Cooking / Writing 101 – don’t burn your chances

Some recipes are complicated like eggplant rolitini. There’s the eggplant to prepare, the sauce, the ricotta filling. I’m thinking of the entree from Luigi’s where I used to live. I haven’t made it myself but maybe I should since I miss the Italian food from the northeast so much. There’s nothing like it. I did make a recipe the other day. It wasn’t very complicated : Chorizo in a simple sauce of fire roasted tomatoes, red, yellow and green peppers, a heavy dose of fresh garlic, basil and oregano.
The kitchen smelled amazing. I plated it with linguini and topped it with some Asiago cheese shavings. If there were a good bakery in a thirty mile radius, Italian bread would have been on the side. (Is there a complaint in there?) We had such anticipation of enjoying the savory hot spice of the chorizo with the fresh light sauce. It was going to be a feel good dinner. But that’s not how it went. I put that plate down and my husband took a taste so fast that he burned his tongue terribly. He couldn’t enjoy the rest of the meal. It was so disappointing.
While I prepared the meal, I was thinking of how good it would be. The aroma took over the kitchen. My husband smiled every time he walked past the simmering pot. He kept asking, “What did you put in it?” (Does he not trust me? I haven’t secretly fried up tofu crumble to pass as beef taco for a long time.) I told no secrets but said it was all good but the whole point of the effort was so that the meal would be enjoyed. (Fortunately he was able to, as left overs the next day.)

It kind of reminds me of sending out first pages or a query letter and a moment after or worse yet a day later, reading through it, and finding an error. It never fails! All the work, the build up, the careful typing, reading, re-reading, and still there’s one mistake, one faux pas and it’s ruined.
Well not exactly, there’s always tomorrow. Fix the problem, present the dish again, I mean, the writing and get on with it. Don’t give up! This post is for me, the one who sent out one round of pathetic query letters and has been revising for several months now.

Write on (and cook on, while you’re at it. Writer’s need to eat too!)

To Each Their Own

There is a strength not born from adversity,

or by gender,

or by any other means,

except endowment.

It stands and keeps standing,

Without a second thought,

Of how near others are.

The strength is housed,

In many forms,

Not always the book smart,

the eloquent,

the fine featured, or

the able-bodied.

But comes in a frail, spindly package,

as often as a burly, stout one.

This strength is the wind in the sails of others,

And if the hand on the helm is true,

The rudder is sure to chart a course,

For the weaker to head in the right direction.


There is a weakness, not born from coddling,

Or by gender,

Or by any other means,

Except endowment.

It trails and keeps trailing,

with no other thought,

then to stay near the strength.

The weakness is housed,

in many forms.

Not always the feeble-minded,

the soft spoken,

the careful,

the uncoordinated,

but comes in a muscle-bound confident package,

as often as a shaking, unsteady one.

This weakness is a blanket on the shoulders of the strong,

covering and weighing them down, so that they don’t

rise above their humanity and are lost.


The strong and the weak.

to each their own place.

He Did What? – characters running the show

Once I wrote a novel called, “Lilies in the Spring”. It is about a brother and sister, fifteen years apart in age. The parents die in a car crash and the brother must raise his thirteen year old sister. The story started with the brother’s childhood before the sister was born. He was an independent child who was given responsibilities at an early age. I had a scene where at ten, he made coffee before his mother woke up. One of the people who critiqued the story made the comment that a boy of that age would never be able to do such a task without supervision.
My first reaction was, this boy does! My son never made coffee for me at that age but I think he could have. There may be some of you who would say sure, there are ten year olds that are capable. The question isn’t how possible is it that such a child exists but what is most likely, most plausible in most reader’s minds?
That’s the thing. It does no good to be stubborn and possessive about a character or a scene. Yes, I am the author but if my goal is to write well, to craft well, the characters must be subject to that objective and I must be subject to the reader and their preferences.
Now, that doesn’t mean, I can’t have a ten year old making coffee as a chore. But if the feedback from more than one person (or even just one) is that it’s not realistic, I either have to do a stellar job in making it clear that this unusual child is real or I need to revise. The point of the scene was to show he was a serious, independent and highly responsible child who would grow up to be governed by that sense of responsibility, order and serious thinking which is all upended in raising a teenager.
If the coffee scene was a hard sell, there are many other ways to get the point across and that is the takeaway from this post. Don’t let characters and their special endearing, seemingly indispensable qualities, run the show. Characters must be in step with the whole purpose of their existence, to tell the story in the most engaging, thought provoking, intense, unforgettable way. Be open to pushing your characters down another path to get to the same place. That’s the joy of writing, the empty page can take a character any direction. It’s worth the trouble to find the right one. Write on!

What’s in a Name? Storm Weaver – 7

The woman wails.
Picking up the brown pebble my fingers brush up against,
a larger stone, mostly covered by earth.
But I see the outline of an unnatural square stone.
The woman stops crying,
She begins clawing at the tufts of grass encroaching on it until she lifts it upright.
Her face streaked with dirt and tears she asks, “Kind sir, what is your name?”
The pebble in my hand,
feels heavier by the minute.
Like I must put it down,
Close to the earth.
So I drop it,
In front of the square stone,
that says, “Adam”,
my name.

This is installment 7 in the Series “Storm Weaver”. Each installment is 100 words. Read the whole series by choosing “Storm Weaver” in categories.

Life of the Un-damned – A Poem

If I was running without caution,
away from all my troubles,
and just as I reached the edge of a chasm,
with bubbling hot lava below,
someone reached out and pulled me back,
planting my feet instead in an oasis,
so that the precarious place I used to stand on,
became a distant memory,
the smoke of it not even lingering on my clothes,
would I,
could I live any other way,
but in continuous gratitude and
awareness of the strength,
compassion, beauty,
and authority of the one who saved me?

True Love – A Poem

I believe that you will leave,
Because that’s what I expect,
That’s what I think you’ll do,
Because I’m not all I thought I was,
And I haven’t done what I promised I would.
I rush to make amends because,
Soon you’ll leave,
if I don’t give you hope that one day,
I’ll get it.
But then I stop in my tracks,
Where am I going with this?
You’re not going anywhere are you?
You never have and never will,
So I’m putting aside that fear.
I’m changing what I believe,
and resting in your nearness.

The Vaccine First Dose

I had shot one about ten hours ago.
All I can think of is,
I have a foreign substance coursing through
my healthy body,
causing it to launch a full blown,
response protocol.
Not to a virus that can replicate itself,
but to a protein,
that doesn’t belong;
An article of clothing,
that COVID wears,
which my immune system,
will sniff out and know whose it is,
if that intruder ever shows up
at the doorstep of my collection of cells.
I feel slightly like I have betrayed,
my body’s trust,
but then again I’ve done that many times;
eating the wrong foods,
too much food,
Indulgences to soothe the mind,
robbing from the heart,
the muscles.
I find myself making a vow,
to take care of this mortal dwelling, to mistreat it no more.

Six Things the World Should Not be Without

  1. Birds singing – birds sang when the skies were quiet after 911. They sang after the tornado blew through, the dust storm blew out, after the last crack of a bullet from battle or the drive-by shooting. They sang when the unjust took power and life got harder. They sang even at the gravesite where mourners were speechless. If their bright songs, their ballad of joy ceases, who will remind us that hope still resides on earth?
  2. Music –music sweeps through our cells and catches our deepest emotions and pulls them up and out to the surface where, yes, we feel. The order, the disorder, the rhythm, the syncopation, the sound on our eardrums travels through tiny bones and we are turned inside out, lost, caught up, taken away, let loose, drawn to tears, to laughter, to reconciliation, to hard choices sealed by a melody that holds the answer. No, humanity would not make it without music.
  3. Wind – is there anything that speaks both peace and shear terror?
  4. Compassion – in compassion is understanding that it’s not all about me, every person is a ‘me’. Someone else’s pain, is my pain. Someone else’s need is my need. Without compassion, there is unbridled selfishiness, loneness, anxiety and fear at failing to take care of ‘me’. Passing by my own needs, they are left behind like extra clothing on a hot day. I lose what I was afraid to not have without looking back because I’m lost in caring for the comfort of someone else.
  5. Humility– if everyone was proud, everyone boastful, everyone up front, on top, the best, we would all be in a single horizontal line. If someone dropped something who would bend down, and for a moment be lower, to pick it up? Humility is freedom. Freedom to be last, to be overlooked, to be quiet, to serve, to rest in the shadow of another and be at peace.
  6. Hunger– surprised? Hunger not starvation. Each and every day, every human knows hunger, a reminder that we have limitations, we need food to survive no matter how successful, powerful, self-sufficient we are. If our physical needs were not a part of life calling us back to the basic task of feeding our bellies, how much more trouble would we be in?

Just some thoughts. Write on, think on.

Family Drama Series

What happens when your life gets dragged back into family drama? Don’t ask me! I avoid family like the plague. Only kidding, well half way kidding. I’ve had my fair share of being in the thick of it with shoutfests, accusations, ugly scenes of dirty laundry, but I’ve grown up a bit and channel those passionate emotions to better things.

My grown up self may be physically distant from the rest of the clan but my heart strings are pulled when I know any of my sisters or mother or cousins are dealing with difficult situations. My kids have unlimited access to our bank account and our very breath if they need it.

The hard part comes in when I can’t fix things. When I can’t give advice because it’s not wanted and wouldn’t be accepted anyway. When choices are made that completely confound me as though I speak a different language and can’t understand a single word they speak. I’m a praying person, maybe I should clarify that, a praying, believing person. I believe what I’m incapable of changing, prayer can.

Right now at EnTylerwords.com, there’s a series running – “The Roady Series”. It’s about when Tyler is called back home to Tennessee by his abusive stepfather to take care of his four younger brothers. Mom was in a car accident and is in ICU. Tyler learns she was high, a man was killed and it’s unclear if she was at fault. Returning home stirs up a hornet’s nest of trouble for Tyler but in the middle of it, he finds some parts of his life open and some parts close.

Binge read the series first 10 episodes at EnTylerwords.com. Click on Menu at the top header of the blog site and choose “Roady Series”. Enjoy!