Tag Archives: Desert Breeze Publishing

Traveling Tales

Travel is a great inspiration for writing but ideas for great poems, essays, and stories do not always come immediately. Yes, I wrote the signature story for Simply a Smile (to be released this month by Cane Hollow Press) in one night after seeing the Chinese Soldier exhibit at the High Gallery. But, consider my latest published essay–Two Cups of Coffee–in Easter Iowa review’s current issue. That story is about an incident that happened forty years ago. I do have a notebook full of ideas and my trip journal to help me move the muse along about my May trip to Turkey with my daughter, but so far all I have written on that trip–for publication–is an article on food.

Sometimes a travel location becomes a site for action in a book that is not related so much to the place as to the characters and plot. My also-this month release, Secretes of the Heart features Ft Fisher in Wilmington NC (a great place to visit) and my beloved Rome. Our family spent Christmas there this past year and I double checked all of the places where my characters would walk, eat, etc while we roamed Rome.

Last book in Legacy of Honor Series

Last book in Legacy of Honor Series

Packing a suitcase has been a writing inspiration for me since childhood when I would take trips with my Grandmother and of course, every family vacation.  I keep notes, take pictures, and purchase silly little souvenirs–all become mnemonic devices for the creation of word-built works at a later date. So, don;t worry if you feel overwhelmed by the beauty and excitement of your latest trip. The writing side of the trip may not happen for a while–but if you are a lover of words, you will begin to find the source of tales in the stories you tell about the good time you had.

Travel is wonderful–for the soul and for the pen

Collection of short stories by Joan Leotta

Collection of short stories by Joan Leotta

Changing a Habit

So, I’m trying something new in my next book–tying together stories in two time periods. My publisher has asked us to write our books into her template. I did that with Book Three, A Bowl of Rice and found it very relaxing to create the story, knowing that my margins, etc etc were all ok. But with this book where the storylines jump from chapter to chapter, typing into the template is not working out. I am finding it hard to switch between the two–I want to continue along with one story, beyond the chapter limit as I am writing, So, I’ve thought about it, am praying now that I have selected the right solution and have decided to shift.

I am going to type the entire first draft into one document–for each story. Cut into chapters and lay the links between the two, physical y looking at all of the chapters. Then I will retype the second draft into the template. More work? Yes, but I think the right work pattern for me for this type of story. I could have persisted in using my old method…but that would have resulted in format problems and worst of all, an inability to see each story and the relationships between the two as clearly as I need to in order to create something my readers will enjoy and easily follow. So, in this case, I will change my habit–now, on to my goal of a minimum of two thousand words a day on this book until the draft is finished and the research can all be plugged into it! Spoiler alert–the storylines are civil war and gulf war in their settings


My first appeareance at Bookclub!

My first appeareance at Bookclub!

Readers of my book Giulia Goes to War at Carolina Shores Book Club!
What wonderful people! They were a kind group of questioners and had a little reception for me too!

Sign of the Times? Tuesday special

An additional Post

Emblematic Poetry–I jsut discovered it today! It’s been around ince Victorian times. They were the first to use lettes and initials in writing–LOL! Yep 2cool!

In addition, the poems are like concrete poetry except that the shape must contribute to the sense of the poem: “When a poem is laid out in such a way as to create a visual image which coincides with the subject or thematic content of the poem” accordign to a definition. A fellow Desert Breeze author, Barri, has an emblematic poem on her blog today.

So, we see the short, writing, the shaped writing, as a sign of our times, but it is merely a revival of something old! Enjoy!

Food and Stories

Today I had the pleasure of meeting one of my heroines–C. Hope Clark. She appeared at our local library to speak about mysteries and promote her new fiction book, Low Country Bribe.

For years she has published a newsletter, Funds for Writers, that has been a wonderful place for me to use to try to apply for grants and to find outlets for my writing. She may be where I found Desert Breeze Publishers!

She mentioned, in the course of her talk, that southerners always include a lot of food in whatever they write–of course the same is true for Southern Italians!

These two recipes are the basis for many of the recipes that can be found in my novels and certainly these have formed the basis for many a family dinner in the Leotta family.

Joan’s Basic Marinara Sauce (Red)

Makes  3 ½ -4 cups of sauce, depending on the amount of water used and how long the sauce cooks.

1 can 28 oz crushed tomatoes (I use a brand called “6 in 1” or Hunt’s)

½ can water

1 clove garlic

2 T olive oil

2 tsp parsley (fresh or dry)

Salt, basil and/or oregano to taste


Peel a clove of garlic and cut it in half. Brown the two halves in olive oil in pot over medium heat. As soon as the garlic is brown (varies, so watch closely) take the garlic out with a spoon and put in the can of tomatoes and then the water. (Be careful, when you add the tomatoes to the hot oil, there will be splatter.)After adding the water, stir and add in the salt, parsley and basil and oregano if you wish.

Cook for about twenty minutes, stirring every so often, over a medium heat.



Joan’s Basic White Sauce for Pasta

Makes 2 cups (good for one third pound pasta with enough to add more later)

4 T Butter

4 T Flour

2 Cups one per cent milk

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper (fresh ground is best)

1 tsp nutmeg (fresh ground is best)

Melt butter in heavy saucepan over a low heat. Make a roux by adding the flour, stirring well and then quickly, before the flour begins to brown, add the milk, gradually. Stir constantly to get it to thicken. Add the spices while stirring.


Today’s recipe is one that