My Non-Italian Roots in Marinara

I love to cook. It’s my third favorite thing to do (behind writing and traveling). And since I’m on a writing vacation (only a few days left and I did cheat and already started working on the next book).

One of my favorite types of food to cook is Italian, but I had no idea that I was doing it all wrong (okay I had an idea). One night we had a couple of friends over and I pull out a glass jar of marinara sauce (I can admit I like Paul Newman’s sauces), and a friend of my husband says, “Oh wow, I better not tell my Sicilian wife that you used that. She makes her own sauce.” It had never occurred to me to make my own sauce for whatever reason. I’m going to blame it on being of British/Native American descent for the faux pas (weak excuse, I know).

Since that embarrassing moment, I’ve decided to start making my own marinara sauce. I found a recipe from Giada De Laurentis to start out and then I just started playing around with it.

After following her recipe, I added in some dried herbs (Italian blend) and fresh basil (if I have any).That was my first experiment and it turned out pretty good, but since then I’ve added a few things and I think I’m coming close to a really good sauce (at least to me and my husband).

Second trial I added red wine, which really kicked it up a notch, but it was still missing something.

Picture of Marinara Sauce Recipe

On my third try I added red pepper flakes, some Parmesan seasoning and I think we have a winner! Unfortunately, I don’t have a recipe to give as I’m very bad to just “wing it” when it comes to how much of something I put into a recipe. My husband reminds me that I need to start writing down my concoctions, because I’m eventually going to forget them. One day I’ll take his advice.

In honor of my new found abilities to make marinara sauce, I may just have to have a dinner party to celebrate. 😉

Horse Power: Keeneland

As part of my Christmas gifts I received a copy of Garden & Gun Magazine from my Mother in Law. I had never heard of the magazine, but my husband pointed out an article that he knew I would be interested in. It was about the yearling sales at Keeneland in Lexington, KY. It’s one of the most revered thoroughbred sales in the world. People come from all over the world to buy pricey thoroughbreds including royalty from the Middle East. Sometimes the Queen of England personally comes and picks out her horses at the sales. She’s even been known to “bunk” at Lane’s End horse farm while in the United States.

File:Applebite-Gentlemen.jpg

In The Kings of Charleston, one of the reason’s Kythera was interested in Casper’s family was because of their connections and this article is a testament to what truly powerful connections can be made if you have horse power.

Check out the article to get a better insight into the legend of Kentucky horses and some background on the inspiration for Casper’s family’s thoroughbred legacy:

http://gardenandgun.com/article/horse-power-annual-sale-keeneland/page/0/2

The Kings…Erotic Romance? I don’t think so.

This past weekend I ran a promotion on Amazon for The Kings of Charleston in anticipation of the sequel’s release and it was a great success.

So many people took an interest in the series that the book made it onto a couple Amazon bestseller lists. But as I was looking over the listing for the novel I saw something a little strange. On Amazon, readers can add their own tags as to what describes the book by category. For example you can tag a book as “Romantic Suspense”, “Mystery” or “Teen”, but to my complete shock I saw several tags for The Kings which included “Erotic Romance”. Excuse me?

I have no idea where in the world anyone would get the idea that it’s an Erotic Romance a lá Fifty Shades of Grey.

One, if you read the description you can clearly tell it’s about a high school girl and sure she has a romance, but I wouldn’t say that it would make you blush as you read the pages (there is not even a single sex scene). Two, if you read the whole description you would know the romance isn’t necessarily the center of the plot. Three, it’s listed in the teen section and yes, I’m sure there are some teens who’ve read erotic romance, but I can’t think of one book specifically marketed toward teens in that genre.

So I’m stumped as to why anyone would suggest that The Kings should be tagged in the Erotic Romance category. Maybe because there is a pair of  legs in black stilettos on the cover? Sure, the cover is a little sexy, but I thought it lent more to the mystery of the whole thing with the tattoo and black car. My mind never went to erotic romance when looking at the cover.

I’m not into erotic romance (never read Fifty Shades of Grey and don’t intend to). Just not my thing. Honestly, I’m not much on all out romance novels. I like  romance, but not one that goes into too much detail (if you know what I mean). I grew up on mysteries where a “long kiss” would have been the most descriptive romance element in the book. So I’m a little squeamish when it comes to romance. It took me awhile to get the romantic scenes in The Kings right (yes, even if it was just some kissing). I can remember Marlene, my editor, telling me that my action scenes were wonderful, but my romance needed some work (no surprise there).

So, you can understand my surprise at the misguided tagging of my novel. Fortunately, I think I figured out how to remove the tag (whew). I kind of laughed afterward thinking there were going to be some seriously disappointed people who bought it and were expecting an erotic romance…lol.

Feeling Lost

I had it all planned out. I would finish the sequel, take a month long break and focus on other things. That’s what I did between the first and second book and I needed it. I needed the time to catch up on everyday things, time for myself and my husband.

I was so exhilarated when I finished the sequel thinking of all the things that I could get accomplished now that I wasn’t stuck like super glue to my lap top. I needed to work on the house, cleaning, organizing and decorating because it still needed some work from where we moved in last October. I wanted to start planning another party (thinking of an outdoor dinner party) and a vacation this summer. This list could go on and on, but something happened.

I still need to accomplish those things (and everything not mentioned), but I just feel the urge to write and I feel like something is missing now that I’m not. I keep telling myself to hold off on the third book and take some time, a “vacation” of sorts, but all I can think about is the next book.

I’m trying to tick each item off my list, but then I just want to sit down and write. I guess I’ve officially caught the bug. I’ve always been a writer, but this has been the first time that writing has felt like such a necessity as if something is missing in my life without it.

It’s back to writing with the third book, The Kingdom’s Revolt.

And it feels good to be back.

I Love to Read! Do You?

Now that I’m officially on hiatus from writing until February 1st (although I’m doing research and some planning for The Kingdom’s Revolt) I’ve already bought two books and read one of them. I normally continue reading while writing, but things got so hectic at the end of the year I just didn’t have time.

I was so happy to be reading again that it was like Christmas all over for me!

I had on my mind a couple of months ago to read On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves, but I wasn’t able to start reading until yesterday due to my writing schedule. It interested me because I’m a sucker for books people being left on an island to survive. One of my favorite books as a kid that I would read over and over again (which is saying alot since I NEVER read a book more than once) was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. I also couldn’t get enough of Swiss Family Robinson…you get my drift.

I finished On the Island in ONE day (not even that…one afternoon would be more accurate). I absolutely loved this book and I was honestly surprised by how much I loved it.

It’s the story of Anna, a 30-year old teacher/tutor and T.J. her sixteen year old student who’s plane crash lands in the Indian Ocean where they end up stranded on an uninhabited island and must learn to survive.

I had my reservations about the story because it involved a sixteen year old boy and a thirty year old woman, but any reservations I had quickly went out the door. I’m not giving anything away  but just to let you know they are stranded for YEARS (and for all you know they never get off the island!). It’s a wonderful gut wrenching story about the power of love and survival. I highly recommend it!

Next on the list: Beautiful Creatures.

Have a book suggestion for me? Let me know!