From Sarah, With Joy

Writer querying two novels and some other word babies. I tend to effervesce.

New post every Monday

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Made Easy, Part 4: Movies

Movies are a classic part of the Christmas holiday. The only hard part is that there are so many to choose from. So I'm going to make that choice a little easier and give you probably my favorite Christmas movie ever:



If you haven't seen this adaptation of A Christmas Carol, do yourself a favor. Albert Finney is the best Scrooge ever.

Sarah Allen

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Made Easy, Part 3: Oh the weather outside is frightful

So look for the beauty in the ice...

Or find a little sunshine in the backyard...

And most of all, don't forget to sing!



Sarah Allen

P.S. Why yes, I did take those pictures myself. I'm letting myself think it took more than just dumb luck.

Also, don't forget the $15 Amazon gift-card easy-peasy Christmas giveaway going on here at the bloggy blog. There's only two days left, don't miss out!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Made Easy, Part 2: Russian Teacakes

These are a tradition in my family, and well worth the effort.

Ingredients: 
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ¼ cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
¾ cup finely chopped nuts
¼ teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar

Instructions:
-Heat oven to 400ºF.
-Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.
-Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
-Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack.
-Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.
*Makes 4 dozen cookies

*Changes: In my family we nix the nuts, and instead wrap the dough around a Hershey's kiss before we bake it. That way its like a little present when you bite into it. My mom buys tons of different flavors like mint, cherry, hot cocoa, candy-cane, and of course regular chocolate. It's become quite a game to see which flavor we get. It's important to wrap the dough fully around the chocolate so its completely covered, but not too much bigger either. Too big, too much dough, too small, the chocolate melts through when you bake. That's why we don't do Rolo's anymore, although those were my favorite. This is what we do for my entire ward, meaning we do it for two days straight. We put on Christmas movies and do an assembly line with the littlest unwrapping kisses, mom and sister mixing dough, and the rest of us rolling the dough around the chocolate. Then we wrap each cookie in tin-foil, bag them, and deliver them around the neighborhood.

Last year we made over 1600. 

Sarah Allen

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Made Easy, Part 1: Gift Shopping for Writers

This week, countdown week to Christmas, I'm going to feature a series of posts to hopefully take some of the stress and insanity out of the holiday season and bring things back to the fun and joyful side. First up, shopping for writers.

Really, writers are very easy to shop for. In fact, I'll just give you a list.

-Books. Always a good idea.
-Movies and music. Second to books, but a close second.
-Notebooks, pens, envelopes, stamps.
-Printer. Always need to print off stuff for editing and submissions.
-Time. (i.e. babysitting, cleaning, certificates to cafes, etc.)
-Fish or a turtle. Muses, you know.
-If not something live, a teddy bear. Someone to talk to. Or maybe that's just me.
-Plants. We need to get our oxygen somehow.

Not hard, right? Hope this helps!

Sarah Allen

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Story Creative Writing Prompts

For fun:

Write about a reindeer other than Rudolph.

Write about the only present she didn't want.

Write about what elves do in the summer.

Write about the courtship of the Clauses.

Write about a Christmas tradition and where it came from.

Write about Christmas in China.

Write about Christmas at a fast food chain.

Write about Christmas from a pet's perspective.

Write about Scrooge from the Ghost of Christmas Past's perspective

Write about Christmas at a rest home.

Mix Christmas with another holiday, like Halloween or Valetine's or Presidents day.

Write about Santa in a ballet class.

Write about the sleigh stowaway.

Write about how Mrs. Clause spends Christmas Eve.
.
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Any other ideas?

Sarah Allen

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How do they write like that?

There are some writers that make me ask that question a lot. Here are some examples of what I mean.

"Serve God, love me, and mend."
-William Shakespeare, "Much Ado About Nothing"

"Because nothing true can be said about God from a posture of defense."
"Night and light, silence and difficulty, it seemed to me always rigorous and good."
-Marianne Robinson, "Gilead"

"I was not good at drawing faces. I was just joking most of the time. I was not decisive in changing rooms or anywhere. I was so late because I was looking for flowers. I was just going through a tunnel whenever my mother called. I was not able to make toast without the radio. I was not able to tell if compliments were backhanded. I was not as tired as I said."
-Jonathan Safran Foer, "Here We Aren't, So Quickly"

"If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence."
-George Eliot, "Middlemarch"

"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs."
-Norman Maclean, "A River Runs Through It"

"Think of the force of life, yes, but think of the component of darkness in it. One of the things that's in whale's milk is the promise of pain and death...I shall be richer all my life for this sorrow."
Wallace Stegner, "All the Little Live Things"

How brilliant are these people. Seriously. I mean, what does it take to be the kind of person who can write things like that? Inherent genius? Years and years of practice? An MFA?

It's not like I'm trying to write like someone else. I can only write like me, and that's that. And it's not like there's one guaranteed way to get to that level of poetic genius, or that there's even one set definition of what "genius" is. But still, these peoples writing blows me away, and I want to blow people away too. Or at least get as close as I can. Maybe just a little breeze, but something...

I guess its a combination of things: studying, practice, honesty, observation. And we just have to pray for the rest.

What do you think?

Sarah Allen

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December is the Bestest Month

I love December :) It seems like October and November went so fast they were almost never here, but I'm glad its December now anyway. There's just so much awesomeness in December. Christmas, The Osmond Family Christmas album (I know, I know, I'm such a Mormon), New Years Eve, my birthday. Snow isn't annoying yet. And I love the feeling of getting ready for a whole new year, and how it always feels like its going to be so much better than the one before. Which I really do think this year, because 2011 was rough. I'm expecting big things from 2012, and I don't just mean the Olympics.

I love the Olympics, especially gymnastics and ice-skating. I love midnight bowls of cold cereal. I love sitting in my room writing blog posts with the window open so my room gets really cold and then I shut the window and turn on the heat and snuggle in my blanket with my teddy bear. I love being 22, but I'm excited to be 23. I love snow, especially when I'm inside looking at it from the safety of a warm house. I love the word December. It's a cool word. I love polar bears. I love boots and coats and gloves, but not scarfs. I miss Postum (I know, I know, I'm such a Mormon). I love mountains with snow on them. I hate skiing, but I like ski lodges. I love icicles. I love count-downs, especially to Christmas. I love Clay Aiken and Barbra Streisand and David Archuleta and Josh Groban and Celine Dion doing Christmas on the radio. I like fireplaces and stockings. I like The Grinch with Jim Carey and Scrooge with Albert Finney. I love making Russian teacakes for two days straight with my family. I love being hijacked into my home wards Christmas pageant, even though I really don't. I love this:

What do you love about December?

Sarah Allen
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