Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Posted by Liane Gentry Skye
I love to cook, and yes, I'm the sort of maddening chef who seldom follows a recipe as originally written. To simply trace the footsteps of another's culinary creation sucks the joy of making the perfect dish dry for me. For me, the act of cooking, making something from bits and scraps of humble ingredients stirs inspiration. Not just in the kitchen, but in my writing and jewelry making, too. I'm not sure why. I only know that when a story is stuck and the words just won't flow, or the beads just won't string into the perfect pattern, there's magic waiting in that often used oven of mine.
The sizzle of butter, the fragrance of crushed herbs, the steam rising off the pot infuses my kitchen with magic. Yes, that's it, a certain alchemy that rises from the act of chopping, pureeing, combining, deglazing. The end product is so much more than the sum of its parts. This, for me, is art in its rawest and purest form.
Perhaps the act of nurturing good friends and family has a good bit in common with the art of spinning stories. For me, they're both about bringing people together. I cook to spread love. I write to help people believe in love. If it's true that the path to a man's heart lies in his stomach, then let the ones I love leave my kitchen with their bellies full as they go about the age old task of finding the one true love of their lives.
To my writing friends, a Happy Thanksgiving from my kitchen to yours. I am thankful for each and every one of you for your parts in helping my writing dreams come true.
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sweetened dried cranberries
1/4 c. grand marnier or amaretto
1/2 c. white chocolate or vanilla chips
1 t. grated orange peel
1/2 c. vanilla yogurt
1/3 c. buttermilk*
1 to 2 T. buttermilk
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. grated orange peel
One hour before prep time, combine cranberries and grandmarnier/amaretto in a small saucepan. Warm to boiling, cover and let sit.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheet with shortening. In large bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. With pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Drain cranberries, reserving liquid. Stir in drained cranberries, white chips and 1 teaspoon orange peel. Add yogurt and 1/3 cup buttermilk; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Shape dough into ball; place on floured cookie sheet. With well floured fingers, press or roll dough into 8 inch round. Cut into 8 wedges; do not separate.
Brush dough with 1 1/2 T. buttermilk combined with 1/2 T. reserved cranberry liquid. In small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon orange peel. Sprinkle over dough.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet; place on serving tray. Cool 5 minutes. Cut into wedges. Serve warm.
NOTE: * To substitute for buttermilk, use 1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice plus milk to make 1/3 cup.
Makes 8 scones
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Posted by Liane Gentry Skye
Today I am giving my blog over to repeat a post originating from the November 6 edition of Editorial Ass. Why? One, because I'm coming to the end of a grueling manuscript that is already late to my darling, patient, understanding editor. I have no time to blog. And two, Because everything below bears repeating a thousand times over. Please read it...embrace it...and most of all, act on it.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
C[r]ash Flow (Or What Went Wrong in October in Book Publishing)
It's the only thing I'm thinking about recently, so I'm going to go ahead and kill the elephant.
Let's talk a little bit about what happened in October.
You've heard about the massive layoffs at Doubleday; you've heard about Harper's terrible state of profit, BNN's worst quarter and projected year ever, and the closing of Impetus, an indie press (which, as I'll explain below, I don't think was Impetus's fault even vaguely).
Yes, there's a crisis.
However. Anyone who wants to talk about "the death of publishing" can leave the room. I'm at the beginning of my career and I plan on being an editor for a long time; a lot of you are yet-to-be-published authors and I'm sure you're equally intent on not seeing book publishing fold (not that it's going to; that's ridiculous). So instead I want to talk about what's actually causing the problem--it might help us come up with solutions for protecting what's important to us.
I don't think anyone's being really straightforward about what exactly happened, and a lot of it is not very complicated.* The crux of the problem is that book publishing is a returnable industry. That means that say Big Chain Store (BCS) agrees to stock a book that my company publishes. They buy 100 copies at, say, $1 a piece (to be easy). They give me $100; I send them the books. Two months later, they didn't sell any, so they send them back. I have to give them $100.
Keep in mind a couple of things about this system that don't work in the publisher's favor:
1) Shipping costs. Books are heavy.
2) Production fees incurred by the publisher (because, unfortunately, we can't return the books to the printer).
3) Inflation. Haha.
Why do publishing companies put up with this? Yeah, it's stupid. But it's an industry standard, and if we don't let BCS have the option to return books, they simply tell us they won't stock them. They can carry CDs and calendars and greeting cards, instead.
All right, but this has been the case for awhile. So what went wrong in October?
As you MIGHT have heard by now, we're having some kind of economic hardship (or something like that). So people spent less cash in September and October. So bookstores sold fewer copies in those two months, and were hit hard like all the other businesses in the country and in a lot of the world.
However, BCS and all its chain compatriots are counting on Christmas sales to save them. They need to stock up! They need to plump their stores with new enticing merchandise so they can convince customers to save them from foreclosure!
Where to get the cash for all the holiday books they needed to stock in October and November? Three. Guesses.
In October, bookstores returned so many books that most publishing companies had more coming into them than going out of them. For some companies, the incoming number was more than several months' outgoing.
Although bookstores are suffering (and how), it was the publishing houses that had to absorb the cost of this cash flow creator. This is why Impetus, a relatively new indie company without the history to survive this shock, folded. Some houses lost so much money in returns in October that profits from the entire rest of 2008 have been negated. Can you imagine? Losing enough in a month to destroy your entire year? (Keep in mind that publishing is a very low profit margin enterprise in the first place; now see how if one month involves more outgoing than incoming money you can easily undo the good of an entire year or more.)
Now you can see the ripples that are happening, the layoffs, the dwindling advances, the precautions about acquiring anything in this climate. If publishing companies are shelling out money to publish books that bookstores only bother to stock for a minute and a half, we are all going to hemorrhage money until there is nothing left standing.
This would be a bad situation for more than the sake of my job or your future novel. It's about a lot of things--education, hampered information dissemination, conglomerations swallowing mass media, censorship. Whatever. I could extenuate, but I'll spare you. The point is, when you have a problem, the best thing to do is try to solve it.
For anyone who cares about the book publishing industry and wants to do their part, there's one simple action step:
Buy a book this weekend.
Just buy one.
Buy your sister a book instead of a sweater for her birthday; buy your friend who can't even make toast or boil water a beginner's cookbook; buy your company's receptionist a novel you liked because most people probably ignore him/her (it's always a her, though, isn't it?) and you'll make his/her day.
Buy your holiday gifts now. Instead of a CD for your brother, buy him a book on his favorite recording artist.
Instead of going to the library this one week buy the book you were going to read--it might only be a difference of a couple of bucks in the end. One day this week, make a peanut butter sandwich, skip going out for lunch, and buy a paperback.
Got an anniversary? Skip chocolates; fiction is sexy.
Got a non-reading friend with a birthday? Buy them a book and tell them it's high time they got over it. Or, more kindly, that you're doing it to sponsor your own future writing career. Or blame me if you must; I can take it.
It doesn't matter what. It doesn't have to be a literary fiction hardcover. If could be a $5.99 mass market nutrition guide, a $4.99 young reader chapter book, a Harlequin romance. Your money will still prevent returns of other books--literary fiction is usually the first to go--and will trickle down to the publishing companies, who will then be more likely to be able to afford to publish unprofitable literary fiction. Even if it's not by your favorite author or your favorite publishing house, your favorites will be indirectly affected.
It doesn't matter where. Sure, buying at the chains will help against the returns, but you can help out the publisher with your purchase no matter how you get it, even on the internet.
I'm not saying this for purely selfish reasons. I work with books because I love them and think they're important, not the other way around.
*insert here the eternal and immortal invitation for anyone who knows better to please correct me
at 4:16 PM
Friday, November 21, 2008
Posted by Liane Gentry Skye
It seems I have found myself the center of a rather sordid little debacle. You see, you have married a jezebel.
While the years have been kind, certainly better than most, life does has this vexing little way of stirring things up just as we begin to think our love as perfect as it will ever get. Perchance I might blame some twisted corollary of Murphy’s Law for the transgression to which I am about to confess, but alas, ‘twould be a lie. And though I still find thee the fairest of fair, my troth hath been sorely distracted by another. Yes, it is true. I have a new love in my life. And I have no plans to cast him aside.
I hope dear, that this doth not shock thee, or make thee feel less than the most virile among men. I ask that you trust me when I say that I did not go out in search of my new paramour. My intentions were noble, my motives pure!. You see, I was seeking companionship for another, but never, ever for myself!
But last night, my noble intentions were tested sorely. You were working late again, and the kids were asleep and I happened upon my lover in the most innocent of ways. One thing lead to another and before I knew it temptation took me. Before I could get hold of myself, I had him completely unwrapped. And as soon as I….flipped his…switch…he became—how shall I say it?--quite turned on. Then, I lay hands on his sleek, elegant lines, and I knew right to the core of my being that we’d soon experience delights between the sheets heretofore unheard of.
Dearest one, I must believe that in my shoes, you would have transgressed also. You see, my new lover is perfect--comely, literate, an avid listener willing to indulge my every fantasy. He is even capable of spinning the sweetest love song, the most soulful of sonnets. And once I slaked my gaze on the intricate array of ink that laced his form…beloved, I fear my heart was no longer my own. And this new love of mine, how he performed, tirelessly answering needs that I did not even know I harbored within my lusty, needful soul.
And yes, dearest, I fear this confession of mine will soon take a turn for the worse. Last night, whilst you slumbered, I invited my new love into our bed, and we carried on as we do right there beside you while you snored. Dearest one, I beg thou wouldst keep thy mind open as I introduce thee to the third partner in our relationship. I believe you will come to love him as I do, for he is, indeed, the perfect companion for the spouse who would willingly crackle pages into the wee hour but for fear of waking thee:
***Readers, keep your eye on my blog during the month of December, and you, too, can know the heady thrill of Kindling between the sheets***
Friday, November 14, 2008
Posted by Liane Gentry Skye
Doing Nanowrimo? I'm so sorry. Please do the literary world a favor and back slowly away from your keyboard while I try to talk some sense into you.
I'm concerned that you may actually in danger of finishing your project and inflicting it on some poor, unsuspecting publisher in December. Poor dear. But fear not, dear writer. There is help here even for you.
You simply need to learn to procrastinate like a pro. :)
Great writers often claim to be avid eavesdroppers. This little site is a great place for inspiration when the dialogue just won't come. And there's always the chance that you'll get so addicted to eavesdropping on others conversations that any thoughts you had about seriously finishing your Nano-novel will evaporate.
This is Indexed
Simple, hilarious fun. Sometimes distilling your astute literary observations into graphs, bar charts and pie charts makes them easier to grasp. If not? At least you'll have fun. Hopefully hours of it. Perhaps even enough to keep you from making that Nano-goal.
Traffic Cone Preservation Society
Traffic cone trivia and humor. Seriously. This is a stop for the nano participant with a true committment to the fine art of procrastination. Go ahead. Click it. You know you want to.
The Sky Is Free
The truly addictive home of the Wormwood Nation steam punk-ish web series. Who knows. You might get inspired. Or, alternatively....does the world really need another nano-novel?
Comic Strip Generator
Why limit yourself to mere words when you can make your scenes come to life in visual splendor by creating your own comic strip online? Warning to the hard core procrastinator. This one might even inspire a *gasp* plot.
So mere comics don't do it for you? Seriously considering getting back to your keyboard? Poor dear. Perhaps you're a techno-ho who yearns to see your nano creations come to life in 2D. So go ahead and animate them here. This little gem of a procrastination station carries the same disclaimer as the Strip Generator.
Perhaps you're a philanthropist whose Nano-time would be better served pursuing World Peace. This is a must see for the Miss America wannabe.
101 Reasons to Stop Writing
For the nano-er in serious danger of actually *gasp* finishing their nano project. Time to break out the big guns. If you are seriously considering submitting your project to a publisher on December 1, CLICK HERE NOW!
***Disclaimer. Participating in Nanowrimo gave me the kick in the pants I needed to find my way to "the end" more than once. My first novella, Believe, will be published in December. My second will be published next July. News of two more is inbound. So as you can see, my preventive measures aren't exactly foolproof. :)
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Posted by Liane Gentry Skye
So add a little sizzle to your holiday season with my ultra sensual romance novella, Believe, coming to you on December 1, from Red Sage Publishing:
Once, Virginia Keith believed in the power of love and the inexplicable magic of Christmas miracles.
Now the man who was supposed to be the love of her life has turned around and bit her in the ass. Again. On the brink of losing her beloved Victorian cottage to her ex and his soon to be wife, Virginia flees her hometown to spend Christmas as far away from the usual festivities as she can get.
When her Cessna encounters a freak storm, her plane goes down. When she comes to in the arms of the man of her dreams, she can hardly believe her good luck. That is until Mr. Wonderful tells her that he is Santa Claus, and she is destined to be his wife. Now the love Virginia has only dreamed of stands before her, determined to make her his bride.
She need only say "I believe..."
Excerpt (PG 13 + content alert!)
The fire that had crackled with such vigor earlier had retreated to a scattering of embers. Their flickering light polished the room in tones of sepia and bronze. Every now and then Nikolai’s movements cast his face into the feeble light, teasing Virginia with glimpses of his features.
If he didn’t kiss her soon, she might just tie him down and ravish him. The man was beyond hot. And the fact that he only had eyes for her made him even more so! Carved cheekbones were saved from harshness by his unfettered mane. Dark as pitch, it tumbled over shoulders broad enough to bear a world of troubles. He was tall, too, perhaps taller than any man she’d ever been this close to.
Had she not already known the kind, gentle soul who inhabited his body, she might have cringed in his shadow. She might even have run away. But now escape was the last thing on her mind. Never in her life had she felt such a hunger for a man’s touch. “About that kiss…”
“Anticipation is sweet, my love. Have patience.” His whisper was hoarse, heavy. He settled her onto the bed with all the delicacy one would a china doll. Bending forward, his hands skimmed her shoulders, pushing the ermine coverlet down, until it pooled on the mattress.
A whimper gathered in her throat and caught there.
His calloused palms grazed the length of her arms.
Her nipples tightened beneath the sheer fabric that stood guardian between her flesh and his. She caught the barest hint of a smile as his gaze dropped to her breasts and lingered there.
His smile widened. That he liked what he saw pleased her, greatly.
Bending forward, he pressed one knee onto the bed. As he did so, moonlight illuminated his skin. It was pale and smooth, so utterly unflawed that Virginia couldn’t restrain the urge to smooth her palms over the slope of his shoulders, the taut crests of his biceps. Honestly, the light had to be playing tricks on her, because this man was perfect. Michelangelo’s David would have diminished in comparison.
Raising a hand, he swept back an errant curl that threatened her view. “I hope reality hasn’t disappointed you.”
Shaking her head no, she shivered. It had nothing to do with the fact that she was cold. Before Virginia could utter a verbal response to his concerns, an ember popped in the fireplace, igniting the chamber with a golden promise of light.
Resting her eyes on the totality of Nikolai’s face for the first time caused her heart to stumble. Her hand rose to her breast; her heartbeat galloped beneath her palm. Looking at his face was like watching the heroes of every girlhood fairy tale she’d ever heard step out of the realm of imagination and into reality. He was the rakish rogue, the exotic explorer, the handsome prince, all of those, all at once.
“Beautiful…” She sighed. It was the only word that came to mind. It didn’t begin to do him justice.
“Yes, you are,” he whispered.
Pressing her gently down onto the pillows, he bracketed her head with his forearms. The muscles that flexed and played beneath his flesh could have been cut from alabaster.
Her thighs clenched against the rush of moisture that gathered there.
The moonlight fled just then, leaving her to wish she’d gleaned the color of his eyes.
“What’s your name?” she asked as his hands framed her face. She hated the thick sound of her voice, how it advertised her desire.
The embers danced and played. The raven’s wing arcs of his brows melded. “I thought you said you knew who I was.”
His breath smelled of cloves and wintergreen. “I did. I do. But you never told me what I should call you.”
“What do you want to call me?”
Virginia thought for a second.
His finger rode the edge of her jaw.
Warm tingles danced up her spine. She sighed, lifting her gaze to his. She hadn’t felt this cherished since she was a little girl. “Hero comes to mind.”
“I’m no hero, Virginia. I’m just plain Nikolai, who had the good fortune to be in the right place at the right time.” The finger that edged her jaw journeyed down, playing at the gilded knot that stood between her and nakedness.
“Nikolai.” It was the perfect name. “Kiss me, Ni-ko-lai…”
This time, he did not hesitate. His finger hitched beneath her chin, raising her mouth beneath his. Sighing, he bent closer, capturing her lower lip between his teeth.
Nibbling, tugging, he teased the crevice between her lips with the tip of his tongue.
Her mouth parted to receive him. She tasted hints of snow and wine and musky male.
Nikolai softened his jaw, deepening their kiss.
The whimper caged in Virginia’s throat broke free.
The world spun and turned over. She pressed her body closer to his. Her exhaustion floated away on the wings of his kiss; she swore she could hear the angels singing.
If she’d lost her grip on reality, then this was the way to do it.