Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Night Fu Review: Shaolin

This was such a hard movie to review, and I'm not even sure why. Shaolin (2011) was beautifully filmed, finely acted, with multiple satisfying character arcs and quality fight choreography. It also featured a charming and hefty-yet-well-balanced cameo by Jackie Chan, but didn't allow the guest mega-star to steal the show.

Shaolin has a historic biopic feel (seems to be the fashion in Kung Fu of late) though as far as I know, it's not based on any actual events or figures. It stars Andy Lau, a talented performer whom I knew best from The Warlords (2007), offering a solid screen presence if not a surfeit of charisma. Playing the baddie was Nicholas Tse, whom I mistook for Huang Xiaoming the entire movie. In my defense, both actors are also former pop stars. They must have twin-like pop-star facial features. Anyhow, Tse played a believable power-hungry, sadistic dictator figure, though like Lau was also just a little short on charisma…though for all I know, that could be the fault of subtitle translation.

I won't bore you by summarizing the plot, which was your classic, thoughtful war epic, as well as a culture clash between ambitious military generals and pacifist-but-still-bad-ass Shaolin monks whose temple is under siege and caught between the two warring factions. It also becomes adoptive home to the protagonist after he (of course) loses everything he loves as a result of his ambition and back-stabbing. Enlightenment and vengeance ensues.

The fight scenes were solid and innovative, with a just a taste of that over-the-top Kung Fu reliance on invisible wires for stylization, which personally I can really take or leave. They were well integrated, but I think what didn't work for me in the movie was the overall tone… It was, at times, heartbreaking and gritty and grief-stricken. Then at odd moments, bordering on slapstick (perhaps because of its guest star, though I don't blame Chan for the mad-cap components.) It was never wacky, but the wacky-ish moments didn't jibe with the heartrending scenes, which were many. The movie didn't suffer from a complete personality disorder, but a more consistent mood would've helped. And maybe I'm greedy, but I wanted more fight scenes. And more training montages. Always more montages!

I really enjoyed Yu Xing's supporting performance (according to IMDb trivia, he actually is a 32nd generation Shaolin monk!) I knew his face from the Ip Man films, and he and another actor did a great job in two minor-ish roles, soft comic relief in the form of charmingly wayward monks. They added a lighter element without it feeling too discordant, given all the wartime sturm und drang. Also deserving praise was the young performer (and actual Shaolin monk, I believe) who played the perhaps twelve-year-old monk fighter featured in the final quarter of the film. He was fabulous, though I wasn't able to track down his name to credit him.

So overall, a solid Kung Fu war epic, if not the most memorable one. But if you're intrigued, check the trailer:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011: A Very Thrusty Year in Review

I thought for this final Thrusty Thursday post of the year, I'd take a look back at my favorite of the fifty-odd thrustees of the past twelve months. Do join me! In unbiased order of appearance, I give you my…


1. The now tragically late Andy Whitfield, thrusted upon January 13:

2. Jamie Dornan, April 21:

3. Vincent Gallo, May 5:

4. David Gandy, June 9:

5. Romain Duris, July 14:

6. Sam Worthington, July 21:

7. Shirtless Jason Statham Rescuing a Baby Owl From a Fire, September 8:

8. Henrik Lundqvist (oh, Lundy), November 10:

9. Michael Fassbender, December 8:

10. Joe Manganiello, December 22:

Happy New Year, everyone! See you in 2012 with a fresh crop of man-flesh for your she-perving enjoyment. And hopefully by this time next year Gandy and Lundqvist will have finally settled the loin-burning question of who's more sickeningly handsome by naked-pudding-wrassling each other for the distinction. I will adjudicate, naturally.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Release Day!

Hey all! I'd be remiss if I didn't at least pretend to be half-decent at self-promo and mention I have new book out today. Headstrong is now available as an e-book from Samhain (and via Kindle and Nook, though Samhain has the best price at the moment.) It's a full-length contemporary love-triangle romance. Here's the blurb:

Libby Prentiss is ready to simply be herself. After half a lifetime rebelling against her privileged family’s expectations, she hopes her biological research trip to New Zealand will cut the cord for good.

It doesn’t take long to spot the hopelessly amateurish spy her overprotective father has hired to keep an eye on her. Fortunately, Reece Nolan’s desperation to save his family’s pub makes it all too easy to convince him to turn double-agent. Yet there’s something different about him. His icy reserve sets her on fire…and ignites a secret yearning to let him see the mass of insecurities she hides behind her provocative persona.

Where Reece is a glacier of cool self-control, his brother Colin is a hot-blooded, unpredictable volcano. Libby’s instant friendship with Colin is more satisfying than anything she’s ever known—and traps her in completely foreign territory. She’s caught between one man determined to hold her at arm’s length, and another who offers her the intense connection she’s worked so hard to avoid.

Something’s got to give or the fallout could tear them all apart…and put the Nolan family’s future in serious jeopardy.

If you'd like to read an excerpt, you can find one on the book's Samhain page. Thanks for your attention! We will return to the Kung Fu reviews and creepy man-lusting and recipes shortly.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thrusty Thursday: Joe Manganiello

I just ran across Joe Manganiello for the first time while co-curating the Raggedy-Ass Men Tumblr. Christ, do I ever feel ripped off. There's been some guy out there, perfectly pre-fabbed to cast as any number of my books' heroes, and I hadn't known?! He's most famous for his werewolf role in HBO's True Blood, so maybe this is what I get for lacking the paranormal gene. Still, better late than never. Now I'm going to have to buy the series, because in it he appears to wear (and remove) an inordinate number of plaid work shirts. But let us waste no further time lamenting when we could be thrusting, thrusting upon his majesty! (Oh and by the way, he used to box. Gasm.)

And here it is, your moment of Zen.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday #17

This week I thought I'd pretend I'm remotely good at self-promo, and share six sentences from my December 27 Samhain romance release, Headstrong (aka the New Zealand love-triangle book). The basic deal: Libby Prentiss has an unrequited crush on Reece Nolan; Reece's brother Colin has an unrequited crush on Libby. Colin is bartending at the Nolan family's pub, and Libby is sitting across from him.

From where he leaned against the back counter, Colin flung a coaster at Libby that bounced benignly off her forehead. She raised her chin to fix him with a stare, and her wide lips twisted into a haughty smirk. Colin was willing to bet this was exactly how her face would look as she coaxed the zipper down the front of his jeans.

“Don’t make me hurt you, Nolan.”

He flashed her an unapologetic grin.
God, if only.

Thanks for swinging by, everyone! Now head here to check out all the other Six Sentence Sunday excerpts this week.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thrusty Thursday: John Abraham

Since I began co-curating the Raggedy-Ass Men Tumblr a couple weeks ago, I've had to spend far more time than usual Googling images of doable men. It's been a real hardship. But while I've been dutifully, joylessly Googling said doable men, I noticed one particular fox coming up again and again, whether I was looking for a "hot coal miner" or a "sexy forest ranger" or a "muddy male model". His name is John Abraham, and he's a thirty-eight-year-old Indian-born actor. Oh and he used to model. Can you tell?

Anyhow, in tribute to his interwebz ubiquity and general thrustability, here's a mantage!

Oh and look, here he is, all wet and sandy! Dag, I better put that one in the Tumblr queue…

And wet again!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday #16

Another snippet from my weird-ass work-in-progress. I'm currently at 93,000 words and praying I can wrap this beastie up within the week. Here's the book's anti-heroine explaining the vigilante anti-hero, Boston's bicycle-riding, paintball gun-wielding, bargain basement-quality Batman.

The Badger fights violence with violence. If you ding a pedestrian or cyclist with your car, he’ll smash your mirrors off with his U-lock. But if it’s something less heinous, you just get balled—run a red light or splash somebody with dirty puddle water, and he’ll nail your window with a white pellet shot from a Glock-style paintball pistol. Harass or intimidate somebody on the street, or generally be a dick in any way to your fellow man and get caught—thwack! big white bird-shitty splatter all over your nice new coat.

Given what a career coward I am, you can see why I’d find the Badger both terrifying and hugely compelling; I hate a scene, and he’s a human scene. He’s everything I’m not and can’t ever be, not outside of painkiller withdrawal.

Thanks for swinging by, everyone! Now head here to check out all the other Six Sentence Sunday excerpts this week.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thrusty Thursday: Michael Fassbender

Every straight woman I've ever met has a lady-boner for Fassbender, so I'm not even bothering with an intro. Here he is, chum to you insatiable sharks.

But that's not all! There's more.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday #15

A bit more from the anti-heroine of my weird-ass work-in-progress this week. I'm determined to finish the first draft of this sucker in the next couple weeks. Just 15,000 words to go.

The only time in my life when I could have been described as anything resembling brave would’ve been the not-quite two years I spent addicted to Vicodin. For the second half of that period I moved back in with my parents, so they could “keep an eye on me”. Or keep an eye on the wild animal they’d invited to inhabit their house, sleep-walking through her days, hungry and snarling when the fleeting pacifism of chemical hibernation wore off. When I came down from those suckers and wanted more, I was ballsy. I was fearless and I was dumb as shit, and I’d steal anything that wasn’t nailed down.

Thanks for swinging by, everyone! Now head here to check out all the other Six Sentence Sunday excerpts this week.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Recipe: Collard Greens with Garlic and Parmesan

Simple, quick recipe; makes a great side to compliment a pilaf or a meat-dish. This makes enough for two or three. Allow about ten minutes of prep and cooking time, just before serving the meal.

Photo credit to

1. Rinse and dry about six big collard green leaves. Remove the stems by tearing or slicing. Cut the leaves into smallish strips. Set aside.

2. Finely chop or mince four cloves of garlic.

3. In a skillet or wok, heat a tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat, hot enough so when you drop in the garlic and greens, they sizzle.

4. Sautée the green and garlic on medium heat for about three minutes, turning frequently, until the collards are bright green and soft.

5. Turn off heat. Sprinkle greens liberally with salt, add two pinches of red pepper flakes, a teaspoon of lemon juice, and a quarter-cup grated parmesan cheese. Turn until evenly coated, and serve hot.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Donate December

It's now Donate December. Hooray! That means it's no longer Novembooze, which means I can drink again! Though to be honest, I did cheat when Thanksgiving rolled around. Sue me. It's been eleven months, now; the charm of this deprivation marathon began wearing thin around late summer.

But December is easy, as far as Discipline Year experiments go. All I have to do is choose a nice item to donate to charity each day this month—clothes, furniture, appliances, etc. I don't really like acquiring stuff, so this month's challenge isn't much of a…challenge. But after nearly an entire year of these ridiculous, willful endeavors, I'm happy to round out 2011 on a painless note.

To the donation box!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Le Jeudi Frotteurible: Benjamin Millepied

As requested by my charming Twitter pal @EdieHarris, I present for your Thursday thrustening, foxy French (I know, I know, they're always French on here, aren't they?) ballet dancer and choreographer and actor (and probably most infamously, Natalie Portman's baby-daddy) Benjamin Millepied. He's got thighs like unh.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Not-So Trivial Pursuit

Wanted to say good luck to the hundreds of aspiring romance authors who have recently shipped out their Golden Heart entries. Deciding to enter the 2009 RWA Golden Heart contest gave me my very first writerly deadline, and it taught me how to finish a book in a timely fashion, to how to format a manuscript, bind it, write my very first terrible synopsis (of many), and most valuable of all, how to put a submission out of my head for months at a time and move on to the next story.

While I was home for the holiday weekend, I pulled this card in Trivial Pursuit, from the ever-classic 1997 Genus IV edition…

Pretty cool, huh? Oh, and since I know you're curious, the answer to the science and nature question is "the frog." So good luck, Golden Heart entrants—especially those I already call friends. Keep your brains trained on the next book, and keep those frogs tied to your jaws. You'll need firm teeth, after all, what with all the chronic grinding damage you'll incur once you inevitably publish. Got my fingers crossed for all of you!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday #14

Greetings once more, my sixy beasts! Something a bit different this week, from what I've been calling "the weird-ass work-in-progress." Not entirely sure what genre the thing even is. It's got a romance (a strange one) and explicit sex, but it's not romance or erotica… Anyhow, it's weird. Enjoy!

Amanda and I are fraternal twins, and our eggs were as different as scrambled and Fabergé. Amanda is perky, fair, pink-cheeked, with irises like gems cut out of the pure blue sky, whereas I’m thin and dark, with what my mother calls “gypsy eyes”, probably to try to make me feel mysterious or interesting. Hangover eyes, a bit squinty, their edges the color of a ripe bruise.

I was a deferring pregnancy, a wispy shadow hiding behind Amanda’s robust fetus that my parents didn’t even realize was a second daughter until nearly the third trimester. A uterine wallflower, that was me. Amanda burst forth screaming and vibrant, and I slipped quietly into the world behind her, never one to want a fuss made.

Thanks for swinging by, everyone! Now head here to check out all the other Six Sentence Sunday excerpts this week.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thrustsgiving!

It's the second annual Thrusty Thanksgiving, and that means it's time to objectify a man from Turkey! Behold this year's offering—Berkay Yürdem! Have a safe, happy, grateful holiday, my fellow Yanks! And a very Thursty Thursday to everyone, everywhere.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday, lucky #13

Greetings, my sixy beasts! Thought I'd take a break from the romance and give my evil conjoined erotica-writing twin Cara a chance to share six sentences from a novella she's just finished and subbed. The book's working title is Bounce Back (both characters are on the rebound), and it's male/male—oh, the scandal!

The heroes have just met. They're playing pool at a bar.

“You don’t suck so badly,” Stephen said, as Adam lined up a harder shot. He nearly got it, but scratched. “Take that back—maybe you do.”

Adam grinned, suddenly far more interested in being taunted than wowing this guy with his nonexistent pool shark skills. It was probably just the alcohol’s doing, but he felt like they were engaged in a mating dance, circling the table, passing one another, each shot some attempt to impress the other. So much bending over and chalking of one’s stick, so many balls and holes and other juvenile, low-hanging double entendres.

Thanks for swinging by, everyone! Now head here to check out all the other Six Sentence Sunday excerpts this week.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Spontaneous acts of unh

Just watched The Warlords. Two hours of unshaven Takeshi Kaneshiro looking pensive in a furry hat. Unh.

Looking forward… (plus a contest)

This is a repost from the Blaze Authors Blog from Thursday, in case any of the Super Lucky #1 Fun Blog's visitors might like a chance to win a book.

Hey, everyone! Happy… Dear God, mid-November? When did that happen?

I know it's a bit premature, but I've been thinking about goals for the new year. Goals have been on my mind all through 2011, since I've been doing all those ridiculous monthly Lent experiments, and while I don't want to do anything as intensive and constant as Discipline Year again any time soon, I am still very much pro-goal. So what to aim for, in 2012? Some aims are obvious; write and sell as many books as I can. Stay healthy. Learn when to step away from the keyboard. And between July (no sugar) and this month, alcohol-free Novembooze, I'm eager to keep eliminating sugar from my diet (if anyone else shares that mission, I can't recommend this lecture enough as motivation). But here are some more measurable, targeted goals I've been kicking around:

1. Read more. I'd like to read one hundred books in 2012. That's two a week, and I know to some of you voracious types, that's laughable. You could read a hundred books by April, I bet! But in the past few years, since becoming a writer, my fiction-reading skills have taken a battering. Every book I open up turns into a lesson. Not drudgery, not homework, but I'm so semi-consciously preoccupied with seeing how other authors put their words and stories together, it takes me ages to read, now. I'd love to relearn how to read quickly, nuts to turning the act into a learning experience. So, a hundred books in a year. That's my first goal.

2. Cook new things. My vegetarian month, Meat-Free May, and our participation in a farm-share program (we get a box of fresh, local, seasonal vegetables every week) have reminded how much fun it is to try new recipes. I'd like to try a new recipe once a week in the new year, to keep my modest culinary repertoire expanding…and to make grocery shopping a bit more adventurous.

3. Run ten miles. I used to hate running. But in the last decade it's gone from torture to chore to routine to something I even look forward to, some days. But I've yet to run farther than five and a half miles without stopping, and most days I go about three. I'd love to be able to say I ran ten miles, even just once, just to know I can do it. I'm going to aim to reach that goal by my birthday (May 2), with a little help from a renewed YMCA membership once the weather here turns inhospitable. Which could be any second now. [checks watch]

4. Land an agent. I really need to get off my butt and do this! It's a scary goal, because of all the ones I've listed, it's the one whose success is ultimately out of my hands. I can try and try and try, but I could still fall short. But that's a stupid reason to not try, so come January, I'm an author on a mission!

So those are my goals. I think 2012 is going to be an exciting year! I'll be attending my first Romantic Times Booklovers' Convention in April, and those folks actually just nominated Caught on Camera for an RT Reviewers' Choice Award, for best series debut. Pretty cool. So cool, in fact, let's do a contest! Tell me a goal you have in mind for the new year, and I'll pick a commenter [from the original post's comments] at random to win a paperback copy of Caught on Camera (or if you've already read it and you're patient, I promise I'll mail you a copy of my next Blaze, once it's published). I'll even make the contest international, so go ahead—tell me what you hope to accomplish in 2012! I'll pick a winner on Sunday, around noon, EST, and announce it in the Blaze Authors Blog comments.

Take care! Can’t wait to hear what your goals are.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Night Fu Review: Fearless

Fearless ½ 
Though he disappointed me awhile back with The One, I decided to give Jet Li another chance. He'd never let me down before, after all. I needed to wash the lingering taste of 2001 out of my mouth and move on.

Fearless (2006) was a palate cleanser of the best ilk. It was directed by Ronny Yu, but I was convinced it had to be Wilson Yip's work. Yip directed 2008's artful Ip Man and its even more artful sequel, and that franchise and Fearless are reminiscent of each other in multiple ways. Both are historical Chinese biopics, but the similarities go far beyond that. I wouldn't say Ip Man is derivative, but I'd be surprised if Yip hadn't been influenced by Fearless.

But on to the story. Fearless is the dramatized biography of Huo Yuanjia, a real-life Chinese Wushu Master. He starts the story as a charmingly feckless, bullied child, maturing into a kick-ass fighter, young widower, and father, whose cockiness and party-boy habits lead him to great trouble and tragedy, in the form of his remaining family being slain in revenge for his careless disrespect toward another local Master. Nice character arc from invincible to reckless to ruined to reborn and redeemed.

Oh, Tanaka… sigh.
There's also a great thread involving Yuanjia's lifelong best friend, a businessman who stands by him through his terrible mistakes and ultimately funds his participation in some exciting bouts against various non-Chinese challengers (much encroaching colonialism, though not as demonized as that in Ip Man). There's also a nice little understated romantic subplot involving the charming actress, Betty Sun. The villains in this story were handled exceedingly well—very human, unlike Ip Man 2's monstrous but cartoonish Mr. Twister. So, the movie was already great…then add to it the special bonus called Shidô Nakamura, a Japanese kabuki actor and major fox who played the highly thrustable anti-villain of the final showdown fight, Tanaka. Unh. Unh on you and your most honorable sword, Tanaka.

So, I highly recommend Fearless. Oh crap, and I haven't even mentioned the actual fighting, which was tremendous. It's hard to find a truly original fight scene in the Kung Fu genre, in choreography or setting, but this film had some real gems. But the best thing of all was that the fighting and the story and the execution of the film were all equally strong. If Ong Bak hadn't set the bar so didonkulously high for this feature, Fearless would've been a five-star Kung Fu flick for me. Here's one of its many kick-ass fight scenes…I normally don't care much for weapons, but whoever did the sword choreography for this film was nuts. So good. Go find the whole movie on Instant Watcher.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thrusty Thursday: Eugene Hütz

After last week and Henrik Lundqvist's ridiculously handsome face, I felt it was high time to get back to admiring less conventional men. After all, weirdos need perving, too. But don't worry—next week I'm perving over an annoyingly good-looking French ballet dancer…just as soon as I watch Black Swan and get myself better acquainted with Benjamin Millepied and his no doubt gifted thighs. And procure screen-grabs of said thighs.

But this week I'm thrusting against Eugene Hütz (born under the exhausting monicker of Yevheniy Oleksandrovych Nikolayev-Simanov, in what's now Ukraine). He's a composer, DJ, and frontman of the New York punk outfit Gogol Bordello. He looks how I imagine the lovechild of former Thrustees Vincent Gallo and Santino Rice might turn out. Or maybe I picked him solely because his just-a-mustache reminds me of my perenniel crush on Howard Moon. In any case, here he is:

Shine on, you crazy, chain-smoking Slavic bastard.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday #12

Greetings, my sixy beasts! This past week I finished the initial draft of a romance I've been calling Meet Your Match (that book about the matchmaker who inherits her estranged father's shady boxing gym), and also ruminating about its untitled sequel. The new work-in-progress is currently little more than a file of notes and scene snippets and unfit for public consumption, so here are six sentences from Meet Your Match, with the first mention of its sequel's hero, mixed martial arts fighter and trainer, Rich:

Another man approached them, about Mercer’s age, dressed to fight in shorts and shoes, fingerless gloves. He had long hair and dark, aristocratic features, a Spanish prince with an aquiline nose and a raging black eye.

“Jenna, this is Rich Estrada, Rich, this is Jenna Wilinski.”

Rich smiled—an easy, deadly, sigh-inducing smile, and took her hand in his gloved one. His smooth, foreign airs evaporated the second he opened his mouth, his accent pure Boston sandpaper, even worse than Mercer’s. “You must take after your mom—your dad was a fugly son of a bitch, God rest his soul.”

Thanks for swinging by, everyone! Now head here to check out all the other Six Sentence Sunday excerpts this week.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Recipe: Sweet Potato Muffins

I got the basis for this recipe from Heavens Harvest Farm, the group we get our weekly farm share from. And thank goodness—we've got more sweet potatoes than I know what to do with! Here's my adapted recipe; these taste very much like pumpkin muffins, and the whole wheat flour makes them hearty, but not overly heavy. Makes 12 muffins.

You'll need:
1 large sweet potato
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ stick butter, melted
2 eggs
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup honey
6 oz. container vanilla yogurt

And for the crumbly topping:
⅓ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup rolled oats
1 tsp. cinnamon

1. Peel and cube the sweet potato. Boil it for 20–30 minutes, or until it's soft enough to mash. Drain water and mash away! Go ahead and melt the butter in the same pan, as you mash, if you like. I did.

2. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease or line 12 muffin tin cups.

3. Stir together flour, baking soda, salt, the first instance of cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice in a large mixing bowl.

4. To the dry ingredients, add the mashed sweet potato, melted butter (if you didn't add / melt it while mashing the sweet potato), eggs, vanilla, honey, and yogurt. Stir.

5. Dole batter into muffin tins.

6. Prepare topping by stirring together the oats, brown sugar, and second instance of cinnamon. With a spoon, sprinkle it on top of the batter.

7. Bake until muffins have risen and browned, and until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (15–20 minutes).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Very Thrusty Tribute to the NHL

This week's Thrusty Thursday post was a joint effort—conceived and curated by my pal Ridley, and executed by yours truly. She's an avid hockey fan. And I am, as it turns out, an avid fan of looking at hockey players. So we present…

The Top Five Most Thrustable Men in the NHL

Number five, Joe Vitale. Self-explanatory. Foxy enough that you can forgive all the cumbersome, camouflaging padding.

Number four, Ryan Kesler. Image search him and you'll see he's got a sort of endearing, dorky John Krasinski thing going on, then bam! Some sexy pic pops up. Exhibit Unh, see below. And since I strive to keep this blog somewhat safe for work, I'll include this photo as a link only.

Number three, Patrick Sharp. Huh. So blue eyes can be broody. Who knew?

Number two, Andrew Ference. I mean, come on. And yeah, sure, doesn't hurt that he plays for Boston. I wanted to make him number one, but I just couldn't in good conscience oust a superior candidate (you'll see), but I did make him a mantage, as a consolation…

And…number one, Henrik Lundqvist. When Ridley very charitably brought Lundy to my attention, I said, "He could model as a billionaire tycoon on a Presents cover… Upon which I shall be posing as his overwrought virgin mistress." But seriously. He's a goalie. When exactly has this guy's face ever gotten smacked with a puck? Also, how on earth is he almost three years younger than me? We need to isolate the olden-days-style Real Man bone structure gene in Lundqvist and Gandy. Stat. For the future of manhood.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Montage from Rocky IV

What a stand-up manfriend I have, to send me the training montage from Rocky IV! And it's not even our anniversary! This clip has it all, everything but meat-punching (see Rocky I). Saw that wood! Pull that sled! Chop that tree! Grow that beard!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday #11

Got some cool and completely unexpected news this week that my first Blaze, Caught on Camera, was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award for best series romance debut. So to celebrate, I'll let it take over Six Sunday. Here's the basic premise—Ty is a television survival show host (think Man vs. Wild or Survivorman) and Kate is his personal assistant, best friend, handler, pretty much everything but lover. As the book starts, they're busy taping a show in snowy Saskatchewan…

She rounded the bend at the edge of the woods and discovered why Ty wasn’t shouting back—sitting splay-legged on a fallen tree, he had one of the other cameras perched on his broad shoulder, its lens trained on Kate, red light blinking. As she neared she heard him narrating for his own amusement, a raised whisper in the Australian accent that earned them at least a quarter of their ratings.

“… the natural habitat of the Kate Somersby. We can see from her stance that this approach is one of postured aggression, though the look in the female’s eye suggests that mating may be on her mind. Let’s wait and see what she’s after.” Ty abandoned the voice-over as Kate pushed her boot against the front of his vest, toppling him harmlessly backward into the wet snow.

Thanks for swinging by, everyone! Now head here to check out all the other Six Sentence Sunday excerpts this week.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Om nom nomination!

Well, the official list of nominees is out, so I can quit being such a cagey pessimist—looks like I'm up for a Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award, for best series romance debut! Pretty cool. I was nominated for my first Blaze, Caught on Camera, which came out last April. I'll be sure to celebrate by excerpting it for Six Sentence Sunday this weekend.

Thanks to everyone who tweeted warm congrats this week…especially my NEC-RWA chaptermate and fellow Harlequin author Barbara Wallace, who told me I must be on the list, before she'd even seen said list. Your faith humbles me, Barb! Congratulations on your own nomination, for Best Harlequin Romance!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thrusty Thursday: Paul Rudd

No intro—straight into the man-tage. BAM!

Also, did all my fellow beard-lusty working-class-man-coveting she-perverts know Paul Rudd is in a movie called Diggers, in which he digs clams and otherwise spends the whole movie wearing a knit cap and henley while smoking and talks in a Long Island accent all set in the scrappy mid-seventies?! If only it were on Instant Watcher, I'd be enjoying it now, instead of putting this silly post together. I mean, DAMN. It's like I wrote and directed my own ideal p0rno.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Oh snap, it's November! How'd that happen? Who cares—I finally get my town back, now that Salem's two-month version of Halloween is finally over.

To say I've been dreading this month of Discipline Year would be too dramatic, but I will admit I'm not excited about it. November means no alcohol, which means no relaxing with a glass of wine or a bottle of beer once the workday is done, which I do most evenings while making dinner or catching up with one of my many beloved, crappy TV shows… When does the next Bachelor start? That train wreck goes down so much smoother with a large glass of red.

I picked November for my prohibition because a) Thanksgiving will make it more of a challenge, b) it's thirty days, like rehab, and c) I liked the sound of "Novembooze".

I have to spend this afternoon in the city, which is fortunate, as it'll upend my schedule and hence my daily habits, so hopefully I won't be missing my glass-of-something come five or six, when I start getting dinner put together. Losing the comfort of the habits—wine, sugar, coffee, watching TV—is the hard part. Getting used to a little crutch being gone sucks, but it only sucks for a few days, until you've replaced it with something else. I have a lot of Angry Birds levels to catch up on… Maybe I'll swap a drink for that. Ah, mindless vices.

There is one possible exceptional circumstance built in to this month's mandate, however. On the off-chance I get word that Blaze wants my latest proposal, I will let myself have champagne. But it's far more likely I'd get a revision request first. So an official acceptance, should I get one, likely won't happen this month. And even if it did, maybe I'll be good and celebrate with something else. Cheez Doodles, perhaps. Because I keep it classy.

Anyhow, expect fewer random tweets between five and seven p.m. from me and my evil twin this month.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Recipe: Halloween Soup

I'm calling it that because this soup is orange to the power of three. Buttercup squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes. It's also freakishly healthy and hearty and full of fiber, with no added sugar (basically the opposite of that other standard Halloween fare—candy). I tried a new-to-me method of preparing the squash, since buttercups (they look like knobbly, smallish, dark green pumpkins) aren't built for peeling and cubing. Baking them takes longer and creates more dirty dishes, but the result makes it so worth it.

Hot damn, just look at that color! For NOM!
You'll need:

1 buttercup squash
2 large sweet potatoes (or 3 medium ones)
¼ stick butter
3 large carrots
5 cloves garlic
1 large onion
¼ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
lots of ground black pepper
lots of cumin or curry powder
1 qt. water
lots of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350° and lightly grease the bottom of a casserole dish.

2. Cut the squash into quarters with a cleaver or similarly big, dangerous knife. I found this physically challenging, so be careful, go slow, and don't slice a finger off. Scoop out the seeds and arrange the squash in the dish, skin-down.

3. Cut the sweet potatoes into ½-inch thick rounds and arrange those with the squash. Bake for about an hour, or until the squash and sweet potatoes are tender when poked with a fork.

4. While that's baking, melt the butter in the stew pot. Cut the carrots into strips or fairly thin medallions. Peel and chop the garlic. Chop the onion. Add all that to the butter, turning at medium-high heat until the onions are soft and clear (a couple minutes).

5. Switch the veggies to low heat and add the cinnamon, ground peppers, and cumin. Stir, then cover the pot and let simmer until the carrots are soft (20 minutes or more), stirring occasionally.

6. Once the squash and sweet potatoes are soft, remove them from the oven and let them cool for a half hour or so, until you can touch them without burning yourself. Allegedly, you can now peel the skin away from the squash, but I found this difficult, as the skin flaked off in uselessly small, messy bits. Instead, I used a large metal spoon to scoop and scrape the squash flesh from the skin. Dump that in the pot with the carrots et al. You can peel the skins from the sweet potatoes as well, but I left them on, for texture and nutrients. Add those to the pot as well.

7. Now that all the formerly hard ingredients are soft, bust out your blender. Combine the ingredients with the water in the blender and purée in however many batches it takes. Once it's all blended, dump it all back in the stew pot and stir it up.

8. Heat the soup (it sputters, so baby-sit it) and add salt to taste. Freezes well…not that you'll have any leftovers. It's crazy-tasty.

Enjoy! And happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday #10

Greetings again, my sixy beasties! And happy All Hallows Eve's Eve to you all. We take Halloween wicked serious here in Salem, Massachusetts (aka Spookytown, USA) so I was thinking I ought to source a Halloween-themed six this week. Well, it turns out I've only written a single story thus far that references the holiday (don't give me that look, Ruthie Knox—the weird-ass WIP doesn't count yet), so you're stuck with this little excerpt from my 2010 Golden Heart finalist book (since published by Samhain) The Reluctant Nude:

Oh hai, Romain Duris! That's a very convincing
glare, but you're still in a tight race with 
Max when the book is inevitably [cough
cough, delusional] made into a motion picture.
Sex—sex sex sex.

That was all Fallon could focus on or remember in the following two weeks. Somewhere in her periphery a statue was taking shape, meals were being cooked and eaten, a yellow and black scarf was growing longer and longer between her fingers. Sun was shining or wind was howling or the moon was rising or falling. Beach grass and birch trees were changing color, she suspected, but the only thing she was aware of was Max: sitting beside her, standing across the studio from her, lying beneath her back in a bathtub by the fire, buried deep inside her body in his bed once the sun went down.

Addict, she thought to herself accusingly, watching him from across a display of pumpkins in the co-op market one afternoon, three days before Halloween…

Thanks for swinging by, ghouls and boys! Now head here to check out all the other Six Sentence Sunday excerpts this week. Happy Halloween!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Recipe: Make Your Own Croutons

Oh yeah, haute cuisine, I has it.

This all started because our new prospective roofer gave us a free loaf of bread. I scratched my head too, but apparently one of his clients works at a bakery, but the roofer doesn't eat white bread, so would we like it? Uh, sure. We don't eat white bread, either, but there we were suddenly with a loaf of it. What to do? Hey, we've got all these salad greens to eat—let's make croutons! It's really easy, and I didn't even do it quite right.

Here's what you do:

1. Procure a loaf of yeast bread. Any kind, practically—white, wheat, baguette, rolls, whatever.

2. Cut it into cubes, whatever size you prefer your croutons.

3. If it's not already stale and crusty, spread the cubes on a baking sheet and put them in a 300° oven for a few minutes, until they're dried out. The drier they are, the crunchier your croutons will be. I left mine with a bit of spring in them—I like just a bit of give in my croutons.

4. Lightly and evenly coat a frying pan or skillet with oil or butter. I suspect the best way to do this would be to use a big stove-top skillet and an olive oil mister, but I managed just fine with a wok and bottle. Turn the heat to medium-high.

5. Once the oil is heated (but not spitting) spread the bread cubes on it. Evenly sprinkle on your preferred seasonings—salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, anything really. Once the bottom sides are browned, flip the croutons over with a spatula, brown some more, and generally shuffle them around to distribute the seasoning and prevent burning. (You can also add the seasoning later, by putting the cooked croutons in a bag or Tupperware with the seasonings and shaking them—it's not rocket science.) The bread will brown quickly and likes to smoke, so do keep an eye on your pan or skillet.

6. Remove from the heat and let them cool completely, so you don't trap any excess moisture in the bag or container you store them in, which would wreck the crunch-factor.

And that's it! You may be surprised how much better homemade croutons are than store-bought ones. Definitely worth the minimal effort.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thrusty Thursday: the 2011 All Blacks

In case you missed the memo, I love two things above just about all else: New Zealand, and sweaty, bruised men. So imagine how my heart and loins collided when the All Blacks made it to the 2011 Rugby World Cup final! During the last World Cup in 2007, I nearly wept in the bar when France beat New Zealand in the quarter final. Well, this past Sunday, the All Blacks got their revenge and beat France (in a nail-bitingly, heart-attack-inducingly close, low-scoring game) to take the cup home. [Could it be because France didn't have their gigantic, semi-feral caveman, Sébastien Chabal this year?] Though they didn't have to take it far, since Auckland was hosting. Bonus.

Nice knee bruises, Kieran Read. May I ice those for you?

Now if you're a lady-pervert like me and you've never watched rugby, you are cheating yourself. No sports enthusiasm or rule-appreciation required. Short-shorts, basically no padding, brutish acts of manfulness just like, constantly. Unh. Anyhow, here's some more Kiwi thrust-fodder:

Oh and look, a shot of foxy flanker Kieran Read signing a young fan's jersey. How'd that get in there?