My Ideal Writing Space

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Every writer needs a special place to write. I can write just about anywhere. In fact, I have tried that theory out in multiple locations. However, one of my favorite places to write is in my office at home.

My office is a small room painted light purple with shimmering lavender curtains on the single window. On the walls, I have placed paintings that I created based on my series The Glory Chronicles. At one wall, there is an old desk that belonged to my mother and her sisters when they were children. Though a desk may seem like the best place to write, I have never been comfortable being so formal when writing.

No, my ideal writing space is in the far corner of the office. A greenish-gray armchair serves as my author seat. I call it my green marshmallow chair because of its great fluffiness. I sit in the chair with my feet up on an ottoman that my mother made from a Pinterest idea. Inside the ottoman, plastic soda bottles keep my feet up as I enter my world of writing.

Whether writing in a journal or typing away on the computer, I enjoy sitting in my green marshmallow chair listening to Christian contemporary music as I dive into my writing.

If you are a writer, what is your ideal writing space? What do you need in your writing environment in order to be successful?

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Why Write?

Over the years, I have had several people ask me why I started writing. I began writing as a child. I always told my family that I wanted to be a writer, teacher, farmer, and zookeeper. I enjoyed reading any fictional story I could get my hands on. I treasured classics like Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia.

As my imagination soared with stories of my own, I decided to start writing them down. I wrote little poems and short stories for school and sometimes on my own though it would be years later before I tried anything of true length.

One summer I got the idea of trying to see if I could write a full novel. I chose the fantasy genre though I wanted the story to be Christian and point my readers to the truth of the Bible. I wrote in journals anywhere that I went creating odd characters and my own little fantasy world. Amazingly enough, I finished the book entitled Journey to Glory. As I ended it, I found that I was hooked. I have written novels in a variety of genres ever since.

Not only did I want to see if I could write a full novel, I also dreamed of holding one of my books published in my hands. Imagine my great excitement and thankfulness as I first held Journey to Glory in my hands.

Why do I write? I write because I find great therapy in writing. I can have a busy day or rough time at work, but I become completely relaxed as I write. Stress fades if even for only a short time as I enter my own fictional world. I write because I love it!

Birthday Memories

As I celebrate my 37th birthday, I can’t help but look back on the past birthdays and think about my life. I am truly blessed to have a wonderful family. My parents, older sister, and younger brother have always been close and thankfully still are today.

Birthdays were happy times with my family. There were many tasty cakes and memorable gifts. The focus was always on the birthday child making their day special. Our parties were full of laughter and fun. I would never want to celebrate any other way. Below are some pictures of past birthdays.

Newborn Carrie Rachelle with bushy black hair
Carrie Rachelle enjoying some cake with her fingers
Carrie Rachelle ready to open presents
Carrie Rachelle sneaking some cake
Carrie Rachelle having pizza and cake at Show Biz Pizza
Carrie Rachelle becoming a teenager

As I look back on these pictures, I marvel at the woman that God molded from the manipulative little girl that usually got her way all those years ago. He has helped me to grow with a heart for other people. The Lord has inspired me to write novels for Him and guided me in the whole process.

I thank God for another year as a teacher, author, and woman. I pray that this year will be full of wonders, miracles, and memories.

Lessons from Martin

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Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day! As I look back on my life, I can see that racial tensions have increased over the last few years. Though things have improved since Dr. King’s lifetime, there is still a long way to go. Certain people seem to be considered more important than others. Hatred and violence is the chosen method for some to deal with the injustices of the world.

Dr. King believed that only through love would people change. Being hateful will never solve the problem. Instead, we must work together to make sure that all lives matter.

As a teacher, I choose to treat all students no matter gender, race, ethnicity, etc. as the special people that they are. As an author, I choose to include diverse characters in my novels to show the importance of all people. I pray that I will always strive to be better than the day before. I hope to drive out darkness with light and love as Dr. King preached. Let’s all do more to make the world a better place!

Warm Winter Recipes Part 3

As I conclude in sharing recipes with you, I must share with you the dessert that Magnolia Ruby and Charlotte Pearl along with the other guests at Oleander Manor were served. Though this dessert would probably have been enjoyed by the duo if they were at home or visiting Alice’s Diner, it was not a welcome sight at the dinner party.

In today’s post, I am sharing a recipe I found for Death by Chocolate Cake. This rich treat may sound deadly but only for your diet. Enjoy!

Death by Chocolate Cake
(credit: https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/death-by-chocolate-cake-103880)

DEATH BY CHOCOLATE CAKE

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 eggs
  • 1cup oil
  • 12 cup water
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1(18 ounce) box chocolate cake mix
  • 1(3 1/2 ounce) box instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 12 ounces milk chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Beat 4 eggs, water, oil,& sour cream until smooth.
  2. Add the box of cake mix and pudding stirring until smooth.
  3. added chocolate chips, mixing just until blended.
  4. Pour into greased bundt pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes.
  6. I sometimes garnish with powdered sugar when cooled.

Warm Winter Recipes Part 2

Last week, I shared one of the recipes that inspired me for the dinner party in Cryptic Cuisine (Magnolia Ruby Mystery #2). Though the baked potato soup may not sound like an odd choice for dinner at the Oleander Manor, this next recipe seems like one to me. In my culture, I have never had this dish though some of you may have tried it. Of course, a picture says a thousand words. This food did churn the Oleander Manor guests’ stomachs though that may be because of the dark theme and mood of the party.

In today’s post, I am sharing a recipe I found for Stargazy Pie. This dish is supposed to be a whimsical Cornish one, but our detectives were not in a laughing mood when they received it. Yes, those are sardines staring at you! Enjoy!

Stargazy Pie (English Sardine Pie)
Stargazy Pie (credit: https://www.saveur.com/article/recipes/stargazy-pie-english-sardine-pie)

Stargazy Pie

FOR THE CRUST:

14 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. mustard powder, preferably Coleman’s
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
6 tbsp. ice-cold water

FOR THE FILLING:

6 slices bacon, cut into 1” pieces
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
12 cup chicken stock
13 cup crème fraîche
2 tbsp. English mustard, such as Colman’s
2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 eggs, beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 fresh sardines, cleaned, heads attached
3 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and sliced

Instructions

1. Make the crust: Whisk flour, mustard, and salt in a bowl. Using a dough blender, two forks, or your fingers, cut butter into flour mixture, forming pea-size crumbles. Add water; work dough until smooth but with visible flecks of butter. (Alternatively, pulse ingredients in a food processor.) Divide dough in half and flatten into disks. Wrap disks in plastic wrap; chill 1 hour before using.
 
2. Make the filling: Heat bacon in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until slightly crisp, 5–7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Add butter and onion to pan; cook until golden, 5–7 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in stock, crème fraîche, mustard, parsley, lemon juice, half the egg, and salt; set aside.
 
3. Assemble and bake the pie: Heat oven to 400°. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 disk of dough into a 12” round. Fit into a 9” pie plate; trim edges, leaving 1” dough overhanging edge of plate. Arrange sardines in a clocklike pattern with heads resting along edge of crust. Pour filling over sardines; top with reserved bacon, the hard-boiled eggs, salt, and pepper. Roll remaining disk of dough into a 12” round; cut eight 1” slits in dough about 2” from the edge.
 
4. Place over top of pie and pull sardine heads through slits. Pinch top and bottom edges together and fold under; crimp edges. Brush with remaining egg and cut three 1”-long slits in top of pie; bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 35–40 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.








Warm Winter Recipes Part 1

This is the season for some warm tasty food especially if you live a cold wintry climate. I have found some interesting recipes that you might want to try especially if you are a fan of my mystery novel Cryptic Cuisine (Magnolia Ruby Mystery #2). In this second book in the series, Magnolia Ruby and Charlotte Pearl end up attending a dinner party that is anything, but festive. They are served several odd or themed dishes at Oleander Manor. For the next three weeks, I will be posting a recipe that inspired the dinner party that our sleuths attended.

In today’s post, I am sharing a recipe I found for a baked potato soup. This soup has a special significance in Cryptic Cuisine. Enjoy!

recipe active photo
Baked Potato Soup
(credit: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/12997/baked-potato-soup-i/)

Baked Potato Soup

Recipe By:Sherry Haupt

“Thick and creamy. Uses leftover baked potatoes.”

Ingredients

  • 12 slices bacon
  • 2/3 cup margarine
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 7 cups milk
  • 4 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain, crumble, and set aside.
  2. In a stock pot or Dutch oven, melt the margarine over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk, whisking constantly until thickened. Stir in potatoes and onions. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  3. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Mix in bacon, cheese, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted

Blessings Abound

In a world full of troubles and disappointments, it is important that we focus more on the blessings that come our way. There are two ways that I have tried to keep track of my blessings from God throughout the years.

One method that I used in 2017 was a Blessings Jar. I would take post-it notes or strips of paper. Each day I would write a couple of blessings on the paper before folding them up and placing them in a jar. At the end of the year, I read through the strips and remember the special moments of the year. The only flaw I found with this method was making sure I had strips of paper and room in the jar.

The method I used this year (2018) was a Blessings Book. I bought a journal and daily wrote the date along with a list of blessings from that day. This worked so much better for me because I love to write in journals. Plus, my blessings were all kept in one place without a chance of getting pieces lost. For me, it was much more organized.

Now, as the new year is approaching in a few hours, I am sitting here reading through my Blessing Book marveling at what God has done in my life this year. I see that at the beginning of the year I only had nine published books. Now, I have fourteen books! What a huge blessing God has done in my author career! It amazes me! I also see many blessings that the Lord has given me in the areas of family, teaching, and friendship. He has been faithful!

Tomorrow, I will start a new Blessing Book as the year 2019 begins. I am hopeful that this year will be as blessed as the years before. God is good all the time! All the time God is good!

A New Year of Writing

As Christmas comes and the new year begins, I am looking forward to another year as an author. It has been a whirlwind of a year! My New Year’s Resolution is that I will be more organized with my author life. There are so many aspects that you don’t think about when being an author. I always thought about the most pleasant part which is the writing of novels. The parts that I didn’t think about were editing, marketing, maintaining a website, keeping up with emails, and posting on social media. These things take a lot of time, but they are as exciting and worthwhile in my career as an author!

So, my plan is to become more organized to purposely include time for all of these author components in the future. Stay tuned for all of the exciting updates that will be coming. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please feel free to email me at carrierachellejohnson@outlook.com!

Attention: Mystery Lovers!

I have created a new mystery series called Magnolia Ruby Mysteries. Scorching Secrets (Magnolia Ruby Mystery #1) will be published later this month. This story follows Magnolia Ruby who is a sixty year old artist living a great life in a mansion in Missouri. She has an eye for detail and a stubbornness that won’t let her give up. When a crime occurs that is close to home, Magnolia teams up with an unlikely sidekick to follow the clues. With a list of suspects and odd allies, she perseveres even in the most difficult of times. Will Magnolia Ruby be able to solve the mystery before she becomes the next victim?

Spread the word now with the mystery lovers in your life! Scorching Secrets is coming soon!

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