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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thursday Recipe - Mud Pie

Remember those summer days when you made mud in the backyard and patted it into pies? We got gourmet in my yard. Some of the dirt would make dark black mud. The sandier stuff made lighter mud pies. We mixed and twisted and patted and shaped and made lots of messes. Ah, to be a child again when mud under my nails was perfectly acceptable.

I'm watching another snowstorm moving in and wishing for spring to stay for more than an afternoon. Our weather tends to switch from freezing to roasting in just a few days. The sweet warmth of spring lasts for only a breath. Then it's mud pie season again.

This recipe is a fun one. Mix it up, switch it around, add what you and your family like. It's a cool and creamy dessert or snack perfect for those lazy summer days that are just around the corner.

So hose off your children and serve some up.

Mud Pie

2 large boxes of instant pudding mix, the 6 serving size
4 c. milk
2 c. smashed cookies, oreos or ginger snaps or vanilla wafers or whatever crunchy cookie you like
Assorted add-ins - gummy worms, chocolate rocks, jelly beans, marshmallows, nuts, chocolate chips, chopped candy bars or mint patties, toasted coconut
Assorted garnishes - gumdrop flowers, colored or toasted coconut, extra cookie crumbs or bits, teddy grahams, gummy bugs

Mix the pudding with the milk. Whisk until smooth and starting to thicken, about 3 - 5 minutes. Add the cookies and up to 1 c. of add-ins. Stir gently just to fold in. Scoop into serving dishes or a big serving bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to one day. Garnish as desired and serve.

Chocolate pudding, oreos, chocolate chips, nuts, and marshmallows for cookies'n'cream rocky road special. Garnish with teddy grahams.
Vanilla pudding, ginger snaps, and coconut. Top with chopped pecans, toasted coconut, or smashed pecan sandies.
Chocolate pudding, grasshopper cookies, chopped mint patties, and chocolate chips. Top with spearmint leaves and junior mint candies.
Butterscotch pudding, vanilla wafers, butterscotch chips, mini marshmallows, and chopped butterfingers. Top with gummy bugs or gumdrop flowers.

And the traditional mud pie: Chocolate pudding, oreos, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, and enough gummy worms to make it look like dirt. Make flowers by rolling gumdrops flat for petals and leaves. Scoop pudding into ice cream cones. Sprinkle extra oreos on top to look like potting soil. Garnish with gumdrop flowers and an extra gummy worm.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Day Late...

But not a dollar short. Not yet, anyway.

I spent last weekend at Norwescon, a great SF/F convention in Seattle. I'm just now digging out from under the mound of stuff that backed up while I was gone. So my blog post is a day late. (And no pictures because I misplaced my camera before I left. Urg.)

Last year, I wrote a convention etiquette guide for various groups after I returned from a con, groups like zombies, vampires, and fairies. This year I think I'll take a different twist and maybe post something more useful, like why attend cons and what to do when you're there.

Why attend a con? It costs money to get in, money for the hotel room, money for travel, money for food, lots of money. It takes time away from work and family. It can be nerve-wracking if you're an introvert or hate large crowds. The people can be very weird, especially at an SF/F convention. Those are all reasons not to go. But those same weird people are fun and very interesting to talk to. The money really isn't that much for most cons and there are ways to reduce the bill by sharing with friends. The crowds can get to be a bit much, but it's only for a few days. Norwescon had well over a thousand people attending. But even with that number, there were enough different things to do that the congestion never really got too bad. If the crowds got too thick, I found somewhere else to hang for a while. I split my room with two friends, and we stayed up way too late talking and pretending we were on an extended slumber party. Yes, even middle-age grown-ups need to get in touch with their inner child at times.

Why go? To meet up with friends you don't see very often. To make new friends, sometimes with people you would never cross paths with in your normal life. To learn new things. The panels and presentations can be very entertaining and informative. I loved the panels on art aerobics (stretching your creative muscles in new and fun ways) and early 20th century ribbon work. I talked with people about costumes, writing, space travel, horror novels, needlework techniques, therapy dogs, children, books, and lots of other things.

A convention can renew your inner fire and spark new ideas. A convention can introduce you to new areas to explore in your writing or hobbies. A convention can connect you with new friends from all over.

A convention can also help readers find you and your books. I sold a few copies of my books and handed out a lot of bookmarks, but I wasn't there to be a pain-in-the-butt marketing idiot. I was there to relax and enjoy and stretch my mind. I was there to meet new friends and connect with old ones.

I was also there to escape from my job and my kids for a weekend, but that's another story. Norwescon was a much needed vacation from my normal routine.

If you haven't ever thought about attending a con, why not do some research and see what your area has to offer? SF/F cons are loads of fun, even for those who are only casual readers or costumers.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday Recipe - Not-so-hot Wings

I'm sitting in a motel in Seattle, waiting. I don't have access to my cookbooks-of-inspiration. I'm also freezing, but that's beside the point.

My 8yo daughter loves chicken wings. Not hot wings, though, which is all I seem to be able to find. She can't have wheat, so they have to be real bone-in wings with no breading. Nobody does those in any flavor but HOT, not the Wally's World deli, or Papa John's (which lets me buy online and get it delivered to my door, how convenient, but they have NOTHING on their menu she can eat besides super-spicy hot wings), or any other take-out joint that sells wings. So I started a hunt for wings in the grocery store figuring I can cook up my own batch. Strike out at the grocery stores. Score at Wally's. They're good for some things.

She was excited when I told her I'd cook her wings. It's been years since I fried chicken. I winged it. Ba-dum-dum-DING. Anyway, they turned out very tasty. She was very happy.

Not-so-hot Wings

1.5 lbs wing pieces, skin on and bones inside (They cook better and they have great flavor, and they're usually cheap. If you can find whole wings, you can chop them up yourself. Find the joints in the wing. Use a big sharp knife to chop the joints apart. Discard the wing end, the part with no meat. The other two pieces are a wingette and a drumette, cause this one is shaped like a little drumstick. Leave the skin on.)
Seasoned salt, about 1 T.
1/2 c. oil
1 c. barbecue sauce, your favorite brand and flavor, or make your own. I still haven't mastered that art.

Arrange chicken on a plate or in a pan or whatever. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Set aside. Heat oil in a heavy cast iron skillet over medium heat. You can use another type of skillet, but cast iron really does work the best. You want the oil hot enough to sizzle when you add the chicken, but not so hot it smokes. CAUTION: hot oil is HOT. It will spatter while you cook. If you have a large metal saucepan lid handy, you can cover the pan to reduce the amount of spattering. Don't use a glass lid. Not a good idea. I have a big stockpot lid that works great.

Add the chicken to the skillet. You may need to cook two batches. You don't want to crowd it. You want the oil to stay hot and sizzling to get a nice crispiness on the skin. Cover the pan and let it sizzle for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid, turn the chicken wings to the other side, cover and cook another 5 minutes or so. Remove the lid and check your chicken. If it's getting crusty, you may want to reduce the heat a bit. If it's still pale, cook it a little longer. It usually takes about 12-15 minutes to cook wingettes. Drumettes take a teensy bit longer because the meat tends to be thicker. If you want to test, take out one of the medium thick pieces and cut it down to the bone. The meat should no longer be pink inside.

Once the chicken is done, remove it from the oil and set it on a paper-towel lined plate to drain for just a couple of minutes. Put the chicken pieces in a bucket, I used a margarine tub (empty and clean, of course, we recycle at my house) and pour the BBQ sauce over the top. Use tongs or whatever you have to stir the pieces around until they are all coated. Let them sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

Definitely finger licking time.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Musings

I was going to write a whole slew of reviews for ebooks I've read recently, but... (and it's a couple of biggies)...

First, I had a week off work. The mail piled up. I spent too much time clearing the desk again today. Then, my daughter needed my huge van to run a couple of errands. That's where the rest of my day went.

Second, my allergies were acting up so my head felt like someone was poking hot pokers up through my sinuses.

Third, My zombie farm needs my attention on my iPod so I can't check what books are on there that need reviews.

Fourth, I don't want to think. About anything. It is time for mind-numbing tv watching.

Fifth, I'd really rather write another chapter of my WIP.

Sixth, if I review these books, I just might get abducted by Zarkinoids from the Blemthul Nebula. They would throw me in a room in the starship and make me watch space as we travel FTL. Hey, it *could* happen. Somedays I wish it would.

Seventh, I still need to fix dinner and feed my horde of children who are apparently helpless, except when it comes to defeating the evil hordes that threaten MarioWorld or Hyperion (or wherever it is that Link lives). Or in running the tv remote.

Eighth, since I'm an author, I'm not supposed to review books anymore. And because I do it for the love, my opinion doesn't matter. I'm not a professional. The next person who tells me that is going to get a dangling participle shoved up where the sun don't shine. My reviews are my opinions. Take them or leave them. My taste in books may not be the same as yours. That's one reason why there are so many books out there in such a wide variety of styles, subjects, and genres. Yes, some of the authors I spotlight are my friends. Yes, some of the books I review are their books. Does that influence my review? Possibly. Does it matter? I still won't review, or even finish, a book I don't like no matter who wrote it, whether it's a self-pub friend's book or a NY bestseller list book. But then aren't all reviews a matter of opinion?

Ninth, I could do this all night. I'm a writer. I'm good at making stuff up. Except I still have to get dinner on the table.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday Recipe - Goat Cheese Spread and To-Die-For Frosting

(I was going to add pictures, but my daughter has my camera. By the time I get it back, I'll have to make everything from scratch all over again. Maybe pictures later, if I don't forget.)

It's spring break. I should be writing, but I need some time to play, too. I've been playing in the kitchen. These two recipes DO NOT go together. Ew. But both are awesome in their own way.

I promised my 7yo that I would share her cheese spread recipe. 7yo and goat cheese? Weird, yep. She's allergic to cow's milk in all its forms. She's learned to love goat cheese instead. Costco sells some good goat Chevre. My daughter loves their sushi, too, but that's another story. A while back, Costco had a cinnamon-cranberry goat Chevre on sale. My daughter fell in love with it. She keeps begging me to buy it, but it was a seasonal item. So we got creative and made our own version. She tells me it's much better. I have no idea because I found I'm allergic to goat milk. I've never tasted the spread, so you'll have to take her word for it.

The frosting was an experiment that turned out awesome, to quote my 15yo son. The cake, an outdated carrot cake mix, was pretty bleh, but the frosting turned out incredible. I thought about cream cheese frosting, but most of my kids are allergic to milk, not just the youngest. So I played and came up with this. It's kind of a caramel flavor, but not. It would work well on carrot cake, spice cake, yellow cake, or white cake; but not on chocolate cake.

Goat Cheese Spread

1/2 c. goat Chevre cheese, or other soft, mild cheese
2 T. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. allspice
pinch of cardamom
3 T. dried cranberries, chopped small
1/4 c. finely chopped nuts, optional (my daughter loves cashews, but pecans would work, too. Use the ones from a roasted and salted nut mix for best flavor.)

Mix sugar and spices together in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the cheese. Add the cranberries, then gently smush with a spoon until the mixture is mostly blended. Gentle is the key when working with goat milk or goat cheese. The more you handle it, the stronger the goat flavor gets. Don't use an electric mixer on this one. Just be patient and mash it around with a spoon. It doesn't have to be thoroughly mixed, just enough to swirl everything through the cheese. Put the mix into a tightly covered container and refrigerate for at least two hours to let the flavors blend. Serve it with breads, crackers, or sliced fruit.

Optional: Turn it into bite-size cheese balls. Scoop the cheese into rounded teaspoonfuls. Roll each ball in chopped nuts to coat. Set on a serving platter and serve immediately.

To-Die-For Frosting

1/2 c. real butter, don't use margarine in this one
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 T. mayonnaise
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. coconut extract
1/4 t. almond extract
3 - 4 c. powdered sugar
3 T. water

Stick the butter in the microwave to soften, but accidentally put it in too long so it comes out half-melted. Scrape it into your stand mixer bowl anyway and add the brown sugar. Cream it for at least three minutes to dissolve the brown sugar as much as possible. Add the mayonnaise and the extracts. Cream for another three minutes. It should be pale brown and very silky at this point. Add 2 c. of the powdered sugar and the water. Cream for, you guessed it, another three minutes. Add enough of the remaining powdered sugar to make a soft frosting. If you get it too stiff, add a little bit more water. Then, cream it again for at least a minute. Creaming the frosting makes it very soft and fluffy as well as dissolving the brown sugar to remove any grittiness.

Frost the cake of your choice, or spread the frosting on graham crackers and eat it immediately. Or just eat it with your fingers. It's that good.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Basket of Book Reviews

I am so behind. I've got a stack of books I've finished that still need reviews. I set a goal to review every book I finish. If it was good enough for me to read the whole thing, then it's good enough for a review. So, here you go. I'll review all the ebooks I've read lately next week. These are all print books.

How to Stuff a Wild Zucchini, by Heather Horrocks
Genre: LDS romance
Rating: G, ****

Confession time: I said once that I would never ever read an LDS Romance book. Some day I will learn to never make those kinds of promises to myself. I've broken just about all of them by now. For those who don't know, LDS Romance is written by and for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, aka The LDS Church or the Mormons. The romance books are supposed to fit our teachings and lifestyle- no profanity, no graphic bedroom scenes, characters who are members of the church who are at least trying to live by its precepts. The genre appeared in the late 70s and quickly gained the reputation of being horribly written and sweet enough to gag the sugar-plum fairy. I'm happy to report that the genre has matured and now offers some great stories.

Second confession: I don't read straight romance. Ever. Until now. I have read mystery/romance, ghost/mystery/romance, suspense/romance, and historical/romance. Now I have to admit I've read a straight LDS Romance. No dead bodies, international intrigue, ghosts, or pioneers/Indians.

How to Stuff a Wild Zucchini is a sweet story. Lori Scott is running from a career-ending bust of a Broadway play and the end of a romantic relationship. She lands in Brigham City, Utah, writing a gardening column for a local paper. She thinks the column is all about flowers and ornamental plants for the casual gardener. She soon discovers, to her dismay, the column is about vegetable gardens written for avid gardeners. Meanwhile, the vacationing columnist has generous allowed her to house-sit for him. Lori faces a very large vegetable garden just beginning to produce, especially the zucchini. Vegetables aren't the only things in bloom, either. Handsome firefighter John Wayne Walker shows up to put out the flames in the barbecue only to ignite flames in Lori's heart.

 Okay, that summary does sound a bit cheesy. I found the story sweet and charming with just enough local flavor and zucchini jokes to lighten it up and make it fun. Yeah, I live in Utah. Yeah, I'm a Mormon. But I can kill zucchini. It's a rare gift around here. I also found it very refreshing to pick up a book knowing that it contains no profanity and no racy scenes to skim past. Though the characters were a touch cliché, the book still kept me reading and enjoying. If you want a window on LDS culture, this book offers some glimpses as well as a sweet romance.

The Crystal Throne, by Kathryn Sullivan
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Rating: G, ****

This book is a tweenage girl's dream come true. Magic gates that allow you into a different world where you are the most special person in the world. Talking horses. Magic. Monsters. Talking horses. A sweet guy that sort of likes you. And did I mention TALKING HORSES? Explanation: Tweenage girls (9-13 or so) have a thing for horses. They are magical, wonderful creatures that girls would just die if they can't have a relationship with one. Most girls survive not having a special horse of their own. And as I found out, horses are big and smelly and not really that magical. But it's still a draw for girls. Add talking horses to your books and girls will sigh with longing.

Kathryn draws an interesting world. Threatened by the evil witches, the talking horses must band together with the elves and the other magical folk to try to save their world. But only humans possess the right magic to defeat the witches, and humans only come through the gate when the Watcher sends them through. (The Watcher is a big willow tree that is supposedly haunted by ghosts.) Jeanne and Peter are sent tumbling through the gate with no warning and find themselves in the magical world, hailed as the heroes who will break the witches' curse. Jeanne has no trouble believing she has magic. Peter's strength is his disbelief, but it may also prove his downfall.

If you're looking for a fun book that is appropriate for tweenagers, The Crystal Throne fills the bill. It's a story of courage, belief, trust, and friendship. And did I mention it has TALKING HORSES? (I still have a thing for magical horses- they can be mystical and beautiful and not sweaty, smelly creatures.) The sequel is sitting in my stack of books to read...

The Deadly Sister, by Eliot Schrefer
Genre - Murder Mystery
Rating: PG-13, ***

Abby Goodwin has always covered for her younger sister Maya. Whether it's drugs, skipping school, sleeping around, or running away from home, Abby is the good daughter while Maya is the wild child. Or so everyone thinks. When the popular kid from school turns up dead, all fingers point to Maya.

I read the book but didn't really enjoy it. The storyline is very dark, exploring a murky world of teen sex and drugs, making it seem the norm. The story is told first person by Abby, the good sister. While the writing is tight and the characters believable, the author pulls a twist at the end that just didn't work for me. I saw it coming chapters before he got to it, and, the biggest issue for me, twists of that magnitude don't work in a first person story. You can't get that far into a character's head through reading or writing first person without knowing the character. The twist felt cheap and contrived, completely unbelievable.

If you're into this kind of a thriller, give it a try.

Zombie Raccoons & Killer Bunnies, Anthology edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes
Genre - Horror
Rating - PG to R+ for some stories, ***

This book reinforces why I don't usually care for anthologies. I found a few of the stories absolutely hilarious and wonderful. Most of them were a meh. I skipped a few after the first few paragraphs. The book is based on the theme of evil animals, if the title wasn't a giveaway.

Death Mask by Jody Lynn Nye is a thought-provoking tale of an old woman and her bond with the local animals, especially the raccoons. Local farmers beware of old women with powers. You'll lose. I very much enjoyed this story.

BunRabs by Donald J. Bingle was hilarious. I thoroughly enjoyed his tale of the ravaging bunrabs that strike the henhouse just before Easter.

For Lizzie by Anton Strout was a fun romp through a magical library chasing a mystical bookworm that morphs into a more threatening wyrm when fed magical books.

Her Black Mood by Brenda Cooper was more on the dark side. A neglected child passes through a magical gate into another world where her carvings take on life. Never carve in anger is a lesson she rapidly learns.

SuperSquirrel to the Rescue by P.R. Frost was another fun story. Squirrels and crows fight it out over a bird feeder.

Overall, the collection was okay. These stories made it worth reading for me.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thursday Recipe - German Chocolate Pie From Belle

Magnolia Belle is another great author I've met on BestsellerBound. She shares a fun recipe and the story behind it.

"My first book, "Black Wolf: Lakota Man" also meant my first editor.  She lived in Connecticut and I in Texas.  The book is modern day adventure/romance about four Lakota Sioux brothers who form a rock band in Austin.  In the book, there is a scene involving the youngest brother's birthday.  His favorite cake is German chocolate.  The editor, not knowing that cake, insisted that I send the character to Germany to learn of the recipe.  I had to explain that the cake was invented by an American with the last name of German. 

Then she wanted me to use an authentic Lakota dessert for a birthday meal.  Again, I had to explain that the Lakota, and all North American tribes, didn't have sugar and typical desserts until Europeans came over.  I didn't think pemmican (lard with smashed berries) would be too appealing.  I laugh about it now.  At the time, I just had to shake my head. 

While this recipe is German chocolate pie, not cake, it's a tasty treat, good enough for anyone wherever they're from!"

my website:
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my amazon page:

German Chocolate Pie

Mix in a separate bowl and set aside:
3/4 c. sugar, 1/2 c. flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 c milk

Mix in a separate bowl and set aside:
2 TBS butter, 1 c. coconut, 1/2 c. chopped pecans, 1 tsp vanilla

Beat 3 egg yolks well and set aside

Scald 1-1/2 c. milk.  Add 8 oz of German chocolate.  Stir until chocolate is melted.  Add first sugar mixture and stir until thickened.

Add beaten egg yolks and stir on low heat for 2-3 minutes.

Remove from heat and add coconut mixture, stirring well.

Cool and pour into a 9" baked pie shell.  Chill and top with sweetened whipped cream.

This is very rich, so small slices do quite well.

Thanks for stopping by, Belle. This sounds absolutely decadent! Mmmm.... 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Author Interview - Gene Doucette

I met Gene Doucette about a year ago on Twitter. I've followed his journey to publication with interest and sympathy. I've been there, too, and not long ago. So, let me introduce you to the author of "Immortal", Gene Doucette.
How can we find you? Website, blog, Facebook, Twitter?
All of the above.  The website is, which is also my blog.  I’m on Facebook and Twitter as Gene Doucette and @GeneDoucette.  (I’m not one for handles.)  My main character is also on Facebook as Adam Immortal and on Twitter as @adamtheimmortal.  And just for fun, you can also find me on Goodreads (as Gene Doucette, of course) and I’m even listed on IMDb.
 I'm just as creative with handles. Name recognition is where it's at. What do you currently have in print and where can we find them?
Immortal is the big one.  You can find that for sale in print on Amazon, and in ebook everywhere, more or less: Kindle, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords… it’s even on sites I just learned existed, like Diesel.  I also have a few humor books out: Beating Up Daddy, which is in print only, you can find at Amazon.  Vacations and Other Errors In Judgment is an ebook on the Kindle.  And there’s The OTHER Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: A Parody.  You can find the original version of that in print from most online retailers and the anniversary edition I just put out on the Kindle a few weeks ago.

I'm looking forward to reading those, when I have money in my book budget again. What genre do you write?
I write serio-comic historical fiction crime/noir drama sci-fi fantasy action/adventure novels.

I asked Christopher Moore once what I could possibly call Immortal, seeing as how his novels face a similar problem.  He suggested I call it contemporary fantasy and get on with my life.  But it is not simply a fantasy, even though that’s the shelf it ends up on.  I have another novel called Fixer (sale pending, or maybe “pending”) that uses much of the same techniques as Immortal, but which would fit much more firmly on a science fiction bookshelf.  I think the most conventional book I’ve written was Charlatan, (book unsold; screenplay is award-winner though) which is a thriller.
Do the genre mash-up. Everyone else is. The only people who really worry about genre are authors, publishers, and booksellers. Or do readers really worry about genre?
Do you have cats or other pets? Why or why not?
We have three cats and a dog.  As I write this, the oldest of those cats is trying to get comfortable while sitting on my wrists and stomach.  I’m thinking of renaming him Handcuffs.  The other two cats are Wrecking Ball and Satan, although those aren’t their names either.  Our overweight dog, Penny (her actual name) is thankfully not attempting to get on my lap right now.  We’re pretty sure she thinks she’s a cat.

What inspires your stories?
I don’t know, but that’s the point of inspiration, isn’t it?  It sort of comes out of nowhere.

I read a lot of non-fiction—I’d say I read five non-fiction books for every one novel—which means I tend to go around with a lot of useless facts in my head.  Sometimes those facts gather together in one place and form a what-if, and then I sit down to try and figure out the consequences of that what-if.  If the consequences are interesting, I start writing.  Sometimes I don’t get very far because it didn’t end up being as interesting as I had thought it would be.  Sometimes I finish a novel.

That process sounds very familiar. I do similar things with my ideas. I won't admit how many starts to novels are sitting on my hard drive. What is your current WIP?

I’m still trying to iron out the kinks in Hellenic Immortal, the follow-up to Immortal.  It’s nearly there.  Then I have to wait for the things in my head to line up and point me the way through the third Immortal book.  And somewhere in there I need to rewrite Fixer, which I finished a while ago but which needs to be beaten and tossed around the room a few more times.  I’m also involved in a short film project that threatens to take up all of my time suddenly and without warning.

Ah, the joys of editing and rewriting. Good luck. What hobbies do you have that you want to share?

I wish I had time for hobbies.  What I have is work, writing, cooking, housework, and exercise.  I suppose you could call cycling a hobby, but I’m just using it as a means to commute to my job.  And I might not be able to do that much longer as my office just moved from 4.2 miles away to 18.5 miles away.

Did you always want to be an author? Who inspired you?

I decided I was going to be a writer about ten minutes after I learned how to read.  Or something like that.  I don’t remember a time when I didn’t define myself as one.  So in terms of inspiration it’s possible Shel Silverstein was responsible.

What are your favorite movies, tv shows, or books to read? Is there one that you could watch/read over and over without ever tiring of it?
I don’t have a “type” of movie or TV show I adhere to, i.e., I don’t just watch films where dudes blow stuff up, or only TV shows were dudes solve crimes.

Since I’m also a screenwriter, I really need a film or television show that’s written well enough to keep me guessing.  This is nearly impossible with TV; I’m usually calling out plot points two to twenty minutes before they happen.  Unfortunately this means I’m usually most interested in shows that the fewest people are also watching.  I thought Terriers was the most brilliant thing to come out this season, and it was canceled.

Movies can surprise me more easily.  I thought Black Swan was utterly devastating; I was completely lost in the film, and that’s a rare and great thing.

Books: I read mostly non-fiction, because aside from humor I hardly write non-fiction.  I cannot both read fiction and write fiction, so I have to make time for reading when I’m not also writing

What characters are your favorites from your books? From any work of fiction?

From my own books, Adam is an obvious choice.  He’s much more entertaining than I am.  I don’t know that I’ve ever become singularly fixated on major characters from other works, although I do recall a great fondness for Eliza from The Baroque Cycle.

If you could travel anywhere on Earth, where would you want to go? If you could travel anywhere, fictional or real, where would you go?I’d love to have an excuse to travel Europe, just to see some of the places Adam has been talking about.

If you could time travel, what is one event you would want to see in person, either future or past?

I sort of am time traveling when I write Immortal. Immortal is very much about imagining the past as it might have actually been, rather than how we generally depict it; we tend to romanticize or otherwise ignore certain realities.  For instance, most kings toured their lands for about six months out of the year, not just because it was something kings did but because the castles they called home were typically unlivable for long periods… because they had no indoor plumbing.  They traveled the land, in other words, because they and their fifty person entourage needed a place to take a dump.  I love things like that, even if it makes Ren Faire gatherings about as sensible to me as Civil War re-enactments where the South wins.

Romanticizing the past is the only way to want to live it. Medieval times weren't as nice as people want to believe. Thanks for stopping by, Gene, and good luck with Immortal! Check out his blog for other stops on the tour and thanks for reading.