Friday, August 31, 2012

Romance Novel: The School of Essential Ingredients, Author: Erica Bauermeister

Loved it. Will read her latest. But...

Author, Erica Bauermeister, was new to me. Her book, The School of Essential Ingredients, is chock full of truth stated in beautiful new ways.

Like this:
“Minutes, hours. If you stop to think about it, every meal you eat, you eat time—the weeks it takes to ripen a tomato, the years to grow a fig tree. And every meal you cook is time out of your day—but you all know that.” Erica Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

The book has thought-provoking passages that state basic, obvious things that have always been there but, I, at least, have never quite grasped them.

Like this:
“If you think about it,” she went on, “every time we prepare food we interrupt a life cycle. We pull up a carrot or kill a crab—or maybe just stop the mold that’s growing on a wedge of cheese. We make meals with those ingredients and in doing so we give life to something else. It’s a basic equation, and if we pretend it doesn’t exist, we’re likely to miss the other important lesson, which is to give respect to both sides of the equation.” Erica Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

Lately for some reason, I’ve given a lot of space in my brain to the fact that cows and elephants and giraffes are not really vegetarians. When you watch them eat, they don’t scrape off the ants. A certain percentage of their diet has to be insects. (I’m not sure where I heard or read that but it’s not originally my thought.)
 
Words strung together that resonate with something at my core—like these words which speak of why I love the desert:
“Dusty green, the smell of life made out of sun and little water, the driest of perfumes. Sage.” Erica Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

Sentences that remind me of the heightened awareness that accompanies anticipation—like these two that brought to mind picking up and moving on for no reason other than I was ready:

---“She had gotten in the lumbering, wood-paneled station wagon and driven south, the fan whirring until she had turned off the highway and driven through cacti and hawks, opening the windows while the world flooded in, silver-green with the smell of sage.” Erica Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

---“Ian tried to imagine being so sure of what to do that he would leave everything, go somewhere else, just to be uncertain.” Erica Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

A phrase that became allegorical for me because it evoked hours spent in quiet rooms focused only on the muscles my hands were kneading:
“I used to know a sculptor,” Isabelle said, nodding. “He always said that if you looked hard enough, you could see where each person carried his soul in his body.” Erica Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

A statement that was simple and yet intensely profound, again, for ME, because it gave me permission to ignore the criticisms thrown at me by people in my life for whom the only important consideration when shopping is the price of something:
“As a SENSUALIST, your ingredients are your first priority,…” Erica Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

My takeaway from this book is a deepened sense of the joy of the now moments of my life. A good example; I don't have an easy opportunity to taste the Cherry Kirsch spoken of in the book. (Dry county, remember?) Instead I revel in my recent discovery of Viking Double Dark Roast coffee from Fidalgo Bay.

Normally this is where I would endorse the book and encourage you to read it. And I do. Those of you who read this blog regularly will recognize, however, that what I'm about to do, is not normal for me. 

I'm going to talk about an aspect of the book that I consider to be a negative. Understand me, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am eager to read Bauermeister's new book just out, Joy For Beginners.


I must confess, however, to disappointment because I feel - I. Did. Not. Get. Enough. of the stories of Claire and James or Ian and Antonia or Lillian and maybe Tom or any of the characters.


Even with that drawback, I loved The School For Essential Ingredients and have added Erica Bauermeister to my list of authors whose books I will automatically read in the future; clear evidence of her skill as a writer.

Do you have a list of authors you automatically read because you know you will love whatever they write? Do any of them have something they consistently do that is a drawback for you?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Shadows In the Sun (2005 movie)

Me and netflix - we have a strange relationship. I have the cheapest membership - 2 movies a month - and still I don't fully use it. I'm not sure why. I love movies. I just don't seem to spend much time watching them.

Earlier I was reading Robena's latest blogpost about a movie about a writer. It sounded like a good movie so I went to my netflix queue to add it, only to find it already there - that's how bad I am about movies.

Then I realized the movie I've had lying around for weeks is a movie about writers - Shadows In the Sun. I decided to watch it. And I'm glad I did. It was sweet, touching, an adventure into another country, and it really made me think about writing. About how I sometimes don't sit down to write because I'm afraid I won't be great.

The movie stars Joshua Jackson. He may have started out as a young boy in Dawson's Creek but let me tell ya - he is now a very handsome man.


Jackson's character travels to Italy, on orders of his pushy boss, to find a writer he admires greatly. The writer he's looking for wrote several wonderful books, then his wife died, and he hasn't written since for the last 20 years. He is reclusive. He is played by the always wonderful Harvey Keitel.

 
Keitel's character turns out to be outrageously eccentric and yet lovable. Keitel has a posse of friends including a priest who makes his own rules played by Giancarlo Giannini.
 
 
 
There are a lot of delightful elements to the movie. The taste of Italian countryside and culture is one. The friendship of a group of men and an entire community built over a number of years is another.


Jackson and Keitel's relationship and what they bring out in each other, both destructive and constructive makes me envious that I don't have a successful writing mentor.

The music is definitely a delight. It's mostly beautiful, instrumental music by an obviously talented Mark Thomas. There are a few other songs, though. There's a funny karaoke scene. There's an Elvis song. But by far my favorite is the song, Sway, by the late Dean Martin.

 
What a handsome man he was. And his voice was so smooth and sensual.
 
Where was I? Oh yeah - the movie.
 
Anywho - I don't want to give too much away. I'll just say it is a very moving, uplifting movie for everyone but especially for writers.
 
And being a romantic comedy it has - you guessed it - a happy ending. Throughout the movie Jackson's character falls in love with Keitel's daughter played by Claire Folani.
 


The end of the movie is a slightly cheesy but very satisfying HEA for the two of them.

Okay - I can send this one back to netflix now. Wonder what I have in my queue next.

How often do you watch movies?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sunshine and rainbows

It's Friday. It's been a rainbow week. You know, some rain, then some sunshine and a rainbow, metaphorically speaking.

I'm not going to talk much about the rain because it's work related. I'll just say that some employers do not know how to treat their personnel in a manner that encourages positive, long-term relationships with quality employees.

Although, I'm not liking this metaphor as much now that I realize it paints rain as bad. Rain isn't bad. One of my favorite things as a kid was to put on my bathing suit and run around outside in the summer rain.


A couple of people were definitely rays of sunshine this week.

Ray of sunshine # 1 - Linda Grimes

Over on the Debutante Ball it's been her launch week. Slightly confusing considering that her book, In A Fix, doesn't hit the shelves until September 4th. They are launching it this week, though, because it's been a year and it's time to change debs. Time flys!

Anywho - she's been answering questions - and some of those questions are about plotting novels. I read an arc of Linda's novel and I can honestly say - she's an expert plotter. Wait until you read her funny, funny, page-turner of a book.

Linda is a pantser. She says of her writing style:

"In a way, writing is like interactive reading for me–I sit in front of my laptop, think of what I’d like to see there on the screen if I were reading instead of writing, and then I type it. I start at the beginning–chapter one, paragraph one, line one–and keep going until the end. (Linear Linda, that’s me.) Not that I don’t go back and change things if necessary–I do. Sometimes something will happen later in the book that means what I wrote earlier won’t work, and I’m not so rigid that I refuse alterations."

This, and some other things she said, freed something inside of me. I've been stuck because I've been trying to fit my writing into a rigid structure that just doesn't work for me. Later for that!

Thanks Linda!


Ray of sunshine # 2 - Micki - one of the writers on willwriteforchocolate yahoo group posted a message about her own writing techniques. She said:

"I'd like to share some things I do when the action stalls -- and I'd like to hear what y'all do when things stop!

1. Have someone new come into the scene."

This is just part of what she said but it was what got me moving. I'm adding a minor character who will add spicy banter and edge and move the plot (and me) along nicely.

Thanks Micki.


Ray of sunshine #3 - Barbara Samuel O'Neal and #4 - John Vorhaus

Barbara put up a post about what keeps her writing even when she doesn't want to write. John put up a post about the practice of writing. Both are on Writer Unboxed.

Great quote from John: "Because the forces of evil are arrayed against the desire to write. And the biggest evil of all is the need to be good. Burdened by the unrealistic expectation of all quality all the time, we often find that we just can’t write at all."


Thanks Barbara and thanks John.

As for the rainbow - pretty simple really. I wrote today. On my WIP. And I know I'm going to write more. Today. And possibly tomorrow. I don't want to jinx myself but I think I'm back on track.

How was your week?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Romance Suspense Novels: The Desperate Game, The Chilling Deception, The Sinister Touch, The Fatal Fortune, Author: Jayne Castle

Quirky detectives - Guinivere Jones and Zac Justis

These days there are a number of authors reissuing their out-of-print backlist books in e-book form. Sometimes it's a score for the reader.

Case in point, Jayne Castle has recently re-released her Guinivere Jones series. This is a series of four romantic-suspense novels that were originally released in 1986. Over the course of the novels, Guinivere Jones meets Zac Justis and forms a relationship with him - while solving crimes.


In the first book - The Desperate Game - Gwen and Zac stumble through solving the mystery of who's stealing equipment from Starr Tech. There's a video game with an elf and a king. There's a frog who may or may not turn into a prince. And there's a secret in someone's past.


In the second book - The Chilling Deception - Gwen drags a protesting Zac into a job where he's supposed to be guarding documents but ends up being more of a bodyguard. The bodyguard duty puts a kink in both of their plans for enjoying a free island vacation at the expense of their boss.  There's a mystery man who may have come back from the dead. There's a gun in a bathroom that may not be a gun.


In the third book - The Sinister Touch - Zac is once again reluctantly pulled into Gwen's drama / mystery as she tries to help the painter who waves at her every morning from his apartment across the way. There's a scary occult group. There's a deceiving relative. There's a woman with a very inappropriate request of Zac. And Gwen's sister falls in love.

These first three books end happily-for-now, each furthering the affections the quirky detectives feel for each other and moving their relationship along.


In the fourth and final book - The Fatal Fortune - someone is messing with the secretarial temps Gwen sends out from her agency. This time she's determined to solve things on her own. Which might have worked until someone trys to blackmail her and suddenly Zac is very interested. There's a psychic named Madame Zoltana. There's an evil man from Gwen's past. And Gwen is moving through secretarial candidates left and right trying to find the perfect one for Zac; perfect meaning efficient but grandmotherly and not likely to seduce him.
This one has what I consider to be a happily-ever-after but ymmv because there is no wedding or pregnancy.

The books take place in Seattle and definitely have an 80's feel to them. I very much enjoyed reading them.

Of course, whether she's calling herself Castle, Krentz or Quick, I always enjoy her subtle blend of wit, humor, heat, affection, lovable characters and well-planned plots.

The thing about JAK is, she consistenly writes a steady stream of good books. She's been averaging three or four a year since 1979 when she sold her first novel.

For a reader such as myself who needs books almost as much as she needs food, water or air, that kind of quality productivity is greatly appreciated.


I eagerly await her next book, The Lost Night (A Rainshadow Novel) by Jayne Castle that is due out Sept 4th.

Amazon says this about the book:
Even the mysterious world of Harmony has people who don’t quite fit in. They’re drawn to places like Rainshadow Island, a beautiful sanctuary where anyone can feel safe—and where secrets are closely guarded...

Schooled in an exotic form of martial arts, and with the ability to detect the auras of dangerous psychic criminals, Rachel Bonner and her dust bunny companion have found peace and quiet on Rainshadow Island, operating a bookstore and café.

But her tranquil new life is thrown into chaos when Harry Sebastian, the descendant of a notorious pirate, arrives to investigate strange developments in the privately owned woods known as the Preserve.

Immediately drawn to the amber-eyed woman, Harry must tread carefully. While Rachel’s special talents can help him track down dangerous rogues who have violated the Preserve, they can also sense the heart of darkness within him. But desire can weaken the strongest of defenses—and leave even the strongest man wanting more…

How can you not love a book where dust bunny's are companions? I want one. How about you?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Romance Suspense Novel: Sacrifice of Passion, Author: Melissa Bourbon Ramirez, Recipe: Salsa

A Spicy Book and a Spicy Salsa

Sometime ago Cindy Gerard wrote a blogpost that included her sister Wanda's salsa recipe for the blog shared by many writers I love (Lois Greiman, Kathleen Eagle, etc.), Riding With the Top Down.

The recipe sounded good and I love a good salsa so I finally got around to making it. Of course, I can never use a recipe as is, so I left out the chopped onions and the minced onions and put in 2 generous tablespoons of onion powder instead. I like the flavor of onions but not the taste.

Isn't it pretty? Next time I will only add half the sugar called for, though. It's delicious but just a teeny, tiny bit sweet for my taste. Here's a close up:

The yellow bits are yellow tomatoes. Also, I didn't process it as the recipe calls for. We eat salsa pretty quickly so there's no chance it will languish on the shelf for more than 6 months. I put the hot salsa into hot jars, topped them with heated-on-the-stove hot flats and rings. They all sealed so I'm good to go.

And did I mention: delicious. I did but a second mention is well deserved.

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One of my favorite writers is Melissa Bourbon aka Misa Ramirez.

I knew she could write funny because of her Lola Cruz books which I thought I had written about but I hadn't. I will remedy that when the next one in the series comes out.

I also knew she is one of my favorite romantic mystery writers. I reviewed her Magical Dressmakers Mystery series here and here.

Guess what? She can also write very dark and sexy. She writes for Entangled Publishing and they have a new imprint; Dead Sexy. She is writing a trilogy for the Dead Sexy imprint called the Deadly Legends Romantic Suspense Trilogy.

The first book out is Sacrifice of Passion and is about the legend of the chupacabra. It is definitely dark and sexy. Also a little on the scary side but not enough to chase me away.



Hehehe - new word discovery, too.
"This is no coyote kill, Braido. Look at the holes on the neck. Then look at the gums." He pointed. "White. I'd lay money there's hardly an ounce of blood left in the poor thing. It's been exsanguinated."

exsanguinated - to be drained of blood  What an awesome word!

This is what Melissa's website says about the story:

"She ripped his heart apart…
Vic Vargas planned to marry Delaney West, but when she suddenly left town—and him—behind, she turned from the love of his life to the woman who’d torn his world apart. Now, twelve years later, she’s back, and the walls protecting his heart are crumbling."

"He betrayed her trust…
The night she and Vic were supposed to meet at the Chain Tree and elope still haunts Delaney. He left her there, at the mercy of someone else. Coming home to San Julio was supposed to help keep her sleepwalking at bay. Instead, it’s opened up old wounds, and put her in the path of the so-called legendary monster tormenting San Julio."

"Now time is running out…
With a killer on the loose, will Vic and Delaney learn to trust each other again, or do the roots of betrayal run too deep?"

If you like dark and sexy with a very suspensful plot and a happy ending - you will love this book.

So how do you like your salsa? Spicy or mild?
What about your books? Dark and sexy? Light and they kiss as the sun sets at the end of the book?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Romance Novel: Glimmer Girls, Author: Kate George, Romance Novel: Dream Lake, Author: Lisa Kleypas, Romance Novel: That Thing Called Love, Author: Susan Andersen

Some thoughts on - you guess it - books!

Intrepid, innovative author Kate George is in the final stages of a book titled 'Glimmer Girls'.

Kate says; "Glimmer Girls is the story of Clara, a woman of two worlds, land and water. She must choose which world, which man, which life."

Glimmer Girls is a paranormal romance. Kate is looking for some help getting it the care and attention it needs and deserves.

Go here to read the first page of the book and to see if you want to help.

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Over on Robena's blog she's talking about being disappointed in a movie because it was labeled a romcom and it is actually a drama.

Do you think it is sometimes hard to narrow down genre?

I just finished reading Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas. It's the latest in a series of books set on Friday Harbor that are pegged as modern romance. I love them and I reviewed them here. 

I think one could make a pretty good case for them being modern GOTHIC romance.

The heroines are innocent in the sense of seeing the glass half full.

The heroes are clueless about lasting love or life and must arc to be with the heroines.

There is always someone at risk; a child or an elderly person.

There are houses.

There are supernatural elements.

And there is darkness to overcome.

Unlike Robena's movie, I didn't have expectations and in this case, I don't think they would have stopped me from loving the books. Although I do know what Robena is talking about. I've felt that disappointment / disillusionment before.

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Lastly, I want to give a little shout out to Susan Andersen's latest book, That Thing Called Love.

Here's the blurb:

"For a guy she's fantasized about throttling, Jake Bradshaw sure is easy on the eyes. In fact, he seriously tempts inn manager Jenny Salazar to put her hands to better use. Except this is the guy who left Razor Bay—and his young son, Austin, whom Jenny adores like her own—to become a globe-trotting photojournalist. He can't just waltz back and claim Austin now.

Jake was little more than a kid himself when he became a dad. Sure, he'd dreamed of escaping the resort town, but he'd also truly believed that Austin was better off with his grandparents. Now he wants—no, needs—to make up for his mistake. He intends to stay in Razor Bay only until he can convince Austin to return with him to New York. Trouble is, with sexy, protective, utterly irresistible Jenny in his life, and his bed, he may never want to leave…."

I thought I had reviewed her before but I couldn't find the blog if I did. In any case, I adore her and this is a good book. The kind of book that you walk away from a little bit lighter in your soul.

And when I went on shelfari to list it, I found out it is the first book in the Razor Bay series. Makes me very glad because I really want the story of Jake's brother, Max.

What are your thoughts about books and genre today?



Friday, August 10, 2012

Memoir: MWR seeking BFF, Author: Rachel Bertsche, Memoir: How To Be A Woman, Author: Caitlan Moran

Unforeseen Destination

Most of you are probably familiar with the Debutante Ball website. If you aren’t, it’s a site where 5 ladies who are going to have a book debut, blog together for a year.

One of the ladies this go round is Rachel Bertsche. Her book, a memoir, came out in December of 2011 and is titled: MWF seeking BFF

(If you don’t know what that means – MWF = married white female and BFF = best friend forever.)

The blurb about it on the db website says: meeting people everywhere from improv class to friend rental websites, she’ll go on fifty-two friend-dates, one per week for a year, in hopes of meeting her new Best Friend Forever.

I haven’t read it yet but I plan to. In part because I like memoir; in part because I enjoy Rachel’s posts on the db website; and pertaining to this blogpost, in part because finding friends is challenging for me.

Friends outside of cyber space, I mean.

Over on Reinventing Fabulous, Krissie’s last 2 posts have been about friendship. At the end of the first one she asks this question about friends: “How do you find new in a town where you already know everyone and most of them find you a little odd?”

The, everyone-finds-you-a-little-odd, always rings true for me.

I love things that affirm that I am not alone in this. I am reading a book right now that does that.

The book is: How To Be a Woman by Caitlan Moran and it is so good. I found it because it’s recommended by Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess, who wrote the fabulous book; Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.

Caitlan says of herself at fifteen: “I still don’t have any friends, either. Not one—unless you count family, which obviously you don’t, because they just come free with your life, wanted or not…”

She goes on to say that she isn’t alone because she has books, tv and music. She’s 35yo in 2011, so, in the 20 years since she was 15yo, we have also developed the whole spectrum of social media on which to make friends.

“All art is someone trying to tell you something, I realize. There’re thousands of people who want to talk to me, so long as I open their book or turn on their show…It may be bad information or a misconstrued tip—but at least you are getting some data on what it’s like out there…You are getting input.” How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

I am so grateful for the internet. I can’t imagine how isolated and alone I would feel without it.

I’d be okay, though. Because I would still have BOOKS.

“Books seem the most potent source: each one is the sum total of a life that can be inhaled in a single day.”
“And every book, you find, has its own social group—friends of its own it wants to introduce you to, like a party in the library that need never, ever end.” How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

So anywho – as a result of reading this book, for a time anyway, I don't feel like the only friendless weirdo in the world.

I feel I have to disclaimer here. I’ve picked out some bits of this book because friendship was on my mind.

This book is a memoir by a very, very funny feminist. It discusses such subjects as Caitlin’s ongoing search for the right words to call her vagina and her breasts.

For the record – she landed on ‘cunt’, a much maligned word which I happen to like better than most of the current slang words for my ‘lady garden’ – 'lady garden' being Jenny Lawson’s choice of words.

Do you have friends? Do you and your friends discuss the proper name to call your lady parts?

Wow, when I started this blogpost I never thought it would end up where it did.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pro Gay; Anti-Chic Fil A; Poetry; Crown Cinquain

Goodness 0, Evil 1

This is a crown cinquain written by WIP novel character, Mimi Crows Berkhorn. (A crown cinquain is "a sequence of five cinquain stanzas functioning to construct one larger poem.")

It's entitled Wrong Again and is from Mimi's journal - The Lies Have It. Remember in cinquain the title is sometimes used as the last line.


So you
stood in the line
with the other haters,
bought a holy chicken sandwich,
today.

Why not
become Jewish?
Since you no longer stand
with the man you call son of god;
Jesus.

While you,
Cathy, Furman
and other holy-judgers
lined up to condemn gay people
and eat;

Jesus
refused to stand
with the people stoning
a sinner. Follow Huckabee
instead.

Heaven
waits for those who
choose hate-mongering men
over Jesus who loved all; gays
and straights.

Wrong Again

* I don't use the Jewish religion in a negative way here. In fact if someone wanted to embrace the Jewish religion so that they could freely condemn gay people without having to ignore the inconvenient teachings of Jesus, they would have to become Orthodox since other Jewish sects are genuinely tolerant and gay people can become Rabbis.
** Not that I myself believe gays are 'sinners'.
*** Asshole Dan Cathy is an evil CEO. Asshole Jim Furman is an evil CEO who may not even have any beliefs except the belief that he could profit greatly from a day endorsed by evil Asshole Mike Huckabee.
****I don't believe all CEO's are evil assholes. These two certainly are in this instance. I also don't believe all radio host / failed presidential candidates are evil assholes. This one is, though.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Blue Frog Chocolates; willwriteforchocolate Yahoo group

Frogs In August

I skipped right over Tuesday and on into early am Wednesday without writing a blogpost.

August 1st and what have I to say for myself?

I'm procrastinating. Can you believe it? I have so much figured out towards my wip. I have created characters I enjoy and a world I like to spend time in but guess what?

No words are gushing forth.

I could give you some excuses but none of them are insurmountable.

I have some new incentive, though.

It's August and I'm back to moderating willwriteforchocolate. I've chosen Blue Frog chocolates out of New Orleans as a prize.

I will begin writing a thousand words a day and by the end of the month I'll have 31K written on my wip.

I won't have won the chocolate but I'll have words written and time spent with fellow writers and that's what it's all about.

For me, anyway.

What's it all about for you?