Tag Archive: writing


Baking Adventure

I finally have a hobby.

I know. I know. I’m a writer. For many people, that would be their hobby, since I don’t really get paid enough to call it my career, (yet). But writing is my passion.  I read, and I enjoy it when I have the time, but that feels a lot like writing to me. Gaming has a lot of creative thought and storytelling, so that also fell into the writing category for me.

I’m a full time employee, writer and mother of two children under five. “Free time” is a foreign word to me. So, I’ve never really understood the term “hobby.”

But now I do. I finally found the joys of baking. I tried to bake a few times in the past. I’ve made my share of box brownies and cakes. And I tried baking bread for over two years only to have it always come out doughy. Then I learned my mistake. Too much flour. I was dumbly, blindly following my recipes without knowing what the dough was supposed to look and feel like. So I over did it on the flour (by a lot).

Learning that small thing has opened up a whole new world of cooking for me. I’ve baked cookies from scratch, made my own pasta and alfredo sauce. I make my own pizza crust now, and I like it better than most of the ones I can buy, with the possible exception of Pizza Hut. I just love their crunchy, buttery crust. I still have more recipes I want to try, like lasagna, ravioli, cake, brownies and pecan pie. I have some more sauces I am trying to learn, and I am trying to duplicate the brown sauce Chinese restaurants in South Louisiana use for their Mandarin chicken. It is delicious and apparently not made anywhere else on the country. My first attempt duplicated the thinner gravy they use on beef and broccoli. So, I am trying it again with some modifications to see if I can make the sauce I so desire.

Anyway, I have found, after years of microwave obedience, I have broken into full on baking and cooking, and I love it. With a new recipe each week, I am excited to plan out our meals for once.

I am documenting recipes I want to try and have already mastered on my Pinterest page.

So come join me on my journey into my new hobby.

*update*

Tried Mandarin Chicken again, but mine keeps coming out like the gravy from beef and broccoli.

I was using recipe here. http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081017211620AAxDb4p

2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 c. water
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. Karo syrup (light or dark)
1/4 tsp. red pepper

Found site that says our mandarin chicken is actually based off a Cantonese dish. warr-shu-gai. http://www.sodh.net/2008-01-22/we-miss-you-mandarin-chicken/

Have to try this next time.

http://www.food.com/recipe/warr-shu-gai-almond-boneless-chicken-2526?layout=desktop

Sauce

http://pinterest.com/wotpast/

A.D. McLain

http://www.wotpast.com

Twitter: wotpast

The next book in my fantasy series is in the works. I currently have 7000 words typed. I also have over 10,000 typed on my third romance book, but that is another post.

I am really excited over where this book is going, but haven’t had a lot of time to work on it lately. Working a full time job and taking care of two small children can make it difficult to get time in front of the laptop to type. I am always thinking about my characters and story. I just can’t always get it typed in a timely manner. Add to that all my other crazy projects and chores, and trying to market my other books, and I am a very busy person.

Book two will continue to follow Kern, the main character from “Suriax.” (On sale during the month of October. See here for details.) Readers will also learn the secrets behind the raiders from the Southern Plains. If you enjoyed Maerishka and her disfunctional sibling relationships, you are in for a treat. The siblings will come together in a meeting for the bards to sing about for generations. Book 2 promises to be an explosive action packed book of war, survival and family. Keep checking back for updates.

 

-Amanda Young

http://www.wotpast.com

http://www.facebook.com/wotpast

wotpast@yahoo.com

Point of View

What POV do you write in?

I have always gravitated to multiple points of view. It’s like third person, but instead of being stuck in one person’s head, you jump to whoever has something important to observe. Of course, if it is not done right, it can difficult for the reader to follow whose head you are in at any given time. It can be confusing. For my last book, I tried to do more third person and stay in one head for each scene. When I normally would have jumped heads to show a different opinion or observation I had to challenge myself to express everything in another way. I think it made me a better writer, but there were still some times when I felt like a multiple point of view was needed. That experiment taught me something. When done correctly in moderation, multiple points of view can really add something to a scene, but when overused it becomes a crutch and a hinderance in getting the story across. Multiple POV does not have to be the only way I write. It is just one of the many tools we as writers have access to.

-A.D. McLain

www.wotpast.com

www.facebook.com/wotpast

I just self-published my first book. In many ways, it feels more rewarding than publishing the traditional route. I published two books through publishers. That was an exercise in disappointment. I had little to no help with marketing. You can’t sell a book if no one knows it exists. I’ve been writing since I was 12 years old. I always thought writing the books was the hard part. Once I found a publisher to take a chance on me, I would have it made. Ah, the naiveté of youth.

So I decided to forgo that with this book and do it myself. I’m doing all of the work anyway. Why not get a bigger chunk of the rewards? Having complete control over when and how it is published, what the cover looks like, how much it costs, having the freedom to run promotions or give out free copies at my discretion, is exhilarating and frightening. With no one to approve or finalize my work, it’s all on me. I am the final say. If there are problems, I have no one to blame but myself. Of course, there is still the matter of that darn marketing beast. How do you find readers in a world of virtual bookshelves? Will I ever walk into a bookstore and see my book on the shelves? It is a little disappointing to think I may not.

I still remember (back before the internet was used for everything short of breathing) printing out hard copies of my books, standing in long lines at the post office to send certified letters to publishers and then waiting months for the rejection letters to start coming in. It sucked, but that was what being a writer and trying to get published used to be. That was what you expected. It may take ten years or more, but keep trying and eventually you will get your break. If I had known then what I know now, I’d have spent a whole lot more time just writing. Instead of writing one book and waiting to publish it, I would have immediately started the next and built up my body of work. Of course, my life experiences have shaped who I am and have shaped my writing. So I am content with my past mistakes and stumbles. I know now, and that is what matters. Now I am only limited by myself and my own ideas.

So I will keep writing. I will not fall into the same trap of write and wait. I may not get publicity or become  well-known on this book or the next. but, like finding that first publisher, it will happen eventually. And when it does, I don’t want to look back and wish I had written more. I put out “Suriax” six months after I started it. Now let’s see if I can do even better with the next one. I’ve got a lot of stories to tell. Time to get them out there.

-A.D. McLain/Amanda Young

www.wotpast.com

www.facebook.com/wotpast

Upcoming Blog interviews:

May

Special Thanks to D. Jean Quarles, who will be hosting me on her blog on May 30, 2012. (starting 5:30 AM, Pacific Time) Check out her blog here. (http://djeanquarles.blogspot.com/)

 

July

Keep an eye out for my interview, coming in July.
439. Paranormal romance and fantasy author Amanda McLain-Young – (Monday  07-23-12)
In the mean time, take a look at some of these other great authors here. (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/blog-interviews/)


A.D. McLain

www.wotpast.com

www.facebook.com/wotpast

So, I finished my cover for my fantasy novelette, “Suriax.” You can take a look at it on my website, www.wotpast.com.  Now, while I am waiting for my husband to finish his edits so I can go through it one last time to make my own final edits, I found myself in between projects and decided to go ahead and get a head start on my next book, “Wolf of the Future.” This will be book three in my Spirit of the Wolf series. I began typing yesterday and am almost to 3,000 words. I am hoping to have a rough draft done by the end of March. For those of you familiar with the series, this story will focus in on Mara and her past. You will also learn the truth about who Durante is. If all goes well, I should finish this book much sooner than anticipated. Here’s to a busy year of writing.

–A.D. McLain

www.wotpast.com

Update on New Book

If it was legal to kill, would you?

Suriax and Aleria were sister cities, separated by the Therion River. Both were founded on a strict observance of the law, but they could not have been more different. For King Veritan founded Suriax on the teachings of Venerith, the Corruptor, a god of laws devoid of morality. In Suriax there is no “right” or “wrong.” There is only “legal” or “illegal.”

Kern was an assassin for the Flame Guard, mercenaries dedicated to Venerith. He never questioned his life until the day he learned the truth about his past.

Pursued by a queen willing to do anything to keep her throne, Kern must face an uncertain future and a bargain that will change the people of Suriax forever.

*******************

Author’s notes:

I’m getting closer to publishing my next book. I am self-publishing my next story on Smashwords and just spent the past two days going through the formatting guidelines. I also completed a short blurb/description about the book (see above). Still working on a title and need a cover, though.  This story is a departure from my normal genre, paranormal romance, so I will be writing under the name Amanda Young. It is a fantasy novel with elves, gnomes and magic. This story is a joint venture with my husband, Raymond Young Jr. He came up with the original concept and helped me sound out a lot of my ideas throughout the writing process. He is currently editing the book, as well. I also plan to publish through CreateSpace so I can make it available in print. This story is currently 35,000 words.

Current ideas for the title are “Suriax” or “Night of Blue Flame.”

 

-A.D. McLain

www.wotpast.com

It has been eight years since I graduated from college with a BA in Liberal Arts. Looking back on that time I find I learned a lot, but most of it wasn’t in text books. I was an English major, but I can’t quote too many famous authors. I barely remember any algebra or calculus, despite the years I spent studying it. Every now and then I pull out some random piece of info I learned from a professor or class, but that happens just as often with things I saw on Discovery Channel. Honestly, I’ve probably retained more from Mythbusters and the various nature and science shows I’ve seen throughout the years. Whoever said you can’t learn things from television wasn’t watching the right shows. You can learn things everywhere. You must simply be open to learning.

So what is the point of college, anyway? I studied English for four years only to get jobs in accounting, physical therapy, marketing and retail sales. Every job I’ve had, I was forced to learn as I went with little to no prior experience in that field or profession. I’ve learned things from each of my jobs that I then carried over to my next job or to my writing. Every experience I’ve had was important in some way. That includes college.

In high school, I was completely excited by the idea of college. I wanted to be out on my own, in charge of my own destiny, free to make my own decisions and mistakes for the first time. I packed six months early and moved in the dorm the first day I was allowed to move in. My first lesson was others were not filled with the same sense of personal responsibility and motivation to be their own person that drove me. And honestly, who could blame them? Every time I turned around I found more rules and restrictions designed to treat us all like children who couldn’t make our own decisions. We were coddled and shepherded to make the choices our teachers or the school administrators thought we should make. I angered me a great deal. I was an adult. I could fight and die for my country, but I couldn’t have a co-ed study group after 9 pm. (if we are being completely honest, it is actually easier for boys and girls to enjoy alone time during the day when roommates are gone at work or class than at night when they are all in the same room, but I digress). The point is, I did not understand the discrepancy between how I was raised, how my opinion mattered at home, and how my school gave me far less credit for being able to make decisions than my parents did. If you treat people like irresponsible morons long enough, they will learn to become what is expected of them. It is easier to be a dumb kid. No one blames you for your actions. It’s never your fault. You were just doing what you were told, following hormones, etc. I encountered much of this in elementary through high school, but silly me, I thought things would be different in college.

College can be a wonderful place to cultivate personal responsibility if it is allowed to flourish. It can be a buffer between childhood and full adulthood, where one can take on a few new bills at a time, learning to budget with a safety net. But this is only the case if responsibility is the ultimate goal. If you never take off the training wheels, you can never truly learn to ride a bike. You have to take charge of your own life. It may be hard, but it is worth it. If you always allow others to make your decisions for you, you are never truly free. You must try things that may not work out and be prepared to live with the consequences.

But my college experience was not all bad. I am the type of person who is motivated by my goals to the exclusion of many other things. Once I am focused on something and know what I want, I can not be distracted from that path. I went to college to learn to improve my writing. Throughout my college career I continued to work on my books, and three and half years after I graduated I published my first book, “Wolf of the Past.” I may have learned more to improve my writing through a brief consult with a literary critiquer than I did in college, but ti did help lay some foundation for my skills.

I also learned a lot about dealing with people. Living with someone will teach you a lot. For instance, live with anyone for long enough, and you will probably end up hating them just a little. It’s inevitable. The second a roommate does one thing to upset you, if it isn’t resolved quickly, every little thing they do will instantly become a horrible reinforcement for your bitterness and anger. Of course, you can work past this, and close friendships do develop and grow in a roommate environment, but it is not easy. It is a valuable lesson to learn that can help with future relationships. Once you know what you are doing and understand that it wasn’t really such a terrible slight that the roommate turned out the light while you were reading, or turned on their cd while you were watching tv (or any number of the stupid, little things that just add up over time to make one big thing) you can move past those things and focus on the big things that are really important. Developing this skill set is crucial for dealing with a spouse, as marriages are often prone to the same problems as roommates in general.

Of course I would never had learned any of these things if I had not lived on campus during college. I truly believe living in the dorm was one of the best things I could have done in my life. It helped me grow as a person, take on responsibilities at my own pace and learn to be self-sufficient. I had to learn to budget, pay bills and get myself up for class on time. I had to work my student job, plan my own schedule and balance classwork with fun activities. There was no one looking over my shoulder to make me do my homework. I had to do that all on my own. There is no substitution for experience and hard work. That is what I took from my college experience.

-A.D. McLain

www.wotpast.com

Stories Matter

I’m often teased for the way I analyze the movies I watch or the books I read. “It’s just a movie,” I’m told. I should lighten up, not take things so seriously. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, or maybe I can blame my years as an English major in college, but I expect more from my entertainment. To be completely honest, I always have. I would read a book and think, “I can do better.” That is part of the reason I began writing my own stories. As a writer I expect more from other writers. When I see obvious continuity errors or plot choices that make no sense, I feel that writer is being lazy. I expect at least as much from other writers as I expect from myself.

As a writer, I know all the elements that go into a story. A writer must balance theme, character development, action and symbolism, all while keeping the reader or viewer engaged and entertained. To fail at any part of this is to fail as a writer and a storyteller. If the reader isn’t entertained they won’t continue reading, so it doesn’t matter what your message is.

To some, all this is meaningless. It’s just a story. It isn’t real. It doesn’t matter. But stories can be far more important than people give them credit for. Stories allow us to explore issues we all face in daily life. They make us think, feel, examine our beliefs and consider impossible decisions and issues of right vs wrong. They bind us as a culture, displaying elements of our society, our practices, what is important to us, our ideals. They teach us accepted behaviors and what to consider taboo. A good story touches us on a deep level, leaving us inspired, full of hope or full of fear. The best stories affect us without our being aware of it. Therein also lies their danger. Writers have a door into our minds. They can leave impressions and ideas that weren’t there before. They can shape opinions and the direction of a society.

In the end, yes it may just be a movie, or it may just be a book, but that is irrelevant to its ultimate importance. The media chosen is a vessel that conveys the larger message. How that message is received is what really matters.

I gave a brochure with an excerpt for my second book to someone the other day. After reading it, she asked me some questions and said she saw someone reading my first book recently. He told her a little about it and said he was re-reading my first book since I had a second one out.  My first thought was that she must have me confused with someone else, but when I showed her a picture of my first book, she confirmed that was the book she saw. What a strange feeling to be told someone was just sitting in a lobby reading my book. I can’t wait until I can hear that and not automatically assume they must be mistaken or talking about someone else. Of course, I may always think that in the back of my head.

-A.D. McLain

www.wotpast.com