Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Love Wins and so can you! Ebook giveaways from Sean, Julia and BA


Thanks to the SCOTUS decision Friday, LGBT people all over the country are celebrating. While Sean's folks up Canuck country were way more evolved than we are, Sean is celebrating with us!

In honor of the celebration, BA, Sean and I would all like to offer a free ebook to one commenter here on this post! Feel free to dance with us, or just a simple Love Wins will do!

BA Tortuga is offering a free ebook of your choice from www.batortuga.com, or she can choose one for you.

Sean Michael is offering a Blended Family ebook from the Briar Rose series, to be released July 15 at Torquere.

I'm offering any of the Full Moon Dating books from Torquere. Aiden and Ben, Coy and Denver or Evgeny and Feng. That way y'all can prepare for Gage and Hamish, out July 29.

We love love, and we hope y'all do, too.

XXOO

Julia

www.seanmichaelwrites.com Sean on the web

www.juliatalbot.com Julia

www.batortuga.com BA Tortuga

Monday, June 29, 2015

Strange Bedfellows Stuff Including Giveaways by Cardeno C.


Happy Monday! A few things today.

First, I'm traveling this week and I hope to post semi-frequent pictures on Twitter and Facebook so if you're interested, track me there.

Next, I had a release! Strange Bedfellows is now available. You can find all the links here.

Speaking of Strange Bedfellows, I blogged a bit about the book and my reason for writing it and gay romance in general at Babbling About Books. And I shared a sexy excerpt.

Also speaking of Strange Bedfellows, some wonderful readers in my Facebook group made me images for the book so I'm sharing them.

And last but not least, I'm giving away books again! The giveaways at the time of this post are:

  1. The Blogger Girls
  2. Book Reviews & More by Kathy
  3. Multitasking Mommas Book Reviews
  4. Naughty Book Eden (Starts June 30)
  5. Sexy Erotic Xciting
  6. Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance
  7. Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy

Have a great week!

CC
www.cardenoc.com






Saturday, June 27, 2015

Thinking of becoming an author? My juggling act.


Earlier this month we were treated to another episode in the long running saga, “When Authors Go Bad.”  Either you caught it or you didn’t, because, like anything on social media, your fame wanes fast.  I choose not to name or link to the saga, because a nice person pointed out to me that we didn’t need to make the situation hundreds of times worse by sharing it endlessly.

The bit I want to mention from the melt-down that happened, is that this author made a statement early on his rant that made me laugh.  I’m paraphrasing here because I can’t remember the exact wording, but it went something like:  My book deserves a five star rating because I worked for 100 hours a week on it.

Does anyone else find that this is a little ridiculous?

I don’t know about everyone, but the majority of authors I know would all be millionaires if effort counted toward the amount they were paid.  See – that’s the gamble we take when we write a book.  Some people are just going to be better at it.  And then there is the fact that some people market their book better.

There are endless examples, stories, anecdotes and legends that circulate about the internet with authors giving their opinion on what caused their book to “make or break.”  Sometimes the cover just wasn’t right.  Sometimes the cover was perfect, but the story inside was panned early on and it never took off.  Then there’s the price.  The names of the characters.  Whether there’s a dog on the cover.  Release timing.  Other books coming out at the same time.  Similar stories…  Yes.  It’s a hard life of an author to try and get all their apples lined up and shoot for stardom.

There’s also the question of publicity versus writing time.  There’s an author who I became friends with early on in 2014.  They had a book out which, in my opinion, sported an excellent cover.  I was jealous.  Then, three times a day, for the next six months, this author would “do the rounds” on all the promo sites and plaster this cover everywhere.  Soon my patience was up.  I was sick of seeing this cover.  I wanted to write to the author and say, “Look – we all saw your book.  Either we bought it, or we didn’t.  Don’t you think your time could be spent more productively writing another book?”

I spend my time daily working out (ie stressing over) writing time versus publicity time versus other time.  If I write a blog that is 1200 words long, that’s 1200 words that could’ve (potentially) gone on my latest WIP.  Is the time worth it?  But if I only write, then yes there are more words on my WIP, but that’s the fastest way to burnout.  And if I don’t tell anyone about my latest release (via blogs, social media, etc) then was it worth it?  And then there are the times where just looking at pretty pictures (**cough**) and reading other books is more helpful than sitting in front of your computer wondering what comes next in your story.

For those who don’t know my journey, I wrote my first novel in 2013, exploring the world of authoring and wondering if there was any money in it.  You see, I was a mother of two young children – one of whom wasn’t even in school yet – and my future was looming big on the horizon.  I needed to consider going back to work, but the question was what, how, when, and where?  I looked at job ads and could find nothing that could allow me to work for a couple of days a week, during school hours.

I needed a job that was flexible.  Any parent can tell you that kids get sick – and they don’t care if you have a deadline or if it’s month-end or if you really can’t take that day off.  There was also the question of school holidays – what to do with the kids?  My husband was singularly unhelpful, telling me that I couldn’t rely on his help with the kids at all, because (for example) he couldn’t guarantee that he could leave work at a certain time each week to accommodate my potential working hours.
So that left me with the option of looking outside for childcare assistance.  My mother and in-laws could help – but they are all retired and frequently jet/drive off on holidays at the drop of a hat.  Or else I could pay for childcare which would cost more than my pay cheque – so why would I bother working?

Last week I was extremely glad for the flexibility of my authoring as a job.  On Thursday I attended the school assembly, and had been home 18 minutes when the school rang and told me my 8yo was vomiting.  I was back at the school within 3 minutes.  Had I been working at the job I had before I went on maternity leave, I would’ve been in the city.  To take public transport home would take a minimum of 40 minutes – if I got the connections.

Friday I deemed my child recovered enough to go to school again.  I dropped the kids, attended my weekly doctor’s appointment for two desensitisation needles, popped into the shop for some groceries, and had been home about 20 minutes when the school rang again for me to pick him up.

I adored the flexibility of my job those two days.

This week I’ve had my husband and kids home ALL week – all three of them in various states of sickness.  Today I can feel myself coming down with it, and expect the next week to be rough.  Can you imagine trying to explain to the boss why I needed all that sick leave? 

Working from home seems wonderful.  However, it’s sometimes a pain.  When you mother drops in for a “quick coffee” and stays two hours in the middle of your working day, it is sometimes frustrating.  Or when you hang up on the eleventh telemarketer for the week.  Or when someone says, “You can come to this meeting can’t you?  It’s in the middle of the day and you’re doing nothing.”  And even when your husband says, “But you’ve got the whole day to iron my shirts.  What do you do?”

**Renae reminds herself that prison wouldn’t give her the chance to write more**

So for any person out there who thinks that they might like to become an author, here is a cautionary tale for you.  Be prepared for what you’re getting into.  It’s possible that you slog your guts out doing 100 hours a week.  It’s possible that your work is not taken seriously by anyone in your family.  It’s possible that your friends and readers think that it’s just a matter of a couple of hours a day for a month for you to churn out the next 100k novel.  It’s possible that someone may loathe your story and leave a bad review. **gasp**

And sometimes it’s possible that you put ALL that work in and get the equivalent of two cents an hour pay.

At the moment, my focus in my life is on raising my children.  They come first with me.  It also falls to me to run the house.  Now, I know technically my husband and I both work, and should therefore share the burden of scrubbing the toilet, but in practice, it never works this way.  So I consider I have THREE jobs – Mummy, Housewife and Author.  On any one day, it is a juggling act.

So why do it?

Because at this moment in my life, it’s working for me.

Back in 2013 when I was contemplating being an author instead of going out of the house to work, I had no idea how much an author could earn.  I knew you had to be one of the lucky ones to earn more than a bit of pocket change.  I remember writing to one of my favourite authors, and she wrote back and told me that if I was good at it, I could buy some furniture with the earnings from writing, but I would never be able to earn a living.  (That was a little bit of a let down).

Since I became an author, I’ve seen people claim time and time again that it’s impossible to be an author fulltime, unless you’re retired, rich or have a partner supporting you.  But, in the midst of all that bad news, there’s a couple of glimmers of light.  There are authors who are doing it.  And they’re doing it writing M/M.

The more successful authors in the genre have told me to “get my backlist working.”  In other words, stick at it.  Writing more good quality novels is the only way to make it.  Don’t rely on that one brilliant book.  There is only one JK Rowling.

So I remain hopeful, and I remain writing.  At about 28 months into my new “career”, and 14 months after my first publication, I still hope to be able to do this fulltime one day, earn enough that I can claim it as my profession, and not have to find a “real” job.


Of course the perks of the jobs are brilliant too.  Who else can stare at semi-naked bodies all day and claim it’s for inspiration and research purposes?

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

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Covers


Covers are one of the scariest, yet most exciting parts of writing a book. Before writing my first book I only thought covers would be exciting. What's there to be scared about? The thing is, as much as we say "don't judge a book by it's cover" I think it's something people automatically do. Maybe they don't refuse to read a book because of the cover, but a beautiful cover can draw readers in. It's the first impression. A cover is often what gets new readers to check out a blurb, so there is a lot of pressure to pick the perfect cover. I truly believe the cover for COLLIDE helped get readers to take a chance on me.

I go through almost a panic when it's time to start choosing images for a cover. I'm a ball of emotions, ready to dive in and find the perfect image, but worried I won't. I'm going through that right now as we start to work on the cover for CROSSROADS. What if I can't find the perfect couple? The perfect model? What if I pick the wrong image? What if there is more than one that I really, really love?

The good thing is, I feel very lucky that I work with a really great photographer and cover artist. I love their work and know they want the best cover for me. Jackson Photografix has been the photographer who shot every cover I've had, and we understand each other's style. It doesn't hurt that he shoots beautiful images that I get to spend hours and hours looking through :)

So my question for you is, what do you look for in a cover? Is there something specific that draws your eye? Do you like people on the cover, or would you rather draw your own visual in your head? Has a good cover ever gotten you to take a chance on a new author?

Can't wait to share the cover for CROSSROADS soon!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Cereus and making up the words on TV


<julia> waves
 <julia> hola peeps
 <sean> sorry
 <sean> I was having an evening constitutional because it was a little less hot
 <sean> good evening
 <julia> hee
 <julia> it's molten here
 <BA> I was having a blood sugar crisis
 <sean> ack on the blood sugar crises
 <julia> yeah
 <sean> and yeah, we're still hot but the sun isn't out and that makes it tolerable
 <julia> tell me about it
 <sean> high or low?
 <julia> it got to 107F
 <julia> the temp
 <julia> not the sugars ;)
 <sean> heee
 <sean> ouch on the temp
 <BA> it's nice out there now
 <julia> heee
 <BA> we watered and fed birds
 <julia> the sun goes down here and it feels cold
 <sean> nods
 <sean> unfortunately we have the humidity to keep it from doing that here
 <sean> but it is somewhat cooler when the sun goes away
 <sean> we talk about the weather a lot this side of the border ;)
 <BA> heeeee
 <julia> hell, we do too
 <julia> every single person here has asked how we like the heat this week
 <sean> heee
 <sean> nods, that sounds familiar
 <julia> and we're going
 <julia> we're from Texas
 <julia> this is balmy but nice
 <BA> nods
 <BA> it's not bad
 <sean> heeee
 <BA> and it's going to be in the upper 80s next week
 * BA leans
 * sean props you up
 <BA> I watch these people on So You Think You Can Dance and go... where do you get the energy?
 <julia> heee
 <julia> yes
 <sean> heee
 <sean> so what are we going to make the next Cereus about?
 <sean> what's our theme going to be?
 <BA> hrm
 <BA> we've done Opening
 <julia> I have no idea
 <BA> Building
 <BA> Training
 <BA> Rescue
 <julia> hrm
 <julia> well, Jonny keeps threatening to go global
 <julia> the South of France
 <julia> South America
 <julia> the Alps
 <BA> Growing?
 <julia> Expanding?
 <BA> Flying?
 <sean> ooooo growing
 <sean> yes I'm going to the dirty place
 <julia> you?
 <BA> you perv
 <julia> never
 <BA> Nesting
 <sean> adjusts halo
 <BA> Recovering
 <BA> Breaking
 <BA> Healing
 <BA> Sliding
 <julia> hee
 <sean> Sucking!
 <sean> Fucking!
 <julia> I like Healing somehow
 <sean> Wanting!
 <sean> Coming!
 <sean> okay, it's out of my system now
 <sean> ;)
 <julia> oh good
 <BA> heeee
 <BA> I could handle Healing
 <sean> is it too close to Rescue to come right after it, though?
 <BA> there has to be a doctor
 <julia> especially if one of the themes was healing the land Jonny picks for the expansion
 <sean> oh interesting
 <BA> are we calling the new spot Cereus?
 <julia> there's an amazing night blooming flower named Nymphaea
 <sean> will it be easier to follow as a part of the series if they're still Cereus
 <julia> dude don't harsh my mellow
 <julia> but we can call the series cereus and the new resort nymphaea
 <sean> well we could call the nex one Cereus: Nympheae
 <julia> I like Cereus: Healing
 <sean> nods
 <julia> and we'll just call the new resort by the new name
 <sean> nods - that makes sense
 <sean> so where's the new resort?
 <julia> I think the south of France
 <julia> if I can find a spot
 <julia> it might be too populated
 <sean> nods
 <julia> but
 <julia> if we "heal" the land
 <julia> and magick it
 <julia> we could make people think it's just a private estate
 <sean> nods
 <julia> grins
 <julia> and we can really branch out into European myths
 <sean> nods
 <BA> works for me
 <BA> y'all know me
 <sean> me too
 <julia> woot
 <julia> rubs hands
 <BA> give me a place to show up and I'm ready
 <julia> Jonny has tons of old friends in Europe
 <julia> I love plotting
 <julia> muahahaha
 <sean> heeee
 <BA> old vampires
 <BA> grumpy werewolves
 <sean> I like the grumpy ones
 <BA> nods
 <BA> I like the broken ones
 <sean> *grins*
 <julia> she does
 <julia> sighs
 <sean> lol
 <julia> but hey
 <julia> this is the series she and I get to co write
 <julia> so she gets broken and I get toppy
 <sean> nods
 <julia> or something
 * BA whaps you both
 <BA> dorks
 <BA> so, it's... healing?
 <BA> Is someone writing this down?
 <julia> yes
 <julia> I am making notes
 <BA> *grins*
 <BA> So I spend 6 days a week at the gym
 <BA> so 6 days I week I watch the news for oh
 <BA> 45 minutes to an hour
 <BA> now, I just watch
 <BA> no sound
 <BA> so I now have a random understanding of very little
 <BA> because I can't see the words on the ticker tape dealie
 <BA> I just see the talking heads and the graphics
 <BA> this is dangerous
 <BA> because y'all know me
 <BA> I fill in the gaps with my own ideas
 <julia> heee
 <julia> yes
 <julia> what if this guy who had a fake nose...
 <sean> I find the stuff on the sticky tape at the bottom often does not go with what's on the picture
 <julia> I know!
 <julia> and then you have bad closed captioning
 <BA> also, TV is more interesting without sound sometimes
 <sean> you get to make up your own stories, eh
 <BA> I watched Dr Phil, some food network show about Disney and then a news thing about Disco
 <sean> heee
 <julia> I watched Ellen
 <BA> By the end, I was sort of convinced Chef Mickey was in therapy with Dr. Phil because he had mirror ball shards in his butt
 <sean> lolol
 <BA> I might have misunderstood
 <julia> you are bizarre
 <sean> possibly
 <BA> hey, you married me
 <julia> I did
 <julia> I admit it
 <julia> I like it
 <sean> heeee
 <julia> this does not mean you're not a freak
 <sean> cackles
 <sean> hey, I thought that was WHY you married her
 <sean> ;)
 <BA> *beams*
 <BA> Okay
 <BA> I need a snack
 <julia> hugs
 <julia> night
 <julia> all
 <sean> and I'm wiped
 <BA> and possibly a glass of wine
 <sean> enjoy
 <sean> night all
 <BA> I intend to  :D
 <BA> love you!
 <BA> night!

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
Julia -- https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotauthor
BA -- https://www.facebook.com/batortuga

Sean
smut fixes everything

Monday, June 22, 2015

People Not Politics by Cardeno C.


Happy Monday. I feel like I should put a warning label at the front of this post about politics. Something like, "Be careful, toxic sludge danger ahead!" I'm not sure if I'd be warning myself or readers. Maybe both. As I write this, I'm not even sure I'll post it, but ... well, I’ve had some emotional things going on in my private life so my feelings are close to the surface and I'm here now with fingers on keyboard so I'll try to share my thoughts on what inspired my newest novel, Strange Bedfellows. And I'll do it with headings and stuff because that's how I roll.

1.    The actual book.
Before I start, I should say that nobody should expect a heavy dose (or even a medium dose or probably a small dose) of politics in this book. It's more like a child-size, sweet-flavored drop. Those of you who have read my work know that I write character-driven romance, meaning my focus is on the characters and their relationship rather than on their backdrop. This book is no different. You can expect a light read with a fair bit of sex, warm fuzzies, and a happily ever after that just happens to take place with a political backdrop.
2.    My writing process.
But writing is about more than what's on the page, at least for me. In order to write a novel length story with characters who grow individually and together and to do this repeatedly from book to book without repeating the same men, I have to know the people I'm writing. For me, the first step in the writing process takes place before I type the first word. It takes place in my head where I get to know the men I'm going to share with readers. And in my head, for Trevor and Ford, politics matter in important but varying ways.
3.    Me.

Now, let me say some things about myself. Yes, I'm saying things about myself. Holy wow.
·       I have political leanings that lean so heavily, I'd have toppled to the ground by now if they physically manifested. I won't say what they are though, not because I'm in any way ashamed of them, but because I believe them to be irrelevant for this post. In fact, I think that irrelevance is the essence of this post.
·       I don’t miss an election ever. I donate quite a bit to political causes/parties/candidates. And I’ve lobbied both locally and in D.C. where I’ve sat beside elected officials I agreed with and those I didn’t agree with. We’ve looked each other in the eyes, we’ve talked, and we’ve shaken hands. Did any of that make a difference on a floor vote? I don’t know. But I know they’re people and they know I’m a person and that matters because connections matter.
·       I have gay friends who were raised LDS, catholic, and protestant whose parents still go to church on Sundays and who love them and embrace them completely. I have seen firsthand the ability of people to love their G-d and their family. It’s real.

4.    My point.

So why am I giving you that background? What’s my point? Well, what I’m trying to say is that we are not — not any of us — perfect, but we are all human. And to me that means that at our core, we are more the same than we are different.

To me, that means my gay friends who were raised LDS have more in common with their former Sunday school classmates than they have differences, even if they no longer go to church because that church rejected them.

To me that means people on both sides of the heartbreakingly ever-widening political spectrum are just that — people. They have dreams and hopes and families and laughter and tears and *humanity*. They are not caricatures made up of their worst mistakes or their divided beliefs. They have room to grow and change and come together as they learn. Many of them *are* growing and changing and coming together as they learn. And that is because they have more in common than they have differences.

I have to believe in our commonalities because to not believe in them strips away a hope I refuse to lose. We as a society have to believe in our commonalities if we have any hope of coming together instead of continuously pushing each other away.

And that brings me back to Strange Bedfellows. If you've gotten this far in my way-too-long post, you understand why I wrote a book about people whose lives are surrounded by politics but yet has very little actual politics in it. It's because I personally believe we as humans have more in common than not and we are more than the ticket we vote on election day or the pew we sit in (if we sit in pews), much more. And I write about people's hearts, not their wrappings.


CC

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Free Extra Scene - The Shearing Gun


So it's getting closer to the time where I will be showing my pretties - the cover for my new novel You Are the Reason.  Be watching for when I show you all the wonder cover Bree Archer designed for me.

Today I had a blog planned, but I didn't finish it in time.  So therefore I will instead direct you guys to a new page on my website.  It's a short story I wrote for Vicktor Alexander's birthday celebrations.  It's a small glimpse into the life of Hank and Elliot from The Shearing Gun after the words "The End."

I call it The Shearing Gun's Birthday Present.  

I hope you enjoy.


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


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Conventions - Conventions


If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I tend to go to a lot of conventions.  Most of them are reader based, which is awesome.  However next month I seem to be on convention overload.  Part of that is the fact that I seem to have difficulty saying no.    Dominic is already calling July, the month he'll never see me. 

On July 7 - I travel to Munich Germany as one of the keynote speakers at Euro Pride Con.  This is this conventions first year and I'm really excited to be part of it.  I will be in Europe for almost a week.

On July 14 - I fly to Tampa for Rainbowcon.  I was there last year and it was a ball.  I'm looking forward to even more fun this year.  I know Tampa in July, but I probably won't leave the hotel. 

On July 22 - I take the train to New York for RWA.  Thank goodness I don't have to fly for this convention.  This is RWA National and I've never been before.  I'm looking forward to it, but I have to leave early Saturday morning because I have a signing in Harrisburg that day. 

By the time all this is over, I'm going to be exhausted.  I also know Dominic will be there for me to take care of me for a few weeks before I fly to Atlanta for Authors After Dark.  If you're going to be attending any of these conventions, please be sure to say hello.  I'll be the zombie in the back. 

 
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

My Latest Release:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

that dinosaur movie and clown dancing


<BA> Boo!
<sean> eeeek
<sean> :)
<sean> happy anniversary you guys!
<sean> and also, happy birthday, Julia!
<Julia> Thank you!
<Julia> we've had an amazing day
<BA> Thank you. :D
<sean> wooo, good :)
<BA> we loved the dinosaur movie
<sean> heee
<BA> LOVED IT
<sean> me too
<BA> so much fun
<BA> we're going back Thursday
<sean> heeee
<BA> research
<sean> what was your favorite part?
<BA> Owen and the raptors
<sean> nodnods
<sean> god yes
<sean> I'm right with you there
<Julia> Heee
<Julia> I was not blase
<Julia> I heard a lot of oh it was okay
<Julia> no I was soooo tickled
<sean> I heard a lot of the beginning was slow, but I didn't find it dragging at all
<Julia> nope
<Julia> but then I loved all the self referencing stuff
<Julia> that's the writer in me
<sean> oh yes
<sean> it was the perfect follow up to the first movie
<Julia> nodnod
<Julia> movie 2 need not exist
 * sean nods
<BA> I liked the third one
<BA> I found this one a little sad, but not in a bad way
<BA> in an 'end of an era' way
<sean> nods
<BA> I remember watching the first one in the theater and going, "Oooh. Look at the dinosaurs!"
<sean> yeah
<sean> it actually holds up pretty well, too
<BA> My kiddo was 4 at the time and I was there with the ex's parents. The mother in law was gasping and freaking out. The kid looked over, blinked, and said, "Granny, it's just a movie. Chill out!"
<BA> That's one of my dearest memories
<sean> that's awesome
<BA> nods -- so practical, so straightforward
<BA> I was fascinated
<Julia> LOL
<Julia> I honestly don't remember if I saw the first one in the theater
<Julia> I must have
<Julia> God knows I've seen it a million times
<sean> nods
<Julia> can quote every line
<BA> nods
<BA> we've seen it together... what? 100 times?
<Julia> at least
<Julia> more than even the mummy
<BA> nods
<Julia> or Indiana Jones
<sean> wow
<BA> and we've seen those a LOT
<sean> nods
<BA> or Deep Blue Sea
<Julia> LOL
<BA> and y'all know my position on shark movies
<Julia> Ghost Ship
<Julia> 13th Warrior
<BA> Ghost Ship...
<BA> we haven't watched that in forever
<sean> is that the one with Gabriel Byrne
<BA> nods
<sean> cool
<BA> I do love a bad horror movie
<sean> that's the only one of those that I've only seen once
<BA> we've seen it dozens of times
<BA> dozens ;-)
<BA> And the Jurassic World guy, not bad
<sean> uh-huh
<sean> not bad at all
<BA> I've never seen him before
<BA> but he's pretty
<sean> nods
<sean> he was in Guardians of the Galaxy
<Julia> LOL. I've only seen him on Ellen
<Julia> yeah, we haven't watched that one yet
<sean> and while he's cute i that one, too -- my favorite is Groot -- the tree
<Julia> yeah he'd not cute in Jurassic
<Julia> he's hot
<sean> heeee
<sean> nods
<sean> absolutely
<sean> so are dinosaur shifters going to suddenly become a thing?
<BA> this is the first movie we've seen in the theater since Brave
<BA> talk to Kiernan Kelly
<sean> oh yeah she wrote dinosaur shifters years ago
<sean> nods re the first movie since Brave -- and you want to go back this week -- that says you did love it
<BA> nods
<BA> J wants to see the earthquake movie too
<sean> San Andreas?
<sean> with the Rock
<sean> which is a reason to go see it right there
<sean> speaking of hot men ;)
<BA> LOL
<BA> I saw him on the lip syncing show
<BA> and cackled
<sean> omg, yes
<sean> he was so funny
<sean> (and sexy)
<sean> *ahem*
<BA> that was not sexy
<BA> goofy, yes
<BA> hilarious, yes
<BA> sexy...
<BA> O.O
<sean> oh, see, I find that ability to make fun sexy
<sean> it's like the pec pop of love thing in the island movie
<sean> it's goofy and silly and fun
<BA> LOL
<BA> pec pop of love...
<Julia> but not sexy ;)
<Julia> Lord
<Julia> I'm a little weirded out by the pec pop as I saw it first in Bloodsport
<Julia> with that villain
<sean> I'm not sure I saw Bloodsport
<BA> How can you not have seen Bloodsport?
<BA> you should go see it
 * sean looks it up on IMDB
<BA> it's got to be on jesus van damme is old tv somewhere
<sean> oh it has van damme in it - I must have seen it
<BA> CLOWN DANCING?
<BA> WHAT THE FRESH HELL IS THIS?
<Julia> heee
<sean> I'm sorry what?
<Julia> oh lord
<Julia> look out sean
<Julia> duck
<BA> C
<BA> L
<BA> O
<BA> W
<BA> N
<BA> D
<BA> A
<BA> N
<BA> C
<BA> I
<BA> N
<BA> G
<BA> this is a thing?
<BA> in what FUCKED UP UNIVERSE IS THIS A THING?
<sean> I have never heard of this
<Julia> So you think you can dance
<Julia> in LA clown dancing is a thing
<BA> I am wounded
<BA> soul deep
<sean> O.o
<BA> CLOWN DANCING
<sean> wow
<BA> why don't they just calling SCARY MOTHERFUCKING CREEPY FUCKER DANCING?
<sean> lol
<BA> clown dancing
<BA> @.@
<sean> you need to bleach your eyeballs and brain, huh?
<BA> ^^@.@^^
<BA> I'm going to have a psychotic break with reality
<BA> clowns are not cool
<Julia> lalala
<Julia> no commenty
<BA> no, Miss I Used To Be A Clown Gee BA You May Have Married A Serial Killer in Disguise
<sean> lolololol
<BA> no need to comment
<Julia> sigh
<Julia> I went to clown college
<Julia> apprenticed
<sean> remember Owen and the raptors
<BA> you went to Clemson
<Julia> registered my face
<sean> the raptors will eat the clowns (not juila) and make you happy
<Julia> lolol
<BA> fuck raptors, I'll beat those goddamn clowns down with my hysteria alone
<sean> heeee
<Julia> snortgiggles
<Julia> yes
<BA> Also, on the scary beyond all reason front, they made another Ted movie.
<BA> I do not understand
<sean> I'm not sure how they made a first one
<BA> yeah
<BA> ack
<BA> okay, y'all. I have 21 minutes to clean the house up before bed
<BA> O.O
<sean> *hugs*
<sean> okay, sweet raptor dreams to all
<sean> ;)
<BA> ditto
<BA> love you, honey
<BA> night!
<sean> night
<Julia> night!


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


Facebook:


Sean
smut fixes everything

Monday, June 15, 2015

Lots of Giveaways by Cardeno C.


Happy Monday. I recently re-released a gaggle of books an to celebrate I'm giving away copies all over the place. I'm sharing links below along with the information on the books.

Multitasking Mommas
MM Good Book Reviews
Swept Away by Romance


Perfect Imperfections - Contemporary gay romance, Word count: 65,193

Hollywood royalty Jeremy Jameson has lived a sheltered life with music as his sole focus and only friend. Before embarking on yet another international
concert tour, he wanders into a bar in what he considers the middle of nowhere and meets a man who wins him over with his friendly smile and easy-going nature. Accountant slash bartender slash adventure-seeker Reg Moore has fun talking and drinking with The Jeremy Jameson and can’t say no when the supposedly straight rock star makes him a once in a lifetime offer: keep him company on his tour by playing the part of his boyfriend.

Listening to music, traveling the world, and jumping off cliffs is fun. Falling in love is even better. But to stay with Jeremy after the stage lights dim, Reg will need to help him realize there’s nothing pretend about their relationship.

A Shot at Forgiveness - Contemporary gay romance, Word count: Approx. 18,000

Sometimes to find love, you must first learn forgiveness.

A dozen years, two thousand miles, and a law degree after high school, Rafi Steiner continues to harbor resentment toward Isaac Jones, his childhood bully turned NBA star. When Isaac appears at Rafi's favorite restaurant acting like a long-lost friend, Rafi bluntly dismisses him.
But Isaac is tenacious and he has his heart set on the grown-up version of the boy he always wanted and never forgot. The way Isaac sees it, he and Rafi are perfect for each other, if only he could sink the most important shot of his life: his one shot at forgiveness.

All of Me - Paranormal/shifter gay romance, Word count: Approx. 18,000

To bond with his destined mate, an Alpha wolf must look past what he sees and trust what he feels.

Bonded by their parents before they were conceived, wolf shifters Abel and Kai adored each other since they were children. As teens, the two future Alphas took the next step in their bonding process and vowed to remain true to one another until Kai came of age. But when tragedy struck, Abel felt betrayed and ran from Kai instead of completing their mating.

Abel never stops yearning for the man who was supposed to lead by his side and after years without contact, Kai returns, broken and on death's door. If Abel wants to fulfill their destiny and merge their packs, he'll need to look past what he saw and trust his heart.

Places in Time - Contemporary gay romance, Word count: Approx. 16,000

A relationship-challenged actor unexpectedly finds love in the arms of his childhood best friend.

"Sexiest Man Alive" and Golden Globe winning actor Ethan Baker lights up the screen but fizzles in his personal life. When his latest girlfriend breaks up with him, Ethan turns to his one "forever" person - Jude Harrison. But as Ethan makes the familiar drive to his best friend's house, an unexpected detour and a bewildering passenger take him through places in time he'd long forgotten. Suddenly Ethan sees Jude's actions over the years from a different perspective, but it's his own reaction that's the biggest surprise.


Have a great week!
CC
www.cardenoc.com

Saturday, June 13, 2015

An introduction to my new novel


I hate some reviewers.

Hang on, let me reconsider that…. **considers** Nope.  Still hate them.

Oh, not for the reason you’re thinking.  Of course I enjoy five star reviews on my work more than I enjoy one star reviews.  Be assured, I do read the critical reviews too. I often read reviews to work out if people got the character.  Did I do a good job in describing him/her?  So I often read the bad reviews to see why people didn’t enjoy my work. 

But do you know what I HATE?  What I LOATHE?  What I SCREAM in frustration at?  I DESPISE when a reviewer says to me, “Now what about xxx’s story?”

**tears hair out**  Noooo - don't put that idea into my head!

When I write a story, I have a very narrow view.  I know that I shouldn’t, but I just write about this one couple, not thinking about anything other than their story.  So the first time someone reviewing Loving Jay commented, “I hope they get a sequel,” I froze in surprise.  No.  This is their story.  See – 200 pages and then you just have to use your imagination.

Then, my brain started firing.  If I was to write a sequel, what would happen?

When a reviewer said to me about The Shearing Gun, “Are we going to get Mickey Ryan’s story?” I frowned.  Mickey didn’t have a story, did he….  *brain explosion*  Oh, yeah.  Mickey has a story after all.

So now you know why I hate some reviewers.  They give me ideas and make me want to write stories that will have me until the end of 2017 still writing…

Which is how my new novel, You Are the Reason came about. 

In 2013 I wrote The Blinding Light.  At that stage I had submitted Loving Jay to Dreamspinner for appraisal, and was firmly expecting a “no” response from them.  I wrote The Blinding Light because I wanted to be an author, and I knew I had to practice putting a story together, but I never thought it would be good enough for publication.

One of the first reviews of this book said, “I love it! Now I want Davo’s story.”

I was perplexed.  Davo?  He was just a secondary character that was a friend of Jake.  I liked Davo, because everyone has a friend like him.  He’s blunt and can be very crude at times.  He’s the type of guy you roll your eyes at and think, One day he’ll grow up.  

I looked back at what I had written about Davo, and tried to see if he was redeemable.

From page 7:  My good mate Davo is a top, 100 percent of the time with no exceptions to the rule. Ever. He has a standard pickup line: “Are you a bottom? Yes? Hi, I’m Dave.”
When I read this, I was horrified.  The guy was an idiot.  Who goes around with lines like that?  Davo really had no class at all.

Maybe he was redeemable further down.

From page 99:  “Davo, have you ever been with a straight guy before?”
My mate scratched his beard and considered the question. “I don’t really know. It’s not like I spend time with them. I ask them if they want to fuck and if they answer yes, then I do it. I don’t go around asking guys if they’re straight or queer. You know me, Jake. I’m looking for the quick fuck, not the happily-ever-after, complete with matching rings.”
I resisted the temptation to roll my eyes at the truth of that statement. Davo’s fucks were sometimes quicker than the time it actually took you to say the sentence “I’m looking for a quick fuck.”
I sobbed. Nope. Who could write a story with this guy as the main romantic lead?

From page 99, Jake asked Davo:  “So do you think that straight guys can get turned on by gay guys? Does it matter if the hand on your dick is male or female?”
Davo leaned against the wall and gave it serious thought. “To me it doesn’t matter if I’m desperate. I’ve had BJs from women before. You just close your eyes, you know?”
“You do?” I was dumbfounded. I’d never realized Davo had been with a girl before.
“You don’t?”
“No!”
“Oh.” Davo was perplexed. “It’s not all that different in the dark.”
Oh no, no, no.  Davo was worse than an idiot.  He was a dick as well.  I mean, what sort of guy talked about women like that?  What sort of guy couldn’t tell the difference between a man and a woman in the dark…


**brain explosion**


Renae: Oh, no.  No, no, no.  I cannot write a story like that.
Renae’s brain:  Renae, I’d like you to meet your new character – Lee.
Lee:  Hi, Renae!
Davo:  Who’s that?
Lee:  I’m Lee, and I’m your new romantic interest.
Davo:  But you’re wearing a dress.
Lee:  I know.  Do you like it?
Davo:  I don’t like anyone who is too girly.
Lee:  What’s wrong with being girly?
Davo:  I don’t want to be one of those gays.
Lee:  You mean one of those gays who likes to slip into a dress every now and then?
Davo:  Yeah, one of them.
Lee:  So you don’t want to see what I have on under my skirt?
Davo:  **hesitates**
Renae:  **panicking**  No, no, no.  Lee – just go away.  Please?  Davo is a dick and you don’t want to get mixed up with him.
Lee:  But he’s wonderful!  I think I’m in love with him already.
Renae:  **screeching**  But he’s a dick!
Lee:  So?  I like dicks.
Renae:  No.  You don’t want Davo.
Lee:  **pouts** I do. 
Renae:  **huffs** Now you’re being a dick.
Lee:  You know, despite the dress, I do have a dick, so it’s perfectly reasonable for me to be one as well.
Renae:  I know you have a dick.  I’m the one who created you and your dress.  I’m the one who decided whether you were tucked or untucked under that dress.  I know all about you.  But the problem is that Davo doesn’t know you have a dick.  He thinks you’re a girl.
Lee:  That’s okay.  I’ll take him anyway.
Renae:  **breaks down sobbing**  No, Lee.  Please don’t take him anywhere.  PLEASE!  No!!  Don’t go home with him!  ....
...
Dammit.
**opens up a new Word document**
**begins typing** 
An introduction to Davo
When I was eleven years old, I worked out what it was to be gay.  

You Are the Reason, is scheduled to release from Dreamspinner Press on the 7th of August, 2015.  Be watching for the cover reveal coming soon.

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




Thursday, June 11, 2015

Let's talk tropes


Author Felice Stevens brought up the topic of tropes on Facebook the other day. It's one I've thought about before as well. There's that part of me who wants to step out of different tropes when writing and reading, but then...I still love them too. I think it all depends on how they're written and how much I fall in love with the characters, if I'm able to enjoy a trope-centered book, or if it feels like something I've read before.

I have to admit, I'm a HUGE fan of friends to lovers. It's my favorite and think it always will be. There's something special about two people who know each other on that friendship level, who've loved each other on a friendship level and maybe even know each other better than anyone else, and seeing them navigate falling in love with each other. Cooper and Noah's friendship and history were some of my favorite parts of COLLIDE to write.

Fake relationships can be fun, but tricky to pull off I think. I've read a few I really enjoyed.

I'm curious what some of your favorite tropes to read are? Friends to lovers? Enemies to lovers? Fake relationships or mistaken identity? What other tropes to you like? Also, what are some tropes you're getting tired of reading?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Ride in the West


Saving Faithless Creek, a western story that I suspect is the start of a new series, releases in little less than a week.  As an author, variety is the price of life and there are times when a different setting can spark creativity.  That setting can be either in a story or in real life.  For Saving Faithless Creek, I took a trip out west to Montana and the scenery sparked an idea that started it all.  What if a guy returned to the town he grew up in and found out that the bully who made his life miserable in high school, wasn't the same kind of man he remembered?


Blair Montague is sent to Newton, Montana, to purchase a ranch and some land for his father. It’s a trip he doesn't want to make. But his father paid for his college education in exchange for Blair working for him in his casinos, so Blair has no choice. When he finds out he’ll be dealing with Royal Masters, the man who bullied him in high school, he is shocked. Then Blair is surprised when he finds that Royal’s time in the Marines has changed him to the point where Blair could be attracted to him… if he’s willing to take that chance.

Royal’s life hasn’t been a bed of roses. He saw combat in the military that left him scarred, and not just on the outside. When he inherits his father’s ranch, he discovers his father wasn't a good manager and the ranch is in trouble. The sale of land would put them back on good footing, but he is suspicious of Blair’s father’s motives, and with good reason. The attraction between them is hard for either to ignore, but it could all evaporate once the land deal is sealed.

Reserve your copy:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6498

An Excerpt

“I doubt that’s what my dad had in mind. He and my mother hate each other. Their marriage was rocky. I think Mom married Dad because she thought he’d be able to give her the kind of life she wanted. But my dad wasn’t about to give anyone anything. He made her learn to deal blackjack and then put her to work in one of the casinos. He was making money hand over fist, and she still had to work.” The stingy, miserly bastard.


“Your dad is who he is,” Todd commented philosophically. “God himself couldn’t change him.”


“You’re probably right.” The computer screen went dark, and Blair turned back to Todd. “What did you have planned for tonight?”


“I have a case of the good beer in the refrigerator, and we can order a pizza and veg.”


“Or we could do a project together,” Blair offered. That must have triggered Todd’s imagination because he was already hurrying across the room. “I see you like that.”


“Duh,” Todd said. “What did you have in mind?” He rummaged in the corner and came up with two guns. “How about paintball? We can set up canvases outside once the sun starts to set. There’s enough light from the parking lot lights that we can see to shoot. The colors are primary, so there isn’t any subtlety.”


“It’s about texture and pattern,” Blair said.


“Exactly, and if you want, I could draw a sketch of your father on one of the canvases.”


“That’s it.” Blair picked up one of the canvases. “How about an ‘it gets better’ piece?” Blair closed his eyes. “We both had trouble with bullies in school. So let’s do portraits of them and then shoot the paintballs at them. It can be an anti-bullying statement.” Blair chuckled. “And it would make me feel a hell of a lot better.” Especially if he was heading back to Newton.


“All right. Doing a full portrait will take time.”


“I’m thinking if we make the image ghostly….”


“You do whatever you want with your image, that’s the cool thing. My bully is different from yours and carries a very different feeling. Yours pushed you into lockers, while mine befriended me and then once he could tell I was gay, he spread it all over the school and made my life a living hell. He was supposed to be my friend, and sometimes when we weren’t in school he’d be nice to me, but then as soon as other kids were around, he’d turn nasty again.” Todd set up two work surfaces and then hurried away to the kitchen area, returning shortly with a couple of beers and some snacks. “I have tons of supplies, so do whatever you want with your portrait.”


Blair settled in one of Todd’s chairs. He wasn’t planning to paint, so he didn’t feel it necessary to change his clothes. Todd had put the paintball guns away, so the shooting would have to wait for a while until they were done. “You need to have this done before you get back from Montana. That way we can have a shooting party in a few weeks.”


They worked quietly for an hour. Blair leaned over to see what Todd was doing. His drawing was slightly stylized to make the person seem mean, dark, and cruel. The face itself was normal enough, but the mouth and eyes were chilling. There was no doubt that this person had hurt Todd deeply, the pain evident in every line. Blair’s image wasn’t as blatant, but then he hadn’t thought about this man in quite a while.


“I love the menace in his eyes. Who is he?” Todd asked.


“Royal Masters.”



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, June 9, 2015

Things you don't know about Sean and BA- aka Julia Takes Over Cafe Risque'


Top ten things y'all don't know about Sean Michael and BA Tortuga by Julia Talbot

That's right, y'all. I'm here, I'm wide awake for a change, and I'm dishing dirt.

10. Sean Michael loves to write sex. Okay, y'all think this is a given, but you've never heard Sean rhapsodize about it, complete with eye rolling and lip smacking and the occasional "eh" because Sean is Canoodlian. Seriously. Also. ask Sean's spouse about the crowning discussion at some point.

9. BA Tortuga gets really goofy at 3 am after working her ass off all day at a conference. Or at 9pm after drinking shots with Kiernan Kelly all night. There was a discussion that nearly killed Chris Owen at Houston RT back in the day about a time-traveling, clockwork butt-plug. There was once a penis balloon hat that rendered her speechless for an hour. It's a thing.

8. Sean has a deep, abiding obsession with with notepads, notebooks and sticky notes. Are you friend? You will receive them for birthdays and Christmases, for Canada Day and for the 4th of July. Sean is remarkably holiday inclusive. Sean also wraps gifts. BA stuffs everything in a Target bag.

7. BA is currently obsessed with sticky notes of all colors for plotting books. It works, but containment is becoming difficult. Send help.

6. Sean buys hats. Everywhere we go. Disney. Austin. Virginia Beach. Montreal. Las Vegas. San Antonio. Hats hats hats. All with city logos.

5. BA is a T-shirt girl. Sherlock. Dr. Who. She has one that says "Andrew Grey's Favorite Lesbian" because he told her so.

4. Sean adores creme brulee. Not kidding. Pumpkin flavored. Passion fruit. Chocolate. Starbucks brand. All of the burnt sugar!

3. BA loves popcorn. Salty. Crunchy. If she could fill a trashbag with popcorn she would just eat that all month.

2. Sean comes to chez BA and Julia for Thanksgiving every year. There's turkey. Sean likes dark meat. BA likes layer salad. Sean likes pumpkin pie. BA pecan. We shop, but not on Black Friday. We giggle a lot. There are leftovers. Yay!

1> Sean and BA are best friends. No, really. Since 1999 or so. They talk online every day. Share all the ideas. It's adorable. If y'all want to know more, tune in to this blog every Tuesday.

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

Julia -- https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotauthor

BA -- https://www.facebook.com/batortuga

XXOO

Julia

Monday, June 8, 2015

Second Edition Releases by Cardeno C.


Happy Monday! I have three re-releases available so for today's post, I'm sharing pretty new covers and links.

Places in Time 

"Sexiest Man Alive" and Golden Globe winning actor Ethan Baker lights up the screen but fizzles in his personal life. When his latest girlfriend breaks up with him, Ethan turns to his one "forever" person - Jude Harrison. But as Ethan makes the familiar drive to his best friend's house, an unexpected detour and a bewildering passenger take him through places in time he'd long forgotten. Suddenly Ethan sees Jude's actions over the years from a different perspective, but it's his own reaction that's the biggest surprise.

15,000 words, $2.99
Amazon
All Romance
Smashwords Coupon UM38Y


A Shot at Forgiveness
A dozen years, two thousand miles, and a law degree after high school, Rafi Steiner continues to harbor resentment toward Isaac Jones, his childhood bully turned NBA star. When Isaac appears at Rafi's favorite restaurant acting like a long-lost friend, Rafi bluntly dismisses him.

But Isaac is tenacious and he has his heart set on the grown-up version of the boy he always wanted and never forgot. The way Isaac sees it, he and Rafi are perfect for each other, if only he could sink the most important shot of his life: his one shot at forgiveness.

17,000 words, $2.99
Amazon
All Romance
Smashwords Coupon VH57R


 All of Me
Bonded by their parents before they were conceived, wolf shifters Abel and Kai adored each other since they were children. As teens, the two future Alphas took the next step in their bonding process and vowed to remain true to one another until Kai came of age. But when tragedy struck, Abel felt betrayed and ran from Kai instead of completing their mating.

Abel never stops yearning for the man who was supposed to lead by his side and after years without contact, Kai returns, broken and on death's door. If Abel wants to fulfill their destiny and merge their packs, he'll need to look past what he saw and trust his heart.

18,000 words, $2.99
Amazon
All Romance
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords Coupon XB55D

Saturday, June 6, 2015

May I take your order?


Penny pinching #3 - May I take your order?


 So for the last two weeks I’ve given some tips on how to grow some of your own food that is super simple and can be done on a budget.  Today I’ll continue the theme of food, with this super-duper extra-points tip on how to save money:

  ~~~~~~DON’T HAVE CHILDREN~~~~~~

Yeah, I know.  They’re cute and cuddly, and sometime they come to be without you actually planning them.  But gosh, they are money pits! I guess I’m feeling it this week after I signed my son up to football.  After purchasing a shirt, shorts, football socks, football boots and a mouthguard for him, I also had to shell out for club fees AND weekly umpiring fees.  But no, the costs don’t stop there.  I’m now going to have to sit and watch him play – rain, hail or shine.  Lightning is the only thing that will send the kids off the oval.  So today I purchased a heavy duty umbrella, and after getting saturated today, I will also need to go and invest in waterproof shoes and a bigger raincoat.

My order?  Uhh...
So how will I make it through the week with what (at times) is little money?  Grocery shopping – wisely.  Groceries are one of the biggest expenses to a household, and one of the biggest differences between those who have a disposable income, and those who don’t.  We are a four-person household – two adults and two primary school aged children.  Our grocery bill also covers all the pet food we buy.  Yet it is two-thirds of the size of my in-laws’ weekly bill – and there are only TWO of them in the house with no pets.

I’m not making judgements – I’m just saying that there is a lot of scope and savings in adjusting your groceries if you need to get extra during the week.

There are 101 ways to save on groceries – shopping the specials, brand labels, etc – but one of the most HELPFUL things I find is menu planning.  Does it sound too hard?  It did to me as well.  Until, three years ago during playgroup with my children, someone gave us the task of creating a menu board.  AND I STILL USE MINE.

My ratty, tatty menu planner


It is torn, splashed, ripped and everything, yet is so so so handy and easy to make.  

Use a sheet of corrugated card (or for goodness sake – cut out a box!) and decorate it.  Left over wrapping paper, pretty pictures from magazines, photos, anything.  Just make it pretty.  All you really need to buy is some miniature pegs on which you write the days of the week.  Then you put a pocket to keep the slips of paper in.   On the slips, write your favourite meals.  Not the recipe – just the name.  For example, I just wrote “Slow Cooker” to remind me what I planned.  It could be chicken or soup or lamb, but whatever I wanted for the slow cooker.

Then find some magnets (I use the ones that the real estate people keep putting in my letterbox) and glue them to the back so you can stick your menu to your fridge.

So how does this help you save money?
1.  It means you plan the week’s meals ahead, and don’t buy superfluous stuff.  For me, it’s not buying the fresh items that will go off.  When I don’t use my menu, I buy things like sour cream or lettuce, then never use them.  It ends up in the rubbish bin.
2.  It means you stick to your planned menu, and don’t have a week of expensive meals.
3.  It means you don’t forget half of the ingredients and have to go back to the shop where you spend more money.

If it sounds hard and restricting, it can be.  But a bit of practice means you will be a pro-shopper in no time.

This is how I use my menu board.
  • ·         First I sigh and remember it’s shopping day tomorrow. Dammit, what do I need to buy?
  • ·         Then I consult the freezer to see what meat is in there.  I use that meat to plan meals first.  Don’t go buying more ingredients if you haven’t used up what’s in the cupboard/fridge/freezer.
  • ·         Then I consult the fruit and vegetable boxes in fridge to see what needs to be used up.  For example, if there is beetroot out of the garden to be used, I cook roast vegetables.  Zucchini that needs to be used means zucchini slice (which is like quiche).
  • ·         From these two consultations, I plan what meals I can, remembering the nights I won’t be around to cook.  Wednesdays is now footy training, so those nights the meal needs to be prepared before the kids get home from school.  Slow cooker, casserole or lasagne will be on the menu for those nights.
  • ·         Then I plug the holes with other things that look interesting.  I try to keep everyone happy by giving them meals they like once a week.  My son doesn’t eat tuna, and will suffer through the meal, only half eating it, so I try to follow it the next night with something he likes.  My husband prefers stir-fries, but the kids don’t.  So I don’t fill the week with stir-fry items, but continue to offer them to the children to get them used to it.
  • ·         I check to see if the weekly meal total is balanced.  I like to have at least one meal of seafood, one meal of red meat that is not mince or sausages, and at least one night using chicken.  I try not to have all pasta meals, mixing it up with rice or meals that don’t take either.
  • ·         Once I know what I’m cooking for the week, I then work out, meal-by-meal, what ingredients I have in the cupboard/fridge/freezer/garden, and what needs to be purchased.


PLANNING DONE.

WRONG.

The hardest bit is sticking to the shopping list.  You write the ingredients you need, and try to only buy those things at the shop.  No sour cream “just in case we feel like wraps for dinner.”  No lettuce in the middle of winter that will just go mouldy.

You should only buy what’s on the list.  BUT sometimes there is a really great special on at the shop.  I give myself permission to buy THREE specials that weren’t on the list.  Bargains are bargains after all.
These guys aren't on the menu

Advantages:
  • ·         No staring at the shelves in the supermarket wondering just what can you make your family tonight, and was that a tin of pineapple in the cupboard, or beetroot?
  • ·         You don’t have to think about what you are going to make for the night’s meal.  It’s on the list.
  • ·         You don’t have to think about if you have all the ingredients.
  • ·         You don’t have to pop down to the shop for that tin of tomatoes and come back with $50 worth of groceries.
  • ·         You don’t have to stress that your family is not receiving a balanced diet while you pull out chicken for the fourth time that week.
  • ·         You know what’s coming on the menu, and can plan.  No more, “Oh, whoops, I meant to have casserole tonight, but now it’s too late to start cooking.”

Disadvantages:
  • ·         No spontaneity in the meals.  “I just felt like fish and salad tonight.”
  • ·         Remembering to plan.
  • ·         When hubby goes off-plan and uses up the sour cream meant for tomorrow night’s wraps in his odd concoction and ruins your menu.

Tips:
  • ·         Have one meal that you can prepare with minimal effort in your freezer/cupboard at all times.  We are living life, and sometimes life goes awry.  My “emergency” meal is oven baked crumbed fish and homemade chips.  If I get home late because the traffic was atrocious, and don’t have time for making lasagne, then I grab out the fish.
  • ·         I shop once a week.  If you prefer to shop fortnightly, then buy extra pegs and start another week down the other side of your menu board.
  • ·         Put the meal tickets face down, ask the kids to choose one and let them have a “lucky dip” meal each Friday night.
  • ·         When you write your grocery list, group the items together according to where they are placed in the shop.  For example, anything from the fridge/freezer section of the shop I write on the bottom of my piece of paper, and work upward.  Therefore the cold things are grouped together, and it’s easier not to skip over them accidentally in the list while shopping.  The items that sit in the first four aisles of the shop are put on the top LH side of my list, then the last four aisles are put at the top RH side of my list.  Fruit and vegetable are put on the bottom RH side.



I hope this helps, and remember to practice it.  It becomes easier.  Good luck.  And remember, the next couple of dollars you save should be spent on books - my books preferably, but I could be saying that just for my own sake...

How to contact Renae:
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