Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Month of Fun 2013 Begins, Cooking Harvests and Critiquing Critics

The window box garden has had its challenges. The plum tomatoes had a fungus. Somehow, the whole lot of them had a gnat infestation. My Dad is really handy for this sort of thing. I wouldn't have thought of matches and a light dusting of plain flower took care of the former and the latter. I've had lots of questions about what I've been doing with the yields from the garden. I've been inspired by having such lovely herbs and fresh tomatoes to make foodstuffs worthy of them. I've been using the thyme in soup stocks. I made herb stuffing for a couple of chickens with the thyme, sage and rosemary. I've used the basil in pasta sauce.

And I've been making pizzas. This has really excited me, because it was the one simple food that eluded me. The doughs seemed too complex to be worth the trouble. I never liked the sauces. I couldn't get the crust thin enough to be like the ones I had in Cannes. This time around, I began with the dough. I decided to try one by a Cooking Channel star who lived in Italy. I figured that an everyday dough by a guy who lived there would be simple. And this one was. It was also delightfully chewy when baked and rolled as thin as I liked. It also kept for days in the fridge for my lunch or dinner needs. I made pizza Margarita. I made pizza cannibal (tomato sauce, cheese, finely ground beef and thinly sliced onions. That was my favorite pizza in Cannes. I also made a type of French onion pizza that is great with soup or a salad.

I've made the tomatoes into pickles along with jalepenos. I plan to make herb butter and flavored oils with them. And then there are salad dressings and marinades. I think I've just begun to figure out what can be done with them. I've been really enjoying the gardening itself. I even bought gardening gloves!

I want to talk about the incredible homemade meals I've been making and share photos on the social networks, but it seems that I make people hungry or fill them with longing or guilt. I certainly don't want to cause that. So I thought I'd share the love here where you expect to be tortured.

Month of Fun 2013

I have a lot of new people following the blog and my other social networks. Many have been confused by the references to the Month of Fun. Because of my challenges in life, I've been celebrating my birthday for an entire month of a number of years now. For that month, I try to follow the philosophy of Special Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks and give myself a present every day. That present can be as small as a 'damned fine cup of coffee' or as large as a trip to France. The average gift tends to be lunch with a long missed friend or a bottle of bubbly. I am a five minute walk away from a beverage warehouse that contains all manner of wine, beers and liquors that I don't usually run across in the super market. I can get some real French bubbly for under $10. Presents needed be extravagantly priced to be valid for the Month of Fun. There should be no stress during that month. My wish list isn't too crazy. There are some books that I'd love to read, some restaurants I'd love to try. There are some long neglected procedures that I need to have like a mani-pedi and a facial. And there are some trinkets I'd like to have. To keep it simple and ever so modern, I've organized some of them on my Pinterest. Here's the link: http://pinterest.com/deborahlwarner/month-of-fun-2013/ . Most of these little 'pins' have info on the place, so you can check it out if you'd like. It's been a really stressful winter and spring. I look forward to a month of great food, conversation, exploration and revelations!

Critiquing the Critics

On many occasions, I have repeatedly witnessed this situation. Newly published author is over the moon that
the tome they worked on so hard is live. Within a day or two or even a week, they are posting to their supporters that an inexplicable review had popped up on Amazon or Goodreads or where ever. The critic has been generally kind to the story with some reservations and nit picks. Still, they give the title only one star! Now, either the reviewer didn't know that the one star designation that doesn't match the review is devastating to an author. They would expect one star rating if the review was ripped them apart limb from limb. This is different. It seems to the author that the reader liked the book, but because it wasn't perfect they get one star. It seems spiteful and mean. And for writers that are wound really tight to begin with, this sort of mixed signal can derail them from writing for as long as weeks or even months. It's not being melodramatic. A one star review really hurts sales and makes achieving a high overall rating extremely difficult. Don't get me wrong, writers want reviews of our books. We are often desperate for reviews of our books. We are hugely grateful for reviews of books. We just ask that reviewers carefully consider something like a rating system. Make sure the rating matches the review. I also might add, read the book before reviewing or rating. Yes, I'm still bitter about that. How can you review something that has been on sale for TEN minutes??!!! It sure wasn't actually read first. There were no recorded sales, and I hadn't given out advanced copies. Deep breath. And say, you find a book that is really cool but riddled with problems. Contact the author. Sometimes you'll find that the wrong file was uploaded and that the author and publisher are deeply grateful that the error was caught before too many copies were sold. Sometimes, you are so grateful to this kind soul that you have them look over text before uploading as they have a great eye and a fast turn around. Such a kind act could result in a great friendship with a really cool, vastly read person. I'm not giving away any names like Yvonne or anything. I'm just saying to not be so quick to cut down an indie author – if you see something good in their work. If their really bad, let them know that as well. Just be a very thoughtful critic. We really do appreciate it.

There is a lot coming aside from the month of fun.

Stay tuned.

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