Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Heart for Writing

If you have read my blog you know that the main character in my new book is a young woman who owns a coffee shop in Door County, Wisconsin. She is an only child and very close to her parents. It grieves me to tell you her dad had a heart attack. He’s okay. Or will be. But he is going to have to change his lifestyle. When Sonja read through the documents concerning his nutrition she had some misgivings. Well, here, read it for yourself:

The next morning Annette and Sonja poured over the pamphlets a nurse in the cardio unit had given them regarding Daniel’s future care.

“No sodium, no cholesterol, no fat? How about no taste?” Sonja laughed. “I’m thinking Daddy will never be able to eat anything I cook again.”

“I’m going to have to learn how to cook all over,” Annette mused. “And no more pizza nights. He’s not going to like this.”

I know how Annette and Sonja feel. My own husband had a heart attack. Like the characters in my book, I had to learn how to “cook all over” again. Writers draw from their own experiences. They weave those experiences into their books. Doing so helps readers identify and empathize with the characters.

I just finished reading Lynn Austin’s book, All Things New. It is the story of a family in the post Civil War South. I really enjoyed the book and when a former slave and the main character, Jo, work together in the garden, I don’t have to have lived in the South or in Civil War times to identify with the experience. I have worked my own vegetable garden. I can feel the dirt under my fingernails. I can breathe the satisfaction of having planted and grown my own vegetables. When Austin includes the experience in the pages of her book, it helps me identify with Jo. I understand her better so I empathize with her when she meets with challenges in the book.

As I said, I understand how Annette and Sonja feel. Now I need to look at some of Sonja’s recipes and see if I can help her modify them so her dad can still enjoy his food at Shirley’s Cuppa Joe. The first one that comes to mind is the Breakfast Pizza Sonja recently put on the menu. Here is the modified, heart healthy version Sonja is going to rename Daniel’s Breakfast Pizza:

2 rolls reduced fat crescent rolls
3 pints Eggbeaters (egg whites work well, too)
1 package Morningstar Sausage Veggie Crumbles
2 C. shredded potatoes
1 C. reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
1 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt substitute
Other veggies such as chopped bell peppers or onions may be added, but are optional.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using a large cookie sheet, roll out crescent rolls to cover the bottom
 Lightly sauté the veggie crumbles (if you are adding onion and bell pepper you will want to cook them at this time with the “meat”) Use a small amount of water. You do not need oil to prepare the crumbles.
 Spread the sausage crumbles over the crescent roll crust
 Spread the shredded potatoes over the crumbles
 Cover with the Eggbeaters. If you use egg whites, you will need to add about ½ C. milk to the mixture.
  Spread the mozzarella cheese over the entire breakfast pizza
   Bake for 35 minutes at 350 or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  Spread the shredded cheddar on top and return to warm oven for 10 minutes. (I don’t like to put the reduced fat cheddar on too early because it doesn’t melt the same as the regular cheddar)
  Add salt and pepper to taste (light on the salt, if you use the real thing)
  Cut and serve (great reheated, too)

This is one of my family’s favorites. Of course I had to revise it to meet my husband’s new dietary needs, but we all still like it. I think Sonja and her mother will be fine. And in the long run, I think they will all benefit from eating healthier.

And my word count this week? 66,310 words. What? Didn't I have over 69.000 words las week? Yep. To get back into my writing after two weeks of a working vacation (read "help hubby install laminate floors"), I printed the text I had written and began a careful rereading of what I had written. I pruned away at superfluous text and wound up with 66,000 words. I can live with that. Remember, it is not the word count that is important. It's the story. Oh, I can write so much better when I am feeling settled! So if you have joined me on this journey and you are writing your own novel, let me know how it is progressing. What life experiences are you including?

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