Sunday, December 31, 2017

Enjoying my Writing

Another year has passed.

Did you meet your goals?
Are you content with where you are in your writing career?

Just recently I came to the conclusion that I am going to stop being so stressed out about my writing goals.

I am going to relax and enjoy my writing.
If I get published - great!
If I don't - that's fine, too.

With the ending of this year, I will no longer write a column with the regional magazine, Two-Lane Livin.' Not because I quit (I loved writing for this magazine), but because, after 10 years, the publisher ceased publication of the magazine. I wrote 8 years for the magazine.

My middle grade book, Duck and Cover, was published.
It is a very good story inspired by a small memory from my childhood. I am not entirely happy with the publication of it. It is in the process of being revised.

I published my cookbook, Cooking with Family: Recipes and Remembrances. It has been selling well on Amazon.

 In honor of New Year's Day here is a recipe from the book:

I call this Charley’s cooked cabbage because my husband is always the one who cooks it. My husband, because of the way he is, inspired a picture book manuscript that I wrote. He always overdoes everything. If a little is good, more is better, is his motto. With that being said, my husband makes a huge pot of cabbage when he cooks it. Of course, you don’t have to make such a large pot. This is more of a way of cooking something than a recipe. My husband says the secret to cooking good cabbage is not to cook it too long.

large head of cabbage (or two-enough to fill a large pot)
package of Lil Smokies
½ cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

Chop the cabbage on cutting board.
Add 1 to 2 cups of water to large pot and add cabbage.
Add sugar, vegetable oil, and Lil Smokies.
Season to taste (Charley likes pepper, so he shakes on a lot)
Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer.
Stir occasionally, cook until tender, approximately 20 minutes.

We always have cabbage on New Year’s Day. When I was a child, we put a silver dime in the cabbage. Whoever got the dime in their serving would be prosperous that year. That was one way to get the kids to eat cabbage—we all wanted that dime. 

I may self-publish my other middle grade book that I have written. I also have a novella, that I love and is close to my heart, that I may self publish.

I have found that it is very hard to get your books published by big publishers. It helps to have a name or agent, been previously published, or a story that is unique and what the publisher is looking for in order to get picked up.

I have come close a few times with my PBs, but I don't know if I will ever be able to fit the needed criteria.

I will keep trying to get my PBs published, but may opt to self publish my other manuscripts.

I have come to the conclusion that it is okay to do that and I will try to be satisfied and happy with my decision.

I want to enjoy writing again.

Do you have any writing resolutions?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Create Your Own Book Weights

I'm a writer
I'm a reader
I'm a crafter.

I just finished a cookbook that I had been working on for what seems like years and had it published.

It doesn't have a spiral binding, so I needed something to hold the pages open when I'm cooking.

I looked up book weights, and I didn't like the leather ones I saw online, plus they were pretty expensive.

So I made my own. And I will show you how you can make them, too.

The template I used is 2 3/4" x 8 1/2". Cut this shape out of card stock or cardboard (you can cut up an empty cereal box).

 For each one, find pretty material and cut two pieces.
I also cut a 3" piece of grosgrain ribbon (that is the small pink strip you see sticking out from the material).

Put the two pieces together, printed sides facing each other, and the ribbon in-between, about half way down.

Fold the edges of one end down and sew together, keeping the end you folded down open.

Turn and iron.

Get a funnel and fill with bb's. I used 1/3 cup for each one. Of course, you could probably use rice or dried beans, but I prefer the bb's.

Sew by hand (or machine, if you wish) the open end.

Voila! Aren't they pretty?

Of course, you only need one for each book.

Great for cookbooks, craft books or any book.

And while you are here, go here to check out my cookbook - Cooking with Family: Recipes and Remembrances.

You can click on the "see inside" feature to read the contents page.

Living up to my blog title, there are 7 blackberry recipes included in the book. I love blackberries!

In addition to over 120 recipes (old and new), I show you how to make aprons out of old blue jeans (that is the crafter coming out of me), read a few of my poems (Recipe for a Home, I am From Appalachia, Recipe for Warm Memories, and Grandma's Apron), use pages in the back to write down your own treasured recipes so they won't be forgotten, and read three pages of cooking tips and a page of food traditions and superstitions.

Do you have any book weights?

If not, make a few of these pretty ones. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Author Take Over on Facebook

Hi, all.

Summer has been very busy here at the Smart house in Jackson County.

I finally finished my cookbook, Cooking with Family: Recipes and Remembrances, that I have been working on for a very long time. I am about ready to send for the proof.

I have also been re-writing a novella that takes place in 1908/09 rural West Virginia.The idea for the book came from my grandparents who lived during that time period.

Saturday on Saguaro's Facebook page they are having an Author Take Over. I have never participated in one of these before, and I must admit I don't know what I'm doing. But, I am going to have fun trying.

Come over on Saturday and join me during my 20 minute time slot of 3:40 until 4:00 Eastern time.

I will tell a little about my me, my book, and my favorite character in the book.

I will be answering any and all questions you may have about my book, Duck and Cover.

I will be posting links to my sites and my Pinterest board on Duck and Cover.

Come by and say hi, so I won't be lonely.

Happy Writing!

Monday, June 12, 2017

West Virginia Writer's Conference

This weekend the West Virginia Writer's Conference celebrated their 40th anniversary.

The sun filled the sky the entire weekend (our conference is usually visited by rain).

People from all over the United State attended. If I remember correctly, we had attendees from Washington, Iowa, Ohio, Florida and quite a few other states.

I live within a few miles of the conference.

Every year they give the JUG (Just Uncommonly Good) award to a deserving writer. This year one of the recipients was Dolly Withrow. She is a member of our writing group and very deserving of the award. She is a Grammar Guru and has a fun way of helping you remember all the rules that are so easy to forget. And she was a member when the conference formed 40 years ago.

One of the workshop presenters, Michael Knost (who was the other JUG recipient), had a great workshop about showing vs. telling.

Think of showing as a radio play-by-play sports announcer.
Think of telling as the sports commentator.

The sports announcer describes each play as if you were there. He becomes your eyes.

The commentator tells you background information and statistics.

In writing a story, it would translate to something like this:

showing - Lucy scrunched her nose at the stale peppermint from the bottom of her purse. (The writer is your eyes, showing what Lucy is doing)
telling - Her mother gave her the candy a year ago. (The writer is telling in this sentence)

Don't tell things that aren't essential to the story.
Show emotions.
Show reactions.

I attended the Awards Banquet on Saturday Night.

I won 3rd place and Honorable Mention in the children's category of their annual spring writing contest.

And I received 2nd place ribbons in the People's Prose workshop on Saturday and the Poetry Writer's Wall.

After attending the workshops, I am now sitting at my desk editing my manuscripts.

Using the knowledge I gained, I will try to make them better.

Have you attended a conference or workshop lately?
What tidbit of writing advice can you share with us?

One thing I have learned is that most writers love to help each other out and share helpful information.

"I love my writing friends. I appreciate all of you!"

(I sneaked in an !, though my friend, Dolly, says not to use them.)

One of my writing friends, Beverly Stowe McClure, just posted a review of Duck and Cover on her blog. Thank you, Beverly. She is a very talented author, click here to check out her blog.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Princess Breeze Cover Reveal

I would like to introduce you to a very talented writer and friend of mine - Beverly Stowe McClure.

This is the cover reveal for her latest tween/teen  novel. 
Isn't it a great cover?

Here is the back cover blurb for PRINCESS BREEZE:

For months, Breeze Brannigan has heard nothing from Cam, the prince she met at school, who disappeared one night, without telling her goodbye. On the night she graduates from middle school, however, he contacts her and invites her to visit Isla del Fuego, his home. Who could refuse such an invitation?
Breeze along with her whole family and best friends, Amy and Allison, soon sail to the island, where she and Cam renew their friendship. But danger lurks; a legend comes to life; and Breeze finds herself in the middle of a battle that can have one winner.

This novel is the sequel to Just Breeze, the girl that started it all. If you haven't met Breeze and her friends, they can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and most places books are sold.

The release date hasn't been announced yet for Princess Breeze, so there are no links.

Most of the time, you’ll find Award-Winning Author Beverly Stowe McClure at her computer, typing stories young voices whisper in her ears.  When she’s not writing, she’s snapping pictures of wildlife, flowers, and clouds. She’s affectionately known as the “Bug Lady.” She’s not telling why. To relax she plays the piano. Her fur babies don’t appreciate good music and hide when she tickles the ivories.
Beverly is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She also teaches a women’s Sunday school class at her church.

Visit Beverly at:
Twitter @beverlymcclure

Join me in saying congratulations to Beverly!


Monday, May 22, 2017

Reading and Writing go Together Like Peanut Butter and Jelly

I love to read and I love to write. They go together like peanut butter and jelly (which I love almost as much as reading and writing).

But sometimes I have too many pots on the stove as the old saying goes.

I recently finished reading Woman of Courage, an inspirational book that takes place in the 1830s, by Wanda E. Brunstetter and Twice Betrayed, a YA that takes place during the Revolutionary War, by Gayle C. Krause. 

I am currently reading two MGs - Silent Boy by Lois Lowry and Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge by Kristen L. Gray. I am enjoying both and am looking forward to finishing them. 

I am also reading One for Agnes, One for Effie, an inspirational book by Nancy Merical. Nancy is a member of my writing group.

As you can see, I have a wide range of books I read. I must admit, though, I enjoy reading MG the most.

While doing all this reading, I am also writing. And unfortunately I am also writing numerous manuscripts.

I feel I need to concentrate on just one and get it finished.

I am still working on my cookbook that is currently titled,  LET'S EAT! There's no place like home COOKING! In addition to regular recipes, it has a few non-edible recipes, sections on old-fashioned tablecloths, food traditions and superstitions, old-fashioned aprons - even how to make a few from denim jeans and cloth calendars, cooking tips, and pages in the back to write down your own treasured recipes. On my other blog, I have posted many recipes on my other blog and some of these are included in this book. 

I am also making changes to my novella, Lucy of Tuppers Hollow, which takes place in 1908.

And I have a chapter book which I would love to get back to, but has been put on hold temporarily. 

Do you work on more than one book or manuscript at a time or do you finish one before starting another?

Any tips on finishing your projects?