Monday, October 31, 2011

Book of The Dead

I teamed up with five lady authors to write a YA paranormal romance novelette for an anthology we’re putting together: Death by Chocolate. (Being released Valentine’s Day 2012, free on Amazon Kindle.)

As I was writing my blurb for the book, it struck me that a lot of my stories center on death.

In my last completed historical romance the hero’s fiancĂ© becomes engaged to another man when everyone believes Ethan to have perished in the wilds of America – which he nearly did.

The last historical I started involves a young woman people call The Black Widow because her husbands keep dying on her.

Aurora Sky dies in a car crash and is brought back to life as a vampire assassin in my YA novel Aurora Sky: Transfusion.

And now, in my latest YA WIP, Graylee Perez is a witch who dies and is brought back to life.

Looking back I noticed these projects were all started or written within the last three years, which is about the time I became hyper aware that our time here is limited.

It’s not a morbid obsession, but one that’s made me more productive and appreciative of life. I also find myself more aware that the people around me are on the same countdown and that’s been the hardest part to accept. 

I like that Halloween began as a day of honoring the dead. For all its commercialization, I see it as a family day: parents taking their kids to carnivals and trick-or-treating, watching scary movies with loved ones, getting in costume and going out with friends or significant others to dance the night away. I see it as a break from the routine. A moment. A snapshot. A time to celebrate this wonderful thing called life.

May the magic be with you.

Twas the Night Before WriMo

Down to the final hours before NaNoWriMo.

Good luck to my sister WriMos!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Snack Attack

I’ve got candy on the brain and it’s not just because Halloween’s coming up. An even more frightening phenomenon follows on the coattails of doomsday: NaNoWriMo.

In the past I've used this month as an excuse to load up on candy, snack every 20 minutes and imbibe on wine. This year I want to give myself an advantage by chomping down on brain food – the kind of stuff that powers me through pages without the consequent crash, burn and tummy ache.

I’ve already started building up a stash for next week: dry roasted pumpkin seeds, dried apples, raw buckwheat snacks, dates, carob & goji berry bites, walnuts and frozen fruits for smoothies.

If I have the time I’ll make up my own snacks and freeze them: sesame bon-bons and date bars. My two quickie all-time favorite munchables are ants on a log and popcorn with a dusting of nutritional yeast.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Twilight Country

Just returned from an impromptu four day getaway in the Olympic Peninsula. The trip was a bit of a bust due to poor planning, crap weather and time constraints, but mostly because of all the No Dogs allowed signs at trail heads.

For the Full Report please check out my kick-off post at Death By Chocolate where I’ve teamed up with five talented authors to put together a YA paranormal anthology filled with romance, death, magic and chocolately goodness.

Release Date: Valentine’s Day 2012

Price: FREE

A four hour drive for this view in La Push, “Land of Jacob”. 

At least it wasn’t raining. (Our consolation beach.)
Banned from the trails, we take to the beach.

Seb wondering why he let Nikki plan this trip.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Baker’s Dozen: My Favorite Bread Recipes

I made an executive decision to add flavor by reformulating this site as a food and fiction blog: Salt ‘n’ Paper. It combines my love of cooking and writing; eating and reading. (Notice I take equal pleasure in active prep time and enjoying the results of said labors.)

Out of a buffet of ideas, it came to me to begin with my favorite of the food groups: Bread. 

Chef’s Note: My food photography skills “knead” smoothing out. Two of these shots are taken from the pages of The Joy of Vegan Baking.

1.  Potato Bread with Chives, Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson p. 471

2.  Banana-Split Tea Bread, (chocolate, cherries, pineapple and peanuts – who needs whipped cream?) Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson p. 473

3.  Classic Focaccia with Rosemary, Olive Oil, and Coarse Salt, The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein p. 191

4.  Maple-Almond French Toast, The 30 Minute Vegan by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray p. 71 (Not really a bread recipe, but one of my favorite ways to enjoy bread in the morning.)

5.  Mediterranean Olive Bread, The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau p. 58 (With a name like “Joy of Baking” you know there’s going to be a lot – see below.)

6.  Naan, Joy of by CPG p. 168

7.  Soft Pretzels, Joy of by CPG p. 174

8.  Cinnamon Rolls, Joy of by CPG p. 175

9.  Monkey Bread, Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau p. 203

10.  Home-Style Potato Rolls, Veganomicon by p.218

11.  Baking Powder Biscuits, Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz p. 26

12.  Butternut Squash Rolls, The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash (Out of print. I veganized these borrowing a book from Ecology Action’s library during my 3 months internship in Willits, Calif.) 

Pictured (From top to bottom): Cinnamon Rolls, Mediterranean Olive Bread, Banana-Split Tea Bread (made and enjoyed this morning).

Monday, October 3, 2011

But Wait… It Gets Better

When it comes to the crucial opening pages of a story, not only have I committed every no-no in the book, I continue to commit them. In other words: I suck at starting novels.

Among my worst offenses:

The Preface – avoid at all costs! I inwardly groan when I catch sight of one. So why do I keep writing them?

Backstory – never, never, never in the opening chapter and yet there I go explaining away.

Introducing too many characters. A writing instructor counted 13 cameos within the first THREE pages of my historical novel.

Telling not showing. How novice! (And boring.)

Aurora Sky has the highest volume of violence, action and humor of any book I’ve ever written. And how does it begin? Snore city – checking out her dream college with her mother. La dee da. She’s actually skipping in an earlier draft of the book.  

Not exactly a page turner. (At least I axed the original preface.)

This setup was employed with a specific purpose: Show the reader Aurora’s hopes and dreams right before ripping them away from her. Portray her as the obedient daughter and obliging friend in stark contrast to the hellion she becomes after she’s brought back to life and undergoes a traumatic initiation.

But it doesn’t matter what comes next if the reader never gets beyond the opening pages. I spent weeks stewing over this. There are plenty of action scenes I could draw on – the car accident that changes Aurora’s life for one, but that felt cheap in a ‘spring it on the reader’ sort of way.

I think I’ve found my compromise. In J.A. Konrath’s book on publishing he says Start With Action. I now begin Aurora Sky with a fight scene. It’s a bit of a teaser since it’s from a sequence that comes a bit later, but I did find a way to morph it into the final countdown leading to Aurora’s crash. It’s a much better fit for the overall tone of the story, which is dark and sarcastic.