Friday, December 30, 2011

My New Year's Steampunk Resolutions

This year I will:

Acquire a real pair of goggles.

Learn the specs for a sentient automaton.

Discover the working boundaries for my Crown Phoenix typewriter that is really a quantum computer, and then push beyond them.

Develop a set of maps for The Night Watchman Express and the entire Crown Phoenix series. Because there is nothing like a book that comes with a map (see: Narnia, Middle Earth etc.)

Bring out Devil's Kitchen in print.

Finish the edit on The Lamplighter's Special, book three in the Crown Pheonix series.

Decide on the title for the final book in the series. (I'm leaning towards The South Sea Bubble or In His Majesty's Post, what do you think?)
Caricature of The South Sea Bubble

Write The South Sea Bubble (or In His Majesty's Post.)

Develop some Cogs and Gears Wine, or some Clockworks Brewery Ale. Or maybe just some Airship Pastries. Because why not?

Somehow meet this gentleman:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Food: Miranda Warning

There is something about books that makes me hungry. The act of reading just seems to go naturally with a pot of tea, of course, as well as a plate of scones and some finger sandwiches.

There are books out there that strengthen this connection. One obvious culprit is Dickens. His characters are always going off on picnics complete with pork pies, cold cider, and rounds of cheese. One of my favorite descriptions of his is his "curiously light wine, with a curiously heavy cake."

Another book that makes me hungry is Miranda Warning. I'm almost at the end (reading it slowly so it will last; I'm going to hate being finished) and I love the gorgeous descriptions of food. The book, a murder mystery, is set in Texas, so there is plenty of RC cola, banana whoopie pies, as well as buttery croissants and delicious coffee drinks.

Miranda, the main character, is just as delicious. She is a bit overweight (who wouldn't be, with all that food) and works in a run down law office where her boss often falls asleep on the floor. She has to learn to maneuver her rolling chair carefully so she won't squash his hand.

She is also a sax player in a local band, and one of her band mates gets bumped off in the beginning. The way that Miranda investigates the murder is funny and well written and completely believable. Oh, and there's a romance, too, and it is delicious as well.

To be honest, I'm not a huge murder mystery fan, but I'm enjoying this book with a great deal of delight. It should be savored, like a whoopie pie, for its flavor and creamy filling.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Getting Malled

NOT what I looked like at the mall.
Yesterday my kid and I sashayed out to the mall, and I learned several things:

1. Those people who own the kiosk with the iPodTouch covers just outside the Apple store might as well be printing money right now. Thirty two dollars for a crummy plastic case with fake bling? Who's going to pay that? Oh, I am? Oh, okay.

2. If you buy your kid a toy for the stocking because said toy was really cheap on sale and you thought you were being slick, be prepared to go back and buy the ten other things at full price that you need to work that toy.

3. Plop a peace sign and glitter on anything, and a seven year old girl will want to buy it.

4. There are a lot of other people sashaying out to the mall, and parking spaces are quite scarce. I might as well have driven to a Katy Perry concert and expected to buy a ticket at the window as park my truck. Did I do that annoying thing where I followed an unsuspecting couple with bags in their arms to their car because they "looked done," and they "didn't have a stroller?" Maybe.

5. Did I say Katy Perry concert? Monster High dolls are like gold dust right now. Need a Zhu Zhu pet, though (that wind up hamster that I spent hours looking for two years ago? They are giving them away, I tell you.)

6. It is really, really important to keep a child fed with starchy foods. Otherwise, apparently, they do this alter ego thing that makes other shoppers look at you with the Oh There Is The Worst Parent In The World glare.

I hope that you have gleaned something from this, unless unlike me, you are sane and refuse to set foot in any sort of shopping area until January 2.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

J.R.R. Tolkien and Christmas

One of my favorite Christmas books is by Tolkien. That's right, the Eye of Sauron guy. Like many wonderful children's books, Letters from Father Christmas was written as a series of letters to Tolkien's children, as if Father Christmas himself had written them.

They started in 1920. And for twenty two more years, Tolkien sent the letters, each one illustrated and written in Father Christmas's signature shaky handwriting. In 1921 the North Polar Bear, or NDP, began to add to the letters. The Bear always got into mischief and ended up being scolded by Father Christmas.

In 1936 the elf secretary Ilbereth entered. He and the other elves had to ward off Goblin attacks, so Tolkien had begun to incorporate Middle Earth concepts.

Throughout you can see hints of Tolkien family life. Father Christmas explains why the children won't receive that expensive gifts they requested (the NPB switched the labels or fell down the stairs on top of them) which gives us an idea of the parents' worries. That he did so in such a creative, satisfactory way is just another testament to his imagination and genius.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Last Minute Gifts, or: Oh, I See What You Did There

HELP! It's Christmas this weekend. Heck, it's Hannukah right NOW!

Need a last minute gift item? How about one of these babies? At last, the finger shaped ear and nose hair trimmer. Its tagline really is "The Perfect Pick!"

Rudolf poops out candies with a mere touch. 

Pajama pants that look like jeans: because acid washed just isn't dweeby enough already.

Anything that has been promoted by or has even been in the same room with Tony Little.

Whatever this is. There are some things you just can't unsee.

Any Christmas sweater ever made.

Hey, here's an idea: there are tons of Indie authors out there who write fantastic books, and you can pick them up for a buck or three! Why don't you add a comment here with a link to one of your favorite Indie books? And, shoppers, you don't even need gas to buy them. I'm talking instant delivery.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Adventures of Tintin

I for one look forward to the Tintin movie. I've always been a Tintin buff, and here is why:

1. The characters. Tintin himself is such an original creation. He is between a teen and an adult, and his closest relationship is with his dog, Snowy, and his friend Captain Haddock. That's it. No girlfriend, no love interest at all, in fact.

Then there is the Captain, who is always on the lookout for whiskey or his pipe. Plus, he has a wonderful way with curse words. No drat or dang for him; no, Captain Haddock is all:

No one does Anger like the Captain.

And Snowy the dog, who at times has a wonderful continuing conversation with the readers. My daughter loves him.
I can relate

2. The adventures: My favorite was always Red Rackham's Treaasure, and it is featured prominently in the movie! Hurray! There is a treasure search, underwater explorations, pirates, and a submarine that looks like a shark. YESSS.

3. The art: Herge, the author and artist of the Tintin stories, was an incredible draftsman. His neat, detailed drawings are not only beautiful but  also advance the story.

4. OK, here's the rub: The books aren't all PC. In fact, some of them are pretty darn UN correct. Alas, Herge was a product of his times and used cultural stereotypes that were simply appalling. I refuse to read, for example, Tintin in the Congo. Not only is it dreadful, socially, but it's one of the weakest Tintin stories.

5. Now that I've made that point, back to the adventure. If you never have read a Tintin book, do yourself a favor and read The Secret of the Unicorn or Cigars of the Pharoah or Explorers on the Moon or The Castafiore Emerald. And let me know if you plan to see the movie.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Month of December

I'd really like to know what happened to Time.

When I was a kid, the month between Thanksgiving took forever. I went back to school after Turkey Day and knew I was in for the long haul before the Big Day itself.

I went to the store and got gifts for the family. Mom was an professor and a hippy, so that meant a trip to The Importer, a huge barn that was filled with unique stuff from all over the world, including a parrot from Africa. Whenever you walked by, he would say, "Oh, look, Frank, it's the parrot."

I wore a stocking cap, just like that kid in The Christmas Story, and I wrapped my gifts with about five rolls of tape. Dad read A Christmas Carol out loud to us and I read The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, ad old fashioned story by Julie Lane. I still get all teary at the last chapter.

Snow would come, lots of snow. We shoveled and built snowmen. But better than that, the Sears Wishbook arrived, and my sister and I spent hours pouring over the pages. Tumblestones! Twiggy Barbies! Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! Doctors' Kits! It was the very, very best of times.

I don't know what happened. How did that magical time eclipse on itself and become a mere fragment? I swear I was just serving turkey a split second ago. And now, horrors, Christmas is next week!!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

American Horror Story

Because nothing says Christmas like a good horror show, I'm confessing my new addiction here. I have been watching American Horror Story since the pilot, and I am thoroughly hooked.

Here's why:

1. The writers. Always the most important part of any show. You can have great actors, but if the writing component isn't there, the series falls apart (alas, I'm talking to you, Pan Am. You SHOULD have been good, with Christina Ricci and 60's air stewardesses all, but - BOOORRRING!!!)

On AHS, the writers take chances. They keep the action and the characters growing, at a pace that make me wonder how long they can keep it up. The scary stuff keeps appearing, from Rubberman to the Infantata, to the past inhabitants of the creepy, gorgeous LA mansion.

2. The characters. Terrific actors are very important. Connie Britton's take on Vivien Harmon is my favorite of the bunch, although she has some stiff  competition with Tate , played by Evan Peters, and Taissa Farmiga as Violet, Vivien's daughter. In fact, Farmiga's depiction of a troubled, intelligent high school girl is one of the most amazing performances I've seen in a while.

3. The opening music. And sequence. Watch it and you just know that the show is going to be seriously creepy. Disturbingly so, in fact.

4. No holds barred. Those amazing writers happily take on gay relationships, the Black Dahlia, current anti-government sentiment, and even the current state of the housing market, and do so in a way that is completely fascinating. And creepy and disturbing.

5. Dylan McDermott's butt - Not a huge Dylan fan, but he is showing some serious acting chops here, plus he has no problem showing his butt off. A lot.

No, I'm not going to put up an image of that here. It's Fresh Pot of Tea, after all, not Large Bottle of Jack.

If you enjoy ghosts and horror fiction, then check the show out. Be prepared for adult content and some jolts to the system. (Did I mention creepy and disturbing?) But I haven't seen scary TV like this in a while.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Cookies, Part Deux: Marzipan Macaroons

Another very easy type of cookie is the macaroon. Not the "clumps of coconut" kind of macaroon, the kind that is made of crushed almonds and is baked into a fragrant, sugary, crunchy biscuit.

The recipe makes about 20 cookies, which is not enough, since my family shovels them down like potato chips. But they are so easy that you can always throw in another batch.

Marzipan Macaroons

1 tube Odense Marzipan
2 egg whites
2/3 cup granulated sugar
parchment paper
baking spray

Preheat the oven to 325. Line two cookie sheets with the parchment, and spray.

Into a mixing bowl, chop the tube of marzipan (I just carve chunks out of it with a knife.) Plop in the whites and the sugar, and mix until pretty smooth.

Standing mixers are best, since you can now walk away and get out some red and green sugar to sprinkle on top of the cookies. Halved almonds look nice on them too.

Spoon the mix onto prepared cookie sheets, by the teaspoonful. Top, if desired, with the colored sugar.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The cookies should look brown around the edges and the top should start to crackle.

Take out, cool for a bit, and slide onto a rack. Cool completely and store / eat / hide from your in laws.

You know what is perfect with these cookies? A Fresh Pot of Tea, that's what.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Cookies part 1: Chocolate Covered Oreos

On Saturday we had a party to go to. A real party, not the kind with bouncy castles and face paint.  Like, get a babysitter and put on heels and drink vodka deal.

My Italian mother in law, God rest her soul, instilled in me the idea that one  can never show up without a hostess gift. So I knew  I had to make cookies to bring along. But I also knew I had  zero time to make said cookies.

Enter the super fast, speedy, it's-not-quite-cheating recipes. Which I shall share with you, since I love my readers so. Today, chocolate covered oreos; tomorrow, Marzipan Macaroons.

Chocolate Covered Oreos

(For some reason, these make everyone gasp and stretch their eyes. I can slave over rolled out sugar cookies for hours, but it is the oreos that get everyone all riled up.)

1 bag of Oreos
1  bag of  Ghirardelli 60% Cacao chocolate chips
1 cup of white chocolate chips


Line a baking tray with wax paper.

Pour the bag of dark chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl. Add a tablespoon or so of Crisco. Nuke for a minute, stir, then nuke at 30 second intervals alternating with stirring  until the chocolate is smooth and  melted. Don't nuke it too much, or it will burn and turn into a yucky clumpy ball of gunk.

With a fork, dunk the oreos one at a time in the chocolate mixture, tapping to release extra. Put on the prepared, lined tray and shove them in the fridge.

While they set, fit a disposable piping bag with a small tip icing nozzle. Fill the bag with the cup of white chocolate chips and  another Tbl of Crisco. (If you don't have any of that icing stuff, you can use a fork to drizzle white chocolate over the tops of the oreos. It's just as impressive, and people will eat them just as happily.)

When the cookies are set in the fridge (about 10 - 20 minutes) nuke the piping bag or bowl of white chocolate for 1 minute and then 30 secoond intervals. Stir the bowl or squish the bag to stir.

Either pipe desings on the dark chocolate with the bag. Spirals make people go, "Oooooooh." Or drizzle, as I've said before. If you add some drague´es, that's impressive too. (Drague´es = fancy word for those little silver balls that chefs use to decorate cakes and cookies and truffles and stuff.)

Pop back in the fridge for another twenty minutes.

Throw flour on your face to make them think you've been breaking your back in the kitchen, and serve.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Farsighted, by Emlyn Chand

Emlyn Chand, author of Farsighted
I simply could not be more excited to have Emlyn Chand visiting today for an author interview, here at Fresh Pot of Tea. Emlyn just published Farsighted through the Novel Publicity imprint. She says she has "always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story)." 

First, tell us about Farsighted, your new book.

Farsighted tells the story of Alex Kosmitoras. Here’s my mini teaser:  Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t.  When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider.

The main character, Alex, is blind. How did you research his world?

I read books about coping with blindness in a school setting and spent a great deal of time pondering how I might behave if I couldn’t see. In the story, Alex has always been blind; he’s always known the world to be a certain way. Not everyone understands that, and they have trouble talking about it with him. I gave Alex a tendency to overcompensate. He knows who he is and what he’s capable of, and he wants the world to know it too, so sometimes he overdoes things a bit.

Tell me about Simmi. It sounds like she was a lot of fun to create.

My husband is from India, and ever since we first met, I can’t help but write Indian characters. Simmi is very true to Indian culture in that she is polite and reverent and very sweet. She is sometimes a little fake, however, but Alex is so smitten with her he just can’t tell.
Available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Your book has a bit of a paranormal touch to it. What were the rewards and challenges of adding that element?

One thing I hear from readers quite a bit is that the paranormal seems normal in Farsighted. They don’t question the existence of the powers, and it doesn’t seem out there like some other books of the genre do. That was important to me. I wanted my story to be run by the characters, not the fantastic elements. This is a story about Alex, not about a blind psychic.

You have a great online presence! Can you tell us about your other web ventures?

Why, thank you. My “day job” is working as a social media book marketer. I founded my own company, Novel Publicity, earlier this year, and it’s taken off incredibly fast! Marketing Farsighted has been a full-time job on top of a full-time job. I’ve definitely devoted a great deal of man power into my campaign, because I have no limits. I’ve spent an enormous amount of time and energy recruiting bloggers for my launch, and I have over 200, thank you :-) 

I’m also hiring 6 other blog tour companies to tour my book over the next couple months—getting buzz early on is crucial! I’ve had a good amount of luck with GoodReads pay-per-click advertising too.  I’m also taking out advertising on targeted websites like and Night Owl, which cater to fans of my genre, and Kindle Nation Daily and The Frugal eReader, which cater to a mass of eBook lovers. I’ve even taken it off the web and created some Farsighted-themed swag. I’m most proud of my postcards. Readers can request an autographed postcard by filling out a simple form on my website. It’s a fun way to connect with readers that is memorable and only costs me a quarter.

Finally, could you give us an excerpt from your book to intrigue the readers?

Sure. Here’s a scene with Simmi that I call Almost Kiss...

Simmi and I arrive at this rally point together from Mrs. Warszynski’s to wait for Shapri. Several minutes go by. I want to suggest we leave without her but don’t think that’ll score me any points with Simmi.

“You didn’t want Shapri to come tonight, did you?” Simmi asks.

“Well, I—no, I mean, it’s fine. I’m glad she could come,” I sputter.

“You’re such a horrible liar,” Simmi teases, pushing me playfully.

“Hey, that’s not fair. I can’t hit you back. You’re a girl.”

“I’m just teasing you.” Simmi blows a raspberry and pulls her body up onto the circular wall surrounding the flagpole area. I hesitate before pulling myself up too. Simmi scootches over so we touch at the hip. She loops her hand through the crook of my arm and places her head on my shoulder. “I never would have gotten away with this in India,” she says. “But I’m glad I can here. I’m a psychic feeler. I need to be in touch with others.” She pauses and strokes my arm with her free hand. “You know, when I touch someone I can make them feel what I want them to, but I can also sense their existing emotions. It’s almost the same as being able to read minds. Everything important has to do with the heart, not logic.” She lightens her tone. “But don’t tell Dr. Brown I said that, he’d take marks off of my next chem exam out of spite.”

I laugh nervously. Is she like Miss Teak in a way? Can she read my feelings for her? If she can, why hasn’t she said anything? I contemplate reaching over and kissing her, so I can know for sure how she feels. But I’ve never kissed anyone before. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to initiate it. Do I take her out for dinner and a movie first? Or make some lengthy speech declaring my intentions? Do I kiss her, just like that? Or do I ask for her permission before making my big move?

I decide to ask if it’s okay. Simmi is a classy girl. She needs respect. I swallow, hoping the motion will open up my airway, because right now, I’m kind of having trouble catching my breath. “Simmi,” I start.

“Yeah, Alex?” She lifts her head and links her hand in mine, nudging her slender fingers in between each of mine.

“Would it be okay if I…”

“There you two are!” Shapri says, running over to us, panting heavily. “I thought we were meeting in the commons.”

“No, we agreed on the flagpole,” Simmi says, hopping down from the wall.

The moment is gone. I don’t know when I’ll get the chance and the nerve again. My opinion of Shapri transforms from cautious indifference into outright hatred. Why did she invite herself along?

Shapri clears her throat. “Did I—Did I interrupt something here? Maybe a little romance?”

“What? No, no,” Simmi says shaking her head adamantly. “Nothing like that, Alex is like a brother to me.”

Ouch. Pain. Stabbed in my heart. I’m like a brother to her? I guess this means romance is off the table…

 Super Awesome Book Trailer! ^^^^

You can follow Emlyn and her book Farsighted on her author website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, and on her Novel Publicity site.


Saturday, December 10, 2011


I remember reading a story about the search for the most delicious thing in the world. What would it be? Apple pie with vanilla icecream, roast lamb, carrot soup, a perfect cheese souffle?

The point of the story was that if you can't find it, the most delicious thing in the world is pure water. And for many people out there, they have to faucet, no resource to instant, running, clean H2O.

Samaritan's Purse is one organization that works to bring water to those who don't have access. In Haiti, in Africa, they bring access, wells, and ship bottled water to families and kids who need it.

Try spending a day without drinking, and you'll see just how delicious water can be. Ever been in a car or on a train with no drinks? That first swallow is so sweeeeeet. Now imagine living in a country where you have to walk a mile or two for fresh water, or where you have to line up for bottled water.

Connie J. Jasperson, along with some of the other writers at Fantasy Island Book Publishing, has collected an anthology of stories by the FIBP writers. All proceeds go to the Samaritan's Purse water project to help those in need around the globe. I have two stories in there; one is a horror short and the other is a prequel to The Night Watchman Express.

Find it here:

So again, if you have some spare change in the glove compartment, your coat pocket, or behind the sofa cushions, please consider spending it on a collection of shorts. It'll help some people at the same time.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jingle Jingle

I heard yesterday on the news that someone popped a diamond ring into one of those kettles manned by bell ringers. This followed the news over the weekend that another generous soul had given them a huge gold coin, a rare one, for the eighth year in a row.

Wouldn't you love to be able to do that? What a wonderful feeling, to stuff all that largesse in a kettle and just walk away. The afterglow has to be superb. Those gift givers must feel like that scene in Ghost, when Oda Mae Brown puts a check worth millions into the hands of a nun.

Alas, I don't have diamond rings cluttering up the place, nor gold coins, nor checks worth millions, so I have to resort to smaller means.

Oh, I just want to support so many good causes. I think that the ability to be able to be able to do some real good for a charity or a group of people is the ultimate luxury. Forget the Neiman Marcus customizable cupcake car.
Don't know if I can quite pull this off...

So, here is what I could do, though: I collected two books and two stories for kids, and put them in one collection, and donated the royalties to Oxfam. One book is by me, and it's about getting coal for Christmas. Except, of course, coal from the North Pole is magic...

The other book is by Shaun Allan, the creator of Sin and Zits n Bits. He donated Rudolf Saves Christmas, a story that is a holiday version of Hoodwinked, where Rudolf is sent to jail. 

Connie J Jasperson wrote the Christmas Tree, a sci fi story about Santa finding a family in space (I LOVE that concept!) 

And Nicole Antonia Carson donated The List, a tale of a girl who has to defend her Goodness in the North Pole court. Nicole does a lot on the stage, so it's no surprise that her story is very visual and very, very funny.

Finally, my cover artist, Lisa Daly, donated the sweet little girl and her toes for the cover:

My thanks to all those authors and to Lisa for their very, very generous donations. They are worth so much more to me than a cupcake car, or even Oda Mae's check.

If you have 99 cents rattling around in your purse, or behind the sofa cushions, will you consider buying this collection of stories? They are all G rated and a lot of fun, and they are available on Kindle. And all of the proceeds go to help families and kids through Oxfam's international efforts.

Now I wish I could ring a bell for you. But I will say: Thanks so very much!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Voyage of Discovery : Completing My First Novel, by Carlie Cullen

(Today I have handed the house keys to Carlie Cullen, my fellow author in Essex. It is with a great deal of admiration and pride that I present this blogpost from the author of Heart Search, a story about Remy, who is looking for her missing fiancee, and Joshua, who is something quite different and strange. It sounds like an amazing book, and I can't wait for her to edit it and publish!) And go and check out her cool blog as well; I'm hiding over there today!  A.D.

I have made a real voyage of discovery. It took me nine months, three hundred and twenty nine pages, one hundred and fifty thousand four hundred and forty one words and at the end of it was my first completed novel!

“Heart Search : Lost”, the first book in the “Heart Search” trilogy was nothing short of a labour of love. It was my first real attempt at a full-length novel and like a lot of writers starting out, I really wasn’t sure I had the ability/imagination/skill to write more than short stories. In addition, I had doubts that anything I wrote would be worth another person’s time and effort to read.

I’d had the idea for the novel (it was only going to be one at the start) buzzing around in my head for a couple of months before I committed to trying to write anything. The more I thought about the possible plots, the more the characters began to grow in my mind and in my heart. I knew I had to tell their tale – it was too important to them not to – and so I began creating it in September 2010.

After planning my characters and story synopsis, I plotted the first twelve chapters and began the story. As I started tapping away on my keyboard, something strange happened – the story took on a life all its own. It was like I was a channel for the words that just appeared as if from nowhere. The chapter plot went out the window and I had no option but to just flow with the current. The story took me in directions I hadn’t considered and it all seemed to work, even though I had two stories running parallel to each other; one written in first person, the other in third.

My daughter kept nicking my laptop every time I put it down,  reading what I’d written then pestering me endlessly to write the next bit. She was hooked and it was then I realised that maybe I was good at this and other people might like it too.

As the story progressed, I was surprised to find how connected I became to my two main characters, how inextricably linked we were and I shared their emotions; when they laughed, I laughed, when they cried, I cried too. They were part of me. So, when I had to take a three-month break to move house, Remy and Joshua (my two protagonists) were screaming at me on a daily basis to get back to writing. When I did, there was no stopping me and at precisely 1.40am on Tuesday 26th October 2011, I finished typing the final sentence.

I sat there, stunned. I had done it – I’d completed my first novel! Then the euphoria hit. I punched the air and shouted “YES!!!” waking my daughter in the process (oops). I had a smile that wouldn’t quit for days afterwards and I felt like I was walking on fluffy white clouds. It was such an amazing feeling of accomplishment and, dammit, I was proud of myself! I was so hyped that night, I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep for ages, but apart from posting my glorious news on Twitter and Facebook, I honestly can’t remember what else I did. Even though this was over a month ago and I’ve competed in NaNoWriMo since then (and won), the electric tingly buzz of pure joy hasn’t left me. The only time in my life I’ve ever felt joy of a similar magnitude, was the day I gave birth to my wonderful daughter!

I’m so happy and proud of my achievement, I would like to share a world exclusive with you, an excerpt from “Heart Search : Lost”. I hope you like it.

“His hiding place was perfect; darkness surrounded and comforted him and he became one with it. He had chosen well. The ancient ruins were totally hidden by overgrown shrubs and trees. From this place, he could venture out before dusk, completely obscured by the dense canopy of the ancient trees; the sun struggled to break through even at midday.
He was close, closer than ever before, so close that the flavour of the human’s essence coated his sensitive tongue. The one sought was nearby – he could sense him. He had searched for a very long time to find someone this special. Sure he’d found talent along the way, but this one, this human was something else entirely.
The excitement was building inside like a volcano preparing to erupt. His tongue ran over his teeth; venom pooled in his mouth and he savoured the flavour. There would be a new flavour to add to it soon. Very soon.

He first detected the scent two days ago. Unfortunately, an opportunity had not presented itself and he had become frustrated to the point of anger as strategy after strategy was thwarted by the most stupid and pointless of reasons. He was tenacious when there was something he desired and right now there was nothing he desired more than this human. There was a plentiful supply around to quench his thirst - that was not his aim.
His reverie was interrupted – a familiar scent wafted on the air that permeated the shelter. It was the human - the one he sought – and so near, too near to be allowed to escape again. Once more venom collected in his mouth.
He moved swiftly through the darkness with perfect vision towards the exit hidden amongst the foliage. The closer he got to the outside, the stronger the scent, and the more eager he became.
It was time.”
Now begins the long process of revising and editing, but to be honest, I’m not fazed by this at all. I know that my manuscript will become stronger, more polished and I can look at giving my characters even more depth. After all, if it wasn’t for Remy and Joshua taking up residence in my head and heart, this story might not have been written at all.

Now, don't forget to look for me at Carlie's blog! 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Toys I Just Don't "Get"

The coolest thing about having a 7 year old at Christmas is the toy stores. For me, the woman who never grew up, it's an excuse to go and check out all the new things to play with; I'm like that kid with his nose pressed up to the window in The Christmas Story.

But there are always some toys that make me wonder,

"What the heck were the inventors thinking?" 

Usually they involve loads of batteries (the best toys don't need batteries, IMO) and only perform a few functions. After you run through the repertoire, what's left to do but allow the toy in question to gather dust?

Here are a few toys that I just don't get:

1. Little Miss Muffin Doll: Oh, sure, kids went nuts for LaLaLoopsy Dolls last year, but it doesn't mean that any rag doll with a large, plastic head will also be a success. These dolls wear a sort of mobcap, along the lines of Mrs. Beezley,* and they smell like muffins. Who needs a doll to smell like a baked good? Not I.

2. Baby Born Dance: It's a baby. It dances. Enough said.

3. Disney Fairies Water Dispenser: Here you are, little girl, a faucet! I know you'll love it because it has pictures of Fairies on it!

4. Kung Zhu Pets: Whoever made Zhu Zhu pets had a huge hit one year for girls with hamsters that rolled around and made different chirp sounds. Trying to recreate that success by selling fighting hamsters to boys wasn't such a great idea.

5. The Snoop Dogg Barbie Doll: Actually, I might really, really want to buy this one. Because Snoop is always cool, even when he guest stars in the Big Time Rush Christmas Special. And how can I resist the tagline: "12 inches of Snoop"?

*Remember that show, Family Affair? It came on every week day after I Dream of Genie, I believe. Or maybe F Troop. Watched it whenever I was home sick from school. Who's with me in Middle Aged Land?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Whassup???? And, Hugo Too

Hello, Blogosphere!

I've been away for, well, most of the month of November. Here's why: I was a participant in NaNoWriMo,  which stands for National Novel Writing Month. I and a gafrillion other people write 50,000 words each during November.

I'm back, and I missed you. Here's a present that I brought back from my mental travels:
What's inside? Cute kittens, sparkly baubles, a nose trimmer? You decide!

Moving on, I see that my own genre, Steampunk, took a hugestep in becoming main stream with the release of Hugo, the newest movie from Martin Scorsese. It's based on a novel by Brian Selznick, called "The Invention of Hugo Cabret." 

Part graphic novel, part flipbook, and a story of Coincidences, puzzles, lost keys, and a mystery, it's the kind of story that appeals to, well, me. I love adventure, I love inventions and mysteries; always have, since I picked up "Spiderweb for Two" in first grade.

The movie itself is moving into pure steampunk. There are huge gears, clockworks, and a very important automaton. There are children and a toymaker and a race through Paris. There's a hidden message. What's not to like?

All of this is pure joy for a steampunker like me. Now, back to NaNoWriMo; while I worked on my new book, called The Gramophone Society, I abandoned steampunk for something new: Dieselpunk. 

My new world is powered by diesel energy, since it is set during World War II during the London evacuations. I became fascinated by the tunnels built to hold people during air raids. They seemed like the perfect place for more adventure and mystery.

I wondered about the possibility of time travel. I didn't want to open a portal, so instead I imagined a set of stairs that usually went upstairs, and that suddenly led down instead: down to a set of mysterious tunnels and into the past.

As Hugo hangs off his huge clock hands like Harold Lloyd, my heroine, Julia, hung between the problems of her modern day world (eating disorders, divorce) and those of the past (displaced children and rationed food.) It was a manuscript that was a LOT of fun to write.

Enjoy Hugo now, and I do hope that you'll enjoy The Gramophone Society in the future...