This is what I see on my morning walk along the Pearl Harbor Channel ....
|Sub and crew return home|
This is what today's guest, Julie Hyzy, would see if she walked along Chicago's lakefront ....
Julie has more photos of the snow in her Chicago suburb on her blog. Perhaps the snow is inspiration as Julie writes not one but two mystery series with White House Chef Olivia Paras and Manor House curator Grace Wheaton. The path to Julie's success is littered with bodies ...
... from her bio,
Julie Hyzy's first experience with food included flipping burgers and chopping onions at a neighborhood hot dog stand. She traded that experience for a job as a singing waitress at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour -- but gave that up when she started college (and because she couldn't carry a tune).
Over the years, she's acted in community theater productions, appeared in television commercials, and crashed a previously all-male fraternity to become one of the first female brothers in Loyola University's Chapter of Delta Sigma Pi. Julie had dreams of becoming a writer, but family, friends, and frat brothers convinced her otherwise. Having held positions as junior officer at a downtown bank, office manager at an architectural firm, and financial advisor at a prestigious wealth management company, she realizes that the business degree was probably a good choice -- but fiction is truly her passion. Now, with some well-earned life experience behind her, she's delighted to finally be able to make writing a priority in her life.
Kim: Flipping burgers? Singing waitress? You had an exciting life before college. Did any of these experiences influence your characters or plots in your White House Chef series or your Manor House series?
Julie: My cooking skills are nothing compared to Ollie's - trust me on that! But I do remember crying buckets at Ben's Hot Dog stand because (as the newbie) I got stuck chopping onions just about every day. Lots of painful tears. Lots of sliced fingers. Of course, the boys who helped bandage me were half the fun of working there. I relived those days writing the first White House Chef book - State of the Onion - because that's where Ollie talks about chopping onions next to an open flame to cut down on the crying. It really works!
Julie: I have to admit that every single experience in my life has helped me in writing my books. I still draw on impressions from people I knew as a kid, friends and teachers from college, and even people I've just met, to help craft my characters. Lots of folks have had "page time" in my books without even knowing it. Co-workers, bosses, customers - all of them. But I bet they would never recognize themselves!
Kim: Tell us about the television commercial - what product? what audience (local, regional, national)? how'd you get the gig? Did you ever consider packing your bags and driving to Hollywood?
Julie: Oh, the commercials! That was the best! And I happened upon it by accident. Years ago, when our eldest -Robyn- was about three, she and I were out shopping. I was pregnant with daughter #2 (Sara). We wandered into Sears and they were having a giant "Grand Re-opening Celebration" because corporate thought it was time for a revamp. Robyn asked me if she could have one of the balloons floating everywhere. I asked the woman in charge and she said the balloons had to stay, but would I like to audition for a commercial?
They spliced my appearance (and Robyn's) into about 7 different TV commercials. In one I say, "Quality... value." In another, I say, "Reliability." Fun stuff. They aired nationally for a couple of weeks. Radio too. Robyn and I received some nice checks. We started her college account that year!
Kim: How do you research for your White House Chef series since everything is "top secret" for "national security"? Do you feel that you have more leeway with the Manor House Mysteries series?
Julie: There is plenty of information about the White House readily available in books, online, on DVD, etc. Most security protocols are out of my reach, of course, and I sometimes have to guess what the Secret Service might do in a given situation. Otherwise, I research like crazy. I've tried contacting the White House directly for answers to specific questions, but they are understandably tight-lipped. Still, there are so many other resources out there, I'm never at a loss. Plus I've talked with former staffers, and that's the best. I really get a feel for what life was like there, through their eyes.
For the Manor House mysteries, I do have a lot more leeway because Marshfield Manor is a product of my imagination. I came up with a detailed floor plan I work from, and I love creating the history of the place and getting to know the people who live and work there. Marshfield Manor (named for Marshall Field's in Chicago, btw) is all mine. I know every nook and corner better than anyone - which means I can't get details wrong! LOL
Walking into the White House is truly walking into history. I'm not only awestruck by the grandeur and the beauty, but by the fact that our country continues to be shaped by those who occupy its rooms. Seeing the official portraits, stepping where we've seen presidents speak to the world, is amazing and awe-inspiring. I love visiting the White House and can't wait to go back.
|Michele Obama with White House Chefs|
Kim: Do you watch any of the chef shows on TV? If yes, what's your favorite? Since you are a TV "veteran", what advise would you give contestants?
Julie: I enjoy Top Chef (no, actually I love that show. I don't get to watch it as much as I'd like, but I really like the marathons); Good Eats with Alton Brown; Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and some of the cake challenge shows. I used to like Ace of Cakes a lot, but there seemed to be too much filler (in the show, not the cakes) the last few times I tuned in.
My advice to contestants would be simple. Don't panic. Be yourself. Most of all, remember that you're on TV and whatever you say or do will stay out there forever. Don't belittle others. And hold the tears unless you're really, really happy.
|Top Chef Season 7 in DC|
(mock Oval Office)
Kim: What's next for Julie Hyzy?
Julie: Right now I'm working to get my short stories (and a novel) uploaded as ebooks. Three of my backlist titles seem to be doing well, and I think the ereader segment of the market is going to grow faster than we anticipated.
I'm also starting on Manor House #3. I know Berkley wants to keep "Grace" in all the titles, and I love that idea. I'm just working out some relationship issues and plot points in that one before I start the actual writing. Book #2 (Grace Interrupted) will be out in June and I'm starting promotional efforts now.
Thanks so much for having me here today, Kim!
Mahalo, Julie, for joining us! Julie is still celebrating the release of her 4th White House Chef book - BUFFALO WEST WING. I love Buffalo Wings with a side of murder ...
With a new First Family, White House executive chef Olivia Paras can't afford to make any mistakes. But when a box of take-out chicken mysteriously shows up for the First Kids, she soon finds herself in a "no-wing" situation. After Olivia refuses to serve the chicken, the First Lady gives her the cold shoulder. But when it turns out to be poisoned poultry, Olivia realizes the kids are true targets.
Julie would like to whet your appetite for her books, so she is giving two away today - the first in both series:
STATE OF THE ONION: Never let them see you sweat -- that's White House Assistant Chef Olivia Paras's motto, which is pretty hard to honor in the most important kitchen in the world. She's hell-bent on earning her dream job, Executive Chef. There's just one thing: her nemesis is vying for it, too. Well, that and the fact that an elusive assassin wants to see her fry...
The highly-trained Secret Service agents couldn't do it. Snipers swarming the White House grounds were no help. Only Ollie Paras was able to stop the intruder-hitting him with a frying pan. She'd like to wash her hands of the whole thing, but after she witnesses a murder, there's no going back...
Ollie's Secret Service boyfriend warns her that the killer is a world-class assassin. And Ollie's the only person alive who can recognize him. Still, guilt propels her to investigate, even if it means putting herself -- and her relationship-in hot water...
GRACE UNDER PRESSURE: Everyone wants a piece of millionaire Bennett Marshfield, owner of Marshfield Manor, but now it's up to new curator Grace Wheaton and handsome groundskeeper Jack Embers to protect dear old Marshfield. But to do this, they'll have to investigate a botched Ponzi scheme, some torrid Wheaton family secrets -- and sour grapes out for revenge.
|Cotehele - my favorite manor house|
To enter the giveaway,
1. Leave a comment about Julie, your favorite White House pet, and/or your favorite Manor House (real or fiction). I'd also like to know if you have any experience chopping onions, singing while serving, and/or screen time in a commercial.
2. The giveaway is open to US readers ...
... but I encourage all readers to comment, whether or not they are entering the contest.
3. Comments are open through Saturday, February 12, 10 pm in Hawaii to enter the giveaway.
4. If you are a new to SOS Aloha (US or international), I would like to share Aloha with you. Send your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org for a Hawaiian treat!
Kim in Hawaii
My family has visited the White House four times:
- In 1996, hubby and I toured the West Wing courtesy of his Purdue Alumni Association (a fellow Boilermaker worked at the White House and it was easier than now to arrange for tours). No sightings of the Clinton Family.
- In 2007, I was one of the chaperons when my older son's class toured the East Wing (another parent worked at the White House as a military liaison and this is one of the few ways to get a tour post 9/11). The tour occurred a few days after Queen Elizabeth visited the White House. As I was chatting with the docent about who sat where during the State Dinner, the class wondered into the foyer just as a woman with striking white hair came out of a secret door - Barbara Bush! She was very gracious to the children!
- In 2007, my youngest son's class was selected to "read" with Laura Bush which was broadcast on NBC's Today Show - see picture above. My son is on the left, wearing red, not looking into the camera. When the cameras were not rolling, Mrs. Bush brought out the dogs, which the children thought was more fun than being on TV. They also liked using the White House bathroon
- In 2008, I attended a military spouse appreciation breakfast on the South Lawn. President Bush introduced his friend, Phil Vasser, and invited us to tour the East Wing after Phil's mini concert. My friends and I bolted for the East Wing. I was enjoying the photographs in the foyer when I heard a commotion behind me. I spinned around to find myself almost nose to nose with President Bush. I was in shock but my friend had enough foresight to ask, "Can we take a picture?" President Bush replied, "Sure," and put his arm around me. A few stragglers joined the picture. I'm the one with the goofy hair. goofy grin, and blue jacket over my arm.