29 July 2012

Closer To The Heart

After Wednesday's discussion of encouraging responsibility, and after sharing one example of a young rap artist attempting to do so through the arts, I wanted to share one of my favorite songs.  I'm a longtime fan of the band, Rush.  They capture the message perfectly.

On The Goals and Writing Front...

*  The typing continues.  Strangely, my word count calculations were waaayy off.  I've only typed 73 of 165 written pages as of Friday night, yet have over 22k wracked up in words.  This may end up a novel after all...How about that?  :}

*  I've written my blurb and sent my images to my cover designer.  She'll turn my eclectic, hodge-podge collection into something lovely that I'll gush over.  I. Can. Not. Wait.

*  No new recipes cooked.  I'll do little but type until I finish.  It's lunch meat, PB&J, and hot dogs on the grill. 

*  I've not exercised in five days.  Unless you count finger exercises.  They do count, right?

*  Social goals - check

*  I need to type up some new Researching For Romance posts.  I've been neglectful while finishing my WIP.  I've some great topics to share, and I'll get to work after I finish this blasted typing ...and the subsequent edits that will consume my next few weeks. 

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The fabulous and talented Raelyn Barclay gifted me with two great awards!  Let's see what I can come up with to entertain...

The Sunshine Award

Is You Are My Sunshine playing in your head? Or is that just me?

  • Favorite color: I don’t really have a favorite.  I tend to favor warm colors, although my bedroom is painted 'jungle-river-green'.  It's soothing. 
  • Favorite animal: Dogs come to mind immediately - my German Shepherd is my 'Putchka'...and I could squeeze him to pieces.  :}  Birds of prey fascinate me, hawks and falcons especially.
  • Favorite number: Hmmm.  I don't think I have a favorite number...never really thought about it.  But like Raelyn, even numbers sort of seem nicer than odd ones.  Why?  Who can guess!
  • Favorite drink: As much as I love my coffee, TEA.  "Ditto"  If we're referring to alcoholic drinks, I have to go with Guinness. 
  • Facebook/Twitter Locations: Nadja Notariani, Facebook
  • Favorite passion: Reading, writing, and cooking.  To get lost in a good story...sublime...to eat while doing so, more sublime.
  • Giving or Receiving: Giving, definitely.
  • Favorite pattern: I have seen this question before and wondered 'what the heck is a favorite pattern?'  Ha!  After seeing Raelyn's answer, I smacked my head with my hand and laughed my unmentionables off.  …Toile.  I've always liked this print. 
  • Favorite day of the week: Saturday.
  • Favorite flower:  Lilac, Daisy, and Queen-Anne's Lace (which is a weed, but I like it)

Fabulous Blog Ribbon

Five fabulous writing moments:
  1. The first sentence written in a new WIP.  It opens the door to a new world.
  2. When the perfect banter between characters flows from my mind to the paper.
  3. Seeing a new cover for my finished novel.  It's pretty and new and shiny...Love it!
  4. Becoming so immersed in my story that I 'see' the characters and setting in my mind's eye, hear their secret thoughts and desires, feel their emotion.
  5. Writing “the end” on a first draft.
Five things I love about writing…
  1. The moment a project is finished, published...Satisfaction, indeed!
  2. Deciding which project to take on next.  So many ideas...
  3. When the words come and come, my pencil leaving a trail of graphite as I furiously scribble words onto crisp, white pages.
  4. Researching new topics.  I ♥ The Google. 
  5. Sharing my stories with readers.
Five things I hate about writing…
  1. Typing my manuscript.  Oh!  The typing...:{ 
  2. When I hear crickets instead of prose...
  3. Having to force myself to hold a character's secret.  I confess...I'm ready to spill it all right away.  This is a tendency I have to fight against all the time!
  4. Those moments when 'Inner-Critic' rouses her minions, 'Not Good Enough Today' and 'Not Good Enough Tomorrow'. 
  5. The filth-and-filth-foul typing.
I'll leave you to decide if you'd like to participate!  Don't forget to stop by fellow ROW80 blogs over the weekend.  Happy Writing!

 ~ Nadja

25 July 2012

Encourage Responsibility Through The Arts

Marcy Kennedy posted Are You Brave Enough To Take Responsibility For Your Actions earlier in the week.  This sparked no small helping of contemplation on my part.  Owning actions requires thought, reflection, and an honest assessment of one's character and choices.  I've found some great quotes on the subject.  My thoughts rippled out in a number of directions, but an interaction with my son narrowed my focus for this post. 

One of my teen aged son's favorite artists released a song confronting the idea of owning your actions, taking control of your future, accepting responsibility for the state of your life, changing destructive behavior and daring to become something better .  He shared the video with me; it impacted him - I was intrigued, shocked, stunned, saddened, maybe even uncomfortable - and in some way, encouraged.  This video is not for the faint of heart; it graphically points out self-destructive attitudes and actions prevalent in our culture in the harshest of terms.  Still, despite my conflicting feelings, I applaud this young man's willingness to confront issues he knows his fans wrestle with on a daily basis.  I'm fairly certain his message will not be appreciated by all, and would venture that his stand will earn him no small amount of censure.  But with what kids experience in schools and in interactions with peers, a dose of reality - even if delivered in such bold fashion and especially because it is delivered so - may be the antidote to misguided perceptions. 

Additionally, it reminded me that words have real and undeniable power.  Will I use words to encourage?  To inspire deep thought?  To evaluate and discuss ideas?  To promote responsibility?  
Watch if you dare.  I've stated my feelings...how does this evocative video affect you?  Do you think this young rap artist will reach teens through his daring message?  Does his acknowledgement of his own perceived blame influence your reaction?  Will his lyrics impact his audience and encourage self-responsibility or will his message be dismissed as inflammatory rhetoric?  Do artists, whether writers, rappers, or sporting icons bear a duty to promote self-responsibility through their work, words and actions?         

*Warning*  This video contains graphic language and may not be suitable for all audiences. 


This added to my reflection on the subject as a whole.  As authors, we influence.  I especially appreciate the great burden Young Adult authors face when crafting stories.  While I do not write YA fiction, many fellow ROW80's do.  Have you confronted any of these issues in your novels? 

For readers dealing with the issues found in Hopsin's video, how best can authors craft characters they can relate to?  That will inspire them?  Are any ROW80 authors writing in this genre (sub-genre) of YA fiction?  If so, would you be willing to share your experiences and struggles in forging a connection with your audience?

Phew!  This has been a weighty subject to explore.  Comments are welcome; please be respectful.

On Goals And Such...

*  Pop That Cork!  A Practical Arrangement is finished.  I penned the words, 'The End', last night.  Woo-Hoo! 

*  Oh, wait.  That means I have no excuse now.  The typing begins in earnest.  Sigh.  I will allow myself two weeks to complete this odious task.

*  Exercise was a flop this week.  I managed one workout.  But I did go to Atlantic City to the beach with my boys, my brother-in-law, and his boys.  (The two things have nothing in common, but talking about the beach makes me feel better.)

*  My cover designer, Elaina Lee at For The Muse Design, has penciled me in.  This is one of the most exciting parts of my job as a writer.  I should have a cover to reveal by August 20th. 

*  Social goals were not met this week.  With company visiting, my trip to Atlantic City, and the dog crisis, I checked out for a few days.

*  I did cook a delicious dish, although not a new recipe.  Spicy Corn Chowder is a favorite in this house, and we had a few days of very cool weather.  I didn't mind cooking on those days!  The heat is back with a vengeance.  It was takeout tonight.  Lol.     
 ~ Nadja

22 July 2012

Relief And Sadness: The Notarianis Cry

Today will be filled with conflicting emotions in the Notariani household.  Late last night, DD#1 woke us with a dreadful call.  Her puppy, around 16 weeks old, had to be put down.  Jeckyl (his name) had become ill.  Rather than wait until Monday, she took him to an emergency vet.  Unfortunately, he had Parvovirus.  It's awful when a beloved pet is so ill.  The vet explained that he likely had been born infected.  She's heartbroken.  Her older dog has been vaccinated, but there is still a small risk that she could be infected.  She'll find out Monday when she goes in for her test. 

I regularly dog-sit, and that put our own Shepherd at risk.  He, too, has been vaccinated, but we took him today for a test.  Thankfully, he tested negative.  Parvovirus is extremely contagious - and infections take over quickly.  Treatment ranges from $1000 - $4000, so it is quite expensive.  There is no cure for parvovirus; instead, symptoms are treated through antibiotics and IV fluids.  Sometimes, plasma is given as well among other meds.  Full treatment boasts a 75% survival rate, but the $60 (max) vaccination fees pale in comparison to the high cost of treatment.  It is imperative to have your pets vaccinated to prevent this devastating illness.

As hard as it is, 'Life Goes On'.  Today, DD#1 is at work, but we have all shed some tears for the adorable little puppy that we lost.

I haven't been able to conjure any words today.  Tomorrow will be better.

 ~ Nadja

18 July 2012

Check-In On The Run...

Welcome once again to mid-week check-ins for ROW80! 

This week has had its ups and downs for this author.  I am currently reading my entire story to capture the right ending...well, drama before the ending.  I'm always seeking the HEA...lol.  One of my struggles in writing novels is crafting the climax.  Phew!  I'm a drama hater.  At least excessive drama, but within a novel, we love those precarious moments when we wonder if the characters we've grown to love can ever overcome the adversity thrust into their lives, right?  I think...I ponder...I imagine all sorts of scenarios to employ.  I sputter and balk.  It comes, but slowly.  That's where I'm at right now.  Then, I'll pop the cork on my last bottle of Gewurztraminer and celebrate before edits begin in earnest. 

But this week has been fun filled as well.  We hauled our cookies back down to Maryland on Friday to pick up DD#2 and schlep her home for the weekend.  We've got to get in lots of time with her - because we won't see her for months in the near future.  I know the base now like the back of my hand...lol.  :}Unfortunately, there was a problem with her paperwork, and that will delay her entry into the Academy for a year.  It was the Navy's mistake (the paperwork showed up two days after they pulled her...Arrrgghhh!), and they have been wonderful with her over the entire incident - and we are firm believers that everything happens for a reason.  So, she's off on a new adventure for a year.  Of course, driving to get her meant driving back down on Sunday to schlepp her back again.  We had a fun day, exploring more downtown and checking out the shops and enjoying a wonderful meal!  In a few weeks, we'll repeat the entire process.  :}

Company arrived last night, so we're entertaining for the week.  We'll have short break before more company arrives on August 4th.  It's busy, but we love seeing our family. 

Here's how my week stacked up.

*  Broke 35K in my current historical novella. 

*  Small edits (and notes for scene adjustments made on first 7 chapters) done as I've read through.

*  Still no images found for cover.  I'm struggling to find exactly what I want for this cover.  I've a great deal of 'maybe this would work', but nothing that screams, 'Aha!  Found it!'. 

*  I've been approached to work on an erotic anthology, and I'm quite excited at trying my hand.  The goal is to write something that captures the essence of early (say 1930's) erotica, which I find an exciting challenge.  I'm thinking of creating a piece based on Song Of Solomon, but that is yet to be determined. 

*  Exercise goals have been met.  Upper body workouts leave my shoulders aching, but I'm noticing greater definition in my triceps and biceps.  After completing the ab series, I actually find myself looking forward to the ab sets within this workout - as they feel like breaks!  Now that's progress...ha!

*  Social goals are on track. 

*  I will begin my second professional edit at the end of this month/beginning of next month.

*  I've noted that I intend to read Game Of Thrones over the summer.  So far, I've read next to nothing.  I've got to take some time out to relax and read for enjoyment.  Hmmm...almost forget what that feels like. lol. 

How have you measured up to your goal list this week? 

 ~ Nadja

15 July 2012

Researching For Romance Writing: Sexy Is Not About Looks

Sexy Versus Attractive - A Romance Writer's Investigation ...

I read a great post at Book and Trailer Showcase, What Makes A Man Sexy?  A great post for any interested.  Here's the thing...a man can be attractive without necessarily being sexy just as a man can be sexy without being what one might call handsome.  This got my wheels turning.  Why is this?  And what constitutes sexy?

What I consider sexy may or may not appeal to another - but universally, attractiveness knows no class boundaries, no cultural borders.  Evolvify posted scientific information in a post titled, Male Physical Attractiveness To Women: You Shallow, Shallow Women!.  This post is quite informative but lengthy.  The studies cited are fascinating, and I found some useful knowledge.  For instance, women are able to judge physical strength just by seeing images of the face - and, women universally find certain physical attributes pleasing.  Also, and more surprising, the correlation between physical attractiveness and 'mating-success' (science's term, not mine, people) is clear.  The question remains, do attractive males 'mate' better than their less attractive counterparts, or is the female perception of physical beauty a powerful enough incentive to believe that is the case?  I suppose I'll never know. 

The site Jezebel featured a Scottish study revealing another interesting facet of this ongoing conundrum.  It seems that the preference for more attractive faces is based on the perception of physical prowess.  Protection and security seem to be major factors in women's 'natural selection' process.  This did not surprise me, but rather validated what I've known all along.  Sensitive smenchitive!  Women want a big strong man to protect them.  I know I'll hear an argument - and for certain all women do not want the same things - but the data is in, ladies.  We've been outed!  Ha!

All this information is to lay the groundwork for our study on sexy, which is another thing altogether - yet it is inextricably connected to attractiveness.  Sigh. 

sexy [ˈsɛksɪ]
adj sexier, sexiest Informal
1. provoking or intended to provoke sexual interest a sexy dress a sexy book
2. feeling sexual interest; aroused
3. interesting, exciting, or trendy a sexy project a sexy new car
sexily adv
sexiness n

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

Adj. 1. sexy - marked by or tending to arouse sexual desire or interest; "feeling sexy"; "sexy clothes"; "sexy poses"; "a sexy book"; "sexy jokes"
exciting - creating or arousing excitement; "an exciting account of her trip"
seductive - tending to entice into a desired action or state
unsexy - not sexually aroused or arousing
2. sexy - exciting sexual desire
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
Now, there are a great many words above to catalogue this one word.  Why?  Because 'sexy' is a state of mind, and each of us finds unique things 'sexy'.  Personally, the way a man speaks contributes to whether I find him sexy or not.  That sweet spot of commanding but not tyrant-y, arrogant short of arse-hole, calm yet firm and sure of the words he chooses - Ah!  Sweet Mercy!  I'm a puddle.  I also find a man who speaks little to be sexy.  There's something about not knowing everything rattling around his head that's appealing.  Keeps me guessing.  Suggests he's taking it all in and cataloguing it - perhaps for future use.  But go to far...and I get a sense of backward and insecure - which is not sexy at all!  Context is another factor in sexy-speak.  There's a fine line between sexy and crude.  Those who cross it are forever lumped into the 'thanks, but I'll pass' category. 

I've posted this image before.  This guy radiates sexiness.  Body language - check.  Oh!  That hand!  Blow Me Down!!
Inviting.  Luring.  Confident.
Now that I've read the studies, I see that his face suggests strength, as do those lean muscles.  Gah!


Swagger (as Book And Trailer put it) is another piece of the puzzle!  An athletic prowess elicits a strong reaction from this girl!  Phew!  I enjoy the male form most when watching it perform physical feats successfully.  MMA is my favorite sport for just this reason.  Exacting control over one's body, skilled movements, precise timing, strength and flexibility all suggest both physical and mental strength....and mental strength is extremely sexy!

  Eyes convey great emotion, and I'm a sucker for a pair of dark, deep pools.  Brown is my favorite!  Naveen Andrews played a character named Sayid on Lost, and this character was sexy, indeed!  Sayid was a thinker - and those eyes spoke, maybe bellowed, volumes about the things he didn't say.  And let's get down to the nitty gritty of sexy...he portrayed a controlled brutality that curled my hair.  Oh!  Wait!  My hair is already curly.  Lol. 

 Hmm.  Brutality can be sexy.  Very sexy.  Mirko Cro-Cop is a fine example of that trait - in his prime, of course.  Possessing that killer-instinct and knowing when, where, and how to use it...Well! 

Another trait I find extremely sexy is a laid back nature.  Comfortable in any circumstance.  Matthew Goode portrayed just such a fellow in the movie Leap Year.  And that kiss at the dinner table?  Ohh-La-La!  I'll have what she's having, thank-you.  Ha!

Declan (the character Goode plays) is cheeky - and oh-so-darned-cute.  Take a look-see...

So, ladies...(and any man brave enough to have read this far...lol)  What constitutes sexy in your eyes? 
 ~ Nadja

11 July 2012

Rounding The Home Stretch

A Hearty Hello To Fellow ROW80 Friends! 

First, A Quick Progress Update...

*  I'm hitting my stride in A Practical Arrangement, marking better than 32K in this historical novella.  Closing in on the home stretch, it's time for a little drama.  Misunderstanding abounds (induced by the deceit of a trouble making vixen) and my heroine takes it to heart.  I've the entire day to conjure words...I'm shooting to wrap this novella up by week's end.  That's an ambitious goal, and I may require another week, but I'll push hard the next two days. 

*  Exercise is going well.  I've only managed one workout, but I've much of the week to gain my goal of four per week.

*  Social goals met. 

*  I cooked yesterday; it was glorious.  Pannini filled with zucchini, red pepper, onion, and tomato - melted with soft ball mozzarella.  Sweet Mercy!  It was delish!

*  I have yet to gather cover images to send off to my cover designer.

*  The Hot Jocks In July Giveaway Hop is going on! It's all about those athletes.  Stop by to enter my giveaway for my first novel, Claiming The Prize!   The blurb is featured, as well as the cover images and links.  Nearly 70 participating blogs are hosting giveaways, so there's plenty to please everyone.  :}

Finds And Features...

Author Lorelei Bell stopped by earlier this week.  I'm happy to feature her books.  Take a look at these interesting titles!
I've not had the chance to read as of yet, but I found Lorelei's blog a treat!  I've added them to my TBR pile and hope to wile away a few hours on the patio lost in a good story. 
Vampire Ascending 

Synopsis: (I've altered this slightly from the publisher's original)

Sabrina is not thrilled about the aspect working for vampires, but she needs the money, and she wants to find the gorgeous and mysterious vampire who has been turning up in her dreams. Is he the one who bit her when she was ten, marked her for his own, and turned her mother so long ago?

Now that she is grown up, a powerful vampire magnate in Chicago hires her to reveal the identity of who is ruthlessly murdering vampires in his ultra-modern stronghold of a hotel.

Little does Sabrina know that her whole life is about to change as her best friend becomes a victim, too and Sabrina is the only one who can find her. Her friend's fate intensifies the desperate need to find the murderer and, consequently, brings her into contact with a rogue vampire, Vasyl—who looks very much like her dream-vampire.

Sabrina is quickly immersed in romantic trysts and dangerous situations involving scheming vampires, shift changers, and werewolves.

  Vampire's Trill

New friends, new adventures... shocking revelations, and harrowing experiences make for riveting reading in this second installment of the Sabrina Strong Series.

Sabrina learns more details – through Vasyl's recounting of his human and vampire life – of what her role as as a sibyl means and how the past and the future will come together. She finally learns what role Vasyl has played in his search for the next sibyl and why she is so tremendously important.

As Sabrina's partner, Dante, puts himself at risk to help all of mankind, Sabrina learns why newcomer Bill Gannon is so interested in her, and she works to protect Bjorn Tremayne from losing it all. Sabrina's past catches up to her, and she discovers that not everyone is, or was, what she thought. New characters, some kind and trustworthy and some not, contribute to a captivating story line, and Sabrina finds herself on a journey she never thought possible.

Well, I'm off to get lost in my current WIP!  Happy Writing.

 ~ Nadja

10 July 2012

Hot Jocks In July Giveaway Hop!

Do football or baseball butts drive you nuts? Do you love to see sweaty men chasing after each other? Tackling each other? Does the sight of a pair of sexy calves kicking a ball down field heat you up? Do NASCAR drivers rev your engine?

YES to all of the above for the GP Review Crew and the UTC Maidens. Even though it's summer, nothing's stopping us from HEATING up our days and nights with HOT JOCKS! Join Guilty Pleasures and Under The Covers for locker room talk about some of our favorite JOCK romances.

Do you have a favorite sports themed book or series? Is there a real life athlete who you can see as your favorite hero from a sports themed romance? We would love to know your favorites!

Welcome, fellow admirers of the althletic build!  I certainly appreciate a well-defined-clean-cut-thighs-that-could-crack-a-walnut jock.  Phew!  My heart rate speeds at the delicious thought... Arrgh!  In fact, my first romance novel, Claiming The Prize is about just such a body, er....bodies.  There are a few nicely hewn distractions in addition to my hero, Drago Zadrovec!  Step into the world of MMA for an afternoon of bloodsport and romance...
Claiming The Prize, Nadja NotarianiClaiming The Prize

Walking a solitary, disciplined path in his pursuit to become the light heavyweight champion of the American-Mixed-Martial-Arts-Organization, Drago Zadrovec leaves the security of his homeland to train in the United States. But once within the exclusive MMA organization, Drago finds himself increasingly drawn to his mentor's daughter, Grace Antolini. Quiet and gentle, yet thoroughly immersed in the world in which he exists, Grace captures his heart as firmly as his quest for the title, igniting a long buried passion inside the fighter. Subjecting his body to the brutality of the cage and opening his heart to the woman he desires to share his life with, Drago comes to understand that his journey is comprised of more than want of victory in the ultimate goal of Claiming The Prize......
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 ~ Nadja

08 July 2012

Researching For Romance ~ Whiskey Making

Whiskey production occurs around the globe, but in Jolly-Old-England, the tradition is being resurrected after more than a hundred years!

Whiskey Or Whisky?    Whiskey or whisky (the spelling varies regionally) is simply the generic term for spirits that are barrel aged and distilled from grain. This is different from brandy (which is distilled from fruit) or rum (which is distilled from sugar/molasses) or vodka (which can be distilled from grain, but is not barrel aged).
Usually "whisky" (without the 'e') is used by the Scots and "whiskey" (with the 'e') is used by everybody else.


England, like Scotland, has a history of producing single malt whisky. However, the production of English single malt whisky ceased around 1905 with the closure of Lea Valley Distillery by the Distillers Company Limited (D.C.L.) now known as Diageo.
In the 1887 book The Whisky Distilleries of The United Kingdom by Alfred Barnard, the following English distilleries were listed:
  • Lea Valley Distillery, Straford, London (founded in the late 19th century) - produced both grain and malt whisky.
  • Bank Hall Distillery (Liverpool) - produced grain and malt whisky
  • Bristol Distillery (founded in the 17th century) - produced grain whisky which was "sent to Scotland and Ireland to make a Blended Scotch and Irish whisky, for whisky purpose it is specially adapted, and stands in high favour".
  • Vauxhall Distillery in Liverpool (founded in 1781) - produced grain whisky

But!  Whiskey production is making a comeback

In 2003 St Austell Brewery & Healey Cyder Farm announced the first production of a "Cornish" single malt whisky in 300 years. Although no substantial evidence exists that whisky was ever produced in Cornwall it was the first commercial whisky to be produced in England in almost a century. The partnership released a 7 year old "whiskey" in September 2011.

The English Whisky Company founded by farmer James Nelstrop in 2006, started production and released a three-year-old product in 2009.

The Adnams Brewery in October 2010 began production of vodka and gin, but in 2011 started to lay down stock of new spirit to be aged into single malt whisky.

The London Distillery Company (TLDC) is a boutique artisanal aged spirits manufacturer, based in Battersea, London. (Wiki)

Quite interesting, if I do say so myself!  Ha!  So, why did whiskey makers fold up shop in the first place?  Good question.  A Man's Manual asked the same question back in 2010!  I was able to find a great deal about heavy taxes imposed on whiskey distillers from the mid 1700's through the late 1800's (Cranntara.org), but most of these laws affected Scottish whiskey makers.

There are four countries which produce distinct whiskies, although whiskey is made all over the globe.  About Dot Com Coctails explains each type and the history for anyone wanting to learn more.

* Ireland - Irish Whiskey

* Scotland - Scotch

* USA - Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey, Rye Whiskey, and Blended American Whiskey.

* Canada - Canadian Whiskey

In writing my latest historical, my hero may delve into whiskey making.  What a blast I've had researching this topic!  My lack of knowledge on the process of distilling is one thing - I imagine I'm not alone there.  But I lacked even a basic understanding of the types of whiskey and where they came from.  I've shortened this post to the basics.  Barley farming and the malting process came earlier in the series, and I hope to feature another on distilling.  There is simply too much information to feature all at once. 

 ~ Nadja

07 July 2012

A Tagging Faux-Pas?

The Third FateWhat's a great way to begin your day?  How about finding out your book is up on a discussion board for a reading group??  It was rather surreal.  Even better is what I read.  BTS Book Club (On Goodreads) posted a thread for June/July on The Third Fate ! Exciting...for more than the obvious reason.

You see, I've had slower sales with this title despite positive reviews posted through my book tour and a handful of generous readers.  I've been scratching my head!  Marketing produced a few bursts of sales, but not what I'd hoped. 

Well, I may have discovered the reason - or one possible reason anyway.  More appropriate to confess, I stumbled across it.  Ha!  I quickly searched my title on Google with the keywords Amazon Kindle added to pull up a quick link to throw in this post.  Sure enough, my baby popped right up...WITH THE TAGS LITERATURE/FICTION!  lol.  Er...wrong tags for a paranormal romance!  Of course I went immediately to my author dashboard and clicked on the title.  Re-selecting my categories, I updated.  I've no idea how this happened, but happen it did!  Could be that The Third Fate was simply invisible to those searching titles for a new PR to devour.  Fingers crossed.  LOL.

Goals And Updates...

*  Chapter 10 is underway in my current WIP.  I broke the 30K mark last night.  Smiles are abundant.  Writing was slow this past week.  We returned earlier this week from Ocean City, Maryland - where the beach was absolutely wonderful - and a visit to Annapolis, where DD#2 is stationed currently. Honestly, I cannot think of driving for a few weeks. 

*  I will resume the typing today if it kills me.  Sigh.  (It just may...ha!  If you see a post titled 'Closed Up Shop:  Expired From Typing', you'll be in the know)

*  Exercise goals are met for the week.  Yesterday I completed the entire core strength/abdominal workout in my Yoga class, holding the poses without breaking.  Shaking arms were still present during a few poses, but I'm hanging with the big dogs!  Okay...maybe it wasn't as pretty as Teigh and Gillian's.  Pretty Shmitty.  ;}  One aspect of yoga that I've particularly enjoyed is Ugai breathing.  Fire Breath is another favorite. 

*  Social goals met.  (5 blogs/sites per day Mon-Thurs)

*  Even with the busy schedule, I managed to cook up a new recipe!  I'd forgotten how much satisfaction I gain from preparing and presenting food.  Adding this goal was one of my better ideas...ha!

I sure hope you all had a knock up week.  Happy Writing. 

 ~ Nadja

04 July 2012

IWSG: Is 'Rest' A Four Letter Word?

  Happy Independence Day!  Fireworks, anyone?

Have a safe, fun-filled holiday :}

Welcome back!  Today is the first Wednesday in July, so it's time for our latest installments of Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Alex Cavanaugh. 

I've heard my share of four letter words, I mean, really!  I was raised by sailors.  Ha.  But I'll bet there's one dirty little word lurking in your vocabulary that you find abhorrent!  A word so vile, so gruesome it leaves a lasting, bitter taste in your mouth just to utter the single wretched syllable.  What ever can it be? 


That's right!  REST.  As an American - a type-A personalitied American who is extremely driven and task oriented - I tend to allow the challenge of the next hill to immediately replace the one I 've just scaled.  I'm excited to keep going, to conquer, to win, to achieve.  I love the sense of accomplishment completing a project ushers in. 

Then why don't I sit back and enjoy it? 

Good question.  I've been wondering on this myself.  And then it hit me!  I look at rest like a dirty, four-lettered, vile thing that will sap my ambition and steal my gumption.  I have allowed my Americanized thought patterns to confuse rest with laziness. 

The truth is we all need rest to recharge our imaginations.  I need that quiet time to let new ideas brew and ferment.  I found myself giving this advice a few times over the last week to others - but failing to take it myself.  So when I formulated my goals for the new ROW80, I kept this in mind.  I need to rest.  This summer is going to be my 'resting round'.  I'll write nearly every day.  I'll begin edits, revisions, typing...all those things that are on my 'exciting summits to scale' goals list.  But I'll do it at a slower pace.  No huge deadline looming over my head this round.  No pressure.  Just enjoyment.

Summertime is so fleeting.  I want to wring every last drop of glorious sandy-covered-goodness out of these weeks before the busy-ness of life intrudes on this 12 week haven.  All are welcome to climb aboard!   I want to look at the trees, feel the breeze against my skin, catch fireflies, and float in the pool as my boys beg me to watch 'the Navy Seal Swim'  or the 'Back-Flip-Into-The-Pool' (just one more time, Mom!)...to savor the lazy days of summer with my boys.  R.E.S.T.  Hmmm.  It does have a certain little ring to it...

Have A Great July, Insecure Writers -

 ~ Nadja

02 July 2012

Setting Goals For A Summer Round

A New Round Of Words, A New Adventure

ROW80 kicks off a new round today.  Have you stated your intent?  I'm just posting.  My round will be a bit sketchy as we'll be doing a fair bit of traveling this summer.  My posts can be handled in advance, but writing time will be limited.  Enjoying my family is summer goal #1.  Everything else is icing on the cake.  Ha!

  This is for Angela Brown...  Three Deuces is our wine label!  We've now made two batches of wine.  We're about to make another one soon, I think we'll make Gerwertztraminer again.  It was amazing!

Here's my list....

*  Complete first draft of A Practical Arrangement.  (I've got between 10K - 20K to finish up)

*  Search images for cover and send all to Elaina Lee at For The Muse Design.

*  Complete revisions as needed once WIP completed.

*  Type.  (Yes, I know...I promised I would type each chapter as I wrote.  I lied.)

*  Editing.

*  Send to beta readers.  More editing based on feedback.  (Oh!  The Editing!)

*  Format and publish to Amazon for Kindle.  (I've tried some little formatting tricks in this piece and I'm anxious to see if they'll be successful!)  This will mark my second historical novella.  I will write another one and then publish the trilogy in one paperback book.  Hmmm.  Now I need to pull another historical story idea from my brain.  :}

*  Social goals:  Visit 5 sites daily (Mon-Thurs), continue to explore WanaTribe and RNCenter.  That's it!  I've no major plans otherwise.  I want to concentrate on the writing for awhile after the whirlwind of my last release and book tour.  Phew!

*  Continue to exercise four times per week.  Lucky me - I have an exercise partner with the gift of motivation!

*   Cook some fabulous food!  I love, love, love to cook.  But lately I've struggled to get into the kitchen - it's making me sad.  So, I'm adding in a goal to remedy this situation.  I want to cook one large meal a week where I try something new!

 ~ Nadja

01 July 2012

Researching For Romance ~ Barley Farming

Research takes me to the 'field'...

Barley is classified as a grass.  It is green in appearance, and as it ripens the tops, called Awns, turn a beautiful golden hue.  These tall grassy stalks topped with the bent over awns produce the waves upon the fields.  A lovely thing to watch.  There are two main types of barley, Six-Row-Barley and Two-Row-Barley.  It is typically the Two-Row-Barley that we find in English ale style beers.

*  Interesting fact:  The Bavarian Purity Law, set on 23 April, 1516 set standards for beer production, namely limiting ingredients to water, barley, and hops.

UK Agriculture introduced this romance writer to the world of barley farming and production. The first stop along the research trail, I discovered a great deal of factual statistics along with growing seasons, crop rotation techniques, and systems of farming.  Barley is a hardy crop suitable for the often poor growing conditions of north and west sections of Britain, but the crop is popular in many locations around the globe.  All vaguely interesting but not necessarily my 'cup-of-tea' shall we say.  Still, the information gleaned is valuable when one hopes to incorperate barley farms into a novel. 

There are two growing seasons for barley crops in the UK and elsewhere.  The winter crop produces greater quantity, but lesser quality, and is used primarily for animal feeds.  The spring crop is of finer quality, but lesser quantity.  This spring crop is malted and then used in ale and whiskey production provided it is of the highest quality.  This is where research began to get interesting!      

Barley storage,  an article posted by the University of Minnesota, describes ideal storage conditions, storage life-span, and offered disease prevention tactics.  Clean storage facilities with adequate air flow are imperative for barley storage, which can be stored for a maximum of nine months.  I was not surprised to learn that moisture is a main contributing factor to bacterial and viral infection.  Sifting out broken particles is also necessary, as the casing protects the grain.  This topic required little time, as I don't go into this aspect in the novel.  I did, however, read and catalogue my finds.  Once I get going, I become 'hungry' to know as much as I can discover on a subject.  Ha!  (This is a fine example of me following rabbit trails in cyber-space, subsequently losing a chunk of time I can never reclaim.  Alas!  I cannot help myself.  lol)

* Interesting fact:  The word barn originally meant: barley house. 

The Fascinating Portion of Today's Research Feature, Finally!

The Home Distiller provided valuable information on the malting and drying process.  This site also includes specific instructions on making scotch, bourbon, and other whiskeys!  I never knew...  I've gone through the fermenting process before - we make wine every year - but whiskey is a whole new adventure!  And...a great venture for a romantic hero to dabble in.  Voila!  Whiskey production!  I'd found a way to connect barley farming to a personal passion for my hero; one that I've not encountered in a romance novel thus far. (* Note:  I'm certain there is such a romantic hero, but I'm feeling creative and 'cutting-edge' here...please excuse my ramblings)

Malting barley is a fairly simple process.  Malting is the process of wetting the barley to ecourage partial germination before drying, which can be accomplished slowly by spreading the grains and turning often or by drying in kilns.  The malted barley is cleaned and de-sprouted, put in sacks and banged against hard surfaces to knock off the rootlets, then shaken and tossed to sift out any broken pieces.  Malted barley is known for its rich flavor. To determine if the barley is dry, malters weigh the barley before wetting, and then continue to dry until the weight returns to pre-wetted-status.  Simple yet innovative, I thought.  Drying is not necessary if the malted product is to be used right away.

My mind came alive as I read, surprisingly, for I expected this topic to be rather boorish.  Not at all.  I will feature a post about whiskey in the near future.  I suppose I'm interested mainly because this skill isn't widely possessed.  Who knows?  Maybe I'll brew some ale - or malt some whiskey (I don't think I like Scotch...Fire down the gullet?  Sounds like a bad time...lol).  But I'd sure like to try it.  Hmm.  Another research-topic-rabbit-trail...I'm sure there are laws about whiskey production.  Ha.

 ~ Nadja