Michaeline: Gordon Ramsay Crossover Writing Lessons, Part One

Gordon Ramsay with a lamb around his neck and shoulders.

Gordon Ramsay took this little lamb to school. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

WARNING: Profanity. (It involves Gordon Ramsay. What did you fucking expect?)

To a certain extent, art is art is art. Still, I was surprised how applicable some of the lessons Gordon Ramsay taught his restauranteurs were to the art of writing.

Here’s the deal: I’ve avoided Kitchen Nightmares and that kind of reality show because I heard there’s a lot of yelling, and humiliation just isn’t my jam. But I was feeling depressed, spending entirely too much time on YouTube, and the only interesting thing in my recommended feed was a clip from such a show. I’d seen Gordon Ramsay on things like Jimmy Fallon, so I decided three minutes of my time was not too big of a loss.

Dear Readers, three minutes turned into hours and hours of binge-watching over the last couple of weeks. Thanks to the miracle of YouTube, I’ve seen British Kitchen Nightmares, American Kitchen Nightmares, clips and full episodes, and an assorted chocolate box of Gordon Ramsay all over the modern media. And I regret nothing.

Yes, there’s yelling and sometimes humiliation. But there’s also a combination of mystery Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – The Cuddly Puppy Edition

Echo ©Scott Eldridge photography

Today is National Puppy Day.  For those who prefer kittens, your day is October 29th, while human babies get May 2nd.  I love the fact that someone (or many someone(s)) have found something to celebrate for every day.    In addition to being National Puppy Day, today is also apparently National Chip & Dip Day, National Melba Toast Day, and World Meteorological Day.  That’s a lot to fit in a single day 🙂

I think I’ll stick with the puppies.

For those who are curious:

“Puppy Day was established [in 2006] to bring awareness to the world about puppy mills and how to go about adopting.

Sadly, my house is currently devoid of puppies (something the cat totally approves of), so I’ll have to find something else to occupy my time.  Sounds like a little Random Word Improv is in order.

Who’s with me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – St. Patrick’s Edition

Welcome to another Friday or, as I like to think of it, the participatory portion of our blog.

As you may have noticed by the preponderance of shamrock decorations, parades, “Kiss Me I’m Irish” buttons, and grocery store ads for corned beef and cabbage, it’s time for another St. Patrick’s Day.  Although the day began as a religious and cultural holiday celebrating Saint Patrick on the anniversary of his death, it has evolved into a day of revelry that includes copious amounts of food, drink, and goodwill (hopefully).

My own celebration will include the traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner though, frugal Irish girl that I am, I’ll be waiting until Saturday so I can buy my ingredients at post-holiday sale prices.    In the meantime, I think I’ll do a little baking.  What better addition to a St. Patrick’s Day dinner than a Guinness Chocolate Cake.  As a bonus, those 50 minutes while the cake is baking will be just perfect for a little Random Word Improv.

Who’s with me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Celebrating Women

Another week is coming to a close, bringing with it the start of Daylight Savings Time in many parts of the US this Sunday.  Fortunately I’m kicking off a 3-day weekend, so I’ll have plenty of time to make up for the hour of sleep I’ll lose when the time “springs forward” early Sunday morning.

With dry weather and sunny skies predicted for the next week or so, my 3-day weekend is likely to include a fair amount of yard-work as I attempt to reclaim my backyard from the jungle of weeds that are attempting to take over, thanks to all of the recent rains.   Regardless of whatever else I have planned, my weekend is also going to include plenty of writing time.

The last few weeks have been crazy busy with the day-job, which means I’ve had very little time or inspiration available for writing.  Watching the news coverage and reading posts about this week’s International Women’s Day marches and celebrations, however, has sparked lots of ideas that I can’t wait to get on paper, so I’ll be starting off my day with a little Random Word Improv.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Let the Good Times Roll!

mardi_grasWhether you are religious or not, you’re probably aware of the Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) celebrations that wrapped up this week.

“Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

 I’ve always wanted to go to New Orleans, where Mardi Gras is celebrated all the way from Twelfth Night to Ash Wednesday.  It looks like such fun.  Plus, there are strings of beads.  As my family can tell you, I’m a sucker for brightly colored beads.

Unfortunately, “New Orleans Square” in Disneyland is about as close as I’ve come to New Orleans, so for now I’ll have to watch the festivities from a distance.  Thanks to the internet, I’ve been able to enjoy the parades, musicians, and colorful costumes vicariously.  This year, as always, I was amazed by the creativity and the joy and excitement.  Having read a number of cozy-mysteries lately, I also couldn’t help but think that it would be a great setting for a murder mystery (I’ve probably even read a few).

Though I’d don’t have any plans to write a murder mystery just now, I’m sure I can fit in a little Mardi Gras inspired Random Word Improv.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Accentuate the Positive

accentuate_the_positiveI’ve got a box of old ’78 records in the garage that belonged to my mother years ago when she was accordion playing young mom.  As you might guess, there are a number of polka songs in the mix.  There were also a couple of the records that I used to play over and over when I was a kid.

One was Frank Sinatra singing Five Minutes More.

“Give me five minutes more,
only five minutes more
Let me stay, let me stay in your arms
Here am I, begging for
only five minutes more
Only five minutes more of your charms”

The other was Bing Crosby singing Accentuate the Positive.

“You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between”

I recently came across the box of records and wound up the old Victrola to give them a listen (yes, I really do still have one).  They were a little scratchier sounding than then used to be, but they were just as much fun as I remembered.  I thought Accentuate the Positive was especially fitting, given all that’s going on in the world these days. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – The Hot Sweaty Sex Edition

love_holding_handsWhat better way to wrap up Valentine’s week than with a little hot, sweaty sex?

Right?

For the last few weeks we’ve been talking about writing (or not writing, as the case may be) sex scenes.  If you missed the posts, you can check them out here, here, here, here, and here.  It’s an interesting topic and one that has no real right or wrong answers.  What works for one reader may leave another cold, bored, dissatisfied, or skipping ahead.

I did a little research via my own bookshelves and found that, as a reader, I’m not even consistent about which scenes work for me and which don’t.  One of the “didn’t work for me” scenes was 27 pages long.   I’m still not entirely certain exactly what happened and I’m pretty sure some things were anatomically impossible.  Conversely, a scene that “did work for me” was almost as long, but had great pacing, a dash of humor, advanced the plot, and left a nice tingly feeling at the end.

What’s a writer to do? Continue reading