A Twist On Zucchini

A Twist On Zucchini

Last year for Amazon Prime Day, I invested in a fancy-schmancy vegetable spiralizer. You know, the kind of kitchen gadget that turns ordinary, healthy veggies into what looks like pasta. If you sauce it just right, you’d never even know you’re eating good-for-you-zucchini, instead of carb-loaded spaghetti noodles.

4 Blades to choose from, but I’ve only used one!

So I thought I’d share an simple 7-ingredient recipe featuring the zucchini noodles.

Zucchini Noodles Caprese
Pesto (I use store bought because it is easier and it’s a truth that I’m lazy)
Zucchini- spiralized and raw
Tomato Slices
Fresh Mozzarella Slices
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Fresh Basil

Yep- that’s it. Toss the noodles in the pesto, layer thick slices of tomato on top, then add a slice of fresh mozza. Drizzle with oil and vinegar, and spice it however you want. Top the whole masterpiece with a sprig of basil and dig in.

Bon Appetite!

Let’s Get it On

 

 

A lot of writers use music to set the scene. Especially when it comes to those scenes. A little musical accompaniment as you try and get your freak onto paper.

True confessions! I don’t write to music. I need absolute silence or I start singing lyrics into my hairbrush. Then the fantasy starts in my head and I’m rocking the power ballad to over 20,00 people at Madison Square Gardens. The book lies forgotten and unloved as I am suddenly adored by thousands of slathering fans as they stand enraptured by the power of my thrilling vocals.

All in all, best to turn off the Spotify and let me do this in silence. But fear not. I asked my good friend and fellow Wordy Woman, Cynthia St. Aubin for her top 10 songs to write sex by.

In no particular order she came up with this.

 

 

 

 

Make it Rain by Ed Sheehan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnhaKUBgJSE

Cry to Me by Solomon Burke https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPWCbthc9tw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And what musical list would be complete without:

 

There you have it. Cynthia’s top ten grooves to get her in the mood.

 

What would be on your list?

 

What Was I Thinking

What Was I Thinking

I recently went back to work after being a stay at home writer for two years. I love writing, but  I worried about doing nothing but pounding away on my keyboard day after day. Some days I didn’t leave the house. I felt I never had anything interesting (or not writing related) to say to my husband.
I didn’t want to become one-dimensional (Flat Stanley might have gotten a new girlfriend in Flat Gemma). So I asked for my old job at the health club back. My boss said yes immediately, and that part-time would be perfect. 15-20 hours a week, I thought. Perfect.

Except …

The company was sold, and thanks to my steal-trap mind, I know a lot more about the old system than most of my co-workers (I know all the secrets, and all the best hiding spots). I am unable to get my behind out of the office once I hit the 4-hour threshold. It’s my goal every day, but if you multiply my 4 hours by 2, that’s how much I’m working. Each and every day.

So I try to sneak in writing time when I can. Up at 5 AM to write, writing at night after dinner. Doing my social media stuff when I can. Grocery shopping at night (a task I hate worst than cleaning the toilets, but we won’t be discussing my lack of time for cleaning the house).

I know there is a thing called work/life balance, but my teeter-totter is definitely stuck on the work side of things. But, with my usual Pollyanna attitude, I’m just going to leave a working song that always gives me happy feet.

Just What Will Eclectic Tastes Get You?

Just What Will Eclectic Tastes Get You?

To say my viewing choices are eclectic might be an understatement. My tastes are all over the place. On any given day, I might tune into a PBS Masterpiece show, like Poldark (currently one of my favorites). Of course, that comes on Sunday nights, which is the same night as my other favorite, The Walking Dead.

Vastly different, right? Except both shows deal with survival in one form or the other.

poldark-poster-poldark-38270495-680-1000

 

In Poldark, the characters are fighting for their lifestyle, to become successful in the copper mines that are their legacies.

In The Walking Dead, they are simply fighting for their lives. But both shows pit the characters against more powerful enemies.

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Anyway you look at it, survival is the key.

And the same holds true for my other favorite obsession; any and all of the franchises of Bravo TV’s Real Housewives. However, on those programs, survival isn’t always a given!

Gemma Sig-1

Dishing the Dirt on Vegas.

Dishing the Dirt on Vegas.

Yes, I know, what happens in Vegas and all that. But I’m going to break that rule right now. Last week the annual RT Book Lovers Convention took place in Vegas, and I attended for the first time. First off, most writers I know are pathologically introverted (myself included), which is not to be confused with being shy. The best definition I’ve heard of introvert vs extrovert, is that an introvert is drained by people, whereas an extrovert feeds on other people’s energy.

So, it was a double whammy. Because first off—Vegas! I don’t really have to say too much about that. Secondly, about 3000 readers and writers all clustered together and talking romance novels. The energy was incredible. I met so many wonderful people, readers and writers alike. It was really good for me to emerge from my writing pit and be forced into actual social engagement with people who exist outside of my head.

Highlights for me were meeting so many of the writers I interact with on a daily basis in person.

Me and Jami Denise

Me and Jami Denise

I also met some of the nicest people in gorgeous packages, the cover models. I got to sign my books, which was a blast.  And most of all, meeting and getting to chat with readers.

I’ve always believed that the relationship between readers and writers, especially in the romance genre, is a very intimate one. We write the words, but they come to life in the readers imagination. So, really, we build the story together. Vegas brought this home to me with such clarity. Speaking to readers, getting their input, and seeing their passion for what I do, was like a shot of adrenaline.

Back into the writing pit I go! And I’m taking all those people I met with me.

Stay-cation, Florida style

Stay-cation, Florida style

We don’t go on a whole lot of family vacations where we are not headed up North to visit friends and family. It’s kind of our thing. But there are times, when we have a few days off, and decide to stay local with the girls to do the Florida thing. Among our favorite places to visit, still, is . . . UNIVERSAL ORLANDO.

IMG_3885Now, not every year, but some years, we splurge and get annual passes for the family.  By the time we’ve visited the parks 3 times, we’ve already gotten our money’s worth and then some. Plus, free parking? And we can go any time we feel like it, for as long (or short) as we want, and we don’t stress over it.

Helloooooo.

I’m in.

IMG_1533I could go on and on about every little nook and cranny, inside the parks, but today, I’m focusing on my favorite area. Which, of course, is what I like to refer to as, the park within the parks. AKA, Harry Potter world.

Visit London, with the facade of normalcy on the outside . . .

Find the secret path, and you are escorted to the magical life of J.K. Rowlings vision, on the inside.

IMG_3201It’s flipping extraordinary, guise.

From the first time I stepped into this world, I felt like I was inside the books all over again. It’s Potter perfection.

 

 

 

From Platform 9 and 3 quartahs . . .

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To the train that takes you on more than just a ride to the other half of Universal Studios . . .

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To seeing KREACHER in the window of Sirius Black’s home!

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Our youngest got her wand as a birthday surprise last summer . . .

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The fact that she can perform spells, blows . . . my mind.

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photo - knockturn alley - insidethemagic.net

photo – knockturn alley – insidethemagic.net

To top it all off, she and I went alone once, this year, and we wandered around inside Diagon Alley, inspecting everything we could, got a little lost and don’t you know, we ended up in freaking KNOCKTURN ALLEY, ya’ll.

They literally thought of everything.

The beauty of this area of the parks, though, is so much more than taking a day trip to have fun for a day. It’s all about the details. And the experience, and watching your kids enjoy the magic, while you still can.

IMG_3896I hope they still feel it when they’re my age. I totally do, and I will never stop being grateful to J.K. for all the awesomeness she’s given me and my girls through her writing.

To be able to give that to millions . . . that’s the sweet spot.

*heavy . . . happy sigh*

Hope you enjoyed your trip today!

See ya next time! 🙂

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Just a Taste of “Shadows of Gold”

Just a Taste of “Shadows of Gold”

by Veronica Forand

I’m playing with a new format for writing…Wattpad. Every two weeks, I’ll introduce a new chapter to my book Shadows of Gold. It’s a thriller and right now I have no idea how it will end!
Here’s a sneak peek at the first chapter which will be up on Wattpad tomorrow!

 

Shadows of Gold
Chapter One

After three years of being held hostage by militant forces in the Congo, Derek Gunn knew not to take full, deep breaths when working in the mine. The air was a poison, and he wasn’t ready to die. He climbed the ladder, his steps slow. His arm was poised to catch one of the women or children not able to complete the arduous trek up from the mine. He’d saved a few, using his long arms to catch them before they fell to the rocks below. More often, however, they perished, their bodies taking two or three lives at a time to the bottom of the cavern. He tried not to memorize names and faces of newly arrived workers, but he’d been a journalist most of his life. He remembered too many, and his heart broke too much.

The mine entrance came into view and a full moon lit up the area to greet him back from the depths of hell. He rarely saw the sun. Soldiers, some as young as twelve, stood in military fatigues aiming AK-47s at the workers to ensure no one slipped into the jungle and escaped. One freed worker could provide the location of the illegal mine to outside groups. And this mine was not a small artisan mine. The main rebel group in the area had procured this spot by killing nearby farmers. It was the mother load of gold veins. The rebels used the nuggets found primarily to purchase weapons and supplies.

Derek glanced around for the two other Americans in a group otherwise made up of Congolese villagers. Harry emerged five minutes later, followed by Mitch. Each man tapped the base of his throat twice to tell the others he was doing fine, and then they separated. One American to a truck.

They hadn’t been face to face in almost two years since the last time they’d attempted to escape. Now, they all lived in different areas, but still managed to leave each other messages scrawled in the dirt in the lavatory pits. Stones left on the ground in Morse code also provided a means of communication. Recently, one of them discovered that certain bugs glowed on the walls of the mine when crushed. Made into certain patterns, the marks could warn each other of unstable areas.

Derek nodded to his friends and then climbed into the last truck. He always sat at the back edge, waiting for any opportunity to leave this prison and return home. A few of the children positioned themselves on the floor of the truck to listen to his stories, told in their native language. He tried to give them hope, to give them something to think about when the days became unbearable. Several of the child soldiers also sat close to him. He caught a few of them smiling at his fables fashioned from his recollections of the Brothers Grimm, Dickens, Mother Goose, and old sitcoms he remembered.

The women tended to be more weary. They often worked during the day and fended off rapists at night. They didn’t want company. They wanted to be alone. It didn’t matter. He only had need for one woman in his life, even if she was only a wisp of a memory.

The truck jumbled the group from side to side across dirt roads scoured by harsh rains and lifted by thick roots. A few downed trees created roadblocks and made the driving more dangerous. The lights of the other trucks had faded into the distance until only darkness guided their way back to camp. The rough rumble of the truck engine blocked the night music of the local birds, frogs and insects of the jungle. And then the world exploded.

The loud boom erupted from the front of the truck and the entire vehicle swerved to the right and tilted toward the site of the blown out tire. Once the descent into the gully began, the heavy weight of the metal and human cargo twisted the vehicle over itself. Derek ’s heart accelerated out of its usual slow tempo. He reached out to brace himself, but couldn’t grasp anything while his body twisted and curved around with twenty other bodies. A sharp pain pinched into his elbow as part of the truck crushed his arm. The world continued to spin, and he pulled his arm free before all movement stopped. People screamed, and the engine revved. The headlights pointed into the ground, only one worked now and made shadows and added confusion, but offered no guidance in its glow. Smoke billowed up and provided even more of a curtain over the scene.

People sprawled across the truck and spilled onto the ground struggled to right themselves, but the frantic movements of some and the screams and cries of others made the process difficult. The whole image was a surreal mash up of body parts and broken truck parts. Derek felt his way out of the wreckage, ignoring the shock of pain in his arm. The darkness and the chaos would hinder his vision, but he could use it to benefit his escape.

Once free, he rolled to the edge of the road. The high grasses and a few downed trees provided decent camouflage. His breathing was labored and loud. Even if they listened, they’d never hear him. Too much chaos, too much panic. He placed his hand in front of his mouth to slow his breaths and silence his fear. When the flashlights turned on and the soldiers scrambled to pull the victims from the truck, he had to make a decision, rescue his friends or save his own ass. He slid into the jungle, praying no one would follow.

Chapter Two will be out in my newsletter tomorrow, or you can wait until December 16 and I’ll post it on Wattpad.

Connected at the hip.

Connected at the hip.

I got an email the other day from my pedometer.

Fitbit email
Okay, the thing hangs on my belt, and came with a wireless USB connector that I plugged into my computer. Now every time I get anywhere near my computer, important data streams from my hip down the internet tubes. Important data that when extensively analyzed reports back to me that I sit at my computer way too much and don’t walk enough.

My Zip

My Zip

Hey, I walk all the way to the kitchen for cookies. That should count for something.

Anyway, my relationship with my Fitbit Zip has been uncomplicated so far. It tells me to walk more, and I ignore it. A pretty good relationship, right?

But now things are getting complicated. The thing has become . . . needy.

Or has it?

Is it just being sly?

In order to get it new batteries, I need to get up and go to the store. I’d need to walk, which is what it’s been wanting all along.

So I ask myself: What happens if I don’t get it batteries?

Will our relationship die? Can’t things just go on just the way they were?

If I get it batteries, will it demand something else?

Long walks on the beach? Heaven forbid, a gym membership?

I need to think. I need a cookie. But I’d have to get up and walk to the kitchen.

I think it’s winning.

Steve

Does Music Inspire Your Writing or Take You Away From It

Does Music Inspire Your Writing or Take You Away From It

by Veronica Forand

I love listening to music. Everything. Classical, classic rock, pop, country, rhythm and blues. When I write, however, silence is a must. Music pumps out emotions and each one, whether love, regret, anger, or contentment affects me and my writing even when I don’t want those emotions in the scene I’m writing.

On the other hand, I’ve been known to take music breaks and listen to a few songs to put the emotion into my soul and let it seep onto the pages.

Here are a few go to songs:

Happy:

The Black Eyed Peas – I Gotta Feeling

LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem ft. Lauren Bennett, GoonRock

Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry Be Happy

Loss:

Luke Bryan – Drink A Beer

Johnny Cash – Hurt HD 720p

Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah (Official Video)

Music is powerful. The best music can take an entire stadium of cheering fans into silence. Use it to make you feel better when you’re down, or to just chill out and think about those who have touched our lives in some special way.

Rock on!

Musical Barbarian

Before I start, there are two things I need to confess up front—make that three:

  1. My music snob husband insists I have HORRIBLE taste in music, and winces his way through my Playlist.
  2. I am noise intollerant, especially when I’m working and the idea of playing music while I write makes my brain twitch.
  3. I am stuck in the eighties (which might tie into point one).

And there’s a fourth one you might want to know – I know the lyrics to nearly every show tune every written

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I picked three bands here that won’t make my husband flinch, these are three of my Desert Island bands and I would stand in the rain for hours to get tickets to see them live (sadly, not possible with one of the three anymore). I also picked a little musical interlude for you, as I really think they say anything I could so much better with their music.

A live version of U2, “Trip Through Your Wires”, love the harmonica on this and, of course, Bono. ‘Nuff said.

 

 

Let’s do REM next, so many to choose from I nearly went a little nuts here. In the end I went a little old school from my favorite album “Automatic for the People” with “What’s Frequency Kenneth?” Does anyone really know what this song is all about? Who cares, right? With those signature guitar rifts that run right through my nerve endings.

 

 

And I’m ending with Depeche Mode, to give fellow Spice Aisler, Rhenna Morgan, a chance to escape before I hit her with the Depeche – AGAIN. There are so many I could have included here, but let’s end on a high note (see what I did there *snicker*) I dare you not to tap your toes, or bop your head through Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.”

 

And there you have it, end of musical interlude. Who are some of your favorite bands? Help my husband out here and educate me.