Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sharing Literary Recipes

(Snickerdoodles I made for my twins' 13th birthday party!)

A good friend of mine shared her easiest sugar cookie recipe with me. I added a twist to those cookies, rolling them in cinnamon and sugar and calling them snickerdoodles. When my fifteen-year-old son was in kindergarten, I started bringing the snickerdoodles to class parties. They became...dare I say it?...legendary. My son loved how it was his "thing."

When other moms asked for the recipe, my son's first reaction was to ask me not share it. His fear was that other moms would make the cookies for class parties and play dates, and his snickerdoodle world would turn upside down.

But I shared the recipe anyway. I mean, what if my friend had never shared the recipe with me? And you know what? It's still my son's thing. Yes, other moms made the snickerdoodles. And his friends-who-are-girls made them. But they took photos of themselves baking the cookies, and then posted them on Twitter and Facebook, tagging my son. Sharing the recipe didn't take anything away from him. It added to the fun.

I've noticed the same tendency with some successful writers. They don't hoard their wisdom, refusing to share what they've learned on their personal writing journeys. They don't hold tight to winning advice, fearful that a newbie writer will knock them out of the publishing world. Instead, they write craft books, blog and tweet about writing tips, and even critique pages.

I'm so thankful for them.

Here are some of my favorite successful writers who share their literary recipes:
  • James Scott Bell, who wrote my favorite craft book ever, Plot & Structure. He also blogs at The Kill Zone. He's a traditionally published author who dove head first into self-pubbing. His craft advice isn't stuffy. It's practical and encouraging.
  • Janice Hardy, who blogs at The Other Side of the Story. Talk about useful advice! She breaks down scenes. She helps with character development, plotting, and revision. She even critiques first pages for brave writers. Follow her on Twitter here.
  • Elizabeth S. Craig, who blogs at Mystery Writing is Murder. She shares her experiences as a traditionally published author who also indie publishes. She shares her list of "team members" who help prepare her self-pubbed titles. She helped create the Writer's Knowledge Base (also linked on my side bar). And she's the Queen of Twitter for writers (follow her here).
I could go on and on, but those are my top three. Can you add to the list? Any successful writers you can think of who share their literary recipes? Mention them in the comments, along with their links!

If you're interested, here's the easy sugar cookie recipe (real bakers, avert your eyes):

1 box white cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Mix all three ingredients. Roll into 1" balls, and space 2" apart on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes. For snickerdoodles, simply roll the dough in a cinnamon/sugar mixture before baking.

By the way, I've made these with German chocolate cake mix, then frosted them with the coconut pecan frosting. And I've made them with red velvet cake mix, and frosted them with cream cheese frosting. Good stuff!


  1. Cool post~ love the sharing of literary recipes! And snickerdoodles??? Those things are addictive :)

  2. I've never seen this recipe for snickerdoodles before. But I definitely want to try it when I'm craving that cinnamon-sugary goodness! And I agree with you-- sharing is good! I don't do much of it these days though, mostly sharing real recipes on my website LOL.

  3. Lizzy Ford is an indie best seller of sweet love stories (I can tell you from experience clean romance is a tough market) and she uses her blog to promote other writers, shares anything she finds helpful, and I've emailed her for advice and she responds in depth.

  4. Elizabeth was one of my first followers and she is so full of writing wisdom!

  5. Mmm, I love snickerdoodles. Thanks for the recipes, and thanks for the links! I'm grateful to all the great writers who have shared their own writing advice and what works for them. Meg Cabot and Jennifer Weiner both have separate pages on their websites that are filled with advice for aspiring writers.

  6. Great choices! Love them all :)
    These sound so good and easy! I haven't made snickerdoodles since my kids were little. I made a batch & while they were playing with friends outside, I set out a bowl of cookies. The bees stormed the place and stung everyone in sight! They used to love the cookies though - I'll have to try again! :)

  7. I'm always looking for new baking recipes. Especially ones that are this simple :)

  8. I love the sound of those cookies - delicious and warming.
    It was a great idea to highlight those people whose books or blogs you found most useful when writing.

  9. Oh, those sound SO good!! I'll have to try!! Thanks!!

  10. I might have to give up the no sugar for this one! Yummy. Thank you!

  11. I love this!! I mean, I love cookies, but I meant where you're going with the whole share thing. :D Great choices to spotlight too!

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  14. Okay, totally wrote that recipe down. Anything simple and easy works for me! Thanks!

  15. Snickerdoodles are one of my favorites! One of my writer friends, Erika Marks, who wrote LITTLE GALE GUMBO, shared recipes on her blog that were also in the book, beautifully and deliciously described.

  16. Oh gosh... I know I'm soooooo grateful for writers who aren't afraid to share their wisdom. It's hard enough to learn and grow as is... And I'm surprised I haven't read any of those links---yay! New knowledge for me! :D

    Such a clever post, Julie.

  17. These sound amazing. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Yom yom yom.

  18. Wow, a nice and SIMPLE cookie recipe! Awesome. And you are so right about sharing info with other writers. Invaluable! :)