Friday, October 29, 2010

A Ghost Story

I love a good ghost story and being that it's Halloween I figured I'd tell you my own personal ghost story. Believe it or not, I have a knack for attracting the spirits beyond. It's kind of a joke with my family now because it's been going on since I was a kid. I know that you're thinking I am a total whackadoo and I am totally okay with that, because I know what I know and trust me there are such things as ghosts.

Just the other day when I stopped by to see my dad he said to me, "You brought the poltergeist back with you. I can't find a damn thing around here." He refers to "her" as the poltergeist--this is from a man who never ever would have believed in ghosts in a million years until he lived in the house that I grew up in. I refer to her as the little pixie because she never does anything mean. She's more of a prankster--moving shoes around (I know you're thinking--no you do that and just forget because you're a human. No--I am talking about moving shoes and placing them in obscure places like underneath avocado tress on the back forty not to be found for two months later.), she has slammed hallway cupboards in the middle of the night (the entire family can attest to this), radios go off at odd hours, and the best one was when I was home for a weekend from college many, many, many years ago (I am feeling old suddenly. It wasn't many, many, many--just many) and being a Sunday afternoon it was time for me to make the two hour drive back up to school. My dad was out of town and no sooner do I get back to my apartment does my mom call me and she's freaking out. I mean really feaking out. She asks me if I (get this) poured coffee on the stacked dishes in the cupboard and then set a full cup of coffee on top of those dishes. So there were something like 8 dishes and there was coffee on each one as if someone had poured a small amount on to each dish. "Um no. Why would I do that?" I didn't even start drinking coffee until after I had children. On top of that she said that she had turned on some lights in the house before going out to feed the horses that evening, and when she came back in different lights were on and others that she'd turned on were off. I told her that she should get out of the house. But instead, my very sweet and usually intelligent mother, took it upon herself to walk around the house with a butcher knife as if she were in a horror flick. No one was there (except the pixie).

When did these ghostly things begin happening? Not long after we moved into the house. I was five-years-old and the neighborhood was all brand new--small and rural. The houses all sat on at least an acre so there was some land around us. The first thing that started happening was that lights would flicker on and off. My dad did the logical thing and called an electrician who thoroughly checked this out and to no avail. A second electrician came out and also claimed there was no issue. The lights flickered like that in the house for the entire fifteen years that we lived there.

As I mentioned before--radios would come on and off, things would be moved around. One time my dad couldn't find a pair of his boots (his favorite boots). He looked everywhere for them for days. High and low. Then one day, they turned up at the front door--perfect and neat. When the first remote phones came out, one of the phones went missing--found underneath a bed a week later. Crazy stuff--never mean but just aggravating.

So my dad (the non-believer) started doing some actual research into "poltergeists." He discovered that they like to be around small children and in particular girls. That they do some of the things I mentioned--lights, etc--and this is the kicker. Dad discovered that our property (the neighborhood) was on old Indian grounds and possibly even burial grounds. 

Well, as time would go on, my parents decided to buy a new house with more property for the horses. They did not disclose the fact that there was soemone or something else who lived in the house. My folks became kind of friendly with the family who bought it though. One day, the lady who moved into our old house called my mom up and asked her, "Hey this might sound strange but did anything weird ever happen in the house?" My mom knew what she was asking and proceeded with caution. It turned out the little pixie was up to her same old shenanigans and had begun hiding all sorts of things from the new family. Fortunately, they--like us, were not too freaked out about it and just went on about life. I'm not sure if she is still there or if she has moved on, but I can assure you she was very, very real.

How about you? Anyone with a good ghost story to tell? I'd live to hear it.

Happy Halloween,

Michele 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Sells Books?

The world of writing/publishing is changing to say the least. It's an intersting time to be involved with the literary industry. It's been kind of a bumpy road for all of us (hmmm--more like a roller coaster ride) as major publishing houses try and figure out how they can stay afloat and also stay with the times. People are self-publishing at a rate like never before because with the access we have with The Internet--it's easy and many times free. There are small publishing houses popping up all over the place too--many of them with new and innovative ideas and many of them not so much.

I'm not going to lie. It's hard work to be a writer/author.It's like anything in life that is worthwhile--you gotta work at it. A mid-list author doesn't exactly get the pats on the back and the kudos, and yet he/she works just as hard as the big bestselling authors (I think so anyway because I am one and I know a few others like myself). Honestly, when you take a good look at the world of writing and how success is achieved there is no real rhyme or reason to it. Yes--writing a good book is the number one key. But even good books sit on the book store shelves until they are eventually sent back to the publisher. It's a sad fact, but a fact. What can be done to change that? I'm not sure. I have not found the answer, but if I do, I shall let you know. I truly think "the stars" have something to do with it. Not to get all hoodoo voodoo on you (that I'm saving for my new mystery series--Delebs), but what I am saying is that I think a little lining up with The Universe, stars, good luck fairy, pixie--whatever you want to call it has a role in this whole thing.

And a bit of tenacity and savvy always helps. I feel fortunate that I am able to continue working as a writer and moving forward in my career. I enjoy what I do. I actually Love what I do. Writing is my creative outlet (besides cooking). It allows me to create worlds and escape in them. I get to be in control (HA Ha--a maniachal voice is now playing inside my head) of those worlds, characters, settings--what people say to people (you know the kinds of things you wish you could say but never do).

So, as publishing changes, as a writer/business person I have to make some moves with it. However, fundamentally as a Writer, I don't have to make any real changes. I just have to keep on writing. That is the only key I know to really succeeding at this crazy business. Keep on keeping on or write on writing on. For anyone who needs some encouragement to get that book inside of them "puked" out (I know it's a gross visual, but it's my word for getting the first draft out and I am sticking with it), remember that November is National Novel Writing Month. Their website offers so many great tools and ideas in helping writers move forward with their writing. It is an extremely supportive community and if you've never participated in National Novel Writing Month then maybe this year is the time to do so. What do you have to lose? Visit their site at  http://www.nanowrimo.org/

Okay, now for anyone who has missed the Free Kindle or Nook opportunity contest, are you crazy? Scroll down, read how to enter and get on with it. :)

I'd love to know your thoughts on publishing, National Novel Writing Month, the crazy weather patterns, Lady Gaga (not really), Katy Perry and Russell Brand's Indian wedding (this I do really want to know your thoughts on), why 4th grade math homework is really impossible these days, and of course any recipes you want to share. Oh hell--write anything (as long as it's nice. I like nice things. Or at least humorous--JP better read this and respond with one of her quips).

That's all I got for now. It isn't much--just a little food for fodder.

Cheers,
Michele

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shrimp Salad Recipe from Happy Hour

It is raining yet again here in San Diego.  But that doesn't mean you cant enjoy some tasty recipes from Michele Scott's book Happy Hour.  Don't forget about the contest going on to win a free Kindle or Nook.  All you have to do is purchase either a copy of Happy Hour or El Patron off of http://www.amazon.com/ or http://www.bn.com/, forward the proof of purchase to HappyHourBook@gmail.com and type in either Nook or Kindle in the subject line. The winner will be announced in the December issue of my newsletter, which is you want to subscribe to, all you have to do is e-mail me at the same e-mail HappyHourBook@gmail.com and type in Newsletter in the subject line and Viola!

Alyssa’s Shrimp Salad




3 fresh pears

Salad greens

1 lb cooked shrimp-medium size

1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper

¼ cup chopped green onion

1 cup chopped celery

1/3 cup mayonnaise

½ teaspoon chipotle or some type of red pepper powder

½ teaspoon chopped garlic

½ cup feta cheese

½ teaspoon grated lemon peel

1 teaspoon lemon juice

¼ teaspoon salt



Core pears; cut into narrow wedges. Arrange on lettuce lined salad plates.

Combine shrimp, celery, green pepper, cheese and green onions.

Blend mayonnaise, garlic, pepper powder, lemon juice, lemon peel and salt. Toss with shrimp. Top pears with the mixture. Serve with a crisp sauvignon blanc.

Cheers!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Win a Kindle or Nook

For the months of October and November you could win your choice of a Nook or Kindle. How you ask? Good question. All you have to do is purchase either a copy of Happy Hour or El Patron off of http://www.amazon.com/ or http://www.bn.com/, forward the proof of purchase to HappyHourBook@gmail.com and type in either Nook or Kindle in the subject line. The winner will be announced in the December issue of my newsletter, which is you want to subscribe to, all you have to do is e-mail me at the same e-mail HappyHourBook@gmail.com and type in Newsletter in the subject line and Viola!

If you have any interest in following me on twitter go to http://twitter.com/winemysteries, and/or on my fan page over at facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Michele-Scott/117686908963.

To read excerpts from either book, visit my site at http://www.michelescott.com/.

Good Luck!

Cheers,
Michele


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What Nurtures Your Soul?

If you've read my post from the other day then you know that it's been pretty rough lately for my family. Everyone has their own process to go through and a need to discover what helps to heal them.

For me, I think many of you know that what nurtures me most in this world besides my family and friends are my horses (which I basically include in the same category as family). There is something so spiritual and peaceful about these animals. I think what I appreciate the most about them is that they don't judge, they don't interefere--they just allow. That is nature for you though, isn't it? I can walk outside and step into the barn, lean my head against one of my horse's face and actually feel their grace. Not all horses are kind, and that is usually because of some human. There are a percentage who are just born with a mean streak, but I am of the ilk that, that is fairly uncommon. I am lucky as my seven "kids" are all very sweet and gracious. Though there is one in the bunch who definitely has made up his mind that humans only real purpose in life is to feed him. You would think that most horses would have that attitude if you don't know the animals very well. However, that isn't the case. They all have very distinct personalities and quirks. They love attention, to be talked to and groomed. There are horses with work ethics and huge hearts. I know of one horse who is so forgiving of the little kid who rides him. This kid yanks that poor horse's mouth around, takes out all of her frustrations on him and yet, I have never once seen him be a jerk back to her. He just keeps giving and trying his hardest to do whatever she asks.

I have a true love and passion for these amazing animals who give me so much in the way of nurturing my soul. I'm so grateful everyday to be able to go and just be with them. Sometimes I go and sit quietly in the middle of the pasture with them, watching them and they always will make their way over and check me out. Doing this is my solace and it's why I chose to include them in my Michaela Bancroft mysteries. I get asked sometimes if I am like Nikki from The Wine Lover's Mysteries, and I always say, "No. I live vicariously through the Nikki character because she is always having so much damn fun." I'm much more like Michaela Bancroft as far as my lifestyle and personality, as well as having gone through some of the transitions in life that Michaela faces throughout the series. There is definitely one major difference though--I'm not even close to being a 5'8" blonde.

Anyway, I just wanted to share that little tidbit about my animals and my writing. I hope you enjoy and that you also have something in your life that nurtures you. I would love to hear back what that might be. Please share!

I'm also posting here the original book trailer for Saddled with Trouble. If you have an interest in reading the book or any of the books in the series, they are all available online at both amazon and bn.com.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRX9bcFGga8

Thanks and have a great day.

Warmly,

Michele

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Risotto with Lemon and Basil a recipe from Murder Uncorked

Cassie here again everybody, its recipe time yet again!  Lately I've been craving something that will really fill the belly.  This is just too tasty!  It is just one of many recipes you can find in Michele's Wine Lovers Mystery Series books! 

Risotto with Lemon and Basil




3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, chopped (or 1 tablespoon chopped garlic from a jar)

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 cups Arborio rice

½ cup dry white wine

3 ½ cups simmering chicken broth, with the addition of 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest

3 tablespoons butter

½ cup grated pecorino Romano cheese (or Parmesan)

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

¼ cup basil, julienned

Salt and pepper



In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and shallot. Cook until onion is translucent. Add rice, stirring constantly, and cook 5 minutes more, making sure rice does not brown. Add wine, stirring constantly, and let totally evaporate. When wine is evaporated begin adding broth ½ cup at a time, letting each addition evaporate before adding the next. After fourth addition of broth is added, begin tasting rice. Rice should be al dente when done. You need to keep tasting rice, because, depending on rice, you may or may not have to use all the broth. Add lemon zest after forth addition of broth is absorbed. After last addition of broth is absorbed, remove from heat, stir in butter, Romano, parsley, and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 6-8 as a side.

Goes great with Estancia Pinnacles Pinot Noir. This wine is fruity with ripe cherry and strawberry, layered with sweet oak and aromas of dried flowers, leaf, and spice. It has a silky mouth-feel and leaves a long finish.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Life Can be Painful

I never really planned to address what I am about to "talk about" here. It's personal, private and very painful. However, as a writer, writing it out can be cathartic. That is what I'm hoping for anyway. But most importantly it is my true hope that if this reaches someone in my situation, or someone who knows someone who is considering what I want to discuss, then maybe this post will help.

I have been out of the loop completely for the last month. I've hardly looked at a computer but for a few times. I've only spoken with or been around very close family and friends, and mainly my children. Some of you may be aware of the reasons why, and for those of you who aren't--please be advised that this is going to be as honest as possible and painful to write and to read, so if you are not in a good space skip today's post and give me some time. I promise I will be back on a lighter note in the future.

A month ago my family suffered a tragic loss through suicide. To protect family, I will not go into who it was, some of you may know and I ask that it remain private. I can tell you that it has affected us so deeply and shaken our very core. I wake up now every morning and I think, "Oh my God. This really did happen." Throughout the day, I have a variety of emotions traveling through me that range from shock and horror, complete and total anger and grief and sadness--and finally confusion. It is like being held down by a vat of mud encasing the entire body. It is the most exhausting, draining experience I have ever been through. People don't talk about it, but maybe people should be talking about it. I think they should.

I was in the book store the other night and even with what seemed like a ton of people there, I felt like no one could see me and honestly that I didn't want to be seen. Someone very close to me related it to feeling like he is in a fog now all day long and there is just this grey around him. Everything around us feels so surreal. I even said to myself the other night looking in the mirror that I feel like I am living someone else's life. I don't want to live someone else's life. I'm a happy person. I love life and I love my people and I love my animals and I love to write. The people closest to this person also loved their lives, loved their friends, family--loved this person completely. However, this situation has darkened it in a way that I feel too that there will always be this sense of "grey" close by. I am certain for those closest to this person feel the same way. For some, this situation has stripped them of any faith they had. It's understandable, but also so very sad.

I can't even express here how truly upsetting this situation is. The words here don't even begin to tap into the reality of multitude of emotions. As a writer, I can't even get there and express it properly. There simply are no words. The people left behind are left here to ask over and over the questions: "Why?" "Could I have helped?" How could I have made this different? Why, why, why is constant. The guilt is tremendous for all.

There were children in this person's life and I know these questions will remain on their heart and I know that their lives are changed forevor. It is so difficult for me to wrap my mind around any of it. All I can say is that for anyone who has ever considered taking their own life as a viable possibility to easing life's pains, it won't. It will only cause more grief, more pain, more heart ache for so many left behind. If you ever find yourself in such a dark place or you know someone who has been there/is there please reach out. There are people who care and love. There are answers. There are ways of getting through the hard times. They are there. Leaving a family, leaving friends behind to suffer and to question is never an answer. It doesn't take away the love that was felt for this person, especially from the kids, but the suffering is immense and on most days (at least right now) I think it overshadows the love that was there.

There are two things that I keep coming back to in order to heal (and there truly will never be a complete healing in this situation) and that is faith and time. Faith and time is what I am counting on right now.

I want to thank so many of you who have sent support, warm wishes, kindness, prayers, and lots of love. My family is so grateful for all of it.

On a positive note, this has all really reminded me just how important family, friends, and relationships are. That is where true joy comes from. I feel blessed to have so many people around me (and animals) who everyday show me how truly wonderful they are.

Many, many warm wishes to you and yours,

Michele

Monday, October 11, 2010

Loyalty is found in the heart


In contrast to last week, when I wrote about the difficulties in making a comeback after a terrible accident caused by a horse, today I want to touch upon the good and special in horses. My six year old quarter horse “Finally” (got his namesake by being born a month late) was tied up across from the horse that nearly took my life. After I was kicked, and when they had pulled the offending horse clear of everyone, there was an attempt to move all of the other horses out of the way to make room for the ambulance. My horse stood stock still, parallel to the trailer, eyes fixated on me. Several concerned friends tried to move him and he refused, not rudely, but with an air of determined calm resistance. He knew that I was hurt and was not going to leave my side. Eventually it proved more productive to move me, and only then did Finally allow someone to lead him to a nearby trailer, where he was tied up next to one of his friends, a 3 year old paint. The ambulance arrived quickly. It’s flashing lights caused every horse within sight to freak out, every horse that is except for Finally and his young friend. Both stood absolutely calm and still, keeping their eyes on me. I had no clue that I had just been kicked by a horse, or why I was being held down by friends. At that moment, the only thing that I could remember was that a horse had tried to kick Finally. Over and over, I repeatedly asked if Finally was okay. Finally was fine, and had suffered only one kick. But it took me several hours at the hospital before I could stop asking about Finally. On that dreadful day, he proved to me forever that he is my loyal baby. All he knew was that his mom got hurt and that his job was to stand by and protect me until help arrived. There is truth in that every horse has the power to do great harm, but there is also truth in that every horse has the power to love unconditionally. From the moment he was born, I knew in my heart that this baby horse was special, unfortunately it took a bad accident for the rest of the world to see I was right.

Cassie Hagey

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Maine Diver Scallops recipe from Murder Uncorked

Ahh well its raining here in San Diego and the water is puddling up, but on the bright side it has me thinking of some tasty seafood.  Here is another delicious recipe from Murder Uncorked from the Wine Lover's Mystery series by Michele Scott.




2 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 tablespoons leeks cut into julienne strips

1 cup shitake or oyster mushrooms cut into large pieces

½ cup shallots, minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped

½ teaspoon white pepper

2 tablespoons Armanac, or brandy, or cognac

2 lemons

1 cup heavy cream

8 fresh Maine diver scallops

½ teaspoon Balsamic vinegar



Heat one teaspoon of the olive oil in a medium skillet over high heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden brown. Add leeks, mushrooms, and shallots and cook for 2 minutes, seasoning with kosher salt, thyme, and pepper. Deglaze the pan with Armanac and fresh lemon, reducing by half. Add heavy cream and reduce until cream thickens as a glaze. Remove the ragout into separate bowl. Add the scallops to the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes on each side. Place the ragout on dinner plates, top with the scallops. Drizzle Balsamic vinegar over the top. Makes either 4 appetizers or serves as 2 dinner entrée.



Goes great with Estancia Pinnacles Pinot Noir. This wine is fruity with ripe cherry and strawberry, layered with sweet oak and aromas of dried flowers, leaf, and spice. It has a silky mouth-feel and leaves a long finish.

Cheers, Michele

Friday, October 1, 2010

Making a Comeback

Hello all, this is Cassie, Michele's assistant.  Lately she has been going through some difficult times as I'm sure many of you are aware.  She has asked me to join in on her blog for a bit.  We are calling ourselves team longshot because of our struggles.  Recently I had quite the traumatic experience myself and I would like to share my story which hopefully inspires others to keep on fighting even in tough times.

Note this is not the horse that kicked me, this is my adorable horse Finally.... (Photo credit Amy Williams)

Kermit the frog famously noted that, “It isn’t easy being green,” and I can tell you that returning to normal after a life changing experience is also not so easy.  It is no real secret that life is hard for everyone (all in different ways), and no one in this world is handed special treatment.  Yet some hits in life are harder than others.  Currently, I am struggling with getting my life back together after experiencing some nearly deadly injuries from the back leg kicks of a big horse.  Although I have recently returned to work for the first time since the accident, it still does not feel like I’m the old me.  Suddenly I am aware that a life changing experience has permanent effects that cannot be sewed over like plastic surgery.  Sure I’m back at work.  Soon I will be riding again, running again, showing off my new fancy teeth, and my hair will all grow back.  Inside however, my eyes and memories recall how close I came to forever leaving this earth.  Right now, I get to deal with being treated a little differently by all who know me, whether with extra care from my family and friends, or simply by people not quite expecting as much out of me.  I find that I can accept help or gifts much more easily than ever before.  It is hard to say whether I am so grateful, or maybe its because I’ve softened up a bit.  I love life and appreciate everything, large and small, with a renewed strength and intensity.  At the hospital, I was known as a super polite patient, because I was always thanking everyone.  Currently I’m facing some serious medical and dental bills.  This translates into some big time penny pinching but I will have the time to pay them off.  I have friends that have recently lost a close member of the family, and at the time I encouraged them to keep on living and enjoying the life they deserve!  This accident was a hard lesson, but one with valuable take-home messages.  Life just can be plain mean, but it does reward the fighters if they get up and keep on going.  It is possible to rise above the burdens, the bills, the nagging irritants of recovery.  Life offers so much.  I am inspired by those who rallied around me, whether it is by giving flowers, food, cards, cash, or just warm wishes.  It is not so bad to be able to lean on some friends who are eager to help.

Lots of Love, Cassie