Cooking Dreams

Cooking is a passion that I have always had brewing in the background of my life, but it was never a driving factor for a career. I’ve always had a fascination with food. Not to eat it, but to prepare it. One of the first things I learned how to cook was eggs. They were supposed to be scrambled, but after a few times of burning, I tended to leave them slightly undercooked. The yellow glistening in the light giving off a look that I have only seen replicated in animated versions of eggs. Being a kid, I didn’t want to admit they were undercooked and just called them “fancy eggs” because of how they shined. This is one of the few instances that my dad will never let me forget. That and “pickle salad” which had more pickle slices than lettuce. No matter the teasing, I always wanted to learn how to cook. How to make my own recipes, and such, but it wasn’t a big deal yet.

It wasn’t until I encountered my first love that that secret calling was pushed in front of my eyes to the possibilities. Jonathan had a way to evoke sides of me out into the public eye. Sides that were buried under a spindly mountain of common interests. Jonathan was not like other boys that I knew. He wasn’t open about his interests and was very reserved, even around friends. Other than me, there have been two other people in our high school circles that were able to pull him out of his shell. Once that was lifted he was able to share with me a secret that he feared he would be mocked for. He loved to bake.

John was always in the kitchen of his family home learning from his step-father about how to prepare different meals. His step-father was a volunteer firefighter, thus was very handy with a grill. Or so my mother would say as a way to explain why John’s food was so good whenever he would leave me something. As if to say he learned from the best. With our relationship getting more intimate, I felt comfortable enough to tell him about my childhood recipes. He just smiled and encouraged me to pick it up again.

My first time in a professional kitchen, I was in high school. My culinary teacher had insisted we spend the first semester learning all there was to know about food safety, including the names, bacteria, and symptoms for every type of food borne illness. Did not regret a moment of those lectures, but I sure wish we had more hands on lesson in the kitchen side of the class. Every day that we did get to put our skills to the test, I was always sure to bring a Tupperware container of any kind. I needed to take back to the main building whatever it was that we made. I needed to show John all that I had learned. He was proud every time.

He was the only one proud of my work. My family wasn’t as supportive and because of complicated reasons, neither were a majority of my friends. It was only me, Johnathan, his best friend and my other friends that chose to stay neutral in all the high school drama and fighting. I wish I could say he supported my decision to pursue a Culinary Arts degree, but our relationship didn’t survive the in-fighting of my friends. After a bitter break up, my family was certain my dabble in cooking was over and done with. I would go back to cooking only for myself and would stop trying to make food for others. They were wrong.

When I finally entered the culinary program at my local college, my heart screamed. My dad was undoubtedly cheering in the back ground as I stepped into my basics class. It took a few extra years after high school graduation to get to that point, but it was more than a milestone. One week later I was learning how to debone a whole chicken.

For the longest time I thought I would never fully be able to memorize the recipes. Never recall how to do certain techniques. But a few months after graduating with my associate, I found myself surprised by how seeing drippings left over from a roast my grandfather made inspired me to turn it into a gravy. How my knowledge of what to do was nearly second nature and if I didn’t overthink it, I was able to impress those that refused to give me a chance. Those that held onto those memories of undercooked eggs, or thrown together messes.

John was not the inspiration for me wanting to cook. He was the key to a locked door. A door I had left behind when I was younger because no one else would support me in it. He was a spark to relight the flame of that passion. The first person to believe in my abilities and encourage me to keep up with it.

Chocolate Truffles

During the month of my birthday, I would notice a few aisles open up in shades of red, pink and white. Aisles dedicated for holidays, for seasons, for events. This month they were stuffed with plush toys that ranged from sizes fitting in my pocket to large than I was a full height. During the weeks leading up to my day, I would branch off from my family as we were shopping to wander down these aisles, admiring the assortments of gifts and cards. I would wonder what would be best to give to each member of my family. Of my friends. Of my classmates. Of these items, there was always one thing that I wanted only for myself.

It came in clear boxes shaped in non-traditional packaging. Pyramids, hearts and even orbs with the items stacked neatly to be displayed. The wrapping on each item was golden and sparkled in the florescent lights of the store. They sat nestled in a dark brown wrapper to indicate the importance of just one. Ferrero Rocher chocolate looked like it was made for the Gods, at least that was what my juvenile mind was convinced of. There was just one problem….

Growing up, my parents didn’t have a lot of money to spend freely. Additionally, my mother was not fond of me eating too much chocolate. Every year I would ask for that one box in exchange for any gift or party my parents could imagine. And every year I was denied with excuses of it being to expensive or too rich or I would get too hyper. As I grew a little older, my imagination for what these chocolate orbs tasted like would get out of hand. All I could think was how much I was missing out. I had imagined this candy would be for classy people. People of taste. People of style. If I were to take a bite, I would be granted this status of class.

In middle school, I finally had my try only to find glass shards where my dreams lied. “Maybe it’s stale?” I hoped as I got my hand on a different box. I take another bite. And another. And another. Each chocolate tasted the same. Each one was dry and filled with disappointments.

Literary Journal Review


A Literary Journal for the Novelist

According to their website, Embark would describe themselves as “a literary journal designed for novelists and featuring exclusively novel beginnings — those crucial first pages that must engage the reader’s attention and often receive more polishing than any other part of the book.” Embark specializes in publishing an online literary journal that highlights the first chapter to 10 books. The variety and genres of the chapters differ greatly, as they do not discriminate against any style. “We believe that crafting a novel’s opening is an art in itself, and that reading beginnings can be both inspiring and delightful.”

The one thing literary journal asks of the authors of these chapters is that the books they prologue are not published yet. The books are either still being finished or in the process of editing, but are not published before the issue in which they are printed in are debuted. It is only the book itself that needs to be unpublished. The author can have any degree of experience. The author can have a history of five, ten, fifteen previously published books. Embark does not care about that; only that they have the brag rights for showing of the first chapter before any other publisher.

“Best of all, a number of literary agents are included among our readers, and several of our contributors have found representatives for their work through Embark.” The issues of the literary journal are released quarterly on their website. The months are scheduled on January, April, July and October. Every issue includes ten novel beginnings, each accompanied by a brief Author’s Statement that might offer a summary of the plot, aims, inspiration, the intentions behind the novel, a meditation on its theme.

            To submit to Embark one must send them two things. The opening of the novel and an author’s statement. The opening must have a minimum 2,500 words or a maximum 4,000 words. The author’s statement is also requiring a minimum 250 words or maximum 500 words. The statement should give the reader a good sense of what the novel is all about and why the author chose to write it. More personal than a synopsis. Above all, it should demonstrate careful thought about the novel’s structure and eventual impact. We are looking for polished, confident work that reflects clear authorial intention.”

Blog 2

Diversion Books is an independent publisher from New York City. They started with ebooks, and now publish in both fiction and non-fiction, in multiple genres as well as poetry. The website looks pretty modern and they have the process for how they work in the submission page. It’s seems pretty promising to me. 

Publishing FAQs

Blog 1

NYC Midnight is a Newsletter that specializes in annual writing competitions. They sponsor and host challenges for upcoming and established writers changing the writing format each year. Over the past few years they have held: Short Story Challenge, Flash Fiction Challenge, Short Screenplay Challenge, and many others. This year the theme is Screenwriting. I was recommended this newsletter by my godmother a few years ago when I asked her advice for publishing. I have been subscribed for a few years now and the competitions are very fun to read. This is something I thought everyone should know about.

Chapter 2

There seems to be a cold reality and harsh truth in the second chapter that clearly points out the difficulties of living off of publications. Making the book is the just first part of the process and not the clear way to profit. A lot of novice and first time authors might not know the difficult task beyond publishing. They could be facing hopeless avenues and aspirations. There are many ways to navigate the marketing world and if not careful, one can get overwhelmed. 

 After that an aspiring author must market and network with the public to find their intended audience. Venues such as the People’s Poetry Festival. Places like this is where one can offer readings as well as circulate and trade books with other writers, meet and engage with potential readers, and exchange information. When not in person, an author must also incorporate an influence online through social media like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. as well as personal blogs, literary magazines and features.. 

Chapter 1

The way technology has advanced has changed the playing field for many fields. This is an undisputed truth. The advancement of writing on the internet has done many marvels such as: making publication far easier to reach; bringing audience and author closer together for both feedback and resolve; spreading a message to a much wider audience; easier access to editing software and tools; etc.

            There is no doubt in my mind that this it is true, but it is also very easy to get lost on the way. There are now many more possibilities and route to choose that the choice can be overwhelming to authors, especially if the author is in the process of their first publication. With the ease of access comes the competition of standing out and being chosen by readers.

            The internet is a very vast place and can hold a lot of negative in it, as well as the positive. To say that browsing is turning minds to mush is a little extreme in that mindset. It really all depends on what is being read and if it catches the audience’s attention. Can’t blame poor readership on flashing lights and low attentions spans. Sometimes the reader wants to be engaged with. Sometimes a visual helps keep the focus on the work. Sometimes the reader just wants a casual experience and not have to go through all the bells and whistles. Each reading experience is unique in this day and age. If you don’t stand out, than you need to adapt.

Writing Exercise

  1. Two creatures searching for their respective families.
  2. The Boy who is generous and wants to find berries for his sister. The Wolf who is understanding and wants to find his way home.
  3. In a time where communication is possible between all creatures on Earth.

Back in a time when animals and humans weren’t enemies and could communicate, there was a boy. He had a loving family and great friends. One day he wonders into the forest to search for berries for his little sister. He gazes upon all the trees and flowers around the path. As a small mouse caught his eye he got curious and decided to follow it. The small mouse scurried around in search of food for its nest.
“Will you please spare a berry?” it asked as he finally caught up to it. Agreeing, the little boy handed the mouse one of his red berries. After saying its thanks, the mouse scurried back into a bush. Looking around him the boy realized he had become lost. Afraid and confused he wondered through the trees while whistling to a tune the birds had taught him when he was younger. After a long time, a wolf jumped out from a bush and growled at him.
“Go away!” it said. The boy watched it in slight fear. He didn’t know why this wolf was bearing his fangs at him.
“I’m looking for my family.” The boy explained. Nodding in understanding the wolf agreed to help him search. Not long after that the boy and the wolf became fast friends. The boy had learned that the wolf had lost his way as well. With the goal to help one another in mind, they both searched the forest, together.


Obtaining the old, iron ladder from outside the house, one must be quiet to sneak it back in. I can only reach my sanctum with this key. Opening the wooden door to my room, I flinch at the sharp creek made by the plywood.


Unfolding the hinges, I level the steps flat against the closet wall. I wouldn’t have to go through this if the official ladder had been built in as planned. Careful not to lose footing, I climb to the very last step. The dry paint chips flatten against my toes as I reach as far back over the ledge as my height will allow.


With a carefully measured jump, I life myself onto the hidden floor above the closet. The ceiling fan swirls around casting shadows against the white top. Fully inside the safety of the plaster, I avoid the edge like a baby bird before it learns to fly.


According to my grandfather when he was adding my room and the porch to my mother’s house, my bed was attended to be up here. The holes for where the rails would have been were the only reminder of that promise. Unfortunately, mother didn’t agree with that plan and had most of the “Second floor” sealed off just as the attic was, leaving this narrow ledge.


I have the ability to lay here, but it would still be too dangerous to sleep. Placing my back firm against the widest corner, I watch the shadows above me dance. The music on my iPod drifting to the back of my mind. The smell of the mahogany colored wall paint still lingered here, but it has been for long since it’s bothered me. Here I am at peace.

If I Ruled the World…

“…Every man would be slaves and every woman would be belly dancers.” This is the line I pitched to my closest friend when we were in our first years of college. Both of us were stressed about our individual classes at UTPA as well as our immediate lives and situation. For years, we’ve calmed down and distracted each other with ideas for stories. Most fell down the drain, but not that day. “If we ruled the world, every man would be a slave and every woman would be a belly dancer.”


As our laughs mingled something stuck. What kind a world would it have to be in which almost every person was in one class below. We talked for month on end about the idea in between school and work. Created countries, characters, government structures, and the works. This wasn’t the only novel we developed together and it was far from single digits compared to those we made ourselves.


Stories can come from any inspiration, stress or everyday life. Sprouted in the minds that are willing to take a second look at a joke and go “Hey, yeah! Imagine a world where every man is a slave and every woman is a belly dancer. Why is that?”