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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Upon Request--Sauerkraut Balls!

After posting on FB and Twitter about making Sauerkraut Balls, some people have asked what they are and how to make them, so here's the recipe!

Sauerkraut Balls

1/4 c. butter or margarine
1 c. onion, chopped
2 c. ham, trimmed and ground (I use my grandmother's meat grinder)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 c. cold water
1/4 c. flour
3+ c. sauerkraut, drained and chopped (I use Willie's brand that comes in a bag)
1 Tbsp. parsley
flour
plain bread crumbs
1 egg
3/4 c. milk

Melt butter in a large pot. Add onion and cook until carmelized (about 12-15 minutes). Stir in ham and garlic powder. Combine water and flour. Add to pot and mix well. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in sauerkraut and parsley. Cook and stir 8-10 minutes until sauerkraut is tender. Cool completely.

Prepare one dish with about a cup of flour, one dish with about a cup of plain bread crumbs, and one dish with a beaten egg mixed with about 3/4 cup of milk.

Scoop about a tablespoon of cooled sauerkraut/ham mixture and form into a ball. Coat with flour. Dip in egg wash. Then coat with bread crumbs. I recommend handwashing after every dozen or so sauerkraut balls to prevent them from sticking to fingers. Refrigerate at least one hour.

Pour about 2 inches of canola oil in a large saucepan or fryer. Preheat to 375 degrees. Fry sauerkraut balls a few at a time until browned (about 1-2 minutes). Drain on paper towels. Reheat in 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes. Makes about 5 dozen.

Enjoy!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Writing Tip Wednesday--Showing vs. Telling

Showing vs. Telling. Almost every writer has heard or read about it on an editor's blog, an agent's tweet, a critique partner's comments, etc., but what does it mean?

We, as writers, are called storytellers--however, if we do a good job of showing our stories, the reader empathizes with the characters. That's one of my goals. I avoid "filter" words since they tend to distance the reader from the character and the story. Some common filter words are forms of feel, see/watch, hear, know, smell, and think. Yes, the senses.

Which of these examples gives a better connection to the character?

1) Jane heard the pitter-patter of feet behind her in the dark.
2) The pitter-patter of feet behind her warned Jane that she wasn't alone in the dark.

3) Callum watched the enemy approach from his lookout high in the trees.
4) The enemy's approach came as no surprise to Callum from his lookout high in the trees.

5) She felt his arms close around her and knew she was in big trouble.
6) Strong, masculine arms closed around her. She was in big trouble.

7) He could smell the flowery scent of her soap as he pressed closer.
8) The faint scent of flowers teased his nose as he pressed closer. Had she used his sister's soap when she bathed?

9) She thought he might kiss her, but he released her.
10) Was he going to kiss her? His sudden release brought a mix of relief and disappointment.

Do you see the difference? The second sentence in each set shows rather than tells, giving the reader a more vicarious experience. Showing also provides the writer with the opportunity to expand description, vary sentence structure, and add to word count. Find the right balance to show your story.

Next up--The dreaded adverb!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Giveaway!

Want a free book? Leave your name and e-mail address in the comments section between now and 6 pm EST December 25th for a chance to win your choice of one of my e-books!

Good Luck and Happy Holidays!!!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Writing Tip Wednesday--POV Glitches

Yes, I'm STILL talking about point of view. This topic covers a lot of territory, and POV glitches are one area that's often overlooked.

What is a POV glitch???

Going back to last week's blog on Headhopping vs. Transitions, we saw that each character has his/her own section of a scene. The POV shouldn't bounce back and forth from one paragraph to the next. Instead, we shift point of view partway through the scene with a clear transition. We can show both character's actions--but not through both character's POVs. These actions must be seen and written through one POV. When this character shows things that can only be "known" by the other person, you have a POV glitch.

Here's an example of a POV glitch (with Callum and Jane):

***Callum scooped the last bite of stew, praying his unpredictable captive hadn't poisoned the whole damned lot. The handful of men who'd joined him didn't deserve to pay for his mistake--and stealing Lady Jane Eastwood out from under her escorts' noses had been a huge miscalculation.
***Plunking the pot on the table, she scowled at him. "More stew, Laird and Master Callum?"
***Her gaze drifted to the kitchen door, and he couldn't help but wonder again if she'd managed to sneak any of her "seasoning" into the remainder of his supper in order to aid an escape attempt.

Can you spot the POV glitch? Take a look at the last paragraph. Can Callum know for certain that Jane is looking at the entrance to the kitchen? No, he can't (unless he can see through her eyes).

Here's one way to correct the problem:

***Callum scooped the last bite of stew, praying his unpredictable captive hadn't poisoned the whole damned lot. The handful of men who'd joined him didn't deserve to pay for his mistake--and stealing Lady Jane Eastwood out from under her escort's noses had been a huge miscalculation.
***Plunking the pot on the table, she scowled at him. "More stew?"
***Her gaze drifted toward the kitchen door, and he couldn't help but wonder again if she'd managed to sneak any of her "seasoning" into the remainder of his supper in order to aid an escape attempt.

Note the change from "to" to "toward" in the last paragraph. Callum can see the general direction her gaze takes without knowing what she's actually looking at. Another possible solution is to add "seemed to" and change "drifted" to "drift" after "Her gaze" in the POV glitch version.

Remember that the POV character can't see/feel/taste what another character sees/feels/tastes or know what another character is thinking. He/she can only imagine or guess. Be your point of view character and STAY in his/her head until the end of that POV.

I'll delve into Showing vs. Telling next week!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

At B&N!

Bound by Voodoo is now available at B&N!!! Beyond Bewitching should be there soon!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Writing Tip Wednesday--Headhopping vs. Transitions

You've chosen to write your manuscript in third-person POV, using your two main characters to show the story. Just as the book is divided into chapters and chapters are split into scenes, the scenes are divided by scene breaks.

What happens if you want to change point of view within a scene??? Should you simply jump from one character's head into the other's and back again?

This is one of the most common problems I see when judging contest entries. Jumping from one POV to another POV and back again over and over in a single scene is called headhopping. Not only does the reader get confused from trying to figure out which character is in charge of the scene, any good editor/critique partner/contest judge will insist on a rewrite to fix the problem.

Here's an example of headhopping (*** denotes new paragraph since Blogger won't let me indent):

***Jane sprinkled the crushed leaves into the bowl of stew, glancing toward the great hall to be sure she wasn't caught trying to poison her captor. She didn't intend to kill him, only send him to the privy for a few hours. Then she'd have a chance to escape.
***From his hiding place outside, Callum peered into the window, shaking his head at his prisoner's ingenuity. She was trying to kill him.
***Not one to beat bushes, he strode into the kitchen. "What didya put in meh stew, lass?"
***Jane's heart leapt to her throat at the sudden appearance of her victim. "Why...just a bit of...seasoning, my lord."
***Would he believe her lie?
***Callum snorted and pointed to the bowl. He didn't trust her any more than he did the bloody King of England. "Laird, not lord. And I dunna like too much seasonin'. Taste it."
***"Oh, dear. I'm feeling a bit ill." Pretending to loose her balance, Jane shoved the stew off the table and onto the floor.


The scene switches from Jane's POV in the first paragraph to Callum's in the second and third. In the fourth and fifth, we're back to Jane, and then to Callum in the sixth, and finally we end with Jane. Did I give you whiplash???

Here's the same scene--rewritten to include a POV transition instead of headhopping:

***Jane sprinkled the crushed leaves into the bowl of stew, glancing toward the great hall to be sure she wasn't caught trying to poison her captor. She didn't intend to kill him, only send him to the privy for a few hours. Then she'd have a chance to escape.
***Heavy footsteps came from behind her, and the sudden appearance of her victim sent her heart leaping to her throat.
***The tall, broad Scot narrowed his eyes at her. "What didya put in meh stew, lass?"
***"Why...just a bit of...seasoning, my lord."
***Would he believe her lie?

***Callum snorted and pointed to the bowl. He didn't trust his visitor any more than he did the bloody King of England. "Laird, not lord. And I dunna like too much seasonin'. Taste it."
***"Oh, dear. I'm feeling a bit ill." The color drained from Jane's flushed face. Reaching for the table, she conveniently shoved the stew onto the floor.


Each character has his/her own section of the scene. I've double-spaced to show the transition from her point of view to his, but this can be done without the extra spacing. Some publishers prefer a POV break (either extra space or *** like a scene break) to an uninterrupted continuation of the scene. In any case, the transition should be clear, with no doubt about who the POV character is.

Next week, we'll take a look at POV glitches! Until then--Write, write, write!!!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Authorgraph

All my books are now available for signing at Authorgraph!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sharing on Retro Release!

The Sextet Anthologies Volume 1: Sharing is a Retro Release today at Siren! Get it for 50% off until January 4, 2013!!!
Happy Reading :)

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Writing Tip Wednesday--POV Choice

You know what first, third, and omniscient POV are from last week's post. Let's talk about how to decide which POV type to choose and who gets to show which scenes in third person.

How to choose between first and third--
You have an awesome idea for a story. Your character(s) is(are) starting to drive you crazy, yakking away in your head at all hours of the day and night.

Does the story focus on one person's journey? Will the plot develop fully in only that person's point of view? Does more than a single character need to show his/her perspective to keep the reader involved in the storyline and reveal important information?

If you choose first person, remember that you have to stay in the "I" point of view for the entire manuscript. You are the character. Other characters' reactions, emotions, and thoughts have to be revealed through dialogue exposition, a diary, letters, etc. "I" can't know what's going on in someone else's mind (unless I'm a mind reader/empath/clairvoyant). Will this work to effectively tell your story?

If you choose third person, you can show different perspectives on the same event, issue, etc. This doesn't mean every character should get to have a scene in his/her POV. Stick to the main characters, limiting the number of POVs to avoid confusing the reader. Each scene focuses on that person's showing of the story. Don't mix POVs. **More about headhopping and POV transitions next week.**

How to choose who gets the scene in third--
You've chosen to write in third-person point of view, with the two main characters showing the story. Whose POV should you use for each scene?

To engage the reader, decide which person is most at risk or has the most to lose in the scene. Does the character have to fall victim to the danger or actually lose? No. The point is to build tension and move the plot along at a good pace. Make the reader have a difficult time setting down the book or stopping at the end of the scene.

Sometimes, both characters are equally challenged. In this case, you have a decision to make. Is the story about one person more than the other? Do you have a good balance of one POV vs. the other? Can you add the non-POV character's emotions and thoughts through dialogue or in a later scene?

Most of the time, the choice will be clear. If you're completely baffled, try writing the scene from both POVs to see which is better at conveying the action/conflict. You might also ask "Is the scene necessary to the development of the characters/story?"

That's all for today! Next week, POV continues with Headhopping vs. Transitions.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On B&N!

Bewitching Desires Volume 4 is now available on B&N!!! I'll post the links when Bound by Voodoo and Beyond Bewitching show up there!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

On Amazon!!!

I guess I should've said 4-6 hours...

Bewitching Desires Volume 4 popped up on Amazon already!!!
Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!