Posted by: nancycurteman | September 27, 2017

8 World Famous Peasant Foods

Exploring new food experiences is one of the joys of traveling. There is such a wonderful variety of gourmet delights that one can’t possibly hope to experience all of them. So, I’d like to suggest that one consider tasting 8 world-famous peasant foods as a starting point instead of focusing only on elegant chef-created fare. Peasant foods are the kinds of foods prepared for family meals throughout the world. Here are some examples of popular peasant foods.

India’s Masa la dosa is a simple crêpe that encases mashed potatoes and is dipped in coconut chutney, pickles, and tomato-and-lentil based sauces.

Som tam from Thailand is a mixture of dried shrimp, peanuts, tomatoes, string beans and green papaya tossed in a sauce of tamarind juice, fish sauce and lime juice flavored with crushed garlic and chilies. Good with rice.

• The Polish love Pierogi-dumplings filled with all kinds of fillings from potatoes, sauerkraut, to meat or cheese topped with butter, sour cream or fried onions.

• While in Turkey, be sure to try Yalanci dolma, a mixture of rice, pine nuts, raisins and herbs wrapped in vine leaves.

Champ is a popular Irish dish. Mix mashed potatoes with spring onions, butter, salt and pepper. That’s all there is to this filling dish.

South Africans treasure their Bunny Chow.  They hollow out quarter loaves of bread, fill them with spicy curry and they’re ready to eat.

• In Canada almost every restaurant serves Poutine. Fatty but good. It consists of a stack of French fries smothered in cheese curds and rich brown gravy. If that’s not fat enough for you, they will add beef, pork and other accoutrements.

• On the leaner side is Goi cuon, a Vietnamese  dish consisting of pork, shrimp, and rice vermicelli wrapped in rice paper accompanied by a special Vietnamese sauce for dipping.

These are a few of the abundant world-famous peasant foods. If you have a favorite I would love to hear about it. Please share.

Posted by: nancycurteman | September 9, 2017

How to Use Social Media to Market your Novel

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Social media has become an important vehicle for authors to use to promote their novels. I know it’s a bit time consuming for busy writers, but it is one of the best ways to get in touch with your readers. Where to begin? Well, I found some excellent articles in a series taken from the Author Marketing Primer: A Quick Start Guide with Author Advice, a free eBook on Amazon. I will share some of these “how to” articles in my next few blog posts. Here is the first one:

Building a strong social media presence is challenging, and there are a lot of social media sites out there including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, just to name a few. New ones seem to pop up all the time, and the popularity of these sites also changes over time, so being social media–aware is a wise time investment for authors who want to build a following.

Key to maintaining your followers’ interest on social media are frequent interaction and updates. Inactive social media accounts don’t attract interest, so posting is crucial to keep you relevant and your book(s) top of mind with readers. The nature of what you post is also important. Readers will respond best to posts that are social, authoritative, and consistent in tone. Also, be sure to interact with your budding fans, keep your biggest fans engaged, and build relationships with other authors.

As you already know from writing your book, creating content from scratch takes time. If you’re struggling to find something new to post or you’re busy working on your next book, then consider sharing articles you think your audience will appreciate, or news and posts from fellow authors. Naturally, you can then ask these authors to promote your book on their social media accounts.

Here are some avenues for engaging your readers on social media:

  • Live Facebook or Twitter parties
  • Contests and giveaways
  • Finding beta readers
  • Posting articles that will resonate with your readers
  • Sharing fellow authors’ posts and joining with them in their promotional- and content-development efforts
  • Posting videos
  • Hosting “guest takeovers” where a character from your book becomes the person posting, or by inviting other authors to take over your social media channels
  • Celebrating other authors’ book launches

Before you publish your book, create some buzz on social media by announcing the impending launch on your social network, and then make a grand announcement (including links for your fans to easily navigate to your Amazon detail page) when the book becomes available for sale. You may also consider asking your social network to follow you using the Amazon Follow feature.

Promoting your milestones is an easy way to interact with your readers—if you’re excited, then they will be, too. A milestone is anything that is related to you and your writing. Milestones can occur at all stages of the marketing process and include:

  • Upcoming book-publication dates
  • Updates for books in progress
  • Reaching a specific number of Amazon customer reviews, or a particular star rating
  • Number of books sold
  • Upcoming book-cover reveals

If it’s not possible for you to stay on top of numerous social media platforms, then just stick with the ones that give you the widest reach. It’s better to have just one or two platforms where your readers can count on your reliable activity, rather than multiple accounts that you rarely update. If you need help managing multiple social media accounts, you might consider software that helps update multiple accounts from the same place.

Here’s a tip: create a content-scheduling calendar for yourself so that you can strategically plan the content you’re going to post, as well as when and where you’re going to post it. Doing so will help you avoid last-minute stress, as well as help ensure you’re posting regularly.


More Tips:

14 Suggestions for Creating a Marketing Plan
Free Book Marketing Using Email

How to Market Your Novel

Posted by: nancycurteman | August 24, 2017

The Comma Conundrum

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 Most authors suffer from a condition I call Comma Conundrum. Symptoms of this ailment are basically three: Authors
1. add too many commas in their writing pieces.
2. add too few commas in their writing pieces.
3. add commas in the wrong places in their writing pieces.

Oscar Wilde described the Comma Conundrum well when he wrote:

“I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out.”

We all agree that commas are useful grammatical tools that help to keep our intended meanings clear. However, when commas are misused they can chop up sentences (overuse) or misinform meaning (under use) causing confusion, irritation and frustration to readers.

Overuse of commas is the most common symptom of Comma Conundrum. Using too many commas results in stilted, disjointed sentences. However, under use can result in serious misunderstandings as well. Consider this common example:
Let’s eat kids! vs. Let’s eat, kids!
Please, we are not cannibals.

Is there a cure for Comma Conundrum? Yes, but for most fiction writers it is not simple. Fiction writers tend to operate in the creative realm whereas grammarians may find it easier to commit complex rules to memory. Here is the solution most often offered. Just follow the grammatical rules. Easier said than done because many of these rules are somewhat complex filled with terms like coordinating conjunctions, independent clauses, appositives and dependent clauses. Yes, we all learned comma rules in school but when you’re in the middle of creating an exciting scene in your novel, you may not easily call to memory some of these rules.

Then what’s a workable solution. I can only suggest my method. I keep a list of  comma rules, along with their exceptions, in my writing folder. I consult it whenever there is the slightest doubt in my mind about a comma placement. You can find a multitude of sites about comma rules on the internet. Here is a link to the one I use. 13 Rules For Using Commas Without Looking Like An Idiot.

Try it. Maybe it will work for you.

More tips:
7 Ways to Make Your Writing Clear and Concise
6 Most Misused Punctuation Marks In Fiction Writing

Posted by: nancycurteman | August 10, 2017

7 Less Famous San Francisco Attractions

San Francisco is a tourist magnet. We all know about fabulous places like Fisherman’s Wharf, China Town, North Beach and Golden Gate Park to name a few of the city’s attractions. Of course visitors should experience these sites. However, San Francisco has some other sites that are well worth seeing. Here are a few of those less famous attractions.



  1. The Moraga Steps also known as the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps is a staircase that was decorated with mosaics by more than 300 people. The goal was to create a sea to stars themed mosaic flowing up 163 step stairway. The steps are located on Moraga Street between 15th and 16th Avenue.
  2. The Lands End Labyrinth is located on the rocky, windswept shoreline within the Golden Gate National Recreation area at the mouth of the Golden Gate. The Labyrinth is constructed of stones laid in an outline following the classic seven-circuit Chartres Labyrinth. Traditionally labyrinths were designed to promote meditation and peace.
  3. The Wave Organ is a huge acoustic sculpture constructed of 25 PVC organ pipes of various lengths that plunge into the water of San Francisco Bay not far from the Marina. It is a musical instrument played by the changing tides of the Bay. The musical tones constantly change as the water moves in and out of the pipes.
  4. The San Francisco Columbarium is a beautiful neo-classical building with an art nouveau stained glass ceiling. The Victorian-era columbarium houses memorials of many famous local San Franciscans such as Chet Helms who brought Janis Joplin to California in the ‘60s. The Columbarium is located at One Loraine Court.
  5. The Golden Fire Hydrant was one of only a few fire hydrants th-1.jpeghooked up to a water supply during the 1906 earthquake fire. Located at the corner of 20th and Church Street the little fireplug single handedly provided the water that stopped the fire from spreading south of 20th Street. The fire hydrant is given a new coat of gold paint each year on April 18, the anniversary of the Earthquake.
  6. Boudin Bakery, located on Fisherman’s Wharf, is the home of the famous mother dough, the leavening base used to create the famous San Francisco sourdough bread. The bay area’s indigenous yeast and foggy climate produce the unique tangy bread. Here’s a little known fact about our sourdough: Every loaf of sourdough Boudin has produced for the last 160 years contains a bit of the company’s original yeasty dough.
  7. The Shakespeare Garden in Golden Gate Park is the perfect place to communicate with the Bard. Wander under the iron archway over the brick pathway and browse a brick wall with plaques of romantic verses from Shakespeare’s writings. Life seems to stand still in the garden but an old sundial will remind you of the time.

Visit San Francisco’s celebrated tourist sites but try to make time to visit some of the less famous attractions. You’ll be glad you did.

More Tips:

5 San Francisco Activities Dear to San Franciscans
The San Francisco Village of Chinatown

North Beach: An Historic San Francisco Village
A Bushman in San Francisco?

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In a novel, the story resolution is much more complex than “The End.” It differs from the rest of the writing in the novel in that it is usually written in expository style with the goal of finishing up the story for the reader. It should not be too long nor should it be too short. It should neither be overly detailed nor too enigmatic. However it must tie up all the loose story threads. Here are eight questions you should consider answering when writing your story resolution.

  1. How did plot experiences change your major characters?
  2. Did your protagonist succeed in her goals?
  3. Did your protagonist fail to meet her goals? Why?
  4. What impact did the protagonist’s success or failure in her quest have on her?
  5. What impact did the protagonist’s adventures have on others close to her?
  6. Did she learn anything from her quest?
  7. Did her experiences result in any changes in her previous lifestyle?
  8. What might the future hold for your main characters?

Your story resolution is basically a short summary of what has happened in the story and the results as well as a very brief indication of what the future might hold.

More Tips:

How to End a Mystery Novel

How to Write Endings for Mystery Novels

Posted by: nancycurteman | July 11, 2017

Add a Prologue? Yes. No. Maybe so.

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Should I add a prologue to my novel? This is a question that authors often grapple with. The answer is Yes. No. Maybe so. The definition of a prologue doesn’t help much in our effort to answer this question. A prologue is for the author’s purpose simply a separate introductory section of a literary work. Not enough information to make an intelligent decision. To add or not to add still remains a question. Let us explore the possibilities of “yes, no, or maybe so.”

Yes, add a prologue if it
• is essential to the novel
• provides reader information about the history leading up to the present action in the novel such as a war.
• hooks a reader by raising compelling questions
* provides the reader with a reason for which the story is being told. Maybe an old man writing a memoir about his life for his children.
• provides a character’s perspective or point of view that may not appear again in the novel until much later.

No do not add a prologue if
• it is a stalling tactic
• the information in the prologue can be woven into the body of the story.
• the story can survive without it
• it gets too long
• it is true that most agents hate them

Maybe consider a prologue if
• it provides backstory on a character that would not fit in the novel
• you remove one you’ve written and the story doesn’t make sense without it
• you’re sure your readers don’t mind starting a story twice because that is what happens when a prologue precedes chapter 1.

Prologues may have their place in your novel but consider carefully before deciding “yes, no, or maybe” add a prologue.

More Tips:

How to Format a Novel

How Authors Use Foreshadowing

Posted by: nancycurteman | June 27, 2017

Stories Happen When Ordinary Life is Disrupted

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Stories happen when there is a disruption in the life of an ordinary person living an ordinary life. An event of some kind places a character in a completely new situation. A novel opens with a character going about a daily routine when suddenly something happens that turns her world upside down. Tension thrives on the contrast between the old life and the new one.

Authors can create all kinds of disruptive events—environmental, social, psychological, lifestyle, criminal or catastrophic.

• A new job forces a character to move from sunny California to Barrow, Alaska.

• A middle-class man loses his job, can’t pay his bills and becomes homeless.

• A woman is attacked in her home and becomes terrified of being alone.

• A student from a lower socioeconomic family receives a scholarship to attend an aristocratic private college.

* A character survives a flood that destroys a town.

• A woman witnesses a murder.

The question that will become the plot of the novel in all these situations is: How will the character adjust after the momentous event.

More Tips:

How to Murder Your Mystery Novel Plot

How to Create a Plot for a Novel

5 Plot Points in a Novel

Posted by: nancycurteman | June 17, 2017

Cable Cars, a San Francisco Treasure

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San Franciscans and tourists alike love the city’s iconic cable cars. They are indeed one of San Francisco’s unique treasures. In fact these cars are one of only two National Historic Landmarks that move. The other is the St. Charles streetcar line in New Orleans. The San Francisco cable car system is the oldest and largest system in permanent operation and the only one to still operate in the traditional manner with manually operated cars running in street traffic. Furthermore, the cable cars’ continued operation of service is locked into San Francisco’s City Charter.

The cable car itself was not difficult to invent because it is similar to many multiple passenger vehicles dating before 1860. It was the operation of it that was difficult. The cable part needed technological innovation. This is where Andrew Hallidie came in. He invented the cable car system right here in San Francisco in 1873

Here’s how it happened. Hallidie’s father, a British inventor owned a patent for a wire rope cable. Hallidie used this wire cable to design a conveyance system for hauling ore from mines. When he immigrated to the united states in 1852 during the Gold Rush he noticed horses and carriages had a tough time getting up and down San Francisco hills. He decided to build on his earlier design to solve the problem. He conceived the idea for a steam engine-powered, cable-driven rail system in 1869.

Hallidie began construction of a cable line on Clay Street in May of 1873. The Clay Street Hill Railroad began public service in September of 1873. San Francisco added more cable car lines and by 1889 there were eight different lines. By the end of the 19th century there were 53 miles of cable car tracks woven throughout the city.

Hallidie’s cable car system survived the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, two World Wars, political attempts to have the cars removed in the ‘40s and ‘50s, and became the worldwide symbol of San Francisco that it is today.

There are three lines running today: the Powell/Hyde line, the California line and the Powell/Mason line. The oldest line still in operation and the only one to run east to west is the California line. It runs up and down the steep hill of California Street from Nob Hill to the Financial District.

The Powell/Mason line runs from Union Square to Fishermans Wharf past North Beach. It stops right in front of the Cable Car Museum, a “don’t miss” site for cable car buffs.

The Powell/Hyde line begins at Powell and Market Streets This is the favorite line of Lysi Weston, the main character in my new novel, Murder Lurks in the Fog. This line passes Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world, and provides amazing views of the bay. The line ends at Fishermans Wharf and Ghirardelli Square.

You can purchase a one-time ride ticket on board the cable car or a seven-day San Francisco CityPass. When you come to San Francisco, wear flowers in your hair and ride the cable cars.

More Travel Tips

5 San Francisco Activities Dear to San Franciscans
The San Francisco Village of Chinatown
North Beach: An Historic San Francisco Village
A Bushman in San Francisco?

Posted by: nancycurteman | June 5, 2017

New Lysi Weston Mystery

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In response to readers’ requests I’ve set a Lysi Weston mystery in San Francisco. In Murder Lurks in the Fog, readers will tour the City by the Bay with Lysi as she unravels a murder in her hometown.

Trouble dogs my wannabe sleuth like the fog that shrouds her beloved San Francisco. First an old friend goes missing. Next the friend is linked to the murder of a beautiful young socialite. Then another suspicious death clouds things even more. Enjoying the beauty of the City by the Bay takes second place when a trail of suspects leads to a jealous husband, a resentful stepdaughter, and the son of a vicious mob boss. Lysi pressures Aussie, Maynard Christie, an ex-homicide detective, along with her Harlem colleague, Grace Wright, into helping with the investigation. Before Lysi knows it, she’s become the target of a sociopathic hit man.

Murder Lurks in the Fog is now available in both print and ebook formats.

More tips:

Lethal Lesson

Murder Casts a Spell

Murder Down Under

Murder on the Seine

Posted by: nancycurteman | May 24, 2017

A New Lysi Weston Mystery Novel

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Travel and mysteries are two of my passions. So of course I write mystery novels and set them in places I’ve visited around the world. My amateur sleuth Lysi Weston, a corporate trainer, has solved murders in Australia, South Africa, France, and Montana as she traveled in her job.

Many of my readers have suggested that I set a story in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, San Francisco. I’ve taken their advice. My newest novel, “Murder Lurks in the Fog,” set in the city by the Bay, will be available by mid June.

In “Murder Lurks in the Fog,” Lysi Weston returns home to San Francisco for a few weeks of well-earned vacation from her taxing job as a corporate management trainer. Her plans to share a quiet respite with Australian Detective Maynard Christie are thwarted when she learns that a close friend has gone missing. Lysi, with her proclivity for sleuthing, tries to unravel the mysterious disappearance. The situation becomes more complicated when Weston discovers a connection between her missing friend and the murder of a beautiful young socialite. She drags her earthy, Harlem-born colleague, Grace Wright, along when she embarks on a labyrinth of trails that leads her to suspect a jealous husband, a resentful stepdaughter and the son of a vicious mob boss. A second suspicious death muddies Lysi’s investigation effort as she becomes the target of a sociopathic hit man.

Along with murder investigation, Weston will guide readers, along with Christie and Wright, through her favorite San Francisco sites—some well known to tourists and others known only to locals.

I will let all of you know the moment “Murder Lurks in the Fog” becomes available both in print and ebook formats.

More Travel Mysteries:

Murder Down Under
Murder Casts a Spell
Murder on the Seine


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