Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Crafty Christmas at the Green House

Well, two more holiday parties down.

We had a party at my Mom's on Saturday and it was a blast. All three of my brothers, my sister, my sister-in-laws and my nieces and nephew were there. My boys had a riot having a Nerf war with their cousin and uncle. There was hiding behind cabinets and furniture, diving rolls across the floor. Walking between them was like being trapped in an action movie.

On Sunday, we went to my Dad and Stepmom's place for another party. It was fun, but the roads were awful. A one hour drive turned into two because of all of the ice, wind, drifting snow and whiteouts. But everyone made it there and back - safe and sound.

Unfortunately, I now have the plague - a holiday gift from one of my daycare kids. So in lieu of thinking coherently, I thought I'd share some pictures of holiday craftiness from the Green home.

The picture up above is a Christmas castle that my Gram knitted for me the year I got married. She'd made one for each of my aunts and uncles the previous year and she'd planned on making one for each of the grandkids as they got married. Unfortunately, I was the only one to ever get one because she died before the following Christmas. It's one of my most treasured possessions.

These are our stockings hanging on the living room archway...along with various masks and mobiles. There are closeups below.

Here's Killian's stocking. In case, it's difficult to make out, it's Santa riding a dragon. I'm pretty proud of these since I made up the patterns as I was going along.

his is Corwin's - a dragon peering out of his cave at his little Christmas tree.

These are mine and Matt's. I made them the first year we were married. I'd just learned to cross stitch the year before and was a rabid addict. Matt's is a dragon sitting by his gifts (there are little knights in the foreground) and mine has faeries and a unicorn...cause, yeah...I'm a nerd like that.

And last but not least - this is our tree. It's a hodgepodge tree of ornaments the boys made when they were younger, faeries, dragons, castles, moons, stars and lots of Winnie the Pooh - both Classic and Disney. I love me some Pooh Bear.

Well, that's it for the crafty Christmas tour. I'm off to make some tea and cwtch up under a blanket and maybe take a nap. I hope everyone who celebrates has a wonderful holiday and that those that don't have a lovely time as well.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

'Tis the Season...

Well, the first two holiday parties are down...only six to go. family is insane when it comes to holiday parties, but at least we don't have to travel longer than an hour (depending on the weather) for any of them.

Saturday, we had our local writers group party and it was an absolute blast. I love this group of women - they're so supportive and funny and just a joy to be with. There was good food and Barnes and Noble gift cards all around. As an added bonus I got to snuggle with a dear friend's baby girl. Ah baby lust...I had it. Of course, now that I'm out of the proximity of the cuteness that is the baby, it's vanished. Which is good. I can't imagine having another baby at this point in my life. Seriously...yikes!

Also on Saturday, we had my husband's work party. He works for a largish international company that throws ridiculously lavish holiday parties. Unfortunately we had to go because it's mandatory for managers. Blech.

The people were all very nice, the food was good (particularly the chocolate sleigh centerpiece filled with truffles) the booze was free and there was even entertainment, but honestly I would have rather stayed home. I'm not comfortable in that kind of corporate atmosphere. When asked what I did for a living, I said I was a writer. Each time the response was a quizzical head tilt as if the questioner had just discovered some sort of exotic bug. After a while, it was kind of funny. Hubby and I were amused, anyway. At least we got to sit at the 'nerd table' with the rest of the IT department. Those guys are much more my speed, as opposed to the ones from the marketing and sales departments.

A friend sent me this picture. It actually looks like a more svelte version of our cat Rowan...who keeps happily eating the artificial needles off the Christmas tree and then vomiting them back up. Yeah...thanks Rowan.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Guest Blogging

Hey, I'm guest blogging on the Oh Get Get a Grip blog and I'd love it if you'd come visit. I have to go to my husband's work party. Ick. And also grrrr.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The One I Have

I was driving Corwin to school the other day when we had the following conversation.

Corwin: Gray (his bff) used to have a crush on Madeline.

Me: Really? Madeline who?

Corwin: You know...the one in France...with the nuns. From the books.

Me: (muffled giggling)

Corwin: (in a sad little voice) I don't think he'll ever find love again.

He's so sincere and sweet. I don't know why the kid has to trot this stuff out while I'm driving. Giggling maniacally makes it very difficult to steer.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Introducing...Kim Dare!

I'd like to introduce one of Total-e-bound's newest authors, Kim Dare. Kim is 25 years old and lives in the UK, in a small town in South Wales. Over the last few months, she's contracted numerous books with TEB and she's got more in the works. Kim is an absolute delight and I'm thrilled to be able to help her celebrate her first ever release day with an interview and a peek into her writing space. Congratulations, Kim - I wish you much success now and with all of your future books!

What's a typical day (and night) like in the life of Kim Dare?

There's no such thing as typical really. One day it's non stop fellatio, other days it's all about the leather and the whips, and then there are the ménages that crop up now and again - just in case anyone is getting bored with the one-on-one action. On the other hand if you want to know about the things that actually go on outside my head, the answer is far less interesting. I'm fortunate at the moment, in that I'm able to devote most of my energy to my writing. I write best at night, so I try to be sensible and spend the days editing and re-writing stories, before getting stuck into whichever first draft I'm working on in the evening.

You primarily write M/M and BDSM. What draws you to these subgenres?

Unlike most m/m writers I know, the very first erotic romances I wrote were about two men. I didn't get into writing anything involving a woman until about a year later. I'm not sure what drew me to the m/m in the first place. As far as I remember, the characters I wanted to write about at that time just happened to like guys more than girls. I didn't think about it too much, I just went wherever those characters took me. I had so much fun writing about them, it went on from there.

As for the BDSM elements of my stories, I never set out to write them either. Although, I soon realised that even if the characters aren't kinky when I start writing them, then by the end of chapter one they'll all be whispering in my ear that they've always wanted to try such and such. Looking back, I think I first fell in love with this type of story when I saw the intensity and honesty of characters reactions to the different kinks they indulge in. Now, even more than that, I love the way the characters react to each other, the trust they need to put in their partners, regardless of whether they are dominant or submissive, and the depth of connection that builds between them still fascinates me. I have tried writing vanilla once or twice, but the characters pouted so much I had to give in and let them do whatever they wanted, so I’ve stuck to BDSM, in all it’s different forms, ever since.

Having had the privilege of reading advanced copies of many of your books,I find your characters to be absolutely fascinating. How do you go about character creation?

It usually starts with a little snippet of conversation. I'll get a phrase in my head and I'll start wondering who said it, and who they said it to. The characters grow from there. I like to get to know them as I write, so I don't sit down and think about them too much before I start the story. I'll admit that quite a few of them have shocked the hell out of me half way through the book, revealing aspects of their characters that I didn't even know existed until I saw the words appearing on the screen as I typed.

How did your writing path evolve?
I’ve always wanted to write. Two years ago I made a commitment to myself that I would write every day – and I would actually finish some of the dozens of stories I’d started. For the first time I stopped trying to write something I thought other people would like to read and I wrote what I wanted to write. At the time I didn’t even know there were publishers out there who would accept m/m erotic romances, but they were the stories in my head and so I wrote them down. Earlier this year I stumbled upon a few e-publishers who were actually publishing what I was writing, so I decided to take some time out of a degree I was studying for and see if I could send something off. And here I am.

What type of research do you do for your books?

I have a few different websites that I seek out if I need some specific information on some weird and wonderful new kink one of my characters has taken a fancy for. But, strangely enough it’s the innocent questions that are often the hardest ones to find the answers for. How long does it taken an elevator to reach the fifteenth floor? What does a software engineer actually do?

From what or where do you derive the most inspiration for your stories?

From random things usually. Little phrases or snippet’s of overheard conversation. That and the complete certainty that whoever wrote what I’m watching on TV got it all wrong – there should always have been a happy ending – and quite often the guy should have ended up with his best friend and not the girl.

Tell us about your upcoming releases?

The Gift is out today – a seasonal release as part of Total-e-bound’s Christmas Spirit’s collection. The next one to come out will be Secret Service in February – another seasonal release as part of Total-e-bound’s My Secret Valentine collection. That’s quickly followed by Whispers – my first m/f title, which is part of Total-e-bound’s Night of the Senses BDSM anthology.

What are you working on at the moment?

I have two BDSM series starting with Total-e-bound next year – Collared starts with Turquoise and Leather in March. And Perfect Timing starts with You First in April. I’ve got lots more titles to come in each of the series so I’m currently finishing those off and editing them up. I’m also working on the first title in a new series that’s still very much a work in progress.
What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like least?

I like lots of things, like that first moment when an idea arrives in my head and I know something exists now that didn’t exist a moment before. I like looking at a blank screen when I start a new project and knowing that anything could happen next – and in my stories it frequently does…

I like it when a character comes to life as I write about them, or when they do something entirely unexpected and I only find out about it as I type it in to the computer. And I like being able to write a world where I know good guys will get to live happily ever after in the end.

What I don’t like? The never being able to tell if a story is any good until someone else reads it – it’s just not possible to tell with something you’ve written yourself, and every single story takes a leap of faith before you share it with the real world.

What would you do if you weren’t a writer?
Even if I wasn’t writing any stories down, I can’t imagine not spending all my time making up stories in my head. So, my ideal would probably be a nice quiet job where I could sit and daydream about the characters that live inside my brain without too many people interrupting me and actually trying to get me to do any work.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

Reading – although I’ve been so focused on my writing I’ve barely read anything anyone else has written for months! Crafts – particularly blackwork and patchwork. Visiting different places when the opportunity arises. I’ve also really enjoyed studying a whole variety of subjects over the last few years – mostly with The Open University.
kOf all of the characters you’ve created, who is your favourite and why?

I tend to fall in love with whichever character I’m writing at the time, but there is one character that always makes me smile no matter what – Eric Jordan from Turquoise and Leather. He’s in way over his head as soon as he meets the dominant George McAllister, but he just doesn’t seem to realise that. He talks away at nineteen to the dozen, throwing himself into everything he does without any hesitation or thought of the consequences.

He’s a natural submissive too, but he hasn’t quite caught up with the fact that submitting to a dominant man means you don’t get to have your own way all the time. All that said, he also proves himself quite capable of running rings around George – at the end of the book you just know he’s going to drive the older man insane, and they’ll both enjoy every minute of it.
Do you find it difficult to keep love/sex scenes fresh and interesting?

I do find there are times when I find myself going back to stories I’ve written before and checking that I’m not writing the same scene over again with too few differences. The thing is, no matter what you do – there are certain things that damn near everyone does when they have sex. The most interesting bits to write, and read about, are those that are unique to each character – their individual preferences and psychology. Everyone might do the same thing, but they can easily think different things or do things for different reasons, so I try to look for those differences.
What genre of books least appeals to you and why?
I never have been able to enjoy reading anything with an unhappy ending. I can live with crying in the middle of a book if I have to, but I have to know I’ll be smiling at the end or I don’t want to read it. Apart from that, I’ll read anything that’s good.
Do you listen to music when you write or do you need quiet? If you listen to music – what kind?

I don’t have music on, but I do a lot of my writing in the middle of the living room while other people are watching TV or playing games on the computer, so there’s usually a bit of background noise of one sort or another. The only thing I really need silence for is editing – that’s when I retreat to my writing room.

When I do listen to music I go for lyrics first and foremost and I usually end up listening to either country music or songs from the musicals. Although, at the moment, it’s Christmas carols and nothing else until January – I’ve always loved anything to do with Christmas, so I make the most of it throughout December.

What makes a man sexy?

Being who he really is. I’ve never have one idea of sexy in my head. Anything can be sexy if the man is the right man. Dominant, submissive, tall or short, rich or poor, it’s all about someone who is confident in being an individual. Spending your whole life trying to be something you’re not is one thing that doesn’t scream sexy to me.
For my characters, I tend to write people who are perfect for the person they are going to live happily ever after with at the end – and that’s far sexier to me than someone who is generically perfect.

Do your family and friends know you write erotic romance – if so, how have they reacted?

My family do know and they’ve been incredibly supportive of my writing – even after they found out exactly what I write, lol. I haven’t told many of my friends – although that might well change now that I’ve actually got something on sale!
What’s your favourite food?

No one favourite, but I’m very basic when it comes to food. Sausage dinners. Fish and chips. Ham sandwiches. Mixed Grills. Crisps (what you’d call chips in America). And chocolate of course. And you can’t beat cawl (a welsh soup recipe) followed by Welsh Cakes.

Do you have any bad habits?

I’m a bit (completely) obsessive. I’ve never worked out how to do anything by halves, so I tend to throw myself into a project and work myself to the point of exhaustion before I remember to take a break and just relax now and again.

If you were stranded on a desert isle, what five things would you want to have with you?

A lap top (a solar powered one that reacts well to salt water, obviously). I get a bit weird if I don’t get story ideas out of my head on a pretty regular basis, and being dyslexic means my spelling and my hand writing are both appalling if I try to do anything with pen and paper so the lap top has to go wherever I go.

After that luxury, I’m a pretty practical person. John “Lofty” Wiseman’s “The SAS Survival Handbook” has a whole chapter on surviving on a desert island, so that should prove useful to take along with me.

Apart from that, someone, or a few someones, who are good at coping in a crisis would be nice to have along side me too.

Do you have any pet peeves?

Prejudices and intentional cruelty have always made my skin crawl.

What do you like about where you live?

I like that I live in the same town where I was born – somewhere I and my family have roots and a sense of history. I like living in a valley, where the geography seems to wrap around the town and keep it safe. I like living in a house that’s just old enough to have the sort of character a house can only have when it’s been around a while. I like living in the middle of a town, but only needing to walk five minutes to be in the middle of the countryside.
If you could travel back in time, would you? If so, what time period would you visit and why?

I love the idea of going back to see how things really were, but I’m sure I would hate it if I ever actually did. As much as I would like to write a series of stories set in an historical era, I still think History is probably best viewed through rose tinted glasses, and from the comfort of a present day where, in some countries at least, there’s a degree of freedom, equality and (never to be underestimated) in-door plumbing.
That's it for my interview with Kim, please check out her blog and website and her very first release at TEB!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Let me sum up...

You know that line from The Princess Bride? The one where Inigo says, "Let me is too much. Let me sum up?" Well, I'm about to sum up.

The last two weeks of November are a blur.

Friday the 21st I went to see Twilight, with Brynn and her oldest son and my oldest son Killian. Cleverly, Brynn and I had both of our kids three months apart so they're very close in age. Apart from the super annoying fan grrrrrrrls in the audience, we had a great time.

Saturday the 22nd I went to see The Boy in the Striped Pajamas with Killian and many other kids from his former eighth grade class and his former teacher. She read the book to them at the end of last year and then Killian brought it home for me to read...because apparently he's a sadist. It's an excellent book, but it's gut wrenching and heartrending. Think children during the Holocaust. The movie is probably the best book to film adaptation I've ever seen and yes...I sobbed my freaking eyes out.

Also Saturday the 22nd my Mom and I drove up to my sister's college to take her out to supper and to see her in one of the seven One Act plays that were being performed. The theatre program at her college is excellent and the majority of the performances were great. Do I think Cait was the best? Absofreakinglutely. She played Betty in Sure Thing and her good friend Josh played Bill. It's a hilarious show anyway and their performances were perfect - the crowd (which was sold out for the second night in a row) ate it up and we were proud, proud, proud.

Sunday the 23rd I was trapped at the baby shower from hell for almost four hours. Okay...honestly, I've probably been to worse, but I'm not a shower person unless it's the bridal shower Brynn and I threw for Jen Armintrout which involved a bizarre cake made out of Twinkies and that weird moldable frosting and a psychic...but this, unfortunately, was not that shower. This one had annoying shower games, the slowest present opening in the history of mankind and disturbing little sandwiches cut out in the shape of children and the bread was dyed bright screaming blue and yellow. I felt vaguely cannibalistic eating them...

Monday the 24th - Wednesday the 26th I only have vague memories of running to the grocery store constantly, doing laundry and trying to get far enough ahead on my day job so I could leave town for a few days.

Tursday the 27th - I made two green bean casseroles (the only dish I'm allowed to bring to family functions - Yes, my cooking is just that bad) in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner at my brother's house. Killian and Corwin and I hopped a ride with my Mom and Cait (hubby - had to work - stupid international company) and we drove three hours to Detroit...crammed in a Saturn Ion.

It was still fun. Cait insisted that all car trips must begin with ABBA (that girl can do some mighty fine seat dancing while driving) and continued with our family's annual listening of Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant (it's just not Thanksgiving in our family without it) followed by tons of songs from the 70s. Car trips in our family involve a lot of loud singing by me, Cait and Mom while Killian tries desperately to ignore us with his mp3 player. Good times...good times.

We had a great meal with about 20 other random family members - including a bunch of my sister-in-law's family, played another hilarious game of Apples to Apples which I almost won, listened to my niece complain that she was the "Princess Monster" and the rest of the kids weren't appreciating her destructive qualities.

Friday the 28th - I didn't go shopping - mostly because we were 3 hours from home and I LOATHE shopping and I really loathe shopping on Black Friday. We drove home, I snuggled with my honey and collapsed.

Saturday the 29th - We put up our Christmas tree which is always a production...mostly because I'm the Christmas tree nazi. I get cranky when ornaments are too close or if like ornaments aren't spaced evenly. Killian made up a little song about OCD Mama. It was pretty funny and pretty much mostly true - lol.

Sunday the 30th - Laundry and doing end of the month stuff for the day job.

Monday the 1st - the kids had a snow day and I went to Bynn's to make cards.

Tuesday the 2nd - the dumbest day in recent history - from 7am 'til 10:10am I drove three car loads of kids to school (one set had a two hour weather delay which is why it took so long) then went home for ten minutes to send an email, then went for a blood draw, then went grocery shopping and dropped off the food at home, then met my daycare kid and her mom at her school and followed them out to a high school they're considering (I think it's really sweet that they're involving me in their school decision) then back to the high school to pick up Killian and his friends then to Corwin's school, then to the orthodontist, then to the fabric store for Christmas present supplies...and then finally home.

Today I've mostly been a lump, catching up on the day job and working on writing...and Christmas presents. I can't believe Christmas is only 22 days away! Better get back to work!!!