~~ "She has so many aliases, you'd think she was a spy!" ~~

Sunday, December 29, 2013

What's on your menu?

In the spirit of getting back to eating healthy, we (okay, mostly me) made a meal plan for the week and a shopping list that includes going to five different places (farmer’s market, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or Lassens [unless someone can suggest a better place for bulk dried beans], Costco, and the Asian market).

Since it’s been hot and dry during the day but a bit chilly at night, we’re looking at salads for lunch and warmer meals for supper.

On tap for the week:
  • Chinese chicken salad (found some good cabbages at the farmer’s market!)
  • miso soup (hence the Asian market—making it from scratch!)
  • quinoa salad (quinoa plus veggies) with creamy balsamic dressing
  • Mediterranean orzo salad
  • wraps (whole wheat olive oil wraps + hummus + veggies + feta)
  • white bean and kielbasa soup (found a great turkey kielbasa at TJ’s)
  • chicken piccata (Clean Eating recipe, so a bit lighter than the usual)
  • whole wheat pasta w/red sauce (already made/homemade) and turkey/spinach meatballs (homemade)

We hit the farmer’s market and TJ’s today; tomorrow we’ll do Whole Foods and Costco. The Asian market is within walking distance, so that’ll be easy.

What’s on your menu this week? Any healthy recipes to share?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Comfort books

I spent most of November reading for work—I was invited to pitch a story idea for an anthology in another author’s world, but I hadn’t read any of the books in that world since, ooh, 1995-ish?* I had thirteen on hand, plus I got one out of the library, although no, I didn’t read them all. I dipped in and out, asked questions, and eventually wrote a fully formed idea. I also had a vague idea that had been niggling in the back of my head, so I went ahead and pitched that as well…

Yeah. You know which one they picked. But it’ll be more fun to write because I don’t really know what it’s all about!

But that’s not what I wanted to ramble about. There are a lot of things I want to ramble about, actually, as I ponder how the holiday season affects me: ritual, family, darkness and light, spirituality, death, snow/cold. A dozen different blog posts float through my head. Many are interconnected.

Most come back to story. Which doesn’t surprise me in the least.

My usual traditional holiday reading is The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. Most years, I try to read all five books in the sequence, but that one is the most meaningful to me, set in a cold, snowy British winter. I remember finding these books in my school library; not sure if it was 8th or 9th grade. They built on Tolkien and Lloyd Alexander to solidify my fascination with Britain, especially Wales, and the deep magic there.

This year, though, I find myself drawn to other books. I’m not sure how to explain it except to call them comfort reading. Books that pull you down into the story and the characters and you’re there and they’re real, and it’s not so much that you can’t stop turning the pages as you’re not even aware of turning the pages. Magic, yes, but often a more subtle magic.

I moved my office upstairs at the beginning of the year, and as part of that created a wall of books (there are more bookcases on other walls, but one wall is all shelves), and in the process went through all of the fiction we have. I did get rid of a few things. I also found things I hadn’t really thought about, even though they were in a wall of bookshelves in my downstairs office, right there.

I’m reading Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin right now, because a few months ago I was staring at the shelves and it…called to me. I read at least the first chapter right there, as if under a spell. When I finished reading for work and looked around for the next book to read, that was the one I wanted. Not the 200+ books in my To Read bookcase in the upstairs landing, oh no. Tam Lin, dammit.

After that, I think it’ll be The Wood Wife by Terri Windling. I’ve been reading her blog for the past few months, so that seems…right.
 I’m not sure what I’ll choose after that. I find myself rejecting books I love as being “not right,” even as I can’t define what’s “right,” what’s “comfort.” Some, despite how I love them, are too dense. I don’t want dense or deep. (I don’t want fluff, either, really.) I just turned and stared at the shelves. Neverwhere (Gaiman), maybe? Kushner’s Swordspoint? (Why not both?)

I can’t quite put my finger on the common thread of these books. I can feel it, I can almost describe it, but then it slips away. Mythic fiction, maybe?

Do you have comfort books? What are they? What do they have in common, and why do you love them so?

--*Which is not to say the reading was arduous—I enjoy this author immensely. It’s just that if I’d had my way, I wouldn’t have necessarily binged on this author for a month straight.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In which you're spared hearing me sing karaoke

It’s here, it’s here! Remember when I linked to a free podcast of my story “The Sound of My OwnVoice”? Well, the whole anthology of urban fantasy stories from Fiction River, Hex in the City, edited by the phenomenal Kerrie Lynn Hughes, is now available for sale!

Here’s what I wrote for the intro to my story…

Years ago a humor blogger relayed a tale about drunkenly singing karaoke with friends, to the point of rolling around on the stage. Sadly, there’s no logical progression to how my brain forms ideas—it’s rather like the Underpants Gnomes on South Park (Phase 1: Collect Underpants. Phase 3: Profit). Here, it was Phase 1: Drunken Karaoke. Phase 3: Woman Who Has No Idea She’s a Siren Because She’s Been Told Never to Sing Gets Drunk, Sings Karaoke, Then Hot Guy Stops Her, and Then Stuff Happens. I found the rest of the story as I wrote it.

(I have been told this is a novel. In fact, it will be…eventually. For now, you get the short story, and by the gods you will be thankful for it!)

This anthology, though… It’s all I can do not to drop everything I’m doing and start reading. Holy shitballs! I mean, just look at this table of contents:

Foreword: Puzzle Pieces, Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Introduction: Hexen & Magick, Kerrie L. Hughes*
King of The Kingless, Jay Lake
Speechless in Seattle, Lisa Silverthorne
Thy Neighbor, Nancy Holder
Somebody Else’s Problem, Annie Bellet
A Thing Immortal As Itself, Lee Allred
Geriatric Magic, Stephanie Writt
Red As Snow, Seanan McGuire
Music’s Price, Anthea Sharp
The Sound of My Own Voice, Dayle A. Dermatis
The 13th Floor Problem, Dean Wesley Smith
Dead Men Walking, Annie Reed
One Good Deed, Jeanne C. Stein
Fox and Hound, Leah Cutter
The Scottish Play, Kristine Kathryn Rusch

--
*Kerrie, if you have a website, I failed to find it…so sorry….

Monday, December 09, 2013

Catmas carols

Apparently drunk on tea and manic creativity, I just flooded Twitter and FB with Catmas carols.

In case anyone wants to see the whole bunch, I'm copying them here.


And I'm going to stop now, because I don't want to tell my copyediting client he's not getting his manuscript back tomorrow.


Kitten purrs, kitten purrs/Purring all the way/Oh what joy it is to hear a kitten purr today, hey! #catmascarols #jinglekittens

Kitten purrs, kitten purrs/It’s purring time by the heater/Purr and purr/Hear them purr/Soon it will be Catmas Day. #catmascarols #silvercats

O holy cats, the kittens are a-purring/It is the night of the sweet kitten’s purr…/Fall on your knees! Oh, give the kitten scritchies! #catmascarols #oholycats

God rest ye merry, gentlecats/Let nothing you dismay/Remember Bast, our Savior/Looks over us this day. #catmascarols #merrygentlecats

O come all ye kittens/Joyful and purricious/O come ye, o come ye/To eat gooshy food. #catmascarols #comeallyekittens

We three cats who rule your house are/Bearing gifts we traverse afar/Couch to armchair/Your fav’rite rug there/A hairball inside your boudoir. #catmascarols #wethreecats

We wish you a Merry Catmas, we wish you a Merry Catmas, we wish you a Merry Catmas, and a Treat—filled New Year! #catmascarols #merrycatmas

Do you hear what I hear?/A cat, a cat/Purring by the fire/With a sound as big as a lion. #catmascarols #doyouhearacatpurr

Last Catmas, I gave you a mouse/The very next day, you threw it away/This year, to save me from tears/I’ll give you a squishy hairball. #catmascarols #lastcatmas

Feed the cats/Let them know it’s Catmastime. #catmascarols #feedthecats #catcharitysongs #cataid

12 bowls of wet food/11 laps to sit on/10 catnip treats/9 laser pointers/8 beds to nap in/7 fish a-swimming/6 turkey drumsticks/5 HOURS OF SCRITCHIES/4 feather toys/3 paper bags/2 mouse-shaped things/and a pardon for climbing up the Yule treeeee #catmascarols #12daysofcatmas
Edit: I'm adding everyone's offerings as I see them!

Oh catmas tree oh catmas tree, with branches made of catnip, your shiney bells to me foretells, tumbling through and backflip.... (Vicki-Marie Petrick)

~~~

Away in a catbox I don't use my beds
This sweet little kitty digs, spatters and shreds,
The season's for giving and so I will leave
Turds, birdies, and dead mice for you to receive.

The humans are moaning, they say it's a mess
But these are the gifts that I proudly profess
And you'd better like it or you'll get instead
Some cat barf and hairballs right smack in your bed.

(Meg Burns)

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Podcast! Author squee!

Seeing your story in print (or pixels) is a thrill that never goes away, but hearing your story read aloud is a whole different level of squee.

This month, my story "The Sound of My Own Voice"—a snarky urban fantasy starring a Siren in Los Angeles—will appear in the anthology Hex in the City from Fiction River. Drunken karaoke is involved. (No, I didn’t sing drunken karaoke—it’s in the story! And while drunken karaoke is never a good idea, in this case, it was a really, really bad idea…)

Aaaaanyway, if that makes you salivate for the story, I have great news: Starting today, for one week only, it’s available as a free podcast.

I haven’t heard the podcast yet, so I can’t say whether the reader (the amazingly talented and supremely funny Jane Kennedy) attempts drunked karaoke. It’s up to you to decide whether that’s a good or bad idea, too…


Cover
Squeeing author

Elementary, my dear!

[Ooh! I thought I'd lost this post, but apparently not! Yay!]

It's out! It's out!

Pardon my French, but holy shitballs. I now have stories in two Mercedes Lackey anthologies, based in her Elemental Masters fantasy world. How...how did this happen? (Ken is no doubt shaking his head at my lack of belief in my writing, even though he's downstairs and has no idea I'm typing this.)

Dudes.

The book is out today, so if you're so inclined, you can now order Elementary (All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters). The stories are set in a world (pre-WWII) where magic exists in the form of elementals (earth, air, fire, water), and people who can wield that magical energy. Misty's novels, as well as the stories, are each loosely based on a different fairy tale as well.

This time, I wrote about Hansel and Gretel in the Black Forest of Germany during the potato famine (yep, Germany had a potato famine, too)…except it's really about the "witch" and her oven and fire, and loss and hunger and finding something to live for, and family. And magic. And as I type this, it occurs to me that there's a little bit of freaking The Sound of Music in it, kinda. Huh.

Anyway. I share a glorious TOC with my friends/awesome authors/fellow Oregon Writers Network peeps Michele Lang and Louisa Swann, as well as (holy shitballs) Mercedes Lackey and Diana L. Paxson and Tanya Huff Rosemary Edgehill and…will someone kindly pass me the smelling salts?

Oh, and what a pretty, pretty cover…

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The universe scoffs at my attempts to do anything

So I was writing a happyhappy blog post about Elementary, the new anthology set in Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters universe, which contains my story “Hearth & Family,” when Afalwen (my darling writing laptop) decided it was full. And could not go on. Of course, this was one of the very rare times that I was writing the post in Blogger rather than in a Word .doc and then copying it over.

It was a really funny post, too, because everytime I think about the fact that I now have stories in two Elemental Masters anthologies, I need someone to pass me smelling salts.

Thankfully, Ken the Computer Guru came to my rescue, found the enormous unecessary file that was clogging up Afalwen, and has taken it off to perform other update-y type miracles that will make it Bigger. Stronger. Faster.

He says this’ll take about an hour, which means two hours (he knows whenever he tells me how long something will take him, I automatically double it…because when I first told him that, he got miffed and then realized I was absolutely right). And even though I haven’t gotten to my copyediting for the day, you know what? Screw it, I’m’a gonna pour me a glass of wine and run a bath and read Seanan McGuire short stories on my Kindle (yes, I’m’a gonna take my Kindle into the bath with me because I LIVE ON THE EDGE).

I will re-create the happyhappy blog post later.

Updated to add: My life…I’d barely finished typing this when a friend called to say he’d been in a car accident and could we pick him up and take him home? Well, duh, of course, where are my shoes? (He’s bruised but fine; car is totaled. Egads.)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Put some Sexy in Your Stocking!

From the naughty minds of three of today’s top erotica authors—Andrea Dale, Sophie Mouette, & Teresa Noelle Roberts—comes a collection filled with winter holiday delights!
  • The Queen of Christmas
  • Frozen
  • On the Twelfth Day
  • Let It Snow
  • Santa Claus is Comin’
  • Mrs. Claus and the Naughty Elf
  • Christmas Blizzard
  • Happy Krampusnacht
  • Running Away From Christmas
  • A Bird in the Hand
  • Bringing Back the Light
  • Hidden Treasure

So curl up in front of a roaring fire, sip some eggnog, and tell Santa that on Christmas morning, you want to find something…Sexy in Your Stocking!

Order from Amazon
Order from Powell’s (coming soon!)
Order from Barnes & Noble (coming soon!)

Also available in ebook format:

Friday, November 08, 2013

Dyeing for Her - new Sophie story!

How do you seduce your latest crush, the smoldering sexy chorale member with a voice like an angel and legs that would lead any woman into temptation? Offer to dye her hair, give her a scalp massage that leaves her purring, and then work your way down….

Sophie Mouette turns on the heat with this erotic lesbian short story that’s guaranteed to leave you wet. Find out why erotica-readers.com calls this “Dyeing for Her” “a gloriously contemporary piece of fiction”!

Purchase the ebook at
Amazon
 | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Projects update #18,624

I’m starting to feel a little wheee! again about all the projects on my plate right now, so what better than a blog post to get them all straight in my head?

  • erotica story—finishing this one up for my non-public pen name; hopefully done tonight or tomorrow
  • Ghosted (novel-in-progress)—doing a read-through and taking notes so I can finish the damn thing
  • anthology story—I’ve been invited to pitch an idea for an anthology of stories set in a big-name author’s world. The pitch is due by December 1, so I’m currently re-reading some of the books to re-familiarize myself with the world. (I own, um, 13 books in the series. I don’t have time to re-read all of them…)
  • Sexy in Your Stocking (holiday erotica collection of stories by me as Andrea Dale, my coauthor Teresa Noelle Roberts, and our joint author Sophie Mouette)—ebook is designed, cover is designed, need to design POD interior
  • “Dyeing For Her” (Sophie Mouette short story)—cover is designed, ebook is designed, need to convert ebook and upload to various sites
  • copyediting job—in progress; it’s short so I should have it finished tomorrow
  • proofreading job—will start after the copyediting job is done; thankfully also short

There’s also the work I’m doing for Lucky Bat Books, which obviously I can’t discuss in detail here. Right now I have two potential clients, and I’m still reading through all the information I need to do the job and familiarizing myself with the way they do things. They are being very patient with me as I ask a million questions.

And let’s not talk about the two other novels I need to finish, the one I need to redraft, and the three novellas I want to write…ideally by the end of the year….

Wheeee!

New job with Lucky Bat Books

I have exciting news! I’m the newest Managing Editor of Lucky Bat Books!
Lucky Bat Books is a new kind of publishing company for the 21st century. They’re a full-service publisher that accepts awesome books and makes them more awesome, working with the author every step of the way—but the difference is, they don't keep a percentage of the author’s income. The author pays for the work we do—and they pick what work they need—and then all the income from the book goes to them.

Lucky Bat also offers LB Press, for authors who want to do some of the work themselves and set up their own publishing company or otherwise indie publish on their own. Those authors just pick the services they need—a strong copyedit, say, or book design.

As a Managing Editor, I get to do all of the fun stuff: work with authors and shepherd their book through the publishing process, developmental edit, copyedit, proofread, design ebooks and print books… About the only thing I’m not going to do is cover design, because while I’m a competent enough designer for simple covers, I don’t have the background or training to do anything complex. Which is fine, because Lucky Bat has a stable of tremendous cover artists (and other staff)!

I’ll be doing this on top of being a writer and publisher/small business owner, but it means I can still work at home in my jammies (or, ahem, nothing at all), so there’s really no downside. I’ve done some freelance work for Lucky Bat over the past couple of years, and I’m so looking forward to helping more authors see their dreams become reality.  :-)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Guest Blog: Teresa Noelle Roberts and Cougar's Courage

I’m in love with Jack Long-Claw, my shapeshifting cougar shaman hero in Cougar’s Courage (Duals and Donovans: The Different, Book 3). He’s sexy and brave and clever, quick with a quip as well as a spell. And poor Cara, my heroine, how could I not love her? She has to come to terms with a lot over the course of this book—and falling for someone who isn’t human is easy compared to most of it.

But I’m just as in love with two of the secondary characters, Grand-mère and Sam Many-Winters, aka Gramps. Grand-mère is old. How old? At one point she condenses the history of white people in Canada to about three sentences, because from her ancient perspective, that’s about as long as their puny little history deserves. She’s not actually a goddess, but people have worshipped her. And she just loves interfering in the lives of her descendants, especially their love lives.

Gramps is a less formidable character. He may be a powerful human shaman, but no one’s ever mistaken him for a deity. For one thing, deities aren’t prone to wearing Bugs Bunny boxer shorts over their jeans instead of under them. On the other hand, he’s good friends with Coyote, the Coyote. They watch Warner Brothers cartoons together on a TV that doesn’t actually plug into anything. When the book starts, he’s fallen into depression after the death of his only child, Cara’s mother, has stopped practicing magic, and may die as a result. Luckily Cara and his good friend Coyote pull him out of his funk.

Because when things get tough, Cara and Jack need the wisdom and experience of Gramps and Grand-mère to save the day.

Here’s a brief introduction to Gramps in action:

“The green button means go, right?” He began to dial. “What do you think? 1-800-COYOTE sounds promising.”

“I was kidding, Gramps. The phone doesn’t work anyway.”

Gramps cackled so loudly they could probably hear him above the Arctic Circle. “It doesn’t matter if the phone works, Cara. I’m calling Coyote. If he wants to take the call, he will.”

He held the small red-and-silver device out a little gingerly and dialed.

Despite a dead battery and no signal, she could hear it ringing.

She froze when she heard a voice.

“Coyote’s not home right now,” it said. It was raspy, whisky-and tobacco-laced, prankish and intimate, yet doing its best to sound like a machine. “Or he is, but he’s eating or fucking or napping and doesn’t feel like being interrupted. Please leave a message at the sound of the…”

Then the tone changed, no longer pretending to be a recording. “Sam, where have you been? Your time’s almost up. Expiration date quickly approaching. But I don’t think earth’s quite done with you yet.”

Cara didn’t think her grandfather, with his weathered bronze skin, could turn pale. She was wrong. Then again, she didn’t think a cartoon sledgehammer could pop out of her phone and bop her grandfather on the head. “I never left you, Sam Many-Winters. You’re a moron. I’ve. Been. Right. Here. All. Along.” The last six words were punctuated by more bops on the head with the impossible hammer. The blows didn’t seem to hurt. If anything, each one left Gramps looking more focused and determined. “All you had to do was ask properly, and by properly I don’t mean one more snore of a ritual, but in your own way. Now that you finally did, yes, I’ll take you up on that steak—with a side of whoop-ass for sorcerers.”

And a little taste of Grand-mère:

The visitor wore a pale buckskin dress ornamented with beads and porcupine quills, not a fashion statement but traditional Native clothing, and no coat despite the frigid February weather. Her silvery braids were fastened with rawhide strips. Not something you saw every day in Toronto. Maybe the old lady figured serious business like a visit to the police station merited her version of a weddings-and-funerals suit or dress uniform.

“May I help you, ma’am?” The unusual visitor had roused her curiosity, which could only be good.

“No, but I can help you, Cara.”

How did she know Cara’s first name? Her name plate just said Mackenzie.

The elderly woman extended a small, bony hand, and Cara instinctively took it. She expected it to be icy. Instead, it was hot. As soon as they touched, Cara felt like she was focusing properly on the other woman for the first time. She blinked and recognized her visitor at last. “Grand-mère? Is that you?”

It couldn’t be. Cara had been ten the last time she’d seen the elder of her mother’s village, and the old lady must have been over eighty then. But the woman nodded and smiled. It was an odd smile, like a tree smiling, serene in a way that you didn’t normally see on a human face. “Of course it is, silly. Who else would I be? It’s time to come home, Cara. Come to Couguar-Caché before it’s too late.”

Couguar-Caché—“hidden cougar” in French—her mother’s ancestral village. A place so remote Cara had never been able to find it on a map, even though she knew she’d been there as a little girl. Yeah, just where she wanted to visit in the depths of winter.

As the old woman spoke, the room closed in, leaving only Cara and Grand-mère. The rest of the squad room was still out there—Cara could hear voices, a ringing cell phone—but they were hidden somehow, masked by a fog. Grand-mère had been seated, but suddenly, with no transition Cara noticed, she was standing in an archway made of snow-weighted evergreen boughs. Behind her, where Cara should have seen Dalhousie’s chaotic desk and the captain’s neat one, was forest and snow, woodland twilight and the corner of a log cabin. A cold, bracing wind blew through the archway, smelling of snow and pine and wood smoke. Somewhere in the background, she could make out a tall man with long dark hair. He turned and looked through the weird portal straight at her with intense amber eyes. He was movie-star gorgeous.

Series blurb: Welcome to an America where the non-human Different and magically gifted humans live among ordinary people. Witches are both feared and honored, but shape-shifting Duals are treated as second-class citizens. The Agency, a government agency that’s supposed to monitor illegal uses of magic and Different abilities, has developed its own dangerous agenda. But when Duals and witches join forces, the Agency and other bad guys aren’t going to know what hit them.

And neither are the witches and Duals. Witch magic grows from the positive energy of love and sex–and the only thing better than one Dual is two of them! And then there are shamans, who work their chaotic magic to comfort the afflicted and shake up the comfortable. Once shamans get involved, everything gets weirder…and sexier.

Novel Blurb: Toronto cop Cara Many-Winters Mackenzie is still reeling from her fiancé’s murder when her orderly life takes a turn toward the weird, complete with voices in her head and phantom bleeding wounds.

This violent awakening is the rise of her Different gift—a chaotic, Bugs-Bunny-on-crack magic that she must learn to control before it destroys her. There’s only one place to get help: her mother’s ancestral village, and a mentor who seems to have stepped straight out of the smoke of her erotic dreams.

Cougar Dual Jack Long-Claw reluctantly agrees to take Cara under his wing, though he’d much rather take the beautiful city girl into his bed. As he guides her through a crash course in shamanic magic, sparks fly—some sexy, some snarky. But when an ancient enemy attacks the village, they must work together to hone a magical weapon against certain destruction.

Common sense tells them it’s a terrible time to fall in love. Their spirit guides have other ideas. And shamans who don’t listen to their spirit guides are dead shamans…

Warning: Hot shape-shifting feline hero. Strong but shell-shocked heroine. Snarky, meddling spirit guides. And lots and lots of sex: angry sex, crazy sex, magical sex, and just plain sexy sex.


Like the sound of this? I’m running a contest on my own website for a chance to win this book and the first book in the series, Lions’ Pride. Commenting here or at my site enters you. Comment here and there, get two entries.