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I love chocolate. No, I really love chocolate. At work, there’s a drawer filled with those cute Dove bite size chocolate candies. Every afternoon, like clockwork, I come downstairs and grab one. It’s a guilt free way to make it through the rest of the work day.

This past summer, I entered my first story in the Harlequin Heartwarming Write from the Heart contest. This was the first time I had sent my work out to be critiqued by an industry professional, and I was nervous. While I was waiting to hear back if my story made it to the second round of the contest, I opened up a Dove chocolate and saw the message in the picture above – Believe in yourself.

Being plagued by self-doubt, this little chocolate inspiration really hit home. I tacked it to the wall of my work desk as a daily reminder. Believing in yourself costs nothing, but the payout can be huge.

Weeks later, I found out I had made it to the second round in the Write from the Heart contest. I ended up not winning, but I did get some valuable feedback from the Harlequin Heartwarming editors. That, in itself, was priceless.

That little piece of foil is still pinned to my desk. Along with various other fun items.

004               006             007

What are the little things you do to help feed the seed of belief in yourself?

In honor of my love of chocolate, I’m sharing a recipe for yummy Turtle Brownies.

  • 1 box German chocolate cake mix
  • 1 can (12oz) of Carnation milk
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 pkg. Kraft caramels
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 pkg. (12oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a bowl, combine cake mix, 1/2 cup Carnation milk, and 3/4 cup melted butter. Spread 1/2 mixture in a 9×13 inch greased pan. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes at 350 degrees.

Unwrap caramels and place in microwave safe bowl. Melt in microwave for 60 seconds. Add 1/3 cup of Carnation and mix well. Pour over baked dough, then sprinkle pecans evenly over melted caramels. Sprinkle chocolate chips over pecans. Spread remaining dough over the top and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes longer.

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Sometimes, we don’t know what we don’t know. Sounds kind of confusing, right? But it’s not until we really start immersing ourselves in a particular subject of interest, that we find out how clueless we’ve been all along.

That was me when it came to becoming a professional writer. I was well aware that I had no idea how one went about getting professionally published, so I spent hours on-line reading articles on the subject. After that research, I was pretty confident that I had it all figured out.

And then I found Twitter…

I was amazed to find a wonderful, supportive, and diverse group of writers and publishing professionals who are very active in the Twitterverse. I have learned so much by following writers and Literary Agents. I’m a true hitchhiker, riding along for free on the knowledge they share. Everyday, I’m learning something new, and its all thanks to ordinary people who take the time to share their insights with the rest of us. My favorite posts are from Lit Agents who take ten anonymous query letters and give a short Twitter critique. I find these posts generally provide many examples of what not to do in a query letter!

But don’t forget the Blog…

Through links on Twitter, I have found several blogs that are super helpful for those trying to break into the published author sphere. By reading some of these little gems, you are getting a free course in creative writing. I can’t even begin to express how much useful information I’ve learned from reading blogs.

So where do I begin…

Twitter is the place to be for those in the writing community. It’s a big spider’s web, so find a few Lit. Agents that you think you may like to work with someday and start following them. It won’t take long to discover a network of wonderful people.

Find a few blogs that interest you and take the time to read them. Here are a few of my favorites:

Those are only a few of many. Do you have a good blog or website that is a go to for new information?

fire roasted tomatoes                       170                roasted jalapeno

This week, I’m sharing a new recipe…Fire Roasted Salsa…enjoy!

  • Olive oil
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 8 whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 3 jalapenos, sliced (use fresh for salsa with more heat, canned for a milder flavor)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried cumin
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, drizzle 2 tsp. olive oil over the foil. Lay down cherry tomatoes, onion, garlic cloves, and jalapenos. Broil vegetables, setting the pan about 3-4 inches from the heating element, until charred.

Remove charred vegetable and their juice into a food processor. Add lime juice, pinch of oregano, cumin, salt and pepper, and cilantro. Blend and eat!