Monday, November 23

Happy Thanksgiving

The Word Wranglers want to wish you and yours the happiest of Thanksgiving holidays. We're intending to take the week off, though we may stop in to say hello.

My family's coming together at a large rented house to eat, talk, argue politics, and rejoice that We Are Family. (Sounds like a song title, huh?) What are you doing? Whatever it is, enjoy! - Liz

Friday, November 20

Cheers to a Wonderful Thanksgiving!

This week, I’m going to be rebellious and not talk about writing. In light of the quickly-approaching Holidays, I’m going to take this opportunity to sing the praises of my favorite beverage: Champagne!

Did you hear that? Yep, it was an angelic choir striking a high C.

Disclaimer here: in this blog, I will refer to all sparkling wines as “Champagne,” even though that is both inaccurate and downright blasphemous. Technically, “Champagne” is only that sparkling wine which comes from the Champagne region of France. But, I’m feeling generous today, so everything gets to be Champagne. And neither am I going to bore you with how Champagne is made, even though I find it to be a fascinating process. If you are interested in the subject, there is a wealth of information on the internet, and probably explained more clearly than I could do.

For me, Champagne is the ultimate drink. It’s light, airy, and effervescent. It’s a spa treatment for my mouth; the little bubbles message my tastebuds and flutter all the way to my belly. It fills me with rapture… Not to sully my Champagne, but it’s akin to those more ignoble spas treatments which include a happy ending. Champagne intrinsically is associated with celebration, and shouldn’t we find something to celebrate every day? Shouldn’t there be something, no matter how seemingly trivial, to inspire our gratitude and our appreciation? At the very least, when drinking Champagne, you can be thankful for having a glass of Champagne!

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: “I don’t like champagne.” I hear this all the time, and I don’t believe it for a second. That’s like saying “I don’t like chicken.” Unless you have an allergy, there is at least one chicken dish which you probably enjoy, even if it is fried nuggets of parts oddly tasting like chicken. Champagne comes in a wide range of flavors and sweetness levels… like chicken, there is one for everyone. And, as prevalent as carbonated sodas are in our beverage repertoire, I have a hard time believing people don’t like a fizzy beverage. So, I will assume most champagne objections stem from one bad experience, like Cousin Eddie’s wedding where cheap fizzy crap was served followed by a mediocre dinner, more alcohol, sugary wedding cake, an energetic round of YMCA, and then a little praying to the porcelain gods. Champagne gets blamed, and the vow never to touch the stuff again results. Which means this person misses out on some really awesome stuff!

With Thanksgiving mere days away, Champagne is a perfect choice to serve all day long, and especially with dinner. Champagne is surprisingly food-friendly. It goes great with just about everything, from chips to steak. It especially complements the variety of flavors and textures of your Thanksgiving meal. You have savory turkey, rich sauces, buttery potatoes, brown sugar-laden yams, and tart cranberry sauce... before you even get to dessert. And Champagne goes with it all!

First of all, Champagne has bubbles, and bubbles are excellent palate-cleansers. Which means the bubbles scrub your tongue from one bite to the next, so the richness of your meal doesn’t build up to a point you can barely smack your lips together. It’s like a mid-course sorbet you might get in a posh restaurant. Only with a little alcohol.

Champagne is also typically low in alcohol. When your single Aunt Edna offers you unsolicited parenting advice—for the umpteenth time—you might long for something a little stronger. But Champagne’s alcohol level of 8-12% means you can enjoy more than one glass without fear of getting smashed and telling your sister how you really feel about her unemployed loser mooch of a boyfriend.

And the best part about Champagne is that you don’t have to break the bank to buy a bottle. Champagne comes in a wide range of price tags. Personally, I would shy away from the under $8 bottles or you’re just asking for a repeat of Cousin Eddie’s wedding. But “cheap” is different than “economical.” “Economical” Champagne choices would be Spanish Cava. Essentially, Cava is French Champagne, only made in Spain with the same laborious process. And it is gentler on the pocketbook (I LOVE Spanish Cava!).

Italian Prosecco can also be an economic choice (I once spent a whole December drinking Prosecco, and it was a divine month!), and it comes in everything from bone-dry to slightly sweet. If you need really sweet, a Moscato d’Asti or the American Moscato. The varietal is en fuego these days, and there are numerous bubbly options. A solid $10-$20 bottle of renowned California Champagne will never disappoint. Many of these wineries are either owned by or heavily influenced by French Champagne houses, so the quality is stellar.

And—eyelash flutter and quivering moan—nothing beats an elegant French Champagne. It might cost a little more, but it’s worth it for finding heaven in every refined, decadent sip. Elysium in a bottle. Nirvana in a glass. Can you tell I like the stuff? If you really want to make a statement (even if that statement is: the rest of you get Concord grape juice ‘cuz I’m hoarding all the French Champagne for myself), open at least bottle of this nectar-of-the-gods during your Holiday celebration.

The Holidays are for being grateful, remembering our loved ones, celebrating each other, and being kind to ourselves. Even more than bacon or chocolate (both of which pair really well with Champagne, by the way), there is nothing which encompasses and embodies the spirit of the Holidays more than a bottle of Champagne. So don't be shy… Pop a cork this Holiday. I know I will raise a glass (or two or three or four) in toast to all the blessings in my life!

Thursday, November 19

A Week Of Good Days

by Margie Senechal 

You know, Neil Gaiman is right. Nothing else much matters when you have a good writing day.

This week I took Liz's advice on Monday and made time to write.

I wrote on the only paper I had available 4X6 index cards that I had in my lunch box as I'd inadvertently left my notebook with my last pages written at home.

Without the prompt, I dove into the next scene and just wrote. My mind always works best when I'm not committed to the computer. I know it's probably one of those "writer" myths we like to tell ourselves. 

But, I'm a writer and I like my myths, the things I believe about my process. Like I have to write on graph paper because it isn't a commitment. Why am I so afraid of commitment??? Mmmm

I read a quote earlier in the week from Neil Gaiman about when he comes to a stalling point, he'll work on another project. Darned if I can find that quote now--although I found some other ones to fill the space. If you want to get inspired, Google Neil Gaiman writing quotes.

Anyway, I started thinking about Mistletoe Kiss book that I had an idea for last year. Probably because Christmas is on the horizon and Mistletoe is in the air--or in my case, on the shelf at work.

So, when I hit a stall in my suitcase book, I dredged up Mistletoe Kiss and wrote two chapters. I wrote at lunch with Jordan and at the table while Kristen and Mike watched the Blazers lose in OT last night.   

And now I'm going to post this blog and get back to work--writing.

Thank you, Liz and Neil Gaiman for the great advice.  

Wednesday, November 18

#AuthorInterview: Becky Flade & Fated Hearts

Hey, everyone! We're really excited to have Becky Flade in the round corral this morning! Becky is answering our most curious of questions and will be sharing a few tidbits from her new romantic suspense, Fated Hearts! Let's get right to it.

Liz: What is your favorite genre to read?

Becky: I love reading almost everything, including soup cans and shampoo bottles, but my heart has been lost to the romance genre since I popped open a copy of Beauty & the Beast I bought at my first school book fair at the tender age of 6. I still have that book in the massive collection I drag from home to home in hopes of one day having a super den-library of my own. And yeah the bulk of that collection is romance.

Nan: What is your favorite way to get over a writing block or hurdle?

Becky: I take a shower. A long, hot shower is when I do my best creating. What I come up with rarely makes it onto the page but it gets me over that hurdle.

Kristina: What a great idea! I usually take a walk...or fold whatever laundry is leftover in my dryer. lol What do you keep in mind as you write? An overarching question? A theme? The last line of the book?

Becky: Most of what I write starts out as one scene – one scene that reaches me emotionally whether it’s heartbreak, desire, joy, amusement, fear – and it grows from there. I try to keep that original scene in mind from start to finish and it tends to set the tone for the entire book. In Souls, it’s when the werewolf pees on Maggie and in the sequel Hearts, the inspirational scene was broken into pieces throughout the story but it is a key moment in Henley’s background.

Margie: Great advice on keeping the initial scene is mind! Okay, if you could be one character from this book who would you be and why?

Becky: Though a secondary character in Hearts, I’d love to be Maggie because she has no limits – an open heart, an open mind and big mouth – she’s the best. But I’m probably closer in personality to the heroine, Henley, and she is the exact opposite of Maggie. Doubtful, fearful, hesitant.

Ava: She sounds like fun! How do you balance writing, marketing, promoting, bookkeeping, family and work?

Becky: I just did a short blog about balancing writing, marketing and promoting. It’s such a challenge. Writing has always been an act of love and as instinctual as breathing but now that I’m an author it has become work as well. And I do have a family and a full-time career in the legal profession; this is a struggle I know we all face. Without my husband and my family, their support, understanding specifically, I couldn’t do it.

Thanks for answering our questions, Becky! Now, readers, here's your sneak peek into Fated Hearts: 

“What are we doing, Carter?”

 “Enjoying our evening.”
“You know what I mean.” She shifted her body and lifted her hand as if to touch his face. He tensed in anticipation. She skimmed her fingertips over his jaw, his cheek, featherlight touches that left a trail of fire across his skin. “I think I’m getting used to your touch. To … how you feel.”
“That’s a good thing.”
“Are you going to kiss me again?”
“Would you like me to?” He saw her nod this time and recognized the banked passion in her hooded gaze. He lowered his mouth to hers but pulled back before their lips met. “How much of what you’re feeling is you and how much me? I don’t want to influence you.”
“It’s both. And it astounds me.”
His muscles clenched with desire. He hadn’t intended to seduce her or himself tonight. He had only wanted her to become more comfortable with his company and his touch. They needed to build trust, and he’d wanted to lay that foundation. With a level of restraint he hadn’t thought he possessed he laid his forehead against hers.

“How about you kiss me, Doc?”

Fated Hearts Blurb: 

Psychiatrist Henley Elliott fled her quiet life in Cleveland for a gypsy lifestyle, trying to stay one step ahead of her painful memories. When she breaks down in quirky little Trappers' Cove, Minnesota, she meets Sheriff Carter McAlister - a man healing from his own share of hidden heartbreaks.

At the request of a friend, Carter offers Henley a job to help her get back on her feet . . . but soon he can't resist trying to sweep the intriguing woman off them. Breaking through her carefully built shell proves to be a near-impossible task, and to make matters worse, a dangerous new presence in the Cove seems to be targeting Henley. They must learn to trust in each other in order to keep her safe.

Can Henley and Carter leave their secrets and scars in the past to get a second chance at happily ever after?

Buy The Book: Crimson Romance | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play

All About Becky Flade: 

Home is where the heart is and I make mine with my very own knight in slightly tarnished armor in southeastern Pennsylvania. When I’m not busy living my own happily ever after, I’m writing about someone else’s. 

Contact Details:

Tuesday, November 17

Paris Memories

The news of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris broke my heart because Paris is one of my very favorite places in the world--it ranks right up there with anyplace in Michigan, San Francisco, my own house, and the lake. It destroys me that people might now be afraid to travel there. Paris is where I found the writer Nan again after too many years of tucking that part of me away. So today, I'm celebrating my Paris by sharing some memories of my 2009 trip.

I've wanted to go to Paris since I was ten years old and found a little packet of old photos of the city from the early 1900s in an antiques store in Michigan. We were on vacation and my grandfather had given each of us five dollars to spend. Although it took every dime of my cash, I bought the pictures and spent the rest of the trip gazing at them. That summer, I vowed I'd go to Paris one day.

It only took me forty-five years to get there, but the trip finally happened. Son, DIL, and I took off on an evening in early June and landed in the City of Lights about nine a.m. Paris time. From the moment we hit the Champs-Elysee, I knew I was home. We rented an apartment in the Fifteenth Arrondissment--a tidy neighborhood around the Place du Commerce, about a mile from the Eiffel Tower. The apartment was small, but it was the perfect home base for our week in Paris.

There were so many sights to see--too many to list here, but highlights were a night at the opera in Luxembourg Gardens, a bicycle trip to the palace at Versailles, the Impressionist paintings at Musee d'Orsay, standing in front of Chopin's grave at Pere LeChaise Cemetery, bicycling down the Champs du Mars, praying in the hushed beauty of Notre Dame cathedral, and of course drinking champagne at the top of of the Eiffel Tower. I loved every single moment, but the most precious time was spent in our own little neighborhood.

One morning, I sat by myself in the sidewalk cafe on the Place du Commerce, sipping orange juice and Pellegrino, and a cafe au lait, nibbling on a fresh croissant, and scribbling endlessly in my journal. The narrow street in front of me was already bustling--shops opening, people laughing and talking at tables nearby. The cacophony of languages was surreal--French mostly, but also German, Italian, English, and even Arabic and Farsi. Old ladies were just leaving Matin services at the church on the square and the priest stood at the top of the steps, his bald head gleaming in the sun. Fresh fruit filled the bins in the Maison Gosselin, the market across the narrow street and I inhaled the scent of strawberries and oranges.

It was the Paris I'd dreamed of seeing, the Paris I'd always wanted to be part of, and there I was in the midst of it. I wrote in my journal about the wonder of being there, I am actually sitting in a cafe on a tiny street in Paris! C'est impossible, mais c'est vrai! (It's impossible, but it's true!) I look at the photos from my trip often and reread my journal now and again. Each time, I'm overwhelmed that I got to be a part of Paris life--not simply as a tourist, but to actually live as a Parisienne, if only for a short time.

I pulled out my pictures again last night because I needed to get the horrible news photos out of my head. I let them take me back to that amazing city and recalled again sitting in that cafe and discovering the writer in me again. C'est incroyable et merveilleux! What is your dream city? Have you been there? Tell me about it.