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!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Road Trip, Fan Girl Fun and Updates

When last I blogged here, I was about to embark on my first trip away from home that did not involve a hospital stay in over two years. Complicating matters for my nerves was that I had to make my way to the airport with all of the bags on my own as Jon can't get off work until his usual time. Our flight was to leave a little over an hour after that. No pressure! I had the bags and we had boarding passes before leaving home. Jon carried nothing save for his ID and money and the pass. The theory was that he should be able to easily pass through security and make it before the boarding calls began. It was a sound theory. That didn't stop me from being wound up in knots about the entire prospect. And that's on top of my epic anxiety over flying.

But there was nothing that could be done. I decided that I would be at the airport well before the suggested two hours prior to boarding in case dealing the the luggage turned out to be more of an ordeal than anticipated. That meant I had to get my drink on way in advance of the flight. For my newer readers, I have to fly snockered [Hmmm, spellcheck doesn't have the word snockered. How pedestrian]. I have the intense kind of flying anxiety that makes me want to open doors while the plane is in the air. The anxiety is so intense that I am usually really sober by the time I land. Champagne was the drink of choice prior to the cab ride. It wasn't expensive, but it was nice. I suppose sparkling wine is more accurate. This stuff was not from France. Still, it was tasty. I was feeling good during the cab ride. My cabbie remembered me from our days in Playa del Rey. It seems our complex had to stop being condos and go back to rentals because of the downturn. And, I think, because they were evil. That put me in an even better mood.

The baggage thing was easy. I could check them at the curb as I had the boarding pass already. Security was a breeze compared to what we've been through traveling overseas. I was at my gate in minutes. My plan was to have a bite to eat and then more wine. I carefully researched my choices on Yelp.com the night before. I chose the eatery with the most consistent positive reviews. I don't know where these people were eating, but those were the worst nachos I've ever had. I was so annoyed that I didn't stay there to drink at the bar. I went to the spot closest to my gate. I also made some good nachos when I came home. I did not want those to be the last ones I remembered. I still had an hour and a half before Jon arrived. I whiled away the time practicing my Hiragana , the easiest part of written Japanese, while arguing with a mechanic with Air Alaska about the odds of the 49ers getting back to the super Bowl this year. I actually teamed up with a New York Giants fan to debate the man. Oh, and I was still drinking wine. And Jon was on time!

An hour an a half later, Jon and I had arrived at the San Francisco Airport Marriott and Yaoi-con. It is an manga and anime convention primarily though novelists are welcome. Since writing A Solder's Choice, I have been wanting to go to this convention. It is a place where I could find a huge audience for my homoerotica. There was a great deal of networking potential in this trip. Beyond that, we were going to a really great hotel near a city I really like. No matter what went one, I was going to have a nice bit of R&R – perhaps even some room service. Jon and I had a lot to talk about regarding our projects. This would be a great setting away from our every day routines. We were not disappointed. We had all of that and more! We also had travel mascots, Mr. Sizuyki-san, the rubber duckies (from Junjou Romantica, my favorite yaoi anime), the happy Gorn  from Craig and Oscar Wilde (who loves all things writing and naughty) to watch over our room. We also had a wine in a small cube. A brilliant invention!

From here on I will be posting photos from the costumes at the convention. One will depict the character being re-created. The other will be the very cool cosplay version. And check out a great video of the costumes and the location HERE.

There are many perceptions that the public has about genre conventions – the costumes, the weirdness. We've all seen in on the news when there is a Comic-con going on. And while that is true, it is no stranger than wearing a foam rubber wedge of cheese on one's head or painting your body and screaming through a football game half naked in the freezing cold. There are even more preconceptions about attendees of conventions like Yaoi-con or slash fiction friendly conventions like Media West  or Basecon. Those are that they are mostly socially awkward women who don't have 'real lives.' I can argue about the skewed view of those perceptions, but that is for another day. Yaoi-Con did not even match those. I'm fairly sure that almost half of the attendees were men – and not necessarily gay men. Many seemed to be partnered with female attendees. There was a wide age range from 18 to my age and beyond. They were a very racially mixed group as well. And they there highly social for the most part. There was that one very attractive though sad Legolas clone. I'm not sure what his story was. I went to the convention with networking in mind, but I had also managed to open my yap about a controversial topic and ended up with a panel. While that is an excellent way to introduce myself to a group of writers and potential fans, it could have also been a complete disaster caused by my own arrogance. How did that turn out? You'll have to go to my blog Why Can't No Mean No Panel  to find out.IIt also has the only photos of me in this shindig!

Beyond the panel, I had fangirl business. I wanted to meet the people behind two of my favorite web comics. I discovered both of them while I was undergoing chemo and couldn't sleep. I had never read a web comic before, and I didn't think I'd take to them at all. I read both from stem to stern in one sitting. One is Tea House, an adult drama with a gorgeous Art Nouveau design that is based on the lives of people who work in a brothel. The other is the starkly beautiful and compelling Starfighter, I actually spoke about the incredible skill of Starfighter's writing in my panel. I will go more deeply into my attraction to both series in my Yaoi @ Sybpress blog this week. For now, I will say that I met all of the wonderful women behind these works and it was a wonderful experience.

When we weren't in the hotel enjoying the food and the ambiance, we were in lovely nearby Burlingame. It was a really lovely little town that very much reminded us of the quaint but wealthy towns of the Main Line near Philadelphia . We had some great diner food. Sadly, there wasn't time to try one of the six Japanese restaurants there. And Jon and I had some very long discussions about all of the projects on the blocks. I can't say we came to any new decisions, but it was good to at least bring some of the things that had been troubling me for a time to light.

It was a very good weekend though the travel and the walking was hard on me. It took some time to recover, but I'm so relieved that I can travel! And we will be going to Yaoi Con next year – in Los Angeles! I regret not going back to the beautiful Bay Area, but not having to pay air fare means a lot more room service and souvenirs!


Ensnared Volume one is now available as a paperback and ebooks. For details, got to http://sybpressyaoi.com . A Soldier's Destiny is now underway once more. The rest of the projects are in flux. Some things are going on. I'll get into those next time. And, hopefully, I'll have a photo of Craig in Spock ears and a story to go with it.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mall Recon, Calypso and Packing Frenzy

This has been a crazy busy week. One day, due to a maintenance issue at our building, I was out and about for eight hours. That just doesn't happen much anymore unless I have a medical appointment that involves some sort of intimate scan. What to do for that amount of time? I went to the mall and mall walked and did some serious shopping recon. Despite my taste in timeless clothing and an odd penchant for costume jewelry, I have never been much of a shopper. I just never saw the point of whiling away the better part of a day looking for shoes. The internet has made things a lot worse for me in the wanting to shop. That and working many years in retail. Stores generally depress me, and it is easy to find what I want with the click of a mouse.

The exception to this used to be my quarterly recon sweeps through all the shops I tended to buy from. I would check out the trends for clothes and shoes and even housewares without any inclination toward buying. It's been many years since my last recon. I admit that my wardrobe needs a serious update. My yo-yoing size and not working for nearly two years means my closet is a bit threadbare. And the thrift store cookware we've been using for over a decade is falling apart. I had a lot to recon. I was glad that it was early during a work week and not during the holiday season. I prowled the shops for hours looking at everything from bras to saute pans. It was good fun, and I found a lot of bargains that were regular prices. I'm happy to report that A-line skirts and sheath dresses are doing well. I was very, very excited to see that English riding boots are all the rage and thus quite affordable when looking at the department store version. And I found some reasonably priced saute pans. Yay! I even got entertained by a group of toddlers dancing to a steel drum band. It was a Harry Belafonte tune, Jamiaca Farewell
. It was the loudest part of the mall, but there is something simply joyous in watching toddlers dance and laugh. I did manage to fill the day with some very productive intelligence gathering.

Incidentally, I believe there is a conspiracy afoot to get The Banana Boat Song
in my head. I've seen references several times this week.

Leaving On a Jet Plane

I had to postpone my usually crazy early packing frenzy for the trip to San Francisco because of the work done in the apartment. We had to put everything back in place after moving most of the furniture and everything else to make room for the workman. I feel a bit pressed because I should have been packed a week ago (I did say crazy early). I'm kind of glad Jon is at work, because I'm wackier than I normally am before a trip because of the truncated prep. Did I mention that the trip is only a few days? I'm doubly stressed because I haven't flown in over two years. This is a completely new and unfamiliar convention for me. Oh, and I've managed to get myself assigned a panel on a controversial topic that many there may not like a newbie kibitzing on. More on that in the next blog after the convention. I think my nervousness is justified. I'm making sure that my mask is well in place. It takes a lot of polishing of my appearance, a lot of thorough research on the topic and loosing my inner Dominatrix. I'm rusty at the last one, so I may also require copious amounts of wine.

I'll figure out how to make the trip work. I've been meaning to go to this convention for many years. It has the core audience for both the Soldier's books and Ensnared in one place. The networking opportunity is phenomenal. I also need to prove to myself that I can still travel. It's important to my taking back a normal life, and I will need to travel for the documentary. Besides, Jon and I desperately need a change of scenery that doesn't involve a hospital stay. I don't think we'll have any time to explore San Francisco, but this girl has always loved a stay in a fine hotel. I get that from my mother.

I'm posting this early from the hotel. There will be a whole lot more to tell when I get back.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

New Blog, New Book and Some Old Chestunts

I have a confession to make. I have been working on a different blog. Oh, don't worry. I'm not catting out on some strange, random blog. This one is mine as well. You see, in order to properly socially network a project, it must have a searchable tag in the cloud or the interweb tubes (don't I sound very techie when I have barely a clue). And genres also don't like to intermingle, it seems. So, I had to create a blog for the various niche genres I write in. This new blog is Yaoi at Sybaritic Press. Warning: That site is dedicated to homoerotic fiction. The excerpts are quite explicit. Read at your own risk! In that blog, I introduced the new book, Ensnared Volume One. It's now in two volumes because the 180,000 words was a bit much to fit into one paperback. The volumes are a rollicking epic filled with intrigue, danger, humor and a big sprinkling of homoerotic D/s fun. Of course, no one is entirely who they appear to be, and even the simplest actions can be lethally dangerous. Above all, this is a love story between two people from extremely divergent backgrounds.

Here is the summary from the back cover blurb:

In this world, even the most powerful are captives

Lord Darius Galatea seems to have all the power in the world. He is Leader of the Cosimo or Cosi, those who keep order in an advanced civilization built upon a strict caste system. He could have a city razed with one call or have the most high born citizen put to death for the slightest transgression. Andreas Hesper comes from the lowest caste. He used an agile mind and just the right amount of muscle to become the most successful leader of an underworld gang. A chance encounter between the two men not only upends both of their worlds, but also ultimately puts their lives in jeopardy. It is custom that some of the Elite citizens of the world class city of Amara owned their lovers as playthings for a time. But those trained playthings or Damis were from a specific caste bred for their obedience and loyalty. Never had a gang leader become a Dami and thus privy to the secrets of an all powerful Lord. But there is more to the streetwise young man who agreed to be a plaything despite the objections from his caste and those from his Master's world. Andreas felt bound to the Cosi from the moment they met. He sees and hears more than even Darius himself. Andreas knows that they must tread very carefully in both of their worlds or the attraction that so closely binds them together will cause their destruction.

For more details, lengthy excerpts, and details about the characters and how the books were written, please visit Yaoi at Sybaritic Press.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Last week was wonderfully cool. I managed to bake some test cookies from new recipes or new techniques of old recipes. I had hoped to make some soup stocks, but the cool streak didn't last very long. Still, I managed to figure out how to make oatmeal cookies without all of them spreading into one large, thin cookie. I also discovered that there are many cookie troubleshooting forums on line. They were very helpful. Jon and I are working on a production plan for the holiday baking that should be even more relaxed. And these recipe refinements are producing some very nice results. Jon's co-workers certainly are enjoying them. I've got my lineup fairly well set. I may be very daring and try to make macarons. [that photo is not of macarons I've made]. I'm not certain they'll make this year's rotation, because I'm unsure of how well they hold up (how many days do they last in a cookie bag or cookie jar and how well do they travel). I'm also not sure how well I'll execute them. I've done very little work with a piping bag. I've never ground nuts into flour. And that's another consideration. I have to be very careful of people with nut allergies. We already segregate the peanut butter cookies after baking. We acutally make them separate from the other cookies. And we do a heavy cleaning and disinfecting in between. I may try to make them though. We also have to have another whack at diabetic cookies as we have more and more people that fall into that category. It's not hard work, and Jon loves the resulting research so far.

The rest of the week that was not related to getting the book underway was not so great. Some people here have heard enough about my frustrations with automated customer service, so I won't rehash that saga. I'll just get angry again. Sending a book out into the world is always daunting. I'm actually depressed afterward. I find I miss hanging out with my characters. And then there is the terror that either no one will like the book or everyone with just shrug at it and walk away. I was fighting a cold much of the time, so that didn't help my state of mind. I was even achier than I usually am of late, and I had that vexing scratchy-sore throat thingy. It is very amusing that even after all I've been through as a cancer patient that I still find a garden variety cold this annoying. Baking helps with all of those negative feelings for the most part. But even a very successful round of cookie baking didn't quite lift my melancholy and discontent.

And then there is the event looming largely this upcoming weekend. I am taking my first trip since August 2009. It's my first convention since Dragoncon 2008. That's enough to make me nervous. I also opened my big yap to the convention committee on a controversial topic. Now, I'm doing a panel for the first time in years. The audience is likely to be hostile. Ah well, I've always liked San Francisco. Hopefully, we'll get to see a little bit more than the hotel during a short stay. I'll report on the whole shebang next week. That's just weird that shebang is in spellcheck, but it flags all possessive words with an apostrophe as misspelled. Strange.


I have none for this week. I'm still assembling promotional materials for Ensnared and my other works in that genre for the convention. And I'm about to enter the frenzied OCD phase of my travel preparations. I have lists of my travel lists. I'm out of practice, so I'm extra OCD right now. We'll only be gone a few days, yet my lists are ever so long and detailed. Poor Jon.

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Delay of Blog

There will be no blog until Sunday. I'm frantically working to get some Sybpress titles out that must be live within the next week. I'll have a lot to share on Sunday.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Celebrations, Syndromes and Updates

I must do a tiny bit of old business first. I forgot to answer one burning question from the last blog of readers' questions. If I still haven't answered a question, it's because I'm not gonna. Anyway, the answer to the missed question is that Ray Liotta is back in Craig's orbit. From his resume on IMDBpro, he has been filming a lot over the last year. Thus, he was not intersecting with Craig. Now, he is and the chin waves have commenced. Craig is no longer as paranoid about it. However, he is really annoyed over all the sitcom actors who have moved into his neighborhood. I don't know who they are. A description like 'you know, that fat, balding guy with the hot wife on that show' could be anyone.

I may have to put back the warning I had on my blog for a while. It seems that it comes up on the strangest searches from recipes to images from ancient cartoons. I'm not sure why people click on a description that has nothing to do with the search, but some do. Heck, a number of my gentle readers have come from searches that have nothing to do with the primary subjects of this blog. They have stayed for the hilarity. That's great. I really don't get those who click on and then complain to me, because I'm not writing about what they are looking for. I mean, I have a big ol' header on top of this thing, for goodness sake. So, if the rate of complaints doesn't ebb, I'll go back to the warnings.

The Bone China Syndrome

I inherited a strange syndrome from my Mother. It had no name until the 1980s, I believe. When she wrapped a turkey in puff pastry during her first ever holiday special, Mom knew that she had Martha Stewart Syndrome – the need to opulently entertain no mater how few people are supposed to show up. In her defense, we never had a holiday where some unexpected guest showed up – family or friend and often with a stranger in tow. Heck, many a Sunday dinner featured some sort of guest – expected or not. Mom would scold for not calling ahead, but she never turned anyone away. She was a social soul, so I think she enjoyed entertaining despite the work involved. She liked it even more as the cooking duties were ceded to me. I didn't know that I had inherited this syndrome until Jon and I were in LA. During that first year, not only wasn't I obligated to entertain family, we also knew no one to invite over. I would still make full blown Sunday dinners that served at least six. I reasoned that we could eat the leftovers. And we did. Things got really wacky during our first Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in LA. Despite our relatively solitary existence, I cooked like we were having no fewer than twelve people with big appetites. I still do. It's like I cannot fathom actually cooking a holiday meal for just two people. I make the same amount of food down to the two sweet potato pies even when we're invited out. I really loved the leftovers for those meals.

I haven't done much entertaining since 2009. I was really sick during Thanksgiving. In fact, that was when I knew something was really and seriously wrong. I couldn't eat that meal. I was home by Christmas and I did cook as I usually would, but I was still on a lot of drugs that effect appetite or the taste of food. During 2010, I was not up to having guests. I think that's why I went a little batty doing the high tea for Marie. I was so ecstatic about entertaining – and seeing Marie. My knee jerk reaction to Jon and my wedding anniversary is to go absolutely bonkers. I was gong to make a three tiered wedding cake a la Ina Garten that serves 10-12 people. Even Jon can't eat that much cake. Eventually, it sunk into my brain that Jon is a lot more laid back about celebrations. I mean, that was the reason for the Las Vegas wedding. It was easy –  all we had to do was show up. We needn't have dressed up. The Elvis was because we were getting married in Las Vegas and why not? He was great. We split our reception up between an all you can eat seafood buffet, Star Trek: the Experience and a dance club at the MGM Grand. It was no fuss but huge fun. So, I kept this year's celebration simple. A steak sandwich (That's what people from Philly call a Philly cheesesteak as it comes with no cheese unless you ask for it, and one wouldn't use the name of the city you're already in as part of the description). And we had a normal sized layer cake. I also had some bubbly, but then I need very little excuse to have that. Being Tuesday usually works. Mind, I may want a big blow out for the 15 year anniversary. I'm thinking of a vow renewal in Paris. Yes, that would be lovely especially since it would be 20 years that we'll have been together. That deserves a bit of fuss.


A new Sybpress title comes out this week. Meanwhile, I am a week away from releasing a huge new title and re-releasing two other titles. I'll have blogs on three sites next week. These previews are for my regular readers only!

Stay tuned!