Friday, July 31, 2015

Books Vs. Movies

A couple weeks ago a debate sprung up between me and a few of my friends. Which is better, books or movies? We live in a day and age when books and movies are accessible with the touch of a button. Where, in a few minutes, you can have any book or movie you'd like at your fingertips. That brought up a serious problem with a few of my friends. Most only read books when they were too excited to wait for the movie. Only a few read the books for pure enjoyment and because the books offered much more than the movies. With the advancements in technology, that line seems to be more of a blur than ever before.

In an effort to combat the book-lovers opinions of which is better, the movie-goers insisted that movies are easier to understand. It brings the books to life in a very real way giving characters an actual voice and face, gives the setting a perspective that the imagination can't quite come up with on it's own. I will admit that I have a very active imagination, but the world of Harry Potter was so much more intriguing in the movie than in my own mind.

Another point they insisted on was that books are anti-social. It doesn't require a group of people to read a book. It's a solitary activity, while a movie can be enjoyed in groups or for dates. I happen to disagree with this opinion. I enjoy movies alone. I don't want to talk during a movie, or be talked at during a movie because I rarely answer. It bothers me when people are constantly up and down to go to the restroom or restock popcorn because they've annihilated the jumbo bucket. I saw Jurassic World on my own, without children, and it was a freeing experience. I saw the complete movie from start to finish. I haven't been able to do that in years.

The last point they insisted on was the lack of action in books. There are no fiery explosions or tragic drownings. A pit of snakes is not as intimidating, raptors aren't as ferocious and the swords fights are not nearly as edge of your seat. It's tough to write fight scenes or other action. Movies flow with the action, giving your mind a visual to understand.

In the defense of books I must say that I enjoy writing a fight scene, I like the flow of my words on the page, like a dance of back and forth blows. Is it harder to do than actually acting it out? Of course, but in the end the sequence feels more satisfying.

While books may require more imagination than a movie, they have a level of depth that movies can't. You can't get inside the characters head in movies or hear their thoughts. Emotions are more involved and deeper in a book. In my opinion, more tears are shed, more laughs are shared and I cling to the characters in novels for much longer than I do those in movies. In books you're able to attach. Their emotions are not rushed for the space of time that a movie allows.

Movies often lose parts of books. There is only so much that can be added to fill the space of two hours, and sometimes things have to be cut. It's a sad truth and sometimes it leaves out the reason that a character is loved, or an important plot point or even a character that may not feel that important to the movie, but makes an impact in the plot of the book. I'll never forget the first time I watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It wasn't my favorite book by any means, but I found the trials fascinating and when they left out aspects of the books I was confused and devastated. I'd imagined what this world would look like and I felt like they'd cut the world in half somehow.

There are pros and cons to both books and movies, and I will admit that I love to see a book come to life on the big screen. But I also go in knowing that things may not always follow the book closely, that parts will be left out. Sometimes I read the book before hand, sometimes I read it after. Whichever you choose, give both your best shot, don't get mad at the author for things that get changed in movies because they'd don't control it and just enjoy the different experiences, because that's what they are. A different way to experience the same story.

So, do movies do books justice? Do you always read the book first? Tell me in the comments below!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Writing A Series

About two weeks ago, my book King Stud was published, and for about an hour I was just like this:


Yeah, I was just that excited. Sadly, though, the euphoria didn't last. I mean, book promotion can be fairly time consuming, but it is fun to get out and meet new readers. No, there was one thing that brought me down to earth faster even that writing an unimaginable number of blog posts. You wanna know my biggest buzz-kill?

The sequel.

King Stud is the first in a five book series about the O'Connor family. I know which O'Connor kid will star in each book, who they'll fall in love with, and the order of their stories. I even know the book titles!

King Stud  -  Loose Cannon  -  Same Love  -  Rock Solid  -  Queen Bee 

The problem is the writing. I can think of ways to make a series out of every book I've written, but I've never actually done it before. (So if you're looking for a post where some real experienced writer with seventeen series under her belt tells you exactly what to, sorry. I'll make it up to you. Promise.)

We've all read series where characters or events morph from one book to the next. You know, that, "wait a minute" feeling you get when something bumps you out of the story and you have to dig through the previous book to figure out if there's really an inconsistency or if you're just crazy.

Probably you're not crazy.

Rather than talk about How I've Done It Before, I came up with the top three things I'm fretting over as I approach writing the next book, and how I plan to deal with them. 

1. The Details

When I finished King Stud, I knew that Ryan's eyes were blue and Dani's were hazel/green and Ryan drove a black Ford F250 and Dani drove a white Mini Cooper. Those are pretty important details, but there were others - minor characters' names, dates in the timeline - that got a little bit foggy in the time between finishing the project and getting it published. And now that I'm starting book two? Foggier still. No one can keep it all in their head, so here are some strategies for maintaining continuity between books.

  • The series bible  I learned how to put together a series bible in a class by Lisa Wells through the Lawson Writing Academy. (Jump HERE to see the course description.) For my series bible, I'm using power point. I started with a list of all the main characters and another list of key locations. Each book has its own section, and each character has their own page(s). I've got notes about story lines that are particular to each book, and lines that cross over several books. I've got pictures of the characters, because I like to work from an image. My goal is to have as much information as possible in one place. 

The cover of my series bible for The Seattle O'Connors

  • Detailed character sketches  I know this kills the creativity for some people, but I like the character outline I use. It's basically something I cut and pasted together from a couple different authors' outlines, and it helps me get to know the characters as I write them. I save these sketches to my thumb drive in each book's folder, and put summarized versions in the series bible. If I know Maeve is going to feature in a scene in book three, but I haven't written her in a while, I can take a glance at her sketch to make sure I get it right. I can amend the doc as I go along, if I discover new things about the character, but the hard details - height, weight, eye color, basic personality traits - are preserved.

  • Consistent beta readers I know if lose track of something between the beginning of a book to the end, my beta readers call me on it, and I'm hopeful that a few of the people who read King Stud for me will be willing to take a look at the subsequent books. Hopefully. Right guys?

2. The Energy 

So how many times have you picked up the fifth book in a series and thought, "yeah, they shoulda quit at number four"? Because not every premise/character/theme can sustain an endless number of books. Once an author tosses a story out into the universe, it belongs to the readers, and their affection for the characters can motivate an author to keep writing. Authors love their characters, too, and that can keep them pushing past the freshness date.

So how am I going to sustain the energy for the five books I have in mind? There's a couple plot lines in King Stud that won't be entirely resolved until book five.  Each book will stand on its own, with storylines that reach a satisfying conclusion, and some lines will carry over two or even three books.I don't want to give the big ones away yet, but if I get it right, readers will keep coming back to see how it all works out.

And then, that's it. Finished. Done. I can see a couple possible novellas involving side characters, but there are only five O'Connor siblings, so when they each have a book, I'm on to the next project.

3. The Writing

And here's where the irrational terror sneaks in. I've done a fair amount of planning already. What if the characters insist on taking the story in a completely different direction? What if my ideas don't work? What if? What if? What if?


The only strategy I have to deal with this is simple. 


Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard. Get the words on the page. Which I'm going to start doing. Any minute. As soon as I'm done hyperventilating. 

I expect to learn and grow as a writer, so my approach to book five, Queen Bee, will be different than when I wrote King Stud. It's all a process, but in the end, I expect to be as happy as Johnny Karate down there. Family is important to me, and so is acceptance and open-mindedness. I've got four more books to explore how those themes work in the world of The O'Connor Family.

I know there's stuff I haven't thought  of yet, so if you know what you're doing with series writing, feel free to leave me ideas in the comments. Cheers!

If I've whetted your curiosity, here's a peek at King Stud's cover...

Buy Links's A LOT cheaper from Evernight...don't tell...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Mood of my Writing Zone

Everyone has a different comfort zone to write in.

A deathly-still library with towering shelves blocking out the world; glowering librarians and thick books instead of egg cartons to soundproof the library from the world.

A clean desk aimed at a window looking out at a lawn bordered with trees housing birds tweeting and chirping along in the background.

A plush armchair in [insert favourite coffee shop chain here] with the bustle of baristas filling up cups and the sounds of the people-watching smorgasbord of readers, browsers, other kinds of tweeters and gossipers going on around you.

None of these are my style.

My comfort zone to write in is my desk facing a once-blank wall covered in notes and maps. More importantly, my comfort zone is the music I pump out in the background to either energise me or block out the ordinary world or create the right mood to write in!

Here are the youtube playlists that keep me company while I write:

When I'm writing a story that needs some nostalgia for a younger me and remembering what being a teen felt like, I need the Britpop and Indie of my disappearing teens:
All that cocky angst channeled into my characters, I hope!

When I'm writing some background or building a landscape, I don't know why but I like to listen to some Bob Marley:
There's something about Marley that just makes me sit back and builds an atmosphere in his songs - just when I need to be building an atmosphere in my stories!!

When I'm writing some action or something dramatic, I love to listen to some orchestral original soundtracks without the distraction of lyrics:
Yes, yes, yes... Tolkien again, but there's something so deliciously moody about the swells of soundtracks for epics! Makes you want to write something dramatically epic to warrant someone creating some of that music for your tale!

When I'm done with a chapter, any music will do!
For the necessary happy dance!!!!!

When I'm done with the book!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Don't do what I do (or: The Truth about Tessa's Notebooks)

I don't know about you, but I'm kind of addicted to pretty notebooks.

Like, seriously.

My dad used to say (in fact, he still does) that I must have been a pencil or a pen in a former life, I like paper so much.

I have stacks and stacks of pretty notebooks in all sorts of sizes and colours and designs, some lined, some blank (not a fan of squared - too regimented for my pantser tastes). Now, there's nothing wrong with having notebooks, of course... but...well...

I have this tendency to start writing in my new favourite and then abandoning it for another, or having this bright idea of having one notebook for each of my endless array of plot bunnies, or any other variant of that writerly boogeyman, procrastination. Because all that occupation with the notebook stops me from doing what I should be doing: Buying some superglue and sticking myself to my desk chair so I actually have to sit there and WRITE.

Yes, that's right. WRITE. Because my writing has been sporadic (at best) the past few month, and this is not something I can recommend.

So don't do what I do. Don't get preoccupied with the shiny new notebook (or, Muse save you, trying to find the PERFECT notebook), don't bother trying to find the perfect word processing software, don't worry about whether your pen is blue or black or pink or just a pencil stub.

Because the basic recipe for being a writer?

Pen/Keyboard + Paper/Computer + Imagination + Butt-in-seat, and it's the last two that are most important.

The rest is just window dressing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Top Five Reasons Attending A National Writer's Conference is Worth it

With the annual RWA conference taking place this week, my mind has been on conferences. Last year, the RWA conference took place in San Antonio, where I was living, and after a great deal of struggle and soul searching, I registered and attended. I was unsure whether the high cost of attending would be worth it, and I was so glad I did in the end. This year, I am unable to afford to go, but I am a firm believer that if you can manage it, a big national writing conference is absolutely worth you while, and here are the top five reasons why. (The importance of these reasons shift rankings depending on where you are in your writing career, but all five were important to me and are likely to stay important as my writing career progresses.)

Number Five: You'll meet your people.

If you're a writer, you've experienced that moment where you tell someone you're a writer and they either
(a) back away slowly, mumbling something under their breath,
(b) tell you about how they would write a book if they had time,
(c) say that's nice, but what do you really do?

As writers, there's an immediate connection when you meet other writers. People who get it. They've fought sagging plots, writers block, the incredible vulnerability that comes from letting people read (and OMG, CRITICIZE) your writing. They know what it's like when a story won't leave you alone, and what its like when your characters abandon you mid-story.
They get it and that's worth so much.

Number Four: The Network

This touches on what number five is about, but it's more about meeting face to face, the people who you've known and connected with online. Writers tend to be scattered about, especially for writers living in non metropolitan areas. Conferences are a great place to meet the people you feel like you've known forever in real life.

Critique partners, agents or editors you've had dealings with, the folks from your online writers group are often at the big conferences, and they are there in part to meet you in person, and to network with you.

Number Three: The inspiration

This isn't just coming from me. I've experieinced this, but I've also heard it from so many writer friends.

There's a synergy that comes from getting hundreds of highly creative people together who are interested in writing and are talking about writing. Things happen. Plots start to bubble in your brain. You find yourself writing baby plot lines out on bar napkins. And some of those bubbles actually work.

Attending a well run, large conference can refresh your creative well, and give you new ideas to draw from. It can help you view old ideas in new ways. Conferences can be incredibly inspiring.

Number Two: the classes

The caliber of classes at a large national conference are amazing, as is the range of topics covered.

There's something for everyone.  Attending the classes I got to attend last year raised the level of my writing. I learned tools to help me learn to write better.

I learned tools to help me keep track of plotting, and character arcs. There's an incredible wealth of writing wisdom and  information out there, and a national writing conference is one of the very best ways to access that wisdom.

Number One:  Its the best place for first time authors to find an agent.

Don't take my word for it. Take Scott Hoffman's. The founding partner of Folio Literary Management had this to say about it:

"Particularly for first-time authors, there’s no better way to get to an agent than at a conference. Authors love one-on-one meetings with agents, but we know where the best writers can be found: at the bar. You think Hemingway would have given an elevator pitch at a 7:30 A.M. meet-the-agents session?"

So there you go. Five great reasons why a national conference is worth the time (and huge expense) of attending.

Friday, July 17, 2015

From Pantser to Plotter

Relentless Writer's EXCLUSIVE and world wide web debut!

Here for your viewing pleasure is my first ever SlideShare! :D
Click through the slides and delve deep into the wild world of plotting!
(You can maximize the slide display to up the wow factor ;)


In gratitude,
Marissa Campbell xo


Forthcoming debut novel by Marissa Campbell
Coming from St. Martin's Press, September 8, 2015!

Anglo-Saxon England. Ambition, lust, and betrayal weave their fateful threads through Avelynn’s destiny. Against the political back drop of Alfred the Great’s war against the Vikings, AVELYNN brings the Dark Ages to light and illuminates one woman’s struggle to fight for what she believes in.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

ROCK the CON: Pro Tips for Writers Conferences

(by Charlotte Levine Gruber, with Anna Davis)

Next week is the annual DFW Writers Conference. As Dallas area writers, Anna Davis and I thought we'd tackle pros and cons at the "Con."

Wrong kind of con, but still a great film.

My first professional writer’s conference was the DFW Con last year. I'd just completed the first draft of my first manuscript and made one (yes, one) weak polishing attempt. I had a writer friend to help break the ice. While my friend really helped my comfort level, it's often good to go without knowing anyone, forcing you to make new friends.

I've been to three conferences since, and have made several good friends. But the workshops—listening to other writers talk about what worked and what didn't—can help exponentially.

Generally, there are two tracks at conferences: 1) Classes on craft, publishing, and critiquing; and 2) Networking. Professional conferences are most effective when the writer can "work" both tracks. But for many writers, this is a step—or leap—outside of their comfort zone.

Anna and I have divided up tips for those who master track (1) and those who master track (2).

No, these are not the two tracks we want to master...

PRO TIP #1: Research classes ahead of time and plan accordingly.
While many writers are introverts, you'd be hard-pressed to find any of my friends or acquaintances who would call me shy. But at a conference? I'm all about the classes, the workshops, and the critiques. I'm planning my schedule now for the con that takes place in ten days.

Time spent researching the instructors is beneficial. Specific things I look for: publishing credentials, book sales, and genres. This research will help you decide which classes to attend, and will also help you prepare for each class so that you can get the most out of it.

Don't miss a class! Keep track of the schedule during the con.

PRO TIP #2: Use Twitter for Networking.
Here’s the deal: most of us writers just flat-out don’t like networking. We live in our heads because we like it there. But when you sign up for a conference, you’re paying a lot of money and taking time out of your normal schedule, and you don’t want to miss a huge benefit: MEETING OTHER WRITERS.

So in the interest of all that is good and holy about networking, take advantage of Anna's little-known conference secret: Use Twitter.

If you don’t have a Twitter app on your mobile device, GET ONE. Twitter is the business card of the digital age. It beats Facebook hands-down for speed networking situations like conferences and conventions.

If you have Twitter but don’t know how to use it, LEARN. You don’t have to be a Twitter expert. You just need to know how to follow people and how to look up a hashtag (like #DFWCon, for example). 

Knowing how to make lists would help, too. If you create a list for the conference ahead of time, you can easily add new contacts to that list throughout the con. When you go home, completely brain-dead and exhausted, you will have a record of who you met. You will also have a way to get in contact with them again. And you might even have their picture. Twitter is a mysterious and powerful type of networking magic.

Dazzling. Shocking. Twitter can be your best con strategy.

Twitter is a useful tool for all writers, but especially for introverts and others who might struggle with a slew of socially-challenging conditions (anxiety, ADHD, a hatred for small talk, etc.).

Plus, there’s nothing more fun than live-tweeting during a class, seeing someone else’s tweet about the same class (because you both hashtagged the conference and class name), and looking over to see that person with phone in hand, hunkered down, sharing the same experience online but not especially comfortable in social situations. Like you.

Writers: Twitter can be your best #networking tool ever. #GetTwitterNow #IntrovertsUnite #ConTips 

Friday, July 10, 2015

What's In A Character?

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you've all recovered from the long weekend.

For those of you who have been following my own personal writing, you know that I've been re-writing my Robin Hood/Sleeping Beauty retelling. Going back to look at something I wrote almost five years ago has forced me to re-evaluate one critical aspect of my manuscript. My characters.

Character's are hard. It's difficult to come up with different characters that have different personalities and various characteristics. It also brings up the question, where do your characters come from?

I'll admit that a lot of my female characters come from me. I know myself best and writing the way that I would react to things is much easier than trying to understand how someone else would react. Some of my inspiration comes from people around me. My sister heavily influenced my writing of Jezebel, Robyn Hood's adopted sister, in my retelling. I take a lot of aspects of my husband and his personality for Briar, the Sleeping Beauty character, but they aren't the only places that my characters have come from.

Here is a list of influence for different characters in my current manuscripts.


For Robyn I wanted a character who was strong, like Katniss Everdeen, but loyal and heroic like Robin Hood himself, particularly from Once Upon A Time.


Since my Robin Hood character is female and somewhat like Katniss, I chose to have my male Sleeping Beauty character much like Peeta. Not weak, but more laid back. I'm also huge on anime, so a lot of his characteristics came from anime drawings I enjoy. I also drew from Hook from Once Upon A Time, because, I mean, Hook.


My other MS is a Utopian fantasy where the world no longer battles with weaponry, but video game styled avatars. Takeshi is the male lead in that MS and I have to admit that I'm a bit of a Japanophile. I love anime and I've been fascinated with Japan since my pre-teen years. Those influences played heavily into making my male character Japanese. Although my choice of characteristics came from T.O.P. from BigBang who happens to be Korean. I also Adore Ikuta Toma because he's adorable.

Characters can come from anywhere from the people you interact with day to day to characters you watch on TV to celebrities. 

Where do your character influences come from? 

Monday, July 6, 2015


My vacation for this summer had already been decided last year. A trip to a military base to watch my daughter celebrate her passage through boot camp became a necessity and everything else took second place. As an avid outdoor enthusiast and a writer this vacation would serve multiple purposes, I determined.
Planning Ahead
Excited to break into a new genre, I goggled ‘expert tips on travel writing’ and printed a few out before my long drive to Montgomery, Alabama.  Visions of farms, mountains, and country folk doing a whole lot of front-porch swirled on my mind, so a suburbanite like me needed to capture that laid back feel, which would require unplugging from constant Wi-Fi.  With a little initial pain the laptop got left behind in favor of yellow lined paper and some small notes on the back of maps.  With extra paper, a small duffel bag for four days of clothes and dried fruit snacks with nuts, I headed for the dirt roads west and south of Baltimore.
Purpose of Trip
This became more than a long drive to support my daughter. More like a quest to show myself that I still had my adventurous spirit buried somewhere under stress, my ability to find my way through a hole in a needle and quite honestly – I needed a long drive to clear my head.  Driving had always been therapeutic for me and I needed therapy in the worst way!
Never mind the southern heat. Already trekking a steady path through my own Hades on earth, what would it kill me to endure some heat in the good ole south for a few days? I took the long way on purpose.  I’ve seen the common Route 95, which is a shorter distance but I willed to simply wing it on small roads along the way.  My inner-compass always points to the scenic routes and surprises and real people.   

By the time I reached Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, the once weary spirit within felt as rejuvenated as the forested state.  At a rest stop I started taking notes about the difficulty of grappling my steering wheel off route 70 and turn south on 81.  I looked at my ‘travel writing notes’, shook my head, and went inside the visitor center for a state map, feeding the ‘expert travel writing notes’ into a trash can.


From here on in, this journal would be from the heart. (No GPS used until Montgomery city limits.)

In four days I covered 2200 miles, a round trip through 8 states. (No energy drinks consumed besides coffee or coke either!) As I reached each state line I added a new map to my collection, some coupon books, water and a deep breath of new air.  The closer I came to Alabama a more noticeable change in my attitude and peace I achieved. 


Social Media Marketing

After reading about some small places to visit, some of them I imagined would be awesome were (at best) unimpressive.  And vice versa - for places that didn’t call out to me at the starting line were surprisingly wonderful.  Except the Great Smoky Mountains – that was the exemplary star along the way. I became wonderfully lost and added five hours of driving time that day,  with no regrets. 


My phone memory quickly filled up with pictures and Facebook blurbs about Gatlinburg, Newfound Gap, Cherokee, Nantahala Mountain valley, Georgian corn and peach farms in the afternoon sun along the original Trail of Tears, and Alabama’s golden sunset at Cedar Bluff.  I reached my destination way past bedtime - exhausted, enlightened, satisfied, and shared. (now you are seeing it here).


Several Articles From One Trip

The next day landed top 5 in life experiences – the whole day!  My goal was to arrive safe and cheer my daughter as she marched in the graduation parade for AF ROTC field training.  In a sea of blue uniforms, our finest young brave cadets pledged to protect their land and people.  Ding! I reached the one of my proudest moments as a mother, and then assigned a new mission of fulfilling my cadet’s request for Mom’s Famous Baked Macaroni & Cheese for her when she came home. Life was on again!  I wrote about my daughter’s decision and sacrifice she made to join and submitted it upon return. And a more personal account posted on, my own blog.


Acceptance of Diversity and Changes

It seems when we are running from something (even if just taking a break) the journey is usually a lot more enjoyable and satisfying.  The first night driving back was the exception on this trip.  After a long shower and a short rest, I reached Chattanooga, TN before sunset munching on boiled peanuts and drinking Mellow Yellow.


Another thing I love about inner compass driving is finding those beaten-path hidden places that you swear were waiting for you!   On a whim, and with the sun still another 60 min. before setting over Chattanooga City and the Dam, I took an exit to try and glimpse Ruby Falls in the hills nearby.  The admissions office just closed when I reached it, but I kept going uphill anyway, discovering a quiet upscale residential paradise, a train depot for touring the mountain, scenic lookouts over TN/GA states, and a bed & breakfast with a convenient ‘vacancy’ sign meant just for me!  



Synchronicity at its finest!  I expected a cheap hotel chain room that evening so finding this garden amongst whimsical Georgian Victorian proved a sleepy traveler’s paradise.   So reasonably priced too, and I could not resist a restful sleep in a posh cottage of my own!  Booked.  Mine.


Too amazed to sleep at first, I spent a couple more hours on a second wind taking pictures and walking around and writing.  It would also be an insult not to enjoy the china cup of peach herbal tea in my room.  The hidden treasures and tiny charming details lasted through the morning and my breakfast on a veranda amidst bird baths and fountains. 


Lessons Learned From The Trip

I hated to leave but did I feel like my life sat quietly waiting in New Jersey to suck me back in?  No.  Responsibilities were back there.
Life was here, finding it and living it on a whim on the road. 

The most satisfying revelation - I still had a long distance drive endurance, befriending quirky and loveable people is still fun, and the knowledge of using real (now antique) road maps, my original and still preferred GPS. 


Angle of Story

So far three articles came out of this trip, with another in the makes. And they are all different. Oh, the articles I read and threw out were informative, listing these as important virtues for good travel writing: purpose of trip; angle of story; planning ahead; writing several articles off one trip; social media marketing; acceptance of diversity and changes; what I took from the places I visited; how did it affect me. 


I went. I saw. I shared. Got it. All good stuff. Sharing the trip in words and pictures to virtually put a reader there in the passenger seat and keep them excited enough to go there based on your experiences is the REAL mission in traveling writing. 

Until next trip report, visit my other FB page, Get Your Hide Outside.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Dreaded Black Snack-hole

Happy July 1st!

Alright, so this post today is going to be a little less writing and a bit of my other favorite past time, food. A lot of it has to do with a phase I'm going through at the moment, for you see I am a snacker.

And I'm sure you're all thinking, so? We're all snackers to some extent. Well, I'm hoping to improve my snacking life. You see, after my third pregnancy I got addicted to sugar. Don't laugh. It was the only pregnancy I had where I craved sugar. The first I craved pizza and buffalo wings. The second pork rinds (don't judge), but my third all I wanted was junk. Reese's dipped in whipped cream (this is a thing. I promise). Or popcorn dunked in hot chocolate, milk shakes or whipped cream (again, this is a thing. One of my favorite things. I need popcorn.). Even what my family has dubbed as slammers which consists of popcorn, or Doritos (my dad's favorite) eaten together with your candy of choice whether it be Butterfingers, Reese's or my personal favorite peanut butter M&M's.

My baby is now five years old I'm still snacking on junk food. And gaining weight. And the problem is, I snack while I write. Stuck on a plot point? Grab a snack. Hit a wall? Grab a snack. Made it through page one? Grab a snack. The list goes on and on.

I love food. I'm the self proclaimed queen of copy-cat recipes. Want to make Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana? I have a recipe for that. Texas Roadhouse rolls? Yup, and I can even make the butter. Costco's Bistro Scalloped Potatoes? Got you covered with the best recipe ever. I went so far as to find a pretty darn good recipe for Pizza Hut Pizza dough. But the problem with all of these recipes is that none of them help me when I'm in the mood to just grab a handful of something to stuff my face while I'm writing. And don't get me started on just not eating because that's a whole other topic completely.

What I'm hoping to do today, and I'm hoping that some of you will help, is to find snack recipes that I can eat while I write and still remain somewhat healthy and not on a sugar high. And so, I present The Writer's Snack Cave, (I believe it's next door to the writer's cave.).

1. Hot Chocolate with Vanilla creamer

This one is pretty self explanatory and sometimes a kick of hot chocolate does the trick. Just mix hot chocolate with French Vanilla coffee creamer. Ta-da!

2. Strawberries and Whipped Cream

Whipped cream in a can is not nearly as fattening as whipped cream in a tub. Simply cut the end of the strawberry and spray some whipped cream in there.

3. Tortilla Wrap

I love to make these when we're going out of town or on a picnic because the medallions are easy for the kids to eat and not super messy. I like to take a tortilla and spread ranch across. I'm a big meat eater so I like a mixture of turkey, ham and roast beef topped with American cheese. Add lettuce and tomatoes, roll and cut into medallions. Easy for snacking.

4. Fruit Cones

Waffle cones are the greatest thing ever. Add fruit into the waffle cone and you've got a satisfying sweet snack. Add chocolate chips (or peanut butter or butterscotch) mini marshmallows, fruit, wrap in foil and place in an oven or over a camp fire and you've got the best s'mores ever.

5. Veggie Confetti Dip

Now, this recipe I found on the The Nourishing Home website. I love cheese and crackers, and while I haven't tried this yet, it's on my list of things to eat.
  • 4 oz homemade yogurt cheese (or cultured cream cheese)
  • 1/4 cup each of your 4-5 favorite raw veggies (see suggestions below)
  • 1/4 tsp of Celtic sea salt
  • Pinch each of dried parsley and dill weed
  1. In a medium bowl, add homemade yogurt cheese (or cream cheese), salt and seasonings. Use a fork to mix well to combine.
  2. Finely dice ¼ cup of your favorite raw veggies such as carrot, broccoli, celery, green onion, zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, etc. (I do not recommend using cucumber, unless you lightly salt it and let it sit in a colander for at least an hour to drain. Otherwise, it will make your cheese spread soggy.)
  3. Add finely diced veggies to the seasoned soft cheese and use a fork to mix together until well incorporated.
  4. Line a small glass bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap and add the veggie-cheese mixture to the bowl. Place in fridge at least one hour (or overnight) to harden.
  5. When ready to serve, remove from fridge and place flat side down on serving platter. Gently remove plastic wrap. Serve with your favorite crackers.

6. Chips and French Onion Dip

I'm sure some of you are wondering about this because you can buy containers of dip in the dairy section, but my family makes a homemade dip with cottage cheese that I simply can't get enough of. Take a container of cottage cheese, I prefer the larger curds but use whatever you like, and mix in a packet of French Onion Soup. The powdered soups are usually with the regular soups. Dip your favorite chips. Easy and addictive.

7. Spinach Dip

Down the same aisle with the French Onion soup packets is a Knorr spinach dip packet with vegetables. Mix with mayo and sour cream and you've got spinach dip. I prefer French or Italian bread to dip in it, but some people like tortilla chips. 

Of course you can always go with the tried and true past times, hummus and crackers, plain fruit, granola bars, etc., but I'm always on the look out for something I can do myself. Got a favorite writing snack? Share in the comments!