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I’ve been tagged by Ramona DeFelice Long in
The Next Big Thing BlogHop
What is your working title of your book?
Glitz and Blitz… or Dark Christmas… I don’t know yet
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Out of nowhere…seriously! I was sitting at my desk, daydreaming about hot Navy Seals and rescues… okay, I was really procrastinating putting away all the Christmas Crap – you know, all the snowflake pillows and nativity scenes and ornaments and lights and wreaths and poinsettias and snowmen and candles and Santa Claus feet sticking up from chimney’s….
What genre does your book fall under?
Contemporary Fantasy Romance, I think. It could be Holiday Romance. It could also fall under Paranormal Romance. Let’s just say it falls under all kinds of romance genres.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Matthew McConaghey, orrrr… Daniel Craig, if he’s available.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Black Dagger Brotherhood meets Time Traveler’s Wife at Christmas.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It’s been requested by one boutique epublisher, and one traditional, and one agent, but the jury’s still out…
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It’s the wip that doesn’t end.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It’s not your typical romance.
And I tag:
The FAB Wendy Ely at http://www.wendyely.blogspot.com/?zx=5a6d9b552fcee47a author of Dreaming of Him, Jessie’s Brother
La Linsey Lanier who writes the awesome romantic suspense series Miranda’s Rights – http://linseylanier.blogspot.com/
Awe Inspiring Paige Pendleton at http://pwpendleton.blogspot.com/ Gustatis Similus Pullus is the secret password to get in!
Marvelous Maggie Montgomery at LaptopsandLingerie.blogspot.com with TexMexSexHex now out!
The following transcription is my imaginary conversation with myself and Seth Godin about my writing – or lack of it. The quotes from Mr.Godin all come from his November 3 blog here:
Seth, I just can’t get it down. I know the story – I see it in my head, I dream it, I daydream it.
“Don’t wait for the right answer…
More at Laptops and Lingerie today! Join me and tell me ways you get unstuck.
“Madison! Don’t be fooled – they’re all the same!”
Now it was Lewis’ turn to feel cold dread. How could this be happening?
Mrs. Kilgore was dead – he’d been to her funeral! How could his site be used to broadcast someone’s words from the grave? But the evidence was before him – in his ears, before his eyes – hell, he’d almost lost a toe.
But his technical disposition didn’t discount the fact that energies exist in all forms, on various planes of time. The rage Maddie’s mother was expressing through his website on her old computer was also being manifest by the knives, the furniture, the gas stove…. One word came into his mind, and the smell of smoke returned to his nostrils.
The unmistakable smell of an electrical fire hit him with the word identifying what they were fighting here – Poltergeist. The lamp’s wiring was about to short and spark. Combined with the gas fumes….
“We have to get out of here!” He grasped the chair with all his strength, pulling it off the door frame. The rickety wooden chair seemed to weigh ten times what it should weigh. Grasping Maddie’s shoulders he pulled her from the pantry and reached for the back doorknob, but it dissolved in his hand. It was a hologram… a mirage that his hand couldn’t grasp.
“Do we…?” Maddie turned to the front room where her mother’s voice continued to berate her choice through the computer.
“How is this happening?” Lewis reached to unplug it from the wall, but he found it unplugged already. “This can’t be happening!”
“Mother! You are dead! And you are still crazy!” Maddie screamed at the computer screen. If anybody could come back from the dead to torture a person, it would be her mother. “Why can’t you leave me alone? Leave us alone? You need to die!”
“You can’t expect me to live like some spinster… like… like you!” She grabbed Lewis’ arm and pulled him close. “I won’t do it! Do you hear me? I love Lewis! And you cannot keep me from loving him or living my life MY way – do you hear me?” She pulled Lewis’ face down to hers and kissed him. Years of pent up rage, years of guilt, bewilderment over her mother’s return from the dead and disapproval of her love for Lewis – of all her life’s choices – went into that first angry, vengeful kiss.
And then it turned into something else entirely. Into a kiss of passion… a kiss of desire. Passion for the life she’d finally opened herself up to… desire to share it with the man she loved, to make the most of every moment, of making up for lost time and effort and energies.
The world shrank. The two of them knit their halves together into a new, singular one.
The smoking lamp, the hissing gas, the spinning vortex of knives and chairs stopped. A sudden calm surrounded the two of them, the storm passed. The energies Dorothea had spent to return to her daughter and prevent her from loving a man – any man – dissolved, spent.
She left… powered off, completely dissipated.
“Hear that?” Lewis asked when they finally broke and came up for air.
“What? I don’t hear anything.” Maddie brushed her lips against his – teasing, nibbling. “I hear nothing.”
Happy Halloween! And thank you for reading!
Lewis reached Maddie’s house just in time. There were three little beggars standing before the front door in ambush mode – a ninja, a cowboy whose jeans hung low enough to be gangsta, and a mummy with something that looked like moss dripping from his armpits. Leading the assault was a tow headed, tiny but mighty little girl dressed as a pumpkin with striped green legs and purple arms. She stood on tiptoe, leaning on the doorbell and bleating the war cry – “Trickortreat! Trickortreat! Trickortreeeeat!”
Ninja, Cowboy-Gangsta and Mummy gave her space.
Memories of an earlier Halloween rushed into his mind. Of just-turned- four Tacoma in a lion suit his sister had fashioned from pajamas and an old fuzzy bathmat and Lewis, Maddie, and Mimi all dressed as her lion tamers – he chuckled at the irony of it. “I still don’t think the doggie harness and leash is a good idea,” Maddie had grumbled.
“It’s funny! And it keeps her from running away!” Mimi was always ready to justify the questionable – her coping skill.
“It’s not funny – it’s obnoxious,” Maddie grumbled. “The whole ‘pretending to be somehting you’re not’ thing is misleading and probably harmful to childrens’ self-esteems.”
Mimi rolled her eyes. To keep the peace, Lewis picked up Tacoma and let her ride his back the rest of the night- though he knew he’d be sore the next day. But he didn’t care – he was having the time of his life. Finally under his sister’s guardianship he was thriving, getting a second chance at all the childhood rituals he’d missed back when it was age appropriate.
A sudden urge to see Maddie again at her door, grumbling about pretending and obnoxious holidays and flinging candy into pumpkin pails swamped over Lewis. Just one more time… to see her again. To explain….
An ache hit his heart. Maddie had come back to her mother’s home to clean it out, plant a For Sale sign in the front yard, and go back to living and working in the big city.
But so many ‘what if’s’ nagged him….
What if she was lonely, what if working day in and day out up there in the glass tower wasn’t fufilling for her, what if she was surrounded all day by idiots and asshats…? What if life moved too fast to enjoy the little things, like a four year old dressed like a lion or a pumpkin, chanting the Song That Doesn’t End?
What if she wants to create a family of her own, even wants to come back here, like I did?
Right Lewis – and what if she wants to stay far away from here… away from the memories of her mom and her pain … away from her crazy Aunt Lucille? That For Sale sign is looking better and better.
He shook his head in self disgust. He was a computer whizkid with a successful website catering to people who needed to say the words they could have – should have – said when the time was right, and here he was –
A total failure at mustering up the three most basic – most important – words ever to utter to another human being…
Please don’t go.
Be with me.
I love you.
The silence jarred him out of his thoughts. He realized suddenly that they had all stood there, mesmerized by the constant “Trick or Treat” chant, and that Maddie had not opened the door to give out candy.
The mummy moaned. “Nobody’s home. Let’s go next door.”
The image of her house – empty, dark, hollow – stirred up a sense of urgency in his belly. But something else made his feet move– the unmistakeable smell of smoke.
The thought of something on fire – of Maddie’s house on fire! – made Lewis’ brain finally click with his heart…
He couldn’t live without Maddie!
Hero instincts kicked in. Lewis leaped up the steps scattering the children. He threw his weight against the door, ready to rescue the woman he loved from an inferno–
– and crashed through two inches of solid oak, falling into Maddie – and an enormous bowl of candy. Together they landed on the wooden floor, tumbling in a heap of arms and legs and chocolate peanut butter cups.
“Lewis! What are you doing?!” Maddie screamed.
“There’s no fire! What do you mean you smelled smoke?! ” Maddie was pinned under Lewis’ weight, which – if she were forced to admit it – was not entirely unpleasant. Neither was the thought that Lewis cared enough about her to run into a burning building to save her.
“There was smoke! I know I smelled smoke!”
Maddie stared up into his face. When did Lewis get to be … attractive? She’d always liked him, though she’d kept him in the friend zone… was that actually stubble on his jaw? His lips … he smells… edible.
The only smoke she noticed was the smoky look in his eyes… and the way he seemed to be pressing himself in just… the right…places.
“Mommeeee! That man just broke down the door!” Yes, yes he did… to rescue me.
“He’s killing her!” Oh yeah… he’s killing me all right. Kill me some more… a little … harder…please….
“Quick! Grab the candy!” Yes, yes… grab the candy…. Wait…
Her fantasies – and her body’s responses – went from XXX to G in a nanosecond. “Get. Off. Now,” she gritted through clenched teeth. She peeked at the kids scrabbling around them for candy, and from the way that cowboy was staring, she could tell he knew more than he should at his age.
“Right.” Lewis awkwardly scooted over, trying to keep the bulging front of his pants out of sight – but Maddie couldn’t help but take note that she was responsible for it.
“Uh…is your furnace okay? Maybe the oven’s on. I’ll go check.” He got to his feet and headed for the kitchen, slowly.
“Why did you come back here?” Maddie asked, once she’d dispatched the kids, left the candy bowl outside and turned off the porch light .
“I was thinking about that year we took Tacoma out for Halloween, before we went our separate ways – do you remember?Before you left for that fancy college and I went to work.” He rubbed a hand over his mouth. He could still feel the barest touch of her lips, just there. Wait… talk to her. “And I guess I just wanted….” His words trailed off. To feel those lips there again, to feel her in his arms again…. Talk. To. Her. “I just thought… that I could make everything right. Make it so you’d come back. To be with me. Here. You know?” His brown eyes darkened and fixed on Maddie’s face. “Don’t leave Maddie. Please. Don’t go away again.”
Lewis stepped towards her. If Maddie couldn’t see his heart beating, he hoped it was because her eyes were filling with tears. The good kind. The kind that were making his throat thick and his heart going into full attack mode. But that was okay, because his eyes would be enough for the both of them. And he could swear he could see Maddie’s heart beating just as hard as his.
He took her face into his hands, kissed the tears tracking her cheeks. “Don’t. Go. Away. Again.” A kiss for each tear. Until he reached her lips —
The dinette chair screeched out from the table and wedged itself between them. In the living room the lamp – the one Maddie had thrown away earlier – turned off, then on, and then off again. Over and over.
The stove sent up a hissssss! and gas fumes filled the air.
Lewis moved toward the stove to turn off the knobs, stop the gas, and Maddie tried to follow – but the chair wouldn’t budge. It moved back and forth, forcing her backwards into the walk in pantry and barricading her there. Drawers of utensils jangled open and slammed shut, bouncing the utensils and making them fall out onto the floor. A large knife fell next to Lewis’ toe, so close it shaved off a layer of leather from his shoe.
“Madison,” her mother’s voice rang out from the computer. “You just won’t listen, will you? I’ve warned you not to let them get close – they’ll keep you down. They’ll get what they want from you, and for what? To be deserted with a child to raise and no money! That’s what!”
A cold dread slid down Maddie’s back. This was about her father. How he’d abandoned them for a second chance – the trophy family, the corporate life – he felt he deserved. Taking Maddie away from her mother with an offer she had found impossible to resist was the ultimate insult.
And now her mother was determined to keep her. All to herself.
More free reads here: http://tuesdaytales1.blogspot.com/
The smell of fresh paint hit Maddie’s nose like a slap to the face. Dust motes danced in the sunbeams that flooded through the windows like planes of solid light. The tassels of the wool area rug were perfectly straight, the cracked ceramic lamp with its torn shade was standing sentry on the end table like a wounded guard, and the sofa cushions were aligned straight and upright, like striped soldiers.
Nothing was the way Maddie had arranged it before she’d left for work that morning. Everything in the living room was back in their old places – even the broken old lamp, though Maddie could’ve sworn she’d set it outside for tomorrow’s garbage pickup.
The old lamp , the furniture rearranged – everything just the way Dorothy Kilgore had liked it.
The words “schizo” and “mental” and “crazy” bounced inside her head like a carnival barker’s dialogue. “Step right up and take your chances…. Let’s see if you can keep the little lady dead and buried. Are you crazy enough to try? Or are you ready for your own circle of hell?”
This had to stop.
A flicker of movement in her peripheral vision made her heart go bobooboom! But then she saw it – only a shadow’s dance on the wall. October’s winds shook the birch trees outside and scattered its leaves over the yard – and her neighbor’s. She figured she had a little over an hour before dusk and tonight’s Trick or Treaters tromped them even further on everyone else’s yards – especially creepy Lewis’ yard next door. She shivered and goose bumps raced up her arms remembering what he’d said at last week’s gathering after her mother’s memorial service.
“Check the site Maddie – Famous Last Words.com.”
Lewis Bishop had become “Creepy Lewis” when she discovered he’d authorized remote access for himself on her mother’s desktop computer. Now here he was, boldly double dipping his cracker in the sour cream dip after Maddie had told him to never access the desktop again. ” It was your mom’s idea. She asked me to –”
“Maddie! You doin’ alright?” Maddie’s Aunt Lucille burped and elbowed herself between the two of them, crushing her in a boozy hug. Maddie and her mom always joked that if Lucille wasn’t pickled, she was fermenting. “Sweetie! I am so sorry! But we knew she was a goner after that last episode, right? I mean, going on with the treatments would’ve been futile, wouldn’t it?”
She was squeezed between Worse and Worser….
“Trick or Treat!”
The calls outside her front door snapped her back to the here and now – so much for getting yard work done. She snagged the bag of chocolate peanut butter cups – amazingly some were still left – and hit the mouse to the computer —
“Happy Halloween Madison.”
The words were spoken through the computer’s speakers –
In her dead mother’s voice.
“Girl, you look like you’ve seen a ghost! Come on in and let Mimi pour you a cure.”
After hearing her mother’s message- from- the- grave via desktop, Maddie grabbed USB drive and the rest of the peanut butter cups (it IS Halloween after all) and raced through her backyard, through Creepy Lewis’ backyard, and finally up to the back stoop of her life long bff Mimi Davenport. Maddie & Mimi, Mimi & Maddie… the two of them were inseparable growing up one house apart from each other. Their mothers joked during their high school years that they were interchangeable – it wouldn’t matter which of them was in the house or at the dinner table, they were that much alike. That is, until they were separated in college, with Mimi going to the state university, and Maddie’s father paying the tuition for her to go to the private college in his city. It had been a no-brainer to her parents, but Maddie had never forgiven her father for taking her away from her bestie and the city where she’d grown up.
“More like I heard a ghost. And since when did -” she held the label up to her face to be sure she was reading it correctly – ” ‘Full Moon Juice’ become a cure? ”
Mimi grinned and handed her a cocktail glass. “Since when you drink it, you want to fully moon someone.” Maddie sipped and felt liquid flames burn her throat and spread through her chest. And make her eyes water.
gasp!hack!cough!wheeze! “Damn Mimi! I guess you would get nekkid with enough of this in your system!” She dabbed a paper napkin to her nose, now as wet as her eyes. “I’m pretty hot after one sip!”
“You always were a lightweight.” Mimi smiled. “And how pathetic are we, with Halloween and nowhere to go. It’s like, warm New Year’s Eve, without the tv specials.” She downed her liquor. “Now, out with it. How did you hear a ghost? Were you calling up spirits, like we used to do at slumber parties?”
“No. And I don’t think any more spirits need to be called up tonight.” Maddie set her glass down and got some water out of the kitchen faucet. “I heard my mother on the computer. She must have recorded a message – I don’t know. I ran before it played through all the way. But worse than that Mimi…,” Maddie’s voice trailed off. Would her best friend understand? Or would she think Maddie had completely lost her marbles?
“Spill it. Wait – not the drink!” Mimi reached out and nabbed the glass.
“You must have a cast iron throat.”
“Nah… just a stronger constitution than you. And I haven’t gone through all that you’ve gone through this year.” Mimi settled herself on a barstool and fixed her gaze on her friend. “Now. Spill.”
Lewis Bishop never liked Halloween. He preferred salty snacks to sweets, science fiction to horror movies, and playing online role playing games on his computer to going out with other people to noisy parties or door to door trick or treating.
Lewis Bishop had G-E-E-K written all over him. Literally.
“Why do I have to wear this? I’m not the one asking for candy.” He pointed to his chest and the neon letters his niece, aka “Beauty”, had painted on his favorite grey t-shirt with ‘Kiss n’Tell’ pink nail polish.
She huffed and fisted her hip. “Puh-leese. I’m Beauty. You’re Geek. Don’t you get it?” She rolled her eyes as far back in her head as was biologically possible and gave another exasperated huff. “This isn’t my choice. You’re the one who won’t take me to see Torture Rack — ”
“–Because it’s rated NC17 and it’s a gorey, bloody movie and your mom would kill me, then you, then me again –,”
“–Then you’re just gonna have to be happy taking me trick or treating and wear the shirt. Besides, Mom and Dad say all the time you’re gonna have to catch the rest of my childhood before it’s slipped off… or something like that.” Tacoma folded her arms over her sequined blouse that Lewis was pretty sure had been pilfered out of his sister’s dresser and stomped away.
Thank God she belonged to his sister and went home after these fiascos known as babysitting. Payback was gonna be sweet – if he ever got close enough to the girl he loved who didn’t know he was alive. Damn Mimi and Maddie’s constant girl-mance, he thought as he spied Maddie running though his yard from Mimi’s back to her home.
“Come my beauty,” he smiled at Tacoma, who was primping in her reflection in the microwave’s door. “Let us away! There’s candy to beg off neighbors and strangers, and pranks you must try.”
Tacoma rolled her eyes again. “That was so lame, and it didn’t even rhyme.” She grabbed her pillowcase and slung it over her shoulder.
At least she’s got the optimism going for her, Lewis thought as he followed her outside.
“Let’s go to Madison’s first.”
The contrary tween took a right – to Mimi’s.
Putty in my hands. Lewis smiled as he dodged cowboys and spacemen. He was on his way to Maddie’s house.
Find more Tuesday Tales at: http://tuesdaytales1.blogspot.com/
And thank you for reading!
Heather at Book Savvy Babes and Alive on the Shelves.com host a monthly meme on the 28th of each month, and today I’m joining in to spotlight two of Kellie Kamryn’s latest erotic romance releases:
Tumbling Hearts is the third in Kamryn’s Love & Balance series that draws on her gymnast background. These erotic romances always feature coaches and athletes caught in a moral dilemma – the choice between a relationship or building a career in Rebound; the ethics of pursuing a relationship between coach and parent in Perfect Score, and Tumbling Hearts’ dilemma: former student who is now a coach, pursuing a relationship with the man who was her coach but now is her boss. Here’s the book blurb from Amazon:
When his former elite gymnast tumbles after his heart, one man must choose between his sense honor and giving in to desire.
Anna Fortier has had the hots for her gymnastics coach since the first day he walked through the gym doors. Now nineteen years old, her feelings haven’t faded one bit. Soon to attend University in another province, Anna decides to act like the woman she is, and win his heart.
Twenty-four year old Ukrainian ex-Olympic gymnast, Taras Volkov, traveled to Canada to continue his coaching career and further his education to provide for himself and his family back home. A man who values honor, he fights his attraction to his beautiful ex-gymnast. When she declares her feelings for him, he takes a leap of faith in re-defining their relationship.
Life couldn’t be more perfect until a careless winter driver causes an accident that renders Anna blind. Taras vows to take care of her no matter what. But when he discovers his mother has fallen ill back home in the Ukraine, he is torn between his duty to family and his love for Anna. Their hearts may tumble as one, but will it be enough to keep them together…?
Kamryn’s other series of erotic comedies is almost complete too. Celery, Sex, and Other Good Things for the Heart follows the first book of the Harder series, Monkeys, Sex, and Other Birthday Surprises.
Co-workers Miranda Harder and Dan Blake have two things in common: a penchant for telling dirty stories, and a fierce mutual attraction. Unwilling to risk ruining their friendship, they put a lid on their simmering desire. But that lid is about to be blown sky-high.
On the eve of her sister’s birthday party, Miranda knows her sister will be getting some action from her dream man. After all, Miranda did orchestrate them meeting in person. Jealous, Miranda thinks it’s high time she get some herself, and who better to satisfy her needs than her hot friend, Dan? But she doesn’t like it vanilla, and worries that Dan may be all talk and no action.
Thrilled doesn’t begin to describe Dan’s feelings when he and Miranda finally agree to act on their attraction. He knows she struggles to maintain control of situations, largely due to her unpredictable family who create havoc in her life. He is willing to let her take control in the bedroom, but knows he has to make her see that surrendering to him is what she really needs.
Throw in her interfering family, a surprise visit from her brother and his pet primate, Miranda’s wish to make an ordinary vegetable sexy, and it makes for an evening neither one will soon forget. These lovers discover that love is even better for your heart than celery.
Kamryn does real life one better — she makes sex, and all the anticipation leading up to it, FUNNY!
This is an author who does both angst and comedy well, and mixes it all up with the emotions of love and sex. I hope you give her books a read – perfect to keep warm for cold,stormy nights this season!
Want more Hot Reads October? Visit Book Savvy Babe for more links!
It’s been a year of emails and phone calls, strategy and decisions…
and that’s just for my job as promotions!
I’m not anywhere near the top of the heap of volunteers and committees; I just happen to be the most visible of all of the wonderful people who volunteer their time and energy to put on what we in Georgia Romance Writers think is The premier romance writers’ conference in the southeast .
They forego television shows and childrens’ soccer games and spending time with their favorite book to study spreadsheets, email requests, pore through catalogs, download jpegs, and design labels… research photos that are available for common use , and map out traffic patterns and timetable charts for workshops to be attended by over 200 people… microphones and screens and projectors and dancefloors to acquire.
There are airline reservations to be scheduled for industry professionals, as well as figuring out transport from airport to hotel, some arriving in the early morning hours. Then they have to be transported back to the airport so they can go home… again, some leaving in the early morning hours after heavy-duty partying. There are cabs to call… and those aren’t common in Interstatelandia.
Food and menus = Vegetarians, Gluten free, Dairy free, Diabetics… and then there are the rest of us. Tip: d i e t is a four letter word at conferences, and if you think you’ll go hungry, it’s a good idea to pack some snack bars.
The amount of detail oriented work is staggering…. and the above are just the basics. Everything, from headcounts to price rates, is a moving target.
And we do it because we love the challenge. We love to gather our friends, old and new, around us to visit and drink and celebrate successes and commiserate lost goals. We meet new friends and contacts, and make plans to visit their events.
Agents and Editors and Publishers and Booksellers are always looking for the next big author, discover the next big story, mine for the next sensation. There are so few really big stars that hope never fades.
We do it because we want them to find you.
Writers are full of knowledge, whether applicable from their day jobs like copyright attorneys or mixologists or screenwriters turned professors of creative writing – that their workshops serve as overflow pools from the fountain. Everybody is an expert at something, and another writer can always tuck away the tidbit that will close the plothole and make the story shine.
I wrote this last week after Moonlight & Magnolias closed, and then was promptly sidetracked by another shiny attention grabber – my guest post on tomorrow’s PetitFours and HotTamales will expand on that.
But I couldn’t let any more time pass by without congratulating the volunteers who put on one great conference, and the chairs Terry Brock Poca and Noelle Pierce, for organizing, directing, problem-solving, and making it all happen.
Thank you very much for your hard work, trouble, and time missed from your families and other interests. It is much appreciated.
By the time this appears online, Hurricane Isaac will be a mess of downed trees, flooded homes, and the memory of weathermen from New York standing in sheets of rain and wind gusts to prove to the rest of the U.S. that yes, it is a bad storm.
Really guys… we don’t mind if you stand under a shelter or in front of a window. Give your audience enough credit to understand that 80mph winds are just that… 80 mph winds.
But this is not a rant. This is a foodie post. And yes, I am going to tie together food and storms and … weathermen proving they are not just weather geeks but strong men who can stand up to Mother Nature!
Growing up in New Orleans and Mobile, I remember only two instances of snow coming down thick enough to call off school and close down the city. It seems to happen every other year now here in Atlanta – whether that’s due to global warning or not, I don’t know.
But as the proverbial saying goes, Hurricanes Happened. Late August through the month of September, the names would be announced by the weatherman -who was inside a dry tv studio. Nash Roberts with his big black grease pencil would mark his weathermap while he talked, like a UNO professor:
“And heeeah we have Hurricane Ireene out in da Gulf, while dis stohm’s still out in t’ Atlaantic – that one’s name’s gonna be Jaanet, and den I believe we’ll be havin’ an active enugh stohm season to see Hurricaanes Kathleeeen and prob’ly all t’way up t’Marie, dis yeah.” (Can you hear Nash now?)
Daddy would start pulling out the flashlights and checking the battery supply. He’d dutifully mark the dashes on the tracking map he’d mailed off for from the tv stations -WWL or WDSU.
Mama would take a different type of inventory. Mothers the world over – North or South, from the Great Lakes to the Florida Gulf Coast know….
Whether it’s snow or hurricane, if there’s a chance your power will go out and you don’t have a generator, you’ve got to cook what’s already in the freezer.
Because that way, at least you have a chance to eat it, and it won’t go to waste in a power outage. Out comes the chicken and roasts, and whatever else is sitting in the dark depths of the freezer. If you’re lucky, there would be ice cream in there too, and you got to eat that first, for breakfast. Because everybody knows the milk had to be saved for coffee – there’s always coffee. You might have to boil what came out of the tap, but then… you use it for coffee.
We drank coffee as young as eight years old. If you could get enough sugar in it to make it sweet enough to get it down, you were old enough to drink coffee. And besides… that way you got your milk!
While Isaac was still going at O J Simpson slow speeds towards landfall in Louisiana, my cousin started cooking for her family. It was Monday, so she put a pot of beans on the stove for dinner, biscuits in the oven for breakfast, and two pies.
Now… here’s how to make a good pot of red beans: first you soak them for no less than twenty-four hours. Go on and put in your baking soda – I’ve never known anything that stops the duck squawks. Before washing machines came along, people would put the beans on to soak while cooking Sunday supper, and then turn on the gas on Monday to simmer the beans all day while they did laundry. You add onion and garlic and the leaves from celery, but NOT salt! Salt will toughen the beans so they won’t soften and cook. Wait to salt them when you’re about ready to serve. And mash up some of those beans against the side of the pot – makes the broth richer for the rice.
I stayed in touch with my family throughout the day when Isaac churned, because I had a guest post on some friends’ group blog about my memories of Hurricane Betsy. During Betsy’s storm gales, Miss Laverne across the street decided it was a good time to cook the turkey that she got on sale at Schweggman’s, so she wouldn’t lose it if the power went out. With five children and a husband and a big dog, she could use all that cooked meat. But the power went out sometime early in the morning, and the water started sloshing in. My brother told me he remembered watching a fire truck go down the street, leaving a wake of deep water behind it. Well, Miss Laverne was sure to rescue that half cooked turkey out of the oven when she got her four girls dressed to wade across the street to our house and high land. Somehow my Daddy and Mr. Pat found enough cooked meat on that half baked bird to see them through the week while they defended the house from looters and watched the waters go down.
Here in Georgia, I wanted some gumbo to feel some connection to my family who were waiting out the storm. The key to gumbo is the roux, and roux is both easy and complicated. You have to follow each step, or it won’t come out right.
First, you need bacon grease. REAL bacon grease that comes from REAL bacon – nothing maple flavored or turkey or reduced fat, because it’s the fat you’re rendering. If you’re a real southerner, you’ve got your jar of bacon grease that sits on the stove all the time, or mine sits in the fridge door in a plastic oj container. Put a hunk of that grease in a hot skillet and have some flour handy, because as soon as that grease sizzles and melts, you add the flour and mix it up good. Nope, there’s no measurements… this is something you have to learn by doing.
Now the complicated part–
You have to stir and stir and get the thickness and color just right. It has to be thick like cream’s consistency, and it has to be nut colored – dark brown. The only way to do this right is to not rush it. You have to stand on two feet , put one hand on your hip, stir with the back of a spoon, and wait. If the heat’s too high, it can seize up and turn into goo. If the heat’s not high enough, the roux never browns or thickens enough. It takes patience and experience, but if you get the roux right, it doesn’t matter what else you’re making – it will be perfect.
Now, add onions and celery and garlic and some green onions to this roux and cook til they soften. If you have some green pepper, add that too – these are the five sisters of N’Awlins cooking and seasoning. Not everything has to be spicy hot or blackened… the key is seasoning. Bay leaf adds a good flavor to anything seafood too.
Once your vegetables are cooked, you can add cooked chicken and gumbo vegetables: okra, stewed tomatoes, corn… just about anything you have on hand (maybe not greens – wrong texture). Add some chicken broth if you need more liquid or need to stretch it out. Serve over rice and have it with some crunchy French bread, and you’re good to go. You can add all kinds of seafood to it too – if Isaac ever moves upriver and lets everything drain, the crabs and oysters and shrimps should be good and ready to jump into some nets.
On Mobile Bay, that’s called a Jubilee! People come out of their homes at night with nets to scoop up the seafood that comes up onshore. It happens when there’s storms stirring up the waters and messing with the balance of oxygen… I think… but whatever it is, it’s called a Jubilee! .
Yes. With the exclamation point.
If Sam Champion wants some gumbo after standing against those 80mph storm winds, he can come up here to Georgia where we’ve been high and dry all summer long.
And be sure to bring along some rain.
Several times a week I traipse down to the neighborhood pool, hopefully early enough to avoid the splashing tots and the enviable teens and the dirty old men who need to get a job.
I strap on a buoyancy belt, tuck my hair into a swimmer’s cap (that I wish looked like Esther Williams’ daisy covered caps, but try finding THAT at the local megamart!) and … just because it looks extra geeky and I have an aversion to water in my eyes… I add an oversized pair of goggles to my ensemble.
I look reeealllly geeky.
But you know what…? Now that I’m over it and have worked up to a few laps without stopping, I really don’t care.
I’m not the strongest swimmer, and I prefer to be alone, hence the buoyancy belt. It is cheating… I confess. It is twice as hard to swim without it, but I’m working up to that. I do manage a few laps sans floaty. But for deep water jogging and weight work, it keeps me working and afloat.
And it helps my knees to stabilize. Lately they’ve protested the running, walking uphills, and kickboxing I’ve put them through. Sitting in front of a computer all day doesn’t make them happy either.
I hope you’ll visit me and leave a comment. You can click the link below the picture (and no, that is NOT me!).
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Until next time…