Monday 23 April 2012

Off on the first jaunt of the week.

Join me at Cera Dubois' blog today. Find out more about me, and about how my handsome hunk Nairn Malcolm came to be the hero in TAKE ME NOW!

Friday 20 April 2012

Yummy Chocolate!

How can I possibly equate chocolate with writing stories?

What is it about chocolate that has everyone drooling? Expectations of passions being stirred…
Is it the smooth taste? The slide of one piece, or page, after another making your mouth water…
What about the texture of those lovely honeycomb pieces bursting on your tongue? Swallowing back the unexpected parts of the tale, taking time to chew and mull over…
That rush of sensation as it hits your taste buds? The highpoints all too soon over, and the last words sating the emotions…

I just went to a FUN chocolate workshop with my daughters where we made our own handmade chocolate truffles and chocolate bars!!! Cocoa ooze was a workshop of a different kind.
Like my writing there were clear steps to follow.
Make a plan. Am I talking about my cooking method or my outline plot? How about both!
Action. Follow the method: get those words flowing.
Completion. The truffles and chocolate bars are made, so now it’s time to decorate: your draft is completed; it’s time to embellish and polish.
Pack it up. Wrap up your chocolates and prettify: last foray with the manuscript before you zap it off.

What can you add to your wonderful base chocolate? For the ganache we could have added champagne, mint, ginger, chilli, liqueurs, vanilla, almond…there were plenty of other choices BUT we chose to flavour them with LEMONGRASS and VIOLET. Absolutely YUMMY!
What can you add to your writing? You don’t really need that answer. Words, words, words.

(Okay… equating writing stories with making truffles was a bit simplistic, but you’ll maybe get the drift)

Making Truffles - if you’re interested.
Step number 1: Choose the base kind of chocolate to make your ganache (Ganache=truffle mixture of cream and chocolate. We chose white chocolate.)
Step number 2: Use three parts of chocolate to one part cream for the basic ganache mix. (In my workshop we used whipping cream but different creams will give different tastes and thicknesses of truffle mix)
Step number 3: Boil the cream then pour over the broken chocolate pieces. (We used chocolate drops)
Step number 4: Leave to stand for 40 seconds then beat cream and chocolate to a smooth consistency.
Step number 5: At this stage your mix can be separated into smaller quantities if you wish to have many different flavours. (We halved our mix and chose to add lemongrass for one half and violet for the other)
Step number 7: This was our big CHEAT time! We used already formed chocolate cases, nice and round, and very easy to fill with our ganache mix. Use up any leftover ganache-just eat from the spoon-delicious!!! (Don’t forget to lick the bowl…oh dear did I say that!)
 Step number 9: Melt a big supply (approx. one pound weight) of the chocolate of your choice for coating the truffles, and to make chocolate bars. (Use less if you are only making truffles.) To melt a large quantity of chocolate, microwave it for about 2 minutes. Remove and stir to evenly spread the heat. If the chocolate needs further melting cut the time in the microwave down to approx ten seconds each time, till the chocolate is very smooth, and very shiny. (We chose to use a milk chocolate for coating) Roll each truffle, one by one, in the melted chocolate using a truffle hook. Carefully lift each truffle free of the bowl and place on greaseproof paper to harden.
Step number 10: Decorate. If adding things like sprinkles, or desiccated coconut, or chocolate flakes, or raisins, do this stage just after coating-before the chocolate hardens. If you wish to ice each truffle in the pattern of your choice with contrasting chocolate do this when your coating has hardened a little more. (Use a plastic icing/ forcing bag cut with the tiniest slit to ensure a thin stream.)

 When your truffles are fully set and hardened bag them up in a pretty cellophane bag and tie up with a cheery ribbon!
Making your own chocolate bars.
Pour your melted chocolate into bar mould and top with anything you fancy.
What can you top them with? Chocolate sprinkles, or any kind of sprinkles for that matter, desiccated coconut, chopped nuts, raisins, chilli flakes, honeycomb pieces, crystallised ginger pieces… You can even spray them with edible gold, silver or copper sprays…if it’s edible the list is endless.

 Enjoy…while reading a lovely heart-warming romance!

Wednesday 18 April 2012

It it a saga... or not?

I'm pondering today on the differences between a saga, and a historical novel that highlights the plight of women during a particular era-or eras-as the case may be.

What is it that makes an editor agree that it really is a saga, and that it can be marketed as such?

Does a saga always require that the historical time scale goes over more than one generation? Does it always have romantic elements, but not always a happy ever after ending? If the story spans a few generations is it realistic to add in more than one romance?

Is highlighting the social aspects of the location, and its living and working conditions, always an element in a saga? Does an editor look for those trying conditions but always expect the fiesty hero, or heroine, to overcome them in some way-though not necessarily find themselves in a newer and better situation in life?

Are the main protagonists always strong people with strong emotions? Does an editor look for a strong emotional, and perhaps moral viewpoint, from the main characters?

Is it realistic to balance more than the viewpoint of one character throughout the novel? Or does the editor look for the viewpoint of one main character throughout?

I have many questions, my own answers, but I'd love to know what your opinion would be on what makes a saga-a saga!

Friday 6 April 2012

What to do when it rains.

It's a dreich Scottish day, so what's better than a little excerpt from MONOGAMY TWIST to lift the spirits?
His mouth was even closer than before. But instead of taking her lips his chuckle puffed on them.
“I don’t have a wife, and I sure as hell hadn’t been planning on having one anytime soon.”
Rhia’s lids fluttered. “So you can’t inherit right now? But you could later. If…” Her voice faltered as though it was excruciating to utter the words. “You…er, got married?”
“Bang on,” Luke chuckled.
His hands slipped from the back of the chair where they’d bracketed her in and snagged her fingers, encouraging her to her feet. A jolt of awareness channeled between their locked hands, rode up his arms and permeated his entire body making him quiver with anticipation. He’d never experienced anything so volatile before. It raised the triple-time libido even further—no doubt about that! He needed to bring his thoughts to order for he was losing it. Badly. He windshield-wiped his eyes and focused before continuing, his tone raspy for he couldn’t quite get to grips with that yet.
“But not later,” he growled. “I’m not a man to hang around and waste valuable time. It has to be as soon as possible—as early as can be arranged.”
“What?” Her voice was a mere susurration into the stillness, her face a cameo of distrust.
“Why should we let the property deteriorate further?” His tone invited, his intensity luring her in again. He stroked her fingers. “You know you can’t back away and let that lovely old estate you profess to love fall into complete ruin.”
“What are you talking about?” Her irises widened at his words.
Luke tightened the pressure of his fingers willing the warmth of his grip to ensnare her. “I need someone to marry me, and I want that person to be you.”

Thursday 5 April 2012

Tracy's Hot Mail by T A Belshaw

Tracy’s Hot Mail by T A Belshaw

This is the funniest book I have read for quite a while. I really loved the scatty, clueless Tracey as she reveals all to her friend, Emma. The humour drips off the page as Tracey unloads the events of her life in a continuous droll fashion-even though she wouldn’t have a clue what droll is! Almost the first sentence says it all “Just sending a quick mail to let you know how I’m getting on at my new job.” A quick email isn’t in Tracey’s repertoire. T A Belshaw keeps the reader entertained throughout, though it isn’t just Tracey who comes across as funny. The supporting characters are also entertaining and so very lifelike I felt I was watching a sitcom as I read. Thank you for a great read!

Wednesday 4 April 2012

New Beginnings

Summer visited for a few days, spring returned, then winter slammed down on us. One day last week it was seriously hot for my part of the world, and now? - We're plunged into a snowy landscape.

Like the changeable seasons I'm finding my relationships with family members has recently been renewed with a vengeance-though I have to say a Happy Vengeance. I've recently had occasion to enjoy the company of nephews, nieces and great nieces, but I've also been fortunate to meet family I've never laid eyes on before.

Sometimes it's time that separates family, and sometimes distance. What a pleasure it was to meet a niece I'd never seen before who just happens to live half a world away to the east, and now I'm having a great time meeting a cousin that half a world away to the west has separated us for all of my life.

Those new beginning buds are very special and like a piece of writing it will take a good bit of time and effort to nurture them into full blown flowers. It just so happens that, from my recent visitors, there have been so many new ideas to churn over that I can form into the basis of pieces of writing!

I'm off to to get going now to start those writing projects that are desperate to break out into bloom!
Have a lovely day...