Monday, March 31, 2008

A New Award for Wing and Tongue

My Ellora's Cave fantasy Wing and Tongue has won Night Owl Romance's winter 2008 Readers' Choice Award for Best Erotic Ebook Cover, fantasy category. Won by kind of a landslide, too, I might add. ;-) This same book was given a Reviewer Top Pick designation by N.O.R. (How can I not love these people?) By the way, their site is a treasure trove of romance-fiction news and reviews. And that's no bs. Props to Tammie King, the brilliant owner/administrator.

Click on the square button to view all covers in all categories.

Best Erotica Ebook Cover Awards

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Things I Miss From My Childhood

Normally I don't spend time reminiscing. There are plenty of current and future concerns to fill my dance card. But within the past week, as JLA and I were watching The Exorcist for the seventy-third time, I commented on Ellen Burstyn wearing a babushka in a couple of sequences.

"That's a scarf," he said, and even got rather snotty and dismissive about it. I reminded him we both grew up in Milwaukee, albeit on opposite sides of town, and if he knew his ass from page five about that city's immigrant history, he'd damned sure agree that Ms. Burstyn was wearing a babushka.

Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary gives these definitions: By the way, it isn't just a Russian word. Poles often borrow it. Or at least my mother and aunts did. Anyway, I told JLA I missed wearing one and thought I'd just start doing so again. Babushkas are very versatile. They can serve as wardrobe accessories, protect your hair from the wind (or cover it if it's dirty), and keep your head and ears warm.

This got me thinking about other childhood pleasures I miss--profoundly, if I let myself dwell on them: eating kieshka in blissful, tastebud-delighted ignorance (if you know what this sausage is made from, you know what I mean); playing the jukebox in my parents' tavern; listening to late-night AM radio (and spinning a dial to do so); taking the bus downtown to spend entire days or evenings reveling in the city's wonders (the museum and central library, Lake Michigan's shore, the then-grungy riverfront, Gimbels department store, concerts and teen dance clubs and B-movies shown in grandiose theaters . . . ah, the list goes on).

The seasons, too, had more meaning then. Winter brought Christmases full of church and magic in equal measure, and ice skating on county park lagoons, and snow more welcomed than shunned. Spring saw the start of baseball season. Summer meant a week or two at a homey, musty cottage, sans indoor plumbing, that sat on forty crop-filled acres down a small, dusty road from the vast, blue lake. At home it meant playgrounds and parades and--glory be!--the state fair. Autumn was all about the feel and fragrance of leaf piles, and even more about Halloween.

Little did I know when I tuned in The Exorcist that it would trigger a whole chain-reaction's worth of memories . . . and the realization that we, as adults--so often on the move, so focused on the daily grind of "getting and spending", as Wordsworth put it--tend to lose sight of those people, places, and simple pleasures that went into the making of us.

So, long live babushkas! (Now I just have to find one that's winter-worthy. Hey, what a good excuse for hitting some resale shops!)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Check out a new interview with moi.

Author Selena Illyria has posted an interview with me, and info about my upcoming Changeling release Elevator Magic, at her blog:

Truly, these are some of the strangest questions I've ever answered--not to mention some of the most revealing. It's taken me a while to realize how much I may have embarrassed myself!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

No more whining? Or complaining?

Wouldn't it be luverly? A world without snarling and snarking, griping and gossiping? Even a world without pity parties?

The pastor of some church in Kansas City, Missouri (I think it's the one with the moon-sized Smiley hanging from the steeple) has decided that's exactly the kind of world he wants to live in. So he's brainwashed--uh, I mean persuaded his whole congregation to wear "complaint-free" spiked handcuffs--uh, I mean bracelets that are supposed to remind their gnarly asses to put on a happy face 24/7 . . . and an attitude to go with it.

Now, think about this bandwagon of psycho-emotional repression before you decide to jump on it (as thousands of people around the globe are doing, via an appalling--uh, astonishing effort to proselytize--uh, spread the good word). Just look at the past week of your life. Did any person or occurrence displease you . . . or royally piss you off? Did you feel an overwhelming need to vent about it before you destroyed something? Well, hell, of course you did! It's human nature's way. The mental health establishment as well as the laws of physics dictate that venting is necessary. Without it, all that internal simmering can lead to one big build-up of pressure. And then? POW, the lid blows off the pot. Even if it doesn't, whatever is inside turns to mush. Do you honestly relish the thought of holding it all in?

So I feel perfectly justified in bitching about the fascists over at MySpace who are disabling everybody's links, the snow that just keeps falling despite the fact it's almost April, and every asshat I have the misfortune to cross paths with. Because it's far better to do this once is a while:

than to end up doing this:

Thursday, March 13, 2008

English food I hate; English food I love

"Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares"--oh, how I enjoy this verbal fuckapalooza when it isn't another rerun, which, alas, it usually is. Gordon does not mince words. No siree. But his sympathy, enthusiasm, forthrightness, and culinary acuity more than make up for his love of expletives. (Truth be told, I rather like his love of expletives.) He's kind of a hot s.o.b., too, in his own weathered, foul-mouthed way.

Anyway, this BBCA show got me thinking about my trip to Great Britain and how I effortlessly lost about ten pounds (not the monetary kind) while I was there. Why? Aside from the fact I did a lot of walking, the food generally sucked so bad, much of it was virtually inedible. Seriously. That's why the phrase English cuisine is generally uttered with a snort.

Here are the so-called "foods" I despised with every little twist my stomach was capable of making:

1.) Marmite. What the hell vicious misanthrope concocted this gag-worthy slop? I could not believe so many Brits shunned peanut butter and instead smeared their bread with fermented sorghum molasses smegma laced with low-grade petroleum products and ant poison.
2.) Lancashire hotpot. pepper anyone? And more black pepper? And nothing but black pepper? I had this miserable excuse for a casserole in a Lancashire household, not a restaurant, so can only assume it was the real deal. Holy shit. Or rather, unholy shit.
3.) Mussels. Strove to chew these delightful nuggets on a seafood sampler tray in, I think, Blackpool. The next time I have a hankering for a mouthful of rubberbands with sand stuck to them, I'll just whip some up myself.
4.) Pub food. And I shiver as I type. The strangest sausages on God's green earth. (Do the English really hate the Germans so much they can't learn some sausage-making skills from their former enemies?) Equally weird sandwiches. UGHHHH.
5.) Curry. Any freakin' thing laced with freakin' curry. The smell alone makes me want to toss my innards. And that's NOT a smell you can easily get rid of. It clings like alien slime. I get the impression Brits are all about curry the way Americans are all about Mexican food. I'll take the Mexican food, thank you veddy much.

Now, there was an upside. Not a big one, sad to say. Certainly not big enough to make me gain weight. But there were some meals and foods I rather enjoyed.

1.) Roast beef & Yorkshire pudding. Yum. I had this in Yorkshire. For those of you who don't know, Yorkshire pudding is essentially what we call popovers. Done properly, this dish is delish.
2.) Fish & chips. Well...duh. That strange cider vinegar, or whatever kind of vinegar it is, took some getting used to. But you don't have to have it if you can't acquire a taste for it.
3.) Breakfast with fried red tomatoes. Oh yeah. Greasy fried eggs and greasy bacon and greasy fried tomatoes. I cook it to this day.
4.) Clotted cream. Beats the living snot out of me why this sinfully rich stuff isn't commonly available in the U.S. Just dump some over peach slices. Or your partner's body. Whoa. Fast track to blissful depravity.
5.) Silver-shred marmalade. Made from lemons. On the right toast? What a wonderful zing. With a cuppa Earl Grey? Even better.