Wednesday, February 3, 2021

IWSG: February, 2021 Edition

 It really can't be time for the monthly IWSG blog hop, can it?  Apparently so. Thank you, Alex J. Cavanaugh, our founder, and all the admins who keep this group of supportive and inspirational writers joined in the sometimes frustrating and sometimes uplifting career.

This month's optional question:

 Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?

Of course. I expect the timing of this question isn't coincidental to the upcoming blog hop honoring Jo Wake this Saturday. I still choke up writing her name. I won't talk about Jo here, but I know anyone who visited her blog often considered her a friend and an inspiration. I feel like I've known some of you who visit my blog for years, and it has been years. I've purchased and read your books. Benefited from your expertise and learned from your experiences. I always feel like I've received more from you than what I've given. The loss of Jo really brought home to me how much the blogging community has come to mean to me.

"You’re never wrong if you love and help people." Maxime LagacĂ©

I'm busy with editing. Actually, going over the last edits that Jo Wake returned to me. I'm lingering over her comments and suggestions. 

My romance publisher is creating new covers for my one series to re-launch them. Small presses are really struggling and being strangled by Amazon. It's been a while since anyone I know has had book sales to crow about. Writing is a tough way to make a living, or even enough to pay for the coffee and wine needed to keep going.

I hope some of you have been able to get the Covid vaccine. I'm not even qualified in any way to get in line. I'm thinking summer at the earliest. My husband is old enough, but he hasn't been able to make an appointment yet. What a mess.

I'm busy working with Pennwriters, the statewide multi-genre writing group I'm currently serving as President. It's been a stressful year. We had to cancel our large conference last May and recently made the decision to go virtual this May. We knew it was a possibility, but the disappointment is real. And now there are a lot of moving parts to organize despite everyone's recent forced education in online learning and virtual meetings. 

"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Good news: I have a number of guests scheduled over the course of the next month. Some authors I really respect and admire. I've been doing more reading than writing or watching TV, so I'm always on the lookout for some good books and new authors.

Have you made friends through blogging? Have you received your Covid vaccine? Have a spare dose? Are you spending more time online for work or education?

Stay safe, friends.

Jo Wake, Love and Friendship

If love and friendship had a name, it might be Jo Wake. I tear up even writing this now. Jo was a strong, amazing woman. We've all heard that getting old isn't for sissies. Jo was no sissy, though I hate that term. She remained independent right up until the last few days of her life.

Her interests were so wide and varied, one can not name them all. She was a life-long learner like we all should strive to be. I can't tell you how many shows and musical videos I watched because she recommended them. She also loved to recommend books.

I was one of the fortunate ones for whom Jo read and edited my books. She was excellent at it. But once or twice every book, she would suggest an edit that was changing my American wording to something British or Canadian. It always made me smile.

Jo loved to cook and experiment. She convinced me to buy an instapot so I could try some of those delicious recipes. She encouraged me to start with something simple and sent me her Mac-n-Cheese recipe. It's delicious.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
This macaroni and cheese is every family's favorite comfort food pasta recipe made easy in the Instant Pot!  You can have creamy, mouthwatering, homemade mac and cheese for dinner in about 10 minutes!
8 oz Uncooked Elbow Macaroni
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 Tbs Butter
1 tsp Hot Pepper Sauce
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/4 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1/2 to 1 cup Milk
1. Add the uncooked macaroni, chicken broth, butter, hot sauce, garlic powder, pepper, and salt to the Instant Pot.
2. Place the lid on the pot and set to sealing.  Cook on manual function, high pressure for 5 minutes.  Then, do a quick release.
3. Stir in the cheeses and milk until smooth.  Season as necessary to taste.
4. Notes
5. NOTE:  The cheeses listed in the recipe have produced the best flavor that I have found.  Feel free to use your family's favorite cheese combination.
6. NOTE:  For the milk, start with 1/2 cup and add up to one cup if you find it needs to be thinned out a little bit more.
7. IMPORTANT: Empty pot before sitting down to eat otherwise it will be difficult to clean as cheese sticks.
Servings: 4

I cherish my friendship with Jo and will never forget her. My instapot won't allow it. Cheers, Jo. I think heaven is eating a little better with you there.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

IWSG: January 2021

 We're finally here in 2021, though not much has changed from last week. Some things staying the same is good like the IWSG. Still led by our intrepid founder, Alex J. Cavanaugh, we can share our woes and victories monthly. Find the entire list of participants here. Not to say the IWSG is in any way static. Lots of things going on all the time like the Twitter Pitch coming up on January 20th. Get the details on this page.

As I did last month, I apologize for not visiting more blogs. I've had to have my comments on moderation for a while. I was going to undo that this month, but sure enough there were four spam comments among the rest.

This month's question:

January 6 question - Being a writer, when you're reading someone else's work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people's books?

I love this question. First and foremost for me is liking the voice of the author and then liking the characters. If I don't care for the main character, I put the book down. If I don't like the voice, I not only put that book down, but I won't pick up another by that author. I'll usually give an author up to 100 pages if those two things suit me. After that, there has to be something happening by page 100. It can be action, suspense, mystery, or romance, but it has to be something. Reading page after page of a character's internal thoughts will put me to sleep. One last thing that will throw me out of the story early is a YA book where the teenagers don't act like teenagers, either too mature or too immature.

On my own writing front, I finally finished my WIP on New Year's Eve. My husband fell asleep so I wrote and wrote while sipping champagne. Haven't gone back to look at it yet, but I don't think the bubbly had too much influence on my writing. Like many of you, we celebrated alone.

I worry about my family and friends, including the virtual friends, with all that is going on. Not just health wise but financial distress also. I hope you all can get the vaccine soon if you're willing to take it. I believe I'll be in the last group to get it. My husband is older than I am, and all my children work in jobs that are considered essential. Stay safe in the meantime.

One of my sons bought me a terrific jigsaw puzzle for Christmas. I'll post a picture when I'm done. It's very relaxing to work on such a difficult puzzle. I've read a lot of books recently so feel free to send me some recommendations. I love the library but they've had to cut hours recently for financial reasons. 

TV is no fun. I'm looking forward to the return of Prodigal Son and Evil. The Expanse is giving us a new episode on Amazon once per week but that won't last long. They only have ten episodes per season.

Hope there is some positivity happening in your neck of the woods.

"I dwell in possibility." Emily Dickinson

What makes you put a book down? Did you down your champagne alone on January 1st? Ready for a Twitter Pitch.