Chocolate Cake in a Cup

Recipe-Share Saturday: Chocolate Cake in a Cup

I love chocolate cake, but I rarely have time to make a beautiful layer cake. So when I want to satisfy my craving for cake, I make my 5 Minute Chocolate Cake in a Cup.

I was mixing it up and thought I'd share it with readers again. I posted the recipe on the blog a while back, but some of you may not have seen it.

This cute and delicious chocolate cake can go from thinking about cake to actually eating cake in 5 minutes. Does it make your mouth water just thinking about that gooey warm chocolate?

5 Minute Chocolate Cake in a Cup

You’ll need microwave-safe mugs or cups or small Pyrex baking dishes. You can make this recipe in 2 or 4 cups depending on how large a cake you want. I actually use 4 cups and serve them on their matching saucers. Cute little small cakes to serve. To make it extra special, just add a dollop of me whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top of the cakes for a really yummy dessert.

Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons self-rising flour
  • 4 tablespoons any kind of sugar (white, raw, brown)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons oil (canola, safflower, sunflower, or generic vegetable oil)
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Into a small mixing bowl, place flour, sugar, and cocoa. Mix together. Add the egg and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips. Add the vanilla and mix well.

Place mugs in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts power. The cakes will rise beautifully. Remove from microwave and allow to cool a little. You can tip it out onto a plate or serve the cup with its saucer and a spoon.

If you want to get fancy, you can mix up a batch of chocolate frosting. Here's my recipe for that. It makes a bunch, but you can actually divide it up into small freeze bags and defrost a bit when you need it.

Best Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup Hershey's Cocoa Powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt butter and stir in cocoa. Add powdered sugar alternating with the milk. Beat on medium speed until mixture is spreading consistency. Add more milk, teaspoon by teaspoon, until consistency is perfect. Beat vanilla in last. Makes about 2 cups of the most delicious frosting.

Takeaway Truth

Let me know if you try this delicious, fast and easy way to get a chocolate fix.

True Facts Vs. Emotional Truth

Readers, do you know the first advice aspiring writers are given? Write what you know.

That's the most basic rule a writer is given because it's supposed to inject authenticity into a story.

Write what you know applies whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, whether it’s a book or an article or a blog post.

Some may think "write what you know" applies only to nonfiction because fiction writers just "make it up." Right?

2 Kinds of Truth

Wrong. In fiction, writing what you know means showing 2 kinds of truth: (1) getting facts correct in your information plot and (2) presenting the underlying universal truth that is as real for an American as it is for an Italian or a Japanese.

Universal truth is the honesty and recognizable truth that makes fiction come to life. It’s what will make an editor offer you a book publishing contract or a reader buy every book or ebook you write.

One might even say that writing what you know – the emotions you feel when hurt, scared, angry, or happy – is even more important in fiction because without that truth, your fiction will never succeed because readers won’t emotionally invest in the story.

Facts: Research For Credibility

If you’ve read some of my writing how-to articles or taken a class or seen me giving a presentation at a conference, you’ve probably heard me say it this way: Write what you know or want to know.

For the most part, researching and writing about a subject is a form of self-education. I truly think if writers are interested enough in a subject to do the necessary research AND if they have the ability to articulately express ideas then they can write on a variety of subjects without necessarily being an expert.

Writers should never be intimidated because they’re not experts in whatever subject they wish to use as background or as an information plot. As long as the subject interests a writer, then research deeply and learn. Writers owe that to readers.

Research

When I wrote The Trouble With Love, I knew nothing about how a small county Sheriff’s department would work. How many deputies would there be? What jobs would the deputies do? How autocratic could small town mayors be? I only knew that my heroine would be a small county deputy who always followed the rules.

So I read some books written about small town law enforcement departments. I talked to my nephew who was a Sheriff’s Deputy. I looked up crime stats and also read about politics in rural areas and small towns. In other words, before I wrote a word of The Trouble With Love, Book 1 of Texas One Night Stands, I did my research to see if my heroine and my premise were credible.

Emotional or Universal Truth

The other kind of truth is the underlying emotional truth. This universal, or emotional, truth is recognizable all over the world. As I said before, this truth is as real for me as it is for a woman in the Middle East or Asia. This is what will make readers the world over want to read your work. This is the element that breathes life into fiction.

In The Trouble With Love, the heroine Susannah is damaged emotionally because her father walked out on her and her mother when she was a child. She felt that rejection in her soul, and it formed her opinion about men. Yet, as an adult, she keeps trying to make a connection with her father, a man who remains emotionally inaccessible to her.

Who hasn’t felt the sting of rejection? Who hasn’t felt bereft by the loss of love for one reason or another? That’s a universal truth. You might be able to fake expert knowledge some of the time, but you can’t ever fake emotional truth and get away with it.

The ebook edition of The Trouble With Love is available at: Amazon * iBooks * Kobo * Nook * Smashwords and the audio edition can be found at Audible.

Giveaway

What emotion resonates with you? Leave a comment with your email to be entered to win an audio edition of The Trouble With Love

(1) Winner selected by random draw.
(2) Audible coupon good for any country.
(3) Giveaway closes midnight June 5, 2016.

Takeaway Truth

Emotional truth is something we all know. Yes, it’s hard to tap into some emotions, but the rewards are tremendous for readers.

Readers, sign up for my Mailing List/Free NL and connect Online with me: Blog * Website * Facebook * Google+ * Pinterest * Twitter * YouTube

(Note: This post was previously published, in part, at The Authors of Main Street.)

Cleaning A Smelly Book

Do you still shop for print books? I do. I like to find bargain books, but sometimes, these bargains can smell a bit funky.

I love shopping at used book stores because I always find some great bargains. I primarily look for reference books now since most of my novel reading is done on my Kindle.

One of my favorite bargain book shops has a motley assortment from old category paperbacks of every genre to current bestsellers and hardbacks along with thousands of esoteric nonfiction along with pop culture nonfiction books.

Downside of Bargain Books

Unfortunately, bargain books can sometimes be, well, smelly. If they smell like stale cigarette smoke, I pass them by. Nothing gets that smell out of a book. However, if the book has the common stale musty odor, I know the trick to eradicating that nasty smell. It’s simple and economical too.

How To Remove The Smell From Books

1. Use baking soda or cornstarch.
2. Sprinkle either cornstarch or baking soda on the pages of the book.
3. Place the book in a Ziplok bag and seal it.
4. Leave it sealed up in the plastic bag for a week.
5. Remove it from the bag, shake the powder out, and the book should smell normal.

One Warning

Do NOT use baking soda on antique books because it might harm old paper. Also, do NOT use this treatment on damp books. They must be completely dry.

Takeaway Truth

A bargain book is only a bargain if it pleases all the senses. Happy bargain book hunting!

Readers, sign up for my Mailing List/Free NL and connect Online with me: Blog * Website * Facebook * Google+ * Pinterest * Twitter * YouTube

Sassy Women: Wise and Witty

Funny, sexy, cougar-licious romance!
Smart women sass and utter statements that are often as amusing as they are profound.

I write romantic comedy and feature a lot of smart-mouth dialogue. Readers often tell me that they laugh out loud at some of the conversations between characters—especially my women characters because they have smart, sassy mouths.

Dialogue Rules

I like writing dialogue, and I work hard to make it humorous. Sometimes it’s witty; sometimes it’s snarky. Sometimes it’s downright funny, and I find myself laughing like a loon as I type away.

My husband just shakes his head if he happens to be passing my office door at that moment.

A lot of the dialogue in my books is stuff I’d love to say, but never do. I was full of sass when I was a child, and my mother scolded me constantly until I learned to put a filter between my mouth and my brain.

Now I smart-off in writing which is more socially acceptable I suppose—and more profitable.

Smart Women Sass

I suppose it’s understandable that I like to collect witty quotations that are amusing. I often write a Sunday “Written Wisdom” post on SlingWords using a quotation as inspiration. More often than not, the quotation I select was uttered by some smart—or smartass—woman.

I thought I’d share some of my favorite such quotations with you today. (I used some of these to preface each chapter in my older woman-young man romantic comedy Old Enough To Know Better. Available at Amazon and other ebook sellers. Also in audio at Audible.)

Favorite Sassy Quotes

Perhaps you’ll find some of these inspire you or motivate you to succeed. Or maybe they’ll just put a smile on your face. Here are a baker’s dozen of some favorite sassy words from smart women.

“If high heels were so wonderful, men would be wearing them.” Sue Grafton

“I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb … and I also know that I’m not blonde.” Dolly Parton

“You see a lot of smart guys with dumb women, but you hardly ever see a smart woman with a dumb guy.” Erica Jong

“I think I alternate between optimism and anxiety. I realize that should either of these get out of hand I would probably need a clever doctor.” Elizabeth Jolley

“Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinion of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself.” Katherine Mansfield

“A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.” Jane Austen

“I think; therefore, I’m single.” Lizz Winstead

“When women are depressed they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country.” Elayne Boosler

“Behind every successful man is a surprised woman.” Maryon Pearson

“The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” Lucille Ball

“I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house.” Zsa Zsa Gabor

“Love is like the measles. The older you get, the worse the attack.” Mary Roberts Rinehart in The Man in Lower Ten.

Last, but not least, a wooden sign hanging on a hook by my desk: “Put your big girl panties on and deal with it!”

That’s right, face your challenges head on and deal with them rather than procrastinate, run, or hide (which I admit I sometimes prefer!).

Takeaway Truth

Wishing you a very good day filled with lots of laughter—and sass!

Note: This post previously appeared on The Author's Billboard.

Backyard Gardening: Natural Pest Control


This year I vowed to get tomatoes and herbs planted--something I've missed doing for the last 3 years.

Gardening Predicament

I have no backyard to speak of since I live in a townhouse. I had my gardener plant a row of knock out roses against the brick wall when we moved in 3 years ago.

Wood decking covers the area from the house to the roses. All that is left is a small patch of yard at the far end next to the gate. So I decided to try container gardening. The results have been pleasing.

How My Garden Grows

I bought some giant pots. In one I have 3 tomato plants with cages over them to support the growing plants. So far, I've got 16 tomatoes that are getting larger every day with many blooms on all 3 plants.

In others, I planted yellow squash, leaf lettuce, and herbs--rosemary, basil, cilantro, and others. I've got many more herbs I want to plant, mostly for insect control--especially mosquito control. I'll list them below.

Another huge pot holds my free plants. Free plants are what you get when you buy beautiful blooming plants for indoors and then plant them outside when the blooms fade. I've got Easter Lilies from last year that produced 4 new plants this year with huge blooms on all four plants. Gorgeous!

This year's Easter Lily and a pot of daffodils have also been potted up.

I mix things together--chrysanthemums growing with the lilies, herbs growing with the tomatoes, etc. Companion planting is a good way to natural pest control.

Ever since I can remember, I've bought a pot of chrysanthemums at least once a month for my coffee table. When the blooms fade, I plant them in the yard. This habit has resulted in a beautiful bed of multi-color mums at my house in the country.

Natural Pest Control


A rule of thumb is if a plant has a pungent aroma--as lantana does--it's usually good for some kind of insect control. The aroma comes from the oils in the plant. Most herbs are great as natural pest control plants. Here are a few that I currently grow or plan to add to my garden over the next few months.

Basil
The oils in basil repels thrips, flies and mosquitoes. I've got some with my tomatoes.

Catnip
From what I've read, catnip repels just about everything except for cats. They love their catnip. Repels aphids, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, ants, weevils, and mosquitoes.

Chrysanthemums
Love my mums!  The natural insecticide pyrethrum is made from chrysanthemums. Mums control roaches, ticks, silverfish, lice, fleas, bedbugs, and ants.

Citronella
You know those citronella candles you can buy for mosquito control? This plant is the source. My local Home Depot has several pots of this which is great at mosquito control.

Garlic
In the South, garlic has always been planted in rose beds because it repels aphids, some moths, Japanese beetles, root maggots, and snails. Plus, you can use it in your cooking.

Lantana
I adore lantana which is excellent at mosquito control. I have 3 different varieties growing at our country house and a pot of lantana by my back door at our townhouse. Lantana blooms constantly until winter. It's drought tolerant and does well with just a little water. Water a lot, and it will take over the earth! The berries produced in the winter may be toxic to people. All parts may be toxic to animals so don't let your dog chew on it.

Lemon Balm
This herb repels mosquitoes, but I haven't found it in my local nursery. If you're interested in this, just do an online search for mail order herbs with the zip code of your local area.

Lemon Thyme
This herb, a variety of thyme, also repels mosquitoes. I've grown this in the past.

Lime Basil
This variety of basil also repels mosquitoes.

Marigolds
This is another flower that I really like. I've grown just about every variety. It may be the best know for repelling insects like whiteflies and nematodes in the soil. Only the scented variety work to repel insects. Although it drives away many "bad" insects, it dies attract spider mites and snails.

Nasturtiums
My grandmother grew nasturtiums in her garden. They're great planted with tomatoes and cucumbers to repel wooly aphids, whiteflies, squash bugs, and cucumber beetles. The flowers, especially the yellow varieties, trap aphids.

Petunias
Simply a beautiful display in the garden and in pots. They also repel leafhoppers, many different aphids, tomato worms, and other pests.

Takeaway Truth

Gardening is relaxing and rewarding in so many ways. Try it. You might like it.

Holy Menudo, Batman!

Here in Texas, we all speak a smattering of Spanish.

There's a sign in town that I drive by quite often. The first time I noticed it from the corner of my eye as I sped by, I read: "Holy menudo."

I knew that menudo was a Mexican stew made with tripe, a cow's stomach lining.

The phrase tickled my funny bone. I thought it was a great-sounding epithet so I started saying, "Holy menudo!"

I figured that was less obnoxious than something else I could say.

Then, one day I was driving slower, and I noticed that the sign did not say, "Holy menudo."

It actually reads, "Hoy menudo," which is Spanish for, "Today, menudo."

Takeaway Truth

I still say, "Holy menudo." Sometimes I add, "Batman."

Still Time to Enter Lone Star Writing Competition

The deadline is less than a month away for the Lone Star Writing Competition, one of the most prestigious contests available to authors -- unpublished and published.

Last year's Lone Star Writing Competition resulted in 32 requests from editors and/or agents for manuscripts.

That's right. Final judges or agents and editors. So even if you don't win the category you enter, you may get a request from a publishing professional for your full manuscript. Now that's a great writing contest.

Details
  • Sponsor Northwest Houston RWA # 27
  • Fee $25.00
  • Deadline: June 5, 2016 at midnight CDT
  • Eligibility: Published and Unpublished
  • Entry: 1st 5,000 words of manuscript. Electronic entries only
  • Giving away two $50.00 Amazon gift cards
  • 1st drawing from the entries that did not make the finals
  • 2nd drawing from the entries who made finals
Categories
  • Contemporary Romance
  • Historical/Regency Romance
  • Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Romance
  • Inspirational Romance
  • Romantic Suspense/Intrigue
  • Young Adult-New Adult
  • Single Title
  • Novella length is allowed in all categories except Single Title.
For More Information

Visit Northwest Houston Chapter #27 of Romance Writers of America or email Ruth Kenjura: nwh.lonestarcontest at gmail.com.

Takeaway Truth

Be brave. Enter your manuscript today. Someone will win, and it just may be you.