Archive from January, 2023
Jan 23, 2023 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

Bruja Brouhaha

Curses, Murders, and Lies – Oh My!

by Rochelle Stabb

Rochelle Staab’s “Bruja Brouhaha” is a fast paced romp around LA with Liz Cooper, who is trying to solve a mystery while squeezing in some real day-to-day living. Sandwiched between house hunting and buying pastries she has her hands full sorting out the dastardly deeds being heaped on the residents of Westlake. You see, her friend Lucia Rojas is a witch… a practitioner of Santeria, and has just hexed the neighbourhood in her grief.

As hellacious as our lives can be, there’s always opportunity for humour and creativity and these characters are no different – easy to see, easy to believe, and it’s easy to get sucked into their world. Bruja Brouhaha is thoroughly delightful!

Originally posted 2013-03-22 22:06:18. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 23, 2023 - Blog, Just for Writer's    1 Comment

The Perfect Nightmare

It is said that an author should write from what they know.

Well, I don’t know very many serial killers, violent murderer’s, or Grim Reaper’s, so it’s kind of hard for me to write these characters from personal experience.

If you are not a writer or involved with write-a-thon’s, you may not grasp the weird magic that can take place on the keyboard under pressure. See, I’m doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which is only for 30 days, so editing would be a bad idea – waste of time. You just gotta get down the words. Edit in December. Plot changes? Sure, so long as you keep going. Don’t look back; full steam ahead. Fix it later.

I’ve been doing that, and keeping up, for the most part… more here, less there. My problem is I am still unsure of my antagonist – “the bad guy”.

Enter my horrible nightmare.

I’ve NEVER had a dream like this! Creepiness squared. Very Supernatural.

Funny thing? I didn’t feel freaked out about any of it. More like flat-lined. Like I was fully wrapped in cotton wool – couldn’t feel a thing. I’ll keep the specifics to myself, for now. But as I’m going over the details, I see that this is the sort of monster that Hollywood creates.

If Hollywood could use it, I can use it.

Voila, my antagonist.

Originally posted 2013-11-07 21:35:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 22, 2023 - Blog, Wine    No Comments

5000 Year Old Wine May Cure What Ails You

I was reading about the tunnels under the Giza Plateau, a relatively new archaeological find in Egypt, when I was intrigued by another link. It took me to information about an early Egyptian ruler, the Scorpion king. Yep, he really existed, though not as the movie portrays him.

multiple jugs of wine_ScorpionKingTombIn April of 2009, Archaeologist Patrick McGovern and colleagues have found a cache of wine jars in Scorpion’s tomb that contains herbs and tree resins. They believe the additives were for medicinal purposes.

McGovern is sharing his new information with Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center. Using residue of ancient winebiomolecular analysis, they are attempting to recreate the recipes of the wine find. The purpose? Maybe the ancient Egyptians were on to something – like a cure for cancer. While the concept of utilizing archaeology to help cure disease is thrilling, I can’t help but wonder why the Egyptians felt a dead person needed medicine.

Evidence is looking like these remedies are as much as 3350 B.C. Interestingly these appear to be imported wine concoctions as the Egyptians did not, at that time, produce their own wine. If you were an Egyptian ruler and imported medicated alcohol, wouldn’t you try to preserve peace with that exporting nation? Sometimes I think we could use a little bit of that wine, and the political friendship it fostered.

Original article: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/04/090413-scorpion-king-wine.html

Originally posted 2012-11-18 04:42:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 22, 2023 - Blog    No Comments

Happy Holiday Editing

December.

To a kid, it means winter break, hot chocolate and presents. To a college student it’s winter break and a trip back home to see if your high school love is still yours. For parents, there’s no winter break – it’s double duty shopping, cleaning, and preparing for guests, food and gifts.

Writer’s, however, are editing their “NaNo”. All over the world National Novel Writing Month takes over and sucks up November by challenging writer’s to spew out 50,000 words or more.

No editing allowed.

That’s for December to consume.

So yes, I’m struggling with character inconsistencies, fleshing out settings, untwisting plot lines so I can re-twist them elsewhere, and sentence structure. But it’s the word-smithing that is the most fun – synonym smorgasbord!

Coming up with alternate words for death or hope really wakes me up. The story comes alive once I know exactly what feeling I’m sculpting.

What’s my least favourite thing about editing? Synonyms for also, so, and yet, for example. I hate it that we can’t use and reuse these overused words so we can all get on with the telling of the tale.

So *my favourite overused word* I went to Thesaurus.com, feeling a bit guilty for not clearing this hurdle all by my lonesome. Eureka! Eighty-four possible substitutes.

“I have to share” fever came over me. Inspiration to blog caused a frenzy of writer-ly activity: pushing the cat off my lap to gain better vantage of the keyboard, opening Excel to alphabetize, creating a columned document that I can copy with the Microsoft snipping tool…and heeere it is:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happier editing!

 

Originally posted 2013-12-11 13:24:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 21, 2023 - Blog    2 Comments

Videos Could Kill You. Cool!

Er… I mean videos about what could kill you are cool. These clever little 2-3 minute videos of how common things could kill you are actually miniature, obscure health tips.

For example, it so happens that hand sanitizer has twice the alcohol of hard liquor, so naturally some college kids (boys) tried to get a buzz on eating the stuff and, you guessed it, wound up in hospital. Yeah, not very smart – but it’s kinda funny. Generally I leave my alcohol intake to the occasional glass of wine, but that’s me.

So what else can kill you? Apparently loads of things you thought were healthy, can kill. Take, for instance the humble cherry; they’re in the stone fruit family by virtue of their very hard seeds like peaches and plums, and a single cherry pit contains enough cyanide to kill an adult if swallowed. But why would you eat that rock hard thing that is larger than any pill a doctor give you? Seems to me your safest bet is moderation and logic.

But come on, you’re not stupid enough to mow off your toes, are you? Well, are you?! If you want a laugh at what we’ve learned from experience, check out a few videos about what could kill you from the ULIVE videos. They are cute and very well done, besides.

http://www.ulive.com/what-you-dont-know-could-kill-you

You could also Google “could kill you” and learn – the fun way. One of my fav’s was

http://www.energyfiend.com/death-by-caffeine

But don’t over do it. Watching over 1000 could-kill-you videos could kill you. But hey, that’s kinda funny: “Death by Health Videos”. Cool  :D

 

Originally posted 2013-10-27 01:30:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 21, 2023 - Blog, Spooky Stuff    No Comments

October… the Spooky Month

Just in time for Halloween – a list of ghost movies so you can scare yourself, family and friends every night of October. 

three handheld Halloween DVD'sThe IMBD link - a slick list; each film has a synopsis so you know what you’re getting into – so comforting, don’t you think? Beware though, IMBD goes on and on and on and… you may end up reading more than movie watching.

The Wikipedia - this list of ghost movies is just a straight list – cut to the chase, let’s get on with it! Just so you know… each one is linked to its own Wikipedia page, so you might get caught up in the spoilers.

Totalfilm gets into the act with nice images to entice you to come a little closer, plus all kinds of distracting extras on the site. Worth a look.

Hey, what are you going as for your Trick or Treating? I see lots of Lady Gaga outfits this year, and here I thought she was fun and creative… not scary! But wait, there was that meat outfit…

Me, I’m thinking of being a wine taster for Halloween. It’ll be a cheap costume – all I need is a wine glass, and I can go from house to house asking for something to fill it. Whataya think?

Oh, and I uh, almost forgot…

 BOO!

 

Originally posted 2013-10-01 12:01:40. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 20, 2023 - Blog, Wine    No Comments

What’s with this Wine Pairing Thing?

First, let me say I’m not a big fan of shellfish, but when the vintner suggested pairing crab and Cupcake Chardonnay on the back of the bottle, I had to try.

See, I’m a bit new to the pairing table. I used to just drink wine with whatever I was eating, taking little notice of the age old ‘rule’ of white with fish, red with meat. I am a Californian, after all.

So, back to the bottle; “Serve chilled cupcake chardonnaywith crab cakes, seared Ahi tuna on waffle crackers or fresh baked French bread and cheese” says the back label of my 2010 Cupcake chardonnay. Initially, I wondered just how dedicated they were to actual pairing, as everyone and their grandmother knows about the cheese thing, even if cheese is the number one taste eliminator of subtle flavours.

Mulling it over I decided I liked the company’s attempt at educating its interested drinker’s with these mini menus. Great idea!

Some of you may know that I’ve been flirting with Cupcake for weeks now, and though I’ve enjoyed it with many dishes, for some reason the exoskeleton proposal stuck in my mind… you don’t think it could have anything to do with my arachnophobia, do ya?

Naaah…

Today I finally had enough nerve. I bought pre-made frozen crab cakes and fried them in a tiny bit of olive oil until crispy. Added a salad and took the first bites accompanied with the chardonnay.

I think I get it… I see what they mean; the delicate blend of distinct flavours of the Cupcake, being fruity to start with and a long woody finish, were not overpowered by the Trader Joe’s Maryland crab cakes. The crab flavour, which as I said I’m not crazy about, was actually improved by the wine. Much like sniffing coffee beans between perfumes or ‘cleansing’ ones palette with pickled ginger before another bite of sushi, the chardonnay made it possible to get through the meal. Imagining what this pair would be like to someone who truly liked crab, I can testify that the flavours accentuated each other. The verdict? The wine was the best part of the pair.

salad_poached_eggI’m trying the tuna next, though probably without the crackers. A mixed green salad complete with a five minute egg on top, sliced open to drool out like a Hawaiian volcano is more my style.

But for those of you not in love with seafood or fish, please, be my guest and move on to the cheese!

LiveJournal Tags: ,,,,

Originally posted 2012-01-26 22:58:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 20, 2023 - Blog, Inspiration    No Comments

October Foods

Ok, everybody knows about the October pumpkin: pie, soup, spiced coffee, but are we forgetting the really fun foods for this time of year?

You may very well ask, “Are there any other foods that should be eaten in October besides pumpkins?”

The answer involves a little thought. The little thought is: “Does any other month contain a Halloween?”

No. October = Halloween. 

We can now expand our list of foods both in length and in waist measurement.

Let’s start with my immediate favourite – my Ghost Cookie!!! Tender gingerbread inder all that sweet icing, just like when that witch tried to eat those kids…

 

Other foods like Count Chocula breakfast (or ooooh, after midnight) cereal. Put milk in it and you get chocolate milk. Not so scary :d

Or

Frankenberry cereal. Not my favourite, but inventive.

Then there’s that movie inspiration, RATatouille. I happen to love nightshade foods like eggplant and tomatoes so this would be a treat for me. My sister gets nightmares from it, though. Strange. 

 

Ice cream (I scream) has to be on the list especially if it’s Ben & Jerry’s Devil Food Chocolate or Dastardly Mash (chocolate bits, nuts and raisins). Lots of people like Chunky Monkey, but the name always gave me “The Willies”, whatever those are…

Oh, there’s a fun B&J’s website made just for Halloween, if you’re really into the cold crypt thing. Find it at http://www.benjerry.com/halloween .

 

All this talk of edibles has given me the munchies. Uh oh, my ghost cookie is looking particularly unhappy about that!

 

 

 

 

Originally posted 2013-10-15 22:40:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 19, 2023 - Blog, Wine    No Comments

For the Love of Romance… and Wine

Too many people seem to think that Romance novels are all about sex. If that were the case, only Erotica would be considered romantic.

Writing sex, however is not my forte; in fact, I don’t think of myself as a Romance writer. Rather I’m apt to weave romance throughout the story. Romance, the way I see it is about being aware of sensuality, both in one’s self and in the world around them.

For example, a romantic interlude between a couple from my favourite story might have you leaning across the picnic table for the salt and the person you have heartache for but won’t give you the time of day also reaches; your hands touch… your eyes meet. Then BANG! Birds rush from trees in fright, guests stand in shock, a drink falls over. The moment is lost – but not forgotten.

That table however, will undoubtedly be laden with a Mediterranean feast of vegetables – olives and the all important wine. This to me, is the essence of romance… relaxing with the ones I love. Colour me old-fashioned if you must, but my definition of romance is more about sensuality, than about sex.

In a story, as in life, If and or when togetherness becomes sexual, the beginning of the end must be near. The relationship is doomed to some kind of change. Either the passion peter’s out or the marriage becomes comfortable; either way the electricity of anticipation and mutual magnetic desire to seduce each other becomes diminished. The couple will have to work harder to keep the love alive: house, kids, love of work…

To my mind, this tenuous affection is a God-given magic; the magic of someone’s attention can make you feel beautiful and wanted. When you feel that kind of good, you are in the state of grace they talk about in Regencies, but notice it’s all too often in a ‘don’t touch’ sort of way. The attention you crave is wrapped up in hope – hope that you will see the heartthrob again, hope for that deep, timeless eye contact again; hope you will feel beautiful and wanted again. You anticipate. You hope. You romance.

That’s why the wine is so important. Remember the wine? It was on the table with the pesto noodles.

It’s not there to quench your thirst. It’s more like a lesson in lovemaking. It makes you pay attention to it. It fills your senses with romance, delivering a bouquet of gifts from the garden, a bright red ruby to put in your hand and dives in for a teenager’s kiss when you take it into your mouth. If a secret love is nearby, it’s an ice breaker. If the lover is known to you, eye contact becomes a promise. Anticipation. Those intense moments of passion leading up to the act is where the romance lives.

little bit left

And for those who find no partner, there’s always that glass of the sublime elixir to be your tour guide of the world, pointing out the beauty and meaning of life, and you fall in love with the knowledge and your experience. Somehow Mother Nature has created a love potion – a liquid lesson in appreciation.

After a sip or two of a rich Burgundy, any moon is gorgeous, the flowering tree is a marvel and the birds are speaking a language you can almost understand; your senses have been unveiled. You are in the throws of Romance.

not romanticIf you doubt me, just try stargazing with a Coke Cola or an energy drink and see how magical that is. Those drinks force you to pay attention, but to a different tune… because the romance is missing.

There’s that word again.

Hey, I have an idea; let’s go pour a glass of pinot and I’ll show you what I mean.

Originally posted 2012-04-27 11:20:27. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 18, 2023 - Blog, Spooky Stuff    No Comments

Niki is Writing…

October is a threshold month, a stepping-out-of-summer-into-the-dying-season month. Dios de los muertos, the Day of the Dead is in October; All Hallow’s Eve, Halloween is in October. Days get shorter, nights longer… more hours to be afraid of being alone in October.

So I’ve decided to finish things I started this year. I’m beginning with left-overs from the fridge – either I eat it, or the garbage can eats it. Next, I’m going to install the faucet I got on sale that has been sitting in the bathroom for a month, dismembered and disconnected. Then I’m going to finish my list of things I want to finish before October is over.

But if you think about it, October is all about supernatural things lurking in the dark. It’s not often you hear about a ghost or spirit bugging people during the day. October things come out at night. Makes me want to leave all the lights on all day, every day of October so I won’t be in the dark. Somehow, by the time November comes around, the night isn’t such a big thing. Why is that, you think? Probably the moonlight reflecting off the evening snow so it’s not pitch black outside. Hey wait, this is Los Angeles! Oh yeah, we can see at night because of all those celebrities names in lights.

Thinking, like I do, about the membrane between life and… other states of being, I wonder if darkness really does play an important role. We close our eyes – darkness; we fall asleep – darkness; we leave Earth – darkness. It’s natural to believe that death is ALL about darkness. However, if that were true, near death experiences (NDE’s) wouldn’t include the light at the end of the tunnel, would they? Or have these almost dying people gone to the Pearly Gates and seen inside? Hmmm… kinda supernatural.

Some scientists believe that the brain, sensing it’s immanent demise, releases a “flood of euphoria-causing endorphins”. I don’t buy that. Living beings are programmed to rail against the Reaper. Even my poor parakeet fought his end with a disturbing display of Death-Throws. Where were those the euphoria endorphins then?!

A Dutch study published in a 2010 Clinical Care Journal suggested that religious, young, female victims of near death were more likely to see shining lights than those who feared death. That would indicate that death lights are psychological and more in the realm of the brain than in the Hereafter.

Or since we are primarily seeing beings, if we can’t see it we either don’t believe it or, we are afraid of it. The suspense is just too great.

Then I am reminded of those science shows that explain how light is both a particle and a wave, and how it acts remarkably indeed, when it “thinks” it’s being observed ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfPeprQ7oGc ). That’s weird enough to trump the After Life!

So if we are built to not want to die, and we’re afraid of the dark, do we instinctively think the dark is deadly dangerous? Is it? If it’s not, then why are so many of us afraid of it? Things that go bump in the night do that because we can’t see them and we’re up and moving around in the dark. Simple.

Enough of this musing… it’s time to get back to my movie. Can you please turn out the lights when you go?

Thanks.

Originally posted 2013-10-12 22:28:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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