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.