Archive | March 2018

How I Write When My Words Aren’t Flowing

Is it writers’ block?

Some authors suffer from writers’ block, some are naturally slow writers. Me… my words, thoughts and ideas just come to me whenever they damn well choose to. So unless I’m on a deadline, I don’t fight it.
Rarely am I able to sit with my laptop and just write with words abundantly flowing. I do work from an outline when I write, however, so I already know where my story is going and I have a better than general idea how it’s going to get there.

Writing on the go

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Most authors usually keep a notepad handy for thoughts and ideas for their stories. Instead of carrying blank pages, I jot down a few words about the the scenes I have planned in a given chapter. That page may have something like this:

Chapter 5:
–  Wedding
–  Traveling to honeymoon
–  Hospital

 

When a scene plays out in my mind (while I’m at the supermarket, for example, instead of at my laptop) I write it down under the appropriate scene heading – maybe the ex shows up at the wedding and causes drama. Who does he or she confront? What words are shouted? etc. Then en route to the honeymoon there’s discussion about the destination and a fear of flying. Perhaps some inner thought about how one character really doesn’t want to get on that plane.

The fact that I’ve only written down the scenes for the chapter I’m working on, helps keep my focus (and random character dialog) on events that should occur only in or near that chapter. Ordinarily, I think about my story and my characters throughout my day, but by writing one or two words for the scenes only in the chapter I’m working on, I’m giving myself permission to think only about that particular part of my story.

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How to Get Better-Tasting (and Healthier) Coffee

It just tastes better

28695759_1799442127024507_681475440_o.jpgWhenever I pack to go on vacation, whether it’s a week at a rental in Ocean City, NJ or a weekend getaway for quiet writing time, I pack my coffee machine. And I’m not talking one of those mini individual cup ones… I mean the full 12-cup Mr. Coffee. Why? Because I’m willing to bet my coffee machine that hotels do not regularly clean the coffee machines in each room. I’m also willing to bet that at least some of the guests which have occupied the room before me have used tap water in the machine.
In my experience, my coffee tastes much better after I clean my coffee machine.
Using bottled water – usually distilled – and a little vinegar, I set the machine to brew. Next, I brew a few cycles with just bottled water. I wipe the machine inside and out with clean paper towels and finally, I clean the carafe with hot water and soap.

Yuck!

Before writing this post, I did a search to see how my methods line up with any expert advice for cleaning my coffee machine. What I found was shocking. I thought that by cleaning my machine regularly I was just getting rid of any mineral deposits, old water and stale taste. I found that not only was I not cleaning my machine thoroughly enough (remember, I just add a little vinegar), but I hadn’t even considered mold and other yuck which might be growing in my machine. I’m glad I found this article on Huffington Post because this is the method I’ll be using going forward.

How to clean your coffee machine

  1. Fill the coffee maker’s water chamber with equal parts white vinegar and water. Using a paper filter, allow to brew until half the chamber is empty.
  2. Turn the coffee maker off and let it sit for 30 minutes, then finish brewing.
  3. Rinse the machine by using a new paper filter to brew a pot of clear water. Do this twice.
  4. Fill the carafe with warm, sudsy water and some rice as a gentle abrasive. Swirl the mixture in the pot, then use a scrubber sponge to remove any gunk. Rinse and dry.
  5. Wipe the outside of the machine with a damp cloth (but remember, this and the previous step should really happen every day).

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So go ahead, clean your coffee machine and enjoy a healthier and better tasting cup of coffee.