Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wednesday Writers Tips - The Romantic Hero

I had a good run on Sunday writing on my novella. I'd like to use that excuse for not posting a Wednesday Writers Tip last Wednesday, but I can't. I just vegged out last week and, except for the day job, stayed away from my computer. I took a little social media break.

And I did a little research at the annual Powwow in Carson City, then took the restored Virginia & Truckee RR to Virginia City. One and a half hours to go 22 miles at 12MPH. Saw some great back country and a wild mustang mare and her very young foal.

Tonight I'm reviewing the book Writing The Great American Romance Novel by Catherine Lanigan. I'm interested in Chapter Three: The Makeup of the Romantic Hero.

If you want to make your leading man a real hero, you have to make readers care about him. This is the single most important element in creating a hero. 

The hero in my novella, A WARRIOR'S VOICE, is Native American, a bad boy turned around by service in the Army. He had to leave the service before he planned due to a life-changing injury in battle. I want my readers to care about him, to fall in love with him, but I don't want it to be pity because of his injury. I want readers to love his heart and soul. So I turn to this chapter. Here are some tips from chapter 3.

...the romantic hero's interior and exterior epiphany is tied to his romantic relationship with the heroine.
It is not enough that the hero is charming as he moves through the plot--he must be three-dimensional, as well. There has to be some psychological or emotional reversal in his psyche that gives your hero true depth of character. 
...something dramatic must change within his mind, heart or soul so that the plot--which, up until the moment of the hero's epiphany, was going in one direction--is permanently altered and begins moving in a different, more satisfying direction. 

I'll leave you with these delectable tie bits, while I finish studying this chapter.

Writing The Great American Romance Novel
More books from my Writers How To/Craft Bookshelf.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Features - Cake Boss bakery tips and cookie recipes

Buddy Valastro

Today I feel like being decadent. So I'm presenting for your pleasure, two cookie recipes and baking tips from Buddy Valastro, The Cake Boss. Next Friday I'll post two more sweet recipes: Peanut Butter Brownies and  Simply Sweet Cannoli. ~Christy

You might have a favorite cookie or brownie recipe — but did you know you could make it even better by adding a simple, familiar ingredient? With a few expert tips from Buddy Valastro, author and star of TLC’s “Cake Boss,” you can take your sweet treats from good to great in no time.

—Start with Quality Ingredients — When you start with better ingredients, you end up with a better cookie or brownie. Use real butter, high-quality vanilla and great tasting chocolate. Here, Buddy shares some of his favorite recipes that use M&Ms candies to add an extra special touch to family favorites — making them even better.

—Chill the Dough — Leaving cookie dough in the refrigerator gives it more body and results in a fuller and better tasting cookie. Plan ahead so you can refrigerate your dough at least one hour — or, even better, overnight.

—Keep It Uniform — Use a small ice cream scoop to keep your cookies the same size. This not only helps them look professional, but bake up evenly and consistently.

—Pans Matter — Bake cookies on light-colored, non-insulated cookie sheets without sides. Metal pans will cook brownies faster than glass pans, which means cooking times will vary. Start checking your brownies early to test if they’re ready and prevent over baking.
You can find more sweet baking tips and recipes at
~ Family Features

Amazing M&Ms Cookies
Prep time: 10 to 15 minutes
Chill time: 1 hour to overnight
Bake time: 8 to 14 minutes
Yield: 24 to 30 cookies
            1          cup (2 sticks) butter
            2/3       cup brown sugar
            2/3       cup granulated sugar
            1          egg
            1 1/2    teaspoons vanilla extract
            2          cups flour
            1 1/4    teaspoon baking soda
            1          teaspoon salt
            1 3/4    cups M&M’S Milk Chocolate
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In large bowl, cream butter and both sugars until well blended. Add egg and vanilla extract, and mix to combine.
In separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda and salt together. Slowly add dry ingredients into butter mixture and stir until combined.
Fold in candies and chill dough for 1 hour or overnight.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto lightly greased tray, about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies, or 12 to 14 minutes for crispy cookies.

Milk Chocolate Minis Cookies

Prep time: 10 to 15 minutes
Chill time: 1 hour to overnight
Bake time: 7 to 12 minutes
Yield: 24 to 30 cookies
            1          cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
            3/4       cup firmly packed light
                                    brown sugar
            1          cup granulated sugar
            2          large eggs
            1          teaspoon vanilla extract
            2 1/4    cups all-purpose flour
            1/3       cup cocoa powder
            1          teaspoon baking soda
            1/2       teaspoon salt
            1 3/4    cups M&M’S Milk Chocolate
                                    Minis Candies
            1          cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In large bowl, cream butter and both sugars until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla extract, and mix to combine.
In separate bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients to butter mixture, and stir until combined.
Fold in candies and walnuts, if desired. Chill dough 1 hour, or overnight.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto lightly greased tray, about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 7 to 9 minutes for chewy cookies, or 10 to 12 minutes for crispy cookies.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Features - June 14 - USA Flag Day

Today is Flag Day. It was officially started in 1885, when teacher BJ Cigrand arranged for his students to observe June 14 (108 years after the adoption of The Stars and Strips) as Flag Birthday, now Flag Day. The day was officially established by President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916. It was not until August 3rd, 1949 that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

Show your true colors by flying the American flag outside your home!  
Here are some tips to ensure that you fly the flag proudly and properly.

1. The U.S. flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during hours of darkness. Always hoist the U.S. flag briskly. Lower it ceremoniously.

2. The Union (stars) should always be in the upper left.

3. When flown at half staff: the U.S. flag should be first hoisted to the peak for a moment and then lowered to the half staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.

4. It is generally not desirable to fly the flag outdoors when the weather is particularly  inclement because exposure to severe winds and rain may damage the flag or the pole on which it is displayed.

5. The U.S. flag should never be displayed with the union down except as a signal of distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

6. The U.S. flag should never touch anything beneath it - ground, floor, water or merchandise.

7. The U.S. flag should never be carried horizontally, but it should always be aloft and free.

8. Always allow the U.S. flag to fall free - never use the U.S. flag as wearing apparel, bedding or drapery, festooned, or decoration in general. Instead, use blue, white, and red bunting. Always arrange the bunting with blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below.

9. The U.S. flag should never be fastened, displayed, used or stored in a manner which will permit it to be easily torn, soiled or damaged in any way.

10. Never use the U.S. flag as a covering or drape for a ceiling.

11. When the U.S. flag is in such condition that is no longer a fitting emblem for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning, privately.

Courtesy of FeatureSource

For more information, call 1-800-338-2232 ext. 110

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wednesday Writer Tips - 37 marketing tips in one handy ebook

I had planned another tip for tonight that I found very useful but I can't find the book. I think I'm organized, I sort things on my desk and on my computer logically, but this isn't the first time I couldn't find something when I needed it. I need tips on organizing. But that's a topic for another Wednesday.

So tonight I'm going to share tips on Marketing Your Book! We can all use that, right?

The book is Smashwords TM Book Marketing Guide - How to market your book by Mark Coker. The introduction gives a background to Smashwords and how they help authors and publishers market their books. The best part is the 37 Marketing Tips that are all free to put into action.

Here's a list of the tips I've already implemented.
Tip #1 - Update your email signatureTip #2 - Post a notice on your web site or blogTip #3 - Contact your friends, family, co-workers and fansTip #4 - Post a notice to your social networksTip #5 - Update your message board signatures
I've checked a few more off the list, too. 

Some tips I would never have thought of:
Tip #25 - Encourage your fans to become affiliate marketers of your bookTip #27 - Do a sample chapters swap with another author
Each tip is expounded and explained with at least one paragraph, and links where applicable. It's concise, to the point and FREE!  Yea, free help for us! I'm excited to try out more of the tips in the coming weeks.

More books from my writers craft and how-to bookshelf. 
I have the ebook version of this book.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Feature: Shrimp veggie wrap

I'm always looking for ways to make a sandwich without bread and veggie warps are the perfect way to do it. When I was small my mother used to make wraps for my brother and me. She would spread peanut butter on a lettuce or cabbage leaf and top it with raisins or sliced apples then roll it up. I think that was a pretty smart way to get kids to eat healthy foods. We loved them. 

But now I'm all grown up and I like more sophisticated dishes. So I picked this wrap recipe to make this weekend. 

Tomorrow I see my doctor for my semi-annual check up. I hope that the tests I've taken placate her enough that she overlooks my weight gain. On New Year's Day, like a lot of others, I planed out my weight loss for the year. Oops. Life, job, the stresses of both got the better of me. The best I can do is take one day at a time. And keep in touch with my friend who lost a bunch of weight, then gained a lot back after three life stresses hit her one after the other. Now she's been able to recapture her "Focus", as she calls it, and is back on the losing side. I need to find my focus. I have something up my sleeve regarding weight loss, which I will announce in a few weeks. ~Christy

Summer Rolls

Servings:  4
Active time:  25 minutes
Total time:  50 minutes

1          teaspoon fresh lime juice
1          teaspoon dark (toasted) sesame oil
1          small red chile pepper, seeded and minced
1/2       teaspoon salt
1/2       pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
8          large green or red leaf lettuce leaves
1          medium carrot, julienned
1          small daikon radish, julienned
1/2       cup mung bean sprouts
1/4       cup peanuts, toasted and chopped

Combine lime juice, sesame oil, chile and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add shrimp; simmer until pink, about 3 minutes. Drain; add to lime juice mixture and toss to coat. Refrigerate until cool, about 10 minutes.

Set lettuce leaves on a counter with stem ends toward you. Press against the “spines” until you hear a crunch to make it easier to roll.

Divide carrot, daikon and sprouts among leaves, setting them in the centers toward the bottom. Divide shrimp among leaves; sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Roll lettuce from the bottom up.

Place each roll, seam side down, on a sheet of plastic wrap; wrap tightly and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Remove wrap; cut rolls in half and serve.

Per Serving: Net Carbs: 4 grams; Total Carbs: 6 grams; Fiber: 2 grams; Protein: 15 grams; Fat: 7 grams; Calories: 150

For more recipes, tips, ideas and free tools, visit

From “The New Atkins for a New You Cookbook” by Colette Heimowitz.  Copyright (c) 2011 by Atkins Nutritionals, Inc.  Printed by permission of Touchstone Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.