Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pinterest Storyboarding

I spoke at the Write To Publish conference today and had some great conversations with aspiring authors about social medai and how to use it to build platform and interact with readers. It's something I struggle with as an author, balancing having an online presence while still ensureing I have enough time to spend on writing the next story.

One of the tools I've been using lately is Pinterest. It's not just for collecting recipes, craft projects or photos of places you yearn to travel to. As I was filling out the cover art sheet for Drive me Crazy, I collected some links to picture that helped illuminate the story. I set up a Pinterest board for them, adding more as I reviewed the copyedits. Now I have a way to 'see' the story.

I liked it so much I started boards for a couple other stories I'm considering. It's as fun as making a vision board for a story, but better because it doesn't make a mess, and it also organzies research links.

Want to see what I mean? Here is the board for Drive Me Crazy, out next month. Check it out.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cocktail Camp

Hubba Bubba and I escaped downtown for our monthly date day. Up this time? Cocktail Camp! It was fascinating, and not just because they had us sipping cocktails all day long!

We arrived for the morning social hour for some fun drinks to start the day. My favorite was a champagne cocktail with quince liqueur and vermouth. The man prefered one with white dog rye, coffee liqueur and cream.
The first presentation was The Art of Tasting. Such a great way to begin the day. Tasting spirits is similar to wine, and yet completely different. It is so much stronger, so you have to take a gentler approach to it. When tasting, wearing perfume can fatigue your olfactory senses, even music can alter your perception.

They gave us three points to keep in mind when tasting spirits ::

Appearance : A white background highlights color, showing the quality of the spirit and guides the taste. View the edge of the spirit for color, brightness. That shows what the spirit has gotten from the barrel.

Nosing : Be in the conversation with the spirit and go with first impression, not expectation. Different volatiles, high alatides can overwhelm your nose so start with small sniffs.

Tasting : Small sip under the tongue to activate salivary gland and aromatize. Move up to pool on the tongue, breathe in, wash over tongue. Notice where on the tongue the flavors hit.

When designing a cocktail, do this homework first. You can adjust what you mix with the spirit as either a point or a counterpoint to make your creating more bold or mellow.

Scotch (it's easier than you think) was the most fascinating part for us both. We tasted Scotch from all over Scotland as we learned about the history and geography that creates the differences and the similarities.
There is a correlation between craft beer and single malt scotch; basically you don't add hops and distill it. The original whiskey in the highland was single malt and distilled very slowly. The growing middle class in the cities needed something less rough. They put it in the oak casks of sherry or port to age to make it more palatable. 

A decent blend will have held grain whiskey and half single-malt. Peated malt is when the add water to sprout the barley and then dry it out over a peat fire which created the toasted, smoky flavor. The oak cask gives sixty percent of the flavor. American oak creates a spicy, butterscotch finish. Spanish oak is deeper, more almond, raisin or nutmeg.
The Perfect Host gave us the basics for deciding what to serve at a cocktail party. Have four basic drinks : Manhattan, Martini, a basic sour & Nagroni. (We had to Google Nagroni...it's an aperitif which we learned about in the final session)
Manhattan = Whiskey, vermouth, bitters
Martini = Gin, dry vermouth
Negroni = Gin, sweet vermouth, campari (We had to Google Campari too. We felt like such noobs!)
Sour =  2 spirit 3/4 citrus 3/4 sweet

Stir the first three shake the sour. If it all booze you stir. If you put juice in it you shake it. You want to have a shaken, a stirred, a tall drink with soda.
Themes - usually comes down to naming and it is half the fun.

Don't stand behind your bar the whole time. Make a punch  
Punch = One is sour, two of sweet, thee of strong, and four of weak (example : lemon juice, simple syrup,  rum and brandy,  soda and black tea)
Introduction to Aperitifs was completely new to us, and we felt marginally better when they explained most American's haven't embraced it. It's never been part of our culture the way it is in teh rest of the world.

Herbal infused brandy/ fortified wine (aka vermouth) began the apertivo hour. Many aperitifs have medicinal origins. Many contain quinine like cocchi. These bitters herbs create a biochemical reaction in the body increasing salivation and speeding digestion. They are lower octane cocktails (except the martini).

Friday, April 20, 2012

Slipping Up

I only went to the gym twice this week. I'm behind on the story I'm writing. Like, way behind. So behind it should be finished by now. And so I didn't go to the gym so I'd have more time to work on it.

But...I am a stress muncher. And more time at home working...means the numbers on the scale are no longer going down. And I need them to go down. Maybe more than I need to write my next book.

And that, that is terrifying.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Feeling Bubbly

I love champagne. But it's not something you can drink on any random Tuesday. Champagne requires some sort of celebration. While I am all about celebrating Tuesday, finishing the laundry or making my wordcount goal... well, you kind of need someone to celebrate with. Once you pop the top on the champagne, it demands to be enjoyed. And unless you are a complete lush, an entire bottle is a bit much.

Maybe I should change my perspective and work towards becoming more luscious. But then, I might be a little too good at that. Better to work on doing something champagne-worthy.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Break

I just realized I hadn't posted about my Spring Break. We took the kiddos on a road trip where we explored the Oregon Coast, Redwoods, and stayed in a treehouse! It was such fun, I think we'll repeat the same trip again in five years, when PrincessGirl can be more of a participant. Zip-lines and dune buggy rides were not her cup of tea this time out.

I used my camera as an excuse to get a little alone time every day. When you pack five people into a minivan or a hotel room, you do need some brain space every now and again. Plus, this was my first completely work-free vacation since...well, since I can recall. No computer, no alphasmart... It felt odd not to be writing. I think I took more pictures because of it.

All of my kids are animal lovers, so we worked in the Sea Lion Caves, West Coast Game Park and Great Cats World Park. The kids loved the hands on features at the West Coast Game Park. They could talk to a parrot, pet a baby leopard and lion, feed the wandering goats, and we even saw a joey in a wallaby pouch!

Even though it was raining when we explored the Redwoods, we didn't let that dampen out day (natch). We took our time at Trees of Mystery, which explains the history of the forest, as well as letting visitors see it from above with an arial tram. Since the rest of the world thought rain and forest exploring weren't a good match, we managed to score extra rides over the tree tops.

I think the kids could have really done without Hubba Bubba and I narrating every drive with "Wow, isn't that gorgeous? Look how beautiful."

If you ever have a chance to sleep in a treehouse, give it a shot. Of course I can say this because I slept in the cozy rooms at Out n About Treesort. But the kids had an amazing time there. They had horses, so my girl was in heaven. And the boys were counting the hours until they could do the zipline course and tarzan swing. It was really the highlight of their trip.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lying In An Unmade Bed

I'm trapped in a story that just won't come out right. It's like making a bed when you fluff the sheet over the mattress and every time it comes down it has wrinkles. So you keep walking around tugging and straightening and before you know it there is sheet on the floor on his side, and on yours it barely reaches the edge.

This happens in writing, I've written enough stories to know this. And yet every time I get stuck like this, I have an all new appreciation for the homemakers who iron their sheets.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Drive Me Crazy - Samhain Publishing

Drive Me Crazy - Samhain Publishing

Publication Date: 05-29-2012

The quickest way to love isn’t always a straight line.
This was supposed to be Xavier Moreau’s long-awaited vacation. A few precious weeks away from his over-scheduled career to see the America his mother loved and still make it to his best friend’s wedding in time. Instead, he’s ferrying the bridezilla’s sister to the nuptials. The luscious Jaime Cruz makes his mouth water, but her near-frenzy to get to Oregon now would scrape on his last nerve—if he didn’t sense that she needs the break as much as he does.

Fresh off a teaching assignment in D.C., Jaime’s white-knuckling it. She’s got only three weeks to get home, find a job and a place to live, and ensure her sister’s big day comes off without a hitch. Except Xavier tosses her three-days-or-bust itinerary out the window. Even more annoying, Jaime finds herself succumbing to his relentless determination to make sure she enjoys every minute of the trip. And falling under the spell of his sizzling touch.

Three weeks and three thousand miles later, Jaime’s feet are on home ground, but her heart is pulling her in a completely unexpected direction. Toward Xavier and a new journey that will require the ultimate leap of faith.

Product Warnings
Caution! Dangerous curves ahead. Do not enter if you might be spooked by haunted hotels, embarrassed by sex in the great outdoors, or fear you might yield to a devastating Frenchman willing to drive you to distraction.