Thursday, October 28, 2010

Giant Cupcake

Here's a giant cupcake I was commissioned to make for a sweet little girl's third birthday.

The cake is french vanilla with buttercream icing. The pink cup is actually white chocolate candy melted and shaped. The flowers and butterflies are fondant and sugarpaste. Everything you see is edible.

I had feared that the candy cup would break or shatter when we sliced it, but it sliced beautifully, giving each person an equal portion of cake, icing and candy cup.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Here's a useful tip for my fellow fiction writers, one you probably already know, but let's share it anyway. You never know when you might learn something.


Don't dump information on the reader through dialogue. It causes your dialogue to feel sophomoric—forced and unnatural.


Mary walked into the living room and tossed her keys to her son. "Danny, you can take my black Toyota Camry. But don't wreck it. And I expect you to be home by ten o'clock tonight. And stay away from Mark, the preacher's son. He's a troublemaker."

Here's an improvement:

Mary walked into the living room and tossed her keys to her son. "Danny, you can take my car, but don't wreck it. I expect you to be home by ten o'clock. And stay away from Mark. He's a troublemaker."

Granted, my example won't win any prizes for cleverness, but you get the idea. Put yourself in your character's place. Basically, if the character your character is talking to already knows the information, don't include it. Danny obviously knows the color and make of his mom's car. Undoubtedly, he also knows that Mark is the preacher's son. Find some other way of weaving that information into the story, if it's pertinent.

And while we're on dialogue, take the time to read it out loud. When you think you've got it right, take the next step and read it to your spouse, best friend or, ideally, a critique partner. If you're really brave (or masochistic) have that person read it while you listen.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Remedy for Writer's Block

A few weeks ago, writer's block flared up. I just couldn't find the core from which I needed to write an emotionally charged scene. So I procrastinated. And then I procrastinated a little more.

Then a woman hired me to make some flower arrangements for her. As with my cakes, when I work with flowers, I throw all of my creative energy into it. That got my imagination flowing again, and the words that had evaded me for weeks presented themselves in abundance. Of course, they came in the middle of a project that had a looming deadline, so I could only make quick notes from which to draw later. Surprisingly, that limitation also fed the creativity. Since I couldn't take the time to put the words into type, there was a great deal of room for my mind to further twist and turn and play with the edits.

Long story short, if you have writer's block, pick up something completely unrelated. Finish a scrapbooking or photography project. Paint a room. Finish piecing together a quilt. So something else creative, something that will occupy one part of the mind so the imagination can get moving again. Soon the words will come.

At least, they did for me.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Grace of God

After a discussion today that took me back to my memories of college, I am reminded of three words:

Grace of God.

Many times the things I saw as hindrances, He put in my way as a hedge to protect me.

The roommate the university assigned to me who turned into my closest girlfriend. The class that was too full. The guy who broke my heart. The horrible accident that I wasn't in because of an argument. The church God plugged me into. The best friend who turned into the greatest husband on earth...the list goes on and on.

Joys and disappointments that all turned out to be blessings. Some were obvious from the beginning, while others took a while for me to appreciate. I look back on the accumulation of them, and I see that He truly has caused all things to work together for my good.

Now, if I can keep that perspective going forward...