Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Got a Story To Tell? Discover Your Literary Voice

Writing and getting your voice out there

Early on in life, there is a drive to fit in. To be one of the boys or girls. From the first day of school, we innately look to find a place where we feel comfortable, and then we want to blend in with everyone else. No one wants to be separated from the pack.  We seek protection in the sameness. For most people that begins to change a bit during the teen years. Most teenagers want to blend in, but they also want to stand out. In high school, athletes are held in high regard. Many follow that path. For those who are not as athletically inclined, academic achievement is another area students seek to excel and stand out from the rest of the class. The rest of the students usually find themselves somewhere in the middle.  Some will use fashion as an identifier. Bohemian, nerdy-chic, rocker, metalhead, Goth, and eclectic fashions are just some fashion teenagers used to express their individuality.

The sea of sameness doesn’t go away, it just changes form. For the purposes of this post, I’m limiting it to writing and the publishing industry. There is no shortage of things we can write about, yet it’s important to realize that there’s nothing new under the sun. We may not be able to reinvent the wheel, but we can bring a fresh take on the wheel into the spotlight.

What is Voice?

In both fiction and nonfiction, it is all about voice. According to Masterclass in literature, “voice” refers to the rhetorical mixture of vocabulary, tone, point of view, and syntax that makes phrases, sentences, and paragraphs flow in a particular manner. Novels can represent multiple voices: that of the narrator and those of individual characters.

When it comes to your voice. There is no right or wrong. It’s your writing style, dialogue, or turn of phrase, just to name a few aspects. Each adds to the way your story flows and is distinct to each writer. It will be evident in anything you write whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. In addition to Covid-19, 2020 was a big year for issues such as race, gender, civil rights, and the wealth gap. Publishers rushed titles dealing with these subjects and more to the online and book and mortar bookstore shelves. Especially if the authors were women of color. It’s tempting to hop on and ride the issue train to get a publishing contract. Writers should be able to connect with the material on a deeper level on every page. That is not to say it can’t be done. You would have a book that is grammatically and stylistically correct, but it will be bereft of soul. Think of it this way, if you love math and you write a book on algebra, the love you feel for a topic that’s antiseptic to most people will come alive with your excitement and passion for it.

Use fiction to speak up about the issues you care about

As wonderful as it is to have the opportunity to have a platform and to hopefully be a part of the change in issues that affect our communities and society-at-large, there’s another group of voices to be heard. Other writers may take a different approach to confront major issues. They weave it into their stories as a sub-plot, through the main and supporting characters, or through the setting. While writing is a solitary endeavor, no woman is an island. We are aware of the changes happening throughout our world, and we don’t ignore them. We use the power of the pen to raise a literary fist in protest and support. As a writer, you are only as limited as your imagination.

The people who write about heavy and pertinent topics like race, African-American relationships with law enforcement, the chasm in wealth, and the pay gap between men and women in America, are passionate, knowledgeable, and formidable. We want to hear what they’ve got to say. However, when they’re done being a gladiator, who is to say they don’t want to kick off their sandals, hang up the sword, and read a book that makes them laugh until their sides hurt. Or maybe they want to go on a thrill ride with a criminal mystery. Or even read a scary book with one eye covered before the monster returns on the next page.

In the end, do you! Write from your heart.

The one thing I’ve discovered about at this point in life, is now my voice is clearer and more defined. I’d like to think that age has given me a modicum of wisdom. I meet so many women who want to write, and I’m happy to encourage them. Write what you feel and the world will listen.

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Writing and Baking to find my creative Zen place

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

President Harry S. Truman

President Truman seemed like the kind of man who liked to take charge. He believed the buck stopped with him. While it might seem like a bit of a stretch to relate this philosophy with creativity, it’s worked for me, in the reverse. When I find my brain is short-circuiting while I’m in the midst of writing, I go into the kitchen to re-wire my thinking, and my first inclination is to bake.

For many people, baking is mysterious and difficult. Cooking allows chefs and home chefs to think outside of the box and add a little of this, or a pinch of that. Whereas baking is a science. The formula is set in the recipe. There is no deviating. It’s that sense of order that calms me. Artists tend to live in their heads, and that’s truly seen in writers. The thought process involved in creating characters, plots, and dialogue, mixed with outside research, could drive anyone bonkers. So, it’s important to find something that aids you in this process. It doesn’t have to be cooking, baking, or anything in the kitchen. Just do something that works for you. It also works wonders if you have a presentation or report due for school or work.

I’m currently working on a novel and a couple of cookbooks. I have a few other fictional works in my queue, but I only work on one novel at a time. Doing more than that, is a recipe for disaster and it’s biting off way more than I can chew. I have begun the process of putting slides together for the cookbook and I hope to have another test kitchen to take photos for the illustrations. It’s why lamination was the way to go for me. The busy work of all the components for puff pastry keeps my hands busy and my mind focused. I figured out the layout I wanted and my family had fresh turnovers for breakfast. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Puff Pastry recipe by Dessert for Two adapted by me


2 cups (125 grams) all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend)

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

20 tablespoons high-quality unsalted butter (5 ounces), cold (vegan butter)

2/3 cup ice cold water


In a medium bowl, add the flour and salt. Stir to mix.

Next, cube the butter and then add it to the flour bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the dough. It will be very crumbly, and you’re done when the butter is in uniform pieces all about the size of peas.

Next, make a hole in the center of the dough and pour in all of the water. Using a fork, stir to combine the dough.

Flour a cutting board, and add the dough. Pat it into a rough square. You will still see chunks of butter and it will seem too dry, but do not add extra water. The dough will come together with each roll.

Flour the rolling pin, and roll the dough out in front of you into a rectangle about 10″ long. No need to be too precise here.

Fold the bottom third of the dough over the middle of the dough. Fold the upper third of the dough on top of the middle too. Rotate the dough one-quarter turn, and repeat. Use additional flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking.

Roll out, fold, and turn the dough at least 6 or 7 times.

When done, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour, or overnight. Dough may be frozen, too.

Roll out with flour for desired puff pastry use.