Friday Field Trip — Las Vegas, Jason-Style

Jason just got back from a photo trip, and he’s shar­ing some great shots. Here’s what he had to say:

Here are pho­tos from my most recent photo work­shop, this time in Las Vegas, Nevada. Deb­o­rah San­didge and I took a small group of pho­tog­ra­phers to pho­to­graph the sights and lights of Las Vegas and the sur­round­ing areas. Our trip took us to some famil­iar stops on the Las Vegas strip & Fre­mont Street, but also to some lesser-known loca­tions. We shot at a ghost town in Nel­son, Nevada, and had a pri­vate ses­sion at the famous Neon Museum “bone­yard,” where the old casino and hotel signs are laid to rest and be restored.
 
Enjoy!
photo courtesy of Jason Odell
photo by Jason Odell

Artichokes, Characters, and Helping Authors

red pencil

I’m talk­ing about arti­chokes and char­ac­ters at The Blood-Red Pen­cil today. Hop on over and say hi.

Booklover's Bench

WIAN_print6Also, there’s only one more day to enter the Booklover’s Bench April con­test. Don’t miss out on a chance to win either a $25 gift card or a choice of some great books (yes, I’ve got one in the hat–a print copy of What’s in a Name?)

 

Deadly Puzzles by author Terry OdellI’d also like to point out that there are only a few days left to pre-order Deadly Puz­zles at the spe­cial price of $0.99. It’s avail­able at the Kobo store and at iTunes.

But I don’t have a Kobo, you say. Or an iPad. Guess what. Nei­ther do I. How­ever, the Kobo app is free and it works on all sorts of devices. (I have it on my Nook tablet).  It even works on an iPad. Click here to see where you can use it.

I wish I could get that “pre-order” but­ton every­where else, but the truth is, Kobo and Apple are the only two places I can set it up that way. So, although Kobo and Apple are the “under­dogs” rel­a­tive to Ama­zon and Barnes & Noble, I want to reward my read­ers who are likely to have to take that extra step by giv­ing them that low price.

What’s the advan­tage of hav­ing pre-orders? The way it works is that any pre-order sales are “stock­piled” in the e-bookstore’s data­base. Then, on release day, they’re all counted as that day’s sales. Thus, your book debuts much higher in the rank­ings than if it had to start at ground zero. The algo­rithms then see that nice (I hope) num­ber of sales, and pick it up, per­haps even dis­play­ing it on the web­site, or show­ing it as a top seller, or email­ing device own­ers that there’s a hot new book out there.

So, by pre-ordering, you’re also help­ing the author in more ways than sim­ple roy­al­ties. (Which, on a 99 cent book aren’t going to be much!). Hope you’ll con­sider it and pass the word along.

What’s Cooking Wednesday — Macaroons

It’s Passover. My daugh­ter, Jes­sica, lives in a small town in North­ern Ire­land, where she has as much trou­ble find­ing Passover foods as I do in Divide. How­ever, she’s much more ener­getic than I am, and made her own mac­a­roons. She said she thinks she found this recipe some­where on about.com. I found some ready-made ones down near my other daughter’s house when I was help­ing out after her surgery, and I bought them! But here’s what Jes­sica has to say.

Mac­a­roons

MacaroonsIngre­di­ents:
5 cups flaked sweet­ened coconut
3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup mini choco­late chips or finely chopped chocolate

Instruc­tions
Pre­heat oven to 325 degrees. Line bak­ing sheets with sil­i­con mats or parch­ment sprayed with cook­ing spray.

Mix all ingre­di­ents together in a large bowl. Scoop out 1 inch mounds, placed about 1 inch apart, on a lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 min­utes, until just turn­ing brown. Cool and store in a sealed con­tainer between sheets of waxed or parch­ment paper.

The mac­a­roons will keep nicely for sev­eral days. Vari­a­tion: Divide the coconut mix­ture in half, and add the chips to one half, leav­ing the other half plain. Adding cocoa pow­der also works, but you’ll have to exper­i­ment with the amount until they’re choco­laty enough!

Jes­sica says to form them into balls with medium pres­sure, instead of just scoops, to help them hold their shape.

Makes about 5 dozen macaroons.

In the Interview Room — Nancy Naigle

Author Nancy NaigleToday I wel­come Nancy Naigle to Terry’s Place. Nancy was born and raised in Vir­ginia Beach. She bal­ances her career in the finan­cial indus­try with a life­long pas­sion for books and sto­ry­telling. When she isn’t writ­ing or being banker girl, she enjoys antiquing, work­ing on any­thing crafty, and tak­ing in the magic of nature on her small farm in Drewryville, Virginia.

Set­ting: real, totally made up, or based on a real place?
I totally make up my towns. It’s more fun for me to take favorite places and mem­o­ries and mish-mash them into a new town all my own. That being said…Adams Grove is a real town in Vir­ginia. It’s right up the street from me. I can’t tell you how many peo­ple write me telling me they almost turned to see that lit­tle town off Route 58. Unfor­tu­nately, all they’d really find, instead of a quaint Main Street, is a Ruri­tan Club and a few churches. ;)

What’s on your desk?
<Gulp> Seri­ously? Always two lap­tops, and yes both are up and run­ning. Desk phone, black­berry and iPhone. Desk lamp (the kind with plugs in it for all my elec­tron­ics) with a cou­ple lucky things hang­ing from it – a spe­cial lucky charm bracelet, a prism in the shape of a heart, and a neck­lace made from a quar­ter. A black cup full of pens. Red sta­pler. 4 thumb dri­ves. A red exter­nal disk. My At-A-Glance cal­en­dar (red leather). 3 sticky pads (assorted size and col­ors) and stacks of papers and reminders. $15 Star­bucks Card. $10 Ama­zon Card. 2-$10 Sta­ples Cards.

Do you read books more than once? If so, name one. What’s spe­cial about it?
I rarely read a book more than once. I’m really not sure why, because I will re-watch movies so many times I know the dialogue.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
I con­tacted the lead gui­tarist of the Bret Michaels band to see if he’d give me inside scoop on the music biz and help me be true to the music scene. I left him a face­book mes­sage when they were in Lynch­burg, VA for a con­cert. It was a long shot at best. But, lucky for me, it worked out. Not only did Pete Evick offer up amaz­ing assis­tance as I wrote Cody Tuggle’s story in Pecan Pie and Deadly Lies, but he and I are col­lab­o­rat­ing on another writ­ing project now.

Con­tinue read­ing

Tips for Print Formatting — 3

What I’m read­ing: For the Love of Par­vati, by Susan Olek­siw; Nightin­gale, by Sharon Ervin; One Day in the Life of Ivan Deniso­vich, by Alexan­der Solzhen­it­syn (book club).

Today it’s more about pret­ty­ing up your man­u­script for print via Cre­ate­Space. I’ve talked about the basic tem­plate set­tings, and how to hyphen­ate using the “optional hyphen.” Today, it’s a few more tips for mak­ing your book look like a “real” book. What do I mean? Right now, stop what you’re doing and go to your book­shelf and grab a few fic­tion books. Open to a ran­dom page. Look at the top of the pages. You’ll see head­ers. Odds are, there’s the author’s name on one side, and the book’s title on the other. They might not be the same; I don’t think there’s a rule that says the author’s name goes on the even pages, or vice-versa. You can decide.

headers on pageWhat about page num­bers? Some­times, they’re in the head­ers, some­times in the foot­ers. Again, it’s per­sonal pref­er­ence. Head­ers and foot­ers aren’t too hard to do in Word. They’re in the “Insert” tab, under header. (Click on any of the images to enlarge)

Insert header

Con­tinue read­ing

Friday Field Trip — Second Looks

Have you entered the Booklover’s Bench April Con­test yet? Good prizes, and lots of chances to win. Take a look.

I’ve been ultra busy lately, and haven’t had time to get out with a cam­era. And, (hint, hint,) nobody’s stepped for­ward to share any of their pic­tures. So, today, I’m going back and repost­ing my very first Fri­day Field Trip which first appeared on my old blog back in Jan­u­ary of 2010. How many of you remem­ber this one?

I have a ter­ri­ble mem­ory for details. Cou­ple that with my dread of descrip­tion, and you’ll under­stand why I like to have a cam­era avail­able when­ever I go out. One never knows when you’ll find some­thing worth recording.

I’ll kick things off with some pic­tures of a trip we took to Hol­land. Hubby had a meet­ing in the small town of Hard­er­wijk. While he was doing Impor­tant Meet­ing Stuff, I toured the coun­try­side.

I hope you like it – and just maybe some of these shots will inspire a scene or a story for you as well. Or remind you of some­thing you’ve read, or some­where you’ve been. Today’s shots were taken in the days before dig­i­tal cam­eras, and I scanned my snap­shots. Plus, it was a cold, gloomy day. Not the best qual­ity, but I hope you get a feel for the place.

Con­tinue read­ing

Tips for Print Formatting — 2

On Mon­day, I gave some tips for cre­at­ing a basic print book for Cre­ate­Space. Today, it’s about mak­ing the man­u­script look “pretty” and more like a tra­di­tion­ally pub­lished print book. Again, I’m using Word 2007. (And if you missed my tips for dig­i­tal for­mat­ting, there are links in Monday’s post)

hyphen signWhen you sub­mit a book file to Cre­ate­Space, they want a PDF file, which stands for Portable Doc­u­ment For­mat. It’s basi­cally a pic­ture of your file. It should look exactly like what’s on the page in your word doc­u­ment. For exam­ple, dig­i­tal books don’t like fancy sym­bols. Some aren’t even all that ‘fancy.’ Some soft­ware will take an amper­sand (&) and put wonky stuff in instead. So, in my dig­i­tal ver­sion of the book, I refer to a Bed and Break­fast, or a B and B. In the print ver­sion, there’s no prob­lem with writ­ing B & B. And since dig­i­tal books aren’t the same as print books, I always have two com­pletely dif­fer­ent setups.

If you for­mat­ted your book based on Monday’s post, you should have a work­able doc­u­ment, and tech­ni­cally, Cre­ate­Space would prob­a­bly approve it. It won’t look bad, but it’ll be miss­ing a few ele­ments. The trou­ble is, your tra­di­tion­ally printed books are type­set, and PDF books are images of your word doc­u­ment. When you set your page lay­out to jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, Word will spread the words out so the mar­gins are even on both sides. Some­times this leaves big ugly gaps.

Con­tinue read­ing

What’s Cooking Wednesday — Cumin Pork with Black Beans

I found this recipe in the Food Net­work Mag­a­zine, and every­one enjoyed it. The pork ten­der­loins can be made as a “Stand Alone” and served with other sides if you want. Also, the beans can be done as a salad or as a hot side. The mag­a­zine recipe was for a salad, but I cooked them and it works great.

Cumin Pork With Black Beans

cumin spiced pork

Ingre­di­ents:
1 red onion, thinly sliced
Juice of 3 limes
1 t chopped chipo­tle chile in adobo sauce +
2 t sauce from the can
2 t ground cumin
salt
1 ½ lb pork ten­der­loin
2 T olive oil
3 small red or orange bell pep­pers cut into thick strips
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 t honey
½ c roughly chopped fresh cilantro (I don’t like cilantro, so I leave it out)

Instruc­tions:
Pre­heat oven to 425
Com­bine half the red onion with the juice of 2 limes, the chopped chipo­tle, ½ t cumin and a pinch of salt in a bowl; set aside.
Sprin­kle the pork with the remain­ing cumin; sea­son with salt. Heat a large skil­let over medium-high heat. Add 1 T oil, then add the pork. Brown on all sides, about 8 min­utes. Remove to a rimmed bak­ing sheet; roast until inter­nal tem­per­a­ture is 145, about 15 min­utes.  Let rest before slic­ing. (Note: this is good as is, so if you don’t want to do the sides, you can sim­ply cook the pork as directed)
While the pork is roast­ing, add the bell pep­pers and remain­ing 1 T oil to the skil­let. Cook over medium-high heat until slightly soft­ened. Add ½ c water and ¼ t salt. Cook until the water evap­o­rates. Remove from heat. Add the onion mix­ture.
Sauté the remain­ing onion in a saucepan until soft. Add the juice of the 3rd lime, 2 t adobo sauce, honey, and a pinch of salt. Stir in the beans. Heat until warm. (Note. If you want a salad side dish, mix every­thing with­out cook­ing). Gar­nish with cilantro.
Slice the pork. Serve with the beans and peppers.

 

In the Interview Room — Carl Brookins

Carl BrookinsToday I wel­come Carl Brookins to Terry’s Place. Carl is a nov­el­ist, writ­ing three dis­tinct series, and he’s also a long-time reviewer of Crime Fic­tion. He’s from Saint Paul Min­nesota, where he’s cur­rently in win­ter weather recovery.

Plot­ter or Pantser?
I usu­ally begin the novel at some sig­nif­i­cant step and then the story winds itself out to the end, at which point I stop. How­ever, more and more I find myself cre­at­ing spe­cific detailed plot points or action scenes and care­fully con­sid­er­ing where they should be placed in the nar­ra­tive. I guess that makes me a lit­tle of both. In either case, revi­sion, revi­sion, revi­sion. I love revis­ing, but I’m not a fan of epilogues.

Set­ting: real, totally made up, or based on a real place?
My set­tings or locales in all three series are real places. The sto­ries take place in real time. I admit that some­times it’s nec­es­sary to make sub­tle phys­i­cal alter­ations in order to acco­mo­date the story. I once elim­i­nated a whole vil­lage from an island. I heard from the mayor of the town about that. In the aca­d­e­mic and detec­tive nov­els, I use real place names in urban set­tings and I don’t worry when the city coun­cil changes the direc­tion of one-way-streets.

E-books, print, or both? Any pref­er­ences? Why?
I still pre­fer print, but as a reviewer, I read e-books on sev­eral dif­fer­ent plat­forms. In  many cir­cum­stances, such as on a plane, or a boat, an e-reader is very con­ve­nient, and I’m pub­lished on dif­fer­ent plat­forms. In gen­eral, I think the dig­i­tal age has freed many good writ­ers to reach their audi­ences. There is, of course, a downside.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
I per­suaded a promi­nent finan­cial plan­ner to explain in detail how stock bro­kers and finan­cial plan­ners are able to steal from their clients and not get caught. I had the gen­eral con­cepts, but I needed the lan­guage, so, with his per­mis­sion, I recorded the lengthy inter­view. It was a fas­ci­nat­ing time and I learned a lot, besides the lan­guage I was after.

Con­tinue read­ing