travel: seattle

I know I’ve been a bit MIA lately. My excuses are many. Deadlines. Edits. New releases. Taking on more writing than I have time for. Becoming obsessed with watching past seasons of Sons of Anarchy. Promo ho-ing, though I must be doing a good job of that. Since I was here last, I hit the USA Today bestseller list with two different books and the NY Times list with one.

Me (left) and Eliza Gayle (right) on a riverboat in Savannah

Me (left) and Eliza Gayle (right) on a riverboat in Savannah

And then there’s the travel… Since I last blogged here I was in Savannah, GA for a convention, and had a whirlwind weekend at the beach in Montauk, NY.

It seems as if I just got home from a trip to Seattle and in just a few days I leave for Vegas. Both of those trips are dual purpose–business and pleasure.

I have a few good pics for you from Washington State, and I hope to have even more from Las Vegas, so stayed tuned. For now, enjoy my visit to the rainy Pacific Northwest. And don’t you all dare comment how that is a myth because the week I was there yes we had some sun, but they also broke records with 6 inches of rain!

Ferry

View of the wheel and Space Needle from the Bainbridge Island ferry

Market

The Public Market sells tons of cool stuff and yes, I saw them tossing the fish

Starbucks

The first ever Starbucks. Imagine when there was only one?!

Superman

At the EMP Museum exhibit I saw Christopher Reeve’s Superman costume

Kirk

Captain James T Kirk’s chair from the bridge of the Enterprise complete with tribbles

Blair Witch

The Blair Witch Project’s witchy thingy

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson’s Thriller video zombie costume

Inigo Montoya's sword and the Highlander's Katana

Inigo Montoya’s sword and the Highlander’s Katana

wizard of oz

I’m told this original Cowardly Lion’s costume from the Wizard of Oz was made from real lion pelts

Sasquatch-seen often in the Pacific Northwest and a creature who scares the crap out of me FYI

And finally, here’s Sasquatch-seen often in the Pacific Northwest and a creature who scares the crap out of me, much to the amusement of my Seattle friend!

That’s it. It’s off to Vegas for me next and the Professional Bull Riders Finals. I’ll also be having a book signing at the Barnes and Noble on Sun. Oct 27th at 2, and I’ll be at the Rider Relief Fund booth in the PBR Fan Zone Sat. Oct 26th 11-2. More info on my event page.

Maybe I’ll see some of you there!

Cat 

 

 

 

 

my favorite things: the beach edition

Getting ready for my annual pilgrimage to the beach in Rhode Island and I thought what a perfect time for another favorite things post–the summer beach vacation edition.

Reef Bottle Opener Flip Flops

In case you’ve doubted it before, yes, I am one cool chick to have around. I can even open your beer on the beach with my shoe with these Reef flip flops! The bottle opener is built right into the sole.

IPhoneCase

A waterproof iPhone case! And it comes in pretty pink for girls. No, I’m not going swimming with my brand spanking new iPhone, no matter what the manufacturer says, but for sand and spill protection, I think this case will do just fine. Picture it–the iPhone stashed safely in the cup holder in the arm of my folding chair. Ooops! Oh no! I spilled my drink in the cup holder! What will I do? Never fear, the phone is safe in the waterproof case. And yes, I’m guilty of stashing my phone in my boobs, and sweat happens to the best of us in the summer…so this will be good for that too! 😉

Limeritas

My new favorite summer drink in a can, perfect for the cooler when you don’t want a beer on the beach. Try a Limerita! Made by Bud, it’s literally a margarita in a can! Comes in original Lime or Strawberry. 8% alcohol.

That’s all I’ve got for you right now. What’s your favorite things for the beach?

true blood

If you’re a fan of the True Blood HBO series, I know what you were doing last night–watching the season premiere. And I also know you can’t wait for the next episode. But maybe there is something to hold you over…how about a True Blood cookbook? Check out what’s on the market.
True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps

True Blood Drinks and Bites

soda vs pop and other literary minefields

Here’s something I worry about while setting a story in other parts of the country–the old “soda vs pop” debate. And also the “sub vs wedge vs hero vs hogie”, “sweet tea vs iced tea”, “shopping cart vs buggie” and now thanks to this article I just discovered I’ve had to add “cole slaw vs slaw” to my list.

Being a New Yorker gives me one perspective and I can throw out a bit of  Italian, Yiddish and what I affectionately call “kitchen Spanish” when I need a colorful term for something, but that’s because that’s what I’ve grown up hearing. I’ve ordered a soda to go with my wedge. I drink iced tea and push my groceries in a cart. But I’m aware enough to know my Southern redneck consultant uses a buggy and drinks sweet tea, and my Oklahoma friends drink pop, and that’s what I have to be aware of when writing.

It’s one reason I looked up on the computer the menu at Joseph’s Fine Foods in Drumright, Oklahoma when writing my ONE NIGHT WITH A COWBOY. I needed to see what my characters would eat while there because I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be an Italian Combo or a Slice with Pepperoni like I would order here in NY.

I come from a land where a good pizza place better have eggplant, broccoli, sausage, peppers and onions, fresh spinach, fresh mushrooms, basil and fresh mozzarella in its list of toppings. Where they throw the dough right there and you wait the twenty minutes for the pie (that’s pizza pie) to cook. I don’t come from a land where fried bologna sandwiches are the house speciality, but that’s what makes this job fun and I can’t wait to get my butt to Oklahoma and try the smoked bologna at Joseph’s.

Until I’ve been everywhere and eaten everything, which could take a lifetime if it’s even possible, Google will be my best friend. Check out the article for more maps like the one below and see what things are called around this great land of ours!

Map of soda vs pop usage

 

 

food porn

So now that I got a few thousand page views because I used the “P” word in this blog post title, let me get to the actual post…

I have a pretty cool life, like how I get invited to fun events (restaurant openings and previews, etc) because my best girlfriend’s husband is an executive chef. Of course that can go either way, like when he’s catering an event and runs short on waitstaff and she and I have to run out and buy white shirts and go pass trays of food or pour drinks for a few hours. That’s happening less now since his kids are getting old enough to don the black-and-whites so we old folks don’t have to.

Anyway, this week his new restaurant, Mediteranneo, inside the Zero Degrees Hotel, also new, opened officially and I was invited to dine there. It’s along the banks of the Norwalk River in Connecticut and the windows (which are actually operational and open!) overlook a waterfall that provided both a beautiful view and a lovely backdrop of ambient sound for diners.

I won’t get into the food too much here since you’d be better served by reading this ARTICLE written by an actual food writer who attended the night before I did. Suffice it to say I had the Black sea bass crudo with citrus, sesame seaweed, and Dauno Gargano EVOO for my appetizer (a new dish for me) and the Parmesan crusted West Coast halibut with tomato chive buerre blanc and sautéed spinach (my all time fave of my friend’s creations) for my main course. That was followed by a dessert of another of my old standby favorites, a molton chocolate cake that we love so much we’ve been known to call Chef Al at the restaurant and ask him to bring a few home for us.

I also grabbed a piece of the wood oven pizza we ordered for the table, which was fabulous, and I tried my friend’s rhubarb dessert, also incredible.

So if you’re in driving distance of Norwalk, CT, stop by the restaurant and treat yourself to a culinary experience. Do what I do and go with a bunch of friends so you can each order something different, send the plates around the table, and try even more!

Mediterraneo  353 Main Ave., Norwalk, CT Phone:  (203) 229-0000

Cat

gifts for dad

Father’s Day is nearly upon us, and procrastinator that I am, I haven’t bought my gifts yet. But that’s not to say I haven’t seen a few doozy ideas fly by on the internet. Here’s one or two that might appeal to the dad in your life.

Remote Control Beer Opener

A Remote Control Beer Opener. Bet Dad doesn’t own one of these!

 

BBQ Branding Iron

A BBQ Branding Iron-because what man doesn’t want to play cowboy once in a while?

 

Remote Control Cooler

For the truly lazy, a Remote Control Cooler

And there you go, 3 suggestions I’m betting you hadn’t thought of for Dad this year. You’re welcome! 😉

Cat

 

sweet tea

Cat Johnson's Sweet TeaThere are a lot of things I love about summer. Open windows and fresh breezes. Flowers. Sunshine. Warm summer rainstorms. And sitting on the front porch drinking iced tea. Strange, but I don’t drink it inside, only outside. Nor do I drink it in the winter. Only once the weather turns warm. I guess it’s all part of the ritual.

I used to be a typical northerner and make iced tea from that fake powder stuff. Boy have things changed. I can only blame it on the influence of the guy who is my military, and also my southern (aka redneck) consultant. He taught me the difference between the fake stuff I was raised on and the real stuff they make in the south, sweet tea, which will only be pronounced in my head with a long ‘a’ sound as ‘swate tay’.

So now I boil water, and use actual teabags, and only kind of wash the container between batches because he said to never use soap on the plastic pitcher or it will ruin the flavor. And I put the sugar in while it’s hot, before it goes in the fridge, because as any good southerner knows, you never ever sweeten tea after it’s cooled.

Now I do break tradition and add some vanilla stevia drops to mine, or sometimes peppermint stevia drops. He doesn’t approve of that at all but what can I say, I was born and raised above the Mason-Dixon line so I figure I can break some rules and I do serve it in a mason jar, so that makes up for it.

random romance (w)riter roles

Think I sit around in my jammies all day and spin spicy sexy tales? Think again. Today I bring you random things romance writers are good at, in no particular order…

Shipping-

Should my writing career bottom out, I could probably get a job at the UPS Store because one side effect of being an author in today’s day and age is shipping stuff. Lots of stuff. Prizes to contest winners. Baskets for charity auctions. Swag to readers. Promo for giveaways. And on a side-errand, shipping things to the deployed troops (using the dreaded customs forms. UGH). I’m at the post office a lot. At least one or two times a week. So I got that skill going for me.

PromoPacking –

I travel to conventions with a 40 pound carry-on bag filled with giveaways. A ten pound laptop case filled with technology and pens/sharpies. And, last but not least, a 50 pound checked bag filled with clothes, costumes, toiletries, and the overflow promo, banners, banner stands, scissors, tape, swag, etc. That’s 100 pounds, carried by me who, when I’m at my best, weighs in at 115 lbs. It takes a lot of time and skill to get it all where it’s going, and at a minimum expense. I managed to get a case of 120 glass shotglasses to New Orleans for a comvention unscathed and for free. That’s talent. At left is the other case I ordered of the same shotglass, tucked neat and safe in my carry-on, this time headed to the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Kansas City, MO in two weeks.

Travel –

Related to packing but also a bit different, I have become an expert solo traveler. I know to wear no belt, and no shoes with laces. I’ve got my photo ID and boarding pass out, my shoes off, my laptop out, my jacket off and my 3-0z liquids in a clear quart sized ziplock long before I reach the TSA scanners. The agents recognize my vast travel talent and bump me to the expert traveler lane at Laguardia Airport. Expertise has its privileges. I’ve figured out how to send my bags through the scanner in the fewest number of bins and so my most valuable items (wallet, electronics) go through as I walk through so they’re not hanging out unprotected at the end of the conveyor belt while I’m still back on the other side of the scanner. Any jobs out there for professional flyer? I’m your girl!

Promo Ho-ing –

Though on a resume I’d probably have to write Promotions and Marketing or something equally boring. I am an expert at what vendors are best for which promo. Who has free shipping. Who has no set up charges. Whose customer service is the best, and whose sucks. The dirty little secret of being an author today is that writing the book is only step one, promoting it is what they don’t tell you you’ll be spending considerable time and money on. If you’re not a natural ho, this can be challenging.

I was going to list Professional Bum but didn’t because I’m not sure that’s a thing, but I have crafted daytime outfits to write in during the day that are as comfortable as PJs but still look presentable should a deliveryman come to the door.

So there you go. My random skill set that will hopefully keep me off the streets should the world stop loving romance. Let’s all hope that never happens, shall we?

the writing chair – an update

Last I left you, I was sitting in a holey chair with no support and little time or energy for finding a replacement. Well here is a happy ending update for you. We have this building on our property, probably from the late 1800’s, and when we first moved in over 10 years ago, I got it in my head to furnish it and turn it into a ‘playhouse’–bar, bar stools, antique collectibles, big screen TV, chess, cards, books, stereo, and–wait for it–a chaise lounge. So I started thinking, would that fit in my writing room? Would it be comfortable? I made the mistake of thinking out loud and the next thing I know I hear a strange noise outside, and go downstairs to find the husband dragging the chaise from the playhouse, up the stone path to the back door of the house, because, you know, why ask for help.

Anyway, since it was here I thought I might as well try it in the room. Between the two of us we got it up the stairs and lo and behold, I love it. It’s big enough I can fit on it with a few cats (always a consideration in this house). I can sit upright, or lay down. I can work or I can nap or I can watch TV when I’m supposed to be working. And it is finally a chair befitting a romance author. Everyone thinks we lie around on chaise lounges eating bon bons and drinking champagne in our negligees anyway, at least now I’ve got one thing right–a leopard chaise! And I didn’t even have to leave the house and go to a store to find it! Let’s see if it inspires any good stories, shall we?

Cat Johnson's Leopard Writing Chaise

Cat