Monday, November 30, 2015

I Tried it at Home - Cooking Pasta by Cardeno C.


Happy Monday! Today I'm sharing my experience trying another kitchen hack. I saw this video with a faster way to boil pasta. I've  never had issues with my regular pasta boiling technique but this looked fun so I decided to to give it a go. Here's how it went.

Step 1. Put the pasta onto a frying pan. 
Step 2. Pour in just enough water to cover the pasta & add salt. 

Step 3. Turn the water on high and boil for 15 minutes, turning pasta occasionally. 

Result: This method worked well to cook the noodles and it was faster than boiling water in a pot. The downside was that with the shallow frying pan, water splattered onto the stove every time I turned the noodles. I wonder if this would work better in a flat pan with higher sides. I might try that next time.


My tweaks: I was running late with dinner so the liquid from the tomatoes in my pasta sauce wasn't done cooking down yet. 

I decided that I could move the process along by adding the pasta into the sauce for the last 5 minutes of the pasta cooking time, figuring the starch from the pasta would absorb the water and maybe the noddles would take on some of the sauce flavor.

I realized fairly quickly that I was going to encounter a problem: the saucepan wasn't big enough to hold the sauce and the noodles.

But I wanted to limit the number of dirty dishes I created in this cooking process, so I powered through.

Once I emptied the frying pan of the noddles, I drained the water and then poured the pasta into the pan. I put the heat on low and simmered until the sauce thickened, stirring the pasta occasionally. 

End result: Yummy pasta, minimal time & dirty dishes. I call this one a success!

Have a terrific week & as a reminder, I have the box set of my seven Home novels on sale for $9.99 until Wednesday.

CC
www.cardenoc.com

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Renae's thanksgiving by Renae Kaye


Happy Thanksgiving

I was chatting with someone over Facebook recently, and I spoke about Thanksgiving.  I had to tell them that we really don’t have anything similar to this holiday in Australia.  We don’t have any day where we stop with our family and give thanks for the previous year.

In Australia we celebrate the normal Christian festivals of Christmas and Easter.  On the 25th of April each year we also celebrate ANZAC day – a day where we remember those who’ve fought and died for our country.  We also have Labor Day, which celebrates the introduction of an 8-hour working day, and as a Commonwealth country we also celebrate the Queen’s birthday.

The 26th of January is our Australia Day, the date given as the First Fleet (European) settlers arrived in Botany Bay.  However we celebrate the day more like the American Independence Day, by enjoying things that we feel makes us “Aussie.”

I guess that now is a good time for me to take stock of the world, and give thanks for the wonderful things that have happened to me as an author.  Most of them are going to be trite – because I’m sure many, many authors feel the same way as I do, but just because they are oft said, it doesn’t mean they are not well felt.

What I give thanks for:

1. I need to thank Dreamspinner for giving me the chance to publishSeriously.  There were some things that came before this, and many things that came after, but without Dreamspinner publishing my work, none of it would’ve made any difference.

2.  I want to thank Nic Starr for being there from the beginning. With a single contract under my belt, and a six month wait until I hit editing, I really had nothing to cling to.  NR Walker introduced me to Nic, saying that she too was about to publish her first story through DSP, and so Nic and I struck up a friendship.  Nic held my hand, encouraged me when I needed it, cheered me on at every milestone, listened (endlessly!) to my woes, guided me when I was lost, brainstormed with me when I was stuck, and was always happy to talk.

3.  I am grateful for coffee with M/M friends.  I was nervous the first time I met someone in real life and said, “Yes, I’m the one behind those books,” but oh, it was wonderful to talk about books, authors and writing, and have others nod and understand.  Thank you friends for meeting me: Donna Jones, RJ Jones, Sean Kennedy, Toni Griffin, Nic Starr, Beany Sparks, Lily Lamb, CM Corett, Pia Hoey.

4.  Thank you for readers.  Oh, wow.  Can I ever express how much?  I tell people that when I wrote Loving Jay, I never expected to publish it.  I was “practicing” writing, with the hope that one day I could publish.  I never expected Loving Jay to be good enough.  Once it was finished, I thought to myself, “Wow – this isn’t half bad.  I wonder if a publisher would take a chance on me?”  After DSP gave me the contract, I had modest hopes for it.  I hoped for 200 sales in the first 6 months, with 1000 sales being its all-time movement.  Since I have over 2000 ratings on Goodreads, I think I made it.

But you readers.  OMG.  You take my work, you read and believe and love and adore.  But most of all, you tell me about it (which is rather goddamn humbling!) and then you recommend me to friends.
I am immensely grateful for every single purchase, every single review, every single email.
In case you missed it, I’ll say it again: I am immensely grateful for every single purchase, every single review, every single email.

5.  Thank you to my family for putting up with me.  During the months of April to September, I’m a footy widow as my husband abandons me for the football game on each weekend.  Now the tables are turned and my husband is an author widower, as I regularly abandon him and the TV for the thrill of writing about two men falling in love.

6.  And finally, I’m grateful for every Facebook friend who chatted with me.  You know who you are.  You keep me sane.  You’re there at every hour of the day.  You tell me what you want.  You tell me your dreams.  You tell me your stories.  You make me laugh.  Thank you for being my friend. 

They are the top blessings I have as an author.  Thank you. 



In other news, today I’m celebrating the anniversary of the release of Safe in His Arms.  Twelve glorious months.  It’s been a whole year since I introduced everyone to Lon and Casey.  Thanks for the great experience. 


How to contact Renae:
Twitter:  @renaekkaye

Thursday, November 26, 2015

HAPPY THANKSGIVING by Riley Hart



I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone who celebrates the holiday, a HAPPY THANKSGIVING. I hope you have a wonderful day filled with the people who make you happy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Ask Andrew - Where to Buy - Andrew Grey


Dear Andrew

Are sales from the publisher better, such as Dreamspinner Press, or the same as from other vendors, such as Barnes and Noble or Amazon for an author?

Elizabeth

Dear Elizabeth

Personally, I don't really care where a reader buys a copy of my books.  I'm thrilled for each and every sale.  But that isn't the question you were asking.  The best place for the author who publishes with a publisher like Dreamspinner, is to buy directly from the publisher.  The author generally is paid a percentage of what the publisher receives.  When you as a reader buy form the publisher, the author gets paid their percentage of the entire sale.

With Amazon or another site, they take a percentage off the top as their commission and then pass on the rest to the publisher who pays their royalty from what's left.  So the author gets less from that single sale. 

However almost any author that I know will tell you that to them, it matters less where you buy, but that you as a reader, purchase, read, and enjoy their work.  As writers we love when others enjoy the fruits of our imagination. 

Hugs and Love
Andrew


Ask Andrew is your chance to ask questions of a gay romance author.  The questions can be about the writing process in general, writing sex scenes, gay men, sex, characters in romance, characters having sex... okay you probably get the picture.    I promise to answer your questions as frankly and with as much humor as I possibly can.

So if you have a question, please send it to andrewgreybooks@comcast.net.  This is different from my usual email so your questions don't get lost.  I will answer one question a week.

Please remember this is meant to be all in fun.  (I was going to say good, clean fun, but who wants that.)    So send me your questions and let's see what mischief we can get into.

Visit Andrew on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/andrewgreybooks  and you can join Andrew's fan group All The Way With Andrew Grey.

Follow him on Twitter:  @andrewgreybooks

Visit Andrew's web site:  www,andrewgreybooks.com

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Things we're thankful for Sean, BA, Julia



Sean is here in New Mexico for Thanksgiving, so we have a lot to be thankful for.

I thought I would do the list visually.

Coffee

Old Town Albuquerque

Snow



Puppers


Sparkles

Also, we're grateful for new books, our readers, and  for time together with friends and family. 

Happy Thankgiving,

Julia, BA, and Sean 


Monday, November 23, 2015

Sales & Paperbacks by Cardeno C.


Happy Monday! I have some great deals coming up this week . 

First, the box set of all seven Home books will be $9.99 from Wednesday, November 25th until Wednesday, December 2nd (that's more than 71% off the normal price of the books). Links: Amazon and All Romance eBooks.


If you want any of my other books, they'll be 25% at All Romance ebooks on Friday, November 27th.


My last news is that I'm in the process of publishing my novels in paperback. Three are already live:



Can the billionaire son of a Democratic president build a family with the congressman son of a Republican senator? Forget politics, love makes strange bedfellows.
 
 

Accountant slash bartender Reg will show rock star Jeremy how to have fun...and possibly fall in love.
 

Two lions, each born to serve, rely on one another to survive.
 
 

Have a great week and, if you celebrate, a Happy Thanksgiving.

CC
www.cardenoc.com

Friday, November 20, 2015

I'm Thankful by Felice Stevens


     The Thanksgiving season is upon us and it is my favorite holiday, probably because it isn't based on religion, but instead, centers around family, friends and food, three of my favorite things.
     I have so many things to be thankful for. Even though both my parents are gone, I was lucky they gave me a loving home, strong family values and an education. They taught me that helping others, helps the world.
    Both of my parents were immigrants; my mother came by herself from Europe right as the war broke out. She left behind an entire family whom she never saw again, a they all perished in the war. She spoke no English but immediately signed up for classes to learn English, passed her equivalency test and earned a high school diploma. She never went to college as she had to work. It was her one big regret in life, aside from never learning to drive. That was probably a good thing.
     My father came as a baby from Russia, neither of his parents spoke English. They worked at whatever jobs they could get and when his father, my grandfather died, my father went to college and law school at night and worked two jobs. He slept on a sofa in the living room so his sisters could have a bedroom. He was the first person in his family to graduate high school, college and law school.
     They loved this country and happily became citizens, embracing the holidays and Thanksgiving was the one holiday we enjoyed, since we weren't restricted by any religious laws. We would have visitors, most often my parent's close friends and my brother, father and I each were assigned jobs. Mine was to comb out the fringes of the rug so that it looked pretty. Yes, my mother was a bit intense, but she was a great cook so we did what we were told.


     My favorite part of the meal was the stuffing; I could eat an entire pan of it. We'd have turkey, home made cranberry sauce with apple, sweet  potato casserole with pineapple chunks, and inevitably my mother would forget the steamed vegetables. We'd  have a pumpkin pie and apple pie to eat. 
     I love Thanksgiving as we all sit together and enjoy a meal together and think about how lucky we are to have our freedom and be together. What is your favorite memory of the holiday?
     Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. May you have good health, good food, and people to share it all with. 

In case you'e looking for a good book to curl up with after your huge meal, Betting on Forever, the second book in The Breakfast Club series released this week and is available here:
Amazon:    http://amzn.to/1SJRlLw
AllRomance:     http://bit.ly/1H6pLaQ
B&N: http://bit.ly/1XcUbtV
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1O7dkgf

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ask Andrew - The Ladies Who Write MM Romance - Andrew Grey


Dear Andrew

I am an avid reader of the M/M genre.  My question comes from recent newsletters for other authors I've gotten.  Once again there are people who criticize the efforts authors put into their storyline saying that women truly do not understand how to pull an M/M story together and all they truly care about is the sex scenes.

If the story is researched properly and the author has a level of emotional connection to the characters, does the gender of the author truly matter?  What are your thoughts on this?  Can there be storylines with very little sex scenes? (I think so)

Interested in your view.
Sheryl

Dear Sheryl

I decided to answer your question because it is probably the one I am asked most often.  As a guy I get their question as conventions and from other readers.  I love lady MM authors.  They write wonderful stories that I can't put down.  I'm not going to list names, but there are two that I consider my writing sisters and I love their work and them.  If a story is good, with great characters and a compelling story, I don't care if a man, women, goat, cow or chicken wrote it.  What matters to me is the story.

As for the whole sex scene thing.  There are some stories that consist of too much sex and not enough story.  All I can say is that there is something for everyone.  I believe that sex should be used to further the story or deepen the relationship.  With the Farm Series I kept sex to a minimum because of the type of story it was.  With Eyes Only for Me, there is more sex because the story itself and the journey being taken revolves around sexual identity.

As for stories with little or no sex.  Of course there are great stories with little sex.  Right now you have a search for them because the stories with quite a bit of sex seem to be more prevalent.  After all the oldest adage in advertising is that sex sells.  That goes for romance as well.  Now there is nothing wrong with writing sexy stories or reading them.  All I'm saying is that there are stories of all types being written and there are readers who love them.  And it doesn't matter who wrote the story as long as its good.

I hope this answered your question.
Hugs and Love
Andrew

Ask Andrew is your chance to ask questions of a gay romance author.  The questions can be about the writing process in general, writing sex scenes, gay men, sex, characters in romance, characters having sex... okay you probably get the picture.    I promise to answer your questions as frankly and with as much humor as I possibly can.

So if you have a question, please send it to andrewgreybooks@comcast.net.  This is different from my usual email so your questions don't get lost.  I will answer one question a week.

Please remember this is meant to be all in fun.  (I was going to say good, clean fun, but who wants that.)    So send me your questions and let's see what mischief we can get into.

Visit Andrew on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/andrewgreybooks  and you can join Andrew's fan group All The Way With Andrew Grey.

Follow him on Twitter:  @andrewgreybooks

Visit Andrew's web site:  www,andrewgreybooks.com

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Holiday Recipes with BA, Julia and Sean


We thought we'd share some recipes that we're going to be enjoying over the Thanksgiving holidays.


Julia's contribution:

Biscochitos are a traditional Christmas food in New Mexico, and the stores have them with hot apple cider from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

These spicy, anise-flavored cookies from New Mexico are rich, crisp, and very easy to make. Biscochitos are the holiday cookie staple in New Mexico. The Biscochito is New Mexico’s Official State Cookie as declared by the New Mexico Legislature in 1989. Biscochitos were first introduced to Mexico by Spanish settlers who brought the recipe from Spain.

Stored in a tightly sealed container, they can be frozen up to six months.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups lard, chilled*
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 eggs
2 teaspoons anise seeds
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
About 3 tablespoons brandy, apple juice, or milk*
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat lard and 1 cup sugar in a bowl until fluffy.

Add eggs and anise seeds, and beat until very light and fluffy.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture along with the brandy. Mix thoroughly to make a stiff dough.

Place dough on a long piece, about three feet of waxed paper at one end. Bring the long end over the top and press to about one inch or slightly less in thickness and refrigerate until chilled.)

Roll out dough between waxed paper to just under ½ inch thickness.

Cut with flour dusted cutters into the traditional fleur de lis shape or into 3-inch rounds.

Combine the 3 remaining tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon in a shallow bowl; dip unbaked cookies into the sugar-cinnamon mixture on one side.

Place cookies on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until tops of cookies are just firm. Cool cookies on wire racks.

*Notes: Butter or margarine can be substituted for the lard, however the cookies will not be as crisp and moist. Apple juice or milk can be substituted for the brandy, however they are not quite as good.

Makes 4 dozen cookies

Recipe courtesy of Jane Butel’s Southwestern Kitchen, www.janebutelcooking.com


BA's contribution:

Butternut Squash Soup with Chili-Spiced Nummies

Ingredients:
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large butternut squash (roughly 3 pounds)
5 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup fat free half and half
2 T. olive oil
Salt and white pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, cook the onions and garlic in olive oil until the onions gets soft and tasty. Add salt and pepper (I like lots of pepper), then add in the squash and cook for one minute, then add in the chicken stock and cook, covered until the squash is tender.

Puree the soup with a stick blender and add milk and warm. Garnish with chili-spiced pecans and pumpkin seeds.

Chili Spiced Nummies

    1 1/2 cups pecans
    3/4 cup pine nuts
    3/4 cup  pumpkin seeds
    1/3 cup shelled pistachios

    3 tablespoons olive oil
    3 tablespoons sugar
    1 1/4 teaspoons ground dried chipotle
    1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, mix pecans, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, and oil. Add sugar, chilies, and salt; mix to coat nuts evenly.

Coat a baking pan with cooking oil spray. Spread nuts in pan. Bake at 325°, stirring occasionally, until nuts are browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool. Serve or store airtight at room temperature up to 1 week.


Sean's contribution:

I had this for the first time at Thanksgiving in October (aka Canadian Thanksgiving) and I liked it so much I'm going to make it for BA and Julia.

Goat Cheese-Edamame Dip with Spiced Pepitas

Ingredients

dip
    1 1/2 pounds shelled edamame
    1 cup sour cream
    5 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
    3 chipotles in adobo, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons of adobo sauce from the can
    1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    1 small garlic clove, chopped
    2 teaspoons kosher salt
    1 tablespoon chopped oregano

pepitas
    1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
    1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
    1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
    1 teaspoon chopped oregano

Instructions

In a medium pot of boiling salted water, simmer the edamame until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a food processor. Add the sour cream, goat cheese, chipotles, adobo sauce, lemon juice, garlic and salt and puree until smooth, scraping down the side of the bowl. Stir in the oregano and transfer the dip to a serving bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the pumpkin seeds with the olive oil, salt, coriander and crushed red pepper. Bake for 7 minutes, until the seeds begin to brown. Transfer the pepitas to a bowl and toss with the lemon zest and oregano.

Serve the dip at room temperature, topped with the spiced pepitas.

Make Ahead
The goat cheese–edamame dip can be refrigerated overnight; bring to room temperature before serving. The spiced pepitas can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Serve With
Pita crisps.

Recipe originally found on http://www.foodandwine.com/



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
where the naughty boys come... and play

Monday, November 16, 2015

Ask CC (11.16.2015) by Cardeno C.


Happy Monday! I joined Instagram last week and so far I've been mostly sharing food pics but I plan to expand to puppy pics very soon. You can follow me here. And with that out of the way, it's time for an Ask CC post!

QuestionI've seen you mention a few times how long your "to write" list is! Do the characters push themselves into your mind and demand to be written, or do you write to plan and develop the characters as you go? - Caroline.

CC: Hi, Caroline! The answer to your questions is a bit of both. Characters and situations push themselves into my mind and I'm often jotting down notes for future stories. I also have a chart with my writing plans for the upcoming year. So I could have a plan to write a contemporary novel on my chart, but then I need to choose which contemporary novel from my to-be-written list gets written. For example, both Perfect Imperfections and Strange Bedfellows sat on my list for some time and then battled with each other for which book would get written first when it came time on the chart to write a contemporary, free-standing novel. 


Question: Hey :D could you give us your writing projects, like the new books you're planning to write this year?

CC: What I plan to write and what I end up having time to write often don't line up, but I'll share what I want to write in 2016:


  • The fourth and final Mates novel.
  • Love Me Again (the working title for a Hope novella).
  • A Pack novella (the two are currently battling for top billing - Purple Sky & Golden Field).
  • Knight in Tarnished Armor (the working title for a motorcycle club story).
  • An alternative universe story.
  • A Siphon novel.
  • And then there's this other shifter story idea that keeps poking my brain...

Question: I've read all but maybe 1 of your books (just not gotten to it yet) and most of them I've read MULTIPLE times - what is going on with these 2nd editions?  How extensive are the changes?  I really loved these books just the way they were...and what's up with all of these books being re-recorded by a new narrator?  I really like Paul Morey's, Sean Crisden's and Jeff Gelder's narrations (the odd mispronunciation aside) Why re-record? Also...out of curiosity...why are some of the audiobooks no longer available on iTunes?

CC: Thank you! When I got my publication rights back on my books, I had them edited and had new covers made and then I published the 2nd editions. The stories haven't changed. The Home books and Perfect Imperfections have epilogues that were previously available but not part of the books and Wake Me Up Inside was slightly restructured, but none of those changes impact the substance of the stories. Like the ebooks, the first editions of the audio books are no longer available but I'm working with terrific narrators to issue the 2nd editions in audio. I hope you enjoy them! 


Question: When is there going to be another story in the Siphon collection? I think I've read "Johnnie" about 10 times now and am eager for another one!


CC: I'm so glad you liked Johnnie! I have the next Siphon novel on my to-be-written list for 2016 and the paperback of Johnnie should be available this week.

Question: What books are you planning to release next year? Also, the second siphon book is about the woman's baby in the first right?! 

CC: I answered the first part of that question above and as far as the next Siphon book, I have a list of books for that series and I haven't yet decided which one will be next. :)

Thanks so much for the wonderful questions! If you want to ask me a question that I'll answer on a future blog post, you can let me know here. Have a great week.

CC
www.cardenoc.com

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Nanowrimo – is it worth it? by Renae Kaye


Talk to any author in the last two weeks, and chances are that Nanowrimo will come up.


For those who are blissfully unaware, Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month.  The aim is to encourage authors to write a book during the month of November.  The original founders of the movement decided that 50,000 words make a book, so you need to write 50k during the 30 days of November to “win” Nanowrimo.  There are writing workshops, encouraging emails, support groups in your area, T-shirts you can buy… the whole thing.  I think the concept sounds great…

…until I start looking at the results.

For me, personally, I want to do Nano.  This is my third year I’ve tried, and it’s going to be the third year I fail.  It’s the 14th of the month, and I’m telling you already I’m going to fail to make the 50k.

I went into Nano this month with lots of enthusiasm.  I had the story clear in my head, I wrote down some notes about it, I cleared my schedule and I started with a bang.  Things went quickly downhill from there in the shape of children with mystery illnesses and injuries to myself.

Writing 50k in a month is an average of 1667 words per day.  Which sounds easy.  For me, I try to keep a general average of 1200 words a day during a normal month.  But keep in mind, that the days I write, I will usually write over 2500 words.  On a good day around 5000.  Because this keeps the average up.  There are days I don’t find time to write.

Last year I attempted Nano, but gave up after 2 weeks because I had a book release.  I was writing blogs, talking to people and generally stressing out about the book that came out on the 28th of November.  I just couldn’t deal with the extra stress of trying Nano too.

However, just because I’m predicting a fail for myself, it doesn’t mean others will. So let’s look around at the other authors I know are doing Nano.

One author (let’s call her A1) is giving it a good go.  Her total is great and she’s having a lot of fun with it.  I was discussing it with her and she told me she didn’t care about the quality of the writing, she was just writing!  Then she told me that at least two of the scenes she’d written, she’d have to cut from the final story, because they didn’t fit in with the theme.  She just wanted to write them to get a clearer picture in her head of the story.

So, this author is making no attempt at quality, but just putting words on the page in order to “win.”  I’m not judging A1 and other authors, but if Nano is encouraging more authors to write with the hope of them publishing, then this is a big fail.  And this A1’s story is not isolated.  I’ve seen at least two other authors admit that their Nano writings from previous years would never see the light of day without serious editing and rewriting.  From this, I can conclude that in trying to reach the 50,000 words needed to “win” Nano, some authors are truthfully just wasting their time.

Okay, I admit it, that sounds a little harsh, because I think any form of writing is beneficial to an author, whether it is published or not.  But Nano tries to encourage authors to write a book.  Writing any old thing is not what Nano is about.  I don’t add the words I wrote on my shopping list to my total.  The spirit of Nano is to put down words that can make it to a book that someone else will enjoy one day.

I'm really happy that A1 is having fun - we all need fun.  But let's make sure that those who need to write are writing with purpose.

Then, yesterday another author (let’s call her A2) was chatting to me, and I said something, to which she replied she couldn’t do it, because the strain of Nano was so much, she needed to really get on and write, and it was causing her so much angst, etc, etc.  I was shocked.  I told her, “Do you realise this is just a game we’re all playing.  There’s nothing to say we have to do Nano.”

I could see the stress she was under by trying to reach this total that someone had plucked out of the air and said “One size fits all.”

Not every author can write 50k in a month.  

Maybe A2 is one of them.  There is not supposed to be judgement on an author who can't make 50k.

Then there’s the author (let’s call her A3) who reached the goal of writing 50k on day 8.  Jeez, for me that was upsetting to see.  It made me want to throw in the towel then and there.  Here I am saying that I can’t write more than about 35k in a month, and she writes 50k in a little more than a week.  Why am I bothering to even try?  Why am I even an author?

I’ve looked around at people, and there are a couple of “success” stories of Nano.  Some people have said to me that their Nano writings were published.  But for the large majority of us, Nano is a big fail.  To me, the concept of Nano is supposed to be one of support.  Together we would all try to write 50k and support each other in doing it.  But I don’t see that.  I see people who are struggling under stress trying make themselves do 1667 words a day.  I see people doing stories that will not be any good, just so they can say they “won” Nano.

The concept of Nanowrimo is a good one.  The reality is less.  It is making good authors stressed.  It is making authors write drivel.

So, if you’re participating in Nano, I have a couple of checks for you.

1.  Why are you doing Nano?  What is your purpose?

Now think about your answer.  Did you answer something like, “I’m hoping it will encourage me to finally write this book I’ve been trying to do for two years”?  Or did you answer, “Everyone else is doing it, so I felt I had to do it too.  Isn’t that what all authors do?”

It’s not a competition where you can’t call yourself an author if you don’t make your writing total.  It’s not a race where one author gets to say, “Ha ha.  I finished my word count on Day 23 and you’re still going.”  It’s supposed to be fun.  It’s supposed to be encouraging.

2.  Is a goal of 50,000 words realistic to you?

If your answer was, “I write 100,000 a month anyway,” then why are you doing Nano?  If your answer was, “I struggle to write 10,000 a month,” then realistically, increasing your word count by five times what you usually do isn’t realistic.

One of the basic failings on Nano is that they think 50k makes a book.  In my publishing experience, 50k is a novella.  It doesn’t go to print.  It also doesn’t take into account any sort of difference between authors.  Nano should be about goal setting.  I should be able to set my goal for the month – which is going to be different from your goal, because we’re different authors.

3.  How are you approaching Nano?

Do you have a group of supporting buddies?  Are you supporting your writing buddies?  Are you checking up on your friends, asking them how they’re going and doing a general cheer?

Are you helping or hindering others?

4.  What will happen if you win?  If you lose?

We really don’t want people slashing their wrists because they didn’t make a word count.  And if you’re participating just because you want a badge that says “winner” then perhaps you may need to think about why this is.

If I win Nano, I will be about two-thirds of the way into writing my novel.  50k is not a book for me.  I need a minimum of 60k.  If I don’t win, I will be less than two-thirds of the way into the novel.  I had planned to write those 50k words anyway, and I’m hoping Nano will give me the push and the support to get those words down sooner rather than later.

2011 Nano Participants results


So if you’re struggling with Nano, how about a respite?  Nano isn’t going to make or break your writing career.  Make yourself a more realistic goal.

And check out your writing buddies group.  Just a little shout out to them, saying “well done on making that 25k!” is a great help.

And lastly – happy writings!


How to contact Renae:
Twitter:  @renaekkaye


Friday, November 13, 2015

Traditions by Felice Stevens


It's coming up on holiday time and as they naturally do, my thoughts turn to food and what I'm going to be making for family dinners in the coming months.

First up is Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday. I don't make a whole turkey because it's only the four of us now and no one likes the dark meat. I also make a brisket, because no holiday meal in my house is complete without one. My secret to a great brisket is wine in the sauce, slow cooking on the stove and constant basting with the liquid.

My questions always come about the sides. My favorite is stuffing; I could eat that all by itself. I have the obligatory sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. I mash them up and add pineapple too. It's delicious. I make cranberry sauce with apple chunks and cinnamon. I roast my vegetables like Brussels sprouts and asparagus. My daughter makes pumpkin pie and my son makes apple something.  

Chanukah comes a month or so later and the menu is the same, except for the addition of potato pancakes, or Latkes. So amazingly delicious, I could eat an entire platter myself. My mother used to use a hand grater and yes they were the best, but I use a food processor now and they taste almost as good. The trick is to squeeze out as much liquid from the potatoes before you mix in the eggs, oil and seasonings. That makes for a crispier pancake.










I'd love to learn some of your family foodie traditions. And please, feel free to post your recipes and pictures too

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Holiday Stories by Riley Hart


I've always wanted to write a holiday story. There's something really special about reading them. They just make me feel good, and help to put me in the holiday season.

The problem was no matter how much I wanted to write one, I never really had a story come to me. I've tried to think on one before but it feels like the harder I try to think of a new story idea, the more I struggle to come up with one. It just has to happen organically.

This year? This year it happened and I'm SO excited about it. We're heading back to Blackcreek Colorado to check up on Noah and Cooper, Wes and Braden and Gavin and Mason.


This December it's time to go back...

Wes and Braden

Braden plans a surprise weekend getaway for him and Wes. Two days alone in a cabin with his husband? There’s no telling what kind of trouble they can get into. Wes isn’t fooled though. He knows this weekend is about more than just a sexy escape. When Braden lets him in on what he has planned, it has the potential to change their lives forever.

Gavin and Mason

It’s the start of winter break and Gavin is looking forward to spending it working at Creekside with Mason…only he realizes that’s not the only thing he wants. He sets out on a path to give Mason the surprise of a lifetime, and the end result is a night neither man will ever forget.

Noah and Cooper

Cooper is determined to start a new holiday tradition. He’s planned an ugly sweater party that will go down in Blackcreek history. Not even Noah realizes everything he has in store for the night. If Coop can pull it all off without a hitch, the party will either be a huge success, or the biggest mistake of his life.

Three couples, three major life events. It’s a December to remember for all our men in Blackcreek.

Add to Goodreads

There are no words to express how much fun I had hanging out with the guys in Blackcreek again. It put me in the mood for holiday stories even more, so I'm looking for recommendations. What are some of your favorite holiday reads?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Something Unusual for Me - Andrew Grey


Yesterday while I was on Facebook, Dreamspinner added a post about Eyes Only for Me and someone posted that the story looks as thought it will be different from my other work.  She went on to say that I'd never written 'Gay for You' or 'Our for You' stories and she would be right.  Those are themes I have stayed away from.  I find those themes difficult to deal with and I thought I'd take a moment to explain why.

The coming out process for me was very difficult.  Of course it was another time and under different circumstances than today.  My company was conservative and I could lose my job, I had no idea how my family would react, and it took a while for me to make the journey where I could accept who I was.  I think the last part was the hardest.  For me coming out was a journey form not liking who I was, to accepting and finally embracing myself.  It took many years, a lot of angst, as well as dear friends who helped show the way.  (Barb and Dottie are both gone now, but they live on with a special place in my heart.) 

Anyway, the concept of gay for you is very difficult for me to understand.  I understand that the concept can seem romantic, but in a way it seems to throw mud in the face of the journey of self discovery that I had to make.  See I have to be honest.  I would not choose to be gay if I had the choice to make.  I'd want to be like everyone else and not suffer discrimination and have to fight for every civil right everyone else gets or worry that I could be targeted just by walking down the street.  Just to be clear if I had the choice to make, I'd also choose to look like Eric Bana in Troy.  Tall, dark, and stunning. :)    Why not go for it all?  Right?  But we don't get to pick and choose and we all learn to accept who we are.

Hence the concept of Gay for You rubs me the wrong way.  I much prefer the concept of Out for You or in the case of Eyes Only for Me, Ronnie learns to discover and embrace the fact that he's attracted to both men and women.  (Bi For You)  :)   So to answer my original question, this is my first story of this type and I chose it because the character and situation were right for me to work with. They had to fit with my beliefs.  Writing Eyes Only for Me was a growth experience for me as a writer and as a person.  I can see where I will write more stories like this so I can do additional exploration. 

Reserve an advance copy if you like:   http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7090


This week I did not have a question to answer.  Please send  your questions and Ask Andrew will return.   Ask Andrew is your chance to ask questions of a gay romance author.  The questions can be about the writing process in general, writing sex scenes, gay men, sex, characters in romance, characters having sex... okay you probably get the picture.    I promise to answer your questions as frankly and with as much humor as I possibly can.

So if you have a question, please send it to andrewgreybooks@comcast.net.  This is different from my usual email so your questions don't get lost.  I will answer one question a week.

Please remember this is meant to be all in fun.  (I was going to say good, clean fun, but who wants that.)    So send me your questions and let's see what mischief we can get into.

Visit Andrew on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/andrewgreybooks  and you can join Andrew's fan group All The Way With Andrew Grey.

Follow him on Twitter:  @andrewgreybooks

Visit Andrew's web site:  www,andrewgreybooks.com

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Things We're Thankful For, the dog edition from Sean, Julia and BA


So, Sean, Julia and I have a lot in common.

Lots.

Tons.

But one of the cutest things we have in common?

Dogs.

Sadie, Sonny, Bacon, Sparky, Gizzy — we love our dogs, each other’s dogs, my mom’s dogs. So, we’re all about being thankful this month? Today, we’re grateful for our fuzzy beasts.

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Sleeping fuzzy beasts.

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Stretched out fuzzy beasts.

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Curled up sexy beasts.

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Fuzzy beasts in sweaters.

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Fuzzy little beasts.

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Wallowing fuzzy beasts.

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Fuzzy beasts in the sunshine.

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Fuzzy beasts in the sunroom.

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Beasts in rainbow wings.

 

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