Monthly Archives: November 2012

Cooking blogs

I read other cooking blogs–after all, how will I know what is going on in the world of food to write one if I don’t chit chat with others. Best way to do that when you don’t live near enough to others who are as food oriented as you are, reading blogs is a way to do it.

Found a wonderful blog called Faith at the Kitchn (no e in kitchen)

She posts wonderful recipes and great ideas about cooking

enter www. to find her or google Faith Kitchn.

Today her blog offers a great story about the creation of a fab looking recipe, called Maple walnut blondies–how great is that! Especially nice for someone like me who can’t eat chocolate anymore (migraines)

Meet and Greet

Saw a bunch of people lined up to hear a famous band–I saw them on TV.

Meeting, not just hearing famous people can be an inspiring experience for children. My children still remember meeting Gunther Gabel Williams, best lion tamer ever, when I took them backstage at the circus (I was interviewing him for an article for a DC newspaper).

I still remember meeting Pearl Buck at a coffee  for about fifteen students on my college  campus. My cousin got to meet Corrie Ten Boom. Pivotal times.

If you can’t invite a person who excels in his or her field to your dinner table, invite them through discussion. Talk about great ideas, great people, great literature and art–even with little ones–at the dinner table. You will find great rewards later.

Michelle’s guest post for friday

I read about Michelle Lim’s book and work when she guested on my friend and fellow Desert Breeze author Naomi Musch’s blog a week ago.

Naomi put me in touch with Michelle and Michelle graciously agreed to guest here with pretty much the same post since my readers are not the same as Naomi’s.

Also, for those of you who are performers, the issues Michelle brings up for conflict in writing apply very well to the development of a performance piece.


So…. Take it away, Michelle!

Joan, thank you so much for inviting me to visit your blog.

For those of you who haven’t heard, during my Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel Tour I’m having a drawing for a Free Kindle Paperwhite. For each different blog I visit that you comment on during my tour, you get one entry. Each day I will post any new tour locations on my blog.

Brainstorming Through Writer’s Block Idea Sparking Style


Whether you are planning to write a book during NaNoWriMo, or you are working on a deadline, brainstorming is essential throughout the project.

Why? Because we all hit a wall sometimes. Because we all could use better story twists. Because we all need to jump start our minds to put words on the page.

Just like any singer will warm up their voice before a performance, so the writer should warm up their brain before they sit down to write.

In my new book Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel there are lots of tips to finding your way out of a corner, writer’s block, and a sagging middle.


In the beginning of the book I cover a few essentials of brainstorming before delving into the strategies themselves. Here are a few essentials you should brainstorm at the beginning of every scene:

*Goals – What does the character want to achieve in this scene?

*Stakes – Why does it matter to the character and reader?

*Obstacles – What stands in the way of them meeting their goal?


Sounds simple right? It’s amazing how often we forget to add in one of the elements above. The result is a lack of conflict and tension in our stories that keep readers glued to the page. Let’s try applying these steps:

Goal:  Jake needs to get past the bully in the high school hallway and still get to class on time.

Stakes: Jake could be late for class or get beat up.

Obstacles: The girl Jake likes wants to talk to him as he passes by, He drops his books making a loud noise, and the Bully is standing right next to the class doorway where he is headed.

Brainstorming these things ahead of time can make a scene much more intense. Then surrounding these three elements you can brainstorm objects and senses that will effect Jake.

For example, in this case you could play up the size of the bully, add in the clock in the hallway ticking down time, maybe the bully likes the same girl, if he gets another tardy he will have detention, etc.

What do you do to help you get started with a new scene?

Often we stare at a blank page because we are trying to think up new ideas, but with this simple brainstorming activity with goals, stakes, and obstacles we have found the framework for the scene. Then all the added details to support those elements bring the scene to life.



Michelle Lim

Idea Sparking – Brainstorming the Conflict In Your Novel

Release Date September, 2012

Romantic Suspense Author

Fisher Creek Collection

Michelle Lim is the author of the new book Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel. Also a romantic suspense author whose manuscripts have earned recognition in The Rattler Contest 2012, the Genesis Contest 2011, and the Frasier Contest in 2010. Michelle is the Brainstorm/Huddle Coach at My Book Therapy and serves as Vice President of MN N.I.C.E., a local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. Check out her blog at: and to purchase Idea Sparking:How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel



FB Page to Note

No matter what you make, the Italian way is to use the very best ingredients available. Spice Islands is a company that over the years has provided me with wonderful aromas and delicate flavors for savories and sweets alike–and allowed me to broaden my palatte of flavors from the ones I knew as a child to a whole panoply of cultures and flavors.

Monday November 5

Tomorrow is election day. I had planned to post something about teaching children the value of democracy by voting. Instead, I want to post about my nephew and his wife and children. Am not mentioning their names because I have not asked permission. I will share with you, though, what they are doing.

They are teaching their children about the value other people, and showing love to others through action. They have organized folks in their neighborhood to bring goods to them and they are driving onto Staten Island to help others. Their first effort was with the family of someone they knew. Then they continued the efforts for people in need–whether they knew them personally or not.

The storm may have weakened physical infrastructure up and down the east coast, but at least in one family, the reaction of the family served to strengthen the infrastructure of love that should undergird all activity. What is even better is that I am positive my nephew and his wonderful wife did not do this as a “teachable” moment exercise. They did it out of true love and compassion with no thought for self which of course, makes it all that much more effective in the lives of their children as well as affective in helping those in need.

Friday–Late Post

OK, so it is not Friday. But I am posting anyway. I missed Friday because I was so caught up in my last-minute preparations for Saturday’s performance at El Dia de los Muertos celebration at the Chapin museum in Myrtle Beach.

Though of course, my preparations actually began weeks before, I spent Friday dong the final selection on my costume(see what was appropriate and what still fit! Sigh!)

Also, making sure I had all the props I wanted in one place

Finally, dong rehearsal of all of the stories, preparing for participation and for crowds that would not participate.

Prepped enough stories for double the amount of time i was expected to perform and for a wide variety of ages.


Since I am posting ex post facto, I can tell you how it went.

One of the best festivals I have been in there–was outside and DJ Charlie had the mic for me as he always does–but it didn’t work! SO, we adapted the situation on a short notice and used a standing mic instead.

I faced the crowd at an angle allowing me to serve both those seated and the ones in line waiting at the crafts tables. Also acknowledged those at the craft tables, told them to just pretend I was  a TV show and go ahead and do their craft and wait in line while listening.

Usually the crowd sits still for up to three stories at one time–this day they went for four! I was soooo excited. One darling little boy came up and participated every time. So wonderful–can’t wait to see him onstage sometime soon. He was so good and had great ideas for story questions too. Will post a photo of the event later.