The Hope is Alive

Hi all,

Due to the ridiculous heat on the east coast, my kitchen’s been closed lately. I don’t think anyone can blame me for that, but it’s given me plenty of time to think [a dangerous consequence]. Upcoming nuptials, a pending deal to teach herb and spice classes, a 2-week trip to plan, and surprisingly, requests for Book 2 have been keeping me preoccupied.

I’m still overwhelmed by your affection for these characters you’ve began to know, the females of Second. They’ve been like unborn sisters of mine so long, it’s cathartic to bring them to life on paper. But, before I commit Rai to page, I hope you’ll forgive me for another delay.

I need an agent. A literary agent to be precise. This is the just for financial gains, but also to reach a larger audience. They’ll work to get my pieces in front of large publishers,ones with the global bookstores in their back pockets. Forgive me, but an agent has asked me for more information about Rai’s Proof, and as she’ll only represent unpublished works, I’ve asked to delay publishing Book 2 just a while longer.

Because I promised so many of you that it was in the works, I will send anyone wh I requests it the first 3 chapters of Rai’s book. Please email me. But, guys, this agent thing is a big deal. And I want you to be among the first to have enjoyed these stories, and I want the mass of fans to be much larger, as I think we can all learn a little something about love and loss from these characters.  So bear with me

The hope is alive.

 

Honoted to Write- What I learned from my Month of Writing

Hi everyone,

It was a productive and interesting month of articles in July and thanks if you were along for the ride. I’ve definitely achieved being concise and also realized something very interesting about being a writer, or so I’m supposed to be.

I have enjoyed writing for so many years, I don’t remember how or when it started exactly. I know a foray into nerd culture by way of DnD  [yes really…] got me into character creation and storytelling though I wrote before then,  also. I never took to reading or writing sci-fi or fantasy, not Tolkien-esque anyway. I prefer characters with more human experiences and attributes to their Super counterparts.

But yesterday I received a pretty big compliment from a 15 year old. Those of you who know teenage girls know what a couple that is. Anyway, she referred to me as “a writer” during an introduction. Not a chef, not in HR, not anything I went to school for or am trained in. “A writer.” And I felt like that was an achievement, that I’m honored to write and to be able to write something people think is worth reading.  And based on your comments and reviews, I think that’s the truth.

What a rush to have others feel confidence in a skill set you thought you had but weren’t sure about. Consider. Your kid’s the cutest because they’re yours. Your sauce is the best because it’s yours. My book? I had confidence I was okay at writing but now I feel validated, appreciated, and what a revelation that is.

So keep going, that’s your morale. And put your skills out there. And one day,  maybe a teenager will define you by the talent you thought was a pipedream.

Thanks, Mr. Smith – Day 31, A Month of Writing

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A few days ago, I mentioned an English teacher from my high school years. I was in advanced classes at that time, and took AP Literature and Grammar in my senior year. If not for his tutelage, I wouldn’t have received the 5 on that AP test, either. And yes, I went to culinary school. Don’t ask what I was thinking.

In any case, Mr. Smith, that teacher, commanded his classroom and created a love for English in many of his students. It takes a special teacher to help students understand Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Fitzgerald, one with patience, wit and a little humor. Mr. Smith had all 3 in spades. I recall him waiting until our class settled down before trying to say a word, even if it was five minutes after the bell rang to begin class. He wouldn’t holler for attention, wouldn’t demand anything, but expected his students to act right and if that meant we didn’t get the lesson that day, and that we’d fail the test scheduled at the end of the week, then so be it.

Mr. Smith was an actor, also, and participated in many of the student productions and in shows across the area. I saw him in Fiddler on the Roof at a little dinner theatre during my junior year, though I recall having serious issues dealing with this sudden dichotomy of him as teacher and actor. I had, and still have, more respect for him than any other teachers I encountered, and hope he’s doing well, as I heard he retired a few years back.

An appreciation for language and an affinity for vocabulary have truly helped in my writing, and has made the editing process much easier for those involved. Though I began writing long before I met him, Mr. Smith (he’ll always be Mr. Smith to me) encouraged a love of classic literature and an appreciation of drama that carried me through those years and many thereafter.

To him, and to all the teachers who’ve lingered in the minds of their students long after the last day of school, thanks for all you do. It matters more than any of us think to mention in the moment.

“Rounding the Clubhouse Turn” And Other Idioms to Use – Day 30, A Month of Writing

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I literally am rounding the clubhouse turn of this writing project, but it occurred to me that we use idioms constantly in our daily speech. A few of my favorites are listed below, along with their meanings.

“Be glad to see the back of” = Be happy when a person leaves.

“Caught between two stools” = When someone finds it difficult to choose between two alternatives.

“Method to my madness” = An assertion that, despite one’s approach seeming random, there actually is structure to it.

“Not a spark of decency” = No manners

“An Axe To Grind” = To have a dispute with someone.

“Buy A Lemon” = To purchase a vehicle that constantly gives problems or stops running after you drive it away.

“Flash In The Pan” = Something that shows potential or looks promising in the beginning but fails to deliver anything in the end.

“Get Down to Brass Tacks” = To become serious about something.

“In Like Flynn” = To be easily successful, especially when sexual or romantic.

“Pipe Down” = To shut-up or be quiet.

“Twenty-three skidoo” = To be turned away.

What is Cholesterol? – Day 29, A Month of Writing

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Those on a heart-healthy diet are intimately familiar with cholesterol. It’s the subject of numerous medical journals, cookbooks and websites, and limiting its consumption is the key to keeping your heart pumping blood like a champ.

Cholesterol is a natural fat made of sterols (unsaturated alcohols) and found in most bodily tissues. Cholesterol supports cell membranes in the body, but unhealthy levels can lead to atherosclerosis.  This dangerous disease occurs when fatty deposits clog arteries and can restrict or block blood flow. These plaque buildups can burst, causing blood clots, or can interrupt blood flow to areas of the body, causing stroke or heart attack. Doctors can diagnose atherosclerosis and you cholesterol levels through simple testing.

Cholesterol occurs naturally in all mammals. Most people make enough cholesterol to support healthy function, but because many humans consume animal protein and products, additional cholesterol is added through diet. Certain people also have a genetic predisposition to have higher natural cholesterol levels. Doctors prescribe statins to reduce cholesterol if levels cannot be reduced through diet and exercise. See your doctor with questions or concerns.

When my customers ask to reduce cholesterol in the meals they choose, I often encourage substitute, plant-based proteins and ‘dairy’ items as a means to eat less. I also encourage whole grains and oats as an aid. As a chef, it’s my duty to make sure I’m meeting a customer’s preferences and their dietary needs, but I can also recommend tips to keep their health at the top of their list. See my articles on healthy eating, previously posted here on my blog.

Shakespeare and Why You Should Read/Know It – Day 28, A Month of Writing

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Few things polarize the literary world like a review of Shakespeare’s talent. Some put talent in quotes. To be fair, Shakespeare wrote plays, not stories, and many try to read them like a novel. The characters are over-dramatic and showy on purpose. They were to be performed in theater, not read silently during English class.

Yes, iambic pentameter (each line is 10 syllables) is a bear, but the concept behind the tales, the tone and plot of each as they play out, has inspired so many other stories and plays over the past century. Romeo and Juliet’s plot line is featured in West Side Story, the horror film Warm Bodies and even Romeo Must Die, that Jet Li movie. Disney’s hit The Lion King is based on Hamlet, and both Kiss Me Kate and Ten Things I Hate About You are both based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.

Even if the writing and stage productions of his pieces are outside your understanding or appreciation, the concepts of his method of storytelling have lived on. I was fortunate to have a great high school English teacher in 11th and 12th grade, one who enjoyed and was passionate about Shakespeare enough to explain it to us. Reading it alone, without guidance, is like hiking without a map, compass or provisions.

So I hope you’ll Wiki the man if you don’t have the voracity to attempt to read his plays. At least learn enough to sound smart when you see a movie and recognize the plot. Tossing out the Shakespeare name is a hoity amulet to bear proudly.

Early Risers vs. Night Owls – Day 27, a Month of Writing

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As far back as I can remember, I’ve been a night owl. I’d much rather work an afternoon shift than an early morning, and much rather schedule appointments later on. The best sleep I get is just before daybreak, right when my middle-class, white-collar-job alarm goes off.

In direct contrast, my fiancé is an early riser. He’d work at four in the morning if he could, and would be in bed before dusk. I guess it’s his farmhouse upbringing, but he’s up early even on his days off, and he’s excited about it. A little of my lazy morning routine has bled into his life, but he’d still much prefer to work earlier in the day and relax as the evening begins.

Dating an early riser ended up being easier than I thought. I figured he’d have me up at dawn for outdoor activities and other travesties. Instead, he enjoys his mornings, playing video games I don’t like watching, TV shows I’m not following and eating food combinations I’d probably find questionable. And, on the nights he turns in early, I get to watch an endless string of YouTube and snack on over-buttered popcorn.

If you prefer night life, don’t be scared of dating a fan of mornings. And vice versa. That alone time is actually pretty nice sometimes!