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Joan Leotta, author, writer, performer, libraries, schools, food cooking, Italian, folklore, teaching
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Tag Archives: Writing
On Saturday, Aug 19, I read my book, Rosa and the Red Apron to a group of Girl Scouts at the Lowe’s Food in Monkey Junction in Wilmington, NC (Lowe’s obtained permission to use photo on FB) . Thank you, Alexandra , for inviting me!
It was a fun way to spend a morning.
We had such a good time! The girls enjoyed acting out the book with me as I read it. We did not have time to talk much about writing–Lowe’s had arranged a wonderful cookie decorating session for them–yummy!
I am available to speak to scout groups on writing, on cooking, on story performance and speaking! I have some dates left before the end of the year. More open in January and February!
Finishing Line Press has informed me that my book will be at least 8 weeks late–today is the day it was supposed to come out.
I just got my galleys on Monday and am sending them back on Tuesday the 17th, checking and rechecking.
Please be patient!
So, I am rarely at a loss for an idea so decided this would be a good way to organize my thoughts for the new year and give me marching orders for a series of new picture books.
Two days into it, already more than two ideas, but the discipline is a very good one. Also trying to channel creativity into a new haiku start each day.
Take a look at this tiny tale!
I’ll be working on it to make it better and larger in the coming months–or do you like it as is? I’d love to have your input!
Gregor the Ghost woke up late afternoon on Halloween, his very favorite day. He would walk along the streets and no one would be afraid! They would think he was just another child in a ghost costume! When the moon was high, he joined the crowds going from house to house for candy.
He noticed a girl dressed as a green and yellow spider all by herself.
“What’s wrong ?”
“No one wants to go with me. They say I’m too scary ”
Gregor laughed.”Spiders don’t scare me.”
Ghost and spider gathered candy together. Neither one scared the other!
Let’s start the day with a laugh, or just a huckle and wry smile! Two of my previously published
Poeming Pigeon Poems and three new, short flash pieces are now up on a great British site. My humor is sort of dry and ironic. Shawn Aveningo Sanders likes it and so does Brian! Thank you both for supporting my work. Check out my chuckles at
It’s not even ten am yet and already I have been hard at work on the computer, but am not yet dressed!
First thing–saw that Silver Birch has posted my poem What we took with us when we moved, as a part of their moving day series–warning, this one is sad.
Here’s a link to the post. Thank you!
Then, I opened my gmail account and there were the page proofs for Summer in a Bowl!!!!
Amazing work by the artist Rebecca Zeissler.
Countdown to publication day of September 30!!!!!!
You can order the book now , pre-order on THEAQLLC, Amazon and BN
Those who pre-order before the launch date of September 30 can email me a copy of the receipt and be in a drawing to win a copy (signed) of the first book in the series, WHOOSH!
There is a recipe in the back of this one and gardening tips
A writer’s work is never done!
I am busy working on PR, blog hops etc for Summer in a Bowl and also at the same time working on poems, my usual quota of articles, and coordinating with my publisher on revisions in the texts of the NEXT TWO Rosa books–Rosa and the Red Apron and Rosa’s Shell
Heather Zeissler of THEAQLLC has been wonderful to work with.
If you want me to come to your school to talk about the process of writing picture books or to talk to your group about how I got started writing picture books, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
C. Hope Clark’s newest series is set in one of my favorite places in all the world–Edisto Island, SC. We spent many happy holidays there as a family and Joe and I welcomed the new Year there for several years running. The place is magical. And if we are to believe Hope there is mystery lurking in every corner as well.
Never fear, Hope’s heroine solves all the mysteries and the miscreants are punished. Of course, what happens when a good mystery is solved? Celebration! And there is no better way to celebrate than with a meal of Edisto shrimp. Hope has shared heroine Callie’s fave recipe with us in this post–you may not be able to buy Edisto shrimp where you live, but do look for the freshest, wild caught domestic shrimp you can find.
Callie Jean Morgan’s Favorite Lowcountry Meal
By C. Hope Clark
Writing a mystery series set at a beach I am often enticed to visit the coast and as many seafood restaurants that my stomach can bear. In South Carolina, we do mainly shrimp and crab with a wide assortment of fish easily caught off our shore. While I could eat my weight in crab, one of my absolute favorite coastal recipes is shrimp and grits.
Non-Southerners often turn up their noses at grits, but just let them taste them in this concoction, and man-oh-man, their tongues will slap their faces silly wanting more. Every dignified South Carolina eatery has a shrimp and grits recipe on the menu, each with a spin or twist of its own, some almost too rich to finish.
In my newest release, Echoes of Edisto, (released August 5, 2016), with all that I throw at Callie Jean Morgan, she needs this sort of comfort food. Something to coat her belly, relying on the harvest caught in her beloved Edisto waters. Food from her home territory she loves so dang much.
Echoes is the third in the Edisto Island Mysteries, and the South Carolina coast is learning to love the stories. Information about the books greets every Edisto tourist in their rental, a local magazine keeps a feature ongoing about the series, and every single visitor’s center in South Carolina contains an Edisto Beach Tourist Guide which flaunts the Edisto Island Mysteries.
So let me introduce you to shrimp and grits, to entice you to visit . . . and pick up the books. This recipe is one I learned on Edisto Island, which I’ve adjusted a bit for my own taste so that you never fail to lick the bowl clean.
CALLIE’S SHRIMP AND GRITS
FOR SHRIMP ROUX:
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and whole
3-4 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt (by taste)
Black pepper (by taste and optional)
Cayenne pepper (by taste)
6 tablespoons bacon drippings (or half bacon droppings / half olive oil)
½ cup diced onion
½ cup diced pepper, sweet banana or bell
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth or chicken bouillon
2/3 cup grits (regular, not quick 5-minute grits)
2 cups water
½ cup cream (preferably the heavy stuff)
Peel the shrimp, careful with removing all shell and legs, and place meat in bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice. Salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. (NOTE: the saltiness in the shrimp and roux is the reason you avoid the salt normally cooked into grits.) Let set so flavors mingle.
In a skillet, cook enough bacon to make 6 tablespoons of drippings, 6-10 slices depending on the fattiness of the bacon. Remove bacon. Sauté onion and banana and/or bell peppers in the grease, medium heat, until translucent. No more than 10 minutes.
Gradually sprinkle flour over vegetables, stirring in one tablespoon at a time to avoid lumpiness. Stir constantly. Stir all for 2-3 minutes until browned.
Add shrimp, liquid and all, to skillet. Add 1 ½ cup broth gradually, stirring constantly, letting liquid mix well with the browned flour. You’ll see the soft brown gravy start to happen. The shrimp should turn opaque and pink after 2-3 minutes. Add remainder of broth, if needed, to thin the gravy and avoid lumping.
Either start grits halfway through this process, or complete roux and set aside to remain warm, but do not fix grits in advance of the roux. You want the grits to be fresh, hot and creamy. Bring water to a boil then add grits. Lower to medium-high and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking. Once completed, add the cream and stir for another 2 minutes. Remove from burner.
Put grits in a bowl. Ladle roux in the center. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon.
Oh good gracious, a meal to die for . . . oh wait, I don’t want to give away the story!
- Hope Clark is the creator of The Edisto Island Mysteries as well as the Carolina Slade Mysteries. She is also an avid presenter, speaker, and teacher about writing and earning a living as a writer, in much demand at writers’ conferences and libraries. Her latest project, beside yet another Edisto book, is honoring a request to read her own Edisto stories for the Books for the Blind program. www.chopeclark.com / www.fundsforwriters.com
The next step in the process of getting Summer in a Bowl into the hands of readers is preparing a summary. Now, if I had done a more traditional query and had been working with a publisher I did not know, the summary would have been in my query letter. As you recall, in this case I was approaching the publisher who had done WHOOSH! so, after a phone conversation, I just sent him the entire manuscript.
For me, the summary is the hardest part of the process. I love to talk about my book. I get very enthusiastic and well, restricting myself to just a few words–rough!
This summary will be what potential future readers will see on Amazon. Would you be interested in buying the book after reading this? If you have changes to suggest, please let me know. My publisher and I both believe in this book and want to see it in the hands of as many children as possible.
Please look this over and let me know if any changes are needed!
Summary for Summer in a Bowl By Joan Leotta
Rosa and her Aunt Mary spend every Thursday together in the summer, tending Aunt Mary’s garden.
On this last Thursday of the season, they harvest the vegetables and Aunt Mary cooks them. Rosa is not sure she wants to try them until her father proclaims the dish, “Delicious!” and Rosa discovers that the soup is a way to preserve all of her summer fun. Summer in a Bowl is a wonderful introduction to the joys of gardening with children and the fun of cooking with children.
So, this post is doing dual duty. I hope it will keep you in mind for gardening. Yesterday I turned in the first deliverable on my book, Summer in a Bowl. Picture books are a sort of long form narrative poetry. Thus the connection.
Also, gardening and story or poem prompts–obvious connection there. Prompts are like seeds for a story or poem. Plant one on a page and they can give your mind a jump start. Apply the hard work of writing around this (akin to weeding and watering) to harvest a finished poem or story! Voila!
My usual monthly post on Suzanne Lurience’s working writer blog will go up in a few days.
Here is the bonus prompt for Poetry Month–seven one word prompts for poems–of course if you can squeeze an entire story out of one of these–huzzah to you!
Seven April Poem Prompts