Monday, November 27, 2017

A Writer's Identity Crisis

I can't think of anything more frustrating than to be asked, "So who do you write like?"

I have given in to the slightly snarky response, "I write like Amy M. Bennett" but it hasn't gone over well. The inquiring party wants a name that is far better known.

The truth is, I don't know who I write like. I took a test on Facebook that took a sample of my writing and determined that I write like Stephen King. I'm still not sure how to take that and it doesn't matter if it means that my style of writing is the same as his--if I were to say "I write like Stephen King", most people would assume I mean that I write horror. Not even close.

Perhaps I don't read as widely as I should (maybe I would if I had more time) but I'm not familiar with a lot of current writers. And to be honest, I doubt I could identify anyone's style as anyone's but their own. I've been told that some of my books remind the reader of Agatha Christie (which makes me cringe because, much as I love Agatha's books, her style can be tiresome and overly burdened with talking heads and too much description!) but I don't see it myself.

Oftentimes, budding authors will try to encourage readers by comparing their books and/or writing style to popular authors or even movies and actors. "If you love Jackie Collins' books, you'll love mine!" or "Reminiscent of Hepburn and Tracy movies" try to convey what the author's style and stories are like but fall pitifully short and are, in my opinion, a lazy way to describe their own unique style. Amazon might lump me in with Karen Musser Nortman, Robert D. Kidera, Karen McInerney, and B. R. Snow (I am only familiar with Karen McInerney's work) but that's only because customers who bought my books bought those authors' books as well. And who really knows why?

And how many people these days even remember who Hepburn and Tracy are?

Besides, one Mary Higgins Clark is enough. One James Patterson. One Agatha Christie. One whoever the hottest popular author is at the moment. I can describe my books as "cozy mysteries set in an RV campground in a mountain village in New Mexico with a little romance, a little humor, and a lot of fun, engaging characters" and not feel the pressure to live up to another author's reputation.

I've got plenty to do building my own.

Some of my favorite writers that I may--or may not--write like!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Food for Thought

As I've mentioned before in previous blog posts, there is something about fall weather that gets my creative juices flowing. It would probably benefit me more if those creative juices stirred my writing, but they propel me to the kitchen and my creativity there tends to leave a bigger mess to clean up!

This is the time of year when I get the urge to try new recipes, to bake huge amounts of cookies and fruit breads with which to stock my freezer for the holidays, and to prepare elaborate meals for family and friends. I would probably do more if I had more time, but gainful employment cuts into my cooking time (although it does provide me with the means necessary to purchase what I need to cook, so I make it work!)

I enjoy being invited to parties where I can bring a dish. I have more recipes than I'll ever be able to make but making one for other people to share gives me an opportunity to pass it on to someone who may be able to make it more often. Unfortunately, several people who know what my day job is (if you don't know, it's professional cake decorator. Almost 40 years experience) often request that I bring the cake for the occasion. While I don't mind doing so, it basically requires me to use a simple cake mix and use my creativity only for the decorations. Often, I'll just make the cake at work and take it to the party. Not much there to stir my creative juices.

I am fortunate in that my family, while proud of my professional accomplishments, prefer that my desserts be less decorative and my creativity be put to use in coming up with different desserts that aren't found in grocery stores or bakeries. I also enjoy the fact that several of my dishes have become often-requested favorites, with my nieces and nephews asking for certain dishes to be made for their birthdays and family get-togethers. It's nice to have a few stand-bys that are quick and easy to make on rushed evenings, but I enjoy making more elaborate meals for my husband and son. They are the willing subjects of my culinary experiments and appreciate my efforts.

With the holidays approaching, I will be pulling out my time-tested recipes for cookies, pies, appetizers, and side dishes for the upcoming gatherings. If time allows, I will delve into my collection of recipes and try out one or two that have intrigued me but I haven't had time to make. Either way, my main ingredient in all of my recipes is love. Love for the art and craft of cooking and baking and love for those who will share in what I make. It's what makes the act of cooking so satisfying.

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An array of appetizers for a family gathering, including chicken wings, bacon-and-pastry wrapped asparagus spears, little smokies, and other goodies!