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When Will I Get My Breakthrough? Making It Past “The Dip”

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Is Kristen Lamb living inside my head?

Kristen Lamb's Blog

If you stick with writing long enough, you will make it to The Dip (thank you, Seth Godin). The Dip is that span of suck right before the big breakthrough. The Dip is a killer and it seems to go on and on and on, but The Dip serves a number of important purposes.

The Dip Weeds Out the Uncommitted

Writing is the best job in the world. I love what I do and, frankly it’s a huge reason I struggle with resting. My work rarely feels like work…unless I’m in The Dip, which I’m in now. We writers also call these “revisions.” I’ve read my new book so many times, I swear I could recite it from memory.

But there’s a missing comma. Oh, and where did that extra period come from? Wait, the subject and verb don’t agree in that sentence. Doesn’t that need a citation? All…

View original post 939 more words

Real-Life Curry Apple Pie

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I’ve written before about how much I love the Times’ Vows section because, as a novelist, it offers an incredibly rich human interaction resource. It’s like being given a palette of colors to paint with.

Of course, some weeks are richer than others.

Today’s installment, yielded the motherlode.

A small,some would say indistinguishable, wedding announcement jumped out at me.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/fashion/weddings/amrita-ford-hrishikesh-hari-weddings.html?smid=pl-share

The bride’s name caught my eye: Amrita Ford. Indian first name and Western last. I had to know more.

Amrita, as it turns out, is the daughter of Alfred Brush Ford, heir of the Ford Motor Co., and notorious, in some circles, for having joined the Hare Krishna religion in the 70’s.

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When I was growing up, Western Krishnas  would set up drumming and chanting circles, and distribute religious literature in crowded places like airports and town plazas. You almost couldn’t avoid them. Adults warned us that contact with these shaved-head, orange-robed, ‘weirdos’ was dangerous. Merely accepting a pamphlet could lead you down a dangerous path, like trying heroin instantly turned you into a dead-eyed, drooling zombie. Once in their grips you could never get out. At best, they were beggars, at worst, dangerous cult members, like Manson followers.

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We literally would race across the street to avoid them, and then stare, from a safe distance, with fascinated horror at their ecstatic, twirling dances. Over the years, they started to disappear from the urban landscape. Where did the Krishnas go?

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So imagine how my imagination fired up when I saw that this blue-blooded Hare Krishna’s very normal looking daughter was getting married to a Harvard-educated lawyer with the very Indian name of Hrishikesh Hari. His father runs a Best Western Hotel in Florida. C’mon, tell me you’re not intrigued as well about how all these pieces fit!

For Alfred Ford, his religious conversion may have been the product of youthful rebellion from his privileged upbringing, but he has stuck all these years to his convictions, made them his life purpose. How many of us can lay that claim that?

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This is the kind of tiny window into a life that provokes in me a slew of other questions: like what was it like growing up the daughter of both a scion of an iconic American family and a Bengali woman? How is the interaction with her more traditional, white bread cousins? Was marrying an Indian man an accidental or a deliberate choice?

Overalls

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Some fashion trends rush out of style for good reason. One of these is overalls on women. I mean, how often are they flattering to any woman regardless of age or size?

To see how truly, laughably hideous this trend revival can be check out this article in this Sunday’s NYTimes…. These poor women are the personification of fashion victimhood. We need a 12-step program for people who will abort all good sense in order to jump on whatever nonsense style bandwagon that comes along. Take a look at the link below and make up your own mind.

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/05/13/fashion/streetstyleoveralls.html?smid=pl-share

From bad…Image

To worse…

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I’m sorry to offend the overall lovers of the world but, unless you are working on a farm or you’re 5 years old, this look is plain ridiculous. Not to mention super hard to pull off with any sort of dignity.

Yet another example of the fashion world hood-winking women into buying clothes so hideous they will be sending them to Goodwill in about 30 seconds after purchase…

CURRY APPLE PIE RECIPE

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I am super excited about the upcoming launch of my contest:

 A Slice of the Good Life 

(Starts June 1, 2013).

 This is an incredible chance to visit romantic Quebec City in dazzling style.

I am offering a variety of ways to enter this contest: from following my blog to reading my book and offering a review on any e-book seller that currently lists my book (like Amazon, for example).

One of the most fun ways to enter the contest is to create and post a recipe for Curry Apple Pie. You can post either on my blog or my Facebook page (my Facebook page is called Novelkudos as well).

Here is the recipe of Curry Apple Pie that Lulu, my heroine, makes in the book.

You will need:

(Oven temp: 350 F)

1 cast iron skillet

1 package frozen puff pastry – thawed and rolled out into a circle roughly ½” bigger in circumference than the skillet you will use.

4 Granny Smith apples peeled and sliced very thin

3/4 cup brown sugar

½ stick salted butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon curry powder

½ teaspoon powdered ginger

Melt butter in cast iron skillet.

Add sugar and spices  to skillet.

Cook and stir until bubbling.

While still cooking add apple slices to pan in a nice overlapping ‘petal’ pattern until skilled and sauce are completely covered.

Place uncooked puff pastry on the top of apples.

Bake in oven for  30-45 minutes depending on when your pastry cooks (varies with thickness and oven type). Pastry should be cooked through and deep golden brown.

Place a plate that is larger than skillet over skillet and then flip both plate and skillet so that the plate is on counter and skillet is now on top. Apples and crust should loosen and fall into place.

Serve warmish with a dollop whipped cream spiced with lemon zest, vanilla, ½ teaspoon of allspice, and sweetened with splash of agave.

It should come out looking like this:

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Bad Cupcakes!

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Yesterday I wrote about using cupcakes as props rather than indulgences and here’s why.

 I know, I know, a chick-lit author is supposed to LOVE cupcakes… high heels…sappy movies…

 I am not that woman. Cupcakes are too cake-like and sweetIt’s not that I don’t like desserts although I am somewhat in Michael Pollan’s (michaelpollan.com) camp : the first bite is always the best, so why not stop there?

 All those years I lived in New York, I never understood what all the fuss was about Magnolia Bakery (www.magnoliabakery.com) . I would see lines of shivering women waiting outside its doors in the middle of winter and wonder what in God’s name could be so delicious about their cupcakes. At that time a friend gave me a Magnolia tower o’ cupcakes and it left me amazed: these cupcakes were….ORDINARY!

 Yet another sad example of how duped we are generally by hype…

 Give me an affogato at Clark’s Oyster Bar (clarksoysterbar.com) in Austin any day. It’s the most delicious ice cream with a shot of espresso poured over it: bitter and sweet in perfect harmony. There it is below before the espresso gets poured on….

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Arranged Marriages

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With the rise of the Indian business superstar (be it in banking or technology) has come an invigorated interest by the press in things Indian. One of the subjects I have enjoyed seeing develop in the news is the changing picture of Indian dating and marriage rituals.

Is it something she ate?

Traditionally, as many of you know, Indians tended towards the arranged marriage model. But increasingly that idea has been ditched in favour of love matches or now this new hybrid that Saritha Rai wrote about in the New York Times (www.nytimes.com) wrote last week, in article entitled, When ‘Love Marriage’ Needs a Little Help”. (It is further proof of India’s general rise in importance to note that this article was found in the regular Times column INDIA INKNotes on the World’s Largest Democracy).

 

Who wouldn’t want this?

In the article, Ms. Rai mentions two websites that really caught my attention: Floh and TwolyMadlyDeeply that are the Indian version of Match.com (www.match.com) .

 

Statistical Romance

With the advent of more widespread education, job opportunities, upward mobility cutting through traditionally rigid class barriers, came the erosion of their arranged marriage tradition.  Some casts have taken to this new romantic freedom with greater alacrity than others. But clearly the trend is the more educated you are, the more options you have, the more you are going to want freedom to choose your own partner.

 

Ms. Rai writes about the dating services, “Both were created to fill a growing need for urban Indians seeking educated global professionals like themselves, without regards to caste, region, language or any of the other traditional matrimonial requirements, but the two networks are not immune to parental influence.”

 

The funny thing about this is that while India now has its equivalent of Match.com its versions appear to be patronized and funded by the parents of its clients. In other words, the parents are the ones signing their kids up and funding  their memberships. Online dating Indian Style.   By the way, the tagline, of one of the dating webistes is: “Happily Un-arranged!”

 

It’s yet another thing I love about India: they’ll take something contemporary and Western and turn it into hybrid  that could only come from India like say a Bollywood movie. Yes, it’s a movie which uses all the same technology and tricks as a Hollywood production, but it is its own unmistakable genre. Even Chinese films don’t have that uniqueness.

 

That is why I called my novel Curry Apple Pie. I love the way India has come to the West and the West has gone to India but rather than absorbing Western culture whole it has amalgamated it.