How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, right? It’s the same with writing a novel. You write it one word at a time, one sentence at a time. But sometimes, for any author, those small steps become giant leaps that seem insurmountable. It’s then that we need our special tools.
No, I’m not talking about word sprints or Twitter hashtags like #amwriting. I’m talking about the REAL tools: coffee and chocolate.
Once we’ve exhausted all other tools available to us, and for each writer those tools are different, we come down to the common tools that work for any endeavor that takes energy and time – from managing a family to working at a day job, from wrangling kids to wrestling with plotlines. What are your real tools for coping with the stress when you can’t escape from it? When the only way out is through, that’s when we turn to these real tools.
For me, a good, smooth, dark chocolate is the answer. My favorite is Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate and Super Dark. Their 100 Calorie Bars are awesome too. They’re reasonably-priced, but if I’m paying for premium chocolate then I love Green and Black’s brand. My favorite bar is Maya Gold.
Underneath chocolate is coffee. Underneath writing, really, and the rest of my day, is coffee. I love the stuff. Black, flavored, in a mocha, it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s coffee, unlike some creative folks. In fact, Denis Leary, comedian and actor, has a beloved rant on coffee – I say “beloved” even though I’m guilty of liking things like mocha almond espresso with a twist of orange and a shaving of dark chocolate… half caff… on the side…
He likes coffee flavored coffee. Me, I like all sorts of things in the coffee. I used to be a barista (that’s a person who makes fancy coffee drinks like mochas) and my favorite was to put the chocolate syrup in the milk steamer, pour in the milk (fat-free milk makes the best foam) and then foam the milk so it became hot chocolate. Then I put the syrup shots in with the espresso, so it got well-mixed with the coffee. The best is hazelnut and caramel; it’s like a fancy Snickers mocha.
If you aren’t fortunate enough to have your own espresso maker with steamer attachment, (and who is, these days, the economy being what it is?) here’s a trick from Aunt Noony: get a small saucepan. Pour in a cup or two of non-fat milk or whatever milk (even soy) that you have on hand – but skim works the best for this. Take your whisk, and put the flame on low. (If you have an electric stove and not gas, buy a new one.) (KIDDING – just put it on low to medium.) You do NOT want the milk to boil, or it will scald and be ruined. As the milk warms, put the whisk in the pan and hold the handle between your two palms, like a vertical stick. Rub your hands back and forth quickly so that the whisk makes a fast back-and-forth motion in the milk – this will foam the milk. While it won’t foam quite as much as if you had a steamer, it will nonetheless form a nice froth that you can then use on top of your favorite coffee beverage. (Or, for you tea drinkers out there, you can make a tea latte.)
What is your favorite coffee beverage and chocolate concoction? What do you use when the chips are down and you have to keep going, even though you’d rather hide under the covers? Tell me in the comments, I’d love to know!
*Leah here: Catherine and Rachel didn’t ask me to include a blurb from their book, but I thought you’d like to see it:
Curiosity never killed this cat, but love could have deadly consequences.
Sasha Soskoff has two reasons for moving to Chicago: secure a tenured position in veterinary research medicine, and widen his horizons. After a night at the city’s hottest new club, though, a wrong turn down a dark alley narrows his focus to surviving three muggers. As consciousness fades, he catches a glimpse of his rescuer, whose mere appearance is enough to chase the attackers off.
Neal Harrison doesn’t often have to call on his skills as an ex-Marine to maintain control at his club. But with Sasha, he can’t seem to keep his hands to himself. Yet there’s danger in allowing any close relationships, particularly with a naïve young newcomer. The safety of his business depends on the iron-clad secret he and his ex-Marine buddies all hide.
While Neal seems happy to satisfy Sasha’s insatiable curiosity about the erotic scenes played out in the club’s private rooms, Sasha senses his new lover is holding something back.
When the truth claws its way out amid a night of tribal blood and violence, Neal discovers his lover has a secret of his own. And that the forces arrayed against them all could make a mugging look like a walk in the park…
Contains explicit, adult situations: male on male, more males on several more males, no-holds-barred erotic scenes, no-claws-barred violence, and love forged in the heat of desire.
Oh, and here’s Dennis Leary’s rant on coffee…which probably is NSFW just for the language alone…Dennis loves his F-bombs as much as I do 😉