Where Do You Go For Inspiration?

Learning From a Master

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of visiting the Florida Keys and spent a day in Key West. Along with a lunch at a fun restaurant called Blue Heaven (A great bartender named Joe makes a fabulous mojito, and chickens and roosters roam among the outdoor tables),I also took the tour of the Hemingway House.  The estate is much the same as it was when he resided there and wrote many of his most memorable novels.

Hemingway's writing studio at his estate in Key West, FL.

The heat was oppressive, thanks to his second wife having replaced all the house ceiling fans with chandeliers. Yet, his writing studio was an oasis that he entered faithfully each morning to begin his work. The manual typewriter still sits on the desk, books line the shelves and a chaise lounge rests against a shady window for those moments when a writer needs to figure out where to go next. It is a beautiful space filled with the things Hemingway wanted and loved. A sanctuary free from intrusion.
Did all that great writing occur because of the place he wrote in? Would he have written as well in a crowded coffee shop or at Sloppy Joe’s Bar? Hemingway visited the bar often and observed the men who came and went each evening. Then he wrote about what he saw the next morning.
My point is this: I know Hemingway did not need a fancy retreat to write Nobel Prize winning literature. Neither do we. But we do need a place where we feel inspired and our mind can roam free to explore the secrets we didn’t know we were hiding. Find your oasis, whether it be a bar, a den, your back porch or the beach. We each know where that place is. For me it is NOT in front of the computer. For me, it is somewhere out in the natural world where a pen and fresh pad of paper are all I need to discover the secrets locked within.
The next time you face writer’s block or just need inspiration, go to your retreat and let the magic begin.


Got Stuffed Animals?

Does it sometimes seem as if your child’s stuffed “critters” are taking over the house?  I found a nifty solution to end stuffed animal clutter.  Hang them on an adhesive backed strip of hook and loop fasteners you’ve attached to the wall. They are within easy reach yet out of the way as well. Be sure to use the loopy side of the strip so the soft fibers of the toys will stick.

Healthy Food Doesn’t Have to Taste Like Cardboard

Darlene’s Zucchini Muffins

1- 1/4 C. white flour, 3/4 C. whole wheat pastry flour, 1/2 C. oat bran, 2t. baking soda,
1/2t. baking powder, 2 t. cinnamon Mix these dry ingredients together and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the following: 3/4 c. sugar, 1/4 c. canola oil, 3/4 c. unsweetened applesauce, (substitute plain yogurt if you prefer…both work well) 2 c. shredded zucchini (I like to mix yellow and green zucchini. You can also add carrots) 1t. vanilla, 3 eggs.

Pour dry ingredients into wet mixture. Add 1 c. chopped walnuts. Stir until fully combined.
Pour into prepared muffins cups or loaf pans. This recipe makes 20 muffins, or 2 loaves or a combination of each.
Bake at 350. It takes 18 min. to bake the muffins in my oven. Check after 15 or so to make sure you don’t overcook. Loaves take 35-40 minutes. These freeze well and are perfect for breakfast, lunch with a bowl of soup, as a snack or a simple dessert with a scoop of vanilla yogurt or ice cream.
I’ve adapted this recipe from one that originally had twice the sugar, and a whole cup of oil. A significant number of calories are gone, but none of the flavor.

ENJOY! Happy Spring!

Writing Tip From Literary Rambles

Check out the recent posting from the blog “Literary Rambles”:    http://caseylmccormick.blogspot.com/

There is a lot of information for writers and useful tips as well.

Also, check out the Merriam Webster Dictionary site for a treasure trove of information all writers can use. http://www.merriam-webster.com

Poetry For Fun and Inspiration

When prose writing gets tough or you’re stuck in the middle of a chapter and can’t find a way out, try some free form verse or poetry.  Children’s Book  Author David L Harrison offers a W.O.M – word of the month – prompt to kick start your muse and give you a focus for the exercise.  There is a lot of feedback from fellow poets, as well as David himself.  No pressure to be the best, just an interesting way to interact and create something.  The word for March is: Tracks.

Pay a visit to David’s site. I think you’ll enjoy it. http://www.davidlharrison.wordpress.com

Good Read

I just finished the MG Historical, ALCHEMY AND MEGGY SWAN by Karen Cushman.  She’s the author who won the Newbery Medal for THE MIDWIFE’S APPRENTICE. Karen has a unique way of bringing history to life with marvelous details and unforgettable characters. She always reminds me of why I love this genre so much. If you haven’t read her books, you’re missing a real treat.

Emotion Thesaurus

I found this awesome blog titled Emotion Thesaurus that lists numerous traits and characteristics for every emotion a character could have. It’s a phenomenal resource to add depth and variety to writing. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes find myself using the same character tags or descriptions when I write about emotional scenes. That won’t happen anymore.

Bloggers Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have done a thorough job collecting everything onto one sight for ease of use. Check out the blog. I know you’ll find something useful.  http://thebookshelfmuse.blogspot.com

Homemade Granola

Children will need assistance to make easy recipe because of the use of an oven.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl: 1. Mix: 1/3 C canola oil, 1/4 C honey, 1/4 C brown sugar, zest from 1 orange (grate the peel of an orange you’ve washed), 1tsp. vanilla. 2. Add 2 C. oats and stir to coat. 3. Spread on a baking sheet and bake 15 to 18 minutes, stirring every few minutes for even browning. 4. Let Cool.  5. Transfer to a bowl or zip lock bag and add 1/2 C chopped nuts, and 1/2 C dried fruit of your choice.

This Granola keeps well when stored in an airtight container. It tastes great as a snack, with milk or stirred in yogurt. Enjoy!

Nifty Idea For School Lunches

While this isn’t a tip specifically for writers, it IS an idea that makes one say “Why didn’t I think of that?”  In an effort to provide our children with healthy options at school, fruit is high on the list of good food. And, most children love apples. What they don’t love is trying to eat around the core. Most children I’ve observed in school take a bite or two from the apple and toss the rest.  When we slice the apple into manageable wedges, it turns an unappetizing brown and the apple again gets tossed.  You can buy those pre-sliced, ready to eat apples – which are expensive –  or try this trick I found on a website.

This is the best use of a rubber band I’ve seen in a long time. Happy Apple Eating!