Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Surrendering to the Chocolate Demon

A Cautionary Tale of Lust and Desire. And a really big Hammer.

Like many of you reading this, I'm doing the "It's the New Year, so I have to diet" thing. And so far so good. I love berries, which appear to be ripe, sweet and plentiful at the moment, and when topped with a squirt of canned whipped cream (a ridiculously low number of calories) covers the dessert issue nicely. All well and good. [I'm also nursing and rehabbing a flexor plate foot injury so don't bother sending me exercise information right now. I'll just sob a bit and delete it. But I appreciate the thought.]

In spite of the fresh foods, veggies, fruit, salads and healthy crap crowding my fridge, there is always room for a little indulgence. Special K vanilla snack bars, Skinny Cow white chocolate mint truffle popsicles, hard-as-concrete sourdough pretzels with globs of crunchy salt - any dieter understands the need for such treats. Celery, while green and crunchy, lacks a lot in the satisfying and decadent delight department.

Thus it was that the other night I found myself pacing my kitchen and struggling with the worst demon of all...the chocolate demon! I doubt introductions are necessary, since apparently most women with a pulse have met him at one time or another. He's the sneaky little urge that begins as a tickle somewhere deep in the hypothalamus/cerebral cortex/insert-brain-part-here. He grows, slowly but inexorably, until the desire to devour him is so freakin' overwhelming you'll run over your own grandmother without a qualm if she's standing in front of a bar of chocolate. I spent that evening with him, avoiding him, ignoring him - all in a futile effort to dodge the inevitable. I failed. I HAD TO HAVE CHOCOLATE OR DIE.

Now this was after I was comfortably in my jammies. I wasn't about to go out in the car and forage for relief. I knew, somewhere deep in the recesses of my cacao-obsessed mind, that I had a stash someplace. And sure enough, after ripping through four cabinets, a storage pantry, even checking under the sink just in case -- I found treasure at last. An opened bag of CHOCOLATE CHIPS! I held them close, cuddled them, stroked the shiny bag, and drooled.

And then I stilled. The bag in my arms wasn't malleable like something filled with those little dabs of paradise. It was, to put it bluntly, hard as a frickin' rock. With fingers that trembled I opened the bag to find - horror of horrors - it had been sitting in my cabinet over the under-counter halogen lights. The chocolate chips had morphed into one giant CHOCOLATE CHUNK.

So here I was, shaking with the craving, needing my fix, and instead of a tidy little bowl with delectable chiplets, I had a chunk the size of Houston. And I gotta say there is nothing quite as hard as a reanimated chunk of Hershey's best. I beat on that thing with a rolling pin (barely a dent); a hammer - nearly took my eye out; and finally a mallet. Not a rubber one, since that just bounced and could have been lethal if I hadn't used a certain amount of caution. Eventually I dislodged sufficient amounts of the brown stuff to satisfy Mr. Demon. And the crisis was over, sated by the smoothly delightful taste of chocolate shards licked up from the kitchen counter, the backsplash and the little pile under the toaster. (Why things gravitate to beneath a toaster I don't know, but they always do.)

Moral of the story, girls? Don't even try to fight the Chocolate Demon and keep a bag of chocolate chips somewhere cool for emergencies like this. The good news...I had to work so hard to GET the damn stuff I think it balanced out the calories I ingested. The bad news? There's still a couple of bits stuck on the ceiling fan. Today I haul out the ladder and get rid of 'em because...I could never explain it to a guy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Different Take On... S.L. Carpenter

I'm so happy to welcome my first guest - S.L. Carpenter, author of the best-selling story OWNED (Samhain), Art Director for Samhain Publishing, my BFF and all-around great guy.

Scott, we know about your wonderfully crafted - and occasionally wonderfully twisted - books. And we’ve all seen your superb cover art on so many best-selling novels including your own. During many of your interviews you’ve mentioned that music plays a role in your writing, setting the mood and helping you into the right frame of mind to write a certain scene.

So I’d like to talk about music with you today - and start by asking if you remember some of the first music you ever bought for yourself when you were a kid? And why?

Ahhhh, music. First record I ever bought for myself was Queen – Night At The Opera. I grew up in the California Bay Area and listened to mostly rock music on the radio. If I say what bands I’ll date myself, but mostly the classics like Journey, Bad Company, Foreigner and so on, but Queen was always so different and really caught my ear.

I know you have a mammoth music library - how do you think music has changed since those first songs you bought years ago? And has it changed for good or bad?

Loaded question. For me music has changed a lot in bad ways. Part of why I like Rock is the music is more real. Bands playing instruments and singing live. A lot of the music now is all done on computers and the voices are tweaked through computer Autotunes so the voices aren’t even really the singers. Of course I listen to R&B a lot to put me in the mood to write, and that has a lot of the grooves done on computers - but the singing is real.

You’re a family man, so I wonder if you ever think your kids are missing out on “something” because of the way we listen to, and buy, music today. Has the advent of i-Music, i-Pods and i-Tunes, all so easily accessible, cost them the pleasure of browsing in a music store, for example? (Are there even any music stores left? LOL)

Music is music. Where you get it doesn’t matter. I know I loved walking the aisles of the local music stores just browsing. Now I browse online. It’s the same thing just not having to go somewhere to look. What is good is on places like iTunes you can hear snippets of the songs.

Tell us your thoughts on live concerts. Any sense of whether they’re as popular now as they always were? Are there some musicians who do them better or some who shouldn’t do them at all? Are they too expensive these days? Should that money be put into special effects or should it just be an evening of music?

My daughter went and saw Lil Wayne at a concert and spent over a hundred dollars to go and park. The cost alone is nuts. She said it was great and nowadays the DVD will be out in a few months and people can watch it in their living rooms. Concerts used to be an event where you’d go see a band or a bunch of groups sing live for a couple hours. Live music is great. The whole aesthetic feel of the crowd chanting and singing along can’t be felt any other way.
I’ve seen a lot of concerts. Queen 3 times as a kid, Journey, many other rock bands and even some stand up comics. Billy Joel put on a great show as did The WHO, but if I had to pick a favorite it was Queen. I really want to see TOOL and 30 Seconds To Mars. Nowadays, the one’s I have seen on TV or DVD they have such a big show and so much going on it takes away from what’s important. The music. 
But I haven’t seen a really great concert since Evanescence.

I'm going to finish up with a classic question that was first asked seventy years ago on British radio, believe it or not. (And no, I didn’t ask it. LOL) If you were cast away alone on a desert island, which three albums would you choose to take with you, and why?
Jeeez, only three? This isn’t fair. You know how much music I listen to...
Weird Al Yankovic – The Ultimate Collection. I love this wacky stuff and can listen to it all the time and it makes me laugh. Being stranded alone I’d need to laugh. Couldn’t really do much else.

          Queen – Night At The Opera. Still has a special place in my heart. I never get tired of it.

          Sade – Love Deluxe.   Usually it’s Toni Braxton but musically, this is a better cd.

Thanks so much, Scott. I love listening to you talk about music and I'm glad I got the chance to introduce my friends to a different take on a favorite writer. If you're interested in learning more about Scott (and want to check out his books, which you definitely should) then here's some links you will want to make a note of.

Here's his magnificent cover for OWNED, a best-seller for several weeks over at Samhain Publishing. Buy it HERE. And don't forget to drop by and visit his website at - from there you can connect to his blog, and also his Facebook and Twitter pages. Subscribing to his newsletter is a great idea, since he occasionally hosts contests and most often has something outrageous to say.

I've had the joy of knowing Scott for going on ten years now, and during that time we've shared the pleasure of writing eight books together at last count, with more on the way. I'm so proud to call him my BFF, my writing Partner and - occasionally - a few unprintable things. He's funny, observant and is annoyingly right more often than not. (That's when he gets called unprintable things. LOL) I'm very grateful he agreed to be my very first Blog Guest and share something other than writing with us all. Thanks Partner! Rock on.

(I hope to continue this feature with some other friends a couple of times a month, so stay tuned. You'd be surprised at what some of your authors get up to when they're NOT writing!!!!)