Sunday, August 31, 2008

Creativity with Coffee

Alrighty then, my latte maker broke last month! This is an emergency of epic proportions...or so I thought.

I love to have a peppermint patty latte once a day. It started a year and a half ago. sigh. I just love them. I feel happy and relaxed. It's part of my routine. I sit down and drink my latte or drive around errands or perk my little heart up with a smile. latte maker. It gets pricey to buy them out, you know.

Today I remembered my Swedish grandmother making coffee on the stove. How hard could it be? Combine that with my assistant's observation that you could make hot, frothy milk with a whisk on the stove.


So I pulled out a cookbook that must be 60 years old or more and looked up how to make old-fashioned coffee :-D I inherited that cookbook. Some things are mighty precious and yet have no monetary value.

It didn't look to hard. The recipes were varied and had a demitasse version. Why not? Um, I don't have an old-fashioned stove-top coffee maker. I also don't have cheesecloth to strain out the grounds. But daunted- me? No way.

I love George Bernard Shaw's quote, "You see things and you say "Why?" But I dream things that never were and say,
"Why not?"

LOL, it applies to lattes too. Want to know how?

Peppermint Patty Latte (the old-fashioned way with a minor twist):

3 Tablespoons ground coffee
1/2 Cup water
1 Cup skim milk
1 Tablespoon chocolate syrup (I use Hershey's sugar-free)
1 ounce peppermint syrup (I use Torani's sugar-free)

Put grounds and water in a small heavy sauce pan, stir, cover and heat to boil.
As soon as it does, lift the lid and stir.
Add a couple of drops of cold water to settle the grounds.
Recover and lower the flame to very, very low. (You don't want it to boil away the aroma and flavor in the steam.)
Cook for 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat.

Now comes the fun part.

Take a paper towel and make a well in the center of it while covering a large mug. Pour the coffee into the paper towel slowly. Set pan down for use in a moment. I keep hold of the paper towel in my other hand so it won't fall into the cup and lose the grounds. (I felt like a kid experimenting in the kitchen.)

Lift the paper towel with the grounds inside and let the coffee drain through.

Set grounds aside to toss or use in your garden. Take another paper towel and wipe out the remaining grounds (really, most of them stayed in the pan if you poured slowly) into the garbage or mulch.

Rinse pan and set on stove.

Now pour one cup of skim milk into the pan.
Turn on flame.
Whisk while bringing to just a simmer. You'll love the cappuccino style foam you'll get with a whisk.
Once heated through and foamy, pour into coffee.

Add 1 tablespoon of dark chocolate syrup and 1 ounce of the peppermint syrup.


Drink up:-)

Such a fun, silly way to make a peppermint patty latte! But it worked really well. It'll get me by until the Mukka maker arrives.
I bought a European stove top latte maker online last week. I can't wait to try it too.

If you are on Weight Watchers, this is a 2 point beverage.

And now I'm ever so relaxed while I write this post :-D

George, I'm so glad you dream "Why not?"

Happy Sunday and tell me how you have been creative lately?

PS Visit me over at God uses broken vessels too

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Using imagery and symbolism in your writing

Tuesdays with Tiffany
by Tiffany Colter

Today I'm going to talk a bit about using symbolism in our writing. Whether you write women's fiction or mystery/suspense, you want to sprinkle symbolism in your writing to reach your reader on a deeper level and also to give them a sense of discovery.

It is difficult to give a lesson on symbolism in a blog because it is usually sprinkled throughout the entire book. Unless we all read the same book we couldn't really talk about it. BUT I can talk about a music video by Barlow Girl. It is called "Never Alone" and I'm going to paste it below for you dsl/high speed people. I've only been high speed for a year so I'm REALLY sorry dial-up...if you'd like to see it check at the library.

Now, what I want you to notice is the man who is tied up [you'll see flashes of him throughout the video]. Also listen to the lyrics.

Now, considering the lyrics what could the symbolism of the man be?

I've watched the video 3 times [at least] over the last few days and each time I see something different. Consider what scripture says:

The man is struggling against the ropes
"We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' Acts 26:14

The man is in the middle of a dry place "O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1

When the man let his arms down [surrendered his will] the ropes fell off of him and he walked away, relieved. When we are finally willing to stop doing it OUR way and allow God to do it HIS way we not only experience the best outcome, but we have joy in our journey.

Notice, God didn't turn the terrain a lush green but rather he LED the man out of the Dry place. He still had to walk through it but he was no longer bound there.

So look at the symbolism you can put in your writing and allow this symbolism to minister to your heart.

And the refrain of this song:

I cry out with no reply and
I can't feel you by my side
so I'll hold tight to what I know
You're here and I'm never alone

See you Later this week on my blog or next week right here.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Friday, August 22, 2008

I'm still alive!

Hi, everyone,
I've been gone for the summer and struggling with dial-up. I'll be back to post more often on Writers' Rest soon.
If you have any suggestions for guest interviews please let me know.
It may be a little sporadic around here as we're leading up to the conference, but after that I'm sure we'll
have LOTS to chat about!
Today I'm a guest blogger over at Rachelle Gardner's site. Pop over for my take on rejection if you can.
You'll have to cut and paste the link as I can't get it to work! Sorry!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Getting rid of spiritual clutter

Tuesdays with Tiffany
By Tiffany Colter

I have been on a spiritual quest over these last few months. It seems that the last three years of intense battle had drained all of my reserves and I had descended to the point where my motivation was non-existent and my hunger for God was nearly gone.

I still knew that God was good and I was still pursuing God, just not like I had before. It is like a marriage. There are times when you could spend an entire day doing nothing but looking in to the other persons eyes.

And then there are times when you are in love but it is the routine love.

That was where I was with God. I felt dry on the inside.

I decided to take a class at church which was essentially about getting the clutter out of your life. I understand the need to remove clutter and organize in my life, so I wanted to scrape out the junk.

What I found out was as I removed all of that I was freeing myself to be a more creative writer, a better mother and wife. As I cleaned the clutter in one area, my hunger for God's presence, other areas that I'd been struggling with freed up too.

So if you find yourself making no progress in an area stop and seek God on it. Dig deep in the word and sit alone with the one who loves you most. Spend time with Him focusing on His promises rather than your junk.

Then you'll find the other areas begin to resolve themselves-and while they do you feel peace in the process.

And if you want to know about getting rid of real clutter visit my other blog today to see what I have to say about that.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Meet Jill Elizabeth Nelson

Molly; Today I am interviewing Jill Elizabeth Nelson, my good friend, critique partner and fantastic mystery author. Her second book in the To Catch a Thief series , Reluctant Runaway, won an award this year. Tell us about it.

Jill: In May, I was surprised and pleased to hear from Romance Reviews Today, a prominent site on the web that majors on reviewing any type of romance genre book. Their site voted Reluctant Runaway the Best Inspirational Novel of 2007. A link to their Perfect 10 review, as well as many other features like a monthly contest for a signed book, opportunities to purchase my books, and excerpts, are found on my web site:

M: Congratulations! Give us an overview of the book.

J: Reluctant Runaway opens four months after the traumatic events of the first book, and Desiree Jacobs is very much in charge of her museum security company since the murder of her father in the previous book. As always, the story opens with a caper, and Desi strikes out across a narrow beam in the dark, ten stories above the ground.

The plot heats up with Desi and her steady date, FBI agent Tony Lucano, locking horns over her risky lifestyle—but hey, what about his? And then crisis strikes her best friend, plus a museum secured by Desi’s company is robbed of priceless ancient Indian artifacts, and so it’s off to the high desert country of New Mexico to defend her company, help her friend, and save a missing woman. And Tony’s right on her heels. But when the horrifying purpose for the stolen artifacts comes to light, can they even save themselves?

Each book in the To Catch a Thief series is complete in itself, but the same main characters and some of the secondary characters carry over throughout Reluctant Burglar, Reluctant Runaway, and Reluctant Smuggler. The books should be available in any bookstore or through any on-line book outlet.

M: Tell us a little about your publication journey.

J: Since the sixth grade when I penned—er, penciled my first tale of mystery, my writer’s journey has taken me in many different directions. I’ve worn the hats of journalist, columnist, essayist, poet, short-story teller and book reviewer. My current chapeau is the one I’ve coveted all along—novelist.

The dream of becoming a published novelist has come to life and died an unsung death several times. As I look back, I see that I wasn’t ready for the fulfillment until, in the Lord’s grand plan, it happened.

In the year 2000, after writing little or nothing creative while I was raising four young children, a storyline grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I wrote the book and started seeking fellowship with other writers. Since I live in a small rural community with little access to other writers, on-line writers groups like American Christian Fiction Writers have been my lifeline.

After several years of persevering and writing more manuscripts, I got The Call about the contract offer during a writers’ conference that was themed, interestingly enough, “Answer the Call.” Oh, my yes, God’s got a sense of humor.

M: How do you balance your writing time with your other responsibilities?

J: In the same way that other people go home from their day job and do woodworking or crocheting to relax, I go home to write. It’s what I do. It’s not who I am, because my identity is found in God, not some outside activity. But writing is a divine assignment, a fire in my bones, so I fit it in whenever, wherever.

I’ve had to make hard choices to cut out a few things from my schedule. I do still need to be a wife and mom, even though my kids are grown. That’s non-negotiable, but you’d be surprised what you don’t miss if you just say no.

M: Thanks for sharing with us, Jill. You are a great writer and a wonderful friend. Come back soon. And remember, to find Jill’s book on the internet, write Jill Elizabeth Nelson in the search slot.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Resting Your Mind

One thing I think we don't do enough is rest our thoughts. We're always busy and moving, yes, but so many of us race through our lives in our heads.

Are you one of those?

I know I am.

I've started making it a point to have a "fun" book going every day. Just a few minutes to take my mind off all the lists I think I have to get through. I pick a book that I really enjoy in the first few pages. It gets set aside. I pick it up at odd points during each day to rest.

I suppose it's like sitting in the cool grass on a hot day to regain your energy. At least, that's how it works with me.

I've heard of companies actually giving power naps to their employees and seeing a higher productivity from them.

What would you do to take a few minutes out to rest your mind?

A power nap?

A few minutes of entertaining reading?

Any other ideas?

I will admit to a secret...well, I got caught. sigh.

I used to go to the matinee to see a movie during the summer every few weeks. It would be the hottest part of the day and I could "hide out" from all the busy life happening. But my son ended up trading into a shift I didn't think he'd be at. I walked in anticipating anonymity for a comedy and right into his ticket booth. Caught red-handed!

Now I hide with my laptop (not telling where) with a latte' and write ;-)

Visit with me more or read my book reviews over at God Uses Broken Vessels Blog

Saturday, August 16, 2008

check it out


Cathy West is going to be on Rachelle Gardner's blog next Friday, August 22nd. We'd love to have you stop by and have some fun with them. All you have to do is click here:
or visit Rachelle's blog at

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Creative blogging idea

Tuesdays with Tiffany
by Tiffany Colter

Hello everyone. I hope this has been a great and super productive summer so far. It can be hard sometimes in the summer to stay on a schedule. The kids aren't in school, the weather is beautiful and there are so many things to do outside. The last thing you want to do is sit in front of a computer.

I wanted to show all of you a wonderful idea a good friend of mine is using to make her blogs more attractive. She also can add amazon links to the books she is posting to earn a stream of income that will help pay for her domain registration.

You can see the original blog here so you can access all the links to the various examples. Or I've pasted it below for you:

Hello my magnificent Marketers!!

Yesterday I gave you the name of a friend's blog. Her name is Nora St. Laurent and I encouraged you to read some of her previous posts. I hope you did that because I want to elaborate on some of the EXTREMELY creative writing, marketing and business development things Nora did in that blog.

As a "Case Study" we are going to look at her Rebeca Seitz blog. I've linked to it here if you'd like to reference back.

First, notice that Nora uses two photos at the beginning of her blog. I'll admit, I don't do this often because it REALLY slows down the time that people on dial-up have to wait for the page to load. However, as people are increasingly getting faster internet speed...I'm considering moving to this simple way to jazz up my blog.

Next, look at the clean way she puts together the interview. It is set up in a Q and A format. That makes it MUCH less work for the blogger. Many of you have been concerned about the amount of time that you spend working on a blog. Nora posts book reviews and author interviews. This allows her to "assign" part of her work to authors. By that I mean that she emails the questions and the authors answer. Then she must simply read through, ask any follow up questions and post.

Then from an income standpoint Nora asks about favorite books and posts funny pictures to keep readers entertained. One way to generate revenue from your blog [no matter how limited] is to make those amazon links. It allows your readers to quickly grab books that interest them. Most people will not make a great deal of money from selling books on their blog BUT I remember earlier this year about a week after my birthday I found out Amazon had just deposited $16 in my checking account. That was pretty cool. I personally recommend books to my readers that I have read and that have changed the way I look at things. You can see my list of suggested readings at this link. And these do link through to amazon. I don't do it to become rich [laugh] but I don't think there is anything wrong with offering the books for sale on my blog. If nothing else, I can keep the money to pay the annual renewal of www.Writing Career

Finally, notice Nora's tone. Her blogs are MUCH longer than mine are but she really has a very unique voice. When you read Nora's book reviews and interview questions you get a real sense of the happy and loving woman I know Nora to be. You can look at the pictures to see her sense of humor and it makes you want to read more. That is part of why Nora is such a sought after person!

So I encourage you that as you read various blogs to notice not only what they say but their style. Pay attention to the WAY that they give information. You never want to feel that you're reading an infomercial. You also want to feel as if you've learned, been uplifted or something else after reading.

Why do people come to your blog? Does the set-up of your blog reflect that?

People come to Nora's blog to learn about great books and smile. I think a person would be hard pressed to read the Rebeca Seitz blog, or any of her other author interviews, and not leave changed.

That is TRULY the key to an effective blog!

I have to go...I have learning to do!

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rest When You Are Sick

Ugh! I'm so sick of being sick! I just got over bronchitis and caught a lovely summer cold. So you know what i had to do today...I know, it's ironic. I rested in bed half the day.

It is important to take care of yourself. Without that element, how do you plan to achieve anything?

Yes, I am sure I will be delayed on turning in the proposal I wanted finished by tomorrow, but sometimes those delays become amazing in themselves.

I have to mention that I couldn't concentrate with the headache and congestion etc. Because of that, I worked on simpler tasks. You know what? Those little things bloomed into better ideas.

I'm getting more and more excited at what the final proposal is going to be.

Don't forget that good things come from the least expected places-even ucky summer colds ;-)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Writing Fiction Goals

by Molly Noble Bull

According to Dwight Swain, author of Techniques of the Selling Writer, character and story goals are important. He goes on to say that all story goals come from one of these three groups—possession of something, relief from something, and revenge for something.

Of these three, possession of something is the most widely used. By that I think he means that with regard to most fiction stories and novels, the main character must want to possession something.

Think of a little kid. We will call him Tommy. Tommy wants to take a cookie from the cookie jar and possess it—in other words, eat it.

Character or story goals must also be one of two kinds of goals—a goal of achievement or a goal of resistance. In fiction, if a character is attempting to get or win something—like a girlfriend, or a job, or a special honor, we call that a goal of achievement. On the other hand, if a character is trying to keep someone else from taking those very things away, Dwight Swain calls that a goal of resistance.

Tommy’s goal is one of achievement. He wants a cookie. His mom’s goal is one of resistance. She doesn’t want him to eat cookies. She wants him to eat his supper.

In every story there must always be two competing sides. One side tries to achieve or get something, and the other side tries to resist them or keep them from reaching their goal. The position of the hero or heroine in the story decides whether the story goal is one of achievement or a goal of resistance. Whether achieving or resisting, the main character should show his willingness to fight for what he wants or he will appear weak to the reader and not worthy to reach his goal.

On a small scale, there is a war of wills here—Tommy on one side and his mom on the other. Both must be strong opponents.

The hero's goal should always be noble. Thieves are bad guys. Therefore, if the hero is a thief, you must give him a good reason for stealing what belongs to someone else.

That is what some call the Robinhood Plot, taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Swain says that by the laws of fiction, if a man or woman is unfaithful to his or her spouse, the spouse must be a villain and a terrible person. That way the kind-hearted hero can rescue his true love from the hands of her wicked husband.

In Tommy’s case, he is student. Will he learn from his mistakes and become good and noble? Or will he refuse to learn and perhaps become a thief when he grows up?

Remember all those movies where toward the end of the story, the good guy and the main bad guy fight it out one-to-one? That is probably what is meant by the rule that when the main character reaches his goal, it must be the result of his or her efforts more or less alone. At the end of a western movie, there is often a fight between the main good cowboy and the main bad cowboy.

If the main character reaches his goal as the result of someone else's efforts, the plot suffers and the story or book probably won't sell. In a nutshell, you can’t let some other character in your story handle that final one-to-one conflict. It has to be the hero or heroine.

As a result of something that happens in the story, Tommy might decide that Mom was right all along. He shouldn’t eat cookies before supper. But he must come to this decision alone.

Character and story goals are important in fiction. Without them, the story could fall apart.

# #

Sanctuary, a long historical by Molly Noble Bull, won the 2008 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence in the Inspirational category for published novelists. Sanctuary also tied for first place in the 2008 Winter Rose contest for published authors in the inspirational category. Both are Romance Writers of American chapter contests.
Click below to hear a short audio excerpt from Sanctuary.
Proverbs 30: 4