Friday, November 29, 2013 | By: Cafe
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  
- John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 | By: Cafe

Happy Thanksgiving!

As Thanksgiving approaches, the many things I have to be thankful for have been on my mind.

I am thankful for my family and close friends, for traditions we share.  I am thankful for my home, for food and shelter, and I pray for our local families whose homes and lives have been devastated by the tornadoes that cut through Central Illinois on November 17th.  I am thankful for good health, and for employment when so many others are without.  I am thankful for the ability to use words to touch people's lives.

I am thankful for things too numerous to name, but those are a few of the important things.

Here are The Write Way Café, we are preparing for family get-together's this week, and wanted to share some of our traditions with you.  We invite you to share your family traditions with us, as well!

My family tradition is simply to gather with family for a mid-day meal. After our bellies are stuffed (and they will be!), if the weather is decent, many of us will venture outside and take a walk through the woods that surround my mother-in-law's house. We'll enjoy visiting with family members because as our kids grow up, it's harder and harder to get everyone together. We'll draw names for our Christmas gift exchange. But by far, the most popular tradition is guessing how many pieces of candy are in the three jars my brother-in-law always brings with him. Whoever is closest wins the jar. Let's just say, competition is fierce for those jars!

This Thanksgiving celebrate your family traditions but think about making an alternative to the green bean casserole found on many tables this time of year. Lynn's family enjoys this version of green beans.

Green Beans with Herb Dressing

6 green onions, chopped (I don't use these, but make this recipe your own)
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons of lemon juice
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped
Adjust measurements to suit your  "crowd."

Place green beans in a steaming basket and steam over boiling water for 5 minutes, or to desired tenderness.

Meanwhile, mix together in a bowl, the ingredients to the herb dressing (everything but the beans).

Place steamed green beans in a serving dish and pour dressing mixture over, toss. Serve.

We are thankful for your support of The Write Way Café, and we wish you and yours a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013 | By: Cafe
You must discover what writing is for you. I have never thought writing was fun, but have always found the music of words utterly beguiling, as necessary to me as eating and breathing.
- Archer Mayor

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 | By: Lynn

Embracing My Pantser Brain

Standing in the kitchen pouring my coffee one recent morning I realized I was more excited to get to work on my current WIP than to read on in the novel I was into. That moment of realization felt delightful. I'm a pantser and a writer with self-doubts. It is much more likely my inner editor would start my day reminding me I have nothing to bring to the page, and as a pantser who doesn't have an outline to consult, I might agree. That can put a damper on any possible excitement about my writing. With this new experience of anticipation, I asked myself, "Hmm…what's going on here?"

The happy truth was that I was more interested to explore the story of my hero and heroine than to read what was happening in Jim Butcher's Grave Peril, a book I was really enjoying. I was intrigued to discover how each of my characters was going to develop, what obstacles they would face, how they would survive the dangers in the story, and how they would come together in their developing relationship. I wanted to know those things, and the only way I would find out would be to sit down at my computer and write. This is how a pantser finds the answers to those kinds of unknowns. Reaching this point where interest was stronger than fear signified a milestone for me.

As a pantser and a writer with self-doubt, facing the blank page takes courage and faith that the story will unfold. As a pantser, I don't know everything about all the elements of story when I begin. That's where self-doubt can really get a grip. And that's why I've admired writers who outline, make storyboards, plot out an entire book, and know, well, to me it seems like when they write, they know everything I don't. They have a lot of structure to build from. My story reveals itself as I write. There is structure but it's loose and fluid. I do my homework, just as any writer does. That means I feed my inner pantser with thorough research and character bios. I brainstorm scene possibilities and write loose descriptions, then put them in one of three parts: beginning, middle, or end. Pretty simple structure and not a whole lot to go on day by day until the story has taken shape.

So, why not change? If writing as a pantser feeds fear, why don't I learn to become an outliner, a plotter? Rather than rely on the story to flow organically from the ethers, why not begin with a solid structure of concrete information?

The concept sounds great but it doesn't fit. That method is just not something that comes naturally. And according to award-winning author Kathleen Baldwin www.KathleenBaldwin.com, it would be counterproductive for me to attempt it, because whether a writer is a plotter or pantser is a result of how his or her brain is wired.

"God didn't make us one size fits all," said Baldwin, who has a background in psychology. In college, she participated in ground-breaking research on the science of creativity. "I have several close friends who are NYT/USA Today bestselling authors who I know for a fact are full-fledged pantsers. It's a matter of honing your craft so thoroughly that you can create dynamic, exciting plots subconsciously."

Baldwin's latest release, Diary of a Teenage Fairy Godmother, is out now, and her workshop titled The Secret Life of Pantsers has endeared her to many an author because it helped them celebrate their inner pantser, freeing their creativity. Baldwin said pantser vs. plotter is usually a matter of degrees, though some writers are heavily one or the other. But pantsers should ignore suggestions that in order to succeed at writing they need to do formal plotting.

"Everyone plots, it's just a matter of when," she said. "A pantser needs to plot on the fly so she can stay enthralled with her story. Her creative psyche requires a challenge in order to operate optimally. …A pantser must have the confidence to make mistakes as she hunts down her story. It's a great adventure for us. Wrong turns are simply part of the adventure."

Though I still think longingly of an in-depth outline as a wonderful tool for creative writing, I have embraced my pantser brain and take pleasure in learning as I go. I get all sparkly and invigorated when, as I soldier through, I discover I'm writing interesting stuff. So, regardless of the writing method – pantser or plotter, write straight through from beginning to end or edit as you go -- it's better to write with a method that suits you best. Seeking advice is a helpful means to improve skills every writer needs to tell a satisfying and well-crafted story. It's a way to gather information and see what fits. But ultimately, the surest way to write your best book is to understand your process and trust it.

So what are you? Pantser, plotter, something in between? What are your struggles? What are your joys?

This post was first posted in Savvy Authors.

 
Friday, November 15, 2013 | By: Cafe
Sometimes a man can meet his destiny of the road he took to avoid it.
- from The International

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 | By: HiDee

Earning My Way

We recently attended the local racetrack awards banquet in support of my daughter and her 9th place finish this year in her dirt-track racing division. Prior to the banquet, some comments were made that really bothered me. Someone told me they didn’t feel like she "earned" 9th place because she didn’t win any races, didn’t even finish in the top ten in any races this year. She earned points by racing regularly (although not every week) and by finishing her races, which is more than some of the other drivers did. Does that make her any less deserving?

I know my daughter. She’s passionate about racing, and has been since she was a toddler. Racing is all she’s ever wanted to do. It’s different from the other activities she participated in over the years. In other activities, she wanted to do well but she wouldn’t give 110%. She wanted the glory without the guts. Racing has been different, to some degree. She’s worked hard to get where she’s at. Has she given 110%? I don’t know, but I do know she’s trying. She doesn’t always get it right, and she’s still learning. But she must be doing something right because people see potential in her and she is improving each year. Does that make her less deserving than someone who is more experienced and winning races?

That depends. She’s living her dream, which is more than a lot of people can say – myself included.

My dream has always been to be a published writer. I’m twice my daughter’s age and then some, and I’m not there yet. Some would say I only played at being a writer while raising my family. Maybe they’re right, and maybe not. It’s a matter of priorities. I’m a fiercely loving and supporting mother. My kids would tell you I’m overprotective, but hey, that’s who I am. I’ve spent years juggling their events. Writing took a backseat, but it was always there for me in one form or another.

Now that my youngest is a senior in high school, I soon won’t be able to use the excuse of school or sporting events to avoid writing (yes, sometimes I do avoid it). My priorities are shifting. Hubby would like to claim more of my time for us, and it’s important that I nurture that relationship. But I also need to nurture my dream, to push through the fear that has dogged me through the years: what if I become a successful writer and it changes me or it changes my life?

I’m participating by writing and editing, by taking workshops and studying my craft. I don’t always get it right, and I’m still learning. But I need to take a lesson from my daughter and put my passion for writing to work for me, because I’m not a published writer. . . yet. Does that mean I haven't "earned" the title of writer? I don't think so. I may not be living my dream but I am chasing it.

Saturday, November 9, 2013 | By: Cafe

Ribollita Soup

When the chill is in the air, warm soups soothe our body and our souls. Ribollita soup dates back to the Middle Ages with its origins in Tuscan. There are many recipes of this soup, but all of them include inexpensive vegetables, cannellini beans, and bread. When I make it I don’t add the full ½ head of cabbage or the full bunch of Kale; I add diced chicken and I prefer to dip my bread.

Ribollita Soup

Warm ½ cup olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 diced carrots, 2 diced celery stalks, 2 chopped potatoes, and 1 diced onion. Season with salt and cook, stirring, 7 minutes. Add 3 diced tomatoes, 1 bunch shredded Kale, and ½ head shredded savoy cabbage. Add 6 cups chicken broth and boil. Decrease heat, cover pot, and simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Stir in 1 15.5 oz. can of cannellini beans. Brush slices of bread (can be stale or just some hearty bread) with olive oil and bake at 375 degrees until crisp (5 minutes), flipping once. Put 1 slice in each bowl and pour soup over.

Friday, November 8, 2013 | By: Cafe
Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working.
- Pablo Picasso

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 | By: Cafe

An Interview with Melinda Dozier

Today, the Write Way Café welcomes Crimson Romance author Melinda Dozier.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
I’ve read category romance books since I was a teenager. Ever since I was thirteen, romance writing has been in my blood. I have fond memories of sitting on my bed with my BFF from high school, writing sweet romance stories and sharing them with her. I even went as far as composing music and playing it to accompany my chapters (I was an avid piano player back then). Through the years, it stuck with me. As I sat on maternity leave with my youngest child several years ago, I decided that I could write as well as the authors I read. So, I gave it another shot. So glad I did! My first full romance was published last year!

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
For Breaking the Rules, the idea stirred in my mind for a few months. My characters started forming and they spoke to me in dreams. I sound crazy, right? So, I started to map out my ideas, creating my characters and the book just fell out of my fingertips. I’m usually a “pantster,” so planning just that little bit was a huge feat for me. Like most of my work, I send it off to critique partners. Since I live out of the country in a Spanish-speaking country, I found a great online critique group (www.critiquecircle.com) who supported me through this process. Finally, I submitted my work to one of my dream publishers, Crimson Romance, and voila!

Where did the idea for your story come from?
All of my stories stem from characters. In Breaking the Rules, Colin spoke to me through my actual brother-in-law. Like Colin, my BIL lost his wife in a tragedy a few years ago, leaving him lonely and a single father. I wondered how hard it would be to date again and to actually find romance when he least expected it. So, I created Colin – a sexy, single father widower who was too busy for love. Hope knocked him on the butt and opened his eyes anyway.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
Harbor Bay, Florida is a fictional beach town taking after St. Petersburg, Florida. I lived in the Tampa Bay area in 2007 and have fond memories there. Immediately, I knew that this book would be perfect in that atmosphere. I loved writing several beach scenes!

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
Although I based Colin’s character on my brother-in-law, they really are nothing alike. When it comes to my heroine, Hope, I have to say that she is just like me! I am a hopeless klutz and I work in a middle school, though as a teacher, rather than an administrator. Hope is also a romantic with a huge bucket list that Colin helps her with. Shhh … No one knows, but many of her items on the list are the same as mine!

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world, and about school administrators and doctors (what kind of doctor is Colin Calaway)?
Hope is extremely clumsy and has broken many bones. Luckily, I haven’t, so I had to research about fractures and hospital procedures. I also had to decide on Colin’s profession, and what better job than an orthopedic surgeon, one Hope would have to visit or see in a clinic.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
Always the endings. I become attached to my characters and I never want to say goodbye.

What are some of your favorite books and why?
Reading is my first love, so I have so many favorites! My favorite authors are Jill Shalvis, Kristin Higgins and Shannon Stacey. I love their humor and way with words. I eat up every one of their books!

What are you working on now?
My latest novella was just released with Swoon Romance – Love and Other Games: Trouble with Gold. If you like winter Olympics and hot athletes, you should check it out.

I’m also finishing a novel with a working title of New York Minute. This is a hot, spicy romance about a very shy, introvert who is taken out of her shell by a sexy, Argentinean rocker. Stay tuned for more!

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
Definitely! I dipped my foot in New Adult and I really enjoy reading that “genre.” I am also joining another group project that is a bit historical (1940’s) and paranormal at the same time.

Thanks so much for having me today! I love to hear from readers. Find me on twitter at www.twitter.com/melindadozier or comment below: Tell me what is your favorite rule to break?





A forbidden love affair in the past has led Hope Robinson, a middle school principal, to Harbor Bay, Florida, where she commits herself to play by the rules. This can be difficult for a perpetual klutz, who—even strapped in a cast—has to uphold a competent attitude at all times.

Luckily, she has Dr. Colin Calaway on her side, a widower and father of a student, who is ready to give love another try. When Colin convinces Hope they should explore the connection between them, a steamy romance develops, though it could destroy them both. They must decide if their jobs—and their hearts—are worth the risk.

Links:
Crimson Website: http://www.crimsonromance.com/upcoming-releases-romance-ebook/breaking-the-rules/
Blog: http://melindadozier.blogspot.com
Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4A_ow8MRw1M

AMAZON: http://goo.gl/o3Chm
B&N: http://goo.gl/m97R22
iTUNES: http://goo.gl/T94cX
KOBO: http://goo.gl/PtCZX

About Melinda:  Melinda Dozier lives in Guatemala, Central America, with her husband, three boys and German Shepherd.  She enjoys being the queen of her household and dreams of being pampered fully by her boys once they’re grown. Learn more about her at www.melindadozier.com.

Friday, November 1, 2013 | By: Cafe
When ideas come, you can use them or lose them; you can put them down on paper or risk letting them fly away. 
– Kevin Hall, author of “Aspire”