Jan 212014
 

Kicking-In-the-Wall“When you hit a wall, kick it in.”

That’s the advice playwright Sam Shepard gave to musician Patti Smith early in her career. She had said to him, “I would go as far as I could and hit a wall, my own imagined limitations” and that was his response.

Sound familiar? This line from Smith’s memoir, Just Kids, inspired author Barbara Abercrombie to write Kicking in the Wall: A Year of Writing Exercises, Prompts and Quotes to Help You Break Through Your Blocks and Reach Your Writing Goals.

Inside are 365 five-minute writing exercises, a great way to jumpstart your writing for the new year. Dip in and pick Continue reading »

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Apr 122011
 

Are you a funny food writer? Let’s see your stuff.

And if you’re not, maybe these funny writing samples below will inspire you. Here are several that have tickled me lately:

1. David Lebovitz has been been honing his offbeat, irreverent humor for years on his blog and in books. A sample from The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious — And Perplexing — City shows his puzzlement of Parisian hot chocolate:

“Many visitors get a lost, misty-eyed look when describing the ultrathick, steamy chocolate chaud that glops and blurts as it’s poured into dainty white cups…

Me? I can barely swallow the sludge.

You need to clam my mouth closed and massage my neck to get that hyperthick stuff down the hatch– like forcing a dog to swallow a pill. That throat-clogging liquid hits my tummy with a thud and refuses to budge for the rest of the day. I just don’t get its appeal.”

I’d call this example curmudgeonly, in an adorable way. I love the image of someone massaging his neck, and I recognize that “thud” in the belly.

2. Comedian George Carlin, always a crack-up, wrote these gems about restaurant food and waffle irons in Brain Droppings:

“There are certain clues that tell you how much a restaurant will cost. If the word cuisine appears in the advertising, it will be expensive. If they use the word food, it will be moderately priced. However, if the sign says eats, even though you’ll save some money on food, your medical bills may be quite high.”

“I don’t like trendy food. When I hear, ‘sauteed boneless panda groin,’ I know I’m Continue reading »

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Feb 072011
 

If you made a New Year’s resolution to avoid white flour, white sugar and other processed foods, Deliciously Organic is the cookbook for you.

Modeled after Carrie Vitt’s blog of the same name, with pretty photographs by blogger Helene Dujardin, her book shows you how to prepare healthy, wholesome dishes without sacrificing taste.

Carrie asked me to edit the recipes for the book. At first, I was dubious about organic recipes, thinking that they wouldn’t be too different from regular ones, except the ingredients would all say “organic.”

But that misconception downplays the mouthwatering recipes and new (to me) cooking techniques and ingredients in the book. Even though I buy mostly organic products, I learned new things, such as Continue reading »

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Oct 252010
 

Want to discover new food blogs for recipes and stories? Here’s a cookbook that shows you the passion and diversity of food bloggers who love to cook, from Vegan Visitor’s Cedar-Smoked Asparagus Soup in Toronto to The Suitcase Chef’s Orangette Tea Sandwiches in Vermont.

The folks at Foodista held a contest for the best blogger recipes and received 1500 entries in just three months. They counted votes from the Foodista community and announced the winners, compiling the top 100 into this large paperback, the Foodista Best of the Food Blogs Cookbook.

You’ll find a number of unusual recipes, such as Lovage Spritzers, Vegetarian Scotch Eggs, and Chef Wally’s Baked Papayas. While most entries are American, enthusiastic blogger recipes also come from Canada, England, Turkey and Germany. Each recipe includes a bio of the blogger and a link. Some headnotes tell you about the dish. Others tell stories about Continue reading »

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Aug 102010
 

It took a friend, Stephanie Stiavetti of Wasabimon, to suggest I give away a copy of my own book, signed of course, and only after her giveaway of Will Write for Food ended on August 3.

How could I not come up with an idea this obvious? It mystifies me. Fortunately, I’ve got a brand new copy, possibly with your name on it. I’ll sign it using my special black Sharpie marker, saved for all book signing occasions.

If you haven’t read about the new edition of Will Write for Food yet, here’s my announcement post and a book review on Epicurious.com. I’ve also posted on the cover selection process and provided an excerpt about the reporting style of Kim Serverson of the New York Times.

The main thing about the second edition is that it’s enormous, around 100,000 words, and covers food blogging in addition to updated details on freelance writing, memoir, cookbooks, recipe writing, and even fiction. It’s aimed at people who want to get started as well as for established writers who want to brush up on their  skills or learn some new ones. I’ve written a huge new chapter on food blogging and expanded the self-publishing section to cover the latest advancements. There are new interviews, new resources, new insights, even new exercises to jumpstart your writing process.

Here’s what you need to do to enter. Because I’m still in the media blitz part of my book launch, I’d really appreciate your help. Please tweet about this giveaway (I stole this idea from Stephanie) by cutting and pasting the following as it appears:

Interested in food writing? Win a signed copy of @diannej’s Will Write for Food.  http://bit.ly/c2hEYl

Then leave a comment below to tell me you’ve done so. The comment will serve as your entry. Also tell me what specifically interests you about food writing. I’m always interested to know.

Please enter by midnight PST on August 16, 2010. I’ll pick a winner at random. In appreciation of my readers outside the US and Canada, this giveaway is open to everyone.

Update: Thank you so much to everyone who entered and tweeted. I used Random.org to select a winner, and number 10 came up. Congrats to Gail Dosik of One Tough Cookie!

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Jun 172010
 

It’s been a while since I’ve held a food writing contest on this blog, so I thought I’d blast out another one, just for fun. This time, let’s have a simile writing contest.

Similes are comparisons that starts with “like” or “as,” for comparing two unlike things. Why would you want to use them? You need as many tools as possible in your writing toolbox. Similes are a welcome alternative to adjectives. They’re playful, making your writing fun to read. Restaurant reviewers are particularly good employers of similes because Continue reading »

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May 022010
 

Cooking with the Seasons.Rancho La PuertaI didn’t intend to make book giveways such a focus of my blog but coincidentally, I have another one.

Somehow the buzz got out with my last giveway for Ready for Dessert and almost 200 people responded. I think it was David Lebovitz’s Facebook announcement. (He has what’s called a “platform,” you know.)

Right now this post is coming to you from sunny Rancho La Puerta in Mexico, one of the best spas in the world. I’m here to teach four 1-hour classes for people who are thinking about writing a book. They’ll have to fit me in between Pilates, massages and hikes.

I first came here last year in exchange for coaching on the ranch’s cookbook proposal, and now I’m lucky enough to come back. The book has done well too: It was nominated for a Beard award last year.

(Speaking of the Beards, follow along with Continue reading »

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