On my new recipe

I’ve been waiting for something exciting and new to write about on here, book-related, but nothing yet, so I figured I’d share something I just created.

I used to be a horrible cook, and now, well you may think I still am after this recipe. I had Chinese the other day, and you know how they always throw in those boxes of plain white rice? Two years ago my boyfriend whipped this awesome thing up with those leftovers, so I figured I should use the rice in something tonight.

I had a few sliced mushrooms in the fridge. I threw those in a pot with the liquid they came with. Mix in a can of tuna fish and a little 1 percent milk. I have some pepperoncinis, but any hots will do. Just a couple of those. Mix in some fat free mozzarella cheese and a little garlic. Note: anytime I cook with cheese, I throw a little garlic in.

Heat that on the stove, low, otherwise it’ll burn like crazy. Add in the white rice and presto, instant meal that’s new and unique I think. It’s a little gruel-like, but Oliver Twist would go crazy to have this.

I added a dash of salt and even less pepper. I like to think meals should reserve their unique taste and stand on their own without salt. That, and my boyfriend told me I should cut down on it.

If anyone tries this, or this recipe has a name, let me know 🙂

This is been Elliot Arthur Cross reminding you that this meal goes very well with a fun mix of cranberry juice, ginger ale, and vodka. Peace.


On book titles

A story? Plot? Characters? Easy. Give me five minutes and I’ll come up with something fun. But a title for said tale? No way, man. Game over.

What is it about the title that’s so difficult? Sometimes I stumble onto something, like my upcoming erotic murder mystery Ask Me No Questions. The protagonist is a survey taker who gets involved in a murder mystery, and there’s lying and what not besides the sex. I think I was in the shower or something and it just popped into my mind when I was nearly done with it.

Usually my first, second, or even third drafts are untitled. As long as I think up something by the time I submit it, then I’m golden. And like naming a child, once I come up with a title, it’s cemented in there.

My dilemma is the short horror story I’m turning into a Young Adult horror novel. My short had a title, but it’s not really appropriate anymore now that the story has grown exponentially. It’s like I suddenly realized my child’s personality no longer fits the perfect name I came up with.

So what makes a good title? My thought process is that is shouldn’t be too long or cliche and should attract the (potential) reader’s interest. Guess I should take a shower and see if something great comes to mind. How do you all come up with titles?

This has been Elliot Arthur Cross wishing you a merry Christmas Eve Eve.

On geographical realism

How much do you care about a book’s real world accuracy? I don’t care that much when I’m reading, but when I write, it’s a whole other story.

I think it was DaVinci Code that I read before going to London years back. I remember reading all these street names and locations and I had no idea if Tom Hanks should go north on the whatever or east. As a reader, I kind of glossed over the directions and geography. That happened again more recently while reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

The YA I’m working on is set in Florida, around Naples. A character needs to visit a certain hospital. I didn’t name the hospital, but I did spend an hour researching hospital types and locations in Florida so I could write that they drove east for three hours to visit the other character.

My question is, if I wrote that they drove north a half hour, would it have mattered? Would anyone outside of Naples say, “Hey, there’s no psychiatric hospital a half hour north of here. This book sucks!”

My problem was it took me awhile to find a decent location. I almost changed the setting of the entire book so that they would be closer to a hospital that’s mentioned in one chapter. Is that obsessive or worth it?

This has been Elliot Arthur Cross reminding you that with the ease of the Internet, there’s no excuse to get some basic geographic detail wrong. Googlemap the area and check it out. Peace.

On Survivor: Phillipines finale

I’m exhausted. I realized I wrote about 32,000 words in the last week. My first draft is done and now I just want to play Dragon Age and zone out. So tonight I decided to relax, eat fun stuff, have way too many beers, and watch the Survivor finale.

Yes, I have a confession to make. My name is Elliot Arthur Cross, and I’m a hardcore Survivor fanatic.

“Hi, Elliot.”

Hi, guys. For the first time ever, I wrote a bunch of notes of what I thought during the show.

These are my thoughts during the 2 plus hours of Survivor fun. Cleaned up slightly but still fresh. Have fun.

First off, why must they always preempt it with football, then 60 Minutes? For years, this has been happening. Finally, they planned on starting Survivor 30 minutes late to help DVRs and Tivos and VCRs (if those are still in existence). But that wasn’t enough. It was already 10 minutes past the adjusted starting time, and then there was a breaking news segment.

President Obama spoke for 20 minutes about the tragedy of the latest school shooting. It’s a horrible thing, my heart goes out to those people, but Obama’s televised speech was pointless. First of all, he spoke super slowly and dragged a 10 minute speech out for 20. Second of all, the shooting happened four days ago, and it’s no coincidence that he chose to go on TV when there were guaranteed millions of viewers. He used it as a press opportunity, otherwise why not go on TV yesterday or the day before, or even the day before that? It may sound silly to complain, but there are a lot of people who have to deal with a lot of shit and just want to relax on Sunday night before the week starts, tune out the horrors of reality, and watch some fun ‘reality’ TV without being reminded that evil exists.

But then the show started. Yeah!

There was the fun little recap at the beginning and I’m happy they mentioned Penner’s skills. Did anyone else besides the final four get a little ‘yeah he’s cool’ mention? Don’t think so (Disclaimer: Jonathan Penner is one of my all time Survivor fans and I have a massive TV crush on the talented Jew, and I make no apologies for that!).

We start and of course they mention Denise’s Survivor first of making it through every tribal council. Would they bother if she’s not a finalist? It’s little clues like this that I love picking up on editors. Thanks for giving us layers.

Mike Skupin thinks his story is better from an outsider’s perspective than Malcolm’s. Uh, maybe if the editors showed any of it to us. I always liked Skupin, and it’s very clear that he would have won season 2 if he hadn’t fallen in the fire, but the man’s a klutz and that’s part of the game. Sorry, Mike, you’re doomed to being an almost winner. Worse things to be.

Here’s something stupid. They make a little mystery out of will it be a reward or immunity challenge, then go to a commercial. As soon as they come back, there’s a #rewardchallenge posted on the bottom of the screen while the intense music blares. Guess that mystery is solved.

While we’re at it, what is the point of hashtag stuff like #immunitychallenge or #tribal council? It’s just one more thing taking up space at the bottom of the screen. In five years, that is going to look so insanely dated.

Damn, they are doing a final three instead of two. Don’t know. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it sucks. only 8 jury members, could have a tie, but I doubt it.

And this dragon puzzle is a brilliant example of why Survivor is head and tails above other reality competitions. Their challenge designers are awesome. Wish I could figure out a way to put a picture of it here. I need a site designer/helper/slave.

Malcolm wins advantage and everyone tries not to look pissed. “Oh great, the odds on favorite to win a challenge just got an advantage in the last challenge. Cool…”

Ooop, Malcolm and Denise are gonna talk, and it cut to a spider in it’s web. Good editting for Denise. For those of you who don’t know, the Survivor editors love juxtaposing important moves with animal imagery.

We all remember from Penner’s boot that if someone asks you into a final thing, you agree. Malcolm didn’t agree to Denise, which tips her off…

OMG, as I typed that, Denise said, “I’m getting flashbacks to Penner.”

Malcolm mentions it as a Fallen Comrades walk, something used in previous shows, reminds us that he’s a big fan. I think he called someone a goat earlier, which is a message board term.

Final Four admit Penner would have won in the final three. Hells yea. Fallen Comrades consists of all the booted players talking about themselves, but Pete is just like, “I hate Abi.” Would not mind seeing his body back on another edition.

When it’s made abundantly clear that someone like Malcolm will win, he can’t, right? Everyone’s like, Malcolm’s got it no worries.  So of course he’s first out. And Skupin wins after his “I must win and create the final three” deal,  but editing has shown him to be not the brightest guy around, so let’s see what happens.

Oop, Malcolm is worried, then we see a snake. Then it’s Denise doing her thing. More animal editing for her. Has that been consistent throughout the show?

The jury watches them with the usual angry/bitter/curious looks, and Penner sits back relaxed like he’s sitting at home enjoying an episode of Survivor.

Malcolm’s gone. Is this the oldest final three since season 5?

Fuck Tivo! I lost five minutes while it reset!

Jury starts. There’s three kinds – talk about me, ask about gameplay, or make a speech.

Artis does a pissy speech. Carter asks about himself. Pete stands up and I notice Penner rolls his eyes. Pete throws Denise an easy question. Looking good for her.

RC tells Lisa she’s great and asks Mike if he lied to her. Giggling and happy. Wow. She got a great edit for who she is methinks.

Malcolm… shows that he’s a real bitch. Surprised. Wow: “Don’t nod” what a deuche move.

Jeff kent speaks/asks, good on him. Love Penner’s curious look when Skupin answers. Then Lisa defends herself. She’s giving a good reason for deserving this after all. Damn.

Abi talks about herself, surprise, surprise. Then asks a question about that relates to herself.

Penner saved for last , “let’s end this thing.” Love it. Did he beat Sue Hawk’s speach? I don’t know. Is it one of the greatest jury performences of all time? YES.

Now they cut from past to live. Remember when they used to have a five minute montage of Jeff Probst leaving, and flying across the world and riding a ski-doo to read the last vote? Sure it wasted time and was cheesy as hell, but fun.

Can’t wait to see who gained weight. Every reunion is fun like that.

Ooh, Skupin gained weight. Penner kept it off. Course he only gained it to have some fat to lose on the island. Smart man, that Penner.

And… Denise wins! Skupin and Lisa only got one vote each. Fun. I’m reminded that Denise’s husband looks a bit like the comedian Michael Hitchcock from Best in Show and tons of other stuff who I adore.

All right, gang, that’s it for me. This is Elliot Arthur Cross thanking you for hanging in there for my ramblings, and asking you what you thought of the season. Peace.

On distractions

I shudder to think at how productive I’d be if I didn’t have an iPad with Angry Birds on it. I still have plenty more writing to do tonight, but I just hit the 30 thousand word marker. Pretty good considering I was at 20 thousand words three days ago.

But what if I wasn’t addicted to Angry Birds? Back in the day it was Minesweeper. Now I’m all about shooting colored birds into blocks. And have you tried Star Wars Angry Birds? Do-do-do-da-doo, I’m loving it.

There’s also this game, Pixelogic. It’s like Sudoku without math, but it makes pictures. Some are stupid and some are inventive. You can try a sample of it free to see if you like it, hate or, or are immediately addicted to it like I was.

And I just realized this blog is a bit of a distraction as well. I literally finished writing a chapter, stared at the blinking cursor and thought, “I should really post a blog today. That’ll be productive.”

This has been Elliot Arthur Cross reminding you that you have to have fun while writing, otherwise it suddenly becomes work.

On an single book vs. a series

I came up with an idea for a gay murder mystery series, and I wrote the first book awhile back. It’s contracted and schedule for March of next year. Then I wrote a shorter horror novella that was meant to be a standalone and got it contracted for March of next year, as well.

I didn’t know if I wanted to work on a series or single story when I turned a short story into a Young Adult novel. I came up what would happen and it seemed fairly self-contained.

But yesterday, the story exploded. I had a straight-forward idea for a singular story, and it suddenly blossomed into a four or five book series. I couldn’t help it. Have any of you experienced that phenomenon? You were fully expecting one thing when a story says “screw you” and grows up on its own.

I’m one proud papa. Another three thousand words written today. Word elves, keep on truckin’ on.

This has been Elliot Arthur Cross reminding you that sometimes accidents happen for a reason. Take care.

On growing a story

I wrote a short horror story that I thought was some of my best writing. Very creepy, very atmospheric. Teen moves into a new home with his mom and things happen over the course of a week. Ends with a fire, you know, fun stuff.

Then I was thinking about a potential sequel as I readied to send it to publishers. As I worked on sequel ideas, I thought, why not turn my 7 thousand word short into the first three or four chapters of a longer novel?

So I’m transforming my little horror piece into a full-out dark Young Adult book.

It’s fun that a story I worked on for months and was completely satisfied with, has suddenly grown on its own. I hit 20 thousand words tonight and I’m still plugging away. Also, 13 thousand words in a few weeks is a fairly good pace.

Hopefully the word elves will continue helping me and I can post more about the story when I get a contract for it.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross reminding you not to say too much about a work in progress until it’s a done deal, otherwise you’ll jinx yourself. Peace.