Archive for September, 2009

Mmm… I love the smell of cinnamon rolls baking in the oven.

I’m not talking about the store bought kind from a can. I’m talking about the from scratch, ‘takes four hours to make’ variety. Homemade cinnamon rolls are a sweet labor of love.

I feel the same way about the writing process.

When starting a story, all I’ve got is an idea, a premise, or a character sketch. This hook is the leaven of the project. If inspiration strikes, I write the concept down (usually on the back of a receipt or in the notes on my iPhone). I mull over these ideas and let them percolate for a while.

Start with Yeast, Water, and Sugar

Start with Yeast, Warm Water, and Sugar

Just as the water temperature and the quality of the yeast has to be just right to leaven my cinnamon rolls, the mood and concept for a story has to be just right before I can move forward. Once I have the leaven of a story, the idea starts to bubble up in my mind.

When a cohesive plot grows from a concept, I’m ready to develop a story skeleton. The most basic ingredients–the plot structure, conflict, character traits, subplots, themes–are combined and sketched out.

The basic ingredients are ready to expand.

The basic ingredients are ready to expand.

Usually, my story skeleton grows a little at a time. Over the course of a few days or weeks, I add elements until I have a rough and rambling word document. The story is just a lump of goo goo ga’ joob gibberish, waiting to be shaped.

Roll out and smother, with butter, dark brown sugar, and spices

Roll out and smother, with butter, dark brown sugar, and spices

After my skeleton is ready, I start writing a first draft. I roll out the plot and type away. The basic structure is layered with a thick  smattering of description (classic overwriter, that’s me). At this stage, I don’t worry about editing; I write, write, write, knowing I’ll  reshape the text in later drafts.

After plowing through the first effort, I divide the novel into manageable scenes and chapters. Any scenes or dialogue that don’t move the story forward are cut. Then it’s time to step away from the laptop for awhile. I let the manuscript rest in peace for at least two weeks.

Cut and leave em' alone for awhile

Cut and leave em' alone for awhile

In the meantime, I work on other projects. I can always prewrite the next idea while a current manuscript is resting.

This is also a great time to catch up on reading. For me, a steady diet of good fiction is the best fuel for writing. I’m always inspired by the craft of other writers.  Good books keep me going.

risen unbaked cinn rolls

Puffed up and ready to bake!

When it’s finally to revisit my first draft drivel, I roll up my sleeves and turn up the heat. Anything half-baked gets edited out or rewritten. In this revision, I weed  superfluous descriptors, unnecessary dialogue, redundant action, bad dialogue tags,  inappropriate passive voice,  distracting POV shifts and irrelevent plot points.  My mantra is “when in doubt, throw it out.”

baked unglazed cinn rolls

Almost ready...

After this edit, I pass the manuscript along to a critique partner. Some of the very best advice I’ve ever gotten has come from reading at DFW Writers’ Workshop and posting at Agent Query Connect. Other more experienced writers have valuable insight into what works and what doesn’t. These frank (and sometimes brutal) criticisms are essential and appreciated. I incorporate suggestion into revisions wherever appropriate.

After another round of editing for clarity, I let the manuscript cool off again. Another two weeks. Or even six. No rest for the wicked. I work on other projects and soak up good stories from favorite authors. (Thank you, Neil Gaiman. Please keep writing. I can’t get enough.)

After reading and resting, I’m ready to make one (final? who knows?) more revision. By this point I’ve cut thousands of unnecessary words. It’s time to pore over the pages and look for places to polish. I highlight my favorite scenes and markup up my least favorite paragraphs. I look for places to strengthen word choice and voice.

glazed cinn rolls

Good enough to eat!

Mm, sweetness! I’m ready to begin the query process. Will I taste success? Let the rejections begin…

Gotta run…time to enjoy the fruit of my labor. While my writing advice is far from foolproof, my recipe for Sinful Cinnamon Rolls will satisfy your sweet tooth. (Hey, it’s not bragging if its true, right?.)

close up glazed cinn roll

Binge!

Sinful Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

4 packages rapid rise yeast

1 cup hot water (not boiling, not lukewarm, just hot tap water)

2 tablespoons sugar

2 sticks real butter

1 1/2 cups warm (not hot!) milk (heat on stovetop or in microwave)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. salt

8-9 cups of flour

Filling:

More butter

Dark brown sugar

Good Quality Cinnamon (don’t cheap out on this one, ok?)

Frosting:

Even more butter

Powdered Sugar

Vanilla

Milk

Dissolve yeast in a medium bowl with 1 cup of hot water and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. You will not the yeast mixture is active if the yeast bubbles up (mixture should get very foamy, if not, you goofed with bad yeast or too hot or too cold water).

Melt one cup butter and combine with 1 1/2 cups of milk. Mix the milk/butter mixture with the yeast mixture. Add 1 cup sugar and then the eggs. Mix in salt and four cups of the flour. Mix until smooth. Add in the remaining cups of flour, a little at a time, just until the mixture is cohesive enough to handle. Save some of the flour to knead with. I usually save the last cup or so for this purpose.

Slap dough onto the counter and knead it a bit. Knead it just enough so it no longer so gooey and sticky in your hands.

Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Put the dough into the bowl. Cover the dough with a thin cloth and let it sit. Let dough rise for an hour to an hour and a half. Dough should double in size.

Spray a counter top surface with cooking spray. Spray your rolling pin, too. Divide the dough into two lumps. Roll one out one lump into a large rectangle (see picture). Soften a stick and a half of butter and smear on the dough. Sprinkle a lot of cinnamon (to taste, I like a LOT) over the dough. Smear a bunch (a heaping cup) of dark brown sugar. Roll up the dough from the widest side to make a log. Use a length of dental floss (unused, please!) to cut and section individual cinnamon rolls (1 1/2 inch width sections).

After placing the rolls in a greased 9 by 13 pan (you should have approximately a dozen), roll out the second lump and do the same. You’ll end up with two pans of cinnamon rolls. Cover pans with a thin cloth and let rise for another hour to an hour and a half. I put my rolls on my stove top and turn on the oven to preheat. The warm airflow near the oven helps the rolls rise.

When the rolls are nice and puffy (see picture), bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. I have a large oven, so I can bake both pans at the same time on the same rack. If your oven is not big enough, bake one pan at a time. Don’t use different racks.

After rolls have cooled a bit, ice with homemade frosting. For frosting, I use one stick of melted butter, one tablespoon of vanilla, some powdered sugar (just add until the mixture is the right thickness), and a tiny bit of milk. Add powdered sugar and whisk until icing is the right consistency.

Binge!

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Arthur Slade’s latest YA novel, The Hunchback Assignments, is steampunk-tacular.

Hunchback AssignmentsModo, a disfigured hunchback, is born with a strange gift. He can twist his appearance to mirror any imaginable person. Modo can hide behind the countenance of a prince or pickpocket, if only for a few hours. His true face, the one reflection he avoids at all costs, masks a heroic figure.

The enigmatic Mr. Socrates rescues Modo as an infant and trains him as an agent of  a shadowy Victorian era organization. Modo’s assignments thrust him into danger at every turn and pitt him against the mechanized villainy of a mad scientist. A monstrous enemy threatens the British Empire, and Modo must use every ounce of wit and skill he possesses to combat the forces of evil.

Modo not only faces physical peril, he also wrestles with his feeling for Octavia, a beautiful and compassionate fellow agent. Although Modo longs to accept Octavia’s affection, he finds it impossible to reveal his true face. He dreams of becoming the handsome knight who can win her heart.  She longs to know the real man behind the mask.

In the Hunchback Assignments, suspense builds steadily up to the ripping climax. Throughout the story, the audience feels Modo’s heartache and witnesses his courage. After the final scene, the reader will be reluctant to leave his side.

Assignments is a satisfying brew infused with crisp writing and high flying action. It reads as though Slade threw the machinations of a 007 caper, the intrigue of a Young Sherlock Holmes adventure, the gothic romance of a Victor Hugo tale, the clever gadgetry of an H.G. Wells yarn, and the thrilling horror of a penny dreadful into a blender and pressed pulse.

Yes, it’s that good.  Read it.

While the gadgets in The Hunchback Assignments are steam powered, my Sticky Toffee Pie is steam-cooked. Fortunately, it’s much easier to make than the Sticky Toffee Pudding of Victorian times.

Sticky Toffee Pie

Ingredients:

2 14 ounce cans of sweetened condensed milk

1 9 inch graham cracker pie crust

1 8 ounce container of Cool Whip

English Toffee Bits (for garnish)

Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a glass dish (at least one quart in size, but small enough to fit into your crockpot). Cover dish with foil. Place in a (at least 3/12 quart size) crockpot slow cooker. Add water around (not inside) the glass dish so the water level matches the level of the milk in the dish. Cover the crock pot. Cook 8 to 9 hours or until the mixture is the color of peanut butter.

Once mixture is cooked, pour into a bowl and stir. Once whisked, pour mixture into crust. Chill and top with Cool Whip and toffee bits.

Binge!

Three judges unanimously picked our cheesecake worthy (and book worthy!) winner.

TheSplendorFallsCover

laurelwanrow’s sentence dazzled:

“The ghost drifted, a blond in a creamy chiffon gown, until she halted before me, leaned close and her lips met mine—mmm, cheesecake, my favorite.”

An e-mail was not listed by laurel’s username. If laurelwanrow will e-mail me at mathmartin@tx.rr.com no later than Friday, September 25th, I’ll send the book to a snail mail address.

The judges also mentioned two honorable mentions. The Patrick Swayze sentence by Kendra is bittersweet, and Joel’s sentence, “I don’t have a ghost of a chance,” was quite witty. If laurenlwanrow does not claim the prize, we’ll have a runoff with these runner up entries.

Watch for my next post, coming tomorrow!

Binge.

No, I’m not giving away cheesecake.

Even better, I’m giving away an autographed first edition of Rosemary Clement Moore’s new YA novel, The Splendor Falls.

TheSplendorFallsCover

 And yes, there’s a cheesecake recipe.

With or without the cheesecake, The Splendor Falls is one delicious read.

Seventeen year old Sylvie Davis is a ballerina whose dreams are shattered by a broken leg, her father’s death, and her mother’s remarriage. Even vicodin and champagne fail to numb her pain.

Sylvie is less than thrilled about her mother’s honeymoon.  She’s even less  happy about leaving her apartment in Manhattan to spend two weeks at Bluestone Hill,  her father’s family estate in Alabama.

At Bluestone Hill, Sylvie faces  more than personal demons, she encounters the spirits of her ancestors’ past. But the ghosts in Alabama aren’t the only ones shrouded in mystery. Two handsome but enigmatic young men vie for Sylvie’s attention. Each has a secret. One is hellbent on a course which threatens to destroy Bluestone Hill. The other seeks to a protect the tenuous balance between the will of man and the force of nature.

Sylvie is attracted to both suitors, but must choose an alliance carefully. Her actions will either bring ruin or renewal to her father’s family. She draws upon the power within herself and the legacy of her birthright to reverse the wrongdoing of the past. Sylvie confronts her own pain and conquers her fears in the process.

Author Rosemary Clement Moore effectively combines elements of mystery, romance, and suspense in Splendor. She conjures a sparkling tale, full of wit and lush imagery.

“The ritual sound, full of potential, thick and opaque somehow, murky as the silt of a river bottom, hiding silent, swift things below.

I couldn’t put The Splendor Falls down. The mystery, hiding silent, drew me in. I’d bet my lucky charm, you’d enjoy it, too.

If you’d like a to win a copy of The Splendor Falls, write one sentence (up to twenty five words long) including the word “cheesecake” and “ghost.” Your sentence can be funny, spooky, poetic, or otherwise entertaining. Post your sentence as a comment below.

An impartial but cheesecake worthy judge will pick a winner. I’ll contact the winner by e-mail and announce the winner in one week on Tuesday, September 21st.  I’ll send the book by snail mail anywhere in the continental US.  Good luck!

ClementMooreAutograph

Since Rosemary Clement Moore is an avowed cheesecake lover, here’s my recipe for Turtle Cheesecake Splendor:

Crust:

1 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. almond extract

1/2 cup butter

1 slightly beaten egg yolk

Filling:

5 (yes, Virginia, FIVE) 8 ounce packages of cream cheese (let stand until room temperature)

1/2 to 1 tsp. (your call)  almond extract

1 and 3/4 cups sugar

3 tbsp. flour

1/4 tsp. salt

4 large eggs

2 egg yolks

1/4 whipping cream

Make crust: Combine 1 cup flour and 1/4 sugar. Cut in butter until crumbly. Add egg yolk and almond extract. Pat 1/3 of dough into the bottom of a buttered 9 inch springform pan. Bake (only the bottom part of the pan) crust in oven at 400 degrees for eight minutes. Cool. Attach side of springform pan to bottom and pat the rest of dough onto the  sides of the  pan. The dough should extend about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inches all the way around the sides of the pan.

Make the creamy, dreamy filling: Beat cream cheese. Add almond extract. Mix in sugar, flour, and salt gradually. Add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each, just enough to blend the mixture. Stir in whipping cream. Pour the batter into the crust lined pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes. (Don’t open the door to check on the cheesecake!) Then reduce temperature to 300 degrees and continue baking for 55-60 minutes. (Center should only jiggle in the very center. Edges should be nice and puffy).

Remove from oven. Let cool on wire rack for 30 minutes before removing sides. Cheesecake may be refrigerated after cooled to room temperature. Before serving, top with homemade or storebought caramel sauce (I like homemade salted caramel sauce), milk and dark chocolate chips, and pecan bits.

Binge. Until you feel ill. Then stop. At least for awhile.

Last night was workshop night. DFW Writers’ Workshop meets in Euless every Wednesday night for announcements, readings, and critique.

http://dfwwritersworkshop.org/

After the critique sessions, many members meet up at the local IHOP to decompress, debrief, and de-stress. Lots of great advice is shared over hotcakes and hash browns.

 Thank Goodness. As a novice writer, I can use all the help I can get.

 If you give a writer a pancake, he might share these suggestions:

Please don’t tell me Dr. Wiggle-bottom is an evil but brilliant neurosurgeon with jet black hair and a penchant for mushroom and Swiss omelets. Let me discover Dr. Wigglebottom’s secrets through action, foreshadowing and dialogue. Build characterization and detail into your story.

Please don’t drop a big, steaming, stinky pile of back story info-dump right in the middle of my plate. Reveal world-building details in moderation at the appropriate time and in natural places within the story. Don’t describe the giant scalpel in Dr. Wigglebottom’s secret lab until he’s using it to perform a lobotomy; or at least wait until he uses it to cut his omelet.

Please choose active verbs over passive ones whenever possible. All those is’s, was’s, and began to’s leave a bland taste in my mouth. Check, please.

Please don’t drizzle too much description over the basic plot. Too many adjectives and adverbs overpower the flavor of a good story. When in doubt, leave it out.

Please don’t allow irrelevant facts or scenes interrupt the flow of your story. Syrupy vignettes about unimportant details slow the action. Molasses belongs on a biscuit, not in your pacing.

Please trim the fat on your dialogue tags. Stick with he said, she said; not exclaimed, chortled, snorted or explained. Too many embellished tags clog my arteries. 

I remind myself of these suggestions each time I rewrite. Utilizing the advice of experienced writers helps me a lot. I try not to turn my nose up at critique. Yes, thank you. More, please. Delicious.

 Oh, I almost forgot. Don’t use cliches or corny food metaphors. 

 

Here’s a recipe for gingerbread pancakes. These cinnamon infused flapjacks sweeten the sting of rejection.

 Gingerbread Pancakes:

 1 cup flour

2 tbsp. flour

1/3 sugar

1/3 cornmeal (yellow is best)

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. ginger

½ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cloves

2 eggs

¾ cup sour cream

¾ cup milk

¼ cup oil (canola or vegetable)

1 ½ molasses

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cornmeal, spices and salt in a big bowl. Stir, stir, stir to distribute the baking powder evenly.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the sour cream, milk, oil, molasses and vanilla.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients. 

Set aside for 5 minutes. Heat the skillet or griddle while you’re waiting. Edit a few dialogue tags. Grease skillet or spray it with non-stick cooking oil. 

Use about 1/3 cup batter for each pancake. Turn pancakes over (about two minutes) when bubbles form on the edges. Turn only once. 

Binge.

Book Fair Bliss

Posted: September 8, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

It’s Scholastic Book Fair week at my school library. I just came home from our evening parent event.

Yep. I’m tired.

But happy.

Usually, I lead a small skeleton crew on Book Fair night. We assume battle positions, marshalling the stamina to withstand a standing room only assault. “Can we add these to bookmarks to the total?” “Oh, I decided I don’t want that.” “What are these springy things on the end of this pencil?” “Are you sure you don’t have any more copies of Spongebob on Mars?” “I want a refund. We don’t allow books with wizards.” Ugh.

Tonight was different.

I had a slew of dedicated parent and staff volunteers to work the event. Instead of ringing up purchases all night, I actually got to enjoy my book fair. I watched parents reading to their children. I helped with reader’s advisory. I shared cookies with co-workers. I laughed.

It was Book Fair Bliss.

From my relaxed position in the trenches, I also marked the trend in book sales. The books flying off the shelves had much in common.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Encyclopedia of Immaturity, and Dude: The Book of Crazy Immature Stuff sold well. The kids couldn’t get enough titles with booger jokes and lunchroom rants.

Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and Mary Downing Hahn’s All the Lovely Bad Ones sold equally well. Adventure with thrills and chills drove kids to the checkout counter. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that Rick visited our school when The Lightning Thief first came out; my students still haven’t forgotten it.)

Our biggest book fair hit? The 39 Clues. This series sold like hotcakes. At IHOP.  If you haven’t read them, catch up with the Cahills quickly. The fifth installment, The Black Circle by Patrick Carman, hit stores this past month. Each new caper enchants with history, mystery, and interactive adventure.

Fun. Thrilling. Interactive. This is fast becoming the new mantra of fresh fiction. All of the bestsellers at the fair either made readers laugh, made them shiver, or made them participate. The 39 Clues series wins the trifecta of 2.0 reader engagement by accomplishing all three.

Here’s  our 10 second “Get a Clue, Buy a Book” promo for the fair. Gee, isn’t that a good looking kid in the video? I wonder who his mother is…


Ah, Book Fair Bliss. Tonight, I enjoyed the transactions at the fair. I didn’t witness the richest ones at the cash register.  Instead, I saw the exchange occur between the smiles of young readers and the words on the page.

Here’s the  recipe for my Bliss Bars. We enjoyed these oo-ey, goo-ey sweets at the fair. They’re yummy and (blissfully) easy to make.

Bliss Bars

Ingredients:

1/2 cup real butter

1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup milk choc. chips

1/2 cup semi-sweet choc. chips

1 cup coconut

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup Heath or Skor toffee bits

Melt the butter, pour into a 9 by 13 pan. Layer the rest of the ingredients in the order above. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Enjoy the bliss.

Binge.

Yes. I’m in heaven this week.

Unless you’ve been living under a soulless, pop-culture avoiding rock, you’ve heard about a phenomenon known as Beatles RockBand, otherwise known as Beatlemania: 2.0.

Yes, I’ve pre-ordered it. Yes, I’m getting the super-deluxo set complete with Paul’s plastic Höfner Bass guitar.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed I’ve clogged your feed with endless, breathy declarations of love for the Greatest Band of All Time. Sorry. Can’t help it if I love them Eight Days a Week. Doesn’t everyone?

If you’re ready to join the Revolution, here are some of my favorite books and articles about the Fab Four:

The Beatles: The Biography by Bob Spitz

I consider music journalist Spitz’ work the quintessential biography of the band. Yes, you’ll develop enlarged 16 amp biceps carrying this magnum opus around, but hey, all the better to strum your guitar on RockBand, right?

The book begins by painting a portrait of Liverpool society, the culture which gave birth to the Mersey sound. The reader is immersed in the world which nurtured, challenged, and molded John, Paul, George, and Ringo. From there, in depth research delivers the real scoop on the Beatles.

Where else can you read these delicious tidbits?

Both John and Paul lost their mother at a young age; the resulting grief and insecurity would cement and strengthen their relationship in a profound way.

John studied art in school, but flunked out. His subversive comic newsletter viciously lampooned both teachers and handicapped people.

Ringo Starr (a.k.a Richard Starkey) nearly died from appendicitis; a resulting infection kept him an invalid for two years. During his illness, left handed Ringo first learned to drum on everyday objects.

The lyric “I am the eggman” is a reference to a member of the Beatles’ entourage who enjoyed cracking eggs on women during, ahem, intimate encounters.

The Beatles pioneered use of the multi-track recording system, instrument feedback, and distortion in Rock and Roll music. (Okay, so maybe you already knew that…)

After reading Spitz’ biography, you’ll never see the Fab Four in the same light again. John, the gentle peace-nik? Oh, the irony. If you’re serious about understanding the Beatles’ legacy, this is the book for you.

The Rough Guide to the Beatles by Chris Ingham

While Spitz’ book is hefty doorstop, Ingham’s guide is a pocket sized compendium of band minutiae. If you don’t have time for the full length Fab Four canon, this “Beatles’ for Dummies” style paperback is for you. This one ranks high with me for great commentary on each and every Beatles’ album, song, movie, and book. It even devotes a whole chapter to the elusive 5th Beatle. There are several supposed candidates in the running; you can be the judge. (BTW, I vote for producer George Martin.).

Still hungry for more? Check out these articles:

Why the Beatles Broke Up: The Inside Story by Mikal Gilmore (Rolling Stone issue #1086)

In this special issue (available at newsstands now) Gilmore combs through every RS interview and primary source to deliver a concise, play by play analysis of The End. Yes, it’s a rehash. A well done rehash. The online supplement (available at http://www.rollingstone.com/issue1086 ) highlights a timeline of quotes from band members. Each petty and heartless snipe is listed. Heartbreaking stuff.

Paul: “John’s in love with Yoko, and he’s no longer in love with the other three of us…” (London Evening Standard, 1970)

George Harrison: “We should die. “It’s time to break up.” John Lennon, irritated by George: “Who gets the children?” (Get Back: The Unauthorized of the Beatles’ Let It Be Disaster)

Last but not least, this recent NY times article:

Generation Gap Narrows, and Beatles are a Bridge by Sam Roberts (NY Times, 8/12/09)

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/12/us/12gap.html

Roberts insight into the band’s legacy are validating indeed for the like of fans everywhere. It’s no surprise the Pew Research asserts the Beatles are still the favorite band of every age group from 16-64. But hey, full disclosure, I’m biased, right?

Still hungry after reading about Everybody’s Favorite Band? Then binge on Everybody’s Favorite Chocolate Sheetcake:

This recipe came from my mother…it’s one just about every family in OK and TX has tucked away in a cookbook or file.

Ingredients:

Cake:

2 stick of butter

½ cup water

4 tbsp. cocoa

2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten, by the eggman, of course

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup buttermilk (no butter milk? Add 1 tbsp lemon juice to 1 cup reg. milk)

Frosting:

1 stick butter (Yes, more of the real stuff. Use margarine, and it’s your funeral)

4 tbsp. cocoa

1 tsp. cinnamon

6 tbsp. milk

1 box (1lb.) powdered sugar

1 tbsp. vanilla (yes, a whole stinking tablespoon!)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, heat margarine, water, and cocoa together over a low to medium heat. Stir, stir, stir until everything comes together…right now. Cue the bassline! Pour melted mixture over flour and sugar; add the eggs, baking soda, buttermilk, cinnamon, and salt. Bake in a sheetcake pan (better) or 9 by 13 pan (will still work) at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Frost while still a little warm. (I didn’t say Helter Skelter hot!)

Frosting Directions:

Melt butter, mix in cocoa, cinnamon, and milk. Stir, stir, stir. When you’ve smoothed it out, pour it over the powdered sugar and vanilla. Add nuts, if you’re feeling Sgt. Pepper-y. Mix well and frost the warm cake. Climb aboard the Yellow Submarine and enjoy.

Binge. This cake goes well with just about every Beatles album but Revolver. Don’t know why, it just doesn’t.

You tell me, who’s your favorite Beatle? What’s your favorite Beatles’ song? Fire away. I must warn you, any comments which hate on the Fab Four may be summarily blindfolded and shot.