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Feb 7, 2018 - Blog, Inspiration    No Comments

Is Inspiration Food for the Soul?

Van Gogh Sunflowers, Creative Commons

You’ve seen the photographs of Van Gogh’s paintings, right? The swirling sky, the lonely room, the sunflowers…

I’ve often wondered about that room; what would inspire a painter to use his single room habitat as his still life? To emphasize how still his life was, at the time? Or was it peaceful for a change? Did he love it, or want to share it?

But that’s it – finding one’s inspiration where it lies.

My sister gave me a plastic shopping bag with scenes of life in London on it. It’s my favourite way to shop. Yesterday my dad saw it and practically stole it from me. “You can have it back when I’m dead.”

WHA… !?

That’s the other end of it – the appreciation.

If you ask an artist why he or she painted ‘that’, they don’t say, “because I thought you’d like it.” They tell you it affected them on a deep level they can’t explain. It’s this deep level that keeps me questioning: Is that ‘place’ where our spirit is, or are we lacking a sense like smell or ESP? Is it a means of communication that only our unconscious mind can read?

The more I think about it, the less I’m sure I really want to know. When I appreciate something, I say it’s divine, heavenly… but these words bring back the thoughts of the spirit – that ‘thing’ that never dies, the part of us that may leave us at night, vulnerable and close to death. The part of ourselves that maybe ‘lives’ forever, whatever that means. Kinda scary.

Looking at and appreciating art is, however, not creepy so I think I’ll stop the soul searching for the day, brush my teeth, and go dream.

Originally posted 2013-04-14 03:24:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Feb 6, 2018 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

Bruno, Chief of Police

Bruno, Chief of Police

by Martin Walker

What a delight this book was… is! The well-loved police chief of St. Denis, France is such a real character I felt I was reading fact instead of fiction. His policing techniques are bendable when it comes to the best outcome for his town and district, his friends and lovers. His talent for cooking is well known, and I have even tried some of his dishes, though don’t expect any recipes. (I had to read between the lines:) Through his eyes one can see the vistas and valleys from his house, or the trouble brewing in the market. Martin Walker has done a fabulous job, and as a writer, I envy him. Well done.

As a post script: I have to admit, I was leery, at first. The title didn’t do it, nor the cover. It was several reviews from readers that did it. So, Goodreads, take a bow.

Originally posted 2012-09-20 01:21:40. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Feb 6, 2018 - 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

Feb 5, 2018 - Blog, Inspiration, Style    8 Comments

The Kiss

My sister was recently married in London, England and decided to have a reception in the States. We were ecstatic, and got right to work on preparations.

I was in charge of the cake.

Being that it was to be a small venue of close southern Californian friends and immediate family, I didn’t think the multi-layer cake was in order.

Since the art business is where my sister ‘calls home’, it seemed fitting that the cake should reflect that, and the romantic Gustav Klimt came to mind. His 1908 painting, “The Kiss” portrays a newly wed couple in a loving embrace of gentle affection. No other image would do.

Fondant City
I surrounded myself with coloured fondant icing – every inch of the rainbow, expanding it by making my own colours, working the dough-like frosting as if it were clay. It might have been more fun without the plastic cloves, but it was important to me that the cake be suitable for the pickiest eater. Accents of edible gold leaf pulled the image together. (The ‘glow’ around the couple is a gold leaf covered rib of fondant, as are a few areas of the garment designs in the photo detail, above.)

When the thing was presented to the newly-weds and guests, no one was willing to cut into the artwork – not even the bride and groom! Cake maker Alex Kent (aka Niki Chanel) had to do it amidst hisses and boos and gasps of disbelief… but they all had a piece.

Originally posted 2012-07-14 00:51:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Feb 5, 2018 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

Who Do, Voodoo?

A Quick, Fast Paced, Absorbing & Fun Murder Mystery

by Rochelle Staab
If you like magic of any kind you’ll love this wonderful romp around the underworld of hexes and spells.

Author Rochelle Staab (what a great name for mystery!) weaves old movies, restaurants and key streets of Hollywood into her story to make you feel like you are in the limelight; it made me want to get in my car and go see for myself.

The story revolves around a self-sufficient, non-believing psychologist, Liz Cooper, who is swept up in the world of magical mayhem when she tries to clear her best friend Robin Bloom, of murder. It seems everyone she meets in this well rounded cast becomes involved in the deadly game of getting to the source of the danger first, before another life is lost. In the process our snarky, sexy female-lead meets up with Nick Garfield, a witty college professor and occult specialist, to get to the truth – fast! And, yes; he’s sexy, too!

This supernatural suspense is a fascinating insight into the realm of unseen forces – forces that will have you turning its pages to the unforeseeable end.

I loved it!

Originally posted 2012-03-24 15:09:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Feb 4, 2018 - 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

Feb 4, 2018 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

Bruja Brouhaha

Curses, and 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 practioner 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 and easy to believe, 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

Feb 3, 2018 - Blog, Just for Writer's    No Comments

NaNoWriMo 2013

If you would like to join me in the NaNoWriMo race this year, I invite you to meet here, and let’s cheer each other on! Plus, you can show off your awards [see 2012 here]. 

To participate in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), go to nanowrimo.org and fill out an account form. To choose Buddies, you need to start with one participant – you can use mine : nikichanel. Then go to My NaNoWriMo / Author Info / Writing Buddies or Buddy of (I don’t think it much matters which… heck, try both!), and click on a few more authors that have participated in the past. They won’t mind – they joined just for this reason – to share.

If you like human company to talk to while you listen to characters in your head, bookmark nikichanel.com/just for writers and leave a cheer or groan in the comment section. Feel free to visit often for inspiration to carry on. I’ll have cookies and milk : )

*   *   *

Hi there; this is a new section for me, but I’m trying something different this year for NaNoWriMo; I will be attempting two projects. 

Yeah, I have gotten bitten by inspiration pretty badly. One is fiction, the other, not. Funny, though… the non-fiction inspired the new story in the Niki Chanel series. This first in the series was “The Ghost Club”, sub-titled ‘A Spirited Wine’. The second was “The Coma Club”, sub-titled ‘Death’s Door’. This, the third one is called “The Key Club”, sub-titled ‘One Man’s Treasure’. I’m still waiting for “The Wine Club” to gel. Maybe after NaNo…

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by Dennis Yang httpflickr.comphotosdennis3256153555

Getting on with the task approaching… if you join me, I’ll join you!

 

 

 

Originally posted 2013-10-28 16:00:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Feb 3, 2018 - 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

Feb 2, 2018 - Blog, Inspiration    No Comments

Does Inspiration Come from the Soul?

A writer friend asked me “What was your personal inciting incident?” Like knowing where I got my first kiss, I knew exactly what made me do it – what made me want to write.

During my senior year in high school, I had an accident that caused me to be bed-ridden for months in traction; And, yes… from time to time I did look (and feel) like a mummy.

To ensure that I would graduate, my teachers prepared work for me to do at home. All of the assignments were pretty easy and straight forward… except English.

I was to write in a journal every day, read novels and write papers. Journal? Check. Read? Check. Write? “What Should I write about?” I asked my instructor. He sent me a series of articles he had picked up from various sources. He told me to choose one, and comment on the subject matter or write about how it made me feel.

I did all of them.

One in particular really awakened my imagination and opened my eyes to the world of the weird. It was a piece titled “Fire Walking in Ceylon”.

Wow! Everything about the story was new to me. Where is Ceylon? What’s fire walking? Why do people do it? Who had the idea to do it in the first place? What kind of magic or witchcraft is this – why don’t the ‘walker’ get hurt? This was totally new to me and exploded my complacent reality to smithereens!

My questions mounted, and I began to do research on these new subjects. For example Ceylon turned out to be Sri Lanka, a large island nation about 20 miles south of India. I was intrigued that a country would find it important to change its name while keeping its heritage intact. The strange nature of their monkey-told stories of evil magicians kidnapping princesses and free floating spirits in the air expanded my knowledge of far away exotic lands and culture lands;weirder still – they exist now. Thai dancers and royalty wore pointed hats of jewels and pointed shoulder pads, pointed fingernails and pointed this that and the other thing – kind of spooky, yet alluring. I had to know more. But first, the fire walking.

I was fascinated that people from all walks of life would endanger their feet with these red hot coals. For me, a paper cut is bad enough, but burning your feet?! It was all the more vivid for me at the time because I couldn’t walk, even with unburned feet. There was much more here than a dare. Finding out why, took me into the world of paranormal and spirituality, and I’m still intrigued by the genre of ‘Strange, but True’.

 Lady with shopping bag walking on coals, behind Monk

I found out that some people believe if you can achieve a thing that you, at first, think is impossible, it can break the chains of fear that bind you. Meditation of various forms is suggested to get your mind into a state that it will believe anything you tell it, rather than believing what it sees and nothing more. This is what separates the human mind from the animal kingdom; a cat or dog would no more walk through a fire pit willingly than a human would deliberately cut off their own hand. I also found out that Westerner’s learn how to fire walk while on vacation – they say it’s easy! *shock*

The conscious mind must also take part; one must decide to do this, then the subconscious mind is contacted through meditation or suggestive thought, if you will. Then the body melds with the higher brain functions and allows the individual to avoid harm during the experience. I still wonder, after all these years, if I could do it. Investigating the supernatural can be a life’s work and still one would only scratch the surface. Being in too much pain to meditate,  I decided to read up on Asian cultures.

I learned that history is always influenced by geography. I saw how a mountain range or large desert affects not only a tribe, or a nations travel but their attitudes, superstitions and religions. Take the Chinese and their dragon lore. It explained the mist rising from a crevasse that you wouldn’t want your children to play near, so you tell them this story that grabs their imagination and voila you have a traditional myth lasting hundreds of generations. Then someone includes gemstones growing between the dragon scales and now you have my attention! So I studied geology of the region, which in turn took me to gemmology. The gems of southeast Asia are plentiful and extensive. Apparently, one can take a shovel and, with eyes closed, drop it blade first into the ground and you have a gem mine! Topaz and moonstone; ruby and sapphires. I eventually became a gemmologist through the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) when it was located in Santa Monica, and did further studies with the Fellowship of Gemmological Association (FGA) Great Britain. That’s inspiration!

The real purpose of this story was to answer my friend. It has become an illustration of how one can be bitten by the writing bug anywhere, anyhow and at any time. So beware!

From this English assignment on, I wrote about what I saw and thought, what I heard and read about and of course, I wrote about things I did, places I went and people I met. Now I write what the characters tell me to write; characters that I (almost) believe have found me and realize I can be a conduit for them by way of the written word, to tell their stories next to my own… like taking dictation from the spirit world.

So, if you are interested in being a writer and you find yourself asking “What shall I write about?”, then I’d say look for that thing that infuses you with a million questions, and read a lot looking for your answers. Don’t worry – your characters will find you. The rest is easy.

Originally posted 2013-05-16 14:37:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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