Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wine Tasting at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

We attended the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Disney World this weekend. If you have never been to the festival, you are missing a good time. We sampled food, wine and beer from around the world. We hit Tokyo twice for the beef rolls. Yum! In addition to the food and beverages, the festival features numerous culinary and wine events. We participated in a wine tasting event sponsored by Penfolds Winery of South Australia.

Penfolds southeast regional manager, Jim Hicks presented the wine tasting. He discussed a brief history of Penfolds as well as a discussion of the wine aging process. He provided three flavors of wine for tasting – two Shiraz wines and a Riesling.

Of the Australian wines, my wife and I are most familiar with the Shiraz, a red wine. We tried the Bin128 Coonawarra Shiraz, 2006 and the Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz, 2006. The Kalimna was aged in a barrel made of American Oak, while the Coonawarra was aged in a barrel made from French Oak. As a result of the differences in the barrel materials and the climate differences of the two regions where the grapes were grown, the Coonawarra had a peppery or spicy flavor. The Kalimna was smoother with a more fruity taste.

Thomas Hyland Adelaide Riesling was the third wine provided for tasting. It had a citrus, floral taste. It was a dryer Riesling than I prefer. My wife described it as a crisp summer wine. We will stay with the German and New York State Rieslings.

If you want to read more about Australian Wines, try James Halliday’s, Australian Wine Companion 2009.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Florida Writers Association Conference

This past weekend I attended the Florida Writer’s Association (FWA) Conference. To quote the president of the association, Dan Griffith, FWA is “where professional authors and aspiring writers come to learn, grow, network, and find the resources they need to improve their writing, learn to navigate the treacherous shoals of the publishing industry, and cultivate that inner muse.” The conference provided all of that and then some.

The conference presented opportunities to talk to agents, publishers and faculty who assisted new authors to hone their skills and sell their finished product. I attended sessions on developing your characters and improving written dialogue. I also attended sessions on bringing traffic to your website, and how to get that non-fiction book written. I picked up a few tidbits from all of the sessions.

A lot of the discussion at the conference focused on the changes occurring in the publishing industry. Such as, Barnes and Nobles move into the eBook industry and their new reader the Nook. Would it be able to compete with Amazon’s Kindle? And how would the Espresso Book Machine change the industry? The Espresso book machine has the ability to print books on demand from front cover to back cover, and look like a regular book. The process takes just a couple of minutes and can be set up anywhere. The thought is these machines will end up in supermarkets and Wal-Mart changing the retail book market. Could this possibly be why Barnes and Noble brought out the Nook?

I enjoyed the conference and I learned a few things in the process. The networking was great, and everyone was friendly. Definitely a worthwhile event, and I plan on attending next year’s conference.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hugh MacLeod, Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Message

My sister suggested a book to me, Hugh MacLeod's, Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity. Being part of the blogging world you might recognize Hugh from his blog His other claim to fame is the drawing of cartoons on the back of business cards. I have posted a book review on my website, What I wish to discuss is the organization of his book and website design.

From the organization of his book, I would say that MacLeod could be a student of Marshall McLuhan’s – The Medium is the Message. In that the meaning conveyed on the page is so much more than the text alone. MacLeod has taken the dynamic material from his website blog and transferred it to a static medium, the book page. In the process though he did not loose the message, but instead used his drawings and spacing to maintain the meaning.

In early days of web design, hypertexting between and within a page added an extra dimension to the text that enhanced the message. But it soon became obvious to everyone that while hypertexting and linking enhanced the message, the web addresses changed quickly creating voids in the message. Links also pulled people away from the main site, which was bad for generating advertising revenue. In fact, my current employer frowns on links in the text altogether.

Anyhow, reading MacLeod's book made me think of McLuhan's famous line, "The medium is the message," and I think about how much the web has changed since the early days of web design. While the web seems to be using less hypertext, a tremendous number of new tools are on the scene and being utilized. Web builders now need to consider using podcasts, wikis, knowledge clouds, widgets, YouTube, Facebook, and Myspace to enhance their clients entertainment and knowledge enhancement, and of course to generate revenue from sales and advertising.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Florida Writers Association

This past week I joined the Florida Writers Association, and I attended my first meeting of the Wesley Chapel group. Dr. Richard Wilber, Assistant Professor, Department of Mass Communications, University of South Florida did the presentation. He teaches journalism, and magazine article writing. In addition to his academic publications, he has also published leisure reading. His popular culture works include Science Fiction short stories, baseball and mysteries. His next book, Rum Point, A Baseball Mystery is scheduled to come out in late October

His presentation focused on the tremendous amount of work associated with getting published. In addition to the writing, a large amount of research material needs to be gathered, and interviews conducted. Generally an author writes a lot more material than is included in the finished manuscript. Rick emphasized that the published work is only the "tip of the iceberg." For instance an author may only use about 10% of a two hour interview, but the rest of the information provides the author with background material that adds authenticity to the story. Rick may write 100,000 words to net an 80,000 word book. but he saves those extra 20,000 words. He may need them for a future project.

I enjoyed Rick's talk. That is a good thing, since this was my first Florida Writer's Association meeting, it encouraged me to attend another one. Their annual conference is coming up later this month, and I will probably attend.