It’s stretching your boundaries time. Is there a food you’d love to learn how to cook or a different genre or type of book you’d love to try to write? It’s funny you ask this one, because recently I had a friend and fellow writer challenge me to get outside my comfort zone, research what is commercially viable right now, and try my hand at a completely “outside the box” genre. Mostly I enjoy reading thrillers, suspense, mystery, and fantasy (i.e. Lord of the Rings, etc.), so that’s typically what I gravitate toward when writing. I love a novel that keeps me guessing like a thriller or mystery, or one rich in characterization and setting as in fantasy.
In my research, the YA and paranormal were highly popular, but I was surprised to discover erotica as a huge market – probably because of the commercial success of novels like the Fifty Shades of Gray series. I figured, hmm – why not? I mean, I have sex scenes in some of my novels so writing more of that wouldn’t be too difficult.
Ha! Was I in for a shock. Since I’d never read erotica before, I downloaded a free novella in the genre for my Kindle, read the first chapters and thought my Kindle was going to explode! I’d never heard of most of this stuff before, so how did I think I could write it? Needless to say, I deleted it from my Kindle and my library before it gave me a heart attack. That was my first and last foray into the delusion of thinking I could write erotica. Think I’ll stick with thrillers.
What are three must-have foods/seasonings in your kitchen? Garlic, salt, and cinnamon.
It may sound weird, but I use at least a dash of garlic in most everything I cook. There’s something about it that just draws out the natural flavor of foods and enhances – especially chicken and beef. Let me be the first to tell you – it’s not just for sauces and pasta. I even use a bit in my mashed potatoes.
Salt is another commodity that helps enhance natural flavors. Think of a fresh cooked batch of french fries and imagine biting into one, only to discover that the cook forgot to salt it – talk about one disappointing and bland potato!
Cinnamon is actually very healthy for the body. Besides cinnamon toast, sprinkle some in your coffee grounds before brewing and get a flavor extravaganza. Add a touch into your sauces. When baking chicken, I usually sprinkle a smidge over the surface before adding other ingredients. It doesn’t really change the flavor of food (unless you dump it on, of course) but adds an extra little health kick for your body’s benefit.
What’s your favorite kitchen accessory or appliance? How about a favorite writing accessory or reference? My favorite kitchen appliance would have to be my stove. In fact, I not only use my gas stove/oven but have a second electric wall oven for overflow when I’m in the cooking zone. In the fall and winter, I love nothing more than standing over a hot stove making meals or baking breads – I can taste the banana bread right now. Mmmm! There really is a difference in the quality of baking with gas versus electric though.
Writing reference would have to be my thesaurus. I have a hard copy I refer to once in awhile, but the ease of using the computer’s thesaurus (limited though it may be) makes it a breeze. Sometimes I’ll be writing and a word will be on the tip of my brain but for some reason it just won’t come forward. I’ll type in another word with a similar meaning and then use the thesaurus look-up to find the one I was searching for. Other times the word just doesn’t convey what I want to say as strong as I’d like. The thesaurus saves me almost every time.
Half-baked ideas: Not every idea is a winner. Written or not, what’s the most ill-conceived story idea you’ve ever had? That’s easy – the erotica series! Originally it was going to be a series of novella-length stories about a group of women who are friends/acquaintances and how they are each on different roads, some with secret lives and others just trying to find a “Mr. Right” or a “Mr. Right-Now”. But as stated, that quickly fell apart.
Hot out of the oven: What inspired your latest book, and what ingredients do you hope make it a tasty treat for readers? My most recent book is Piercing the Darkness, the follow-up to the first in the series, Running into the Darkness. It’s a continuation of where we find our characters several months after the events of book one. Overall the series is a pretty dark tale, dealing with some touchy subjects and issues, but there is a redeeming quality that shows us that none have fallen so far as to be unreachable. Climbing back from the bottom, however, is a slow and painful process that affects everyone around us, and as “Piercing” shows, can rarely be accomplished without the humility of allowing someone to help. But allowing someone to help involves the risk of trusting others – and some are not worthy of that trust.
Of course, as you know, I have a nasty habit of ending my books on a cliffhanger. Then my readers have to wait about a year before getting the next piece of the puzzle. However, my critique group just about killed me with how I ended “Running” and then especially “Piercing”, so I told them the gist of what was going to happen in the final book so they’d at least not strangle me before I could get it written. J
What’s cooking? Can you share a bit about your next project? Well what I’m working on at the moment is a fan request. Last summer I published a very long short story, “The Study”, that I’d never intended to publish. It was something I’d written more for myself – it’s very much my own story in many ways. But as with much of my writing, fans were so heartbroken with how I ended it and wanted some sort of closure for the characters. So I came up with an idea for a sequel and have tentatively entitled it “The Search”. It took a little while for the inspiration to come as to how I’d start it, but now I’m moving forward and have a general idea of where it’s going from here. I’d like to say it will be out by the end of March, but I hate to promise and not deliver. But that’s going to be the goal toward which I’m working. My critique group has a retreat every winter, and I’m planning to at least try and get a lot written that weekend. Pinky swear and fingers crossed!
RECIPE: Creamy Chicken and Noodles
In a four quart sauce pan, place two to three large chicken breasts, salt, pepper, minced onion, and a dash or two of garlic powder to taste then fill with water. Bring to a boil and cook for twenty minutes or until chicken is tender. Drain remaining stock into a large crock pot and set chicken aside to cool enough to handle.
In large crock pot, add one can cream of celery and one can cream of chicken to chicken stock. Stir until smooth. Add four cups of milk, two packages of Reames frozen egg noodles (or one large if you can find in your area) and stir together.
Dice or tear cooked chicken into pieces and add to mixture. Let cook on low/medium for two hours, stirring often to avoid sticking or scorching. Add additional milk if needed, salt and pepper to taste. Serve when creamy, with yummy yeast rolls. Dig in and enjoy!