Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What If You Lived...The Romantic Life

Amy's note: Please welcome another fun author, Anne Carter. I met Anne through her books for Echelon Press. She writes with style and enthusiasm, and I couldn't resist having her guest blog with this wonderful recipe!

Looking For Love in All the Right Places
by Anne Carter

Ah, romance. It can be as key to the writer's life as breathing. Romance surrounds us, every day of that life, there for the taking, to be plucked out of the air and joyfully described in black ink on clean, white stock.

“Where do you get your ideas?” As romance writers, it is one of the questions most often asked of us; we ask it of ourselves and of each other. Do you have to be a "romantic" person or have lived a "romantic" life in order to succeed at expressing this most basic of human emotions, this affair with love itself that we all so dearly crave?

Of course, the answer is yes. But be careful in defining the "romantic life," for you do not have to be a Scarlett O'Hara, an Amelia Earhardt, a Marilyn Monroe. You needn't look like Julia Roberts or be married to Johnny Depp. To live the romantic life you need only to breathe deeply and dive right in to that human ocean around you, eyes, ears and heart wide open to possibilities. The ideas are there, and you can teach your naturally curious mind how to uncover them.

Romantic fiction is often character driven. Therefore, it makes sense to define characters that can do and say the things I want them to, the ability to make romance from the trials and conflicts life hands them. For the romantic mind, characterization is not usually too difficult; my hero is dashing, sexy, strong and maybe funny, my heroine gorgeous, sensitive, has secrets and is a smart cookie. Throw in that simmering sexual tension and I’m cooking. But cooking what?

Here's where our old fiction "writer-friendly" cliché comes in: What if? From the expected to the absurd, digging up a healthy portion of "what if"s can start me five stories in one sitting.

What if the man sitting alone in the restaurant is waiting for a woman he hasn’t seen in ten years? What if the woman selling fragrances is cranky because she’s just discovered her husband is not the man she thought he was. Why would a man in an Armani suit be riding the bus into the worst part of town?

Seeing the ordinary under a new light can make it something extraordinary. Turning a perfectly normal picture upside down; getting crazy with it! I write it down, no matter how silly it may sound in my head. Give those great characters I created some material and they will improvise, writing the rest of the story for me. Just think, what if the craziest idea I ever hatched became the best manuscript I ever typed? What if my story turned out to be just the one that editor I’m after has been waiting for? What if…

And along those lines, what if I was following a perfectly normal looking cake recipe, when all of a sudden I saw it: an unexpected, mysterious ingredient. What would I do? Bake it, of course!

From my 1971 copy of THE JOY OF COOKING… Mystery Cake! Oven: 350°

· 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, resifted with:
· ½ teaspoon salt
· 1 teaspoon cinnamon
· ½ teaspoon each nutmeg and cloves
· 1 teaspoon soda

· 1 C Sugar, creamed until soft with
· 2 tablespoons butter

Add the sifted sugar gradually and cream these ingredients well. Stir the flour mixture in about 3 parts into the sugar mixture, alternating with thirds of the contents of (mystery ingredient!):

· 1 Can condensed tomato soup! (10 ½ oz)

Stir the batter until smooth after each addition. Fold in:

· 1 cup nut meats (what??)
· 1 cup raisins
Bake in a greased tube pan for about 45 minutes. Spread, when cool with Boiled White Icing or your choice of other frosting!

Pam Ripling, who also writes as Anne Carter, is the author of paranormal romantic mystery, POINT SURRENDER, from Echelon Press, Amazon, and for your Kindle, iPhone or other e-formats, Fictionwise. Vis-it Anne at


Pam Ripling said...

Just wanted to add that I did, in fact, bake the Mystery Cake and it is awesome! I used almonds for the "nutmeats". It's more like a quick bread, like gingerbread, actually. Quite the yum!


Alyssa Montgomery said...

Great post! Sounds like the cake turned out good! Maybe I'll have to make it just to see what it tastes like...


Anne said...

I was dying to know the end of the story, so thanks for adding the results! Tomato soup - who knew?