Friday, September 30, 2011

Foodie Friday: Cheese!

To kick off the new Foodie Friday feature, we're starting with my absolute favorite ingredient. No, it's not garlic, although that might be a close second. Behold the power of...
Cheddar. Brie. Gouda. Muenster. Mozzarella. Provolone. Monterrey Jack. Pepperjack. Colby. Goat. Camembert. Soft. Hard. Pressed. Blue. Any and all, please.
 And now I'm drooling just as much as I did yesterday.

Is this what heaven looks like?
If it weren't for chocolate and cheese, I swear I'd be at least 20 pounds thinner. I love cheese. All kinds of it. By itself or with just about anything. Isn't everything better with cheese?

That's one of the things I love best about it and why it's my favorite ingredient - just about anything can be improved with cheese. If a recipe doesn't turn out quite the way I expect, I can usually salvage it with the right kind of cheese. If I want to change up an old-but-tired favorite, I just use a different type of cheese than usual, changing the flavor just a tad or a lot, depending on the substitution. And anyone with kids knows the best way to get the rugrats to eat their veggies is by adding cheese.

While scrounging for something for lunch yesterday, I found a package of goat cheese I forgot I'd bought last week. Looking for something new to do with it, I found some cheese-worthy websites that I just have to share:
  • I Love Cheese - The official cheese site for the American Dairy Association.
  • Cheese - Everything you could possibly want to know about this melty delishness.
  • Ile de France - The most drool worthy site of them all! Check out their to-die-for recipes. This one is definitely bookmarked for future reference.
Now you've been warned: expect to see some cheesy stuff here Fridays. But good cheese. Not B-rated-horror-romance-movie cheese. That's for the other days.

Are you a cheese freak? What's your favorite kind? If not cheese, what's your favorite ingredient?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why Do We Love the Bad Guys So Much?

Eric Northman. Damon Salvatore. Do I have your attention? Maybe these will help.

Aah. Okay, that is all.

No. Wait! Not really. I just got a little distracted for a moment there. *wipes drool from chin* This is why I should wait to insert pictures until after I've written the post.

Okay, really, I do have a reason for bringing your attention to these hawties and for the same reason I posted the passage I did for this week's Teaser Tuesday. Which I'll get to in a moment.

But first...why these two?

Because I have a new lust. Let me explain.

Since True Blood's season finale, I've felt a little void in my life, just as I do at the end of every season. Eric Northman is a very big part of that void. See, when I started writing, I'd given up pretty much all TV, realizing how much more I enjoy imagining and creating my own stories than mindlessly watching someone else's. But TB (and Eric) has me hooked and what's an hour a week, 13 weeks out of the year?

When the season ends, I realize just how much I enjoy that indulgence and wonder, with all the work I do, what's an hour or two a week every week of the year? With everyone switching their objects of affection from Eric the viking vampire to Damon the southern vampire, I've decided to allow myself that hour and give The Vampire Diaries another go.

We've seen the first season but it was so long ago, we had to watch it again. We just started the second season, so please don't give anything away. Anyway, I've found a new lust. I'm enjoying my time with Damon just as much as I enjoy my time with Eric. Even The Man and The Herd like Eric and Damon (almost) as much as I do.

Which got me to thinking. What is it about these two? They're arrogant, self-serving bastards. And they're bad. Very, very bad. They do horrible things. They have no (or at least little) regard for human life. So why do we love them so much?

I think it's because they're so bad. They say and do things we only wish we could do when someone ticks us off or does us wrong. We all have moments when we don't want to care about others' feelings. When we wish we could just mouth off something snarky that makes everyone's jaws drop. Or, even better, just push the a-hole off the roof. But we do care, so we suppress those feelings and handle our issues like responsible adults. And we chuckle when Eric or Damon do get to do those things.

We love their total disregard for others because we know it's just fiction. Of course we'd feel differently if they were all real. But that's what movies, shows and books do for us: provide an escape. They give us situations we can relate to but with characters who behave in ways we never would or could...but sometimes secretly want to.

So we love Eric and Damon, their fantastic lines and all their badness, as well as other similar characters. Such as my Jordan in Genesis: A Soul Savers Novella.

This week's Teaser Tuesday gave you a hint to what Jordan's like. I'm not saying he's as great as Eric and Damon because there might be one thing he lacks that they don't: if we look through their tough exteriors, Eric and Damon do have redeeming qualities. As for Jordan - that will be for you to decide.

What do you think makes us fall for Eric and Damon? Do you agree or do you have other ideas?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Writer Wednesday - Keary Taylor

Every Wednesday, I feature a writer to hopefully introduce you to some new authors and books that I know you'll love. Today I'm excited to introduce to you a fellow contributor of The Writer's Voice, a new multi-author blog where you get to know the voices behind the stories. Keary Taylor is one of those voices. I'm just getting to know her myself, but I think I love her already. Especially because she writes about a favorite subject of my own: fallen angels. Hehe.

Keary has several books out and lives in what sounds like a really cool place. I'm convinced I need to visit her.

About Keary:

Keary Taylor is the author of BRANDED, FORSAKEN, VINDICATED (Fall of Angels trilogy), and Eden.  She lives on Orcas Island in Washington State with her husband and their two children.

About Branded, Keary's first book in her Fall of Angels series:
Jessica’s had the nightmares for as long as she can remember. Nightmares of being judged for people who have died, of being branded by the angels. Her friends and family think she’s a crazy because of it all. Yet she carries the mark of the condemned, seared into the back of her neck, and hides it and herself away from the world.

But when two men she can’t ignore enter her life everything changes, including the nightmares. The two of them couldn’t be more different. She will do anything to be with one of them. Even tell him the truth about angels, why she never sleeps, and the scar on the back of her neck. But one of the two has set events into motion what will puller her toward her own judgment and turn her into the object of her greatest fear.
The interview:

KC: Tell us about you in 10 words.
KT: Busy mom of two with a very overactive imagination!

KC: I can't wait to explore that imagination when I pick up my own copy of Branded (did I mention it's about angels???). Branded  is your first book, of course, but you have a new one out. If you tweeted about your latest release, what would it say (140 characters or less)?

KT: Like Terminator and Resident Evil?  Read Eden!  Sometimes being human is not about what your insides are made of.

KC: Oooh. Love that! Very enticing. Now I have to decide whether to read Branded first or Eden. Okay, back to the interview. If you could spend the day with any of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?

KT: Right now I would probably say Emily, from Branded.  I don’t really get a whole lot of girl time and she just has such a bubbly personality, she would be a blast to go shopping with.  Can you tell I live on an island and don’t get to go shopping much? lol

KC: I hear ya. Girl time is always a necessity. So is shopping. Especially for shoes. Besides shopping, you obviously enjoy writing. What’s your favorite part of being a writer?

KT: The freedom.  You can totally do whatever you want as a writer and there is no limit to what you can do.  I love coming up with new worlds, new characters.  It’s a great stress reliever for me!

KC: Agree! Especially when we write paranormal/fantasy - there really are no limits. What’s the hardest part of being a writer?
KT: I’d have to say growing a tough skin.  When you’re a writer you open yourself to criticism.  And it hurts to have people say they don’t like your story.  But you have to just remind yourself that YOU love your story.

KC: Yep. That's what's important. Besides, not everyone is going to like your story. Even the best sellers have their critics. What do you wish you would have known before you became a writer?
KT: Mostly I just wish I would have known that the writing bug would come back to me, lol.  I used to write a LOT when I was in middle school and part way into high school and then nothing came to me for a long time.  And I wish I could just tell myself to find the time to read more.

KC: You sound like me! It took longer for the writing bug to return (shh, don't tell anyone but I'm a little older than you), but I, too, wrote a lot when I was younger and then gave up for many years. So what made you decide to go indie?
KC: I tried the traditional route for a long while but nothing was happening.  So I figured “why not” and things have worked out great!  I have no regrets!

KC: With your awesome rankings (she's in the Top 100 of at least 3 Amazon categories!), you should have no regrets. You've obviously done quite well on your own. :) What do you like most about being indie?
KT: The control is so great.  I got to pick (and make) my own covers, I got to set my own release dates, I don’t have anyone but my fans breathing down my neck to release my next book, lol.

KC: Ha! Fans are great, aren't they? Even when they're breathing down our necks, because that just motivates us. If a writer came to you asking advice about going indie, what’s the most important thing you would tell them?
KT: Do your homework and don’t expect anything to happen immediately.  It might, and probably will, take time.  Do your research on how to properly format, how to get a good cover.  This isn’t an easy road, don’t expect it to be.  But it is so worth it!

KC: Yes on the homework thing! There are lots of companies out there preying on writers that are just out to scam. Good advice! Okay, let's talk about your nightstand. What’s the last book you read and what’s next?
KT: The last book would be Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins which was fantastic!  Currently I am reading The Eleventh Plague by Jess Hirsch.  I’m a bit undecided on it at this point…  After that it’s onto All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin.

KC: I haven't heard much about The Eleventh Plague, but the other two are supposed to be awesome. Speaking of awesome, what book or author can you read over and over again?
KT: Haha, this is totally going to sound immature of me, but Twilight and Harry Potter.  I’ve read Harry Potter more times than I can count!  And I just can’t get enough of Twilight, lol!

KC: Oh, yeah, so immature. I'm sure none of us can relate. *hides HP7 under the desk* Ebooks or Dead Tree Books? Why?
KT: Dead Tree Books, lol, you’re making me feel bad for owning paper books!  Um, I do have an iPad filled with eBooks but I do prefer a physical book.  I just love holding a book, I love the feel and smell of them.  And I love the way they look on my bookshelf.  Such a beautiful sight!

KC: Last but not least - where can we stalk connect with you?
Twitter: @kearytaylor

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

A tease from Genesis: A Soul Savers Novella (releasing next month! Eep!) There's a reason I'm sharing this - you'll find out Thursday. :)

A little set-up. The first "his" refers to Niko, a fallen soldier. The other male here is Jordan, one of the two main characters of the story, who's been carrying Niko across his shoulders. "Her" refers to Cassandra, Jordan's twin sister and the other main character. This part is told from Cassandra's point of view.

His lids slowly lifted, revealing the familiar green-olive eyes. His entire face contorted with pain but something sparked in his eyes as he seemed to recognize her. Then Jordan dropped him on the ground with a thud. He grunted and passed out.
“Jordan! He’s hurt.”
“He’s probably dead,” Jordan said, collapsing to the ground himself.
Cassandra dropped to her knees next to Niko. He still wore the torn chiton he’d worn yesterday, his muscular chest and torso exposed. Rather than the one superficial cut he’d had before, rows of long gashes covered his chest now, as if long claws had shredded his skin. Blood and pus gushed from the battle wound in his thigh. She pushed his sweat- and blood-matted hair from his neck and felt for his life signs. A heartbeat pulsed beneath her fingers.
“No, he’s still alive. We must get him inside.”
“He won’t be for long. Why bother?”
“Jordan!” Cassandra admonished. “How can you be so cruel?”
Cruel? I risked my life for him and he doesn’t even have the decency to live long enough to explain.”

Monday, September 26, 2011

Don't Believe What You Hear - They're Myths!

In case you didn't know, I write fantasy. Since you're here, you probably read it. We're all familiar with various mythological creatures and love to imagine that they truly exist. But we know, deep down, they're just legends.

There are two things, however, I've heard about for years and the majority of people seem to be convinced that they're real. They talk about them as if they're truths and there are even so-called experts who say they can teach you how to experience them yourself. Over the last few days, though, I've decided they're just as mythical as vampires and warlocks.

What are they? "Balance" and "Caught Up."

Like this but HUUUUGE! (Image from istockphoto)
"Balance" supposedly manifests itself as a gloriously beautiful, three-story, golden set of scales that brings true happiness to everyone who sees it. According to those experts, you must achieve "Balance" with all parts of your life and when you do, you sing with the angels and sigh yourself to sleep with the utmost contentment. Life is wonderful when you have "Balance."

Okay, first of all, I don't know anyone, especially women, who can call a scale beautiful. Second of all, said scales have two - TWO - platforms with weights that offset each other, creating "Balance." Anyone with any kind of life at all has more than two roles to play. Some of us have about 7. Or 20. Add all those platforms with their necessary beams and you end up with a many-armed monster that any normal person would run away from.

Getting all those platforms to hang equally? IMPOSSIBLE! Because just as we're removing the last piece from one side - that last to-do for one of our roles - another side gets piled. And this added weight makes all those beams bounce and sway and now the monster is waving its ugly arms and yelling at us that we're completely inept. RAWR!

Doesn't sound all happy and shiny to me. It's a myth, I tell you!

"Caught Up" is also supposed to conjure a wonderful, unearthly feeling down to your core that allows you to do anything you want without any guilt. It looks like a wadded up paper the size of a football stadium and its insides are covered in a list of tasks that are - gasp! - all. crossed. off. Can you imagine?!

Okay, maybe you can. Maybe you have had times when you've been able to check off everything on your to-do list, even when it was a mile long. But how long did that really last? Did you really get to bask in the warmth of freedom for more than a day, or an hour, or even five minutes, before another to-do reared its head?

"Caught Up" is more like that last to-do buzzing in your ear like a mosquito and you smack at it and clap your hands on it and everything goes quiet and you think, "Yes! I got it!" But before you can even breathe a sigh, another buzzing starts in your ear and you open your hands only to find them empty. You never really had "Caught Up" in your grasp.

Why? Because it's a myth, I tell you!

I thought I knew "Caught Up" Friday afternoon when I closed the laptop and set out to the senior-boy's football game. For the first time since...hmm...last Spring, maybe?...I actually felt like I had a handle on things. I felt like I could breathe more freely and could take on anything that popped up on my to-do list with a smile because it wasn't overdue. But somehow, by Sunday night, I was way behind again. How does that even happen? I even worked all weekend!

Of course, all those to-dos are heavily weighted in only a couple areas of life, causing all kinds of imbalance. But that's just how life is. We can strive for balance over the long run, but achievement of true "Balance" is a myth. We have to find what works for us and know we're doing our very best in all of our roles, including the role of Self. And when "Caught Up" only lasts for a fleeting moment, we just have to enjoy that sense of relief, regardless of how false it was.

After all, we love fantasy. We like to pretend myths are real at least for a little while. Until reality hits again.

Have you always believed in these myths? Have you ever actually experienced either one for more than a brief moment? What other life myths have we been made to believe are real?