Friday, May 25, 2012

Guest Mary Campisi Talks About First Drafts and Fish Tacos

Mary Campisi
What do first drafts and fish tacos have in common? Well, they both have a distinctive odor…I mean smell that identifies them…but it’s more than that. First drafts are a lot like an untried recipe…which for me was fish tacos. I’d never made them before but when I received an online recipe from my local grocery store, I decided to give them a try. I printed the recipe and planned to make them Monday but an urgent dry eye issue sent me to the ophthalmologist and two hours of waiting. No fish tacos that night. I proceeded to plan B; tacos for Tuesday. Catchy little ring, isn’t it? Not intended, I assure you.
I must confess, I have a very bad habit of not measuring exactly, substituting at will and maybe a tad bit too liberally. Oh, and not reading the recipe in its entirety before I dive into it. In writing terms, that might be called panstering because I’m making it up as I go along instead of following a well laid plan, step by step. Case in point; the recipe called for mahi-mahi, swordfish or cod. I had none but I figured the white fish in the freezer that started with a B and reminded me of the word ‘baracuda’ would be fine. I did have the plotting foresight to remove it from the freezer in plenty of time to defrost. I spent the rest of the day at my computer, writing away in utter oblivion. At 4:30, I realized I better get moving because I still had to shower and get those fish tacos going before my husband got home. I’ll share a secret – if I’m showered and dinner is at least started, he has no idea I’ve once again been sucked into my writing world and lost track of time. Therefore, the shower wasn’t optional. I scanned the recipe and darn if I wasn’t supposed to chill the fish in a lime juice concoction for 30 minutes. Panster time again; olive oil for vegetable oil, chili powder for ancho chili powder. What the heck is ancho chili powder anyway? I did have a lime or I would’ve substituted a lemon… I mixed up the ingredients, plunked the fish in it and stuck it in the fridge.
Next came the quick shower and minimal makeup – I mean, I can’t wear my contacts anyway and between the steroid drops and the ointment what’s the use? Besides, I was really running late now. I finished up, complete with my 5 minute hair styling and 30 minutes later, I’m dicing onion, tomatoes, and red cabbage for toppings. I also decided we needed black beans and rice—to round out the meal—and a few shrimp thrown into the mix might be good too. I had it all underway and was feeling pretty good about it, when my husband got home. I didn’t admit that I’d just winged most of the meal because then his very logical brain would say maybe I should have followed the recipe….I loaded his taco, the hard shell kind, and waited for his response. He called it good—pause—but bland. Dang! I pulled out Frank’s Hot Sauce. Better. I tried mine—darn but the man was right! I confessed to my panstering the recipe. Honestly, most of the time I can get away with it but not this time. My very honest husband said maybe next time we should try it with chicken and hot sauce! Okay, that would not be fish tacos.
The point of this convoluted story is that first drafts are like that—messy, inconclusive, bland, and unfocused. But you would never know that if you didn’t try them just like I now know I will not use this recipe again until I discover what ancho chili powder really means. First drafts are just that, and even with all the proper ingredients, like total plotting and writing know-how, and great characters, you might still get a bland result which will then require a bit of Frank’s Hot Sauce, or in simple terms, spice and rewrites . . .aka a chicken taco.
INNOCENT BETRAYAL, my latest Regency historical romance with The Wild Rose Press has lots of spice, rewrites, and not a hint of fish taco!  
Love & Betrayal…Regency style…
English noblewoman, Emily St. Simon wants nothing more than to escape the constraints of a society that demands she turn in her breeches and secure a husband. She cares nothing about men or love until she encounters daring sea captain, Noah Sandleton, a man who steals her heart and her innocence with searing kisses and bold touches.
Noah Sandleton sails the sea avoiding anything that resembles commitment - until he meets the golden-haired temptress with a will to match his own. One night of passion binds them together but a debt of honor forces Noah to abandon his bride. When he discovers Emily is caught in a dangerous game of intrigue, Noah devises a secret plan to return to her side where he will risk his life to protect her and earn the chance to rekindle the greatest love either has ever known.

Excerpt: “I was thinking of a bath myself,” Noah said, turning toward her, his expression unreadable. “Would you mind?”
The thought of him naked made her hot and cold all at once. When she could find her voice, she stammered, “Why no,” with as much matter-of-factness as she could muster. If he could appear so nonchalant about his nakedness, then why couldn’t she? The truth smacked against her bravado; she’d never, in her entire life, seen a man naked. The very idea was petrifying – and intriguing. “I wish I’d known,” she mumbled, grabbing for something to say, “I wouldn’t have put the lilac water in the tub.”
He smiled tightly. “Consider it just one more step in our ruse.”
She looked at him blankly. “I don’t understand.”
“Don’t you? When my men smell your scent on me they’ll have no doubt that we’re lovers. That’s our plan, isn’t it?” he asked, his voice soft as silk. “Pretend to be lovers?” Without waiting for her response, he turned and began unbuttoning his shirt.
Emily hesitated a moment, unable to look away as he pulled off his shirt to reveal a darkly tanned, well muscled back. When he bent to remove his boots, his tightly clad breeches stretched to expose the finely carved muscles of his thighs and buttocks, leaving Emily a vision of what his unclothed body would look like.
She swallowed. He bent his head as he worked the buttons on his breeches. The breath stuck in her lungs as his strong hands worked the fabric over his slim hips. He stopped and jerked his head around, his dark eyes boring into her.
“Unless you’d like to help, you’d better turn around now,” he said gruffly.
Emily gasped and buried her head in the pillow, but no matter how deep she burrowed, she couldn’t block out the rich sound of Noah’s!/MaryCampisi
link for Innocent Betrayal on Amazon
INNOCENT BETRAYAL is on sale for 99 cents through Sunday!


Jannine Gallant said...

Love the fish taco analogy! Can't stand the things. Now I know why. LOL Good to have you at ROP today.

Jerri Hines said...

Welcome, Mary! Enjoyed your blog. I have to put Innocent Betrayal on my list! Enjoyed your insight on fish tacos!

Mary Campisi said...

Hi Jannine & Jerri - thanks for stopping by! For the record, I have not eaten or attempted another fish taco:) Enjoy your weekend- it will be a scorcher in Ohio..



Brenda Whiteside said...

Thanks for the fun post. Loved the excerpt.

Mary Campisi said...

Thanks, Brenda...I fell in love with Noah:)

Lynne Marshall said...

Wonderful correlation, Mary! I got it perfectly. (and entertaining too.) Wonder why I'm suddenly craving fish tacos for lunch.

Glad to know I'm not the only one in a robe and PJs long after it is considered chic.

Mary Campisi said...


Sweats/pj's/etc before 5pm is totally acceptable in my book of etiquette:) Thanks for stopping by.


Mackenzie Crowne said...

Lol Mary! I love fish that starts with a B! Great analogy. Thanks for the laugh.

Mary Campisi said...

Hi Mac...when I'm writing and have to stop for ordinary tasks like cooking, well that's when my husband gets fish that starts with a 'b'. I was much better when the kids were all home and dinner was at 6 every night!

Thanks for stopping by.