Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Keeping Up With Today's Publishing Options

These days writers have so many options, it can be difficult to keep up. Over at Lit Central O.C., I'm sharing some resources for those working to publish independently or who just want to be educated about that side of the business.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Representing O.C. Writers on Lit Central O.C.

I've been spending so much time on Lit Central O.C. promoting what other writing groups are doing, I've completely forgotten to spread the word about all the great stuff my own group is doing. And, when I tallied it all up, it's a pretty impressive list. Wanna see?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sharing Proofreading Tips at Lit Central O.C. Today

I'm blogging at Lit Central O.C. today, sharing proofreading tips from experts and some tricks I've been using since my old copy editing days.

Check it out here:

Friday, April 18, 2014

The UnStuck App: A Writer's Review

I came across a free app in the App Store recently called UnStuck. It's a clever little tool you might want to check out.

I wrote about it over at Lit Central O.C.

You can read it here:

Monday, April 14, 2014

What You Missed at the L.A. Times Festival of Books 2014

I joined the tens of thousands of people who attended the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this weekend and wrote about it for Lit Central O.C.

You can find the scintillating tale here:

Monday, April 7, 2014

I've Been Distracted Lately...

Yes, I've been a very bad blogger. I'm sure you don't care about the excuses, so I won't bore you with them. But if you are here because you're wondering what I've been doing lately, I'm happy to tell you I have not been idle....

First, I've been unable to find a good writing group fit for myself for the longest time (mostly because of my limited free time) so I created one. It's called O.C. Writers, and it now includes more than 140+ members on Facebook (, 130+ members on ( and about 75 subscribers on our official homepage at

Second, I have secretly envied the robust writing communities in neighboring San Diego and Los Angeles, so earlier this year I launched, an online magazine written by local writers for local writers, in an effort to bridge the divide between the various O.C. writing organizations and showcase the work of all O.C. authors, regardless of genre.

Oh, yeah, I've been writing too! I have a contemporary romance novella finished and a tie-in novel in the works. Both center on a fictional SoCal belly dance studio and the love lives of the smart, sexy women who run it. Intrigued? Great! I'll be able to share more details on those very soon...

Until then,

Have a happy April!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Haggis for beginners

I like haggis, but serving it to company can be tricky. It doesn't matter how much I talk about how similar it is to traditional sausage, most people -- even Scots -- can get a little squeamish. So I've been exploring alternative ways to serve Scotland's national dish that might be more palatable, especially to haggis virgins.

On haggis-maker MacSween's website (, the Mini Three Bird Haggis Wellingtons recipe caught my eye. I made a batch of the filling using a can of vegetarian haggis I had in the pantry, and found the versatile filling could be used in a number of ways.

I wanted more stuffing in each appetizer than the original recipe called for, so I made a couple sizes of mini tartlets instead of the balls, as well as several red potato cups. There was enough filling to make three dozen appetizers, plus more than half of the haggis that could be used for another preparation.

Another change I made was to the ratio of mushrooms and shallots in the filling because I love these flavors and thought they would complement the haggis. Feel free to adjust to your taste.

The ingredients
Yields about 20 tartlets, and 16 stuffed red potatoes

1 tbls. extra-virgin olive oil
2 oz. shallots, diced
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, diced
2 oz. baby spinach, fresh
15 oz. can haggis (I used Stahly's Vegetarian Haggis)
1 roll ready-rolled puff pastry
1 egg yolk
8 red potatoes, medium size
Salt and pepper, to taste
Flour for dusting the cutting board
Sour cream and chives for garnish

Pre-heat oven 400 degrees. Saute the shallots in the extra-virgin olive oil over low heat until softened, roughly three minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until the liquid releases from the mushrooms and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the baby spinach and cook until wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture drain in a sieve for a few minutes, or until cool enough to fill the pastry shells.

The mushroom and shallot mixture
Cut the potatoes in half, pierce a couple times with a fork, and cook in the microwave under a paper towel for 3 minutes, or until softened through.

Meanwhile, roll unroll the puff pastry on the flour-dusted cutting board. Cut out the desired shapes. I cut out nine 2 1/2-inch round circles and a dozen squares from the remaining dough. Put the circles on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Put a teaspoon of haggis in the center and top with a teaspoon of the mushroom mixture. Bring the sides up till they meet in an "X" formation and pinch closed. Dab with the egg yolk and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until sufficiently browned on top. (The pastry purses will open to look like mini-tarts.

Spray a mini-muffin pan with spray oil and fit each pastry square into the bottom of a muffin form. Top with a teaspoon of haggis and a teaspoon of the mushroom mixture. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until edges of the pastry are golden brown.

Cut a sliver of skin off the bottom of each potato half so that it will stand. Remove the center of the potato with a melon baller or small teaspoon to create a potato cup. Sprinkle lightly with salt, then fill the cup with a teaspoon of haggis and a teaspoon of the mushroom mixture. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges are browned. Remove and when cool, top with sour cream and chives.

Place the tarts and potato cups on a platter, and serve warm.