Fa La La!

 

I made my first pumpkin pie of the season on Monday.

This to me is the proverbial  gun shot of the beginning of the holiday season.

BANG! It’s on.

And I am excited! I’m 100 percent a holiday person, which usually means I annoy some people. I “tis the season”, I like to “fa la la” quite a bit! It’s just such a fun time of the year, if you can remove yourself from all of the shopping and high expectation that also come from the season, then you can really whoop it up.

Last year I wrote a short story for The Chicklit Bee called “Love and Christmas Cookies.”  I had so much fun writing about baking, romance and Christmas. The backdrop and neighborhood in my short story is Naples, CA , a subcity of Long Beach, that has an annual Naples Christmas Boat Parade. The parade is really  beautiful and magical and combines the beauty of the season with the backdrop of California. It’s such a great place to fall in love, if that’s what’s on the agenda.

Right now, I’m busy finishing up the last chapters of Heartbreak Cake and I’m also putting together my top 5 baked goodies that I want to bake this holiday season. Nothing gets me al fired up and inspired to write then a good cup of coffee and an awesome slice of sweet heaven. Here’s to finishing up the book and baking up a storm with my favorite little guy.

Here’s my list of must-bakes. What about you?

1. Eggnog Muffins

2. Brown Sugar Shortbreads: A Holiday Favorite of Mine

3. Chocolate Cake: A Holiday Birthday Cake idea

4. Pumpkin Poke Cake:  Revising with a cream cheese frosting.

5. Sugar Cookies: Christmas Cut outs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apples, Apples and Apples!

I’ve been a terrible blogger. Mainly because I’m swapped with work. From my “jobby-job” to being a mom, a friend, a sister and a writer.

There’s not enough hours in the day to wear all of my hats, but I am trying.

These days I spend a ton of time in my kitchen, it’s still ridiculously hot in Los Angeles so I am envious of everyone who is roasting and baking up a storm already. I am still grilling and making salads for dinner, because guess what? When you live  in a 100-year-old house without air-conditioning turning on your stove is the furthest thing from your mind. I pretty much have lived in shorts and a tank top for the last three months but dream of riding boots and sweater weather.

In the meantime, I prepare for my son’s 1st birthday coming up in two weeks! I am trying not to go nuts, because he’s 1 and won’t remember. But we must celebrate, because he’s 1!!! We effing made it.

 At the moment, I’m focused on apples. It’s harvest time and apples are filling up the produce aisles and replacing peaches and summer berries. We are going with a fall harvest  theme for Grey’s birthday and so I am in the middle of coming up with a caramel apple dipping station. I basically want to create a place where people make their own caramel apple that they can take home with them. Their party treat, essentially.

My mother raised her eyebrows at this idea,  I think she wonders what’s so fun about guests making their own food. But hey, I don’t think she’s done Korean BBQ, am I right??? That’s fun stuff.

Apples I would have to say land very low on my favorite fruit list. Nothing against them, they just seemed a little … meh.

But at my day job,  I’ve been working with a farm in Oregon , who grows heirloom apples and lemme tell you that my perception on the apple has undeniably changed.

Who knew that apples had history and sex appeal! It’s true, so true!

I have a new respect for the apple and have been happily munching away on Honey Crisps, Cortland Apples and even  had the pretty Pink Pearl that is a shade of rose inside. Love it! I almost don’t miss my summer fruits. Almost.

I have a few ideas for a caramel apple station, getting some of the smaller Granny Smith apples, their tart taste will balance the sweet of caramel.  For toppings, I’m thinking nuts, chocolate (duh!), dried fruit, white chocolate, cinnamon sugar, red hots, shaved coconut, pumpkin pie and apple pie spice, trail mix and maybe I should get candied bacon? What do you think? Any ideas?

I always knew that one of the fun things about becoming a parent would be rediscovering my inner kid. And putting together a birthday party with popcorn balls,caramel apples and a pinata is making me feel about 8-years-old again!

 

 

 

Writer’s Muck

I am trying not to call what I am currently experiencing … writer’s block.  Once you say that  out loud, it becomes real ya know. I read The Secret.

But I’ve been stuck.  Stuck in the muck of a character’s transition and I am having trouble getting out of it.

I lost my muse and I can’t seem to find her, so instead I’m eating candy. Lots and lots of candy, chocolate and stone fruits. But I’m worried. Worried that I’ll be stuck without feeling inspired for a while.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve  started a new job that has changed my work hours and moved me from part-time to full-time hours.  This is taking a toll on my energy and my writing.

The reality is that I have to work a day job, because I am not independently wealthy and neither is my partner. We gotta work to pay the bills.  In my life before Baby G, I would work my day job and then come home and write late into the night. But now  I am a mom. A mom who hasn’t slept through the night in 9 months.

My person is a culmination of all my different roles in life: A woman, a lover (an occasional fighter) a mother and a writer.

I haven’t gone more than a few days without writing since I was about 10 years old. And now life and all of its responsibilities are making me prioritize, and writing is being pushed aside a bit.

I figure things will balance out once again, i just have to keep my eye on the prize. Squeeze writing in whenever I can, an hour everyday and a bigger chunk of time on the weekends.

In the meantime, as I wait for my tired muse to come back to me, I read a great article on http://www.chicklitbee.com/2012/06/5-ways-to-find-your-writing-mojo.html that just happen to come out  last week, written by author Malena Lott.

It gave me some ideas on how to get past my current lack of writing mojo. I also asked a few writer friends of mine what they do when they find themselves staring at a blank screen or not feeling as inspired.

Here were some of the tips I got:

1.  Lucie Simone  Do something physical like going for a walk to get the blood pumping to your brain. Take deep breaths. And try meditating. It may not happen immediately, but you will find the answer. You can also try working on other story-related activities like creating a scrapbook or doing character interviews. Or, just read a book, watch a movie. Let your brain relax and play for a while. The worst thing to do is to try to force your way thru it. Get some breathing room between it and you and then return to it when you’re reenergized

2. Laura Sheehan When I do get stuck, however, I like to go back and edit what I’ve written.  Not only is it a good use of time if you aren’t feeling your muse, but it sometimes helps get your head back in the story. You’ll be spell-checking a paragraph and you’ll read something your character said and – WHAM! – you now have a great idea for how to start the next chapter.

Some people suggest skipping to a different part of your story (e.g., the end) when you get stuck somewhere in the middle, but I am such a linear writer, I just can’t do that.  As a pantser, I’m not always sure where the end will be for my characters, so skipping to the end is simply out of the question… but for some of my writer friends, this works wonderfully for them.  Then they just have to connect everything in the middle (like Stephanie Meyer, who wrote the last half of Twilight first, and then went back to the beginning and connected things up).

If all else fails: I step away.  If I’ve been staring at a blank computer screen for more than half an hour, I step back. I’ll discuss it with my husband or mother (a fellow writer), read a book, go for a walk, take a dance class… anything to get me out of my head and hopefully get the juices flowing again.

3. Christina Pazsitsky: Comedienne.  I get out of the house. Go get my nails did. Go for a walk. Or eat something I shouldn’t. But don’t do that!

4. Nancy Scrofano: When I’m stuck and looking for inspiration, I listen to music. Music really helps my writing. It helps me clear my head, refocus, and generate new ideas. I’m always on the lookout for new songs and new artists, even if they aren’t necessarily “new” but just new to me. Music helps to keep the creative juices flowing.

 

 

 

 

My Sweet Valley past

The Sweet Life #1: An E-SerialBefore I found chicklit.  There was Sweet Valley High.

You have no idea how many Saturday’s I spent sitting on the couch reading and taking interval breaks to roller skate and eat peaches.  Just ask my sisters, they made sure to torture me, completely baffled by my ability to read quietly for hours.

But nothing could tear me away from The Wakefield twins.

I outgrew them eventually, heading to the big girl section of the bookstores, even took up reading some of my dad’s Jackie Collin’s books and enjoyed The Bitch.  Now that was a departure from my innocent days in good old Sweet Valley.

I just saw a link of Frugal e-reader that alerted me Francine Pascal is releasing a series of novella’s starting July 15th.    Looks like my favorite twins are coming back. Older, wiser, married and with child!!!

Well, well, well.  Looks like we’ve all been busy the last 10 years, including Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield.  I am looking forward to the new novella’s, a nice way to spend some summer reading time, just like  I  used to when I was 12.

Minus the annoying sisters,  who now  just call me and take me out to lunch to distract me from reading!