Looking Back – Looking Ahead

Looking Back – Looking Ahead

It’s here, finally. The end of 2012. We’re on the cusp of 2013, a bright, shiny new year not yet failing to meet our expectations. I’m looking back on my writing year, and then taking a look ahead at 2013. Come along, and see what I’ve been up to!

So in Looking Back, this year I’ve:

Turned in the manuscript for DEMON HUNT – it pubbed 7/16 of this year.

Cover for Demon Hunt

Cover for Demon Hunt, by Taria A. Reed.

Turned in the short story BLOOD DREAMS – it pubbed 6/1 of this year.

Invited to write a short-SHORT play based on The Rose, by the Brother’s Grimm; wrote it, rewrote it, rewrote it again; turned it in; it had it’s debut at the Crescent Heights High School in the Spring. Totally delighted.

Went to Desert Dreams Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona in April; got to hang with old friends, meet up with new ones, and began a relationship with the amazing Brenda Chin of Harlequin. Also met up with Beth Yarnall of OCC RWA and Debra Mullins of EVA RWA; they both asked me if I would be interested in speaking at their chapter meetings. I said yes, of course. ULP!

Worked on “A Run for the Money” and “Evie’s Song” and “Jesse on the Verge”; pitched them, sent them off ; got rejected.

Joined in with friends for a Summer Camp writing group for the month of June. We still meet – Summer Camp has changed into Boarding School. Some of the most creative, intelligent, fun, supportive, and wonderful women – I’m a lucky girl!

Started “Weightless”, a YA story set in a ballet company; wrote 50k on that. Needs a rewrite and it needs to be finished. BUT – pitched it, sent it off, got rejected. I’m okay with that. Sent it in to a contest – and got great feedback.

Got a phone call from Brenda Chin on the last Monday in July (just before RWA National Conference) – she requested a manuscript that I pitched via a piece of paper!  Woo! Sent it off. Have refrained from stalking her via phone or email. Suspect it’s not her cup of tea but will wait for the formal decision on it.

At the conference, I had several delightful, informal bump-intos with Brenda (at the booksigning, in front of Kathy Lyons‘ table, I introduced myself – she said, “I know who you are.” Squee!) (The next day, she bought me a cup of coffee! Double Squee!) Had a hard time not acting all fan-girl on her, but I managed to not totally embarrass myself. Pitched a new manuscript (that wasn’t even written – a HUGE no-no, but since she’d just requested one, I felt safe enough doing that). Needless to say, she hated it BUT – liked a turn of phrase. Gave me a plot. Said “write me that”. So – that’s what I’ve been working on, novel-wise, ever since.

In October, I joined a group called Fierce Backbone; a play development group made up of writers, actors, and directors. They’ve been reading and commenting on my first play (written in 2010/2011); if it ever gets to a staged reading, I’ll be shouting about it from the rooftops. Two people, one set. Imminently produceable.

In October, I also got to be the guest of honor at a book club. They read my book, talked about it, asked me a bunch of questions – it was fantastic and I learned a lot. Thank you Tabitha! And along with Lisa Kessler, I did a booksigning down at Starcrafts in San Diego – Teresa See and friends were lovely and gracious.

Because Fierce Backbone sparks creativity, I wrote a play for my husband for Christmas. Money being not floating from the sky, I needed to get darned creative. He loves it (whew!), and it needs rewriting – but that’s what I worked on almost exclusively from October to Christmas Eve. Dialog comes easy to me, so I’ll get more work done on it and submit to Fierce Backbone to get it into the Monday readings, and we’ll see how it goes!

In November, I gave my first-ever talk to East Valley Authors chapter of RWA. People took notes! They came up afterwards, thanked me, and asked questions! I shocked myself by actually being able to talk for an hour. But yeah, my inner actress was totally stoked.

I’m now (with the help of a couple of wonderful pairs of eagle-eyes) back at work on the Brenda Chin novel. I’ve got so much of it written – now it just needs to get cohesive. I am SO thankful that I’ll be taking a plotting course in January!

Looking Ahead:

I’m taking on the mantle of President of the Los Angeles Romance Authors. I am predicting a calm, easy year (!).

I’m speaking at Orange County Chapter of RWA on January 12th; Los Angeles Romance Authors on January 20th.

I plan on finishing the Brenda Book in January and getting it off to her. Think I should really come up with a series idea to go along with this book and pitch that, too. Then, and only then, will I bug her about the other book. Just a friendly warning, Brenda. 😉

Then I really must get to Demon’s Rage, the final book in the Demon Trilogy. I’d like to get that one turned in by the end of March, then write two or three short stories in the world and turn all those in, as well.

Then back to Weightless, my Ballet YA. I’d love to get that one done up and send it around. If no one bites, I may just dip my toes into self-publishing. I love this book and it deserves to go somewhere.

So Cal RWA conferenceMarch 15 – 17,  I’ll be at the So Cal RWA Writer’s Conference, California Dreaming. Brenda Chin will also be there (according to the conference website). Stalking seeing her will be very cool. If I don’t have that book done and turned in to her BEFORE then, I will just be a failure so there’s that! A good prod to productivity.

I’m not looking too much farther ahead than March. I have a lot to do in the next three months – besides all of the above, I have two plays to re-write.

RWA National Conference will be held in Atlanta this year. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I’ll be able to go, even though I should since I’m chapter president and all. We shall see.

So, there it is – looking back, and looking ahead. How far ahead do you plan your year? Or do you let circumstances change your schedule?

Here’s hoping 2013 is your best year yet! Be safe out there tonight – remember there will be a lot of amateur drunks on the roads. Don’t drive if you don’t have to!

~ Until next year, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?


Sparklers for New Year’s Eve, Part Deux

Sparklers for New Year’s Eve, Part Deux

Last year, I wrote an exhaustive post on Champagnes and Sparkling wines that I can’t hope to beat. If you’d like a peek, go here.

Surprisingly, there were sparkling wines that I didn’t mention in that review but that were mentioned in the comments. Today I bring two of those to your attention (plus a couple more, lol!).

Gruet Blanc de Noirs Methode Champenoise American Sparkling Wine Albuquerque, New Mexico Alcohol 12% by Volume – on sale for $14.99 at BevMo!

A delightful, non-vintage sparkling wine (or maybe that was just Christmas Eve? lol…), the Gruet should certainly be on your go-to list. It is on par with the Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noirs, though I have to admit I prefer the Domaine’s pretty pink color. The Gruet didn’t have a pink tinge to it (which is expected when you see Blanc de Noirs on the label). Bottled from the Pinot Noir grape, most blanc de noirs sparkling wines have that pretty color – this one did not, even though their website cites a “a fine salmon color”. The only drawback I can see to this wine is that my local grocery store doesn’t carry it, which means you may have to hunt for it.

Another new favorite of mine is Domaine Carneros by Taittenger, 2007 & 2008 Brut   Methode Champenoise – Napa Valley, California Alcohol 12% by Volume, on sale at Vons for $19.99 .

We had the 2007 on Christmas morning, and I will definitely be buying another bottle of it.

Lovely neighbors also brought us over a bottle of the 2008 as a Christmas present, so we’ll probably be popping it on New Year’s Eve. Another upscale bottle with a good price to it. Definitely impressive!

For fun bubbles, to share with a younger crowd perhaps (that might not be quite so judgmental),  try Yellowglen’s Pink and Yellow sparkling wines, from Australia. I’ve picked up both of these from BevMo! over the years, and have found them thoroughly enjoyable. (Especially terrific in the summer when you want something fun and festive – but equally at home for a big New Year’s Eve party.)

I taste tested these a couple of years ago at BevMo! – they are running $6.99 on a Club Bev membership (which is free), normally double that. The bottles are fun and festive, the wine is lively and the bubbles fairly small. All in all, a good value for the money.

I am surprised (and pleased) that there are so many different sparkling wines that I have yet to taste!  Which one is your favorite to ring in the New Year with?

On a sober-er note, please go visit Natalie Hartford’s blog today, where she shares with us the proper way to be a responsible hostess with Holiday Mocktails. They sound delicious, and I’m eager to try them! Plus MADD has come out with non-alcoholic cocktails that she said were terrific – give it a look see.

May you say goodbye to 2012 with no regrets, and look to 2013 with an open and eager mind, heart, and spirit. Thanks so much for being a part of my life this year!

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?

Seen About Town

Seen About Town

Lately, I’ve been keeping a small point & shoot Nikon camera in my purse, just because I see the silliest, or coolest, things as I wander about my little corner of the world. Here are a couple of photos – one thought-provoking, one silly – and both are kinda perfect for the season.

That kind of says it all, doesn’t it? Seen in Studio City, California

Yeah, I really like this photo! The next one, however, took me totally off guard. I saw it as I was coming back from lunch one day. This car was parked outside a dry cleaner’s – I hurried to take the photo because I didn’t want the owner to come out and harass me for taking it. Luckily, no one seemed to notice.

I totally burst out laughing when I saw this! The right amount of funny for me.

And finally, I couldn’t let this post end without a photo of the family Snowflake Fairy – the first ornament my hubby and I bought for our first married Christmas, December 1980. We bought her in a Hallmark store in Seattle the same day we got our tiny, Charlie Brown Christmas tree – on Christmas Eve. It is now the ornament that is always placed first on the tree, and always gets the best “show place” on the tree.

A photo of a snowflake fairy ornament

The one and only Snowflake Fairy. On Christmas Eve, she’ll be 32 human years old. I have no idea how old that is in Fairy, but my hubby says she’s only 4.

Have you seen anything out and about that you found thought provoking or funny lately? Please share!

Sending love out to you and yours, and hoping this new week is a terrific one for you!

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?

Concannon’s Crimson & Clover wine, Revisited

Concannon’s Crimson & Clover wine, Revisited

I’m doing a revisit of Concannon’s Crimson & Clover. My original assessment of it can be found here. I’ve been looking for this wine ever since; to my delight and surprise, I found it up in Tehachapi, last Friday evening. I have since located it in my local store.

Concannon Conservancy Crimson & Clover, 2010 Livermore Valley Red Table Wine Alcohol, 13.7% by volume. Price: Originally $11.99, on sale for $8.40 on a 30% off discount at Vons.

On the Label: “My dad, James Concannon, began his winemaking career over 50 years ago. Following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, he remains one of California’s most innovative and inspiring winemakers. This velvety wine is a living tribute to my father, who was the first to bottle Petite Sirah which continues to thrive in the gravelly soil of the Livermore Valley.

A vibrant red blend of signature Livermore Valley varietals, Crimson & Clover honors my dad’s enduring spirit that runs deep in the Irish roots of our family. This lush wine has deep flavors of blackberries and rich chocolate balanced by a long, silky finish. Pair with black pepper crusted filet mignon or grilled artichoke with tarragon aioli.”

My Take: I remember being slightly disappointed in this wine when I tasted it in February, and wanting another bottle to hold for a few months. I can joyfully say that, YES! THIS is a bottle of wine that any hostess would be pleased to receive, and you can now drink it right after opening. After airing a bit, it’s even better. It has a richness, a lovely jammy flavor that doesn’t get cloying, and goes great with hearty foods. It’s even better with cheese and crackers after dinner.

I enjoyed it up in Tehachapi, and relished it even more at home this past week. I’ve got a bottle stashed away and will most likely buy another bottle (or two) while it’s still on sale. I am SO happy to be able to review this wine again – and even happier that it’s now been released. Originally it was supposed to release in the spring; last week was the first time I’ve seen it on the shelves, and I have been looking. I’m glad they waited.

My Rating: ~ Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!

Time is pressing and I’m running late for work. The only other wine-related thing I can think of to mention is that we tried the Two Buck Chuck Chardonnay last night – and had to turn it into sangria with the help of a couple of oranges and a slice of lemon. Yeah, it was that bad. But the oranges and lemon made it taste, ever-so-vaguely, like a shadow of a mimosa (orange juice and sparkling wine) without the bubbles. So we managed to save the wine. Now we’ll see how long it takes us to actually drink it…

May your weekend before Christmas be happy, stress-free,  and filled with simple joys. (Stop laughing!) Be good, my lovelies! Merry Yule, Joyous Winter Solstice! (We’re all still here!)

As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?

My Rating System: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!


Tehachapi Peace

Tehachapi Peace

At two separate times, I’ve gone up to Tehachapi to spend time with my brother and both times found something I hadn’t been looking for, but very much needed – a sense of peace.

My brother Greg works as a freelance Computer Technician, because he’s that smart. A couple of guys he knew were wondering about social media, and if they should/HOW they should use it to promote their books. After mentioning my name a gazillion times as an example of how it should be done (my brother is a sweet guy, and doesn’t know any other authors, lol), he suggested – and they agreed – that I should come up and talk with them, and answer their multitudinous questions about social media and writers. (But this post isn’t about that.)

Me and my brother, Greg, at the Cesar Chavez Center, Tehachapi

The only catch? The date was set for Friday, December 14, at 2pm – right in the middle of my workday. But I did manage to get the day off and around 10am that morning, drove on up north.

The Tehachapi Mountains rise out of the San Joaquin Valley on one side and Mojave on the other. The pass is at just under 4000 ft above sea level. Once I drove into the small town, the temperature gauge on my car read 38 degrees. The air was crisp and cold and perfect for December. The house was small and sweet and perfect for Tina, the lady that owns it. We putzed around, went to lunch, drove out to a ranch, and I had a three hour talk on writing and social media with two other writers (one has 4 books out and has been writing magazine articles for twenty years; the other is a screenwriter who has had several scripts produced and has just written a memoir about Hollywood). These guys were sharp, smart, funny as hell, and willing to listen to me, and I had a total blast. I hope to showcase both of them here on the blog in the future.

After we’d talked each other out and darkness had fallen, we said goodbye to new friends and drove to the Souza Family Vineyards, where I bought two bottles of their Primitivo Zinfandel (because I’m a sucker for Zinfandel!). The 2007 won a silver medal, the 2009 won a bronze medal, and the 2010 won a gold medal, all at the San Francisco Chronical Wine Competition. (I’m looking forward to showcasing the winery and the wines on a future Friday blog.) At the winery, we drank wine, looked over the wares at a craft fair there inside the winery, and chatted. Bob and Patty are really cool people.

Bob and Patty Souza, Proprietors of the Souza Family Vineyards

Bob and Patty Souza, Proprietors of the Souza Family Vineyards

Afterwards, we went back to the cute little house, where Tina made dinner and I drank wine. (Seems like a fair trade!) Greg futzed with the new sound system he’d put in place in the house. We talked and laughed and when I went to sleep, I slept soundly, surrounded in peace.

The Keene Cafe – lots of railroad workers eat here. Terrific food!

In the morning, we went to the Keene Cafe for an enormous breakfast (that’s all I ate until 7pm that night – fanTAStic ham steak!), then went to see some sights. We visited the Cesar Chavez Center and saw his grave and wandered around the peaceful grounds.

The headstone for Cesar Chavez is between the Angel and the Pointsettia.

We drove up the side of a hill so we’d have a good view of the Tehachapi Loop, an engineering marvel by William Hood (“one of the 7 wonders of the railroad world”) built in 1874 – 1876, the train tracks that loop through 18 tunnels and 10 bridges; at one point, if the train is long enough, a train can loop itself three times. This line is part of the last and final link of the first railroad line connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles. The single track line is still in constant use today, 136 years after its completion.

Hopefully you can see three sections of train in this photo. If you google it, you’ll see better photos of the area…

But aside from the Loop, aside from Keene’s Cafe and the Cesar Chavez Center, aside from the flurry of snow that quickly melted and the frost that rimed the grass, the sense of peace was overwhelming. Part of it was the unconditional love that is so much a part of my brother; part of it was the crisp, cold air; part of it was me, without husband, sons, or responsibilities for a few hours.

It was lovely. A peace I desperately needed after hearing about the tragedy in Connecticut on my drive north. (After half an hour, I turned off the radio and kept it off.)

I had been worrying that this Christmas wouldn’t be the “best” Christmas, due to a shortage of funds and a new unwillingness to go into debt just to buy stuff. But after my time in Tehachapi, and after the events in Newtown, I am fine with a simpler Christmas. Blessed that everyone I know and love is well and alive.  We aren’t traveling this holiday, and we don’t have guests, so I think perhaps the family will go on a journey of some sort. A photo safari, or local hiking, or a neighborhood we don’t get to very often (there are SO MANY of them in the Los Angeles area). Or maybe we’ll stay home and watch the first season of Game of Thrones.

Whatever we do, I shall do my best not to stress, and hold tightly to the peace I experienced in Tehachapi.

May you have many blessings, peace, and happy days, from my house to yours.

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?