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Ani Keating: From Fanfiction to Published Author — Five Things I Learned In the Process (Contest)
Friday, November 6th, 2015

akExcerpt 2 First Kiss Photo

When Delilah invited me to post on her blog, my first reaction was a fangirl squeal.

My second reaction was a Carlton dance.  And my third reaction was a complete, paralyzing writer’s block, which continued until last night.  How the hell do I choose what to write on Delilah’s blog? This is Delilah! Everyone has been in bed with her, and I’m just popping my publishing cherry!! Oh, the stress.

But I have a generally-calm, down-to-earth, hold-your-hand-through-hell hubby who said, “That’s what you write about.  Popping your cherry.” And he was right. With my first book only eleven days away, I haven’t taken a full moment to pause and articulate what I learned in this amazing process.  It started out as a small story on Fanfiction, then it grew on my blog, and now, finally, it’s hitting the stands.  It has been a beautiful whirlwind, filled with lessons.  And because I’m a list person (blame my legal job), here are the top five:

  1. Write with my heart, then edit with my head. Oh, the blood and tears of that first draft. How precious each adjective, how darling each adverb! I had to step away in the end (okay, was dragged away by my hubby, but tomayto- tomahto).  I went out, saw my friends, combed my hair. And I learned that, for me, some distance was crucial. I needed it to be able to return to the manuscript with a gimlet eye. To delete huge chunks of it, and rewrite entire chapters.  To realize that adverbs are almost never needed if I use the right verb.  And that the best story is not the one I tell, but the one I show.
  1. Pick my battles. So I could delete adjectives and adverbs on my own. But what would I do if my agent wanted me to strike an entire background story or remove a whole character? I learned to compromise. Not everything I thought was vital was actually interesting.  And not everything that was interesting was actually vital.  So that’s when I came up with my formula:  if it takes me more than three sentences to explain the importance of a background story or secondary character, that information is not vital.  Delete it.
  1. Trust my gut. But there were some things that took more than three sentences to explain. Some things that were integral to my main characters, even if all my legal training couldn’t persuade my agent to see my point. For example, my alpha hero, Aiden, is a U.S. Marine with total recall. He can never forget anything. Especially not the horrors of war. My agent wanted to delete his memory. We talked, we argued, we tried hard—with zero progress. My head told me to listen to the agent—she was a pro; I was a newbie.  My heart wanted to listen to her, too—she was the first one who saw my potential.  But my gut kept saying “no”—loud and clear (and in Aiden’s deep, husky voice, which made it irresistible). In the end, I had to make the hardest decision of my writing journey: I had to part ways with my first agent. It would take up all of Delilah’s blog to explain how difficult that was. What the hell was I doing? I was lucky to have an agent at all! But my gut was absolutely right. Because, shortly after, I found another agent who loved the book the way it was, and an editor, and a publisher who followed.  And, above all, the 63,000 readers that visited my story online.  In the end, instincts matter.  (And that’s a big lesson for a newbie author.)
  1. Listen to my readers. Looking back now though, I wonder: would I have had enough confidence as a baby author to follow my instincts without all the readers who followed my story online? See, I posted Thirty Nights on Fanfiction first—before it caught the attention of an agent. I thought I’d be lucky if I had one, maybe two readers. I ended up finding quite a few more.  And every single one of their 3,000 messages, reviews, and emails did its little magic. It allowed me to understand what they liked, what they didn’t. And to appreciate that although I write for myself, what I write is theirs.
  1. Be prepared to gain about seven to ten pounds. This was a surprise to me. My Debut Author 15! All those nervous chocolate nibbles and take-out food around deadlines have left me with some pounds to shed. But that’s okay—it was worth it.  Because the final lesson in this whole process has been to give my body and brain what they crave every so often.  This writing business is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  (And with that, I’m getting on my trek suit, and going for a run.)

Thank you for reading and please check out information on Thirty Nights below. And thank you, Delilah, for inviting me on your blog!


Thirty nights. Two hearts. One fate.

After her parents’ tragic deaths, Elisa Snow wanted nothing more than to escape her past. Eighteen and alone, she fled her quaint English village and moved to the United States. A starving science student by day and an artist’s muse by night, Elisa has slowly built a new life. She never dreamed she would lose everything again.

She is one week from graduation when her visa is unexpectedly denied. Given thirty days to leave the country, she must face the one thing she cannot survive again—saying goodbye and leaving her home. Yet within minutes of her world shattering, she meets a man with the power to piece it back together.

After finishing his tour of duty in Iraq, Aiden Hale traded battlefields for boardrooms, becoming one of the most successful venture capitalists in the nation. But all his wealth can’t buy him reprieve from the horrific memories of war. The only thing that gives him peace is a painting of Elisa.

Drawn together by their invisible wounds, they begin a passionate affair as they race against the clock to defy their pasts—and fight for their future.

Warning: Contains a blistering exploration of desire, sacrifice, and redemption…and love’s power to equalize us in ways laws cannot.


The door rattles under four sharp, loud knocks. According to my dad’s watch,

I still have one hour before Hale gets here. I peek through the hole and freeze. Bloody hell, it’s the Dragon, with a capital D this time. What did I do today? Oh, maybe he is canceling the painting. I put a half-baked plan together and open the door.

“Mr. Hale, what a nice surprise,” I start with a big smile, my voice high enough for the bats to hear it.

He steps inside. I think he’s trying to calm himself but it’s hard to tell with the smoke coming out of his ears. He runs a hand over his hair. What the devil is wrong with him? He takes one deep breath and explodes.

“Are you so above the rest, Miss Snow, that you will not deign to attend even your graduation from the institution that has granted you its highest academic honor? Or is this how little your own life means to you?” He speaks through gritted teeth.

Oh, bollocks! How did he find out, and why does he care? Be strong, Isa. “I’m sorry, but that’s none of your business.” I ignore his second question. Something about it makes me recoil.

He looks at me like I just insulted his mother. Honestly, I think I see fire from his nostrils. “None of my fucking business? Is that your answer?” Still gritted teeth, which I suppose is better than fangs.

“Yes, that’s my answer.” I stay calm, hoping some of it will rub off on him. No such luck.

“Over three thousand people watched President Campbell announce Miss Elisa Cecilia Snow, valedictorian in absentia, and a full minute of silence fell over the crowd, and you say it’s none of my fucking business?” He is spitting fire.

Damn it! Why would President Campbell announce it? I emailed the traitor. Well, one thing at a time. The Dragon first. “No, I didn’t say fucking business. I said simply business.”

He looks at me with flared nostrils and roars, his fists hanging down.

“What is wrong with you?”

Oh, this is rich. He is morphing into a Tolkien creature and I’m the freak? I am usually a calm, rational agent. It’s probably not apparent based on this last week, but I am. But right now, with my newly shaved legs and my lacy knickers on, after practicing his name all day in front of a stupid fan, I want to scratch his eyes out.

“There’s nothing wrong with me, Mr. Hale. However, based on your behavior these last two days, may I suggest the very real possibility that there is something seriously wrong with you? I strongly recommend that you visit a psychiatrist, sir, and soon, before you become a menace on the streets of Portland and incinerate us all for exercising our right as free human beings to go wherever we bloody well please,” I hiss, feeling a kindred spirit with Medusa because he has turned to stone.

Before I can draw a breath, he takes the two steps between us and his mouth closes in on mine, his hands like a vise around my face.

The force of his kiss slams me against the wall and makes me gasp. His lips mold with mine, and his tongue is dancing inside my mouth. My knees shake a little. As if he knows, one of his hands leaves my face, trails down my body and rests at the small of my back, arching me against him and supporting all my weight. I move my tongue shyly around his. I taste cinnamon and something else, something Aiden. My blood ignites, and another gasp escapes me. At the sound, he presses his hips against me, and his long fingers reach into my hair. He pulls my head back until my mouth opens wider. Our tongues move together, and his anger changes to desperation and then to a slower rhythm that I can follow. Of their own accord, my arms reach up around his neck and my fingers knot in his hair. He tenses, so I try to let go but he draws me closer until there is no more space left. I feel every line of his body against mine. His teeth graze my bottom lip. It takes me a moment to realize that the moan I hear is coming from me. He pulls away, his breathing harsh and labored.

“Impossible woman,” he growls.

I open my eyes. His sapphire depths are blazing. Without his arm supporting me, my knees go back to shaky and weak. Then it dawns on me. Bloody hell, I’ve just been kissed by Aiden Hale! And what a kiss it was. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have much experience with such things, but I am willing to bet my supplement’s formula that no girl, anywhere, has been kissed like this. I pinch myself discreetly to make sure I’m awake. Yes, it was real. My lips are tingling.

“Are you ready to go?” he asks, his breathing now back in control. Apparently, we are not going to talk about it. That’s good. What if his next words end this? And what is there to say regardless? By some miracle, he wants me at some level, and I want him at all levels. That’s good enough for now. Good enough for forever for someone like me.



I love this giveaway.  It’s Tiffany’s Iconic Necklace in Silver and Tiffany Blue.  Check it out and enter the raffle. I want this beauty to end up around someone’s neck.



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Lizzie Ashworth: A Peek inside Caerwin and the Roman Dog
Thursday, November 5th, 2015

labraid promo copy

Thanks for hosting me on your blog today, Delilah! I’m excited to share my new book, Caerwin and the Roman Dog. Release day is November 10!

When the opening scene first formed in my imagination, I thought, OK, a short story, we’ll give it a shot. As I wrote, the characters kept gaining strength and their interplay swept me away. I always knew how it would end, but I didn’t know the end would demand a sequel. Dang it! Now I have another book to write. (Warning – this is historical romance with strong BDSM elements.)

Not complaining—I love research and this book required a lot of it. I had general ideas about the Roman invasion of Britannia, but not the details I needed to make a story come to life. The more I researched, the more fascinated I became, not only with the tragic destruction of Celtic culture in Britain but also with the powerful Roman state. Did you know that much of our current military structure is modeled on the 2000-year-old Roman army?

So here’s the short summary:

laCaerwin cover

Caerwin, a young Cornovii princess, watches from the rocky battlements of her tribe’s hillfort as Rome’s legions approach. Surely the valiant warriors of her tribe will fend off this swarm of foreign invaders. Disbelief slowly changes to horror as Romans overrun her home.

Captured and held in Roman camp, Caerwin faces Legate Marcellus Antistius who makes it clear she will submit to his demands. In spite of her resistance, he forces her pleasure. She begs to die.

Caught between his increasing infatuation with this Briton princess and the demands of his military command, Marcellus must come to terms with his past.

A fiery novel of domination and submission, this historical romance follows Caerwin as she refuses to accept her new reality. Life as she knew it is over. Forever. In its place stands a man she can never love.

Want more? Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter:

The man she had seen on the white horse paused in the opening. His stare fastened on her and sent chills down her spine. He stood taller than the other men, his body of a stature more like her own people than these rat men of Rome. His layered metal vest had been removed as had his helmet and other outer garments, so that he wore only loose breeches that ended at his knees. She swallowed, casting her eyes away after her first long frozen moment.

“Do you like what you see?” he asked quietly.

The words shocked her, spoken fluently her familiar language. She turned to face him. Words rose to her lips but remained unspoken. He examined her, openly casting his gaze up and down her body as if he owned her. The terrible realization struck her—he did own her. She had been caught up at his command and now stood captive to his whim.

She spat in his direction and turned her face away. Tugging against the tight leather bonds, she succeeded only in chafing her wrists. Her nerves heightened to brittle pitch as she sensed him approaching. She knew what he would do, what such men did to captured women.

He placed himself in front of her, so close she could not look away without seeing his chest. His scent stung her nose, sharp and edged with the copper hint of blood. Stains marked his arms and face, sweat-encrusted dirt and smears of blood. His voice startled her, so close and so quiet.

“What is this trinket?” he asked, fingering the torque.

She glared at him. “Shall you steal it from me like you have stolen our lives and our land?”

“I wish only to converse with you, to ease this friendship we’ve started.”

She snorted and strained at the bonds holding her. “I wish only to kill you. I would leave your body for the crows.”

He grabbed her face and held her still while his mouth tasted her. His lips moved against her lips. His tongue sought the seam and when she refused to spread her jaw, he bit her lower lip. Her shocked cry gave him entry, and his tongue invaded her mouth, probing and pushing.

Hate rose in her chest, blinding her. She clamped her teeth down on his tongue, savoring a brief taste of blood as he jerked back.

Vipera!” He wiped his hand over his mouth. “You won’t win this battle, but if you wish a contest…” His big hand closed over the neck of her garment and ripped it down the front of her body. The beautiful woolen dress she had so carefully woven hung off her shoulders.

“I will have you,” he said in a hoarse voice. “Whether you wish it or not. Let the others portion out the gold and silver, whatever meager wealth your tribe held. I have wealth enough in coin. You with your hair like copper,” he added, fingering her long braid, “your eyes blue as sky—you are my pillage for this day.”

Evening damp had risen from the nearby river, and the cool air hit her exposed skin like a slap. She refused to look down on her nakedness or to meet his smirking gaze as he made a show of his careful examination. He pinched her nipples and probed the thatch of red hair between her legs.

“A virgin?” He laughed, pressing his finger deeper. “I’m surprised you’ve reached such an age without marriage. I will find much pleasure in this.”

She flinched with his intrusion. Were it not for the ties binding her ankles and wrists, she would have flown at him and gouged out his eyes. She cursed him, calling down the wrath of gods on him and his company.

“Your gods won’t help you,” he said, removing his finger and inspecting the faintly-red stain. “I’m your god now.”

lahair pull copy

Pre-order by November 9 at only 99¢!

Amazon →


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I’ve got a special board for Romans, lots of historical info.

Thanks again Delilah! It’s been great.


Carol Shenold: Fairies, Murder and Magic, Oh My — How I Got Here
Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

cdCarol_0434Thanks, Delilah for inviting me to your blog and hi to all you writers and readers out there. My name is Carol Shenold and I write Paranormal Mystery as well as Urban Fantasy.

Once upon a time I thought I wanted to write romance, sweet girl next door stories. Boy gets girl, loses girl, gets girl. I tried really hard. Struggled. Thought it should be easy. Not so much.

So I had to re-evaluate. Remember the old, “”Write what you know, write what you read.”

Guess what? I read mystery, horror, urban fantasy, paranormal. Always have, since I read horror comics as a kid. My grandmother used to tell us horror stories for bedtime stories. Mother was horrified when she found out. When I tried to write sweet, I was missing tools I liked like a murder, ghost or two, spare werewolf. When I added in the action, murder and paranormal elements, it worked for me. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m a hybrid and so is my character, Ande.

My first published book, Privy to Murder, takes place in a small Texas town, single mother, murder and an extremely annoying ghost. I have two Tali Cates books published and another in the works.

I like fantasy and got hooked on Urban Fantasy when I read the Dresden Files series. Had to try it, putting fairies and werewolves together with politics and wizards in Dallas. My character, Ande,  is named for a Celtic Queen, Warrior, Boudicca Andreas. Ande Ryan is half Fae, half witch, with scary flying skills.  She is no Tinkerbell and she learns to respect Mother Nature, “Remember what she did to the dinosaurs.” The first book, a novella, is called Fairy Dust and the second in the Ande Ryan series, “Bloody Murder” was released in September with Wild Rose Press.


A sadistic serial killer is staking fairies with iron and taking their wings. Ande Ryan is on the case as part of the Paranormal Investigation Unit. Being forced to work alongside her werewolf former lover, Cal, has made the case even more problematic. Now, she must deal with her difficult Fae half sister—who she didn’t know existed—as well as the possibility that she might have to keep the dark forces from taking over the world.

Can her special gifts of The Sight and the Titania amulet help her overcome her fear of failure in time to save mankind?

Purchase at Amazon


Please come join me on: Facebook | Twitter: @realmonsters | My BlogWebsite for Fairies


Alexa Day: Keep Halloween’s Spirit All Year Long
Sunday, November 1st, 2015

The morning after.

Maybe it looks like a glistening carpet of candy wrappers, clear cellophane or brightly colored paper, reminders of sweet treats sacrificed to a holiday binge shared (or not) with family.

Maybe it looks like makeup and hair products made lurid in the morning light, a collection of lace or fishnet scraps tossed next to a wig or a fistful of bobby pins.

Maybe it looks like tree branches festooned with long tails of toilet paper, swaying in the cool breeze.

Whatever it looks like, the morning after Halloween, All Saints’ Day, can be kind of a sobering wake-up call after a night of costumed partying.

But as we’re struggling, however briefly, to remember whether this is the day we change the clocks or where we hid the really good leftover candy, our minds turn to one question.

How can we keep Halloween in our hearts all year-long?

I’ve got a couple of ideas.

  1. Keep all the candy. I’m a firm believer in the idea that a sweet treat at the end of a meal signals the brain that the meal is ended, so I should stop eating. I also don’t really want to fully participate in a world without dessert. And how often am I going to get my hands on a single roll of Smarties to pair with my spinach salad? Not often. Make every day Halloween, friends. Eat the candy.
  2. Play dress-up. I don’t have kids, so this is just a theory, but I think the difference between pretending to be Princess Leia for a day and actually being Princess Leia for a day is just a matter of timing. If you’re hanging out in the princess’s iconic white outfit on Halloween, people think you’re wearing a costume. If you’re wearing the very same outfit on a Tuesday, people think you’re Princess Leia.

For us grown folk, a variant of the same theory applies. Over the years, I’ve gathered a closetful of costumes and costume elements. The truth is that I feel a bit like a superhero every night, but I feel even more like a superhero when I have my Storm wig on. Or I can decide to be Catwoman. Or Marie Antoinette. Let’s just say life is pretty awesome in the costume closet. Want to bring that holiday spirit to your everyday world? Be the princess, wear the uniform, and reap the rewards.

  1. Consider some alternate uses for that leftover candy. I’ve made ample use of the break room table at work, and while it might take a couple of days, my coworkers never fail to dispose of any extra sweets I bring in. But why not make little treat packages for my other loved ones. My genius mechanic. The guy who introduced me to my genius mechanic. My vets. My hairdresser. Maybe not the dentist, unless yours has a sense of humor. A little off-season thank you gift goes a long way, right?

But this year, I have a little stash of bubble gum set aside for an experimental use: infused vodka. I love the flavor of pink bubble gum, and infused vodka preserves that special taste without the eventual chewy toughness that goes with the real thing. I’ve found any number of recipes for bubble gum infused vodka online, and I’ve chosen the one at Tipsy Bartender. I think I have more vodka than the recipe calls for, so I might have to do a bit of math, but I feel up to the task. There’s a hot pink jar of goodness at the end of that particular rainbow!

There is one more way to keep Halloween well, all year-long. Have a look at Mysteries of the Macabre, a Halloween anthology with six short stories all centered on the best holiday of the year. My contribution, “Three, After Midnight,” tells the story of a young widow who uses Halloween … and the nearest hot body … as a means to reunite with her beloved husband. It’s kind of a sexy cautionary tale about why it’s so important to talk with your partners about that threesome you’ve been dreaming of.

Want a peek?



Deirdre turned to Trip in bed. “I need some ice,” she said. Her chest burned with longing to squeeze his thigh between hers one last time.

He kissed her again, his tongue teasing the delicate flesh just inside her mouth before he withdrew. “Anything for you,” he whispered. In the soft openness of his voice, she heard more of the gentle kindness that came through in his lovemaking. When he said “anything,” he meant it.

That wicked grin reappeared on his face as he left the room. Did he know what the ice was for? ” She’d dared to hope for a man like this – kind, open-minded, and a tireless sexual dynamo – and now that he was here in the flesh, she really hoped this wouldn’t end up being weird.

The stairs creaked beneath his weight. She pressed her tongue to the roof of her mouth and strained to hear him. A man like Trip, who knew how to use his body to control the bodies of others, would move gracefully all the time and quietly when he had to. She didn’t expect to hear anything more, unless he got all the way to the icemaker.

Cam would probably stop him before then.

In the anthology, you’ll also find a shivery romance, a creepy story set on an aging farm, a work of very dark humor, and other tricks and treats. Just like that big bag of little chocolates, Mysteries of the Macabre has a flavor to suit every taste. With six very different stories from six authors, it’s sure to keep you warm long after the jack o’ lanterns are gone.

Purchase here: Amazon| Barnes & Noble | iTunes

It won’t pull down that toilet paper, though. You’re on your own with that one.

Alexa Day supports her lifelong reading and writing habit with a succession of really strange jobs. She lives in central Virginia, but you can find her online every Tuesday on Lady Smut (, on Facebook (, and occasionally on Twitter (

Erin Bevan: The Ranch Hand
Saturday, October 31st, 2015

My life is a far cry from a romance novel, but I did something this weekend that I could see many of my heroines doing. I disobeyed my husband. Eekk! Isn’t that like one of those “Though Shalt Not’s” in the Bible? I don’t know. I conveniently skip over those parts that talk about minding your husband.

The rain in Texas this past weekend was insane. On our drive home Sunday afternoon, I noticed a tree had uprooted and was eerily close to falling on one of my neighbor’s houses. When I told my husband we should stop, he said, “Oh, I’m sure they know about it. Let’s keep going.”

So, I did. I went home, dropped the kids and him off, and turned right back around to visit my neighbor. I had a hunch they did NOT know that a tree was about to take out the entire side of their house. Call it a sixth sense, but the real reason was because it was inches from falling and no one was tending to it. I would say that’s a pretty big sign they didn’t know, wouldn’t you?

With much trepidation, I ran up to their door and rang their doorbell. Normally, visiting a neighbor isn’t so frightening, but when a two-ton tree is dangling inches above your head only leaning semi-upright by the smaller one-ton tree holding it up and the wind is swaying both of them, visiting your neighbor takes on a whole new meaning.

Long story short, my neighbors were not aware of their dining rooms soon demise, and they thanked me profusely for stopping and telling them.

Moral of the story, disobey your husband. No, not really! Listen to your gut, and do what you think is right. We wouldn’t respect our fictional heroines if they didn’t, and I couldn’t respect myself if I hadn’t.

When everything was all said and done, my husband was happy they I stuck to my guns and disobeyed him. This time!

The Ranch Hand

ebThe Ranch Hand

Jason Haverty is looking forward to the fall horse drive, until his boss and uncle informs him one of the new cowboys coming in to help will be riding his favorite horse. His annoyance is furthered when the cowboy turns out to be a cowgirl—a quick-witted and confident blonde beauty. Trying to avoid her doesn’t work. The more time he spends with her, the more an unexpected protectiveness toward her grows.

Bobby Jo’s Texas upbringing taught her to give just as good as she gets, a quality Jason finds frustrating and all the more endearing in this Southern Belle. When an accident on the trail places her in possible danger, Jason realizes she means more to him than he thought. The question is, does she feel the same?

About Erin Bevan

Erin Bevan was born and raised in Southwest Arkansas. She spent her teenage years working for her aunt at the local gas station flipping burgers and making milkshakes dreaming of the day when something better would come her way.

Fast forward ten years later, she found herself stuck inside an apartment in South Korea while her daughter went to preschool and her husband went to work. Alone and unable to speak the local language she turned to books for a friend. After reading a few hundred in such a short time, she decided to try her hand at writing one.

That first one sucked, but by the fifth and sixth book, Erin started to get the hang of this writing thing. Getting the first contract in the mail was a dream come true. Now, with three babies at home, she squeezes in stories one word at a time, one sentence at a time, one day at a time.  She’s a full time mom, a full time wife, with a little writer sprinkled in whenever she can get the chance.

Kathy Crouch w/a C. K. Crouch: National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)
Friday, October 30th, 2015


Hey there. Have you heard what’s happening in November?

It’s that time again.

No, not American Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Every year it’s time to grab a pencil and a notebook, a computer, a tablet. Whatever you like to use for writing. It’s time to put some major words on the pages. The goal of the month is 50,000 words.

A pantser by nature, this past month I decided to try a little preparing. I took four workshops. Oh, I forgot I like to take workshops. All types of neat things are offered to help with writing. Whether it’s improving writing skills or some special techniques for murder. Yes, murder. Murder because I write suspense with romance tangled inside it.

Back to the workshops. This month, October, there were two offered on NaNo Prep. Surprise. I did learn some tricks to help me create a story. In the past, I always researched, maybe, a few facts, some names and started writing. This year I had the idea for the story. The research for the basis of the story, the main characters and a general idea for what might happen.

Thanks to the workshops, I now have a villain profile. Along with character details for the hero and heroine, and even what happens to the villain. The one exercise that stumped me was how many chapters and what would happen in each one. I can’t see that until I sit down and begin to write. Because the only complete book I have is still in rough draft. Make that half of a rough draft. A critique partner helped me with the first parts. The ending is all in one huge chapter and the entire story runs over 103,000 words. I started the book for NaNo 2012, and ended the month with over 75,000 words and an incomplete story. That didn’t stop me. I kept going at it pushing for an ending. Then last year in June (2014), I talked to someone about the basic idea of the story. She told me with her accurate knowledge it wouldn’t happen that way. Stumped, I sat staring at the computer. Then I asked some more questions. She answered them.

That sent me to rewriting the story. The same basic idea but a different villain and plan for what was happening to the hero and his friends.  It took me about a year to rewrite this and it’s still not ready for pitching or submission somewhere yet.

This year I hope to have 100,000 words in rough draft with an ending. Yes, it will still be rough. However, I think it will be a better rough draft with less rambling and wandering off into different directions. There’s no guarantee though.

What I am saying here is come join in the fun. When you sign up, you post a summary of your idea for your novel and make some new friends online. You cheer each other on; you can contribute to a charitable cause—The Office of Letters and Light, if you so desire. You can buy cool things like t-shirts that celebrate your win. None of these is required.

Here’s the link to check it out:

How much fun is it as a writer to join people all around the world to write for thirty days?

You could have a bright shiny new novel to play with.

Give it a whirl and see who you know that’s trying it. You can create buddy lists. Some groups create chat rooms for writing sprints.

I’m on there as Kathy Crouch. Look for me if you decide to join in for thirty days of wild fun and madness.

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Kathy w/a C. K. Crouch

Summer Devon: We Celebrate Our Upcoming Release with Food (Free Recipe)
Thursday, October 29th, 2015

krMerchant  Clergyman_300dpi

The Clergyman and the Merchant, a book out October 26, is our latest Summer  Devon/Bonnie Dee gay historical romance

One of our heroes, Declan Shaw, the merchant of the title, appreciates good food which inspired me especially after experimenting with a dreadful shake (one that involved frozen bananas, protein powder and kale…skip the details.)

I read over Bonnie’s description of a meal prepared by Declan. I wanted to be like Declan and explore new worlds of food—perhaps ones that did not involve kale.

Declan Shaw is British, but he’s particularly interested in Italian food. I figured I’d try a typical Italian dish from the 1880s.

The first place to check is to find something good from the Victorian era. No, nothing there.

I did more Googling—interestingly enough most of the historical articles I discovered were about the Italians contributions to American cuisine–their influence in the U.S. flourished from about the 1880s on.

But what about actual cooking in Italy in the 1800s?  As most people know—and I soon learned—Italian cooking is all about the different regions. This site claimed that northern Italians didn’t even really eat pizza until the 1930s.

Whenever we write about a particular place, and I do some reading about it, I end up longing to head off for exploration. Maybe I should head to Italy and take a course?

In the meantime, I gave up finding an authentically Italian recipe from the nineteenth century because, apparently, the French were the food writers then. I did find an elegant pesto made with a knife instead of a food processor so the flavors mingle but are slightly separated:

But by then I was hungry enough to make my own version: Basil, and parsley (because I didn’t have enough fresh basil), almonds (because pine nuts, the usual variety are rather expensive), lots of garlic, lots of parmesan cheese, olive oil and a touch of water…and a tiny squeeze of lemon. And all ground together in the food processor into a twenty-first century paste.

In honor of Declan’s nationality and Bishop’s Hartfeld, the fictitious village of the book, I’ve also made pop-overs, my local form of Yorkshire pudding.  So allow me to present food of the sunny south and a hearty British staple.

Summer’s pesto:

1 part nuts to 2 parts parmesan or asiago cheese to 3 parts green stuff (usually basil with a touch of parsley) at least a clove of garlic, and as much olive oil as needed. Or, if you’re feeling like you want zing, some lemon juice too. And if you’re feeling virtuous, cut back the cheese and olive oil. If it’s too thick use a mix of olive oil and water.

Summer’s popovers: 

Preheat oven at about 400. Heat up the muffin pan you’ll be using too. Butter them.

2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus butter for greasing your pans (that’s important)
½ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature
Add 1 ½ cup flour.

The batter will be thin. Whip it until there aren’t any big lumps. Pour batter into preheated baking cups/muffin tin fill about halfway (12 regular muffin tins)

Bake for about 15-20 minutes at 425, without opening the oven. Then lower the temperature to 350 for a while more. Maybe ten minutes—it depends on the oven you’re using. Serve with homemade jam you bought at the church fete.

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The Clergyman and the Merchant

An excerpt from The Clergyman and the Merchant that includes some food and other yummy things:

When James’s gaze locked on his once more, Declan told him in the gravest tone possible, “You are beautiful in every way, and I want to shower you with affection, not flay you with a tongue like a blade.” He slipped his hand around the back of James’s neck and pressed a searing kiss to his mouth.

His own lips tingled when he pulled away. “Now, I want you to crawl over to that sweet little nest you’ve made up for us, take off the rest of your clothing, and await your next order.”

James exhaled a soft groan of contentment before moving to obey. The sight of him on hands and knees was enough to make Declan even harder. He quickly removed the rest of his clothes and dumped the formalwear in a pile. Cool night air tickled his skin like fingertips as he strode over to James, now nude and kneeling, head bowed in subservience.

Declan used his tie to loosely bind James’s wrists together, and took the clean handkerchief from his jacket pocket to blindfold him. “Enhances your other senses,” he explained. “I want you to open yourself to all the sensations I will give you.”

He rummaged in his small parcel of provisions and found what he was looking for, a fig so sticky it clung to his fingers. He smeared the dried fruit across James’s parted lips. “Taste,” he ordered, and James licked his lips.

“Sweet,” James murmured. “Honeyed fig?”

“Indeed.” Declan smeared again, then leaned close to kiss the sweetness from his lover’s mouth. The stickiness made their lips cling together a little as he pulled away. With his clean hand, he smoothed James’s hair back from his high brow. It sifted like fine silk between his fingers.

Declan knelt before James and continued to feed him morsels like a favored pet. A little cheese, a bit of meat, wafer-thin slices of bread which were only slightly broken from being stuffed in his pocket. He told James to tip his head back and squeezed a wedge of orange so the tart juice poured into his open mouth. Again, Declan licked and kissed that open mouth, plunging his tongue inside and crushing their lips together with bruising force.

James’s trusting willingness was coal to the fire in Declan’s belly. He would love to thrust a lot more than food into James’s mouth, but first… He uncorked the bottle of cheap wine James had brought and again ordered his obedient partner to tilt his head. Declan allowed the wine to trickle into James’s mouth, but it also struck his lips and dribbled down his chin, throat, and chest. Declan stooped to lick every drop from James’s skin. The combination of fermented grapes and salty flesh was more delicious than any famous chef’s concoction could ever be. James whimpered and shifted as Declan tongue-bathed him all the way up to his mouth…