Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Stealing Recipes

Today I’m going to break a personal rule. When this blog first started, I decided that for my main recipe I would never post a link to someone else’s recipe instead of coming up with one of my own or at least an old family favorite. Today, though, I’m giving in—and I’m trying to do so in style while still connecting it to writing.

But first an explanation for my sloth (and no, I don’t have an arboreal pet):
Just over a week old, our newest wee little gal sucks up free time better than an anteater sucks up ants. Fortunately, she’s much cuter than any anteaters I’ve seen.

Now, back to today’s post and some breaking of rules. I never liked the thought of slapping up a link to a recipe on another site because it seemed so impersonal and lazy. I’m a creative person; shouldn’t I be able to come up with my own recipe every time? Piece of cake, right? Yeah, not so much. And, you know what, while I love posting fresh recipes and experimenting, I think I’m okay with my new standard—at least this once. 

After all, I usually start learning how to cook something by studying a half dozen other recipes for the same dish. Then I adapt, combine, tweak, and make it into something that will make me happy. But did I come up with it all on my own? No way!

THIS IS NOT A SUGGESTION TO PLAGIARIZE, buuuuut . . . most writers practice heavy thievery in even their most original works. The whole standing on the shoulders of giants idea is true. We steal the basis for our writing from those we admire and avoid the flaws of writing we scorn. We see how one author brilliantly strings together flowery sentences, how another writes punchy action scenes, and how another creates characters who reach up off of the page to throttle the reader. We see all that and say, “How I can I steal that? How can I put that little piece of magic into my grimoire of writing spells?”

And if we’re really lucky, we make a successful steal. We copy the skill without copying the content. We acquire the ability without anyone giving us any less credit for the achievement. This is only right because copying something that a master did well is never as easy as it looks. I can only hope someday to become such a sly thief of words that no one ever realizes just how many treasure houses I have raided along the way for supplies.

ON TO THE RECIPES! These links go to some baked goods recipes I have used multiple times to get great results in the kitchen. Take them, use them, then make them your own—I certainly have. Full credit goes to their originators, whose contributions to my tummy are much appreciated. Of special note, I give a gold star to the biscuit recipe, since it took a long time to find one I loved and could replicate easily.

Jonathan Schkade is the author of six books for children, including Icky Sticky, Hairy Scary Bible Stories. He's also a network co-representative for the Southern Illinois region of SCBWI. To learn more about Jonathan, you can steal away to his site: www.jonathanschkade.com.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Writing With Hungery Kids

Summer is in full swing with the kids. This means my writing has taken a backseat to the grueling demands of four children. On the days I can write I found a system that works. I do have to admit it was hard getting used to the realization I no longer had the two plus hour time slot for writing that I now notably took for granted during the school year. I’m lucky if I get a few twenty minute jolts to punch out a chapter in between very loud children, messy diapers and hungry cries. ( This blog post has taken me an hour. Seriously.)

Feeding my children is what seems to interrupt my writing the most, next to them pestering each other. They eat all the time lately and it’s a never ending abyss of, “Mom, someone ate my snack.” or, “What’s for dinner?” And, that question is asked through out the day, even when it is well before noon. If they don’t know that I have an idea of what I will prepare, they think they won’t eat. EVER. Kids….. (Okay, here is a confession. If I don’t plan ahead we will end up getting drive thru  or a bowl of cold cereal.)

Here is a little system I’ve found works so the whole snapping me out of a writing zone for food cuts back a bit. I make a scheduled menu. Our town does this free lunch program and gave out menus so we knew what was being served. The kids knew this is was it and that was that. Light bulb! I made one for my family. Every Sunday afternoon I sit down and plan it out on paper then hung it on the fridge door for the family to see. Breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. It really helped with the grocery list as well.

On the days that I have to crunch and meet a deadline, I get real organized. The night before I pack lunches for each child in their own containers, then put it in the fridge where they can reach it. Snacks too. It works! It’s just when I'm done with a writing session and come out to find the kids have turned the house upside down and that solution is for another post.