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Vegetable Casserole

I’ve never been able to work out what to do with polenta, and so, I’ve pretty much avoided cooking with it, especially because it’s such a pain to make — stir, stir, stir. I’m an impatient cook. However, I had a few spare minutes the other afternoon, so I made up a pot of polenta, then popped the cooked polenta in the fridge for the next day.

The next day was yesterday, so I got out a jar of yummy tomato pasta sauce, heated it and popped into it a sliced carrot, celery stick, zucchini (do you call it summer squash?), mushrooms, a can of butter beans, and frozen peas. Once they were simmering I poured the mix into a buttered casserole dish and topped it with polenta. Because the polenta was cold, I sliced it and sandwiched in between with grated cheese, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. On the top I dotted butter.

About forty five minutes in a hot oven. It was delicious! Consider me a polenta convert.

Gerbera Week

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A Gerbera Week isn’t actually about daring colours and bold choices. Gerberas have a hidden message.

Look closely at the photo and you’ll see the gerbera flower’s thick stem rising up from the ground. It’s strong and enables the flower to flaunt itself in the garden. However, if you pick the flower to enjoy it inside, then it soon droops, turning its face to the ground. The florists’ trick is to spiral wire around the stem to hold it up.

The takeaway message for Gerbera Week is two. One will apply to you, the other may not.

First, the toughest people can sag if carelessly handled or forced into situations beyond their control. We should be kind to ourselves and others, because we never know what lurks behind a showing of confident beauty or how fragile it may be.

Second, accepting support is vital, especially when we’re taken out of our comfort zones.

This is a good week in which to pay attention to situations in which you flourish, or where you droop.

Don’t make my mistakes!

Alternatively, I wanted to title this post, How To Write A Bestseller, but there’s a maxim that I’m wary of: those who can do; those who can’t, teach. Well, I haven’t written a bestseller, so who am I to tell you what to do? But there’s another bit of wisdom that suggests that while every success is different, failures share some characteristics. Not that my books or me are failures! However, there’s no reason for you to stumble from mistake to mistake with this writing and publishing business before you find your path. So here are my lessons.

  1. Know why you’re writing. Really and truly, don’t be silly about this or skip too quickly over the basics of starting any new endeavour. Be honest about your motivations. Are you writing for yourself or for publication? If you’re writing for publication, what sort of sales do you want? Will you be self-publishing or submitting to a publisher? Which publisher? It is never too early to do your research and hammer out clear goals. Put a timeframe against them and have measurable stages.
  2. Know what you’re writing. Who is your audience? What genre and subgenre are you writing in? What are the demands of it? What will your audience expect? What do the covers of the books in your genre look like? What do the blurbs say? How are the successful authors in your genre reaching their audience (the same audience you want), and what are they promising those readers? What is the expected length? Have you looked at publishers’ guidelines and blogs? Yes, even if you intend to self-publish, you might learn something about genre expectations.
  3. Study the craft. You can write. You can always write better.
  4. Have a strategy. Without your book, you’ll have nothing to sell. But without a marketing strategy, your book will float around, and unless you’re super-lucky, flop. Yep, flop. Fall like a stone. Vanish in the avalanche of new books. Your book is vital and it needs 95% of your attention. But that other 5% is vital, too. What you’re writing has to have a position in the marketplace. Do you intend it to standalone or as part of a series? How quickly will you add to your published works? There is crazy competition out there and one of the strategies is multiple releases and mega-promotion. There are other strategies though, so craft one. Respect all the other demands on your time and make sure you can deliver what you strategise. Plan well, and allow for surprises.
  5. Resilience is vital. There will be times you hate the book you’re working on. Later on, after publication, some readers will hate it, too. How will you cope? Research actions you can take, and form a support network. You’re not alone, and that’s vital to resilience.
  6. Keep up with the publishing industry. Things change fast. Other things change less than you might think from all the noise of people trying to seize new opportunities. Good books sell, if they can find their audience. As the publishing landscape changes, finding that audience might require new tactics. Promotion is not a dirty word. Effective promotion is harder than we’d like to believe.
  7. There is an exception to every rule, but if you want to make money at this writing gig, you have the greatest chance of doing so if you study and, to some degree, emulate those who are successful. Publishing is a gamble, but a calculated one.

 

tkc1My latest book is a collection of my five sweet short romances, The Texas Kisses Collection.

 

 

Wattle Week

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A Wattle Week brings you into contact with a couple of allergens. These might be people or situations. Whatever they are, they trigger a negative response.

Be prepared.

There are things you can do to control an allergy. Assess the situation and your response. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. At a minimum, you can walk away.

Remember, if something is getting you down this week, identify the cause and take action.

PS and like wattle, the cause may look gorgeous 😉

Bougainvillea Week

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Bright colour and sharp stabs. It must be a Bougainvillea Week!

Being yourself, you bring truth and energy to life, but there are some unpleasant stabs along the way from people who’d rather that everyone just grumped along like them. Well, pooh to them!

There’s energy waiting to be used this week. Don’t let go of your plans or drift off-track. Be brave, be bold and wear a touch of red for luck.

Juggling

One of the things people forget to ask a writer, and we forget to ask ourselves, is how we prefer to work. Do we like to concentrate on a single project or move between projects?

I always thought of myself as a single project kind of writer. I focus and that’s it. Until self-publishing…

Man, has self-publishing taught me a lot, and not just about writing. It’s taught me to embrace my inner control freak and to stretch my abilities, believing that they can stretch. And much to my shock, it’s shown me that I am a multi-project writer.

The trick for me is that I can’t write first drafts of two different stories at the same time. During the first draft I have to concentrate on developing a single world, cast of characters and evolving the plot. I can’t hold two amorphous first drafts in my head at once.

However, I can write a first draft, sketch the outline/skeleton of another story, revise and/or do edits on a third, promote the heck out of published works, and then, collapse in a heap, wailing for coffee and chocolate.

At the moment I’m at peak chaos — I hope it doesn’t get worse!

Fall Into His Kiss“, my latest Texas Kisses romance, has just released and will be free this weekend, 14-16 August. Cue much promo.

“Djinn Justice” is crackling on its scribbled pages, waiting to unleash a first draft onto the computer screen. Research for it is almost complete. Side note: The Mountains of the Moon are fascinating!

And just to make things interesting, my critique partner has exhibited super-human powers and already returned “The Secret Project” to me with a ton of suggestions. I have significant revisions ahead of me.

Let’s not even talk about the other projects spinning in the back of my mind!

So, what I’ve learned is that it’s possible to juggle multiple projects, but I have to be absolutely focussed on each one while I’m tackling it. No moving between them! Get so much done and then check the to-do list for the next item to tick off.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, I revamped this website, yesterday. The arrangement of my books is a lot tidier, now. It needed doing, but ouch! squinty eyes at the computer screen.

Are you a single or multi project writer?

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