Friday, May 07, 2010

He's Just Like... by Megan

Do you enjoy reading a book where the narrator describes a character by comparing him (or her) to someone famous? Or does that take you out of the story?

I'm participating in an online class in character development. (Okay, I'm on deadline and taking care of my mom on my days off the paying job, so I'm really just lurking.) The lesson for the past days was to name your main characters then find pictures of what they look like.

Now, I'm not a visual person. I don't do crafts, I can't see the hidden potential in a rock that will reveal a statue--to me, it's just a rock, a lump of clay, a bunch of paints and canvas. When it comes to writing, everything is in my head. This class with historical writer and good friend, Kimberly Killion, is a great exercise to expand my abilities with description, at which I su...suffer.

Problem is, when I look at early pictures of Brad Pitt, all I can think of is him now and the tabloid headlines. When someone recalls Rock Hudson being a heartthrob in the 50s and 60s, I just feel sad because he was gay and had to hide it and was probably a very unhappy person. And the list goes on. About the only handsome actor whose personal life or personality doesn't interfere is the late Paul Newman, who I understand to have been an excellent person.

This isn't what Kim is telling us to do, by the way, as she writes medievals and there were no TV or movie heros. I've just read this often, seen it being used as shorthand.

So...does name-dropping for comparison throw you? Does it take you out of the story to hear the hero looked like Mel Gibson or George Clooney? Or does it give you an instant visual, which is the intention?

Just curious, as I'll be starting a new story next month, and it'll be time to describe my people again.


Megan Kelly

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Two More Blast from the Past Recipes

Do recipes make you hungry? Sometimes they make me want to cook and other times, just eat. But I don't think I've ever been as hungry as these two Mockingbird babies. The nice, tall man installing our new gutters at the lake house in Mineola, TX discovered them in the arbor (in the photo I posted before, covered in coral and yellow trumpet flowers.) Aren't they the cutest little things? Kara Lennox also has a baby Mockingbird just outside her window.
Okay, but enough about baby birds. They don't need recipes and they'll eat just about anything wiggly presented to them by their parents. We tend to be a little more discriminating. Here are two more recipes I mentioned in the next Brody's Crossing book, tentatively titled Texan in Her Heart, which will be out in 2011.
Sausage Pinwheels
As told to Victoria Chancellor at a party in the 1980s
1 package crescent dinner rolls (makes 8 crescent rolls) Use regular or reduced fat, or generic.
1 package pork sausage (about 10 or 12 ounces) I use Jimmy Dean Reduced Fat Pork Sausage.
Preheat oven to temperature indicated on the crescent rolls. On a cutting board or clean flat surface, unroll the crescent roll dough trianges. Put two triangles together to form a rectangle. Push and work the seam so that it doesn't separate. You will eventually create four rectangles.
Separate pork sausage into four equal parts. Carefully pat and thin the sausage onto the dough rectangle. Leave a little room at the edges so the pinwheel can be rolled and joined together. Roll the rectangle so you have a long column that will create your pinwheels. Cover in waxed paper or plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove from freezer. Using a sharp knife, cut the column into about 1/4 inch slices and place them on a sprayed cookie sheet. (I cover my cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray that for easy clean up.) Place in preheated oven and bake for 10 -15 minutes, or per the directions on the package. The pinwheels should be crisp and browned but not overcooked and burnt. You just want to make sure the sausage has cooked all the way through. Serve warm or at room temperature. You will not have any leftovers!
Note: You can use other things to make pinwheels, such as ham slices, bacon, etc. It just needs to roll nicely. If using bacon, make sure your knife is really sharp and you've kept the pinwheel dough in the freezer until it's firm. Cheese does NOT work well in these.
Fudge Oatmeal Refrigerator Cookies
From Southern Living Best Recipes
2 cups sugar (Note: You can use less sugar, but they need some to be fudge-like.)
1/2 cup evaporated milk (NOT condensed milk)
2 T. cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 t. vanilla
2 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
Combine first four ingredients in a saucepan. Heat and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until heated and bubbly but not boiling. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and stir. Add oatmeal and mix thoroughly. Drop by teaspoonsful onto waxed paper on cookie sheets or other flat surfaces. Refrigerate. Ready to eat as soon as they don't burn your tongue! They will taste more like fudge if they are refrigerated until cool. Will keep in a container for days in the refrigerator.
I hope you enjoy the "Blast from the Past" recipes. I also hope they all stay in the finished version of the book! Happy reading, baking, and eating.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

April Contest Winner

Congratulations to Gillian Layne--the winner of our April drawing!
Gillian, please contact Lisa Ruff and Lisa Childs to claim your prizes.

And don't forget--each month one or more Harlequin American authors gives away a book to a lucky winner. To be eligible to win all you have to do is post a comment on our blog. Your name will be entered into our monthly drawing and the winner is posted on the 2nd of the following month.

Happy Reading!