Monday, June 2, 2014

A Very Unusual Mind

I was recently tagged by fellow author, Kathleen Wheeler, in the Writing Process Blog Tour. Kudos to her on her GCLS nomination and being a finalist in the Poetry category. A big thanks to her for checking in with me before she tagged me, as she understands wearing a lot of hats and trying to find extra time for an additional one. Kathleen penned her first novel Changing Shapes, which was well-received, and an anthology of poems entitled The Immaculate Chaos of Being, which is a finalist for a Goldie…in case you missed that earlier. Read about her current WIP, Blindsided, which will hopefully drop sometime in 2014, in her “writing process” blog post. I understand she also dabbles in pottery, music, and has an affinity for fried chicken. Thanks to Kathleen Wheeler for tagging me! Hope you enjoy!

1. What am I working on? My current work in progress has been slow to say the least. Made to Love is a continuation of sorts to Someone Like You. I started writing it before my dad got diagnosed with esophageal cancer and passed away this past January. I had my mind set on a romantic comedy of sorts, the opposite of Someone Like You. After a break from writing that lasted longer than I would have liked, I picked up the story again. I found that writing the story became cathartic for me; a part of my healing process. Hopefully, I can wrap this one up sometime this summer, as it is long overdue.

2. How does my work differ from others in the same genre?
  I think it’s hard to say that what I write is uniquely different from the genre as a whole. I like to think that different story twists add something to my novels that you may not see in another book of this kind. I like to put something of myself in each person, mostly vulnerabilities or personality flaws, which make the characters believable. I share a lot of my embarrassing moments with the world, so you will usually find those dents in the armor of my characters as well. I feel like it makes them more real and more likeable and makes them more believable. I tell stories of people. My books aren’t just the love story about the main characters. I love to tell the stories of everyone in the book. I was told once that I spent too much time on developing side characters, but those are people I enjoy writing as well. To me, the love story without the “fluff” isn’t the same. I also love to capture the details about the areas where the stories take place. I realized, probably as a result of my granddad being a builder and following him around as a kid, that the house in every book is a crucial part of the setting. I am fascinated with architecture and you will see that in my books. Nothing super different, but just enough to bend the mold.

3. Why do I write what I do?
 The voices in my head tell me to! Seriously, I think that we lean toward what we know and what interests us. I write the stories that I love to read. It’s probably cliché to say I write stories about lesbians because I am a lesbian, but it’s the truth. I don’t imagine I would do Gay Fic justice. As far as the ideas, I write them as they come to me. I will do that until there aren’t any more in my head. Then I won’t feel like the Mad Hatter lives in my brain, laughing maniacally and tossing out stories willy-nilly with no regard for time!

4. How does my writing process work?
  See the Mad Hatter comment. It’s very chaotic. I have a general idea of how I want the story to end or highlights that I want to include and I write to that end. I don’t have an outline, because I’m not very good at following rules and I would certainly veer from it anyway. There are times I will actually skip chapters and go back and write them once I’m comfortable with where the book goes from that point. I crave quiet when I write. I don’t do well with distractions, as I actually play every scene in my head as though it is a movie and I’m playing the roles. It helps to get up around 4 AM and write before work. I’m at my freshest before my life and job seep in and occupy the small amount of free space. The other odd thing I do is I have to have my cover done before I start to write the story. I may change font, but the cover is narrowed down to 2 choices, if not the final version long before I write the first words.

So now it’s time to tag the next Blog-a-thon vic…er, I mean ready and willing participant and I chose Penelope Grey
to pick up the torch. She penned her first novel, Infinity’s Song, in 2013. She promised me that the follow-up to that, Caught & Kept, would be out before her most recent jaunt around the world. She owes me $5.  :)  

Monday, March 31, 2014

The best fried clams I’ve ever had!

I originally started this blog as a joke for a friend of mine who hates social media. I’ve been craving lobster rolls lately and finally worked myself up to making them, in lieu of flying to Maine to get one. When I get an idea in my head, I become a one-track thinker, with a narrow-minded purpose that translates into every conversation (or as Sarah likes to say – a broken record), so my plans to make the perfect lobster roll did not go unnoticed. Rather than text with details of my project, I promised her I would blog and she could read about my adventures there.

What started as a simple quest for a good lobster roll turned into a trip down memory lane. One of my favorite vacations ever was the time that I took my parents and most of my siblings to Maine. Growing up, we didn’t have the means to take family vacations, so when I got old enough, I rounded everyone up for a trip to one of my favorite places to make some of our favorite memories. During that wonderful week, we drove through the town in New Hampshire where my dad up, hiked in Acadia National Park, shopped at L.L.Bean, visited every lighthouse along the coast and remembered how much we loved growing up in a big family.

We feasted on fresh lobster for a week straight. I remember every morning, my dad would gather everyone up and make the ½ mile walk to the pound at the end of the peninsula and buy our lobsters for the day. They would sit in the fridge until we were all worn out from sightseeing and starving. Then Dad would fire up the stove in the old Victorian and start churning out lobsters with the regularity of the peanut man at a major league baseball game tossing bags of hot peanuts to hungry fans.

So with memories of that trip and my taste buds dancing wildly, I began my search for the perfect lobster tail. Yes, I could have purchased a whole lobster, but I am squeamish about some things, so the very idea of tossing a live lobster into a pot of boiling water was not high on my bucket list. No, frozen lobster tail would suffice, and, after trips to multiple stores and several days of disappointment, I managed to round up some impressive tail. 

I had read that boiling and steaming weren’t the best ways to cook the lobster, as it pulls so much of the flavor out of the meat. I opted instead for roasting them in the oven. There is some debate about how long one should actually cook lobster. I cooked them for ten minutes in a 400 degree oven then let them finish with the residual heat. I finished them off in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

When they chilled to room temperature, I started to pick each sweet, succulent bit out of the perfectly reddened shells. Each lump brought me closer to the elusive lobster roll. Finally, finished I added just a dollop of Mayonnaise, leaving the recipe as pure as possible, and put it in the fridge to chill. 

Several hours of yard work later, it was time to make dinner. I added a dash of celery salt, some pepper and a bit of sliced celery. I toasted the top split buns with butter and assembled the lobster rolls. Anxiously, I took a huge bite of the finished product. Was it everything I built it up to be?? Make no mistake, it was delicious! But as I munched my way through, I found myself remembering that it tasted better on the deck of an old lobster dive, overlooking the coast, with my family by my side. And as it is with lots of things, it was better experienced where the memory was made.  

My dad always said he wanted to go back to Maine. That was the best vacation he’d ever had and the best fried clams he’d ever eaten. We never made it back to Maine. Something always came up. I told Sarah this summer I was going to order a bunch of lobsters from Maine, have them shipped to my parents’ house and my dad could cook for us once again. We haven’t made it to summer yet, and I’ll need to find someone else who doesn’t mind cooking lobster, but I will keep our plans for our own family lobster-fest. I’ll probably even grab Dad off the mantle and bring him out to the porch to enjoy the party. I figure that’s the only fair thing to do since it was his idea to go back to Maine.  And like my lobster rolls, maybe they won’t taste as good as they did all those years ago, but I know the memories we make will be just as sweet!