Friday, December 28, 2012

Last Friday of the Month's Recipe ~ Pecan Pie

Wilda MacLauchlan's Pecan Pie
 
Wilda won a blue ribbon at the New Mexico State Fair with this recipe.
I've made it  a dozen times and my English mother-in-law swore by it. 

 3 eggs, lightly  beaten with fork or whisk

¾ c. dark corn syrup

¾ c. sugar

¼ tsp. salt

2 ½ tsp. vanilla

1 c. pecan halves

3 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine

1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell

 
Combine eggs and corn syrup. Mix well (I use a whisk.) Add sugar and mix thoroughly. Stir in salt and vanilla.
 
Let stand about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, spread pecans evenly on bottom of pie shell.  Stir melted butter into syrup mixture and pour over pecans.  Be sure all pecans rise to top.

Bake at 375˚for 40 – 45 minutes or until center is firm. To keep crust from browning too much, put foil strips or pie crust shield around the edge of the crust.
 
It's fast and so yummy.
 
Enjoy
 
~LA

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Mark Coker's 2013 Book Publishing Industry Predictions and...

Here are a couple of links to some very interesting blog posts.


Mark Coker's 2013 Book Publishing Industry Predictions:
"It’s that time of year when book people make their predictions for the year ahead. I bring you, my dear reader, my epic predictions for 2013.

I say "epic" tongue in cheek, because I went a bit overboard this year. When I sat down to write this, I was thinking of maybe eight or ten predictions with short narratives. I'm bringing you 21 predictions with expansive narratives. Skim the headlines then read what grabs you.

All of us in this business, from writers to readers and everyone in between, have a vision for where things are going." 

Click on link to keep reading.

Joanna Penn: Ebook Publishing Interview: On Kobo With Mark Lefebvre:
http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2012/11/25/ebook-publishing-kobo-mark-lefebvre/

"Yes, they may be the dominant partner in the US and the UK, but in global markets, ebook retailer Kobo is doing some brilliant things. In today’s interview, we get into what Kobo can offer you as an author."

Click link to keep on reading and watch interview.

And notice they talk about the Espresso Book Machine which I blogged about in September here.
Both of these blogs are well worth following.
Here's to a Happy, Healthy and Successful 2013.
~LA

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Annual Reminder: This Could Be One of the Most Important Posts of the Year.

Nope it's not a writing tip, it's a career saving tip.  



A friend just wrote that her computer crashed and she hadn’t backed up in a while and she was so sick to her stomach, unsure if her work could be retrieved.

And yesterday, I couldn’t find two of my folders, which concerned me enough to run a scan on my computer, then reboot.  I know I had backups, but still I was nervous.

Syndee's
Blog







So I decided this post was going to be an annual reminder to all of us...

...A bit more than a year ago, I read a post by Syndee Rogers-Nuckles about the importance of multiple or redundant back-up systems.  (The original post in full was on Five Scribes Dec. 2011 and will be posted again Dec 27, 2012)

This is what she says:

Have you ever had your heart sink? Feel the sting of tears streaming down your face as you realized all your files had disappeared?

I have. In a total panic I searched my computer looking for any sign of hope, I shook my head trying to awaken out of what had to be a nightmare.

Does any of this sound familiar to anyone reading this, other than LA, her buddy and me? Or were you one of the few lucky ones that had backups of all your files on another EHD (external hard drive) or DVD's?

Or perhaps it's just been another thing on your ‘to do’ list?

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to backup your files, but it can be so time consuming and overwhelming. Like so many of you I am stretched to the limits of available time so after trying at least a dozen different strategies for backing up I finally hit upon something that really works for me.

Now, I use the ‘triple threat’, not just having a single backup copy but two so that you have three copies of all your important files.

For instance I have the following:

1- Original files: all my business files like documents are kept on my computers built-in hard drive. My original design files are kept on my main External Hard Drive.

2- Backup 1: I try to make copies of all my important files as I create them to a second EHD that I keep hooked up to my computer. I try to back this up at least once a week.

3- Backup 2: This is where the online backup service comes in. I LOVE this! I use Backblaze which just runs in the background whenever my computer is on saving all my files for me! My files are backed up to a secure offsite server so if something were to happen to my computer I can still get to my files from another computer!


Online Backup Services:

Backblaze
http://www.backblaze.com/

This service was easy to install and was backing up my files in minutes! One of the best things about this company is that it features unlimited storage. I was using Mozy before and they changed their pricing structure so much that it priced them right out of my budget. I have been so happy with this service, I totally forget it’s running on my computer!

(LA) This is what I use.  It took over 45 days to get all my data uploaded, but it was done everyday behind the scenes, I really didn't notice it at all.

Carbonite
http://www.carbonite.com/

I have heard good things about Carbonite. The biggest drawback is that they do not offer backups of your EHD’s, which is something I can’t live without. But if you are not using any EHD’s they are worth looking in to.

Mozy
www.mozy.com

I had trouble installing Mozy on my Mac when I switched over from a PC, and when I contacted customer support and followed the instructions they gave me it still did not work. It was around the same time they changed the pricing structure so I cancelled my account and signed up with Backblaze.

(LA) I have friends who swear by Mozy, so check them out. 
Keep in mind that these online backup services are not meant to be an addition storage system, if you delete the files off your computer these companies will delete those same files after 30 days.

Thank you Syndee for your research!!

Back up your career, and have a wonderful and hopefully now, a worry free Holiday Season.

Ciao
~LA



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Authors exercise their "write" to self-publish on CBS Sunday Morning



Wow, this is a must watch. 

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3445_162-57558088/authors-exercise-their-write-to-self-publish/

Excerpt from: "(CBS News) Even John Lennon - a Beatle - needed a publisher for his first book, "In His Own Write," back in 1964. Today authors nobody ever heard of can publish their own work all by themselves . . . in their own "write," as it were. Our Cover Story is reported now by Rita Braver:

...Richard Paul Evans went from a 700-square-foot Salt Lake City house to a much larger one, all because of a little tale he wrote for his daughters."



Author Stephanie Bond is interviewed, as well as Jamie Rabb chief of Grand Central Publishers and Lev Grossman Time Magazine book critic and published author.

The report also mentions the Espresso Book Machine, which I did a blog on in Sept.  http://bit.ly/TS2E87


I'm very excited for Indie Publishing! Watch the clip to the end.  It's inspiring...I'm not giving up, I'm finding a way. 

ciao
~LA




Monday, December 10, 2012

Lisa Potocar Blog-Challenge About Cover Art and Marketing

After reading Vince's blog from November 2nd about Cover Art and Marketing (right here on An Indie Adventure), author Lisa Potocar decided to blog about it after she reached her 200th friend on Goodreads for her debut book Sweet Glory.

How cool is that!

 "Come Celebrate My Milestone! For having reached 200 “friends” on Goodreads, I’m giving away a signed copy of Sweet Glory (open world wide). To be eligible, leave a comment to my blog-challenge." ~Lisa
  
And guess what the blog-challenge is about...yup, cover art. 
 

"Your Challenge: What do you think of Sweet Glory’s cover based upon the following?
1. What audience is it trying to reach?
2. What immediate thoughts do you have about what the story will involve?
3. Does the cover make you want to explore the story further, such as reading the blurb or the opening lines—why or why not?" ~Lisa

 
 
 
 
So if you're interested in seeing what Lisa is up to, read the comments on the blog and on Goodreads and comment yourself for the chance to win a signed copy of Sweet Glory, head on over to:
 
http://bit.ly/XzWkpg (blog on website)
or
http://bit.ly/UjqHZK (blog on Goodreads)
 
~ciao
LA

Friday, December 7, 2012

Time Of Death ~ Excerpt From Ellis Vidler's Latest Book


And the winner is . . . Theresa! She won the book. Theresa, please let me know what you want, print or eBook, Cold Comfort or Time of Death. :-) Email me at ellis@ellisvidler.com



Time of Death. Artist Alex Jenrette’s psychic streak is awakening after a long, quiet spell. When violence is near, she’s compelled to draw, and her sketches reflect the events she’s never seen.

The Excerpt:

“You’re drawing again.” Isobel picked up one of the loose pages and examined it. “Are the visions coming back?”

The charcoal stick gripped in Alex’s hand darted across the sheet in front of her as if driven by its own will. “Umm, maybe,” she mumbled, barely aware of the question. Under her fingers, angry waves churned against the shore. Like flotsam rising to the surface of the sea, a dark figure emerged in the wake of the flying charcoal. She grabbed a scarlet pastel, smeared it through the water around the body.

As suddenly as it had come, the tension drained from her. She dropped the chalk and leaned back, rubbing her temples. “Blood. A man in the water.”

“You haven’t done this since the boy in Asheville, have you?”

Isobel massaged her shoulders, and Alex arched her back, leaning into her aunt’s hands. “This is the first time.”

“Any idea where this one is?”

“No. Only a man in water. Ocean, judging from the waves, but I don’t know where.” Alex focused on the sketch, trying to see more, find something to locate the scene, but nothing else came to her. She yawned. “It’s gone now.” Nearly a year had passed since the last visions rendered themselves through her hands. It happened shortly after Ty’s death, when she was more vulnerable, maybe more open to the spiritual world. She hoped that was the end of the unwelcome drawings, but she’d known they’d return if violence came near.

“Is he dead?”

“Yes, I’m sure of it.” Alex couldn’t help this man. In Asheville, the boy had been alive. The police, convinced she was a nut case, ignored her until one of the searchers recognized the cave entrance from her sketch. He led the police to the place, where they found the child, terrified and suffering from exposure, tethered to a stake in the cold floor. Exactly as her drawings showed.

“There’s no need to go to the police.” Alex shivered, recalling the relentless interrogations, the suspicion her drawings engendered. How could she know those details unless she was involved, they reasoned. Psychic phenomena weren’t covered in the police manual.

“Then leave it. You can’t help him.” Isobel’s matter-of-fact voice reassured her. “Let’s have lunch.”
 
The Blurb:
 
Time of Death by Ellis Vidler
While visiting near Charleston, South Carolina, an artist draws scenes of murder she can’t explain.
Alex, the artist. After a tree falls on her house, she joins her aunt on an unspoiled island, but something wakens her family psychic streak. She draws eerily accurate scenes of violence, but she knows nothing about them.
Connor, the prosecutor. He’s building a case against a drug lord one piece of evidence at a time. For him it’s personal, and he can’t risk a relationship with a witness, especially a psychic who’ll blow his case out of the water. 
Rollins, the killer. He’s a cog in a much bigger wheel, and the witness to his acts of violence threatens his operation and his life. He’ll do anything to see that doesn’t happen.
 
 
                         ____________________________________    
 
 
Remember, if you'd like to be in the drawing for a copy of this book, leave your comment here or on the prior blog post.
 
Hope you enjoyed the excerpt.  I did and I'm hooked.  Off to buy to book...
 
Ciao,
~ LA
 

 




Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ellis Vidler ~ Square Pegs, Round Holes, and Self-Publishing


I can't tell you how thrilled I am to have Ellis Vidler as my guest today.  She is one talented lady, and incredibly nice to boot. What a combination.
 
Ellis lives and writes in South Carolina ~ Piedmont (which is what the upstate, northwestern part of the state is referred as.) She's also an editor and has taught fiction writing. Her books, available at Amazon.com, are suspense with varying degrees of romance.
 
She maintains a blog, mostly about writing and writers, at http://theunpredictablemuse.blogspot.com
 
 
Please join me in welcoming Ellis to An Indie Adventure.
 
______________________________________________________________________________
Square Pegs, Round Holes, and Self-Publishing

One of the reasons I chose to self-publish my new book is that I’m not a genre purist.
 
Back when I was submitting to agents, I got many compliments on the writing, the characters, and so on. But then they asked for changes to better fit the genre, or they rejected it outright, saying it wouldn’t be marketable as either romance or suspense, because it either had too much or too little of whatever. My square pegs didn’t fit their round holes. This went on for several years, and I got discouraged, to say the least. 
 

Link to Book
Then Amazon opened my eyes. I self-published The Peeper, a police procedural/suspense (with a little romance) with Jim Christopher, a retired LEO  and my co-author. It got good reviews and sold reasonably well—a very encouraging development.(An aside here: LEO...Law Enforcement Officer, who knew~L.A.)

Link to Book
I was about to self-publish Cold Comfort, another suspense novel with “strong romantic elements,” when I met Karen Syed of Echelon Press. Fortunately, she’s not a genre hardliner. She released it last December because the heroine owns a Christmas shop, but that meant a year’s wait for me. I no longer have that kind of patience.
 
So now I’m committed to self-publishing. As long as we have the ability and means to ensure that it’s a quality publication, I’m for it. I have several readers who point out errors, plot holes, and factual mistakes in my books.
 
Time of Death had all of those—everything from a character picking up a pack of cigarettes in a store (I didn’t realize they’re kept behind the counter now) to one of the dreaded TSTL moments for my heroine. I hope I and my readers spotted them all. I know it’s a much better book now, but a few glitches always slip through. (Another aside:TSTL...Too Stupid To Live)
  
Link to Book
 Self-publishing still carries a stigma.
 
One reason is that many authors put their book out as soon as it’s completed, not realizing it needs serious, honest input from others. We can’t view our babies objectively—you know the old saw: “Every old crow thinks hers is the prettiest in the patch.” True. We do. We see what we think we typed, we’re convinced it all makes sense because we know the story, and we include “facts” we’re so sure of we don’t bother to check them.

The article on covers featured on this blog a few weeks ago offered some excellent advice. Covers are extremely important, even more so with eBooks. Try for a professional-looking cover that speaks for your book—it’s worth it. And make sure it looks good as a thumbnail. That’s how most readers first see it.

So hooray for Amazon and self-publishing! Let us not abuse the opportunity. J

Leslie, I love your new book, Dare to Believe. Good story!

Thanks for having me today.

Ellis
_______________________________________________________________________
 
Thank you, Ellis, for your candor.  And lucky us, she's giving a copy, either digital or print of Time of Death to one lucky person who leaves a comment.
 
And lucky us again, there will be an excerpt from this book on Saturday the 8th. 
 
Comments from this post and the excerpt will be entered in the drawing.   
 
Ciao
L.A.
 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday's Recipe ~ Coconut Cake from the Halekulani Hotel, Hawaii

Disclaimer right off the top.  Do not read the nutritional info. Just bake and enjoy!



This fabulous cake came from the majestic Halekulani Hotel on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, where it has been the hotel’s signature cake for years. It’s cut into three layers, then pasted together with pastry cream. Don’t worry if your layers aren’t perfect; once it’s put together, you’ll never know. The taste is all you’ll care about.

Ingredients
Sponge Cake:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
2/3 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2/3 cup water
8 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Pastry Cream:
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons cornstarch
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup amaretto

Whipped Cream:

3 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
Prep Time - 25 min.
Cook Time - 10 min.

Instructions

1. To prepare the cake, preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan.

2. Sift together cake flour, 2/3 cup sugar, salt and baking powder in a small bowl. In separate bowl, combine oil, egg and water; add to flour mixture. Mix until smooth.

3. Whip egg whites and cream of tartar. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into batter until just combined.  

4. Pour into pan and bake about 30 minutes or until center is set. Remove from pan set aside to cool. Store in the refrigerator several hours before cutting.

5. To prepare the pastry cream, combine 1 3/4 cups milk, sugar, salt and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles form. Combine remaining milk with cornstarch; add eggs and beat several times.

6. Add ½ cup hot milk mixture to egg mixture; mix well. Pour egg mixture back into milk mixture in saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Scrape custard into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator.

7. To prepare the whipped cream, combine heavy cream and sugar in a nonreactive mixing bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. 

8. Add 1 cup of whipped cream, amaretto and 1 1/4 cups coconut to pastry cream; stir well. Set remaining whipped cream and coconut aside.

9. When cake is completely cooled, cut into three layers using a serrated knife. Place one layer on a 9-inch cake board or a serving plate. Place half the pastry cream on top and spread to edge evenly. Place second layer of cake on top of pastry cream and spread remaining pastry cream on top. Place third layer of cake on top. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining whipped cream and sprinkle with 1/2 cup coconut.


Recipe by permission from the Halekulani Hotel, Honolulu.

Nutritional Info (per serving)
Calories 600
Fat 35g 
Saturated Fat 20g

Polyunsaturated Fat 4.5g
Monounsaturated Fat 9g
Cholesterol 155mg
Sodium 360mg
Potassium 250mg
Carbohydrates 61g
Fiber 2g
Sugars 38g
Protein 9g

Read more:



 


Sunday, November 18, 2012

What I Learned From Vince...

If you haven't read Vince Mooney's post on Cover Art and Advertising Headlines published on this blog, stop, go back and read it, then see why I've worked on several new covers.

ORIGINAL COVER



People liked this cover, it was pretty. I LIKED it, but it was niggling at me that something was wrong.  And while it stood out on a page in a thumbnail when person queried my title, I'm not sure it stood out in the way I wanted.

Then I read a post on Seekerville where Vince said something that triggered an even stronger feeling that I was on the wrong track with my cover.  (something about it looking like wall art, not a cover...)

I was adamant, however, that I was going to make watercolors my brand.  So how to do all I needed to do?

Then I realized that I wanted, needed Vince to teach me about marketing and book covers.  I asked and VOILA, his  incredible post about cover art and marketing.
 
And as we were working on it, I'd already thought of a new cover.

COVER CHANGE ONE:
 

AND ANOTHER RENDITION:
 
 
 
Then his post was ready...we'd edited and cut and added and cut...it was time to publish.
 
And as I pushed the publish button, I realized the above art didn't quite do justice to the story. I think you understand from the art that Haley, the little girl is ripped from her mother. 
 
But it wasn't enough.
 
It didn't say Hawaii, which most my reviewers mentioned as being extremely well researched (I lived there) and my readers seemed to particularly enjoy those scenes.  (Market research, I asked them.)
 
The above covers didn't say pathos, loss and hope. And again, it didn't say Hawaii, although it could be inferred from the watercolor...but only AFTER you'd read the book.
 
So, I came up with another idea, worked on it with my cover artist and vetted it with Vince...who actually loved it.   
 
FINAL COVER:

 
 
So, here it is. I'd love your comments and thoughts. 
 
Cover art is vital in marketing our stories.  It is the first image planted in your prospective customer's mind.  It should offer an image that relates to something in their life. It makes them want or NOT want to delve further and read the blurb (another subject for a blog) and then finally either read the first chapter, and then your writing is going to make them buy the book.
 
I'll let you know as time goes on, whether the cover makes a difference in my sales, etc.
 
NOW for another big reveal: my next book's cover, which Vince also loves.
 
STONE OF HEAVEN
  
This one is for Digital versions, because the pyramid stands out more for the thumbnail. As I posted this I realized it will need a thin border or shadow to help set it off from the page and I've already sent the email to my artist :)
 

 
 
And this one is for the Print on Demand because I love the way the pyramid is transparent and it will be gorgeous on the glossy cover.
 
 
Hope this visual lesson helped.
 
Ciao,
LA aka Leslie Ann
 
 
 

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