Tag Archives: southwest

Don’t Just Sit There . . . WRITE!


Don't Just Sit There . . . WRITE!

Don’t Just Sit There . . . WRITE!

My personal advice to budding writers is not simply . . . WRITE! but dang near it.

Like all writers and novelists, I followed a myriad of roads to be where I am today. I can see that many of my roads were constructed of circumstances. Yet, the gritty asphalt of the highway leading to the inkwells of corporate writer, humor columnist, scribe, and author was built from pure tenacity.

Writing in the library, the car, in bed, on the toilet . . .

I’ve always written. In school, I loved nothing more than getting essay questions. I’d fill up the page and write on the back or in the margins of the test questions. Off and on, I kept diaries and journals. I wrote Christmas letters, poems, free verse. My letters to friends and family were dubbed “epistles.”

I volunteer-wrote for charities and ministries and rewrote safety manuals for an insurance company. I simply wrote . . . before I had children, while I was raising children, and after my children were adults.

What happened?

A little book happened.

Wherever I volunteered, I was always given some kind of writing task. Researching how to write press releases for my children’s school one fateful day, a little book practically fell off the library bookshelf and into my trembling hands. It was Brenda Ueland’s If You Want to Write, an archaic book written in 1938, of which Carl Sandburg said was “the best book ever written on how to write.”

Ueland essentially said that if a person wants to write, she or he will. By hook or crook, they will plow ahead. I can’t explain it, but that book inspired me to return to college and get my Business Management degree. Naturally, I had to sign up for something related to writing, and I decided on a journalism class.

It was the best decision I ever made.

Before long, I was a campus editor, and soon I was making professors laugh with my crazy brand of humor columns. I learned how to interview and take my own human-interest Journalistphotographs. I took a summer job at a small, local newspaper where we set up our own columns on an old Apple computer.

It turned into a circus-worthy balancing act with two children, a husband, and my penchant for keeping a dirt-free habitation, but I never stopped smiling!

What a ride!

If you ask, I will answer

It’s awesome to be honored with a question about your journey to an accomplishment. Recently I received a personal message on my author Facebook page from Skylar. She had just completed her sophomore year in high school, and she aspires to write books. She asked for my advice.

Skylar agreed that I could use her name, so here, in microchip fashion, is my advice for her and all budding authors:

Hi Skylar! Thank you for writing me. I’m happy to offer you a bit of writing advice. My journey to becoming a corporate writer and author came through journalism.

My college journalism courses taught me to “hook” my audience with my very first sentence, my first paragraph, and my first page. I highly recommend studying journalism because it also teaches you to write succinctly and to the point.

Let me also say that a highly developed sense of grammar and proper sentence structure/syntax undergirds all types of writing.

Creative writing course do not get my stamp of approval since they seem to focus on writing wildly descriptive sentences that, though fun to read, are not popular in our sound-bite culture. Learn to say a lot using powerful adjectives and few words.

Whenever you can, attend writing seminars and take online writing classes for fiction and/or non-fiction.

I was always a non-fiction writer, but I decided to challenge myself to take a fiction magazine-writing course with the Institute of Children’s Literature — a great institute, by the way. At the end of the course, my mentor, Chris Eboch, encouraged me to write a novel. I didn’t think it was possible, but she believed in me.

She was right! My third novel comes out this summer, and I’m already working on another one.

It hasn’t been easy, but nothing worthwhile falls into our laps without sweat equity and a burning desire to improve. If you really want to write, you will, and you’ll take every opportunity to get better at your craft. We writers never stop learning!

Good luck, Skylar, and keep me posted on your progress. Never hesitate to ask me anything, and if I can answer it, I will.

The Sky's the Limit, so WRITE!

The Sky’s the Limit, so WRITE!

 

And I’ll do the same for you.

 

 

 

 

 

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Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches summer 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Lolita Tsosie’s Navajo Frybread


fry breadFrybread Recipes are not difficult. Give it a try!

Amounts depend on how much bread you want to make – usually 5 cups of flour for a batch.

To each cup of Blue Bird flour, add:

  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Warm water to make a stiff dough, or
  • ¼ cup powdered milk and warm water to make a stiff dough
  • Hot grease: shortening or lard

Mix flour, baking powder and salt. Always put a little more baking powder than salt so it can rise better in the hot grease.

Add warm water a little at a time so the dough will come out all nice and round. If you add too much water, it gets sticky.

Blue Bird Flour . . . the preferred frybread flour for Navajos and other smart folks.

Blue Bird Flour . . . the preferred frybread flour for Navajos and other smart folks.

When you’re finished making the dough, let it sit for 30 60 minutes.

Heat your skillet with lard or shortening. It has to be plenty melted, and fill the skillet halfway.

Make little round balls about the size of a pool (billiards) ball. Flatten out a dough ball to about ¼” – not too thin, or the heated grease will make it too crisp. You’ll know when the grease is hot enough because the dough browns on one side. Turn it and brown the other side.

Repeat until you have made the amount you wanted.

Drain on paper towels or newspaper.

Enjoy eating “history!”

P. S.  Lolita said she learned her recipes from her grandparents.

 

 

 

 

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Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Swoosh! Kerplunk! Ping! Ahghhh!


A note from me: When I first began full-time novel writing and was forced challenged to build my Author Platform and blog immediately or die as soon as possible, this blog happened. I literally feel the angst and worry in my heart at that time! I want to tell you, it will get better. You will be okay. I’m living proof! 

But this is how I felt then . . .

The racket was driving me mad. Or, madder, I should say.

With every new Hootsuite, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Triberr or LinkedIn tidbit shared by the multi-quadrillions, the sound increased. I covered my ears.

I yanked my hair until the roots (which needed a little color, I might add) ached.

My throat growls were more wild than civilized.

The noise reverberated in my wetware *brain* constantly.

What was it?

Swoosh! Kerplunk! Ping! Ahghhh!

Swoosh. The sound of a heavy rock hurling through the air.

Kerplunk. A rock falling dead to the ground.

Ping! A rock clipping the side, top or bottom of a target.

Ahghhh! Unhappy groan of a defeated rock thrower.

Ad infinitum.

What in the world am I talking about?

Indulge me.

Pretend you have a stack of rocks. The rocks represent:

DUTY,  EFFORT, TOIL.

Several yards in front of you are a row of targets. The targets are:

  • Writing bazillions of words. Making them brilliant, diverse, accurate, breathtakingly grand.
  • Flitting effortlessly through the columns of Twitter (Triberr, Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Tweetle-Dee-Dum) and the pages of Facebook like the flawless social-media mavens we are.
  • Blogging like there’s no tomorrow. But there is a tomorrow. And another blog to write. If we write it, will readers even bother to come?
  • Publicity, platform building, conferences, improving our craft, writing groups.
  • Everything else in life!!

STRUGGLES! FRUSTRATION! WAILS! That was the racket I heard from my fellow bloggers, writers, and social-media pursuers. And in my own mind…


Fear that perhaps not all the blood, sweat and tears in the world would be enough to get us where we needed/wanted to be in our writing worlds.

Fear morphed into resentmentresentment into the sting of realizing the days of blissful writing by the sea or in a quaint mountain cabin with no worries about platform, social media, Google Analytics, Dashboards, etc. etc. etc. were gone forevermore.

“I must do something!”

I cried out, scaring my three Standard poodles and two rescue cats. And maybe my houseplants.

“I will invent an elixir to free the masses from this endless target-missing guilt!”

My eyeballs did socket circles as I conceived a name for the elixir.

SQUEEZE – the perfect name.

Why? Because my elixir would literally squeeze thirty-six hours effort from a mere twelve-hour exertion!

“Do not follow me!” I hoarsely commanded my pet entourage, retreating to my lab. I vowed never to emerge until SQUEEZE was ready to market.

I tore off my clothes and dressed in sackcloth. I sat in ashes and scratched my boils.

Wait. Sorry. That was Job, the Patriarch from the Bible. I get us mixed up sometimes.

Actually, I happened to glance out the window. Birds jabbed their beaks into my winter lawn. A crisp blue sky with pillow clouds winked at me.

Inside, my kitchen twinkled like an old friend. My houseplants seemed two shades greener than usual.

Epiphany! 

I am in charge of ME!

Who said I had to turn out 2,000 words by evening? It was my own Sunday afternoon goal. I set it. I could break it, couldn’t I?

If I wanted to take weekends (or a day or an hour or two weeks) off and be a regular human being, I could!

I shook my fist in the direction of my home office.

Do you hear me, blogs yet unwritten?

Do you hear me, Work in Progress?

Do you hear me, computer, you greedy gateway to the social media universe?

I am the one in charge of my schedule . . . NOT YOU!

I think I must have passed out after that. When I came to, I was making potato soup, jalapeño cornbread and coconut pound cake. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening with family (who sort of remembered who I was). We ate, talked and watched one of the very long Lord of the Rings movies. The best part – no guilt!

Takeaway

It’s hard to hit a target with a lopsided rock. Balance your life, and you’ll hit the important targets straight on.

How do you keep balance in your life? Please share. We’d love to hear about it!

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole


 

  • 2 large chicken breasts w/skin and bone
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 to 3 cloves fresh garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbls. olive or canola oil
  • 1 can chopped green chilies
  • 1 sm. bottle of pimentos
  • ½ cup chopped black olives, optional
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken soup, undiluted
  • ½ lb. + 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ lb. Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 1 dozen corn tortillas
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper, optional

Boil chicken breasts in a heavy pot with water, bay leaves, salt and pepper until done. Cool slightly. Cut and pull the meat into very small pieces, carefully removing all bones. Reserve 1 cup of the chicken broth. Sauté onion in oil. Don’t overcook. Add chicken broth, both cans of soup, green chilies, pimentos, black olives, Velveeta cubes and black pepper to taste. Stir over low heat until cheese melts. Butter a medium casserole dish. Line the bottom and sides with corn tortillas. Layer chicken pieces, shredded cheddar and cheese sauce. Add more tortillas and continue layering until all ingredients, except one cup of shredded cheddar cheese, are used. Finish with sauce. Cover top with remaining cheddar. Bake at 350-degrees until bubbly.

Comment:  My mother, Vivian Woods-Myrick has been making this casserole for almost as long as the Israelites wandered in the desert. Everyone thinks it’s yummy!

Comment:  Vivian suggests using a shallow glass pan for the casserole to distribute the heat better.

 

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Of course, a visit isn’t a visit without a two-way conversation. I really want to hear from you.

I truly hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT. The print version is on sale at Amazon for only $9.85!!! For your convenience, it’s also available for Kindle, the Nook and for most other eBook readers. If you love the Southwest and kooky little characters that make you laugh aloud as authentic danger and mystery swirl at every turn, you’ll love this novel! The second book in the series, CANYON OF DOOM, debuts in early 2013.

While you’re here, please have a look around my website. To sign up to receive notices of my new blogs, recipes, appearances and media news, just leave your email address above. I’ll take care of the rest. Y’all come back soon…I miss you already!

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Jodi’s Black-Eyed Peas


 

  • 1 lb. dried black-eyed peas
  • Salt pork (1- or 2-inch piece)
  • 1 med. diced onion
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic pulp (don’t slice)
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • ¼ to ½ cup carrots cut into small chunks
  • ¼ bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies. For slightly spicy, use ORIGINAL. Otherwise, use MILD.
  • 4 cans chicken broth, or use water
  • 2 Tbls. chili powder
  • Black pepper and salt to taste
  • 2 cups cubed, cooked ham

Prepare black-eyed peas: Pour dried peas onto a flat surface. (Note: I use the kitchen table, using my hand to scrape the cleaned peas into a colander in my lap). Rinse under running water. Put into a heavy 6 qt. pot.

Add salt pork, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, bell pepper, can of Rotel and the broth or water. Add enough liquid to cover peas plus 2-4 inches of liquid above the peas, depending on how “soupy” you want them. They will swell somewhat as they cook, but not as much as pinto beans. Stir. Add chili powder, lots of black pepper, and start with 2 or 3 tsp. of salt. As the peas soften, taste and add salt as needed. Use less salt if using a chicken-broth base.

Bring to a boil, uncovered. Reduce heat. Cover partially and simmer about 25 to 30 minutes. Stir and check often for desired softness. Don’t overcook. Add ham, heat through and serve. Delicious with corn bread. Happy New Year!

Arrow
Of course, a visit isn’t a visit without a two-way conversation. I really want to hear from you. Do you usually make black-eyed peas for New Year’s Day? I know it’s a Southern custom, so what do you make/bake/or serve in your part of the USA, or in your own country? We’d love to hear about it!

I truly hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM.  It will be available for Kindle, the Nook and for most other eBook readers soon. If you love the Southwest and kooky characters that make you laugh aloud as authentic danger and mystery swirl at every turn, you’ll love this novel! The first book in the series, SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is available on my website, on Amazon, or can be ordered from Barnes and Noble.

While you’re here, why not get better acquainted? To sign up to receive notices of my new blogs, recipes, appearances and media news, just leave your email address above. I’ll take care of the rest. Y’all come back soon…I miss you already!

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.