Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Grits, Sunsets & My Town Monday (sort of, and on Tuesday)

Happy belated Mother's Day! I had a lovely day with church and three generations of family all gathered in my home. Ham, pesto pasta salad (thanks Katie!), and cheese grits. Because it's hard to have a celebration without a grit or two.

I had every intention of joining my friend Travis for a special My Town Monday to review a book from my area. With recent travels to the NETWO conference, the end of school, and preparing for Mother's Daypalooza, I whiffed on the commitment. I will say that I've started a book from my area, a true story called Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. It's about a wealthy white art dealer and a homeless black man and the woman who brought them together in an unlikely friendship. They've toured in the area, but I haven't had a chance to see them live. Friends (hello Alyssa!) keep telling me to read it, and I really will. I promise. If anyone else has read this, feel free to comment and tell me what you think.

On the NETWO front, I had a great time meeting writers from Eest Texas and talking about breaking through writers block. Which must have worked, because since I've been home I've been crazybusy with the WIP. Today I cut out 22 pages. A painful edit, but totally necessary. I've been stuck for a while because I felt the story had gotten derailed and the decision to lose those scenes (carefully tucked away in another file, of course) has freed me up to push forward. Wahoo!

I do want to say thanks to the kind hosts of NETWO, and say hello to Ben Rehder, a fellow Texas author who kept us laughing all weekend. Kern swears by his Bone Dry series, and I swear by Kern, so there's a second Texas book recommendation for you. (See, Travis, I'm really trying.)

Here are some pics from the weekend:

Britta and author Ben Rehder. (He's the one who isn't split in half.)

The cutie patootie cabin by Lake Bob Ray Sandlin.

The sunset view from our balcony.

Thanks again, NETWO, for an inspiring weekend. When we left on Sunday morning, we stopped in this diner in Mt. Vernon.

Where I ate a breakfast that looked like this:

Please note the grits. Upper right side. Yum.

Question: Have you ever...
a) cut large portions of your manuscript in progress?
b) gotten stuck on a fuzzy plot point and stalled on rewrites?
c) encountered a cheese grit?

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Blogger WordVixen said...

Sadly, I've always wanted to enjoy grits, but just never have. With or without cheese (tried both).

9:30 PM  
Blogger "Bluebonnet in the snow" said...

Sometimes I wonder if I can truly call myself a Southerner because I have never had grits of any type. As for Same Kind of Different As Me, get the Kleenex ready because those short chapters will have you marching to the finish line in no time. So glad you are reading it!

5:00 AM  
Blogger Debbielou said...

Sorry to sound daft but what are grits? In England grit is something that you get in your eye !!

Looks as though you had fun !!

7:31 AM  
Blogger Renae said...

I'll answer these in reverse order:

c) Cheese grits - yum!
b) All the time! But usually, if I just make myself plow through, I'm okay. I have to remind myself that I can always fix it later, but you can't fix a blank page!
c) Yes. And ouch! But it always seems to make it better, doesn't it?

Glad you had fun at the conference. Happy belated Mother's Day!

7:32 AM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

DebbieLou, excellent question. Grits, according to Wikipedia, is a corn-based food common in the Southern United States, consisting of coarsely ground corn. It has the consistency of cream of wheat, if you're familiar with that. Maybe a little grainier.

They're good baked with cheese. Or in a breakfast casserole with spicy sausage, chilis, and salsa. Or plain, with butter and salt. Yum.

Wordvixen, it's okay if you don't like grits. This blog doesn't discriminate according to corn preferences.

Bluebonnet, I'm prepared for major weepage. And please, get thee to a cafe! (Although, I never had grits until I married Kern, so you can still be a Southerner in my book.)

7:48 AM  
Blogger Kern said...

Kern's Cheese Grits

1 cup dry grits
2 eggs
1/2 block Velveeta
1/2 stick butter
8 oz shredded cheddar
1T minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Cook grits according to package, let stand with butter and velveeta until cheese is melted.

2. Mix in garlic, eggs, S&P.

3. Pour into greased baking dish, cover with shredded cheese, bake @ 350 for 1 hour.

For breakfast, add 1 lb browned sausage, 1 can rotel (drained) and two extra eggs at step #2.

You'll be a hero.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Ben Rehder said...

Hey Britta, thanks for the photo. I didn't mean to split the bear in half with my brute strength, but these things happen.

My mom is from West Virginia and loves grits. Of course, she's also eaten woodchuck.


8:53 AM  
Blogger Mathilda said...

Shutting down totally includes sleeping a lot. Unfortunately, I still have one more paper to crank out before I am "officially" done (pfft...technicalities). But, when I walk on Sunday all of the tears and lack of sleep will TOTALLY be worth it.

Then you all have to call me, "Master Sarah" ;) Or, actually, since I will have two, "Master Master Sarah". Or not... ;)

12:01 PM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Renae, it sounds like we tackle those issues in similar ways. And that includes the grits.

Kern, I ate that much Velveeta? Why didn't you tell me? My arteries are clogging...ahhhhh! But honestly, no regrets.

Ben, I have a friend from Mississippi who eats squirrel stew. Are squirrels related to woodchucks? And do they both taste like chicken?

MM Sarah, we'll be thinking of you on Sunday! Many congrats...and I'm sure you'll knock out that paper in no time.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Charles Gramlich said...

congrats on the progress on your book. I've definitely cut large sections from works in progress before. But I don't like grits in any form.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Josephine Damian said...

Britta: Grits? Yuck! My momma was a Southern woman and I remember too well the first time she made them for us, her Italian husband and children.

Let's say there was plenty for mom to eat cause we all went: Yuck!

Anyway, I think one of the best pieces of writing advice I got was: Remove 2 pages from every chapter - meaning cut out 2 pages worth of words in each chapter.

My first reaction was: No f---ing way is there two pages of excess writing in each of my chapters. And then I tried it. Oh, yeah. Much better.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Mathilda said...

Done ;)

Now... I go drink lots of margaritas.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Clare2e said...

All of the above, Britta!

And it doesn't take but the mere mention of grits in any form- sausage, cheese, just butter, syrup, ham with pepper confetti- to make my mouth start watering. So very yum!

7:51 AM  
Blogger dee said...

loved this post....I just had the most yummiest cheese grits...in memphis ofcourse...and jalapeno cheese grits at that with collard green and fried green tomatos...on
Beale street in a place called the rum boogie cafe...no , I didn't see the ghost of elvis, but my mother swears she did....we were at my son's college graduation...on the subject of the book, Same kind of different as me.....read it ...loved it....a little heavy on the religion but definately on the best read ever list...told my dad and now everyone at the hospital in Taos is reading it...my kids and newphew read as it chronicles a depth of poverty they can't even relate too...Dad also gave it to his preacher who had recommeded it all over New Mexico...I just stumbled across it in B & N one day....go figure...some of the best book finds are just stumbled across.....

5:44 PM  
Blogger The Anti-Wife said...

Grits. YUM!

6:33 PM  
Blogger Leigh Russell said...

some breakfast! Good luck with the edits. Remember:
"There's no such thing as writer's block" (Terry Pratchett)
That's one of the quotations I have on my wall!

9:33 PM  
Blogger Lana Gramlich said...

Looks like you had a great time. :) I only encountered grits once I moved to Louisiana. As you can't teach an old Yankee new tricks, I think I'll stick with hash browns. ;) Not that they're bad, mind you. They're just too...nothing for me.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Middle Ditch said...

You seem to have a very enjoyable time. I don't know what grits are either but they seem tasty the way you describe them.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Thanks, Charles. It feels good to move forward.

Josephine, that cutting two pages is great advice. Painful, but worth it. Although, I tend to write short first drafts, build on the second pass, then cut and build some more. But I easily chop two pages per chapter somewhere in the process.

MM Sarah, Woohoo! Hope the margaritas were tasty.

Clare2e, spoken like a true grit connoisseur.

Dee, I finished the book in tears. Definitely a recommended read, and a true eye opener about homelessness and cycles of poverty.

10:01 AM  
Blogger Billy said...

I love grits, but my NYC firneds haven't a clue as to what they are. Great pics!

8:27 AM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Thanks, Billy. Maybe you could have a small yet elegant dinner party featuring grits for your NYC friends. Would definitely make for a good post, highlighting their responses.

11:25 AM  

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