Thursday, August 30, 2012

Beverly Jennings’s Grapeful Chicken:

4     boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1     (10 3/4 ounce) can condensed mushroom soup
1     large can French-style string beans
1     package slivered almonds
    Large bunch of seedless white grapes (approx ½ pound)

Saute chicken breasts until almost done.  Cover bottom of a casserole dish with half a can of mushroom soup.  Add layer of white grapes.  Add string beans.  Add slivered almonds, layering them over the string beans.  Add chicken breasts to top of mixture.  Add remaining mushroom soup.  Cover and bake approximately thirty minutes or until chicken is done and the sauce is bubbling.

Serve over steamed rice. Yield four servings.

Contributed by Beverly Jennings, author of  When the Jay Bird Sings...The Savannah River winds its way through When the Jaybird Sings, bringing to five-year-old Maria, ships from far away and forbidden adventure, even the hint of ghosts. Maria comes to terms with a frightful looking one-eyed grandmother, discovers the marvels of the early Twentieth Century and enjoys a rollicking family life.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Verb tense --writing tip

Plagued by religious friction, violent fights and a belief, "the grass is always greener,"my peripatetic parents dragged their five children in search of the next good farm. From upstate New York to the Mississippi Delta, to the hills of Ohio and West Virginia their dreams led us forward to disillusion and defeat. I was the middle child, unwanted from birth and over-looked while growing up. Though all five of us are deeply scarred, sometimes being the least-loved can be your salvation.

The above is an example of a literary novel NOT written in present tense. Thank Goodness! :D

Question:  I read a book this week where everything was written in the present tense? Is that right? I'm just asking because I never actually noticed one before.

Answer: Well it's not wrong, but..   Back in the dark ages, when I was in college and the NEW YORKER featured short stories by Famous Lights of the Literary World such as John Updike and J. D. Salinger, they almost always were written in present tense instead of past. They were copied right and left. It became a literary conceit among those who aspired to literary heights, to write in present tense and to do so, seemed to denote that one was an icon of Literature, with a capital L. Or aspired to be one.

But then other people, even writers of thrillers, began to use present tense and it became passe, rather than an earmark of the truly literary to use preseent tense for narrative. People like John Grisham and Lisa Scottoline wantered into the previously holy literary territory of present-tense fiction and wrote Whole Books in it, though that eventuality had been scoffed at as impossible by the originators of the trend.

As a writer and a publisher I deplore the practice of tense bending as I feel it makes the narrative too easily confused with the dialogue. Not to mention that almost everyone then uses plain past tense for flashback, which reads like regular narrative to every reader...and promotes time-confusion. In fact whenever I see a manuscript that begins:

     Angela walks down the street, looking neither left nor right.

It makes me want to hit the return button -- that's yet another reason whey we select books by committee.
I am far too easily irritated.

In today's market, using present tense only serves to confuse people like you and me.

Usually, fiction is written in past tense, dialogue in present tense (because the people are speaking in present time of the story, even if it's historical fiction), and flashbacks in past perfect tense to distinguish them from the regular past tense of the story's narrative.

For instance:

Present tense (used in experimental fiction):

     I walk toward town. The distant buildings shimmer beneath the summer sun. "This is a hot day!" I say, though there is no one around to hear me.

Past tense, used in most fiction:   
    I walked toward town. The distant buildings shimmered beneath the summer sun. "This is a hot day!" I said, though there was no one around to hear me.

Past perfect tense, used in flashbacks:
    I had been walking toward town. The distant buildings had shimmered beneath the summer sun. "This is a hot day!" I said, though no one had been around to hear me.

Okay the same nothing happens in all three, right. So is there a place for present tense???

Yes. Write your SYNOPSIS in present tense and then STOP. Don't play around with narrative tenses just to show off.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ray Morand’s Chicken Kebabs -- recipe

Ray Morand’s Chicken Kebabs 

2     pounds chicken
16     small onions
8     green peppers
    sansho powder (optional)
    (Alternative: add carrots)

½     cup soy sauce
½     cup mirin
1-2     tbsp. Sugar

Cut vegetables into bite sized pieces. Cut chicken in bite sized pieces. Place on skewers. Simmer sauce. Grill kebabs and brush sauce over them as they cook. Sprinkle with sansho powder if desired and serve.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Copyright REdux and a Word on Piracy

 We can publish this book about the BONANZA TV Series's  Cartright family characters without violating the copyrights of  the Television show, because the author has permission of the show's producers to use those characters and pays them a portion of her profits for that privilege.  To use them as characters in her book WITHOUT that permission, in writing, and signed by the producers, would have been illegal.  Many fan fiction sites ignore this circumstance, however. Fan fiction can be fun to write. BUT Be careful with whom you share such stories.

Question: Someone told me that without a copyright registration I have no recourse. Is this so?  You said I didn't have to register if I didn't want to.

Answer: As I said before, anything you create in America, books, paintings, poetry, movies and TV shows, etc. are automatically copyrighted when they are made. In a case where two people claim to have written the same thing, the one who wrote it first, is the winner and the one who wrote it last is a plagiarist.

Registering your work is one way to prove legally when it was completed. But not the only way. YOU DO HAVE to have proof of when something was completed if someone sues you.

If you WERE going to sue someone, or if someone was suing YOU,  an unopened copy of the manuscript or disks in a sealed envelope with a legible US Post Mark will prove a date of creation just as legally in any US court of law as a copyright registration and it costs less than $1.00.  You just have to keep the unopened envelope in your files, and make sure you got the right disk in the envelope, before you had the PO hand cancel it to make sure the post mark is legible.

Actually, VERY FEW authors are troubled by plagiarists and the last big case I heard about was when Nora Roberts's publishers sued Janet Dailey's publishers back in the 80's -- all settled in time. Yet many of us have OUR work stolen every day by Book Pirates and the plain fact of the matter is that MOST OF US HAVE NO RECOURSE AT ALL in dealing legally with those Book Pirates, whether a books is copyright registered or NOT. 
Of course you COULD SUE them under the Copyright law. If they were law-abiding citizens, LIVING IN the US, but they are NOT law-abiding citizens or they wouldn't be Pirates.

First of all, they don't SELL the books, They give them away. So how can you recover the EARNINGS from stolen books, when there weren't any????

They give them away as a lure to get people to "join their free book club"  and to join and get free books by Steven King OR ANY ONE OF US,  all ANY person has to do is fill out a form that gives personal information, like their name, address, phone number, Social Security number, parents names and sometimes even credit card info. They then get to download the books at no cost. You and I miss out on a sale and earn nothing from the download. AND the pirates use the books as bait to get your personal information.

People who join sites where they  are asked to sign up and register for "Free BOOKS!" are giving away all sorts of information in exchange for those Pirated books. All you have to do is fill out the form and you can have any book you want for free! Sites who operate like that Have STOLEN those books!  They bought one copy and are duplicating it illegally and are giving it away to everyone. They claim it's legal as they are not selling the books.
Whenever I find such a site, or one of our authors finds one, we send them a cease and desist notice to remove the books and they usually agree. We also report them to their Internet Service Provider for "Doing Fraudulent Business on the Internet" and have succeeded in getting quite a few thrown out by their host providers.

But they just move on to another ISP, change the name of the site, the company, but use the same old book files, and do the same darned thing all over again. They will give the books away to anyone who fills out their "join our club form" -- AND USING THE INFORMATION THE HAPPY RECIPIENT OF THE FREE BOOKS HAS GIVEN THEM, they will steal that person's identity AND BUY STUFF ON their CREDIT CARDS, too.

Copyright Registration isn't going to stop them or any other crook. If they were going to  obey the law, they wouldn't BE crooks to begin with. You might be able to report them to law enforcement -- I have tried that -- but since the books are given away,  law enforcement is quite likely to laugh and say, "Well they're not SELLing the stolen goods, right?" And even if you could identify the the site owners and charge them, you could only do that that if they reside within in the USA where US laws apply, which most of them DO NOT. 

MOST of them are slaving over hot little computers in Brazil, in India, in China, in Indonesia...and in the UK, Cyprus, or France.  NO US LAW applies to them. .

Worse, there are "Free book sites" who actually solicit authors, offering "free advertising on the Internet" if you will give them just one copy. Just one...

And if you do, they duplicate the book and give it away to ANYone who asks and the "free advertising consists of listing on their Free Books Web site.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Catching UP!

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


DEATH SHADOWS, by Sharon Jordan

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

A CUP OF JOY: Harmony Villatge Series, Vol. 6, by Anna Dynowski


DRAGON SPEAKER: Red Knight Chronicles, vol. 5


NO MOTIVE FOR MURDER, Dangerous Journeys Series, Vol. 3 by Virginia Winters


Work began or continued on the following Print Books:

TWO FACES: TWO-FACED, by Kathryn Flatt


STAR-WOLF, by Warren Graffeo


GO TELL AUNT RHODY, by Thornton Parsons

SHE CAME FROM AWAY, by D. Edward Bradley

Galleys not yet returned from authors:

LADYSLIPPERS FOR MY LADY, by Lynette Hall Hampton


Thursday, August 23, 2012

In Second Fiddle, twin sisters marry the same man -- not at the same time, of course.

Arline Chase’s  Crab Dip

 Summer is crab season and here is the recipe for a great
family favorite that has graced many a Chase family barbecue.

1     round loaf of rye bread (seeds optional) reserved for later.

Dip Ingredients:

1     cup sour cream
1     cup mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip if you like it tart)
3     tbsp. Finely chopped or grated onion
1     pound Crab Meat
    Old Bay Seasoning (to taste)

Mix dip ingredients together, adding crab last. Chill and keep refrigerated. Just before party, cut round hole in top of loaf and scoop out inside, arrange those pieces outside to use for dipping. Fill center hole in loaf with dip.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More Good News from Amazon and some Advice from US.

Book Two of the Shadow Chronicles

Above and throughout this Notice, are covers of the last few titles added this week to the Kindle Stores Worldwide.

Over the past six months Amazon has been setting up sales sites abroad, where Kindle Owners in foreign lands can buy and get English Language books delivered electronically just as quickly as we do here.  To that end, they began with a store in the United Kingdom, followed quickly with stores in Denmark, Germany, France, Estonia, and Italy. 

TODAY they announced that all books with Worldwide Rights will also be for sale in INDIA. So Hi to all you new readers in India from Write Words, Inc. and our Talented Authors!  We look forward to serving you.

 Book Five of the Shannon Delaney Paranormal Mystery Series

Someone sent me a copyright question this week, asking if we register copyrights on individual editions. Actually, we don't. It's not so bad a charge for an author, who only has to do it once, and who retains all those rights even after we publish. But Multiply that charge by up to 10 books a month and think about your last check. We make the same as you. Needless to say it would be a courtesy if we could do it, but it's not in our budgetary ability.


We never ask you to sign away your future copyrights as part of our contract (with Big 6 publishers, that is sometimes true, the ones who buy all rights and then re-sell movie rights and paperback rights and so on, but not with small fish like us) that's why the copyright page has your name alone listed on it, not ours. The contract you signed licenses us to publish and market your book. Except for that one use, all other rights remain with you. Every copyright page also contains a date of publication... In the e-book, that date is when the files are completed and usually quite a few weeks subsequent to the contract date.

Under the 1978 copyright law, a work is automatically copyrighted to the creator of it within the US as soon when it is completed, whether it is Registered, OR NOT.  If someone is sued for copyright infringement, registration is absolute proof that the work was completed before the registration date.  So is a clearly postmarked sealed envelope with a copy inside, that can be opened in court. Not proof if you have opened it, however.

The whole purpose of registering the copyright is to protect the copyright holder (the author) in case someone else claims to have produced the work, first. Under US Federal law, a work is yours as soon as it's completed. Also, if more than 50 words are changed, it needs to be registered again as someone could argue that it's a different rendition... 50 words....

Book 6 of the Harmony Village Series

One other thing you should know about the copyright law:  You hold the original copyright for 150 years From the Day You Finished Writing and unless you are a toddler, or from a Very Long-Lived family, eventually, someone else will have to handle your work and any earnings from it. 

No, none of us wants to think about that. But some of our authors have departed and thanks to their having given things a thought, we didn't have to let their work die with them. We are able to continue to sell their books to new readers to whom they continue to bring joy. We forward their earnings to the individuals they have designated to receive them.

So how do you do that. Well, here's what they did.  They made a will, mentioned their works, and named their executor, or literary executor, OR they sent me a letter letting me know what I should do with their earnings if anything should happen. That's all it takes. A note in the database tells us whom to pay if someone is no longer able to collect for him, or herself. 

One author named her son, who is also her financial executor. Another named a literary executor, to whom her earnings are to be paid and he is to hold all her rights and to be able to renew them (you can do that for another 150 years when the first time period runs out), and can pass them along to his heirs as he chooses.

I am literary executor for a dear friend who passed in 1980. Both her earnings and those of another author who also passed with cancer go to the American Cancer Society in their names.

So here's the thing. It's your work. Certainly we plan to be around a while and we hope you will here to renew those copyrights when the renewal time comes up. But if anything should happen, what arrangements do you want to make about your work's future?  It is something to think about.

Book Two of the California Series

What a hodge-podge I've written today. Maybe I'd better get back to uploading e-books to sales sites, and stop trying to think straight, huh?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

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.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Critic questions my "pace" -writing tip

For a fast-paced read, try Steven Clark Bradley's latest political thriller.

Question: In a review someone posted at amazon, they said my dialogue was "repetitive" and that the book had too slow a pace. Is that a valid criticism?

Answer: I don't know, as I haven't read that particular title. BUT as a general answer, if a book is one where dialogue repeats itself, it will usually slow the pace. When dialogue goes on and on about what has already happened, the pace of the work must slow down accordingly...

Here's the thing, you only need to write dialogue when they are talking about something important. The rest can go into narrative and a lot can be assumed, or narrated. For instance, take this story situation:

In Scene one: Sally’s brother, John is in a 40-car pile up on the Interstate. He lies for hours, pinned in the car, then finally is picked up and taken to the Emergency Room.  There, he is rushed into surgery while (end of scene hook) a nurse tosses his wallet to the ward clerk, yelling, “Call his next-of-kin.” 

No need to play out the phone call. That would be anticlimactic. Once John is in surgery, get out of the scene and move on to the next.

In scene two: Sally rushes out of the house and meets her neighbor, Paul, a friend of John’s. Here’s scene two:

    Sally grabbed her jacket and headed for the door, frantic to get to the hospital and find out how badly John was hurt. (Opening Hook) It wasn’t until she actually got into the garage that she remembered John had been driving her car the night before, because his was in the repair shop (Shows confusion caused by the emergency situation).  Without a second thought for her damaged car (shows her first concern is her brother’s life), Sally hurried out to the street and all but ran toward the bus stop.
    In the yard next-door, Paul Anderson, a friend of John’s, put down his rake and caught up with Sally. “Where are you going in such a hurry? What’s wrong?” (Now in reality he would probably have said, “Hey, Sally. Wait a minute. I want to talk to you.” But that would not have moved the story forward. Dialogue should always move the story forward and it should be about something important.)
    “It’s, John! He’s in the hospital.” Sally told Paul about the accident. (Narrative used. No need to repeat all a conversational explanation about the 40-car pile-up and John’s being pinned in the car for hours — the reader already knows that.)
    “No wonder you're upset. Come on, I’ll drive you.” Paul took off his gardening gloves and headed for his pickup. By the time he got the door open, Sally was already waiting inside.
    “Hurry!.” Sally gave Paul a worried look. “I have to find out how he is.” (end of scene hook)

The scene ends right there. No need to stay with John and Sally and let them talk about the weather while they drive, get on to the hospital and whatever they will learn there. Perhaps the police will question Sally about why John was driving her car. Perhaps the doctors will be in surgery fighting for John's life. Perhaps the villain will be gloating because he caused John's accident and nobody knows, or even suspects, he planned John's death.  Whatever will happen next, get on with it!

Now I'm not saying you did things this way. Some people might think the scene with John was altogether superfluous, unless he is to become a fellow detective, a love interest, or is otherwise involved in the subsequent plot of the story, it probably is.

One other thing is important to remember about reviews. They are all supposed to be two-sided. Now, anyone can post a review at and say anything they like. The good ones (real reviews, as opposed to those 5-star raves posted by family and friends), will name both the great and good stuff and offer some idea of things that could have been done better.

So at least this was a "real" review, from someone who was trying to look at the book both ways.  Maybe they had a point, and maybe they didn't. That's something you have to decide for yourself.

Again,  I haven't read your book, so I don't know what you did or didn't do in it. But I have seen many manuscripts where Sally and John would talk about the accident for half a page or more, before they finally walked to the pickup and drove off to the hospital.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Catching UP!

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

POSTCARDS FROM MR. PISH: East Coast Edition, by K. S. Brooks

Galleys that went out or went out again this week:

DEATH SHADOWS, by Sharon  Jordan

JUSTICE FOR CALEB, by Edward Petty

E-books published this week

JUSTICE FOR CALEB, by Edward Petty

Work began or continued on the following Print Books:

TWO FACES: TWO-FACED, by Kathryn Flatt


STAR-WOLF, by Warren Graffeo


JUSTICE FOR CALEB: California Series, Vol. 1, by Edward Petty

SHE CAME FROM AWAY, by D. Edward Bradley

Work began or continued on the following e-books:

A CUP OF JOY, by Anna Dynowski


A DESIRE PATH, by Jan Shapin

A GHOST TO DIE FOR, by Elizabeth Eagan-Cox

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Triple-O Outline -- Writing Tip

As Marcia wanders the streets of Cracow, Poland searching for the man she once intended to marry ....
She's unaware that her every move is being watched.

Question:  You used to have a  plot outline called Triple-O.  Do you still teach that?

Answer:  I'm not teaching anymore, Jenny.  But here's a copy of the handout I used to use:

Triple O Plot Outline

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 characters 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.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Spaghetti Sauce -- recipe


Deadly Reception 


When a man drops dead in a restaurant, doctors and police insist the death was natural. But Chef Merle Blanc, he has the nose, and the nose he smells the murder. Now it's up to Chef Blanc to don his apron and cook a killer's goose before closing time!

Chef Merle Blanc's Perfectly Safe Signature Meat Sauce for spaghetti, etc.
(This is the sauce he prepares for visiting Italian dignataries)

Two pots, one at least 3 quarts, the other about 2 quarts.

For the larger pot (or large frying pan)

1 lb. ground beef
¼ lb. pork sausage (or Italian sausage, or a slab of salt pork, removed before serving)
About ¾ cup of each, chopped in ¼ in. squares:
Green Pepper
1 can of chopped tomatoes, drained. (Drain the juice into the broth mixture). If using petite cut, add to the meat mixture. If using regular chopped tomatoes, place drained product on a cutting board and chop a little before adding to meat mixture.
½ cup olive oil
All this goes into the pot. Cook over medium heat until veggies are tender and meat browned.

In the smaller pot add:
4 cups broth (This can be beef, chicken, vegetable or, in a pinch: water.)
You can make easy broth using tinned broth or chicken or beef flavoring, usually 1 tsp. per cup of water, and adding:
5 peppercorns (Or goodly sprinkle of ground pepper)
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 Tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. anise (not star anise)
½ tsp. allspice
½ cup dry basil leaves, chopped or ground. If you have fresh basil, use more.
1 Tsp. oregano (Be careful not to overdo the oregano).
1 whole head of garlic, cut coarsely.
1 large bay leaf, crumpled.
Bring to a boil and lower heat.

With both mixtures going, simmer the broth gently while browning the meat and vegetables.

When the meat and vegetables are done, remove from heat and add:
2 small tins of tomato paste.

Strain the broth into the sauce and mix thoroughly. Simmer for twenty minutes.  At this point, if desired, a little red wine can be added. (To the sauce. No tippling . We don't want to fool around and burn our fingers).

When Chef Blanc prepares this, everything comes out perfect the first time, naturally. But if your sauce (or gravy as the Italians call it) comes out a bit thin, you can add a small can of tomato sauce. If too thick for your taste, add a bit more broth.  If needed at this point, add salt and/or additional sugar.

Spoon over drained spaghetti or other pasta and top with freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Serve with fresh bread and a green salad with oil and vinegar dressing.

Buon appetito !

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Baked Striper -- Recipe

When reporter Hollis Ball goes Slow Dancing with her favorite Ghost down at Toby's Bar and Grill, she may dine on this heavenly dish. Sam, being living-impaired however, can only enjoy the aroma.

On Chesapeake Bay "Stripper" is know as "Rock" and a nice big one makes a might tasty treat whenever Toby bakes up a big one of a Saturday for the  guys down at the Bar & Grill to share.

Baked Rock Fish

1     4-5 pound striped bass (in season, of course)
1/2     cup melted butter
2     cups dried bread or stuffing cubes
1/4     cup chopped celery
1     small onion, grated
½    tsp. Sage
1     tsp. Salt
1/4     tsp. Pepper
1/4     cup white wine (optional)
1/2 doz. strips of bacon

Wash and dry fish and place in a shallow baking pan lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with Pam. Mix1/2 cup butter with remaining ingredients, to form stuffing. Fill fish cavity and lace shut. Place strips of bacon at 1 inch intervals on each side of fish.  Bake at 400-F or 204-C degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until fish is white and flaky.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Period Dialogue and Manners -- Writing tip.

FOR A GOOD READ:  Tabitha Black does not believe in the supernatural even though for decades past her ancestors were gifted with clairvoyancy. 

Question: I recently completed a Historical Romance that takes place in 1861, the first year of the Civil War. People in my writer's group told me that I need to study the time period better because the dialogue and mannerisms of my characters do not fit the time period, therefore it is not accurate enough to be believable for the Civil War.

I have done my research, revised many times, and they continue to tell me the same things. Do you have anything that could help me perfect my characters's mannerisms and their dialogue for that period? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Answer:  First be careful not to use words that are "too modern" in feel. For instance, the word "okay" did not come into general use until 1880 or later. Nobody should say Okay in the Civil War, they should say, "all right" or "I agree" or "Yes." The Oxford English Dictionary (while it has UK spelling) will tell you when a word was first commonly used. There's a free one in every Kindle.

People spoke and acted more formally then. Except for family or among children, they didn't call one another by their first names unless invited to. Women named their husbands as Mr. They didn't take someone's hand in public, either, unless they were very daring. 

Warning: Do NOT overdo dialect, but in dialogue DO avoid using many contractions unless they are old time ones, like shan't, for shall not instead of can't. Use dated slang as well. If something is "unbelievable" today, it probably was a "lollapalooza" back then. If a guy is "hot" today, he was handsome or a  "likely-looking young man" back then. Girls were "fair" not pretty.  It only takes a few of them scattered about.

Language was more formal. Profanity was used among soldiers, but never in polite society. Victoria was Queen in England, but her manners had been adopted in America and girls (and even pianos) had limbs instead of legs.  Okay, don't get ridiculous with this, but be careful how folks talk, and what words they choose. Be sure to use dialect, lang and even swearing appropriate to the mores of the time period.

Think about the costume for more than how it looked. Don't have your heroine running blythely across a field in hoop-skirts. Don't have her just flop down in a chair, either. Sitting was carefully done, or the hoop popped up and hit you in the nose (a fact I learned from experience in 1976), and running in stays and hoops was quite impossible, though it could be managed in a riding  habit where more freedom of movement was possible. Only the upper classes wore those kinds of costume. Working class women didn't wear  hoops, except to a dance.  Don't have peasants working shirtless in the field. They wore long-sleeved shirts out there, not only for protection from sunburn, but because a long-sleeved shirt soaking wet is cooler than being shirtless.

Be careful of tools, too. A tire iron and a crow bar are the same tool, but "tire irons" came in with automobiles. Women used "flat irons" and heated them on the stove, changing them, as the iron cooled for a hotter one. A man would shave with a straight razor.

People had sex during the Victorian era, OR there would have been no succeeding generations. BUT they didn't talk about it. Women went to their marriage beds with barely any knowledge of what to expect, though there were "code" words used by married folks to one another now and then, few hints were given the innorcent younger generation. Unless a girl lived on a farm that would have abounded in demonstrations of cattle and horse breeding and so on she was kept deliberately ignorant of the "facts of life."

The richer, more gently-reared, a young woman was, the more ignorant. For instance, when the Governor of Tennessee married a sweet young southern belle from an excellent family, she fled his home the following morning and refused to cohabit with him ever again! She never told her father and brothers exactly what he had done to her, only that it was "disgusting!" 

Because of this incident, he gave up his presidential ambitions and fled the state of Tennessee, removed himself to Texas, where he took another wife (no complaints THERE!) and eventually became the first president of the Lone Star Republic.

In those days, a sponge soaked in vinegar was widely used as a contraceptive. Unless another pregnancy might cost her life, it was against the law for doctors to tell this to women, though lower class women were sometimes quite aware of it. Unmarried women were expected to remain chaste, but when neighbors spoke of a "vinegary old maid," they were NOT referring to her manners. 

When my friend, Diana Gabaldon, wrote her Outlander series she made many of her characters Scots. There is no dialect more difficult to reproduce than that of Scotland, and Robert Louis Stevenson notwithstanding, overuse of the dialect words and esoteric scots terminology for things can certainly be tedious to modern readers.  To help with Scots, Diana listened to folk music, both in English and Gaelic. She paid attention to the rhythm of the language and it is the rhythm of the speech that differentiates her characters from one another. She avoided using too many apostrophes in place of missing letters. Yet the Scots not only spoke differently than the English characters, the high-class Scots spoke differently from the lower-class ones.

You might Google "Civil War Letters" and read some of those for ideas on how folks might have expressed themselves at the time.

That's about all I can think of right now. Hope it helps.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Catching UP!

While I have felt extremely busy this week, I seem to have accomplished very little. What my dad used to call, "Spinning my wheels."  I hope folks are not too disappointed. Maybe next week will go better.

Print Books that went to press or back to press this week:  None

E-books that were finished this week: 

JUSTICE FOR CALEB, by Edward Petty

Galleys that went out, or went out again, this week:

DEATH SHADOWS, By Sharon Jordan

Work began or continued on the following:

GO TELL AUNT RHODY, by Thornton Parsons


STAR-WOLF, by Warren Graffeo

TWO FACES: TWO-FACED, by Kathryn Flatt


JUSTICE FOR CALEB: California Series, Vol. 1, by Edward Petty


SHE CAME FROM AWAY, by D. Edward Bradley

GO TELL AUNT RHODY, by Thornton Parsons

And Congratulations to Newton Love for being at the top
of the Fictionwise Best Seller list for our company!

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1. Long [73028 words]When Dead Cats Bounce by Newton Love [Mystery/Crime/Suspense/Thriller]
2. Long [73318 words]No Accounting for Taste [A Nick Schaevers Mystery] by Newton Love [Mystery/Crime/Suspense/Thriller]
3. Long [74616 words]Mistworld by Nina M. Osier [Science Fiction]
4. Long [89515 words]Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs [Classic Literature]
5. Long [54667 words]The Telepaths of Theon [Sarah's Landing Book 2] by Elena Dorothy Bowman [Science Fiction]
6. Mid-Length [45109 words]A Medic in Iraq: A Novel of the Iraq War by Cole Bolchoz [Mainstream]
7. Long [109012 words]Rogues Together by Edward M. Turner [Suspense/Thriller/Historical Fiction]
8. Mid-Length [39320 words]Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse [Classic Literature/Spiritual/Religion]
9. Long [85051 words]Lucifer's Legion by Gianni Devincent Hayes [Mainstream/Alternate History]
10. Long [82178 words]Memoirs of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs [People]

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3. Long [61049 words]Minder's Oath [High Places Series: Book 2] by Nina M. Osier [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
4. Long [98906 words]Ghost Dancer by Arline Chase [Historical Fiction]
5. Long [113180 words]Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini [Suspense/Thriller/Classic Literature]
6. Long [57142 words]The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie [Mystery/Crime/Classic Literature]
7. Long [75310 words]The Secret Adversary [Tommy and Tuppence Book 1] by Agatha Christie [Classic Literature]
8. Long [68911 words]Dark Elf: [Book 2 of the Red Knight Chronicles] by Ray Morand [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
9. Long [70408 words]Slow Dancing with the Angel of Death [Hollis Ball and Sam Westcott Series Book 1] by Helen Chappel [Mystery/Crime/Humor]
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