The story in software


June 25, 2018  •  No Comments

Some people track the epochs of their lives by the cars they owned at the time. I appear to be doing that with my computer programs. I hesitate to look back at my very early days (the Jurassic of pen and paper, the Selectric, and Wordperfect) and focus mostly on this century, but even that is revealing in ways I don’t expect.

Years ago I started using yWriter. It’s really good free writing software that does everything but make toast. It was excellent for my needs at the time because it had great outlining ability. I could give my stories something approaching a plot arc. I was a joyful creator in those days, tossing ideas at the page with the glee of Jackson Pollock discovering jet propulsion. yWriter saved my sanity, and probably my editor’s, too.

Then I went to a Mac and started using Scrivener, which I love but for different reasons. Now I’m all about the editing flexibility and don’t start using the program until my outline is already in place. Things are just simpler that way, even though Scrivener probably can make toast, along with waffles, homemade jam, and a variety of cocktails. It’s a super-powerful, clever, fabulous program, and I use about 10% of it.

The truth of the matter is, I outline using sticky notes on the wall. Or a notebook. Or a napkin. Unless you’ve got the goods, no amount of computing power will save a book. For this reason, I find my methodology getting simpler all the time. Stories are about the wrench and recovery of the human heart, no more and no less.


The Gift of Getting Comfy


March 26, 2018  •  No Comments

I was having one of those disturbing discussions about maturity. “Mature” means different things to different people. If you’re a cheese, it means you’re just getting good. If you’re a human, it means people are trying to sell you expensive face creams.

Or, if you’re me, it’s an aspirational term referencing my behavior. Someday, I shall be mature and behave like a sophisticated adult. Or not.

At any rate, a mature individual (or cheese) has gone beyond a certain point of anxiety. Those first few years on the work force, in social situations, and battling life expectations were stressful. Now they are a fait accompli. Been there, done that, don’t care what others think. That’s a huge relief.

The signs of this enviable state are clear. One knows enough to purchase fashions that actually look good instead of just trendy. Fear of missing out is replaced by gratitude for a good night’s sleep. One eats vegetables voluntarily and half one’s childhood possessions are now worth something on collectible sites.

However, the part I like the most is the superpower of a cool head. Problems arise, upheavals strike, and the natural response of the newbies is to run away screaming. Those of us who’ve seen this show before are more likely to ask, “Is that all you’ve got?” Experience enough to stave off panic? Priceless.

The truth is, most things are survivable. If we’ve been paying attention, we know what to do. At the very least, we know enough to take care of business and fall apart afterward. That’s the real gift maturity brings: the knowledge of when to fight, when to surrender, and when to call for take-out.

So I don’t worry about growing up or growing old. I celebrate growing smarter.


Enchanter Redeemed blog tour dates


February 4, 2018  •  No Comments

I’m celebrating the release of Enchanter Redeemed with the following blog stops arranged by the good folks at Bewitching Book Tours.  Please come visit!

February 1 Roxanne’s Realm (Interview)
February 1 Share My Destiny
February 2 Fang-tastic Books (Guest Blog)
February 5 Paranormalists
February 6 The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom
February 7 Megan Morgan
February 8 Teatime and Books
February 9 A Writer’s Mind
February 12 Author Secrets (Interview)
February 13 Midweek Escapes with Kay Phoenix (Guest Blog)
February 13 Butterfly-o-Meter Books
February 14 Urban Fantasy Investigations (Guest Blog)
February 15 Ramblings of a Book Nerd
February 16 Angel’s Guilty Pleasures (Guest Blog)
Suggested Ideas:
How to create powerful male characters!
What Inspired You to Write About Ancient Magic?
What was your favorite scene to write? Why?
February 16 I Smell Sheep(Review)
February 19 Book Crazy Scrapbook Mama
February 19 Saph’s Books
February 20 Jenea’s Book Obsession
February 20 SImply Kelina
February 21 Teaser Addicts Book Blog
February 21 Reads 2 Love
February 22 Jazzy Book Reviews
February 22 Mello and June, It’s a Book Thang!
February 23 The Book Junkie Reads
February 23 Lisa’s World of Books
February 26 JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder (Guest Blog) https://jbbookworms.blogspot.com/
February 27 Supernatural Central (Interview)
February 27 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, and Sissy, Too!
February 28 Infinite House of Books (Interview)
February 28 T’s Stuff

 


Last of the Goodreads Giveaways


January 1, 2018  •  No Comments

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Royal Enchantment by Sharon Ashwood

Royal Enchantment

by Sharon Ashwood

Giveaway ends January 06, 2018.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Here’s another Royal Enchantment giveaway.

 


Christmas countdown, sort of


December 11, 2017  •  No Comments

Christmas poinsettiaChristmas Eve is two weeks away and the list of things I have left to do is long indeed. Why am I so behind? I blame this weekend’s sunshine, which made indoor activities all but impossible. It was cool, crisp and bright and I had to be out walking. Plus, I had accomplices who enticed me to craft fairs and restaurants. Who doesn’t like wandering among the rows of jams and mittens when there are so many delightful things to look at? And gossip? And tea to be drunk and sinful treats consumed?

I don’t feel too guilty. Christmas is meant to be a time of connection, not check lists, and it will come whether I’ve baked and wrapped and mailed everything or not. What really matters is whether I’ve spent time with those who matter, because it’s far too easy to forget those precious moments of peace and joy.


Royal Enchantment Giveaway!


December 10, 2017  •  1 Comment

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Royal Enchantment by Sharon Ashwood

Royal Enchantment

by Sharon Ashwood

Giveaway ends December 15, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


Gifted: The Dark Forgotten


November 28, 2017  •  1 Comment

I took up the Black Friday challenge at Literary Escapism and wrote a short piece featuring my characters enduring a Yuletide shopping experience.  The result is HERE.  I used Perry Baker and Errata Jones because they are one of my favorite couples from the Dark Forgotten series. I wanted to write more about them, and I finally got my wish.  I guess you could say that’s a bit of a Christmas present to myself.

 


‘Tis the season of pumpkin spice


October 22, 2017  •  No Comments
cat and pumpkin

The Demon Lord of Kitty Badness inspects alien intruder

I love, love, love working with fresh local produce and fall means pumpkins, squash, and apples. One of the local farms produces the heritage rouge vif d’etampes variety of pumpkins, which are excellent cooking specimens but no good for carving unless you like humungous, asymmetrical jack o’lanterns. Once a year I bake and freeze a pumpkin or two, and these monsters are big enough to keep me supplied until the next October rolls around. It’s not all that much work and the result is far more economical than buying canned pumpkin. This is a very good thing, since I am a serious addict.

 

My latest discovery is Pumpkin & Apple Spice Muffins. These are fat-free, with the fruit providing a moist texture. This recipe makes 2 dozen. I tend to cook in bulk and freeze, but these are also excellent for bake sale/thank you/bribery purposes.

 

Sift together:

3 cups of flour (plus a bit if the fruit is watery–see below

2 tsp of cinnamon

1 tsp of ginger

3/4 tsp of nutmeg

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp of salt

1 cup of dried cranberries

1 cup of raw pumpkin seeds

In a large bowl, mix:

6 eggs

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1.5 cups unsweetened applesauce

2.5 cups pumpkin (puree in a blender if you’ve baked this from a whole pumpkin to ensure a smooth texture)

 

Fold in the dry ingredients until all is blended.  If you have a very watery batch of pumpkin/apple, add a handful or two of flour. It’s a moist batter but it shouldn’t be runny. Divide into well-greased muffin pans and

bake at 375 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes. The muffins are done when the tops are firm or a cake tester comes out clean. These are delicious with a sharp cheddar cheese.

 

3 pumpkins

Three pumpkin varieties left to right: rouge vif, jack o’ lantern, and sugar pie.


On a bright, lovely Thanksgiving Day in Canada


October 9, 2017  •  No Comments

It’s traditional at this time of year to think about what we’re grateful for (besides pumpkin pie) and, really, I could go on for pages about how lucky I am in so many ways—from the fact that I’m fed and warm to little things like the perfect daily planner to keep me organized. So, to keep this post regulation length, I’m restricting my list to three things:

Today I finished an online history course and visited the university library for some research materials. I can definitely say that one of the things I’m grateful for is the opportunity to keep learning and indulging my curiosity.

I’m grateful for the people in my life—family, friends, coworkers, and writing partners. It would be impossible to get through my days without them. Period.

And I’m grateful to live where I do, in freedom and safety and in the midst of so much beauty. Plus, it’s grand to be a writer in a city liberally sprinkled with eccentrics and where people-watching is enabled by good weather. Need a character? Go for a stroll around the block and take your pick. Or, if you like, go down the street to the cemetery for some seasonal amusement. There was a Buffy-inspired photo shoot not long ago, not to mention a herd of urban deer rather perplexed by the whole thing.


Peach Cobbler


September 25, 2017  •  No Comments

I made this peach cobbler to get a last taste of Okanagan fruit for the year. I found a few at the farmer’s market and they still smelled like sunshine and summer. I’ve been thinking a lot about our relationship with gardens and all the things that come from them, and of course food is high on that list. Decadent comfort food, in this case!

 

Preheat oven to 350F

Batter:

Melt ½ cup butter and pour into a 9 x 12 pan.

Sift 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 2 tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp salt

Add 2/3 cup milk and 1 egg

Spread batter over butter. Tilt pan to coat batter with excess butter.

 

Peaches:

Peel and section 6 peaches. Frozen peaches can also be used (thaw first). Toss with ½ cup sugar, ½ tsp of nutmeg and 1 tsp cinnamon. Carefully spread fruit mixture over batter.

Bake for 45 minutes. Batter will puff up between the peach slices and turn golden.

 

Note: In order to remove peach skins, place peaches in a bowl and cover with just-boiled water for one or two minutes. The skins will slip right off.

 


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