Arisia, Beef Stew, and Revision Tips


Last weekend, Mom, Aunt Sue, and I drove to Boston for a 22 hour visit. We encountered an unpredicted winter weather advisory where the speed limit went from 65 to 40.

At first, the snow blew in confetti pieces, which is the picture above. It progressed to horizontal balled up sheets of legal paper. Poor Mom was an absolute trooper and got us there in 3 and a 1/2 hours. Normally it’s closer to 2 hours.

We found our way to the Renaissance Hotel and ended up having a nice meal at the bar. But for the fact that all the appetizers and entrees were delivered at the same time.


The next morning, I headed over to Arisia 2014 at the Westin. Fabulous venue and amazing people!


The dealer room was a treasure trove!


I wish I had more cash to spend. I did buy a souvenir Arisia t-shirt. I also found the freebie area and put of bookmarks for Rae Ann Parker and me.


After getting the lay of the land, I hung out in the lobby and waited for my panel to begin. It was the best spot to glimpse all the cool con attendees.


Selfie in Flamingo blouse


The Fortune Telling Panel went well–Michael McAfee, Catt Kingsgrave, and Katherine Kane shared so much insight into giving professional readings. And they made an extra effort to direct things to my books and how fortune telling wove into my stories. I had a blast being on a panel with them!

I gave out a few swag bags, bookmarks, and one copy of Six Train to my first con friend Melissa! * Big wave*

Then I met an old friend and coworker for coffee and caught up on life after Wall Street. By 2:45 pm I was back in the car and headed home.




Beef Stew is one of the few hallmarks of my childhood. I’d come home from school to Grandma H’s to find it sitting on the stove in a turquoise metal pot. It smelled and tasted heavenly.

Grandma H isn’t a cook. So it was one of the few things she made really really well. There was no recipe. She just used what was on hand.  No two stews tasted exactly the same.

My cousins and I grew up on that stew. When I moved home, I begged Grandma H to help me make it, but she doesn’t remember how anymore.

Never one to take no as a final answer, I started experimenting with Beef Goulash (Austrian recipe). My first batch got messed up by the recipe–they forgot to list beef stock in the required ingredients and then I got to that step in the recipe and didn’t have beef stock. I decided to substitute water and tomato paste—way too tomatoey.

Luckily, my second batch came out great. It tastes like the ghost of Grandma H’s stew. Not quite there yet, but definitely on the right track.


And lastly,  here’s a guest post I did on my 5 Revision Tips over on Chris the Story Reading Ape’s Blog.

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40 Responses to Arisia, Beef Stew, and Revision Tips

  1. davidprosser says:

    Love the alien walking across the lobby Kourtney. Come to have his fortune told?
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    Sounds like a great event, even with aliens in the lobby. 😉

    I recently white-knuckled parts of a drive from New Hampshire to Ohio, so I feel your pain. Glad you arrived safely. Too bad you had such a short stay. Boston’s such a nice city.

    • LOL. It really was. I definitely would dress up next year though. And try to get a few days there. I didn’t have a car in January so I could only go for Sat and Sunday with Mom. Too much black ice and slippery sidewalks to hoof it over Saturday night though. Definitely would stay in the con hotel next time. 🙂

      Despite growing up in New England, I have zero experience driving in snow or ice. So I hesitate to drive in the winter. Boston is very cool. I’ve been a few times. NYC remains my favorite east coast city. 😉

  3. That drive didn’t look to be a pleasant one in the weather.. But that Stew! now that looked tasty.. and looking at that Lobby Photo Kourtney I would say there are Two Aliens, one walking across the lobby and one walking to the right behind the man in the hat… Look at the heads and hands on both.. Weird ..
    Enjoy your weekend.. xox Sue

    • It got a lot worse. Think Winter in Narnia. Exits were covered in snow 😉 It was delicious Sue! So glad I kept at it. LOL. Indeed and yet no one called the Men in Black or anything. 😉


  4. I love when you share photos from the events you attend, Kourtney. It sounds like you had a great time, despite the difficult traveling conditions.

    Dishes made without following a recipe are usually the best. I don’t follow a recipe for my chilli, I switch it up each time, but it always comes out good. 🙂

    • Thanks Jill. I try to capture moments at events. I should have gotten a panel picture but I forgot. We did. So glad I wasn’t driving though. I don’t think I could have done it.

      You must have a natural instinct for what works together. Those are usually my disasters. 🙂 I start out with a recipe so I get ingredients and proportions right. Once I’ve made something often, I can play with it and even wing it, but the first 5-10 times, I need that recipe. 🙂

  5. EllaDee says:

    A nice mix, both Arisia and seeing what you’ve been up to. Reinventing a recipe can be fun, seeing what works and what doesn’t… a bit like life. And my efforts never taste the same each time either, as I can’t help but improvise 😉

    • Glad you liked it! 🙂 I’m more of a math brain when it comes to cooking. Give me a recipe. I’ll replicate it. Then once I’ve got it down, I can get creative. I had no idea what went into Grandma H’s stew so it’s going to be hard to get it right. She can’t quite remember either. So I’ll play with the recipes I find and see what comes out closest to hers. 😉

  6. I just love that top on you! Perfect choice. 🙂

  7. jmmcdowell says:

    This winter is really far too wintry for my tastes! I’d really like the rest of it to be milder and drier, please. That’s an interesting group of “people” that you shared the venue with—looks like fun!

  8. 4amWriter says:

    Not fun to drive in that weather. So glad you got through it with flying colors. Beef stew is one of my favorite dishes too! Perfect for a snow day. 🙂

  9. Mayumi-H says:

    Glad to hear you made it through that snowstorm all right, Kourtney. We East Coasters have really gotten the brunt of a rough winter, this year! I’m ready for spring like you wouldn’t believe.

    Mm. Goulash is one of those recipes I remember my grandmother making, too. We’ve never been able to recapture the taste, though. Perhaps while I visit family next week….

    Thanks for the revising tips, too!

    • Thanks Mayumi. We are having quite a winter this year! I am too!

      It’s so good. My grandmother is Russian but it tastes remarkably similar to the Austrian beef goulash recipe. Hmmm. Food for thoughts. Then again in 1914 when her parents came over most of the lines of Europe were in flux.

      I think there’s something about what she did. I’m thinking she used ketchup and not tomato paste–I’m going to try that next. It could even be as specific as the beef stock brand. Ah well, I’m in the neighborhood of what hers tasted like. 🙂

      Glad to share, those are the ones I applied most often when revising. There are hundreds of amazing tips and tools in Margie Lawson’s packets. She’s made me a far better writer than I ever imagined. 🙂

  10. That stew looks really good, it’s making my mouth water! Glad you had a great time in Boston – that’s somewhere I’d really like to visit, snow or no snow 🙂

  11. Arlene says:

    Love the pics with the aliens – looks like they are moving in slow motion and he’s staring right at you. Nice! Sounds like a great event. I’ve been to Boston and it’s nice, but I agree no city beats NYC. I may be biased since I grew up in NY 🙂

    Glad you all made it home safe. That beef stew looks perfect for a cold snowy day!

    • They were completely immersed in character. Beyond cool. 🙂 It’s a great city, but much like the Yankees and the Red Sox, you either love one or the other. 😉

      Me too. Phew. It was a delightful lunch this past week had 4 servings to get me through the week.

  12. benzeknees says:

    Your beef stew reminds me of our pot roast dinner last week. We put it all in the slow cooker & cook for hours, adding a packet of instant gravy a few minutes before serving to thicken the gravy a bit. Yum!

  13. It sounds like you had a nice time travelling! Stew, yum!

    • I did. Roadtrips are always fun! Even in bad weather. 🙂 Making it again tonight. Trying to get closer to what Grandma H would use. Forget tomato paste, she’d just toss in some Heinz ketchup. 🙂

  14. jamieayres says:

    I’ve never heard of Arisia . . . but it looks cool! I’d love to make it to Boston one of these days. Glad you had a good time 🙂

  15. Chris Edgar says:

    Looks like great fun — I went to Gen Con this past August myself with a few friends and definitely had a blast, despite being overwhelmed by the approximately 6,000 square miles of games and other fantasy paraphernalia. I’m curious about how fortune telling figures into your stories.

    • It’s pretty intense. I went to NY Comic Con back in 2008. Fortune telling is a big part of my YA series. One of my characters does dream interpretation, scrying, and reads tarot cards. Don’t have a publication date yet from Harlequin for that one. I pull on lots of concepts from witchcraft in Six Train–building psychic shields, dream walking, reading auras.

  16. Pete Denton says:

    I do love photographs of food! Makes me hungry. 🙂

    Great to bump into foes of Dr Who as well.

  17. Sheila says:

    Love those suit-wearing aliens! It’s funny that people aren’t paying much attention to them. The snow has been pretty crazy around here – glad you made it through safely. As for the stew, red wine and mushrooms are always good additions (and the wine will help keep you warm during these snowstorms)!

    • LOL. I think the hotel guests must have been warned at check in. 😉 Ugh, I saw the weather when I was up in Boston. You’ve been getting hit a lot too. That’s an interesting idea. Grandma H never used them though. But if I want to put my own spin on it, those would be terrific additions!

  18. catherine says:

    It was a delight to be on a panel with you, Kourtney 🙂

Any thoughts or reactions or favorite foods you want to share?