How to Carve a Turkey and Other Thanksgiving Tips

Well, it’s that time of year when we put away the Halloween decorations and think about the Thanksgiving holiday and our meal plans. Many of us are busy juggling work and children and other responsibilities and don’t stress out over the big dinner until the last minute (two days before Thanksgiving). Are you one of those who rush to the grocery store only to find gigantic frozen turkeys that need three days to thaw? Or have you found the right size turkey but your mind is blank on what to serve with it? There are plenty of details involved in serving a delicious and satisfying Thanksgiving meal, especially if you also have to prepare for guests.

Fortunately, there are experts out there who are ready with Thanksgiving tips and recipes to help us with all those details. It doesn’t matter if this is your first time hosting or if you’ve run dry from hosting year-after-year. I’ve found ideas and inspiration to help make your dinner the best ever.

First things first. Here’s a short video to get you in the mood for turkey.

How to Carve a Turkey

Thanksgiving Side Dishes

For savory dishes like Lemon Pepper Green Beans, Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes, and Holiday Cranberry Sauce head over to the AllRecipes website.

The Country Living website has ideas for 100 classic Thanksgiving side dishes such as Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Salad, Rosemary Monkey Bread Stuffing, and Apple Walnut Stuffing.

Wondering what beverage to serve with your feast? Not to worry. The New York Times has you covered with this article:

There Are No Wrong Thanksgiving Wines

Where you’ll find insight such as, “Do not worry if you don’t have enough stemware. Thanksgiving is not the time for these sorts of concerns. Serve wine in tumblers, if you like.”

Thanksgiving Desert

For dessert, you can’t go wrong with pumpkin pie. Other pies work, too. But why mess with tradition unless you want to surprise your guests with a scrumptious variation such as Streusel Topped Pumpkin Pie. Or instead how about wowing them with Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes?

The experts even have recipe ideas for vegan and vegetarian menus. Just visit the Serious Eats website for tasty options.

After all that preparation, cooking, and hosting, you should now sit back, enjoy your friends and family, and most of all, count your blessings. That’s what the holiday is all about.

Best wishes to you and your family this Thanksgiving holiday!

 

October Writerly Events Roundup

I’ve had a busy October so far and I didn’t want to wait until the month ended to share these memories with you.   I had a fabulous time participating in four great writerly events.

1. Indie Author Day

On October 7th, the Monterey Public Library teemed with authors, writers, and readers. The super-organized event included seminars, workshops, and classes, all taught by local experts and neighboring authors. I was on the “Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing” panel. The other authors on this panel were amazing. Thanks to Eboni Harris for organizing the well-attended event.

Indie Author Day flyers

Victoria (L), D.S. Kane (C), and Alessandra Harris (R)

Indie Author Day panelists

Yvonne Carder (L) Victoria, and Chess Desalts (R)

E. Ardell (L) and Victoria (R)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the above author’s links to their websites:

D.S. Kane, Alessandra Harris, Yvonne CarderChess Desalts, and E. Ardell

 

2. How-To Booklet

I was inspired by my writing class students to compile this booklet to help reach writers who can’t attend my classes. It offers inspiration, tips, and yes, the kick in the pants. Published on October 6th, it will be available as an ebook soon.

new booklet

A new booklet is published.

3. Writing Class

October 9th. My five-week writing class in Capitola was a lot of fun (and hard work). Even though I added a week to my usual length of four weeks, the participants still said it went by much too fast.

See the thoughts swirling and the pens moving?

4. Booktoberfest 2017

A fun writerly event

October 17th in Pacific Grove, CA. This annual gathering includes readings by a few members of the Central Coast Writers whom had works published within the last 12 months. Also, all members were invited to display their books and answer questions about their publishing experience. It was a great way to meet other authors, see the variety of their books, and share publishing information. This was my first time attending a CCW event, and I must say the talent of the readers that night and the friendliness of everyone impressed me.

 

CCW President Laurie Sheehan & Victoria

Victoria at Booktoberfest 2017 Pacific Grove, CA

Now that these exciting writerly events are behind me it’s time to get back to work writing, developing the curriculum for my next session of classes, and editing my latest micro-documentary. I can’t wait. What’s going on in your writing life? Share in the comments below.

How to Write a How-To Book

I’m offering a new How-To class for writers.  Space is limited.  Register today.

How to Write a How-To Book by Victoria M. Johnson

How to Write a How-To Book

Oct 30, 2017 to Nov 20, 2017

Do you want to write a book that will help people? If you have experience or knowledge in a topic for a book that gives instruction, guidance, and tips to inspire others then come learn how simple and fun it is to write a How-to book. How-to books are among the most popular with readers. They are seeking your wisdom and know-how to improve their lives. Discover the types of how-to writing and find the best one for your topic. The motivating instruction, handouts, and in-class writing exercises will provide you with a blueprint to write your own how-to book.

Register online NOW!   click here

Held at Capitola Community Center from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.  4 Mondays.

For More Information or to Register by Phone: (831) 475-6115

Instructor Bio:  Victoria M. Johnson is a published author and filmmaker. Her published works include The Doctors Dilemma (Avalon Books), the nonfiction work Grant Writing 101: Everything You Need To Start Raising Funds Today (McGraw-Hill), and four other books. Her poetry appears in online literary journals and print anthologies. Victoria is both writer and director of four short films and two micro documentaries. She has presented workshops on writing in the Bay Area; Chicago; Washington, DC; Vancouver, Canada; and New York.

Seven Ways Writers Lives Have Changed

While attempting to declutter my office–to make room for more necessary things–I came across a box of cassette tapes of workshops given by some of my favorite authors.  There was a time when I did not get in my car unless I had a cassette to listen to while driving.  Times have certainly changed for me because now I get in my car for silence.  The beautiful, though temporary, silence.  That box of cassettes got me thinking about what else has changed for me as a writer.  I began writing in the early nineties–not that long ago, I know–but I work so very differently now.  See if you can relate to any of these obsolete activities.

  1. I knew librarians not only at my branch but other branches, too. I often asked for help locating material for a topic I was researching. (Well, I still know my local librarian’s names but they don’t point me in the same direction they once did).  Back then, the source for research usually started with one of the big sets of encyclopedias.  Now libraries don’t carry these bulky sets. Seven Ways Writers Lives Have Changed
  1. I typed on a typewriter that had ribbons that needed to be replaced when the ink ran dry. We were poor (which is why I had an old typewriter) so I always rewound the ribbon and gave it a second, sometimes third, life before I replaced it. Read fellow author Sheila Claydon’s experience about typing her first manuscript.
  1. I befriended the copy store staff. I even had an account because I made so many copies they gave me a discount. Don’t forget we didn’t have multifunction printers in our homes.  Copies of chapters for critique groups, contest entries, and manuscripts had to be made at a copy store.  Seven Ways Writers Lives Have Changed
  1. I befriended post office staff. In those days manuscripts had to be mailed along with an SASE (self-addressed-stamped-envelope). The post office staff always inquired on what I was writing and mailing out, and I put one or two of them in my stories.
  1. Another thing I did was wait for the telephone to ring. Email wasn’t invented yet so writers either got a rejection letter by mail or an offer by telephone. This hopeful writer waited by the telephone, not the mailbox. Seven Ways Writers Lives Have Changed
  1. I never had to think about book promotion. This is a state I miss most about the early days of my writing career. I just focused on writing.  What a novel concept.  Seven Ways Writers Lives Have Changed
  1. I had a drink. If a rejection letter did arrive I would have a cocktail such as a frothy, salt-rimmed margarita and I called a dear friend for moral support and to commiserate with. Oh, wait. I still do that.

Popular romance author Leigh Michaels shares the nostalgia of her first home office (clickhere).  How about you?  What has changed in your writing life since you first started writing?  Share in the comments below.

 

New Class For Writers!

Take a Workshop by Victoria M. Johnson

Kickstart Your Creative Writing Habit

Sep 11, 2017 to Oct 9, 2017

Is your creative writing lacking creativity? Are you too busy to make writing a habit? Or perhaps you’re on a roll and want to stay there. Wherever you are in your writing journey, this class will energize you and set you on a path for writing furiously and regularly. Every week students will receive inspiration for in-class writing exercises. You’ll learn techniques of craft and imagination to use immediately whether you write poetry, fiction, memoir, essays, songs, or blog posts. You’ll never again ask yourself, what do I write about? In this fun and motivating class you’ll end with plenty of new material, inspired and equipped to keep your creative fires burning.

Register online NOW!   click here

Held at Capitola Community Center from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.  5 Mondays.

For More Information or to Register by Phone: (831) 475-6115

Instructor Bio:  Victoria M. Johnson is a published author and filmmaker. Her published works include The Doctors Dilemma (Avalon Books), the nonfiction work Grant Writing 101: Everything You Need To Start Raising Funds Today (McGraw-Hill), and four other books. Her poetry appears in online literary journals and print anthologies. Victoria is both writer and director of four short films and two micro documentaries. She has presented workshops on writing in the Bay Area; Chicago; Washington, DC; Vancouver, Canada; and New York.

New Workshops For Writers!

Take a Workshop by Victoria M. Johnson

Creative Non-Fiction: Writing That Matters

Apr 12, 2017 to May 3, 2017

Launch your writing career with a non-fiction book on a topic you’re passionate about. The basis of this course is the belief that writers can “make a difference” with their writing. Discover how to use the arsenal of tools and techniques to write creative non-fiction pieces with power, urgency, and clarity.  Students will learn how voice and theme impacts writing that matters.  Whether you write essays, articles, or books, this empowering class will guide you to create strong, inspiring prose on topics that matter to you.

For more information or to register, click here.

Held at Capitola Community Center from 1:30pm to 3:00pm. 4 Wednesdays.

Any writers in the Santa Cruz Area will be interested in both of these workshops.

Take a Workshop by Victoria M. Johnson

Flash Fiction Writing Bootcamp

May 10, 2017 to May 31, 2017

Come learn how to create very short stories, also known as short shorts and flash or sudden fiction. Flash fiction stories have all the elements of fiction and have the power of their longer cousins to transform the reader. Discover tried-and-true techniques, look at great examples, and free your creativity to write your own flash pieces. For beginning writers or pros, this is a fun and motivating class that will help you improve your storytelling skills. Following a lecture each session, students will write new pieces based on the topics covered and prompts to get the creative juices flowing. You’ll also learn editing tips and opportunities for publishing your polished works.

For more information or to register, click here.

Held at Capitola Community Center from 5:30pm to 7:00pm. 4 Wednesdays.

Instructor BioVictoria M. Johnson is a published author, poet, and filmmaker. She is the writer and director of four short films and two micro-documentaries. Avalon Books published Victoria’s fiction debut, The Doctor’s Dilemma, in 2011 (A 2012 Bookseller’s Best double finalist). McGraw-Hill and General Publishing Group published her in non-fiction. In 2012 Victoria entered the indie publishing arena with a collection of romance short stories and in 2014 a how-to book on fiction writing techniques. Her poetry appears in online literary journals and print anthologies.

Upcoming Workshops for Writers & Poets

TWO CLASSES Starting Soon!

Take a Workshop by Victoria M. Johnson

Any writers and poets in the Santa Cruz Area will be interested in these workshops.

Social Media For Authors And Poets

March 7, 2017

social media class by Victoria M. Johnson

Social media has become a crucial element for authors and poets in promotion and branding, finding opportunities, and fundraising. But those new to social media may not understand what platforms are best for them and what they can do once they are up and running. Some don’t understand the benefits of social media at all while others have opened accounts but don’t know what they’re doing there. This class will showcase a variety of social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, websites and more! Though the class focuses on writers and poets, all artists will benefit from this exciting workshop.

For more information or to register, click here.

Held at Capitola Community Center from 1:00pm to 4:30pm. One Day Only.

Flash Fiction Writing Bootcamp

Mar 15, 2017 to Apr 5, 2017

Flash Fiction Workshop by Victoria M. JohnsonCome learn how to create very short stories, also known as short shorts and flash or sudden fiction. Flash fiction stories have all the elements of fiction and have the power of their longer cousins to transform the reader. Discover tried-and-true techniques, look at great examples, and free your creativity to write your own flash pieces. For beginning writers or pros, this is a fun and motivating class that will help you improve your storytelling skills. Following a lecture each session, students will write new pieces based on the topics covered and prompts to get the creative juices flowing. You’ll also learn editing tips and opportunities for publishing your polished works.

For more information or to register, click here.

Held at Capitola Community Center from 5:30pm to 7:00pm. 4 Wednesdays.

Instructor Bio: Victoria M. Johnson is a published author, poet, and filmmaker. She is the writer and director of four short films and two micro-documentaries. Avalon Books published Victoria’s fiction debut, The Doctor’s Dilemma, in 2011 (A 2012 Bookseller’s Best double finalist). McGraw-Hill and General Publishing Group published her in non-fiction. In 2012 Victoria entered the indie publishing arena with a collection of romance short stories and in 2014 a how-to book on fiction writing techniques. Her poetry appears in online literary journals and print anthologies.

 

A New Poem is Published

My poem is published in the “Night Terrors” issue of Perfume River Poetry Review.

Perfume River Poetry Review Issue 3

The call asked for poems from your worst nightmares and I think they gathered some chilling works for the anthology.  The issue is available in paperback or as a free PDF download at: Perfume River Poetry Review.  Look for my poem, Bones on the Clock, on page 37.  Their other issues are amazing, too.  Take a look for yourself…

Issue 1: Inaugural Issue: Where We Begin

When was it you first discovered that words could bring you joy, give comfort, sustain you, and create hope and beauty?

Issue 2: Ars Erotica

Ars Erotica explores aesthetics of love, sex, sexuality, and intimacy and how it makes us human.

Issue 3: Night Terrors

What are your fears of the dark?  What keeps you up at night–be it ghosts or hauntings in your heart?

Check them out.  Each issue is $10 in paperback or free PDF.  Also, keep an eye open for their next Call for Submissions.