Saturday, January 16, 2016

Alpha Female

A few weeks ago everyone in my office filled out a DISC assessment questionnaire, the answers to which would determine what sort of behavioral profile we fall into, particularly in our work. The idea being if we understood ourselves and our coworkers better, we would be a stronger team.

There are four profile categories: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. You can be predominantly one area or a combination of two.

We had a workshop last week where the woman who conducted the assessment gave us our individualized reports and discussed what the categories meant. I thought I would end up in the category where the warm, charming, accepting, thoughtful people ended up.

Not so much.

Apparently, I am a DC, so I have some of the C characteristics, like wanting to make sure work is accurate, taking time to look at data before making a decision, that sort of thing, and I have aspects of the other categories, but the personalized report I got back emphasized characteristics like strong-willed, fast, blunt, results-driven, impatient, skeptical, and willing to take on a challenge.

Now, I knew I had these qualities to some degree, but I never gave them a whole lot of thought. I mean, I’m actually a pretty warm person--if you’re not incompetent or wasting my time. 


Basically, I’m just like my mother. 

My mother can be a little much, but she’s also pretty kick-ass, and she had high-powered jobs and was great at them. So there are worse people to take after. And now that I’m clued into these tendencies, I can temper them when appropriate. Also, using this sort of behavioral profiling will be a great tool for character development.

As for my husband, he didn’t seem all that shocked when I told him I was a D for Dominant. Then again, he can handle it.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Top Ten

In the grand tradition of New Year top ten lists, I present my own top ten favorite books of 2015. All of them are fiction, but not all are romances. Additionally, many of them came out before 2015 and I just happened to read them this year.

Drum roll please...

1.) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

2.) How the Marquess was Won by Julie Anne Long

3.) The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

4.) The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

5.) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

6.) The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

7.) Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

8.) Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner

9.) Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Book One) by Leigh Bardugo

10.) The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

Overall it was a great reading year, and I am currently reading another book that will probably make my top ten list next year. Stay tuned for a review in the weeks to come.

On a different note, I celebrated the New Year today by finally watching the second Magic Mike movie, and I cannot believe how good it was. I really liked the first movie, but the second one was even better. Sexier, funnier, more tender, smarter. And even more sexy dancing from my boyfriend, Channing Tatum. If you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. I streamed it for $3.99 on Amazon and it was so worth it. I only wish I'd made it to the theater to see it on the big screen. Yum.

Image result for channing tatum

Happy New Year everyone! Here's to another year of tasty heroes, both on and off the page.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Ultimate Escape

I think most of us love romances for a variety of reasons, but one of them is the wonderful escape it affords us. Had a foul day? Crack open that romance and you'll soon forget all about it. Fight with your guy? Go into the other room and read about a man who would never do whatever yours just did.

I have been reading historical romances since high school, and one thing I love about them is the extra layer of escape they offer. Not only do I get to read about some delectable man and a happily ever after--with a few spicy bits thrown in--but I get a whole other time and way of living. Petticoats and corsets and the men who take them off.

But I confess to feeling let down the last few years by the historical romances out there. With a few exceptions they just have not been doing it for me, and I have been reading mostly contemporaries because of it. Judith Ivory was a wonderful discovery a couple of years back, but has she has not written anything in years, so there's nothing left of hers for me to discover.

One of the things I love about Judith Ivory is the way she stays in a scene and lets it unfold detail by detail, lets the characters notice each other in that heightened way people do when they are first falling for one another, building the tension until you're madly turning the pages, dying to know what happens and waiting for them to kiss.

Both of the below books have just this element to them, and it made me so invested in the story and characters that I couldn't stop reading even though I wanted to slow down and make them last.

I discovered the first when a friend emailed me to say she had just finished Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale and I should check it out. I'd had the book in my to-read list for a couple of years, so I decided I'd waited long enough. Thank goodness I finally gave it a try. It has wonderful, complex characters and a rich, unpredictable story. It also has some of the most sensual scenes I've read in a long time, and that's saying something. There was nothing cliched or generic about the hero or heroine, and in fact the plot is really unusual. But all the complications and obstacles the h/h face flow organically from their characters, and it's so satisfying. It's sexy and heart-pounding and I loved it.

My other discovery was How the Marquess was Won by Julie Anne Long. I had never heard of this author, and then I saw her recommended online somewhere and decided to check her out. This book is somewhere down the line in the Pennyroyal Green series, but I decided to start with this one because the reviews just raved about it. I loved it more than any historical I can remember reading since Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels. The heroine has smarts and spunk, and the hero is so delicious and wonderful and unexpected, I wanted it never to end.

Not everyone gravitates to historical romances, but if you have even the slightest interest, I recommend these two writers, as well as Judith Ivory. They are sophisticated, beautiful writers and I am betting you won't be sorry you tried them.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

They're playing our song

So I'm in the middle of writing a new novella, which means a new hero, a new guy to fall in love with. But I'm having this problem.

I'm not over Jesse.

I fell hard for Jesse when writing Slow Burn, and the last hero I write about always sticks with me until the next one I write. Like how you don't completely get over one boyfriend until you have another. The problem this time is that Jesse was inspired by the musician Ryan Bingham:

and I listened to his music throughout the entire writing process. I imagined Jesse singing songs like his, so now every time I hear one of RB's songs--usually when I'm driving, my thoughts drifting along--I start reminiscing about Jesse. I miss him. I have this nostalgia about him like he's a lost love, as if we were really together and something came between us, leaving me with this bittersweet longing.

I don't listen to his music round the clock like I used to. Just an album every now and then, or the occasional song when my iPod is in shuffle mode. I listen and let that pleasurable ache bloom, and think of how things were until the song fades into the next one.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Bacon Product that Changed My Life

 Yes, I am breaking my long silence for bacon.

I just had to share, because I didn't know it could be like this. Nothing had prepared me for what I found two days before Thanksgiving in a specialty cheese shop where I went to get some upscale hors d'oeurvres for the big day.

There I was, browsing the shelves filled with olive tapendades and fancy crackers while waiting my turn for help with selecting the perfect cheese. My gaze fell upon a humble-looking jar with the word "bacon" on the label. Bacon Spread.

People, you can buy this little jar (or something like it), and then anytime your little heart desires bacon, such as on a BLT, all you do is open the jar.  Maybe this is a bigger deal to me than to most people. I have a gluten intolerance, and as such, I cannot get a BLT just anywhere. Precious few restaurants serve both BLTs and gf bread (though there are more every day), and I don't know any where we live now. I'm seriously deprived, in other words. And I don't buy bacon very often, because my husband doesn't eat it and you get a lot all at once and I don't especially enjoy cooking it. It's messy and sets off the smoke alarm.

But now I have this.

Granted, it's not crispy and greasy and it doesn't fill all of bacon's duties, but it goes a long way.

Apparently, this sort of heavenly spread is called "bacon jam" and there are recipes out there for it. So you have options. This particular jar isn't cheap if you think about how small it is, but when you consider how far a spoonful will go and how happy it will make you, I say it's a bargain.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Holy crap, it's been along time since I blogged.

But here's the reason: I got a new job, which I started three weeks ago, and in order to take this job, my husband and I needed to move. Which meant weeks of packing and then unpacking and days learning a new job and coming home so tired I could hardly think straight.

It's a good job, one I am oh so grateful to have, and the new house is cozy and wonderful, with my own room for writing (as opposed to my former nook), and more space in general. Even better, it's warm. Our old house was pretty and had lots of character, but it was also old and drafty and I was always cold. Here I am finally warm.

So it's all good, except for one thing. What with the move and the new job and the distraction of it all, I have not written anything in months. Or nothing worth reading, anyway. Usually after finishing a book I take a month or so to recharge, and then I get back at it. But this time around I started a job search just after finishing Slow Burn, and anyone who's done that will know what a time suck it is. And then I actually got a job and, well, there you have it.

So that's where I'm at. Luckily, I'm in the middle of reading my critique partner's manuscript, and I love it so much I'm feeling inspired again. Plus, things have settled down now. I still have a few things to do, like get a new license and registration and fun things like that, but I can start focusing now on other things.

Like writing and romance and hot sex.

Finally, in case any of you are unaware, check out #hotdudesreading. It makes me so happy.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Meaning of Life

Bacon Candy

If you like bacon, those are the only two words you need to know. I made this yesterday for our family gathering and I nearly ate the entire pound of bacon. Everyone else seemed to like it, too. I worked a lot harder on a pear tart that wasn't nearly as delightful.

Bacon candy is insanely easy to make. There are probably a lot of variations, but this recipe calls for light brown sugar and chili pepper to coat the bacon and then bake it on 400 until it's crispy and carmelized and you groan in ecstasy at the salty, sweet first bite. Then you get the little kick from the chili pepper that keeps it from being too sweet.

See the recipe at Food & Wine. I can't think of anything easier to make, or one that will bring so much joy into the world.

Bon appetite!