The Magic City

The Magic City

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wine Down Wednesday - 2010 Smoking Loon Syrah

In honor of Valentine's Day (which my husband SWEARS is February 15 - all I am saying is he better shower me in the best 75% off candy in the land), I wanted to talk about one of my favorite reds.

There is one simple reason I could never be a vegetarian. Steak.  And why do I love steak (other than it is delicious)?  Because it gives me a great excuse to drink red wine.

One of my favorite reds to have with red meat is the 2010 Smoking Loon Syrah.  This versatile California red has a chocolaty and fruity start (hints of cherry and cranberry), but a peppery finish. It goes well with steak (beef and tuna steak) AND burgers.  It is also nice to pair with your favorite chocolates when you have to write that scene (you know the one I'm talking about).  The price point makes it a steal - it is $9.99 at all my local grocery stores.

What is your best "deal" wine that you like to pair with red meat? 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Contest Contessa Christine Glover on the Linda Howard Award of Excellence

Who coined the phrase "pantser-crapper-fixer-uper?"  Christine Glover.

Who was a TRIPLE finalist in 2012's Linda Howard Award of Excellence?  Christine Glover.

Who is my guest on the blog today?  Christine Glover!!!!!

I cannot tell you how excited I am that the 2013 Linda Howard Award of Excellence contest coordinator, Christine Glover, took time out of her insane schedule to dish about this year's contest.

Who is Christine? Everyone knows her.  Seriously.  Everyone. There are epic poems written about her in Greece.  The French have dedicated vineyards to her. And the Italians . . . I can't print here what the Italians have done without having to get a disclaimer before you enter my blog.

But, in case you haven't had the pleasure of meeting Christine before, here is her biography:  Christine Glover is an award winning contemporary romance writer of sensual, sizzling novels with dark emotional edge. Her tough, no-nonsense heroines aren’t so easily swayed by great looks and killer abs, but they surrender their hearts to her heroes when they discover they are men who won’t take advantage of their inner vulnerabilities. Her characters interrupt her showers and her workouts to tell her what happens next in the story. She has yet to figure out how to apply makeup or style her hair without someone popping into her head and giving her another scene to write. Ultimately, she sits down to write about two lost souls finding each other, discovering home, and giving her romance characters the happily-ever-after endings they deserve.

Born in the Netherlands, Christine’s parents immigrated to Canada where she spent her formative years. After meeting her own real life hero, she married her Texan Alpha man and moved to the United States where she’s lived both south and north of the Mason Dixon line. Now Christine lives in Alabama with her husband the Physicist, two insanely adorable cats and one amazing daughter. She believes we are all on a journey toward attaining our dreams, but we can’t be serious all the time. She enjoys finding the silly in the serious, making wine out of sour grapes, and giving people giggle fits along with heartfelt hugs. When she’s not writing, you can find her traveling the world, cooking gourmet food, and desperately seeking a corkscrew.

Christine is in charge of this year's Linda Howard Award of Excellence ("LHAOE" for those in the know) for unpublished romantic fiction.  She has made some exciting changes to the contest, and was gracious enough to share some time to answer some questions about the contest

You are the contest queen, having been a multiple finalist in numerous prestigious contests.  Based on your experience, what are the benefits an unpublished writer can gain from entering the LHAOE?
Heather, I have entered contests since 2005 when I was desperately seeking any kind of feedback for my writing. I got it. Most of the judges were very instrumental in leading me to craft books and improving my writing skills. The Linda Howard Award of Excellence provides that and so much more. My first experience with the LHAOE was in 2008. I entered and didn't final. However, the feedback was amazing. Kind and well thought out critique that I was able to incorporate into my manuscript and enter another prestigious contest which garnered me a major final. Unpublished writers benefit from entering the LHAOE by gaining valuable feedback from trained, RWA PRO and Published judges who really do want to see every writer attain their dream. That elusive goal of publication.

What sets the LHAOE apart from other contests?

NO SYNOPSIS!!! Oh, that has been my greatest nemesis and has made entering other contests a lot harder because I've had to distill my manuscript down to a couple of pages. I'm better at writing the synopsis, but in the first round of judging, it's nice to only have to focus on the first 25 pages and making them shine.You have plenty of time to work on the synopsis which will be included when the finaling entries are forwarded to the judges, but it's not judged. That's awesome. Another thing that I feel sets this contest apart is that I am personally invested in  making sure that all the entries are treated with dignity and respect. I will vet any comments that I feel will not be conducive to building the writer's confidence. So I hope that gives new writers the courage to send in their entries. One day that entry, even if if doesn't final, could become a winner somewhere else. That's what happened to  my first LHAOE entry. It went on to WIN the LHAOE in 2012 and I got an editor at a major publishing house interested in working with me because of that win. So never give up and always work on improving your writing. You will get there!

Who are the final round judges?

I am so excited about the final judges this year. Here is the breakdown:

Historical: Chelsey Emmelhainze, Harpers Collins
Paranormal/Urban Fantasy: Latoya Smith, Grand Central Publishing
Contemporary Series Romance: Alethea Spiridon Hopson, Entangled
Single Title: Eleni Caminis, Montlake
The Write Magic (for SM members only): Beth Miller

What is the Write Magic category (and is it too late to join Southern Magic)?

The Write Magic category takes all Southern Magic members who final and/or achieve an average score of 90 or better and sends those finalists to that judge, Beth Miller. So there's a bonus round for the Southern Magic members who enter the LHAOE. It's not too late to join. And I'd love to see more members in our great writing chapter.

What is the deadline to enter?

The contest deadline is February 22, 2013. Finalists are announced in May. The winners will be announced at this year's 2013 RWA National Conference at a restaurant to be determined. I know it will be a lot of fun!!

So enter. It's a great experience. And it's my privilege and honor to be the coordinator of a contest that has given me so much as a writer. 

For more information on the contest, go to:

And if you want to become a pantser-crapper-fixer-uper (like all the cool kids), you can follow the cult of Christine on Twitter (@cjglover63), on her website and/or on her super-awesome blog (notice it over there to the right on the "Must Read Blog" list?). 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Food for Thought: Hot Bacon & Swiss Dip

There is no way this is healthy. I freely admit that. But as bathing suit season approaches with the unforgiving speed of a hurricane, this weekend is my last calorie hurrah before I have to start thinking of raw fruits and veggies as "snacks" and "treats" as opposed to punishment. 

So, in full self-indulgent style, I give you HOT BACON & SWISS DIP (yes, you just gained 1/2 a pound reading that - that is how rich this appetizer is).

What you need:

A package of low fat cream cheese (8 oz.)
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 cup of shredded swiss cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup crumbled Ritz crackers
8 slices of turkey bacon (cooked and crumbled)

What you do:

Put your cardiologist on speed dial as a precaution, and make sure all health and life insurance premiums are current.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all the cheeses and mayo together.

Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.

Spread the cheesy goodness into the casserole dish.  Top with crackers and bacon.

Bake for about  10-15 minutes (until cheese is melted/bubbling on the edges).

Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, toasted bread, or any other edible vehicle that can get this gooey treat into your mouth.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wine Down Wednesday

Glory hallelujah! Finally, science has proven it is good for something.  A recent study shows alcohol may boost creativity.  Therefore, I raise a glass in celebration and roll out my version of Wine Down Wednesdays.

Members of my local RWA chapter join me frequently in extolling the virtues of the grape (right, Christine? Mary? Lexi? Anyone?).  Personally, I am a fan of champagne. A day without champagne is stupid. Period. End of discussion. But in a pinch, I can go for a good red. Or white. Or box o' wine. Just hand me the damn glass, okay?

Each Wednesday, I am going to talk about a recent "Wine Find." This is my mission - to find a good cheap wine. There isn't much sport in finding a good wine that is pricey. If I am paying more for a bottle of wine than it costs for me to fill up my tank with gas, it better be amazing. However, finding that elusive $5-$15 bottle that blows your mind poses my kind of challenge.  This weeks's selection is . . .

Cristalino Brut Cava

The Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava is a great find.  I am uncomfortable unless there are at least two bottles of this Spanish sparkling wine in my fridge.  The price point is just right.  Depending on where you shop, you can find it anywhere from $6.50 a bottle to $9.99.  It is a dry, crisp sparkling wine with hints of citrus.  It works well for making mimosas, but can stand alone.  I may have been known to call this "writing juice" on more than one occasion.

Have you tried this wine? What were your thoughts? Any suggestions for future wines to discuss?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Meeting the Author Makes a Difference

The Birmingham Public Library hosted its Local Author Expo this past weekend. I went to support several published authors from my local RWA chapter and had a blast. I also discovered several local authors who I'd never read.

This really drove home the point about the importance of author-reader contact. As a reader, if I have met you, I am more likely to buy and read your books. Because everything in the world revolves around me (Copernicus, honey, you got it wrong - I am the center of the universe, and all things revolve around me), I feel a connection to the book more strongly if I have met the author. That extra personal investment makes a difference. 

I'm not alone. Around Christmas, I was meandering up and down the book isles while the hubby drooled over electronics (too messy to stand close to him during those times).  I saw a book by an Alabama author and pointed it out to the lady next to me (and, of course, pointed out I knew the author).  She picked it up, excited by the book being part of the local creative scene, and bought it. 

Authors spend so much time developing their online presence, and it is important. But don't forget to get out and press the flesh. Never underestimate the power of a little gripping and grinning.

What are your favorite reader/author events to attend? Any suggestions? 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Food for Thought - Fudge Word Bombs

February and chocolate are synonymous in my mind. You can't walk into any store without being overwhelmed with displays of chocolaty goodness.

This is my "word reward." I allow myself one after each completed 1000 words on my MS. This recipe will give you an entirely new appreciation for an f-bomb! They are healthy snacks that satisfy the chocolate craving.

What you need:

1 1/3 cups pitted dates
1 cup walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons dark cocoa powder

What you do:

Put everything in a food processor and let it rip until everything is blended.
Using a small ice cream scoop (or a spoon), scoop out a handful and roll into a ball. You are shooting for the size of a ping-pong ball.
Wrap each ball in wax paper or put in a small cup-cake paper thing (you don't want these sticking together)
Store in an air-tight container