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#Cooking with #Authors: Cathy Skendrovich’s Award-Winning Chili (@cskendrovich)

Friday, May 11, 2018

Here on the blog, we love reading—and we love food. So what better than to combine them with recipes from authors? We’ll start with the recipe to whet your appetite, then you can learn more about the author and her books below!

Cathy Skendrovich’s Award-Winning Chili
Cathy says: I’ve been making my mom’s chili forever. It’s my sons’ favorite meal. Every fall our church has a chili cookoff. One year my younger son suggested I enter the contest. “Your chili is the best, Mom. You should enter it.” I thought about it and decided he was right.

I was nervous the day of the cookoff. I don’t normally enter contests. But as it went on, and more and more people returned for seconds and thirds, I began to feel excited. Even the pastor whispered to me, “I voted for yours.”

At the end, I won first place in the contest, taking home the prize of a kitchen mitt, pot holders, and apron! My family cheered. Even though it’s all in good fun, the fact that my home cooking won makes me proud. I can truly call it an “award-winning recipe.”


  • 1½–2 lbs. ground beef or turkey
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (more or less, to taste)
  • 1–2 Tbsp. green bell pepper
  • 15-oz. can chili beans (1 or 2 cans, if preferred)
  • 28-oz. can whole tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Grated cheddar cheese (optional)

In a large soup/stock pot over medium to medium-high heat, brown meat with garlic, salt, pepper, onion, and green pepper until meat is cooked through. Drain off fat and return meat to pot.

Add beans, tomatoes, chili powder. (You can use your stirring utensil to break up the tomatoes, if desired.) Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 1½ to 2 hours. Add sugar near the end.

Serve with grated cheddar cheese and corn bread, if desired—and with Cathy’s Undercover with the Nanny on the side!

Undercover with the Nanny
DEA agent Sawyer Hayes came to California in search of a drug cartel leader who slipped through his fingers in El Paso. The link to finding him is Kate Munroe, a nanny for one of his henchmen. The problem? He didn’t expect to be so drawn to a possible suspect. How is he supposed to do his job when his growing feelings for her are clouding his judgment?

Interior designer Kate Munroe’s life is a train wreck. Her parents’ deaths left her with their mounds of debt, she can’t get a job designing even a cubicle, and she’s bunking in her best friend’s spare bedroom. To make ends meet, she’s a nanny to a lonely little boy whose rich father works all the time. Romance is not on her radar. But her hot new neighbor could change her mind, with his broad shoulders and Southern charm. Too bad his secrets could destroy her.

See more about this title and Cathy’s other books on Goodreads.

Meet Today’s Cooking Author
Cathy Skendrovich has always loved a good story, and spent her formative years scribbling what is now called Fan Fiction. The current heartthrob of the time featured heavily in all her stories. Unfortunately, once she went to college, her writing took the form of term papers.

Upon graduation, Cathy took a job as an English teacher in a middle school. Along the way, she married her husband of now thirty-three years, had two sons, and moved to southern Orange County, California. She chose to work part-time in the school system there.

Now she has returned to writing. Prisoner of Love is her first published novel, followed closely by The Pirate’s Bride. The sequel to The Pirate’s Bride, The Pirate Bride’s Holiday Masquerade, came out Oct. 1, 2017. Undercover with the Nanny, came out on April 23, 2018.

She likes writing romance because she feels it’s lacking in today’s technological world. While she enjoys writing contemporary stories, creating romance in bygone times fascinates her. She hopes her ability to write in both genres will be the beginning of a long and satisfying writing career.

You can find Cathy cooking up more great stories at:
Cathy’s Facebook Author Page
Twitter: @cskendrovich
Cathy’s Website
Cathy’s Author Page on Amazon

#TBT: Brainstorming ‘The Art of Romance’ | #amwriting

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Originally published August 31, 2010

Okay, y’all know me and my different methods—all visual—of working out my story ideas.

First, there are the notes I made about the characters when originally coming up with the story idea, as well as things that came up when writing the first book of the series:

And of course, there’s the synopsis I wrote that the publisher bought the series from.

But still, I somehow always manage to get myself lost after starting the book. Sometimes it’s about 1/3 of the way through. With The Art of Romance, it’s at the beginning of Chapter Three!

So, since I’m going to have a few hours of alone-time with my laptop in the car this week and a lot more than a few hours in the car next week, I decided I needed to know where the story is going.

Now, you’ve seen me post the picture of when I use Post-it Notes to do scene cards to work out the direction of a story by figuring out what scenes I’ve already planned for still need to be written:

Scene cards from Ransome’s Crossing

But even after reading the synopsis for The Art of Romance, I still didn’t have a clear picture of the scenes/conflicts (other than the main story conflict) that need to happen in the story. So, since I was preparing to teach a session on writing synopses using Billy Mernit’s Seven Story Beats, I decided I needed to go back to the beginning with this story and outline the synopsis in the way I was getting ready to teach forty other writers to do it.

So, I pulled out the trusty Post-it Note Flip Chart Pad (down to only three or four sheets—yikes! Time for a new one!) and started outlining:

(The Post-it Notes along the top and on the page are questions and ideas for the characters/settings.) And this week, I’ve got two editing projects clamoring for my attention in addition to needing to get moving on this manuscript (only 46 days left until deadline—which means I need to be writing at least 2,000 words a day on this thing!).

Here’s the story summary:

      English professor Caylor Evans moved in with her grandmother five years ago when Sassy’s eyesight became too poor to get her driver’s license renewed. Though she is now writing sweet/inspirational romance novels, Caylor still draws inspiration for her heroes from the portfolio of covers and sample images drawn/painted by Patrick Callaghan for the steamy romances she used to write (as “Melanie Mason”), and dreams of meeting a man like that cover model.

      After losing his teaching position at a prestigious art college and being shunned by the fine-arts community in Philadelphia, artist Dylan Bradley has returned home to Nashville to regroup and determine the next step for his life. His grandparents offer him their guest house for as long as he wants it—along with plenty of opportunities to meet young women. Though it was years ago, Dylan is uncomfortable with the fact that his face—slightly disguised—is on the covers of half a dozen steamy romance novels by Melanie Mason, the artwork he did to put himself through college under the pseudonym Patrick Callaghan. Especially after he meets Caylor Evans, a woman who has her life together in a way he only dreams of. Will Caylor and Dylan learn that the true art of romance is grounded in honesty and truth?

And here’s the first draft of Chapter One.

2018 Writing Challenge–Prompt: It’s a Secret | #amwriting #writingprompt

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Writing Prompt—May 9, 2018

Character says: “I’ve never told anyone this . . .”

Word Count Goal: 300 to 1,000 words
You can write it as a scene or notes or an outline or even an epic poem worthy of a minstrel in the king’s court. Just write!

Dreams vs. Goals — Do You Dream of Being a Writer? | #amwriting

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

We all have dreams—things we want, things we hope for.

But will the dream of “being a writer” actually get you there? Is it something that’s as nebulous, as insubstantial, as the stories that run through our heads when we’re asleep? Or is the dream attainable?

Dreams are hopes. Dreams are wishes. Dreams are visions of an outcome . . . without a visualization of the steps needed to reach that outcome.

Goals are what we need in order to figure out how to reach the end we’re dreaming of.

You may be a best-selling author or just getting started with your writing. You may dream of getting published by a big New York publisher; or you may want to self-publish. In this course, you’ll turn your dreams into specific goals . . . and then use those goals in order to work on making your dreams come true.

Click here to learn how to get started.

This is a premium course on Skillshare. You can sign up for a no-obligation 30-day free trial membership in order to access my class. If you’re not familiar, Skillshare is an online learning community with thousands of classes on everything from business to graphic design to fashion – it’s the Netflix of learning.

I’m proud of what I’ve created, and I’d really appreciate if you’d help me out by watching my class.

By using this special link — — to sign up for a free trial Skillshare Premium Membership, not only will you be able to enroll in my class, but you’ll also gain access to all other classes on Skillshare. (Cancel before the end of the 30 days, and there’s no cost to you.)

Your enrollment will help my class trend on Skillshare, which means that more students will be able to discover it.

If you know of anyone else that’d be interested in learning how to set goals to reach their writing dreams, I’d appreciate if you’d share the link with them, too.

Thanks so much!

What Did You Read in April 2018? What Are You Reading Now? What’s on Your TBR List? | #amreading

Monday, May 7, 2018

Happy First Monday of May, everyone!

It’s time to check in with what you read this past month!

It’s Reading Report Time!

Open Book by Dave Dugdale

Open Book by Dave Dugdale

Tell us what you’ve finished reading last month, what you’re currently reading, and what’s on your To Be Read stack/list. And if you’ve reviewed the books you’ve read somewhere, please include links!

To format your text, click here for an HTML cheat-sheet. If you want to embed your links in your text (like my “click here” links) instead of just pasting the link into your comment, click here.

What book(s) did you finish reading (or listening to) last month?

What are you currently reading and/or listening to?

What’s next on your To Be Read stack/list?


Here’s my update since our last reading report post:

What book(s) did you finish reading (or listening to) last month?

What are you currently reading and/or listening to?

  • The Highwayman (Victorian Rebels #1) by Kerrigan Byrne (Historical Romance–Victorian)
  • The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, audiobook read by Lorna Raver (Classic American Literature)

What’s next on your To Be Read stack/list?
For my 2018 category reading challenge, the categories I’ve targeted to complete this month are:

  • Classic American Literature (currently reading The Age of Innocence)
  • General (non-romance) Fiction
  • Contemporary Mystery

Get Motivated: What It Means to Be a Writer | #amwriting

Sunday, May 6, 2018

A writer is someone who cannot not write. By “writing” I mean creativing writing, not messages to a friend. It may be useful to think of fiction writing as preparing a gift for a stranger, the unseen reader we hope to please. The definition “a writer is someone who cannot not write” may seem clumsy, but acquaintance will reveal its eccentric virtue. Consider the opposite: a nonwriter is someone who can write or not, who does not have the drive and need to put words to paper.

A writer is someone who looks forward to the day’s work, even if it lasts only an hour or two before the writer has to dash to a job that supports him and his family until such a happy time that the writing itself may be economically rewarding. On those days when external circumstances prevent his writing, a writer feels a hollowness, an absence, a longing. A writer is a person who knows that whatever one first sets down is a draft, that drafts are palimpsests ready for change the next day and the next day until they can no longer be improved. True, some writers suffer while writing. I regret their pain, and am glad to report that as on masters the craft, the pain ebbs, and the pleasure of being able to control the result can bring the secont-greatest pleasure of life, the creation of text that arouses the emotions of distant readers.

~Sol Stein
How to Grow a Novel: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Overcome Them
pp. xiv–xv

2018 Writing Challenge–Prompt: It’s Cold Outside | #amwriting #writingprompt

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Writing Prompt—May 6, 2018

On a winter afternoon, Character likes to . . .

Word Count Goal: 300 to 1,000 words
You can write it as a scene or notes or an outline or even an epic poem worthy of a minstrel in the king’s court. Just write!

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