Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NaNoWriMo - I Won!!!

One computer, two fast typing hands, three hours a night of dedicated writing time, 29 days, 200 pages of material, and 50,441 words.  That sums up my November this year.

This was my first National Novel Writing Month as a participant.  Winning just means that you finished - that you completed 50,000 words of fiction in one month.  I did it, so I won. 

Now I will take a break to read the novels I put to the side to write, spend a little time with the wife and kids I neglected, and relax a little.  When I've recovered I'll debrief myself on the experience and what I've learned. 

December will be spent sorting out what is usable from this experience in the many months of revision in my future.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryCharlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book many years ago as a child. I remember the story line and liking it. Fast forward many years later when I have my own son and he is six-years-old and looking for something to read for bedtime. I found an old copy of the book on our bookshelf and we started reading together.

This book was even more enjoyable as an adult parent. I knew what was coming, but he didn't. I would read the descriptions of Wonka's incredible confections and he would look at me with his "did you read that right?" face, and then check it himself. He speculated about what amazing thing waited for him in the next chapter. When we went to the store for some last minute items, he spotted a Wonka bar with a golden ticket sweepstakes and begged to get it.

As an adult I could appreciate some of the technical aspects of the book as well. The pacing is fantastic. Each chapter ends with an event that makes you want to read on - and I was talked into many extra chapters despite it being past bedtime. The dialogue is also fantastic. These sound like real conversations, despite the fantastic plot-line. Willy Wonka is fantastic as an eccentric candy maker who loves his factory and the wonders it holds.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Writing with Abandon and Apologies

My last post was on November 3rd.  That was three days into National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  I am participating this year and it has taken every free minute of my time to get anywhere near the 50,000 words in one month requirement. I'm currently at 33,765 words.  That means I have 16,235 words to go and eight days left. A little more than 2000 words a day and I win.  NaNoWriMo doesn't really give you big prizes.  Just the satisfaction of fulfilling a seemingly impossible goal.

December will be the month of reviewing what I wrote during November.  It should be hilarious, hopefully not frightening. Then normal life, and normal blog posting can continue.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How to Talk to a Widower

How to Talk to a WidowerHow to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an excellent book. The premise is simple. A young man, Doug, falls in love with an older single mother, Haley, who dies in a plane crash. Doug must learn to deal with his grief and live life without Haley. Tropper casts some of the most memorable and authentic characters I've read in a long time. The conversations between Doug and his sister, mother, father, buddies, women he dates, and his former step-son are fantastic. Tropper has a gift for dialogue because the conversations felt as though I was listening to actual people talk even though what was being said was sometimes unbelievable. I already have another book - This is Where I Leave You - on my Kindle and can't wait to start it.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I am participating in National Novel Writing Month this year and so my November is spoken for.  Less blogging, less evening checking email, less free weekends, an absentee Thanksgiving, and use of my federal holiday (Veterans Day) sitting in front of my laptop.  

50,000 words in the month of November or you are a sorry excuse for a creative writer.  The material doesn't need to be good - but we all hope it is - it just needs to be 50,000 words.  

Wish me Luck. 

The Fictelicious Trifecta and the Chocolate Mouse

This blog is entitled Fictelicious and has the tag line "Fiction, Food, and the Fanatic."  Sometimes all three come together.

My last book review was for The Night Circus.  During my reading of the book, there was a description of some of the concessions sold at the mysterious circus. One of the treats described were chocolate mice with licorice tails.  This intrigued me and I decided to make my own.

The center is marzipan wrapped around a strand of licorice and then hand-dipped in dark chocolate and topped with sliced almonds.

Marzipan (Almond Paste)

2 Cups Blanched Almonds
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/3 Cup Honey

Chop almonds in a food processor on medium speed until the almonds are a coarse powder resembling cornmeal. Add powdered sugar to the almond powder and mix well in a large bowl.  Add honey and mix together (hands work best) until well combined and the mixture can be formed into a ball. 

Wrap Marzipan ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. 


Take four strands of black licorice (Twizzlers black licorice is shown) and cut them in half and then cut each half lengthwise to form 4 tails per strand.  This will make 16 tails. 

Cut marzipan ball into 16 equal pieces.  Form each piece into a cone and place the licorice tail just over half-way up the base of the cone.  Form the cone over the licorice tail with wet hands and flatten the bottom until it resembles the body of the mouse. Repeat 16 times. 

Place the formed mice on parchment paper, wax paper, or other non-stick liner (such as a Silpat). Put the finished tray of mice in the freezer while preparing the chocolate for dipping. The semi-frozen mice are easier to dip. 

Tempering Chocolate

The secret of chocolate dipping is tempering the chocolate.  This is what gives the chocolate the professional finish without the pitted look and unattractive white specks. If you use commercial dipping chocolate pieces tempering isn't unnecessary.  However, if you want a better tasting chocolate - this recipe uses Ghirardelli dark chocolate - then tempering is necessary for a professional looking end result. 

1 Bag (11.5 oz) Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chips

Place 2/3 of the bag in a double boiler and melt chips completely. Monitor temperature with a candy thermometer so that chocolate reaches 115 degrees Fahrenheit (for milk chocolate the temperature should be 110 degrees) but does not exceed that temperature.  Once the temperature is reached , remove melted chocolate from heat and stir in the remaining 1/3 of the bag of chocolate chips until completely melted. The chocolate is now ready for dipping. 

Set up the frozen mice on the left side, dipping chocolate in the middle, and another pan with non-stick liner on the right side. Keep a bowl of sliced almonds ready to add to the chocolate before it sets. 

Holding the mouse by the tail, dip the top of the body and then the flat bottom of the body until mouse is completely covered.  Gently scrape the flat bottom on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate.  Place the dipped mouse body, flat-side-down, on the non-stick liner and repeat until all mice are dipped. 

Break sliced almond in half and place each half on either side of the head to form the ears of the mouse.  Let cool at room temperature until the chocolate hardens.  Remove from the non-stick sheet and keep in a cool dry container or in the refrigerator.  

This was so much fun I'm now reading my current novels for other food descriptions.  Do you have a food you remember reading about and wondering if fiction could become reality? If so, please share!