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On Monday, I wrote about my hummus recipe.  I love publishing recipes, and even more, I love writing about why I’m publishing the recipe, so one of the things that I decided to do with my blog was to give everyone more food for thought (pun intended).  Let me know how you feel about them!  I do realize that writing and eating don’t have much in common, but they are also the two things that I love most in this world, aside from the people that I adore.  (They are very closely followed by coffee, sleeping and gardening.)

Which brings me to today’s topic: giving yourself a unique voice.  Writing, like cooking, is all about your style.  It’s what makes you, you.  Developing your style takes time, just like learning how to cook.  It takes experimenting, on a regular basis.  It takes practice, everyday.  And most of all, it takes courage, the courage to open up your cookbook of writing ideas, find a recipe that you want to write, and then bake it.

Lots of times, I run out of an ingredient, which means that I either (a) have to look up a substitute on the internet or (b) modify the recipe.  Taking this analogy a bit farther, writing is like that too.  You look up things on the internet, like grammar, spelling or synonyms.  And then you modify your writing when an inspiration hits you.  Lots of my recipes are like that, and so is my writing.  I read a great book, and then an idea sparks.  Or you are doing something, and all of a sudden, you get an inspiration.   What if …?  What would happen when …?  This is what writing is all about.

Take this blog as an example.  The other day I was making a sandwich for lunch, my Basil, Tomato, and Mozzarella Sandwiches.  This was one of those recipes that my writing inspired my cooking.  I love these things, and I found out about them at Starbucks.  Starbucks is my regular haunt for my novel writing (I never go there otherwise).  So, me being me, I was attempting to recreate the Starbucks-environment at home, because it’s a lot cheaper than going to Starbucks.

Coffee, check.  Sandwiches, check.  Light jazz music, check.  Annoying people who want your seat and are so rude they give you dirty looks while you are writing, check (I have teenagers in the house, so this one is aplenty).

So a revelation hits me while I am trying to find the recipe in my recipe box.  Every single one of these recipes (I have over 400 of them) has a special meaning.  I can write a story about each one of them.  My recipe box has turned into my built-in writer’s prompt idea box.  Why not combine my recipes with my blog?  Not only can I drum up over 400 blog posts, but it’s also an interesting twist (my own voice) on a blog about writing a novel.


Basil, Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwiches.

1 long Italian loaf
6 fresh basil leaves
2 tomatoes, sliced
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

1/8 teaspoon red pepper-flakes
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Slice loaf in half length-wise.  Place each basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese in a single layer.  Combine red pepper and balsamic vinegar for dipping sauce.


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I read a very interesting article the other day about “victim anger.”  This is when you blame everyone else for your problems.  Everyone knows someone like this.  This person just can’t seem to get ahead, and it’s always someone else’s fault.

I see this a lot with dieters, and I know quite a few of them.  This isn’t because I know a lot of overweight people (even though I do), but it’s because, being 95 pounds, I’m a magnet for anyone who feels that they are fat.

I’ve heard dozens upon dozens of excuses, from the old Garfield-like expression, “I’m not fat, I’m just short.”  Or how about, “My body is just made to be fat.”  Even better, “If you can’t accept me for being 200 pounds overweight, then you’re a {{insert bleep}}.”

I’m not bashing on anyone who needs to lose some weight.  In fact, I have a very nonchalant attitude about weight. If you are overweight, and you don’t care, well, then, I don’t care.

The article explains victim anger thus:

As trauma after trauma batters you, you will begin to say, “Why me? This isn’t fair!” You will blame anyone who gets in your way. You will feel victimized by the world. You might even become a psychological terrorist. Because you can’t look at your responsibility in what is happening, you will develop a “victim” mentality, and you will have fallen into “victim” anger.

Just don’t complain that it’s someone else’s fault when you sit in front of the TV four hours a night and eat potato chips.  Meanwhile, I sit in front of the boob tube for a maximum of one show per night (if even that) and I eat hummus and pita chips baked with olive oil.  And then I go for a half-hour walk.

This is what I mean by victim anger, and it just doesn’t happen with people on a diet.  It happens with writers, too.  And yes, I am blaming myself as well, because I often find myself without time.  Some days I make excuses not to write or even go to the coffee shop.  This past week, I made an excuse not to blog.  It’s my kid’s fault because I had to pick her up from track practice.  It’s my insurance agent’s fault because I he wanted to talk to me for three hours.  It’s my friend’s fault because she wouldn’t let me off the phone.

But it’s no one’s fault but mine.

Psychological reasons aside (e.g. exploring the reasons that I am procrastinating), this week I made a renewed commitment to myself.  I decided to cut all the trimmings and go on a diet.  A writer’s diet.  This means that I feel “victim anger,” I need to take steps to avoid it.

The first to go was, unfortunately, watching little babies.  I need to manage my time and it has to come at the sacrifice of being nice, because ultimately, someone else not having enough money for daycare is not my problem.  Finding the time to write is my problem.  Getting my master’s degree in creative writing is my problem.


Mandi’s Hummus

1 (16 ounce) can garbanzo beans
1/4 cup liquid
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin
1/4 onion, optional

In a food processor, crush beans.  Add the lemon, garlic, salt, olive oil, cumin and onion as it is processing.  Slowly pour in liquid, adding more if a creamier texture is desired.


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One of my children has a tough time eating her vegetables.  She tells me that she can’t stand the texture in her mouth – my research on the subject would tell me that she is tactile sensitive.  (The jury on this, however, is still out.  I think she is just stubborn because she will eat some vegetables – the ones that I’ve continually exposed her to.)

The method that I use quite frequently to encourage her to eat her veggies is this: a timer.  I give her a time limitation, where if she doesn’t finish them, she gets another full serving.

Yesterday, my feet were dragging, and that’s bad.  It’s bad but not because I won’t get anything done; not getting anything done has its own merits and consequences.  It’s bad because then I always get a build up of the things that I couldn’t finish the day before, and then all my to-dos get haywire.  (Think, laundry piles.)

So I decided to implement the timer for myself. Read the rest of this entry »

This is a three part post on time management for writers.

The story so far: I am watching two little children, ages 2 and 4 weeks old, for free.  I stress the “for free” part, not because I want any kudos (the path to charity being its own reward), but because many work-from-home mommies need extra income and that isn’t what this article is about.  This is more in-line with any parent who has a young child, and needs to squeeze out some extra time for themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

This is a three part post on time management for writers.

The story so far: I am watching two little children, ages 2 and 4 weeks old, for free.  I stress the “for free” part, not because I want any kudos (the path to charity being its own reward), but because many work-from-home mommies need extra income and that isn’t what this article is about.  This is more in-line with any parent who has a young child, and needs to squeeze out some extra time for themselves.

Read the rest of this entry »

This is a three part post on time management for writers.

I apologize to everyone that there wasn’t a post on Friday, my usual weekly writing-and-Starbucks gaunt.  This is because, in the past week and a half, I’ve done absolutely no writing.  You see, two little people have managed to turn my world completely upside down. Read the rest of this entry »

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