Monday, March 30, 2009

Back to front

I am back and I'm glad to be back in the swing of things. I found I have a disturbing and old entrenched habit when I'm not working at my job; I don't eat as often as I should because I get caught up in writing or reading and forget about the time. That's one good thing about having a demanding job, I am always aware of time and the need to get up and move and eat, but not so when I'm writing or reading in the zone. I was actually glad to get back to work on the front lines and that seems strange to me.

The weather during my vacation was a mixed bag of returning spring and warmth and violent winds and snow and cold as if Mother Nature couldn't make up her mind whether or not it is spring. So much for the old saying that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. It was just the opposite this year, like mother nature got her signals mixed up or was wearing her clothes back to front.

One thing I found was that I enjoy bread making, but I'm way out of practice when it comes to kneading. I have the rhythm down but, but my sense of when the dough feels like it has been kneaded enough is rusty, resulting in tough and chewy bread. I'll get it back. It just takes practice. To take my mind off my failure, I indulged in a trip to the grocery store for some eggplant and garlic and found the most luscious strawberries, sweet and succulent that just begged to be dunked in warm chocolate, which brings out the fragrance and sweetness like nothing else. I opted for plain strawberries instead of nestling them in chocolate and some of my chewy homemade Italian herb bread with a breath of melted sweet butter. It wasn't a bad trade-off, but I'm still craving chocolate. Maybe next week.

I also discovered that I'm eating less meat, not because it's not available, but because my cravings were for fruit and vegetables and thick legume-filled soups and stews. I realized most of my meals are vegetarian with the occasional craving for steak or roasted chicken.

While I wallowed in books and caught up on The New York Times Review of Books and other magazines, I also indulged the characters and stories that have been floating around in my mind and popping up in my dreams, and what dreams I've been having. Not your usual run-of-the-mill kind of repressed emotional and strange symbolic dreams, but entire stories, some of which have been simmering on the back burner for quite a while. I wrote a few articles, some stories and finished off another book and I researched, networked and laid the groundwork for marketing and promotion for the new novel, spending so much time on the writing that I ended up catching a bit of a bug that laid me out over the weekend. I did, however, find out some interesting news.

One of my favorite restaurants in the French Quarter in New Orleans moved from its original spot across from the natural history museum on Conti and there's a new chef in town who said he'd be delighted to work with me on a contest to promote the new novel. When I called Godiva headquarters I was told why my favorite ice cream was no longer available and have begun negotiations to work out a contest to coincide with the launch of my novel. I'm still negotiating with restaurants in Philadelphia, Columbus and Kelly's Island, but so far it looks good. What, you may ask, do restaurant and chocolate have to do with my novel? Several scenes take place in real restaurants and I thought it would be a great way to promote the book and get people buying and reading the novel. The contests will revolve around creating a chocolate and caramel dessert and the chefs at the various restaurants will judge the winner and offer the prize: dinner for two with the winning dessert on the menu. It's not an expensive dinner and the contestants will be limited to people in the area or who are going to be in the area. Of course, my novel will be front and center. The restaurants get notice and the cost for them is minimal and I get book sales. I'm still trying to decide whether or not the contest should end to coincide with the launch or whether it would be better to wait until the book is out; I'm seriously thinking about waiting. That way, people have to read the book. It's still a work in progress, but so far everyone is cooperating.

Working up promotional ideas wasn't how I had planned to spend my vacation, but it was a good use of the time and it was fun. What did you do while I was away?

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