Sunday, April 6, 2014

What's going on these days

My life these days:

No edits yet from Wilde City Press for the Bedtime Stories anthology or from Less Than Three Press for the Project Fierce anthology,

Crawl-through-the-desert slowness of writing on the roommate-is-not-gay story,

Guest blogging at Charlie Cochet's Purple Rose Tea House this Thursday!! (April 10)
 

And still working on getting judges for the 2014 Published Maggies. Arrrgggh, Bryonna and her idea to get three scores per book! We currently have 124 entries, which means we need at least 75 judges. This weekend (after recovering from a 24-hour flu thing), I'm working on emailing bookstores to see if anyone there wants to judge. If I can't get enough via email, I'm going to have to TALK ON THE PHONE, which is always death.

If anyone reading this is a bookseller or a librarian (or a book reviewer, maybe -- still working on the okay for that category) and you'd like to get some romance novels for free in exchange for your honest opinions, please contact me in the comments or via email: bsnow dot writer at gmail dot com. Thanks!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Thank you, Maggies judges!

Just a quick note to any potential Maggies judges who have stopped by this blog to see if my invitation-to-judge email was a scam or not: it's not! This year's Maggie chair, Bryonna Nobles, had the brilliant/insane idea to get input from *three* judges per group of books rather than two, so we need even MORE judges than we've had before.

So if you're considering judging the Published Maggies, PLEASE SAY YES!! You're helping improve the romance genre as well as getting your hands on some wonderful new books.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

It's Greek to me - spanikopita, an epiphany, and an excerpt

Last Thursday (of course I'm posting it late, look at the title of the blog!) I made spanikopita and I had an epiphany. Both words are Greek, ergo (ha!) this blog post almost has a theme. And since I was going to post about spanikopita before I had the epiphany, to fill it out, I thought I'd add an excerpt from my only WIP with a Greek character. Actually, his family is Greek, but according to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it's really the same thing. :)

First, spanikopita. It's been awhile since I made it, but the feta I'd put in the freezer was getting old. Of course, I managed to use the slightly less old package. Oops.

It might be less labor-intensive if I did it the way the recipe calls for -- layering the sheets of filo, spreading the filling, layering more sheets, continue until done -- but I'm used to making them for people to have at get-togethers while you stand around chatting, rather than using a fork and knife, so I wrap them individually.

Spanikopita recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook. My sister gave me a copy even before I became a vegetarian.

It usually takes me about three tries before I remember how to fold them into neat little triangles, but I must have been exceptionally tired on Thursday, because the entire first batch came out like this:


And then something clicked, and the second batch came out like this:

Maybe that was actually my first epiphany of the day.

The big epiphany was about marriage. I think about it a lot because of all the marriage equality battles going on in the world right now. I think about how to counter the argument that marriage should be between a man and a woman only. And that day, my train of thought somehow led to the male's biological imperative to spread his genetic material as widely as possible.

Does anyone else get concerned about the number of sperm and egg donors these days, and kids resulting from those donations not knowing who their biological parents are? That these kids may grow up and fall in love with their half-siblings and they won't find out about their backgrounds until their kids are born with real problems? Yes, I worry about stuff like that, even though I don't know anyone with that background.

We all know that incest is taboo because of the potential for birth defects in children whose parents share too much genetic material. Could that also be the reason for marriage as an institution to have begun in the first place?

If a man has children with every woman in his community, those children will grow up and not be able to marry anyone in that community, because they are all related. So at some point in human history, someone must have hit upon the idea of binding a man to one woman (or a small group of women) and requiring him to reproduce with only those women, as a method of keeping his DNA close to home. This would also explain why bastards were so frowned upon and fornication was right out.

Of course there's the emotional aspect -- that wives and husband get hurt when their spouse cheats on them -- but if you look at the proscriptions of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, most of them are meant to keep believers healthy. I would bet that moral judgment was attached to these proscriptions thousands of years later. (For example: the Hebrew word that most bibles translate as "abomination" really means, according to our rabbi, something more along the lines of "things we Jews do not do". So rather than the finger of God pointing at you with wrathful fury and Condemning You To HAYULL!!!!11one!, it's more like "Friends don't let friends eat pork." It still doesn't explain the mixed-fibers one.....maybe someone foresaw the rise and the evils of polyester???)

So that's my epiphany about marriage -- society decided it was best that all children within a day's travel not be related to each other, therefore, men had to learn to keep it in the marriage bed. Maybe it's true, maybe it's not. I like to think I'm a genius, though. :)

My short story with a Greek character, "Fiscal Cliff" is still unfinished. Of course it's still unfinished. See the title of my blog.

It was meant as an experiment, something to toss up, self-pubbed, on Amazon to see how it would do. I got the idea for the title from a 99-cent e-book called "Binders of Women", published on Oct. 24, 2012, which was a week or so after Mitt Romney unttered the now-(in)famous phrase. It was about as good as you'd expect a 99-cent e-book would be, but I thought it was pretty smart, really, to title it with a term that people would be searching on. So as you can probably tell, my story was supposed to be published back in 2012, when the fiscal cliff was a thing. But of course it blew up to 20K words instead of 10K and still hasn't been revised. SEE THE TITLE OF MY BLOG!!!!

Anyway, here's the beginning of "Fiscal Cliff". Warning: first draft! first draft!!!
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 “Nice suit.” The guy sitting on the end of the bar smiled at me, then he took a sip of his PBR, lifting his chin as he tipped back the can so I could see his throat working. The lenses in his glasses weren’t prescription, but he was pretty cute, so I didn’t care about the pretentiousness

"Thanks." I tossed back my shot of Johnnie Walker and set the glass on the bar. “Wanna take this someplace more private?

“Hell, yeah.” He slid off the barstool and pushed through the crowd, stopping outside the bathrooms to give me a sloppy kiss before continuing on to the back room. Once inside, surrounded by heat and bodies, he kissed me again, holding me against him by pulling on my tie.

“Watch the goods,” I warned, tugging it out of his hand. I gave him a little push and he stepped back until he hit the wall, grinning.
“What do you like to do?” he asked, undoing the first button on his fly.

I smoothed out my tie, then loosened it. “Just about everything."

He stepped forward, tugging my shirt out of my pants and then shoving his hand up inside of it it to touch my chest. When he did, he froze. “Whoa.” He pushed up my shirt and stared at my chest. “Have you never heard of manscaping?”

Jesus, how many times could I have this discussion? Sometimes I wished I was living in the 1970s. “Yes, I've heard of manscaping. But look, I’m Greek, so what’s the point of shaving, trimming, whatever the hell else, when it’s just going to grow back in two hours?” You’d think the heavy five o’clock shadow on my jaw would have given him a clue about what to expect below it, but maybe he thought it was just an artfully cultivated scruff.  

Being from a Greek family, I knew it would be a Sisyphean task to keep myself smooth. It was easier to just find men who didn’t mind body hair, which wasn't hard to do, even if my 5'7", lightly muscled frame wasn't usually a draw for those who liked bears.
“It wasn’t a criticism.” He ran his hand up my chest, scratching his fingernails through the hair there, then he sank to his knees.

Well, at least one thing in my life sucked in the good way.

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And now back to work on my Project Fierce fundraiser story! Deadline is in one week, ACK!!!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Simmer excerpt #2

In which Sule pushes Olaf to try to get him to lose his temper, with very unexpected results.

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"You didn‘t answer my question, ox," Sule snapped, and gave Olaf a shove, or tried to; it was like pushing against the stone face of a cliff. He snarled and shoved harder, this time causing Olaf to stumble just a bit.

"Stop it." Olaf growled, frowning, his heavy blond brows drawn together.

Finally, a reaction. "Stop what? Stop this?" Sule asked, slapping Olaf on the shoulder, then on the chest. "This?" A kick with his instep to the side of Olaf‘s calf. "This?" A cuff to his head.

"Stop!"

"And if I don‘t?" Sule stepped back, lifted his fists into position for a serious fight, began shifting his weight back and forth from foot to foot. It was too bad there would be no witnesses, but fighting on board would probably be enough to get the oaf expelled from the crew. It would be his word against Sule‘s.

"I don‘t want to fight you."

"That‘s too bad," Sule said and shot out a fist. It caught Olaf on the chin, knocking his head back but not causing nearly the impact Sule was hoping for. Before Sule could hit him again, Olaf threw the blankets aside and rushed forward, his shoulder hitting Sule in the chest, driving him backward, slamming him into the bulkhead. Sule‘s head banged against the wood, and then his body was pinned there by Olaf‘s. No room to kick, Olaf holding both of Sule‘s wrists tight against the bulkhead as well. Sule snarled and looked up to meet Olaf‘s eyes—it infuriated him that he wasn‘t quite tall enough to look directly into them. What he saw there wasn‘t anger or hate—he would have recognized those emotions in someone else‘s eyes—but he didn‘t care. He jerked his right wrist free, or tried to, but Olaf kept it pinned to the bulkhead. He pulled harder, but he could not break the grip on his wrists.








Simmer except #1

When Olaf (who isn't actually Dutch) gets invited to stay on the ship.

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"I will not!"

"I‘m captain, and I‘m ordering you to do it!"

Sule snarled at William, who snarled right back at him, even as he kept one hand pressed tightly against the Dutchman‘s side, trying to stop the bleeding. The Dutchman‘s eyes jerked between the two angry men as they argued in English.

Sule felt the old rage bubbling up, burning through him like molten iron. He clenched his fists and tried to will it away, but just hearing Dutch brought back memories of the plantation, the life he thought he‘d escaped. "Bill…," he began, trying not to lose his head completely.

William sighed, the anger draining out of his eyes. He shook his head. "Do you know this man? Was he one of the men who beat you when you were a slave, or who fought with you the day we met?"

Sule looked away. "No," he muttered.

"Then he deserves none of your ill will."

"He‘s Dutch!" The words spat themselves out of his mouth, and he started to step forward but stopped at the icy look in his captain‘s eyes.

"Dutch bleeds the same as African. Right now, he needs our help, and we‘re going to give it to him. So you will kindly extend my invitation—in fact, you will persuade him to come aboard the ship, at least until we can stop the damned bleeding. Do you understand your orders, Mister Okonjo?"

"Yes, Captain." With a red haze in front of his eyes and a buzzing in his ears, Sule focused on the cut over the Dutchman‘s right eyebrow and said that Captain Shaughnessy would consider it an honor to welcome him on board as their guest, and that their surgeon would be happy to see to his injury.


The plan is hatched -- excerpt from "A Cunning Plan"

In which Morgan Villenie discusses The Plan with Alec,  Earl of Whittlesey.

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Villenie frowned. “Even if a man doesn’t need an heir, most men crave the companionship and the, er, warmth… that a wife provides. Might I ask why you don’t?”

“No.” Alec scowled. “It’s none of your damned business.” He stood again, ready to end this outrageous conversation, but Villenie again caught his wrist, holding on with a surprising strength.

“Well, you see, really, it is.” The hint of steel in his tone caught Alec’s full attention. “If I’m to let Penny marry you—”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Oh, yes, well, that’s the plan.” The steel was gone, and his smile had returned. “A marriage of convenience between you and my sister, Penny. Penelope. Of course, I can’t let you marry her if you pose any danger to her, so I feel I must insist upon—”

“I don’t want to marry your damned sister!” Alec pulled his wrist free of Villenie’s grip. “You’re mad! Return to whatever corner of Hell you crawled out of and leave me be!” He started back toward the house, stumbling a bit on the gravel pathway. Ten feet from Villenie, he stopped. “And I don’t want you near my mother again,” he said without turning around. “If I hear that you’re bothering her, I’ll set the constable on you.”

“I’ve committed no crime.”

“You told me yourself that you have.”

“Ah. Well, I meant recently. Or that can be proven.” A crunch of gravel came from behind Alec, and then Villenie peered around his shoulder. Alec’s scowl didn’t seem to deter Villenie in the least. “Look, the plan is simple.” He draped a conspiratorial arm over Alec’s shoulders.