Monday, 22 July 2013

Quick & Dirty Cheats to Save You Time

Writers will get this, working mum's will get this, basically anyone who has too many things and not enough time in the day will get this. You know that moment when you've been super productive—like all the shit has been done today, and just as you're about to give yourself a high-five, you look at the clock and...Balls...

It's about an hour later than you thought it was, you have exactly four minutes to make the ten minute trip to pick up your kids, and you know in about twenty-five minutes time you're going to have a house full of hungry creatures and nothing to feed them but re-fried air.
So you scramble. You search on your smart-phone for quick meal ideas, and—the lying bastards!! Every mother knows that the amazing homemade from scratch casserole that the lying prick of a celebrity chef tells you will take fifteen minutes only exists in a world where you have mad-ninja-knife-skills, or a fridge magically full of every fancy-ass herb on the planet, or it uses every single utensil, pot, and appliance you own—including the giant food processor buried in the corner of no return at the back of you over-stacked cupboard. You know if on the highly unlikely chance that this recipe actually takes fifteen minutes to make, the clean-up afterwards is going to take the rest of your life.

So you flick to the next website, and oh looky here, something that might really take fifteen minutes to cook—but its stir-fried beetroot with raw zucchini salad served on a bed of nothing-any-child-will-ever-eat...
Eventually as your family sits down to their meal, and you watch your children eat their tinned baked beans that in no way resembles a meal, nothing you've achieved that day seems to count because you've just failed at dinner. Even better your blood pressure has gone up like you've just eaten all the salt directly from the box.

I'll be clear, I like cooking. I even like making things that take the extra effort—when I'm prepared and have the time. But sometimes as someone who wears the twenty five different hats of a working mother, a small business owner, a writer, and every other thing, I just need a cheat.
I mean a real proper cheat. Something that takes five minutes, that looks and tastes like a meal but I don't actually have to cook. Something that doesn't need me to chop eighty things, or use all the pots, or cause a mess that will drain my life on a day I don't have the time. But most of all I want to put it on the table and be okay with my kids eating it, and still be winning. Sometimes, I want to fudge dinner, and for it to be okay.

So recently I learned to fake it. Learned a handful of tricks and recipes I can use on those days and create the illusion that I have this domestic stuff covered.

4 Timesaving Tricks
Tip 1— Tinned tuna and salmon can be substituted for chicken in many recipes and save time. Have these in your cupboard and you'll always have something to cook.

Tip 2— Shred the meat off a purchased rotisserie chicken and use it in a recipe. You'll have meat for two days without cooking. Tinned chicken is also available (if your game) at most supermarkets, and some deli's sell precooked chicken breast if you're not big on rotisserie chooks.
Tip 3 — Don't be afraid to buy a salad kit or bag of pre-chopped veg, it's better than baked beans for dinner.

Tip 4 — Keep tortillas, pita bread, and bread rolls in the freezer, to throw together an instant no-cook meal. Long life taco shells and wraps last months in the pantry.

5 Cheat Meals—5 minutes or less prep time
Here are my own versions of 5 minute meals, although the images are just for reference ;)
Anna Frodesiak, February 2013

      ·         Pita Bread

·         Shredded rotisserie chicken

·         Tzatziki (Grerk cucumber dip available in deli section of supermarkets)

·         Lettuce (the pre-washed ready to use kind)

·         Sliced Tomato


It ain't science. Just scatter the fillings in the middle of the pita, fold in the bottom and wrap it up.
Takes a few minutes, no cooking or washing up. :)
Salmon Risotto

·         Family size pouch of microwave rice

·         1/2 a natural vegetable stock cube dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water

·         1/2 cup frozen baby peas

·         1 chopped spring onion/shallot

·         3 tablespoons light cream cheese (Philadelphia style)

·         3 tablespoons fresh parmesan

·         200g tin of boneless salmon (well drained)

Place the rice in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 60 seconds. While the rice is in the microwave, whisk the cream cheese into the hot stock. Mix all the remaining ingredients with the rice and microwave for another 2-3 minutes depending on the strength of your microwave.

Chicken Caesar Salad

By tratong, published on 15 January 2013

      ·         A bag of Caesar salad mix (with crotons and dressing)

·         1/2 a shredded rotisserie chicken

·         4 eggs

Set the eggs to boil for 4 minutes. Put together the salad mix and top with either warm or cold chicken. Rinse the eggs under cold water and peal. Cut eggs in quarters and top salad.

Tip: My kids don't always like the idea of salad, but if I put salad on one side of the plate, shredded chicken and boiled eggs on the other, they generally eat it.
Easy Pizza
 By -Marcus-, published on 05 June 2013
Pizza Base - Be creative. If you don't have a base in the freezer, they can be made with Pita, Turkish bread, Bread Rolls, and much more.

      ·         Tomato passata (puree tomato) seasoned with salt, pepper and a squeeze of minced garlic if you have it.

·         Packet of grated mozzarella cheese

·         Torn cold meat (whatever you have in the fridge - salami, ham, chicken etc)

·         pitted olives

·         sliced capsicum

Preheat oven to 200c degrees. Top base with tomato sauce, cheese, and other toppings. Bake for 15 minutes.

Chicken Tacos


       1 packet of soft taco shells
  • 1/2 a shredded rotisserie chicken
  • Ready to use lettuce
  • Chopped baby Tomato's
  • Avocado (optional)
  • Ready grated tasty cheese
      1 tbs lime juice (or white vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup Natural Yoghurt
  • Smoked paprika
  • Salt and Pepper

Heat chicken in microwave safe bowl. Combine dressing ingredients with chicken and toss well. Fill Taco shells with chicken mixture, and top with salad toppings and cheese.

There's a real dinner, effort fudged! 

I love your comments, which is why I don't use validation. So it's easy. :) 
Want to connect on
Twitter and  Facebook ?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Three Ways To Supercharge Your Social Media

If you're reading this it's fair to assume you're trying to build your social media presence. Basically, there's an agenda. Maybe it's to sell a product, or maybe it's to network or build your brand. Whichever, you want to get the most out of your chosen platforms. The best way is to know what you're using and how to approach it.

I'm going to focus on Twitter and Facebook today because these are the two most widely used and abused social platforms. These points apply when trying to build or create a social media presence, because unlike celebrities or famous brands, people aren't going to connect with us simply because we exist.  
These are my tips for supercharging your social media

1. Know what you want and where to get it

Think of Facebook as going to the mall with friends. You're with people you know, and you're there to hang out with them. Sure you might see strangers walk past but you don't really take notice unless there is a good reason why you should. In the mall there are heaps of stores. Some of them boom advertisements with their microphone that you have no choice but to hear. Sometimes a friend nudges you and says "Hey look what I just brought from that store—isn't it cute?", and sometimes you'll shop together.

Facebook following is reciprocal, which means that strangers aren't going to connect with you unless you approve, and friending people you have no connection to will land you in Facebook jail. So if you're looking to connect with a whole heap of new people fast, Twitter might be more your style.  

Twitter is more like a massive street party. People are there to hang out. There are some stores along the street but that is not why people have come to the party. At the street party, people you don't know will come up and talk to you. Sometimes it will be great and you'll hit it off. Sometimes someone has more interest in you than you do in them, and vice versa.  

Twitter following in not reciprocal, and it's easy to follow and make friends with people you would never normally meet. So for networking Twitter is AWESOME. For those of you with something to sell, Facebook has something Twitter doesn't—Business/Professional Pages.
Think about being at that street party and suddenly someone stands up and starts shouting, "BUY MY BOOK—HEY YOU BUY MY BOOK NOW!!" You could almost guarantee a wide circle would start forming around that person. Professional pages on Facebook are like getting a stand at the mall. People expect you to be selling something, so doing so is fine. It should still be engaging, but generally people will like a page because they are interested in a product.

Facebook also gives you a chance to use a microphone to amplify your message in the form of paid advertisements. Sure Twitter has Twitter promotion but Facebook advertisement is by far a more accessible option.
So consider what you are trying to achieve and where is the best place to do that before you end up setting up a Twitter account that ineffectively booms advertisements at the party, or before you start a Facebook account that gets banned for harassing strangers.

2. Connect
If you want to build any social media you need to connect. This means taking an interest in other people, actually fanning other Facebook pages and interacting with them, actually following people on Twitter and commenting on their tweets, remembering to acknowledge when someone interacts with you, and most importantly this means being a human being—not madam spambot. Automated messages, tweets, mass facebook messaging all strip away your humanity and turn you into a spam bot. Don't be one.

Tweet, or post status updates that are meaningful and connect with people. Talk about your life and your interests, rather than re-tweeting, re-posting the same advertisement fifteen times a day. Basically, offer something to the people bothering to follow you.

3. Advertise
Advertise you say? Okay, I'm not specifically talking about the paid advertising I mentioned. I'm talking about making yourself easier to find. I'm talking about putting your social media details in your email and forum signatures, listing yourself in professional directories, adding your social media contact details to your website, putting your other social media account details across all your social media profiles. I'm talking about helping your connections reach across as all your platforms and aiding new connections to find you.

Let us know your social media tips.

I love your comments, which is why I don't use validation. So it's easy. :) 
Want to connect on Twitter and  Facebook ?

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Five Ways To Kick Fatigue In The Ass

I think this one applies to all of us. I talked recently about how I got myself into a bit of a funk and killed my muse. I’d still been pushing the envelope and getting myself exhausted. We all tend to do it these days. We have jobs, home, kids and if you’re crazy like me you also have something that’s just as demanding, like writing.

After getting myself to a point where I could no longer concentrate, and thinking that maybe I might have some kind of serious illness, I realized that while there’s not a lot I can do about the demands on my energy but there is a lot I can do about the way I handle it. Point being, there’s things we can do to kick fatigue’s ass.

I have a lot of trouble turning off and going to sleep, and having a constant writers brain doesn’t help. You can still achieve good quality sleep if you wind down. The last two weeks I’ve tried to plan my time so I stop writing half an hour before bed and do something to wind down. Reading, catching up with twitter, something quiet that doesn’t make me think too much.

Did you know when you miss sleep you acquire a sleep debt? This is a real scientifically proven thing, looky here I even have evidence!

Sometimes you just got to pick a night and make yourself a priority. Put that laptop, book, crochet down and go to bed early. An extra hour once a week may help to pay off some of that debt.

When were exhausted, there’s the temptation to prop ourselves up with stimulants. I started with coffee, then coffee and Barocca, then  coffee, Barocca, and Pepsi, then coffee, Barroca, and Hairy Lemon… you get the picture. The last week I’ve cut back. I try to only have two stimulants in the morning and none what’s so ever after lunch time. I’ve found the less I have them the less I need them and the better quality sleep I’m having.

I’m not going to lecture on this one because I’m no saint here. But I think we all get that if you’re having a problem with fatigue sugar can be a real enemy. Regular healthy meals can keep that blood sugar balanced and stop that bottomed out feeling that comes from a blood sugar crash.

Going for a walk, if you can find the energy when you're in the middle of a funk, can get those endorphins going and keep you restored. I will exercise soon, I will…

I could list this point three times. There’s a big difference between whining that you’re tired and actually asking for help. Last weekend I did something break-through. I told my hubby how destroyed I was and asked him to help me. I went to bed early and the next morning he got up and took care of the kids.

I slept for thirteen hours solid. Yep, instead of my usual six hours I got more than twice that! Some of that debt got cleared, because I’m feeling human again. My productivity is climbing and I’m on my way to being fully recharged.

All it takes is a few small adjustments and we can kick that fatigue in the ass.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

When things were AWESOME

My kids had time off childcare and maybe I went a little cray-cray. Okay I did, I admit it. Not because I actually had to look after them and still run my business, I just wanted the time to be special. I took my four year old to the movies, we did crafts, cooked together and watched ALL THE DVD'S!

But after a few days I knew if I had to watch one more plot-less computer animated barbie/fairy/animal/insect movie the DVD player would get acquainted with my meat-mallet. Where was all the awesomeness that I grew up with? Where was Home Alone, The Labyrinth, Homeward Bound, and all the good kids shows? I have a daughter, isn't it like my duty to impose the awesomeness of my youth on her?

So I started getting everything I remember... I mean everything from the eighties and nineties. I was so excited to watch these gems with my daughter... Then I realised most of what I'd gotten wasn't actually that appropriate for a four year old. Case-in-point The Dark Crystal. Awesome, but pretty freaking scary and messed-up. 

I started to see that actually I just wanted to watch these things myself. For the first time in years I'd thought about my life growing up. Really thought about it. What I played with, what was happening in the world. These days we're so engrossed in popular culture it's almost as though the past has been eradicated. Our information comes to us electronically and instantly. We need to know now, are interested in the latest, the most popular. We watch shows about families of celebrities famous for being well—celebrities, while they...err what are they doing? I think I saw them get an ass X-ray once...
Where was I? Oh that's right, I was reminiscing. I miss the old days. So here are a few things that remind me of my youth. This was fun.

What we wore

For me childhood looks like scrunches, leggings, bodysuits (cos every six year old wants to wear tops that button at the crouch right?), hats, and more denim than should ever be worn...
I was going to use a picture of myself as a kid in full denim, but then I remembered there are federal and international laws against using images of minors for illicit purposes-like fashion crime!

The song we sung over, and over again

This is one that was much abused by my sister and I.
What we watched



What we did

and this

What does your childhood look like? Comment or better yet, leave a link to your own flashback blog post!

I love your comments, which is why I don't use validation. So it's easy. :)

Monday, 8 July 2013

Who said what now? Gender Dialogue

Character Dialogue

How to create distinctive three dimensional characters PART 2
Remember the time I was reading and had to wonder why the heroine had a penis, but it turned out POV had changed? Well we've talked about using body language to define your character now it's time for dialogue.
Unless your characters are identical twins who finish each other's sentences and speak in unison, your characters should have their own distinct way of speaking.

The key to finding your characters voice is knowing who they are. Really knowing... Like where are they from, are they formal or informal, educated or uneducated, trendy or old fashioned, guarded and reserved or open, are they someone who speaks every incessant thought that comes into their head, or do they keep their cards close?

Let's start with gender because that's where this whole topic started for me. If you're writing romance it's even more important to get this right because genders (particularly for the hero) are much more clearly defined.

Ladies tend to use more descriptive and emotional language. I don't need to go further than my own living room to find examples. My husband being the very stereotype of overt masculinity provides them in abundance.  
Example; someone asks how our meal is, and we are both enjoying it.
  • Hubby: "It's fine, thanks." If it's ABSOLUTLY THE BEST THING HE HAS EVER EATEN maybe, "It's good, thanks."
  • Me: "It's fantastic/delicious/wonderful, thank you."

If fact I am quite sure my husband has never spoken any of the words I just used.

So think about connotations of word choices. Words that are emotional and descriptive might be used for the heroine and not the hero. Where the heroine might say, gorgeous, ecstatic, or devastated, the hero might use words like nice, pleased, or pissed.

Men are more likely to be direct in what they say and get to the point. For example a hero would be more likely to answer a question with a simple yes or no, while the heroine might say something like "I'd prefer not to" or "I'm not sure about that".
  • Females are more likely to phrase things as questions and males as statements.
  • Females use more adjectives. Males have shorter sentences.

Tip: If you want to get a real feel for male and female speech patterns this exercise takes only a few minutes and gives great insight—it's also pretty funny.

Record five minutes of a male talk program such as The Footy Show, or Top Gear. Play the recording and write down all the dialogue as it is spoken. Then do the same for a female driven show like The View. Now compare the two. How different is dialogue? I bet you'd never confuse the gender of the speakers.

There are a million ways you can reveal your character with dialogue. Here are just a few things to think about.
Revealing a background
  • You'll notice a difference in the way people speak just from the area they live in, even if there is not a distinctive accent. People from some states or countries tend to frequently use certain words. Think about where your character is from to form their language choices.
  • Formal/educated/professional characters will tend to have better grammar, use more formal language, possibly use less contractions.
  • Less formal characters may have poorer grammar, use more slang and colloquialisms. 
  • Is your character an expert on a certain topic? Clues might be woven into dialogue or even internal narrative.

Revealing a personality
  • Does your character have their own saying or phrase? It can make your character distinct, but be sure not to over use it. 
  • Does your character use humor in their speech? 
  • Is the character cool/trendy? If so they would be all over pop-culture phrases (but careful these date). 
  • Is your character mysterious? Then they might be more elusive and less upfront in their answers. 

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Ravenous Book Release

One of my favourite Aussie steamy romance authors, Eden Summers is releasing her latest novella Ravenous!

She’s a small town caterer, he’s a big city chef, but they don’t need a kitchen to make things sizzle...

Erin McDonald likes her simple life in her small town: no drama, no fuss, no uncertainty...until Jesse Hackett breezes back into town. Erin never quite got over how he left for the bright lights of the big city, and took her heart with him.

Jesse never regretted his decision to leave small town life behind and chase his big city dreams, but he’s always regretted leaving Erin behind. No woman has ever compared, and once he convinces Erin to let him touch her again, he’s never going to let her go.

Sparks fly and fires are rekindled, but the basic divide still remains: what really matters in life — location or love?

About Eden Summers

Eden Summers is a true blue Aussie, living in regional New South Wales with her two energetic young boys and husband. She has published five other titles both contemporary romance and erotic romance genres.

 You can get in touch with Eden by clicking on the following links:

Pre-order for $0.99!!
“What do you want?” She tried to appear nonchalant, even though her body already started to betray her. Her breasts tightened and her knees grew weak.
                “What’s on offer?” His lips parted in a full smile.

                Erin let out a sigh. She didn’t have time for this, and after eight years she still didn’t have the strength for it. Jesse was her downfall, her Achilles heel and the reason for every single relationship failure since he left town, taking her broken heart with him.

                “You’re licking your lips as if you still want me.”
                She opened her mouth to protest and closed it again. He was right. She had been licking her lips.

                “And you’re dripping,” he added.

                “Now that’s enough!” There may have been heat between her thighs but she sure as hell wasn’t “dripping”. Jesse had been the first to touch her, the first to teach her the ways of lovemaking and dominant desire, but he sure as shit wouldn’t be able to tell that her panties were damp.
                “I meant your spoon,” he chuckled, indicating the piece of silver hanging from her hand, “it’s dripping on the floor.”