I would apologize for not being the best at updating every single week, but, in my own defense, the weeks where I don’t update are weeks where I’m traveling, have friends&family in town, or it’s a holiday. Plus it just makes for a more exciting post the next week! So without further ado:
Last week my best friend Karrie came in town from Toronto, and stayed with Lucas and I for five days. It was probably the most laid back trip we’ve ever had. If you know us, you know all of our vacations have spreadsheets and color & icon coded google maps. It sounds like a lot, but when going somewhere you’ve never been, the pre-planning makes the trip itself a lot less stressful. (Perhaps I should do a post on trip planning?) This time, however, was Karrie’s fourth time to Chicago, so we didn’t need to do any of the usual sightseeing cliches.
We spent all day Thursday watching Lord of the Rings (yes, all three–extended versions) and eating our weight in guacamole. I introduced Karrie to the wonders of an espresso cured ribeye, and she helped me clear out my stash of small production, estate Rieslings. Friday, we went for a hike with Freya, took Karrie on her first “Target run”, and had dinner at Parkers. Parkers is one of my work accounts, and also one of my favorites, and they sent us way more food than we could eat. Cheese board with local goat, sheep, & cows milk cheeses, oysters, clam chowder, gumbo, lemon-butter whitefish, mushroom risotto, beef shank with chorizo potatoes, apricot & white chocolate bread pudding, and last but not least: three foot tall maple cotton candy. After we rolled home, full-to-bursting, to burn calories, we played Mario Kart for a few hours.
Saturday was the real reason for Karrie’s visit: the Chicago Heroes event. She has been a fan of Chicago Fire/PD/Med since the start. I only jumped on board to watch Chicago PD because of my love for Sophia Bush, who is much more than just the girl from One Tree Hill. She’s incredibly intelligent and very politically outspoken, and generally just a great role model of someone in Hollywood using their platform for good. Needless to say, we both jumped on the opportunity to meet her. Having attended conventions before, we expected it to be a similar experience: the handlers and photographers yelling at you to hurry you up and rush you in and out, giving you only roughly thirty seconds to interact. This was nothing like that, and it was so lovely. The whole event was incredibly relaxed, each actor took the time to speak with each person before their photo. They were engaged with each fan, down to do some ridiculous photo poses, and checked to make sure the photo was good before moving on to the next person. Karrie also purchased an autograph to go on her gallery wall, and asked Sophia to write a quote on cardstock for her frame. Sophia thought for a moment, and taking inspiration from Karrie’s “RESIST” shirt, wrote “Resist. Insist. Persist.” I’m always afraid that when I meet these people, they won’t be as lovely as I anticipated but she was very genuine and real as she munched on a pretzel, complaining about high heels, dancing to the music one of her co-stars had brought out for his neighboring autograph table. Karrie also purchased an autograph from LaRoyce, having always loved his “Be Powerful” motto, and he too was more than happy to oblige. He also had her message his brother so he could send her a Be Powerful hat, which was above and beyond. Everyone was so lovely and happy to chat. It was truly a special event.
I should probably make a separate post for writing/editing/publishing updates, shouldn’t I? Maybe next week. These past two weeks were full of firsts. I wrote my first synopsis, and I think it’s decent, just taking a little break before diving back in. Yet again, Susan Dennard has the best advice on how to tackle this. It’s based on The Hero’s Journey, and helps keep you on task with only hitting the major points of your novel without drowning in subplots.
This week, I participated in #PitMad on Twitter, which is a one day pitching contest where querying writers can pitch their novel in 280 characters or less. Agents can request a query by “liking” your tweet. You have to use the appropriate hashtags for your genre, age group, and #PitMad, all of which detracts from your already limited number of characters. I didn’t get any likes from agents, but it was a good learning experience. Skimming through the pitches, it’s very much a popularity contest, as more popular pitches skyrocket to the top. I definitely need to delve further into the writing community on Twitter and make more writing friends. I got quite a few hits from fellow writers who enjoyed my pitch, which was very heartening. By perusing the popular tweets, I found a lot of agents who were currently requesting YA Fantasy, which is invaluable information. So, now, back to the querying trenches I go!
If you’re a wine aficionado, and perhaps even if you’re not, you’ve heard of The Prisoner, a Zinfandel based red blend out of Napa. But this post isn’t about that wine. The Prisoner was started by the visionary Dave Phinney, and also sold by him, so it’s not even the same wine anymore. But before I get on my soapbox… Back then, Phinney was sourcing grapes from growers throughout Napa, but his true vision and passion was to have a vineyard of his own. So when the GB Crane vineyard was available, he jumped on it. A mere 8 acres, it is the oldest vineyard in Napa, planted in 1885 to what was then called “mixed blacks”: Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignan, and a wee bit of Alicante Bouschet, Mourvedre and Valdiguie. Of those eight acres, four are the original plantings. The “new” four acres were replanted in the 1930s, which isn’t anything to turn up your nose at either. So, if you’re looking for the real Prisoner wine, from it’s winemaker, look no further than The Crane Assembly, specifically Disciples Red Blend: 76% Zinfandel, 13% Charbono, 6% Grenache, 5% Petite Sirah. And in true Phinney style, it’s big, bold, and jammy, complete with an obscure, artistic label. If you’re a true Phinney-fan, also check out El Coco Red Blend (with the boogeyman on the label) and the Cabernet.