Fiction, Fun Fridays, Marketing, My Books, Novel, Reader, Real Life, Recipes, Writing

Friday Fruit Salad

Today’s post is both literal and figurative … and yet, the whole thing is virtual because this resides on the Internet, which doesn’t really exist. Yes, I’m going to talk about how I make fruit salad in my kitchen, but I’m serving up a mixture of topics, so it’s also another kind of salad. You can figure out the Internet on your own.

I’ve been craving fruit salad lately. Everyone has their own recipe. The mixture of fruits in mine changes, depending on what’s in season and what I have in my refrigerator and pantry. Pineapple, mandarin oranges, and bananas are staples in my salad, but it also contains one or more of these: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, kiwi, apple, pear, peach in natural juices maybe with a bit of the syrup from the canned mandarin segments. Simple, colorful, delicious.

I’m deep in the beginnings of a new novel, but I have only this weekend to work on it before I take a break. Family activities will take precedence during the month of July. I may have a few normal working days, but for the most part, I’ll probably only manage to keep up with blogging and email during the next five weeks.

What will happen to my fledgling book? I’m going to trust that my Muse will keep working on it. From experience, I know that sometimes, when you take the pressure off, fantastic things happen: a plot problem unknots; a key scene, clear and complete, slides into view; a brilliant twist is revealed; a perfect line of dialogue floats to the surface. Stealth writing.

Okay, time for a little fun. I’ve been following Cathy Yardley’s series at Rock Your Writing on forming a profile of the “right reader” for your work. One of the ways she suggests doing this is to know which authors’ work is similar to yours. She shared a link to this tool: Gnooks Literature Map.

Actually, the Literature Map was designed to help readers find authors they might like. When you type in your favorite author’s name, it will appear in the middle, with the names of similar authors floating around it. Books by the authors who hover closest to your fave, should be ones you’ll most enjoy. Go now, play with it.

Family, Life, Real Life, Recipes, Writing

The OMG I Forgot to Start Dinner Shepherd’s Pie

Has this ever happened to you? You opened your WIP, but soon your progress toward the day’s writing goal slowed. so you took a break and opened your email, read your messages, and replied to a few, or several. Then, afraid you were missing something important, you checked in on Twitter for a few minutes. Or longer. You went back to your Word doc, typed a few sentences, deleted a couple, stared into space for a while, and then you opened your blog reader. An hour later—okay, it was longer—you returned to your writing, but, only a few paragraphs on, your friend, or your sister, or your mom phoned.

When the call ended you played a few games of Bejeweled Blitz, or Solitaire, or whatever game you’re addicted to, until it occurred to you a whole new shift of Tweeters had come online. Of course, you needed to check out what they were saying. Oh, yeah … you were supposed to be writing. You checked your word count. Then you checked the clock.

OMG, how did it get to be that late?! You haven’t even started anything for dinner.

Relax, I can help. I cook most of my dinners from scratch—well, more than half—but sometimes I need a hot meal that’s simple and quick, so here’s the recipe for one of my standbys, a quick Shepherd’s Pie. (Unfortunately, the dishing up started before I had time to take the photo.)

1 pound lean ground beef*

Dried minced onion

Celery seed

Worcestershire sauce

1 can mixed vegetables (14-15 oz.)

1 jar of beef gravy (12 oz.)

1 package (24 oz.) prepared mashed potatoes*

Grated romano and parmesan cheese

Grated sharp cheddar cheese (6 oz.)

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Brown the ground beef. While it’s cooking, drain the mixed vegetables, pour into a 2 qt. casserole, and heat in microwave. When the beef is cooked, drain and add to vegetables. Sprinkle mixture with celery seed, minced onion, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in about 10 oz. of the gravy. Keep mixture warm. Heat mashed potatoes in microwave and mix in 3-4 tablespoons of parmesan or mixed romano/parmesan cheese. Spread mashed potatoes over beef mixture. Bake for 15 minutes, then sprinkle cheddar over the mashed potatoes and return dish to the oven for 12-15 minutes longer. (Serves 4 adults as main dish.)

* If the meat is frozen, you’ll have to add the time it takes to partially defrost in the microwave and then fry as it continues thawing in the pan.

**Simply Potatoes is the best brand I’ve found.

I can’t match Rachel Ray’s time, but 40 minutes is close, and maybe no one will know you almost forgot to cook dinner.

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