A Pumpkin Pie-Pocolypse

It was one of those days. I had been working on my novel revisions for probably 12 hours straight on a Saturday with the only scheduled break being dinner with out of town friends. It wasn’t until we were on the way to the restaurant that I realized how hungry I was. But what I really wanted was…pumpkin pie.

A strange craving, yes. Then again, it is the start of Fall, and over here, it’s already cold with changing leaves. And as a result, the idea of that seasonal pumpkin pie clung to my thoughts in a way I couldn’t shake.

We had a nice long dinner with our friends, and at the end, Hubs was like, “Didn’t you say you wanted pumpkin pie? There’s a store right there! Let’s get you some. You’ve earned it.”

So we entered…not realizing it would lead to the most ridiculously doomed night of all time.

Hubs rushed in, picked up a pie and took it to self check out– only to realize it was really a sweet potato pie. Yeah…no. NOT the same thing. So I rushed back as he waited by the register only to find out that under the pumpkin pie sign was nothing but a pile of lies— a big stack of sweet potato impostor lies.

So I ran to inform him of this travesty but assured him that I’d just grab a frozen one instead. Easy solution…right?

WRONG.

There I stood, like a hopeful fool in the freezer section, staring at a pumpkin pie-less zone. They even had blackberry pie. WHO EATS BLACKBERRY PIE IN THE FALL? WHAT HAS THIS WORLD COME TO?

So in one last fit in defiant rage, I figured I should just bake one. Hubs had suggested that right before we decided to slip into the store for our “quick” errand. So I grabbed some frozen pie crusts and ran to the baking aisle but alas…

THERE WASN’T EVEN CANS OF PUMPKIN PUREE OR PUMPKIN PIE FILLING?!?!?!?!Picture 167

Had all the pumpkins in town been raptured? Was this literally a pumpkin-pocolypse and there wasn’t any pumpkin left in the world? Maybe it wasn’t October, but really a chilly June and we jumped the gun? Not, it was definitely October. Were we even in a store? Or was this some kind of demented nightmare maze of grocery nonsense?

I think we both know the answer to that one.

“No worries,” I think to myself. “I do have some cans of pumpkin stowed away in my pantry. I’ll just buy eggs.” So I RUN to the egg aisle while googling a pumpkin pie recipe on my phone…nearly getting mowed over by a stock boy pushing a gigantic rolly cart of boxes…

Did I mention it was 11 p.m. at this point?

And by the time I get to the egg aisle– don’t worry. There were eggs. But the recipe finally popped up on my phone revealing I had every ingredient except evaporated milk.

BACK TO THE BAKING AISLE!
Picture 168
Are you exhausted with this annoying story yet? Because I surely was.

By the time I make it back to the Hubs at self check out, he is shouting in his usual quiet way, “WHAT?! WHAT HAPPENED! I THOUGHT YOU DIED OR RAN OFF WITH THE PUMPKIN PIE TO HAVE IT ALL FOR YOURSELF.”

“No, honey. My soul just died a little. There is literally no pumpkins in the store– AT ALL. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!”

And our $5 pie quick errand turned into like a $20, 30 minute one.

Oh, but it gets worse. We get in the car, exhausted, and I glanced down at my phone. I still remember the horrifying words that flashed across the dull glow of my iPhone screen. It said: Total Prep/Cooking Time: 1.5 hours.

Picture 169

So long story still long– we swung by Food Lion on the way home and found a $4 pumpkin pie, bought whipped cream and ate pie the way pie was intended to be eaten– PRE-FREAKING-MADE.

And boy was it tasty. But as you can tell by the picture below…it may take the Hubs a little more time to recover from this traumatic experience.

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“Meet My Character” Blog Hop

Well, I’ve been tagged in another author-y blog hop! I’ve been tagged by the lovely Kathleen S. Allen for the “Writerly Meme” which is all about my main character from my latest novel. Surprisingly,  the TRUTH ABOUT TWO-SHOES isn’t my latest novel (that’s right! Already have another in the works). But because Pitch Wars is approaching and because my TWO-SHOES main character Ellie deserves her day in the sun, I figured I’d go out on a whim and feature her.
1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person? Ellie McSatterfield is 16-years-old and completely fictional.
2) When is the story set? Because this is a contemporary young adult fiction, it is set in current times. And just for fun and Southern flare, it’s set in Eden, Mississippi.
3) What should we know about him/her? When you meet Ellie in my book, you find out she’s six months pregnant, super quiet about it, and begrudgingly the daughter of a well-known pastor. She also used to be a super talented color guard flag person with her former best friend Francis Grace. But FG and her boyfriend Brandon both dumped her after she, ya know, got pregnant.
4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life? Obviously what shakes things up in her life is her unexpected pregnancy. But the main conflict surrounds the abandonment by her friends and rejection from her father– two things which terribly shake up her faith in God. Also, as a result of being abandoned, she joins a group of random misfits who are a bit rough around the edges but insist on taking her under their wing– and as a result, one of those new “almost-friends” insists on seeking revenge against Ellie’s baby daddy– something she’s not sure she really wants to pursue.
5) What is the personal goal of the character? Ellie just wants to survive junior year and still somehow be herself, if she is still in there. She also wants to keep all her secrets surrounding her pregnancy because she’s afraid it’ll ruin her life even more.
6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it? The title for this novel is THE TRUTH ABOUT TWO-SHOES. The name comes from the nickname her new friends give her. They call her “Two-Shoes” because she’s a former goodie-two-shoes now that the goodie is gone. A short excerpt about the book will be posted on Brenda Drake’s blog as a part of Pitch Wars starting Nov. 4th. So be sure to check it out there! I may post an excerpt on my writer site too at www.NikkiRoberti.com. 
7) When can we expect the book to be published? There’s no telling, but hopefully I’ll get an agent through Pitch Wars this year– but agent has to come first. I’ll keep y’all posted.
And now to tag! I hereby tag Emily Herring Dunn and E. G. Moore!

A Free Spirit Forever Dreams, Dares, & Does

As I gear up for the agent round of Pitch Wars next month, I’ve been researching all the fun publishing dos and don’ts when it comes to agents. Today’s article was about making sure your online presence is on point, so I decided to do a routine check on what happens when you Google me.

And… I came upon this beautiful recap of the Al Neuharth Free Spirit conference back in 2012. It was a great time, but they also had this super short video of all the alum (including me!).

When I got into the Free Spirit program back when I was a high school senior, I was over the moon and back. I was super hopeful about everything: my future, my dreams, my career, my education– there was no end to my optimism.

Heck, I was even voted “most optimistic” for senior superlative by my high school class.

Watching this video now, it reminds me how important it is to keep dreaming, daring and doing. While I haven’t stopped any of those things (hello, epic journey with my novel-writing career), I know it’s easy to fall out of. It’s easy to think that adult life will just consume my younger self’s spunk and confidence that anything is possible. And yes, sometimes it happens. Sometimes it’s easier to brace for disappointment than to work so hard for something that may never happen.

But as my hero “Uncle” Al Neuharth once told me (and everyone who has ever read his awesome autobiography), it’s important to fail in a big way before you turn 40, because it’s those failures that teach you how to succeed.

This super short clip was a great reminder to me that my hard work doesn’t lead to disappointment. Ever. I’m a Free Spirit. And I will always dream, dare, and do with the best of them.

How My Pitch Wars Journey is A Lot Like “The Princess Diaries”

Don’t judge me, people. You can a learn a lot from Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews in all situations. Plus my inner tween really loved The Princess Diaries when it came out. (And for those who are behind on what Pitch Wars is and how I’m in it…click here)

Okay, so it’s one month into the revision/mentor process and one month until the agent round of the contest where my pitch and first 250 words will be displayed for super awesome agents to review. And I’m literally still feeling like this:

WHAT DO YOU MEAN I’M THE PRINCESS OF GENOVIA!

Because, let’s get real. Being a writer who has had her fair share of navigating a weird learning curve regarding the wiley ways of the publishing world and rejection, I still can’t believe I get this opportunity. I mean, my everyday writerly existence was pretty much like this:

But when I applied to Pitch Wars, I got picked by a super cool mentor, Rachel Lynn Solomon, who not only said she liked my book, but saw enough potential in it that she wanted to help me to take it to the next level over the course of the next two months.


And with Rachel’s help, I’ve been able to see some things in my manuscript I never realized were problematic (I mean…how in the world did I have the word “just” in my manuscript 519 times? Excessive much?)

But it’s okay! Because she assures me that there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel and that someday (hopefully soon), an agent will really love THE TRUTH ABOUT TWO-SHOES and want to represent me.

Sure, sometimes revisions have been like this (Like completely cutting two characters)…

And yes… I’ve combed through every word (and still combing. The “justs” are now in the one hundreds. PROGRESS! Still need to do more).

But overall, I can’t believe how my language is tighter, my pacing is quicker, and my characters are stronger!

So I’m very hopeful that by November 4th when the agent round rolls around, THE TRUTH ABOUT TWO-SHOES will be ready!

One thing I didn’t take into account about this extended Princess Diaries analogy is that I guess that means my mentor Rachel is really secretly Julie Andrews!


Which I guess also makes her MARY POPPINS!

Yay Pitch Wars!

American Junk Food As Viewed By Irish People

I found this video not only hysterical but also very eye opening. A group of Irish people tasted some pretty iconic sweets from good, ol’ USA, and for the most part, they were pretty confused out of their minds. And no, they weren’t confused because they were wondering why they had been deprived of this sweet goodness their whole lives. But rather, they wondered, “Who would eat this?”

Sometimes as I’ve snacked on certain junk foods, I’ve wondered the same thing, though my question is, “Why am I eating this?” Have you ever had that feeling mid junk food binge?

Check out the video below and let me know what you think!

New Healthy Fall Themed Ebook!

FULL DISCLOSURE: Totally not paid to say any of this. My friend Alyssia at Mind Over Munch graciously gave me her ebook so I could test out the recipes and share my findings with you. This is 100 percent me being honest.

Hey y’all! Do I have some great news for you. I was offered a peek at the newly released Fall Seasonal Recipes from Mind Over Munch, and I can’t WAIT to tell you about it. Best part? Mrs. Healthy Ever After readers get a discount. The ebook is already affordable at $5.99, but type in mrshealthyeverafter and you’ll get a dollar off.

Less than $5 for a healthy cookbook of fall treats? YES, PLEASE.

Here’s the image from her website below. Spiffy, right? I linked her ebook below if you want to click now, or you can keep reading to find out about my personal experience trying out her recipes.

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It was released last week, and I meant to post about it over the weekend but between revisions for my book and testing out these yummy recipes (because of course I need to test it out before I recommend it to you guys), this is my first breath of air.

First– this ebook is beautifully designed and easy to understand. I was thoroughly impressed by the quality for such an affordable price. You definitely have a quality product here that’s fun to read with beautiful photography that makes your mouth water.

But let me tell you– the book isn’t just pretty. It passes the ultimate test– BEING DELICIOUS. So far, I’ve made four of the 25 recipes, and I am thoroughly impressed. I’m already planning to make more!

My favorite one so far is the Grape Chicken Skewers that the lovely Alyssia at Mind Over Munch also did a video for on her Youtube channel. Who would have thought that grapes would make such an amazing marinade? It also had my favorite component mixed in– balsamic vinegar– so there really was no going wrong with this one. Hubs gobbled them up like crazy when I served it to him for lunch over brown rice with steamed broccoli. I can’t wait to make these again. I’m actually tempted to marinate whole chicken breasts in this goodness and serve it as a fancy meal next time I have company.

It really is THAT good. Check out your own sneak peek below. (if it’s not the right video, click through to her channel to find it. For some reason, it only let me post the playlist which is ever-changing).

And, of course, because I have an ongoing love affair with my slow cooker, I couldn’t WAIT to try her Pumpkin Chicken Curry. WHOA. Just amazing. I did kick it up a notch with a little extra spice, but overall it was a delicious meal that made SO MUCH FOOD and was incredibly filling. I served this one over brown rice for the Hubs, and he absolutely loved it. Even our downstairs neighbor smelled it when he stopped by and asked for some. Definitely a crowd pleaser.

For dessert, I tried the Pumpkin Coconut Bars which were delightful and light (though I really wished I had stevia on hand. I ended up subbing pure maple syrup and mine weren’t as pretty as her picture). Hubs actually ate the bars for breakfast because for 64 calories a bar (well, double for him because he cut a big one lol), and all natural ingredients, this dessert was actually healthy enough to be a breakfast. And considering my husband tries to convince me he doesn’t need breakfast all the time, I was very impressed when I woke up to him munching on these without any prompting from me.

And I also made the Sweet Po Pomegranate salad for my lunch at work. It’s definitely a unique flavor combination but was great to shake up my lunch slump I tend to find myself in when trying to pack healthy food. It was a tad too sweet to me, but next time I’m going to cut some of the honey and just add more mustard. But overall, it was very satisfying and super filling. I couldn’t believe how much of a rib sticker something so healthy could be. You can never go wrong when sweet potatoes or pomegranates are involved.

Next on the agenda? Her carrot soup and butternut squash potstickers. I’m just itching to get back in the kitchen. I’m telling you guys– recipe after recipe just looks incredible and you’re going to want to get your hands on this as soon as possible so you too can enjoy a healthy fall in a way you’ve never experienced before.

So go on– get your own ebook at MindOverMunch.com and don’t forget to type mrshealthyeverafter in for your promo code so you can get your very special discount.

And seriously, let me know the second you try one of these recipes! I’m excited to hear what you think!