Fictionista, Foodie, Feline-lover

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blog Weirdness

I'm the one who oversees the blog comments on Dark Valentine, so I've now experienced the phenomenon of people linking to our site just to get their link juice up. More power to people who want their fame to grow but dudes, could you at least be coherent?

Here are a couple of my favorite comments:

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Are we all speaking English here?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Favorite color is ... RED

One of the things I do for a living is read scripts. In the last year I've read more remakes and reboots than any person should have to read. It's like seeing my childhood in rewind and I didn't expect that to happen until the last moments of my life when the highlight reel unspools.

I also read a lot of comic book adaptations. Most of them are pretty dreadful. (Seriously, what were they thinking with Jonah Hex?) Every once in awhile, though, I read something that tickles my fancy. Like RED.

I enjoyed reading the script a lot more than I expected to, and when I read a second draft, I got even more excited. Then today I saw the trailer and discovered Helen Mirren (that's Dame Helen Mirren, Oscar-winner) had been cast in one of the best roles in the movie.

Check her out. Helen Mirren kicks ass in the trailer for RED.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bread Pudding is Food of the Gods

My friend Berkeley has never tasted bread pudding. For someone born in the south, that is practically incomprehensible. (Once, on a visit to New Orleans, I ate my weight in bread pudding, beginning with the signature souffle bread pudding at Commander's Palace and Ending with the classic dessert at Bon Ton Cafe, which was the overwhelming pick of the cabbies I consulted. New Orleans cabbies know food like Chicago cabbies know sports so I wasn't about to miss what Bon Ton Cafe had to offer.) Recipes for both versions are readily available online, so you can easily try both.

Berkeley's birthday is next Tuesday, so I'll be taking her to a restaurant here in Los Angeles, Les Sisters, that is the closest thing to honest-to-God Southern food you can get. In addition to bread pudding, they also serve sweet potato pie, peach cobbler and buttermilk pie. I had to explain buttermilk pie to Berkeley too. Poor, poor deprived child.

If you haven't had bread pudding in awhile, or never, here's the recipe I learned from my grandmother.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Enough bread to fill a baking dish—torn into small pieces
2 cups milk
¼ cup butter
2/3 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
¾ cup chocolate chips
2 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the milk and butter in a saucepan, stirring until the butter is melted. Cool slightly.

Beat the sugar and spices into the eggs until frothy. Add the vanilla extract.

Combine the egg mixture and the milk mixture slowly. (Make sure the milk isn’t too hot or the raw eggs will curdle.)

Mix in the bread and turn everything into a baking dish that has been greased or treated with non-stick spray.

Don’t pack the bread down too tightly or the “pudding” will compact and get really dense instead of staying moist and fluffy with those delicious buttery, crunchy bits.

Bake for 45-55 minutes until the “pudding” is set. Serve warm as is or add a few spoonfuls of whipped cream.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Blast From the Past!

I was trying to find a link to a story I wrote in InSide Look magazine and one of the things that popped up was a scan of a story I wrote when I was editor of Orange Coast Magazine. It's from 1985. Yikes. The story's about my trip on the Goodyear Blimp, which was one of those events that was just too cool for words. I rode on the Goodyear Blimp. And they actually let me fly it. You can read it here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Scared Stiff the web horror series

I live in L.A. where there are a lot of people who bemoan the lack of creative opportunities and talk about the great work they'd do if they only had access to money. I know some of these people and they really are creative but even if they won the lottery tomorrow, they probably wouldn't do what they say they're going to do.

And then there are the talented people at Scared Stiff TV who just decided they were going to do it. Working from a budget that is probably lunch money for a week, they've relied on creativity not cash to get their episodes done.

Some of those episodes, like "The Camera" are extremely inventive. They're working on a whole new set of stories right now, but check out what's up there already.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mystery Lovers' Kitchen

Is this a blog tailor-made for me or what? Crime and recipes. Food and fiction. Check it out here.

And while we're on the subject of food--if you like brownies and you like coffee, you might want to check out the double chocolate mocha brownies over at's chocolate site. They're really fast to make, use one bowl and combine two addictive substances in one sweet treat. (Hmmm. Can you tell I've been working on my cookbook ghost-writing project this morning? Everything is all about the yummy when you're writing about food.)

A WTH Moment

Certain kinds of repression have been well-documented in the press--the crackdown on internet use in Iran in the aftermath of the last presidential election, for example. But did you know...
right now, if you live in Russia your paypal account only goes one way? You can use it to pay someone but someone cannot use it to pay YOU. What's the logic behind this, do yo suppose? To keep foreigners from financing a coup?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dark Valentine is Here!

You can download it free here.

Comments welcome, suggestions and constructive criticism as well. And most of all--we want your submissions! Remember, DV also serializes stories on the site so if you have something that's more than 5000 words, we'd still like to talk to you about it. (We've got Scott Laurange's gothic take on the Canterbury Tales coming up in serial form as well as a dark, French take on Arthurian legend, The Chanson of Dagonet.)

Please QUERY about serializing.

Also, we'll be having more THROUGH A LENS DARKLY story prompts, so I hope you'll consider submitting something for one of those.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dark Valentine is coming

The premiere issue of Dark Valentine Magazine publishes tomorrow. A quarterly magazine of dark fiction, the project is a collaboration born over a meal of pear cider and Cornish pasties at an Irish pub in Pasadena. Editor Joy Sillesen and Art Director Joanne Renaud and I liked working with each other at Astonishing Adventures Magazine so much that we decided we didn't want the fun to end.

The first issue is stuffed with dark tales and wicked words, all illustrated by artists like Joanne, Pamela Jaworska, Larry Nadolsky, Rena Ez, Jane Burson, Eleni Trigatz, Michael Lauritano, Jennifer Caro and Molly Brewer and more.... The cover image, created by Joanne Renaud, was inspired by Stephanie Dray's story, "The Threshing Floor."

The table of contents is stuffed with goodies--flash fiction from Cormac Brown, Sandra Seamans, Carol Kilgore, and Blue Jackson. There's a paranormal noir from Agatha-nominated novelist Elizabeth Zelvin and Paul D. Brazill's innovative twist on an old monster. (Paul:s "Drunk on the Moon" is one of two stories from Poland-based writers in this issue, with Frank Duffy's evocative "The Fog House" being the other.)

There's a definite international feel to the fiction which comes from the UK (Peter Mark May's "Lurkers"), Canada (Julia Madeine's "Smashed")and points west. The artists hail from all over--Poland, Thailand, Greece, the UK.

And last but certainly not least, the premiere issue contains stories by Chad Rohrbacher, C.M. Saunders, Christine Pope, Sidney Harrison, James Hartley, Gerry Johnson and me. There's something for everyone in the first issue. (And if there's not, we'll be back in the fall with issue #2.)

Available on Friday, June 11 at Dark Valentine.


Check out the foodspotting link if you find yourself craving a particular dish. It's like Yelp, only focused.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Vote and then Go Buy a Book!

If you're like me, you have a "to buy" wish list that's at least as long as your "to be read" pile. Here are two books you really need to check out. Alexandra Sokoloff's Book of Shadows and Lori Handeland's Shakespeare Undead.
I read Book of Shadows for a client some time ago and loved it. It's a really smart take on a genre that's often kind of dumbed down and a really fast read. (Sokoloff is a screenwriter as well as a novelist, so as you might expect, her books have a cinematic pace.)

The other book is one I haven't read yet myself. I'm a longtime fan of Lori Handeland and her new book Shakespeare Undead just sounds like a lot of fun. She's over at bittenbybooks today and tomorrow and the q and a makes her sound like someone you'd love to take to lunch. I do judge a book by its cover and Shakespeare Undead has a great one.