Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Mini Writer's Blog

Today is my day for cooking lunch and dinner components for the week. While I'm waiting for some
chicken to reach room temperature, I thought I'd write a mini-blog. This one is primarily about my writing process (geez, that sounds pretentious). Actually, it's about what I'm working on now, how I keep all of the series that I'm writing advancing at the same time, and how I came to develop a whole new pair of characters this past week.

I began juggling back in Grad School. When I got sick of the thesis novel I was working on, I'd write something that I considered more fun. On such fun thing was a script for Star Trek: Next Generation. That landed me my first agent in Los Angeles agent. This proves that I rarely write anything just for fun. This habit was validated some time later by our second landlord in LA, TV Writer Stanley Ralph Ross https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Ralph_Ross. He said that when he was stuck, he'd write anything that wasn't a script. It could be as small as a post on a screenwriting Bulletin Board (those things that evolved into internet forums) or a fan letter to someone he admired. Stan always said that everyone is a fan of something and someone. The thing was to get the active brain working on something else so that the problem can sort itself in the background. That totally justified all the fanfic I was writing in between the scripts we were pitching at the time. Frivolous? No! The fanfic landed me in a feature documentary (Trekkies) and directly lead to our first film being funded (that is a long, bizarre, and often unbelievable story that is totally true).

These days, I have so many story lines in the works, it is a simple matter to switch-off to the one that is giving me less trouble. That's how they all move forward in some fashion. While Ensnared v4 is prominent with Vampire Rent Boy a close second, I am also working on two kinds of works for the Soldiers Saga (the 4th novel and a webcomic). Beyond that, there is a relatively brief return to my het fantasy to finish that trilogy (after a re-write of the first two books). I can't leave that story unfinished. There are fans waiting.

I can hear some of you. HET?! WTH?! But what will be the next yaoi novel and potential series? I Vampire Rent Boy) or in response to a gripe I have with certain tropes in Yaoi. The Soldiers books were, in part, a response to strictly assigned roles in a relationship (seme/uke or Top/bottom). I wanted to reflect the reality I've seen in the gay couples I know. In Ensnared it was a direct response to an iconic Yaoi series where the Seme was, in my opinion, a big asshole. I wanted to show that there can be a hot, sexy Seme with all the power in the universe who knows how to seduce absolute surrender – not abuse the uke into 'falling in love.'
had no clue until a few days ago. My Yaoi titles either being as a lark (

While I have no real gripe I'm addressing in the next novel down the road, I realized there was a setting I had yet to visit in Yaoi while I was chatting with one of my readers this week. I do that sometimes. I've never had a Yaoi title set in a fantasy realm. I love swords and adore dragons. My Het series is set in such a realm while my Yaoi tends to be present day or distant future. Shortly after that chat, my pair sprung up. They are second sons, princes from two powerful Kingdoms. Within a few hours, I knew who they are, the families they are from and why the end up together. The story has the potential for a lot of fun (sexy fun), intrigue and drama. It will most likely occupy my time when I get stuck on these other works. I hope to have a teaser for it in the next couple of months! Many thanks to that lovely reader!!

Meanwhile, Jon is working on the ebook layout for the next Ensnared installment. I am sweating the detail on Mykos' and Hector's faces. This installment is enormous!! The next one may be as well.


Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Beer and Loathing, Elbow Issues, and a Naughty Genie

Last week had many awesome moments to contribute to the Summer of Fun. There was also a lot going on that is in keeping with the more annoying aspects of working in creative pursuits. We'll look at the fun first!

Beer and Loathing in Downtown


Anime Expo is a gigantic convention in Los Angeles that draws all kinds of Industry professionals. I
am very fortunate to have a couple of said professionals that I can count amongst my friends. One of them was involved in a gathering away from the convention to share all kinds of beers. You bring what you like and everyone gets to try beers that they wouldn't normally get to drink. As you can see, there was a lot of beer to be tried. The most interesting beer was brewed with peppercorns. I could see having that with a steak. The conversations were interesting. Everyone has fascinating war stories about their various jobs in the world of anime and manga. We even got to do some valuable networking. It was a really nice break from a generally annoying weekend. Incidentally, I went home with the Not for Sale Ale. Delightful!

Of course, there was a weird aspect to this outing. It was held at an art gallery in the middle of the Fabric District in Downtown LA. In fact, it was next to one of our favorite places to get interesting fabrics. The space is called Think Tank Gallery.  It's a huge space outfitted for all kinds of exhibits. Then, in the back is a place that looks like a diner. See video for the diner https://vimeo.com/141235923 . I was instantly in love with their six burner turbo engine stove. But the lovely gallery wasn't the weird part. First, that bustling street is frightening after dark. It's like something out of The Purge. While we were waiting for our ride to return (we were sitting at the window above the fabric store's sign), we watched a couple dropping off one car in a garage across the street(see the photo in the lower left corner of the above image), drive off in another, then return running from the direction they drove off. Next, there was a couple that was coming from Anime Expo (they had swag bags). They brought the bags and a lot of merchandise with them to a room off the main gallery. Then, they began taking a lot of stuff down to the car, including pillows and other bedding, a lot of boots and then the same swag bags and merchandise from the convention. Then, there was the man carrying a laughing hot blond woman whose legs were wrapped around his waist from one side room off the gallery to another. After five minutes, he carried her down the stairs to the car with the shoes and the bedding. And I will never know what the large box of dirty rubber duckies in the restroom was about. I was afraid to take a photo. It was a really creepy box. No, I hadn't had too much beer. Jon had root beer, and he saw everything I saw. Very strange but a fun time. There are more photos at the end of the blog

We were really lucky to have a close buddy that works as an Uber driver. I've known Cory since my first job in college at B. Dalton Bookseller in Center City. He came out to LA for the same reasons I did, writing, art and filmmaking. It was so wonderful to have someone take us to that desolate part of downtown who we knew would come back for us when we called. I would have missed a fabulous evening without him.

I've covered the beer. Now, the loathing. The great opportunity for a panel was not to be. Adding us to the lineup was way too short on notice to the convention. Badges couldn't be secured without great expense and the inconvenience of standing for hours in the hellish heat and sun. That wasn't happening no matter how much I wanted to do the panels and meet a mangaka whose work I admire. I'm not physically up to such tasks. Moreover, I'd lost two days work on my book cover doing a visual program for the panels. I couldn't lose any more time. These books pay a good part of our bills. I'm way behind my publishing schedule as it is. So, we missed the chance this year. But since the beer event I've discovered that I'm at the point to apply for panels on my own and get them. We have some projects coming up that will give us a lot of visuals to present next year. The lesson was a hard one, but we came out of it with more opportunities.

And we did get me meet up with one of our Cosplay Bishies! Phil Mizuno and a delightful manga
artist had a beer nearby before the neighborhood was shut down for the 4th of July Fireworks. It was short but very nice. He is really adorable and sweet in person. I wish I was less of a mess, but I'm really glad he came by.

Summer of Fun Cooking


I'm not finished with my canning projects. I really had to stop everything else while I worked on that cover. I'll finish the jams and the peppers later this week. The peppers are a mix of jalapenos and banana peppers along with some garlic. I'm mimicking the pickled peppers that would go on a hoagie  back in Philly. I also put them in collards sometimes. My tastes are more and more like my father's every year. I have become obsessed with the idea of smoking food in the oven. It can be done without any equipment aside for the wood chips and a disposable aluminum pan. It's also possible to do more than one kind of food at the same time. I often want some smoked salmon or brisket or ribs. I can freeze the meats and smoked fish keeps a while in the fridge. I may even be persuaded to share the smoked goodies! I plan on giving oven smoking a try this week.

Creative Doings


This week, I have the privilege of launching Jon's new book, Life on the Periphery. It is a collection
that is so diverse that we had a hard time describing it in a short paragraph. He has put his extremely twisted imagination to work in conjuring stories that are brutal, and delicate and hilarious and horrific in turns. And no matter the fantastic environment, there are always very real and relatable characters to follow. It is, in short, astonishingly good. Buy it! Here is the synopsis.

This astonishing collection of delightfully disparate short stories answers many of the universe's most difficult questions. Like what was life like for a city guard during the Hyborean Age battling the greatest Barbarian of all time? What does a boy find when he wanders into the woods…and beyond the realm of human senses? How does a Midwest farm girl become a pawn in an intergalactic power struggle? How does one negotiate with aliens who have an extremely invasive means of communication? What happens when a Wehrmacht soldier volunteers for a bold and dangerous experiment? Why would the defender of the universe take time off to visit a small town in Ohio? What are the unintended consequences of wish granting genies? What happens to an office worker who has a ringside seat to the end of the world? Can two immortal brothers who pursue very different paths find common ground? Life on the Periphery takes the reader on a journey that is joyful, hilarious and terrifying in turns while searching for many kinds of truths.


Playing With Dolls


I had been drawing my covers from paper cut outs that I would rearrange the way I needed them. The results were okay, but they were always a bit off in my eyes. This time, I used a free, 3D program called DAZ 3D to craft basic body types that matched my characters and then pose them. This was better because of the body proportions were accurate down to the fingers. Of course, there was a learning curve dealing with a new software. I say that calmly, but there was a lot of cursing at problems in getting an elbow to bed in a normal human direction. And I may have damned the inventor of the program to some unending torture at certain points in time. Who remembers such things? In the end, I was happy with what is my most complex pose to date that is successful. I must go to the next cover immediately. For this one, I am trying something different from what I've done in the past though it is from a popular style of romance cover. This installment of Ensnared going to show Andreas at his most seductive power. The cover must reflect that and Darius' increasingly possessive response. I really hope those elbows cooperate.

Next time – Do Craig and I finally have lunch? Will I throw the laptop into the pool over uncooperative elbows? Will I finally pickle those peppers?

Stay Tuned!








Beer and Loathing, Elbow Issues, and a Naughty Genie

Last week had many awesome moments to contribute to the Summer of Fun. There was also a lot going on that is in keeping with the more annoying aspects of working in creative pursuits. We'll look at the fun first!

Beer and Loathing in Downtown


Anime Expo is a gigantic convention in Los Angeles that draws all kinds of Industry professionals. I
am very fortunate to have a couple of said professionals that I can count amongst my friends. One of them was involved in a gathering away from the convention to share all kinds of beers. You bring what you like and everyone gets to try beers that they wouldn't normally get to drink. As you can see, there was a lot of beer to be tried. The most interesting beer was brewed with peppercorns. I could see having that with a steak. The conversations were interesting. Everyone has fascinating war stories about their various jobs in the world of anime and manga. We even got to do some valuable networking. It was a really nice break from a generally annoying weekend. Incidentally, I went home with the Not for Sale Ale. Delightful!

Of course, there was a weird aspect to this outing. It was held at an art gallery in the middle of the Fabric District in Downtown LA. In fact, it was next to one of our favorite places to get interesting fabrics. The space is called Think Tank Gallery.  It's a huge space outfitted for all kinds of exhibits. Then, in the back is a place that looks like a diner. See video for the diner https://vimeo.com/141235923 . I was instantly in love with their six burner turbo engine stove. But the lovely gallery wasn't the weird part. First, that bustling street is frightening after dark. It's like something out of The Purge. While we were waiting for our ride to return (we were sitting at the window above the fabric store's sign), we watched a couple dropping off one car in a garage across the street(see the photo in the lower left corner of the above image), drive off in another, then return running from the direction they drove off. Next, there was a couple that was coming from Anime Expo (they had swag bags). They brought the bags and a lot of merchandise with them to a room off the main gallery. Then, they began taking a lot of stuff down to the car, including pillows and other bedding, a lot of boots and then the same swag bags and merchandise from the convention. Then, there was the man carrying a laughing hot blond woman whose legs were wrapped around his waist from one side room off the gallery to another. After five minutes, he carried her down the stairs to the car with the shoes and the bedding. And I will never know what the large box of dirty rubber duckies in the restroom was about. I was afraid to take a photo. It was a really creepy box. No, I hadn't had too much beer. Jon had root beer, and he saw everything I saw. Very strange but a fun time. There are more photos at the end of the blog

We were really lucky to have a close buddy that works as an Uber driver. I've known Cory since my first job in college at B. Dalton Bookseller in Center City. He came out to LA for the same reasons I did, writing, art and filmmaking. It was so wonderful to have someone take us to that desolate part of downtown who we knew would come back for us when we called. I would have missed a fabulous evening without him.

I've covered the beer. Now, the loathing. The great opportunity for a panel was not to be. Adding us to the lineup was way too short on notice to the convention. Badges couldn't be secured without great expense and the inconvenience of standing for hours in the hellish heat and sun. That wasn't happening no matter how much I wanted to do the panels and meet a mangaka whose work I admire. I'm not physically up to such tasks. Moreover, I'd lost two days work on my book cover doing a visual program for the panels. I couldn't lose any more time. These books pay a good part of our bills. I'm way behind my publishing schedule as it is. So, we missed the chance this year. But since the beer event I've discovered that I'm at the point to apply for panels on my own and get them. We have some projects coming up that will give us a lot of visuals to present next year. The lesson was a hard one, but we came out of it with more opportunities.

And we did get me meet up with one of our Cosplay Bishies! Phil Mizuno and a delightful manga
artist had a beer nearby before the neighborhood was shut down for the 4th of July Fireworks. It was short but very nice. He is really adorable and sweet in person. I wish I was less of a mess, but I'm really glad he came by.

Summer of Fun Cooking


I'm not finished with my canning projects. I really had to stop everything else while I worked on that cover. I'll finish the jams and the peppers later this week. The peppers are a mix of jalapenos and banana peppers along with some garlic. I'm mimicking the pickled peppers that would go on a hoagie  back in Philly. I also put them in collards sometimes. My tastes are more and more like my father's every year. I have become obsessed with the idea of smoking food in the oven. It can be done without any equipment aside for the wood chips and a disposable aluminum pan. It's also possible to do more than one kind of food at the same time. I often want some smoked salmon or brisket or ribs. I can freeze the meats and smoked fish keeps a while in the fridge. I may even be persuaded to share the smoked goodies! I plan on giving oven smoking a try this week.

Creative Doings


This week, I have the privilege of launching Jon's new book, Life on the Periphery. It is a collection
that is so diverse that we had a hard time describing it in a short paragraph. He has put his extremely twisted imagination to work in conjuring stories that are brutal, and delicate and hilarious and horrific in turns. And no matter the fantastic environment, there are always very real and relatable characters to follow. It is, in short, astonishingly good. Buy it! Here is the synopsis.

This astonishing collection of delightfully disparate short stories answers many of the universe's most difficult questions. Like what was life like for a city guard during the Hyborean Age battling the greatest Barbarian of all time? What does a boy find when he wanders into the woods…and beyond the realm of human senses? How does a Midwest farm girl become a pawn in an intergalactic power struggle? How does one negotiate with aliens who have an extremely invasive means of communication? What happens when a Wehrmacht soldier volunteers for a bold and dangerous experiment? Why would the defender of the universe take time off to visit a small town in Ohio? What are the unintended consequences of wish granting genies? What happens to an office worker who has a ringside seat to the end of the world? Can two immortal brothers who pursue very different paths find common ground? Life on the Periphery takes the reader on a journey that is joyful, hilarious and terrifying in turns while searching for many kinds of truths.


Playing With Dolls


I had been drawing my covers from paper cut outs that I would rearrange the way I needed them. The results were okay, but they were always a bit off in my eyes. This time, I used a free, 3D program called DAZ 3D to craft basic body types that matched my characters and then pose them. This was better because of the body proportions were accurate down to the fingers. Of course, there was a learning curve dealing with a new software. I say that calmly, but there was a lot of cursing at problems in getting an elbow to bed in a normal human direction. And I may have damned the inventor of the program to some unending torture at certain points in time. Who remembers such things? In the end, I was happy with what is my most complex pose to date that is successful. I must go to the next cover immediately. For this one, I am trying something different from what I've done in the past though it is from a popular style of romance cover. This installment of Ensnared going to show Andreas at his most seductive power. The cover must reflect that and Darius' increasingly possessive response. I really hope those elbows cooperate.

Next time – Do Craig and I finally have lunch? Will I throw the laptop into the pool over uncooperative elbows? Will I finally pickle those peppers?

Stay Tuned!








Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Jam Disasters, Book Updates and the Summer of Fun Heats Up

This week, I planned on finishing my cover and making headway on the next installment of Ensnared. However, I found myself suddenly prepping to interview a mangaka whose work I once edited on a panel at Anime Expo and prepping to speak at a different panel on Fan Service aimed at Yaoi fans on another panel. Okay, I can adjust on the fly. This is a great opportunity. I hadn't expected to speak at this convention for a long time. I was excited. And then, I get another cool request. I was asked to do a video introduction for Ori Cosplay International, a group at a convention in Belgrade, Serbia. That was great, but I had to do my hair and find my make up and put on said make up. I am so out of practice with makeup that it seemed to take forever. This video was only 17 second, mind you. Of course, Jon did some directing. It wasn't much. Here is a screenshot from the video. I sent everything where it needed to go by a little after mid-day on Monday. Now, I need to get back to the other pile of work.

Jammin' Out of Tune


Keep in mind that I have quite a bit of experience in canning in general and making jam in particular. This year, I have a fancy new pressure cooker with a canning function. I thought I was going to really get down with some jam making. There were a few flaws in that assumption. First, fruit seems to ripen into rot within hours of purchase when one plans on canning. I bought three pounds of apricots on Friday. They were firm to the touch. There wasn't a bruise on any one of them. By Saturday evening, half of them were rotten. That doesn't make much of a yield. I had to cook them down asap and buy more later. When I finally got to try my new equipment, the entire batch was ruined. I think I was too timid in tightening the rings on the lids. It is said being too tight can be explosive. I erred in the other direction. Most of the jam was forced out under pressure. The only thing that saved any of it was I couldn't fit all of the jars in the pressure cooker. I had one jar that hadn't been sealed under pressure. It sealed from the jar cooling on its own.  That would keep in the fridge for a good long while. And I had leftover jam that I put in a Rubbermaid container. But a whole lot of work had been for nothing. Luckily, the summer is just beginning. There is still plenty of time to try again. I plan on doing that later this week. Note – The refrigerator jam is delicious. Of course, I had to make some brioche bread (it's really easy. I use a no knead recipe from this awesome book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day). The recipe makes four loaves in a batch. The dough can be frozen. It also makes epic donuts!

New Multi-Author Blog!


We're re-activating the Sybaritic Press Blog next week. We realized that we have some very interesting authors with new print books coming out soon. We think readers would like to hear about how they work and what they are working on. I will introduce each blog and contribute something about the editing and marketing of the books. We are really excited to join an author program with Amazon that will link our new titles with bestsellers in the same category. We're hopeful that will mean a surge in sales for past volumes and titles in our catalog. I'll make sure the link is in the next blog!

Learning New Tricks


Jon was working on a drawing for the cover of his new book. That work prompted him to try one of those 3D modeling programs to get his proportions right on the figures. Since it was free, I decided to try it as well. Proportion and perspective have been an issue for me in the last covers. Oy, the cursing. Did I mention that free software tends to have a steep leaning curve? I managed to get the poses I needed after two solid hours to get and elbow to bend in toward the chest. Hopefully, my new neighbors didn't hear that language. I usually don't like to let them know that side of my vocabulary until football season. I also got some help from two lovely artists who are far better versed in these programs than I. Saya Unique and Candy were really essential in helping me get past some problems with this cover. I will reward them both. Readers should see a real improvement in my skills with this print cover and the next ebook. It's even made me faster in the actual drawing part. The posing part was a nightmare, but the drawing is much easier. I'm also going to take an online course on web page development. It isn't anything like coding. This course teaches artists how to customize website templates to suit needs. Jon and I want to revamp our web pages, so that I can host my webcomic there and take advantage of the amazing traffic I have on my Facebook pages. We're hoping to create a viable way to monetize the page and provide an advertising platform for Sybpress and other Indie presses.


Zorthrast The Invincible Gets a Haircut


No, I haven't blown a gasket. That is a title from one of the short stories in Jon's first fiction Life on the Periphery. It is an astonishingly good work. I say that with great pride and equal annoyance. The stories are a combination of Sci-fi, Fantasy, Horror and comedy at times. They do not fit easily in a genre niche. Thus, I believe (as a publisher) they will have a broad appeal. We've already gotten some very exciting people to have a look at it! The cover art is to your right. Here is the synopsis:
collection,

This astonishing collection of delightfully disparate short stories answers many of the universe's most difficult questions. Like what was life like for a city guard during the Hyborean Age battling the greatest Barbarian of all time? What does a boy find when he wanders into the woods…and beyond the realm of human senses? How does a Midwest farm girl become a pawn in an intergalactic power struggle? How does one negotiate with aliens who have an extremely invasive means of communication? What happens when a Wehrmacht soldier volunteers for a bold and dangerous experiment? Why would the defender of the universe take time off to visit a small town in Ohio? What are the unintended consequences of wish granting genies? What happens to an office worker who has a ringside seat to the end of the world? Can two immortal brothers who pursue very different paths find common ground? Life on the Periphery takes the reader on a journey that is joyful, hilarious and terrifying in turns while searching for many kinds of truths.

Look for the announcement next week!



Book Updates – Warning! There Be Erotica Ahead


One of my stalwart proofreaders had a brilliant idea for the Ensnared books that I was already working on for the Soldiers Books – I'm going to write a guide to the universe in which they are set as well as the characters and their relationships. I'm likely to do a cookbook for Ensnared as I am for the Soldiers books. For now, I'm going to do a basic guide that I will illustrate at some point. The basic guide will be added to all the print and ebooks as soon as it's finished. It will help me a lot to have one. Right now, I keep track of everything on post-it notes. That's not very efficient.

I'm glad to finally get to the desert and what's been waiting for my characters for so long. I've had this encounter in my head from the beginning of the first volume. Some aspects of the scene changed as the characters veered from how I originally planned on them developing. I believe all the changes are for the better as they happened organically with the way the characters grew. There is magic in the way these creations grew in a different though completely logical way from what I planned. I used to wonder where these developments sprang from and how I couldn't see them from the start. Sometimes, this happens because I'm focused on the moment at hand and don't see that the character's arc had changed trajectory. Sometimes, a clever reader will point out what should be obvious. I am most fortunate to be in contact with some very clever readers. These changes don't change the outcome of the long anticipated scene, but the dynamic is quite different. This shift will impact the fallout of that encounter in ways that shift relationships for some time to come. I am very excited about writing it though it is turning out to be really emotional for me. I always get that when when my guys are going through a traumatic event.

Summer of Fun Update


The 4th of July is on a Monday this year. Jon gets a three day weekend! Along with the panels at Anime Expo, we get to meet Phil Mizuno, one of our gorgeous calendar guys who is also an absolute sweetie. And hopefully, we'll get to hang out with some terrific writers and artists while I enjoy craft beers. We have to bring in beers we like to share. I got hooked on Red Irish Ales during my last trip to Paris (I do things like that). These are really neat people that I usually interact with only on Facebook. It's an exciting addition for the Summer of Fun.

Stay tuned!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Summer of Fun, Sleeping with Shatner and Book Updates

The Month of Fun was not as fun as I'd planned due to some interference from the Feds. It wasn't bad as last year, but the stress over fears that it would be caused a bout of insomnia. That threw me off schedule with my writing deadlines which as causes depression. It's a cascade of no fun. Thus, I am declaring the next three months the Summer of Fun. The plan is the same. The time span is longer in case there are further hiccups. During the SoF, I want to ride the new extension to the LA Metro Expo Line to Santa Monica and make my semi-annual pilgrimage to Penzeys Spices. I am out of French Thyme, and I'm really low on many other dried herbs and spices including peppercorns. I'm also very keen on snagging my good buddy Craig for lunch in the beautiful town of Pacific Palisades where the chin waves to Ray Liotta continue. The lack of fun isn't the only reason the blog disappeared again. I haven't written any blogs recently, because of being behind schedule on the story. I felt like I couldn't write anything that wasn't fiction. I have so many things pulling me in different directions on any given week, I had to pick something to delay for a bit.

It's not all doom and gloom. Some of the Month of Fun was quite delightful indeed. I made some souffle. One was chocolate. One was the make ahead and freeze goat cheese that I love. They are a little bit of work, but the results are absolutely heavenly. I'll have delightful lunches and elegant desserts for some time to come. Also, my workouts and making those blasted salads have begun to pay off. I've lost 15 pounds. I'm not sure of the amount of time it took. It was a while. I hate weighing myself, so I didn't even check until I noticed a substantial change in how my clothes fit. That was a real mood elevator. I was feeling a bit down about failing to work out three times a week no matter how hard I try. But the two days a week and the 10,000 step walks during the Friday errands is working.

I've taken to making my own salad dressings. I'm making a vinaigrette style that has sesame oil along with some vegetable oil, soil sauce, garlic, and ginger. And the creamy dressing involves ground sesame seeds, sesame oil, soy sauce and a little bit of mayo. I use only enough of either one to lightly coat my salad greens. The calories are minimal while the sesame oil and seeds pack a nutritional punch. The dressings are also very, very tasty! Oh, to get around the arduous salad making process, I make a big salad and save half for another day. I really hate making salads. I plan on doing some involved cooking in the next few days and making videos of the processes. I have a few friends who really must be careful about what they eat for various reasons. That means that processed foods are something to be avoided due to salt and fat content. I'll be posting those on Youtube and sharing them in an upcoming blog.

Sleep Study


I have insomnia, so my primary care doc ordered a sleep study. She seemed to think I had Sleep Century City, a vast office complex on land that was once the backlot of 20 Century Fox. You may have seen the most famous of these office buildings on such TV shows as Remington Steel or Starsky and Hutch. The clinic wasn't in one of those. It has very close by. The room was set up like a higher end hotel room. Among the famous people who had slept there was William Shatner. I don't think it was the same bed as it seemed that the mattress was new, but I think it was the same room. I wonder what TV show he may have watched while waiting to nod off. Would he have watched Star Trek if it was on? I watched what I usually watch in hotel rooms, HLN. Long ago, it was Headline News. That night, it was a true crime show called Forensic Files. Falling asleep was a challenge mainly because of all the electrodes in my hair, on my face and legs Somehow, I slept. I won't know how much or how deeply until my doctor's appointment. They can tell all of that from brain waves and eye blink rates. I still have insomnia, but it was an interesting experience.
Apnea. I'm not sure what that has to do with not being able to fall asleep at all – sometimes for days, but she's the doc. The clinic is in an office tower in


Writing Update – Warning There Be Erotica Ahead!


The next installment of the Ensnared Saga is huge. It's over 50,000 words and is 84 standard typed pages. I didn't feel I could break until something major occurred. The first installment was as long as it was because it's setting up all of the huge events coming in parts two and three. I've had a lot of questions about what will happen. Without spoiling anything, I can tell readers that they will learn exactly what is in the desert in the second installment. By the end of the book, readers will visit the Cosi Compound and meet the Keepers. They will also meet the female Cosi and find out the role they play in the hierarchy. I can also tell you that Andreas and Darius' story will not end with this volume. There is the Winter Festival story that I couldn't finish last year. And there will be some short works published online with illustrations after this volume is finished. I plan to have some snippet stories turn up at the end of chapters of the webcomic, too. I love those characters, so I know I'll never really let them go. There will probably be a fourth volume sooner than later.

I can also tell readers that there aren't many more stories left for Vampire Rent Boy. I'll probably wrap it up before the end of the year. I will have a Christmas story for Tristan as well. And I do expect to do the occasional snippet that I'll post online. What will I fill my time with? The Soldiers books are due for a new volume. I have a Het Fantasy Romance to finish and a BDSM opus to pen. I also have ideas for other one shot, yaoi stories. I'll be busy writing fiction along with doing the webcomic, no worries.

Stay tuned!



Sunday, May 08, 2016

MoF 2016 Week One, Popcorn Additives and Pantless Guys

Month of Fun Update


The first part of the Month of Fun is a tad alcohol intensive. There is Cinco de Mayo (margaritas) and the Kentucky Derby (Mint Juleps) two days later. And then there is Mother's Day when I must toast my lovely, late mother. In fact, she was a big reason I celebrate Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby. Mom loved a party. Of course, I don't do nearly as much imbibing as I once did on those days. I pretty much only have one of the cocktails as they are quite strong when made properly. I tended bar through Grad School, so I make a very nice cocktail. No mixes for me. I use fresh fruit juices, fresh fruit and herbs and such. I haven't made any fun foods yet. Tomorrow, I'll make some fried chicken to go with the potato salad. Those foods were kind of a spring tradition with my family. I think I want to have some sort of fun seafood on my birthday. That will be something really simple. The big baking will be the cake. Last year, I tried to make fondant for a polished cake. It was somewhat successful. This year, I'm sticking to what I'm good at - buttercream rosettes! The cake will likely be devil's food.

[Photos of the Month of Fun so far are at the bottom of the blog.]

As I said in the last blog, I've been doing a lot of studying on Youtube in order to do some of the procedures that are part of the rest of the MoF. There sure are a lot of videos for manicures, pedicures, and facials. It looked to be at least hundreds of each type. My favorites thus far are from some New Zealand. Along with the procedures, I really like the accent of the narrator. She's very soothing to listen to. I have my products for all three processes, so I'll begin trying out the routines sometime this week. Perhaps, if I am efficient enough, I will adopt them as something I do a few times every month. Maybe. I'll see after I do the pedicure tomorrow.


Writing Updates – Warning, there be erotica ahead!


As some of you may know, we've published a stunning 18-month calendar to help raise money for
convention appearances and extra help for the Press. I look at my Calendar guys the way I look at my actors - highly talented individuals that I am looking after on this project and who will become colleagues and friends for a long time to come. I am very ethical in these relationships despite my very naughty nature. I never cross that line even mentally with these men. Often, my friends have asked how I could be with a pantless actor and only worry about hemming a pants leg (Karl Urban), or how I could be worried about ironing a straight seam in another pair of pants while an actor is pantless in the wardrobe trailer (Garett Maggart). Or how I just put that drunk actor to bed after finding him nearly naked in my living room? (I won't name him. He's much better behaved now). In short, I am a professional. However, when I'm writing hot male characters, I am 100% pervy. I have to be that way to make the books work.

When I work on my sketches, I play with paper dolls first. I have characters whose builds closely match Andreas that I use over and over. I won't name the character models because I don't want readers to see anyone else when they look at him. Darius has had a few models since I started drawing covers. I haven't been really happy with any of them. But recently, I saw a photo-realistic sketch of Thranduil from The Hobbit. It was something about the elegance and power in the pose while being utterly relaxed that spoke to me. So, I thought I would use the film version of Thranduil for Darius' build while keeping the design I have for his face as I rather like the last version of that. There must be thousands of images of Thranduil in every pose imaginable, right? Yes and no. There are a lot of images to be sure, but I kept gravitating toward photos that were not of the actor, Lee Pace, in that role. I kept finding photos of my own Calendar guy, Ori, cosplaying Thranduil. That was weird for me as I am trying to put a lot of sex appeal in those covers, and I found it really awkward to be looking at one of my guys with my pervy eye. It began to get frustrating. But then, I thought about how amused Ori would be about being a paper doll. I can see that sly smirk of his as I write this. So, I decided to stop wasting time with the search and watching the extras from The Hobbit and just get on with it. Knowing my big, blond Serbian, he'll say 'why not just have me pose for you and get it over with?' That certainly would save me a lot of effort. So while I am thinking lecherous things while sketching, it's all very professional!

Research Fun


Jeepney
No matter where my stories are set, there are realities that stem from research. In the last Rent Boy, I was using all my bartending experience in what Tristan was making. Muttley's is based on a dive I frequented when I lived near Hoboken, NJ. In the Soldiers books, I used real military tactics for the battle scenes. Even the biology behind the genetic mutations in that series is based on actual research on how viruses work and can alter genes. The same is true for the Ensnared universe. From small things about how the household staff interacts with Royals in real life to how a regular guy would react to a facial and manicure to the structure of the three main strata of society, there is a basis in reality in those books. I've been doing a great deal of research for the shelters that will turn up on the next expedition. A friend of mine has been sending me photos of all manner of shelters based on Yurts and domed earthen shelters. The design that Hector comes up with is based on real shelters. I won't reveal those as there are some very fun things that will be happening in the desert when the Cosi and his entire household shows up. However, I can talk about a vehicle that will have a minor Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, I found the vehicle in the Philippines. It's called a Jeepney. They are individually owned and operated and individually decorated and tricked out. They were even better than those horrid little buses in AC as their individuality will work well with the rest of the book. It's always delightful to find exactly what I need for a book. It's especially fun when it happens while watching something I find enjoyable on its own. Sometimes, I find useful information while totally wasting time – like when I was watching those video extras from The Hobbit films. I saw something in one that I hadn't thought about for the current Ensnared volume. I've already included some foreshadowing on that bit of fun. I even have real life models for things like the layout of the Penthouse, Cosimo Tower, and the vehicles in the book long before I decided to actually draw them. I needed to see something similar to describe these things realistically.
role in the upcoming volume. When I thought about it, I recalled a terrible, tiny bus that used to run on the main streets in Atlantic City. I couldn't find any good photos of those. However, while watching the first new episode of

Progress Report


I'm working on the covers diligently. I've got all my paper dolls and a rough sketch for the print book. The next ebook cover is proving elusive for me. I haven't found a pose that I like yet. But then, I've really been focused on the print cover. I think once that one is off to be inked and colored, I'll find what I need for the next ebook – which I'm still writing. I haven't found a suitable place for an end to the installment. This whole volume is going to be a monster length-wise.

Week two of the MoF is nigh. Stay tuned!


Photos for the MoF 2016 Week One


Mint Julep and Sweet Tea,

Mint Julep fixings.

Anime Swag bags.

Anime teaser.

Anime fun.

Maragarita!

Margarita makings.

A present from nature.

A reward for swimming 10 laps.

Pretty things to look at.

Greek style Pizza much like that from out home neighborhood.

Instructions and advert for popcorn additive.
Popcorn addidtive. Not at all like butter.