Fictionista, Foodie, Feline-lover

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It's Spring--time for silly food

Right now there's a big controversy at my local farmer's market because the woman who built it up into a weekly "must visit" has been shoved aside in favor of a new manager who wants to take the market "up market." In particular, the people who put the new manager in place want to make such items as "pumpkin radishes" available.
I've never actually seen or eaten a "pumpkin radish" and when I Googled it, I kept getting references to an organic clothing company.
I'm not sure that the availability of pumpkin radishes is what I look for in a farmer's market, especially since the one where I live is actually pretty pricey already. I grew up eating produce my grandmother and great-uncle grew, so it's really hard for me to pay a lot of money for a decent ear of sweet corn.
What I will pay for is the lemony Fuerte, which is never found in supermarkets. It is the avocado other avocados call boss.
There's a new item that's starting to show up in farmer's markets, usually tagged sea beans but known as "glasswort" to my oceanography class at Duke, where I first tasted the salty, yummy vegetable on a beach foraging expedition.
And of course there are "ramps." This is a member of the onion family that is only available a couple of weeks in the spring. They're native to Appalachia, where my father's people came from and I have eaten them fried up with potatoes and bacon. And they were good.
All of these vegetables are prized because they're rare and strange and weird. Something to think about when you're making a salad out of lettuce and tomatoes.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

New story at NoHo Noir

Today's story at NoHo Noir features a grieving Lem, who is spending Passover alone with his dead wife's cat. Although he and Clancy have reached an "understanding," they are still antagonists. The illustration is by Mark Satchwill. You can find the story here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Building a new vocabulary

Writing my urban fantasy stories has required putting together word lists of paranormal slang and names of objects that don't currently exist in the real world. Because the Misbegotten stories are set in Los Angeles, the epithets for para-creatures are often taken from the Spanish. (I use the Spanish word for "leech," which literally means "blood sucker." to describe vampires, for instance.)
New word of the day: faeblin. That's a mixed race character who has one goblin parent and one fairy parent.
The idea is that the fae blood counteracts the goblin genes in terms of physical appearance, so what you get is a creature with the size of a goblin and the physical beauty of a fairy. Think...Dwayne Johnson. (It's my world, I can cast the parts.)
I'm going to have to get something like Liquid Story Binder, the software John Donald Carlucci has been championing to keep all my notes in one place, though, because I've got scribbled notebook pages, post-it notes and all sorts of disorganized thoughts that need to be in one place.

Falling in love with characters

Artist Mark Satchwill and I had to hit the ground running when we first started doing NoHo Noir. We were hired on a Monday and the first story and illustration--along with Mark's logo for the series--were due on Thursday and they went up on Sunday, one week to the day from the Craig's List ad we answered.
We started out with one story a week and now we're doing two. The core characters are still the same as they were in October, when we started, but we have been adding new characters on an almost weekly basis. This week we introduced an ex-husband (actor Garibaldi Fox) and a secret boyfriend (Dale Robitaille).
Some characters are a lot of fun to write. Self-involved, wannabe screenwriter Christopher (who calls himself Christo) is always a hoot. Ditto for the self-righteous Helen Parrish, who is secretly holding another character's daughter prisoner.
It's like creating a soap opera and playing with these characters is a lot of fun. I've plotted out where the various arcs are going to go but sometimes, the characters surprise me. And sometimes I realize...the fates I had planned for them are just too cruel. For example, I was going to have Christo kill himself after one too many disappointments. But after someone commented on the character, I realized it was much more fun to keep him around.
I am going to kill someone off soon though and I hope it will be a shock.
Thanks for your support of NoHo Noir. I hope you enjoy this week's stories.

Saturday's story: Beware the Ides of April

Sunday's story: Visiting Hours

P.S. The web series is coming soon and it will be animated. A collection of the short stories with connective stories is also in the works.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Cormac Brown!!

This blog would not exist if Cormac hadn't dragged me kicking and screaming into the blogosphere and then guided me through the setup. I made every newbie mistake possible and he patiently (he has the patience of a saint) told me what I was doing wrong.

He is an extraordinarily generous man, a writer of passion and purpose (and pulp) and a good friend. Send him some love here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Recipe...

It's April 12 and if this were the old days, it would be about six weeks before strawberries would be available in the Supermarket. My grandmother Tomlinson (Kate--I'm named for her) used to pride herself on having ripe strawberries in her garden before Memorial Day.

She would pick those berries and serve them up on a tender sweet biscuit slathered with whipped cream. And it was heaven on a plate. It was not until I got older that I found out there were these pre-made cake things you could buy at the grocery store to use as a base for a "shortcake." I tasted one once. I was only slightly tastier than a sponge.

Now you can get strawberries year 'round if you want them and you don't mind paying an arm and a leg. If you just want to eat them out of hand (maybe rolled in a little sour cream and brown sugar), go for it. But if you want a shortcake, make your own. You will not believe what a difference it makes.

Diana Rattray, who is the Southern Food editor knows this and today she's offering a mouth-watering recipe for strawberry shortcake on cream scones. Find the recipe here. (And sign up for her newsletter--once a week she'll send you the directions for making the tastiest food you've ever eaten. It will change your life!)

And don't use that whipped topping either!! You owe it to yourself to serve these berry-licious delights with real whipped cream, not a froth of chemicals.

The "Summer Strawberry" photo is courtesy of D. Sharon Pruitt.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tangerine (jelly bean) dreams

I don't eat a lot of sweets and when I do crave something sugary, I tend to go for chocolate. But I am a sucker for POP (point of purchase) displays and when I saw this silly, seasonal treat from Jelly Belly jelly beans, I just had to have it. It's four ounces of bright orange tangerine-flavored jelly beans in a cone with a shredded green paper carrot "top." I actually bought it for a friend but when I forgot to give it to him, I popped the carrot top myself.

Who knew tangerine jelly beans could be so addictive? A lot of jelly beans are just hardened sugar goo with coloring but Jelly Belly jelly beans have true flavor. I sucked down that "carrot" in less time than it takes to write about it. I will NOT be getting more. They're that good.

New story, new character for NoHo Noir

For the last several months I've been writing two stories a week for NoHo Noir, which gives me a lot more latitude to follow the ever-growing cast of characters. I haven't really done much with Rouzan, the character who has chosen to opt out of the luxurious lifestyle provided by her Armenian gangster father and find her own way. She's a character I really like and this weekend, I introduce a new storyline that will feature her. As always, the story is illustrated by Mark Satchwill.

Here's the link. I hope you enjoy it.

The scene I will never write

When you write crime fiction, there are certain conventions and expectations that come with the genre,along with a whole series of scenes that different authors play with according to their needs. There are some scenes, though, that just don't work, yet we see them over and over and over again.

The scene I'm thinking of in particular is the one where a person (usually a woman) is grabbed and thrown into a car trunk--feet bound, hands cuffed, mouth gagged. Okay, so far, so good. It looks bad for that character and there's clearly something nasty waiting at the end of the journey. The character in the trunk knows that and is struggling to free him or herself. But when the car comes to a stop and the trunk is popped, there s/he is, feet bound, mouth gagged, and hands cuffed IN THE FRONT.

What? I have never found myself in this situation but I don't understand how a desperate character wouldn't manage to tear off the tape, or pull out the scarf. It'd be another thing if your hands were secured behind your back but all cuffing them in front does is limit your range of motion. You can reach up and remove a gag; you can reach down and untie your feet.

If one of my characters ever gets tossed in a trunk, he or she is going to come out of that trunk kicking and screaming.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A short rant about Castle

I don't watch a lot of television but for the last few seasons, I've made it a point to watch Castle. Yes, I like Castle and Beckett but I really like Ryan and Esposito. This year, though, the scripts have taken a slide. So here's my question. Am I the only one who thinks they should write Alexis out of the series until someone, anyone, figures out how to write her character.

Even in the best episodes she was written WAY too young and in an episode that ran a week ago, the writers had her hanging out with kids who were shoplifting stuff for kicks. Seriously? The character they created would just not do that. The actress playing Alexis is a lovely young woman and talented too, but half the time she's reduced to staring at Nathan Fillion with her big blue eyes.

It's a shame...The series has been renewed for another season and it would really be great if they could get their first season mojo back.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

When Good Candy Goes Bad

I'm from the South where the prevailing notion is that anything good will be even better if it's deep-fried. And mostly, I get it. But a few years ago, deep-fried Oreo cookies started showing up at the county fair. I bought some for a friend who was totally intrigued and even though they were cold by the time he ate them, he pronounced them scrumptious. (Well, he probably said something more like, "These are frickin' amazing," but you get the idea.)

I like Oreo cookies more than is good for me, but I thought they looked disgusting.

And now come deep-fried candy bars. A heart attack wrapped in a diabetic coma. If you want to make some at home, here's a recipe.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

More Sunday self-promotion than usual!

Like everyone else who has a stash of stories moldering on their hard drives, I have been intrigued by the opportunities of "indie publishing." (Who knew that "vanity publishing" would morph into something so respectable?)
Thanks to the encouragement of horror novelist G. Wells Taylor, I dipped into the waters last fall with my fiction collection Just Another Day in Paradise. (Available in kindle edition and in all epub formats.)

Now I've added two more books to the mix--L.A. Nocturne and Fairy Story. Both are urban fantasies--Nocturne is a collection of five stories; Fairy Story is a long tale taken from my upcoming novel Misbegotten. L.A. Nocturne is available in kindle and all formats here.

Fairy Story is awaiting approval on kindle but is available in all formats here.

I've also just learned that my zombie story "Z Cruise" made the cut at Hesham Horror Books. It will be included in the anthology Alt-Dead, to be published in print and in kindle this September. Edited by writer/publisher Peter Mark May, the themed anthology includes 16 stories.

And finally, there's a double shot of NoHo Noir this week. Check out Forgiveness and Wedding Party. If you tweet, consider following NoHo Noir at @nohonoir.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Apostle Rising by Richard Godwin

I am reading Apostle Rising by Richard Godwin. Why aren't you? His book appeared on the cover of Bookseller Magazine today (no April Fool's Day joke that). I'll be reviewing the book for Dark Valentine soon.