Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Favorite Part of Writing

This will be a very quick blog today. I’ve been working on the copyedited version of the manuscript for my next book (No Broken Hearts), which comes out in the fall. 

Promised her first screen credit in years, my 1940s heroine, script doctor Lauren Atwill, is promptly loaned out by Marathon Studios to second-tier Epic Pictures. And she's not one bit happy about it. She's sure that her boss is so superstitious he wants to test the grapevine rumor that when she shows up, dead bodies do too. And he wants to test it on somebody else's studio lot. When she's offered the chance to turn a famous, scandalous novel into a film, things start to look up. Till she finds another body. 

The copyediting is my favorite part of being a writer. The book is done; any gaping holes in the plot, rambling prose, or characters who've outstayed their welcome have been addressed in the 15 (or 100) rounds of self-review and the review by my editor, who finds the umpteen things I didn’t notice. 

Gentle reader, in the copyediting phase, you get gentle notes about possible contradictions, redundancies, and the fact that three days have gone by in your story, and it’s still Sunday. 

I just have to make gentle fixes. It’s the most stress-free time in writing.

Of course, now that I’m not preoccupied with writing the book after this one, I’ve noticed it’s *@^#% COLD

We’ve rarely been above 20 degrees this month, and that’s without wind chill. The nights are below zero. Okay, I know, Minnesota, that’s a balmy day for you, but we ain’t used to it here in New Jersey. Just what my face needs, windburn.

But in New Jersey, we do have our ways of dealing with cold. If it’s cold where you are — and if you’re just about anywhere in the US, it is — this might be what you need.

This is a terrific recipe I found years ago, and I wish I could recall where. I often make batches at the holidays and give them to friends.

Hot Buttered Rum 
You can cut the recipe in half, or give half the roll to a friend

1 pound brown sugar
½ lb butter slightly softened (not margarine)
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp vanilla

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or mixer (the butter needs to be softer if you use a hand mixer). Make a long roll of the batter, like those freezer cookies that you slice and bake. Place the roll into a freezer bag, then put it into another freezer bag. Store in the freezer.

To make a drink, slice off 2-3 TBS of the batter (or more if you like sweeter drinks) with a sharp knife and place into a tall mug. Add a shot of good dark rum. Then add very hot water and stir. Top with a small dollop of butter, if desired.

This batter will last you at least through the winter. Or if you're a writer, through the rest of the week. 


Sheila York


  1. This is what I like in a blog post. Good writing advice and a recipe that spotlights alcohol.
    For those of you not moved to make hot buttered rum, my husband and I are doing comparative brandy tastings.
    Who knew that Armenia produces an affordable tasty brandy?

  2. Just what I like in a Comment -- advice on good, inexpensive booze! Name names, if you will.

  3. It's Ararat brandy. Years ago I lived in a wonderful apartment in Center City Philadelphia. My apartment had lovely large windows that let in lots of light. Alas, during the winter I was to quote you Sheila *@^#% COLD! So I took up brandy because it was cheaper than electric heat.
    When I tried to explain the warming properties of brandy to my mother she said, "But wouldn't you get the same thing with TheraFlu?"

  4. Sheila, your recipe sounds lovely! But, I'm not a cook and wd prefer the brandy straight with a dash of ice water and a twist. tjs