Posts Tagged ‘Indies Unlimited’

Authors Eat…

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

This week the Culture and Cuisine Club features award winning author Laurie Boris. I’ve read Laurie’s book “Drawing Breath” and I highly recommend it. Laurie’s novel “Don’t Tell Anyone” was awarded first place in the 2013 literary fiction category on the Kindle Book Review. Laurie has a new book, “Sliding Past Vertical”,  and has also contributed to a recently released anthology of creepy horror stories, perfect for this time of year. In her spare time Laurie writes freelance articles, assists the Evil Mastermind at the highly acclaimed Indies Unlimited website, and performs minor or major surgery on the manuscripts of other writers. With all the creative energy Laurie burns she needs to refuel with one of her favorite comfort foods. We are excited to share her recipe for lentil soup.

In the authors own words…

I’ve always loved the comfort of soup, especially as the days turn frosty. I started making this particular lentil soup when I lived on my own for the first time and was mining the couch cushions for subway change between paydays. The ingredients were inexpensive, and I could buy most of them at the local food co-op. It also made for a filling meal that was a heck of a lot better and healthier than the (then) five-for-a-dollar prepackaged ramen noodles my roommates stocked up on. I’ve embellished on the original a bit since those days, but it’s still the same basic recipe.

Since I started writing, I’ve discovered that soup is more than a warm, humble bowl. Prepping all those root vegetables is good exercise after being at the keyboard most of the day, and I get into a kind of meditative rhythm if I want to keep that story going in head. Having leftovers around is a nice bonus when I’m on a good run and don’t want to cook. It also makes the house smell wonderful. Just don’t put the pot up to simmer and then disappear for hours into your writing room, unless you want to meet the local firefighters. Trust me. I did, and I have. They were not amused.

This recipe makes for a really big pot. If you want to make less, just cut the ingredients in half. This hearty soup is good with cornbread or biscuits, and extra yummy sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese before serving.

Ingredients:

Olive oil and a smidge of butter

The intriguing cover of "Drawing Breath."

2 or 3 carrots, peeled

2 stalks of celery

2 white potatoes, peeled

1 large sweet potato, peeled

1 large onion

2 or 3 large cloves of garlic, minced (more or less to taste)

1-½ cups of dried lentils

10 cups of water

2 cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup*

Oregano to taste

Basil to taste

3-4 bay leaves

Red pepper flakes to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

 

  1. Rinse and drain lentils; set aside.
  2. Chop all the vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Heat olive oil/butter at the bottom of a large soup pot (6-8 quarts); sauté onion, garlic, and celery until soft.
  4. Turn down the heat. Add canned soup, water, and lentils. Stir to combine.
  5. Add potatoes and carrots. Bring soup to a boil, then lower heat, add spices, cover and simmer for about an hour, stirring once in a while so it doesn’t stick.
  6. Using a potato masher or immersion blender, puree some of the vegetables in the pot (how chunky you want to leave it is up to you.) Adjust spices to taste, and then simmer another half-hour.

 

* Try to use canned soup with low sodium and no MSG. If you prefer not to use cans, add some chopped fresh mushrooms when you sauté the garlic, onions, and celery, add one more white potato and a cup of milk or cream instead of one of the cups of water. (Add milk or cream toward end of cooking.)

You can learn more about Laurie and her books at the following links: 

http://www.amazon.com/Laurie-Boris/e/B005I551QA

http://laurieboris.com/

 

 

Authors Eat…

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

This week author Lynne Cantwell joins us for an installment of the popular Culture and Cuisine Club feature, Authors Eat…

Before we get to Lynne’s story and recipe for Chocolate Mint Meringues, I have a confession to make. When Lynne joined the staff of Indies Unlimited I was intimidated. Along with a master’s degree in fiction from Johns Hopkins, Lynne has an impressive resume. Twenty years in broadcast journalism, time spent at CNN, and fiction writing galore – experience that I could never hope to match. What I have found, however, is that she is willing to share her expertise with fellow writers who hold themselves to the high standard she sets for her craft. She is kind and supportive of new authors. Lynne is the author of the popular five book series, “The Pipe Woman Chronicles”, as well as other novels. She has collaborated on a variety of anthologies, has published some of her short stories, and revels in writing flash fiction – just for fun. She is a witty, smart lady, and kind enough to share with us her recipe for Chocolate Mint Meringues. Yum!

In the author’s own words…

As the weather turns cooler, my thoughts are beginning to turn to the baking I need to do for the holidays. When I first started working at the law firm where I am now, I realized I couldn’t afford to buy more than a token gift for the attorneys I work with – but I could make them cookies, which, given their eighty-hour weeks, was probably not something they would do for themselves. It’s become a tradition, and one that does me a favor; I always make cookies for the holidays anyway, and this way most of them go out the door instead of onto my hips.

I have several types that I make every year, and one or two that I rotate in and out, depending on how ambitious I feel. But I always make these meringue cookies last. They’re quick and easy, so I can just about do them in my sleep, and they’re ready in the morning when I’m putting the final touches on the cookie tins.

These are not just for the holidays, either. I got the recipe from my sister-in-law, who said it’s great for when your kid tells you at 9:00 p.m. that he promised to bring cookies for the school bake sale the next day. (She was right.)

In case you’ve never made meringue before, here are a couple of definitions. “Soft peaks” means that when you pull the beaters out of the bowl, the mixture holds its shape. “Stiff peaks” means that when you pick up the bowl and turn it over, nothing falls out – but do this carefully, in case you’re not quite there yet!

 

4 egg whites

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 1/2 c. sugar

A few drops of mint extract

A few drops of green food coloring, if desired

12-oz. bag of chocolate chips

 

Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl, and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, the mint flavoring, and the food coloring, and keep beating with the mixer until stiff peaks form. By hand, fold in the chocolate chips. (I usually use the mini chips, but you can use the regular size, too.)

Line several cookie sheets with waxed paper. Heat oven to 375 degrees for 15 minutes and shut off. Drop cookies by teaspoonfuls (smaller cookies turn out better) onto the lined cookie sheet and place in the oven overnight. Makes about six dozen cookies.

Intriguing cover, don't you think?

You can visit Lynne at the following links.

Blog: http://hearth-myth.blogspot.com/

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Lynne-Cantwell/e/B005JTP5NE

A Room With A View

Sunday, May 19th, 2013
This post previously appeared at Indies Unlimited.
I am writing in the rain. My computer is exactly eighteen inches from my office window.Outside, the trellis is heavy with climbing jasmine and trained plumbago. The soft sounds of the falling rain are echoed in the movement of the leaves they pelt.

I am warm and dry, yet somehow a part of the dripping scene in front of me. This landscape has been my food for the day, a rich diet of wet leaves, green vistas, and periwinkle blue flowers.

Writers need to be nourished. We are, after all, artists. To create we must refuel our tanks. To “find our art” as Pablo Picasso famously said, we must be able to draw in, process, and send out a piece of ourselves.

How one does this is entirely dependent on the personality of the individual. We writers are a unique lot — and what refreshes one will exhaust another. I have listed some of my favorite ways to keep the words I am looking for flowing freely.

Physical exercise is the first “go to” for me when I am stuck. An hour hitting tennis balls on the ball machine has clarified plot flow time and time again. Yoga is another practice that consistently provides the answer I am looking for. I would like to think it is the movement, but I suspect that it is the happy endorphins allowing my unconscious to solve the problem for me. For this reason when I am writing I get up every hour and a half and move around. I time myself, and after fifteen minutes are up I am back to my story. It is also a great way to accomplish those little things you don’t ever get to. Just make sure you watch the clock and go back to your desk when the time is up.

Laughing is another way to free the mind. A writer I know has posted lots of Grumpy Kitty photos and videos, and I suspect he enjoys watching them as much as sharing them. The physiology of laughing provides stress relief that has been tied to longer life. I know that, after a long day, I want to watch something funny on TV. Family Guy and the Big Bang Theory are two favorites that never cease to accomplish their goal.

A popular Floridian author, Randy Wayne White, is also an adventurer and avid water sports participant. What better way to end a day spent indoors at his desk developing his character, Marion “Doc” Ford, than by paddleboarding at a beach near his home on Sanibel Island. He is a successful restauranteur, and just for fun invented his own brand of hot sauce. He writes every day, but knows that, for him, time spent at the beach recharges his spirit.

Visiting a museum, listening to music, or reading, be it a classic or a contemporary novel, are other ways to stay relaxed, focused, and fed. I like to read while I eat lunch, feeding my body and soul at the same time. Because I like lists I have included a link to a site with “50 books you must read.”

This eclectic list inspired me to make 2013 the year that I filled in some gaps in my reading. How could I have seen The Maltese Falcon a hundred times and never read the book? How could I call myself a Hemingway devotee without understanding the struggles of The Old Man and The Sea? How could the movie Laura, an American film noir of cult status, be my favorite movie if I haven’t read the words of Vera Caspary? Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece, The Picture of Dorian Gray, provides a glorious buffet of a cruel dandy’s privileged existence and pulls us willingly into the debauchery and decline of so promising a golden boy. I read the 1890 version contained in the Norton Critical Edition, slowly, and it encouraged me to go back to my first novel and clean what I was unhappy with. What is good for Oscar is good for Lois.

Gardening and especially working on my orchids provides me with hours of contemplation. There are a few tricks to growing orchids, but once you have mastered them it is amazingly easy to have flowers that last for months. I tried to grow roses, but it was a tedious schedule of rotating chemical sprays as they constantly contracted sooty mold and bugs. In Florida orchids are a better choice, and I love to hear from people who have followed my tips and now grow their own. Nurturing these odd-looking plants into producing stunning blooms gives me a sense of accomplishment that I channel back into my WIP.

My 2013 orchids.

Cooking, specifically chopping, is another great way to kill two birds with one stone. My husband calls me the “freelancer” because I will throw things together as the mood strikes me. He is not complaining, however. I must admit I am a very good cook, except for rice and breakfast potatoes. Rice requires that you follow directions, and I need cooking to be unconfined. My husband makes the rice, and I do the rest. I have become fond of using the slow cooker, which is the ideal solution for busy writers. Throwing lots of things in a pot and letting slow heat and time do the work is ideal. Don’t think in the limited terms of cans of mushroom soup, unless that is what you want. The Internet is full of gourmet suggestions. I take my breaks to stir what is in the crock-pot, re-season, and maybe add a little of something that the recipe didn’t ask for.

Intimacy is another way to find inspiration. Indies Unlimited is a safe for work site, so I will leave this topic to your imagination.

Sometimes, the act of speaking aloud about a character or scene and getting some constructive feedback from another writer, is all it takes to feel refreshed and anxious to return to your computer. Having a person like this in your life is a luxury and a blessing I wish for every dedicated writer.

I hope these ideas help you to get the nourishment you need to create and produce work you and your readers will love.

About L. A. Lewandowski

Lois Lewandowski graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Political Science and French Literature. A passion for life lived well is reflected in her first novel, “Born to Die-The Montauk Murders”, a glimpse into the world of the beau monde. Her second novel, “My Gentleman Vampire: The Undead Have Style”, introduces a new breed of fabulous, tango dancing undead. Lois enjoys the sun in beautiful Tampa, Florida. Learn more at her lifestyle blog, and her Amazon author page.

27 THOUGHTS ON “A ROOM WITH A VIEW”

  1. I think you have covered most of what makes me tick with your own list, Lois.
    • Physical exercise: karate or, if I’m feeling especially wound up, beating the hell out of a full length bag.
    • Meditation: static or tai chi.
    • Laughing: watching our cats, Big Bang, or old Seinfeld episodes.
    • Outdoors: I used to do stuff like skiing, driving fast, horse riding, water skiing, climbing, parachuting etc. However, these days a walk in virgin forest or along a lonely beach does the trick.
    • Reading: a good book; sometimes that can be one I’ve read more than once.
    • Movie: same as above.
    • Music: these days it has to be something that I consider to be good music; my favourite contemporary is Dire Straights, my favourite classical is Mozart.
    • Cooking: In 1963 I was one of seven boys who petitioned and got the right to have cooking lessons, instead of metalwork and woodwork, a first in the UK school system. I almost became a chef, I still love cooking.
    • Intimacy and the perfect person to sound off: I’m incredibly fortunate (third time lucky).

    I don’t do the gardening bit is all; I like to leave nature to its own devices.

    Excellent post. Lois.

  2. Gardening is a favourite of mine. I have only one orchid but it has bloomed four years in a row now – that last bloom lasted 4 months – Dec. to April. You’ve painted some beautiful relaxing pictures here. Think I won’t need that bubble bath now. :)

    • I would of guessed you were a gardener, Yvonne. Gardening takes patience, and one needs to be able to see and sometimes sense what the plant needs. You are a thoughtful and kind person.
      The orchid you describe is “happy.” I have one, the purple dendrobium in the picture above, that is always in bloom. A friend came to see my orchids and started to tell me how I should replant it to a bigger pot, etc. Why would I do that? When it stops blooming I’ll think about it…

      • Aw, thank you Lois. My orchid is the same colour as the one at the back of your pic that is a light magenta, the long sprig. It’s never been repotted either. I garden more by instinct than by science, so you may have something there. Aside from my veggies all of my gardens are drought resistant perennials – good karma for the environment.

  3. Your orchids are beautiful, Lois. I don’t have much luck with plants. Usually I can only keep two; if I get more, they start to die off ’til I’m back down to two. For a short while, I was able to trick them by putting two in each room, but somehow they caught on. :D

    My recharging methods of choice are reading and knitting.

    • I suspected that my orchids talked to each other. :)
      I really think it is all about the light. Once they start to re-bloom I don’t move them.
      They also seem to like music.
      Knitting seems like a very relaxing hobby. And, you can make pretty things for yourself or others.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Nice piece of your life, Lois. Many things in common.

    I have the luck to live in the countryside and have a clear view on the Alps and the Mount Blanc. Sometimes it is enough to sit in the garden with my cats, and watch, listen, breath.

    Even strolling in our garden helping my wife, she’s the green thumb in the family, or taking a break with an episode of my favourite series. My first novel has been instrumental of making me watch the whole 8 seasons of “24″ :)

    Reading of course is a must, where to find all the words otherwise?

    Blessed be.
    Massimo

    • Hello Massimo,
      I love the mountains, and your vista sounds lovely. There is so much to appreciate in nature, free gifts we can observe and pull into our souls.
      I haven’t watched “24″, but I will look into it.
      Thank you for your comments.

  5. What a beautiful post. Cross stitch. If I draw blank with my writing, I pick up my cross stitch. You can guarantee that as soon as I get to an intricate piece, my muse kicks in, and I have to write again.

  6. Good morning,
    Glynis is a beautiful name for a writer.
    My mother did cross stitch, and I cherish the items I have of her work. Isn’t it interesting that instead of fighting for the words, a relaxing pursuit encourages your muse to return. He must get jealous of your attention being focused elsewhere.
    Have a lovely day.

  7. Hi Mel,
    Travel by train or bus is a wonderful way to slow down and appreciate the journey. It is also the perfect opportunity to people watch.
    I haven’t painted in a very long time. I would love to be able to do murals, but then every wall in my house would be covered with flowers!
    Thanks for your comments.

    • Unfortunately I have no artistic ability whatsoever when it comes to painting – so I’m talking about just decorating with one color!
      Given I don’t have to concentrate on the task too hard, I just let my mind wander and usually my characters appear to keep me company.

  8. Your opening lines to this piece were great!

    “Outside, the trellis is heavy with climbing jasmine and trained plumbago. The soft sounds of the falling rain are echoed in the movement of the leaves they pelt. I am warm and dry, yet somehow a part of the dripping scene in front of me. This landscape has been my food for the day, a rich diet of wet leaves, green vistas, and periwinkle blue flowers.”

    What an opening for a story! I enjoyed the variety of things you use to re-charge your batteries and actually found some that I have used myself. No matter what we are doing, writing or working on a special project, we need something to deviate from the task at hand to give us a new perspective. Thanks for sharing, we all need some encouragement to go forward.

    Keep up your good perspective on life.

    RG Bud

    • Hi Bud,
      Thank you for your kind words.
      It is a beautiful day in Tampa. In only a few weeks the humidity will be high and any gardening is done very early in the morning. Fortunately, I can still watch what is going on from my office window.
      I am glad you stopped by. I haven’t been on the old LI threads recently. I started one of my own about Pinterest, my new passion.
      God bless. :)

  9. Lovely post, Lois, and beautiful imagery. For writing energy, I turn to exercise (swimming, strength training, and long walks in my hilly neighborhood), Big Bang reruns (funny how so many of us like this), and washing dishes.

    • Hi Laurie,
      I am not surprised to see “The Bang Theory” included on your list. :)
      A household chore like washing dishes kills two birds with one stone; I sometimes polish furniture when I take my fifteen minute break. Or when I can’t sleep at night.
      The area where you live must be a great place to walk, especially at this time of year when all the plants are waking up.
      Thank you for adding to the list of writer’s recharging techniques

The Cockroach Games

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

This post appeared previously at Indies unlimited.

The Cockroach Games

I believe that once we are all gone, Keith Richards will still be here… with five cockroaches saying ‘you know I smoked your uncle, did you know that?’” – Robin Williams

My last author blog post on Indies Unlimited was about being born and raised in the state of New Jersey.

I truly love living in my adopted state of Florida, and as I read the comments from my readers I decided to write about one of my first Floridian encounters with the king of Darwinian theory, the American Cockroach.

There are thousands of types of cockroaches. The oldest cockroach fossil dates back 350 million years. It is believed that our modern day pests are quite similar to their ancestors.

The first time I ever saw a cockroach was in Newark Airport as an adult. The cold northern winters kill off most of the bigger specimens. I was raised to believe that if you had cockroaches you were a poor housekeeper. In the south this is not necessarily the case. Without a freezing winter to kill them off these hardy insects thrive and grow to spectacular sizes.

When we moved to Florida we lived in a ground floor apartment. I was pregnant and expanding rapidly, so I was thrilled to avoid the steep stairs of the second floor residences. One night, or perhaps early in the morning, I needed to use the bathroom that was close by our bedroom. As I sat, a huge cockroach, at least four inches long, ran across the wall and hid behind the hand towels. I screamed bloody murder and my husband ran in to investigate. He tried to whack the intruder, but he was a speedy devil. (A cockroach can run up to three miles per hour and turn 25 times in one second. The best way to stop them is Windex, but that is another story.) He streaked across the wall and disappeared. My husband looked all over the bathroom for him, and finally gave up.

“He’s gone, Honey. I’m going back to bed, I have to work tomorrow.”

I knew better. An insect doesn’t get that big by being stupid. His impressive size was a testament to his superior survival skills. He was here, oh yes, and I would get him. The adrenaline coursed through my body and I was the hunter. I needed to think like a cockroach, nay, I must become a cockroach. Only by putting myself in his cerciwould I defeat my enemy.

I surveyed the bathroom. He was not near the ceiling, nor was he anywhere at eye level. I turned slowly, a full 360 degrees, taking one final look before I slowly rested my Buddha-bellied body on the throw rug. That is when I saw him. The crafty son of a gun had flattened his body upside down under the lip of the countertop by the sink. Nonchalantly I turned my back to him, (cockroaches have a nerve that runs down their back allowing them to sense danger from behind), rolled up a magazine, and launched my attack. I whacked three times under the counter with the fashion magazine, my stylish weapon of choice. His mutilated carcass fell to the floor and I felt the surge of military success. Victory was mine! Finally, I could sleep. The only collateral damage was the ruined Vogue.

As I remember this encounter I will admit how much I like the idea of giving animals, reptiles, and insects human characteristics, personalities, and well-honed survival instincts. On Indies Unlimited a recent flash fiction challenge required the writer to imagine an unassuming turtle that caused radioactive aging. This was my first foray into a writing challenge of this sort. It is a very helpful exercise in parsing one’s words, much like writing a book synopsis.

Are there books where cockroaches are the main character? I am familiar with Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”. With all due respect, I am more interested in reading a humorous or science fiction story. In the movie Men in Black I always thought the bug was a brilliant addition to the plot line. “Put the sugar in the water.”  Hilarious.

I am fascinated with the idea of a story where the main character encounters a bug or an insect that gives him a run for his money. I would love to read a tale where a bug, like the gopher in Caddy Shack, dances to Kenny Loggins. Now that would be funny.

About L. A. Lewandowski

Lois Lewandowski graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Political Science and French Literature. A passion for life lived well is reflected in her first novel, “Born to Die-The Montauk Murders”, a glimpse into the world of the beau monde. Her second novel, “My Gentleman Vampire: The Undead Have Style”, introduces a new breed of fabulous, tango dancing undead. Lois enjoys the sun in beautiful Tampa, Florida. Learn more at her lifestyle blog, and her Amazon author page.

19 THOUGHTS ON “THE COCKROACH GAMES”

  1. Great post, Lois. You Floridians don’t mess around when it comes to cockroaches. I hate those things! One of my greatest joys, when I lived in Colorado, was discovering that it was too arid for them there.

  2. “I needed to think like a cockroach, nay, I must become a cockroach.”

    ROTFL Lois… I think I met his cousin in Mexico this past February :-)Hilarious post–thanks for the laugh.

  3. Nice post. My first introduction to cockroaches was as a young child at my great-grandmother’s appartment. She had just been moved to a nursing home and we went to help pack her stuff. The apartment was infested, the doorframe was coated with the devils.

    • The word “infested” makes my skin crawl. It is a continuing battle in Florida to contain the critters. But there is so much beauty as well.
      When I was doing research for this post I was on a site that had non-pesticide solutions to pest control. One of the things they suggested is to buy a gecko. They said, “You won’t see him while he takes care of your roach problem. When he has it under control then he’ll be visible.” Just what I need, gecko poop in the house. But desperate times can call for desperate measures. Thankfully, I haven’t found any lately.
      Thanks for your comments.

  4. To answer your request, I don’t know of a book, but here is one of my favorite jokes: There was a man whose custom was to stop at the local convenience store after work and buy three six-packs, which he then proceeded to drink in front of the TV before bed. One night, just as he slugged back the last can, he heard a knock at the door. Imagine his surprise when he opened it to a 6 foot cockroach. The roach grabbed his shirtfront and beat the pulp out of him before throwing him to the ground and stalking off.
    The man dragged himself off to bed muttering, “I’ve got to cut down on the beer.”
    The next night he only bought two six-packs, but just as he was finishing the last can, there was a knock at the door. It was the same 6 foot roach, and once again it beat him to a pulp. “I’ve really got to cut back,” the man told himself as he dragged his sore body off to bed.
    The following night, he only bought one six-pack, but exactly the same thing happened anyway.
    Feeling that he needed help, he went to the doctor the next day and told his sad tale. “Hmm,” said the doctor, stroking his goatee, “yes. Well, I have heard that there is an extremely nasty bug going around.”

  5. I’m so glad you went on to kill the cockroach in your post, because otherwise I would have imagined it hiding in my bathroom and had to stop everything to bleach the life out of the place.

  6. I love this post! I grew up in the Third World, so cockroaches were part of everyday life. My sisters and I used to joke about how they would come running up the overflow drain in the bathtub and jump in with us so they could show off their backstroke and breaststroke to our screams and squeals. I kept a can of Raid by the bath, but it didn’t do much. I’m sure they built an immunity to the poison. And although I LOVE geckos, and we always had a house full of them, they really didn’t do much to deter the cockroaches.

    Love the nasty bug joke by JK Mikals above too. :D

    • In the tub? My skin is crawling.
      My neighbor is a pulmonologist and he says Raid is really bad for humans to breathe. I think the ammonia in Windex burns them so they have to slow down. Then, it’s curtains for them. :)
      Thanks for your comments.

  7. Love it. I temp sometimes for a pest control company over the summer, mainly dealing with wasps’ nests that have invaded attics and wall cavities. You have to ‘think like a wasp’ to get them before they know you’re there. :-) Rehoming bee swarms too, got to think like the bees. So, becoming the cockroach is a lovely image. Didn’t know about the Windex though, will buy in extra, just in case.

    • You are a woman of many talents, Carolyn!
      I don’t know which insect I would rather deal with, but I am glad you are in tune with wasp thinking and can outsmart them.
      Thanks for your comment. :)

Getting it Right: The Garden State

Friday, March 29th, 2013

This post appeared previously at Indies Unlimited.

Getting It Right: The Garden State

“Welcome to Newark, a city in renaissance.” – A Continental Flight Attendant, 2002.

I never realized that there was anything wrong with being from New Jersey until I began to travel for business. It became quickly apparent to me that N.J. had a bad rep. How had I missed this? Had my highly-tuned female powers of observation failed me? Had I hidden in my subconscious mind the stigma associated with a N.J. birthplace? I decided to call my close friend, Bruce Springsteen, to see what he thought.

Of course, Bruce always takes my calls. We chatted for a bit about our projects, and compared what we were cooking for dinner. He wanted my recipe for crock-pot short ribs. I shared it, even though he never gives me a recipe in return. Finally, I posed my question, “Bruuuuce, what is wrong with being from our homeland?”

“Well, Wendy, when dudes fly into Newark airport they see oil refineries and rusty containers. The airport is filled with hood rats, and then you get on the Turnpike … a river of asphalt that flows from the gritty urban landscape to the twisted steel of Seaside. Hey, I like that. I feel a poem coming on — got to go, Sandy. Thanks for the recipe.” Ugh. Dissed again.

After extensive research, (calling relatives and friends in addition to my own experiences), here are just a few things that makes New Jersey a great place to live.

  1. N.J. has excellent food. Thin crust pizza rules. Italian, Chinese, Deli, Polish, French, Portugese, bagels … a cornucopia of food that you can drive into Manhattan for and pay ten times the price. Just don’t ask anyone to make you grits because they don’t understand what they are.
  2. The ability to revel in being close to the hustle and bustle of Manhattan without actually being in Manhattan.
  3. Having an Uncle Tony. Everyone has an Uncle Tony. My Uncle Tony, my godfather as it so happens, was an excellent bowler.
  4. Jersey girls go “down the shore”. We make this drive from Memorial to Labor Day. We do not go “to the beach.” We use the picturesque Garden State Parkway as opposed to the New Jersey Turnpike. And yes, we all have an exit. Mine was 156.
  5. The proud home of Rutgers, The State University, and a decent school called Princeton. These two schools played the first intercollegiate football game in 1869. Rutgers won. Go Scarlet Knights!
  6. We have fertile farmland that produces the best white corn I’ve ever eaten, and wonderful Beefsteak tomatoes.
  7. There are lots of professional sports teams to choose from, all of them better than Philadelphia and Boston teams.
  8. There is cultural diversity, and cultural events in wondrous excess. Museums, concerts, dance, movie marathons and theater. There is so much going on that it can overwhelm you. I will admit that a lot of the events, especially the museums, are in Manhattan, but many are in New Jersey at the former Garden State Arts Center. It has a new name now. Whatever.
  9. Christie is an outspoken governor who is going to tell you what he thinks whether or not you want to hear it.
  10. Conrad’s ice cream parlor in downtown Westwood is a local landmark. The entire restaurant is still the way it was when my mom would take us there for “minute meals” and ice cream. Due to a tight family budget this was a rare occurrence. Conrad’s makes everything themselves, including scrumptious chocolate. They were making incredible Easter bunnies long before cable TV made that art a contest. I had my first egg cream at Conrad’s. An egg cream doesn’t have egg or cream in it.
  11. If you’re a Jersey girl you can cuss with class and creativity. You can take someone down in such a way that they will never find their legs. Then, to make yourself feel better, you go shopping at the Garden State Plaza. Hello Nordstrom!
  12. Family, or in Soprano speak, La Famiglia. I remember many spirited discussions among my relatives, but I suppose that has more to do with being of Italian heritage. Family trips to my grandmother’s house, getting in trouble with my cousins, eating pignolli and anisette cookies, these are family memories I cherish. Yes, I did revert back to food. So many of my memories surround food and shared meals.
  13. Frank Sinatra is from Hoboken, N.J. Old Blue Eyes like Bruce Springsteen, may be imitated but never replaced. The Chairman of the Board and The Boss say so.
  14. I should mention the rock band Bon Jovi here. Jon still looks and sounds amazing.
  15. We say “cawfee” and “dawg.” Do not confuse a few eccentric aspects of our accent with those citizens who are from Queens, Brooklyn or Long Island. The N.J. accent softens and becomes less obvious the further south you were raised in the state.
  16. We are honest and will tell you what we think to your face. We won’t eviscerate you and gossip about you behind your back and then say, “… God love her”. We know that saying that doesn’t make a nasty comment okay. We will tell you plainly what we think. Take it or leave it.

So why, you might ask, do I live in Florida? We relocated here due to a job opportunity and fell in love with the weather and the wildlife. The Tampa Bay area is a great place to live. One thing I do not miss is a frigid New Jersey winter. We visit as frequently as we can to enjoy family and absorb the unique vibe that is the Garden State. I am still, in my heart and soul, a Jersey girl.

Down the shore everything’s alright,
You’re with your baby on a saturday night,
Don’t you know that all my dreams come true,
When i’m walkin’ down the street with you…
– Jersey Girl, song and lyrics by Tom Waits

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29 THOUGHTS ON “GETTING IT RIGHT: THE GARDEN STATE”

  1. Lois, you mentioned The Boss twice, but he isn’t on your list. Surely that makes it seriously incomplete. :D

    To this list I’d add filmmaker Kevin Smith whose first film “Clerks” was, IIRC, filmed in his home town of Red Bank (an indie film to boot). Also one of my personal favorite songwriters (behind the Boss, obviously) a guy named Greg Trooper (who probably no one who reads this has heard of).

  2. And don’t forget the New Jersey Pinelands–aka The Pine Barrens — almost a million federally-protected acres in the middle of the state. I drive the 800 miles north from SC each year to hike the pine forests with their sugar-sand roads, kayak the gleaming dark rivers, and poke around in the tumbled ruins.

    Of course I had to use the incomparable Pine Barrens as the setting for a few books. :)

    • Gloria, you are right. The Pine Barrens are an incredible ecosystem. Did you kill people and bury the bodies in the Pine Barrens? How did you use the PB in your books?
      I also didn’t mention diners. Florida has chain restaurants. Floridians don’t understand the concept of a restaurant that stays open 24/7 where one person can get breakfast, one can get spaghetti, and the third can get lemon meringue. My husband always orders a pork-roll egg and cheese sandwich. So good!
      Thanks for your comment.

  3. I was a huge Bruce fan when I was a kid and had a somewhat romantic notion of New Jersey until… I had a connecting flight at Newark airport many years ago. I think the airport was under construction and it was just a mess. I should have driven to the shore and checked to see if Rosalita could come out tonight.
    The latest greatest Jersey band is Gaslight Anthem by the way. Shades of Bruce in their music. Great post, Lois, made me remember.

    • Newark airport is a real adventure. I traveled through the airport a couple of times when they were doing the construction you are fondly remembering. It was a disaster.

      Speaking of Rosalita, the last time I saw Bruce he performed the song, which he doesn’t do very often. It was the first show after Danny Federici died. Clarence was still alive, but not well. He sat on a red and gold throne when he wasn’t playing. The concert was in Tampa, and when we heard him getting ready to play Rosalita the place exploded. An amazing show.

      I think I’ve heard Gaslight Anthem, will check it out.

      Thanks for your comments.

  4. Sorry, Lois, but I have nothing but bad memories of New Jersey:

    1. Waiting for a connecting flight in the old People Express terminal at the Newark airport — no seats, no carpet, no plane.

    2. Trying to find the Turnpike while driving back to Virginia from the Jersey shore in the dark. Why on *earth* is there no direct connection between the Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway? I got soooo lost…

    I’ll shut up now. But feel free to complain about *my* home state of Indiana in return. I’ll probably join you. :D

      • Oh Lynne, did People Express give out the bagels?
        I don’t think I ever flew that airline. :) Sorry for your and Laurie’s flashbacks.
        The Turnpike is a crazy road full of people who think you know where they are going. I got used to checking out the tires to see if they turned right a bit to be ready to be cut off, especially when close to the Staten Island exits.
        I’m sure the state is easier to negotiate now that the GPS systems can tell you which highways you can use to connect from the Parkway to the Turnpike. I will tell you that I believe it wasn’t planned that way because they are huge money making operations with separate kingdoms. When I worked for ROLM we had both of their phone systems, and they were my accounts. They employ lots of people and they are extremely political and protective of their turf. So, no connector road for you!

    • I hate Newark airport so I can’t blame anyone who dislikes NJ because of it. There is a direct connection between the parkway and the turnpike, it’s just nowhere near the shore… figures, right?

      • I have never heard anyone say they love Newark airport. I just love to pretend to be really happy when I’m going through security. And super polite.
        “Good morning.” (Big smile as I hand over my drivers license to burley security guard.) As often as not they smile back and I am sent to the shortest line. I guess people don’t smile at them and say “good morning.” It’s not their fault that travel has become so stressful. :)

  5. Lois, this is FABULOUS! Okay, I make fun of Jersey a bit, mainly because my younger brother moved there, but that’s my duty as a sister. :D

    Don’t forget the fantastic Jersey blueberries. And the old brick smoke stacks in Garfield.

    • We had wild black berry bushes in the woods next to our home. One day I saw all the birds going crazy dive bombing something and fighting with each other. I checked it out and there were several shrubs loaded with huge berries. I ran inside, got a container, and picked them for my father-in-law. He was so thrilled. There were plenty left for the birds.
      There were wild raspberry bushes down the road and I traded one year with a neighbor who picked them.

      That’s the thing about New Jersey. It has a lot of urban areas and it also has rural. My neighbor had cows. :)

  6. I am Jersey born and raised and so were all of my grandparents. We (my wife and I) lived in Tampa Bay for 6 years. You will get so tired of how clueless and standoffish people are down there and you will come running home. If not you are doomed to a lifetime bad pizza, no crashing surf, 9 months of oppressive unyielding heat and humidity and bugs the size of skateboards. Have those tiny ants found there way into your peanut butter jar yet? Go Rays? Uh No. At least you can watch the Yankees in training for free.
    We all miss you even though we don’t know you. Come back to where you belong.

    Loved your article!! Read mine on New Jersey, not Manhattan, clam chowder on my website

    • Lol Gary,
      Ants in the peanut butter? How about a black racer snake in my laundry room–all three feet of him! Florida has made me a tough cookie when it comes to lizards, bugs, etc. He tried to get away, into the rest of the house, and I sprayed him in the face with Glass Plus. My husband swept him outside. We didn’t kill him.
      I make my own pizza, and it’s darn good.
      The heat is oppressive, and I hope one day to escape in July and August, hopefully back to New Jersey.
      I have to disagree about the people in the Tampa Bay area. I have met many lovely people. That may be because I started to play tennis late in life and now play competitively. I can play all year round, outside. I don’t miss the winter or the grey skies. I love the weather in Florida.
      I also root for the Rays and the Bucs, just not when they play the Yankees or the Giants. :)
      And I would love to have your recipe. Cuisine is my thing.
      Nice to meet you!

  7. Lois, don’t forget the diversity of landscape, from densely urban to sparsely rural, mountains, lakes, the shore-both boardwalk and wild dunes, rolling hills of horse farms, rivers, and 4 seasons….and thanks, Laurie for the post.

    • Nancy,
      I can’t agree more! That was what shocked me the most when I began to travel for business. Everyone thought I lived next to the smoke stacks of the oil refineries. :)
      Thanks for your comments.

  8. Spent 10 years station at McGuire/Dix/Lakehurst joint base. South Jersey is a whole ‘nother world. It’s green, there are trees and forests, there are probably more deer than humans (hunters there can’t shoot worth a darn!), and the state animal is the horse. I agree with North Jersey- the sky is GREEN, petro-chemical plants abound and everything is old and rusty. Jersey is a definite contrast in a state. I was happy to live in the south!

    • I grew up in Bergen County and we could go fishing, camping and swimming (illegally) within walking distance of my house. It is Northern New Jersey and is still beautiful to this day. A lot more congested and very expensive though , being right outside NYC

      • The part of Bergen County that I grew up in had no industry at all. I remember parks, bike riding, picking apples; very different from what most people think.
        I believe the industrial counties in northern New Jersey are Essex and Passaic. Someone in the U.S. needs to do a bit of the dirty work, and New Jersey has been a manufacturing state for decades. Hidden in these hard-working manufacturing towns are fantastic little restaurants offering superb food at fair prices. You have to have the inside track. :)
        Kathy, where did you see a green sky? That’s a scary thought.
        Gary, The town I grew up in had a one pump gas-station and a strip mall with a Foodtown and a movie theater. There is a house where George Washington slept during the Revolutionary War. He slept a lot of places in Bergen County. :)

  9. I am also a NJ native who moved to the Tampa Bay area (Anna Maria Island)! I grew up at the shore (Toms River / Seaside / Spring Lake Heights, just to name a few areas I lived in my 33 years) and went to Richard Stockton College in south Jersey, so my Jersey experience is way different. I don’t have the accent unless I try to do it on purpose. We did go to the ‘beach’ and would joke about the “BENNYs” ‘going down the shore’. It was a great place to grow up and I lived for the summers. My love for warm weather and sunshine is what brought us down here, but I’m still a Jersey Shore girl at heart. I do miss the pizza and bread though!

  10. Anna Maria Island is lovely.
    My in-laws lived in Toms River. They started calling people “Bennys”, too. They lived on the water, on a man made lagoon. It was their dream.
    You were already “down the shore” so you didn’t have to go there. :)
    I agree with you that the warm weather and sunshine is a big plus in Florida. Having the opportunity to live on Anna Maria Island would convince most people to move from wherever they live.
    Nice to meet you!

 

Authors Eat …

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Author K.S. Brooks cooks with Mr. Pish.

The number one request I receive from Culture and Cuisine Club followers is, “More recipes, please!” Your wish is my command. I thought it would be fun to feature an author each month and ask them to share one of their favorite recipes with us.

What better way to kick off this new feature than to introduce you to author K.S. Brooks and her best friend Mr. Pish. Kat is an award-winning author and photographer, a marksman, a nature lover and an entrepreneur. Kat is also at the center of the Independent Author movement, and a force to be reckoned with. As co-administrator at Indies Unlimited she and Stephen Hise have created a groundbreaking blog that is like a glass of water to a thirsty writer. Personally, although we have never met, I consider Kat to be a friend and a mentor. Her kindness to this newbie author will never be forgotten.

Kat has eliminated all gluten from her diet. She has shared with us her famous recipe for gluten-free chili. Why not pair a steaming bowl with an ice-cold beer? I recommend a Green’s bottle fermented Dark Ale. Green’s is a company that specializes in allergen free beer also suitable for Vegan or Vegetarian diets.

After you have checked out the recipe, please visit Kat’s Amazon author page and treat yourself or someone you love to one of her excellent books  http://www.amazon.com/K.-S.-Brooks/e/B002WKAOVG

 

 

Quick and Easy Gluten-Free Chili Recipe
This recipe is a delicate balance of sweet and spicy.  If you want spicier flavor, add chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin and red pepper.  This chili is great for freezing in individual serving containers and then heating in the microwave for a nice hot lunch!
INGREDIENTS:
    1.5 pounds of 93% lean Ground Beef (sometimes I substitute 50% with ground turkey)
    1 medium yellow onion, chopped finely or nearly pureed in the food processor
    16 oz Cream of Tomato Soup (please see below for gluten-free)**
    28 oz Delmonte Chunky Diced Zesty Chili Style tomatoes or equivalent
    1 large can of kidney beans (2.5 pounds)
    Chopped fresh parsley as desired
    1+ tbsp Worcestershire sauce to taste (Lea & Perrins is gluten-free)
NOTE:  There are two ways to prepare this – standard stove top or crock pot.  I prefer crock pot because it is maintenance-free.  Instructions for both are provided.
STOVE TOP INSTRUCTIONS:
Brown beef in large pot, drain.  Add remaining ingredients, cook on medium low until it starts to steam and bubble, then simmer for one hour.  I usually let it cool, then put it in the fridge overnight to let the flavors mingle.  The next day I heat it up and serve.
CROCK POT INSTRUCTIONS:
Brown beef in large skillet, drain.  Add beef and remaining ingredients to crock pot, cook on low for up to 10 hours.
Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and serve!
Serves 6-8 people.
**I can recommend the following gluten-free soups:
Pacific Natural Foods Organic Creamy Tomato (available in stores)
Heinz UK Cream of Tomato Soup (can be purchased online through the Gluten-Free Trading Company
Thanks for sharing, Kat!

 

 

 

Chris James Interviews Author Hugh Howey

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

 

Interview with Hugh Howey
Posted on  by 

Here’s the scoop: I’m sitting at my work station on the Death Star, flicking dried bits of chewing gum at Carol Wyer, when suddenly I get an alert that Hugh Howey’s ship is cruising past, just out of tractor beam range. Knowing that the Evil Mastermind will be less than happy if I miss this opportunity, I run down to the shuttle bay. With no time to lose, I wind up the rubber band on the back of the shuttle really, really tightly. Then, I get in the shuttle and – ping! I’m hurtling across the heavens on an intercept course with Howey’s ship. I reach it, knock on his window, and manage to ask him these few questions before the rubber band contracts and pulls me and the shuttle back to the Death Star. Phew, that was a close one!

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Hugh Howey is the author of the award-winning Molly Fyde Saga and the New York Times and USA Today bestselling WOOLseries. The WOOL OMNIBUS won Kindle Book Review’s 2012 Indie Book of the Year Award—it has been as high as #1 in the Kindle store—and 17 countries have picked up the work for translation.

Here’s what Hugh had to say:

Hugh, you’ve mentioned that you write in multiple genres. How do you handle different genre projects at the same time? Do you have any difficulty in switching voices and moods?

Man, I wish my moods were more stable! But since they’re not, it helps me to have several projects going at once. If I get stuck or lose energy in a science fiction story, I can pop over to my erotica novel or my memoirs and add a chapter (or write one chapter and copy/paste into both of these).

I think my voice is more suited to the plot and characters than to the genre. I like getting in touch with the mood of a piece, and it colors my vocabulary, my sentence flow, my injection of humor or horror. What I’ve found, incidentally, is that the vast majority of readers are keen to explore different genres with the same author. I get a lot of emails that start off with how much they loved Wool, but that they just read I, Zombie or The Hurricane and enjoyed them even more.

Putting Wool aside for a moment, which of your other titles are you most proud of/satisfied with?

I, Zombie. It’s a book I don’t recommend anyone reading (I even warn them not to in the product description, and this isn’t a marketing trick. I really advise against it). But to me, it’s the most personal work I’ll ever write. It’s my ode to New York City, the only novel in which I directly confront my experiences at the World Trade Center on 9/11, and also a very public internal monologue in which I wrestle with my lack of belief in Free Will. In sum, it’s horrific. But I’m very glad I wrote it.

If you could turn back the clock, is there anything you would do differently?

I would wind that clock back until something snapped. I would go back to when I was twelve years old, dreaming of becoming an author, and I would have stuck with all those novels I started and never finished. I would have goofed off less and written more. I would have thirty books published by now. My lack of faith in myself to write to completion is the one thing I wish I could go back and change. It shouldn’t have taken this long to figure out how to stay motivated.

Have you participated in any groups similar to Indies Unlimited, or other writing groups? If yes, were they helpful?

Absolutely. I was part of a writing group in Boone, N.C. called Highcountry Writers. I did workshops in the writing forums of SF World. I stay active on the Kindle Boards Writers’ Cafe. There’s so much to learn from other writers and from their feedback. Writing is an inherently lonely endeavor. Having a place to commune with like-minded people is a blessing.

What would you say to a young, new writer who has a few great story ideas and little else, and who looks aghast at all the things self-publishing involves – what key advice would you give him/her?

Self-publishing involves as much or as little work as you want to invest in it. You don’t need to market your book. You don’t need a website. You don’t need to upload your work to sales channels. If you enjoy writing stories, you can email them to friends for free and see if they are entertained. You can post them to a blog in an instant.

The hard work is self-inflicted. I put in very long hours and work every single day because I love what I do and because I want to put out the best work possible. Don’t feel any pressure to do likewise. If you enjoy writing, do as much of it as you can. There has never been a better time to be a writer, whatever your goals and ambitions are.

Do you think a self-published book will ever win a major literary award? If yes, how far are we away from that day?

Absolutely. There are a few literary awards like the Hugos that are voted on by the fans, and the success of indie breakouts has highlighted how much power fans truly wield. As for awards like the Man Booker, Pulitzer, National Book Award, etc., I would be surprised if we didn’t see a win from a self-published book in the next five or six years. My guess is that the first of these will come from a major author who decides to publish something on their own that was too quirky or non-commercial to be picked up elsewhere. Look at Tinkers. It won the Pulitzer and came from a small press. A book like that could have been self-published and shocked everyone. I can’t wait to see it happen! (The 2013 Hugo Award nominations are open, by the way!)

Final question: Indies Unlimited has quite a few lady writers who, if they can’t actually have your babies, would nevertheless appreciate an opportunity to throw their under-garments at you. Any special message I could convey to them? :)

My wife and I live in Jupiter, Florida. So my advice would be to face south and throw away! Granted, your room is going to look like a mess afterward…

Look for WOOL in hardback in 2013 from Random House UK and keep your fingers crossed that Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian will do something exciting with the film rights!

Hugh lives with his wife Amber and their dog Bella. When he isn’t writing, he’s reading or taking a photograph.

Pesto and Veggie Pizza

Sunday, January 20th, 2013
Fresh veggie pizza

How did you spend your Saturday morning?

We washed windows. I could no longer stand looking out my windows and seeing the accumulation of dust and pollen. There are certain aspects of living in Florida that go along with the glorious weather; one is mold and the other is cleaning windows often.

After working for several hours we were exhausted. The inevitable question came up, “What do you want for dinner?” I suggested a veggie pizza, and my husband quickly agreed.

This pizza took about 15 minutes to put together. The only thing missing was the addition of black olives. Make sure to let the dough rest for at least an hour, otherwise it will be difficult to roll out.

Ingredients:

1 package of pre-made pizza dough     1 small container Buitoni Pesto   1/2 sliced red bell pepper     1 package fresh mozzarella cheese     2 cloves sliced fresh garlic      1 separated sliced sweet onion      4 large white mushrooms, sliced    Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin (rubbed with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking) on a piece of wax paper. Transfer to a pizza stone or a metal perforated pizza pan. Take out generous spoonfuls of the pesto and spread onto the dough leaving about two inches of dough around the entire circle’s perimeter. Spread out the cheese, then the peppers, onions,  mushrooms, spinach, and finally the garlic. Drizzle a bit of the evoo over the top. Bake at 400 degrees until the crust is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool five to ten minutes and grate your favorite cheese and black pepper over the top. Enjoy!

Much Ado About Marketing

Friday, January 18th, 2013

 

Courtesy of Majickal Graphics

I like New Year’s resolutions and setting goals. On New Year’s Day, while my husband and I recover from the previous night’s festivities, we watch football and I open the new desk calendar. It has become my tradition to sit with this calendar and copy, from the old one, the birthdays and other important events I will need to remember during the brand new year. I enjoy looking at some of the interesting things that I did during the past year. Then, I close the calendar and put it on the shelf with all the others I have saved. I am sentimental and not a little superstitious. Those who know and love me have used the appellation “hoarder”, affectionately.

Perhaps this is why I have gravitated to Pinterest. The collecting aspect of Pinterest interested me, a woman who has a climate controlled storage closet for thirty plus year’s worth of holiday decorations. (We found out quickly that in Florida one does not store blown glass ornaments in the attic. The paint melts.)

The ability to store things, and not need more closet space appealed to the collector in me. As I developed my boards and became familiar with the site, however, I realized that Pinterest has the potential to be so much more.

Along with the new calendar I will, for the first time as an Indie author, be writing a formal marketing plan for 2013. I wrote these for years when I was in telecommunication sales. The big difference is that whatever ends up on the plan will have to be largely accomplished by—me. I don’t have a team of sales engineers or designers to help me realize my goals. There will be a few carefully chosen support people involved, but my marketing and promoting is almost entirely up to me. This is both scary and exciting.

Kat Brooks recently wrote a post about the basic social media platforms all writers should be using. I would like to add one to this list, and it is, no surprise, Pinterest. There are several posts on IU about Pinterest, and I would suggest that you read them for details that I will not review in this post.

With regard to marketing on social media, I’m not sure that when an e-book sells we can definitively point to one place and say, “Eureka! I have found the key to advertising success!” This is why it is important to have a presence in a number of social media areas and to not advertise or promote in the same place all the time. What I like about Pinterest is that it allows you to show who you are to an unknown group of potential readers. It is a completely different network. It is not the writers you have known for many years, but a potentially important key to a more well-rounded social media presence. Please note the word potential. I have no definitive proof of beautifully curated, imaginative boards translating into sales. But, I will tell you about an experiment I ran on Pinterest.

If you look at my Pinterest profile you will see a board called, “Vampire Cocktail.” I created this board many months ago in anticipation of my new novel, “My Gentleman Vampire: The Undead Have Style.” My vamps drink fabulous cocktails and tango. I did not build this board in a day, a week, or even a month. It is a work in progress, as are the rest of the boards. Other than a brief update on my facebook page, I had not formally announced the book. I did, however, pin it on Pinterest with a brief statement that it was published. In 24 hours I sold ten copies. Some of the sales appear to be from a new group of readers, which I can tell by the “those who purchased this also bought” information on Amazon.

Before you rush to Pinterest to hastily throw together some boards, please consider this. These boards represent you, your interests, your hobbies, sense of humor, or maybe even your deeply held beliefs. Do not copy more than 5 or so pins from another pinner’s board in one visit. Do not copy a clever name of a board—make up your own. Show your individuality. Do check out my profile, follow me if you like, and watch how I pin. My board names are; Orchid Obsession, All Things Red, Black and White, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Let Them Eat Cake, My Style, Holy Handbag, Sublime Shoes, Tango With Me, and A Stylish Man’s Closet, to name a few.

Caveat: I really enjoy this sort of marketing. This is not everyone’s cup of tea. Many people will see it as a waste of time, but I beg to differ. It is exactly the things that make you interesting in a non-threatening, laid back way that sell your product. People buy from people they like, or at least from those they find fascinating. Are you interesting? Then, go to Pinterest and let your readers see why. Cheers!

My Twelve Days of Christmas

Monday, December 24th, 2012

Posted on  by  at Indies Unlimited.com

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
A bestseller in a pear tree

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Abs like Brooklyn Decker
And a bestseller in a pear tree

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Lunch with J.K. Rowling
Abs like Brooklyn Decker
And a bestseller in a pear tree

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Lobster agnolotti
Lunch with J.K. Rowling
Abs like Brooklyn Decker
And a bestseller in a pear tree

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Domination over Word!
Lobster agnolotti
Lunch with Joanne
Abs like Brooklyn Decker
And a bestseller in a pear tree

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
A 1966 Mustang
Domination over Word!
Lobster agnolotti
Lunch with Joanne
Abs like Brooklyn Decker
And a bestseller in a pear tree

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
A first serve like Serena
The one with the pony windows
Kicking Word’s butt!
Lobster anything
Hanging out with Jo
Abs like Brooklyn Decker
And a bestseller in a pear tree

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Rich’s scary glasses
A first serve like Serena
Manual transmission
Word is my b—h!
Lobster ’til I’m sick
Hanging out with Jo
Abs like Brooklyn Decker
And a bestseller in a pear tree

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Shooting guns with Kat
Rich’s scary glasses
A first serve like Serena
White leather interior
Word is my b—h!
Lobster everything
Hanging out with Jo
Abs like Brooklyn Decker
And a bestseller in a pear tree

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
A European sojourn
Shooting guns with Kat
Rich’s scary glasses
A first serve like Serena
Shiny black ‘Stang
Word is my b—h!
Feed me lobster, please
Chilling with Jo
Abs like Brooklyn Decker
And a bestseller in a pear tree

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Cocktails with George Clooney
A European sojourn
Blasting cans with Kat
Rich’s scary glasses
A first serve like Serena
I really want that car
Word is my b—h!
Yummy lobster rolls
Chilling with Jo
Abs like Brooklyn Decker
And a bestseller in a pear tree

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Peace within my family
Cocktails with George Clooney
A European Sojourn
Blasting stuff with Kat
Rich’s scary glasses
A first serve like Serena
Don’t forget the Mustang
Word is my b—h!
Lobster agnolotti
Bffs with Jo
Abs like Brooklyn Decker
And a bestseller in a pear tree

18 THOUGHTS ON “MY TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS”

  1. I hope you get all that you want for Christmas, Lois. In he spirit of fun, my personal feelings on your little ditty:

    Peace with my family… hmmm… we used to all go to my mum’s, for just about every special occasion, including Christmas; I haven’t seen most of them since her funeral in 2004.

    Cocktails with George? He’s a pretty cool guy, I could dig that.

    The European sojourn? Yeah I suppose so… done it to death though!

    Blasted plenty of stuff, to be honest I’m over it now; I didn’t know Kat was a gun nut but now you mention it she does portray all the signs.

    Rich’s glasses, well… what can I say?

    I certainly wouldn’t like to be receiving Serena’s first serve, that’s for sure.

    Never owned a Mustang but I sold a couple when I worked at ‘Horseless Carriages’ in Sydney in 83, and I did have a ‘66’ Light Blue, 357, auto, as a drive car for a couple of weeks before I sold it.

    I misread the next one at first (reading it as Domination over the world), eyesight getting a little dim, either that or the mind starting to go west; whichever, I’m not sure I get it?

    Lobster: you’ve got me with anything sea food!

    Lunch with JK Rowling? That would be interesting.

    Got the abs, had them most of my life, they’re getting a bit old now but still there.

    I don’t need to comment on the ‘Best Seller in a pear tree’; that speaks for itself.

    Nice, festive post, Lois.

  2. Hello, T.D.!
    Lol. I love your interpretation of my post.
    My daughter would always say, “I dominated the audition” when she was in musical theatre. I have been trying, valiantly, to learn Word, and often need to seek remedial help. My desire to dominate is reserved to only a few areas in my life, Word software being one of them. A really smoking serve would be another.
    I adored that Mustang. It had white leather interior and was pretty much stock. If I ever make a lot of money I’m going to find the exact same one.
    The ab reference … I work very hard on mine but I think my cooking interferes. :)
    Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday to you and yours. I’m glad you liked the post. My last one was too depressing for the holiday season.

  3. Hilarious. I also misread the WORD domination thing at first as WORLD domination. Sorta reminds me of the old Steve Martin SNL thing “If I had only one wish for the world…” Heh. World domination works for me. Peace out. That’s an order.