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Monday, May 24, 2010

The Evolution of Her Story: Ernessa T. Carter

Interview by Halie Rosenberg

Meet Ernessa T Carter, an awesome writing pad alum and as of June 22, 2010 a published author!! While we wait for our pre-ordered copy of her new book, 32 Candles, to arrive, we asked Ernessa about her book and how she got where she is today.

Halie: Can you give me a brief synopsis of your upcoming book, 32 Candles?

Ernessa: When Davie Jones, an aggressively unpopular girl, growing up in Mississippi, lays eyes on James Farrell, the most popular guy in school, she dreams of having a Sixteen Candles sort of ending with him. It so doesn't work out that way. She runs away to Los Angeles, recreates herself -- only to have James Farrell show up on her doorstep fifteen years later. Much drama ensues.

H- When did you take your first WP class? How did you use WP classes to work on your book?

E- I had just finished the rough draft of 32 CANDLES and was feeling overwhelmed, because I knew it was in need of a huge rewrite. Then one day after a class at Silver Lake Yoga, I saw a sign advertising something called "Finishing School" at Writing Pad, a place that offered "gourmet writing classes." It felt like a message from God. The class was beyond anything I'd expected. It was so nice to get so much encouragement and feedback. I had been toiling away on 32 CANDLES alone for so long, it just felt fantastic to finally find a community that was saying, "Keep going!"

H- What have you learned at WP that has influenced your work?

E- To keep on writing. The reason that it took me so long to write 32 Candles is
because I kept getting discouraged while writing the rough draft. I wondered who would want to read about about a really nerdy girl with a John Hughes obsession. I wondered if I was putting a lot of hard work into something that wouldn't sell. WP made writing a lot more fun than that, and it taught me to keep the pen moving no matter what. In fact, that's one of the things Marilyn told us during the first class, "Just keep your pen moving."

H-What was the process of getting your work published?

E- Well, I finished that second draft and sent it off to a manuscript editor, Karin Gutuman. Then I rewrote it based on her notes, and sent it to a copy editor, Emily Farrell. Then I declared it finished, and sent it around to 16 agents, happily ending up with Sarah Jane Freymann at the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. Sarah Jane sent it around to publishing houses, and we were ecstatic when Dawn Davis (ed. WENCH, KNOWN WORLD, BLACK WATER RISING, ACT LIKE A LADY THINK LIKE A MAN, PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS) from HarperCollins/Amistad made an offer. It took me a little over two years to write 32 CANDLES and a little over four months to get an agent and a book deal.

H-What is your daily writing routine like? Or what was it like when you were writing this book?

E- I've gone through a few writing routines. When I was working on the drafts of 32 CANDLES, I had a beyond full time job as a radio writer, so I made myself work on my novel for 20 minutes a day, every day. You'd be surprised what you can accomplish if you give even 20 minutes to your practice every day. I started out writing casually, when I could find time and it took me almost a year to get even halfway through the novel . But after I instituted my 20-minute-a-day rule, I finished the rough draft in no time.

Now that I'm a write-at-home mom, I treat my writing practice like a part-time job, and I write for three hours every weekday. I didn't automatically start at three hours a day though. First I did 20 minutes a day for a month. Then I did 40 minutes a day for a month. Then I did 80 minutes a day for a month. Then I did two hours a day. And finally I worked my way up to three. Though, I'm still happy on the days that I can only manage two hours.

I have a basement office, and I write on the couch with my feet up. Lately I've begun not taking my power cord downstairs, that way I don't procrastinate with the internet so much, b/c I have to turn off my Airport Wireless in order to conserve enough battery power to get me through three hours. Hey, it works...

H-What is your favorite treat you've ever eaten at Writing Pad?

E- It's a toss up between the salted caramel cupcakes and the macaroni and cheese with truffle oil. But really I wouldn't kick anything Adel made off my plate.

Ernessa T. Carter blogs weekly at and daily at her community blog, You can pre-order her book here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Writing Prompt: 5/19/10 Vacations Gone Wrong

By Marilyn Friedman

Have you ever wanted to learn how to enhance the humor in your writing? Take this class on Saturday morning with Chad Gervich, a writer for the Wanda Sykes show! Call 323-333-2954 to sign up before it's full!

Writing Prompt: Make a list of 5 bad things that have happened to you on vacation. Pick one and write about it for ten minutes, then post your mini story on this blog! If you've never had a bad vacation, then make it up!

Comment on this blog! Write about a bad vacation. You'll be entered in the comment contest to win a free class, and you'll get free praise from Marilyn.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Writing Prompt 5/12/10: Childhood Junk Food

By Marilyn Friedman

All of our May classes are full except there are 2 spots left in this wonderful Humor Writing class with Chad Gervich, a writer for the Wanda Sykes show! Call 323-333-2954 to sign up!
Writing Prompt: Make a list of five of your favorite junk foods from childhood. Pick one food item and write the story behind it. Make sure to include at least one sensory detail (smell, taste, sound, touch, sight). Write for ten minutes, then post what you've written in the comments of this blog!

Comment on this blog. What was your favorite childhood junk food? The best comment of May will win a free class! All comments will receive likes and remembers from Marilyn.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

April Comment Contest Winner

Have you ever wanted to finish a book or a screenplay? Do you want to kick start your writing practice? Take one of these fantastic classes! Sign up by calling 323-333-2954 or emailing before they are all full!

Our comment contest winner this month is Diana Castellano! Congratulations, Diana!

Diana's favorite place to write is,"in a cozy sidewalk cafe with a nice breeze and a glass of wine. . . but in real life I make due hunched over my daughter's computer in the middle of the night illuminated by the florescent glow of old sitcoms."

You can read Diana's great mini story about shoes here:

And you can read all the other fantastic stories from April here:

Please keep commenting on the blog, folks! I love your stories! There is another comment contest on for the month of May.

Writing Prompt: 5/6/10 This LA Life

By Marilyn Friedman

Have you ever wanted to finish a book or a screenplay Nanowrimo style? Do you want to kick start your writing practice? Take one of these fantastic classes! Sign up by calling 323-333-2954 or emailing before they are all full!

Writing Prompt: Make a list of 3 experiences that you have had that are quintessentially
"LA." Pick one and write about it. For instance, when I first moved to LA, I had a celebrity siting while grocery shopping, and I was convinced that that person was my friend until I realized he was a character on my favorite TV show!

Comment on this blog. Tell me about a very "LA" kind of experience that you've had. You could win a free class!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Adel's May Recipe for Sunny Citrus Curd

By Adel Aschenbrener/Amy Robinson

Orange you glad there are so many fantastic Writing Pad classes this May? Every class features gourmet tasting plates created by Writing Pad's genius Executive Chef, Adel Ascenbrener. Her Lemon Panna Cotta will add zest to your writing practice.

Sign up for classes by calling 323-333-2954 or emailing Grab your seat at the True Fiction class before it's taken!

Adel's cupcakes are phenomenal. Students request them, sometimes even begging for them, in class. One of her secrets is injecting this month's recipe, Citrus Curd inside the Angel Food variety. But it's not just for cupcakes! There are so many ways to enjoy citrus curd that you'll want to make it all year round. Thanks for sharing your secrets, Adel!

Adel says:
"This time of year my kitchen is overflowing with baskets of shiny yellow lemons, juicy oranges, and fragrant limes and grapefruit. One of my favorite ways to use them up is to make citrus curd. It's creamy, tangy and sweet- delicious as a tart filling, spread on scones, layered with fruit and whipped cream, or my personal favorite - injected into angel food cupcakes."

Citrus Curd (yields about 2 cups)
Notes: Because of the amount of sugar in this recipe, your curd will have the most balanced flavor if you use at least 50% lemon or lime juice. My favorite combination is equal parts lemon, lime, and grapefruit. It is easiest to zest the fruit, then juice them.

3 eggs
3 egg yolks
6 oz. citrus juice
7 oz. granulated sugar
1 T. citrus zest
2 oz. butter at room temperature

In the top of a double boiler or a bowl set on top of a pot of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and zest until smooth. Whisk in the juice. Cook until thickened, stirring gently with a rubber spatula. Be sure to keep the mixture at the bottom of the bowl moving so the egg does not curdle. The curd is ready when it can be mounded softly on itself. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or chinois. Stir in the butter. Refrigerate with plastic wrap pressed down on the surface so that it does not form a skin. The curd will last about 5 days refrigerated.