No Stress Vegetarian Quesadillas

So, I’ve been super stressed out lately – not in an anxiety way, but more of a “Oh My Freaking Word I have no time” way.

Which is never fun. So I needed a really fast vegetarian recipe that didn’t have:

  1. Spinach
  2. Avocado
  3. Tomatoes

Why? Because Mr. Meat Lover hates those things. Me? I love them, but whatever.

So… I decided to make corn and black bean quesadillas. It’s quick.

The end.

 

Corn and Black Bean Quesadillas of No Stress

For the stressed-out writer with no time

Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine American, Mexican, tex-mex
Keyword black bean, corn, quesadilla
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 370 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 4 TBSP onion diced
  • 1 can black beans 15 oz or so, drained
  • 1 can whole corn drain this bad boy, too
  • 1 TBSP brown sugar yum
  • .25 cup salsa pretend salsa isn't made from tomatoes
  • 2 TBSP butter split in half
  • 8 8-inch flour tortillas
  • 1.5 cup shredded cheese cheddar, jack or a mix

Instructions

  1. Writer, you have no time. I get it. Big breath. Get read to cook


  2. Get saucepan. Do not drop it because of nerves. It is okay. 

    Put burner on medium.

    Pour oil into saucepan.

    Step back.  

  3. You can do this. You have deadlines. You have kids. You have pets. You have yourself and life is moving too fast but it is totally okay, writer.

    Stir in onion.

    It takes about 2 minutes to soften.

    No. Two minutes is NOT too much time.

    Calm down.


  4. See? Two minutes have passed. 

    Stir in corn.

    Stir in beans.

    Stir in sugar, salsa, and pepper flakes if you feel like them. Like 1/4 tsp.

    Curse me out for not putting that in the directions.

    Cook for 3 minutes, which is how long it takes to heat.

    THREE MINUTES IS NOT TOO MUCH TIME! AUTHOR! CALM DOWN!

  5. Yes,  you're write. Yelling at you doesn't help. You have frayed nerves. You have emotion. You have deadlines. 

    Repeat after me, "It will all be okay. It will all be okay."

    Get a big skillet. Put on medium heat. Melt a little of the butter in there. 


  6. Put a tortilla in the skillet.

    Sprinkle cheese over it.

    Top with bean mix from other pan.

    Put tortilla on top.

    Cook until it's a nice gold, like a medal you will win for your writing. It is even round like a medallion! Wow quesadillas are awesome.

    Once it is gold on one side, flip it, cook until it is GOLD on both sides.

    Do this for all the tortillas. You may need more butter.

    But you did it, writer, no stress! 

 

Man Verdict: I love this. Salsa does not count as tomatoes

Dog Verdict: Yum

Carrie Verdict: Salsa is MADE of tomatoes usually.

WRITING NEWS

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page on my website carriejonesbooks.blog.  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

Write! Submit! Support! Begins Again in July!

There is a quick webinar (free) on Tuesday about the Write! Submit! Support! class that was created at the Writing Barn in Austin. You can sign up for that here.

It’s not easy to create a thriving writing career in the children’s industry, but what if you didn’t have to do it alone? Write. Submit. Support is a six-month program designed by author and Writing Barn Founder Bethany Hegedus. Classes are led by top creatives in the children’s industry field; they’ll give you the tips and tools you need to take both your manuscripts and your developing career to the next level. Think of it as an MFA in craft with a certificate in discovering (or recovering) your writer joy! – Writing Barn 

And more about the class I specifically teach? It is right here.

Here is what current students are saying:

Carrie is all strengths. Seriously. She’s compassionate, funny, zesty, zany, insightful, honest, nurturing, sharp, and…Wow, that’s a lot of adjectives. But really, I couldn’t praise Carrie enough as a mentor. I’ve long respected her writing, but being talented at something doesn’t automatically mean you will be a great mentor. Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching. Aside from the specific feedback she offers, she also writes letters in response to the process letter and analyses. These letters have been so impactful for me as I writer that I plan to print them and hang them up. Creepy? Maybe. But they are so inspiring. And that, in the most long-winded way possible, is how I would summarize Carrie as a mentor—inspiring.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People

And finally, the podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

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Cooking With a Writer Squash Me Up Soup Recipe

In order to make a good book, a break-out novel, you have to have inherent conflict, opposing forces that both want something.

This is my house.

I want to not eat meat.

Everyone else wants to eat meat. I think it’s wasteful to make separate meals all the time (no-meat, meat).

So, like any good protagonist, I’m attempting to convince Shaun and the dogs to eat vegetarian meals. But, I am easily bored so I give the recipes a humorous writer-twist. And that brings us to this squishy squash soup recipe that I made this week. It was creamy and delightful and you can add things to it like cilantro!

Gabby hated it so much she resorted to eating licking the comforter.
Gabby hated it so much she resorted to eating licking the comforter.

Squash Me Up Soup Recipe

It's squash. It's soup. It's creamy. It's orange. That's got to be good, right? 

Course dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword recipe squash soup
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Additional Time 13 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 Shauns
Calories 240 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP Unsalted butter
  • 1 Leek all chopped up
  • 1 Butternut Squash 3 - 4 pounds, cube it up
  • .25 tsp nutmeg
  • .5 tsp black petter
  • 4 tbsp sherry More if you just got rejected
  • 3 cup vegetarian stock
  • 1 cup milk the full-on fat kind because you are a starving writer
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • sherry vinegar to taste
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Find a medium stock pot and melt the butter in a medium stockpot. Turn it on medium-lowish heat. Feel like this is how your book feels - sort of mid-list, sort of squishy. Ponder with angst. 

  2. Once the butter is melted, stop staring at it and put the leeks in there.

    They have to sweat.

    So do you, right? Writing is sweat for the heart, grit for the soul, an endurance sport.

  3. Stir it once in a while. That's how your agent responds to you, right? Once in awhile. Stir until the leeks are soft but not brown.

    This takes about 5 minutes.

    This is much quicker than anything in the publishing world. 

    Except mean tweets.  Mean tweets are fast. 

  4. This looks kind of cool. Admire the leeks. How your book is like them. Good smelling, soft yet not burnt. 

  5. Add the squash, nutmeg, pepper, and some salt.

    Stir it around once in awhile for another 5 minutes. 

  6. Add the sherry.

    For the next 2-3 minutes let the sherry hang out in there. 

    If it is not against your religion, drink sherry straight from the bottle. That's just what happens when there is nobody helping you cook.

    Do not judge yourself. That's what reviewers are for.


  7. Add enough stock to barely cover the vegetables. 

    This is sort of like the publicity budget for your book - just enough to cover the basics.

    Drink more sherry. Wipe it off your chin. 

  8. Okay. It's breakout novel ... I mean ... soup... time. 

    Turn the heat to high. Make it boil.

    Feel satisfied. That's success right there. 

    Now reduce the heat to a simmer. Control that simmer like you control your readers' emotions and keep it there for 20 minutes.

    The squash should be fork tender like your readers' hearts. 

  9. Add milk.

    Add the 2 tablespoons cream. 

  10. Blend until smooth. 

    This is scary because it is hot so be careful. If you are using a regular blender and not an immersion blender DO NOT TRY TO DO IT ALL AT ONCE! This is like a manuscript. You can't just throw it all in there for two seconds and call it good. There are steps to blending just like there are steps to revision. 

  11. Add however much salt, pepper, sherry, and sherry vinegar you need to make it taste good.

    If it seems bland go raid the spice rack and add cumin or curry or open the fridge and squeeze some hot sauce in there - a TB or more to taste.

  12. Once it is in the bowl, put cream on top so it seems fancy. 

Dog Verdict: WHERE IS THE BACON?

Man Verdict: This would be better with bacon, honestly

Carrie Verdict: Cilantro is the new bacon!

https://carriejonesbooks.bloghttps://carriejonesbooks.blog
Cooking With a Writer

WRITING NEWS

I’m on WERU today, Thursday, at 10 a.m. EST. You can call in and ask me stuff. I’ll be talking about writing and books. The link is here. 

TIME STOPPERS THE MIDDLE GRADE SERIES OF AWESOME

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People

And finally, the podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs

Cooking With A Writer Pasta with Broccoli

Okay.

Let’s be honest.

I picked this recipe because I thought it might be cheap and I, my friends, am a writer and I used to be a journalist and we are almost always cheap.

What I failed to notice is that almonds are expensive.

I splurged and made it anyways.

As writers we’re always hoping to provide the right mix of elements in our story – a strong main character (protagonist), an awesome plot to hold it all together, a theme. And I was like – LOOK AT THIS RECIPE! Maybe the almonds are the surprise that will be the breakthrough element that makes this story/recipe fantastic! I will buy them. Look at me splurge!

The broccoli is totally meant to be the hero here and the pasta is the plot and the sauce, which isn’t actually a sauce, is like the theme, tiny bits of bread crumbs and almonds and olives holding it all together, making it all resonate.

But, it didn’t work that way for me.

It was like a not-quite-good story where all the elements are there, but… it just didn’t pop. Shaun, the husband, and star of the podcast “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” found this glee worthy.

Shaun: We are doing this because you are the former vegetarian trying to convince me, Captain Meat, that vegetarian cooking is awesome.

Me: Yeah. You just called yourself Captain Meat. You know that, right?

Shaun: Whatever. The point is that  you are the one who didn’t like the last two recipes and I loved them.

Me:

Shaun begins dancing merrily around the kitchen like a 6-6 hobbit.

Me: Um.

Shaun continues dancing.

Me: That means my plan is working, right. YOU are the one loving them.

Shaun: 

Me: 

Shaun: Oh.

Pasta with Broccoli

This is a modified recipe, heavily inspired by Truly Madly Pasta. The calorie count is TOTALLY an estimate. The portion size is for four Carries or two Shauns. Yes, Shaun is my husband's name. He eats a lot. 

Course entree
Cuisine vegetarian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people or 2 Shauns
Calories 280 kcal

Ingredients

  • 14 oz short macaroni Ditali is its official name; it does not exist at my grocery store
  • 26 oz broccoli
  • 4 oz green olives that lack pits
  • 4 TBS olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic all chopped up
  • 2/3 cup almonds blanched and magically ground
  • 6 TBS bread crumbs toasted recently
  • whatever seriously parmesan cheese to taste is a nicer way to say 'whatever'
  • to taste agan olive oil extra virgin because it's getting sacrificed

Instructions

  1. Put a burner on HIGH heat. Put water in a big pot that can hold the pasta. Boil the water. Add pasta. Add salt to boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes or al dente. 

  2. Do not let the water boil over. This makes a big mess. Do not let anyone else be in charge of the boiling water. This is your story... I mean water. You own this. You get to be in charge. 

  3. Step away. Let someone else be in charge. Water boils over and makes a huge mess. Realize this is what it's like to give up control of your manuscript. Cry. Clean up the mess with your tears. 


  4. While you are crying and the pasta is boiling, steam broccoli for six minutes. Do this in a different pot! Sing the "Chopping Broccoli" song from old SNL. Feel a bit better. 

  5. Chop olives while all this other stuff is happening. Think about how good books come from having multiple elements weaving together. Decide that the pasta is the plot. The broccoli is the characters. The olives are... um.... What are olives, really? 

  6. Heat olive oil in pan, a frying pan. Add garlic. Cook one minute. DO THIS GENTLY! Add olives and ground olives. Add a TB or more of water randomly. Take it out of the pasta pot if you can. It is better for sticking, plus less wasting of water. 

  7. Feel good about how eco-friendly you are. Gloat. 

  8. Drain the pasta. Try not to think about the water. 

  9. Mix the pasta, the broccoli , the olive/almonds/garlic mix, the bread crumbs. Drizzle extra oil on top. Bring out the cheese. 

Dog Verdict: We liked it!

Man Verdict: I loved it!

Carrie Verdict: Um…. yeah…. Are there red pepper flakes anywhere?

https://carriejonesbooks.bloghttps://carriejonesbooks.blog
Cooking With a Writer

WRITING NEWS

TIME STOPPERS THE MIDDLE GRADE SERIES OF AWESOME

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

 

And finally, the podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs

Black Bean Burgers and Murky Middles

One of my favorite things to get at one of our local restaurants has always been a black bean burger that they made on site.

It fell apart.

It was huge.

It was delicious heaven of black bean awesomeness and it was THE THING I always ordered whenever I got take-out. I looked forward to it SO MUCH.

So… yeah….

The restaurant stopped making it and replaced it with a quinoa burger.

I get it. Quinoa is trendy. It is happy. It is hipper than the black bean. These things happen and I could not buy enough black bean burgers to validate the restaurant keeping it on the menu. A woman can only eat so many black bean burgers.

But… but… it made a bit of a panic.

Because something I loved was just… it was just gone. And I don’t know about you all, but I tend to make the meals that everyone else around me like so much so that I almost have forgotten what food it is that I really like, you know? This black bean burger was the one thing that I would always order and love and enjoy for me.

And it was forever gone.

But the man is cool and he wanted to fix my despair because he is nice like that.

And the man now makes me black bean burgers. And he even doesn’t even complain that there is no meat inside them, which is really saying something, honestly.

Cooking with a Writer Black Bean Burger Recipe
Yum

Black Bean Burgers of Structure


Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 198 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 16-oz black beans DRAIN THEM AND RINSE THEM
  • 1/2 green pepper ALL CUT IT UP 2-INCH PIECES
  • 1/2 onion ALL CUT INTO WEDGES
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 TBS cumin
  • 1 TBS chili powder
  • 2 TSP hot sauce, Thai sauce, wing sauce, whatever you like or have
  • 2 slices bread all crumbled
  • 1 /2 cup flour

Instructions

  1. Be proud that you've cut the onion, pepper, and opened the black beans and have not harmed yourself with the sharp knives or can opener. 

    Wish that everyone would celebrate this success with you. 

    Get wine.  

  2. Oil a big piece of aluminum foil and put that on a cookie sheet. Preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit/190 Celsius if you are going to cook these in the oven

    Be proud that you know the word Celsius. Writers need to know a lot of words. Celebrate your knowledge of words. 

  3. Dump those black beans into a bowl. Ponder the black beans. Think about how German poet Sarah Kirsch wrote an ode to black beans. Hate her for a second because you're jealous. Then remember she's dead and hate yourself instead. 

    Repeat the mantra: I celebrate other writers' successes. I celebrate other writers' successes. 

  4. Take a fork and mash those black beans up until they are sort of 'thick and pasty.' Realize that this is a good character description - 'thick and pasty.' Go write that down so you don't forget it! 

  5. Saute the onions in a little oil until soft. Watch them loose their structure just like your middle grade fantasy novel when you tried to write it in the point of view of the wizard's toilet paper. 

    Realize that you sometimes make bad choices. Get more wine.

  6. Add onions, spices, green peppers, bread crumbs, and spices and sauce to the beans. Mix it up. Think it's ugly. Feel badly about this. 

  7. This is the hard part. You know there's always a hard part, right? Like the murky middle of every book where the end is in sight, but you aren't sure how to get there. Yep. Hold on that's where we are now, little writer friend.  

  8. Add the flour -  just a couple tablespoons at a time. You want to mix it each time. You want this ugly thing to look super thick. You will probably have to use your hands and get messy. I am so sorry.  The murky middle is an icky place. You get dirty. You dig deep. Blah. Blah. Blah. 

  9. Buddy! You did it!!! Shape it into a burger shape just like you shape your story into a story shape. 

  10. You have a choice here. I know! It's like you're in a love triangle and you have to choose between the cold vampire and the hot werewolf. 

    You can put the burgers on the sheet of aluminum foil and back 10 minutes per side in the oven. 

    You can grill on a real grill. Place the patties on foil first. Grill 8 minutes each side.

    You can fry it in the pan you used for the onions. Just put down a bit of oil, turn on the heat to medium-low, and cook for 3-4 minutes each side. 

  11. You are probably going to want burger rolls and condiments. That isn't in the calorie count, but go for it, writer! You did this. You rock star. 

Dogs’ Verdict: We can only eat the bun because — flatulence.

Man Verdict: Can we put bacon on this?

Carrie Verdict: This is the best food ever created other than stuffing and sushi. The end.

FOR BACKGROUND IF YOU ARE NEW TO THIS PART OF MY BLOG:

Everyone always talks about writing being like cooking.

Clarification: By everyone, I mean writers. Writers like to talk about themselves.

Anyways, there are a million blogs about how writing is like cooking, but not really anything about cooking like a writer. So, our new Thursday segment is now COOKING LIKE A WRITER.

WRITING NEWS

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links are all up there in the header on top of the page.  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

CARRIE’S APPEARANCES

I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1 at 11:30 – 12 at the Lerner booth signing copies of the Spy Who Played Baseball. A week before that,

I’ll also be in NYC presenting to the Jewish Book Council . Come hang out with me!

I’ll be at Sherman’s Bookstore in Bar Harbor on April 28 from 1-2.

To find out more about my books, there are links in the header. And if you buy one? Thank you so much. Let me know if you want me to send you a bookplate.

PODCAST

The podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along with over 3,000 listens.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can.

 

THE CLASS AT THE WRITING BARN

The awesome six-month-long Writing Barn class that they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support! is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money. We’ll be having a Zoom class to learn more about it and I’ll share the details as soon as they are official.

Write Submit Support

Chickpea Pasta Sauce and Imposter Syndrome – They Totally Go Together

Everyone!

I made a pasta sauce out of chickpeas. How wild is that? The recipe is inspired by Cooking Light and it doesn’t have a ton of ingredients. Do you know what that means?

It means even starving writers can eat it! I’m talking to you, poets. Seriously. This is super cheap. Yay!

https://carriejonesbooks.blog Cooking With a Writer

Imposter Syndrome

So, a lot of writers have imposter syndrome. We think we aren’t a ‘real’ writer. That we somehow magically got published and everyone will find out we are a fraud.

This is a real thing.

Almost every writer I know has this. I blogged about it here.

When I was making this recipe, I was thinking about the chickpeas and how they are maybe feeling a little impostery when paired with penne. In the United States, we do our pasta with tomato sauce most of the time. Or sometimes pesto, which costs so much money. An occasional purist will do the olive oil/parmesan/lemon thing, but they are few… Too few… And maybe chickpeas are thinking, “Hey… are you sure about this? I mean… Maybe I don’t belong here in this pasta. I’m not a tomato. I’m not basil. I’m just a little beige cutie.”

Which is sort of how a lot of writers feel about their place in the writing world.

Well, here’s the truth: Chickpeas totally are the real thing. And so are you.

Don’t let yourself tell you otherwise.

There are Chick Peas in my Pasta Sauce because Weird Choices are Good Choices

In writing, we always here that it's cool to surprise the reader with a nice, happy plot twist or quirky detail but it's NOT GOOD to surprise the reader with something too wild and unexpected unless you've built up to that somehow, which is why Shaun the Meat Eater has no clue that there are chickpeas in this pasta sauce. And we're going to keep it that way.


Also, the calories are for whole wheat pasta, but there was no way I was going to get that into the man's gullet, honestly. We used regular bad-for-you pasta. Rebels. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 humans
Calories 383 kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, all chopped up like my episodic story
  • 4 cloves of anti-vampire garlic
  • 1 cup carrot, all chopped up again because this recipe requires knives
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, drain them first!!! Really. Drain them.
  • .75 cup water
  • .5 tsp pepper Did you ever notice salt comes before pepper always? What is up with that?
  • 1 tsp salt Behind pepper for once
  • 4 cups penne pasta, cook this and drain this too! If you keep .75 cups of water you can use it up there
  • .25 cup basic basil, fresh, chopped

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta in a big pot of water according to the directions on the pasta box. I always do this first because water takes FOREVER to boil and waiting for it to warm up reminds me of waiting for my agent or editor to email me back, which causes.... um... anxiety.


  2. On a totally separate place/burner/heating source, heat the olive oil on MEDIUM HEAT. 

    Medium heat sounds pretty bland. Halfway to hot. Halfway to cold. Worry that this is indicative of your muddy middle where the plot is just... it's boring and medium. Worry that you are boring and medium. 

     

  3. Cry


  4. Buck up, little camper. The oil is warm in a medium way and now you must add the minced garlic, the carrots, the onion. Add it. ADD IT, DAMN IT! Now! Right now! Get over yourself and cook this thing!


  5. Cook that mess for 8  minutes. Set the timer in case you get lost in a scintillating inner monologue about positivity and writing and how Oprah visualizes herself as awesome and that somehow works for her. 


  6. Try to create a good mantra like, I am an amazing writer that everyone loves and I make amazing books. 

    Decide you need to edit that mantra. Worry about what it means if you can't even make a mantra. 


  7. Realize you have imposter syndrome! Oh no! Not again! 


  8. Your eight minutes are up. Take the mixture and add the chickpeas and the pepper, salt and water and put it in a blender and mix it up there until it is smooth. 


  9. Look at you, mixing like a pro! Feel good about this. You did this! You are a cook! And a writer! And a human! Go you! 

  10. Toss the yummy penne pasta stuff (hopefully cooked and warm) and mix it with your amazing blender concoction. If you have enough money to buy fresh basil, sprinkle that on top like it's magic fairy dust or pixie glitter. 

  11. Eat! You deserve to eat! You do! You are not an imposter. You made a pasta sauce out of chickpeas like a freaking boss. You can get an agent and finish your novel and make a NYT bestseller list. Look at you! 

    Feel powerful. 

    You are. 

Dog Verdict: Pasta is delicious.

Man Verdict: I could eat this forever.

Carrie Verdict: This is so bland. I need to put gochujang in it. Oh my gosh, where is the left-over feta cheese. Okay… okay… now it’s worth the calories.

I actually did squirt gochujang into it because I thought it was too bland. And even then, it needed a zing, which is why I added a tiny bit of feta. This absolutely increases both calories and cost.

https://carriejonesbooks.blog Recipes with a Writer. Cooking With a Writer

WRITING NEWS AND STUFF

Okay. I hope you don’t mind me sharing this, but I earned out my picture book biography of Sara Emma Edmonds!!!!

This is such a huge thing for me that I can’t begin to tell you how cool it feels especially since it’s with this picture book. Sara was this cool woman who dressed like a man so she could fight in the U.S. Civil War, but then her superiors asked her to dress like a woman and spy on the other side. So, she was a woman dressed like a man dressed like a woman and taking names the entire time. So amazing. Thank you so much to everyone who bought it!

Unknown

 

THE CLASS AT THE WRITING BARN

The awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn classthat they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support!is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money.

PRAISE FOR CARRIE JONES AND WRITE. SUBMIT. SUPPORT:

“Carrie has the fantastic gift as a mentor to give you honest feedback on what needs work in your manuscript without making you question your ability as a writer. She goes through the strengths and weaknesses of your submissions with thought, care and encouragement.”

I swear, I did not pay anyone to say that. I didn’t even ask them to say it. The Writing Barn just told me that the feedback had intensely kind things like that.

FLYING AND ENHANCED – THE YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION SERIES

These books are out there in the world thanks to Tor.

What books? Well, cross Buffy with Men in Black and you get… you get a friends-powered action adventure based in the real world, but with a science fiction twist. More about it is here. But these are fun, fast books that are about identity, being a hero, and saying to heck with being defined by other people’s expectations.

This quick, lighthearted romp is a perfect choice for readers who like their romance served with a side of alien butt-kicking actionSchool Library Journal

TIME STOPPERS THE MIDDLE GRADE SERIES OF AWESOME

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

 

And finally, the podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs
The podcast of awesome

Cooking With a Writer: Black Bean Soup Recipe That is Allegedly Spicy But is It?

There are certain really important questions in this world.

Why does asparagus have to smell soooo rotten when it cooks?

And why does my asparagus have cool googly eyes?

Black bean soup recipe
And a hat

Why does my dog Gabby have to lick my fingers every time I sit down and type?

Cooking with a Writer Black Bean Soup Recipe
Fingers are yummy!

No, Gabby, “fingers are yummy” is not a good answer. 

And why does Gabby think the UPS man is evil incarnated?

Gabby: No, that prom dress is evil incarnate. What were you thinking?

*sobs

One of my major questions of all time is why is black bean soup not so tasty?

Like I love refried black beans. I love black beans in a regular way. Why not the soup?

I tried a recipe to find out.

Black Bean Soup - Allegedly Spicy

It's soup. It's made from canned black beans.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 114 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil enough to coat the pot's bottom
  • 2 onions chopped, diced, cut
  • 2 celery stalky things - ribs? Ribs sounds creepy chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves or 7 TBS Totally up to you, but mince it
  • 5 tsp cumin
  • .5 tsp red pepper flakes This was not spicy enough for me
  • 4 cans black beans rinse. drain.
  • 4 cups veggie broth
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • salt and pepper as much as feels good to you

You can garnish. It will impact the calorie count, obviously, but it's way more fun - cilantro, avocado, cheese, tortilla chips

Instructions

  1. Find a pot. Study the pot. Is it big enough? 

  2. Put the olive oil in the pot. Turn the burner onto medium. Watch the oil get warm. Ponder life. 

  3. Wonder why you're writer.


  4. When the oil is shimmering like a vampire in a successful young adult novel/movie franchise, add the onions, celery, carrot and maybe salt if you are into that. Cook 10 minutes or until the veggies are soft and mushy. 

  5. Think about how you changed those veggies from hard things into soft things. Feel powerful. Wish you could elicit that same kind of change in your main character and her story arc.


  6. Add garlic. Think about vampires. Wonder if world is ready for another vampire franchise. Add cumin and red pepper. Cook 30 seconds. HURRY! 

  7. 30 seconds pass so quickly when you aren't waiting for an agent to call. You have no time to ponder this. Instead, add all the beans and the broth. Turn the heat up enough to get a simmer.


  8. Lower the heat so that it's a gentle simmer and keep it that way for 30 minutes.

  9. Cry. Because the world really isn't ready for another vampire franchise yet even though you, personally, have written 374,012 words about vampires and love and garlic. 


  10. Stare at the social media outlet of your choice for 30 minutes while your soup is simmering. Pretend like you're going to use this time to write. 

  11. Don't write. 


  12. Go back to the kitchen. Really super carefully get 4 cups of the soup (more if you like your soup thick like your prose and plot and descriptions). Blend/puree that soup in a blender. Be careful of steam. 

  13. Return blended up soupy stuff into the pot. Stir it all up. Add the cilantro if you want, lime, salt, and pepper. Taste it. 

  14. Eat that soup. It should be dark like the night that your story's vampires emerge from, dark like your villain's heart. 

Black bean soup recipe
Black bean soup recipe

Gabby the Dog and Spartacus the Dog’s Verdict:  They won’t let us taste this. It’s all ‘black beans and dogs don’t mix’ and ‘You’re name is Spartacus not Fartacus.’ Humans….

Man Verdict: This is delicious and filling. But I’m going to go have a third bowl anyways because I don’t believe in moderation.

Me: I think it needs more cumin and spice and salt and cumin and lime and cumin.

Man: There is no pleasing you.

Me: I’m a writer. All I want to do is improve things. It’s how I am made.

https://carriejonesbooks.blog Recipes with a Writer. Cooking With a Writer

WRITING NEWS AND APPEARANCE AND STUFF:

THE CLASS AT THE WRITING BARN

The awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn class that they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support!is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money.

PRAISE FOR CARRIE JONES AND WRITE. SUBMIT. SUPPORT:

“Carrie has the fantastic gift as a mentor to give you honest feedback on what needs work in your manuscript without making you question your ability as a writer. She goes through the strengths and weaknesses of your submissions with thought, care and encouragement.”

FLYING AND ENHANCED – THE YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION SERIES

Cross Buffy with Men in Black and you get… you get a friends-powered action adventure based in the real world, but with a science fiction twist. More about it is here. But these are fun, fast books that are about identity, being a hero, and saying to heck with being defined by other people’s expectations.

This quick, lighthearted romp is a perfect choice for readers who like their romance served with a side of alien butt-kicking actionSchool Library Journal

TIME STOPPERS THE MIDDLE GRADE SERIES OF AWESOME

And finally, I made a little video for my TIME STOPPERS books.

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun

Cooking With A Writer – Dude, There’s a Burrito in my Spaghetti Squash

I convinced The Man and The Dogs to let me try another vegetarian recipe.

“It’s for the blog,” I said.

“Does the blog earn us any money?” The Man asked.

“Does this vegetarian recipe have bacon bits?” The Dogs asked. “Bacon bits do not count as meat.

“No,” I said. “And no. And yes… chopping meat into tiny bites and bits does not take away the qualities of meat.”

The Dogs decided to sleep through the recipe, which I understand. They’d had a hard day of barking at UPS drivers and squirrels, drooling on windows, and longing for meat products.

The Man did not sleep through the cooking.  He had questions, sort of like a copy editor or something… So many questions about every little detail.

“Does this mean you’re finally going to get rid of the gigantic spaghetti squash that’s been in our bread box for months?’ The Man asked. “Because then I am good with this recipe as long as we can go get pizza later.”

I have a lot to put up with here. Obviously.

carriejonesbooks.blog

This bad boy recipe is really loosely adapted from a much grander recipe from Cookie and Kate. You should check them out and applaud the beauty that is their website.

For background if you are new to this part of my blog:

Everyone always talks about writing being like cooking.

Clarification: By everyone, I mean writers. Writers like to talk about themselves.

Anyways, there are a million blogs about how writing is like cooking, but not really anything about cooking like a writer. So, our new Thursday segment is now COOKING LIKE A WRITER.

https://carriejonesbooks.blog

What does this mean?

It means I’m going to share one recipe with you each Thursday and it’s not going to be shiny and pretty and slick. It’s going to be real, people, because writers of kidlit are authentic AF.

Here is your Thursday recipe. The hardest part is cutting the damn squash, honestly. It was so hard! I had to get help.

Burrito Bowl inside a Spaghetti Squash! Say What the What?

Writers! YOU CAN DO THIS! You can make a thought into a story. Of course you can make a squash into a burrito! 

Also, the calories are on the upper end of the scale because I'm imagining you're using a lot of toppings because writers are like that if we have other jobs. If you don't have another job, you probably won't use cheese, right? Because cheese is expensive! And maybe not as many beans? Then your count is going to be in the 250 range. 

Course dinner, entree
Cuisine American, Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 412 kcal

Ingredients

THESE ARE THE ROASTED SQUASH INGREDIENTS - ACT ONE

  • 2 squash - medium, take out its innards and seedy things.
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt - dash
  • pepper - a few dashes

THESE ARE THE SLAW INGREDIENTS - ACT TWO

  • 1 package cole slaw mexican salad mix OR two cups of green cabbage shredded
  • 1 can black beans, drain it because it's icky if you don't
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onion - all parts white and green, we love all parts here
  • 1/3 cup cilantro
  • 3 TBSP lime juice

THESE ARE THE SALSA SAUCE INGREDIENTS - ACT THREE

  • 3/4 cup salsa verde
  • 1 avocado - make it ripe, dice it up
  • 1 TBSP lime juice - yes, again with the lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt - yes, again with the salt
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, you've got it, again with the cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic

Random garnishes if you are into that - cheese, more cilantro because we're trying to increase the livelihood of those who produce cilantro, I guess?

Instructions

  1. I am so sorry. But you have to cut the squash in half. I know! I know! This is hard. This requires muscles. Writers' only muscles are in our fingers. This is not enough to chop spaghetti squash in half. 

  2. Recruit help to cut the squash in half. This is like a beta reader. It's okay for a writer/cook to have back-up. Just make sure they are strong. 

  3. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit because that's important. You can do this. This just requires finger muscles to set the degrees. You've got this, writer! 

  4. Spread the olive oil on the squash. Pretend it is the tears that have coalesced after rejection letters. Look at you! You're tears are making something delicious. 

    Add salt and pepper because why not, honestly? 

  5. Flip the squash over so that the inside parts are now down against the baking sheet. Think about how this is like your own inside parts, hidden inside your story. This is you, this squash! This is your heart and soul hidden from the reader but turning into something beautiful. 


  6. Put the pan in the oven! THIS IS IMPORTANT! Use those writing muscles and eat the time for 40 minutes, but it might take an hour. Squash like stories don't really follow perfect schedules and some take a little longer. It's done when a fork can pierce through the flesh.


  7. DO NOT MAKE THE SQUASH YOUR OBJECTIVE CORRELATIVE! I promise. It is not you. It is not your writer soul. You do not need to be pierced easily with a fork. You must remain intact. Take a moment to breathe. You've got this. 

  8. Okay. Are you okay? Make sure you're okay. Don't think about rejections or bad reviews. Take the slaw mix. Add black beans, the red pepper, the cilantro, the lime juice, the olive oil, the salt, the tears. Toss it around. Let it marinate. This is just like writing a book, isn't it? Leave it alone for a bit. Do not check it out. It's good. It's parts are mixing up and complimenting each other like plot and setting and action and voice and dialogue. Actually, maybe walk away from the kitchen and post an Instagram poem about squash and flesh and forks and marinating slaw. 

  9. Okay. It's salsa time! Do you feel happier? Did you write a poem? Did anyone like it? Find a blender. Borrow a blender if you don't have one. It's like borrowing a plot - totally not a big deal. Cough. Okay. So in the blender put the avocado, the salsa verde, the cilantro and lime juice. Add the garlic because this is not a YA novel set in Seattle. No sparkly vampires here, baby. 

  10. Writer. Um... I forgot to tell you to plug in the blender. Put the top on. Press BLEND. Watch things blend. Blend it till smooth. Marvel at how all these random bits come together to make something yummy. These bits are like your thoughts! Wow.... That's deep! 

  11. Dude. You are amazing. You have made three parts of something! IT IS LIKE THE OLD BORING THREE-ACT STRUCTURE OF A STORY! Whoah... Mind blown. Do a happy dance. You're amazing.

  12. Assemble it! Fluff the squash innards up. Put slaw into the hollowed out squash places. Put the salsa verde mix on top. Dang. Look at that. Garnish if you want. Eat your masterpiece! You did this, writer! You! 

https://carriejonesbooks.blog Recipes with a Writer. Cooking With a Writer

Man’s Verdict: That was surprisingly good actually and hearty. Probably because like you know the beans and the spaghetti squash has some density to it. The slaw is like a binder. Through some hot sauce in there.

Dog’s Verdict: Why do you hate us?

Carrie’s Verdict: This was pretty yummy, but cutting a spaghetti squash is so super hard. There must be an easier way to do that. Wait! I should check the internet for ways to do that.

Squash cutting
Squash cutting is serious, people

The ways are here, thanks to Trial and Eater.

Also, my middle grade fantasy series, TIME STOPPERS, is totally out there in the world thanks to the wonderful people at Bloomsbury.  It’s about two kids finding love and acceptance and friendship even though their lives have been super horrible. One of them was raised by trolls pretending to be people. Apparently, there are a lot of trolls out there.

Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
Look, they made a pull quote!

It’s sort of Harry Potter crossed with Percy Jackson crossed with Inkheart, but set in Bar Harbor and Northeast Harbor, Maine and it’s full of magic and adventure, but mostly it’s full of friendship. Because friends? Friends matter.

To find out more about it, you can go here. I hope you all have an amazing day and eat yummy food and nobody torments you too much. Watch out for trolls.

 

 

Cooking With a Writer Potato Tacos of Awesome

Everyone always talks about writing being like cooking.

Clarification: By everyone, I mean writers. Writers like to talk about themselves.

https://carriejonesbooks.blog Recipes with a Writer. Cooking With a Writer

Anyways, there are a million blogs about how writing is like cooking, but not really anything about cooking like a writer. So, our new Thursday segment is now COOKING LIKE A WRITER.

What does this mean?

It means I’m going to share one recipe with you each Thursday and it’s not going to be shiny and pretty and slick. It’s going to be real, people, because writers of kidlit are authentic AF.

https://carriejonesbooks.blog

It’s also going to be vegetarian because I’m not about death of animals even though EVERYONE else in my family is about animals as food. So part of this is my quest to convince them to go the vegetarian way. Not the vegan way. They are so not ready for that.

carriejonesbooks.blog
He did not really eat the potato! I promise!

I decided to start off easy with Crispy Potato Tacos. I found the recipe on shelikesfood.com, which is possibly the most authentic name of a website ever. I’m sort of jealous.

She said it was a ‘super and easy weeknight dinner that’s also really flavorful and delicious!’

She used an exclamation point. I was good to go. I’m a writer. I know all about punctuation and life and I want to live my life as an exclamation point. I changed the amounts of the ingredients, however, because we are a household that needs a lot of flavor. So. Much. Flavor. And also, I converted the instructions for ‘writers,’ because this is… um… about cooking with a writer.

https://carriejonesbooks.blog

Potato Tacos of Writer Awesomeness

This recipe is adapted from shelikesfood.com

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 Americans
Calories 250 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • optional toppings lettuce, tomato, salsa, onion, peppers, cilantro, tears

Instructions

  1. You need to find a knife. Do not think about suicidal confessional poets from the 1960s. Just find a knife.


  2. Use the knife to cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Don’t ponder about what ‘bite-sized’ means. Don’t riff on how different people have different mouth sizes and therefore different bite sizes. Just cut the potatoes. Cut them on a cutting board!


  3. Get a large pot. Put the cut-up potatoes in the pot. Fill the pot with water. Think about this. Are these the characters in your story, perculating under your subconscious? Ready to make something happen in your plot? Yes. Yes. They are.

  4. Boil those characters for 15-20 minutes. They should be fork tender. What does that even mean fork tender? Aren’t we all fork tender, us humans? So easily hurt.


  5. Cry.


  6. Drain the potatoes, those poor tender potatoes. Pause to write a poem. Make sure when you come back that those little sweet potatoes are pretty dry.


  7. Cast aside your feelings. It’s time to get serious. Find a skillet. Do not comtemplate the last time you used a skillet as a prop device in your murder-mystery staring your ex boss. Instead, turn the stove burner on to medium heat. Put that skillet on the burner. Yes, the same burner that you’ve turned on.


  8. In the skillet, put olive oil, potatoes, and spices. Double up the spices if you aren’t afraid. You want depth to your story. I mean recipe.


  9. Stir it up like it’s a good plot.

  10. Cook it for 3-5 minutes. Flip it. Cook it on that side for 3-5 more minutes. You want it crisp, but not burnt. Use your own judgement about what constitutes crisp. You can do it! I believe in you!


  11. Find the corn tortillas. Put potatoes in them. Put the other toppings in them. Hope for good reviews on Amazon and GoodReads. I mean, hope your family likes them.  

The Man’s Rating: This is not enough food for dinner but it is delicious. How many of these can I eat and not be a glutton.

My Rating: This is more than enough food for dinner, but I had to peel potatoes. I don’t like peeling potatoes.

Look! Potatoes were peeled.

The dogs were not impressed because there was no bacon involved. But look! Here it is! Note the giant man hand. Is it any wonder he was all, “NEED MORE FOOD?”

carreiejonesbooks.blog