On Writing, 7 July 19

From Little Summit on Mount Constitution

Every now and then, I reflect on why I write, what I love about writing, and what is true for me now.

Here’s what I’m thinking today . . .

I crave order, and I find order by working on a project. Sometimes writing doesn’t feel like the process has any order.

My happily ever after endings are never perfect but always satisfying.

New ideas glimmer like promises on the water’s surface, but upon closer inspection, most of them lack depth.

Depth can be created.

Layers infuse while revising. I liken this experience to a complex and beautiful garden or a really great meal. All the senses work together and the journey finds a trail and satisfying destination.


This is the time of year I love most (even if my allergies disagree).

A bald eagle in a tree near the North Valley Overlook on Turtleback Mountain

The birdsong and frog song, the succession of blooming plants, the longer days, and the shifts between sunshine and rain.

I’m finishing up a project that I’ll be sad to leave. I love the characters, the setting, the story. I’m sure I’ll be doing future revisions and edits, shifting and changing, but for now, I’m going to move onto the next big thing.

These moments of shifting can feel good. “Hey, I finished a book!”

Yet, I can also feel unsure.

The possibility awaits: wonderful and scary; exciting and daunting; a dash forward and a long pause. All those contrasts hit me, freeze me.

I’m back to the act of creating again. The pen to the notebook–


Roasted Pumpkin Pie

Some Rustic Pies

I read on Twitter yesterday a Tweet from Ally Carter (an author of excellent YA novels), reminiscing about pumpkin pie made with real pumpkin (not the canned stuff). Some years ago, I started making pumpkin pie with roasted pumpkin, and the results are fantastic! Ally and Tina Hoggatt requested the recipe, so I posted it here. 

I searched through my photos for a good picture of the pie. This is the best I can do. It was from Thanksgiving a couple of years ago. The one in the front is the Pumpkin pie. Just ignore the ugly crust; I tend to do rustic over perfect. You can see the deep color of the roasted pumpkin in the pie. Pure deliciousness! 

I don’t have a recipe for the pie crust, but there are plenty of great ones out there. I love Smitten Kitchen’s excellent recipe and tutorial for an all butter, really flaky pie dough. 

all butter, really flaky pie dough

I’m getting seriously hungry writing this. 

Here it is:

Roasted Pumpkin Pie Recipe 

Adapted from the Bakeshop’s Sugar Pumpkin Pie Recipe which was published long ago in Sunset Magazine. I changed a few of the ingredients. I replaced the corn syrup with maple syrup, added molasses, reduced the sugar, and increased the pumpkin and spices.


1 Sugar Pie pumpkin (or any squash that resembles pumpkin). Preferably organic from a local farm like Farmer John’s on Orcas Island.

2 eggs (from local hens, of course!)

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1-2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice (or your favorite combination of cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves, nutmeg . . .)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon molasses (optional, but it’s pretty awesome)

3/4 cup (generous) organic half-and-half

1 partially baked 9-inch pie crust, the deeper kind of pie dish works better (make the crust and precook it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes 400 degrees).  Not a necessary step, but it helps.



  1. Cut pumpkin in half crosswise, remove seeds and punkie guts. Then set cut side down in a pan. Bake in a 375-400 degree oven until very soft when pressed.
  2. When cool enough to touch, scoop pumpkin flesh from rind and discard rind. Smoothly purée flesh in a blender; you need 1 generous cup. Use the rest for something else (a second pie!).
  3. In a bowl, mix the 1 cup pumpkin purée, eggs, sugar, salt, and spices. Stir in maple syrup and ½ and ½. Or put everything in the blender and blend!
  4. Set the prepared pie dish with the crust on a baking sheet. Set baking sheet on the bottom third rack of a 350° oven (middle will work as well). Pour the pumpkin mixture into the crust (or do this before you put in the oven).
  5. Bake until pie center barely jiggles when gently shaken, about 50-55 minutes. If crust rims start to get too dark, drape affected areas with foil.
  6. Cool pie on a rack. Serve warm or cool.


If you have any leftover pie filling (it happens), you can make pumpkin custards. Just pour the filling into a small buttered ovenproof container and bake. You now have something to eat while you wait for the pie.


I found this disclaimer in the introduction of the mystery novel, Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers:

For, however realistic the background, the novelist’s only native country is Cloud-Cuckooland, where they do but jest, poison in jest: no offense in the world.

I shall now return to my own version of CCL. I think the name of my world is different, but it hasn’t whispered itself to me yet.


Warp Drive

Scientists are working on creating a warp drive.

“You don’t really understand this, do you?” my oldest son asks.

“Well, I understand that warp drive means you could go very, very fast in space.” See, I have watched enough Star Trek to understand.

“But, you don’t really understand.”

Okay,  I can’t really wrap my brain around quantum thrusters, but I applaud the efforts. I understand the value of this speed and ease of travel in space.

I tell my son discussing imagery in the poetry of Emily Dickinson is a little like a warp drive. He sighs loudly.

This one is easy: A deeper understanding of a poem is like a journey through space.

When I was very young I thought I could be an airplane when I grew up. I’m not kidding. Even after flying in one, I still thought it was possible.

During my sixth year, when my family and I went on several trips across the country and to Ireland, I think it finally sunk in. I couldn’t be an airplane.

Yet, as a writer, I create worlds, characters, and stories. I transport readers to unique destinations and allow them to experience exciting adventures. Well, this is my goal . . .

See, I’m an airplane!

I need to create my own warp drive.