Taste Life Twice: Author S.L. Gore On Writing, Passion and Sex

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Taste Life Twice
Exploring, adventuring, and tasting what life is all about

Below is an excerpt from the interview I did with Margaret Pinard for her blog Taste Twice Life. I can’t tell you what a pleasure it was to engage in such intelligent dialogue.

Here’s four questions that you’ll need to go to Margaret’s blog to read my answers:

MP: You make references to Ancient Egyptian and Persian politics and intrigue. How much research did you do to bring these scenes to life? And how necessary is it to make fiction (or historical fiction) resemble real-life events?

MP: There are plenty of steamy sex scenes in the Red Mirror Trilogy, and your earlier book Sex and the Zen of Shopping also focuses on sex, at least in the title. Is this part of what makes the stories exciting, or a symbol of something larger in life?

MPYou use the tagline, “One Life Is Not Enough.” In what ways is this related to your own life experiences? Is there something in particular that made you want to write these stories, bring these characters to life?

MP:  Ok, last one: what’s your quirkiest writing routine or habit?

For the full article go to Taste Twice Life: Author S. L. Gore, On Writing, Passion and Sex

MP: Your books in the Red Mirror Series shred traditional genre boundaries to pieces, containing elements of historical fiction, thriller, erotica, mystery, time travel, and romance. Was there a particular type of story you set out to tell, or how did this combination otherwise come about?

SLG: I never planned to cross genres. When I started the first book of The Red Mirror series, I had specific intentions: to take the reader on an adventure to Ancient Egypt and tell the story of a woman who has fulfilling but unique relationships with three men of different cultures. I also wanted to challenge the concept of one ‘Mr. Right.’

As I began to write the tale of Isis, the story revealed itself to me. I had a loose trajectory in my mind that she would be kidnapped by a Persian and eventually escape from Egypt on a ship. From Day One, I knew the names of my evolving woman: Isis the EgyptianAthena the Greek and Elektra the Roman (coming soon!).

Friends who followed me through the process said that I was channeling. Many times, I closed my eyes and typed, the words flowing through my fingers. Those were the times that I effortlessly wrote 3-4,000 words a day. Five thousand words, I think, was the most.

I never thought of the book as time travel, although it’s an apt label. Parallel stories propel characters back and forth between lifetimes. In each subsequent book, a more empowered modern Isis continues her present story and experiences yet another past life.

The Red Mirror series isn’t typical romance with a man and a woman estranged until joined happily ever after in the end, but the tone is intensely romantic. Yes, the sex scenes are erotic but intended always to be sensual. Sensuousness is what makes sex human not animal—and romantic, not pornographic.

MP: You’ve written a series, and I’ve heard that’s a better strategy for finding an audience than writing a stand-alone novel. What would be your top publishing and marketing tips for self-publishing writers?

SLG: I didn’t write a series because it was recommended for marketing. The concept of three books, each based on a different lifetime with a continuing story of an evolving woman influenced by—and influencing—her past, was there from the start.

Before I started the first novel, I read a cross-section of thirty “women’s” books in one month, and not one of them captured what I was envisioning. I made the decision to write what flowed through me rather than what was commercially popular, even though I’d never tell anyone to do that.

You have to choose your own path.

Marketing, for me, is far harder than writing. I find it very difficult to sell myself. But, you have to, so here are my tips:

  • Choosing your audience is incredibly important in marketing. You have to be confident your product will fit. My books cross so many genres that targeted promotion is almost impossible. If you write in one genre with a defined and guaranteed audience, you may have an easier path.
  • Social media is too vast to cover here, but absolutely necessary for an author today. You must have an internet presence—not a problem for anyone born after 1980 (Interviewer’s note: *ahem!* ;-).
    • ‘Presence’ includes a website (which can be a blog), a Facebook page and a Twitter account, the more followers the better. Few, if any, of them will ever read your book, but the numbers make it look like you’re “somebody.” And you’ll make surprising connections that lead to opportunities. Have patience.
    • Get on blog radio to talk about your book. It’s fun if you’ve got the gift of gab. (Note: Sandra also just completed a Blog Tour promoting Isis Erotica, the really steamy version of the Isis story.)
  • You must have a brand. For example, get a URL for your website/blog with your name. Your Twitter handle should also use some form of your name.
  • I recommend following Anne R. Allen’s Blog for practical tips on self-publishing.
  • My best and final advice? You are going to feel like giving up. Don’t. And remember what Horace said a couple thousand years ago:

“If you want to be a writer, write.”

July 23, 2013 at 6:25 pm 2 comments

The Black Scroll has entered edit phase

The Black Scroll. A story of black magic and power in Roman North Africa

The Black Scroll. A story of black magic and power in Roman North Africa

June 24 was the day I “finished” The Black Scroll. I put ‘finished’ in quotation marks because I’m starting the edit.

But the story is told. It is out of my imagination and now exists in the concrete world of words down on paper. Paper in this case is a digital format, but you get what I mean.

Whew! What a mind-bending experience. I had to pinch myself this morning. I did it! I wrote the trilogy that I’ve envisioned since 2010. The stories of Isis, Athena and Elektra.

There’s been months of hiatus here and there. The Arab Spring starting with Egypt and continuing through Libya.  The remix of Isis to Isis Erotica and Isis BeachRead. Family trials and tribulations of late. You know – life getting in the way.

More intricate and involved with a much wider scope than The Red Mirror and The Emerald Tablet, The Black Scroll took a tremendous expenditure of psychic energy to tell. The Romans weren’t nice people. I was juggling memories of four lifetimes with recurring characters. I wanted to wrap everything up – cross all the t’s, dot all the i’s, tie up loose ends.

It’s a longer book, which may or may not remain so after the editing. But I have a feeling it will. The story is complex and action-filled. At least I hope so. It is in my mind, anyway. A fellow author said satisfyingly, “The monumental third volume.” I like the sound of that.

I’ve promised a couple of people to be first readers, and I haven’t forgotten that pledge. I’ll do an edit and then print a few draft copies for distribution.

In the meantime, I’m gonna savor my thrill. There’s not many moments in a lifetime like this.

June 26, 2013 at 4:55 pm 1 comment

Games, swords and jewelry from the life of Isis

All of us have seen beautiful works of art from ancient Egypt. Here I’d like to share some photos I’ve taken that give you a feeling for the daily life of my Isis of The Red Mirror. These are actual artifacts, thousands of years old.

If you’re like me, you love to imagine the hands that poured jasmine oil from glass flasks – or shaved heads and mounds with copper blades. Each object has a story – tales of love and disappointment, tragedy and triumph. And each object has a history that begins with the man who wrought it into being and those who used or wore it, then continues through the lives of all who have held the object in their own hands over the centuries – and finally to those who gaze upon it in wonder today.

beaded dress

Isis wears a beaded dress to the Khent-min market. This version was worn by a 12-year old concubine of a Pharaoh. Petrie Museum

Detail of a beaded dress British Museum

Detail of a beaded dress British Museum

The curled hair and beard of the Persian General. British Museum

The curled hair and beard of another Persian General. British Museum

Necklace Isis might have worn

A faience beaded necklace that Isis could have worn. British Museum

Egyptian game similar to senet

Egyptian game Isis might have played on her barge to pass the time. British Museum

Old Kingdom wife

Sit-Hathor could have worn this wig. Cairo Museum

Vulture with outstretched wings

The Vulture with outstretched wings painted on temple door lintels. Valley of the Kings tomb

glass flasks

Glass flasks like these held the oils that Maia poured into Isis’ bath. Petrie Museum

Sistrum with Head of Hathor

Sistrum with Head of Hathor. British Museum

copper blades

Copper blades like these shaved Isis’ head. Petrie Museum

sedge rope

Sedge rope to lash Isis’ barge to the stone quay. British Museum

swords

Antinous drew one of these swords when confronting Hetmus. Petrie Museum

Greek style jewelry. All gold and no stones. British Museum

From Antinous to Isidora. Greek style jewelry. All gold and no stones. British Museum

Isis would never have the worn plain sandals of a common Egyptian. Petrie Museum

Isis would never have worn the plain sandals of a common Egyptian. Petrie Museum

June 4, 2013 at 8:07 pm 2 comments

Memorial Day Venison Cookoff with Apicius Roman Sauce

Memorial Day at my house with a Venison cookoff. That's tagine under the lid. The roast was prepared with an authentic Roman recipe translated from the Apicius cookbook (3-4th century AD).

Memorial Day at my house with a Venison cookoff. That’s tajine under the lid. The roast was prepared from an authentic Roman recipe translated from the Apicius cookbook (3rd-4th century AD). The Romans used a conical ceramic cooker like the tajine dish of North Africa.

This is a meal Elektra could have eaten in Roman North Africa, only instead of venison, the host might have served a young Barbary stag or oryx. Of course, my guests would have been reclining on lounges and served by slaves. And the Zinfandel would have been watered.

The recipe for the sauce comes from one of the most famous cookbooks of antiquity. Today it is known simply as the Apicius.

There is disagreement about whether the famous epicure of the Tiberian reign (1st c AD) Marcus Gavius Apicius was the original collector or the inspiration. Most probably, he had nothing to do with the book, De re coquinaria “On the Subject of Cooking,” which eventually became known by his name.

Most scholars believe the collection of Roman cookery recipes was compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century. The language in which it was written is closer to Vulgar than Classical Latin.

An Apicius manuscript from 900 AD.

An Apicius manuscript from 900 AD. The codex was originally in the monastery of Fulda, Germany but acquired by The New York Academy of Medicine in 1929.

Venison tagine. Spices: Cumin, cardamon, cinnamon, clove, ginger, smoked paprika

Venison tagine. Spices: Cumin, cardamon, cinnamon, clove, ginger, smoked paprika, black pepper

A huge hunk of frozen venison turned out to be three roasts when defrosted. I marinated all three for 24 hours in red wine, fresh rosemary and cloves of garlic.

The smallest roast was cut into chunks for a tajine (see photos) with onions, fingerling potatoes, chunks of carrots, and tons of peas topped with baby bell peppers. Spicing: cumin, cardamon, ginger, cinnamon, clove, smoked paprika and fresh ground black pepper.

The middle-sized roast was coated in cajun spices and slow-cooked on the charcoal grill. Real charcoal please with mesquite chips! I served the Cajun venison with cherry sauce.

The large venison roast (see photo at top) was browned on all sides in olive oil and then put in a 350 oven with a few strips of bacon on top. Venison is very lean.

Now we come to the sauce from a recipe translated from the original Apicius. [Thank you to the food blog Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook]
I had to substitute a couple of herbs. And I used the reduced marinade for a base. I’m sure Apicius would have approved.

Ingredients for the sauce
note: all herbs are fresh, some from my own garden.
rue (I used fresh rosemary)
lovage (I used celery leaves)
oregano
mint
parsley
garlic
onion
Thai fish sauce (in place of Roman garum, the salty cured fish sauce Romans used with almost all meats and that they stole from the Greeks)
honey
sweet wine (I used Port)
salt and pepper

Not having a slave to grind the herbs into a paste, I threw them into a small food processor. You use the goodies from the bottom of the roasting pan to make a sauce much like gravies are made today. The end result should be something between a liquid and a syrup.

Salty and sweet with tons of herbs. That was the Roman taste. Also black pepper – lots of it. Even with syrupy pears.

Not sure if the Romans had cous cous, but they definitely had grain, so I suspect they might have discovered this primitive way of making pasta long before Marco Polo. I toasted slivered almonds and soaked giant raisins in brandy (until they are plump and soft) to put in the cooked cous cous.

In addition to remembering our own fallen heroes on a splendid Memorial Day, we stepped back a little further in history to remember the Romans. To borrow from the gladiators, “We who are about to eat, salute you!”

The table setting is my vision of Roman North Africa. Need to get some silver chalices!

May 28, 2013 at 8:22 pm 3 comments

Mother’s Day in the Lake of the Ozarks

My grandma's house today. No longer owned by the family, it's been allowed to decay. She built it herself from solid stone with help from my uncles & cousins in 1940.

My grandma’s house today. No longer owned by the family, it’s been allowed to decay. She built it herself from solid stone with help from my uncles & cousins in 1940. In the old days, she grew glorious roses and strawberries sweet as jam.

My grandma's house from the road. She'd get snowed in every winter and have her projects - weaving rugs, tooling leather, embroidering tapestries. I remember when she got running water, then a telephone and finally TV.

My grandma’s house from the road. She’d get snowed in every winter and have her projects – weaving rugs, tooling leather, embroidering tapestries. I remember when she got running water and indoor toilet, then a telephone and finally TV.

I took a hiatus from The Black Scroll to fly/drive to the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri for Mother’s Day.
The Ozarks was the home of my Dad’s mother and many of my extended family. I used to spend the summers and school holidays there, roaming the woods, fishing and hunting with my cousins.

It was in the Ozarks that my imagination flourished. Lying on a warm boulder beside the lake on a hot summer day with dragonflies zooming round my ears, I’d imagine I was an Indian princess or a pioneer girl about to be kidnapped by a handsome brave.
Swinging in a hammock at my Aunt Jerry’s house, I devoured her romance novels with one man and two women – the angel and the not so angelic. Even then, I thought – why can’t a woman have two men?

My Dad and Mom. Ages 88 and 89. Married 66 years. On the deck of their house in the Lake of the Ozarks on Big Buffalo Creek. 47 miles to nearest Walmart & hospital. 20 miles to nearest town Cole Camp population 1200.

My Mom and Dad. Ages 88 and 89. Married 66 years. On the deck of their house in the Lake of the Ozarks on Big Buffalo Creek. 47 miles to nearest Walmart & hospital. 20 miles to nearest town Cole Camp, population 1200.

You have to cross four of these fords to get to my parent's place. If it rains hard, you wait til the water goes down. This is road WW. You get there first from B and then W.

You have to cross four of these fords to get to my parent’s place. If it rains hard, you wait til the water goes down. This is road WW. You get there first from B and then W. Those are paved roads. WW, the last 5 or so miles to my parents place, is dirt/gravel.

Entrance to the Eagle Club where we ate Mother's Day Breakfast prepared by the menfolk. Note warning, "No firearms allowed."

Entrance to the Eagle Club where we ate Mother’s Day Breakfast prepared by the menfolk. Note warning, “No firearms allowed.” But smoking was. No windows at all in the building. We gobbled down our scrambled eggs and sausage in a cloud of tobacco smoke.

Here's where my mom and I drank coffee in the mornings and had our bourbon in the evenings. That's the Big Buffalo Branch of the Lake of the Ozarks. My parents own all the land on this side of the water. Can't see the nearest neighbors.

Here’s where my mom and I drank coffee in the mornings and had our bourbon in the evenings. The strip of water you see in background is the Big Buffalo Branch of the Lake of the Ozarks. My parents own the land on this side of the water. One man owns all the land on the other. Can’t see the nearest neighbors.

My Dad, Chuck Gore, on his new toy. He has cleared about 5 acres of forest around the house just with a chain saw. All at age 80+

Here’s my Dad on his new toy. He has cleared about 5 acres of forest around the house just with a chain saw. All at age 80+

Big Buffalo Creek as it narrows from the Lake. The water can rush over the concrete slab ford in heavy weather, washing pick up trucks downstream. Note how  clear the water is. You can drink it right from the creek. It's been naturally purified by the gravel bed.

Big Buffalo Creek as it narrows from the Lake. The water can rush over the concrete slab ford in heavy weather, washing pickup trucks downstream. Note the clear water naturally purified by the gravel bed.  You can drink right from the creek.

The roads never had names when I was a kid. About 10 years ago, streets signs appeared. This one is named for my family.

The roads never had names when I was a kid. About 10 years ago, streets signs appeared. This one is named for my family.

Buzzards perching in a tree looking for prey. Saw foxes, coyotes, deer, tortoises,  rabbits, raccoon, wild turkeys, ducks, geese and many other species of birds including cardinals, my favorite. Heard the whip-o-will and owls at night.

Buzzards looking for prey. I saw foxes, coyotes, deer, tortoises, rabbits, raccoon, wild turkeys, ducks, geese and many other species of birds including cardinals, my favorite. Heard the whip-o-will and owls at night.

My parent's house from the road. The hardtop iced over last winter, and they had no power for 2 days. This is called Gore Hill, BTW :)

My parent’s house from the road. The hardtop iced over last winter, and they had no power for 2 days. This is called Gore Hill, BTW :)

May 17, 2013 at 7:14 pm 10 comments

Sex and the Zen of Shopping now in COLOR ebook for Kindle Fire

Now available! Full color eversion for Kindle Fire or equivalent.

Now available! Full color ebook for Kindle Fire or equivalent.

I’M EXCITED! Technology has caught up!

Now I can offer Sex and the Zen of Shopping in a full color Kindle ebook that looks exactly like the color print copy.

We were able to create this Kindle edition with a new software that will revolutionize epublishing for picture book and how-to authors.

The costs of Amazon print-on-demand for color are steep. I’d say prohibitive in today’s market. I really disliked the $25 we had to charge for my shopping book, Sex and the Zen of Shopping: Live Rich by Shopping Smart. 

This is, after all, a book about bargain shopping!

Until this latest Kindle technology, the best solution was to produce a Black & White Bargain print edition.

You can now get the layout, the embedded text and the vivid color of photos in an ebook! You’ll see exactly the same format as the print edition – IF you have a Kindle Fire, an equivalent tablet or Kindle for PC.

Check it out. There are sample pages you can “leaf through” here:  Amazon Sex and Zen of Shopping Kindle Version.

Caution: This Kindle Fire edition is for tablets and Kindle for PC only. It will not work on older Kindle readers.

April 27, 2013 at 9:53 pm 4 comments

Sandra’s Aries Birthday Cake Recipe

Birthday cake for the Aries in my life - of which there are remarkably many, starting with the two men in my life...my husband and son.

Birthday cake for the Aries in my life

At risk of this turning into a food blog – and what would be so bad about that, you’re saying? – I’m passing on the steps and ingredients to create the birthday cake you see above. Caution: You need 2-3 hours to put this together & clean up.

Equipment:
3 – 9″ cake pans
parchment paper (not necessary but works better than greasing pans)
electric mixer
double boiler – or saucepan that can balance inside a larger saucepan
        note: smaller pan must hold at least 5 liquid cups.
small frying pan
2 shelves in oven
several size mixing bowls
measuring cups and spoons
rubber spatula
wooden spoon
flat blade (for spreading frosting)
bread knife
recommend heat resistant glove

Ingredients:
without measures:
vegetable oil
eggs
butter
powdered sugar
granulated sugar
cocoa powder
milk
cream of tartar
salt
vanilla extract
slivered almonds
raspberry jam
chocolate cake mix (Yes! I CHEAT!)

Ingredients by steps:

Chocolate Cake:
I prefer Duncan Hines Triple Chocolate or Dark Chocolate Fudge. You can make from scratch, but really not worth it. IMHO
vegetable oil (not olive)
water
3 eggs whole

Chocolate Frosting:
1/2 c butter (1 stick) ROOM TEMPERATURE (softened)
2/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder (my preference is Hershey’s)
2 c powdered sugar (sifted)
1/3 c milk (minimum – you’ll need a little more)
    note: WARM slightly in microwave
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Red Raspberry Jam – I love Stonewall Kitchen, but other brands will do.

3 oz (half a package) Slivered Blanched Almonds (to be toasted)

Meringue-like Topping (known as 7 minute frosting):
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 c water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Put it together:

CAKE

  • grease 3 cake pans. Coat with cocoa powder instead of white flour. MUCH easier if you use parchment paper so guaranteed not to stick. Use both.
  • mix according to directions
  • using 1 cup measure, distribute batter evenly in 3 pans
  • bake in 350 oven. Put shelves close together so baking as even as possible
  • took about 18 minutes for 2 on top. Bottom shelf took couple of minutes longer
        note: I use toothpick to test
  • remove pans to rack or gas burners on top of stove and let cool 15 minutes. No more.
  • remove layers from baking pans and set aside

TOAST ALMONDS while cake is baking.

  • heat small skillet to hot on stovetop
  • put almonds in pan – NO OIL
  • stir constantly with wooden spoon
  • lift up and down from fire if getting too hot
  • keep toasting – KEEP TURNING – as almonds turn golden.
  • remove from heat and keep stirring.
    note:
    almonds will continue to toast in hot pan
  • when desired color is reached, turn onto a plate and spread almonds to cool

CHOCOLATE FROSTING (makes about 1 1/2 c)

  • soften butter in a small-medium mixing bowl (room temperature or few seconds in microwave)
  • mash with rubber spatula
  • stir in cocoa and salt, blending with rubber spatula until smooth paste
  • using low to medium speed on electric mixer, alternately add sifted powdered sugar and warm milk
  • beat on medium speed until spreading consistency and very smooth
  • blend in vanilla extract at end

LAYERS

  • Choose layer with highest top and set aside
  • Using a bread knife, slice off rounded top of two remaining layers so they are relatively flat on both sides
  • put one layer on cake plate

DRESSING the cake layers

  • spread chocolate frosting generously on top of layer 1 (on cake plate)
  • spread carefully (not thick) red raspberry jam on top of chocolate
  • place layer 2 on top
  • spread chocolate frosting generously on top of layer 2
  • sprinkle toasted almonds, covering surface well
  • place layer 3 (with rounded top) on top of layer 2

TOPPING with 7 minute frosting
   note: this makes enough frosting to cover a cake. I pile it on top to show the layers. If stiff enough, topping will stand on its own and hang over the edges as above.

  • place sugar, cream of tartar, salt, water and egg whites in the top of a double boiler (or smallish saucepan over larger one)
  • beat with an electric mixer for 1 minute
  • place pan over boiling water.
        note:  to avoid grainy frosting, make sure water doesn’t touch bottom of the top pan.
  • beat constantly on high speed for 7 minutes (this is when I recommend a heat-resistant glove)
  • remove from boiling water (heat) and beat in vanilla
  • check consistency – MUST stand in peaks. Beat more if necessary.
  • spread on cake right away
  • sprinkle toasted almonds before frosting sets
  • when frosting sets, it forms a delightful soft crust while the inside remains gooey – thus I call it “meringue-like”

Be sure to cover remaining cake under a cake dome, as the meringue frosting will get gooier over time.

Store any left-over almonds in an airtight container to sprinkle on salads etc.

Whew! Did I really do all that????

April 17, 2013 at 7:29 pm 1 comment

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about.me

S. L. Gore

S. L. Gore

Red Mirror Trilogy: mystic romantic adventures that travel through time

author, blogger, tweep

The Red Mirror, The Emerald Tablet, The Black Scroll

Isis Erotica

Sex and the Zen of Shopping:

How to Live Rich by Shopping Smart

Life Choices (3 anthologies):

Navigating Difficult Paths - "A True Love Story"

Pursuing Your Passion - "The Muses Whisper"

It's Never Too Late -"Road to Vegas"

Author site: SLGore.com

Blog: SandraOffTheStrip.com

Twitter: @GoreNovels

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2550 E Desert Inn Rd #443

Las Vegas NV 89121

e: tajinepublishing@gmail.com

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