Sociable

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Boudreaux & Thibodaux Go Hunting



One day dem bestest friends Boudreaux and Thibodeaux go hunting, but dey get lost in dem woods.

Boo begins moaning about being lost forever, and how much he gonna miss eatin' crawfish and dancin' at da fais do do wit his wife Clotile. Thibodeaux said, "You know, I heard dat da best ting to do if you get loss is to fire tree [three] shots up into da air."


So dey do dat and wait a while. When no rescue party shows up, dey fire tree mo' shots.

Finally, when dere is still no response, Thib says, "Well, I guess we better fire tree mo shots again, yeah."

"OK, if you say so," Boo answers. "But somebody better come soon, yeah -- we juss about out of arrows!"

[See why we call it da Sportsmans Paradise down here?]

If you've got free time and feel like doing something creative today, check out yesterday's story/poem starter. Now, have a great and wonderful Sunday, you!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Come Out and Play with Me (Poem/Story Starter)

"Life was good until I opened that box."
Let's play! Leave a few lines or a poem stanza to go with this beginning. I see your minds buzzing with possibilities, so share your thoughts and creativity in a comment. You don't have to be a writer or poet to play along; just unleash your imagination!

We used to do this kind of exercise in my writing group. The results always amazed me, and often produced seeds that grew into larger works/poems.

Sometimes the free writing evokes a childhood memory or gives birth to a great story idea. Here's what I mean. Calling out my blogging playmates brought to mind an old childhood clapping game song. (Did you ever sing those songs with corresponding clapping which followed the rhythm and rhymes? It was a popular schoolyard recess thing to do. You sang faster and faster, inevitably losing the clapping sequence and ending up in a pile of giggles.) Anywho, one of those songs bubbled up in my head writing this post. Natch, I then had to do some research.

Finding the actual "Friendship" song brought back fond memories, and now I'm going to use the song or parts of it in a poem or story somehow because it really spoke to me. Yeah, call me weird. Here's the little ditty:

Say, say oh playmate
Come out and play with me,
And bring your dollies three,
Climb up my apple tree,
Cry down my rain barrel,
Slide down my cellar door,
And we'll be jolly friends
Forever more, more, more, more, more.

Say, say, oh playmate
I cannot play with you
My dolly's got the flu
Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo
Ain't got no rainbow
Ain't got no cellar door
But we'll be jolly friends
Forever more, more, more, more, more.

So....getting back to the topic at hand, what happened when you opened YOUR box?

*And no need to thank me for the ear worm.* :)

Friday, May 29, 2009

I've Just Got One Thing To Say...


May your day and weekend be as beautiful as this:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dialog Question

I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on agents yesterday, and hope we continue the dialog as new folks chime in!

And speaking of dialog, today I've got a few questions for you about the exchange I wrote in yesterday's post:

The coffee chat between myself and a writer friend is exactly the kind of thing that fills my women's fiction manuscript. It's pretty raw for some readers, I know, but it's real. That said, is it so "in your face" that it would turn you off as a reader, or does the humor mitigate the "unladylike" language, (which by the way, is a big fat no-no for southern women of a certain age, myself included)?

You won't hurt my feelings, friends, so hit me with the truth. And scroll down to the green & blue recap below if you don't know what I'm talking about. Feel free to vote in the poll too! As always, I 'preciate your thoughts.

Finally, here are a few tips on crafting dialog~~
  • Reading your dialog out loud helps. The ear distinguishes between what is a stilted, fake-sounding conversation and the real deal.
  • Study the techniques used by favorite authors in their books. Ask yourself what works for them.
  • Keep dialog tags to a minimum. When the reader can easily follow who's speaking, there's no need to add "Susan said" after every line.
  • "Said" is the best tag. It allows the reader move quickly through the pages vs. getting bogged down with sentence additions such as, "...John questioned with brow furrowed." or "...she answered forcefully."
  • Balance narration and dialog. Big wads of either make for bored readers.
  • Limit the use of dialect in characters' conversations, unless it's so ingrained in you as to be totally real and believable.
  • Giving your characters verbal tics and peculiarities is another way in which you can distinguish them from one another and add to their unique POV. [EX Characters' often repeated favorite sayings, breathless yammering, strong-silent minimalism, lots of giggling or a tendency to stutter/pause, etc.]

For more on the writing dialogue, check out this article. See ya tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Agent Bad-Mouthing


Back story: I was having coffee and yapping with a dear writer friend recently about the "joys" of manuscript revisions, the process of finding an agent and the whole path to publishing thing. After that conversation, all I can think is although we are alike in many ways, we definitely are not of one mind on the subject of literary agents.

Here's the actual convo (as well as I can recall it):

Her: "I'm just tired of the whole agent thing. From what I can see, and what other people tell me, agents are all about the money."
Me: "I don't know who you're talking to, unless it's some disgruntled writer who doesn't know *hit from shinola."
"The whole industry is just sucky now, and the bottom line is always the almighty dollar, Angie. If you can't practically guarantee you can sell a bazillion copies of your book, you'll never get a top tier agent. All they see is dollar signs...not the actual writer or potential of the manuscript."
"I do agree publishing is like any other business and no business I know of intentionally sets out to take wild or bad risks that'll put them in the red, but I do not believe every agent is blinded by dollar signs in their eyeballs to the point they can't/won't recognize good literature and whatever ingredients make up a good book!"
"You're just naive, then, or you're not wanting to see. Don't you read industry publications, writers' blogs and those agent-outing sites?"
"Yeah, I read a lot, but I'm not gonna steep myself in negativity, and I don't discount that what you're taking for gospel is a lot of sour grapes from writers who've been turned down."
"Hmph. Believe what you wanna, Pollyanna. I'm just telling you, agents aren't human like me and you. It's like idealistic politicians who go off to Washington. After a while, they forget why they ran for office to begin with and start grabbing for the star status and benes."
"Dayum, girl, that's cynical. And you've just lumped every agent into a nasty heap. Want some more coffee...or have you had too much today already?"
"Yeah, fill 'er up. And, no, I'm not a cynic; I'm a realist. I'll put it like this -- I''ll bet you a Cajun surf 'n turf [Rib eye with crawfish topping] that there's not a single nice, "real" credentialed agent left. One who really cares about his/her authors and doesn't just see a manuscript as a money-making 'product.'"
"Now, girlllll, how in the hairy hell am I supposed to prove that to you? Your 'facts' are stoo-pid anyway because there are literally tons of books that don't end up making back an agent's percentage. And I've met really nice agents at conferences, have dined and had drinks with them and I promise you, they are real. I can give you tons of agent blog links so you can see for yourself they've got hearts..."
"Nah, anybody can have a blog persona. Don't mean squat. Just more trolling for money making possibilities."
"Okay, what would work for you? And, by the way, you do realize that this negative mindset of yours may be a self-protection method you employ because you really don't have faith in the merit of your manuscript. Right?" *laugh*
"Say what ya want, wise a$$, but I know I'm right. How's this?...you get one agent to make a comment on your little blog and I'll reconsider my opinions as to agents' humanity. How's that?"
"Like big agents have time to come check out Gumbo Writer's little corner of the Blogosphere and open themselves up to nuts like you by commenting? Would you do that if you were an agent, Ms. KnowItAll?"
"Sure would. Now, all's I'm saying is two more things on this subject: surf 'n turf.......and........double dawg dare ya! Ha!"
*****
Here I am this morning, swilling my coffee and fuming over that frustrating chat. Not because I think she's right (I don't!), but because I have no way to prove to her that her head's up...a tree. Besides the matter of who's right and who's wrong, I have never once in my life backed away from a "double dog."

So, writerly pals, is my friend right and I'm the crazy delusional one? Please help a sistuh out by leaving a comment, or recap of your own experience with agent(s) and/or by voting in the poll. I'll leave it up until next Wednesday.

Oh, and if your sister-in-law or first grade teacher or manicurist's uncle happens to be an agent...could ya beg 'em to stop by and leave a comment. "ANGIE'S RIGHT! I HAVE A HEART! SIGNED, Lit Agent" or something will do just fine. LOL

I mean..............double dawg + surf 'n turf.......I gotta go for it!
PS. If you missed the contest winners' work with professional edits Monday because you were out celebrating Memorial Day, hop back to the post and feast your eyes. :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Healthy Refreshing Summer Treat


Mmmm, doesn't this look good and refreshing? And since I'm all about easy, this recipe hits the mark with me.

No-Churn Green Tea Ice Cream

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp green tea powder
3 drops green food coloring
1 cup whipping cream
2 egg whites
2 Tbsp sugar

Bring sugar and water to a boil to form a syrup. In a bowl, mix the tea powder into the syrup. Beat thoroughly to dissolve, then let cool. Cover bowl and freeze for 3 hours or until completely frozen.

Remove from freezer and beat mixture to break it up. Return to the freezer until frozen again. Remove and beat mixture again. Put it back in the freezer until it becomes like the texture of sherbet. Add whipped cream to bowl and mix well.

Add food color. Freeze for an hour. Beat egg whites until stiff, then add in two tablespoons sugar. Beat well. Combine with frozen tea mixture, and then return the whole thing to the freezer until time to serve. Garnish with fresh mint sprig or fruit slice.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Winning Writing + Edits = Learning Opps


*Y'all know by now the graphic above expresses the opposite of my way of thinking, but just wanted to mention in case you're new 'round here. And if so, welcome!

Good morning, boys and girls. Ms. Ledbetter hopes you are having a fine day away from "school," and that you are remembering to celebrate the important meaning of Memorial Day here in America. Whilst you gaze upon the smoke rising from your barbeque pits, please take a moment to think of/pray for our military men and women and their families. Thank you. :)

The last word on the Gumbo Writer Writing Contest is that I think it was a great experience for everyone, but I realize I may be a tad prejudiced in my thinking. I know I benefited by reading your awesome entries. Getting to see examples of good word-crafting reinforces the importance in my own writing. Looking over Nannette's edits of Barb's and Michelle's work reminded me too of the necessity of sharp eyes and editing pencils. It also made me feel good we made some of the same comments to the submissions. And I think everyone (submitters and readers alike) learned a bit about what sets great writing apart. Hopefully, we see that we must put our writing out into the world, even when it hurts. That's the only way we can grow and improve.

Sooooo, here are the winners' work again, with permission, and Nannette's line editing comments. Please enjoy. And remember...you are subject to a pop quiz at any time. *snirk*

Note: No need to click on the editing markers within the work itself. They are spelled out fully beneath each piece!

Let me know if you found this post helpful, so I can make plans for future contests!

Edit of Michelle's ~~~~~ [removed by request of author]


Edit of Barb's short story extract~~

This is a very nicely written excerpt of historical fiction. Writers of historical fiction need to walk a fine line, telling readers who may not be familiar with an era or incident what they need to know without sounding pedantic. You do this very well by pulling your readers right into the time period with small hints. “The guard” calls her name. The ship is a “a prison” they took with them. From what I read, I wasn’t totally sure of the situation. I guessed they might be traveling to Australia? But this is just an excerpt from the story, and I’m sure that becomes clear further on. In the meantime, you create tension and pique readers’ interest right from the beginning by telling us that the main character doesn’t want to be identified as a Clegg.

One thing you want to watch out for is overuse of the verb “to be.” “Is” and “was” can’t be eliminated entirely, but the standard structure of subject and verb “to be” feels draggy and bland if used too much. You can punch things up a bit by varying sentence structure and using stronger, more active verbs.

Overall, though, this is a worthy submission deserving of first place. You’ve made me very curious about the rest of the story.


Extract from a short story

I had never met the sea. I didn’t know that the land just stopped with nothing until the rocks and water below[NC1] . And the sound. It was like thunder at ground level rather than high above. I was afraid of it but I wouldn’t let it show.[NC2] Walked with my head up and my steps measured. Clean I was, when I entered that ship.[NC3]

Not that I knew a body[NC4] . When the guard called my name from his list, there was no one to recognise me. But it wasn’t loneliness that settled on me, it was relief. Now I could leave things. I didn’t have to be one of those Cleggs, said with a certain look[NC5] . I could keep clean and private[NC6] .

It was trouble for me at first. Being on this floating dungeon, a prison that we took with us. The sickness rolled through me, but vomiting at the railing made things worse[NC7] . Every time I looked down in the grey waters I realised there was nothing holding me.nothing held me. This ship was nothing to the sea. If the planks of wood were gone, I would be falling without end.Only planks of wood came between me and falling without end[NC8] .

The days had a deep rhythm[NC9] . I was woken by the growing heat below decks, the light not reaching down there. At first I walked the decks avoiding others. But then I heard more food was given to those who worked. When one of the guards came looking for a midwife I presented myself. I know it had only been lambs, but birthing is all the same[NC10] .

It was a different life with the free settlers. They had lanterns and sheets and meat without slime.[NC11] Some evenings I allowed myself to dream that it could be so for me. I started to wonder about a future and how it would be on the land. Maybe I could find myself a man. One who was weak and who could be driven. One who was foolish enough for my needs. A weak man, who could be driven. One foolish enough for my needs.

I birthed their babes. I cleaned them up and made them soup. All the time I was watching their men folk, looking for the links and discovering who belonged where. I gained a name as a healer and people were askingasked for me. What I didn’t know, I guessed. It was clearI learned that broth and sleep could help most things. I lost a few but that was expected. Wrapped in their cloaks we lowered them into the sea.

Sometimes a coin was pressed into my hand [NC12] and I sewed it into my hem. Feeling them brush my ankles as I walked, I wondered what it would cost to buy my way out. It was while dreaming on the deck like this, that I heard the end of it. ‘Why that’s Clegg. She knows the future. A true caulbearer.’ I could have sobbed at those words. The gig was up and I had to go back to being me.[NC13]

[NC1] Great introductory line and very evocative.

[NC2] This is what I referred to in my critique. Two sentences in a row start with a pronoun followed by “was.” Think about varying the structure and/or employing stronger verbs. E.g. Instead of “I was afraid” you could say, “I feared it” or “It caused fear in me.” Especially in the first paragraph, you want to establish a stronger voice with your readers.

[NC3] Maybe a comma here, to make it read better?

[NC4] Love the use of vernacular. A great way to tell us who this woman is.

[NC5] Terrific. I love the way you keep putting out a little more line before you reel us in.

[NC6] I like the use of the word “clean.” We can’t help but wonder what it means in this context.

[NC7] These are the kind of sentences you want. “The sickness rolled over me” is a great way to describe sea-sickness.

[NC8] A s noted in my introductory letter, I’m not saying these are the exact words you should use. These are just examples of how you could punch up these sentences to greater effect.

[NC9] Deep rhythm works with the image of the sea. Also the next sentence is one of those where the verb “to be” works. You don’t need to strike it from every single sentence. Too many strong verbs and convoluted sentences can be over-kill.

[NC10] This confused me a little . On first reading I thought she was being asked to birth lambs.

[NC11] This says it all.

[NC12]This is another sentence where it works.

[NC13] Now we know who he Cleggs are. This is good.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dem Boudreaux & Thibodaux Again


I've been scarce lately, but plan on getting around to your blogs today and catching up before I go into severe withdrawals. Besides juggling the three teen kidlets and one of their graduations, the writing contest took up quite a bit of time...and we're putting together the summer edition of The Rose & Thorn Literary zine. I hope when it goes live, you'll all visit and enjoy the awesome prose and poetry selections served up for our readers.

Now, on with some mo' of dat craziness of those two crazy Cajun friends, Boo & Thib~~~

Boudreaux live across dat bayou from Clarence who he don like at all. Dey all de time yellin' across de bayou at each udder. Boudreaux, him yell to Clarence, "If I had a way to cross dis bayou, I'd come over dere an beat you up good, yeah!"

Dis went on for years. Finally one day, de State done
built a bridge across dat bayou right by dere houses and Boudreaux's wife, Marie, say, "Now's you chance, Boudreaux. Why don you go over dere an beat up dat Clarence like you say?"

So, Boudreaux, him say, "OK," and start across de bridge. But he see a sign on de bridge and he stop to read it and den he go back home. Marie say, "Why you back so soon?"

And Boudreaux say, "Marie, I done change my mind, cher, 'bout beatin' up dat Clarence. You know, Marie, dey got a sign on dat dere bridge dat say, 'Clarence 13 ft. 6 in.' You know, he don't
look near dat big when I yell at him across de bayou!"

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Flowerspeak III


Good Saturday, all. Hope you got a little extra sleep this morning like I did, followed by your favorite wake-up beverage.

On the writing contest, your emails and comments let me know you really enjoyed it and found the editing suggestions helpful, so we'll do it again soon. And when Nannette Croce, Editor Extraordinaire, finishes her critiques, I'll see about posting some examples so we can all glimpse another editorial mind at work. I love win-win situations. :)

Winners' prizes are in the mail, but as two are going abroad, it might take a while.

You shared with me some of your favorite flowers last week, and one of you talked about passion flowers. Not being familiar, I did a bit of research. That same day, a dear nurse friend of my mom's brought her some from her garden. Ah, synchronicity!

Passion Flower (Passiflora Incarnata): Found worldwide except in Europe, Africa and Antarctica, this variety flourishes in the U.S. Different members of this family produce edible fruit. The Maypop's leaves and roots were used by Native Americans and colonists for teas and painkilling applications. [More here at Wikipedia.]

In the 15th Century, Spanish Missionaries noticed much symbolism between the flower and the last days of Christ:

  • The pointed leaf tips represent the Holy Lance which pierced Jesus' side before He died.
  • The flowers' tendrils resemble the whips used to punish Christ.
  • The faithful Apostles (minus St. Peter the denier and Judas the betrayer) are represented by the flower's 10 petals and sepals.
  • Radial filaments, which can number over 100, resemble the Crown of Thorns.
  • The chalice-shaped ovary with its receptacle symbolize a hammer (for the nails used to crucify Christ), or the Holy Grail.
  • The three stigmata represent the nails, and the 5 antlers below them, the wounds of Christ (four by the nails, one by the lance).
  • The blue and white colors of many passion flowers represent heaven and purity.

Why do I find that particularly fascinating? Because I love symbolism found in nature as well as literature. It's another way we are "spoken to" if our ears are attuned.

Has nature whispered to you lately? What did you hear?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Winning Entries Unveiled (Along with Some Blingage)



As I've said, picking the winners of the contest was hard since there were so many contenders to consider. I tried my hardest to be "strict but fair" (as I've always said about my Dad). There were only two entries that received a 5 Crawfish rating, so both deserved winning recognition. Please feel free to take the blue ribbon to your blog.

That said, remember, "acceptances" from editors, agents, publishers, etc. is a VERY subjective thing. Each person reading looks for something different...that indefinable "it" that sings to the reader's soul. That's why it is SO important to never be discouraged by "rejection." Each person issuing the acceptance or rejection is using different criteria by which to judge. It's a matter of personal taste and/or a set of guidelines we have no concept of; exactly like what people look for in art. I may love Rembrandt while you go for Grandma Moses. Your work might be dead on target, but perhaps the agent or publisher has just recently taken on a project very similar to yours.

This all goes to reinforce the necessity of putting your work out there. With persistence and hard work, you will find the right set of eyeballs, providing it is as clean, tight and well done as it can be.

Winner #1's work (Michelle/Lady Glamis) was chosen because I loved the depth and complexity of it. I was forced to read it several times, and each time I found something new I'd missed. There are layers here, people! It also is a highly unusual mixture of the elements of prose and poetry I've rarely read. The voice is lyrical, and the use of sensory details and symbolism rang my bell.

Without further ado, I present for your reading pleasure...

[Entry removed by request of author after contest.]
~~~~~~~


Winning entry #2 comes from Barb Ettridge. It is an excerpt from a short story. I liked its unusual setting and premise. The character development was well done and interesting. I particularly loved that I did not know if the MC was male or female until I got about halfway through. (Yes, I like surprises, and I like writers who give readers credit for being smart enough to figure things out, or to be able to wait while things unfold.) Barb's writing did an excellent job of showing vs. telling too. I also enjoyed the variation in sentence structure and length. Here ya go:


I had never met the sea. I didn’t know that the land just stopped with nothing until the rocks and water below. And the sound. It was like thunder at ground level rather than high above. I was afraid of it but I wouldn’t let it show. Walked with my head up and my steps measured. Clean I was when I entered that ship.

Not that I knew a body. When the guard called my name from his list, there was no one to recognise me. But it wasn’t loneliness that settled on me, it was relief. Now I could leave things. I didn’t have to be one of those Cleggs, said with a certain look. I could keep clean and private.

It was trouble for me at first. Being on this floating dungeon, a prison that we took with us. The sickness rolled through me, but vomiting at the railing made things worse. Every time I looked down in the grey waters I realised there was nothing holding me. This ship was nothing to the sea. If the planks of wood were gone, I would be falling without end.

The days had a deep rhythm. I was woken by the growing heat below decks, the light not reaching down there. At first I walked the decks avoiding others. But then I heard more food was given to those who worked. When one of the guards came looking for a midwife I presented myself. I know it had only been lambs, but birthing is all the same.

It was a different life with the free settlers. They had lanterns and sheets and meat without slime. Some evenings I allowed myself to dream that it could be so for me. I started to wonder about a future and how it would be on the land. Maybe I could find myself a man. One who was weak and who could be driven. One who was foolish enough for my needs.

I birthed their babes. I cleaned them up and made them soup. All the time I was watching their men folk, looking for the links and discovering who belonged where. I gained a name as a healer and people asked for me. What I didn’t know, I guessed. It was clear that broth and sleep could help most things. I lost a few but that was expected. Wrapped in their cloaks we lowered them into the sea.

Sometimes a coin was pressed into my hand and I sewed it into my hem. Feeling them brush my ankles as I walked, I wondered what it would cost to buy my way out. It was dreaming on the deck like this, that I heard the end of it. ‘Why that’s Clegg. She knows the future. A true caulbearer.’ I could have sobbed at those words. The gig was up and I had to go back to being me.

~~~~

So, what'dya think? Good stuff, hunh?

***********


Thanks to Anita (Firestalker Girl) for the nice blog bling called "Love Your Blog." And also to Michelle (Lady Glamis) for the "Proximity" merit badge. The description attached to this award reads:

"These blogs invest and believe in the proximity - nearness in space, time and relationships, they are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends, they are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers!”

I appreciate the gifts, ladies, and will wear them with pride!









Thursday, May 21, 2009

Contest Results!

First, just let me say, I didn't expect the contest to be so hard to judge! There were so many really good entries, I truly was surprised. In the 23 submissions I read, there wasn't a "bad" or "mediocre" one in the bunch. You are already ahead of the game because you put yourself "out there" and entered this little blog contest. Please stop for a moment and pat yourselves on the back right now. I hope through this process, you are encouraged to keep writing and submitting your work around!

Next, thank you for your patience since I'm a day late announcing the winner. And as a writer myself, I know how hard it is to submit anywhere, much less to a person you only know by virtue of having "met" in cyber space. It takes a certain amount of trust to turn yourself over to another's editorial eye...so I thank you for feeling I wouldn't do ya wrong.

One of the reasons I didn't finish on time as planned is that I wanted to give each and every entrant a mini edit/crit on their work, so that took a lot of extra time! I hope you enjoy the comments and find them useful. As I'm writing this in the wee hours of Thursday morning, I'll be emailing your entries back to you with comments, editing suggestions and the promised Crawfish Rating System included. [There was a possible 5 crawfish you could've gotten on your entry.]

I studied your work carefully, read it several times, and had an independent reader weigh in with a second opinion just to keep things legit. (Two heads better than one, right?) So...without further ado, here's the scoopage...

There are TWO winners. Yes, a tie!

Michelle (Lady Glamis)

and Barb Ettridge (Miss Barb)

And in a surprise random drawing from all entries, Sandra Leigh (Amazing Voyages of the Turtle) has also won a prize. (Please email me your address!)

I absolutely couldn't pick a single winner of the writing contest. Michelle and Barb, we'll talk in email about who wants which book, and I'll send both of you a coffee prize when I get your addresses. I'll need your permission to post your winning writings also. Editor Supreme, Nannette Croce, will be sending your entries back with comments shortly.

Did you enjoy the contest? I know I did.

Write on, dear writers!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Running Behind


I'm running near empty and way behind on everything right now due to some family issues and working all weekend. Hope to get the contest results up later today, and am enjoying the entries I've read so far!
I think I can, I think I can...

Thank you for your patience and understanding. Have a great whatever-today-is. LOL

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Strawberry Lemonade


Almost that time of year down here in the south when we need all the refreshing drinks and heat-slayers we can get our hands on. Hope you get a chance to enjoy this delicious drink while you're outside relaxing around the pool, puttering in the garden, reading in your hammock, or otherwise doing something nice outdoors.

LemonBerryAde

1 1/2 c sugar (or sweetener to taste)
1 c coarsely chopped stemmed and washed strawberries
2 c water
Zest of 2 lemons and 2 c fresh squeezed juice
2 1/2 c cold water
Lemon slices or slit berries and/or mint sprigs for garnish

Mix sugar and strawberries with 2 c water in a med saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat to low and simmer until berries soften slightly, about 3 minutes, Stir in the lemon zest and let cool completely. (Berries will continue to soften and lose their color as the syrup cools off.)

Strain syrup through a fine sieve set over a pitcher or bowl, pressing hard on berries to extract as much syrup as possible. Discard the solids. Add the fresh lemon juice and 2 1/2 c cold water to the syrup mixture and stir well to blend. Garnish and serve. (Can be refrigerated for 2 days.)

*Can be blended and served in a sugar-rimmed margarita glass.

*You can add a shot of Vodka for an "adult beverage."


Monday, May 18, 2009

Amphibious Ambition and Advice



Today's post is a rerun from when I first started the blog back in September, so hopefully, it'll be new to most of you. I'm bogged down uploading all my data from the weekend ethnography job, and the preliminary editing of contest entries...that's why I'm resorting to re-posting.

Have a great week, y'all, and here's a tip for your journey~~

Once upon a time there was a bunch of tiny frogs who arranged a running competition among themselves. The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower.

A big crowd had gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants. When the race began, no one in the crowd really believed the tiny frogs would reach the top.

They said things like, "Oh, wayyyy too difficult!" "They'll never ever make it," and, "Not a chance they can succeed. The tower is too high!" The tiny frogs began collapsing one by one, except for those, who in a fresh tempo, kept climbing higher.

The crowd continued to yell, "It's way too hard! No one will make it!" More tiny frogs got tired and gave up. But one continued higher and higher and higher. This one wouldn't give up climbing the tower.


After a big effort, he was the only one who reached the top. Naturally, all the other tiny frogs wanted to know how he managed to do it. A fellow contestant asked how he had found the strength to succeed and reach the goal.

As it turned out, the winner who reached the top was deaf!

*Never listen to other people's tendencies to be negative or pessimistic because they take your most wonderful dreams and wishes away from you -- the ones you have in your heart. Always think of the power words have. Remember, what you hear and read will determine your actions, so always be positive. And above all, be deaf when people tell YOU you cannot fulfill your dreams.*

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Stuffs & What's This?




Y'all know I love taking pictures, even though my skills are questionable. Any guesses on what this photo might be?


I'm finishing up an ethnography job at a mall about 30 minutes away from Baton Rouge today, so I'll be having fun talking to store customers and taking surveys. BTW, it's a great way to make extra money if you love collecting data and studying customer patterns. I think this is one of the rare jobs I found online somewhere that was/is totally legit, so I'm happy even if my feet aren't. ;()

And in other news -- Nannette over at Zine Writer sent me some new bling in the form of the Bella Award. Thanks, Nan! Isn't it lovely over in the sidebar?









Thanks again to participants in the writing contest. I'll be working on those Monday and Tuesday, and hopefully post the winner on Writing Wednesday. (I'll email all entries back with the promised Crawfish Rating System added along with a bit of commentary.)

Hope your Sunday is everything and more you want it to be! Bye now.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Summertime Delights

Some local flora to brighten your day. Do you have a favorite flower?
















Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Funnies

Today's topic? Coffee!

So for the coffee swillers amongst us ~~


You might be drinking just a liiiiittle too much if:

  • You grind your coffee beans in your mouth.
  • The only time you're standing still is during an earthquake.
  • Your eyes stay open when you sneeze.
  • The nurse needs a scientific calculator to take your pulse.
  • You can type sixty words per minute with your feet.
  • You can jump-start your car without cables.
  • You don't sweat, you percolate.
  • Instant coffee takes too long.
  • You have a picture of your coffee mug on your coffee mug.
  • You help your dog chase its tail.
  • Your first-aid kit contains two pints of coffee with an I.V. hookup.


Nah, there's really no such thing as "too much," so go have a cuppa on me!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More on the Writing Contest

***CONTEST NOW FULL!!***
(We'll be doing another one soon.)

Thanks to the entrants who've sent in their work so far. We're half full and looking for 10 more entries in the writing contest.

A few more details:

  • Time to unveil the super secret superlative editor who has graciously agreed to edit the winning entry in full along with myself. Thank you, Nannette Croce, Editor Extraordinaire. Nannette has many years' experience in both the private sector and as an editor for several highly respected literary zines. Nannette's Zine Writer blog always has good tips and suggestions covering topics of interest to writers. She is also the proud owner of CrossXChecking, a critiquing and editing service.
  • To keep things fair and aboveboard, I'll pass along the top three contenders minus identifying information to Nannette before deciding on the winning entry.
  • After the contest is all said, done and prizes mailed, I'd love to link to your post if you decide to showcase your entry over at your blog, so don't forget to let me know in case my sometimes lax blog hopping causes me to miss that post.
  • If you missed the original contest post yesterday, you can read it right *here*.

Okay, that's it for now. Go have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Writing Contest



Hello, bloggy writers and non-writer readers too. Boy, have I got a deal for ya. Still smiling over Niecy Nash's call, I'm in a good mood (or maybe it's just the eight hours' sleep I got last night)! Either way, you're the beneficiary of my largess [ha...that's a great word to use in conjunction with Self], as I feel like spreading a little sunshine around the Blogosphere today.

So here's the deal~~~

Gumbo Writer's Writing Contest:


  1. All entries due by midnight Saturday, May 16.

  2. One entry per person, please. Unpublished work only!

  3. Send your work [no more than two pages] to AngieDLed@aol.com attached in a Word doc. Puh-lease make sure your antivirus software is current before hitting send!

  4. What work? Whatever you'd like -- essay, novel excerpt, a hunk of short story, query letter, flash fiction, etc. We'll be looking for originality, style, voice, and that ever-elusive "I was hooked" feeling in any genre.

  5. The winner will be announced next week in my Wednesday Writings post, and notified by email. With permission, I'll post the winning entry with linky love also.

  6. "The prize(s)?" you ask. All entrants will receive short editorial commentary and a number on the Crawfish Rating System [i.e. 1-5 crawfish, sorta like Amazon's book review stars]. The grand prize winner will receive a full edit by myself and a superior surprise editor, announced later in the week. And if that doesn't peel your banana, there will be snail mailed prizes: A bag of Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee beans and {drum roll, please} a copy of Kathryn Magendie's TENDER GRACES or Kimmi Richardson's THE UNBREAKABLE CHILD to further inspire your writing efforts.

  7. The fine print: Contest is limited to twenty (20) entrants due to my majorly limited free time right now. Writers from around the globe are welcome to enter. Not to leave the lyrical amongst us out, I'll be hosting a little something special for poets soon.

Please feel free to ask questions in the comments section, and by all means, pass the word around.

Good luck! Now, go and.......



*Images from photobucket.com

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Goodness, Both Expected and by Surprise

I had the most surprising call yesterday. A call from a famous person no less! Really. Imagine my surprise when I answered my cell phone to hear the unmistakable voice of Niecy Nash, star of Style Network's Clean House, and her other zany show, Reno 911. I wrote about her in a blog post last week, and then I was talking to her! Go figger.



You see, while I was digging around at her website for a link to include in the post, I decided to email one of her peeps in hopes that Mz. Niecy would somehow get the message. I wanted her to know how much my mother has enjoyed watching Clean House, and that she always perked up and smiled when she heard or saw Mz. Niecy fussing some messy homeowner about his/her "foolishness and chaos" involving an abundance of clutter.




When I got an email back asking for my phone number, I just assumed one of Mz. Niecy's assistants wanted to Google me to make sure I wasn't some kind of crazed stalker. No...it was so I could get a personal call from the star diva herself! The sweet words she shared about keeping Mom in prayer were touching, but the fact that she took time from what must be a crazy busy schedule of filming two TV series and a movie...well, what can you say? She made my day. I even got a smile out of Mother when I told her Mz. Niecy had called all the way from Hollywood to tell her she hoped she was doing okay and that she was praying for her.


So, if you ever stop by and see this, Mz. Niecy, you are the real deal, the sweetest thing, a bomb of a diva, and it's nice to see fame and riches haven't destroyed the goodness of your soul! Thank You!

Now, what sort of "expected goodness" am I talking about today besides the "surprise" kind I received? Well, it's recipe day, and today I'm sharing my all time favorite. It's a family recipe we hold near and dear to our hearts, as it came from my grandmother (Mom's mom), Bigmama.

The directions for making Bigmama's biscuits originally appeared in our inspirational book pictured over in the sidebar, along with the story of how she'd tried valiantly for years to teach me to make the biscuits, but i never mastered her techniques.

I hope you enjoy it. If you have success with the recipe, I'd dearly love to know how you did it!

BIGMAMA'S BISCUITS

Use a medium large bowl that will become your biscuit bowl forever. Fill it ¾ full with sifted Gold Medal Self-Rising Flour. “Doodle out a ‘waller hole’ in the middle of your bowl,” as Bigmama used to say. Make this well by gently swishing your fist in the flour. It will hold the other ingredients.

Pour in ½ tablespoon of cooking oil. In a standard drinking glass, stir together ½ cup buttermilk and ½ cup water. Add to your well.

Work the mixture gently with your fingers, pulling in as little extra flour as possible. Try not to handle or knead the dough very much. Prepare your heavy iron skillet by pouring in a thin layer of oil. Roll the skillet around to spread the oil evenly. Pinch off biscuits and place into skillet. (Dusting your hands lightly with flour helps.)

When the pan is full and biscuits rest gently against one another, sprinkle on a small amount of oil to the raw biscuit tops. Put skillet into a cold oven, and set at 400 degrees. Put your pan in the middle of the rack so biscuits cook evenly. When they are light golden brown, move skillet to top rack until darker brown. If your oven is true to temperature, the whole process, including preparation time, will take about 25 minutes. The first few times, watch the biscuits' progress in the oven closely to be sure.

Butter immediately...or cover with gravy...or drown in maple or cane syrup. Any way you like your biscuit, you'll love these!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Writing Quiz



Okay, it's Monday, and that means it's time to ingest your java or favorite beverage, and fire up the brain cells for a little quiz.

Today's testing is all about what kind of writer you would make according to your answers to the five questions found here.

If you're a mom, I hope your day was as nice as mine yesterday. Thanks for all the well wishes on the Mother's Day post!

So...to what type of writing are you best suited?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Let's Hear it for the Moms!



Moms and mother role models, it's your special day. I hope those you love(d) and nurture(d) take a moment to appreciate you today.

You are~~~

a giver of laughter...












a sharer of life's wonders...
















an angel...













a superhero...

















Today I wish for you~~~


sweetness...














beauty...












...laughter and hugs....












but mostly, lots and lots of....













Happy Mother's Day!


*Images from photobucket.com

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Again, You Might Be a Redneck



Yes folks, no matter your geographic location, you might just be a redneck if you've done or thought about doing any of the following...or even if you think it's a good idea and wish you'd come up with it first! [Thanks for forwarding, Marion.]

Behold.....Redneck Supremacy......

I. Ingenious Inventions (You Made Whut?):

A. "TP Hanger Thingy"















B. Rearview Defroster















...and while we're talking 'bout cars...


II. Vehicular Conversions (Pimp My Ride):


A. Compact Camper












B. Who Needs a Bike Trailer?













C. Sidecar Anyone?













III. X-treme Sports (Future Olympic Events?):

A. Cooler Racing












B. Discus Throwing













C. Ice Fishing












IV. Social Gatherings (What Not to Wear):

A. Ya-ya Wedding











And finally...

V. Yard Decor (Purty Adornments):

A. Couch Swing











B. Santa-sicles














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