Tag Archives: travel

#TravelTuesday Some of my favorite places!

I don’t know about you, but I love to travel. My one big problem with traveling, however, is that I hate to fly. Totally hate to fly. Despite that, I have been able to go to a number of places for both work and pleasure. I still have lots of places I’d like to go and today I’m sharing my Pinterest board of all of those locales!

Take a moment to tell me about somewhere you’d like to travel!

#FoodieFriday Egg Creams & Business Trips

Sorry for being silent, but I was away on business and it was impossible to blog. The trip went nicely. Business accomplished, delicious Kansas City BBQ tasted and even more awesome, I got to visit with some friends! Of course my little kitten Slate was not happy to see me go and wanted to sneak away with me!
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While I was away the topic of egg creams came up. Egg creams are a Brooklyn tradition and include neither eggs nor cream and are quite easy to make! Where does the name “egg cream” come from? Theories abound that it is because fountain sodas of that time sometimes had eggs and cream or that the name is a bastardization of either French or Yiddish words. Regardless, it’s a tasty treat.

Ingredients

1/2 cup 2% or Whole Milk (skim or 1% do not foam enough)
2 tablespoons Chocolate Syrup (Fox’s U-Bet is the most commonly used in Brooklyn)
Seltzer

Directions

Some people will tell you to put the milk in the glass and then add the seltzer, stir and add the chocolate after.

I think it’s more fun to put the chocolate in the bottom of the glass, add the milk and then pour in the seltzer while stirring. What you’ll get is a foamy chocolatey soda that’s lighter than an ice cream soda.

My family used to have a Cuban variation of the egg cream that involves putting about 2-3 tablespoons of condensed (not evaporated) milk in a glass and then adding a cola while stirring. Very tasty also, but very very sweet!

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend! See you Monday!
EggCream
Thanks to Jason Perlow for releasing these photos into the public domain.

Kiss Me, Kill Me Tuesday – A Writer’s Inspiration

One of the things that has been coming up often on the ARE YOU STRONG ENOUGH blog tour are questions about how I get the inspirations for the books that I write.

Which makes me vaguely remember a quote somewhere about writers being able to talk to themselves without being labeled crazy (or at least not at first) and some very popular writer kinds of T-shirt quotes, such as:

    Watch out or you’ll end up in my novel.
    I kill off my enemies in my book. You’re on page 12.

Truthfully, those quotes are accurate. For example, a very nice waiter was the inspiration for the Ryder name. Roman mythology helped create Ryder’s lover, Diana. I confess to killing off at least one person who truly pissed me off in very gruesome fashion. Last, but not least, the names of friends and family have graced characters that I like, sometimes more than once.

But beyond that, where the ideas originate is difficult to say, although it is safe to say that a writer’s mind never stops observing and recording those things around them in order to use those observations in a story. Whether it’s a meal that you savor or where you eat it, a walk along a street with a different vibe, a new city that you visit… Any and all of those life experiences may germinate the kernel of an idea that takes root and grows into a story.

STRONGER THAN SINTake STRONGER THAN SIN for instance. You may have heard me mention on other blogs that the idea for the genetic engineering came about as a result of my science major geekdom. But my love of sports was what influenced the hero’s occupation. Rather than choosing baseball, which is more a game of physics and strategy, I needed the hero to suffer serious physical injury in a bone-crushing collision. Bazinga-he had to be a football player. Someone big and powerful cut down in the prime of his life.

Enter the heroine who I had already introduced in SINS OF THE FLESH, but who I came to love and needed her own big story. Was it coincidence that she was a doctor in book one? No because I needed someone who could offer medical assistance on the sly in that book. Was it coincidence that she was training to be an orthopedic surgeon? Not really either since I knew even then the second story was going to be about someone with a bone disease and I also had a friend with that profession who I could ask questions about treatments, etc.

My life experiences and influences eventually led to ex-football player Jesse Bradford and Dr. Liliana Carrera and their story.

Other life experiences, namely my love of history and travel, are what helped set up the evolution of the SINS series for books 3 and 4 – THE LOST and THE CLAIMED as well as the two books coming out from Carina – AZTEC GOLD and THE FIFTH KINGDOM. Although I’m a little crazed right now with trying to finish THE CLAIMED, I’m going to dig through some photos and get them scanned so you can see what inspired some of the story elements and locations that I chose for those books!

I guess what I’m trying to say in a very long way is that a writer’s inspiration comes from everything around them and in particular, from those things about which they find interesting or about which they are passionate. Why are those last two things so important? Because when a writer is interested or passionate about something, it shows in the words that they put on the page and bring the story alive for readers.

Thanks for dropping by today’s Kiss Me, Kill Tuesday. Don’t forget to visit the various stops on the ARE YOU STRONG ENOUGH blog tour to learn more about STRONGER THAN SIN and also, to possibly win of the giveaways.

Also take a moment to visit with my very good friend and fellow author Mary Kennedy at SOS Aloha today! Mary is chatting about Sherlock Holmes which is thoroughly appropriate since she has the wonderful Talk Radio Mysteries out on shelves. Just click here to visit!

Travel Tuesday – Buckingham Palace and Mews

Today’s Tuesday is some more photos from my trip to London. This time I’m taking you to Buckingham Palace and the Mews where the Royal horses, carriages and the like are stored.

First thing — the Queen’s Apartments in the Palace are only open in August and September when the Royal Family retires to Scotland for the summer months. During the winter you have to content yourself with views of the exterior, the changing of the guard and the museums at the Palace.

We watched the changing of the guard (some of the last slides you’ll see), but it was packed. We clearly had to get there a lot earlier than we did, but despite the crowd, we were able to see the nearly 45 minute long ceremony as the one group of guards is replaced. Mind you, it’s not just the guards, but their band and everything that is changed. So, there’s a lot of pomp with all the turnover.

We also had an opportunity to visit the Royal Mews and it was really interesting. We got to see some of the horses (huge huge animals) that pull the carriages as well as various carriages, limos, carts, etc. The most interesting one — a golden carriage made for Richard III. It was stunning and the artwork on the doors, etc. was amazing.

It was interesting to see all the different carriages as well as learn how some are postillion driven (riders are on the horses pulling the carriages) versus being driven by a driver on the wagon. A bit of trivia I know I’ll put to use in one of those historical flashbacks in a future novel!

Hope you enjoy these photos. If you can’t see the slideshow below, you can click on this link to visit my Facebook Page or copy and paste this link into your browser:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2060062&id=1130005412&l=7c6a9b55a9

Travel Tuesday – Tower of London

I hope you’ll enjoy today’s behind the scenes look into a writer’s brain!

As I mentioned, I needed to do some research and spark story ideas for the new book that I’ve been plotting in my brain, hence the cashing in the frequent flyer and hotel rewards for a trip to London.

The book is contemporary and revolves around some secret orders of knights, mystical relics and the need to save the world from demonic forces. But there are scenes set in ancient London and other interesting spots in both the United Kingdom and elsewhere, including New York City.

One of the places I could envision doing some flashback scenes was the Tower of London. It was a fascinating place to visit and some of the things we saw already inspired ideas – like the “Entry to the Traitor’s Gate” that can be seen from boats on the Thames (see below).

Traitor's Gate as seen from the Thames

View of the Gate from within the Tower of London
Traitor's Gate as seen from the Tower of London

I could so picture one of my heroes being rowed through the gate on the way to some punishment in order to get information from them. The guide on the boat trip we took mentioned that the last man to be rowed through the gates was William Wallace (of Braveheart fame).

While we were in the Tower there was an amazing exhibition of armor as well as the Crown Jewels. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to snap pictures of the jewels. Bummer. I had hoped I could use one of them, or maybe one of the stones in them, as part of the collection of mystical relics in the story. I guess that will require additional thought on my part as well as more research.

I’ll be posting more Tower of London photos to my Facebook page shortly (something wonky is going on with uploading!). As soon as I have the link to those photos, I’ll post it here.