Diane Sawyer Newsletter/Blog #4 February 2013

Diane Sawyer Portrait

Hi everyone,

Welcome back and a belated Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you enjoy my fourth newsletter, the February 2013 edition. Thank you, one and all, long-time friends and new friends, for your comments on the previous three newsletters. Once again I will share highlights with you about my books/writing, recent travels, recipes, along with “This and That.”

Fondly,

Diane Sawyer

 

Writing

     Many of you who are writers have asked how to improve your skills. In a previous newsletter I included advice that I’d often heard and considered helpful: attend writing classes and lectures, join a writers’ group, write every day, read great authors, and have confidence in yourself. Here’s an additional idea, based on a recent personal experience: Wherever you are, listen to how “real” people talk; watch their expressions and body language; and involve all five senses as you take in the surroundings. Then one day, pull those special moments from your memory or journal and write a winning scene!

Let me tell you about my experience. Yesterday, I pulled up to a store that offers everything from paper plates, baby diapers and cleaning supplies to batteries, paint brushes, and motor oil. Every customer who arrived at the store seemed to be in the middle of a project at home, like washing windows or replacing AC filters. Apparently they had run out of an item and rushed in to buy it. I was at the cash register checking out index cards.

The bell over the front door jangled, and a great big guy wearing jeans, T-shirt, and baseball cap rushed in. He called out in a booming voice to the cashier, “Where are your rubber gloves at?”

Without missing a beat, she said, “Mine are at my house in the cabinet under my kitchen sink. The ones you want are in Aisle Two, in the back.”

Everyone in the store enjoyed the verbal exchange. That little scene might appear in one of my future novels. How can I resist? It has comedy; a cute plot; great characters; a slice-of-life feel; snappy dialog; and possibly more than meets the eye (see the next paragraph).

Driving home I thought about the feisty cashier. She had told me she’d worked at the store for eleven years. I suspect she has stored up a supply of one-liners and tosses them at her customers at just the right moment. By amusing herself and them, she staves off boredom. How smart she is! No watching the clock, no wishing the day would end, no wishing she were somewhere else. No. She cleverly turned herself into the writer, director, actor, and audience of her own comedy show.

I plan to stop in that store again to see what she comes up with next. I might even inquire about rubber gloves to see if she has a variation on her previous response.

 

For my new friends, here are the covers of my five novels, available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle editions at Amazon.com and other sites.

Montauk Mystery  Montauk Steps  Tomoka Mystery  Cinderella Murders  Montauk Cave

 

Cooking Delights: Chicken Tarragon

Among my collection of chicken recipes this one is my favorite. Besides the delicate taste, I like that it can be made a day in advance. I hope you enjoy it.

For eight people, lightly brown eight skinless boneless chicken breasts in butter in a frying pan. Put chicken in large baking dish and cover with sauce (see below) and then cover with plastic wrap. Let sit overnight in fridge.

Sauce: In 2 tablespoons butter, sauté 1 small onion chopped fine, garlic powder to taste, 1 stalk of celery chopped fine, 1 cup fresh mushrooms chopped fine, and 2 tablespoons flour (scattered over butter and quickly stirred in to avoid lumps and/or burning). Then add 1 cup white sauterne wine, 1 cup water with 2 dissolved chicken bouillon cubes (or 1 cup chicken broth), 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp dried tarragon, and 2 tsp dried parsley. (If you prefer fresh tarragon and parsley, adjust amounts 3 to 1; 3 tsp fresh tarragon and 6 tsp fresh parsley.)

Bake: 90 minutes at 375 degrees, covered with foil. Baste occasionally. Uncover. Thicken with flour if necessary before serving. (To guarantee a smooth sauce, mix flour with water thoroughly before adding.) Bon appétit!

 

 This and That

   A friend from Connecticut told me about Letterboxing, a pastime craze that originated in England, and now it’s catching on across America. If you love the outdoors plus the fun of a treasure hunt and exploring new places, and the challenge of code-cracking and following clues, along with an artistic ability to create a personalized rubber stamp, then this may be an activity for you. If not, there’s always the fun of learning something new.

Basically someone hides a small box in the woods, under leaves or a rock, or possibly in a public building, or just about anywhere. He or she then posts clues to the location on a Letterboxing web site. As a Letterboxer, your mission is to search web sites for areas near you where Letterboxes are hidden, and then obtain a list of clues to help you find the Letterbox. Knowledge about reading maps and tracking coordinates is a big help. So are work gloves, long pants, and a compass.

Once you meet with success and find a Letterbox, you have the fun of stamping your find in your personal log book and in the Letterbox’s log too. Besides trying to find a Letterbox, you can hide one and give clues to its location on the web site. You may hear from people who found it and they may have an intriguing tale to tell.

There are numerous sites about Letterboxing, many with good photos. The sites can provide everything you need to know to get started. I haven’t tried it yet, but it has a certain mysterious appeal. One final thought. There are Letterboxing bumper stickers, Letterboxing gear, and much more. Letterboxing is on its way!

 

Travel News

Around the World in Two Days

     This month I traveled by train, boat, car, balloon, spaceship, and safari truck during visits to The United States, Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, and various places in Africa. When the trip was over I enjoyed a fireworks spectacle that took place over a lake. Among the many food items I enjoyed throughout the two days were specialties from Bavaria and China. I had the chance to speak French and Spanish, as well as English.

Okay, you guessed it! I never left Florida. I spent two days at Disney’s Epcot and Animal Kingdom, stayed at a Disney hotel, and rode a Disney bus to and from the destinations. When you live in Florida as I do, you occasionally, say once every ten years or so, just pretend you’re one of the millions of visitors who come to Florida for a vacation.

Bon voyage!

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