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Brain Food for Writers by Connie Vines

June 13, 2016 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , ,

It wasn’t until I completed this blog post that I realized that my title, well. . .carried an unintended double meaning.

My featured novella this month — Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow– is a Zombie story. And today’s topic is brain food.  Well, brain food for writers, anyway.

On deadline? Obsessed with your current storyline?  Forfeiting sleep, exercise, and nutrition to reach the moment you can type the words The End on the final page of your novel?

Here are a list of grazing foods that you can keep on hand.  High in protein, easy prep, and tasty.

Single serve, or 5 ounces of nonfat cottage cheese.  3 grams more protein than a typical serving of Greek yogurt.

Hard boiled Egg.  No longer shunned due to claims of too high cholesterol, we can enjoy in moderation. You can boil yourself or purchased peeled and packaged at the market.

Peanut butter.  Scoop your own or purchase in single packets, smear on a banana or apple slices.

Roasted chickpeas ( I love hummus and falafel).  120 cals per serving, 5 gram of protein and fiber.
To prep yourself rinse and drained chickpeas in a bowl with olive oil.  Add chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.  Oven bake at 425 degrees for 45 mins.

Greek yogurt

Turkey roll ups. Nitrate free deli turkey breast with a squirt of mustard, a slice of tomato, and some lettuce.  Add red pepper slices and baby carrots. Roll and store in a plastic container or foil.

Hummus.  Made from chickpeas, tahini, and olive oil, hummus is a healthy mix of protein and fiber. Use it as a dip for carrots, tomatoes, red pepper, and cucumber slices,

100-calorie almond packets.

String cheese.

Happy Writing & Reading.

Connie

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Vintage Perfumes: The Fragrances That Defined Each Decade by Connie Vines

May 13, 2016 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , , , , , ,

Nothing can transport you back in time like a fragrance. They say that your sense of smell is the most powerful and evocative sense, and it’s true: Emeraude reminds me of my mother, Quorum my husband, and Halston Z-14 reminds me of my teens and guys who bathed in a cologne—rather than indulging in a spritz or two.

“A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” – Coco Chanel

This may have been a dramatic overstatement, however, when I was in the business of selling perfume, quotes such as these, gave women confidence when she entered a room! And Chanel No. 5 is one of the most popular fragrances of all time, a bottle of it is sold every 30 seconds (this includes me , too).

Coco Chanel also stated that women should wear perfume wherever they hoped to be kissed. Wise words indeed – please note that this does not mean ‘layered’ in perfume, as perfume counter girls armed with spray bottles will advise you.  No one should be able to smell your perfume unless they’re that little bit closer than is polite, then it should be something delicious and intoxicating.
Whilst researching which perfumes were popular over the decades I was surprised how many of these I’ve actually owned. Over the years, I’ve tried Anais Anais, Shalimar, Opium, Poison, Red, and Patou 1000 before I finally settled on Chanel No. 5. Of course, I selected one of the most expensive perfumes on the market, but I guess there is a good reason why it’s been a bestseller since it was launched in 1921!

Vintage Perfumes: The Fragrances that Defined Each Decade
It’s surprising how many of these perfumes are still best sellers even now, but then why would they go out of fashion?

Popular Perfumes in the 1920s.

Chanel No. 5, launched in 1921, was an immediate success even though it was the preserve of the rich at this time.  Famously worn by Marilyn Monroe, the square bottle design was rumored to been inspired by the design of a whiskey decanter.

Guerlain’s Shalimar launched first in 1925. It is one of the most popular fragrances of all time and was said to be inspired by Mumtaz Mahal, the women for whom the Taj Mahal was built. The perfume was named after the Gardens of Shalimar in Lahore, Pakistan, which were also built for her.
Popular Perfumes in the 1930s.

Tabu by Dana Fragrances which were popular in the 1930s included Tabu by Dana (a sexy evening perfume), which was launched in 1932 and Je Reviens by House of Worth, both of which remain available today.

In 1934 Elizabeth Arden developed Blue Grass.

Perhaps the most notable perfume of the 1930s was Joy by Jean Patou, voted Scent of the 20th Century at the Fragrance Foundation FiFi awards in 2000. It was created in 1929 (the year of the Wall Street Crash) and even though it was marketed as ‘the world’s most expensive perfume’, it was a huge hit. It is also considered to be one of the greatest floral fragrances of all time.

Popular Perfumes in the 1940s.

L’Air du Temps by Nina Ricci (in a pretty glass bottle with a bottle stopper fashioned as two doves). After the war lighter and fresher perfumes became more popular, one of which was the still-popular Miss Dior by Christian Dior in 1947

Popular Perfumes in the 1950s.

Femme de Rochas was a rich, sultry perfume aimed at the femme fatale created in 1944.
Arpege by Lanvin is a floral romantic perfume, created in 1927,  but became particularly popular during the 1950s.

Max Factor’s Hypnotique and Primitif (as advertised by Jean Patchett above) were popular and an affordable perfume for the masses compared to the fragrances by the big fashion houses.
Soir de Paris by Bourjois was a popular fragrance amongst teenagers during the 1950s. It was discontinued in 1969, but relaunched in 1992

Popular Perfumes in the 1960s.

Oh! de London by Tuvache, YSL Rive Gauche was a popular 1960s scent
Hubert de Givenchy created L’Interdit for Audrey Hepburn and she wore the perfume for many years before it was released to the public in 1957. She featured in the adverts for L’Interdit throughout the 1960s.

Tuvache’s Oh! de London is a bright sparkling scent which perfectly captured the mood of the swinging sixties.

Guerlain introduced the heady oriental scent Chamade in 1969.

Popular Perfumes in the 1970s.

Charlie by Revlon and Diorella by Christian Dior, a perfume for the independent woman who has everything, were both very popular.

Opium by Yves Saint Laurent, launched in 1977, and was a heady, rich oriental evening perfume.
Christian Dior released the classic perfume Diorella, which combines citrus and musky notes.
Anais Anais by Cacharel, launched in 1978 and was an immediate hit (my brother gave this to me as a Christmas Gift).

 Did I list one of your favorite perfumes?

Or, perhaps a fragrance you’ve never dared to try?

Perfuming is an art.  Indulge your senses, enjoy the fragrance—it’s mystical, it’s magical, is the new you.


Happy Reading,

Connie Vines



Links to Connie Vines’ Novels

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Elena and Kitty Blabbing About Books – A Live Show

May 10, 2016 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , ,
Do you like listening to podcasts or watching video interviews? Are you a fan of shows like Inside the Actors Studio? Do you love to read and talk about books?
You just might love our new show, Elena and Kitty Blabbing About Books!
Elena and Kitty Blabbing About Books
YA author Elena Dillon and I started this new live author interview show on the Blab platform in February 2016 to see if it was something we enjoyed. We’ve interviewed half a dozen authors so far and we’re having a great time! Audience members say they’re having fun, too!
The Blab platform is a new-ish website that allows people all over the world to video chat with up to three other people live while anyone from anywhere can watch and participate in the chat box. The video chats can also be recorded and watched again later.
On Elena and Kitty Blabbing About Books, Elena and I interview authors in a manner similar to that of Inside the Actors Studio. Some of the questions are silly fun, and some are about the author’s process or new books coming out, and the watching audience asks questions as well.
Last week, we tried another format – Elena and I chatted about our favorite sci-fi and fantasy stories while our audience interacted with us in the chat. We discussed The Martian by Andy Weir, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, the Lord of the Rings books by J.R.R. Tolkein, and many more. We’re going to do the same kind of show this Wednesday, talking about favorite time travel stories. There are so many – A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Remembrance by Jude Deveraux, and many more – that we had to dedicate a separate show to time travel, outside the sci-fi/fantasy show!
Elena and Kitty Blabbing About Books is live from 7pm to 8pm Pacific time (almost) every Wednesday. The link here is for the time travel show this Wednesday. But you can click the link anytime after the show is over to see the replay. You can also follow Elena and me on the Blab platform (it’s connected to Twitter) and get a message when a new show is about to go live. Searching Blab will find our past episodes, but I’ll also start a new page on my website soon and add all the shows we’ve done. 😀
We won’t have a show next week, Wednesday, May 18, 2016, because I’ll be out of town. But we’ll be back on May 25. I hope you join us this Wednesday and/or on future episodes as we blab about books!
Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her novels, Little Miss LovesickA Very Merry Superhero Wedding, and Unexpected Superhero are currently available on Amazon. The free short story “Superhero in Disguise” is available wherever ebooks are sold. You can find out about her courses on self-publishing, marketing, and time management for writers at her website Writer Entrepreneur Guides.
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Research: Does Inaccuracy in a Novel Bother You? By Connie Vines

April 13, 2016 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , , ,

 I blog weekly on two sites (in addition to my own) and monthly on four  website, I thought I’d post a topic from my Round Robin Series.

Topic: All story genres take some research for establishing details in the setting. What type of research have you had to do? Does it bother you when you read something happening in a story that is inaccurate historically, socially, scientifically, etc?

Does it bother me?

Yes.

 However, in my case, there are varying degrees of irritation.  If it is an easily found fact, or a fact that any functioning adult should be aware of then, yes—I am very irritated and will probably not finish the novel.  On the other hand if current verbiage is used or the description of an item of clothing is more modern, that could be the writer’s choice.  The writer may feel that her ‘readers’ wish to have the ‘flavor’ of a historical story without the genealogy charts or gritty reality of the era. Then I am okay.  But to pass the facts off as accurate/ or marketed to make the reader believe this is not a fictionalized story—as in “The Other Boleyn Sister” or Disney’s “Pocahontas” animated movie (with what I like to call the Vulcan-mind-meld when the Hero and Heroine suddenly speak and understand each other),  I do become angry.  Apparently, I clamp my teeth, and my husband will swear that I growl when these movies become a topic of conversation.

We all make mistakes, I remind myself.  Alternatively, the copy-editor adds/ deletes a needed fact.  Moreover, sometime we simply ‘thought’ we removed it from the final draft.  Still sloppy research makes for sloppy writing.  If you do not like research, build your own world/town/or, do not give the reader a date or place to hang her hat on.  You and add a statement:  liberties were taken; the mistakes are my own, etc.

Researching

Any professional writer knows there is a lot more to the job than simply writing. There is also revising, editing, promoting, and much more. Before I even consider typing: Chapter One.  Whether I am writing, historical, or fantasy, I conducted days—if not months or even years, gather my research material and scheduling interviews.

Research is vital to every writer.  Contemporary novels required daily research to keep up-to-date on the latest tech item, hairstyle or whatever relates to your storyline.
Every encounter with a new person or visiting a new place is an opportunity for better, more descriptive writing. Writers never truly take a vacation, or turn off the research part of her/his brain.

So how do I organized my research material?  (Tossing everything into a large bin is oh-so-not-the-way to be organized.)

#1: Keep a File Folder for Ideas

I have files where I stash clippings of articles on specific topics I feel will come up again, or will one day make great short stories/articles.  I have plain colored folders for “shared” topics (I write multiple genres), cute folders (for YA/Teen topics), action folders for supernatural stories, etc.

These clippings are often story generators or prompts to open a chapter/create a pivot point. How many times have you heard something on the radio or watched something on television and thought, “Wouldn’t that be so great in my next novel”?

Story prompts can be anything that you find interesting, anything that relates to your genre or area of writing interest. Because my books are character driven, I tend to be drawn to articles that talk about the human condition (i.e., why we do the things we do) or specific topics that I feel relate to my particular ‘character’.

 #2: Story Premise Research First

When you start a new project, you must make some decisions. What is the theme of your book? (We might also think of this step as “what is the premise of your book?”) The answer to this question will guide your starting research.

My third book, Whisper upon the Water, focused a lot on the living conditions and societal attitudes about Native American children. I already knew that Native American children were forced to attend government run boarding schools after the Indian Wars, but I did not know about the process, and how it affected the children or how they adapted. Therefore, I began with interviews, tours of the schools still in operation and trips to historical archives and reservations.

Before I wrote a single word, I looked into this, and the answers I found are what formulated my plot points. I needed this foundation of research to create a convincing plot, otherwise I would not tell the story correctly.  I wanted the truth, I wanted historical accuracy and I wanted my readers to have an emotional connection to my characters.

Poor research in the beginning often results in a manuscripts dying at the halfway point. Think of this step as the foundation of your novel.

#3: First-Hand Accounts

As a rule, I set my stories in placed I have lived or visited.  However, a writer does not have to go to a city/country to get a feeling for it.

Online Resources

Travel sites, local blogs, and YouTube all have a place in a writer’s arsenal. In particular:
• Travel Sites often have detailed maps and downloadable audio walking tours that can give you context for notable buildings and directional substance for urban areas to include in your book.
• YouTube is a major resource, often underutilized by writers. Those seemingly normal videos are great for providing local terminology, dialect, visual perspective and even minor details like the amount of traffic at a particular park or on a particular street.
 #4: Details

• Using Google Maps and Streetview, for my upcoming release anthology at BWL: Gumbo Ya Ya—for women who like romance Cajun & men Hot & Spicy! I was able to get a street view of that area and I could ‘walk’ the streets as they appear in New Orleans. The Streetview feature setting on Google Maps plops you down right at street level and gives you a 360-degree view of everything including traffic, crowds, and architecture.  While I do have my personal photos and memories of the city, it is always good to make certain the details are ‘just right’.

#5: Remember to Write

You can always do a fact check on the smaller items as part of the final revision process.

When I am dictating or typing my story, unless an earth-shattering event is in the works, I do not stop the process.  I will type:** research time line of Spanish Flu or   ** insert the popular song year, and keep writing.  When I go back over the material, I will have time to add the particulars.

Research is fun.  Unlike may authors, research in my favorite part of writing.  Like a method actor, I immerse myself in the process.  Hobbies, Music, Books, and Food (well, not food when I wrote my Zombie novella, “Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow”. right now, however, it is shrimp Creole, pecan pie and coffee with chicory).  Research need not be cumbersome. If you are interested in your subject matter, then it is not work. It is just another part of writing a book.

 I believe it is writing a book that is rich in research helps to separate the writers from the multi-published authors.

Readers, how do you feel about this topic?  How important is historical accuracy to you?

Happy Reading,

Connie Vines


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Soldier, Nurse, Spy: The Women who won the Civil War

March 11, 2016 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , , , , , ,

March is Women’s History Month.

Writing women back into history. Many times we forget the Civil War wasn’t fought only by men, but women, too.

Did you watch the recent PBS Civil War mini-series “Mercy Street?”

I was glued to my TV every week watching the fascinating story of a Virginia hotel turned into a hospital for both Union and Confederate wounded in 1862.

What did you think of Mercy Street?

I enjoyed watching the story unfold and how it paralleled my Civil War time travel romance, Love Me Forever, which also takes place in 1862 Virginia. It was like watching my pages come alive with Civil War medicine, a visit from Mr. Lincoln, hoop skirts, women’s roles in both the North and the South, and of course, hot romance.

What I loved so much about that show was the prominence of women’s roles during the Civil War and how they changed nursing with their daring and willingness to tread into what was then a male profession.Like Mercy Street, I have two heroines:

Liberty Jordan, a time traveler from the future who goes back to Antietam dressed as a Confederate officer.

Pauletta Buckingham, a Tennessee belle and a spy bent on revenging the death of her beloved, a Texas Ranger.

An odd couple in every way. One is a strawberry-blonde, the other raven-haired. One believes in the Union; the other will do anything for the cause. One is in love with a man she can’t have…the other is engaged to a man she doesn’t love.

But these two women have one thing in common: believing in women’s equality. Here my time traveler, Liberty in LOVE ME FOREVER, questions her involvement in the war with belle Pauletta Sue.

“Liberty couldn’t stop questioning how she got mixed up with this crazy secesh woman and her insane scheme. She’d never seen a woman so passionate about a cause, so truly believing what she was doing was patriotism. The war had unleashed a fire in her, and the more Liberty understood about the protected, delicate lifestyle these women led, the more she knew a great movement was underway that went beyond their cause.

It wasn’t until 1866 that the American Equal Rights Association was founded, but this was the beginning of the movement leading to women’s freedom and that she could understand. What bothered her was that Pauletta Sue was on the losing side of the war and because of that, she might not benefit from the changes women embraced afterward. She worked so hard at her cause, Liberty believed she deserved better, but the belle wouldn’t listen to her.”

I love how these two women bond over the course of the story as did Union Army nurse Mary in Mercy Street with belle Emma. But as much as I enjoyed the series, I kept hoping they would touch on the role of women in the ranks. Brave women who fought and often died as soldiers because they believed in their cause. I’m hoping the series will be renewed and we’ll meet up with a female soldier in Season 2.

My hero, Major Flynt Stephens, a Union Army physician, ponders the idea of female soldiers when he finds out his Rebel prisoner is a beautiful woman (Liberty).

“The Rebel prisoner was a female.

Would his nurse give her away? Or was she waiting for him to say something? He couldn’t. He felt a stirring within him, something he didn’t want to admit, that brought a hardness between his loins. Did he dare imagine that a beautiful woman existed under all that blood and dirt? He’d heard stories about women enlisting in the army, both North and South, and fighting as men. A good set of teeth to rip open a bullet cartridge, a trigger finger that worked, and a firm handshake was all that was required to join up. It was no secret the promise of a steady paycheck was often the reason behind such reckless female behavior.

That didn’t solve his immediate problem.”

Women Soldiers in the Civil War from “Love Me Forever” from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

We will soon see women in combat roles in the Armed Forces. Imagine how proud the women soldiers in the Civil War would be knowing they paved the way…

~Jina

LOVE ME FOREVER is available on Amazon

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