My Five Favorite Hawaiian Foods

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Today I’ll be working on the page proofs for House of the Hanging Jade which, as you may know, is set on the Big Island of Hawaii. Re-reading the manuscript has got me thinking about Hawaii all over again, as if I need an excuse to do that.

But it’s also Thanksgiving week, and on Thursday (which, coincidentally, is exactly five months before the release of House of the Hanging Jade), we here in the United States will be enjoying one of the most traditional meals of the year. So is it any wonder that I have food on my mind? (Again, not that I need a reason to think about food, but it is a good excuse.)

Specifically, I’ve got Hawaiian food on my mind. That’s why today’s post is all about Hawaiian foods and the ones I love best.

1. Poke. For those of you who don’t know what poke (pronounced “poh-kay”) is, it’s cubes of fresh raw fish, often ahi, usually with a marinade or dressing. My personal favorite is spicy ahi poke, which is made with ahi, regular or Japanese mayonnaise, soy sauce, Sriracha, sesame oil, green onion, and masago (roe of the capelin fish). Before I tried poke the first time, I never could have guessed it would end up to be one of my favorite foods, but I fell in love with it.

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2. Lilikoi, or passion fruit. There are two main varieties: red and yellow. Though most people recommend the red because it’s sweeter, I prefer the yellow. It’s tangy with a zing that no other fruit can replicate. When you open a lilikoi, there is a pulpy mass of seeds inside. That’s the delicious part (don’t eat the white layer inside the skin, which is bitter). My favorite way to eat lilikoi is straight out of the fruit, stirred into yogurt, or pureed and added to any drink.

3. Pineapple. The island of Maui is home to the Hali’imaile Pineapple Plantation, the only working pineapple plantation in the United States, where visitors can take a tour and see first-hand what goes into growing and harvesting the sweetest, most delicious pineapples you’ll ever taste. Click here to see a video of how to cut a pineapple. The juice just runs out of the pineapple and it’s got an amazing sweetness that has nothing in common with the pineapple you find in the grocery store.

4. Loco moco. This is a local specialty that you have to taste to believe. It’s a conglomeration of white rice topped with one or two hamburger patties, a fried egg, and brown gravy. The first time my eldest daughter ate one I told her it looked disgusting, that I wouldn’t try it if she paid me. Long story short, it’s now our traditional New Year’s Day meal,  served with a side of macaroni salad.

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5.   Shave Ice. Some people compare shave ice with snow cones, the ubiquitous treat of state fairs all over the US, but the comparison is misguided. Shave ice has nothing to do with those scoops of tiny ice balls that are thinly coated with colored sugar water. Shave ice is more like a mound of loosely-packed light and fluffy snow, completely permeated with a delicious fruity syrup. The best shave ice is mixed with vanilla ice cream and includes real coconut. See the holes in the shave ice below? Those are from a straw, which is poked repeatedly through the shave ice to ensure the flavor reaches every part of the dessert.

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Are you hungry yet?

Finally, since Thanksgiving is just a few days away, I wanted to tell you all that I’m thankful for YOU! I wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving and safe travels if you’re going to be on the road this holiday weekend.

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Until next week,

Amy

 

Meet Molly Jebber!

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October will be a busy month on Reade and Write. There will be three guest interviews, beginning with Molly Jebber, author of Change of Heart, an Amish historical romance.

Welcome, Molly!

Tell me about your new book.

“Change of Heart” is the first book in my Keepsake Pocket Quilt series.

“Ohio, 1899.  Becca Yost lived by her Amish faith’s strict rules until her fiancé jilted her. She’s never been away from home, but the bustling town of Massillon, Ohio, is a welcome unexpected refuge. Especially when she goes to work for Dr. Matt Carrington and falls in love with him. But Matt’s wealthy mother is determined her son will marry a society woman. With her newfound resolve challenged, Becca decides that she and Matt must not be destined for each other after all. She accepts that she will have to forge a life alone until a wrenching crisis and life-changing revelations teach her that true faith lies in all things, especially impossible second chances. . .

Who is the audience for the book? 

Women who enjoy Amish romance stories. It’s a sweet inspirational read without sex or bad language, but enough trouble happens in Becca’s life to keep the reader turning the pages. Hint: a robbery!

Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?

Berlin, Ohio is one of my favorite Amish communities to visit. I found an old Farmer’s Almanac at an antique fair, and it was helpful writing for the story in 1899. The internet provides a wealth of information, and senior citizens have been wonderful to share their stories and those of their parents. The Amish I’ve met and talked to have been very helpful.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book? 

My husband, Ed, daughter, Misty, or a friend will call and ask me to do something fun. Of course, I say “Yes!” Then I burn the midnight oil making up for the time I should’ve been writing! But, it’s worth it!

If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?

Carrie Underwood and Tim McGraw

Have you written any other books?  

“An Amish Christmas Sleigh” was released September 29, 2015. This book has three separate stories in it. My story is “An Unexpected Christmas Blessing”, and it takes place in Berlin, Ohio. Kelly Long and Amy Lillard have stories in the book also.

“Grace’s Forgiveness” is the second book in the Keepsake Pocket Quilt series. It is available for preorder on Amazon, but it will be released in stores and online on January 29, 2016.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

Southwest Florida Romance Writers

American Christian Fiction Writers

Romance Writers of America

I have published critique partners and we meet or submit our work in progress (at least 10 pages) each week.

Do you write every day?

Yes. If I’m behind on my deadline, I have “crazy hair” days. I stay at my desk all day and write. Ed, my husband, is wonderful. He brings in dinner!

When you read a book, what authors do you like best? What genres do you like best?

Janet Oke, Mary Ellis, Marta Perry, James Patterson, Harlan Coben, Lisa Jackson, Karen Rose, Sue Carly Phillips, Patty Campbell, Rosanna Huffman and so many more. Romance, mysteries and thrillers.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t get discouraged! Find good critique partners. Join writing groups in your area or online. Attend classes and conferences. Visit author’s blogs for good advice. Submit to agents, until you find a good one. My agent and editor with my publisher are very helpful.

I teach free classes. Visit my website for times and locations- http://www.mollyjebber.com

What is your favorite movie and why?

Fireproof – It was such an exciting and inspiring movie.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t wait to write!

Where can readers connect with you?

http://www.facebook.com/mollyjebberhttp://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8435934.Molly_Jebber

http://www.amazon.com/Molly-Jebber/e/B00NI1CSVC/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1424311352&sr=8-1

https://www.twitter.com/mollymjebber

http://www.mollyjebber.com

Where can readers find your books?   

“The Amish Christmas Sleigh” is available in stores and online in print and ebook.

“Grace’s Forgiveness” is available for preorder on Amazon, but will be available in the same locations in print and ebook as “Change of Heart” on January 29, 2016.

“Change of Heart” is available on Amazon and in stores, online and in print and ebook at Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, Walmart, Meijer, local bookstores, libraries, etc. – anywhere books are sold in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.

For easiest access to my books, visit my website at http://www.mollyjebber.com and click on Amazon or the store of your choice under the book cover.

Grace's Forgiveness from KensingtonThe Amish Christmas Sleigh

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Thanks for visiting, Molly!

Until next week,

Amy

The Waiting Game

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I heard from my editor last week about my third book, which comes out next April. He forwarded me the wording that will be on the back cover of the book and asked for my input. He hopes to send me his editorial notes on my manuscript this week and then I can get started on the serious business of editing.

His email got me very excited about the book all over again. He’s had the manuscript since the beginning of May; during that time I’ve been working on two other books and, of course, promoting Secrets of Hallstead House and The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, but I found that I’m chomping at the bit to get back into that manuscript.

But taking a break from a manuscript is essential.

Why, you ask?

By the time a manuscript is sent to the editor, the writer has read the book at least a billion times and it’s hard to take a step back and look at it critically. It’s like trying to take a critical look at a newborn baby. It’s impossible. Taking a break and working on something else allows the writer’s subconscious to ruminate on the manuscript. It also allows the writer to read the manuscript, once it comes back from the editor, with relatively fresh eyes. It’s easier to catch mistakes, easier to see plot holes, easier to see the story arc. I know my manuscript contains mistakes and plot holes–I just couldn’t find them when I submitted it. The story was too fresh–it was the only thing I could think about. I needed to get away from it for a while and now I’m ready to delve into it again, to polish it and make it better.

This isn’t just true with manuscripts, by the way. I’ve found that taking a break from something, a problem or an issue, often helps me see things more clearly. Even if it’s just overnight. You’ve probably heard it said that “everything looks better in the morning” (can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that). It’s good advice. There’s a reason people say they have to “sleep on it” before making a decision. Taking a break before making a decision or taking some kind of action gives you the distance you need to see an issue more clearly, to see options and alternatives.

Try it. You’ll be glad you did.

I’m glad I got a break from that manuscript, but I’m ready to tackle it now. I hope to get the cover art soon, too, and when I do I’ll share it here first. I can’t wait!!

Until next week,

Amy

You (May Have) Heard it Here First!

Before my husband sends me one more email reminding me that I got the name of one book wrong in my post last week about deserted island fiction and I go berserk, I must make  a correction.

My favorite book by Alexandre Dumas, the one about love and revenge, is The Count of Monte Cristo. It is not The Man in the Iron Mask. I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote the post and proofread it three times, but there you have it with my heartfelt apologies. Incidentally, if I had a DVD player on my deserted island, I would also take with me the movie version of The Count of Monte Cristo–the one starring Gerard Depardieu. The movie is many hours long and I would probably be rescued before I could finish watching it.

But now for my news: I am thrilled to announce that I have just signed a contract with Kensington Publishing for my third novel! If you could hear me now, you would hear shouts of joy, dancing, and all manner of celebrating.

For now, all I can tell you is that the story is about a personal chef on the Big Island of Hawaii who stumbles into a household that is not as perfect as it seems. The working title is The House of Hanging Jade, but I fully expect that to change as time goes on. It’s due to the publisher on May 1st, and after that I’ll be starting work on a new project.

The book is scheduled to come out in March, 2016.

In the meantime, I have one guest post to tell you about. Annette Snyder has a blog called “Fifty Authors from Fifty States.” I was lucky enough to land the post all about Hawaii and it went live this past Sunday. As many of you know, I love Hawaii and everything about it, so I had a great time writing the post. I hope you’ll visit Annette’s blog and take a look. The states go in alphabetical order throughout the year, so if there’s any state you want to know more about, take a look at her archives. You’ll find fun information and travel tips from every state and the authors who live there. Or, in my case, an author who wants to live there. Here’s the link:

http://annettesnyder.blogspot.com

I’d like to thank all my blog readers for their kind words, their friendship, and their support. You are the reason I enjoy doing this every week!

And Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Are you celebrating? We made Irish Potatoes over the weekend and we’re having Reubens tonight. I made sure the Swiss cheese was from Ireland. And our milk will be green at dinner, too (I know, I really need to tone it down). Got any other ideas for me?

Until next week,

Amy

 

 

Dog Days

One of my daughters has to give a speech this week on the topic of “something she is passionate about.” She chose dogs, and it got me thinking that I would like to write a blog post in honor of our dog. So, since I had already decided to write today’s blog post about dogs, how’s this for coincidence?

As I opened up WordPress to start writing, my dog got up and sat next to me with one paw on my leg, looking up at me with her huge dark brown eyes. She had just shifted positions- for the previous half hour she had been lying directly behind my desk chair, almost as if she knew I would rather go in search of almost anything to eat instead of being chained to my desk. But she also knew that I wouldn’t move my chair while she lay behind it, thus forcing me to get some work done.

Brilliant, I know.

There are probably thousands- no, millions- of people who feel the same way I do about dogs. That is, that their dog is the best dog in the world. In my case, I know it to be true. Sorry to all you other dog owners, but there can only be one best dog. And her name is Orly.

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This is a picture of Orly, albeit a bit blurry. She likes to be near me when I write, and she follows me around like, well, a puppy dog. When I get up, she follows. When I sit down at my desk, she lays down next to me on the floor. When I sit at the kitchen table, she takes up her post there. My husband and I have a long-running debate over which one of us is Orly’s favorite, and I think we all know the answer.

It’s me. He won’t like to read this, but I speak the truth. Besides, the cats like him best, so it’s only fair.

Anyways, thinking so much about dogs this week got me wondering how many stories out there have dogs as characters. There must be too many to count. Some of my favorites are by James Herriot. I can honestly say his stories changed my life. When I was in high school, I read his books and made the decision to go to veterinary school largely on the basis of his writings. I went to college as a major in Animal Science, hell-bent on going to school to be a vet.

Alas, it didn’t work out. I became a lawyer instead. I can practically see you scratching your heads in confusion, but that’s a story for another time. The point is that James Herriot wrote some wonderful stories and if you haven’t read them, I encourage you to check them out.

There’s actually a dog in my second novel, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor. Her name is Addie, and she’s a stray. Though there’s one character that doesn’t trust her, most of the others grow to love her.

But as much as I adore Addie as well as James Herriot and his furry characters, my all-time favorite animal character has to be the dog in Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Here’s a short synopsis: a dog shows up at the Wilders’ house around the same time as a shifty character who is there to case the joint (my words, not Laura Ingalls Wilder’s). The family feeds the dog out of compassion, wondering where he came from and where he’s headed. The dog stays overnight and as luck would have it, is there to dissuade the shifty guy from robbing the house while the family sleeps. The dog disappears shortly after the incident, just as mysteriously as he showed up.

Isn’t that incredible? The dog appears on the scene to help the family before they even know they need him. Amazing.

As almost anyone with a dog will agree, all dogs are amazing, not just the one in Farmer Boy.

Do you have a favorite dog story from a book you’ve read? I’d love to hear about it!

Until next week,

Amy

Location, Location, Location!

I have a friend who has lived in Indiana most of his life, except for going to college in Texas and working for a brief time in Washington, DC. He said to me recently that even though he only spent a few years in Texas, that state feels like home to him. I’m sure there are Texans wondering why everyone doesn’t feel that way.

I understand how he feels. A place can exert a powerful pull on a person, even if the person hasn’t spent much time there. Maybe it can happen even if the person hasn’t spent any time there.

That’s why book settings are so important. Could Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier take place anywhere but the Cornish coast of England? Could The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner take place anywhere but Mississippi? The setting of a story is often its most essential element; in other words, there are stories that simply wouldn’t make sense if they were set somewhere else. IfRebecca took place in Paris, the story wouldn’t have the same heavy atmosphere and spookiness that it has in Cornwall. If The Sound and the Fury were set in small-town Vermont, what would be the source of Quentin’s cultural angst?

Secrets of Hallstead House is set in the Thousand Islands, one of those places that has a strong pull for those who have spent any time there. I don’t know of a single person who has been to the Thousand Islands who didn’t want to return. Could my story be set somewhere else? Not as far as I’m concerned. The St. Lawrence River and Hallstead Island are characters in the story just as much as any of the humans are.

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The same is true with The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, my story set near Charleston, South Carolina. That’s another place that stays with a person. Have you ever been to Charleston? It’s inhabitants are passionate about their city, much more so than lots of other cities. And I can see why–it’s a beautiful city with a rich history and culture all its own. It’s like no other city in the South.

I am lucky enough to live in a place which has that pull, a place that people return to year after year (particularly in the summertime). When I first moved here, I was amazed at the number of kids who went away to college and wanted nothing more than to return to their hometown to find work upon graduation. Their happy memories of many seasons spent at the beach, of surf and sand, of the boardwalk and sunrises over the Atlantic Ocean are strong enough to make those people want to return.

So in that same vein, my third story, as yet unnamed but tentatively entitled Hanging Jade Hale, (pronounced “hah-lay”), is set on the Big Island of Hawaii. I know of exactly two people who have been to Hawaii and didn’t absolutely love it. It’s a place where people experience a kind of magic that is only found there, a magic that comes from the ocean and the mountains and the trade winds and the knowledge that Hawaii is alone in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. A story set there can’t take place anywhere else in the world, and that makes its setting special.

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Is there a place that calls you back, even if you’ve never been there? I’d love to hear about it!

Until next week,

Amy