Thursday, October 17, 2013

Internet for Queriers

I don't usually blog about writing, but I've spent hoursdaysmonths researching for queries lately. There's so much information out there, but if you're new and need a starting point, here are a few amazing resources.

pic by imagerymajestic via
The best source for information on how to submit is the agency's own website. But for additional information, try these links.

Where they do so much of your research for you. 

Forum with information on agents and publishers, from reputability to response times. 

Find agents in your genre, track your queries and see how long response times from agents tend to be. 

Find agents, genre and client lists and their contact information. 

Many agents have a page showing their background, contact information and clients. And if you pay for a subscription, you can check the Dealmakers section to see what sales an agent has reported. Not every agent reports all sales. 

Agent interviews

They make querying even more fun and exciting. Here are just a couple I've participated in.

Writing/Publishing/Querying information

I'm still working out how to use the tool without my time being sucked away, but it really draws you into the writing community. Following agents themselves helps you understand their likes and dislikes. Following other writers—published and not—can give you tips, let you find critique partners and make you feel less alone. Also search for #MSWL to find out specifically what themes agents are interested in.

Want to know about publishing? Querying? Critiquing? If a contest is right for you?

Not only is there information on agents, pitches and writing in general, but she went to the trouble of listing the upcoming contests.

Writing, critiques, you name it.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg! What other websites have been helpful to you? 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I Love...Pumpkin Pie (An Expat Pumpkin Pie Recipe)

image by Arvind Balaraman via

Happy October! 

I'm loving the changing leaves, the snuggly blankets and the emergence of pumpkins everywhere you look.

There's just one thing. In Germany, you can't buy pumpkin pie.  In fact, when I mention it here, most everyone thinks it sounds absolutely if I would suggest they eat brussel sprout pie.

Anyway, it doesn't bother me that I can't buy pumpkin pie in Germany, because homemade pie tastes world's better anyway.

But, in Germany, you also can't buy a can of pumpkin. Or a frozen pie crust. Both major time savers. I've learned to make it the old-fashioned way, and I'm calling it:

The Expat Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Pumpkin Filling
Buy a pumpkin, or if you can't find a pumpkin (starting mid-November, just before Thanksgiving, they seem to disappear where I live), butternut squash works well. Sometimes the color's a little more yellow than orange, but the flavor is good.

1000 g / 2.2 lb whole pumpkin
1 ½ c sugar
1 t salt
2 t ground cinnamon
½ t ground ginger
½ t ground cloves
4 eggs
2 cans (12 fl. oz each) evaporated milk or 750 ml 7.5% fat condensed unsweetened milk
2 unbaked pie crusts (see below)

Peel the pumpkin, remove the seeds, cut it in chunks and boil it in water until soft. I've heard some people prefer to steam it. Drain and puree. It's also possible to halve it, remove the seeds and bake, open side down, then scoop out the flesh. You'll need a bit heavier pumpkin for this since you lose more of the flesh.

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat eggs. Combine pumpkin, eggs and dry ingredients. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into two pie crusts.

Bake in a preheated oven at 425°F/220°C for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F/180°C and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for two hours.

No-Roll Pie Crust
Okay, there are plenty of examples of pie crust recipes out there. But let's say you're lazy like me. Or you don't have enough room to roll out your crust. I found this wonderful no-roll pie crust recipe somewhere on the internet (if it's yours, contact me and I'll gladly give you credit). I admit I haven't managed to make the edge quite as pretty as a rolled pie crust, but if taste is your only important thing, you're okay with the no-roll version.

Recipe makes one crust.

1 ½ c flour
a little less than ½ c oil
¼ c ice water
½ t salt

Mix all ingredients. Dump dough into pan and press out with your fingers. You can decorate the edges with the tines of a fork. Fill & bake.

If baking without filling, poke holes all over it first. Bake 10-12 min at 400°F/220°C. Watch it during this time. Bubbles can form, and you might have to poke additional holes during baking.

If you try either recipe, I'd love to know how it turned out. 

And if you're an expat, what hoops do you jump through to make something with ingredients not readily available in your location?