Friday, May 30, 2014

New contract - Flesh and Kisses

I've been uber productive since getting back to RT. One of the stories that was finished and submitted is my long novella for the upcoming Silver Foxes pax at Amber Allure. It's called Flesh and Kisses:
After spending all of high school in the closet, the last thing Jett Walker wants is to go to his thirty-year class reunion. Then the one person he was never able to resist decides to attend – punk rocker Trev Chambers. Trev was the epitome of everything Jett wanted to be, and now he’s reuniting the band he made famous for a final blowout concert. Though nobody back home knows he’s gay, Jett decides to go. He needs closure. One weekend of pretending he’s straight is more than worth it. 

When he discovers Trev lives less than two hours away, Jett seeks him out on a whim. The punk rocker has grown up, but as far as Jett’s concerned, Trev is more appealing than ever. He’s also available. One brief conversation turns into a date, which raises the question…are they just living in nostalgia, or can they find a way to build a real future together?
I've never written a high school reunion story before, so this one was a ton of fun. I'll share more details as I get them.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Times, they are a'changing

When I first started publishing romance in 2005, one of the initial questions my husband asked me was, "Are you joining RWA?"

My answer was an emphatic, "No."

Back then, RWA didn't recognize digital sales. E-publishing was consigned to a special corner and ignored in a lot of ways. If there was one thing I refuse to be, it's a hyprocrite. I could not in any good conscience support an organization that denied the existence of a large number of its membership (except to take their money, of course).

As digital took off, that changed. It was great for e-published writers. Then Rainbow Romance Writers was formed as a special interest chapter within RWA, so more positive steps forward.

But I have a confession. I still hated it. I hated that RWA still used a lot of exclusionary language in so many different ways. I hated that LGBT writers still had to be relegated to a special group. Very persuasive people pitched that the only way to change RWA was from within, and while I most whole-heartedly support those willing to fight that fight, I am not that person. I fight with the consumer dollar. I don't provide business to those who practice intolerance (which kills me when I see how huge our local Hobby Lobby is, lol). RWA was going to be no different.

It's now 2014. RWA has taken strides to move past their prejudices and exclusionary practices. Is it perfect? No, but my definition is a strict one, I'll admit that (there would be no need for any special interest groups at all, if I had my say). People I respect are excited about the organization again, and that's enough to get me thinking.

Am I ready to join up? Not yet. But I don't have a kneejerk, "Oh, hell, no!" reaction when the discussion gets raised anymore. I'm going to start looking at some of my local chapters to see what they provide, if I can get value from being a member. I don't know how that'll turn out.

But times, they are a-changing. Thankfully.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Spicy Shrimp Salad with Mango and Lime

It's been a while since I posted any new recipes, so since last night's turned out so great, I'm sharing today. It's a light shrimp salad that's perfect for busy nights this time of year - fast to make and refreshing to eat.


SPICY SHRIMP SALAD WITH MANGO AND LIME

INGREDIENTS
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic
Kosher salt
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 lbs cooked medium shrimp, peeled
1 ripe mango, peeled/pitted/diced
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 head romaine lettuce, torn
Large handful cilantro, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes

DIRECTIONS
1. Soak onion in cold water while you prepare the rest of the salad.
2. Smash the garlic. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear the mixture to a coarse paste. Transfer to a large serving bowl.
3. Add lime juice, 2 teaspoons salt, and the chili powder. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, starting with a few drops and then adding the rest in a steady stream to make a dressing.
4. Toss the shrimp in the dressing.
5. Add mango, beans, lettuce, cilantro, and cherry tomatoes to the bowl. Drain and dry the onion, and scatter over the salad. Gently toss the salad together and serve.

NOTES: Serves 4.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Petals on the Wind

All right, I'll confess.

I watched Petals on the Wind last night.

I'm not proud of it. In fact, I'm very embarrassed that I succumbed. I didn't watch Flowers in the Attic and I didn't even know that they were capitalizing on the high ratings by putting the other books into production until two days ago when I saw Petals on the TV guide. Then, I snorted in disbelief, rolled my eyes, and forgot about it.

Until at 9pm last night, I was flipping through channels looking for something mindless to watch.

The Dollanganger books were the thing to read when I was in junior high. The Twilight books of our generation. Instead of sparkly vampires and pining werewolves, they had gothic horror and incest. I devoured them, I must admit. I related to Cathy in a lot of ways. Living in fear of your domineering grandmother while having no choice but to reside in her house? Check. Absentee mother you craved time/affection from? Check. Being responsible for younger siblings? Check.

And Petals was my favorite, probably because it was the soapiest of them all. Confession: I grew up on soaps and still watch General Hospital every day. The medium entertains me. The soapy aspects only bother me when I try and explain it to people who don't watch soaps because I know 100% how silly and extreme they are.

Worst part was, it wasn't even that good. Too much happens in the book to make it easy to condense, which means huge jumps in the plot and slippery characterizations.

Am I the only one who got suckered?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Scrivener

After hearing everybody rave about it, and knowing I would be losing PageFour with the switch to the Mac, I went and got Scrivener yesterday. It's installed and registered, but I haven't played with it yet. I have two projects that are very time-sensitive to get done, and I don't want to waste time I don't really have getting comfortable with a new program. But as soon as they are done, I'll be all over it.

In the meantime, I'm curious what others like most and least about it. If you have Scrivener, share your favorite tools, most hated aspects, or any advice you might have. I'd love to hear it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Helping one of our own

I've been writing and publishing m/m for eight years. In that time, I've seen fans and reviewers come and go. But one woman has always been incredibly supportive of m/m writers and the genre, a generous soul who uplifted us when we most needed it. Now, she's in need of help, and I for one leapt at the opportunity to give back even a tiny bit.

You see, Judie and her family have lost their home, and all because she thought she was helping the authors she's always loved. I don't want to rehash it and possibly get details wrong, but you can read all about it here.

Every dollar you might be able to contribute helps. Every donation gets a free ebook from one of the participating authors, and there are more gifts as donations get larger. Please consider helping Judie. She's a wonderful woman and doesn't deserve what has happened to her.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Back from NOLA

All my good intentions of blogging while I was at RT? Arg. I was so busy with stuff and writing that it completely slipped my mind.

I got home yesterday and promptly crashed. It was a very long day of flying and plane transfers and it started way too early. But RT was good this year, if different for me than it has been in the past.

Typically, I work a lot, go to panels, and sit in the bar to socialize in the evening. The parties are just not my thing, and I'm not comfortable in huge groups, so a lot of the planned activities end up making me incredibly tense and not of the fun. The plan to socialize was shot, however, because of how truly crappy the acoustics were in the hotel. It was next to impossible to sit and have a decent conversation because of how loud it was. You couldn't even sit in the restaurant and talk to the person next to you because of the noise. So most evenings, I went back up to my room and wrote, because I have a ton of deadlines coming up.

That being said, I did get to meet a ton of great people. There were the usual suspects, people I adore that I only get to see at cons like Caitlyn Willows, Dee Carney, and ZA Maxfield, and then new people, like the irrepressible Sasha Devlin, my book signing buddies Cate Dean and Seleste Delaney, and Suzan Butler.

So do I have stories about craziness at RT? No, unfortunately. I do have new friends, however, and new authors to check out (some of which I already have, like the very talented Ryan Winfield). I learned quite a bit about self-publishing and marketing, and I got a ton of work done. For me, that's a win. A big win.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Last day before leaving for RT

Remember how I said last week I wasn't ready for RT? I'm still not. However, my to do list is much shorter, so provided I get through today and don't miss my flight in the morning, everything will be just fine.

I'm going to do my best to post while I'm there, but just in case, here's what I'm up to. I'm not on any panels, but I will be at the e-book signing on Saturday. I'm giving away jewelry, so be sure and stop by if you're there.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Everyone Is Gay

Like a lot of people, I fell in love with the song "Say Something" by A Great Big World in recent months. It's just stunning. On a whim, I decided to pick up the CD last week and put it in the car.

My daughter and I might have a favorite new band. We haven't even made it through the whole CD yet and we think that. We keep hearing songs and going back to listen to them again, that's how much we love them.

For the most part, the CD is nothing like "Say Something" in mood. Where that one is melancholy and haunting, most of the rest are buoyant and positive. The melodies are often simple, but they are so damn catchy. Yes, it's pop, but I'm not ashamed to admit I can be a pop fan, too.

Our favorite, however, BY FAR, is a song called "Everyone Is Gay." My daughter's comment after we listened to it the first time was that while she loved a lot of the other songs out there that were in support of the LGBTQ community, it was great to hear one with so much joy and hope and humor. It embraces everyone, and do you know how great it is to see bi-inclusivity when bisexuality is often ignored/denied/erased? The song gives me hope, makes me laugh, and just utterly charms me.

When my husband got home, we made him listen/watch the video because it made us smile so much. We walked out of his office when it was over, and he immediately started whistling it. That's how catchy it is.


What sucks is that they're in our area this weekend for their tour and we can't go. Why didn't we figure out we loved them so much months ago? Damn it.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

RT prep update

I am not nearly as stressed as I was on Monday. My swag is almost done (I'm giving away jewelry at the signing this year, woo hoo!), the self pampering has begun, and my stressful weekend has been eased.

I watched a packing video from Erin Knightley yesterday from last year and just boggled. For RT, she only used carry-on luggage. One suitcase and her purse. For eight days. And swag. It was astounding. I can't do the same thing (because I'm so short, I never take anything on the plane that I can't fit under the seat in front of me, struggling with the overheads is just not worth it), but I did pick up a few tips that will come in handy. I recommend watching.

Today, I have to run out to See's to pick up my suckers as my sweet swag, tomorrow is my facial, and Saturday is my haircut. Tuesday morning is going to come very, very soon.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wednesday Words of Wisdom


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bauer's back

I am an unabashed Jack Bauer fan. I know the show is ridiculous and over the top, but I love Jack to pieces. One of my favorite tweets about the show last night was along the lines of, "Only Jack Bauer cannot say a word for the first half hour of a show and still be the center of attention." I hadn't realized just how much I'd missed it until the first tones of the countdown started and my pulse jumped. Plus, the London office looked exactly like CTU, and man, it was like coming home.

I think the best part about the show, though, is that you don't need all the backstory to have fun with it. It starts off with action and only goes up from there. Sure, the exchanges and reveals often mean more if you're familiar with all the characters, but it's not necessary. The show doesn't give you a chance to breathe. And just when you think you've got it figured out, it twists off in a new direction.

I know it has its detractors. It's seen as pro-torture. Which it is, in all fairness, but it's sooooooo over the top that I have never taken it seriously. It's popcorn action, really good popcorn action, and I don't have a problem separating that from any semblance of reality. People keep looking for meaning or emotional depth, but again, it's POPCORN ACTION. You don't go looking for too much emotional depth in most action movies when you go to the cinema, so I don't see how we're expected to do the same for 24 just because a) Kiefer's a better actor, and b) he's so damn serious all the time.

We had so much fun with the premiere last night. It was great to see Chloe as a Snowden-type character though Heller's Alzheimer's will be hard to watch. I was never a huge Audrey fan, but considering her husband is trying to mess with Jack, I'm interested in where that's going to go.

And Jack. Poor messed-up, lonely Jack. It's so good to have him back on my TV.

Did you watch?          

Monday, May 5, 2014

Getting ready for RT

My reaction to the upcoming RT in three simple words.

I'm not ready.

I'm trying to avoid actively thinking about it, because then I start having a panic attack. The timing is atrocious for me this year. My kids have active lives, I leave two days after Mother's Day, and I have deadlines that are staring me down. I know I'll feel better once I actually get to New Orleans, but honestly, I'm probably going to be sick until I'm physically checked in at the hotel. Even the flight itself is making me hyperventilate because it's my first time flying with Southwest and the lack of seat assignments makes me anxious (not to mention I hate having to worry about connections and they were unavoidable for a cross-country flight from California to New Orleans).

I wish I could use it as a vacation time like so many other authors do, but truth be told, I know for a fact that I'll spend hours alone in my room writing and that I will never leave the hotel except to go to and from the airport. I'll be uber relaxed by the time I return home the following week, though. Getting away from the hectic schedule of my everyday life is always rejuvenating.

I just have to get to the point where I'm actually there, first.

Friday, May 2, 2014

New review for What the Heart Thinks

I'm ending the week on a huge high. My recent release, What the Heart Thinks, got 4.5 stars from Lisa at the Prism Book Alliance!

It's one of those reviews where I breathe a sigh of relief, because honestly, not only did she have wonderful things to say, but she completely got Joe and Fess. It's always so rewarding to hear people enjoying heroes who mean so much to you!

Go check it out, and have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Into the Wild

I've been watching movies off my Oscar list in recent weeks. Last night's offering was Into the Wild (2007, nominations for best supporting actor for Hal Holbrook and film editing). I will admit, I watched it mostly because yesterday was the last day it would be available for streaming on Netflix. I'd never read the book and knew almost nothing about it except the movie's blurb.

I was stunned by how much I loved it.

For those not in the know, it's based on Jon Krakauer's book of the same name, about a college graduate who gives up everything to live off the grid for the most part. He travels around for two years, on the search for his own personal truth and happiness, and while there are arguments about whether he's suicidal, stupid, or a modern day Thoreau, the movie portrays him as infinitely more complex than that.

For reasons really only known to him, he throws away a promising future, gets rid of most of his worldly possessions, and disappears from his life to wander around the country. Along the way, he runs into a wide variety of characters who all help contribute to molding the boy into a man as he works toward his ultimate goal to go to Alaska. There's a gentle joy to these encounters, some working better than others like the pair of aging hippies who have been there/done that and try to respect his choice while still imparting their own wisdom from having walked some of the same roads. There's the lonely old man who takes him in as a surrogate grandson, who can see exactly how doomed the young man is and is helpless to do anything to stop him. (The scene where Hal Holbrook agrees to wait on something they've talked about until after the young man has returned from Alaska made me sob, it was that powerful.)

The movie is about the value of finding happiness, but that it's not always in the ways you expect. The cinematography is stunning, the performances stellar. Watching it left me with my own questions and the overwhelming desire to find them for myself, while still recognizing that it's never as easy as it seems. It's not a fast watch (2 1/2 hours that relies on moments and vistas rather than action or humor), nor is it an easy one (his decisions are often frustrating and narrow), but it was well worth it in the end.