Friday, June 29, 2012

Yummy Summer Goodness

One of the things I adore about my boyfriend is that he can cook. Not only that, that he loves to cook. Master Chef (pretty easy to see where he got his nickname lol) has introduced me to lots of new food that my picky self would have or had ignored in the past. I now have many new favorites that I have no idea how I hadn't tried before we met.

First up, Brushetta. I have to admit I hadn't even had baguette dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar (which I also love) before he came along and now I'm addicted to the bread, the cheese (we've been using goat cheese lately) the fresh basil and tomatoes loaded on bread. Yummy!

I'm a potato lover through and through and when I first tried twice-baked potatoes I was pretty damn sure I had gone to heaven. All the mashed up goodness mixed with sour cream and cheese and green onions and more cheese and then cooked again.

Another new favorite would have to be Watermelon salad. Watermelon, sweet sesame seeds, fresh mint, feta cheese (I'm seeing a trend here with the cheese) balsamic vinegar....

Is anyone else hungry yet?

What are your favorite foods? Discover anything new lately?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

For your visual inspiration...

Since Phin has gotten me sick, my normal blog posting has been interrupted. Instead, I bring you the amazing oh-my-why-haven't-you-seen-this-yet version of "Call Me Maybe", which is surprisingly safe for work.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's Not Procrastination if it Never Gets Done

So I've been thinking a lot lately of all the little tricks and tools writers use to motivate ourselves, to get things started and keep them going. Things like the right music, the proper libations, a board full of inspiring pictures on know the kind of thing I mean.  I'm sure every writer has them. Tonight, however, I'm thinking about all the little things that make writing impossible.

It's not a very long list, really. Then again, I guess it doesn't need to be. Especially not when they all team up at once to derail  me. Tonight we have, in no particular order:

1. Someone standing right behind me.  Are they really reading every stupid word I type? Judging me? Getting ready to knife me in the back? No, probably not, but I freeze up just the same.

2. A toothache. Yeah, that's probably self-explanatory. This is what happens when a several-decades-old filling falls out and takes half your tooth with it. But that will no longer be an issue after tomorrow's dentist appointment...right? In the meantime, maybe another glass of wine will help.

3. My dog wanting me to play with him. It's that hopeful look in his eyes; it gets me every time. That and the fact that I can't bargain with him the way I could when my kids were young. "Just give me five minutes" has no meaning to a dog. My only hope is tiring him out.

4. The dog in the yard next door barking. And, yes, I know this is why headphones were invented, but I think my dog is sweet on her 'cause he always comes barreling through the house to bark back at her. 

5. Someone standing right behind me. Oh, did I say that already? Well, I think she's still there. Don't look! Just tell she glaring at me? 

6. Phone calls. I've turned the house phone off because the only calls we ever got were wrong numbers and sales calls. Sometimes both at once. Of course, there's still my cell phone--which I always need to answer because it could be an emergency. Did you know that when the police station calls it shows up in caller ID as "Restricted"?  Neither did I.

7. People at the door. We used to get a lot of that. Honestly, this isn't that big a problem anymore. Not since we padlocked the front door. 

8. People asking questions. It's not that I'm least I don't think that's what it is, but I'm only capable of so much fiction at any one time. If I expend it all answering questions in a diplomatic fashion I won't have enough left for my WIP. 

Q: "Why is there a padlock on the front door?" 
A: "Why? Oh, um...that's to keep the dog from getting out and running away."

Q: "Why is your bedroom door locked?"
A: "That's so the dog won't go in and make a mess."

Q: "The dog must be very smart."
A: "Why, yes. Yes, he is."

9. People wandering aimlessly (or not so aimlessly) around the house. There are a lot of good things about having my "office" in what was supposed to have been the living room--like the view and the lack of a "wow, this room is really small!" claustrophobic response. I also have the ability to keep track of who's going where without having to get up and follow them around...much. The bad thing is I can't exactly ignore who's going where either. And when the "who" has a marked tendency to wander, get into things she probably shouldn't and leave me on the receiving end of a lot of "Restricted" phone calls? Yeah...I think I'd better go and check that out... 

And I wonder why I don't get more writing done these days!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Guest Blogger Tamara Morgan - Being Funny On Demand

Writing comedy is hard. Really hard.

Not just because everyone’s idea of comedy is different (even though it is), or because it can be hard to conjure up a humorous mood when you have a looming deadline and a sink full of dirty dishes (I dare you to try it). For me, the real challenge comes from the constant need to come up with fresh, entertaining, witty banter.

I think the hallmark of any good comedy—book, movie, or television—is the dialogue. Physical comedy can be hard to pull off without looking silly, and situational comedy is hard to make universal to your audience. But when the hero or heroine is funny? And can quip and come up with snappy comebacks just like that? I’m in and laughing within seconds—regardless of what’s going on around them.

Unfortunately, that kind of thing, while quick to read and enjoy, is agony to write. In real life, I’m the George Costanza of witty comebacks…you know that Seinfeld episode where he comes up with a good one-liner to say at work hours after the moment has passed? And then he tries to re-create the scenario so he can say it? Yeah. That’s me. I’m super hilarious only after 4 or 5 hours have passed, and I’m not averse to trying to find a way to slip my comment in after the fact.

I think that’s why I’ve always been really impressed with comedians who think on their feet. I’m not talking about the ones who have a carefully written and rehearsed script they repeat for different audiences—I’m talking about the ones who can improv, who put a heckler on the spot and reduce him to tears with just their wit. I’ve always maintained that these types of comedians have some of the highest IQs around.

The same thing is true on Twitter. Some of the funniest people I follow can come up with immediate responses that tie in pop culture references, self-deprecating humor, and personal smarts—and all in 140 characters or less.

Good thing I’m a writer and not a comedian. (That and I’d rather die than stand in front of a crowd telling jokes.) What takes the reader thirty seconds to enjoy usually takes me about two hours to write, not counting revisions and test audiences and edits and all that good stuff. And even then, the jokes don’t always hit the mark.

It’s a tough world out there for a comedy writer. And for anyone who personally identifies with George Costanza.

* * * 

Tamara Morgan is a romance writer and unabashed lover of historical reenactments—the more elaborate and geeky the costume requirements, the better. In her quest for modern-day history and intrigue, she has taken fencing classes, forced her child into Highland dancing, and, of course, journeyed annually to the local Renaissance Fair. These feats are matched by a universal love of men in tights, of both the superhero and codpiece variety.

You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

* * * 
About The World is a Stage

Danger comes packaged in bulging muscles...and a codpiece.

Highland Games athlete Michael O'Leary is famous for his ability to charm a woman right out of her pants. Maybe a little too famous. When he’s sidelined with a knee injury, his wingman pounces on the chance to take full advantage of Michael’s idle time.

Trying out for the local adult-themed Shakespearean production seems simple, but there’s a catch. Michael must woo the notoriously demanding lead actress, Rachel Hewitt, thereby freeing his friend to pursue a courtship of Rachel's sister.

Rachel hates the thought of handing over the lead role in her admittedly scandalous troupe to someone so wholly uneducated in the ways of the Great Bard. But she’s in a bind, and the only one who can step up is a man who looks way too good in a codpiece—and knows it.

To add insult to injury, he refuses to take the role until she agrees to take his place in some barbaric warrior race. She’ll do it, but not with a smile. Unfortunately, the hardest part isn’t antagonizing her Scottish foes. It’s resisting the one man who seems determined to line and cue her heart—forever.

Warning: This book’s half-naked Shakespearean actors are not approved or acknowledged by people with actual literary merit. Neither are the dirty limericks.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Storage Wars and "Reality"

I should admit going into this that I don’t have cable. I could go into why, but that would be another blog post. Mainly, I see cable reality shows when I travel. Which was how I discovered A&E’s Storage Wars.

If you haven’t seen Storage Wars, let me give you a recap. The show follows a group of people who make a living (at least in part) from buying the contents of abandoned storage lockers and reselling them. The contents are sold in public auctions after the potential buyers have had a brief look inside the locker (they’re not allowed beyond the door).

The show follows pretty much the same sequence every week. The bidders arrive at the auction and mutter about each other. Darrell, probably the worst father ever, makes some fairly clueless remarks about his teenage son and helper. Barry, who looks a bit like an aging Rat Pack member, bemoans his luck and expresses his determination to find a treasure. Dave, the “mogul” who owns used furniture stores, makes derogatory remarks about the other bidders. And Brandi and Jarrod, the only married couple, bicker about money. Some or all of these people buy lockers. The bidders go through the contents of the lockers. Treasures are located. Or not.

The whole process is oddly fascinating. Amid the boxes of used clothes and knick-knacks, some of the buyers manage to find some odd or unusual items that often turn out to be valuable. They tote up the money they expect to make from the locker’s contents, and at the end of the show, the totals are compared to the amount they paid for the locker. Some of the buyers win and some, inevitably, lose.

Now I know for a fact that these locker auctions do take place—a coworker of my hubs has participated in them here in Denver. But questions have been raised about the reality of the process on Storage Wars, and it’s easy to see why. The buyers are the ones who decide how much money they expect to make from the collection of old furniture and appliances they find in the lockers, and there’s no follow-up. Thus it’s impossible to verify that they actually did make back the amount invested in the original purchase. Moreover, it’s a stretch to believe that every auction produces lockers with hidden treasures, which gives some credence to the claim that the producers either locate the interesting lockers in advance or salt the lockers with interesting finds.

But frankly, I don’t care about that. Storage Wars is all about the delight of finding buried treasure. It’s a formula that goes back hundreds of years and shows up in everything from Treasure Island to Raiders Of the Lost Ark. Just when the searchers seem to have lost their way, they find a treasure that everyone else has overlooked. In the case of Storage Wars, lockers full of old furniture and eighties detritus yield jewelry and odd collectibles worth thousands “to the right collector.”

The show works very much like Antiques Road Show, another favorite of mine. What looks like junk turns out to be priceless. The unwitting owners are rewarded for their minor investments. The buried treasure is found.

And yes, I understand why some people who see Storage Wars become convinced that they can make a fortune buying the contents of lockers. I’m sure other people see Antiques Road Show and become convinced that they can find priceless whatnots by haunting junk stores. People buy lottery tickets for the same reasons—somebody else won, so why not me? It’s a seductive formula, but it’s not the show’s fault if some viewers are seduced. Reality shows are not “reality.” Like every television show, they’re structured entertainment, and in this case they play into one of our oldest fantasies—finding the overlooked treasure under several pounds of dreck.

So bring it on, Storage Wars. Let me see those fantastic finds. And yeah, like everybody else, I really wish that Dave would shut the hell up.

Okay Storage Wars fans, what’s your take? Real or not real? And what makes it fun?

Friday, June 22, 2012


Yep, that's a chicken instead of my normal avatar, because tonight I chickened out of my originally intended post.

Recently we were talking about how we do our posts (or, in my case, forget to do our posts), maybe changing the order/frequency of postings, starting some regular features, that kind of thing. And someone mentioned individuals doing short, serialized stories - like we do with the parodies, but not written together and not necessarily parodies.

I got to thinking that this sounded really cool. I have all these plot bunnies* in my head, some of them moderately developed story outlines. But let's be honest--as slowly as I write, and considering that I still have at least 4.75 more Werewolves in Love books to do, plus a steampunk WIP and a Regency I am DETERMINED will get written, it's very unlikely that I'd ever get around to working these bunnies/outlines into real books. But it could be fun to do them as serial freebies. They wouldn't have to be very long and I wouldn't be as concerned with niggling little crap like plot and conflict and motivation and all that stuff that just gets in the way of storytelling.

Now, it so happens that I've already got the first scene of one of those plot bunnies written, and I have a general idea of what happens next. So I thought I'd post the first scene and then write another one before my next turn on the blog comes around (on July 18, to be precise.) It would feel like working without a net - writing the story as I go, not being able to go back and change anything once it posted - and I figured it would be good for my creative juices, get me back in the groove.

Then today, while contemplating future scenes/chapters, I realized I didn't have the backstory nailed down in my head - and this story will absolutely depend on backstory because it's very weird and nothing like I've ever written before. It might be fun, or it might be stupid. People might say "Hey! This is clever!" or they might say "WTF is this crap? You mean to tell me she's been published? Seriously?"

So....cluck! Cluckcluckcluck! I chickened out. I need to spend a couple weeks nailing down my backstory, maybe writing one more scene. THEN I'll be ready to start walking out onto the wire.

And in the meantime, maybe one of my fellow Naughties will start their own story. Stay tuned...

*A plot bunny is an idea for a story that suddenly occurs to you, usually while you're trying to finish another story. It tempts you to drop everything and go running after this shiny new idea. I've got lots of bunnies and half-formed ideas. I even have this big, interconnected family already invented and just waiting for me to write stories about them. Will I? Hell if I know.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Leading a double life

Sometimes I get weary of the double life I lead. There is the real me, who goes to work every day to earn the money that supports my family. I have a job with 12 people reporting to me and those people are counting on me to be there and help them. I have friends at work with whom I go for coffee and lunch— but I’m living a lie. Because all those people at work have no idea that I live a double life.

They have no idea that when I go home I spend evenings and weekends at the computer, writing stories, conducting all the “business” of writing, chatting to on-line friends. I’m sure they think I must be the most boring person in the world when they ask how my weekend was and I say, “It was okay”, because I can’t tell them I finished another manuscript or I heard back from my editor, or I had the most hilarious conversation with my blog partners.

I decided it was best to keep the two lives separate, for a variety of reasons. I enjoy my job (especially the seven weeks of paid vacation and every other Friday off, LOL!) and I try to do a good job. But sometimes it’s hard not to drift off into daydreams of story ideas while sitting in endless meetings. Sometimes it’s hard to resist peeking at my BlackBerry during the work day. Sometimes it’s hard not to be able to share my good news (I sold another book! I got a great review! I got an amazing royalty cheque this month!) with coworkers.

So far I have managed to keep the two lives mostly separate, but a while back someone told me that there are people at work who know about my writing. I don’t know how they knew, but the person who told me admitted that he’d Googled me to find out more. I told him I figured nobody would know my pen name so even if people found out, they wouldn’t be able to easily find out much more than that, but apparently I was wrong. At that point I decided I should tell my boss, just so it wasn’t a surprise to her if it got to be common knowledge

But weirdly, nothing more was ever said. Nobody has ever said another word to me and I have no idea if the whole company knows and just doesn’t want to say  anything, or only a few people know and kept it to themselves.

Maybe some day someone will say something. Or some day maybe I’ll have to “come out of the closet” if I want to promote a book. I both want that to happen and am terrified of it. It would make life simpler in some ways, but perhaps more complicated in others. It would allow me to share all the ups and downs of my writing but would attract attention that I’m not always comfortable with.

So for now I will continue to lead the lives of two people, even though in my heart I’m really just one.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Scream! You Scream! We All Scream...

Back in college, I sold ice cream at festivals - mostly big music fests on holiday weekends in Seattle. I started out at the two-person carts with my buddy Jennifer, hawking Dove bars to the crowds walking by and being traumatized by "Misty and the Pinboys", which was stationed directly opposite our cart. I soon moved into one of the two "flagship" stands, where we scooped ice cream cones all day long and choreographed dances to the music played on the stages nearby.

Even after college, I kept working for the company, partly because the money was good (four days in a row of 16-hour shifts paid a LOT) and partly because it was so much fun. Yes, by the end of the weekend my feet were killing me, my scooping arm was ready to fall off, and I really didn't want to go back to the day job the next morning. But by the time the next festival rolled around, I was ready to jump right in.

There's an underground economy at festivals like these, where the vendors and the street performers help each other out and the food booth workers never pay for a meal. It was great working for an ice cream stand, because we pretty much had our pick of the food vendors - a Dove bar went a long way toward "purchasing" a chicken and rice dish from Senor Frog or a grilled panini from Three Sisters. And whenever we ran out of small bills I'd run over to the steps of the Arena and wait for Leif to finish his juggling act. He'd hand me the bucket of cash collected from his audience donations, and together we'd count out ones and fives in exchange for all the twenties people brought straight from the ATM to our stand.

The first Labor Day weekend my now-husband and I started dating, he hung out at Bumbershoot while I worked, and by the following Memorial Day, we were engaged and he was scooping ice cream alongside me. Eventually, I was put in charge of finances and scheduling, and spent the month or so prior to each event finding workers, staffing each location, and organizing schedules.

My last festival was the spring I was pregnant with our first child. The company was less interested in keeping up a presence at the events, and I didn't want to give up major holiday weekends anymore.

I do miss it from time to time. Especially when I see Dove bars in the freezer aisle. Of all my "starter" jobs, it will probably always be my favorite.

What job holds the most memories for you?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Guest Blogger Eden Bradley - Fallen Angel

He would move heaven and earth to protect her

Was she heaven-sent…or more heartbreak waiting to happen?

Haunted by a military mission that ended in personal tragedy, Declan Byrne still bears a soldier’s scars. As a park ranger on the secluded Mendocino coast, he guards his heart while standing ready for anything. Anything except a beautiful, ethereal woman with a mysterious past, falling from the cliffs to the rocks below.

Angel, as Declan decides to call her, has no memory of what happened. But as her body heals, disturbing dreams emerge. In Declan’s protective care, Angel feels safe to act on the undeniable passion between them, without the threats from old, unnameable demons. And, in time, she senses Declan needs her as desperately as she needs him. But when her past returns with a vengeance, Declan must decide just how much he’s willing to risk in order to keep the woman he loves safe.


This book Fallen Angel is so special to me. The premise for this story was in my head for ten years before I finally talked an editor into letting me write it—yes, ten years! Of course, the story took on a life of its own once I actually began to write it, and it didn’t turn out quite the way I expected it to. I’m always a slave to my characters. They like to tell me what to do, and these were no different. Declan turned out to be a darker hero than I thought he might be. And Angel…well, she truly is an angel on earth, the most innocent character I’ve ever written, in a most unusual way. But I can’t say more without revealing too much.

But I must say this: As lovely as this book cover is, it doesn’t even hint at some of the wicked and disturbing events in the story. There’s no mention of the demon Asmodeus…or of the strange and terrifying upbringing Angel had. This is a sort of…odd book, not your classic romance tale, by any means. And again, I can’t say more without spoiling the story! Just…be prepared—lol!

I hope you enjoy Fallen Angel.

Mist swirled around his feet, obscuring the hard-packed sand as Declan Byrne took his morning walk down the rugged beach. The sun was just beginning to rise, a faint amber glow casting the first golden rays of the day, barely touching the cresting waves of the Pacific Ocean. He loved it there, loved to come when it was still nearly dark, picking his way over the craggy rocks, the piles of driftwood and seaweed, the empty sound of the thundering ocean soothing him.

Liam, his enormous black mastiff, trotted beside him, his only company. Declan preferred it that way. He reveled in the loneliness, the isolation of this place. It was a big part of why he’d come back here six years earlier. He’d needed the quiet. He’d needed to heal. Maybe he still did.


No, don’t think about her now.

Don’t think about her, period.

He turned instead to the sea, watched as Liam chased the edge of the incoming waves, sniffing, backing away as the water surged onto the sand. This was their daily ritual. How Declan got his head on straight before beginning work, before he had to interact with other people, something he’d been lousy at the last few years. He much preferred his dog, the ocean, the rough and lonely Mendocino coastline, to people.

His work as a forest ranger didn’t require much human contact. This particular job included making sure trails were cleared, keeping order in the campgrounds, the occasional lost hiker, and sometimes training new rangers. But mostly, it was just him and the forest, the lone stretches of beach and rugged cliffs that made up the National Park’s coastline. Probably the biggest reason why he’d taken the job. That, and something about his father having worked in this area as a ranger most of his life, up until he’d retired a couple of years ago.

Following in the old man’s footsteps, no matter how he felt about him. But this place was home to him. His gruff father was home to him, even though they’d barely spoken since his mother died.

Don’t think about that, either.

The sun was coming up fast, warming the damp air as he and Liam climbed over the rocks to the next crescent of sand. Declan stopped and looked out to sea, tracking the rising sun, the surge of the gray and green water, and felt that brief moment of peace he sought each day. He breathed in the sharp salt air, filling his lungs. Watched as a lone gull flew in low over the water on silent wings, skimming the surface beyond the waves. Peace here, yes. He didn’t want to stop to consider why he needed it so desperately.

A hard thump behind him; shocking, how loud it was,how it made the ground shake. Declan spun around, his heart hammering while Liam went off, barking like crazy.

A woman lying on the sand before him. He nearly tripped over her in the half-dark, had to dig his heels into the rocky beach to steady himself. The crashing of the cold surf faded into the background as he tried to grasp what he was seeing. Liam had stopped barking and was sniffing her limp body, his huge black head dwarfing her.

He grabbed for the mastiff’s collar. “Liam, off!”

What the hell?

She was naked, bleeding, one leg caught on the rocks, twisted at an impossible angle. His brain shifted into high gear as he bent over her, adrenalin swamping his veins in a hot, speedy current.

Where the hell had she come from? Must have fallen from the cliffs. He looked up, peering through the pale light, his gaze wandering up the ragged cliff side, but he saw nothing, no one.

“Jesus,” he muttered as he pulled out his cell phone and dialed 911.

As the phone rang his gaze roamed her body, trying to assess the damage in the diffused light of the rising sun. Pale, waving blonde hair down to her knees. There were strange symbols painted all over her: her stomach, her thighs, across her bare breasts. They were lush and round, he couldn’t help but notice, then cursed himself. The woman was half dead, for God’s sake. He leaned in closer, trying to find out if she was breathing. He didn’t want to touch her. No, he wanted to touch her. He didn’t dare.

What the fuck is wrong with you?

There. A small, gasping breath rattling in her chest.

Thank God.

An operator finally answered the phone, and he quickly told the man who he was, gave him details, his location.

He hung up to wait for the rescue team, finally dared to reach out and lay his fingertips on her wrist to check her pulse. Bones like a bird, isn’t that what the saying was? She was so delicate...

She was alive, her breath shallow, but she was taking one after another. There was blood everywhere; he could smell it even over the tangy ocean scent in the air, but beneath the mess he could see a lovely, angelic face. Hard to tell how old she was. Late teens? Early twenties? Closer inspection showed him bits of twigs—herbs, maybe?—and small bones woven into her hair. On her upturned palms were pentagrams painted in red.

Who the fuck would have done something like this?

Liam was standing next to him, over the girl, peering into her face as though he were trying to figure it out, too.

He’d never seen anything like it. He never wanted to again.

He fought back the sense of horror that made bile rise, made his throat want to close up.

So much blood...


As I said, this is a strange book, and Angel is a strange heroine. Along with the strangeness this is still a naughty book-naughty and intense and absolutely romantic. And did I mention the demon..? But whether or not he really exists is up to you to decide. This book will probably have some surprises in store for you—I hope you like surprises.


CONTEST! It’s not a celebration without some prizes! Today I’m offering up a PDF copy of my BDSM novel Pleasure’s Edge, written under my alternate pen name, Eve Berlin, to get everyone ready for the August release of my third ‘Edge’ series book Temptation’s Edge. Just comment here telling me whether you prefer to read about angels or demons to be entered to win. I’ll be back tomorrow night to choose and announce the winner.


You can buy Fallen Angel now in print and ebook formats! Amazon , B&N, and Books-a-Million

For more info about my books, visit my websites:, or my group blog

A big thank you and sloppy smooches to the fabulous Nine Naughty Novelists to having me here today!

Eden/Eve : )