Monday, February 9, 2009

Thoughts on the nature of Lunch

I hate lunch. Lunch is the lame duck meal of the day; the awkward middle child of the meal family.

Look at Breakfast - Breakfast has defined cuisine. Waffles, french toast, cereal, oatmeal, fresh fruit, muffins, omelets, fritatas, sausage links, pancakes - I have no argument with any of it. And it's tough to ruin breakfast food. Shari's makes good breakfast food. That's saying something.

Then there's dinner. It's much more common to spend some time preparing dinner, so there are some wonderful entrees out there. I made this really wonderful pork chop recipe involving pork chops cooked on the stove with salt and pepper, with chopped hazelnuts at the end to toast, then a spash of cream mixed with lemon zest. Yummy, yummy stuff.

But lunch? Lunch is the sandwich meal - and it's not hard to screw up a sandwich. Airlines do it all the time. Forget a condiment and it's toast. And after any length of time, sandwiches become dull eating.

There's leftovers, but that means that your dinner leftovers will be lessened, if not obliterated (in some households, the obliteration occurs during breakfast). You can also go the traditional "soup and salad" route, but soup is tricky to move, as is salad unless artlessly wilted greens are your thing. And the soup is either fresh - making it a leftover - or canned - making it high in sodium.

Because we only get a short window for lunch, we'll often go with high-sodium convenience foods. And let's not forget that lunch brought us the invention of Lunchables (for people who want to call highly preserved deli cuts and crackers a meal) and the oddness of crinkle cut carrots.

Those well-meaning women employed by the public school systems, the heavyset, hairn-netted, intimidating women? They were not Breakfast or Dinner Ladies. They were Lunch Ladies.

Of course, without Lunch Ladies, we'd be left with a serious whole in Children's publishing.

P.S. I have known some lovely, trim ladies who prepared and served lunch is schools. They just never worked at my schools.

P.S.S. It's entirely possible this blog is the product of late-night lunch-related panic. I really do hate lunch. Unless, of course, it's from Café Yumm.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I love you, sensibly

I'm starting to think that I kind of suck at writing romance. This is a problem, because most editors in my genre want a romance storyline.

And I'm fine with that. I understand. Romance sells. I'll get them together in the end. It's just the drama I have trouble with.

Good romance, written, is all about drama. The thing is, though, is that the mark of a good realistic romance is the lack of drama. I mean, when you ask couples how they met, there's not a lot of "well, my dad was a mafia boss - you know how that goes" or "I almost moved to Saint Tropez, but then Fred ran on onto the tarmac and stood in front of the plane to stop me. That's how I knew." And rarer still, "There was this snafu with my inheritance, I had to marry someone within two days, thanks goodness I met Bob! The only problem was, he had an insane wife in the attic at the time..."

Here's what I've experienced with the two books I've worked on in the past, one completed, one nearly complete. I'm great when the two characters are not supposed to be together. Really great. Nice drama, superb tension (tension being the lifeblood of story).

But by the time I've cleared the obstacles (about two-thirds through the book) for these two to really, truly fall in love, what then? They fall in love. Big whoop.

I'm going to solve this, truly. And I have no concerns (no concerns, especially if my agent or editor is reading this) about my ability to craft a lovely little romance. But it's tricky, you know? This is a book about the Amish. Now, if I could only have some Canadian mobsters with a vampire or two while someone (the guy) gets hit by a car on the way to the Empire State Building, things would be a lot easier.