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Homemade Cranberry Sauce

imageHappy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Peeking my lil ole pea-head in here for just a moment to send you holiday greetings, and a quick “recipe” for homemade cranberry sauce.

Purchase a bag of fresh cranberries, wash them, put aside.

imageIn a saucepan add a cup of liquid–you can use plain water, or orange juice/orange juice/water combo. Or like I’m doing: a little water, a little fresh squeezed orange juice, a little “spiced water” I made by boiling a cinnamon stick, whole cloves and whole allspice (of course just use the spiced liquid and throw away the spices), and a little liquer (I like that orange flavored liquer but since I don’t have any, I’m using Drambuie). I also will be adding orange zest, and if I have it, lemon zest. Sometimes I add a little cracked pepper.

imageAdd sugar to the liquid: recipes call for 1 cup of sugar but I like mine less sweet so I add about 3/4 a cup or so.

imageBring liquid and sugar to a boil, then add cranberries, and bring back to a boil. Boil gently for anywhere from 10 minutes to 15 minutes, or until the cranberries are “breaking down,” stirring occasionally.

Pour into whatever dish you want, let it cool/chill overnight if possible.

imageEat and enjoy!

All photos are mine except the “finished product” at the end, which is Food Network’s (I haven’t quite completed mine yet!–preparing it as I write this!)

Here’s mine!




Amy Sue Nathan’s Women’s Fiction Writers: no heroes. no zombies. no high heels. well, maybe high heels.

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Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

I used to dislike the coming of fall. It meant the end to summer; I like the warmth and ease and lush green of summer. But something magical has happened to me and I now look forward to autumn, and even the coming winter. Part of that “something magical” is how for a year I was away from my cove, living in Texas where the contrast of seasons isn’t as apparent–I missed what I was away from so acutely that every tiny molecule of this mountain cove delights and amazes me –I am imagediscovering it all over again; I only thought I appreciated it before. And, well, she says with a blush, feeling loved and being in love everything changes and swells up and becomes mystical and magical and new (thank you, Dale).

my colorful driveway

my colorful driveway

With the coming cooler weather, chilly mornings and evenings, with the changing leaves, with the sights and sounds (is there no more wonderful sound of autumn than that of leaves beneath one’s feet?) and feel of fall, my mind turns to soups and stews and chili. The other night, I prepared a chili that was so simple but so tasty, I will share it here. Of course, everyone should put their own ‘twist’ on chili–I like to play with food: the seasonings, the way I prepare it.

Now, even though this may look long, it’s super easy. I’m a novelist so I tend to run off at the mouth even when writing recipes *laughing!*

MMMM tasty!

MMMM tasty!

Easy Autumn Chili (this is enough chili for two people for a few nights)


About a pound or so of beef “stew meat” — we bought these small lean “chunks” of beef. You can also “vegetarian” this by not adding meat and substituting more veggies and/or “fake meat crumbles” (I have done this and it’s good).

1 can of stewed tomatoes (or if you have fresh made, use it!)

1 can of tomato sauce (or freshly made if you have it)

(I had a little bit of Rotel tomatoes in the freezer that I also added)

1 onion chopped rough (I like chunky chili!)

1 green bellpepper  chopped rough

4-5 small “baby bellpeppers” in orange, yellow, red (we buy them in a bag – they are small and very tasty!) also chopped rough

minced or chopped garlic

Spices: chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and I also added 2 spices I have in my cabinet: ancho chili pepper and chipotle chili pepper, but use these two spices sparingly especially if you add the Rotel tomatoes. I also have some garlic powder that I sprinkled even though I used minced garlic. As well, I poured in about a half cup of Dale’s beer.

I also added a can of black beans since I had that in my pantry: I like very few beans in my chili and sometimes don’t add them at all – pintos in chili are really good, too, by the way.

Whatever oil you like to cook with – just a little.

Whatever “toppings” and “sides” you like: we like sour cream, or cheddar cheese, or both, for toppings. Crackers or tortilla chips are good–or cornbread, for sides.

And very important: add your tastebuds! You must taste as you cook. It’s like when I first began writing–I thought that if I were a Real Writer, whatever came out of my pea-head should be perfect  the very first draft and I shouldn’t have to fiddle with it (edit it or rewrite it)–Oh Dear Lawd! That’s crazy talk! Of course writers have to edit and re-write–I edit and re-write til the cows come home! Many many drafts! I “taste” my writing to make sure it is delicious. Do that with your food – layer flavors and taste along the way, y’all.

To Prepare:

Put a little oil in a large saucepan and turn up the heat until when a piece of meat is added, it immediately sizzles – you want to sear the meat very quickly – don’t worry about cooking it through because it will cook when you are simmering the chili. I added a little salt to this and nothing else, yet.

It’s up to you whether you sear a little at a time or all the meat at once, but note that if you sear it all at once, the  juices of the meat will stop the searing process and it may start to “steam” instead – so, if this happens, just turn up the heat and cook out the juices to keep that sear. When the meat is quickly seared, remove it from the saucepan (be careful! it’s hot!), and place the meat aside.

Turn down the heat so you can start sautéing your veggies: onion and bellpeppers. Don’t add the garlic yet, for garlic will turn bitter if over-cooked.  As the onions and bellpeppers cooked, I added some seasonings a little at a time: I like to “layer” flavors. First a little salt, cook a while, then I added just a little of the chili powder and cumin, and some pepper. You’ll be adding more seasonings, so just add a little of whatever seasonings you will be using. I also added just a few pinches of garlic powder (not garlic salt). When your veggies are fairly tender (onions will start to look translucent), add your chopped or minced garlic. Cook and stir this just a few minutes.

Time to add the tomato products (you may need to add a little water later). And the beans (and beer) if you are using them. Just pour them all in. Turn the heat to simmer. Add back the meat to the tomato/veggie mixture. Now start adding in the seasonings. Dale and I like a lot of chili powder, and as well a lot of cumin–decide how you like yours by TASTING! As I said above, tasting as you cook is important. I put a big palmful of chili powder, plus a little more. I put at least a half of palmful of cumin. Just a few pinches of the ancho and chipotle. I didn’t need to add salt since I salted the meat and the veggies.

After you have added everything you want to add, cover the chili, make sure the heat is on low, and simmer that bad boy for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  When done, add whatever toppings, if any, you like, and enjoy!

I hope I didn’t forget anything, but that’s the beauty of cooking: make it your own! Unlike baking, where it has to be more exact, we can experiment and have fun with preparing food.

Let me know how yours turned out and what you do differently!

(I hope you will drop by my Kat Magendie’s Amazon page and if you haven’t read one of my books, perhaps think about it whilst they are on sale at Amazon. I appreciate all of the support my readers have given me! Thank you!)


I wrote this a year ago, when I thought anything at all could be possible. It bears re-reading (by me). I’m going to repost it and read it, and then I’m going to drink the rest of my dark rich strong black coffee and I’m going for a run and then I’m kicking the ass of the day–and the novel I am working on.

Originally posted on Kathryn Magendie:

ipod photos 082I done been here, and I done been there, and I done this and I done that and I done the other. I done thangs I never done before. I done thangs I haven’t in a long long time.

I been where I’ve never been, and where I’ve seldom been, and where I’ve left, and where I’ve said I’d never go, or never return to.

This here woman done seen thangs that made her speechless with wonder. Made her stop right there and say, “Well . . . oh my god.”

This here woman done done thangs that opened her up and turned her inside out bursting kaleidoscopic super-nova–KaBOOM! Ka-POW! Ka-BAM!

And I ate things I said I’d never again eat. I broke many “food rules;” like, never eat pork: I ate bacon and damned if it wasn’t tasty; I ate peaches with the skin on them and the juice ran down my arm…

View original 578 more words

gather your ingredients!

gather your ingredients!

I’m a novelist who has discovered a side to me that I almost forgot. I love to bake. I don’t do it often because baking sweets with just Dale and me here means either some is wasted, we eat too much of it, or usually both! I baked this cake for Dale’s birthday when we had guests over, and then again a week or so later at “half recipe” just because he liked it so much. I’ve never had a man rave so much over a cake I baked in my life! It’s a great incentive to do more *laugh*  It’s the best chocolate cake he’s ever had, and that I’ve ever baked: it always turns out delicious–dark, almost black, cake. The frosting for his birthday was a lighter sweeter chocolate, while the second time I added more cocoa and less sugar making it more a “dark bitter chocolate” icing. While he prefers the sweeter, I do the darker more “bitter.”

I mostly follow the recipe on the Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa box, but I do add just a couple of things to make it my own. The icing I guess at–while baking is a science where I must be exact, I can play around with the icing without a recipe. Both recipes are below. Enjoy!

This is the lighter sweeter frosting

This is the lighter sweeter frosting

Hershey’s “Especially Dark” Chocolate Cake

Gather all your ingredients together before you begin–the last thing you want is suddenly to realize you are out of an ingredient. As well, some bakers say to take out your eggs so they aren’t “chilled” (but especially do take out the butter/cream cheese for your icing so it can soften while you prepare the cake). Also, the recipe calls for 1 cup of boiling water to be added at the end, so just be prepared to have that going at some point in the recipe–I always read my recipe through before I begin.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease/flour two 9-inch round pans: a Tip for chocolate cakes–I use a little cocoa mixed into my flour so my dark chocolate cake doesn’t have that white flour look to it when I take it from the pans.

Ingredients for the cake:

2 cups sugar (I used ‘raw’ sugar instead of ‘white’ sugar to give it a more “caramel” taste but white sugar is fine)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (for a ‘gluten-free’ cake I made separate for my brother in a ramekin, I used coconut flour but you have to bake it a bit longer and add more liquid-experimenting still on this)

3/4 cups Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa (if you don’t like it so dark, use the regular cocoa -just make sure it’s the UNSWEETENED kind- I’ve done it with regular cocoa and special dark, both with great results)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup of milk (I used Lactose Free milk and it did just as well as “regular” milk)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of vanilla–I added a little more than this, and I used what Ina Garten calls “good vanilla,” for which you can see it in the photos above: Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon vanilla.

I add 1-2 teaspoons of espresso powder–the coffee flavor adds a richness to the chocolate.

Also, I added unsweetened cocoa nibs (I used Viva Labs organic cocoa nibs–Viva Labs makes some really good products!) just to add a little extra something (Dale likes these nibs a lot in the cake).

1 cup of boiling water

Tiny cake is the "gluten-free" cake for my brother - the consistency is "grainer" and thicker - almost like a molten chocolate cake

Tiny cake is the “gluten-free” cake for my brother – the consistency is “grainer” and thicker – almost like a molten chocolate cake

Get started:

(You’ve preheated oven to 350; you’ve greased/floured pans). In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients: sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the dry mixture the wet ingredients: eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla–not boiling water yet–beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. To this mixture, stir in the boiling water–be careful! Don’t set your mixer on high and splash hot cake mix on yourself! After adding the boiling water and mixing that, the cake batter will be thin: it is supposed to be thin so don’t let this concern you. However, if you are baking a “gluten free” cake, the batter will be thicker and you may have to add some extra oil or milk or both.

Pour batter into your prepared pans. Bake 30-35 minutes until wooden pick in center of cake comes out *mostly* clean (you want a little cake to come away on the wooden pick-if it’s completely dry, your cake may be overcooked). NOTE! I checked my cake after 25 minutes and it was DONE! Maybe it is the altitude; maybe it was the weather; maybe it is my oven–but I suggest checking your cake after 20-25 minutes, just in case.

Cool at least 10 minutes before you remove from pans. Make sure the cake is completely cooled before you frost it.

As for the icing: I make up my recipe as I go along. I’ve made it dark and bitter, and sweeter and lighter. Cream cheese (as I did recently) or regular butter cream. Chocolate or vanilla or otherwise. I’ve whipped it light and fluffy, and also had it thicker and “stiffer.” Just play with the frosting ingredients and consistency to your taste.

This cake is so dark, it's almost black

This cake is so dark, it’s almost black

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

Room temperature softened unsalted butter (I had salted so I just used it)- at least one stick
Room temperature softened cream cheese – at least 1 8oz package
(I used a whole lot more for Dale’s birthday cake, since he wanted “a lot of frosting”)

Whip or beat (according to how you want your frosting to be: fluffy or stiffer) those two ingredients together — Sometimes I use equal butter and cream cheese, and others I play with the amounts, or use only butter.

Add in powdered sugar, a little milk (sometimes I add no milk-just experiment), cocoa, vanilla: add these ingredients a bit at a time until you have the consistency and chocolatey taste you want.

When the cake is completely cooled, frost away! One tip is to add parchment or waxed paper to the outsides of your cake plate, then put the cooled cake on top of that to frost–when you are done frosting, pull out the paper and your cake plate is clean! (There are a lot of frosting tips out there, like if crumbs mixing in the frosting bothers you, do some googling!)


Have fun and happy baking!

imageOn a popular “talent” program, often the judges will tell the “contestants”  that they must kick it up a notch, take it further or farther than before, give more, be more more more MORE! No matter how much the act sings her heart out, juggles his arms and legs in amazingly weird pretzel shapes, climbs towering structures and falls–almost–to his death, dances their feet bloody, the judges tell them it’s not enough. You must engage the audience in ways you never thought you could! In ways that show what you have done before is Just Not Good Enough! Two such acts on a recent program showed me how we do not have to set ourselves on fire.


The first act rose to death-defying heights on their motorcycles, proclaiming, and rightly so, that what they do is extremely dangerous. These guys have lost (and by lost, I mean they died–gone from this earth–no more) friends doing what they do. They pushed themselves to the limit, yet at the end of the death-defying heart-stopping act, the judges said, “You have to do more if you want the audience to love you.” So what did they do the very next week? They set themselves on fire, and did the same death-defying act as before. Later came the Houdini act: a man hung upside down while struggling quickly out of a straight jacket. How did he pump it up? By lighting himself on fire.

What next? How to top something so out of control? How to prove what doesn’t need proving: you are who you are; you do what you do, and you are good at it even without the flames. And the flames aren’t really fooling anyone–they see your core.

What you talkin' bout Willis?

What you talkin’ bout Willis?

While I agree that we must always strive to do more and to be more, there does come a point in our lives where we must acknowledge that among all our striving, at the core of us, we simply are who we are. We give our best, and when we type The End, we feel pride and a sense of good work done. When it is just us and our work, we dream of our readers loving the words and language and characters because we created with love and hard disciplined work. No, we should not sit on our hands, rest on our laurels, give up and become lazy and sloppy. But to ask us to be more than who is the very core of ourselves, to give beyond the capabilities of our talents, well, what can happen is we set ourselves on fire and try to fool people into thinking we are doing something Great and Wonderful. It’s like the Wizard behind the curtain while fire roars! We’re still the little old man.
images (1)
Do we really need to set ourselves alight with fire to grab our reader’s attention? Won’t our readers see what I saw with these two acts: they were doing what they know; what they do best, except for the addition of bright hot distraction. Why hide the behind the fire? What they’d done before was the top of their game, the pride of their life; a culmination of many many hours of hard work and sacrifice. We do live in a “viral video” society. Reality is that not many of us will ever go viral. I refuse to set myself on fire and risk a painful death of my Self. My readers deserve my best, and if I give my best, I do not need to add a distraction.

imagesWe are often those judges. The voices in our head judge us, tell us to set ourselves on fire–surely we’ll be noticed then. Surely we’ll grab everyone’s attention, so engulfed by flames we are! Are we only teaching others that we are willing to do anything to grab their attention? Anything at all? Why not let the work underneath the flashy flamed fire be enough?

So let it be written; so let it be done.

  1. 0841. Our interstates have a “system” to them. Odd numbers are north to south with the lowest numbers in the west. Even numbers are east to west with the lowest numbers in the south. Exits are assigned numbers to let you know the distance to the next exit—mile-markers aren’t always exits but they tell you distance “in between.” The interstate system is about 46,300 miles, and of those 46,300 miles, it is a known fact that 40.4858788584857% of the time, a bathroom will be ten to fifty miles from where you really have To Go Bad. And 50.4848482975875% of the time, a Left-Laner will hold up traffic for 20.225 miles, plus three, and then flip you off in indignation when you finally zoom by in frustration.
  1. Supposed to work - let's hope you never have to find out!

    Supposed to work – let’s hope you never have to find out!

    A skunk can spray up to ten feet away. The spray is a yellow oily substance—and guess what? Oil and water don’t mix; so if your dog is sprayed and you wet the dog, it’s going to stink worse—delightful, right? The spray contains as many as seven kinds of nasty “ingredients” that can easily be conglomerated by the skunk into a gas that explodes from the ass(it rhymed!)—that’s what makes it stanky; no, stanky isn’t strong enough a word—putridly pungent. A skunk stinks, yeah, but  in a sobering addition to this light-hearted skunkfomercial: did you also know that skunk spray can cause severe anemia and death in dogs? Okay, only very rarely but worth a note if your dog loves chasing Pepe LePew.

  1. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop? According to science: 1,000. According to Kat: about 30 before she bites into it with glee.
  1. When you google “Will I ever use Algebra in real life?” This is the kind of answer you find, which is an evasive non-answer in my Algebra experience: “This is a difficult question, but the simplest answer is that Algebra is the beginning of a journey that gives you the skills to solve more complex problems.” Uh huh. Nice try.
  1. 007It’s a myth that lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Where did that saying come from? Actually, it’s from the 1800s or some other time when people made up stuff out of boredom and other bored people readily believed it because there wasn’t Google, or Bing if you are a Binger, to debunk it (only 6.777558475% of people like Internet Explorer; poor thangs)—of course, ironically, the internet is full of BS that bored people make up and equally bored people believe. Anyway, lightning not striking twice meant: misfortune won’t happen twice in the same way to the same person. *fake-coughs out a barely perceptible bullshit*
  1. Women’s colons are longer than men’s colons (so who is more full of sh with a side of it, you may ask? Answer with care, my male friends, answer with care). And our female colons are more twisted up. We’re all discombobulated in there. Why? Whyyyyy? They—the infamous “They People” (who I believe are Aliens! No, really!)—say it’s because we give birth. Oh. Okay. So, we have more colon so we can squeeze out a human? Uh huh. They—the Aliens—are tricksters. Just tricksters.
  1. Conversely, a man’s brain is about 10% larger than a woman’s brain. Now, before you men’s heads swell up even more, no it doesn’t mean you
    This is your brain; this is your brain on gender

    This is your brain; this is your brain on gender

    are more intelligent, or any less intelligent. It does mean you process differently. But brain size is not a correlation to intelligence. The brain is larger to accommodate the extra body mass and muscle. Is to! Is TO!

  1. Speaking of brains. Artists have different brains. According to a scientific study (by “They”), researchers found sort ofishy scientifically that artist’s brains are structurally different from non-artists. I suppose that includes us writers, right? I need an excuse for my discombobulated hootnannies. Scans (by They/Aliens!) show that artists have more grey matter in an area of the brain that matters to scientists because scientists are awesome. That area of the 1291293eef10a1b7765ddd172deed303brain could possibly (why aren’t “They” ever sure?) be linked to that “inner eye” that gives visual creativity/clarity.
  1. While goofing off on Google, you find things that you think are jokes, then realize some people really do believe in these Thangs. Like, the im-not-saying-its-cats-but-its-cats-thumbf96496501b29ea59d0cd2f06ad7bba09“theory” that cats are aliens. Uh huh now; I see. Well, there is discussion of it Here and Here. Enjoy!  The first one actually is called “catalienconspiracy.com.”

10. The Perfect Every Time Boiled Eggs. Really! I swear! Put eggs in a saucepan and cover the eggs with water–I just added “the eggs” while re-reading this; didn’t want you to think I meant cover the pan with water -haha! Bring water to a boil and soon as it reaches that “roiling bubbling toil and troubling boil” turn off the heat, cover the pan with a lid, and let the eggs sit in the water for 14 minutes—no more! Some say 12 minutes; some say 13 minutes (what do “they” say?). I’ve had success with 14 minutes. Soon as the timer goes off—and if you don’t use a timer, you will forget and your eggs will suck–no one likes sucky eggs or to suck an egg; eww. No, you will forget–use a timer. I mean it; you will. Anyway, pour off the hot water, add cold water on top of the eggs in the pan, and add some ice to stop the cooking process. Perfect boiled egg.

  1. Most writers make crap for money. If writers are in it for the money, nowadays especially, then those writers may surely be sorely disappointed in the results of their dreams of Lotso Casholo. No, seriously! You wouldn’t believe the people who think I’m rolling in it because I have 5-6 books and some stories out there. When they see me pull up in my 17 year old Subaru decked out in clothes from the clearance rack, an old Dell laptop, a broken-shattered iPhone that I refuse to replace until my iPad’s paid for, they think I’m being ironic, or eclectic, or
    What you talkin' bout Willis?

    What you talkin’ bout Willis?

    that I left my sports car at home with my Louboutin’s. Seriously, though, folks. There is about 0.555785959992445566999999% of the population of authors/novelists who can do this “for a really good living without having another income” and 0.2455668855599999494994949 of those 0.555785959992445566999999% spend a lot of their time writing inspirational platitudes and giving writers advice about how we should be doing this and not doing that and all this blah blah blahdidly blah that they half-believe themselves but they’ve paid their dues, by golly gee, and can tell all us other writers how it is done and if we can’t do it that way, well no wonder we don’t sell books! The rest of us are varying degrees of starving, doing okay, doing pretty well, and pretending we are doing very well by posting upbeat Facebook and Twitter updates about how awesome we are doing and how we aren’t drowning our sorrows in wine and chocolate and sex—la tee dah, y’all! Haw!

  1. And speaking of Louboutin’s—while looking up how to spell it (I can spell Ked’s – wait, is that Keds or Ked’s – dang), a glance at a site that sells downloadthem yields this: “cheapest” (relative term): $525 for some kind of oogly-arse boat shoe looking thangs, to the more expensive sparkled heel at $4,225—my entire wardrobe does not come anywhere near that much—shoes included.

Now, aren’t you glad you know all that? I know I am!


393520_294411430580586_999236092_nTouty Plug of the Day: I love this Facebook Page – easy, simple, uplifting, fun: Things I Like –About: “feel free to add your likes (3 per post)–just keep it clean–keep it positive. drop by or join our “365 day like-a-thon.” by posting here, we have your permission to include our favorites in the future, THINGS I LIKE ©”


I’ve taken up hitting the boxing bag. Not only is it an excellent cardio workout, but works/strengthens/tones the entire upper body—arms, chest, back, core. I “knee” it, too, thus adding some strengthening to my lower body. I often think of my father—he boxed while he was in the Air-Force, and while I’d never hop into the ring, it brings a connection all the same.  But what I want to talk about here today is perceived weakness that keeps us from realizing our potential, because we often don’t recognize potential when we give up too easily, especially when we feel weak and ineffective in an area.

While boxing a couple of days ago, I’d punch the hell out of the bag with my right, but the left was weak and puny. I flailed away a few times and when my left arm just wouldn’t cooperate, I gave in and punched only with my right, every so often smacking unremarkably with my left just to give the right a rest—and, because I figured I had to do it, even if it didn’t feel right.

It frustrated me, this weakness, but  the more I concentrated on the way my left fist felt when it connected to the bag— the weakness of that punch—the more I hated punching with that fist, and the weaker it felt. My workout wasn’t near as effective as it could have been, and I soon tired of it, finally moving on to something else. I came up with excuses as to why my left jab was pathetic: I’m right-hand dominate; I use my right hand much more often and it’s stronger; maybe there’s a pinched nerve on that side causing weakness, etc. and blah blah blah!

Two days later, I headed down to my workout room early, put in my earbuds to loud techno music, and slid on the gloves. Without thinking about what I was doing or how I was doing it, or why, or when, where, what, I just began punching the bejeebus out of that bag—right right right left left left right left right left right right left left left LEFT LEFT LEFT LEFT—POW BIFF BAM!

When I at last stopped, sweat pouring, I looked down in surprise at my left gloved fist, amazed at its strength and endurance. It was tingling and burning but it felt great! It felt powerful! I felt powerful and strong, and capable. I’d hit the hell out of that bag with what I thought was a useless left punch but instead was just as powerful as my right. I slid off my gloves and noted the redness and coming bruising of my knuckles and inside the soft portion between my pinky and “ring finger” and all that did was make me feel more powerful—it was visual tangible evidence of the power of my punch.

Did my arm/fist grow that much stronger over the two days since I’d last boxed? Nope. What I’d done was stepped up to the bag and without thinking about it I just began pummeling it. I didn’t think about weakness; I didn’t think about what I was doing at all. I allowed myself the freedom to find my inner strength. For whatever reason, I’d blocked myself from recognizing my potential by that perceived weakness.

Isn’t it fascinating what our minds can do? The tricks it can play on us? Sometimes, we must outsmart our own Self.


This is often how it is with the writing. When we approach our work with our fears and wants and needs and with conditions and scads of willy nilly jumbled up over-thinking-it thoughts, we encounter perceived weakness—the words stall, the language comes stilted, the characters blink at us from the page with perplexed expressions. The writing day seems flaccid and weak—just like that perceived weak left appendage of mine. We want to give up and give in, and we at last grow frustrated and/or bored and move on to do something else.

Yet, for many of us, when we just sit down, put our fingers to the keyboard, and let fly whatever pours out of the black hole in our brain, something seemingly magical happens. We become stronger writers almost overnight—well, dang! Because imagine if we wrote without those conditions, without over-thinking, without all the “What if this isn’t right?” “What if it doesn’t sell?” “What if no one likes it?” “What if a meteor falls on top my stupid head and smushes me to kingdom come and I never finish this and someone sees it before it is finished and it sucks and that’s the legacy I leave behind—a stupid half-finished work that sucks so bad everyone laughs and taunts and points their fingers at it?” What if we instead allow our beautiful subconscious minds, those deep instinctual strengths, to rise up from a place we cannot mine by peeking in the opening—we instead sometimes must amble, explore, stumble upon. Go for it. There’s a reason the clichéd advertising phrase Just do it makes sense—because it does work.

Wrapping it up now, y'all

Wrapping it up now, y’all


As I box, I will gain in confidence. I will become even stronger, yes, but I will also become better at the control of my body and what it can do. And as I grow stronger and better and more confident, I’ll start critiquing my form, how I’m hitting that bag, how my stance is—I’ll be “editing” my workout. So it is with the writing. I lift up my head and there will be a completed terrible (or not so terrible!) first draft—then the work of editing begins where I critique my form, check my stance, work on fine-tuning. I’ve done it with novels and other works that have gone on to be published—five, six, or more, times. What’s stopping me now? Perceived weakness, over-thinking, fear, conditions.

Stride into your writing room just as you will the workout room and instead of letting the world in, instead of telling yourself you are weak and can’t do it right, march in and just start punching (tippity tapping on the keys) away until you feel strong and confident and know nothing can stop you now.


three set_edited-best_edited-11743500_553542498076585_1943216434_nIf you all haven’t gone on over and checked out kat magendie novels that are on Kindle sale, and haven’t read any or some of my books, I hope you’ll go on over and give them a try. I as always am appreciative and grateful for my readers—thank you all for your support. It’s all for you. The link above should take you to a page that should list all my books and stories, and you can see the ones on sale. As well, I’m going to soon have a promo on my 1461250_496657083765127_1387255473_nshort stories, offering a few for free—since I rarely mention them and often forget them, they kind of sit there like little lost waywards, and I’m so proud of the artwork!TG audio

Now get to work(out)!


Touty mention of the day:

Head over to the Word Shark – Karen R. Sanderson’s Blog– Right now she has a guest there who does some amazing metal artkaren-sanderson-word-shark-blog-graphic

Karen R. Sanderson was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday New York Times crossword in a day. Their favorite expression was, “Look it up!” Karen reads punctuation and grammar manuals for fun.

Karen is an editor and proofreader, blogger, and writer. She edits fiction and non-fiction including: sci-fi, fantasy, children’s, mystery, paranormal, western, horror, historical, literary, and journalism. Karen completed her writing coursework through UCLA, the University of New Mexico, and Santa Fe Community College. She was the winner of the SouthWest Writers 2009 Writing Contest – The Best Hook. Her short stories have been featured in The Rose & Thorn Journal, Every Child is Entitled to Innocence anthology, Valley Living Magazine, BewilderingStories.com, and WritingRaw.com. She is currently working on collections of short stories and poetry.


This came from a FB post from Elizabeth Gilbert’s page – I happened across it after another writer shared it. I don’t usually do two blog posts in one day, but this one so much goes with what I wrote below, and speaks to so many artists, that I must put it here in its entirety. 11377181_841444645937652_243275401139948379_n


“Dear Ones –

As many of you know by now, my new book BIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR is coming out on September 22, 2015. I’ve been sharing a quote from the book every Monday, just to give you all a chance to see what’s coming.

This quote is about creativity and money.

Please understand that I have NOTHING against people wanting to make money out of their art. I always wanted to make money out of my art, I always strived to make money out of my art, and now I do make money out of my art, and I am grateful as hell.

But for the first ten years of my creative journey, I did not make a single dime out of writing. And for the next ten years of my creative journey (which included the publication of three books) I always kept alternative day jobs — always made sure I had other streams of income to rely upon.

I did not quit all my other jobs until EAT PRAY LOVE became a crazy bestseller, you guys. And EAT PRAY LOVE was a freak of nature.

The reason I always maintained other streams of income was because I never wanted to burden my creativity with the task of providing for me in the material world.

I do not believe that Creativity comes to us from the material world, and therefore she has no concept of what it takes to survive in the material world. Creativity is a timeless little playful disembodied weird other-worldly goddess. She doesn’t need to eat, she doesn’t need a roof to sleep under, she doesn’t need to go the dentist. (WE DO, but she doesn’t.) Creativity just wants to engage with us (or not, sometimes!) in her own crazy and unpredictable ways, but she never promised to provide for us.

I adore Creativity. I love her. I have devoted my life to her, because she brings me joy. But I do not suggest relying upon her to pay the oil bill. She is not very reliable. Creativity has no idea what the words “oil bill” even mean. Creativity doesn’t give a damn about your auto insurance. She just wants to dance with you, and then sometimes dance away — on her own schedule, on her own strange rhythms.

This is why I made a promise to my writing life when I was about 15 years old. I said to writing: “I will never ask you to provide for me financially; I will always provide for YOU.”

I was willing to work hard, in other words, so that Creativity could play lightly.

I have seen so many beautiful creative souls murder their creative process because of this relentless insistence that they are not real artists unless their art pays the bills. When it doesn’t work out (and often it doesn’t, because, once more, Creativity is a FLAKEY AND WEIRD airhead goddess) these people become angry, bitter, stuck, bankrupted, and — worst of all — they often quit creating at all.

Let me tell you what makes you a “real artist”:

Are you making art?

Then you’re a real artist.

I met a women recently who’d quit her job in order to embark on a creative project that, in her words, “didn’t work out”. Now she was in both financial trouble and emotional trouble. She said to me, “I am angry at creativity. I took the leap. I gave it everything I had. And creativity let me down.”

Those of you who follow this page regularly have heard me say it before, but I will say it again now:


Creativity owes us NOTHING in exchange for our devotion to her — except the gorgeous experience of getting to work with her at all.

You know how they say, “Jump and the net will catch you?” Well, not always. Jump off the cliff on Creativity’s watch, and she might be polishing her nails at the moment of your leap, and she might forget to catch you. Because she’s a FLAKE.

Nothing is ever promised, nothing is ever certain.

Those are the terms; that’s the contract.

This does not mean that you should not take creative risks. But know that they are risks. Creative endeavors are always freaky casinos. You cannot go into any creative field expecting or demanding satisfying worldly rewards. (You can want it, and you can strive for it…but you cannot demand it. You do not get to set terms and conditions upon which Creativity delivers rewards.) The joy and strangeness of the creative process itself is your reward — MUST be your reward. Otherwise, you are doomed to be anxious and angry all the time.

You do not need to be a millionaire in order to fund your own creative explorations. You do not need a sugar daddy. You do not need a “studio wife”. You do not need a trust fund. You just need to say, “I am taking complete accountability for my own creative journey.”

I wrote my first book while I was a diner waitress. I wrote my second book while I was a diner waitress and a bartender. I wrote my third book while I was a bartender who also worked in a bookstore and who also worked as a journalist. When EAT PRAY LOVE (my fourth book) came out, I was still working at a flea market on weekends. If it wasn’t for the bananas success of EAT PRAY LOVE, I would still be doing other jobs.

Nobody has ever paid my bills but me. Not a parent, not a man, not an artistic patron.

I paid my own bills, and then — on the side — I was free to dance my own crazy dance with the beautiful, irresponsible, irresistible, unpredictable goddess of Creativity.

I have always been my own artistic patron; you can be yours, too.



images (4)My posts lately have been rawly honest. Opening up my pea-head and displaying not just the cray-cray but the insecurities I have as a novelist is not easy. I’ve always displayed a more positive outlook because I recognize how lucky I am to do this. I’m extremely grateful for what success I’ve had, and for how I am able to write beautiful words and interesting unique characters—how easily the words (not plots) come to me. But sometimes I over-think things—it’s a character flaw. And I’ve been over-thinking this new book—and my entire career as a novelist.

At different points in a novelist’s career there are decisions to be made that affect the novelist. Consider that it takes months or more to complete a novel all the way through from first draft to final-ready-to-be-published. No one wants to spend that much time on any project only to have to scrap it, or to have it fail. Who would like those odds?  Not I, said the Kat.

There arrives the “what next?” question. What seems an innocuous query is fraught with complication. (Now, following here, excuse me for  mentioning my books and linking to them and their sales on Kindle – indulge me, since I don’t do it often but I should!).

tgraces1743500_553542498076585_1943216434_nsweetieLast night I picked up my copy of “Tender Graces” and began to read it as if I didn’t write it (I recently also read “Sweetie”, and such a warm and tender feeling overcame me. The words were rich and full and lush. The character apparent. The work isn’t perfect—in fact, I can see things I’d change about TG;  it was my very first novel, after all. But I felt the novelist’s love for her work, the language, the setting, place, tone, characters. It all came rushing back to me just how much I love what I do. And how lucky I am to be able to do it. The “Virginia Kate Sagas” (TG, Secret Graces & Family Graces – SG & FG are on sale for under $5 on Kindle, y’all, Sweetie for under $6) and Sweetie are examples of a writer who created out of nothing Secret%20Graces%202012%20-%20screenbut love for this writing life—it shows, and the readers felt it, too—I receive more mail on the Virginia Kate books & Sweetie than any other–I think they get the better reviews, too. Not perfection, but sincerity and truth. I believe in this author. I trust this author. The characters come alive and appear as apparitions in the room.1461250_496657083765127_1387255473_n

With the exception of one of my novels—The Lighting Charmer (and to some extent even that book), which is on sale for .99 cents on Kindle! and sorry for the touting — my published books were written in one way: I sat down and followed my character to see what she, or he, would do. I didn’t think about plots or outlines or “what I should do;” I just wrote. With abandon. Without fear. With love. With hope. These images of my book covers you see here?: I did this. I wrote these books. *Takes a moment to be filled with happy gratitude* family_graces_-_screen

Then the “novelist’s dilemma” smacked me stupid – should I write what I love; how it comes naturally to me? Or should I write what I hope will be more popular? Before you say “don’t fix what ain’t broke—write what you love!” Understand that the novelist profession is not only from the guts of us as artists, but it is also a business. This is not a hobby for me. I count on this as income. I count on this to help pay bills. And that’s where the rubber skids crazily on the road. Because what I love to write, what comes naturally to me, is not “Popular Fiction” that consistently time and again tears up Amazon rankings in the top 100 (though Tender Graces, Sweetie, and yes, even The Lightning Charmer were Amazon Best-Sellers. TG & Sweetie made it to top 100. TG was number 1 on Amazon paid list – The Help was number 2: haw! Yeah, I’ve had my moments!)

someone sent me this screenshot - wish I had one of TG & Sweetie!

someone sent me this screenshot – wish I had one of TG & Sweetie! So-Why am I whining? huh. Stop it, Kat

I fiercely love Virginia Kate and those cast of characters; I adore Sweetie & Melissa. I love Ayron & Laura in Lightning Charmer and I still think that’s my best attempt at a romancy-supernatural-mountain people kind of novel—I think that book would have been even better had I let myself “go” and wrote with the same abandon as I did with my previous novels, warts and all; imperfection and all. Those characters interested me, and still do. They captured my attention and my imagination. Still do.

I was in love. I was so very grateful. What happened to that? I can bet many novelists/authors out there can answer that question with a wry twist to their mouths.

So, the novelist’s dilemma: write what you love and let the money chips fall where they may, or, try to write something “Popular” and . . . and . . . be an unhappy novelist! One who isn’t writing very much. One who writes sad discombobulated blog posts about how she is not writing and feels uninspired.

If a novelist isn’t writing, then what’s the point? If the novelist is unhappy and discombobulated, then she must find out why and remedy it. If the novelist wants to be loved by the masses, then she best not be a novelist. And if Ego is involved—oh, Ego is a terrible snarling drool-faced monster! Kick Ego out the writing room door, y’all—kick it HARD until it never returns.

The answer is clearing the cobwebs in my wonky brain. The path I choose from the paths before me that fork off in fifty-galleven directions is—drum roll, please—the one that makes me happy. Duh. The one that may (or may not!) mean failure in my bank account, but always success in my heart account. As for some “popular” attention and sales? Well, there’s always a chance that will again come. Right? Yes! I’m still alive! I’m still a gifted writer! I can still write write write as much as and as long as I want to.

I’m a woman in her 50s. I’ve paid my life dues. I can bloody well do what the hell I want to. *Fist Pump*

When I am on my “deathbed,” believe me, I won’t be sorry that I didn’t write a huge spectacular best-seller, I will be sorry that I gave up the writing just because I couldn’t write a huge spectacular best seller. Huh. Well now.

Consider: when we are not true to ourselves. When we do not do what we know in our hearts and gizzards is the Right Thing (for us). When we look outward to other novelists’ successes. When we keep checking our bank account to see how much money we have. These things change us, changes the way we think about the writing.

I need an ass-whupin if I don't get back to work!

I need an ass-whoopin if I don’t get back to work!

And the writing will suffer right along with the novelist. The heart is not pierced with love. Something is missing—and it will be apparent to the reader. Oh yes, it will.

So what if I just take this new book and turn it over on its end and shake out its pockets and take a look at what falls out? The lint along with the pocket change and interesting rocks and bones and a leaf and something magical and a supernatural glowy thing and interesting odds and ends and whatnotalls. What if I followed the character around to see what she’s up to, and she’s up to something believe you me. What if I followed to see what her magic is? How it is affecting the town? Why some of the town is suspicious of her? What about that man in the shop: what’s he up to, or is he only in love with her? What are those “Memory Vases?” What is she doing with the vial of blood or the strand of hair—why is she mixing that into her magic paints? What’s she up to? What’s her story? Let me follow her around until I find out! “Black Moon Cove” . . . why is that bomping me upside my head as a “working title” . . . ?

What if I wrote how I did when I was happy with love and excitement?

What if the novelist’s dilemma is really not a dilemma at all? What if we are in control of our own writing lives? Well, dang me!

Yeah. What if?


Touty shout out of the day (and in the future, I’ll be shouting out lots of people here—not just writers):

download71ebbf88305ed9b9af826593ca46d111Writer Unboxed. A place where writers, editors, agents, and all things writing and writing related are discussed. Go visit. See for yourself. They’re amazingly awesome.

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