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I’m working on updating my pro site, where I look all professional and stuff, and that means some updating to this one, too, I guess….

I’m thinking about moving my blogging over to the pro site and providing Actual Content more than once a week–not sure if I’m up to that! Here’s kind of what I’m thinking:

On Writing

As always, I’ll be posting on Tuesday at Fatal Foodies


Catch up on Goodreads, MySpace, LinkedIn and LiveJournal

Grab bag

I’ll still be posting once a month on The Write Type and Echelon Explorations, and I’ll still haunt Twitter and FaceBook.

I would keep this blog open for the fanfic and the archives.

Whaddya think? Please comment here if you have any thoughts or feelings about it, one way or another. If I don’t get any comments on this post, I guess that’ll tell me something, right there! 🙂 I’m open to suggestions. Shut up–not THAT kind of suggestion. Be nice.


writing prompt: Have a character decide whether to double up on work or discard something he/she enjoys for the sake of a more professional profile.

The Blog Book Tour class started Monday, and I’m already behind with my homework…. And Dani says class REALLY starts next week…. help meeee….

I’ve already added the stat counter to the bottom of the posts on this blahg, and I’ll do the same on Marian Allen’s Fiction Site. I have a tab from this site to the pro site, so they’re integrated. Scratching my head over changing the header–do I change it to reflect whatever my most current book is, or only change the header at the pro site, or have a special header for the book’s pages or what?

Work! Work!

Posts may be sparse and/or terse, as I struggle to use dial-up to make high-speed changes. 🙂


writing prompt: Send an adult character to school. Make it difficult.

I’ve had this discussion with people recently and I’ve read discussions in various fora (plural of forum is fora, not forums. You’re welcome.) lately.

YES, an engrossing story and compelling characters are important. Being able to tell a story with impact and heart cannot be taught, and is the soul of moving and memorable writing.

But that thing somebody told you about, “Don’t worry about the spelling and punctuation and stuff–that’s what editors are for”–you know, that thing? NOT! Let me put that another way: WAY NOT!!!!!

I’m currently doing line edits of EEL’S REVERENCE. That means, my children, that I have to go through the copy, embarassed about how many technical errors I didn’t catch the first sebbenty-lebben times I went through it. Punctuation errors, spelling errors, words left out (or left in, after I changed part of a sentence)…. I’ve been SO irritated, when reading a published book, to find sloppy editing, and I’ve growled at the “editor” about it. Now I find that I’M supposed to be the one to catch those things!

So remember: If you should buy a copy of EEL’S REVERENCE, and if you should find any technical errors in it…. Um, yeah, um, BLAME MY EDITOR! Gosh, why didn’t he catch that stuff? Yeah, yeah, I have been ill served. Not my fault. Totally.

The good news is, spelling, punctuation, word choice, grammar–all the technical skills–CAN be taught.

Get yourself a good current style book or book about writing. Look on the internet. Here are some good sites I found in a few minutes of Googling:

Do your best, but write with heart and clarity and you’ll carry most of your readers with you.


writing prompt: Have a character write another character a note which has a different meaning than intended because of a spelling, grammatical or punctuation error. The classic example might be a note from your wife, who has left to visit her mother: love you leaving you turkey. “Love you? Leaving you, Turkey!” is quite a bit different from “Love you! Leaving you turkey.”

Today is the first day of school for me. I signed up for Dani Greer’s Blog Book Tour class. It’s a bit late for EEL’S REVERENCE, since that comes out this month, but I’ll be loaded for bear when FORCE OF HABIT and SIDESHOW IN THE CENTER RING hit the virtual stands.

One of the things the class will do is critique members’ blogs so, if you’ve ever thought about leaving a comment on one of the posts here or on a page at my pro blog, this would be a jolly good month to do it.

I’m amazed at the rush of physical sensations I’ve had over this. As the first day of school approached, I started getting antsy. I had an almost uncontrollable urge to rush out and buy a box of crayons–not one of those sad little eight-color things, that are to a REAL box of crayons as a popgun is to an anti-aircraft missle. (See? See how I did one of those SAT comparison question things? School!) What was I talking about? Oh–crayons. I had the urge to rush out and buy a box with so many different colors I would have to hire two strong young men to carry it, which is not a bad idea, in itself….

Anyway, you know the school’s-coming feeling I’m talking about: that sense of new beginnings and endless possibilities, of a new start and of outfitting oneself for the first day of the future.

But then it was almost the day, and my stomach started to clench. I even put some of it into emails to the class: that gnawing fear that you (notice how I avoid putting myself into this scenario, even though it was All About Me)–that you would walk into the wrong class or would have the wrong books or would be dressed too differently from the other kids or…. Oh, there were SO many things that could go wrong and could mark you lower in the pecking order than you could bear.

Well, this could go on and on, but this post is too long already, and I have to make my lunch. Is it too geeky to take raw veg on home-made bread, or should I swing by the store and pick up a Lunchable?


writing prompt: Write about an adult character on the first day of some sort of class or instructional course.

Yes, I did it, I really did it! I’m posting the secret, which no recipe I found anywhere told, so take notes.

This recipe was at the Hellman’s site and is listed elsewhere as the Fanny Farmer recipe. I did it a leetle bit differently, and I’ll do it a little bit more differently the next time I make it–or maybe I won’t: Charlie has commented twice that it’s really good.

As we all know, emulsions are colloids, heterogeneous mixtures composed of tiny particles suspended in another immiscible (unmixable) material.

Easy Blender Mayonnaise

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (can use white vinegar)
  • 1 cup salad oil (some say 1 1/4 cup–I used 1 1/4 cup)

Break egg into blender container. Add mustard, salt and vinegar. Add 1/4 cup of the oil. Cover and blend on low speed. Immediately uncover and add remaining oil in a steady stream. Makes 1 1/4 cup.


So many other recipes said to add the first of the oil drop by drop, I didn’t put the oil into the food processor (I don’t have a blender) with the eggs; I added 1/4 cup of it drop by drop, by taking a spoonful and feeding it drop by drop through the hole in the top of the food processor (yes, it spit on me and I had to wash my glasses twice during the process). When the 1/4 cup of oil was nearly gone, I started drizzling in the rest of the oil. All this time, the motor has to be going.

Here’s the secret: Keep adding the oil, slowly, even though the mixture keeps looking like cake batter. All of a sudden–POOF!–it gets thick. It’s amazing. The more oil you add, the thicker it gets. That’s–what’s the word?–counter-intuitive.

When I make it again, I’ll try it the way they say to do it, and I’ll add less oil, because it’s thicker than I’d like. I could thin it with more lemon juice or a bit of water, but I’ll try less oil.

This mayonnaise has a personality of its own–not just something to keep the bologna from sticking to the roof of your mouth. I’m told one can flavor it with herbs, and I’m like, “Really? Ya think?” Okay, that was snotty, but that’s like saying you can actually BOIL stuff in WATER and make SOUP!!!!

If you prefer “salad dressing” (ICK), you may add powdered sugar until the resulting mess is as sweet as you like (YUCK). Just sayin’.

Anyway, I’m singing the Mr. Rogers Proud Of You song. 🙂


writing prompt: Have a character master some technique he/she has been trying to master. Have him/her have nobody with whom to share it. Is that the end of the story?

There are so many fascinating blogs out there–makes me kindasorta glad I don’t have high-speed internet service; if I did, I don’t know how I’d force myself to stop surfing. As it is, the freaking, everloving BOREDOM and IRRITATION of waiting fifteen minutes for a page to load sends me shrieking off to pound some bread dough or pull a weed or something.

One blog I enjoy, I’m lucky enough to be part of: The Write Type – Multi-Author Musings, run by Canadian author Cheryl Kaye Tardif. Her post yesterday was about a novelette she has on Smashwords and Amazon. I left a comment so I would be entered in a drawing for an e-copy of her critically acclaimed novel, WHALE SONG–AND I WON! I love it when I win. 🙂

I bought a copy of the novelette, REMOTE CONTROL, and I’ll download it and my prize the next time I’m in town with a high-speed connection.

Visit Cheryl’s website to see how awesome she is and for links to her books!


writing prompt: Have a character win a prize, then have difficulty collecting it. Does he/she persist? Give up? Go Librarian-poo or Bursar (Terry Pratchett fans, you know what I mean!)?

I was unable to sucker any chumps line up a writer to provide me with Actual Content on this Actual Content Tuesday, so you’ll have to make do with me.

This is something I haven’t tried yet–not because I’m cheap. Okay, yeah, it’s because I’m cheap. I know it works, though, because I know other writers who send out postcards to announce their appearances and signings, and they’re usually very successful, so I’m collecting information.

Here are some web sites and their advice for your postcards–indeed, for any sales pitch.

  1. Offer
  2. Call to Action
  3. Response/contact information

1. Make a Big First Impression
2. Get Right to the Point
3. Sell the Right Thing
4. Be Clear and Direct
5. Stimulate Fast Action

All-around good general marketing mini-course on one page!

I was given a copy of DUCT TAPE MARKETING at one of these sites, which is bristling with bookmarks (the book, not the site) and which I highly recommend.


writing prompt: Write a marketing postcard that spurs your main character and/or villain to action.

Actually, it isn’t Amazon’s fault. It states clearly (though in very small print) that Author’s Name should be put thusly: Lastname, Firstname. And what did I do on my first two Kindle publications? Yeah, that’s right: Marian Allen, when I should have done Allen, Marian. What a maroon.

So I had to go back into the production files, or whatever they call them, and fix it. And then you know what? Then I had to click Publish again. Not Update, not Correct, but Publish. So now the poor Amazon reviewers have to look at the files again and approve them again when all I freaking did was change the freaking order of my freaking names. Tarsome!

I’ve put excerpts of all the stories in LONNIE, ME AND THE HOUND OF HELL and in THE KING OF CHEROKEE CREEK up at my pro site, in case anybody is interested. Bud is ticked because HOUND is selling better than he (KING) is. I told him he ought to get a dog, and maybe his sales would pick up, and you should have seen the dirty look he gave me! If Bud had a dog, he’d probably eat it.

Those of you who’ve read any of my Bud Blossom stories, what kind of dog do you think he’d get and like (not to eat)?


writing prompt: Give a dog to a character who doesn’t have one. Is it a good thing for the character or a bad thing? How about for the dog?

Today, I most likely will NOT be vegetarian….

Most of us in our family have gone pretty far along the continuum from carnivore to herbivore, some farther than others. One daughter is working her way into veganism, and Charlie and I are struggling along behind her.

Why? For her, it’s an intense compassion for the lives and deaths of animals–any deaths of animals, vertebrate or invertebrate, for the purpose of feeding humans and any lives made miserable to serve the same purpose. For us, it’s the unnatural and environmentally unsound practices of “factory” meat and dairy industries. So we should be okay with local, family-farm meat and dairy, shouldn’t we?

I dunno. We kind of slide back and forth on that continuum daily. Grocery-store cheese, organic small-farm cheese or cheese substitute? Or no kind of cheesy stuff at all? –I tell you plainly: Dairy is harder for us to give up than meat, for some reason. Luckily, for me, cooking is like having a Gilbert Chemistry Lab that usually doesn’t blow up. I like messing around with alternatives and substitutes. Sure, sometimes you end up with a stink-bomb, but usually it’s more-or-less cool.

Anyway, I’m going to a pig roast today. It’s a fund-raiser for something-or-other.

Tell you the truth, I’m actually ambivalent about it. I do love roast pork. But…. There’s just something so Lord of the Flies about a pig roast, you know? So I’m not sure whether I’ll dig in (which is what I expect), or hesitate, or go ewwwwwww!

Maybe it’ll be like smoking. I was talking to our #4 daughter about smoking last night, about how I loved smoking–YES, I mean TOBACCO–and would love to light one up now and then, but that I don’t because I know it would make me sick as a dog after all these years. I told her I’m just not willing to smoke for a month in order to work my system down to where I can enjoy one cigarette.

So that’ll be my challenge today–to see how far along that slippery slope I’ve slid. Have I lost my predatory instincts? Have I been reduced to stalking the wild asparagus? Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Rico?


writing prompt: Write a character who has lost the will, taste or capacity for something that he/she used to enjoy–something good or something bad or something questionable.

I tried to make mayonnaise again, and failed again. It didn’t “set” into mayonnaise, but just, you know, sat there looking like cake batter. So I got the previous failed batch out of the refrigerator and mixed it with the current failed batch.

Then I thought, “I’m not gonna totally waste all this. I’ll heat it up and give it to the dog–sucks to be a dog.”

So I put it into the microwave for a minute and took it out and stirred it up…and the heat had thickened it. I tasted it and found it good. I thought, “Sorry, dog–sucks to be a dog.” And I put it back into the refrigerator.

Our cucumbers are producing, so I cut one up into salted water with some dill weed in it and refrigerated it until supper. Then I drained the slices, put them into little bowls and topped them with the sauce.

It was quite good, actually, though tart because of the lemon juice in the first batch and vinegar in the second batch, and peppery from the white pepper I put into the second batch with, perhaps, rather too heavy a hand.

Now, mayonnaise is a cold sauce. Hollandaise, which is a cooked sauce, is made with butter and this was made with olive and canola oils. So what have I made? Maholla Sauce sounds nice.

Does anyone know of an officially known and named cooked sauce made with egg, oil and acidic liquid? If not, I just invented Maholla Sauce! Gonna have some on hard-boiled eggs for lunch!


writing prompt: Write a scene where a person eats food he/she prepared for a dog. Why does he/she do it?


Here is where I ramble on about whatever happens to fall through my mind. I also have a professional site, where I post about my books, stories, news and appearances. Every month, I post a “Hot Flash” there–a story or prose poem of about 50 words. I hope you enjoy your visit. –Marian Allen

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