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August 2012
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October 2012

2012 Central Coast Writers' Conference

The 28th annual Central Coast Writers' Conference was held at Cuesta College recently and I was lucky enough to attend. We had beautiful weather, wonderful faculty and interesting sessions.

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This year's keynote speaker was poet Jack Grapes. It's the first time a poet has been the keynote speaker in the conference's 28 year history. He was really good - very inspirational, gave really good advice, and read some of his wonderful poetry as well.

We also got a brief poetry reading from the San Luis Obispo 2012 Poet Laureate Bonnie Young. 

For my first session I chose to learn about creating suspense in mystery or thriller novels with faculty member  Jeff Carlson. This guy was a great speaker - lots of great information about plotting and pace, and lots of energy as well, which is important at the end of a long day! Last year I took a session about writing suspense, but didn't walk away with half the information and inspiration as I did with this guy.

Saturday morning I enjoyed a lovely breakfast out in the courtyard (the conference was wonderfully catered, btw), and prepared for the day's sessions.

The first session was about the various sub-genres within the fantasy genre. Our faculty member for this session was  Barbara Hodges. It was nice because it was a really small group - only about 7 or 8 people total! - and we had a lovely discussion about different types of fantasy stories, what we're writing, marketing with regards to fantasy and much more. 

My next session was with Jeff Carlson again; this time talking about worldbuilding in fantasy and sci-fi stories. He repeated some of the same information as the night before, but it was still interesting.

My last session of the day was developing the character arc in your novel with Rachel Herron. She was a great speaker - I think my favourite of the weekend - and I was lucky enough to win one of her novels in the raffle!


At the end of the afternoon we had a final session with a panel moderated by Catherine Ryan Hyde that included book bloggers Amy Riley and Danielle Smith and literary agent Pam van Hylckama. Together they discussed the importance of marketing yourself to book bloggers for reviews and exposure. While I am not familiar with any of these ladies, I do read a lot of other  book blogs, and have been introduced to several really great books and authors by reading their reviews. 

Overall this was one of the best conferences I've been to. The faculty were great. They provided interesting and usable information, and controlled their rooms effectively (unlike some past conferences where the instructors totally lost control of the folks in their sessions and it became a total free-for-all). It was also nice to have some different session topics to choose from, too, as the past few years, I've been taking a lot of the same stuff, mostly because I'm not ready for the marketing/query stuff and also because I'm not interested in writing children's/picture books. Anyway, it was a great weekend, and I really do recommend this writers' conference to any and all my writing friends. Cheers!

Teaser Tuesday: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

•Grab your current read
•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 This week I'm reading Gone Girlby Gillian Flynn. It was on my TBR list for a while, but I decided not to go for it because I had so many other books to read, but then it ended up on my Book Club, and I thought, what the heck, I'll read it!  It's pretty good so far (I'm only on page 42). Very well written, engaging, interesting story and character I think I might want to know a little more about. It's not as good as Shine Shine Shine, but then I'm still a little enamoured by that novel, so pretty much anything is going to pale in comparison. Anyway. Here's my teaser from Gone Girl page 16. One line only this time; yeah, it's that good a line:

There's something disturbing about recalling a  warm memory and feeling utterly cold.  

Garden Update in Lomo

Two Sundays ago I went out and took my weekly garden pics, but never got them resized or posted due to having put a bunch of my rubber stamps for sale on eBay, and subsequently selling them all within a couple hours. So then there was packing and printing and shipping, and gah! Why can't all my crap super good quality stuff sell this fast??

Then this past weekend I ended up with a cold that I'm despiratly trying to get over quickly since the Central Coast Writer's Conference is this coming up this weekend and my vacation with my mom to Cambria is next Monday thru Thursday. So I never even made it outside to harvest the few little tomatoes I can see from the kitchen window, let alone take a new set of pictures.

Anyway, the other night I was playing with one of my favourite photo sites,, and decided to do my garden pictures in lomo, just to be different. (BTW, dumpr has the best lomo filter for pictures,  IMHO.) So, here's what the garden looked like a couple weeks ago. It probably hasn't changed much.


Everything is crazy huge. My pepper plants are both pretty loaded down with peppers in various shapes, sizes and even colours. A lot of them have been turning red, and some have a little orange in them, too.  They have all been delicious sauteed in a little EVOO!


The Big Beefsteak tomato plant itself is ginormous, but the tomatoes never got too terribly big. They have been delicious, though, sweet and meaty, and hopefully we'll get some more over the next couple weeks.


We did get some pretty good-sized, uber juicy and delicious tomatoes off the Bush Goliath plant, but they're starting to fizzle out, too.  This plant was so successful we're planning to just get two fo them next year and skip the beefsteak.

I think the garden may be just about done for this year. The tomatoes are not getting as large, and there are fewer and fewer blossoms on the plants. The weather is finally (hopefully?!?) changeing from the hideously hot summer to a somewhat cooler fall, and I think in a few weeks we'll be saying farewell to the garden of 2012.

You Capture: Windows

Last Friday my mom and I went to the Atascadero Art and Wine Tour downtown, and I managed to remember this assignment and capture a couple windows.

The first is actually a pair of windows on a once-blank wall that now has a mural painted on it. (This photo is just the detail of the piece, not the whole thing) That part of the building actually houses an art supply store called The ARTery, so having a painting on that wall makes sense. However, it was hotly contested since the owner didn't get the proper permits before having the work done, and it was in danger of being painted over. In the end, however, the City Council decided to let the project stay.  Personally I'm not a fan of this piece. I think it's depressing and sad and looks like a poorly done portrait of one of the transients that hang around in the Sunken Garden. I would've much preferred something more cheerful and upbeat that would WELCOME people to our tiny but increasingly fun downtown area. I mean, really. Would YOU want to check out a downtown area where that was the first thing you saw? My other complaint is that the mural wasn't even done by a LOCAL artist. Gah! But, whatever. No one asked my opinion (Or anyone else's opinion, actually!!), and art is subjective, anyway.

My second shot was taken from inside Colby Jack Restaurant where my mom and I enjoyed a delicious late dinner after walking around downtown sampling lots of delicious wine and viewing lots of lovely art. I liked how the lights inside appeared to be hanging from the tree branches when I looked outside.


Cheers! Photobucket

Art and Wine Tour


Last Friday mom and I went to the Atascadero Art and Wine Tour  in downtown Atascadero. It was wonderful! So much better than the last time. This time the weather was perfect (as opposed to uber hot, dusty, and windy), and there were TONS of people downtown enjoying the wine, food, art and entertainment (as opposed to, say, nearly none).


Almost all the wineries there were the same ones from the previous Art and Wine Tour or other Wine Festivals we've attened, so we really didn't try anything new.  They were, however,  all delicious. I don't think there was a single wine I tried that I didn't like. There weren't very many whites, however (which really isn't a surprise since this area is quite known for its zinfandels and pinot noirs), and I was hoping to find something perfect for sipping on the back patio during the warm autumn evenings. The above Picnic Chardonnay by Pomar Junction, however, was a contender.




I don't know the name of this singer/band, but that girl had a really amazing voice!



I've never been a fan of the "box" wines, but Hidden Oak's Merlot was quite good, and they claim to have four bottles of wine in this one little box, so I'm a little tempted to give it a shot!


We also tried some delicious olive oil with french bread (I believe it was Brian's Bread which is the best bread around these parts! Honest to Pete, it's the only specialty bread we buy.). It was seriously good - very light flavour and maybe even a little sweet. I think I liked it better than the oils I tasted at Olivovas de Oro Olive Company. (Although you guys are awesome, too!)



I didn't actually take this picture below; the girl behind the bar at The Barrel Room did. I would actually like to go down there and spend some more time trying their wines. Mom and I stopped by during either a Wine Tour like this one, or the Sweetheart Stroll, or some event like that before they were officially opened, and it appears from the picture that they've added more wineries!


I remember this uber enthusiastic and adorable lady from last time! She was pouring a really yummy Chardonnay that both my mom and I really enjoyed.


There was also some fantastic art on display this time! I don't recall seeing many artists last time except for one poor guy who was trying to keep his paintings from blowing away in what was a pretty nasty wind.  The following pieces are from the sketchbook of the crazy talented Liam Daley, a young artist I met at Calicopia, a local artist coop (which also had some amazing art pieces as well!).

I can totally see a cartoon or a comic book series based on these two interesting characters!

A cute reminder to stop and smell the flowers!

I can't quite tell if this little guy is happy, sad, relieved or simply content with his accomplishment.

I love this bird escaping from its cage picture. I think it would make a fantastic tattoo!

This little fella was my favourite and prompted a brief discussion of our mutually favourite film: Roxanne with Steve Martin. Liam told me I should check out Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, as it's another Steve Martin film that's (according to Liam) very good!


You Capture: Green

This week's You Capture theme was green. It was pretty easy since I have several more green tomatoes on both my plants. This is one of the Big Beef tomatoes. This plant has grown to immense proportions, but has produces only small- to medium-sized fruit, which is a bit disappointing. They've also been some strangely misshapen creatures off this plant, which has been odd, but kinda fun, too!


Teaser Tuesday: The Kill Order by James Dashner

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

•Grab your current read
•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week I started reading The Kill Order by James Dashner. This is the prequel to The Maze Runner trilogy, which I really enjoyed, and I've been SO looking forward to reading this book!  My teaser comes from page 122:

"Stop it!" Mark yelled. "Stop it!"

He jerked on his own rope and started to get up, but the boot came back, slamming him into the dirt once again.