Elle Cosimano

Revision Advice From the Deep

I’m tired. It’s been a long day at the keyboard, and I think I have negative 342 words to show for it. So I’ll keep this short.

I call this segment “Revision Advice From My Six Year Old” — and I think it’s pretty damn brilliant.

Scene Opens with Mommy, head on kitchen table.

Thing 2:  Mom, are you tired?

Mom:  Yep.

Thing 2:  Are you sad?

Mom:  Maybe a little.

Thing 2:  [long pause] What did you do today?

Mom:  I worked on my book all day.

Thing 2:  Then why are you sad?

Mom:  [sigh] I made a lot of mistakes.

Thing 2:  [longer pause] You know, your computer is just like my DS. When I play Super Scribblenauts and I make a mistake, there’s a button I can push that makes the mistake go away.  And then I just fix it.  You can prob’ly do that on yours.

Mom:  [lifts head and smiles just a little]  Yeah?

Thing 2:  And you know what else?

Mom:  What?

Thing 2:  Sometimes, when I draw pictures of hard things — like Big Eye Tuna — I mess up the curvy part of the dorsal fin — that part’s really hard — and then it doesn’t look right.  So I use the eraser.  Sometimes if there’s no eraser left I just draw an X over it.  And if I run out of room for all the X’s, I just flip the paper over.

Mom:  Then what?

Thing 2:  Then I start again.  You can prob’ly do that too.

Mom:  So you’re telling me I should just keep fixing it until I get it right?

Thing 2:  Yep.  That’s just what you do.

Mom:  You know, you’re pretty smart, kid.

Thing 2:  [shrugs] I draw a lot of tunas.

 

 

Best Crit Group Ever
World’s Best Crit Group – and our tuna.

Sep

21, 2011 |

Filed in:

Uncategorized |

TALK:

4 comments

Kid Versus The Volcano

Come find me. I’m blogging about conquering fear today over at Ink & Angst. There will be high-speed action and scary music. There will be screaming and FIRE!  So don’t miss it.

For those who don’t know, Ink & Angst is a group of talented and inspiring YA and MG writers. We met at a writing conference last winter. We blog together, we critique together, and we have fun together as we support each other through the daunting path to publication.

Stay tuned for some great new developments at I & A this fall as we prepare to roll out a series of interviews with some of 2012’s hottest debut YA and MG authors!

Sep

16, 2011 |

Filed in:

Uncategorized |

TALK:

comment

Can't Take The Heat?

This is my mother’s kitchen. The woman cooks like nobody’s business, and this is where she creates.

Mom's Kitchen

It’s open. It breathes.

View From Mom's Kitchen

And this is Nana, my mother.

Mom with Croc

She looked at me one day and understood that I needed to breathe, so she made me a room with a writing desk in the jungle. It overlooks the Caribbean Sea. My father swung the hammer and built the walls. And when it was done, my mother took my children and sent me to that room to take my tiger by the tail… or maybe it was a crocodile. All I know is it had sharp teeth, but she made me do it anyway. She didn’t say “You can write a book.” She said “Go write a book,” in that pointed, inarguable way that only a mother can. So I did.

This is where I work when I need to breathe. When I want to create. Where I challenge myself to grapple with things that bite. When I want my children to see the best parts of me.

View From Roof Deck

And this is what I’m making for dinner tonight. It’s really spicy —  it’s got bite. It’s my mother’s creation. It reminds me to breathe.

Escabeche

 

Escabeche Chicken
An original recipe by Elle’s mom (adapted for ingredients available in the US)

1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
8 chicken thighs (skin on)
1 small red pepper, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup peeled carrots, thick sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion (chunky, not fine)
1 seeded fresh jalapeno, sliced thin (optional)
1 small can Escabeche peppers sliced (pickled jalapeno/rajas en escabeche)
1 small jar or can of mushrooms, drained and sliced
1 cup very strong Caldo de Pollo broth (or chicken bouillon, more concentrated than package directions – strong and cloudy!)
1 cup Tamarind Sauce
1 small can pigeon peas, drained (or chick peas — regular canned peas will not work)
4 white potatoes, cut length-wise
1 small head white cabbage, quartered
1 small head red cabbage, quartered

Saute garlic in oil in very large pan. Add chicken thighs to hot oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and lightly brown on each side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Add chopped peppers, carrots, onions, and fresh jalapeno to remaining hot oil in pan. Saute until only slightly translucent. Add the drained escabeche slices and simmer together. Do not over-soften.

Boil 1 cup water and add enough chicken bouillon to make a very strong, concentrated cloudy broth (use a bit more than package directions). Mix in 1 cup Tamarind sauce.  Add reserved escabeche liquid, approx 1/4 – 1/2 cup (to taste).

Put chicken, cabbage and potatoes in a VERY large covered baker (I use the deep covered baker from Pampered Chef — about 13 x 9 x 5.5 — and this recipe completely fills it, but any very large covered baker should do.) Pour veggies over top. Sprinkle on peas. Pour broth mix over everything.

Cover and bake for 3 hrs at 350 degrees.  Serve with tissues. You’re gonna need them.

 

 

Sep

14, 2011 |

Filed in:

Uncategorized |

TALK:

9 comments

Guest Blogging: Write Mischief

Heading over to blog with my friends at “Write Mischief” today.  Drop by while we share quotes, pics and memories of our LA SCBWI Annual Conference adventure.  Inspiration abounds.

Aug

29, 2011 |

Filed in:

Uncategorized |

TALK:

comment

Guest Blogging: Chicklets in the Kitchen

Today I’m guest blogging with the awesome chicks over at Chicklets in the Kitchen.  Stop by for the story behind my family’s favorite Sweet Onion Spoonbread recipe, with a little romance dished up on the side.  See you there!

Aug

29, 2011 |

Filed in:

Uncategorized |

TALK:

comment

Some Kind of Wonderful

“I think Carson might like me,” my son says. “I paid Blake fifty cents to ask her. She said she needs some time to think about it.”

“Do you like Carson?” I ask.

“Yeah, I think I want her to be my girlfriend. Everyone tells me I should. She has blue eyes, just like me.”

Thoughtful pause.

“Mom, if someone has eyes that are brown and green and gray, all mixed up, what’s that color called?”

“Hazel,” I reply.

Another pause.

“Grace’s eyes are hazel. I think they’re really pretty. And her hair kind of shines in the sun. Yeah,” he smiles, “hazel is my favorite color.”

I scratch my head, trying to keep up.

“Are we talking about Grace or Carson? Which one is your girlfriend?”

“Carson might be my girlfriend. Grace is just my best friend.”

“Grace sounds pretty special,” I say.

“Yeah, she always likes me and she’s always my friend, no matter what. She makes me laugh. I have a lot of fun with Grace.”

“What about Carson?” I wonder, fighting back a smile.

“I’m not really sure. She’s not sure if she likes me or not. Sometimes she’s nice… sort of.” He shakes his head. “I don’t really understand girls.”

“Yeah,” I say, “I guess we can be tough to figure out.”

I consider pointing out the obvious truth.

But I don’t.

He’s only nine. He’s got plenty of time to fall in love with girls who won’t love him back… and to finally understand what it is about those hazel eyes that makes them so beautiful.

He’ll figure girls out on his own.

It’s my anniversary. We’ve been married for thirteen years, though we’ve been together for nearly twenty.

My son asks, “Why did it take so long for Dad to marry you?”

I shrug and say, “I don’t know. I guess boys can be tough to figure out.”

He laughs and surprises me when he says, “I bet Dad’s favorite color is brown.”

Yeah, he’s only nine. But he just might have this all figured out.

May

02, 2011 |

Filed in:

Uncategorized |

TALK:

5 comments

Special Guest Post: Do What You Love

BeckyHollee

 

By Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple

Authors, Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding  Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood

 

 

We have both always known that we feel most alive when we write.

Which isn’t to say that the words always come easily, or that they sing the moment they hit the page, or even that they’re all destined to sing. Sometimes, we struggle. No—often we struggle, as individual writers and as a team.

But in a good way. A really good, energizing, soul-nourishing way. This may not make sense, but putting our thoughts into words, and then editing and tinkering until they say exactly what we want them to say, is a blissful sort of pain. And it sure beats the other kind of pain, the one that we feel when we pour our energy into something that isn’t, well, us.

Over the years, we’ve both done work that inspired us, and we’ve both done work that most definitely didn’t. Both types have given us good days and bad; even work that inspired us has, at times, made us feel frustrated and lost.  And the soul-sucking work has had moments that didn’t completely … suck.

As a result, it’s taken us some years to figure out what truly makes us happy professionally; it isn’t always obvious. After all, there are an awful lot of messages out there about what should qualify as success.

But we each found our groove writing Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood (Harlequin, April 2011). As we delved into how critical it is to define our own success as mothers and professionals — to write our own rules, to reject ideas of greatness that don’t fit our own priorities — we each found ourselves on a journey. We became more sure than ever that the only way to live is to pursue our dreams.

And that’s what this book is to us: a dream. The passion we felt for the topic swelled within us as we wrote — and, somehow, that made the sacrifices less painful. It was easier to balance family life and writing because we were driven by a purpose other than “It’s my job” or “I’ll feel guilty if I don’t.”

That purpose fueled us in the same way that other jobs have drained us. Hollee was able to pull herself out of bed each morning at 5 a.m. to write; Becky (who’s more of a night person) would sit down after the kids went to bed at 8 p.m. and write until 2 a.m.

We couldn’t have done this if the topic and the writing didn’t stir something inside us, if the process didn’t nourish us along the way.

And that’s the greatest lesson of the New Perfect: Do what you love.

 

Good EnoughBecky and Hollee’s new book, Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood, is available at http://amzn.to/newperfect . They blog about parenting and work/life balance at http://TheNewPerfect.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOOD ENOUGH IS THE NEW PERFECT

Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood

This is not a book about settling.

Women today earn more than half of all bachelor’s degrees, hold more managerial positions than men, are earning higher and higher salaries and doing all of this while having families on their timeline.  It would only make sense that this generation of girls born to Have It All would be the happiest in history. So why is it that study after study shows that women’s happiness levels have been decreasing—and what can they do about it?

Based on exclusive data, more than 100 in-depth interviews, and the latest research, Good Enough Is the New Perfect builds on the growing “anti-perfection parenting” movement by being the first book to present empirical evidence that this philosophy offers an advantage. Drawing on their groundbreaking original survey of 905 working mothers, authors Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple have discovered a paradigm shift in motherhood today: More and more mothers are losing their Never Enough attitude and embracing a Good Enough mindset to be happier, more confident and more successful.

Some surprising findings from the authors’ survey, which included working mothers  from a broad range of professions and from nearly every state in the nation:

 

 

 

 

Told through the inspiring stories of real moms—executives and entrepreneurs, doctors and lawyers—Good Enough is the New Perfect blends expert advice and solid research to offer a true roadmap for the incredible balancing act we call motherhood.

The book will be released by Harlequin Nonfiction in April 2011.

 

About the authors

Becky and Hollee are the work/life balance columnists for the ABA Journal, the nation’s premiere lawyer magazine. Both graduates of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, they first worked together in the early 1990s, when Becky was Hollee’s first editor at The Daily Northwestern. Like so many of the working mothers they interviewed, they forged non-linear career paths, taking detours in their quests to balance work and family. They blog about work/life and parenting issues at TheNewPerfect.com.

Becky is an award-winning journalist who has written for the Chicago Sun-Times, The Detroit News, USA Today and the Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, N.Y. In 2001, while on staff at the Sun-Times, she co-wrote a groundbreaking investigative series on “failing teachers” that led to statewide reforms in teacher testing and a crackdown on teacher quality in the Chicago Public Schools. The three-day series, which began one week after the birth of her first child, gave Becky her first experience at balancing motherhood and career. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Pete, an employment litigator, and their two daughters.

Hollee is a journalist-turned-lawyer-turned-professor at West Virginia University College of Law. After graduating at the top of her class with a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Hollee headed to Duke University School of Law. She graduated in 1999, and then began a four-year stint as a litigation associate at an international law firm. After her first son was born in 2002, Temple returned to her firm on a part-time basis before joining the WVU faculty the next year. Hollee lives in Morgantown, West Virginia, with her husband, John, an author and journalism professor, and their two sons, Gideon and Henry.

 

 

Apr

18, 2011 |

Filed in:

Uncategorized |

TALK:

1 comment

Drop Everything!

teen lit day

Drop everything!

It’s Teen Lit Day!

In celebration, readers everywhere will be “dropping” donated YA books in random public places. Book plates in the front cover will let you know if you were lucky enough to find a donated book.

HINT: I’m dropping FOUR books at the King George Family YMCA today.

Look for the bookplates inside!

Will you be lucky enough to find one?

If you do, post or send a pic of yourself with your new book and respond with the title of the book in the comments.

Read the book and tell us how you liked it.

Then pay it forward by passing it on.

Apr

14, 2011 |

Filed in:

Uncategorized |

TALK:

comment

On Risk, Beauty, and Truth

It’s New Years Eve. I’m writing. I haven’t slept. I’m bleeding and sweating for my dreams in 2011. I have a goal, and a self-imposed deadline. This blog post will be short, but I couldn’t let the New Year slip by without acknowledging what it means to me.

I will remember 2010 as the year I learned what it means to take risk. To sacrifice wealth, stability, and sometimes relationships in search of my authentic self. It was the year I stopped straightening my hair, choosing instead to embrace my unruliness rather than squashing it flat. It was the year I stopped listening to those voices outside of myself, and started heeding the one within, and found the courage to let it speak out loud.

As a children’s author, I know that Henry Miller isn’t an obvious choice for inspiration. But this sentiment resonates with me. It is my truth for the new year.

“Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heart-ache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty. Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, to discover what is already there.”

— Henry Miller (1891-1980)

May 2011 be the year we all discover our own power, appreciate our own beauty, and have the courage to speak our own truths.

I wish you all a sparkling, joyous, and most of all, an authentic new year.

— Elle

Consult the Magic 8 Ball

As we all look ahead to 2011 and wonder what the future holds for us, I thought it might be fun to dust off the old Magic 8 Ball.

Ask your question out loud and press the button for reliably random answers to all of life’s greatest mysteries.

Post your question and the 8 Ball’s answer as a comment if you dare!

Dec

27, 2010 |

Filed in:

Uncategorized |

TALK:

2 comments