First off, how dare your agent say your book needs more tension? The nerve! Imagine all sorts of tense situations your agent could be in. Move on. He's just trying to help. Right?
Be tense. Scrunch up your shoulders. Find a large stock pot.
Put olive oil in the pot.
Turn up the heat to medium-high.
Cackle and say, "How does that feel, little olive oil?? Does that feel tense enough for you?"
Wonder if all authors do this.
Throw the garlic, onions, turnips and carrots into the pot.
"Oh, what will this become? Will it cook? Will it burn? Will I forget to burn it?" Set a timer for 5 minutes. Do not imagine your Aunt Rose Marie leaning over your shoulder whispering, "Just have some wine and stir. It will be fine, little writer. It will be fine."
Throw in the kale, fake chorizo, bay leaves, parsley and thyme and mix well.
Imagine your Aunt Rose Marie gasping and grabbing your tense, scrunched up shoulders and shouting, "VEGAN CHORIZO! WHO ARE YOU?"
Add the vegetable stock, the beans and the tomatoes.
Realize that your Aunt Rose Mary in ghost or imaginary form is not going to approve of the vegetable stock. Try not to care.
Tell her, "Wait until you taste it. That suspense will increase the tension."
Listen to her harrumph while you bring the soup to boiling.
Once it's boiling, turn the heat down to low.
Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes and simultaneously simmer the soup. Google "HOW TO BUILD IN TENSION IN A LOVE STORY ABOUT A GERBIL AND A UNICORN.
Realize those search terms are a bit too specific.
Give up and get a medium saucepan. Put a goodly amount of salt in the water that's enough to cover the diced potatoes.
Once it boils, listen to Aunt Rose Marie approve because salted water is good water. Add the diced potatoes.
Cook them 10 minutes or until they are happy and tender.
Add potatoes to the soup.
Take out the bay leaf unless you want to add to the tension by possibly choking on it.
Find a BIG saucepan. Think about writing romance. The word “BIG” always seems to be in romances.
Imagine the saucepan is representative of all your future readers longing for a sexy, romantic book that you will give them. Feel good for a hot second before you realize that you’re just imagining.
Put the saucepan over medium heat.
Be impressed still. Look, you’re trying right? Prepublished is just published with a pre. Imagine the plot of your romance. Will there be a pirate? No. Too done. A female pirate? Maybe. A nonbinary pirate. That sounds pretty cool, actually.
Melt butter. Put onions in butter. Saute it until the butter is wilty like your sexy pirate’s heart when they meet the naval official determined to stop their pillaging. Worry about the hostile overtones of words like ‘pillaging.’ Keep writing.
Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt, basil, thyme, oregano, and pepper; simmer for 10 minutes, stir it a bit. You could do so many sexy things with tomatoes, sugar, paste, and salt. Make your pirate a chef just like you. Pirate chefs are sexy.
Add flour and 3/4 cup broth or water. How will you make the government official sexy? Decide this is hopeless as a love interest. Substitute in a merperson. Way better. Maybe a manatee sidekick?
Mix that until it forms a smooth paste. Pretend that paste is a plot.
Admire your work. It smells pretty sexy, doesn’t it?
Stir that pasteyness sort of slowly into the tomato mixture.
Put the rest of the broth in there, too. Sigh in a sort of seductive way as your soup sighs at you.
Make that boil like the unbridled emotions inside of you and also inside of your pirate chef.
Stir for two minutes, or until it gets thick like a sexy sexy pirate chef.
Cover and simmer for 30 minutes of will they or won’t they get together.
When tomatoes are tender take it off the heat.
Find the cream. Dump it in. Stir it up. Serve. Feel pretty satisfied.
It’s a cooking blog redone. Why? Because I’ve been working for over 12 hours and I’m not done.
Yes, folks. I’m dialing it in. My apologies!
So, I am a bit down lately, mostly because:
I am a writer
I live in the U.S.
I gave up and am giving you all this – the Black Bean Soup that Reflects the State of My Inner Soul Right This Second Because I am DIRE.
Black Bean Soup Because The World Sucks
Sometimes the world sucks and you need a dark soup to match your feelings. Am I right?
This is a new version of a black bean soup I wrote about before. You can never have enough black bean soup recipes. Can you?
3 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
2 whole onions (chopped)
6 whole garlic cloves (chopped/pressed)
3 ribs celery (chopped)
1 whole carrot (chopped)
5 tsp cumin
.5 tsp red pepper flakes or hot sauce (to taste really)
60 oz black beans (canned, drained)
2 tsp lime juice
.5 cup cilantro (optional, to taste)
Heatolive oil in soup pot over medium heat.
Stare at it until it shimmers.
Remember when you used to shimmer.
Throw in the onions, celery and carrot.
Sigh again because honestly? What is the point.
Put in salt, blood pressure be damned.
Stir once in awhile. Eventually the vegetable will get soft.
“Eventually” is 10 to 15 minutes. This is a much shorter ‘eventually’ than when waiting for your editor to return your email. But whatever.
Add in the smelly things – garlic, cumin and red pepper flakes.
Wonder if you’re a smelly thing? When did you last bathe? Was it before 2018? Join the club.
Cook until things smell more than you do – 30 seconds.
It’s time for the dark soul part of this soup. You are miserable, aren’t you? Yes, writer you are.
Add beans. Add broth.
Put the heat on medium high and watch it simmer. Reduce it so it only simmers gently. If only YOU were simmering gently, but honestly? The state of the world makes you SIMMER INTO ROARING, doesn’t it? Yes. Yes. It does.
Soup is not you though. So simmer GENTLY for 30 minutes, or else it will boil over and stick to the pot and believe me, you do not have the emotional reserves to deal with that mess.
Put about 4 cups into a blender (make sure not to overload your blender because it is hot and you will get burned and you probably don’t have the medical insurance to deal with that if you are an American writer).
You can also use a hot-pink immersion blender if you are tired of the darkness of this soup, your soul, and this world.
JUST BE CAREFUL!
Put the blended stuff back in the soup pot. Mix. Add in cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper.
Man Verdict – It tastes sad.
Dog Verdict – Isn’t this not good for dogs?
My Verdict – Yep. Uh-huh.
ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.
The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.
For signed copies – email firstname.lastname@example.org for Sherman’s or email email@example.com let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!
You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.
A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought came out yesterday! Check it out, like and subscribe!
Share this if you want and also because it would be super nice of you!
Find a skillet. Tell it hello. Put 1 tbsp of butter inside it and put the burner on medium heat
Put the onions in the skillet and saute them until you can almost see through them, which is about 5 minutes
Set that aside.
Think about how much it sucks to be set aside and think about friendship because you are cooking and have to think versus scrolling down a newsfeed or something or looking at cat memes
In a saucepan whisk the rest of the butter and the flour together on medium-low heat. Cook this until the flour isn't grainy any more. Don't let it burn. This should take about 3 minutes.
Flour and butter are so different yet they become good recipe friends, don't they?
Think about your friends. Wonder if you are the flour or the butter? Do you stick to people's hands? Do you make everything more tasty but are bad for the lactose intolerant? This are big questions worthy of a Buzzfeed quiz, "Which U.S.A. Basic Cooking Ingredient Are You?"
Slowly pour the milk into the Flutter (That's my ship name for Flour and Butter). Whisk constantly as Flutter becomes a threesome of friendship - MiFlutter.
Decide you are too clever for words.
Stir in the stock. Simmer it. Cook it until it is thicker - about 15 minutes.
It's time for a real Food Friend Party!!! Add broccoli and carrots, the ghostly onion, the smiling celery. Simmer for about another 15 minutes.
Add the cheese. Cheese might seem late to the party, but man, that girl gets into it. Stir here in there until she sticks to all the other partiers and she's melted in.
Season with pepper and salt.
Enjoy the party in your mouth!
My mom was a firm believer that if you were going to eat vegetables that were green then you needed to cover them with a Velveeta sauce. She was also a firm believer that the only vegetables that shouldn’t ALWAYS come from a can were:
She was not a big veggie person, my mom. But she did love broccoli cheddar soup because it’s cheese sauce on a vegetable masquerading as soup.
It was a big hit here. I riffed off a recipe by gildawen on the all recipes site. I found it to get thick pretty quickly, much like my waistline.
Man Verdict: THAT IS NOT A SERVING SIZE.
My Verdict: My one serving was delicious.
Dogs’ Verdict: The man ate THREE SERVINGS and we got none. That is so unfair, you should give us dog treats immediately to make up for this great injustice.
HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED
Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast 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. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!
BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!
Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!
No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?
Here is the link to the mobile app and our bonus podcast below.
So, my mom was a really big proponent of eating meat with every single meal.
She didn’t like fresh vegetables except for corn on the cob and cucumbers. To be fair, she only like cucumbers when they were thinly sliced and put on a massive caravan of mayonnaise and smooshed in between two slices of white bread.
She was also fine with tomatoes and lettuce (ice berg) on hamburgers.
That was pretty much it.
So, when I had Emily (my kiddo) and I was reverting to my vegetarian ways, my mother FREAKED OUT and would legit drive 2.5 hours to visit us just to cook roasts.
My favorite cookbook was Horn of the Moon, which was a vegetarian cookbook written by Ginny Callan who owned Horn of the Moon restaurant. I didn’t see the cookbooks until after the restaurant closed or I totally would have tromped to Vermont and sobbed, hugging this woman, who I sort of thought as my vegetarian food savior.
Anyway, one afternoon my mom called and asked me what I was cooking.
“Creamy Green Bean Soup,” I said.
And she said, “Sweet Mother of God, Carrie. What is wrong with you? You don’t do that to green beans. Are you trying to die?”
Yes, You Can Do This With Green Beans – Creamy Soup
Adapted from Horn of the Moon
The calorie estimate is probably high.
5 cups water
1.5 lbs green beans (chopped into 1.5-inch pieces (6 cups))
5 tbsp butter
3 whole onions
1 tsp thyme (dried)
1.5 tsp dill (dried)
2 whole bay leaves (I never have these)
3.5 tbsp white flour
.5 cup heavy cream
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
dash dashy siracha (to taste. )
Curse out your mother for harshing on your soup as you boil 5 cups of water in a big pot.
Add cut green beans to water once the water boils.
Return the water to boil, cover.
Lower the heat to simmer and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
Write a poem about your mother.
Realize that whenever you were little and drew your mother would declare, “Nobody in this family are artists. Not one of us has a lick of artistic ability.”
Realize you would rather be an artist that a writer.
Let this sink in.
While you are despondent over the course of your life as a writer not an artist, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a bit pan.
Once butter is melted, saute the onions and herbs until those onions are a light brown.
Realize you should be drawing this right now instead of writing about it.
Once the onions are done, add the contents of the pan to the green beans and water. Turn the heat off of the green beans and water.
Let everything sit a bit because it’s super hot – much like your temper right now.
Puree about 3/4th of that green bean mix.
Use a blender.
Put the pureed mix back into the soup pot.
Throw in bay leaves.
Bay leaves would be fun to draw, wouldn’t they?
Wonder if your whole life is a lie and you should have been an artist instead of a writer.
Write a poem about it.
Melt the rest of the butter in that pan you’d been using before.
Add flour to melted butter. Use low heat.
Stir it until it gets a light brown color.
Find cream. Whisk that into the butter and flour.
Add one ladle of soup to it.
Do this two more times then pour all of that back into the soup.
Add salt. Add pepper. Add milk. Add hot sauce. Taste it. Adjust it to what you want it to be.
Wish you could adjust your parents’ beliefs about art and family proclivities the way you can adjust soup taste.
Simmer on low heat.
Simmer for 15 minutes.
Use this time to sign up for art class.
As you know, these weekly recipes are my attempt to getting the family to eat more food without meat. And I always put down their verdicts.
Man Verdict: You know what would make this perfect? Ham.
My Verdict: Have you been communicating with my mom in the spirit world?
Dogs’ Verdict: Ham or bacon. Either would be okay. You could drop some on the floor, you know. That would be nice.
Next and Last Time Stoppers Book
It’s out! You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.
People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.
The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?
It’s awesome and quirky and fun.
OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.
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. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!
I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.
Ebook on Sale for October!
And finally, for the month of July, my book NEEDis on sale in ebook version on Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically about human-sized pixies trying to start an apocalypse.
I’m WRITING BARN FACULTY AND THERE’S A COURSE YOU CAN TAKE!
I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!
Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?
Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.
Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here.
Sometimes, I have days when I want to scream, “RAH!!!” Today is like that.
This is for a bunch of reasons including someone saying, “Wow. You look tired.”
Me: Thanks? I am?
Anyway, as you know, I’m trying to convince the household to eat less meat. The household is stubborn.
Me: Hey! We’re having Ramen tonight.
The Man: RAH! MAN! RAH! I MAN! I EAT RAMEN!
Dogs run off.
Man beats chest.
Me: Who even are you?
Man: I ate ramen forever. I was raised on ramen. I love ramen. Where are the spice packs?
Me: No! No! We aren’t using the spice packs. Those have animal byproducts.
Man: Why must you ruin all that is holy?
I was sad when I was making this recipe. You can tell.
3 TBSP vegetable or canola oil
1 whole onion (any color, but yellow is best here)
1 big leek
5 cloves garlic (chopped or minced)
1 3-inch ginger (peeled, chopped)
1 oz dried mushrooms (preferably shiitake)
1 lb sweet potato (peeled, chopped)
1 whole head garlic (NO VAMPIRES HERE, BABY)
1 lb shitake mushroom (cleaned, sliced)
soy or tamari sauce (to taste)
1.5 lb ramen noodles (fresh if possible)
.25 cup miso (white or yellow kind)
5 green onions (chopped to look pretty)
Find a large saucepan, empty it of your tears and put it on medium-high heat.
Put 2 tablespoons of oil in that saucepan. Get it so it isn’t cold, like the heart of villain.
Realize it’s really your heart that’s cold.
Add the onions. Put some salt on top. DO NOT TOUCH THE ONIONS. Leave them there for 5 minutes until they are brown.
Realize the onions are the book that you’ve been working on for 27 years and still doesn’t feel done. Realize that tweaking your book is like stirring the onions. You can’t resist. Wait for five minutes to pass.
YOU CAN STIR THINGS NOW! Add leek, garlic, dried mushrooms, ginger, 6 cups of water. This will deglaze the pan if you stir and scrape up the bits. Do that.
Turn the heat down. It’s too intense here, just like your plot.
Put the heat on medium-low.
Realize you feel medium low.
Partially cover the pan and let it be for an hour. A WHOLE HOUR!
Procrastinate for an hour.
Don’t do any real work or revision or anything else.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Put sweet potatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle oil on them. Toss them so the oil is distributed.
Find a head of garlic. Cut off the top of its head. Imagine he’s a writing expert telling you to kill your darlings. Drizzle oil on it and wrap it up in foil. Put it on the pan.
Put the pan in the oven and close the door. Stir it once in awhile. Cook until it’s tender.
BACK TO THE STOVE! An hour has passed! You’ve got this.
Strain the broth through a sieve and get rid of all the solid bits. KEEP THE BROTH!
Realize this is like ‘killing your darlings’ like all those writing experts always say. Wonder if writing experts know that they are annoying.
Find a blender. Free it of left over smoothie. Instead squeeze the garlic cloves into that bad boy.
Add 1/3 cup of sweet potatoes.
Add 1/2 cup broth that you saved.
Puree until it’s smooth.
Add it to the big bunch of broth.
Find a saucepan and put it on medium heat.
Add oil that’s left.
Add mushrooms. Cook them for about five minutes or until tender.
Season to your liking.
Add tamari or soy sauce.
Reduce to low.
Cover partially and cook until it’s warm.
Is it warm?
Are you warm?
Whisk in that miso of awesome.
Take your noodles (cooked if dry!) Put them in bowls. Put the broth over it.
Top it with sweet potatoes.
Sprinkle with green onions.
Marvel at your creation.
It wasn’t that bad, was it?
This is derived from a recipe from Cooking Light.
Dog Verdict: WHERE IS THE BACON? We like sweet potato okay though. But… it’s not… you know… bacon.
Man Verdict: This would be better with bacon, honestly, or at least the spice packs full of MSG and other goodness.
Carrie Verdict: Writers need love. Ramen is love.
*P.S. My writer brain was too tired to do the actual math to count the calories for this. I am so sorry.
I’ll be at Book Expo America on June 1 at the Lerner booth from 11:30-12.
There’s a free information and inspiration session from Write! Submit! Support!, a six-month intensive program through the Writing Barn.
It’s a one-day only thing just to hang out and learn about the program. I swear! No weirdness involved at all. More info 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.
Share this if you want and also because it would be super nice of you!