Oh Boy!! Close Call!!!

Last night, Microsoft decided I needed an update right at that exact moment. I only had Google Chrome open, so I thought, okay, let’s get this over with. Closed Chrome and hit update.

Oh – wrong move.

When the computer restarted, it would not reboot. I am not an IT guru. I know only enough about computers to make me a pest to IT techs (but I love them). So I did the one thing I was told by a tech to do before you call us, reboot.

I rebooted. Nothing. The Toshiba screen popped up then a gray screen (not even the blue screen of death) appeared with those little rotating dots. I hate those little dots. Nothing happened, even though I waited for thirty minutes.

Grabbing my tablet, I began to look up all combinations of what I assumed had occurred.   Google is a wealth of information, some of it highly confusing I’ve discovered. So I gave up, deciding the Geek Squad was my next stop.

Resigned to the fact that I would be without my laptop for longer than I would be told, I began doing a mental check-up of what was backed up. My manuscript was tucked away in several places as were several works in progress, along with my posts from Writers Unite Workshop, so I hadn’t lost anything. Went to sleep, fairly confident I was only going to be inconvenienced by Microsoft’s mess.

Then I woke up at three a. m. in a cold sweat. The book cover for “Crescent City Lies” is in a Photoshop file in Pictures. The Pictures folder stored only on the laptop’s hard drive and not backed-up.  Oh boy.

When I woke up again around seven, I nervously tapped the start button on the laptop, willing it to life. I didn’t expect it come to life. It didn’t but this time, it seemed to be trying or I was imagining it was. So I rebooted again. Apparently, the computer gods took pity on me. I was back in.

I have written and preached about backing up your work. I have my writing on One Drive, Google Docs, emailed my finished manuscript to myself, and have two flash drives.  Covered, right?  Wrong. I never thought about the book covers or the banners I do for Writers Unite! and its companion groups. What was I thinking?

Apparently, I wasn’t. I do have my photos on Dropbox, but I filled the free Dropbox file up quickly and haven’t gotten around to upgrading. So prelims of my cover were there but not the most recent and nearly completed cover for “Crescent City Lies.”

As of this moment, all important photo files are not only on One Drive and Google Drive but on the flash drive. Next, I am going to upgrade Dropbox so they will sync there.

I have learned my lesson, but it was a close call.

 

error-101408_960_720

Location, Location, Location

I’m often asked what is so appealing to me about New Orleans and why do I set so many of my stories in New Orleans or Louisiana, Cresent City Lies being one. After all, I’m from South Carolina, a beautiful state with its own vibrant culture and uniqueness. It also has faults as do all places, but we’ll dwell on the positive for now.

When deciding on a setting for a story, I seem to be drawn to the flavor of Louisiana. Nothing like the sultry summer heat in the south, where life slows down, and the humidity rises. The spicy aromas and comforting palate of Cajun food and the smooth sounds of New Orleans jazz are alluring and set a mood that seems to touch my writer’s passion. Wicked antagonists, flawed heroes, and enticing strong women seem to belong in the bayou or the French Quarter.

In reality, I love the beach. Ribbons of sand lapped by waves, air tangy with salt, majestic pelicans soaring against a cornflower blue sky. My heart lies on the shore, rejuvenated by the sun’s heat. My soul rests in the bayou.

At the moment, however, I live in a beautiful place called Spann Hill in southern Kentucky. As you can see from the image below, one taken from the front porch, not a bad place to be. At least, there is water nearby, even has a dock on the huge pond.

I suppose we choose where we want our stories to unfold for lots of reasons. My thoughts always seem to be on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, the Battery in Charleston, or an Atlantic beach in Florida. All locations to stir the imagination. Let those places you love spur your stories.

spann-hill

Look for my first novel, Crescent City Lies, to be published in Fall, 2016.

The Muffuletta!

** The Muffuletta **

Have you ever eaten a Muffuletta sandwich? If not, then you’ve likely never visited New Orleans. There is nothing more unique or tasty in the Crescent City.

Emeline Drake, the main character in my novel, “Crescent City Lies,” gets a hankering for one of these delicious sandwiches. A hankering that reopens her past and changes her life.

Yes, the sandwich is that good.

A friend who lives in New Orleans regaled the story of the Muffuletta during a visit. The sandwich was created by the owner of Central Grocery, an Italian market located in the French Quarter. The origin of the name is unclear. It may have been named for a customer or for the baker who created the round Italian bread (the unbelievably delicious bread) used.

There are many places in New Orleans to find this iconic sandwich, but none beat the Central Grocery.

(http://www.centralgrocerynola.com/)

While Central Grocery does mail order, it can be pricey. From the blog “GumboPages,” here is a recipe shared with the blogger by New Orlean’s cook and cookbook author Chiqui Collier. The olive salad recipe is a closely guarded secret by Central Grocery, but this recipe according to Collier comes from the creation of the original muffuletta.

From Collier: “The recipe for the olive salad is the exact way it was given to me. It makes over a gallon, but since your comments indicate that you love it, I’m sure you won’t want to cut it down. It stores very well in the refrigerator for many months and makes great gifts along with the recipe for the sandwich. It does appear in my cookbook, “Cookery N’Orleans Style.”

The Muffuletta

For the olive salad:

• 1-gallon large pimento stuffed green olives, slightly crushed and well drained
• 1-quart jar pickled cauliflower, drained and sliced
• 2 small jars capers, drained
• 1 whole stalk celery, sliced diagonally
• 4 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced diagonally
• 1 small jar celery seeds
• 1 small jar oregano
• 1 large head fresh garlic, peeled and minced
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 jar pepperoncini, drained (small salad peppers) left whole
• 1 pound large Greek black olives
• 1 jar cocktail onions, drained

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or pot and mix well. Place in a large jar and cover with 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 Crisco oil. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator. Allow to marinate for at least 24 hours before using.

For the sandwich:

• 1 round loaf Italian bread
• 1/4 pound mortadella, thinly sliced
• 1/4 pound ham, thinly sliced
• 1/4 pound hard Genoa salami, thinly sliced
• 1/4 pound Mozzarella cheese, sliced
• 1/4 pound Provolone cheese,sliced
• 1 cup olive salad with oil

Split a muffuletta loaf or a loaf of Italian bread horizontally. Spread each half with equal parts of olive salad and oil. Place meats and cheeses evenly on the bottom half and cover with top half of bread. Cut in quarters. Enjoy!

Serves four timid dieters, two hearty New Orleanians or one incredible maiale.

http://www.gumbopages.com/food/samwiches/muff.html

Enjoy!!!!

muffuletta-sammies-square-3

Book Covers

The most effective way to entice a reader to read your book is a killer blurb. The question is how do you grab the reader’s attention so they take the time to read it? The best way is by creating a great cover to catch their eye.

I’ve been playing around with Photoshop for several years, so I have this (insane) belief that I can create my own cover.

Delusional, perhaps. Cheaper, definitely.

So I followed the advice of several helpful book cover design sites located through Google and did the following:

• Chose an image that reflects a scene from the story.
• Used only quality images using free-use photos so there are no copyright infringements.
• Title large and easy to read.
• Fonts: No more than two. No comic sans or Papyrus. Did not use all-capital letters, italics, stylized letters. The font is legible.
• Garish colors often turn a reader away according to the tips. I used subtle colors to soothe the eye and allow the title to stand out.
• Followed the guidelines for cover dimensions posted by the publishing platform.

(There was another tip – always use a professional to create a book cover. I ignored that one.)

Crescent City Lies is set in New Orleans and two pivotal scenes take place in a cemetery in the Garden District of the city. I chose to use the iconic tombs from the cemetery to not only represent part of the story but also as symbols of New Orleans.

A side note:

I think book covers are incredibly subjective. It would be a rare cover that garnered universal praise. Personally, I detest the ripped shirt, bare chests images of the male hero of a romance novel. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against bare-chested males. I like them. I do have issues with the notion that there is a standard which must be followed for certain genres, primarily romance. While the argument that the formalistic image makes a romance novel easily recognized is valid, just once I’d like to see a less dramatic, predictable cover.

Well – off the soapbox and on to my attempt at a cover. My cover still needs a bit of tweaking, spacing and the like and as you notice, the area where the blurb should go is still empty. I hate writing blurbs.

I would love your opinion of the cover.

ccl-template-4-small-1-copy

Some Sunday Jazz…

A lazy late summer Sunday afternoon is just asking for some real New Orleans jazz. The city is synonymous with the tones of a sultry saxophone, the tinkling of piano keys and the driving tempo from a bass or drums. No matter the variety of the sound from Dixieland, or smooth, to Zydeco jazz music flavors New Orleans as much as a bowl of spicy gumbo.

A fictitious French Quarter bar, the St. Honoré’s Bar and Grill, located on the famed Bourbon Street plays a pivotal role in my novel “Crescent City Lies.” The protagonist, Emeline Drake, stops in for the bar’s infamous muffuletta sandwiches (apologies to the Central Grocery which does have the best!) and stumbles into a past she had put behind her. The bar is also known as a favorite of locals who love jazz.

Take a step into the world of jazz with this video consisting of music from te 2015 New Orleans jazz festival.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Published on Aug 14, 2015

New Orleans and New Orleans Jazz – best of New Orleans jazz music for New Orleans jazz festival 2015 and New Orleans jazz fest 2015. This New Orleans jazz band and New Orleans jazz & heritage festival 2015 playlist is composed and recorded by jazz musician David Lewis Luong.

~~~~~~~~~~~

The Blurb

blurb-logo

As I nervously await the return of my manuscript from my editor, I’ve been working on those other things writers have to deal with if they decide to publish via an e-book platform. Those of you who have gone down this path know how frustrating this is.

The book cover is almost complete, thanks to some great feedback from some friends, but there is one thing left to do.  I have to write a blurb for the cover.

It is hard.

I’ve searched Google for every piece of info on how to write a blurb I can find. There is a wealth of “do this and don’t do that” out there, but one thing stands out. While a book cover is important and an exceptional editor is invaluable, blurbs sell books. Covers catch a reader’s eye, great editing allows the reader to enjoy the story, but a good blurb sells the book.

Often, when looking for material to use on the Writers Unite! Workshop, I turn to writer and blogger Jane Friedman. She is a wealth of information and great guests bloggers. Check out the great tips on what should go on your cover.

Armed with excellence guidance, I’m off to write a blurb. This could take a while.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Writing Your Book’s Back-Cover Copy

 

musings of a southern writer

%d bloggers like this: