Saturday, December 20, 2014

A beloved bookish Christmas memory...

Being a book maniac I have tons of book related holiday memories. There were the years, many in a row, actually, where I got the new Bloom County book for Christmas. I still have them all. Still love them. And yes, Opus the penguin is still my hero.

My mother was smart. She knew that the only thing that occupied me more than my love of all things TV was my addiction to books. So usually on Christmas Eve, once I had done her bidding (I’m kidding, I was always eager to help), she’d give me my Christmas Eve present. One present on
Christmas Eve just to whet the appetite.

To my recollection it was always a book in some form or other.

Despite how much I loved those yearly books with tales of Bill the Cat and Milo, my favorite
Christmas book-related memory is the year I was 16. I received Misery from my folks for Christmas. I was dying to read it, I devoured everything from Stephen King instantly, and this being the age before the internet existed to suck up my time and take it away from books (more often than I’d like), I practically ate his books whole.

Needless to say, the moment we were done with gifts, in those open hours between opening gifts in the morning and visiting family in the evening, I was camped out on my bed with Misery. Learning just how crazy Annie Wilkes was and how screwed poor Paul Sheldon happened to be.

Of course, I couldn’t take the book with me that night. One socializes and visits at parties. One does not read. And honestly, I did love those parties growing up. There were a ton of cousins in a wide age range and the adults were fun to be around as well. So, I willingly put my book aside until we could be reunited.

It was late when we finally returned home. I want to say ten…eleven? I made a beeline for the book. I remember it was a snowy Christmas. The ground was white, it was cold, and I’d just changed into pajamas and opened my lovely book when…the lights went out.

We’d lost power.

I wandered downstairs, clutching Misery, to find my mom lighting one of those old oil lamps and my father checking out the window to see if it was everyone or just us. It was everyone.

So, I read. Sitting at the dining room table while my parents talked and laughed around me. I read by the light of an old oil lamp while wrapped in a blanket eating Hershey kisses out of the bowl on the table. Picking at Baklava (my mother's yearly tradition) and no doubt drinking Coke by the bucket. The world was dark. The moon shining off the snow as I read and read and read.

Talk about ‘mood lighting’ from the Universe.

Eventually, the power came back on. And I believe I finished the tale of Paul and Annie before I finally slept. Hey, I didn’t have to get up early the next day—I was on Christmas break.

I have no idea why that memory is so dear to me. Maybe because living in the world I do now, I remember the power went out and no one was yelling about losing their internet connection. Or maybe it was the fact that I was huddled there reading by a soft glow on a cold winter night. Or maybe it was just that the world around me was so very peaceful and pretty as I got lost in a book.

But that Christmas, 1987, and that book and that memory is my most beloved book related holiday memory. I can close my eyes and remember it with perfect clarity. How flawless the day had been, how exciting the book was, and how very happy I was at that particular moment in time.

Now you. If you have a favorite book related memory, please share! You can post it in the comments or post it on your own blog and slap a linky-doo down in the comment section and I’ll go read it.

Happy five days (eek!) ‘til Christmas, y’all.

p.s. I may have blogged about this before. And if I apologies. I'm senile now. Like those old men who say "did I ever tell you the time..." and you say "Yes" and then they proceed to tell you anyway? Just call me Grandpaw...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?

Is your family like this? Then my new holiday novella might be the perfect quick, festive break for you. A cup of coffee and some cookies and a little Christmas fun.

My shameless plug for the week, ladies and gentlemen. Which always makes me think of a...ya know...butt plug, for some reason. So, there you go again, my weird mental tangent for the week. Tada!

And now on to one of my favorite snippets of my favorite scenes in 'tis the Season. :)

What had I done?

I stood at the antique China cabinet that had been my grandmother’s and tried to pick out the wine glasses. My mother was futzing with my cheese platter for the fourth time.

After we’d sat and talked over more wine the night before, Brogan had helped me tether the tree so it wouldn’t attack me anymore and then gone up to his apartment after a very steamy and very long kiss goodnight.

Now, I was about to subject him to my family. See, I get these super romantic notions of the holidays every year. And every year, once everything begins and people are arriving, I remember why this isn’t a movie. The holidays rarely mimic TV shows and holiday films. Unless you count the show Cops or the movie The Ref.

“Now, this young man you’ve invited. Wait, what is this stuff again?” My mother pointed to the green on my cheese platter. I’d gone all out. Nice cheeses, grapes of three colors, two kinds of olives, salted nuts and a variety of crackers.

I sighed. “Fig leaves, Mom.”

“They’re not poisonous are they?”

I looked at her, a wine glass in each hand.

“Because I don’t want to have to go to the emergency room on Christmas Eve. It will be mobbed.”

I wanted to answer, but I was too dumbfounded to speak.

“Natalie Jane, have you been struck mute?”

“Mom, are figs poisonous?”

“Well, of course not.”

“So why in the world would the leaves be?”

“Your logic is flawed, Natalie. There are many plants that have some poisonous bits and 
some edible bits.”


“Okay,” I said. “Let me ask you this. Why would I put poisonous leaves on a cheese platter?”

“Maybe you didn’t know.”

“Well, how would I know to answer your question then?”

My mother pressed her hot pink, lipsticked lips together and narrowed her eyes. “I hope we don’t all die.”

“Me, too,” I said. Well, most of us

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A grimy excerpt, an A+++ review and the Stephen King connection...

So I spent my morning at the Social Security Administration. Not as bad as I anticipated. We waited about an hour but then I got a lovely gentleman who was super nice, helpful and in good spirits. Trust me, that last one is a perk.

I came home from lunch with my mom and girl child to find two lovely things.

Lovely thing #1: I'm the excerpt for 9-to-5 Fantasies edited by Alison Tyler on Tada! If you want to read the opening of my story Grimy, you can go...HERE.

And please do grab the book if you like the tease. It's chock full of dirty goodness. The perfect distraction for the chaos of the holiday season. At least, that's the kind of distraction I like during chaos.

Lovely thing #2:

The Mighty Quinn, one of my most beloved novels, received an A+++ review from Delilah Night. You can check out the full review of Quinn on her blog. But here's my favorite bit:

The sex scenes made me squirm in my seat—in the best possible way.  But unlike those early erotic novels, I want to read the whole book again.  I want to go through the journey that gets me to those sex scenes because they’re not just hot, I’m emotionally invested in the relationship.

And I'm sure you're wondering about the Stephen King connection, right? Well, I found one of those thingies in someone's tweet last night and plugged in a bit of my text and got...

I write like
Stephen King
I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

Of course, I plugged in two different excerpts and got Dan Brown and J.D. Salinger, but I'm sticking with King. You knew I would, now didn't you? Click the link if you're interested in finding out who you write like. Or who your specific bit of chosen text is written like...

I'm almost ready for Christmas. Of course "almost" is relative. But basically I haven't started yelling, "Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?" yet. So, I'm counting that as a victory. :)

Ho, ho, ho!

Friday, December 12, 2014

My big, fat, jolly list of ideas for gift giving!

If you're like me, you have a 'one for you one for me' version of holiday shopping. I can go all year long without shopping for myself, but then when I Christmas shop, bam! all kinds of stuff I want for myself. I've always considered myself lucky that my birthday kicks off December because I almost always have birthday money in tow to satisfy my urgent coveting of items.

I've broken it down into a few categories, but basically these are things I have been using or have just discovered that I have fallen in love with. I'll cop to being inspired by Alison Tyler's gift guides (go to her blog and check them out) so I'll give her a friendly little wave and blow her a kiss for the inspiration.

For gluten free folks in your life:

I have always used Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix. On a whim I tried the oatmeal cookie mix, unusual for me because I am a proud and loud from-scratch baker. But lately I can abide by some shortcuts. They were phenomenal. So I tried some other of their products. Besides the two already mentioned, I highly recommend the Pizza Crust Mix for the GF people in your life because...well, one word: Focaccia. I haven't even used it as pizza dough yet but I made the Focaccia and it was inhaled. But not just by me! By two teens with expert palates. The all purpose artisan flour mix is great too--helped me to master gf pie crust. Again, I usually make my own flour but I always try to have some pre-made stuff in my house for those urgent baking cravings.

On to...

The fitness nuts in your life:

It's no secret that in April I became addicted to T25. Thirty pounds, multiple smaller jean sizes and size Medium shirts later...I tried Hip Hop Abs Ultimate Results. Love it! Despite having no rhythm at all, I have a great time dancing with this program and I've actually developed a tiny bit of skill in the area. Oh, there will be no The Hot Chick style dance-offs in my future, but I look forward to working out every day (and still mix in T25). My Xmas gift to myself was Shaun T's InsanityMAX: 30 and though I haven't tried it yet, I am super duper excited (or just masochistic).

For the readers:

I have a few. YA books I recommend are Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers series. Girl child read them, I followed suit and I'm currently reading the third and final book of the trilogy. Also, approved by yours truly and her female offspring is Eventide by Christine Allen-Riley. Girl child actually beta read for this book and I bought her a gorgeous print copy now placed in a prized position on her hunormous bookshelf. Mystery/thriller lovers, again, I have one word: Mo Hayder. The Jack Caffery books are dark, addictive and breathtaking. My favorites (I have read them all at this point and am out...*sniffle*) were Birdman, The Treatment, Poppet and the most recent Wolf. Fabulous writing that never lets up. It's like being on a runaway locomotive of reading. And finally, dirty book readers, I recommend you stuff your beloved's Kindle with Alison Tyler's recent mini books Alison on the Rocks and Alison on Top. Alison never disappoints when it comes to kink, sex and a old-fashioned damn fine storytelling.

And why not treat yourself to my Christmas novella 'tis the Season? Just for a small reading break. Perhaps with a glass of wine and a gluten free cookie or five.

For the tippler in your life:

Now Alison Tyler (like Elf on the Shelf she just keeps popping up!) sent me these for my birthday [sadly unavailable at the mo :( ]and they were in one of her gift guides, but I'm repeating here. The Wines that Rock [a different selection in the link] wines weren't just awesomely cool to look at but they were tasty, tasty, tasty too. So you could go ahead and satisfy a music lover who loves to sip some vino with one gift. Also, I have discovered in the last year: Pimm's! When I say discovered I mean became addicted too. A bottle of Pimm's, a bottle of lemonade, some 7Up and a cool glass and you have yourself a prezzie. And let's not forget, the lovely author who sent me a gift card to DrinkUpNY! (Thank you again, JA). Anyways, they ship booze, have good prices, great service and really, let's tell the truth, what is better than getting a freaking UPS man to bring your booze right to your house? Nothing! Unless Santa's bringing it.

Girl child, despite my distaste (or so I claim) of all things a cappella, girl child has gotten me hooked on Pentatonix and well...see for yourself. *I had a video embedded but Youtube apparently farted and something got messed up. So I had to take it down. Search: Mary did you Know? It'll pop up first thing!

Also, boy child introduced me to Noah Gunderson who does something to my soul. Seriously...

And though it's not music, thanks to a random comment on FB from Willsin Rowe, we discovered and became hooked on Mike Birbiglia's Sleepwalk with Me.

I have more, but your eyes are probably crossing by now. If you have any gifties you're giving that you want to share, let loose in the comments. And I can't believe honest to goodness blog this time. It's crazy. Seems like forever. You're amazed aren't you?  I know...


Monday, December 8, 2014

Cover reveal!

I have no self control. I said I wouldn't post this for a while but I can't stand it anymore. This is the cover by the amazeballs Willsin Rowe for the upcoming Lucky Streak. Lucky Streak is the sequel to Lucky 13: 13 Tales of Getting Lucky. It will include 13 all new, never before published, tales of getting lucky.

It's due out January 16th from Excessica Publishing. And I am so excited...I erm...just can't hide it. Okay, so I strayed into Pointer Sisters territory there, but you'll just have to deal with it.

Whew. Glad I got that off my chest.