Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

All You Need: Bread, Cheese, and a Bottle of Wine

I think I could live on bread, cheese, and wine if that apocalyptic day ever arrives. Any imagined doomsday will be tolerable if I have these three things. (Actually, I prefer scotch to wine, but I can get by on wine.) And yes, I admit baking is pure escapism. I'm supposed to be working on the details of preparing my novel for publication, but I'm always looking for an excuse to run to the garden or the kitchen. Since it's raining today, the kitchen was my first choice.

Recently, I ran across an interesting recipe for home-baked bread on Pinterest. Yeah, I know. You don't bake bread because it's too much work and the results don't meet your expectations. But wait. This so simple. I experimented a little with this recipe and it's pretty foolproof and effortless. All you need to do is mix it up and let it hang around in your kitchen for about 12 hours. No kneading!

Don't Dread Bread

3 cups allpurpose flour (or 1 cup whole wheat and 2 cups allpurpose)
1-1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
a teaspoon of fresh or dried rosemary
You will need: one heavy duty pan with a cover (Le Creuset is perfect or any covered pan that is ovensafe at 450 degrees.)

This is my version of the recipe, but you can certainly play around with it by trying different kinds of flour and seasonings. So before you fall in bed in the evening or while you're fixing breakfast in the morning, mix these ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl, cover it with Saran wrap, and forget about it for 12 hours.

When you are ready to bake the bread, heat your oven to 450 degrees and place the heavy duty pan (without the cover) in the oven for a half hour. While the pan is heating, dump the sticky dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape it into a ball. Let it rest.

When the pan is heated, remove it from the oven, drop in the loaf, cover the pan, and return it to the oven for 30 minutes.

At the end of 30 minutes, remove the cover, and give it 5 additional minutes of baking time. (You may want to brush your loaf with a little olive oil or you can use an eggwhite wash of 1 egg white and 1 T. water beaten to a froth.)

That's it. You will have a beautiful, round, golden loaf of bread to go with your favorite cheese and bottle of wine. Make a fire in the fireplace and curl up with a good book (hopefully mine if I can get it published in the next month).

P.S. My youngest daughter Michelle introduced me to Pinterest. I couldn't imagine why I would sign up for yet another social website, especially one where people just posted pics of things they liked. But I have to admit I love the graphical nature of it and all the creative ideas that you can find there. I'm a fan now.

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