Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Book That Started It All!


I recently went through my bookshelf trying to find and ‘oldie but goodie” to read. Even as my finger drifted across cracked spines and the scent of my old books drifted up to me, I knew which book I looked for. The title was The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss.

Kathleen Woodiwiss was my biggest influence as far as finding an unending love for historical romance. She is the one author who grabbed me by the heart and never let go. In the early days of my actual foray into writing, I had a chance to visit with her and she was a wonderfully articulate lady. Her debut novel was rejected by agents and hardcover publishers as being too long. In typical Kathleen fashion, she refused to rewrite her novel and sent it instead to paperback publishers. Avon had the foresight to immediately purchase and the rest is history! I think she singlehandedly changed the course of romantic novels.

I will never forget that phone call with her. I sat on the edge of my chair, my palms sweating, my heart pounding, and excitement like I’ve never known! She gave me so much encouragement to do the thing I love. Hence my historical trilogy including my Keeper of the Spirit, Keeper of the Dream, and Keeper of the Heart.

Now I’m sitting here looking at my very worn original copyright dated 1972, The Flame and The Flower. Years have passed and I’m not sure I’ll ever shoot to the top of the Best Seller list, but Kathleen’s encouragement still rings in my ears.

 

Merry Christmas to all!

Ruby

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

I'm always looking for something new to try. Food wise that is. I love to eat and Thanksgiving is the one holiday that promotes food to the tee. Yum.
Since my daughter works for Walmart, I'm having Thanksgiving's food dishes ready by noon so she can eat before she has to be there by 2. The rest of us can eat with her then eat again on and off all day. I doubt I get out of my comfy clothes on Thanksgiving.
Here's one of my favorite Thanksgiving day recipes.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients:
3 cups of mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup of milk
½ cup of butter



Mix:
Potatoes, sugar, eggs, vanilla & milk. Add melted butter. Pour into a casserole dish.

Topping Ingredients:
1/3 cup of flour
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup softened butter

Mix:
Combine brown sugar and flour. Add softened butter until it becomes a crumbly mixture, then add nuts. Mix well.  Sprinkle on top of casserole.

Bake:
350 degrees for 30 minutes or until done.


As I said, I'm always looking for new recipes to try so please share yours here.
Happy Thanksgiving.
Tara

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wounded Warrior Project

It's my turn to blog again, and, as usual, I had no idea what to say. Seriously, doesn't anyone really care about my crazy life with my three girls, my struggle to find jeans that fit, or my never-ending battle to lose weight?

I didn't think so.

So as I cast around in vain for a topic to write about, I tried to think of something that meant a lot to me. One of the things that came to mind immediately was The Wounded Warrior Project. (woundedwarriorproject.org)

I first learned about this site when I was doing research for my next book. (more on that later) As I explored the site, I became more and more impressed by what this non-profit organization is doing for our wounded military members.

This is a subject near and dear to my heart. My grandfather was the second to last man drafted in WWII, my father was in the Air force, I had two uncles fight in Vietnam, my sister was in the Army for 23 years, her husband was also in the Army and my other brother-in-law was in the Navy. My niece is currently in the National Guard. Service to our country is big in my family.

We have been so blessed that none of our family members was ever wounded during their service, but not everyone is that lucky. It absolutely breaks my heart that people who put their lives on the line for our country come home to miles of red tape, inadequate care, and an overtaxed support system.

 These people are heroes, damn it!

I have spent a lot of time researching Navy SEALs for my next book. I enjoy doing research, but this time, I wanted to make sure I REALLY got it right, because it means so freaking much to me. My hero is going to be a wounded SEAL and I hope to God all the research I've done will do him justice.

Veterans' Day was November 11th, but thanking our veterans and military personnel should be something we do every time we see someone in uniform.

In order to put my money where my mouth (or keyboard) is, when I finally get my wounded hero book written, I'm going to donate part of the proceeds to The Wounded Warrior Project. I encourage you to check out their site and see what they are doing for our heroes.

To all the military and their families, I thank you for your service, sacrifice, and dedication. God bless you and keep you safe.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gay Rom Lit

Recently I attended a new to me convention, the Gay Rom Lit Retreat. Now I’m no convention virgin, I’ve been going to the Romantic Times convention since 2004 and Ellora’s Cave Romanticon for 3 of the 5 years it’s been running. SO I had no hesitation signing up to go to another convention and attending alone as I always have. In my experience it hasn’t taken very long to meet up with a group of new friends and have a blast. Everyone raved about how awesome Gay Rom Lit was, how many friends they made and how it was so great to be among like minded people where they could relax with no fear of judgement.

I was excited.

I arrived in Atlanta a couple of days early still buzzing from my amazing time the previous week at Romanticon and ready for the fun to continue. The hotel was nice, and I settled in to do a little sightseeing through the day and sit in the bar in the evening where I knew I would find the convention attendees. The first night I took a seat in the bar with my e-reader and a drink I was expecting things to be a little quiet but I knew the writing workshop was on and there would be some early birds. I was excited to recognise a couple of writers from pictures I’d seen online and it helped me identify the groups around them as attendees. I smiled at a few of them but since I had no con badge yet didn’t expect much. So I people watched and read my book and listened to the fun going on around me.

The following night I took a seat at the bar again after spending the day at the aquarium. Once again I read my book while the laughter and buzz went on around me. Groups of people who obviously knew each other fairly well and were thrilled to be in each other’s company. I saw a few people coming down the lobby escalator with their conference bags and badges and realised early registration must be open. With anticipation I went up the stairs to get mine. There was a little line and the people in the booth were a little harassed but friendly enough. I took my stuff and put my badge over my head, its bright colour identifying me as a reader. I headed back to the bar excited that people would now know I was part of the convention. Now maybe I could chat with a few people. Maybe get involved in some of that raucous laughter myself. Two hours later I was still alone. Never mind, I thought, they have been together for a few days at the writer workshop. They obviously all have established themselves in groups already. Most of the attendees will be arriving tomorrow.

The next day I decided not to go out. One of my favourite things to do at a con is sit in the lobby the day everyone arrives and watch as people meet up and the atmosphere starts to build. I wore my badge and took my e-reader to sit in the bar. The day passed, people came and went from the seats around me. No one spoke to me. The bar got busier, people were obviously having a great time, I smiled at people who sat in the armchairs around me. No one spoke to me.

I wasn’t excited anymore.

I sent out a frustrated message to the ether (otherwise known as facebook and twitter) asking for someone to please talk to me as I was lonely at GRL. At this point I met K-lee Klien, who is an awesome writer with some health issues which mean she rarely leaves her room. She saw my plea and headed to the bar to meet me. Thank you K-lee, if you are reading this. You are awesome! K-lee had been to a few GRL’s and knew a lot of attendees, she pointed out a few familiar names and introduced me to a group. I’m not gonna lie, I was a little awkward, I mean Marie Sexton was in the group! I tried to join in the conversation but I had arranged to meet a twitter friend from Atlanta for dinner and he arrived shortly after that. Maybe that was the point where things might have changed for me. Maybe I missed my window.

The following day I felt a little better, I had after all met a few people the night before and I’d spent a lovely few hours with James (who took me to my first gay bar and out for a meal, thanks James!) I went to the virgin event in the morning, expecting to make a few friends. They split us into groups and in our group was K.A. Mitchell! We were all very excited and she was just lovely. The group introduced itself and once again I discovered that most of them already knew each other in some capacity. I left the room alone. By lunch I was feeling a little depressed. 3 days into the con and I was still eating alone while the fun went on around me. I was tired of it. In fact I would quite happily have gone home at that point. I put a message on facebook saying as much.

Some friends on facebook L.B. Gregg and Danny Bruggeman asked people there to look out for me and a couple of people did join me for lunch. Then I met K.C. Burn and her friends and spent some time with them. Things got better. I met a lot of authors I admire, gushed about their work and bought more books than I really should have given my luggage allowance. But, I have to say I still spent significant amount of time at GRL sitting alone and it wasn’t fun. It felt a lot like being back in school and watching everyone have a good time that I wasn’t part of. Maybe my expectations were too high, after all it took me 33 years to find my identity and I was sure this was a time I’d feel the same as everyone else. Maybe I didn’t put myself out there enough because the situation made me feel like that outsider I was once upon a time. What it definitely did was leave me fairly sure I won’t be attending again. Even though part of me still longs to be part of that group.

So that was GRL for me. If you are thinking of attending next year then my advice is still to definitely go. Most people seemed to have a blast. BUT, take a friend. Or make sure you know people who are going to be there. Most of the attendees seemed to be in established groups already and in such a close knit community I found it really hard to be a part of things. I also know that any convention I go to in the future I will pay more attention and look out for the people who are sitting alone. I’ve met some of my best friends that way and I don’t want anyone to feel the same way I did those first few days.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

“On the first day of Christmas...”

I know, I know. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, although, to look at the stores around the Finger Lakes, you would think the holiday season is already here—and has been here since before Halloween.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a song often parodied (“...and a BEER!”) but few realize the title refers to the twelve days after December 25th. That stretch of time symbolizes the time it took for the Wise Men to travel to the manger in Bethlehem and culminates with Epiphany on January 6th. For centuries that holy day, January 6th, was the more important celebration. In fact, Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night, refers to the merriment of Epiphany. Sometimes called “Little Christmas,” it’s still celebrated around the world today.

So why am I talking about Christmas and Epiphany so early in November? Because I have a new release coming out that takes place during those twelve days, of course!

12 Days is a light-hearted romp through the ages, starting on Christmas Day, 1750 and coming forward in twenty-five year jumps to January 6th, 2025. Each section is a succeeding generation in a family that has some unique traditions. The point of view changes from male to female, alternating throughout the book so both genders get to weigh in.

Let’s face it, bondage games have been around pretty much for as long as humans have been having sex and I had fun doing the research to find out just what that might have looked like in ages past...and in ages future!

Of course, today many religious traditions have come together to create a holiday season out of the entire month of December. There’s Advent, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the Solstice as well as the changing of the calendar from one year to the next. Some traditions give one present each day, others give a bunch all on one day.

So, because of that, 12 Days will release as individual short stories starting the day after the US’s Thanksgiving, November 29th, rather than the twelve days of the stories. Each section will be available for 49 cents ($.49) for those who want a present every day. On December 10th, you can purchase the entire book for $4.99, essentially getting two free stories (if you can wait that long!).

Mark your calendars. The holidays are coming...and so are 12 Days!

Play safe,
Diana

(edited to fix a mis-named holiday!)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Autumn Spice Cake

I've been a widow for nine years, so it's rare for me to cook much. I like to prepare dishes that will last for several meals. I eat it once or twice, then put the remaining servings in the freezer in individual containers so I can pop one in the microwave for a quick meal.

Lately, I've been trying some new recipes thanks to trolling on Pinterest. That site is so dangerous! I could spend literally hours there every day if I didn't remind myself that looking at all the pretty pictures won't get my book finished.

I found this recipe for Autumn Spice Cake and thought it sounded good. It is deelish! Nice and moist, and the scent of spices while it's baking makes you think of autumn. I want to share it with you. I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did.


1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Beat butter, shortening, and sugars until smooth. Beat in eggs. Add buttermilk and vanilla.

Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl. Gradually mix into creamed mixture. Pour into 9" x 13" baking dish and bake 30-40 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool and frost with vanilla or cream cheese frosting.

Enjoy! And have a glorious autumn.

Lynn

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Romanticon here I come!

What to pack, what to pack...
I'm flying out early Wednesday morning for the best conference ever.
Romanticon in Ohio. If you didn't know, it's Ellora's Cave's Conference
celebrating Erotic Romance.
I've got my costumes for Bollywood and Glamorous Old Hollywood. I'm so excited
about this years event. I plan to post pictures as soon as I hook up with my fellow
Sizzling Scribe sister Cait Miller. She's our Scottish sister and I'm so looking forward
to seeing her and getting a great big hug.
If you're in the Ohio area, come on out to the MacKinnley Grand and party with the
Cavemen, the Authors and the entire Ellora's Cave staff.