Critique Speak

critique group 4

Another year, another critique group? I’m pleased to say that I’ve joined a third, forming a wonderful triad. How is this one different? In this case, writers gather twice a month, which doubles the motivation to produce. Situated in a smaller room, our number is capped at six. That means we all share something for feedback most times. Attendees don’t read their works aloud but do send pieces in advance through email. Instead of evenings, this half-dozen meets in the cool of the library while the Texas sun is still high in the sky.

Although several other members also belong to multiple groups, each combination develops its own personality. One gathering is specifically aimed at writers and illustrators of children’s literature, and the other two attract those who write for various levels. We critique novel chapters, stories, poetry, songs, memoir, and other types of non-fiction. Want to know more about queries, summaries, or elevator pitches? These are also presented and analyzed. Most importantly, not only do we assess possible improvements, but point out the positives of what’s working in each piece.

Beyond the share/feedback cycle, all three configurations circulate information about upcoming events of interest, in addition to facts about submissions for agents and publishers. We celebrate, praise, and console, since this calling involves both highs and lows. I find the camaraderie among people with different backgrounds who all share a love of writing to be so exhilarating, interesting AND comforting. When I first started my journey, I had no idea how important this activity would become. If you’re a writer or illustrator and haven’t yet found just the right spot, I hope that you’ll continue your quest!

Feel free to share in comments what you like best about your critique group or what you would look for in your search!       ~Becky

book fest
FRISCO BOOK FEST: Fergal O’Donnell and Gary Thornberry (current and former presidents of Write Club); Becky Michael (founding member of Write 4 Kids)

Smorgasbord Music Column – The Romantic Ballad Request Show – Part One – Becky Ross Michael, D.G. Kaye, Abbie Taylor, Cindy Knoke, Sue Vincent. — Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Thanks, Sally Cronin, for playing one of my favorite songs!

Click on the Smorgasbord link to hear all the great music:)

~Becky

 

Last week I featured some of my most played romantic songs through the decades for a Valentine Special and I asked you for your favourite tracks to dance to. Here they are now, so grab the one that you love… or a friend and have a twirl around the room. The first requests is for […]

via Smorgasbord Music Column – The Romantic Ballad Request Show – Part One – Becky Ross Michael, D.G. Kaye, Abbie Taylor, Cindy Knoke, Sue Vincent. — Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Multicultural Children’s Book Day – A Gift from Abuela by Cecilia Ruiz – Book Giveaway – Reblog from Children’s Books Heal

Visit Children’s Books Heal to enter the book giveaway through February 1st!      ~Becky

Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Jan. 25, 2019 Official hashtag: #ReadYourWorld A Gift from Abuela by Cecilia Ruiz, Author and Illustrator; Candlewick Press, Fiction, 2018 Suitable for Ages: 4-8 Themes: Intergenerational relationships, Love, Kindness, Change, Multicultural Book Giveaway: All you have to do is leave a comment and let me know that you would like to receive […]

via A Gift from Abuela by Cecilia Ruiz – Book Giveaway – Multicultural Children’s Book Day — Children’s Books Heal

January 23 – National Reading Day — reblog from Celebrate Picture Books!

Make sure to check out the book giveaway at Celebrate Picture Books through January 29!     ~Becky

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mirabelle's-missing-valentines-cover

About the Holiday:  Celebrated in schools across the country, National Reading Day was established to encourage students in PreK through 3rd grade to develop a love of reading, which is the basis for becoming a lifelong learner. Schools, libraries, organizations, bookstores, and parents provide activities to connect young readers with books they’ll love. Sterling Children’s […]

via January 23 – National Reading Day —

Favas are My Fave: Meatless Monday or Any Day!

Cooking vegetarian usually requires exploration of various legumes, like beans, peas, nuts and lentils. One of my absolute favorites is the fava bean, which goes by various names, including broad bean. Research says that these may be found fresh, canned, frozen, and dried and in various colors.

Favas are packed with protein, fiber and iron. The texture is somewhat creamy or buttery, and the flavor is earthy and nutty, making them a great choice for eating in both warm and cold dishes!

At this point, I’ve only used the brown ones and in the dried form. Sometimes they’re challenging to find, depending on the shopping options. On occasion, I order then online, and those that have already been blanched and peeled (such as Bob’s Red Mill) save a great deal of time. I don’t cook them for nearly as long as the package suggests. If you want to peel your own, check out this video of French chef, Jacques Pepin, showing you an easy method.

Favas pair nicely with asparagus and tomatoes, and I’ve come up with a ‘recipe’ of sorts with various options. This can be eaten warm or cold, but I think that the flavors tend to intensify a bit after it has been refrigerated.

Fave Fava Salad

INGREDIENTS and METHODS:

Fava beans, blanched and peeled (optional additions: cooked or canned garbanzos/frozen green peas, simply rinsed in cool water)

Asparagus, blanched or steamed and cut into bite-sized lengths (although longer spears add visual appeal)

Tomatoes, sliced or diced; halved if using cherry tomatoes

Scallions/green onions, thinly sliced (white and green portions), chives (snipped),or garlic (minced); garlic may be cooked with the beans, if you wish

Seasonings: choose from mint, tarragon, dill, salt, pepper

Option: place the above mixture over a bed of spring mix lettuce, arugula, spinach or baby kale

Heartier version: add cooked and cooled orzo pasta or couscous

Cheese additions, such as Parmesan, Feta, Pecorino, or your favorite vegan cheese

Dressing choices: olive oil whisked with lemon juice or a balsamic vinaigrette made with balsamic vinegar, oil, and a touch of sweetener

NOTES: When preparing the beans and asparagus, be careful to avoid overcooking and letting them become too soft, especially if you plan to eat this chilled. Ingredient amounts are totally up to you, depending on the end quantity, flavors and the look desired.

If you haven’t sampled them before, I hope that you’ll give favas a try. Let me know what you think!     ~Becky

 

 

Celebrate Internationally with Meatless Monday!

 

Plan ahead for Monday, December 10! Meatless Monday is partnering with Slow Food to celebrate their annual Terra Madre Day with a Meatless Monday meal. Take part in an international day of celebration by cooking up a plant-based dish and sharing it on Meatless Monday with family, friends, and colleagues. Click on this link for all the details!

Only Sweaters Required: a Thanksgiving Story

autumn joy green shows full plant more                                                                                                                Unknown to the woman and man, it was to be their last good Thanksgiving. While she sifted through cookbooks for new side dish and dessert recipes, he planned the main course. Menu was written, shopping list compiled, and ingredients purchased.

Fall weather in their northern location was typical. Rain and winds had brought down most of the yellow and orange leaves. Halloween delivered a few lazy flurries. Beyond the French doors, the Autumn Joy plants in the garden provided a natural tracking device for the unyielding progression of the season. Summer buds of green turned to pink flower heads, which every day bled into a darker tone of red. Seeing the perennials had already turned a deep shade of crimson, the couple regretted that hope of a warm day had surely passed.

autumn joy red

Thanksgiving dawn was hopeful. Temperatures outside continued to rise, and the baking oven warmed their home from within. Eat outdoors on Thanksgiving? Unheard of for that location! In smiling agreement, they readied the terrace: swept leaves from the table and chairs, added a tablecloth, lit the chiminea. Only sweaters required.

Dinner was savory and dessert was sweet. Red wine matched  the Autumn Joy’s blooms. Reflecting on a few remaining leaves, the sun began its descent beyond the tops of trees. Slight breeze, crackling fire, and easy conversation. Sundown lowered the temperature, moving them closer to the fire, while shrugging into jackets. When the addition of a new log was insufficient, they finally relinquished their claim on that remarkable Thanksgiving dinner.

The view from frosty French doors the following morning offered a scene of white. A weather front had produced heavy snows, and autumn changed to winter overnight. The world had turned cold and stark, with sharp edges of ice. Shrouded in a pale cloak, the Autumn Joy had given in to the ravages of the seasons. Winter would remain, and wishes otherwise would go unanswered.

Sedum Autumn Joy Herbstfreude in winter snow with grasses & Rudbeckia seed-heads

Magic from that day is gone, but not forgotten. The warmth of their world is remembered. No longer sharing that kitchen, that terrace, that garden, the memory still connects them.

~ Becky ~ 2018