Some Roads

I am totally tickled to announce that All You Can Eat is now available as an epub!AllYouCanEat-600x914 Click HERE for Kindle.

I’m really happy with the way it turned out. It’s hot, it’s sexy, it’s cute, it’s retro, it’s awesome.

In the upcoming holiday anthology from Ylva Publishing, Unwrap These Presents, I have a short story called “Elfin Magic” about a woman who does seasonal work as an elf in a department store (think: Macy’s). She is disillusioned with Christmas and wonders how she got to this place in her life, dressing up in a stupid elf costume, upselling photograph packages to sentimental parents whose kids just sat with Santa.Unwrap These Presents

I know whereof I speak—I was a Macy’s elf in Santaland for a few days. I quickly realized that this was something I simply didn’t and couldn’t do, so I quit. (I would have volunteered to work the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade if they didn’t expect people to be there at 6 a.m. I would have had to be on the train at 5 a.m. on a cold November morning for absolutely no compensation, and that simply wasn’t going to happen.)

But working there, I keenly felt the grip of commercialism. It was my job to try and get people to order bigger (i.e., more expensive) photo packages, as well as other photo mementos: tree ornaments, cubes, figurines, etc. I just didn’t have it in me.

But the question the character asks herself is one that’s been foremost on my mind lately: how did I get here? You hear about people who lay out their plans and they follow that road to the destination they planned. Of course, everyone has bumps along the way, unexpected occurrences in their lives, but some people seem to end up where they wanted or expected to be.

My whole life has been one surprise after another. The turns I had no intention to make were the ones I made, and now I’m at the middle point of my wondering: How did I get here? It’s not really a lamentation. It’s more about bewilderment. Like, really—how did all of this happen? I know that life has many twists and turns, but you never see the hairpin turns coming, and you never expect the cliff drops. But many people (perhaps most?) don’t expect the windfalls either—the wins, the pot of gold, the Emerald City at the end of the road.

It would be nice if some issues had answers, but for the most part, we go through life never really knowing why things happen the way they do, both the good and the bad. I try to believe that the turns I’ve taken along the road led me to where I needed to be for whatever reason. Some people “see” the purpose of those turns. I can’t say that I ever do. Except that maybe if I had not taken a particular job in 1992, I would not have met my writer’s group, and I probably would not have gotten as far in my fiction writing as I have. They’ve been priceless to me in that regard, and I don’t know what I would have done without them all these years. In fact, my group, The Penheads, are about to release our first collaborative project. Hunger: Stories of Desire, Discovery, and Dissatisfaction will be available on Kindle very soon.

Maybe there are reasons for everything.

Eat Your Heart Out Panel – Mary’s Recipes

R.G. Emanuelle:

Mary Griggs whipped something up for our “Eat Your Heart Out” panel at GCLS. Here it is!

Originally posted on Mouth Brothels:

At the Golden Crown Literary Society’s Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon I was on a panel called Eat Your Heart Out – Writing about Food that was moderated by the funny and fabulous Lynn Ames. My fellow panelists were  Karin Kallmaker, Georgia Beers and R.G. Emanuelle, all of whom write deliciously about food. Our panel was quite fun, even though I was bracketed by two vegetarians!

eat your heart panel long

Photo credit – Ann de Mooij

The audience had an opportunity to write down a protein, a vegetable and an ‘other’ for the panelists to draw from and then to make a meal after returning home. I choose lamb, eggplant and peanut butter. Much, much better than RG’s gummi bears or Karin’s herring and asparagus!

I decided to go for Moussaka Burgers with Peanut Butter Ice Cream for dessert. Classic Greek moussaka layers eggplant with a spiced mixed meat mixture…

View original 392 more words

Eat Your Heart Out Panel: My Recipe

IMG_3188At GCLS, I sat on a panel called “Eat Your Heart Out,” which was about writing about food in fiction. The panel included Karin Kallmaker, Georgia Beers, and Mary Griggs, and was moderated by Lynn Ames.

Lynn asked for suggestions on how ot make the panel interesting and fun for the audience. I suggested that we make it a truly audience participation session and have everyone write down ingredient ideas.

Prior to the session, I asked the concierge at the front desk of the hotel to acquire 3 bowls and some paper for me. This was an ordeal in and of itself. Bless their hearts, they were trying to be helpful and accommodating and I give them props for that. But all I wanted was 3 bowls and paper and it was like a game of Pictionary trying to explain what I wanted. It went from scratch paper to white-boards. I finally had to just ask for paper out of their printer. As for the bowls, what they brought me were big enough to do some apple bobbing.

Anyway, I set the bowls up on the counter (it was through sheer luck that this particular room had a counter!). Next to the bowls, I put pieces of paper, which ended up getting passed around. Each bowl was designated for a specific food group: protein, veggie, and other. (Okay, that last one isn’t a food group.)

At the end of the session, the four of us on the panel picked one paper out of each bowl and we had to come up with a recipe using those ingredients. This is what we got:

Georgia Beers got bacon, artichokes, and pasta. (Rigged!)
Mary Griggs got lamb, eggplant, and peanut butter.
Karin Kallmaker got herring, asparagus, and something from the “other” category that I don’t recall. She has my sympathy.

I picked tempeh, kale, and gummie bears. And, per the rules of the game, I used all my ingredients. I came up with Marinated Tempeh, Quinoa with Kale Pesto, and Gummie Bear Gastrique. A gastrique is a sauce that’s made from sugar and vinegar and is then usually flavored with other ingredients. Gummie bear gastrique is intense, so go easy on it. And I would stick to red, orange, yellow, and white (no green or blue, or you’ll get a funny color). And, yes, that’s a little gummie bear sitting on top of the quinoa.

Enjoy! :-)

IMG_3192 MARINATED TEMPEH, QUINOA WITH KALE PESTO, AND GUMMIE BEAR GASTRIQUE

Tempeh
8 oz. tempeh
3 cloves garlic, smashed
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Quinoa
½ quinoa, rinsed
1 small bunch kale, stems removed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Gastrique
½ cup gummie bears
¼ cup red wine vinegar

1. Place tempeh and garlic in a shallow dish. Mix 2 tablespoons olive oil and soy sauce and pour it over the tempeh; cover and let marinate for ½ hour to 2 hours. Remove tempeh from marinade. Cut into diagonal slices and let sit in marinade another 15 minutes, turning them over a couple of times. Meanwhile, make quinoa, pesto, and gastrique.IMAG2009

2. Quinoa: Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a small pot; add quinoa and simmer over low heat until cooked (should be translucent and tender). If it’s cooked before water is absorbed, drain in a mesh strainer. Place in a bowl.

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3. Make pesto: Place kale, garlic, and salt in a food processor or blender. Start processing; slowly pour in olive oil through the feed tube. Process until fairly smooth. Taste for seasoning. Add to quinoa and mix well.

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4. Gastrique: Place gummie bears in a small pot (preferably nonstick). Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted. Add vinegar and continue cooking until thick, about 15 minutes.IMAG2018

5. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil (from tempeh ingredients) in a skillet; add tempeh slices and cook over medium heat, turning over once, until browned on both sides. Transfer to a plate with paper towels.

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7. Place quinoa on 2 plates (you can use a cookie ring, like I did, or not). Place half the tempeh on one plate, the other half on the other plate.

8. Drizzle the gastrique over the tempeh. Go easy on the gastrique—a little goes a long way.

Makes 2 servings.IMG_3189

 

All You Can Eat Reveal

Andi Marquette and I are wrapping up our review of All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Romance & Erotica. The layout is fabulous and seeing the stories within the design was really exciting. And in reading the stories again in the typeset stage reminded me of what a really great collection of stories we have. AllYouCanEat-600x914

There’s no real money to be made from anthologies and it’s a lot of work. And if you are not the organized type, it would be a really challenging project. Doing an anthology is something that you really want to do—because you love anthologies, because you like short stories, because you’re interested in the theme or subject matter. And when you mold and shape and grow your project, it’s an amazing feeling.

If you haven’t seen the discussions about AYCE, all the stories involve food in some way, either directly or as a vehicle, for a romantic and/or erotic romp. Here is the first reveal of the table of contents:

Introduction

Appetizers

 “Fresh Fruit” by Ashley Bartlett
“The Luscious Tarte Aux Fraises” by Historia
“Whining and Dining” by Jae
“Burn” by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Entrées

“Tomato Lady” by Cheyenne Blue
“East Meets West” by Karis Walsh
“Dessert Platter” by Victoria Oldham
“Appetizing” by Cheri Crystal
“Sugar and ’Shine” by Andi Marquette

Desserts

“Vanilla Extract” by Jove Belle
“Smorgasbord” by R.G. Emanuelle
“Crème Brûlée” by Sacchi Green
“Turn the Tables” by Yvonne Heidt

As you can see, we have an amazing line-up of writers and a wide array of stories. There’s something here for all tastes.

I am now counting down to release time, which is still a little vague but will be some time in August. I can’t wait to have a print copy in my hands. Andi and I worked very hard with our cover designer to get our cover to be exactly what we had envisioned—and she did an awesome job in bringing it to fruition. We also made very specific requests to our interior designer to carry our theme through the book.

Soon it will be time to enjoy the fruits of our labor (no pun intended), and I think it will be one of the best projects I’ve been involved in.

What Do Dresses & Fajitas Have in Common?

I’m back from Portland, Oregon, where I attended the Golden Crown Literary Society’s (GCLS) annual conference. While most people have blogged, or will be blogging, about their experiences there (including me at Women & Words), I’d like to explore something else.

Where I work, there is a large Hispanic community and many of the women I work with are of Hispanic heritage, which is how I came to learn the word faja. Faja is a Spanish colloquial word for “compression garment.” Why am I talking about this? I’ll tell you.

This was my first time presenting an award during the ceremony, and it also would have been my first time accepting an award (on behalf of Ylva Publishing for When The Clock Strikes Thirteen, although we didn’t win). I felt that I should look especially nice this year.

So I bought a dress. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am not particularly confident about my body, and I was concerned about how I was going to look in it. I found the dress the week before the conference and when I tried it on, I thought it looked pretty good, but that I should probably buy a compression garment of some kind. Spanx are popular now; in the old days, it would have been a girdle, and in the old, old days, a corset.

During the course of that week, I was extremely busy getting my stuff for the trip together and finishing up some tasks, as I knew that I wouldn’t get anything done for a solid week until I returned from Portland. On top of that, I had an extremely stressful last few days at work. Consequently, I had no time or brain capacity to go shopping for anything.

faja

Faja

As I matched up my dress with shoes, bag, and jewelry, I kept going back to thoughts about my curves, and when I finally packed the dress the day before my flight, I grabbed a girdle, something that I had purchased the year before, also for a dress for GCLS, and threw it in the suitcase. Up until last year, I was dead-set against wearing any such thing—I thought that items like that were abusive toward women and torture devices used to make us feel inferior and brain-washed. Then I saw my ass jiggling in the dress and caved in.

To make this increasingly long story short, when I got to Portland, I let my insecurity get the best of me and ran to the Target down the road from the hotel and bought a compression garment, known among Latinas, at least in New York, as a faja. I had wondered for a long time where the word faja came from. It seemed so odd and random. Then one day, I was talking to someone about it and she was so amused by the word that she looked it up, and when I saw the word faja on the screen, I had a moment of clarity. I instantly knew that faja was derived from the same root word as fajita.

Fajita

Fajita

A fajita is a bunch of stuff rolled up in a tortilla. I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out the connection.

Being the word geek that I am, I had to get to the bottom of this. I looked up faja and found out that it means “belt” or “sash” in Spanish. Both faja and fajita come from the Latin fascia, meaning “band” (the tying kind, not the musical kind). Also, interestingly, fascia is “a sheet of connective tissue covering or binding together body structures (as muscles); also : tissue of this character” (Merriam-Webster.com).IMG_3137

Again, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to make the connection.

My stuff was rolled up like a fajita, all right. Getting that thing on was a chore. But it did the trick and I was able to get through the ceremony fairly confident that I looked nice. And I received many compliments attesting to that.

On that note, I thought I’d end this blog with a recipe for a fajita. Why not?

Vegetable Fajitas

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 flour or corn tortillas
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup sour cream (optional)

1. Heat oil in a large skillet; add onion and bell peppers. Saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, and salt and continue cooking over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until soft and lightly browned, about 5 more minutes.

2. Warm the tortillas in the oven or directly on the burner (a few seconds on each side). Place equal amounts of the vegetables on each tortillas, then add equal amounts of salsa and sour cream. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 fajitas.

Checking in From GCLS

As this blog goes live, I’m in Portland, Oregan, at the Golden Crown Literary Society’s annual conference. It’s their 10th anniversary and they have gone through some growing pains. But I think they’ve come a long way and this should turn out to be a good gathering.
 
I’m going to be pretty busy with events I’m involved with. Yesterday I did a coffee chat and tomorrow (Saturday), I will be on 2 panels: “Reading about Food” and “So I Had This Idea…” After the panels, I have to attend a rehearsal for the awards ceremony in the evening–Andi Marquette and I will be presenting the awards in the Romantic Suspense/Intrigue/Adventure category.  
 
But it doesn’t end there. Ylva Publishing has a finalist in the Anthology category: When The Clock Strikes Thirteen (YAY). And because I am one of the authors in that collection, Astrid Ohletz, publisher and owner of Ylva, asked me to accept the award (if it wins) on their behalf. I have a good feeling that it will win one (they usually give out two or three in each category). The only thing is that the Anthology category is the first award that will be given, and I’m not too pleased about that. I don’t want to be the first one up there! Plus, it doesn’t give me any leeway to be late. I decided I would go really girlie this year. I bought a dress and shoes and borrowed a clutch bag. I have to do my hair and makeup and make myself presentable. And all of that takes time!
 
So, while I won’t be accepting an award for myself this year, my writer’s group members keep telling me that it will be practice for when I DO accept an award for myself. Okay, I’ll go with that.
 
I just pray and that I don’t trip going up the steps to the dais. 
 
I’ll report back and post a few photos when I return. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Westward Bound!

This is my last blog before leaving for GCLS in Portland, Oregon. For those of you who are unfamiliar with GCLS, it’s the Golden Crown Literary Society. It’s an organization that promotes lesbian literature. Every year, they hold a conference, where authors and readers can gather, meet, discuss, and learn. There are discussion panels, writers’ workshops, coffee chats, and readings. But it’s not all work and no play—they throw in some fun activities as well (not that the above activities aren’t fun). There have been karaoke nights, bowling, and dress-up parties (in Dallas, everyone sported their cowboy boots and hats for karaoke). This year’s meet-and-greet will be in the form of an ice cream social.

But I don’t travel halfway or all the way across the country for karaoke and ice cream. I go because it’s an opportunity to get to know readers and other authors. The world of publishing is smaller than most people realize; the world of lesbian publishing is even smaller. I mean, really, really small. Everyone knows everyone—or, at least about everyone—and interaction with readers has become a very important thing. Your readers want to know who you are, whose work they are reading. And you have to let know you exist; otherwise, you will get lost in the sea of authors.

Aside from that, it’s always nice to know who is reading your work, who is supporting you. It’s nice to see the faces and hear the voices of those who are allowing us, the writers, to continue doing what we do. Human interaction is becoming a lost art these days and it’s events like these that allow that art to continue, at least in our little world.

I’m busy packing and preparing and I’ll soon be seeing my fellow authors and readers in Portland. Westward ho! (I know some of you will be laughing at that one.) I’ll see some of you there. Bon voyage to you!

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