Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Research you can eat!

I decided to do a little different kind of research for my book The Presence of Shadows.

My main characters are based on Ethiopian Jews, so I have a few of Ethiopian foods mentioned in my book.

Well, I've never had Ethiopian food so I decided to make Injera from scratch.  Injera is a flat bread that is used both as a plate and eating utensil. It's kind of like sour dough in that you mix the Teff flour with water and let it ferment.  Now here is the tricky part, almost all of the recipe's I found online had differences in recipe and method.  Some of the variations included using yeast to speed up the fermentation process. Some added more flour after letting it set and others did not. Some use only Teff flour and others also use All Purpose Flour.

So not being a very patient person who really wanted to try this food that my characters consume on a daily basis, I waited 2 days for the fermentation to take place.  Don't ask me if that was long enough, I have no clue, but it did smell funny and I had the predicted air bubbles in the finished product.

Last night I made the injera and served it to my husband and four kids for dinner. What an experience. You cook injera like a crepe. I did have to tweak the recipe that I had chosen to use by adding more teff flour and I also added some all purpose flour to the fermented mixture. The "pancakes" are dark brown and smell a little like grass. It has a very earthy/grassy taste, and is spongy. The more I ate the less weird tasting it was. We grilled some pork chops with lots of spices on it, since the wat, a stew they would wrap in it is very spicy. The end judgment was that it was alright, not out of this world, but not gag and spit it out either. Two of my kids wouldn't eat it, but that isn't saying too much.

My twelve year old, Cora, wanted to try it with honey and whip cream on it. She got the honey, but no whip cream, and it was yummy. I may have to add that in my book somewhere.
 Over all it was a fun adventure. Now to find a recipe that works the way it's supposed to. I'm definitely going to try making it again. When I do I'll take pictures and post them here. I'm kicking myself for not thinking of that last night.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A new chapter

Well, I had one of those problems that didn't seem to have a good solution. I was a little long winded in chapter two and needed to find a way to move Biblical content. Cutting it was not an option for me. Since chapter three appeared to have the same problem, I couldn't just bump content form chapter two to three or I would have a worse mess than before.

After thinking and praying about what to do, the thought came that maybe I should just add a chapter between two and three and move content form both of them into the new chapter. The more I thought about it the better I liked the idea. I had a great deal of character development that was missing in the first chapters of my book. This was due to the fact that when I sat down to write I didn't know my characters.

I'm really happy with my decision to add this chapter and move the Biblical content to it so that the chapters are more readable. Plus it was great to just sit down and write. I hope that I have made my main character stronger and explained life in this world a little better.

I've enjoyed the editing experience and am so grateful that with my editors help I've been able to wrap my brain around point of view. It makes such a difference in how my book reads. Yes, that is right. I didn't even know about pov when I began writing and first learned about it when I was almost finished with my first draft. I had a hard time reconciling writing in third person and using a pov. After all I chose third person so that I wouldn't be locked into one persons story.  I'm so glad that now I can say, "I get it." I see how pov and third person work together to craft a great story.

Well, back to work for me.  I have to get this new chapter ready so that I can read it to my daughters class next week.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mortar for my rock wall

I received my book back from my editor with the first round of edits. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of "Red" on the page.  Since this is my first book, I know that I need to learn a lot. I fully expected to see more red than black on the pages. 

I'm trying my best not to get overwhelmed by the amount of work that my "finished" book still needs.  The comments have been wonderful, and I love how Lisa has the ability to fix those sentences that I would look at a scratch my head about.  I knew they weren't quite right, but couldn't figure out how to word them. When I read her fix I think, "That's it."

I was trying to give myself a pep talk (at 2 a.m.) so that I stay away from that dangerous cliff called "Overwhelmed"that I have a tendency to jump off. This is what I came up with:  By the grace of God my story happens to be good. But what Lisa is pointing out is places where it needs a bit of mortar to hold all of the rocks in place to make it a strong, well written story.  Since that is my goal, it seems that the time it will take is well spent.  I truly want to create a fun, great read for young adults that will also teach them.

So today, I'm not going to look at all of the work it's going to take, but at how strong my rock wall will be in the end.