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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Eating in Windswept Shores Two by Janice Seagraves

When I normally write a dinner scene, I try to make sure it's something that people would eat at the city or country's setting. In Windswept Shores Two, I had a fancy restaurant where Seth and his old mate were eating lunch. The setting is Sydney, Australia, and from what I understand most of the diners there serve a lot of seafood. I had just took a vacation with my husband to Morro Bay, California, which is a far cry from Sydney, but the food I ate there was seafood.
So I thought why not.

the view from Dutchman's restaurant in Morro Bay California

So, I thought about a lovely meal my husband and I had there at our favorite eatery called the Dutchman's restaurant and wrote the scene. Looked up if sword fish was on the menu in Sydney and found out it wasn't. Hmm. Well, that wouldn't work. Undaunted, I looked up what was served at most restaurants in Sydney and substituted sword fish for Tuna. I think it worked out just fine.

Excerpt from Windswept Shores Two:

Less than half an hour later, they were at one of the more prestigious restaurants in the business district. High ceilings, extremely decorated walls, and floor to ceiling drapes. Seth whistled as he looked around. “You sure we can get in?”
“Of course.” Nigel adjusted his silk tie. “You’re the CEO of Dawson Inc.. Why wouldn’t we, mate?”
“Do you have a reservation?” asked the hostess.
Seth gazed into the sitting area and saw a great many empty tables available and was just about to point it out. “No, but—”
Nigel smoothly cut in with, “This is Seth Dawson of Dawson Inc.. We came for tea. You got a table for us, love?”
She looked down at the reservation book. “Well, I—”
Nigel hung his hand over the edge of the podium with a bill folded between two of his fingers. “How about now?”
She snatched the money and it disappeared down her cleavage. “A table just opened up. Sirs, if you’ll come with me.”
They followed the hostess over to a table near a window. Seth and Nigel took a seat.
“Your waiter will be with you shortly.” She handed them menus and scurried back to her spot near the door.
Seth hung an arm over the back of his chair. “You still got the moves, mate.”
“You got that right.” Nigel perused the menu. “What do you say we make this a martini lunch?”
“No, mate. I’m off the sauce.”
His eyes were large as he stared at him. “Whatz that?”
“My bird helped me get clean and sober.” He gazed at his own menu.
“No beer on that old fishing boat?”
“Not after I drank it all, and then I went into the DTs.” Seth shivered remembering how hard it was. “But Megz took care of me the whole time.”
The waiter come over, they both placed their orders. Nigel chose prawns and noodles from the menu, and Seth the lunch special of grilled tuna over mashed potatoes.
Once the waiter left, Nigel turned back to him. “Blimey, no more late night parting like we used to do?”
“Nope. I’m done.” Seth picked up the water glass and chugged it down, but wished it was beer instead.
“Remember going on your first date with Liz and getting drunk off your bum?”
They both laughed. Seth wiped a tear off. “I made a right mess of it. It’s a wonder she ever went out with me again.”
“How about when you convinced that bird you knew how to brake dance and almost broke your fool neck.”
Seth sat forward with an elbows on the table. “Oy, I would have had that spin down if you hadn’t been standing in the way.”
The food came, and they ate. Many fun reminisces followed. All too soon Seth checked his watch, and it was time to go back. He snatched up the bill. “This one is on me, mate.”
Nigel reached for the check. “Naw, Setho, let me get it.”
“I’m the boss man now. It’s mine to pay for.” He playfully held the paper away from him.
“Orright,” Nigel said grudgingly. “Can’t argue with my boss now can I."
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Friday, August 26, 2016

Hands-On Research #michelezurlo #RB4U

Writers often live vicariously through their characters. In writing an emotional scene, maybe they’re working through some internal angst of their own. Sometimes we write scenes for the exact same reason readers want to read them—because we’d like to experience something without having to leave our house. This summer I took a different approach. On our family vacation, I scheduled some activities in which my heroine, Tru Martin, engaged.
In Re/Viewed (Doms of the FBI 6, available November 2016), Tru is an adventurer. She loves getting out there and doing things, which is the exact opposite of me. However when the chance arose to do hands-on research, I seized it. In the novel, Tru skydives, dead-air drops from a balloon, and BASE jumps. Those are things I’ll never do because I don’t have a death wish and I’m afraid of heights.

Crater Lake--Pictures don't do it justice. It's a long drop to the bottom, so I only peeked over for short periods of time.

But she also kayaks along the Pacific coast, explores caves, and goes white-water rafting. These are things I was willing to experience. I’m the kind of geek who loves geological features, so I went to Oregon Caves. They’re made from marble, and the archeologist who led our tour was great about giving history and answering all my questions. This didn’t lead to changing much in the draft because I have an earth science certification, and I have been to a lot of caves in the US. This one, though, was carved from marble. The picture shows a strike-slip fault visible in the ceiling of the cave. (The reflection of the flash looks pretty cool.)

Next we went white-water rafting along the Rogue River. I’d never been, and I had a blast. Our guide, Patrick, was helpful with explaining everything having to do with the raft and the river. I went on a different river from my heroine, but this experience still led me to make some major revisions in that part of the story. For starters, the guide does most of the paddling work. At one point, Patrick dove out of the raft and told me to practice steering. There’s nothing like paddling a 6-person raft with huge, heavy oars to remind me that I don’t work out, and that my left side is significantly weaker than my right. We didn’t take pictures of this, but if you get to southern Oregon, I highly recommend going white-water rafting. The Rogue isn’t a difficult river, and there was plenty of time to stop and swim. I’ve included a picture of the Rogue River we took where it disappears into a lava tube and spits out about 30 meters downriver. (And, as an added bonus, this picture captured a rainbow.)

Lastly we went on a kayaking excursion that ran along the coast in central California near Van Damme State Park. It explored the coastal flora and fauna as well as ducking into several coastal caves. This was not the excellent experience I’d anticipated, but I blame Wife. On the ride there she delighted in taking a winding road that left me car sick. Once on the ocean, I lasted forty-five minutes before I fed the fishes. It’s been almost 14 years since the last time I vomited (during pregnancy). Otherwise it was great. This one also led to minor revisions. For starters, the coast of California where we were was not at all warm. We also didn’t take pictures of this, but I’ve included the picture we took of our first glimpse of the mighty Pacific.

These experiences served to make my writing richer and authentic. While I don’t feel the need to do everything my characters do, it was very cool to tuck a few new adventures under my belt.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

History of the Peach

You didn’t know the peach had a history, did you? Because today, August 24, is National Peach Pie Day (and who doesn’t love peach pie?), I thought I’d find out all I could about the summertime favorite, the peach. Here’s what Wikipedia says:

The peach (Prunus persica) is a deciduous tree native to the region of Northwest China between the Tarim Basin and the north slopes of the Kunlun Shan mountains, where it was first domesticated and cultivated. It bears an edible juicy fruit called a peach or a nectarine. The People’s Republic of China is the world’s largest producer of peaches. (I sure didn’t know the peach originated in China, and I thought the largest peach producer was the state of Georgia).

Peach and nectarines are the same species, even though they are regarded commercially as different fruits. In contrast to peaches, whose fruits present the characteristic fuzz on the skin, nectarines are characterized by the absence of fruit-skin trichomes (fuzz-less fruit); genetic studies suggest nectarines are produced due to a recessive allele, whereas peaches are produced from a dominant allele for fuzzy skin. Source: Wikipedia.

The peach was brought to India and Western Asia in ancient times. Peach cultivation also went from China, through Persia, and reached Greece by 300 BC. Alexander the Great introduced the fruit into Europe after he conquered the Persians. Peaches were well known to the Romans in first century AD, and were cultivated widely in Emilia-Romagna. Peach trees are portrayed in the wall paintings of the towns destroyed by the Vesuvius eruption of 79 AD, while the oldest known artistic representations of the fruit are in the two fragments of wall paintings, dated back to the 1st century AD, in Herculaneum, now preserved in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples. Source: Wikipedia

Spanish explorers in the 16th century brought the peach to the Americas, and the fruit eventually made it to England and France in the 17th century, where it was a prized and expensive treat. During Queen Victoria’s reign, peaches were served in fancy cotton napkins at the end of meals.

Spanish settlers brought peaches to Florida, where the Cherokee and Iroquois learned to grow them. Cherokee and Iroquois traders sold peach seeds farther west, and peach seeds crossed the North American continent to meet up with peach trees planted by Spanish settlers in Arizona and California.

The horticulturist George Minifie supposedly brought the first peaches from England to its North American colonies in the early 17th century, planting them at his Estate of Buckland in Virginia. Although Thomas Jefferson had peach trees at Monticello, United States farmers did not begin commercial production until the 19th century in Maryland, Delaware, Georgia and finally Virginia.

There you have it. If your mouth is watering as you consider eating a sweet, juicy peach, here’s an easy peach recipe I love to make. I don’t make pies because pie crusts are above my skill set. However, this recipe is so easy, even I don’t mess it up.

Peach Crostata

Preheat oven to 425F. In a large bowl, toss 1 pound peaches, peeled and thinly sliced, with 3 Tbsp. brown sugar, 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, 1/8 tsp. ground ginger, and a pinch of salt. Unroll 1 refrigerated ready-to-use piecrust (for 9-in. pie) on cookie sheet. Arrange peach mixture on crust, leaving 2-in. border; fold border over filling. Bake 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden. Serves 4. Enjoy!
For something peachy keen to read while you’re enjoying your Peach Crostata, I recommend Amazon bestseller Letterbox Love Stories, Volume 1, nine love stories from nine international authors. The perfect summer reading all year long.

What if a life-changing letter arrived in today's mail? Now imagine it leads to love and adventure!

From the northern British Isles, across the mainland of Europe, and on to Turkey, nine international Award-winning and Multi-published Romance Authors share spellbinding love stories told across time. This collection includes contemporary, historical and futuristic time travel romances touched by magic. And each begins with a letter...

Friday, August 19, 2016


I have just released Book 2 in the Nashville SEALs series, Jameson, about an up-and-coming singer-songwriter who has a chance meeting with a group of SEALs finishing a training in Tennessee. They come to one of his concerts, and afterwards invite him to visit them in San Diego.

Jameson Daniels is loosely based on the life of my narrator, former CW singer-songwriter, and now award-winning actor and narrator/voice over talent, Mr. J.D. Hart. Most of you know he and I have become best friends over the course of doing some 24 audio books together. In the course of our conversations, a story began ruminating in my head. I was delighted when he gave permission for me to use some of those ideas as the basis for my character.

I've enjoyed learning about the music business, and on one trip to Nashville, got to sit in on a Country Diner taping, meeting such stars as Roy Clark and Larry Gatlin. We took a horse-drawn buggy ride one evening while he showed me the houses of music. We drove around streets filled with music history: where Elvis Presley made his first recording, where others wrote music, performed at clubs long torn down.

This is what I love about being an author. I had no idea that when I hired a narrator to do my audio books, that he would become my best friend, and would become the hero in two of my books. There are no accidents. Our close working relationship has brought color and variety into my life I never would have experienced.

Here's a short excerpt. We are finishing the audio book, which should be available about the end of the month. You can sample a little bit of Jameson's audio here (JD also sings on this trailer), or on my website, where snippets and book trailers for all my books are located. Enjoy!

Jameson Trailer

Nashville SEAL: Jameson:

The rumble and crescendo of the audience was something he’d forgotten how much he loved. He’d tried to explain it to people over the years, and, unless they’d been up in a big arena like that, there was no way to understand what it felt like to fly over the heads of the audience while he was singing. The sensation was similar to his jumps. There was no perception of falling, no feeling of depth until the end. It was as if the warm earth blew a blast of air straight up, cradling his body, while the horizon slowly rose, second by second. The rumble of the crowd and the energy of the open-air theater was similar. The adulation, the pinnacle of riding the moment when all their cheers stopped and it was your turn to shine. Your turn to command them like a king.

He hadn’t thought about all that until just now, as he waited back stage. He was grateful he didn’t know anyone scurrying around back stage. Tech girls and guys ran back and forth, some scantily clad. Pretty girls were all around and in abundance, eyeing him. He didn’t want to dis anyone’s wife or girlfriend, so he was respectful. He found all this activity distracting.

Thomas was nowhere to be found, and he hoped he hadn’t run into some trouble. Jameson opted not to take the limo ride, so drove over to the arena in a taxi, dodging the bevies of young girls at the security gates trying to spot a star.

He could do this for two nights. And then it was the pits of hell. How many people on the planet had a life like this, going from one extreme to another? But he knew what world he lived in, belonged in.

Feeling the rumble of the crowd and how it pushed against his heart as he waited for the introduction, he was amazed he’d been strong enough to make the decision to leave it all behind. But he was glad he did. In some moment of weakness, he could do something that would wreck his little family. No, it was better for him and for those he loved that he stay away from it all. This would definitely be the last time for any of this.

Sharon Hamilton

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