Easy/Quick Gluten-Free Bread Alternative

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This recipe I’ve devised bakes evenly if formed into large cookie shapes.  There’s no sweetener added other than fruit, but I use them instead of rolls, or scones, or slices of bread.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix:

  • 4 CUPS GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR.  I tend to use millet and/or rice…though rice is a bit sandy.
  • 1 TABLESPOON BAKING SODA.
  • 1 24-OUNCE JAR APPLESAUCE.  Personally I prefer the kind that comes with cinnamon mixed in.  Instead of applesauce I sometimes blend 3 bananas and sometimes add nuts.  Bottom line is it should be about 3 cups that are the consistency of applesauce.
  • 1/3 CUP OIL.  I tend to use olive oil in everything, but any oil should do.

If you’re not using nonstick, drop a little oil in six spots on each of two cookie sheets (three rows of two).  Grabbing a handful of the mix at a time, cup your hands to form 12 big balls you place on the sheets.  Bake until totally firm when the tops are tapped.

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My Personal Top Five Films Available (as of today) on Netflix Streaming

Okay, winter is upon us but you don’t want to write The Great American Novel?  Then put aside the laptop, venture out from underneath that down throw long enough to nuke the popcorn, and dive back underneath it to watch one (or more) of the films below that are currently available on Netflix streaming:

  1. DAWN PATROL (2014).  Despite negative reviews, I think stark realism and tight plotting give this surfer murder mystery depth and sophistication.
  2. SWERVE (2011).  Again, despite the negative reviews that may account for its easy availability, I liked this lightly done modern noir that’s set in the Australian outback.
  3. THE REF (1994).  Truly hysterical, with the battle between a hostage couple driving their captor crazy.
  4. THE GREAT GATSBY (1974).  This version with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow is wonderfully moody and dreamlike.
  5. HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940).  The battle between Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell is not to be missed.

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Rhododendron

Before I take a shot at a very short story, I must bow to The Absolute Master, Jeffrey Whitmore, whose “Bedtime Story” is perfectly crafted and only 55 words long.

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The night was cold; my heart was colder.  Twinkling stars haloed a full moon.  Up ahead my getaway car looked like nothing more than a dream, sensuous and surreal as it bathed in the pearly light.  Suddenly the crisp air was scented with perfume…some flower, perhaps rhododendron.

I didn’t care.  It was all stupid, and I really hated stupidity then.

“Mr. Doe!”

What idiot would follow me into the parking lot after I even threatened to kill that stupid, sugary receptionist on the way out?  It could only be…

“Mr. Doe, it’s the receptionist!”

Dumb bitch took me seriously when I told her my name was “John Doe,” but failed to take me seriously when I waved a gun, first at her criminally stupid boss…during which her response was a deranged smile…and then at herself.

“Sir, you forgot your gun.”

Brilliant.  I imagined how easily I could testify on behalf of anyone wishing to prove this fool’s incompetence.  I turned.  There she was with a huge, shit-eating grin, holding my gun out toward me, silencer and all.  I darted a glance around the parking lot, but there was no one left to see…if I used it on her after all.

Only reason I hadn’t used it on her boss was because I didn’t think I was stupid, at least at the time, and this state has the death penalty.  I’d worn those annoying gloves while in the office, thinking it would be better to leave an otherwise-untraceable gun behind.  That way I wouldn’t have it on me if anyone was smart enough to recognize me from my well-publicized trips to other states and call the cops.

But I’d always felt it was a waste of time to concern myself over the intelligence of others, and there were limits to my patience.  Here was this unforgivably dull-witted receptionist, holding my gun out toward me with a silly, frilly hankie, no less, who actually laughed when I approached and snatched it back.

“Thanks!”

Why thank me?  But if I’d been tempted to ask the imbecile or do the right thing with the gun she’d so thoughtfully returned, by ridding the world of her, she gave me little time.  Instead she darted off to start up one of the three cars, including mine, left in the lot.  The few other employees working overtime must have all fled when I threatened to kill the boss.

It was then that I heard the first siren.  Funny, my gun felt too warm in my bare hand…for a weapon that hadn’t been fired.  Much later, awaiting arraignment, I heard the cops listening to the local news:  “Receptionist flees for her life after madman, who’s committed similar atrocities in six other states, murders her boss for the crime of being stupid.”

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My Personal Top Five Writing Tips

 

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The holidays are over; winter is upon us.  Time to hunker down and write The Great American Novel.  Having taught creative writing and run workshops for years, I offer my personal top five tips:

  1. KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING BEFORE YOU WRITE THE FIRST WORD.  Many will disagree with me, but in my experience a whole lot of writing time is wasted otherwise.  You’re either compulsing over material that just gets cut later or…worse…gets left in to drag down the quality of your writing.  Know the basic three-act structure that applies to everything from a non-fiction article to a novel to a screenplay.  (Syd Field’s concise description of this paradigm, in his books on screenwriting, is a great way to master this quickly.)  Know the end of your story.  This is the only way you can flip to the opposite state of affairs…like the negative for a black-and-white photo…and construct the beginning.
  2. DON’T WASTE A SINGLE SYLLABLE.  Pretend a psychotic suffering from extreme attention deficit disorder has a gun pointed at your head and has demanded that you tell a great story…with eyes that are already starting to glass over with impatience before you can open your mouth to say the first word.  Don’t think you’ll ever have enough to fill the pages of a novel this way?  Fear not; this is only the first draft.  As you write, further developing subplots and the twists and turns of your story, you’ll find yourself going back to weave more into the beginning.
  3. MULTITASK YOUR WRITING.  Every word should serve a purpose in your story and hopefully more than one purpose.  The ideal is to have a character utter a single syllable…like “No!”…which simultaneously reveals an aspect of the character not known before, creates a plot twist because no one (including the reader) expected this, and maybe provides comic relief in the midst of heavy tension.  This is particularly important when you find yourself needing to go back and weave some foreshadowing into an earlier scene.  Otherwise, since the reader doesn’t yet know that this information will turn out to be important later, your foreshadowing can seem like useless and unnecessary flab.
  4. SHOW DON’T TELL.  This has been said by many others many times, but it’s amazing how many writers will still write “Aunt Petunia was nervous,” instead of “Aunt Petunia started biting her nails.”
  5. SURPRISE YOUR READER.  No one wants to read a predictable story.  I suggest a triangle structure in which you start each chapter or scene at Point A, head toward Point B, but somehow end up at Point C instead.  (Example:  Character A is trying to seduce Character B, but somehow ends up in bed with Character C instead.)

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