Location, Location, Location

Hi, everyone. I’m at it again. Getting ready to release another novel, probably late this year. I’m a little nervous because it’s a genre I’ve never published in before—in the thriller family, a near-future dystopia. I’ll share more about it as we get closer, but I want to start with where some of the scenes are set. One in particular.

Whenever possible, I like to set the scenes of my stories in geographical locales where I’ve lived or visited. It makes me feel like I can write from a stronger place if I’ve walked the streets, breathed the air, absorbed the energy—which is not so easy to do when your book is set thirty years in the future and during a war. I can leave some location details generic, but where I can, I really want to show the world that the characters inhabit.

Most of The Kitchen Brigade takes place in New York’s Hudson Valley. A key scene occurs at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. (Yes, Franklin Roosevelt’s Hyde Park.) I live about forty minutes away, and I’ve been to what the locals call “The Culinary” several times. Usually, those trips have involved parking in the main lot, walking to one of their many wonderful restaurants, then going home…maybe after a stop at the bookstore. But I’ve never prowled the campus, walked the halls the way a student or a faculty member might. And that’s what I needed to do.

So last week, I got myself and my camera over to the CIA to do a little scouting. It was fun, and the employees and students were so helpful. I’m glad made the trip, because in my rediscovery, I found that I had a few important details wrong.

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Roth Hall, Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY

I remembered that the main building, Roth Hall, houses most of the kitchens, so that’s what I’d focused on when I wrote the early drafts of the manuscript. I had a vague recollection of a giant atrium in the center of the building, from which rose a huge, open staircase and a big balcony overlooking said space.

Not so much.

Here’s my “giant atrium”:

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Here’s my “balcony”:

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The building is beautiful, but I don’t know how I got the details so wrong! Fortunately, I didn’t need to completely tear the scene apart. It’s a historical building, so I didn’t expect that it would look appreciably different thirty years from now, but I presumed it might have upgraded kitchens and security features. Or at least it was convenient for me to add them.

Before I go, I wanted to show you one of my favorite spaces. I can just imagine sitting out on this courtyard with a cocktail while I’m waiting for my reservation.

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Or, maybe I’ll just wander around the halls.

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Table for two?

Thank you for reading.

A Year of Reading Indie

IU-reading-challenge-ksb-300x205Happy New Year!

If one of your goals for 2016 is to get out of your reading comfort zone, Indies Unlimited has cooked up a little challenge for you. And I’m really looking forward to this. Twelve months, twelve books, twelve indie authors.

Ready to make your first choice? IU minion, author, and super-reader Candace Williams explains the challenge here.

12 Blogs of Christmas: Virginia Gray

IMG_9021_4044 WEB copyHappy Wednesday! Virginia Gray is a bestselling women’s fiction novelist. A former university professor, she stepped away from academics to pursue a writing career. She is a great lover of humor, music, and all things food, and is best known for The Susan Wade Saga. You can read more about Virginia on her website.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

I wasn’t always so sure. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to believe—very badly, in fact. I also wanted to believe in the stories I read. I wanted to know for sure that there had been a Middle Earth, where hobbits and wizards and dragons ran amuck. I prayed that Narnia existed, and that I might be lucky enough to discover one of its secret passages—they’re everywhere, you know. I truly hoped there were wrinkles in time, and that I might be called upon to save our very universe. I wanted to believe in magic! Read more…

See you tomorrow with Gordon Long.

Miss one of the days? Here are the blogs posted so far:

Dec. 13   Ellen Chauvet

Dec. 14   Sarah Lane

Dec. 15   Keith Baker

 

My Favorite Banned Books: The Grapes of Wrath

Banned BooksLike most people trundled through the American public school system, I was coerced into reading a selection of “classical” literature as a teen. Because I didn’t like the way it was taught in my district—all this emphasis on theme and metaphor the author might not even have intended—I didn’t enjoy it all that much, little goody-two-shoes rebel that I’d been. As much as I grumbled when teachers said that the tree at the end of the book meant crucifixion and the way the moon hung in the sky was a symbol of the protagonist’s ennui about his impending marriage, I loved reading. I loved the places a good story took me to and the opportunity to see life through someone else’s eyes. Without someone telling me what it all meant. Only now, some (mumble mumble) decades later, rereading some of those works, am I more deeply appreciating the opportunity I’d been given. Some students have had wonderful books like Moby-Dick, The Catcher in the Rye (banned as late as 2001), Cat’s Cradle, and The Sun Also Rises (also banned, and burned in Nazi bonfires) removed from their libraries and school districts. Some countries do not permit their distribution at all. Continue reading

Playing Charlie Cool: Sneak Peek

PlayingCharlieCoolPrelim400Hi, everyone! While Art Dude is finishing the cover, I’d like to share an excerpt from Playing Charlie Cool. The e-book is available for pre-order on Amazon. You can save a buck by ordering now at the introductory price, and it will be delivered to your Kindle when the book is published at the beginning of October. Although it’s a sequel to The Picture of Cool and Don’t Tell Anyone, Playing Charlie Cool is a standalone story. (Scroll down to find out how you can grab a free copy of The Picture of Cool.)

First…what’s Playing Charlie Cool about?

With a few humble words, mayoral staffer Joshua Goldberg comes out to the New York press, resigns his post, and leaves his wife. Three months later, he is still skittish about making his relationship with television producer Charlie Trager public. Charlie understands Joshua’s stress over the divorce and his desire to step back into the political spotlight. But he’s tired of schedule conflicts and frustrated about getting put on the back burner while the pressure ravages the man he loves. Managing some of the most demanding divas in network television has taught Charlie patience. But his cool façade is wearing thin. Longing to ease Joshua’s anguish and burning for control in a situation that seems headed off the rails, Charlie takes a huge risk that could destroy everything he and Joshua have worked so hard to build. Continue reading

The World Inside a Book

6a0148c76e8722970c0147e3cfb865970b-300x300Reading is a huge part of my life. I have my parents to thank for that, because they always encouraged us to read and value books. They read to my two brothers and me when we were small, and there were always books in the house. When I buzzed through my school’s and community library’s collection of “age appropriate” books, I’d pick up whatever my mom or dad had started and left on the coffee table, taking care to keep the bookmark at their place. If there was a book they didn’t want me to be reading, they knew to keep it out of my sight! (Most of the time.) Continue reading

Sneak Peek from Sliding Past Vertical

Typewriter - Once upon a timeHappy Friday! It’s raining like mad here, but I’m a happy little duck. I have a title for the new book (more about the meaning of that in a later blog), Husband and I are working on the cover, and the manuscript is going through beta readings. Meanwhile, I wanted to share a bit. If you’d like to sign up for my mailing list and be one of the first to know when the book hits Amazon, hop over here and leave me your e-mail address. Thank you! Continue reading

Things That Make Me Head-Hopping Angry

AngerI get it. For every writing rule, there’s a writer breaking it and it WORKS, and that drives some people nuts. I’ve seen it; I’ve done it. My answer to “How many point of view characters can I have?” or “Can I write in second-person-plural-with-a-twist-of-lime?” or pretty much anything else except for the proper use of the semicolon [I love my semicolons; don’t make me come down there] is “It depends.”

Many writers have been taught that head hopping, or bouncing back and forth between multiple point-of-view characters, is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG and you should NEVER do it or we will all, as a body, smite you and take away your laptops.  Continue reading

Drawing Breath a Nominee for Readers’ Choice Award: The Voting Begins!

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Click on the shiny badge to go to the B&P page, where you can place your vote! Thank you!

Some of you may know this already, but among the world of indie authors, getting a review from BigAl’s Books and Pals is no small accomplishment. According to statistics released by the site, “In the twelve months ending February 28th, 2013, BigAl and the Pals received over 1,400 books to consider for review. Almost 300 of them were selected, read, and reviewed.”

I’m completely humbled down to my toes to know that two of those titles were mine, and one of them, Drawing Breath, has been selected as one of the books they felt stood out as an exceptional example of indie writing. (Their words, not mine, and they’re enough to make a girl do a Snoopy dance and then collapse upon her fainting couch. Smelling salts, anyone?) Continue reading

Not So Little Women

“She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.” -Louisa May Alcott

As a thirteen-year-old bookworm following in my feminist mother’s footsteps, I tossed aside white-gloved girl detective Nancy Drew and her ilk for pioneering female authors of an earlier age: the Victorians. The writing was lovely, but after plowing through a few of the classics, oh, how it rankled. Despite Jane Austen’s relatively high-minded Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice (even though she ended up with über-hot Mr. Darcy), it still bugged the pants off me that these women were so…dull. They played the piano and did needlepoint. They spent a mind-numbing amount of time fussing with their frocks, nattering on about dances, and waiting, all that WAITING, to be introduced to men who might make suitable matches, after which they would probably die in childbirth or become young widows married off to skeevy dudes old enough to be their fathers because everyone knew they could not possibly survive without a Y chromosome in the house.

Read the rest at Indies Unlimited…