I knew that C.S. Lewis and I had more in common than our Christianity when he said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Welcome to a celebration of faith, tea, and the written word. I'm always engaged in a book, and whether it's one I'm reading or one of the inspirational historical romances I write, there's always a cup of tea close by. Join me in a cup as we chat about faith, our favorite books and the exciting places our reading and writing adventures take us.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Writing Fix: Time to Freak Out?

I'm working hard on a story right now, and it dawned on me today that I need to make a big change to it.

Not a major change, but enough of an alteration that I have some work to do. I need to move a few scenes around and remove a secondary conflict/character.

It's enough to make a writer freak out.

But it shouldn't. This is part of the whole process. We write, and sometimes stories redirect themselves.

Sometimes we made errors in the planning stages and didn't see them until halfway through the book.

Sometimes our characters are different than who we thought they'd be. They're more interesting, more complex.

Sometimes we add too much and it gets messy and demands to be streamlined.

These are all good things. They should be celebrated. Yes, the fixes take time and work, but the story will be stronger for them.

Time to reroute.

I believe my fixes will only take a few days to handle, but I'm not going to work on them now. I'm going to mark them, keep writing past them, and come back later when I have an even stronger handle on the story.

While I wish I'd hit the mark perfectly at the first attempt, I'm glad I figured this out now!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

From Edits to Galleys with my Upcoming Barbour Novella

The Rails to Love Collection releases in October, 2016, and it's almost ready to be printed! Last week I received a copy of the galleys, which is a pdf document of the pages as they'll appear in the book.

The galleys are the final stage in the editing process. My job now is to review my novella, The Honeymoon Express.

So what happens from the time a novella is submitted to Barbour until the galleys stage? The process might be different for each author and/or each story, but here's what my experiences have looked like so far:

  • The novella undergoes content, copy, and line edits by a professional editor and is then returned to the author for changes. The edits/suggested edits/questions are noted using the track changes feature in Word.
  • The author changes her manuscript, and the changes show in a different color of track changes, so the editors can tell what the author did, as opposed to what the editor suggested. At this stage, the author can also make changes the editor didn't request, and add dedications or acknowledgments, although that often happens when the novella is first submitted to the editor. But if some aspect of the novella has bothered the author since she submitted it, or she wants to add a detail here or there, this is the time to do it.
  • The editor reviews the author's changes. Occasionally, the editor might have additional questions for the author, and the above process repeats.
  • When satisfied, the editor okays it and sends it higher up the chain. The novella might be edited  or tweaked further, but these changes are minor.
  • The book is compiled into "book form"--the document looks like a book now, and we are in the galleys stage. A pdf of the galleys is sent to the author for review.
  • The author may wish to make small changes, but this is not the time to alter the plot, change someone's hair color, etc. If the author sees something she'd like to tweak, she can make note in a separate Word document, but cannot make changes to the pdf (because, well, it's a pdf). These are sent back to Barbour.
  • That's it! No more editing, no more changes.
  • Then, one amazing day a few weeks before the book's release, a box arrives on the author's porch. It's her book!
My experience with the editing process at Love Inspired has been different, and I'll fill you in on that with another post later, but I thought you might be interested in how your favorite novellas come to be!

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Very Best Cucumber Sandwich

This weekend I attended a bridal shower tea--fabulous in every way!

You all know how I am about Tea Parties. I love using pretty, delicate china and noshing on tasty little nibbles of sweets and savories. There's something celebratory about being fancy, if that makes sense, and something to treasure about taking time out to be with people you love.

Many people associate cucumber sandwiches with tea, as well they should. They are indulgent, very British, and offer little sustenance, which is part of why they "go" with tea, historically: the Victorian upper classes could afford cucumbers (they weren't available for an affordable price until the Edwardian era), and the upper class could eat snacks with little protein because they'd get their nutrition in other meals. (Contrast this with the lower classes, who ate meat pasties or hearty sandwiches with their tea.) 
James Petts from London, England - Cucumber sandwiches
The first cucumber sandwiches--the most authentic cucumber sandwiches--are made with very thin, buttered white bread and cucumbers. Nothing else. The cucumbers are added at the last minute to prevent the bread from getting soggy, and then crusts are removed before the sandwich is cut into four small triangles.

More modern recipes forego butter and use benedictine (a blend of cream cheese, cucumber juice, and onion juice), green chutney, or other flavorful spins, but Americans prefer cream cheese as a base.

If you do a google search, you'll find some pretty amazing, beautiful recipes. 

I make a few pretty good types of cucumber sandwiches. Recipes below. I know the title of the post is the "very best" cucumber sandwich, but the truth is, the best one is the one you make yourself, to your tastes, to share with your loved ones. Whenever I make cucumber sandwiches for a tea, my kids help, and we end up in the kitchen eating the scraps and extras, chatting and enjoying.

So no matter the recipe, that's the very best cucumber sandwich, in my book.

My Recipes: (no portions given so you can adjust to your needs and tastes)

Susanne's Cucumber Sandwiches

White Bread
Cucumber, peeled, sliced thin, laid on paper towels and sprinkled with salt (to draw out the moisture so the sandwiches don't get soggy)
Whipped cream cheese, softened
Dill weed, dry or fresh
Chopped fresh parsley, optional, and butter or more cream cheese

Spread bread with softened cream cheese. Sprinkle with dill weed (use more if using fresh than dry). Layer cucumber slices atop dill weed. Top with another slice of bread. Remove crusts and slice on diagonal to make four small sandwiches. If desired, butter or spread cream cheese on long edges of sandwich and press fresh parsley into the butter or cheese. Lay sandwiches on a short edge so they sit up like slides, with the parsley on the "slide". 

Susanne's Apricot-topped Cucumber Sandwiches

White Bread
Cucumber, peeled, sliced thin, laid on paper towels and sprinkled with salt 
Whipped cream cheese, softened
Apricot preserves
Sliced Almonds

Spread bread with softened cream cheese. Remove crusts and cut into four squares. Atop each square, add 1-3 slices of cucumber, as desired. Add a small dollop of apricot preserves on top, and top with a single sliced almond.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Ten Things with Author Connie Mann...and a Giveaway!

Connie Mann
Connie Mann is a licensed boat captain and the author of romantic suspense novels Tangled Lies (May 2016) Angel Falls and Trapped! as well as various works of shorter fiction. She has lived in seven different states but has happily called warm, sunny Florida home for more than twenty years. When she’s not dreaming up plotlines, you’ll find “Captain Connie” on Central Florida’s waterways, introducing boats full of schoolchildren to their first alligator. She is also passionate about helping women and children in developing countries follow their dreams and break the poverty cycle. In addition to boating, she and her husband enjoy spending time with their grown children and extended family and planning their next travel adventures. You can visit Connie online at www.conniemann.com.

Don't forget to enter using the Rafflecopter form below to win a copy of Connie's Tangled Lies


Here are 10 things people may not know about me:

1—In my day job, I’m a US Coast Guard-licensed boat captain. I work for our local school system here in Florida and regularly get to take 5th graders on the Silver River and show many of them their very first alligator. It’s such a great job.

2—I like to cook, but hate to bake. Cookies are okay—though most of the dough never actually makes it into cookie form. I put frozen cookie dough in the outside freezer to avoid temptation, but somehow, it evaporates. I have no idea how that happens.

3— I crave routine—until I need a break from routine lest I go crazy.

4—I think anything under 70 degrees requires a jacket. Under 45 and the parka comes out. It gets cold on the water, even in Florida. (Yes, I know I’m a weather wimp.)

5— I love books with yummy heroes and nail-biting suspense.

6—Absolutely nothing happens in my world without a deadline.

7—I love flowers and pretty yards, but I have a black thumb. The only plants we have are ones that can thrive with no intervention from me whatsoever.

8— I’ve never met a bag of potato chips I couldn’t finish in one sitting. Need I say more?

9—My favorite place in the world is by the water—either on a boat or walking along the beach. The sea just soothes the soul, doesn’t it?

10—I still miss our sweet black lab, who we had for 18 years, so I put a beautiful yellow lab named Bella in my new book, Tangled Lies.

Thanks so much for the opportunity to be your guest.

Here’s the back cover copy of TANGLED LIES:
Tangled Lies

Orphaned as a child in Russia, boat captain Sasha Petrov has spent most of her life adrift, anchored only by her loving foster family. So when they beg her to return to the family marina in Safe Harbor, Florida, for Mama’s sixtieth birthday, Sasha complies, hoping to put the past behind her. But Mama has other plans: she wants her three foster daughters to find Tony, the biological son who disappeared twenty years earlier.

Sasha agrees to try, but that’s easier said than done when bad boy Jesse Claybourne shows up, reigniting an old attraction. Back in Safe Harbor on a quest of his own, Jesse gets tangled up in Sasha’s search, and soon the two are close to uncovering an old town secret that some will stop at nothing to protect.

When Jesse is violently beaten and Sasha’s dog is poisoned, they realize the past is hiding something more sinister than they ever imagined. Can they uncover the truth without destroying Sasha’s family and breaking each other’s hearts, or are they sailing against the wind?


Social Media Links
Website:  www.conniemann.com
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