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!

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:

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!