When I wrote The Red Mirror, I held an image in my mind of the interior of an Egyptian temple far different than anything I’d ever seen in photos or real life. The walls pulsed with a color palette so vivid that the strange giants with human bodies and animal heads with mystical crowns leapt from the stone to dance in the still air.
Here’s a quick excerpt from Chapter Three – The Temple:
Simmering hieroglyphs in colors bright as neon exploded from every surface. Giants with mystical crowns or the heads of animals performed strange rituals in soaring murals painted in vibrant red, yellow and blue.
I resisted leaning my head back to take in the vast ceiling with its elaborate geometric designs, absorbing as much as possible without being obvious. But I couldn’t stop my eyes from traveling everywhere at once.
As if in answer to my imagination begging for manifestation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York recreated by magic of light projection what archaeologists believe are the original colors of one vignette in the Temple of Dendur. The scene couldn’t be closer to what I saw in my mind’s eye when my character, for the first time, walks back in time through the shadowy incense-fogged chambers of a temple on the Nile. Of course, in my vision, every square inch of the walls and ceiling throbbed with the same bold colors as you see in the photo.
Although the beautiful Egypto-Roman Dendur Temple relocated from Egypt is about 500 years “younger” than my temple in The Red Mirror, it reflects the stature and majesty of the setting in my novel. There, among the polychromatic neon gods and goddesses, Isenkhebe Nefrusobek (Isis) experiences her first encounter with Egyptian mysticism and sacred sexuality.
See the New York Times article here: NY Times article on Metropolitan Museum of Art Color the Temple Scene I
Every year we put on a smashing party and pack in 50 or 60 friends to imbibe Danish spiced (mulled) and fortified warm wine known as gløgg. In case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced a little like water gurgling down a blocked drain. Glug. Glug. But with a kind of caveman growl. Put your whole body into it! Imagine how a Viking would sound.
We bottled the remainder, and I created some labels. Voila! Hostess gifts for those lovely friends who invite us this season.
Merry Christmas! Glaedelig Jul! Skål! Godt Nyt År. Happy New Year!
Cautionary note: Gløgg must be served warm – but never boiled. The boiling will not only burn off the alcohol but also dampen the spices. We’ve learned the hard way.
In each glass cup, put a spoonful of raisins and blanched almonds that have been soaked for days in brandy.
The key to the spicing is to use only fresh, be very generous, and let “mull” for at least two days. note: I buy only from Penzeys which sells the best spices in America. If you can’t make it to one of their many shops, order on line Penzeys.
Ingredients in our gløgg:
Red wine (mainly)
Port wine (generously)
Brandy (a little less than port)
Rum (go easy as this is what gives it real punch. You want your guests coherent)
Fresh ginger root
Sugar boiled in water to create syrup
Instead of wracking my brain to think of yet another Christmas gift for my 90 year old mom and 91 year old dad who don’t need anything, I was inspired to cook up a bunch of homemade meals. The chicken in sherry and mushroom sauce is my mom’s recipe. I’m thinking they can have that for Christmas Eve. Or maybe the stuffed Cornish hens. The soups will be perfect on those cold winter evenings when the ground outside is icy. Ozark winters can be br-r-r-r cold.
It’s a win-win-win kind of gift. My dad will be happy eating. My mom will be free from cooking. I had a lot of fun in my kitchen, listening to Gregorian chants and filling the house with delicious aromas.
What’s in the box?
– Chicken in sherry mushroom sauce with wild rice (enough for at least 2 meals for 2 people).
– Italian meatloaf (2 meals for 2)
– Mexican meatloaf (2 meals for 2)
– Bolognese spaghetti sauce (2 meals for 2 – probably 3-4)
– Cornish hens stuffed with cornbread, scallions, celery, sage, mushroom, raisins, walnut & water chestnut dressing. (2 hens) Sides of sweet potato delight with garnish of cranberry chutney.
– Turkey soup (1 liter)
– Minestrone with beans and ham (3 liters)
– Split Pea soup with smoked bacon (2 liters)
I put 10 lbs of dry ice to keep the already frozen meals icy cold for the 2 day UPS air trip from Coastal California to the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.
There are few things I enjoy more than decorating for the holidays. Any holiday, actually. But there’s something about Christmas that truly sets me free to be as extravagant and outrageous as I desire.
The heart and soul of Christmas is my mantel. I never know what will evolve. Last year I craved purity and focused on white. This year I went “Borgia” with over-the-top opulence. The mood is quite changed from day to night, yet always lush.
Antinous must be adorned as all gods demand of us. He’s sporting a gold necklace of stars this year to go with his Dionysus hair wreath.
We gave up on big trees and now recycle a lovely little fake tree that I picked up at Marshalls. I change the lights, use different ornaments – or none at all – and wrap the base in leopard or silver or gold. For the first time in ever so long, I strung garland. I’d forgotten how hard it is to hang just right.
Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season filled with warmth, joy, peace and love. “Gods bless us everyone.”
It’s been more than 24 hours since the Central Coast Writer’s Conference 2015. I’m hoping that enough time has elapsed that I can succinctly convey the experience and all that I took away.
First let me say, it was my first writer’s conference and my first book fair. When I look at the photo of my little booth, I confess I cringe. Yet I share the pic with you because Chantelle Aimée Osman said in a workshop on writing Mystery, “Don’t hide your work.” I do that. I do just that. And I intend to change.
I fell quite by accident into the opportunity of judging the Golden Quills writing contest in three categories: Poetry, Flash Fiction and Short Fiction. My tit for tat for that labor of love was free entry to the conference, a place on two panel discussions, an invitation to the marvelous oceanfront, rooftop party for staff and presenters only, and a gratis table at the book fair. I’d say that I came out way ahead. Especially when it turned out that one of my fellow judges was English historical detective fiction author Anne Perry. I’m told I can use her name in my resumé. I’m not sure how that works, but then I freely admit, I’m new to this game.
My first panel discussion was at the boot camp for beginning writers. Christy Halsell, LeeAnne Krusemark and I were slated to talk about New Writing Technologies (Blogging and Twitter) from 1:30-2:00. Pulled together at 12:55, we were told, “You’re up now. Until 2.” With a precision teamwork that might have been orchestrated but which was utterly ad lib, we pulled it off with admirable aplomb. The key was to talk straight, keep it simple and then open up to questions. With a room of a hundred or so new writers, there were plenty of those.
The second panel discussion took place on the rooftop terrace where we’d partied the night before. The blue Pacific stretched without a ripple to a cloudless horizon. The sun blazed; the air was still and hot. Four women writers answered a few questions about “Finding Inspiration.” Verbose as we are, we managed to fill the hour. No questions from the audience, which I would have enjoyed. I quite adore speaking off the cuff.
When asked with whom we share our ideas, a fellow panelist confessed that she shares with no one out of fear of her ideas being stolen. I was so stunned by this concept that I probably went a little too far by saying that my books are so complex and so utterly me that I didn’t think anyone else could pull them off. Oh well, I am known for speaking my mind.
The book fair bombed. Foot traffic was sparse. The day was too hot. Anyone with any sense was at the beach. I did share my umbrella shade with a lively author named Corey Lynn Fayman whose good cheer and company made the time pass with laughs. Potential readers cruised by my voluminous books to finger his two thin novels. I heard him say over and over in just one little sentence, “These are mystery detective.” I saw him sell the thinnest.
Oh, how I envied that he said everything about his books in just those few words. Right then and there, I decided that no matter that I have ideas for three more books in my Red Mirror Series, the next book I write will be to a genre and skinny.
I have to give Jonathan Maberry special mention. He is the nicest successful author one could ever hope to meet. A teddy bear with huge heart. I ended up in his workshop “Horror Horror,” not because I have any talent for that genre, but because he was so engaging at the grand panel discussion that I simply wanted to be in the same room with him. The gods smiled on me, and I met him again at the rooftop party – a gathering tantamount to Mount Olympus for a novice like me. Elevated. Yes, I definitely felt elevated.
Three cheers for the Central Coast Writer’s Conference. Thank you to Teri Bayus for her leadership and spunk. Yes, there were some hiccups and blemishes, but those are best mentioned in the evaluation form. I prefer to focus on the good, of which there was plenty to experience at the Central Coast Writer’s Conference 2015. Twitter #CCWC2015.
Central Coast Writer’s Conference
Teri Bayus Website
Jonathan Maberry Website
Corey Lynn Fayman Website
Chantelle Aimee Osman Website
LeeAnne Krusemark Facebook
Christy Halsell Website
Anne Perry Website