Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Water Bluer than the Sky

I have nothing important to say today. No overview of a recent vacation, (though I did just go on one and am in the midst of planning several more.) No recipe. No tongue in cheek account of my father's antics from when I was a child.

Just these two photos and some thoughts.

I am putting out my latest book later this month. It is a fantasy novel, and in the midst of the novel, the characters find themselves looking up at the same terraced hills in the above photographs. They marvel at the same lapis-blue sea. And so I guess, I marveled with them. ( I did create them after all)

The coast line in southern Italy, as I have shouted from every rooftop before, is a thing of singular beauty. And not for the way it looks alone, though it is truly stunning. But because of something hidden. (isn't that how all truly beautiful things are? Something indefinable about their fineness?)

A place where the clouds bend down to kiss the hills and the sun has a way of shining just so, as if creating the perfect lighting to show off the geography to its best advantage. 

Much like writing, I think. A good writer frames their words just as the sun I have described. A worthwhile novel makes the reader wish to lean in, climb inside, to kiss the words on the pages with their mind.

Madness, probably. What am I even talking about today?

I hope you have beautiful thoughts today. Thoughts so gorgeous they shine out of your eyes and onto everything you see. I hope you have an exciting and lovely book to read that holds your attention rapt and sets your imagination aflame. 

And if you don't...wait a few weeks. My book will be out by then. 


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Remember the Magic

Nolandia is traveling to Disney today and honestly, we couldn't be more excited.

People think that Disney is for kids, and having gone many times as an adult AND as a child, I can tell you that people are dead wrong. 
Disney is magical. Absolutely in the most corny, saccharine way possible. If you don't get up every morning at Disney and say out loud, "WE ARE IN DISNEY WORLD" then you don't belong in Disney World. If you aren't peeing your pants with excitement to get on the  Tower of Terror, or willing to chew off a small child's arm to get a better seat on the Aerosmith ride, then stay home. 

Disney is amazing. The meal plan makes it totes ok to eat way more food than a normal human would reasonably consume. Epcot is MADE for day drinking, and it's the only place in the world that its cool to wear Disney shirts as an adult. You wanna wear a tank-top with Cinderella on it? Get down with your bad self. Want Mickey Mouse ears? You BETTER want Mickey Mouse ears. Want to wear a pin every day that says "It's My Birthday"? You're damn right you do. I wear one every time, birthday or not. I LOVE when strangers wish me a happy birthday. I don't care how far away it is from my real birthday... I deserve that recognition. 

It's also great exercise after downing Funnel Cakes at the American pavilion. You literally walk MILES every single day. Snagging fast passes  is like a Amusement Park dream come true. They didn't have that nonsense when I was a kid. We had to wait in line for every single ride, or wake up at 6am to be the first people to burst into the park like the Spanish running of the bulls. 

Anyway, being an adult in Disney World is way better. Especially if you're two creepy weirdos like Mr. Nolandia and I who have no children, and are instead acting as if we are repeating our own childhoods. At Disney, you can eat dessert for every meal, drink around the world at Epcot and hop on over to Animal Kingdom to drunk-watch animals on safari. 

You guys can keep your adult vacations, your Las Vegas nightclubs and Club Med bullshit. We'll take a meet and greet with Jasmine and Aladdin any day of the week. 

See ya next week! 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Morning Vibes

Mornings are not my thing. I'm more of a night owl. But, because Mr. Nolandia has to get up for his normal person job at normal person time, it means I have to wake up too. I make his coffee, make his breakfast, pack his lunch and send him off to work with a kiss and an admonition to drive safely.

And then I go back to bed. Because I'm a grown ass woman.

I don't normally wake up again 'til about 9. 9 is a solid time for me. I take my coffee to the couch and read the news, catch up with all blog BS, look at my book sales and try to pump myself up for walking the dog and working out so hard that my face feels like it's melting. Later on, I write. I write my little heart out.

That's a good day.

Lately, I have been trying to pump up my mornings with a few things I will share with you.

First, it's nothing new, to me anyway, but a piece of Ezekiel bread with avocado is an amazing waker-upper. Healthy fats, fiber, filling and delicious. Plus some pleasant green in the morning is always a beautiful thing. I usually add half a grapefruit, (the other half consumed later) and there's a Nolandia breakfast fit for the Queen. (Queen of Nolandia, which is me)

Also, the right tunes really step up my morning game. I like songs that are familiar, kind of like an old sweater that always looks awesome when you throw it on. My favorite jams in the morning are peppy and comfortable and make me feel good.  Now, Eminem is reserved for workouts, and Cole Porter and Billie Holiday for writing, but my mornings look a little bit more like this:
Vampire Weekend- Mansard Roof
Arctic Monkeys- Do I Wanna Know?
XX- Sunset
The Neighborhood-WDYWFM
Great Lake Swimmers-Easy Come, Easy Go
The Submarines-1940

That's all the vibes I got. Smack your lips on some avocado toast + give a listen to those jams.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Starlight Symphonies Sails Again!

The book about sailing on Great Lakes...is on SALE. Get it? Isn't that ├╝ber punny?

Anyway, I am delighted to announce that Starlight Symphonies of Oak & Glass has been chosen for the Fussy Librarian Newsletter. As a result, the Kindle Version is once again, for a limited time, 99 cents.

Click the link to read the wonderful reviews, peruse the blurb and ultimately BUY this entertaining book of swashbuckling, history, romance, murder, fantasy and folklore.
Click the link below!

Starlight Symphonies of Oak & Glass on Amazon.com

Also, BONUS, as I recently finished writing my upcoming release The Library of Panopticon, (publishing date of April 31, 2015) I am currently working on the second book in the Starlight Series. I have decided that Starlight Symphonies will be part one of a three part trilogy. So, get reading!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Keep Austin Weird

Austin might be a little less weird than it used to be, but it will always have a special place in my Midwest-bred heart. Check my journey down to the lone star state, and what makes this special city stand out:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Is there anything more St. Patrick's Day appropriate than a pub or me drinking a Guinness at said pub?

Happy St. Patrick's Day! This is one of my favorite holidays, though not for the reason most people like it. 
For me, St. Patrick's Day is another 'over-the-top' holiday courtesy of my Dad. Think: Marathon movie watching of Rudy, Angela's Ashes, Darby O'Gill and the Little People. Picture: Pots of potato soup and bubbling corned beef and cabbage (now gone, alas, as we don't eat meat) and terrible Irish accents ringing out throughout the house. (Faith and Begorrah! Top o' the morning' to ya lads! Stay out of me pot o' gold!) And everyone wearing the green. 
However you celebrate, whether by cracking open a pint or two (or 3 or 4) or drinking the nastiest green beer possible, have a grand day.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Other Side of the Big Easy for C2C Central

Take a walk through the bayou with voodoo priestesses and opulent mansions all in a row. 
Check my article on Coast to Coast Central: The Other Side of the Big Easy

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Fried Tomatoes

When I was little I thought that tomatoes were sicky-grossy. Unless they were:
A. Made into Spaghetti Sauce
B. In Catsup form
C. Fried with Italian Breadcrumbs by my daddy, thus camouflaging their tomato-ness

Now, fried tomatoes are not particularly healthy, but they are super easy to make and Dee-freaking-licious. 

Italian Breadcrumb Fried Tomatoes
-2-3 Medium Sized tomatoes. I prefer the hothouse ones that are on the little vine at the grocery store, or even better any tomatoes from my dad's garden. (But don't go to my Dad's house to pick the tomatoes yourself. He has two dogs and a gun and doesn't like people to come over without calling first. He says it's "disrespectful to just stop over without calling")
-Some olive oil
-Italian Breadcrumbs. Get the Progresso kind. They are the best.  I don't care what other people say, Progresso Italian breadcrumbs are the balls. And make sure they are Italian. Regular breadcrumbs are for amateurs.
-An egg, beaten

-Slice the tomato to desired thickness. I like them about half an inch, so they are meaty, but not too thick. (that's what she said)
-Dip slices in egg, then breadcrumbs
-Place slices in heated oiled skillet and cook each side for about 3 minutes. Breadcrumbs should be toasted brown on both sides. 
-Eat with Abandon.

That's it. And seriously, stay the F out of my Dad's garden. 


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dealing with Rejection

If you opened up this post thinking that I was going to actually give advice on how to deal with rejection, then I've got bad news for you. I'm not very good at it myself. 

Which is basically the root of the root of the bud of the bud (to plagiarize ee cummings SHAMELESSLY) of the problem for me. I don't deal with it. But, you probably don't handle it well, either. 

As a writer, constructive criticism is important for me. It is important to hear the opinion of others when it comes to my own art. How is it being received? How does it make people feel? But, sometimes, what people have to say doesn't feel very good, and very often....it isn't all that valuable.

Growing up, I hated criticism. Of any kind. Even if it was a professor telling me I needed to cite more sources in a paper, I took it as a personal insult. As if they were saying I was flawed, rather than the paper. Like there was something wrong, or bad, or shameful about ME, and not a small hiccup with something I produced. Feeling rejection is normal, taking criticism badly happens to almost everyone, but the way I was receiving it was not healthy.

But honestly, some of the feedback I have gotten from my books has really changed my tune. I never imagined that mean comments could bring me so much peace, but they have. 
Now, if I am coming off as over-dramatic, it's because I am. But, honestly, I don't get very much negative feedback. In general, I am fortunate in the response and support of my readership. But, the not-so-positive rankle me. At first I would sit up at night and wonder if I was wrong to be writing and if I was kidding myself with my dreams. Even if it was one not-so-stellar review in every ten. 

But soon, I realized something. Actually, I realized a few somethings. First: Not everyone is going to like me. Not everyone is going to think my writing is good. Just as not everyone thinks that Charles Dickens is a master of storytelling or that Kurt Vonnegut changed their life. Not everyone will approve of what I do. And that's FINE. It's a cliche type of sentiment, but I find that it takes a lot of time and reflection to really accept that not everyone is going to admire your hard work or style. 

Secondly, some people like to review just because they like to criticize. It is much easier to sit on the safe side, critiquing other people's hard work,  and not creating your own. It is easy to pick out what is wrong with anything. But much more interesting to focus on what is right. Whether it's a vacation or a movie, a book, or a relationship...fixing your eye on the flaws is much simpler than searching out the positives. It seems to be a feature of our society in fact, that we all want to be the first person to tear something apart. The first person to disapprove of so-and-sos new album or this celebrity's new nose or whatever. How pointless.

That is not to say that I don't use constructive criticism at all..no. I actively search for it now. But the keyword is constructive. I look for people that help make me better, than want to build my work up, not just tear it down or point out a feature they don't like. 

So, long story long, I have been dealing with rejection lately by not letting myself feed into the negativity surrounding me. I focus on the people who tell me they loved my work, or that something I wrote resonated with them and gave them strength, courage, happiness, sparked their imagination. 
I have been working on my own tendencies to be negative as well. Sometimes I will finish reading or watching something, and I think about all the holes in the plot, or things that didn't make sense...and then I stop. I think, "Did I enjoy that? Did it make me feel good? Did it make me think or give me an escape?" If the answer is yes, then I don't bother with its merits or flaws. I don't worry about critiquing it, but instead, just profiting from a pleasurable experience. 

My best advice? Accept rejection as something that negative people do. An activity that other people thrive on. Try instead to embrace positivity, creativity and any experience that brings you any modicum of happiness. The world needs more acceptance. Be part of it. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Breakfast Ice Cream

Lately, I've been eating ice cream for breakfast.

Which means I have literally been living the dream. The dream that all children have, to one day, grow up, live in my own house, make my own rules, and eat ice-cream for breakfast.

I've finally made it to the top of the mountain, guys. And the ice cream view is spectacular.

This ice cream is actually better than regular ice cream, in my not-so-humble opinion. Because real ice cream gives my tummy owwies and makes me feel sick. This ice cream, which I refuse to call "nice-cream" because that sounds too much like a kid that I would have made fun of in elementary school. In the ice-cream world, Nice Cream gets his lunch money stolen every day as Rocky Road and Moose Tracks pummel the crap out of him, and Mint Chip hides by a locker.

But I digress. It's not nice cream. It's frozen banana saviour cream that tastes like vanilla or chocolate or  chocolate peanut butter, depending on the day.

2 frozen bananas
a little coconut or almond milk. (maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup depending on desired thickness.)
1 tsp vanilla

Optional: peanut butter, almond butter, cacao or cocoa powder, vanilla or chocolate protein
(I generally use vanilla Vega One protein, because I think it tastes good.)

put in blender.
turn on blender.
Blend. er.
When bananas have been converted to their true faith, ice-creamism, then it is ready to plop into a bowl and throw directly down your mouth hole.

You are so welcome.

xx Live the dream.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Starlight Symphonies Book Deal!

Click here to order!

So, again, exciting news! Starlight Symphonies of Oak & Glass   is being featured on ebookhunter.com for a special price today and tomorrow!

To celebrate, the book is being offered for 99 cents. Snag the e-book version for your Kindle, iPad Kindle app, or smartphone. Less than a dollar. An entire book for less than an unhealthy cheeseburger. Less than a dollar for hours of entertainment. AND, you are supporting me and my dreams. Win win win win win.

Thanks a lot and keep the good vibes coming.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

I love that language, that soft bastard Latin...

I love the language, that soft bastard Latin,
Which melts like kisses from a female mouth,
And sounds as if it should be writ on satin,
With syllables which breathe of the sweet South,
And gentle liquids gliding all so pat in,
That not a single accent seems uncouth,
Like our harsh northern whistling, grunting guttural,
Which we’re obliged to hiss, and spit, and sputter all.

I like the women too (forgive my folly),
From the rich peasant cheek of ruddy bronze,
And large black eyes that flash on you a volley
Of rays that say a thousand things at once,
To the high dama’s brow, more melancholy,
But clear, and with a wild and liquid glance,
Heart on her lips, and soul within her eyes,
Soft as her clime, and sunny as her skies.
-Byron, Beppo S. 44-5.
Read this beauty the other day and it conjured immediately the images of my favorite sunny spot, my most-dreamed of fairytale place, the Amalfi Coast. Visions of wine, and kisses and hair wet from the sea, mingled with pizza, and pizza, and dare I say...more pizza. 
But good God, y'all, Byron could write. 
xx  see you back next week for a recipe + travel motivation. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

First Peek: The Library of Panopticon

My newest book takes place in a world out of my imagination..but it also heavily features the world of 1900 Detroit. When doing research for this novel, I realized that there were holes in the history of Detroit. The articles are heavy with tales of innovators like Henry Ford, Ransom Olds, Thomas Edison...but unshockingly, much lighter on information on the lives of women. Of children. Of anything other than motor cars and lightbulbs and progress, progress, progress. 

And because I am a woman, and a romantic, and someone who likes to envision the lives of regular people, I felt the lack keenly. But, as I also am a huge fan of innovation myself, I set the world of Detroit in the pages of a book, added magic and made a world that is both more to my liking, as historically accurate as possible and also...magic. Take a read on this Completely Unedited excerpt from my newest work, The Library of Panopticon,  out in April/May 2015. A step back in time to imagine the first time an automobile is heard on Woodward Ave, Detroit:

“Yes, it is a rather invigorating thought. Wind in your hair, flying down the streets like magic…”

Lively left the sentence unfinished, and it floated through the air around her parted lips. “Like magic”...there was a certain amount of that around already, fortunately no one else seemed to notice her unfinished comment. Victoria fluttered out and Clara was hurriedly dressing Lively’s hair whilst adding warmer layers over her heavy cotton blouse and cinched-waist wool skirt. She brought out the cold weather overcoat lined with satin and the mink stole, muttering under breath how much better a matching fur coat would be than Lively’s heavy wool one—satin or no. 

Less than half an hour later and they were all bundled up and buttoned, ready to be fetched by Mr. Chasseur and the indomitable Madame Beauchamp. A strange noise could be heard coming down Woodward Ave. It wasn’t loud or discordant, but instead, simply different. Lively could hardly help herself from opening the door to peek out and investigate. Mr. Chasseur and Madame Beauchamp were coming to a halt in an open black coach with that looked like four large bicycle wheels . Their cheeks were bright and pink with cold, but both were glowing with happiness. They were laughing, and more than anything Lively wanted to be a part of that joke, whatever it was. A splash of color in the grey and white November day.  
The two girls burst from the front door, Aunt Charlotte tottering behind them, her girth making quicker progress undignified and impossible. The younger women, under no such impediment, encircled the motor car with enraptured squeals. 
-- excerpted from "The Library of Panopticon" by Alexandria V. Nolan

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Roasted Tomatoes

I like easy things. There is enough difficulty in my life (probably your life too), and so when there is a simpler way to do things, I'm all 'bout it. 

For dinner, I like things with few ingredients, and not a lot of skill. I don't like following directions. I don't have nor do I want a food processor. I do not like to read the word "fold" in a recipe (i.e., fold in eggs to batter...cringe) I don't like the idea of making egg whites into anything, like, meringues or whatever, except cooked egg whites (with the yolks still in them.) If there's more than 10 ingredients, foggedabotit. 

So, I make a lot of soup. I make a lot of soup by roasting vegetables and then placing said vegetables in a blender and then processing them. I then pour my roasted veggie liquid into a pot and let it simmer for a few minutes, whilst giving myself copious props, kudos and excessive pats on the back. 

One of my favorite soups to make is a roasted tomato-red pepper. No dairy, no broth (unless you wanna) and only two necessary ingredients. Tomatoes + Red Peppers. Big surprise, right?

Anyway, it dawned on me that many people don't know how to roast tomatoes, so, I'm here to preach the good tomato message. And then possibly share the soup recipe at a later date. Or, you can figure it out on your lonesome. 

Tomatoes, many varieties 

Set oven to 400 degrees.
Cut tomatoes in half, or in quarters if they are enormous. (some of mine were massive, that's what she said) Some people like to slice the tomatoes, and if that's you, get down with your bad self.
Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on top and then slam into the oven, roasting for 25 minutes. 
Peel skins when they cool a little, or immediately if you like your fingers to have blisters. 
Tomatoes are ready for whatever recipe you want, or can be processed for soup. 

Optional: feel free to use basil, oregano, cumin, whatever to season the tomatoes. I don't like them to have an Italian taste for the specific recipe I normally use them with, so I just add salt and pepper. If you want them to, ain't nobody gonna hold you back. 

Anyway, enjoy or whatever.