Monday, March 26, 2012

Happy GH/RITA Call Day!

Fingers crossed to all who entered the Golden Heart or RITA contest. May you get a finalist call today! I'll be checking in at the party of all GH/RITA Call Day parties over at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood. They're giving away lots of goodies and posting calls as finalists check in. Serious fun there! Just after 9am they already had over 100 comments! Of course, the official list gets posted later over at RWA.

But remember, whether a writer finals or not, what makes them a writer is that they keep writing!

Happy writing! ;)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Home Revisions

That's right. Home revisions...not renovations. LOL, none of my brain cells blew away with the last cold front. I simply figure when a writer tackles spring cleaning or any other major house overhaul, it might as well be called home revisions. First of all, activities such as closet/drawer organizing, dusting, or even vacuuming provide tons of time for pondering manuscript ideas and...well, revisions. I mean, what else is a writer to think about while dusting floorboards? ;) Secondly, spring cleaning (at least the way I approach it) mimics many of the suggested methods for approaching manuscript revisions (note that I'm generalizing here...not outlining specific manuscript revision steps).

Tackle major flow/plot changes first: If I'm planning to switch kid bedrooms, rearrange furniture or move potted plants, I do it before any detailed cleaning and organizing.

Look at each scene and make sure it works: Now think of each room in your home as a separate scene. At this point, I focus on one room at a time and make sure everything in it is where it should be. Just as with eliminating anything that isn't needed in a story scene, I like to organize drawers and closets, removing any outgrown or broken items. I try to stand back and make sure the room as a whole looks and feels right from the inside out.

Line edits and other details: Ah, this is where the OCD side of me comes out ;). Those floor boards I mentioned above? You got it. Those things get dusty as hell...and no, I don't want to think about where the majority of dust comes from. Too gross. This is also when I dust each leaf on my potted plants, spot clean walls and doors with paint or my beloved Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, and clean enough nooks and crannies to drive my husband and kids insane. Oh, but the satisfaction I feel when it's all done is sublime. Nothing like sitting back and relaxing after a thorough spring cleaning (okay, maybe I'm strange, but I know there are others out there who understand what I'm talking about).

Unfortunately, unlike a manuscript that finally makes it to print/e-format, home revisions never end. Especially when there are kids around. I'm dusting and cleaning constantly, but something about seasonal changes inspires me to set the clean freak in me free and go at the house with a vengeance LOL. Knowing my 'space' is clean and clutter free also sets my creative side free. It helps me recharge and focus on my writing.

What about you? Do you love spring cleaning? What do you clean that you think most people don't bother with? Any favorite home revision tips?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Gluten Free / Dairy Free Pancakes

I call it pancake therapy. Without fail, if my kids wake up in sour moods, pancakes sweeten them up with smiles that last all day. Okay. Not all day...but all morning maybe. Perfect moods all day with my three boys would require pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which isn't going to happen.

I'll admit that these pancakes sweeten me up too, but it's the fresh strawberries that really get me. I love fresh berries. Although I do use white rice flour instead of brown (I have child who can't tolerate the fructose levels in brown rice, but feel free to substitute or mix both types), these pancakes have the added health kick of vitamin E found in the almond milk and safflower oil ingredients. I also use real maple syrup (which didn't show up in the photo because it absorbs so quickly) or fresh fruit as toppings. The pancakes come out like a cross between french crepes and regular pancakes. A yummy gluten/dairy free recipe that was born out of the traditional recipe I used before going gluten free, a recipe my kid brought home from a school cooking class, and a list of all our family dietary restrictions. Put all that in a blender and you have the recipe below ;).

Rula's Gluten free/Dairy free Pancakes


3 cups white rice flour (I use Bob's Red Mill brand on all flours)
1 cup tapioca flour/starch
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp (flat) salt
1/2 c sugar
4 eggs
4 1/4 cups almond milk (lately I've been using Silk's original almond milk)
5 TBS safflower oil (has many of the benefits of olive oil, but with a mild flavor)


In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.
Add all the wet ingredients and whisk again.
Place a non-stick pan on medium heat (rub it with a thin coat of oil for the first pancake if needed...none after that. Sometimes the first pancake doesn't brown as well as the rest).
Use a ladle to pour batter for one pancake at a time. Flip when it bubbles towards the center, the edges look almost cooked through, and if you lift the edge a bit it looks golden underneath.
Top with maple syrup, fruit, or dairy-free Earth Balance buttery spread (or any toppings your heart desires...especially if you're not dairy free).
Makes between 15-20 pancakes depending on size. Leftovers are great rolled up with peanut butter as a snack.