHORE LIFE AND LURE, looked a little thick and proved to be two copies of the book bound inside one cover. Just another new surprize in the "what can go wrong" category. First time for everything, I guess. So that one will have to get repaired and sent back to press soon.

Corrections were received, but not yet made, from Erin Aslin.

That's it for this week.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fudge Cake from New Zealand - recipe

Barbara Adams’s Fudge Cake *
*A real favourite for the sweet-toothed Kiwi (N.Z.)

4 ounces of butter
4 ounces of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of cocoa
2 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ounces walnuts
8 ounces of crushed sweet biscuits (in N.Z. “Biscuits” are plan cookies – say vanilla wafers)

Bring sugar, butter, cocoa, milk and essence to boil. Do not boil. Add crushed biscuits and walnuts. Add anything else you like, e.g. chopped apricots or ginger. Put in tin and wait till it sets. No cooking. Ice when cold.

Contributed by Barbara Adams, author of Cobwebs...Sue cannot shake her misgivings when her timid aunt marries an overbearing bully....An intricate web of lies and deceit is slowly unraveled. But where does Sue's boyfriend Jason fit into the puzzle? The reader is drawn towards an enticing but sticky ending.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Homonyms - writing advice

Saw a query letter this week with a "pear of scissors"in it. The author, who lives in a land that was once part of the British Empire, speaks English as a second language. I didn't have to read more than the query, to know the manuscript, if accepted, would be riddled with similar problems and so it was a no-go right from the start.

Now I know you all know the difference between a pear and a pair of scissors, but obviously someone had a problem. In fact EASL people by no means have a corner of this market and I have ofter confused compliment and complement or farther and further myself, among others. These are two that I always search and double-check in a completed manuscript, knowing my propensity for getting them wrong.

Homonyms, words that sound alike, but that are spelled differently and that have different meanings, can certainly trip any of us up. Worse, spell check will not find them for you, because they spell real words and are not "mistakes" in spelling.

Below is a list of the most often confused words. Are any of your own particular bugbears on the list?

Alright/all right - alright is a misspelling
Alter (n)/altar (v)
Ascent (n)/assent (v)
Awhile - never use a while
Bazaar (n)/bizarre (adj)
Blonde (n)/blond (adj)
Coarse (adj)/course (n)
Criteria/criterion - criteria is plural of criterion
Discreet (tactful)/discrete (separate)
Emigrate (leave)/immigrate (enter)
Farther (distance)/further
Formally (manner)/formerly (previous)
Imminent (about to happen)/eminent (distinguished)
Naïve (adj)/naivete (n)

Homonyms - writing advice

Homonyms - writing advice

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Easy Holiday Fudge - recipe

Here it is again, for those who asked:

Fudge recipe -- for those with a sweet tooth

Today I'm making my Holiday Fudge. The following basic recipe is easy to make and lends itself to all manner of variations and flavors.

For many years I'd make about 40 pounds, in different flavors and colors, then mix them 2 dozen at a time into plastic gift bags, and pass them out to friends and relations in the holiday season.

Holiday Fudge

3 sticks of butter ( Warning: must be Real Butter!)
1 2 lb package of 10x sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt

Melt the butter in the microwave

Stir in vanilla and salt with a whisk or fork

Mix in the sugar, half at a time, stirring well

As you add the second half of the sugar, the mixture will form a thick consistency. Mix well with your hands until it is smooth and thick, like biscuit dough.
(If the final mixture is too dry, add 1 tbsp of cream or half and half.)
(If final mixture is too wet, add a little extra sugar.)

Spread doughy mixture on a greased cookie sheet (Pam works great) Patting it with your hands into a flat square shape about a inch thick.

Cut into squares and Refrigerate for half an hour or more.

When the fudge is firm, put the squares into plastic bags, or candy dishes and close tight. Store in a cool place.

The fudge will stay firm at room temperature, but should not be stored near an oven, or a wood stove. I usually put mine on the back porch. It's glassed in, and not quite as warm as the rest of the house.

For Chocolate Fudge

To the above recipe, add 3/4 cup cocoa to melted butter, then proceed as shown.

For Chocolate Nut Fudge

Add 3/4 cup cocoa and
1 cup pecan pieces
Or Black walnut pieces
Or whatever nuts you like best
Mix nuts in with the sugar.

For Pina Collada Fudge

Leave out cocoa and add:
1 tbsp coconut flavoring.
1 tbsp pineapple flavoring
Yellow food coloring (optional).

For Mint Fudge

Add 1 tbsp mint flavoring.
Green food coloring.

For Almond Fudge

Add 1 1/2 tsp almond flavoring
Red food coloring to make the mixture pink.

For Chocolate-Peanut Butter Fudge

To the basic recipe, stir 1 cup of peanut butter in with melted butter.
Stir in 3/4 cup cocoa.
Then proceed with the basic recipe.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Writing Short - writing tip

We received two queries yesterday, one very interesting one. Both were for books more than 100,000 words. We could not afford to take either of them however good they might be as I would be sure lose money. A Plain and simple fact of economics. GONE WITH THE WIND, too, would be out, for us, in today's economy. Mass market publishers can afford this. POD publisers cannot, without pricing their books out of the market.

So how do you write short? How do you bring a good book in at less than 90,000 words. Doesn't a book have to be as long as it has to be?

Yes, it does.

Plenty of good, long, books have been, and will be,written. They are just not for us. And in the interest of word economy, let's think for a moment of Ernest Hemingway who wrote THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA a best-selling novel that some folks considered his best and that was almost "too short for publication."

Using a lot of words is tempting. Paring things down to what you have to say instead of what you want to say is hard. I remember when I couldn’t write “Hello” without using 500 words. Then I went to work for a newspaper. But writing short is good discipline and will serve you well in the future if you can learn do it.

Hemingway once bet someone he could write an entire short story in six words. According to some, he was very drunk at the time and the other writers who hung around at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West were certain they would win. “You need plot, a character who changes, and a resolution,” they warned. Hard to do in six words.

Everyone agreed it couldn’t be done and put a lot of money on that. Hemingway who had been telling them all they could find stories anywhere, pointed to the classified section of the newspaper — and collected his bet. “For sale. Baby shoes. Never Used.”

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Catching Up

I have been pretty busy this week, catching up on all the year-end bookkeeping stuff and working on the corporate income tax, so that is why not much has been done. This situation will probably continue for the rest of this year.

Books that went to press or back to press this week:

UNWORTHY, by Jeanine Malarsky

A MATTER OF FAITH, by Anna Dynowski

Corrections received this week:


ebooks completed this week:



Also let me wish each of you the happiest of holiday seasons and beaucoup success in the coming year.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Nut Cookies - recipe

Greta's Christmas Nut Cookies*
*In memory of Greta Bubbel

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. soda
1 cup soft butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup chopped almonds

Sift flour with salt and soda. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until well blended. Add flour gradually, mixing well. Stir in nuts. Chill dough until stiff.

Divide dough in half and form into 2 uniform rolls approx. 2" in diameter. Wrap in wax paper and freeze; or store in fridge overnight. Cut with a sharp knife into 1/4" thick slices. Place 1" apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350-F or 177-C degrees for 8 - 10 minutes. Yields approx. 40 cookies

Contributed by Joan Bramsch, author of The Sophisticated Mountain Gal...and available in WHAT'S COOKING, a collection of recipes from authors at

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Promotional Opportunities at ARE/Omni - writing tip

Lori James of All / sends the following information for authors. We do not have author pages or contact info on the web site, but all our books are/should-will be listed on their sites.

Their ads in RWA have been successful for several of our authors in the past.


From Lori James:

The holiday season is the busiest time of year and we’re experiencing record traffic of close to 12,000 shoppers per day on our website. These users represent your prime target demographic and they want more of your authors. If you have author info (i.e. bio, website, email, photo) posted on your website, we would like to request permission for our author liaison to extract it so we can add the content to your author’s pages.

Please reply to this email ( with your permission. Be sure to include the name of your publishing house in your response.

P.S. We still have a couple newsletter advertising spaces for the month of December. Cost is $10.00 per ad. Newsletter distribution is approx 50,000. Query for availability prior to sending payment.

Lori James
Chief Operating Officer
All Romance eBooks, LLC