Monthly Archives: August 2012

Failure can be an option that breeds success

A writing friend of mine, Patty Froese, fellow author for Desert Breeze publishing, put together these quotes from famous folks who experienced failure on their way to making great inroads that helped us all.

She gave me permission to repost–Here it is:

Posted on August 28, 2012 by patty

As a writer, I’m accustomed to it. I’m not saying failure doesn’t sting, but rejection letters are just part of the game. If you aren’t getting rejected, you aren’t putting yourself out there.

                   Note from Joan:    Her poster would not transfer so just take a look at these and check out her blog:

 Oporah Winfrey was fired in one of her first tv jobs and told she did not have the personality for tv.

Enistein did not speak until he was four.

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team 

So if you’re putting yourself out there and getting heartily rejected, you’re in good company. Keep at it long enough, and there will be an internet meme about you one day.

And while you’re at it, remind ME of this on my next rejection… blog on her website


This is a literary treat. I’ve tasted many a madeline–have never found them worthy of poetry as Proust did –until Monday night when I made my own.

This version is also gluten free. They are AMAZING. I can say this because the great outcome is not due to my skill–it is simply the recipe that deserves kudos. Nice thing for those with allergies is that this is also gluten free.

So light. Nutty flavor (from the chestnut flour), Hint of sweet (just  IT honey and a bit of sugar) and tho the technique is a bit fussy, these are wroth it–yes you do need a madeline pan. I overstuffed it and made giant madelines and then proceeded to burn the cookies in the second panful so badly I had to throw them out but that was my bad, not anything to do with the recipe.

Try them! (see pinterest for photo on my food board)

Italian Chestnut Flour Madelines–from the web with my adaptations

1 cup plus 4 T chestnut flour (I used 1 generous cup)

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled)

1/2 cup (scant) white sugar

3 large eggs

1 tsp baking powder

1 T honey

Madeline pan


Melt butter and let cool until room temp. Mix flour and bp and set aside. Put eggs in bowl and beat. Add sugar and hone and beat again until almost white and light. Add the flour. Mix until incorporated. Add butter . Mix until incorp.

Cover and put in frig for two hours.

Preheat oven to 420

Grease madeline pan

fill each mold 3/4 full and cook for 4-6 min. Then reduce tem to 350 and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Remove from molds, Cool on racks

Makes 18 -20 madelines unless you make them giant sized as I did (I got 15)



First Day of School

If your child goes to a public or private school then he or she is about to face the first day in a new classroom.

New teacher. New friends. Does he or she view it with joyous anticipation or dread? Some of that depends on the personality of the child. We had one of each. We had to find the balance of encouraging the child who dreded the new experience without placing false expectations or diluting the joy of the other child, and what was even harder, never saying “Why can’t you see it as your brother does?”

Your child will have good and bad experiences in school and in life. Be there for him or her with love and support. I remember being upset because I was always chosen last for sports teams–even by my friends.

My mother explained, simply, honestly with no sugar coating for my ego, that I was terrible at sports. Even at age 8 or so I knew she was right. “You have other talents, ” she added. “And besides, all those athletes need someone to cheer them.”

I do have other talents. I’m not sure she knew what they were at the time besides the general idea of being “Smart” which meant good at academics. But she and my Dad supported the idea that I was a worthy, loveable and successful person no matter how many balls I dropped or how often the other team scored against me.

Theater, writing, school newspaper, student government–all of these things were outlets for me as time went on. I learned to do the best I could always, (again my mom) aware that there would always be others more talented, and some less talented–but that my job was to do the best I could with the talent I possessed. My husband and I tried very hard to pass these lessons on to our children. Honesty. No sugar coating.

Work on projects they like at home to build confidence but don’t fabricate better results than they deserve.

Each child , each person truly is special. On the first day of school not all will be sure of it, but remind each one that he or she is loved, pray and be there to listen when the day is done.

Friday Shredding as Editing



When you read your work aloud, the flaws become apparent. Usually. When you read your work aloud in a critique group, where each of the other writers is committed to improving the work of each member, you can be sure that the flaws will be noted. Sometimes positive suggestions are also given. In my case today, the first chapter of my new book had no redeeming features. I used clichés in describing the hero, repeated words and phrases, introduced twenty characters (almost) in three pages and gave such a slow start to any action that it made listeners antsy.

So, tonight, I am shredding that chapter and starting anew. I knew the chapter was not strong. I didn’t recognize that it stunk worse than a piece of dead cheese.

Thank you, friends and fellow writers. I vow to return with a better product! And soon–the deadline is approaching. I just hope that the other fifty pages are not as flawed, but for now I am concentrating on getting this novel off to a good start.

Healthy Dining

Lover’s Red Lentil Loaf

2      cups water

1         teaspoon salt

2         cup red lentils

1      small onion, diced

2      cup quick-cooking oats

3/4 cup grated cheese (cheddar, Swiss, jack or American)

1 egg, beaten

1 T olive oil

1 four ounce can of tomato sauce (optional)

1 clove of chopped garlic

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Boil lentils in the two cups water for five minutes and simmer covered 25-30 minutes, until lentils are soft and most of water is evaporated. Drain and mash lentils. Add salt and pepper, onion, garlic, parsley, basil and egg, olive oil, oats and cheese. Put in non-stick or greased loaf pan, smooth top with back of spoon and bake at 350 degrees for 30- 45 minutes. Loaf should be golden brown when done. Heat tomato sauce and pour on when serving if desired.

Three Day Town

Three Day Town.

Three Day Town

Three-Day Town

Margaret Maron


Judge Deborah Knott and her husband Dwight Bryant have not had a honeymoon since their marriage in an earlier episode in the Judge Deborah Knott series. They finally leave Colleton County and Knott’s vast array of relatives (and Bryants’!) for some fun in NYC. They are going to get to enjoy each other and the sights for three whole days in the city that never sleeps. Bryant wants to explore history and meet old friends. Knott has shoes and fashion on the brain.

Unfortunately, murder disrupts their plans.

Fortunately for us, the murder involves a piece of art and Knott and hubby get to meet Maron’s first series detective, NYC art theft squad expert, Sigrid Harald. This delightful twist brings two wonderful characters together–and Maron does not play favorites. Each plays out her role with élan in solving both the mystery of the ugly (but valuable ) erotic sculpture that Harald’s grandmother has sent her via Knott, and the murder of the “super” of the building Maron and Bryant “borrowing” an apartment for the weekend in question.


This meeting of the two mystery mavens coincides with Maron’s re-release of the Sigrid Harald series in paper and in e-format! Good news for readers everywhere.


Read this book if you like a good mystery, if you like New York, if you have ever been stuck in a snowstorm, well, just read it!


I’ll be reviewing Maron’s newest, scheduled for release later this year, in

You may want to put it on your gift list for your favorite mystery fan for the coming holiday season.

Seal of DIS approval and editing

I know, Friday is the day I am to post about writing and perfroming, not about food–but the two sujects sort of meld today.

1. A new brand of ice cream that purports to be Old Fashioend and great–It costs 3.99 a pint. Grnated, I used coupons and sales to buy it at a lower cost to sample it, but Front Portch Ice Cream is definitely not even worth the 1.25 per container (not really a pint) that I paid.

Most flavors are pedestrian with a touch of ice and grain but what drove me to post about it was the blueberry crumble—supposedly lemon with cake and blueberry swirled in–Grainy , odd pieces of cake, one small tint of color of blueberry in the entire pint–no berries at all and the flavor was a very aritficial vanilla with a hint of artificial tasting lemon. After I tasted it, I threw it out. I plan on sending this same review to Front Porch to help them make their product better–perhaps it is the shipment I got?? (Three different purchases, two different stores??) But I want to give them a chance to make it better–not for me, because I am done with their product, but for others and for the folks who work there. Mistakes do happen

Granted, I was a bit harsh on these folks, but ice cream is my fave treat. I am rarely this harsh in a public medium–but I am this harsh on my own work–for the same reason I am being a bit tough on Front Porch–I want to make it better. After a piece sits for a bit, I am ruthless with words, cutting, slashing, and polishing.

No repetition. No AND or BUT to start a sentence. Friends sometimes help me polish–but I only trust the ones who will challenge my assumptions–otherwise, how will I find repeats and inconsistencies, the unpleasant graininess of what I write.

Mistakes happen, but I need to get rid of them if I want an editor to buy my product.

Contest–Bonus Post

One of my fellow Desert Breeze authors has a contest going on for her next book–sounds wonderful. Hurry up and get your entry in to her– the link is in the post.

Contest! Would YOU like to be IN this book?
Emily Burns grew up a New Jersey
orphan, so she never expected to inherit a southern plantation in Mississippi
from a great-aunt she never even knew existed. Mysteriously drawn to the house,
she discovers an old diary hidden in the attic and her life becomes
unexplainably entwined with a Civil War Ancestor.

Lydia Harper didn’t
plan on buying a slave. But when she saw the woman being beaten, she did the
only thing she could to save her. After a traumatic event, the barriers of
social propriety break down and the two women discover they have more in common
than they ever imagined. With war on the way, they are desperate to leave behind
clues in hopes that someday someone will tell their story.

Can Emily
battle her demons in time to fulfill her destiny and uncover the secrets of
Find out HOW:

Fans and Success

Fans. I don’t know how many I have–probably they could fit into my living room with space to spare.

But I cherish each one.

One who wrote me a letter to tell me how much my sotry “rings” meant to her. (published in St Anthony Messenger. Another, a neighbor who loves my book Giulia Goes to War and told me that she can’t wait for the next installment! A young man or woman who comes up to me and says, “Mrs. Leotta, I remember when you came to our grade school and told stories. I loved teh story of…..” Then they name their favorite tale.

It is not likely that my name will become a household word. Or that I will be widely remembered. But as long as what I write and perform is remembered fondly by those who do encounter my owrk or me in performance, then I have succeeded.