Friday, November 30, 2012

New cover art for The Low Between

I spent most of the past two days recovering from my first appointment with a personal trainer (ohmigod, so sore, why haven't I ever used these muscles before?!?), so I'm keeping it a little brief today.

I have new cover art!


I'm just about done with my steampunk story, too, so you'll be hearing more about that early next week.

Though I have another appointment with the trainer on Monday. We'll see if I survive a second.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Personal training

Well, I've gone and done it. Tomorrow, I have my first session with a personal trainer at my gym.

She's young. And beautiful. And probably has never had to struggle with her weight her entire life.

I feel judged already. Which I suppose is only fair since apparently I'm judging her from a single meeting, lol.

But still...it's a good thing in attacking health issues. I'm going to learn what exercises are going to help the arthritis and work on making specific muscles stronger to support the weaker joints. Plus, it'll help with the weight loss. I've been going to the gym to work on the treadmill on and off (on for this week so far, after Thanksgiving I really need it), but this will be in addition to that. I want to learn and get in what I can before I have surgery on my foot in January.

I got home tonight and iced my bad foot for an hour. It's stiff, but at least it doesn't hurt as much.

It's all good for me. Eventually, I might even believe that.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday


Welcome to my SSS! For the next two months, I'm featuring my RT Award Nominee, the het paranormal/time travel-ish erotic romance, Two Lives in Waltz Time. Maddy and Cash have been sucked into a 1940s private club milieu where Maddy's a dancer, Cash is the bouncer, and the whole world thinks they're engaged. Cash and Maddy are trying to make the best of a bad situation.

I'm skipping ahead a little. Maddy and Cash came a little closer after he got shot by his "ex." This happens the next night, when Maddy has decided she's ready to take the next step in their relationship. This is Cash's response...

“...I've wanted you too long for this to be all raindrops on roses. Not that I can't do the soft touch, because it certainly has its time and place, but if you think that I can pull that off tonight, after how amazing last night was, after how long I've dreamt of you…” Though she could see how he trembled, he reached out and caressed the line of her jaw, so tenderly she wondered yet again about the dichotomy of this man.

“If this happens,” Cash continued, “don't expect that I'll be able to hold back. I have a tendency to take control in bed anyway, but you…the way you fight back…” His long fingers slid around her neck to cup the back of her head, holding her still while he leaned down and ghosted his lips over hers.

To check out all the other six sentence contributions, head over to the official website.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving this week, I'm going to be too busy to post regularly, if at all. Our guests arrive early Wednesday and don't leave until Saturday. I plan on enjoying their company as much as possible. Because their friendship is one of the many things I'm grateful for this year.

I'll be back on Sunday with Six Sentence Sunday.

To all my friends who will be celebrating...I hope your week is blessed.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Low Between

So that noir story I was working on? All submitted and on the tentative schedule for Amber Allure. It'll either be coming out in January or February as part of the Noir Pax.


My story is called The Low Between and is a 38,000 word gay suspense erotic romance. set in 1952 New York City. Here's the blurb:


It was supposed to be simple.

All struggling actor Carlo Baresi had to do was pick a man up, drive him to the location he specified, then report where he’d taken him. The only problem is, the man isn’t who he says he is…and they both know it.

Bookstore owner Joe Donnelly has a reputation for helping those in need, but this plan has been a bad one from the second he stepped in. Discovering someone has switched out the driver is one more complication he doesn’t want, especially since Carlo is the kind of distraction that can get a man in serious trouble if he’s not careful.

But they have something in common other than their mutual attraction. They’re both loose ends, struggling to find out what is really going on.

And murder is always complicated, even when you’re on the same side.
I love the guys in this story. I'll keep you guys updated on edits, cover art, and release dates as I get them!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

Welcome to my SSS! For the next two months, I'm featuring my RT Award Nominee, the het paranormal/time travel-ish erotic romance, Two Lives in Waltz Time. Maddy and Cash have been sucked into a 1940s private club milieu where Maddy's a dancer, Cash is the bouncer, and the whole world thinks they're engaged. Cash and Maddy are trying to make the best of a bad situation.

Once Cash explains to her about his past, that he was part of a magical world where he got in trouble with the wrong people and had to go into hiding to protect the people he loved, Maddy finds it easier to understand him and accept her attraction. Things start getting more complicated when they have a near-death accident with one of their "engagement" presents, but then even more so when one of Cash's so-called exes in this painting world decides to teach him a lesson. Maddy is on the dancefloor with someone else when the six begins...

For a moment, his body blocked her view. By the time Maddy wrenched herself free, the blonde with the pistol had lifted her arm, aiming it at the sole occupant in the doorway.

“Cash!” Maddy shouted.

She didn't wait to see if he heard her. Damning her long skirts, Maddy broke into a dead run, determined to get to the other woman before she could pull the trigger.

She tackled the shooter as the gun's discharge pierced the air, sending the club's occupants scurrying for cover...


To check out all the other six sentence contributions, head over to the official website.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sandwich Cookies with Buttercream Frosting

It's been a baking week. See, I found myself in the magazine section at Barnes & Noble last Friday, flipping through every seasonal periodical they had, about to buy one or two, when I remembered the two-foot stack of cooking magazines I had at home in the cupboard.

Two feet. That's not an exaggeration.

I might've made a handful of recipes out of the entire stack.

So I put the magazines back and decided it was time to go through what I already owned. I took the magazine off the top, opened to the first recipe I thought we'd actually eat, and made my grocery list.

I've done two recipes this week. At this rate, I won't need to buy another magazine until 2014.

The first recipe was a sandwich cookie with buttercream frosting. It consisted of vanilla, chocolate and spice cookies, with five different flavors of buttercream - vanilla, chocolate, coffee, orange, and almond. They turned out pretty damn good. Favorite combination? Spice with orange cream. Yum.


VANILLA ROUNDS

½ cup butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 eggs
1½ tsp vanilla
2¾ cups flour

  1. In a large bowl, combine butter and cream cheese at medium speed for 30 seconds.
  2. Add sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined.
  3. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  4. Beat in flour.
  5. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 375F.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough to an 1/8-inch thickness.
  8. Use 1½ - 2” cookie cutter to cut out dough.
  9. Place on parchment paper on cookie sheet.
  10. Bake for 6-7 minutes.
  11. Transfer cookies to wire rack and cool.


SPICY GINGER ROUNDS

½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup shortening
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses
3 cups flour
1 egg white, beaten

  1. In a large bowl, combine butter and shortening at medium speed for 30 seconds.
  2. Add sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined.
  3. Beat in egg and molasses.
  4. Beat in flour.
  5. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 375F.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough to an 1/8-inch thickness.
  8. Use 1½ - 2” cookie cutter to cut out dough.
  9. Place on parchment paper on cookie sheet.
  10. Brush with egg white.
  11. Bake for 6-7 minutes.
  1. Transfer cookies to wire rack and cool.


CHOCOLATE ROUNDS

½ cup butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 eggs
1½ tsp vanilla
2½ cups flour
¼ cup cocoa

  1. In a large bowl, combine butter and cream cheese at medium speed for 30 seconds.
  2. Add sugar. Beat until combined.
  3. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  4. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in separate bowl. Slowly beat into butter mixture.
  5. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 375F.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough to an 1/8-inch thickness.
  8. Use 1½ - 2” cookie cutter to cut out dough.
  9. Place on parchment paper on cookie sheet.
  10. Bake for 6-7 minutes.
  11. Transfer cookies to wire rack and cool.

We had a lot of cookies at this stage. The nice thing is, you can freeze these before you fill them, to keep on hand to fill later. That's where most of these are now. My kids can help themselves over the next few weeks.

But the buttercream is what makes these really yummy. It's just a matter of finding the right combination. 

VANILLA BUTTERCREAM

½ cup softened butter
1¼ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp milk

  1. Beat butter until fluffy.
  2. Add sugar, vanilla, and milk until spreadable consistency.


COFFEE BUTTERCREAM

½ cup softened butter
1 ¼ cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp brewed coffee

  1. Beat butter until fluffy.
  2. Add sugar and coffee until spreadable consistency.


CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM

½ cup softened butter
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ cup cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp milk

  1. Beat butter until fluffy.
  2. Add sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and milk until spreadable consistency.


ALMOND BUTTERCREAM

½ cup softened butter
1¼ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp milk

  1. Beat butter until fluffy.
  2. Add sugar, almond extract, and milk until spreadable consistency.


ORANGE BUTTERCREAM

½ cup softened butter
1¼ cup powdered sugar
Finely grated zest of one orange
1 tbsp orange juice

  1. Beat butter until fluffy.
  2. Add sugar, zest, and juice until spreadable consistency.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Proud of San Francisco

Sometimes, I love where I live so very much.

Last week, San Franciso's Health Commission voted to create a comprehensive program for uninsured transgender residents.

It won't happen right away, of course. They need to figure out costs and parameters first. But the point is, measures are being taken to give rights to individuals who constantly get ignored or forgotten.

I know a lot of people who will be upset by this. Unfortunately, some of them are in my extended family. I've never gotten that. They often use religion as justification, and though I know plenty of religious people who don't do that, it still boggles me when I run into that wall.

Shouldn't it be our priority as human beings to look after those who can't?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sixpence House by Paul Collins


I have been a bibliophile for as long as I remember, though I imagine a lot of writers are like that. Libraries were my sanctuaries. Book sales were my heaven.

The first time I saw Charing Cross Road in London, I had a book-gasm.

So I picked up Sixpence House by Paul Collins because of its subject matter. Part memoir, part travelogue, part love story to the printed form, it tells the story of the author's move to a small town called Hay-on-Wye in Wales, notorious for its many, many, MANY used bookstores. He goes there with his wife and toddler son, with the hopes of settling there. Over the course of the book, we get to know some of its inhabitants, but more so, we learn of the author's love/hate relationship with the books themselves, as well as witness how he struggles finding his place in the world (much like so many of the books in the town that are endlessly forgotten).

Is it a great book? No, I wouldn't say great. Put to the wall, I'd give it four out of five stars. But it's anecdotal sense of style is infectious, especially as he constantly throws out the oddest tidbits of trivia from the most arcane books you can ever imagine. He's often incredibly funny, and with the prose broken into lots of little scenes, it's a very fast read.

If anything, it reminds me of Bill Bryson, an author I fell in love with when I first moved to the UK in '99. It lacks some of Bryson's sophistication, but Collins is young, and honestly, I think he's a little too close to the source material. He gets distracted easily, so the narrative meanders all over the place as he drops in what seem like meaningless asides. It often comes across as more than a little silly, leaving me to wonder what the point actually is.

I had to finish it to get it. Because Collins is one of those unknown books, sitting on a shelf in Hay, constantly getting reordered in an attempt to find meaning.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Doing what I must

I find it ironic that as my internal life comes back to an order I recognize and embrace, my physical is running into walls of pain. It's frustrating, because so much of it seems completely random and out of my control.

See, the women in my family hit their forties and get attacked by arthritis. Though I'm relatively new to that club, my body seems to not care and is throwing a lot at me all at once. I've known I had arthritis in my left hip for two years, but just a couple weeks ago, my rheumatologist announced it's in my toes and hands, too.

Just great.

I've been having problems with my left foot all year, and a trip to the podiatrist decided that the bunion I've tolerated for a decade has now demanded attention. I have surgery for that scheduled in January. Meanwhile, having issues with that foot has affected the other one and my hips, because my gait has changed to accommodate the pain. I strongly suspect I'm developing arthritis in my right hip, now, though I'm holding off on going to the ortho for confirmation until after I've recovered from my surgery. I'm hoping that when things have improved with my left foot, it'll take the pressure off the right side, thus negating any further appointments.

It sucks, because my options are limited. I've been slowly losing weight, or trying to, since I know that it will help relieve the pressure on those joints. This week, I'm headed to the gym to see if they have a personal trainer on staff who's familiar with pain issues so I can start strengthening exercises that will help. I take all the recommended supplements, but because I know I have a lifetime of struggling ahead of me, I avoid painkillers unless I really need them. There will come a day when I won't be able to tolerate it as much as I do now.

Of course, I also have hip replacement surgeries in my future, too. Isn't growing older grand?

Yesterday was a bad day. They've been frequent lately because of the feet issues. But I'm charging through as best I can, because honestly, what alternative is there? Life is too short. I'll hate my body for it all, of course, but that won't change the fact that I will do what I must.

That's the biggest lesson I've learned this year. It can all be taken away from us at a moment's notice. I'm getting as much out of life as I can.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday


Welcome to my SSS! For the next two months, I'm featuring my RT Award Nominee, the het paranormal/time travel-ish erotic romance, Two Lives in Waltz Time. Maddy and Cash have been sucked into a 1940s private club milieu where Maddy's a dancer, Cash is the bouncer, and the whole world thinks they're engaged. Cash and Maddy are trying to make the best of a bad situation. At this point in the story, they've had to spend the night at an engagement party thrown for them, without letting anyone in on the truth. Maddy enjoyed herself more than she thought she would, even able to relax, but when Cash confronts her afterward and demands the truth, she gets scared and explains it away by saying she was just playing to their audience. Cash kisses her. This comes immediate after.

Her swollen mouth begged to be kissed again, but Cash gathered the rest of his resolve and let her go, taking a step away as much for his sake as hers.

“So, where's your audience now?” he asked, gesturing toward the empty apartment. “Real isn't perfect, Maddy. It's passionate, and sometimes cruel, and quite often the last thing you would ever expect. It most certainly doesn't ask that you put on the show that you think others want to see. It's never asked you to be anything but what you are, and in case the champagne is making your thought processes a tad slow tonight, yes, I am referring to how I've always regarded you.”

To check out all the other six sentence contributions, head over to the official website.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Next Big Thing Meme

So Elin Gregory did this meme at her blog a couple days ago, and though she didn't tag me, she challenged those who liked it to have a go. Which I am.

What is the title of the book you’re currently working on?
"Iron Eyes"

Where did the idea come from for the book?
It started as a writing exercise, actually. I do them occasionally where I'll brainstorm on three unrelated words, just to keep the creative juices flowing. In this case, the three words were pilot, doctor, and kidnap. It sounds like a romance already, doesn't it, lol?

What genre does your book fall under?
It's m/m steampunk erotic romance.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I just blogged about this when I started the story! In cast you missed it, though, my heroes would be played by Jeremy Renner and David Zepeda. I have no idea if Zepeda is a decent actor, but he's where I started when I was envisioning the character.

What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?
Captain Terrence Kaufman does the unthinkable and kidnaps the one man he believes can assuage his guilty conscience, only to rediscover his humanity in the process.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It'll come out in early 2013 at Amber Allure as part of their steampunk pax, "Days of Future's Past."

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
This presumes it's done, which it's not, lol. However, at the rate I'm going, it'll be done by the end of the month, which means it'll be about three weeks for 35,000 words.

What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?
I wouldn't. The genre is too young to have a ton of reading material yet. Besides, I think it's kind of egotistical to compare yourself to anyone.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I've wanted to try my hand at steampunk for a while now, so when this opportunity came up, I jumped at it. I've found it difficult to find much steampunk that really satisfies me. Most of the time, there's too much focus on world-building and not enough on the story. I wanted to see if I could get the right balance.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Haha, I don't know. I try to not write the usual most of the time, and I don't think this is any exception to that. It's not set in a usual setting, instead on a remote Canadian island, and doesn't employ the typical gadgets I think are most common in the genre. Instead, my engineer has a career in the budding film industry in Los Angeles that proves vital for my other hero. I'd like to think readers would be piqued by its unique angles.


 I'm not tagging anyone to do this, but if you want to have a go, I say go for it!

Friday, November 9, 2012

New holiday ideas

I'm starting to gather together new ideas for the holidays, both Thanksgiving and Christmas. All right, maybe this is something I should've started sooner, but considering how stressful this year has been, I figure I've got some leeway.

It was sparked by a post I saw on my Facebook feed for a new kind of caramel apple. See?


I am totally in love with this idea. They just hollow out the apple, pour melted caramel in, then slice them up when they're cooled. Yum!

The next thing that made me smile was this simple ornament:


It's a melted snowman! Isn't that adorable? Instructions for how to do it are here, but you know, I highly recommend taking a look around her blog. It's got some absolutely wonderful crafting ideas.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's not California, but at least there's hope.

I tweeted about this yesterday, but I just wanted to post about it again because it fills me with so much glee.

Part of the election process on Tuesday saw two more states granting marriage equality for all. It's so encouraging to see forward steps being taken, especially since I still get sick to my stomach remembering the 2008 elections, and waiting up until nearly 6am watching the results on Prop 8. I tend to avoid discussing politics with anyone (unless we both already know we share the same views), but I got all fired up about that one, largely in part to how misinformation was being so widely disseminated to ignorant people who didn't bother do any fact-checking. I still live in hope that California will go back to doing what's right, allowing anyone who wants to get married, regardless of gender.

In the meantime, I'll be grateful that there are havens in the US for those couples who want the basic rights they deserve.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The state of me

We lost our internet two days this week. Comcast issues. It always shocks me how much I rely on it for everything when it's gone, and then even more so when I get so much other work done instead. I'm still in catch-up mode, so today's post is just a general state of my world thing.

Like...how relieved I am the election is over. We can move on from all the campaigning talk finally.

Like...how nervous I am about this steampunk story I'm writing. It's swinging higher on the "aw" scale than I've done in a while, plus I've never tried my hand at this genre before. It's daunting.

Like...how excited I am about the upcoming holidays. We spent two hours on a conference call with the family we spend the Thanksgiving holiday with, getting things organized. A family of six coming to our house for four days, so we have ten people we're feeding/providing for. There are spreadsheets involved, lol.

Like...how anxious I am when I realize just how much is yet to be done in preparation for said visit.

But life is good and really, I wouldn't change a single bit of this.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Looking the part...at least at first

Yesterday, I started my next project, an m/m steampunk erotic romance that I haven't titled yet. One of the things I always do before I start anything is get mental pictures of all the characters. I need the visual of them before I can put a single word to paper, otherwise, they're not real to me. Most often, I go combing through photos I've found online or I pick an actor-type to model the character on. These physical similarities often change as the story progresses (or there's a physical characteristic I know is necessary for the hero/heroine that isn't present on the model), but there is always a starting point.

With this particular story, there are two heroes. One is an ex-military pilot with a guilt-ridden conscience who sets out to do the right thing the wrong way. He's the center of all my angst in this, so I wanted someone intense, not too big but buff and dangerous anyway. This is how he's starting off:


I've adored Jeremy Renner since he played Penn on Angel, so seeing him finally getting recognition the last five years or so has been great.

The other hero is my engineer. He didn't start out that way, so I wanted to play against physical type by having my brainiac look like he should be beating up the bad guys instead. I also knew his family is originally from Belize, so that helped me pick out...


...David Zepeda. My guy is a little rougher around the edges than this, less clean-cut, definitely dirtier, but he's my springboard for where I start.

I think they're going to be hot together. I can't wait to get into the meat of this story.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

Welcome to my SSS! For the next two months, I'm featuring my RT Award Nominee, the het paranormal/time travel-ish erotic romance, Two Lives in Waltz Time. Maddy and Cash have been sucked into a 1940s private club milieu where Maddy's a dancer, Cash is the bouncer, and the whole world thinks they're engaged. Cash and Maddy are trying to make the best of a bad situation. Last week, he decided to teach her how to dance to make her impersonation easier, but when they reached the last dance, Maddy stumbled for the first time...

Immediately, Cash caught her against his hip, holding her there for what seemed an eternity, but could only have been a fragment of a moment. His unmistakable arousal nudged along her body, and when she turned to more fully face him again, the flicker of desire darkened his eyes.

“Maybe we should stop,” she breathed.

“I think we already have.”

Dimly, she became aware of the stillness of their feet. The thudding elsewhere in her body had completely blocked it out.

To check out all the other six sentence contributions, head over to the official website.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Project Runway All-Stars

So...who's watching the new Project Runway All-Stars?

I'll admit, I'm watching again, even though I didn't like most of these designers the first time they were on. But I like the challenges, and there's the occasional cool outfit, and it's only an hour long instead of the ninety minutes we're usually subjected to.

So far, it's not as bad as I thought it would be.

Considering the drama queens they brought back, the show has been remarkably focused on...drum roll...clothes! Even starting with a team challenge didn't seriously derail everything, though the one team's collections was just sad.

This week's disco challenge could've been fun, but I didn't find myself responding to many of the clothes. And the ones I did, ended up in the middle somewhere. Uli's white dress was pretty but I just didn't see what it had to do with the challenge. My favorite was actually the turquoise two-piece pantsuit that Joshua did. Color me surprised, because I seriously dislike that boy. But I like that the judges seem to have genuine critiques, and they're not unanimously agreeing on runway choices. It makes it a little more interesting.

I don't have a favorite so far, though there are more than a few I'd like to see leave. And can Suede please stop referring to himself in third person? It's annoying.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The holidays are a-coming

Halloween is past, which means we're in my favorite two months of the year. I'm one of those Christmas nuts. I love everything about it. You can expect cookie recipes, gushing about food, and general ho-ho-ho-ness over the next eight weeks or so.

To launch it all, I blogged yesterday at Romance Cooks. It's a recipe for Cranberry Sauce Cake, one of my favorites. Go check it out, and while you're there, take a look at all the other great recipes that have been posted this year!