What a night! Talk about a surprise ending. I thought us novel writers were supposed to come up with those types of endings—that was crazy. But, regardless, we have a winner. He got 16 out of the 24 categories correct. I personally think he should have had 18 correct because the picture and makeup categories were wrong. Look at the makeup for Star Trek and compare it with the makeup of Suicide Squad—really? The acting might have been far superior in Moonlight, but the film as a production valued piece of art, La La Land, had that hands down. I emailed Tony and asked how he did it and he said that he had done a lot of homework. He checked out 6 critics websites and Vegas odds. He really did work for the prize and I must admit it’s a pleasure to award it to him. He has been one of my biggest fans since before the Naked Chef was released. He is a reliable beta reader, and a wealth of knowledge for sports and leisure activities I want to include in my books, and a fantastic sounding board for the male POV in sexual situations. Congratulations Tony, thanks for playing.
Okay, so it’s official; I write better when I should be doing something else. My house is dirty and there are too many piles of laundry hiding in my closet, but D’Andrea Daschle is screaming words in my head and I must write them down. She is the protagonist in my latest novel, D’Andrea Daschle, The Life and Times of a Big City Food Critic. All the restaurants I created for that story are restaurants from my other books or restaurants I’ve dreamed about opening myself. It is my first attempt to appease my readers who prefer chick lit and need less graphic sex to enjoy a good romance with a guaranteed HEA. Not to worry my sexy erotic romance loving sisters and randy gentlemen followers, the Calendario Sisters are coming soon and so is my first motorcycle club romance. The Brotherhood of the Phoenix will introduce you to Axel O’Keeffe and his brother Augie along with a bunch of questionable members of the club.
I’ve been behind the computer nonstop these last few weeks—just in case you’ve been worried about me. I’ve been thinking about you guys as I arrange and calculate your Oscar ballots tonight. I obviously have lots to learn about social media. I know now that Facebook posts need to be no more than two sentences, and blog posts need to be at least two paragraphs or 500 words, and they’re not to be reversed. Sorry. I know I made a mistake because the people who read my blog or have signed up for my newsletter are the only ones who have entered my Oscar contest. All you guys who connect with me on Facebook or Twitter didn’t send your ballots in and don’t get an opportunity to win the Amazon gift card. Sorry, I’ll learn to keep it short on Facebook so you’ll actually read my posts. Good luck tonight to all of you who did enter.
For my readers and followers who don’t know me personally or don’t know me well, this is my favorite time of year. My grandchildren just had Christmas, my sons have the Super Bowl and my husband has the Barrett-Jackson car auction around this time. Me, I have the Oscars.
The Academy Awards has been a special night for me since I was twelve, and I watched Louise Fletcher receive her award for best actress for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It wasn’t just her personal thank you to her parents, but her entire speech. It was amazing. The following year when Rocky won everything, I was hooked. I’ll be the first to admit the ubiquitous saturation of celebrities (not to mention the definition of celebrity) has tainted the event a bit. The magic of the red carpet in front of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the spotting of movie stars waving to fans, used to be a rare and special occurrence. The pomp and circumstance decorated with the glamour of Hollywood in the 70’s and 80’s and the special treat of Johnny Carson hosting had me on the edge of my seat every year. The 90’s brought Billy Crystal and I dare anyone to debate me on a better Oscar host. He was so good, I could watch his opening monologue and go to bed happy (I didn’t), he was that incredible. These days, I must admit, I have to watch the evening’s festivities with my goggles made of nostalgia obscuring my view, but I still wouldn’t miss it.
I married my husband in June, a couple months after we started dating. So, the following March, I believe the Oscar’s were late that year, I woke up and told him about my obsession with the awards show. That day, Sammy, a man who didn’t watch much television, let alone awards shows, realized he married a crazy lady. I kicked him out of the apartment and instructed him not to come home or call me for the entire day. This will be our thirtieth Oscars and he will be nowhere near our home. Haters are not welcome.
I’ve had some fun Oscar parties, but my favorite years were when me and my kids ate Chinese take-out on the carpet and watched the show. That was our family’s tradition. Last year, our tradition changed as I paid homage to Alejandro Iñárritu. Up for best picture and director for the second year in a row, I had to make a Mexican fiesta. This year to celebrate the diversity of the nominees and films, I’m making a smorgasbord of deliciousness to represent each film. Some dishes are clear like: New England clam chowder to represent Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Tandoori Chicken to represent Lion, a black and blue steak known as, Pittsburgh style in the restaurant industry to represent Fences, something freeze-dried to represent both Hachsaw Ridge and Hidden Figures, maybe a dessert. The choices are endless for Hell or High Water because Texas is a culinary delight. I’m leaning toward a Tex-Mex shredded BBQ brisket enchilada with sweet tea. Or, maybe frozen margaritas, since that is where they originated. I haven’t decided what vegan, gluten free, non-GMO, local and sustainable delicacy to make to represent La La Land or do I have any ideas for the other movies. I’ll share pictures and my recipes as I create them or find good ones to duplicate.
Even though I can’t invite all of you to my party, you can still be part of the fun. Go to this website, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/movies/oscars-2017-nominees-ballot.html fill out then print the first page of that ballot and scan or mail it to me. The person who gets the most correct will win an Amazon gift card so you can buy lots of ebooks from self-published authors.
Scan and attach to an email: email@example.com
Mail to: Erotic Book Café, 875 S. Estrella Pkwy #6653, Goodyear, AZ 85338-8567
Chances of winning depends on how many enter. In case of a tie, the category, Documentary Feature will break the tie. If there is still a tie, the prize will be divided amongst the winners. I must receive your ballot by Feb. 20th and it needs to have your name and an email the digital gift card can be sent to.
P.S. As I’m writing this post, A flash message on my computer just told me Mary Tyler Moore has died. I am saddened by that news. My favorite movie of all times is the Sound of Music; however, my favorite drama is the Academy Award winning film, Ordinary People. Mary Tyler Moore’s performance is amazing and so is Jud Hirsh’s. If you’ve never seen it, check it out.
I knew of all days, today would be my hardest to stay positive and keep my resolution. I should be happy, it’s my little sister’s birthday and I started the third book in my Calendario Sister Trilogy that I can’t wait for you all to read. But today I’m sad, so I’m going to talk about making stocks and soups. I spend part of my culinary career as a saucier so I know what I’m talking about.
When we chefs make stocks and soups, we allow them to boil so the impurities float to the top. We call that scum. It’s true, scum always floats to the top. Once we lower the heat to a simmer, we as trained chefs never stir the pot. We allow time for all the impurities to rise, making it easy for all to see the scum clearly. That’s when the chef can skim the scum right off the top, leaving a giant pot of cohesive, delicious goodness inside. Just wanted you to know that today in case you were afraid of all the ingredients you need to make soup not tasting good together. And, I always recommend you use a giant melting pot when making soups and stocks. Everything will be fine.
I’ve been honing my craft by attending writers’ workshops and taking online writing courses. I’ve met some interesting and educated people who have given me some excellent advice; including the suggestion to write this blog. The two questions I’m asked most after I tell them I’m a romance writer are: “Are you published?” and “Why did you want to become a writer?” I answer the first question the same every time. “I’ve self-published three books.” The second question has two answers and I answer depending on my mood.
The quip, sarcastic answer is an admission to the voices in my head. The stories I’ve already published wrote themselves as I simply listened to those voices. It’s hard for me to be out and about without making up a story in my mind regarding something I witnessed. I’ve been like that for as long as I can remember and about 20 years ago, I bought a notebook and when my kids would go to bed, I would start writing poems and stories. The notebook was always hidden, but I still have it. I can’t read my own writing, but I still have it.
The other answer and the one I hope everyone remembers, since my new blog and New Year’s resolution are about being positive, was because a college professor told me I was a good writer. It is amazing how many stories of success I’ve heard because someone said something kind. Annie Buentello was my English 101 and English 102 college professor when I returned to college at the age of forty. I went back to obtain my degree in culinary arts so I was extremely nervous about the gen ed courses I needed to pass to achieve my goal. My English, public speaking and storytelling classes were all icing on my culinary major cake. I loved those courses and I became “that student,” wanting every drop of knowledge I could ring out of those instructors.
A short story writing assignment in my ENG 102 course had Professor Buentello encouraging me to enter the annual Literary Review writing contest. The winner won a scholarship and their story published in that year’s Literary Review publication. I was leery, but filled out the entry form and submitted my essay. I won first place for short story fiction. Having a scholarship for my third semester of college and being a published writer was a dream I never thought to dream, however, once it came true, I wanted more.
Years would go by, I had graduated and settled into my career as a chef and food safety professional. I ditched the notebook for a computer, but after several computer crashes (remember those first years of home computers) that erased my hard drive, I had to start from scratch often. The creation of backup drives and mini flash drives allowed me to write fearlessly and start new stories whenever the inspiration hit me. But that still didn’t urge me to allow people to read my work—I just couldn’t.
To read, my genre of choice was chick lit. Jennifer Weiner, Jane Green, Nicholas Sparks and Janet Evanovich wrote the books I couldn’t put down. I never talked about Jackie Collins and the fact that I loved her. She was my secret even though I always wondered why Jennifer, Jane, Nicholas and Janet always shut the bedroom door and never wrote what happened behind it like Jackie did. Enter E.L. James.
Fifty Shades gave us romance writers who refused to use euphemisms and purple prose a brightly lit entrance into publishing that didn’t say porn above it. One by one erotic romance writers published their work and watched as the romance reading world bought it up so everyone could see … or bought it on their Kindle so no one could see, yet bought it just the same.
I’m including my winning short story here. No romance or sex in it. You should know Professor Buentello was one of the judges the year I won and I’m sure she told the other judges that my essay was part of an assignment that required her students to write anything they wanted, but the title had to be, Finally. Enjoy.
A Short Story by Diane Hernandez
As the couple’s car rounded the bend, they witnessed the tail lights of the only other car on the road swerving out of control. “Ohmigawd!” Pilar panicked as she sat up in the passenger seat. The rain had stopped, but had left the lanes glossy black and slick. When the car eventually disappeared over the side of the highway, John accelerated.
“What the hell are you doing?” Pilar demanded. John realized he was speeding and feared ending up like the car he was anxiously rushing to help, so he removed his foot from the gas, but didn’t brake.
John and Pilar pulled over at the point they estimated the other car vanished. John told his wife to stay put as he quickly exited their car to survey the damage. Pilar rolled down her window just in time to hear John shout, “Call 911!”, before he slid down the hillside.
Ignoring her husband’s orders, Pilar leaped from the car, trying to catch him before he went down the embankment. She peered over the edge and quickly punched her fingertips into her forehead, then her chest, followed by her left shoulder and lastly her right, beckoning Jesus to the rescue. The rapid descent down the steep rocky wall of smashed foliage and weeds, had John tracing the path the crushed car had made moments earlier as he disappeared into the night.
The mangled car rested in the ravine that acted as a moat circling the cluster of pine trees that formed a mini forest. The twisted metal landed right-side-up, in the same direction it had been traveling. When John reached the wreckage, he could see the driver hanging by his shoulder strap, as if the air bag in front of him was still inflated and holding his weight. John, wanting desperately to help, ripped off his coat, shoved it through holes where windows once completed the car’s doors and bunched it around the injured man’s neck and back to support him as he reclined the driver’s seat. As the injured man’s face became exposed, John gasped in horror.
The injured man tried to speak. “Fa…Fa…Fine...AL..ly!”
John didn’t understand what the man was trying so hard to say, but replied anyway, “Buddy we’re gettin’ help.” The injured man’s right arm rose from his side as he spoke again,
“Okay, Okay, buddy we’re here and you’ll be fine,” John said, trying to convince the injured man.
“No!” the raspy voice of the injured man cried.
John reached through the door’s holes to restrain the injured man’s right arm; it now flailed wildly in the air as the rest of his body remained still and lifeless. John begged the man to be calm as he reassured him help was on the way. Once more, the defeated man spoke in a faint, strained, breathless whisper. “Finally, pleeeze, finally.”
John, now curious and wanting to understand asked, “Finally what?” But the injured man fell unconscious.
John turned toward the highway searching for any sign of assistance. He spotted Pilar struggling to maneuver her body down the slope. Carrying emergency supplies and wearing three-inch heels, made her journey impossible. John rushed to his wife’s side and lightened her load by removing the bundle from her arms and supporting her weight with his back the rest of the way down. As they rapidly walked back to the tragic scene, John tried to prepare Pilar for what she was about to see.
Pilar awkwardly searched the body for bloody areas she should apply pressure to, while John used the blanket his wife brought from the car to shield the man’s fragile body from the cold. Pilar then began to clean his battered, bruised, and bloody face with the towel and bottle of water she found in her gym bag, careful not to touch the shards of glass sticking out of his cheek, as if they were needles and he was a cactus.
The man was still unconscious, but John told Pilar how he kept saying, “Finally!” as if he was upset about something other then the accident. Pilar shrugged her shoulders and shook her head, not having an answer for the question John was about to ask. Pilar hadn’t heard the plea in the injured man’s voice like John did, but by the way he appeared, she was certain it couldn’t have meant anything consciously. She then asked John if he had found any ID. As he was making sure the injured man still had a pulse, he said, “No, but I saw a suit jacket back there.” He pointed with the flashlight Pilar had brought down to a corner in the rear passenger seat, then waded through the thick muck to the other side of the car.
Pilar knew her husband wasn’t going far, but with the clouds coming back to form another massive gray sheet and the wind picking up speed, a chill shot straight through her body and she swore she heard the trees in the nearby forest moan as if they were in pain too. She quickly grasped the hand of the accident victim as though he was the one frightened.
John now on the other side of the car, reached inside, snatched the jacket he had seen and made his way back to his wife. He laid the jacket on what was left of the hood of the car and began to frisk the brightly colored silk lining. As his hand glided over a bulge, he stopped and removed a slim, butter soft, black leather wallet. John carefully stepped closer to Pilar, who was still linked to the man, so she could see as he opened the wallet. Pilar grabbed the 2x3 photo as John studied the driver’s license.
“Steven Goodwin”, John recited.
“Is this the same man?” Pilar asked, as she held the photo next to the driver’s license.
The photo was of the same man and a beautiful woman, who both had bright white smiles, tanned faces, and the wind blowing in their hair, with a crystal clear, blue body of water in the background. John and Pilar couldn’t believe the man laying before them once looked like the pictures they were holding. Pilar turned the photo over and they both read the inscription silently to themselves. Steve and Allison, Summer 2003 was scrolled across the back in a very feminine script.
Just then, the couple turned toward the sound of sirens. John and Pilar stood facing the highway until they could see the silhouettes of professional rescuers. Relief filtered into their bodies as they both mentally registered they were no longer responsible for the man’s aid. The couple clung to one another watching the firemen work their way closer to hopefully save the man’s life.
The long embrace John and Pilar shared started to slowly break apart, as if they were rehearsing a ballet. The couple stared at each other wondering if they could possibly be thinking the same thing. Pilar, not taking her eyes off John, watched as he lunged for the wallet and reread the inscription on the picture. He then turned back toward his wife with an alarmed expression on his face. Simultaneously they cried, “Find Ally!”