Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Danger Word: Look

Photo: grini
Look/Looked/Looking has two functions in narrative: a filter or a verb.

The verb form/usage in acceptable, but there are much stronger verbs for this.


Petunia looked into the mirror and searched her face for a war wound.
Petunia gazed into the mirror and admired her new earrings.

Gazed is a much stronger verb than looked because it tells more than action. It conveys both context and intent.

Filtering is evil. It separates the reader from the narrative and reminds the reader that they are not the hero/villain/character. This separation slows down the narrative and can upset the reader; thereby, breaking Rule Number One.


Chuck looked to the darkening sky.
The roiling gray clouds blotted out the sun and spread across the sky like spilled ink.

In the first example, the reader is reminded that they are looking through Chuck's eyes. In the second example, the reader is immersed into the scene and seeing the sky first hand rather than filtering through the character. The reader feels closer to the action of the narrative and like they are the hero.

Nora Roberts' Writing Advice

Nora Roberts: "Anyone who tells you there’s a ‘right’ way to write is a lying bitch."

I've had some wonderful writing teachers and some bad ones, but they were all lying bitches. I took too many of their lessons to heart. I listened too intently to lectures about passive voice, and adverbs, and the creative process. For too long their lessons - while well intended - held me hostage.

I'd write a sentence I thought was beautiful and then all those rules would ruin it. I'd find some error and give up on my beautiful sentence.

I give little mini lessons on this blog about what has worked well for me and what I've learned over the years; however, only rule number one is hard and fast. Words on the page are the only way to write. How ever you get there is right for you.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Potato Soup

My mom made potato soup once or twice a year and I always loved it. As an adult I tried many times to replicate her recipe, but found my own -- less salt, more garlic, more heat.

Most of my favorite recipes are born out of necessity. I often make this soup when I have potatoes that are starting to turn or onions that have seen riper days.

Potato Soup
4 potatoes
1 yellow onion
1-2 cups half and half
1 cup of diced ham
1-2 tbsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1-2 tbsp dried chives (optional)
1-2 tbsp garlic
2 tbsp of butter
1 cup chicken broth

In a crockpot set on low add chicken broth, 1 cup of half and half, and diced ham.

Chop potatoes and boil on stove top until mashable with a fork. Drain, mash, and add to crockpot. I leave the skins on the potatoes and I don't fully mash them. I like the soup to feel a little more rustic and I'm too lazy to peel them.

Dice onions and saute in a saucepan with butter, red pepper flakes, chives. When the onions are semi-transparent, add them to the crockpot.

I let the soup hang out for awhile, let the flavors meld, and get yummy. Add more half and half if you want more broth. Serve with a garnish of shredded cheese.

Once upon a time, I used bacon instead of ham. Bean has to watch his salt intake and I'm trying to cut back on fats, so we switched to ham.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day.

Saint Patrick's Day

Although I go by Maggie, my first name is Patricia. I was named after my uncle Patrick and after the patron saint of Ireland, but please, please, please don't call me Patty. I am not a truck stop waitress with plastic earrings and bad teeth.

Today marks my first sober St. Patrick's Day since I was nineteen. From this side of sobriety, this holiday looks like a farce.

Corned beef and cabbage isn't a traditional Irish meal. The shamrock isn't the symbol of country, a harp is.

The celebration is an American construction by immigrants trying to reclaim a heritage that was hated by so many.

In college, this was one of my favorite days of the year. Used it as permission to get black-out drunk, dance on tables, and puke in an alley. Very becoming of a lady in her twenties. Going to class on March 18th was out of the question.

Sobriety provides new lenses for viewing the world.