Ten Buttery Chardonnays for Under $20

Bringing you some feasible Friday fun with numbers…just in time for the weekend! Actually most of these wines are available for under $15, which is amazing considering the quality.

Fans of the buttery, creamy variety will enjoy these ‘Fab Chards’! I like mine fruity, but on the dry side, with hints of vanilla and oak of course!

Any fans of the new ‘un-oaked’ Chardonnay out there? I am curious if oak lovers find those enjoyable. I prefer these types with oak better.

Feel free to share some of your own great wine picks.

Have a wine-derful weekend all!

Chasmisal

Chamisal

Clos du Bois

Clos du Bois

Kendall Jackson

Kendall Jackson

Bogle

Bogle

La Crema

La Crema

Coppola

Coppola

Creme De Lys

Creme De Lys

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Butternut

Butternut

St. Francis

St. Francis

Preview: page 99 of #SAOG, e-book .99 on Amazon

I was reading about the page 99 test on http://www.page99test.com/ and decided to give it a whirl. It’s an interesting concept although I guess it’s not really new, it was new to me. Readers read your page 99 and then offer feedback and or decide based on this page whether or not they would be interested in reading the rest of the book. My husband has a copy of my book on his desk and a co-worker picked it up and read page 99. This is what started me thinking about it. It makes sense, because in my book, this is about the halfway mark, and some pivotal things are happening in the story here. Although, taken out of context, can you judge the book by it;s page 99? Anyway, here’s my page 99 excerpt from Secret Agent of God:

 

“That’s weird,” she said. “I haven’t had a problem all day.”

She had her arm wrapped with an Ace bandage. Another message came to me like a flash of lightning: “Her boyfriend hurts her.”

Makeup covered up the remains of faded bruises on her face. She couldn’t get the card machine to work, and the line behind me snaked around the market. I started to hyperventilate. I pulled out all of my cash to pay for my small basket of groceries, and sprinted out of there. Maybe I should have done something to help her. That thought still haunts me.

Speaking of haunting, I’d read that spirits can wreak havoc on electronic devices. It has something to do with them being all made out of energy. Wonderful, so now Spirits were following me around the grocery store and whispering things in my ear. I only hoped I wouldn’t start seeing them next.

I hated not having control over what was happening to my body and my mind. Father B. was still traveling around Italy. Maybe I should’ve gone with him. I could’ve stayed there; and been a runaway. Only how do you run away from your own mind? I checked the listings for psychiatrists in the area to see if any of them worked on a sliding scale.

 ***

    I wake up to the hum of an engine and the sound of the tires on the driveway stones again. A car door opens and slams, the front door creaks and heavy feet pound the floor. Outside of my room, Ape and English bark at each other. It’s just how they communicate. I stand with my body against the wall, listening to their language. Tonight, I’m sure they’re talking about me. I hear Ape say, “Zahera.” English’s voice is louder. Maybe they’re arguing about whether tonight is the night they’ll kill me or not.

Now English sounds pleading. I know he’s been keeping me alive and he has his reasons. What I don’t know is exactly what those reasons are.

 

Thanks for reading!

Click here for the full story Secret Agent of God.

#SAOG #Janice

 

Artistic in the District, Part One

Contemporary Visual Artists and Fiction Writers Sharing a Common Muse

Mural, Annapolis, MD

Mural in Annapolis, Maryland

As a lifelong lover of art, I find Contemporary Art, the many forms it takes, and the unique spin each artist brings to their medium, intriguing. It differs from Modern Art as the latter, Contemporary, emerged from the former, Modern. The Modern Art movement began earlier, dating back to the late 1800’s with the work of the Impressionists and including movements such as Cubism, Dadaism and Surrealism. Contemporary Art has fewer movements and less lofty ‘isms’. It includes but is not limited to Post-Modernism, Toyism, Bitterism, Stuckism, Thinkism and Funism.

Art movements, be they ever-changing, simply put, the distinguishing factor between Contemporary Art from Modern Art is timing. Contemporary Art falls under the large umbrella of the art of our current lifetime. Does that mean 1950’s, 1960’s or 1970’s? Perhaps it depends on your age.

As a writer, I feel captivated by the term ‘movement’ as it defines an artist’s style, technique or philosophy. Furthermore, how does the era and history of one’s lifetime influence their art? How does the artist’s personal circumstances influence their art? Similarly, how do these same structural guidelines apply to writers?

People often refer to writers as artists. I am not sure I totally agree. It would depend on what the writer produces. A non-fiction writer can learn to polish the craft of writing and become competent enough to entertain or persuade others through his or her writing and may even earn a living as a writer. Does entertainment or persuasion alone equal art? What other factors define it?

A fiction writer or poet is a closer cousin of the visual artist in that he or she invents people, places and events and then weaves them into a credible tale to entertain, persuade and/or generate an emotional reaction in their reader. Defined by what they write about, and which genre best defines their writing, are fiction writers not similar beings to our artistic cousins in that we often share a common muse? We create our own vision of the world, or life as we see it.

This calls to mind a favorite quote by a very famous artist: “Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

Artists and writers share a common bond in that we both face the blank page with the same measure of optimism. We create something from nothing, draw out what lies within the emptiness of a blank page, a blank canvas or an empty space. Tackling this problem is the challenging puzzle for both the artist and the writer. But do we owe even more consideration to the viewers and readers for what they take away from our creations and how it this is tempered by their own history, experience and imagination?

 

 

 

When Oprah Calls…

Will you be ready?

 

I can imagine the conversation, can’t you?

“Hello?”

“Good morning, is (insert your name) at home?” Oprah asks.

“This is she (or he).”

“How are you? This is Oprah calling,” she says.

“Riiiiiight? Who is this?”

“This is Oprah, Oprah Winfrey,” she says.

“Uh, huh. Listen, I’m registered on the National Do Not Call Registry. Could you please take my name off of your list?”

*Click*

Of course it’s highly unlikely Oprah does her own calling, so the entire premise of this blog post is tragically flawed. It’s assumed that someone on Oprah’s staff makes the call and then all of the follow-up calls as well. Not that I would know first hand.

This was one of my 3 a.m. revelations.

I’ve been working on promoting my novel and in doing so, trying out different things, like advertising, blog interviews, and radio. Some of these I entered into too lightly. I’m no celebrity and should not under any circumstances fly by the seat of pants as much as I do.

Have you ever judged a guest on a talk show or on news broadcast? Of course you have. We all have. Most of the people we watch doing such interviews are actors or famous people. They have handlers, stylists, agents, publicists, etc. They could do these interviews in their sleep and even they become intimidated by Oprah.

For celebrities, the greatest challenge during interviews and appearances is getting their ‘talking points’ across, promoting whatever they are trying to promote, and attempting to appear genuine so that people like you and me can relate to them.

For people like us, writers, novice musicians, business owners, parents, everyday folks, being genuine is the easy part, we’re too real in fact. Our challenge is trying to appear expert in our field, or to at least appear halfway intelligent.

The 20th Anniversary Collection of the Oprah Winfrey Show.

I remember when Oprah’s show was just starting out. I was just starting college. I remember watching the intro and I swear in the original show, Oprah was seen walking on the city streets of Chicago. She was so likable, so real, so different from anyone else on television.

More than anything, just like you, I always wished for an opportunity to sit on the couch across from Oprah. You know it’s true. It didn’t matter what genius landed you a spot on the show: #1 Widget Salesperson, Mother of the Year, it was a fantasy after all.

Did you rehearse your interview in the bathroom mirror with a toothbrush as a microphone?

Sure you did.

In 1988 I watched and cheered, along with America, when Oprah strutted out on stage in her Calvin Klein jeans, wheeling the ‘wagon’ http://www.oprah.com/own-tv-guide-magazines-top-25-best-oprah-show-moments/Moment-3-Oprahs-Wagon-of-Fat-Video and I kept watching and being inspired by show after show.

In 1996 when Oprah announced her Book Club, making authors famous overnight, I thought, this is it. This is how I will come to be on the show.

In 1997, seven years out of college, I landed a job working in the male-dominated, hardware industry, and becoming a writer was still just a dream. I always wanted to go to Chicago and my major account headquarters was located in the windy city. Once, on my way to a meeting, I was tempted to skip it and go instead to wait in line as an audience member on the Oprah show. I still regret choosing the meeting over the show. Of course I would have been fired.

In 2002, I left my career to become a stay-at-home-mom. I felt empowered to make this choice, for the good of my family. Four years later, in 2006, still believing I could do anything I set my mind to, my writing journey began. It was slow at first, but then I wrote with a vengeance. In 2011, I was still fine tuning my novel when Oprah announced her legacy, the show, was coming to an end.

http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Oprah-Takes-the-Stage-for-the-Last-Time-Video

My heart sank. No more Book Club. Then, Oprah announced her new network and all hope was restored.

I finished and published my novel and there was still hope that maybe somehow I might get my novel looked at by the staffers who handle Oprah’s book reviews. Of course, one novel does not a writing career make. One novel is but a leaf in the great ‘Amazon’ rain forest. But it is also the start of something potentially great.

Maybe, I would even send a copy of this blog post via e-mail with a link to my book to Oprah’s staffers. Maybe I would properly explain the heart of the story. That on the surface it is a story about a young, reluctant psychic, named Janice Morrison, but underneath it is a tale about overcoming obstacles, about having faith in God, yourself and those you love.

The only problem is, if Oprah ever really called, would I be ready? Would I believe it?

Maybe I would just say, “thank you, for all the years of inspiration!”

Thanks for reading!

 

Image of Oprah came from: http://dream-it-plan-it-do-it.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Oprah-Winfrey.jpg

Overwhelmed in the T.P. Aisle?

Do you think about BRANDING much? Branding is the new buzz word. Every product on the market has a brand or brands. 

I find the number of choices overwhelming at times. Here I am in the toilet paper aisle, just trying to get through all the options. Drowning in a world of excess, where does one begin?

 

www.eileenslovak.com

The T.P. Aisle at Giant Supermarket

 

I refer to my trusty coupons for guidance:

www.eileenslovak.com

Coupons!

  • If I buy two packages of one brand, I can save $1.00.
  • If I buy one mega roll I can save $1.25.
  • If I buy one package of toilet paper and one package of paper towels of the same brand, I can save $1.00.

Suddenly my head is spinning! Then, I look at the prices of these brands: $8.99, $9.99. Are they serious? They do know what we use this stuff for? Right?

I think about how my kids go through it like it grows on trees. Oh, yeah, right.

My husband loves to tell the story of his days growing up in Ireland and the one room schoolhouse with the outhouse where all he had to use were old squares of newspaper. Ouch!

I try to think about which brand my family prefers. My husband suggests, “you know, get the ‘cushy’ kind, I hate that thin, skimpy stuff.”

Several different brands that claim softness and extra cushioning. These cushy on the ‘tushy’ types all look the same to me. I try squeezing a few to see if one feels better than another. It reminds me of a commercial from my youth. Advertising at it’s best, this is forever etched on my brain. Still, what makes one brand better than another?

www.eileenslovak.com

“I claim the 5th. Hey, it worked for Lois Learner”
-Licorice

 

In the end, I rely on some insider knowledge from my manufacturing days. You may or may not realize store brands are typically made by one of the major producers of any given product line.

Great Value is a Wal*Mart Brand

Great Value is a Wal*Mart Brand

Think about it. Supermarkets are in the business of selling food not manufacturing it.

What happens is, a private label, designed by a graphic artist, is placed on the bottle of finished product, the same product with the well-known name that might even be merchandised on the shelf right next to the store brand, but at a higher price.

The added cost of the specialty brand pays for advertising and marketing. The branded company is betting on your loyalty to their name brand to keep their share of the market place.

I pick up the trusty store brand toilet paper and place in my cart, tossing the coupons aside for a savings of $2.00 or $3.00 a package at times. Every week I save 25-30% at the supermarket by shopping the sales, selecting store brands, and using coupons where it makes sense. Every penny saved puts me closer to developing my brand, www.eileenslovak.com.

Thanks for reading!

For more fascinating facts about toilet paper see:

http://encyclopedia.toiletpaperworld.com/surveys-stories/toilet-paper-statistics

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/may-2009/home-garden/toilet-paper/overview/toilet-paper-ov.htm