From Grandmother’s Kitchen: Pecan Pie

The holidays have always been a favorite time of year around my house. Not because of presents, but the time spent in the kitchen sharing memories as we bake. At the end of October, the cookbooks fly off the shelves as everyone searches for new recipes to try during the coming weeks. Pies, cakes, candy, and rolls. No matter how many new ones we add, there is always room for the familiar and beloved recipes of yesteryear from Mom’s and Grandma’s kitchen.

One of my favorites is Pecan Pie. Not too sweet. Just ooey gooey goodness. Did I tell you it’s great with a piping-hot cup of coffee? Yummy.

pecan-pie inspired prompts gail johnson

Click to Tweet: There is always room for the familiar and beloved recipes of yesteryear. #recipes #holidays

Pecan Pie

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

1 cup sugar
1 cup Karo syrup
4 eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla
½ stick of butter, room temperature
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon of flour
2-9 inch regular shells

In a large bowl mix sugar, syrup, beaten eggs, vanilla, and butter. Add flour and pecans. Pour into piecrusts. Bake for 1 hour or until firm on top. Let cool before slicing. 🙂 Enjoy

Now, it’s your turn. What are your favorite holiday memories? Do you have a favorite recipe book? Feel free to share in the comments.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Blast From the Past

It has been called the last great decade. I don’t know about that. But for me, it was one exciting ride! During those ten years, I had two babies.

My son made quite an impression. He was the biggest baby in the nursery weighing 9 lbs., 6 ozs.

Not one to be left out, my daughter weighed 9 lbs. and was the only girl in a nursery full of boys.

Blast from the Past house moved

While our family grew, we moved our house to its current position and remodeled it. Later on, this former drop-out became a life-long student and chose to homeschool her children.

No question about it. The 90s were unforgettable—the good and the bad. Do you remember…

News

First Gulf War-Operation Desert Storm
Mandela freed from prison, won the Nobel Peace Prize, became President of South Africa
Presidential candidate William Jefferson Clinton (D) became the 42nd President of the United States of America
Genocide in Rwanda
O. J. Simpson Trial
Oklahoma City Bombing
The Una Bomber
The Clinton Scandal

Television

Friends (Remember the raves over Rachel’s hair?)
Seinfeld
Home Improvement
Full House
Family Matters
Saved by the Bell
Dawson Creek
X Files
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Law and Order

Movies

Titanic
The Silence of the Lambs
Forrest Gump
The Matrix
The Lion King
Saving Private Ryan
Jurassic Park
Home Alone
Star Wars: Episode I -The Phantom Menace
Men in Black
Beauty and the Beast

Books

Notice a lot of these books became movies. Do you have a favorite on the list?

Bridget Jones’s Diary
Golden Compass
Harry Potter
Outlander
Ella Enchanted
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
The Notebook
The Firm
A Walk to Remember
The Pelican Brief

Sports

Tiger Woods (21) youngest golfer to win the Masters
Tara Lipinski (14) youngest figure skating champion
LeAnn Rimes (14) youngest Grammy winner.

Toys

According to Stitchlabs.com the top selling toys of the 90s include the following:

Ninja Turtles
Power Ranger action figures
Razor scooter
Furbabies
Beanie Babies
Buzz Lightyear
Tickle Me Elmo

Prices

Fun facts from 90s.com

Postage stamp: .25–.32
Bread: 1.29–1.62
Milk: 2.15–2.41
Gas: 1.08–1.11
Cars: 9,437.00–13,600.00
Houses: 128,732.00–119,250.00 (No, I didn’t write the number backward. Houses were less expensive at the end of the decade. WOW!)

Now you know my story, how about sharing your own blast from the past in the comments!

Click to Tweet: It’s been called the last great decade – A Blast from the Past.

Writing Prompt:

From the headlines above, choose one incident and write a scene. Where is the setting and what is your character doing? Try to incorporate all five senses to help your reader visualize the scene.

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Go, Dawgs!

by Gail Johnson

We are talking football this month! Favorite teams, colors, and tailgating recipes. Woo hoo! Are you a fan?

Sanford Stadium Wikicommons author Pruddle

Sanford Stadium, Wikicommons, photo: Pruddle

No one would call me a diehard fan. That would be my son, the one with all the red, white, and black memorabilia. But I do enjoy getting together with family and watching a college game now and then. For my family, that includes the Georgia Bulldogs. Here are a few stats for those unfamiliar with Georgia.

Sinkwich_bulldogs Wikicommons

Frank Sinkwich, Wikicommons

Inaugural season – 1892
UGA Fight Songs – Hail to Georgia, Glory, Alma Mater, Going Back, and Bulldog Marching Song
National Championships – 1927, 1942, 1946, 1968, 1980
Heisman Trophy Winners – Frank Sinkwich, Herschel Walker

And who can forget Coach Vince Dooley and announcer Larry Munson?

Tailgating Recipe

No matter the team playing or the fan watching, food is a must. Who can say no to a bowl of hot chili?

1 pound ground beef (85-15)
1/2 roll Jimmy Dean roll sausage
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can Rotel
1 can black beans
1 can red beans
1 jar Paul Newman’s Fire Roasted Tomato and Garlic sauce (Trust me. It’s just tomato sauce)
Salt and Pepper
1 packet Chilo seasoning (Or use your own)
½ – ¾ cup water
1 bag nacho cheese Doritos
1 carton sour cream
1 jar deli-sliced Tamed jalapenos

Herschel_Walker

Herschel Walker, Wikicommons

Directions
Place beef, tomatoes, Rotel, beans sauce, salt and pepper, chili seasoning, and water into a pot and cook until beef is done. Let simmer until ready to serve. Can be cooked in a crockpot. Serve in individual bowls over crushed Dorito with a dollop of sour cream and jalapenos. Enjoy.

Let the games begin! Go, Dawgs!

 

Click to Tweet: “If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat.” Herschel Walker #GoDawgs

Writing Prompt:
Unbelievable! Everyone in the stadium stood to their feet and waited for the referee…

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The Layering Psalmist

By Gail Johnson

This month’s theme was a hard one! I really had to work to pin it down to just one. After a long process of elimination, I realized Psalms is my favorite. I believe it has to do with the musician and the writer in me. From the first to the last chapter you find characterization, plot, setting, description, conflict, goal, and motivation. Sounds like a writing series! Let’s take a quick look at David’s writing.

Characterization

I love characterization! It is one of my favorite things about writing. Like any relationship, characterization takes work. We learn a person by becoming familiar with them. The more we know about a person, the more we like or dislike them. And we definitely want our readers to like or dislike our characters. Right? When we offer a description of our character’s emotions, the reader is more likely to empathize with him.

desert-279862_1280In Psalm 63, David declares. “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.”

Can you feel David’s anguish? I can.

But what if he’d said, “I’m thirsty.” Or what if he’d declared, “I long for you, Lord.”

Not much to see, is there? That’s the difference between showing and telling.

Now imagine your character is on the lam, thirsty, and unable to find water. How are you going to describe the scene to make me want to help him find a stream of clear running water? Think about that for a moment while we talk about the next technique.

Setting

Another way we get to know our characters is through their surroundings. The setting is just as important as characterization. Setting anchors the reader. Nothing jolts a reader from a story faster than trying to figure out where the characters are.

nature-2396309_1280In Psalm 23, David compares himself to a sheep and the Lord to a Shepherd. “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.”

One word can make all the difference in the world! The word green thrusts me into a meadow. I can visualize the green fields with rolling hills and a beautiful lake. How about you?

Again, David could’ve said, “He makes me lie down?” Or “He makes me rest.”

The first thought that comes to mind is where. Lie down where? Rest where? As a reader, I’ve no place to put the sheep. It could be in a field, in the middle of a road, a pen, or even a barn. That poor sheep needs a place to rest!

Now that you’ve had time to think, where did your character find his sip of water? Where will he stay the night? Abandoned farmhouse? A ritzy hotel? Or a cave in the side of a mountain? Each setting will tell a different story.

How does he know that?

Have you ever asked that question while reading a story? I have.

David was a shepherd, a warrior, and a king. He drew from that well of experience when penning his psalms. One of the ways our characters come to life is through their understanding. Who are they? What is their profession? When does their story take place? Where do they live? How are they connected to those around them?

nature-1626479_1280These are simple questions that must be answered if our characters are to be believable. David’s knowledge of sheep and shepherds, warriors and battlefields, and kings and castles, give him credibility with his reader.

As a writer, David’s writing helps me to see the different ways I can layer a story to make my characters come to life.

Now it’s your turn.

Click to tweet: Characterization takes work but, for a writer, is necessary. #Psalms #amwriting

Writing Prompt

Imagine your character is a little boy trying to convince his mother of his thirst. What could he say to convince his mom to buy a coke?

 

 

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Trekking the Indie Route

By Gail Johnson

Are you thinking about becoming an indie author?

For those new to the term, indie is short for independent. But that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. In fact, I suggest you don’t.

forking-road-839830_1280

 

Choosing the indie route can be scary when faced with all the decisions that must be made between the initial idea of the book and the final product. But there are a few things you can do to make the journey a lot easier.

 

Writing Groups

I suggest joining a writer’s organization. If you’re a Christian fiction writer, that would be the ACFW. For a small yearly fee, American Christian Fiction offers classes, conferences, and critique groups. A critique group will provide invaluable feedback during the writing process.

Friends

Writing is a lonely profession. We need friends, offline and online, to keep us balanced. Friends help make the journey an exciting adventure. They are irreplaceable treasures and wells of encouragement.

Editors

correcting-1870721_1280Love’em or dislike’em, editors have a purpose. A good editor can make a book better. You will not catch all your mistakes, but another pair of eyes will uncover the elusive typo. Guaranteed!

Ask for references. Talk to your friends or other authors. Working with someone can be a dream or a nightmare. Success depends on a good working relationship.

Media

Social media is a slippery slope. Too much of that and you lose writing time. Not enough and there’s no point. The point of media is interaction with others. Doing for others as you would have them do for you is good advice when thinking of media.

I want to share a few pointers I’ve learned in seven years of social media.  Don’t follow someone to get them to follow you, and then unfollow them. Not cool! And if you ask a question and someone answers it, respond. If you don’t, they won’t stay a follower.

Share their successes. There’s no reason to be jealous of another if their book comes out before yours. There are enough readers to go around. Be generous to promote them, and when your time comes, someone will do the same for you.

If you’re overwhelmed by your Twitter feed, may I suggest lists? Lists help separate your followers and those you like to interact with every day.

Readers

You gain readers by writing a good book. Hence all the above suggestions. Readers, like friends, are treasures. Treat them as such. You won’t regret it.

Blogging

Some people don’t like blogging. I do! My website gives me a chance to connect with friends and meet new ones every week. Blogging also helps with weekly word count. Whether you blog once a week or five times a week, make a schedule and stick with it.

My Journey

book-2224934_1280So, you see indie doesn’t necessarily mean independent. 🙂 It takes a tribe. I knew I couldn’t do everything. In the end, I hired editors, a back cover copywriter, and a cover designer. I did the formatting myself using a template which I purchased from a template designer. My book will be coming out later this year. Woohoo!

So, if you’ve been thinking about trekking the indie path but you’re afraid you can’t do it, take heart. There is a steep learning curve, but you CAN succeed as an indie author when you have friends to help you along the way.

Indie authors, what are your suggestions for newbies?

Click to Tweet: You can succeed as an #indie author when you have friends to help you along the way.

Writing Prompt

You have your manuscript, back cover copy, and your cover. Make a list of the things you need to do to make your book a success.