Posts Tagged ‘Beth Barany’

front cover 2015 Today, I’ve been pulled in many directions:

One of my editing projects, The Gunpowder Review 2015, arrived. I opened the boxes, and checked a few copies to make sure they looked like the proof copy I’d approved. Then, I grabbed a contributor’s copy and took it to one of the contributors who happens to be the treasurer of the Gunpowder Branch, National League of American Pen Women. The Gunpowder Branch publishes The Gunpowder Review, and it was from that treasurer I needed to get a check for the cost of the copies (plus shipping and handling).

Plus, I needed to get another check, and send it with a thank you note to the person who did the design, layout, formatting, etc. for the magazine. (I’ll mail that tomorrow).

I placed a call to the local bookstore to schedule a publication reading, but the community events person wasn’t there. I’ll call back again tomorrow, and if need be, the day after that and the day after that until I can get the reading scheduled.

I’ve been reading, discussing, and responding to submissions to the Hides the Dark Tower anthology to be published later this year by Pole to Pole Publishing. Many of the submissions (and some of them quite good) fail to use a tower or tower-like structure anywhere in the story. Since a tower is the theme, this makes for many rejections. By the way, if you or anyone you know would like to check out the submission guidelines you can find them here: Hides the Dark Tower Submission Call

There is a long list of tasks to complete at home before out-of-town guests arrive next weekend. Another long list of writing and illustration projects with deadlines in the next 2 weeks. And my hand-outs and presentations for an upcoming writers’ conference need to be completed.

And then, the phone rings. Here’s where the “No” comes in.

The first key to success as a writer (or illustrator) is “Learn to say, “No.” Your time is valuable, and sometimes, the neighbor who wants to call and chat has to be ignored. Sometimes, the spouse who wants you to sit with them and watch a television show has to be told, “Not tonight.” Sometimes, fast food is good enough for dinner.

Another writer (whom I respect), Beth Barany blogged about this, too. Check out her post: Peek into the Creative Cauldron – How I get my Work Done.

Best wishes to you as you set aside writing time and learn to say, “No.”

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Beth-Barany_360by270-cropped Author and workshop leader, Beth Barany passed the baton to me on this blog hop. At the same time, she passed the baton to James C. Wallace II And Dan O’Brien. We’re all to answer 4 questions about our writing process. And almost every writer likes to chat about their writing process, so this is an easy post to write.

My Writing Process:
1- What are you working on now? Actually, I have several projects in the works. I know that seems like it would be confusing, but I have a short attention span, so it helps me to move from project to project until I’m nearing the end of the first draft. That said, when I work on a second draft, I focus on one book at a time. I’m currently writing the follow-up book to The Enchanted Skean (a Compton Crook Award Finalist), a YA science fiction novel, a YA urban fantasy, and a non-fiction historical book. Plus, I’m working on illustrations for a picture book.
2- How does your work differ from others in this genre? I think coming from both an illustration and writing background, I “see” the world of my books as I write them. Also, having taught creative writing, especially poetry, for over a decade, I think I bring the poetic emphasis on the senses to my prose.
box of clovers 3- Why do you write what you do? I believe the world around us is filled with mystery, miracles, and magic, so it’s natural I’d include those things in my writing. I’ve been in love with myths, fables, fairy tales, and folklore since I was a child, so my writing and illustrations are filled with a sense of wonder. By the way, I found my first 4-leafed clover of 2014 today on a walk with my granddaughter – I’ve already slipped it inside the pages of a book. Once the clover is pressed flat and dried, I’ll add it to one of the jars of 4-leafed clovers I have on my shelves. Magic really is everywhere around us.
4- How does your writing process work? Something inspires me – a word, something I see or hear, an over-heard conversation, a “what if” thought about an ordinary moment. Then, I mull the idea over in my mind. Quite often, I dream parts of the story. By the time I actually begin writing, my fingers can’t keep up with my brain! Editing can be tiresome for me – but I know it’s necessary. I revise, polish, submit the manuscript to publishers, and repeat the process.

If I can wrangle a couple of writers into accepting the baton, I’ll post their bio and blog links here. Until then, keep on the look out for 4-leafed clovers! And here’s a question for you: Fellow readers (and writers), are you interested in a writer’s process?

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Before I get to the recipe, here’s the link to a Book Giveaway that’s expiring in a few hours. Please make a comment and maybe win a copy of Beth Barany’s book!

These easy-to-make, melt-in-your-mouth sugar cookies vanish quickly from the cookie jar every season of year. The recipe makes a large batch, so cutting it in half is a possibility for those less enthusiastic about crispy, crunchy, sugary treats! Like last week’s Baked Caramel Popcorn, Drop Sugar Cookies work well for a book club or readers’ group get-together, kids’ party, or any other fun gathering.

Drop Sugar Cookies

Step #1: Make cookies.

Cookie Ingredients:

1 cup softened margarine (or butter, if you prefer)

1 cup powdered confectioner’s sugar

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

4-1/4 cups flour


1-Cream margarine and sugars together in a large mixing bowl.

2-Beat in eggs.

3-Add oil, vanilla, and lemon juice. Mix well.

4-Combine cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and flour in another bowl. Then, add the dry ingredients to the liquidy dough. Mix well until cookie dough forms.

5-Cover with plastic wrap and chill several hours (or over-night).

Step #2: Make & Bake the cookies:

1-Preheat oven to 325°F and spray cookie sheets with vegetable cooking spray (like Pam).

2-Place about 1/2 cup of sugar in a shallow bowl. Find a flat-bottomed glass, and place beside the bowl with the sugar. (Add more sugar to the bowl as needed).

2-Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and place on a cookie sheet allowing a couple of inches between dough balls.

3-Flatten the dough balls with the flat-bottomed glass. Here’s how: Dip the glass’s bottom in sugar, then press a dough ball flat. Re-dip the glass’s bottom in the sugar, then flatten another dough ball. You’ll probably need to re-dip after each cookie.

4-Once cookies are flattened, sprinkle lightly (remember you’ve already added a bit of sugar when flattening the cookies) with colored sugar or sprinkles.

5-Bake in oven (about 8 minutes, but it depends on how thick you’ve made your cookies) until cookies are lightly browned at the edges.

6-Using a pancake-flipper, remove cookies immediately from cookie sheet to a cooling rack.

7-Repeat steps 1 through 6 until dough is gone.

8-Serve when cooled or store in an air-tight container until ready to eat. Enjoy!


1-You’ll get a “rhythm” going when making these cookies, so after the 1st sheet, the flattening process will go quickly.

2-I put the cookie dough back in the refrigerator between batches to keep it firm and easy to handle.

3-A trick I use to cool my cookies and not have to deal with cookie racks: Place a layer of heavy brown paper (the kind you wrap packages with) on the counter. Place cooked cookies, hot from the oven, on the brown paper rather than on racks. The paper absorbs any extra vegetable spray or other grease. Plus, when you’re done, just fold the paper up and toss it away – crumbs and all!

4-These cookies freeze well. Once cooled, they can be put in a tightly-sealed container and stored in the freezer for several months.

5-By the way, I press the dough balls out so my cookies are thin, and therefore extra crisp. I have to watch the baking cookies carefully so they don’t burn. If you make your cookies thicker, and therefore softer, they burn less quickly. But still keep a close eye on your Drop Sugar Cookies.

Appearing Monday on Whimsical Words: a guest post from speculative writer Phoebe Wray, author of the mystery-thriller, In Adam’s Fall..

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Beth-Barany_360by270-cropped Thanks to author Beth Barany for stopping by and chatting about virtual book club appearances. Both authors and readers can learn something from her post.

How to Prepare for a Virtual Book Club Appearance by Beth Barany

Many authors are looking for ways to connect with their readers, sell books, and most importantly, build a group of fans who are waiting for your next book.

Book Clubs are a great way to do this.

But how do you get a book club to have you as their featured author? Well, you can make it easy for people to consider you for a book club by having excerpts on your site, list your buy links, and have a contact form or contact information on your site. If you’d like to you can also have a page on you site that lets people know you’re available for book clubs.

Through my awesome assistant in my book coaching business, Michelle C. Geary, I got my first book club experience. Her son Alex was enthusiastic about my YA fantasy novel, Henrietta The Dragon Slayer, and got his high school book club excited too! I made a Skype appearance to chat with them back in January 2013.

Now what do you do once a book club contacts you?

Preparation for your Book Club Appearance

1. Help them get your book, at a discount if you can.

Independent authors can often ship books from their printer directly at a discount for the book club members — I was able to do this. Traditionally published authors: check with your publisher to see if they can provide books at a discount.

2. Provide a Q&A of suggested questions or ask if the group has their own.

Patty, the book club organizer, eagerly sent me questions, that I’ve now adapted and posted on my site. http://author.bethbarany.com.

3. Set up a time and a place.

Here’s where I have to give a plug to the wonders of technology. Place no longer has to be a limitation. You can be a guest via Skype, or another webinar tool. I think Skype is the easiest and most affordable — free! — tool at this point.  I used Skpye to chat with the Marengo, Iowa middle school/high school book club, since I live in California.

4. Promote your upcoming appearance via your site and social media.

I mentioned my upcoming appearance on Twitter, my favorite broadcast medium.

During Your Book Club Appearance

Henrietta-FullCover7.indd 1. Come prepared to your book club. Have your book blurb hand, the list of questions and answers, and even props.

I rehearsed my answers, and had a copy of my book in hand. I also had my dragons next to me in case I’d have an opportunity to show them.

2. Make sure people know how to stay connected with you and see if they’d like special early notification of your next book.

I invited people to sign up for my newsletter at http://author.bethbarany.com.

3. If it seems appropriate, ask them if they know of any other book club that would like you as a guest.

4. Lastly, offer a special giveaway if you have one.

A digital trading card is popular in some genres. Here’s a how-to article on that: http://www.ehow.com/how_5821932_create-trading-cards-digital-photos.html  I haven’t created such cards, yet!

After Your Book Club Appearance

1. Thank your book club host and all the attendees.

2. Mention them in a post as a public shout out. I did that here: http://author.bethbarany.com/2013/01/23/news-from-ya-fantasy-author-beth-barany/

3. Make notes on what worked and what you would do differently next time.

That’s it! Let me know if you’ve done any in-person or virtual book club appearances. What did you like about it? Any advice that you’d like to share?

Bonus Offer: I’ll give away an ebook copy of Henrietta The Dragon Slayer to one of the commentors, and will pick a winner at random seven days after this post goes live. Good luck!”

Beth Barany is the award-winning author of the YA fantasy, Henrietta The Dragon Slayer. For more information about Beth’s fiction, and to sign up for her somewhat monthly newsletter, go to http://author.bethbarany.com

Thanks again to Beth Barany for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and my new feature, Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a book-filled day.– Vonnie

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In Maryland, fans of caramel popcorn often travel to Ocean City to buy Fisher’s Popcorn. Though a little time-consuming to prepare, readers will find this easy recipe a tasty replacement for that summertime boardwalk popcorn. Like last week’s Too Easy Banana Bread, Baked Caramel Popcorn works well for a book club or readers’ group get-together, kids’ party, or any other fun gathering.

Baked Caramel Popcorn

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Spray 2 large, shallow baking pans with vegetable cooking spray (like Pam).

Step #1: Make 6 quarts of popcorn. Once made, pour popcorn into baking pans and keep warm in oven.

*I make the old-fashion version: Using measurements from the popcorn bag – Heat oil in a large covered pot until one kernel “sizzles” when dropped in. Then, dump in popcorn kernels & place lid tightly on pot. With hot-mitts on hands, shake the popcorn-filled pot until most kernels are popped. OR If you’re lucky enough to have a popcorn pot, just use the stirring paddle until popcorn is popped.

*Microwave popcorn can be used. Just make sure it is “plain,” not butter-flavored.

Step #2: Make caramel coating:

Caramel Ingredients:

1 cup margarine (or butter)

2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup corn syrup

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla


1-Melt margarine in large pot. Then, stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt.

2-Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring for 5 minutes. (Keep an eye on your pot so it doesn’t boil over. Adjust temperature if caramel nears the top of the pot.)

3-Remove pot from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla.

Step#3 Make caramel popcorn:

1-Remove popcorn from oven. Pour caramel coating evenly over popcorn, making sure both pans receive approximately equal amounts. Mix well. Return caramel-coated popcorn to oven.

2-Bake in a 250º F oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

3-Remove from oven, cool, break apart, then store in an air-tight container.


1-It’s better to make a little extra popcorn in the beginning to make sure you have 6 quarts (that’s 24 cups) for the recipe. You can always snack on any extra.

2-If your caramel pot is large enough, you can dump the popcorn into the pot and stir the coating over the popcorn, then dump it in the pans for oven baking. Some people find this easier.

3-In order to make sure I stir every 15 minutes for 1 hour, I set the timer for 15 minutes. When it goes off, I stir the popcorn, make a hash mark on a piece of paper, put the pans back in the oven, then reset the timer. That way, it’s easy to know when your popcorn is done!

Appearing Monday on Whimsical Words: a guest post from Beth Barany, author of the YA adventure fantasy, Henrietta the Dragonslayer.

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