Saturday, May 30, 2015

Penny pinching #2


Growing your own flavour (ie herbs)

For those who missed last week, I’m giving a couple of tips on how to be a penny pincher.  If you can save yourself $5 a week, then that’s $5 you can spend on another book.  OMG – bliss!

So this week I want to talk about herbs.

(By the way, in Australia, we pronounce this word with a strong H sound, like “horse” or “hope”.  We laugh when we hear Americans talk about their ‘erbs.)

My husband is often heard to say, “It’s only a dollar.  What does it matter?”  See, if this happens five times a day for him, and five times a day for me – that’s ten dollars a day.  $3,650 a year.  So turning off that light as you leave the room, or growing your own spring onions (see last week’s blog) can add up dramatically.

So what herbs work, and what herbs don’t?  What herbs are useful, and what herbs aren’t?  Personal choice, my dear, personal choice.  For me I grow:
Rosemary
Thyme
Oregano
Parsley
Coriander
Basil
Lemon Grass
Mint
Garlic Chives

They give me the best flavours for my cooking.  So have a look at what you cook when making your selection of herbs to grow.  I find lemon grass gives a very strong flavour to my cooking, and the kids complain, so I usually only use this herb to make tea (which is actually an infusion, not a tea). Parsley is used in a lot of my cooking, but the basil I only use for pesto.  It’s all personal choice.

Today I spent 30 minutes collecting coriander seeds from dried stalks of my previous coriander plant.  I've replanted some of the seeds, but the rest I'm going to put in small bags and give to the church to sell for 50c per bag at their next fete.  I'm stretching the penny pinching around.  

Now, this is the part that is the penny pinching: growing herbs in your garden will mean you don’t have to buy dried herbs at the shop.  In fact, you probably won’t need to buy ANY flavours.

Garlic chives give me the taste of garlic, so I don’t buy garlic anymore.  It looks like baby spring
onions and you just cut them off at the base of the plant, then chop it up and sprinkle over or in whatever you want.

Parsley is pretty universal for flavour, but also does great in juices if you make your own carrot juice, kale juice or similar.

Mint is wonderful for salad flavouring, but also good to put in boiling water for an infusion to help an upset tummy.

Fresh oregano and thyme are wonderful additions to stew or pasta sauce.  Crush the leaves up and put them on your homemade pizza.

Basil provides me with pesto, so I don’t have to buy that either.  I use a whizz-stick and an add-on to make my pesto. 

But the best thing about herbs, is that you “cut and go.”  With a vegetable like a potato, you need to dig it up in order to use it.  You’ve destroyed the plant.  With herbs, you cut off what you need, and leave the rest of the plant. 

Herbs can be used fresh or dried.  And because the herb is a plant, it should survive the whole year so you have fresh always.

And when the plant gets too big, I cut it back and dry the herbs in my dehydrator.  Sure, you can hang them up to dry them – but I find this messy and I often lose my product.  Instead I place branches of rosemary, oregano, thyme and parsley in the dehydrator and within a day or two, I have dried herbs.  They can be sprinkled in stews, soups, roasts, stir-fries, anything.  And they keep for years in an air-tight container. 

Why not consider drying huge amounts of your rosemary bush and offering them as gifts?  Put them in a decorative jar and you have a thoughtful and useful present.

Don’t be afraid to try it.  Do you know those expensive flavour sachets you get for $3 in the shop – they’re just herbs, salt and sometimes a bit of powdered stock.  Don’t buy it – make it yourself.

Herbs are often so, so easy to obtain too.  Don’t waste your money going and buying at the local plant nursery.  My last resort is to check out school fetes and church sales – green fingers often sell things there.  But if you find someone with a herb plant, ask them for some.

Rosemary will grow from cuttings.  Clip off about three inches of the top of a nice branch with new growth on it, and stick it in some soil.

You will find that oregano and mint sends out branches that grow roots if they touch the ground.  Have a look around the outside of your friend’s plant, cut the rooted branch from the main plant, and dig up your new plant.

Lemongrass can easily be propagated by pulling off a stalk of the main plant, and simply popping it in soil.

Chives clump together.  Find a friend with chives and dig out some of the chives around the outside.

AND IF YOUR WONDERFUL NEW PLANT goes to seed??  Don’t despair.  Let it seed.  Nurture it.  Sometimes they grow back after seeding – and sometimes the most wonderful thing happens.  Have a look around a month later – and you will find babies… 


How to contact Renae:
Twitter:  @renaekkaye
Instagram:  renaekayeauthor





Thursday, May 28, 2015

It's my first post!


I'm really excited to be a part of Cafe Risque. Since this is my first post here, I figured I'd just tell you guys a little bit about me.

I'm Riley Hart :) I write gay romance and love every second of it. I'm a romantic at heart, and adore every part of writing about men falling in love. My first love will always be contemporary romance. So far, that's all I've written. That's not to say there won't be something a little different in the future... time will tell!

So far I've released the Blackcreek series: COLLIDE, STAY and PRETEND. The Broken Pieces series: BROKEN PIECES, FULL CIRCLE, and LOSING CONTROL, and the first book in my Rock Solid Construction series: ROCK SOLID.

I can't wait to continue blogging here. And next week, I'll have something a little more exciting to talk to you about other than myself :).


I'll leave with eye candy, and you can tell me--what does your perfect man look like? For me he's taller than I am, with dark hair, nice hands and forearms, and a killer smile.

I LOVE these hands and forearms.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Books, Books, and More Books


Sometimes a story sticks with you long after the reading or writing process is finished.  As many of you know, I write a lot of stories.  I really wish I knew where they came from so I could bottle the process and sell it to every writer I know.  The closest I can come to an answer is that there's a well inside me that for decades I didn't know was there until I tapped into it.  And now I hope it never runs dry.  Anyway, I spend a lot of time with my stories, but generally when one is done, another is pressing into my mind and I have to let go.  However, there are characters who never seem to want to let go.  Geoff and Eli never did, Bobby, Sam, and Sean are still there, happy and content.  Now I have to ass Carter, Donald, and Alex to that list. 

After finishing Fire and Ice, I went on to other projects as I usually do, but those three kept winding their way back into my thoughts.  They don't have another story to tell, at least not right now.  They tell me that they're happy for now, but are starting to point me toward a friend of theirs.  He doesn't have a name yet, but I know he needs help and its my job to find him a hero.  So soon I'll be starting work on the follow up to Fire and Ice because these three, when they start to chatter, become very insistent.    Now if they'd only be quiet long enough for me to finish my current manuscript I'd be thrilled.



Carter Schunk is a dedicated police officer with a difficult past and a big heart. When he’s called to a domestic disturbance, he finds a fatally injured woman, and a child, Alex, who is in desperate need of care. Child Services is called, and the last man on earth Carter wants to see walks through the door. Carter had a fling with Donald a year ago and found him as cold as ice since it ended.

Donald (Ice) Ickle has had a hard life he shares with no one, and he’s closed his heart to all. It’s partly to keep himself from getting hurt and partly the way he deals with a job he’s good at, because he does what needs to be done without getting emotionally involved. When he meets Carter again, he maintains his usual distance, but Carter gets under his skin, and against his better judgment, Donald lets Carter guilt him into taking Alex when there isn’t other foster care available. Carter even offers to help care for the boy.

Donald has a past he doesn’t want to discuss with anyone, least of all Carter, who has his own past he’d just as soon keep to himself. But it’s Alex’s secrets that could either pull them together or rip them apart—secrets the boy isn’t able to tell them and yet could be the key to happiness for all of them.
 
 
 
Also while I have your attention:  Fire and Water is currently on sale for $1.00 at both Dreamspinner and Amazon.  So be sure to take advantage and while the sale lasts.
 
 

Dreamspinner Press:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5803

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Fire-Water-Carlisle-Cops-Book-ebook/dp/B00QNVNUWA/ref=pd_sim_351_27?ie=UTF8&refRID=0Q1Y8NVRVEW4HDWF9R1N

  
 
 
Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.
Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Email him at:  andrewgrey@comcast.net

His web site is:  www.andrewgreybooks.com

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/andrewgreybooks

Twitter:  @andrewgreybooks


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Back From RT


<sean> boooo
<BA> booo
<sean> heeee
<BA> I'm HOME!
<BA> home home home
<sean> YAY
<BA> Poor Texas, though. The storm damage is awful.
<BA> it's crazy
<sean> :(
<sean> mother nature is being nasty
<BA> but we managed to make it to New Mexico after forever away
<sean> yeah, you were gone a long time
<BA> nods
<BA> we had a blast, though.
<BA> we RTed and we Austin Author Affair'd
<BA> and we took Andrew to Daddy's
<sean> how did that go?
<BA> good
<sean> cool
<BA> I think Andrew had fun
<BA> Daddy talked to him about ranching and cattle
<sean> neat
<sean> your daddy is awesome
<BA> Andrew learned about singing loud with my whole family
<sean> heeee
<BA> you should have seen him. He was totally playing along.
<BA> I was proud
<sean> heeee
<sean> good for him
<BA> the book signings all went well
<BA> the weather sucked
<BA> I met ALL THE PEOPLE
<BA> the hotels were basically good
<BA> normal stuff
<BA> ;-)
<sean> nods
<BA> what did you do?
<sean> ran about 8000 errands
<sean> it was exhausting
<sean> ;)
<BA> only 8000?
<BA> impressive!
<sean> heeee
<BA> *grins*
<sean> I'm just used to staying at home so zipping out several times a day seems excessive
<BA> I know you just missed me to death
<BA> nods
<BA> I hear that
<sean> I so did
<BA> we have our errands to once or twice a week
<BA> tops
<sean> nods
<sean> I usually do as well
<BA> did I tell you about the walk today?
<sean> do tell
<BA> there were BUNNIES
<BA> 4
<sean> wow
<sean> the dogs must have loved that
<BA> first bunny one, we'll call him Rick, ran down the street.
<BA> Warning bunnies 2 and 3
<sean> heeee
<BA> (Mabel and Jezebel)
<sean> cackles
<BA> Mabel went left
<BA> Jezebel went right
<BA> Rick continued down the road and picked up Bob
<BA> did I mention that I had on my clogs
<sean> oh lord
<BA> and that bassets are hunting dogs?
<sean> did you have both dogs?
<BA> I did
<BA> together
<sean> yikes
<BA> yeah
<BA> it was... an adventure
<sean> I bet
<sean> I guess the bunnies have been fornicating like bunnies
<sean> so you've got a lot of them
<sean> and then this was the first walk the doggies have had since you left, too, eh?
<BA> nods
<BA> yes
<BA> so OMG JESUS CHRIST THE RUNNING
<sean> Yeah, I bet
<BA> Sonny is exhausted
<sean> chuckles
<sean> sleeping hard now, eh?
<BA> yes
<BA> and the thing is
<BA> I told them this morning that we would go, right?
<BA> this afternoon, I said
<BA> I promise, I said
<BA> dinnertime rolls around
<BA> and BARK BARK OMGMOMMAYOUPROMISEDWEHAVESADEYES
<BA> and what do I get?
<sean> lololol
<BA> Rick, Jezebel, Mabel, and Bob
<BA> @.@
<sean> heeee
<sean> you survived it, though
<BA> it was a close thing
<BA> next time?
<BA> Tennis shoes
<sean> nods
 * BA leans
<BA> lord have mercy
<BA> so I have to tell you, going back to Austin was surprisingly emotional
<BA> I didn't expect it to be at all
<BA> but I was a bit of a wreck
<sean> awww
<sean> lots and lots of memories, eh?
<BA> I mean, I'd had this great experience up to getting to Austin, right?
<BA> I saw my mom
<BA> I saw ALL THE PEOPLE
<sean> nods
<BA> Daddy is doing *so* well
<sean> that's awesome
<BA> and I saw my baby sister and her girls
<BA> it was great
<BA> and then I got to Austin and totally lost my shit
<BA> I guess I never really processed all that, you know?
<sean> nods
<BA> and the Author Affair was a blast
<BA> met all sorts of new people
<sean> much smaller than RT. eh?
<sean> kind of opposite ends of the spectrum?
<BA> and loved on old friends and sisters
<BA> smaller, but fun
<BA> there was a lot more time for visiting
<BA> and I have to say, those people bought books
<BA> I sold out of my YA novel
<sean> that's great
<BA> I had like 3 books to ship home
<BA> and Julia kicked ass
<sean> very cool
<BA> so, it was a good little meet up
<sean> cool
<sean> I have signed up for Coastal Magic in February
<BA> EXCITING!
<BA> We're going to have So Much Fun
<sean> nods
<sean> that's the plan
<BA> *grins*
<BA> I've wanted to go to Coastal Magic since the beginning
<sean> cool
<BA> we've decided to fly through Houston
<BA> not
<BA> Dallas
<sean> I haven't even thought about flights yet
<BA> now I have to convince you to come to RT in Vegas
<BA> oh, the only reason we have
<sean> I need to get my thanksgiving travel taken care of first
<BA> is because that's what happened to us
<BA> we got iced out of Dallas
<BA> on our way
<sean> ah
<BA> THANKSGIVING!!!
<BA> *ahem*
<sean> yes
<sean> is it too early to anticipate?
<BA> it'll be here before we know it
<sean> nods
<sean> yeah
<sean> I was just musing how it can't possibly be June next week already
<BA> no shit
<sean> what happened to the first 5 weeks?
<sean> months
<BA> and we still haven't opened our windows
<BA> *snorts* weeks
<sean> yeah
<BA> okay, love
<BA> I need a snack
<BA> and a drink
<sean> food!
<BA> nods
<BA> I love you
<BA> and I will bring Julia with me next week
<sean> love you
<sean> good :)
<BA> nods
<sean> night!
<BA> night honey!



If you have a topic you’d like us to chat about (or any other favorite things you'd like us to share), please let us know. We’re totally up for that.

You can find us on Twitter at @seanmichael09, @juliatalbot and @batortuga.


Facebook:

Sean
smut fixes everything

Monday, May 25, 2015

The MM Memorial Day Scavenger Hunt Stops at Cardeno C.'s




Welcome to the first annual MM Memorial Day Scavenger Hunt! 10 Days, 30 Blogs, and loads of prizes! The rules are simple: At each stop on the tour you'll find a military themed picture with a word or words. Collect the words and figure out the secret phrase (HINT: It's lyrics to a song). Once you think you have the correct phrase, enter it into the Rafflecopter at any of the stops. One grand prize winner will be selected from all the correct phrases. Use the other Rafflecopter options to enter to win one of the runner-up packages. Good Luck and Happy Hunting!




Our stop's phrase is: Know  

Grand Prize ($45 GC total) -Kindle Paperwhite (VWF) -Swag (VWF) -$25 GC (Jessie G) -$20 GC (Sara York) -2 ebooks (Jessie G & BFD) -Bad Boyfriends series ebooks & print (3 books) from Nya Rawlins 1st Place ($35 GC total) -$25 GC (Nya Rawlins) -$10 GC (Sloan Johnson) -CTR & backlist ebooks from Kade Boehme -Unicorns & Hidden Gem ebooks from Lissa Kasey -Winner's ebook of choice from MMGoodbookreviews -Adventures of Cole & Perry ebook from Amanda C. Stone 2nd Place ($30 GC total) -$20 GC (Aria Grace) -$10 ARE GC (Prism Book Alliance) -Love at First Site ebook from Cardeno C. -Trouble Comes in Threes ebook from M.A. Church -Winner's choice of Felice Stevens ebook 3rd Place ($20 GC total) -$10 Amazon GC (READing is FUN Da Mental) -$10 GC (Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy) -backlist ebook from Annabeth Albert -Winner's choice of Aria Grace ebook -Winner's choice of Andrew Grey ebook 4th Place ($20 GC total) -$10 GC (Felice Stevens) -$10 Amazon GC (Amy Lane) -Undercover Love series ebooks (2 books) from Brendan Cothern -Winner's choice of Susan MacNicol ebook -Winner's choice of Lexi Ander ebook 5th Place ($20 GC total) -$10 Amazon GC (BFD) -$10 GC (Lexi Ander) -Winner's choice of Kindle Alexander ebook -Winner's choice of Susan MacNicol ebook -Winner's choice of backlist ebook from Cate Ashwood   a Rafflecopter giveaway Participating Blogs/Authors:
 
May 25
May 26
May 27
May 28
May 29
May 30
May 31
June 1
June 2
June 3

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Penny Pinching


My parents were penny pinchers.  With nine children to raise, they had to be. 

Saving money, often saves our planet
My dad never paid anyone to do any sort of repairs – he did it all himself.  He made all his own fences and buildings, did his own plumbing, and saved every single nut, bolt, scrap of wood that could possibly be used for anything.  My mother grew her own veggies, cooked most meals from scratch, never threw out clothing that could be altered/reused for another child, and never spent a dollar when fifty cents could do it.

Some people do it because they have to, others because it seems natural.

I think I come into the second category.  Of course I was raised by two people who believed in saving everything they could, but I like penny pinching because (a) it means I don’t unnecessarily throw out items that can still be used (we live in an increasingly disposable world) and, (b) it means I have more money to spend on the good things in life.

Like books.

So – I suddenly had this thought; that if I gave readers some penny pinching ideas, then they would have more money to buy books too!  Yay!  And hopefully buy my books?

(It made sense in my mind when I wrote this blog).

So the first thing I have to say about penny pinching, is for God’s sake – and the sake of our Earth – try growing your own food.  Now, if you’re still reading past that line and are still with me, I have to tell you it’s NOT THAT HARD.  If you wished to grow ALL of your own food, then it’s hard.  But supplementing your diet with your own produce?  Easy.

You don’t even need a backyard.

If you’re still with me, I will tell you the penny pincher’s way of doing things – and it won’t cost a cent.

Any plastic container can become a pot
1.  Grab a container. 
If you’re worried about how it looks, you can buy a pot from the shop.  Or look at rubbish bins – people throw pots out all the time.  Ask a friend or neighbour.  They always have pots.  And if you’re still looking, use an icecream container or yoghurt container.  Poke a couple of holes in the bottom for drainage, put the lid of the container underneath for the saucer, and voila!
For those lucky people who have a backyard, find a nice sunny spot – between two rose bushes or hedges, whatever.  Just a spot.  I grow veggies between all sorts of other plants.  If your soil is poor, dig a hole and fill it with potting mix before planting.  If your soil is iced or waterlogged, try a pot instead.

2.  Fill your container with soil.
I would recommend paying $4 at the nursery section of your local department store for a large bag of soil.  (There are lots of things you can grow in pots.  Buy a big bag and save it for the next blog). The more money you pay for the soil, the better it is and the better your crop will grow.  But if you’re on the bare bones of your bum, then you need to get creative.  Beg a friend for a scoop of soil out of their garden.  Steal a scoop from your local park – as long as you do something in return such as pick up some rubbish.  It really doesn’t take that much to fill a 1kg tub of yoghurt.

Choose a bunch with roots still on
3.  Next time you’re shopping, buy a bunch of spring onions.
Spring onions are PERFECT for penny pinching.  They come from the shop with their roots still on!  Make your meal, or whatever you were planning to make, but save the ends of the spring onions.  Just the roots and about half an inch of the white bit.  And you only need about 7-8 spring onions.

4.  Plant your ends in the soil.
Spread them out nicely, cover the roots but leave the white tip showing.

5.  Water your plants and place them in the sun.
They will grow on a sunny windowsill if you live in an apartment or if it’s icy and snowing where you live.  Otherwise, chuck them outside in a sunny spot.  Water them when they need it – daily if it’s summer, every couple of days if it’s winter.

Spring onion regrowing
6.  Now the fascinating bit.  THEY WILL GROW. 
And in three weeks’ time, when you need some onion in your stir-fry, take a pair of scissors, and CUT THE ONION OFF AT THE BASE, leaving some white bit in the soil. 

AND IT WILL GROW BACK.  AGAIN.  AND AGAIN.

How come people don’t know this?  You don’t pull up your spring onions.  You leave them and clip them off.  They just keep growing and growing.  You will never need to buy an onion again.  My family uses onions in about 4-5 meals per week.  So if you’re paying $0.25 per bulb, that could be a $1 saving per week.  That’s one extra ebook you could buy a month!  And you’ve saved the planet by not buying onions at the supermarket where they need to be transported from the farm, which uses fuel.

Celery growing from base
After your remarkable success with the onions, the next thing to try is celery.  It is exactly the same.  Buy a whole bunch of celery, cut off the base, and plant it in the soil.  The leaves will start sprouting within a week, and you will have celery growing in your pot.  Gently break off, or cut off, the leaves and stalks when you need them.

You will find that because the leaves are fresh and tender, they are delicious.  Use the stalk, leaves and all in stews, soup, stir-fries, salads, anything.  Never buy celery again. 

Bonus tip:  Don’t worry about fertiliser.  Dig a hole in some dark, leaf laden corner of your garden or the local park and find an earthworm.  Chuck it in your pot.  He’ll work and fertilise your soil.


Next week – growing flavour.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hot and Cold - Fire and Ice


The second story in the Carlisle Cops series, the follow up to Fire and Water, releases on Monday May 25, and I wanted to give you a sneak peek into this story.  I got the inspiration for Fire and Ice from a local news story.  It moved me and made me angry enough that the story poured out of me.    I'm a pantser and sometimes the stories I write can be a surprise to me, especially when they take a turn I wasn't expecting.  This story did that for me and I'm so glad it did.  I really hope you enjoy it. 

 
 
Carter Schunk is a dedicated police officer with a difficult past and a big heart. When he’s called to a domestic disturbance, he finds a fatally injured woman, and a child, Alex, who is in desperate need of care. Child Services is called, and the last man on earth Carter wants to see walks through the door. Carter had a fling with Donald a year ago and found him as cold as ice since it ended.

Donald (Ice) Ickle has had a hard life he shares with no one, and he’s closed his heart to all. It’s partly to keep himself from getting hurt and partly the way he deals with a job he’s good at, because he does what needs to be done without getting emotionally involved. When he meets Carter again, he maintains his usual distance, but Carter gets under his skin, and against his better judgment, Donald lets Carter guilt him into taking Alex when there isn’t other foster care available. Carter even offers to help care for the boy.

Donald has a past he doesn’t want to discuss with anyone, least of all Carter, who has his own past he’d just as soon keep to himself. But it’s Alex’s secrets that could either pull them together or rip them apart—secrets the boy isn’t able to tell them and yet could be the key to happiness for all of them.
 
 
 
Excerpt:
 


Carter stifled a groan and responded. Domestic calls were the worst. Half the time it was nothing, like neighbors calling in because the people in the next unit were yelling too loudly. Most of the rest were people in need of help, but often they refused to press charges. Those were the most frustrating for everyone on the force. Carter pushed that from his mind, going as fast as he dared, reaching the house within minutes.

There was little doubt what had prompted the call. As soon as he opened his car door, high-pitched screaming rattled his spine. It seemed to be coming from inside the open-windowed row house. Carter called for backup and sprang into action. It sounded as though someone was being injured. Sirens blared in the distance and patrol cars arrived, blocking the street. Carter explained what he’d heard and the screaming began again, this time louder and more frantic. Officers spread out, and Carter headed to the front door. “Police,” he yelled and tried the knob. The door opened, and he rushed inside, weapon at the ready.

Carter heard other officers enter from the back. He quickly cleared the front rooms and the others the back. The house was quiet now, and Carter motioned toward the stairs.

“Get out of my house!” a man yelled as he barreled down the stairs, red-faced, eyes glazed over in rage.

“Down on the floor now!” Carter yelled forcefully and pointed his weapon at him, finger on the trigger. The man reached the bottom of the stairs, and Carter wasn’t sure he was going to stop. His finger began to move against the trigger. His training kicked in. “Get down!” he yelled again, and the man stopped and dropped to his knees. Carter inhaled and released his finger from the trigger, but stayed alert. There was at least one more person in the house—this guy wasn’t the person he’d heard screaming.

One of the other officers cuffed the man as Carter began climbing the stairs. He stayed close to the wall, gun in his hand, ready to defend himself. He reached the top of the stairs and heard crying. The officers behind him spread out, checking the other rooms while Carter moved toward the sound. He pushed open a partially closed door and gasped.



Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.
Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Email him at:  andrewgrey@comcast.net

His web site is:  www.andrewgreybooks.com

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/andrewgreybooks

Twitter:  @andrewgreybooks

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It's All About the Hands


It's convention season. Actually, is it ever not convention season? At the moment, though, BA and Julia are out of town -- they've just wrapped up RT and are hanging out with Andrew Grey and BA's Daddy before doing the Austin Author Affair at the end of the week.

Which leaves me home alone and up to no good! So I shall share a few pictures of the naughty variety with you.

Today, it's all about the hands...









Yum! If I do say so myself.


If you have a topic you’d like us to chat about (or any other favorite things you'd like us to share), please let us know. We’re totally up for that.

You can find us on Twitter at @seanmichael09, @juliatalbot and @batortuga.

Sean’s website is http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com
Julia’s is http://www.juliatalbot.com
BA’s is http://www.batortuga.com

Facebook:
Sean -- https://www.facebook.com/SeanMichaelWrites
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Sean
smut fixes everything

Monday, May 18, 2015

Team Effort by Cardeno C.


Happy Monday! The other day in the shower, which is where I do my best thinking, I was thinking about how actual writing is only one part of this whole writing gig and the writer is only one member of the team. There are also other people, wonderful people who help get books made or sold. I'm endlessly grateful for the people who are part of my writing team and I thought it'd be fun to tell you a little about them by way of their favorite drinks (because I like drinks). So with that introduction, and in no particular order, some of the people who help make my books a reality are:

  • Kelly Shorten, website guru, book formater, and cover artist. Kelly has been by my side since before my first book was published. She created my website, designed some of my book covers (like the Home collection), formats and distributes my books, and holds my hand. As far as favorite drinks, hers is caffeine, preferably in the form of coffee in the morning, Pepsi in the afternoon, and chocolate shakes in the evening.
  • Jae Ashley, super editor extraordinaire. Having someone I trust to work though my books before they're published is key and Jae is that person. Jae's drink of choice is spring water, no additives or flavors and on the rare occasions she indulges in alcohol, she likes to go for a red wine called Annalisa Malvasia - it's bubbly with a sweet fruity flavor (raspberry and strawberry). Nobody tell her she's drinking a wine cooler, okay? She doesn't know.
  • Jay Aheer, amazing cover artist. I met Jay via my Facebook group. I was looking for an artist to design the cover for Blue Mountain and I couldn't imagine anyone better for the job than a reader. That turned out to be a wonderful decision because the cover is stunning and Jay has since designed the cover for my re-release of Perfect Imperfections and is now working on a cover for my next contemporary novel (Strange Bedfellows) as well as covers for the second editions of my Mates and Family books. Jay is an iced ginger tea drinker first and a water drinker second. She's also a fitness nut so she doesn't indulge in alcohol.
  • One of the big struggles in book publishing for me is figuring out how to make sure people know my books exist. Luckily, I have help for that.
    • Ora, social media and marketing partner. Ora is great at working with me on marketing, advertising, and promotion ideas. She's also a wonderful person and dear friend. And on top of that, she has great taste in beverages - black tea with half-and-half. She likes hers hot and I like mine cold, but I say that's close enough to perfect.
    • Michelle Bowman helps me with book tours and in addition to being extremely nice and talented with art design, she's exceptionally well organized. Her spreadsheets totally ring my Type A bell and I appreciate her insight and advice. As far as drinks, Michelle's a southern gal so she loves sweet tea.
    • Christi Kirzner is a generous reader who agreed to help me fill out forms for book reviews and then got roped into managing my Pinterest, which also means reminding me when I forget to write blog posts. And she does this all in the nicest way imaginable and while managing a busy life and the most amazing vacations around. Christi shares my Diet Coke addiction but like me, she's cutting back (I haven't had a Diet Coke in months and I still miss it). As far as alcoholic drinks, Christi likes Midori margaritas.
    • Shirley Frances is another reader and Facebook friend who is also a talented designer. Shirley makes me gorgeous ads and has even created a few book videos for me. Shirley is also part of the Diet Coke crew but she's also drinking Vitamin Water now. That sounds healthy. Maybe I should try it?
  • The next group of people help me with audio books. I'm just starting to dip my toes in this pond, but I hope to be deep enough to swim eventually.
    • Jason Mitchell is a wonderful person, voracious reader, and audio book listener. I trust Jason to listen to samples and auditions and tell me if they're worthy of readers' time and money. Jason's two favorite drinks are apple juice (not from concentrate) and tea. For anyone keeping count, tea's winning here.
    • Greg Tremblay, amazing narrator and delightful person. Greg recorded the audio version of Control and he's currently working on Johnnie. In addition to his skills as a narrator, Greg is a genuinely wonderful human. Greg's favorite drink is a tie between a fresh lime juice margarita and a dry gin martini with a twist (Hendricks if they have it). There was a time in my life I made a decent margarita. If I'm ever lucky enough to spend time with Greg in person, I'll have to brush up on my skills.
    • Sean Crisden, the voice behind Blue Mountain. What is it about narrators and wonderful personalities? Sean is another nice guy with a great voice. He's also another water drinker but he indulges in the occasional Midori sour, which he consumes gleefully with an outstretched pinky.
    • Paul Morey is the voice behind McFarland's Farm. Paul is one of the top narrators in our field and I consider myself lucky to have had him on board for that project.
    • Charlie David is last but not least on the list of narrators. I'm thrilled that he recorded a couple of books in the Mates collection and I hope to be able to work with him on future projects. Charlie's favorite drink is G&T because it was the drink of choice in South Africa while he was on safari. His rangers on that trip taught him the wonderful tradition of the ‘sun-setter’ - stop what you’re doing and honor the setting of the sun with a drink in hand. Much like me, Charlie forgets to press pause on life and simply appreciate the beauty around him and a G&T reminds him to take that time. I need to adopt Charlie's sun-setter idea.
  • One of my goals is to do whatever I can to make my books accessible, and that includes translating them into other languages. Translations are a real challenge because I have no way to know what the ultimate product says and communicating with readers is very difficult. These wonderful translators make that much easier:
    • Barbara Cinelli is an Italian translator and publisher. We bonded years ago when she helped me translate a live Facebook chat with Italian readers. Nothing like a fire drill to bring people together. Barbara is working on translating more of my books into Italian and I'm endlessly grateful to have someone so skilled doing the work. As far as drinks, she's another tea crew member, but she also likes Coke.
    • Stefanie Zurek is a German translator. I've been fortunate to work with Steffi on two books - McFarlands Farm and Blue Mountain - and I hope we'll have a lot more together. Steffi loves ginger ale and cider she says you can only get in Britain and Ireland. I've never had it, but I'm putting it on my bucket list trip menu.
    • YM Garcia has been working hard on translating my books into Spanish. On top of that, she manages a Spanish FB group in which she translates some of my blog posts and shares book information. I love going on there and reading what people have to say (via the auto translate feature).
  • Of course none of this book production stuff would matter without readers and I'm so lucky to have incredibly supportive readers. The list of ways and people who have helped me from the reader community is way too long to name, but here are a few:
    • Crissy Morris, music lover, writer, and cheerleader. I've never met anyone more supportive of writers than Crissy. She's always the first to wish people happy release days and she's generous with her kind words. Crissy is part of that healthy water team but she also likes Diet Dr. Pepper, Moscato, and Peppermint Hot Chocolate Martinis. She even has a recipe to share! 
    • Jayden Brooks, art consultant, good listener, and "just breathe" expert. When I get a new book cover, Jayden is always the first person I send it to and I only know it's okay when she green lights it. Jayden is a caffeinaholic and like me, she loves her coffee and tea. If she's doing the adult beverages, she goes with her my long time friend Margarita. She prefers her sour, salty, rocky and loaded with damn good tequila and real lime juice. 
    • Kris KindleRomance has an eagle eye. She can catch typos that I miss no matter how many times I've read a manuscript and despite having an insanely busy job, she's always willing to take the time to read my work and help make it better. As far as drinks, Kris likes homemade fruit smoothies. I'm now imagining her kitchen as a Jamba Juice.
    • R. Gallagher is a coffeeaholic, loyal member of my Facebook group, and super reader. I assume she sometimes drinks water, but I can't be certain.
    • Eran O'Donnal is an extremely supportive reader who contributes gorgeous art to my Facebook group and also runs a book club for my books. Eran's another Dr. Pepper and coffee (mocha) drinker but she also likes amaretto sours because they remind her of the lemon-lime slushies she got as a kid from 7-11. 
In case I forget to tell these wonderful people and the others who help me, THANK YOU SO MUCH! Have a super week.

CC
www.cardenoc.com

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Circle of Life


One of the most satisfying things I do each day is participate in the Circle of Life.  Now, before you all go off and start singing Lion King songs, let me explain what I mean.

To me the Circle of Life isn’t just about one generation being born as the next generation grows old.  It’s about things in life being circular, relying on each other for survival.  It’s the balance of nature. It can be hugely complicated, and can be on a global level, or it can be simple and happen in your backyard.

Those who know me a little more than just an author, will know that I love veggie gardening.  It is here that the Circle of Life can be most illustrated.

Fifteen years ago I brought an apple tree and planted in my backyard.  It has grown, and gives me more apples than a family can ever eat.  Unfortunately, most of those apples are destroyed by pests – birds, worms, and in particular, fruit fly.  In trying to be organic, I don’t use pesticides in my garden.  I try companion planting – where one bush attracts natural predators of the pest eating the second bush.

So in order to combat my fruit fly, I purchased chooks (chickens to you non-Australians) and placed their pen around the apple tree.  The theory being, that the fruit fly larvae live in the ground.  They hatch and reinfect the tree, which then drops the fruit (and the larvae eggs) to the ground for the next cycle.  So by allowing the chooks to scratch around the base of the tree, they eat the larvae and decrease the fruit fly.

So for the last twelve months, my apple tree, my chooks and I have been in a Circle of Life.  My apple tree has grown, watered only by the rain and occasionally my hose.  It has been fertilised by the numerous chook droppings, and has fruited, pollinated by the bees.

I have helped the tree by pruning some of the branches, and placing bags over the new fruit to stop birds and fruit fly.  I have also fed and sheltered the chooks.

In turn, the chooks have eaten any larvae in the ground, snails, slugs, caterpillars and other pests, and laid eggs for me.  The apple tree has provided them with shade and shelter.

And then, when the fruit ripened, I picked the apples and consumed them.  The apple cores were returned to the chooks for scraps.  I juiced most of the apples, consumed the juice, and gave the pulp to the chooks to eat.  Any apples that were spoiled were given to the chooks too.

So with some input from outside forces, but nothing particularly hard to do, the three of us have all helped each other.  We have created a Circle of Life, one that if we remove a single aspect of, will create a void for the other two.

I find writing to be the same type of circle.  There are circles each way I look.  There are symbiotic relationships between authors, reviewers and readers.  Without one of these three, the other two would not be able to work as well. 

Without editors, writers couldn’t do their work.  Without writers, editors would be unemployed.  And without readers, there would be no need for either.

But the Circle of Life I most enjoy participating in is the Reader-Writer-Life circle.  The writer takes life, sorts it, dissects it and funnels it into a book.  A writer without a life to observe, is a writer without inspiration.


Readers on the other hand, participate in life.  A lot of the time, the writer is able to help them with this.  Whether it be comfort in the form of cheering the reader up, or perhaps helping the reader to understand they are not alone in their problems, that other people feel that way too.  It is the writer that brings understanding to the reader.  Writers explain, entertain and support readers.  Readers read and then apply it to life, which then moves on and the writer gets more inspiration.  Writers learn from life, readers learn from writers. 

I now know basic French and all about American culture from writers. I know about Viking culture, Victorian manners and how it feels to travel the deserts of the world.  I’ve learned about ancient cultures, new cultures and how it feels to live that life.  I’ve learned about many jobs and tasks that I’ve never come across in my real life – all because of writers who share their knowledge with the world.

Another circle I enjoy is the review circle – although this is more of a tornado than a circle.  Imagine this: a writer publishes a book, and ten people read it.  Each of those ten people review it, recommending it to five friends, who then also read and review the book.  They recommend it to five of their friends, and so on.  The circle grows, spinning around and around and around. 


So today I urge you to be a tornado starter.  Which book have you recently read and loved?  How about you feed the author and write a review?

How to contact Renae:
Twitter:  @renaekkaye
Instagram:  renaekayeauthor