Peering into . . .

the inner workings of Alison Miller Woods

Wonhundred Word Wednesday: “What do you mean, you lost the lottery ticket?” November 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison @ 12:04 pm
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Since this month I should be writing an entire novel (NaNoWriMo) I chose to do this prompt as a character study for my work in progress. The prompt was: “What do you mean, you lost the lottery ticket?”

November 5

            “What?” Her voice through the phone pierced Jaron’s skull. Katerina’s pitch climbed as she continued, “What do you mean, you lost the lottery ticket? You’re such an idiot. Always messing things up. Typical—“

            “Katerina.” Jaron smiled a little at the garbled choking sound from her shock at being interrupted. “I’m not sure why you called. You chose to remove yourself from my life long ago. And I said I felt like I just lost the lottery. A woman that brilliant, vivacious, and beautiful doesn’t come along often.”

            “Aww, you still can’t get over me?”

            “I wasn’t talking about you.”


The other authors’ :

Wendy Knight, Author:

Kelly Martin, Author:

Jessica Winn, The Distracted Writer:

R.K. Grow:

Stephanie Worlton’s Kreating Krazy blog:

Leah Sanders, inklings:

Laura D. Bastian

Jaclyn Weist

Amryn Scott

K.R. Wilburn

Lindzee Armstrong/Lydia Winters

Miranda D. Nelson

Angela Schroeder

Ginny Romney

Canda Mortensen

Jenna Eatough


Kaye P. Clark:

Jenifer Lee:


Story setting can really matter AND a Chocolate Sausage Recipe November 1, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison @ 12:09 pm
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November 1st kicks off National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo.  And instead of furiously writing words on my new novel, I am here writing this. 🙂

Here is the thing. While I was preparing during October for the new story (I’m trying a new genre even), I was looking at old pictures I have of my story setting.

Rome, Italy

I LOVE Rome. I went there for a study abroad trip in college. So, keep in mind, the pictures I have were from more than seventeen years ago, taken on a lousy 35 mm camera.


In general, I feel that setting can be extremely important. It will influence the plot as it may determine what your characters will encounter or what they are allowed to do. It will influence the characters as it may influence their world view, their customs, their priorities, their baggage, or their habits. The setting itself may act as a character, giving life and color to the story and interacting with your other characters in a very personal way.

It was fun to look through my photos and imagine situations that my main characters would stumble upon.





La Bocca Della Verita: The Mouth of Truth.  (and me, many moons ago)





The Colosseum and the costumed “Roman Gladiators and Soldiers” for tourists’ group photo opportunities.





The Pantheon, one of my favorite buildings in the world.





The Spanish Steps, taken from down one of the shop-filled streets below it. (I bought a whole set of dishes in this area. Talk about a heavy carry on for the airplane!)


While I was looking through the pictures, I got a craving for Chocolate Salami (NO meat involved in this one). This is a recipe I learned when I lived in Italy for a year and a half in the 90’s. (I served a volunteer mission for my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). 

Check out this beauty (and that is actually the platter that I bought in Rome near the Spanish steps) :





I was taught how to make this by a wonderful woman in the town of Vercelli.  The recipe was a lot of ‘handful of this’ and ‘a few spoonfuls of that’. So as I made it this time I tried to measure with measuring cups to get a better idea of a recipe. Also, online there are versions with rum, or dried fruit. Since I don’t drink and the version I had was the just the essential ingredients, that is what I have done. You may feel free to adapt it how you like. Here it is!


Chocolate Salami (Salame di Cioccolato)

3 cups crushed vanilla wafers (or other dry type cookie)

1/2 cup melted butter

1/4 cup white suger

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup slivered almonds

splash of milk (will vary depending upon the dryness)


Add crushed cookies to a bowl. Pour the butter over the cookies and add the sugar and cocoa powder. Stir it all together (I was taught to mix it with my hands, but a spoon works as well). If it isn’t sticking together and seems too crumbly add a splash of milk. Add the almonds and mix well.

Dump the mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form it in the shape of a salami. Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap and place in fridge until it sets up (a few hours). When it is all solid, you can dust with powdered sugar if you like for an ‘authentic’ look. Slice in small pieces (a little goes a long way) and enjoy!

What do you think of setting. Do you have a favorite setting and does it remind you of something you love?


I am pitifully behind on my NaNo word count November 14, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison @ 2:20 pm
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I am pitifully behind on my NaNo word count, and I’m okay with that. I am pitifully behind on my NaNo word count, and I’m okay with that.

Maybe if I repeat it enough I will start to believe it.


Yes, this is kind of what I feel about my word count right now.

Yes, this is kind of what I feel about my word count right now.


In my head, the day “Saturday” means extra time to write. (Insert chuckle here) For example, last Saturday, I went to work in the morning, harvested my grapes in the afternoon, and helped a family member in the evening.

Word Count = 0

Thing is, I regret none of it.


Life has to happen and life needs to be enjoyed too. If you do nothing but write, soon you will have nothing to write about. Sometimes you have to experience things to understand them or to relate to what someone else may be going through.

Honestly though, if I load too much anxiety into my word count results I will start to dread NaNo and anything associated with it. Pretty soon I would hate November. (Like I have done with Christmas)

So, I have learned a few more things about myself. And really, I feel like I am learning and re-learning the same lessons over and over again. I still have two jobs, five kids, and a lot of obligations. I can, and do sometimes, use those as excuses. However, I see my friends with a lot more on their plate getting their words done (in record speed).

I will always have the life requirements and obligations, even when NaNo is done.So what I need to do is learn how to manage my time better (along with not comparing myself to others 😉 )so that I can consistently write every day. THAT is what I would like to learn from NaNo (along with finishing my current WIP): writing daily.

That would be the real prize and one that I could feel good about.

A friend recently posted a quote on Facebook. It said:

“Giving up on your goal because of one setback is like slashing your other three tires because you got a flat.”

So I have stopped slashing the tires and won’t give up on NaNo completely. However, I will be focusing on my process instead of output.

So you all hang in there too. With whatever your current goal is in life, don’t slash your tires!


My mind. . . it is a changin’ October 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison @ 4:21 pm
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Changing leaves_Woods

Aaaaaannnnd now I have decided to change my focus for NaNoWriMo. The reasons first:

          I am not a very good “pantser” (someone who writes by the ‘seat of their pants’ – or free-writes their whole novel). While I don’t pre-plan everything, I need a good idea of where I am going. That happens in the preparation stage.

          Even if I could wing it, I don’t have a really solid antagonist for Konor’s story. Without a good antagonist, what’s the point of the protagonist?

          I can tell you what would happen. I would struggle with the story, maybe getting a start on it, become frustrated, and then stall out. And then not only would I not get any writing done on the new story, but I wouldn’t work on my current story and I wouldn’t edit my other story.

          A month of nothing.

          So, I am adjusting my NaNo plans. Since they don’t coincide with the ‘rules’ of NaNo, I guess you could say that I am not actually participating. But, what I will be doing is setting my goal to finish my current book (Zee’s story) in the month of November.


The nice thing:

          As a pre-published author, I have the liberty to change my mind. I am not tied down to a contract (mostly because I don’t have anything worth tying down yet 🙂  ). My job right now is to learn the craft the best I can so that I can tell my stories in a way that will transport the reader.

          When I thought about starting the new project for NaNo, I had to weigh that out with the importance of finishing what I am working on.

          I will learn more by finishing the book I am doing right now than fighting with a book I am not prepared to write.

And thus- my mind has changed. I will still be typing madly in November, just not on a brand-new shiny book. That will come later.

I am grateful that I have the leeway to change gears and give myself some breathing room with all the other things that are crashing in November.

What are you grateful about in your current situation?


NaNo Ponderings October 17, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison @ 5:47 pm
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November is quickly approaching. And if you don’t know, November is NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month.

It works best if you are prepared.

October is the time to prepare and that time is coming to an end. So now is the time to panic! – Just kidding.

Preparing means, to me, understanding who your story will be about. The Characters Drive the Story.


I have been thinking about which story idea I wanted to work on. The one that is buzzing around my head right now comes from a flash fiction I did a long time ago. It was a 600 word story contest that I entered – they supplied the first and last lines and you had to write from there. (this is the story so you can read it, if you wish)


Now I have my beginning structure. I always liked the world possibilities and thought about expanding it. This jumping point gives me a small nugget of what will come. That scene may not even be in the story, it depends on what happens with the rest of my planning.

That structure, or initial idea, needs a lot of expansion to make it work. I need to figure out my characters, my antagonist, my conflict, everything else that makes a story enjoyable, and make an outline before November 1st.

Let it begin! 🙂


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