Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tasty Tuesday

Quick and tasty Southwest Corn Chowder

I am down and out with the flu, but the blogs and the mom must go on so here is an easy recipe that I can prepare even when my head is swimming and every inch of me aches. The most difficult thing will be opening the cans.  Anyway, enough boo-hooing.
I have had so many positive comments on this tasty dish, that I now dare to bring it to events.

So if you are working through April’s Bootcamp, a Fast Draft, or Editing in a Month, or are just plain busy, throw this all in the crock pot and surprise your family that it isn’t pizza again tonight.
2 square packages of V8 Southwest Corn Chowder (tetra packs) in the soup aisle
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes, you pick the heat, I use mild (don’t drain) 
   or 1 cup salsa
1 can creamed corn, (don’t drain)
1 cup frozen corn, or a can of corn - drained
1 cup of nacho cheese sauce or queso, canned or jar
Put it all in a crockpot, give it a stir and set on high if you need it in a couple hours, low if you have longer.
We like our soup thick, but if you prefer it a thinner consistency you can add some canned broth - chicken or vegetable.
I have even added cooked and cut up chicken, or a large can of chunked white meat chicken, to add more protein.
Serve with tortilla chips and a dollop of sour cream and/or guacamole.  Enjoy.
Feel free to comment and add your simple recipes or cures for the flu.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How Do You Critique?

Seriously.  I’m asking.  
Next week, I am taking a giant leap in my writing journey and joining a critique group.       
And I am scared to death
This is not an online critique group.  Did I mention I’m an introvert?  
This is a meet-in-person, local group. Did I mention I have less than stellar self-esteem?  
Luckily, I live in a town called Niceville, so I’m hopeful the other members remember this, and all play nice.  Did I mention I have never met any them, or even had any kind of email contact other than this past week?  What was I thinking?
Most successful writers, editors and even publishers recommend having a good critique group to help edit your work. So I jumped.  And two of my new critique group members have already emailed me their pages. (I’m still working up to sending mine.) 
So I have their pages.  Now what?  
I have no idea what kind of critique they are looking for.  Maybe they just want reassurance.  A  pat on the back.  A “Great work. Keep going.” comment. For me, (remember, scared-to-death) I’d be happy with giving and getting that.
But mentally, I’m ready for more.  Emotionally, I’m not so sure. 
So this week I began compiling a checklist.  Did I mention my love of lists? 
And if I happen to crash and burn, as a result of this leap, at least I’ll have a useful checklist.

Anyway, here it is, so far.  
Questions to ask, and answer when reading the first 10 pages of my work, my critique member’s work, and even when reading published works.
  1.     Was I hooked and why or why not?
  2.     Is it clear who the protagonist is?
  3.     Do I care about this protagonist?
  4.     Are the other characters interesting?
  5.     Is the action clear?  Easy to follow?  Does it move too quickly, or too slowly?
  6.     Is the action mostly shown.  Is the balance of showing vs telling okay?
  7.     Is the POV clear and consistent?
  8.     Is the genre clear?
  9.     What is the tone?  The mood?
  10.   Is the setting clear?
  11.   Are there enough grounding details.  A variety of senses used?
  12.   Is the dialogue clear as to who’s speaking.  Enough action with dialogue? 
  13.   Too much dialogue?
  14.   Is there too much backstory?
  15.   Is a theme hinted at?
  16.   Is the author’s voice clear?
  17.   Does the plot so far seem original?
  18.   Does it feel like the story is starting in the right place?
  19.   Is there enough introspection and connection with the protagonist?  Too much?
  20.   Is the language appropriate for the intended audience age group?
And finally, 

     21.  Do I wish I had more pages?
Maybe you found this list useful.   And if you have any other suggestions, or additions to the list, feel free to comment.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Let's Get Productive

More, and more, writers are having to produce.  I mean really produce.  Lots, and lots, and lots, of words all strung together in meaningful, emotional, marketable sentences, paragraphs, chapters, all culminating into the next must-read book, in the next must-read series.

Agent Rachelle Gardner’s Blog last week How to Make a Living as a Writer, Part One was all about Volume.  And I quote,
"The writers who are doing it full time are able to do it because they have a large volume of product out there..."
So more than ever we must sit our butts in the chair and produce.  
                                      Here are 16  tips to help you do just that.  
Many you probably know, but here there once again, as a reminder to get those words down.
  1. Set goals.  Not just the once year goals, or monthly but every day identify want it is you want to accomplish today.  Write it down and stick to it.   
  2. Time yourself.  Decide on a specific time for yourself to sit and write, say 30 minutes and set a timer and off you go.  After the set time rest a bit. Then set the timer again and go.
  3. Don’t check email during work times.  It pulls you into a non-action mood.
  4. Turn off the social networks - Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, everything and focus on the page.
  5. Get a motivation buddy.  Some one who is on your side spurring you on to make your goals a reality.
  6. Track yourself, either by crossing off your daily goals, charts of time spent writing, etc.
  7. Make yourself accountable to someone else, your motivation buddy, your writing or critique group and post it each day to your buddy or group.
  8. Get up and move.  Get the blood circulating and pumping to your brain. Stretch. Jog in place.  Do push ups. Downward facing dog.
  9. Create everyday.
  10. Wake up early.
  11. Realize it will never be perfect.  But it can be great.
  12. Identify and face any fears that may be getting in the way.
  13. Become mindful especially of time wasters.
  14. Give yourself a break.
  15. Then just do it.
  16. And finally Reward yourself. Have a list of fun-to-you rewards. Not just big ones for when the book sells, but little ones for tasks accomplished weekly, monthly whatever you need.  After all when the book sells then we’ll party
                     Feel Free comment and/or post any other productivity enhancing ideas.