Writer.Chef.Romantic.

The Hanukkats and other delights

In Mother on December 15, 2017 at 7:33 am
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Our new holiday cake at the Transit Wegmans: alternating layers of white and chocolate cake with cran-raspberry filling, vanilla buttercream, chocolate glaze, sugared berries and pistachios.

Hi! I’ve been working. Shocking, I know. Holiday time in a bakery is freaking nuts, and this is my first year as a full-timer and a coordinator so I’m busting my butt trying to make sure we have all the things, do all the things, and make ALL THE THINGS. It’s going pretty well. At least, Thanksgiving went well, pie-wise, but we are in a seriously weak cut-out cookie position, so I’m …sure it will be FINE.

I finished the book beast. It’s with a few readers right now, and I’m hoping they’ll return it with accolades and amazement, but I know the ending needs some love and that the world I’ve built is complicated, so they may well be searching for the most tactful way to say, “WTF, AMANDA. This is what you’ve been working on for TWO YEARS?” It has a gorgeous cover, which I will share soon, but first I want to tell you about the most wonderful thing.

We got kittens.

And now I am a cat-crazy lady. And I have cat-crazy children. I don’t know what we did without them, because now we all spend most of our time following them around the house, watching them play, petting them, feeding them, and waking them up to play with them some more. First we got Dobby, because two cats seemed excessive, but we couldn’t stop thinking about his brother…who we are now “fostering” (LOL. He’s ours.) and we named him Sock, of course. Because every Dobby needs a Sock.

They’re difficult to tell apart, but Dobby has stripes and Sock has spots, mostly. They get along with the dog. They sleep with the kids. They haven’t destroyed anything…yet. I love them. So much more than I expected! I always had cats growing up, always two at a time, Peepers even had kittens in my bedroom, but I forgot how much I enjoy them. (Probably because Ben and I rescued a feral cat when we lived in New Orleans. But we didn’t know he was feral. And we named him Bill. Bill the Cat. I’m sure that didn’t help. He would let us pet him for just long enough to secure a position in which to latch on to an arm or leg and bite and scratch the crap out of us. He also climbed my wedding dress in the closet. After the wedding, thank goodness!) Anyway, now we have cats, and our house is filled with cheer!

I hope your holidays are warm, happy, and filled with all the things that bring comfort and joy to you and yours, now, in the new year, and always.

And now I’m going to feed kid number 3, (1 and 2 have already been fed, lunched, and kissed out the door) and get ready for work. Holiday desserts don’t make themselves, thank goodness! #jobsecurity

Happy holidays, my friends!

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Oh, life is bigger

In Chef on September 21, 2017 at 5:00 am
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Chocolate cake filled with raspberry filling and pistachio buttercream. Sometimes I get to make new cakes at my new job!

Hi! I can’t believe it’s September, more than mid-September, and I haven’t blogged since May. WOWOWOW. My life kind of exploded in a good way, and although I’ve had so much to say and share, I keep falling asleep. When we put both our daughters in braces the same month, it became clear that we needed more money and better insurance. So I applied for full-time at the Wegmans bakery. Wegmans offered me a job as a bakery coordinator–yes, please!–so I got transferred to a new store and started on Memorial Day.

 

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I liked this cake (white with apple pie filling and cinnamon buttercream) but…

 

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It turned into this one, which my savvy managers think will sell better! It is also white cake, apple pie filling, and cinnamon buttercream, but we added a cinnamon glaze, caramel drizzle, and dried apple chips. We are going to call it “Apple-y Ever After! Of course!

I love the job and my new people, but starting any new job is rough. Last Saturday was the first Saturday I’ve had off since May. I’ve had to be more organized than EVER just to keep life rolling. I’m happy to say I haven’t lost touch with the book I’m writing, but it’s going sloooooowly. Slow is fine. Life is good. I’m tired. 

I’m also co-teaching a class two nights a week, which MAY have been a poor life decision because I literally have to explain to everyone dealing with me why I am a hot mess who can’t stop yawning and takes three full blinks to answer yes or no questions.

Work. Eat. Sleep. Write. Text. Write everything down. Yoga. Kiss the kids. Love the husband. Shower. (Don’t forget to shower.)

A new normal is emerging.

Happy September! I’m back! 🙂

bottoms-up-webOH! I’m making BOTTOMS UP free for a little bit, Amazon only. I’m experimenting with marketing on KDP Select. I suck at marketing! LOL. The new job threw a kink in my plan to improve my business skill set. I figured it couldn’t hurt. So if you haven’t read it, and you want to take a walk on the wild side, grab it and have a good time. 😉

 

A Promise of Fire

In Romantic on May 17, 2017 at 9:18 am

The sun is out today, and I might not need a sweatshirt…maybe. It’s been a chilly spring. Brrrrrrr!

Anyway, here’s what’s on my mind today: a writer friend posted on FB about how she’s DNFing (DNF=did not finish) a ton of books lately. I’m in the same boat. Discoverability is really hard for readers AND writers right now. I desperately want good books to read, but I don’t know where to find them. I want readers to find MY books (which I think are very good, OF COURSE), but I don’t know how to make them get discovered other than by spending a ton of money on promotion that likely won’t work. (This is why I have a day job! I love my day job.)

It seems like the best way to make money writing is to publish a lot of books so that you always have something new to talk about on social media. However, fast books are often like fast food for me. They hit the spot, but I hate myself for reading them. For example, I just read a book by a popular and edgy NYT bestselling author. The writing was great. The voice and heroine were engaging, but the plot was THIN, people. The conflict existed only in the most basic sense: past relationships made them wary. At the end, the hero and heroine decided the problems keeping them apart weren’t really problems at all.

Oh.

Yes, I felt sick. And I wanted to post a review pointing out that although compromise is a good way to solve problems, the change has to actually be CHANGE, not just changing your mind. Anyway, it felt rushed, and I was annoyed. A good editor should point out all that stuff, so the author can beef it up. The book was almost good, but now I probably won’t pick up another one by that author. So now what do I read?

Honestly, I’ve been visiting my beautiful bookshelf and re-reading books I love. I’m awaiting WHITE HOT by Ilona Andrews and HEART ON FIRE, the third book in the Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet. Have you discovered Amanda Bouchet? If not, let me introduce you. I was on FB and a friend recommended her first book, A Promise of Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles). Because personal recommendations are one sure-fire way to find good books, I got it out of the library. I LOVED it, bought it on Amazon and pre-ordered the second book, Breath of Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles) which I think was coming out a YEAR after the first (YAY! A slow book! And double yay because by the time I read Book 1, I only had to wait a few months for BREATH OF FIRE, Book 2). And now I’m waiting for Book 3, Heart on Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles). Another year, but January 2nd will be aaaaaaawesome!

So A PROMISE OF FIRE starts in a medieval-like times traveling circus where the performers have magic powers. Holy crap, what a great premise. As it turns out, the heroine has super-crazy jacked-up power and she’s HIDING from very mysterious bad people. She displays her power in front of a dangerous, sexy dude who throws her on his horse and takes off with her, and she spends the next good bit of the book physically TIED to him, so she won’t run away. The world building is awesome, the sexual tension is crazy. (Full disclosure, IMHO they should have gotten a lot busier, a lot faster, but I’m kind of book slutty that way.) There’s a huge mystery going on about her family (oh, I love that family shit) and her powers, and although it doesn’t get resolved in the first book, I did NOT feel cheated. The hook for Book 2 was baited in a non-annoying way. And the hook for Book 3 is AH-MAZING. I cannot wait.

And in the middle of all this book love, I did what I sometimes do when I find an author I LOVE: I wrote a fan letter. Bouchet’s book seemed to be doing really well. It had good enough buzz that people were personally recommending it on FB. And she writes for Sourcebooks Casa (who published my books SCRUMPTIOUS and LUSCIOUS). I wanted to reach out and say, “Great job! You are rocking your debut!” As a former debut author, I know how it feels to start this whole gig with high hopes, and I wanted to express my appreciation for everything she was doing to bring great books into the world.

GUESS WHAT???

She wrote me back, and I soon discovered she was as lovely and magical as her books. It’s the crunchy nuts on top of the turtle sundae when authors are personally awesome! So I asked her to say a little something about her books that I could share with all of you on my blog. Something inspiring. Or something about her inspiration. Because we all need that. We do. Here’s what the uber-talented Amanda Bouchet wanted to say to YOU:

Cat, the heroine in A Promise of Fire, is the real inspiration behind the novel and what ended up turning into The Kingmaker Chronicles trilogy. A feisty, dark-haired woman with magic to die (and kill) for was all I really had in mind when I started writing. I couldn’t get this character out of my head—spirited, snarky, powerful, but also damaged and with layers and layers of hidden doubts and fears. Cat herself and the opening circus scene, where her friends are performing with all sorts of spectacular magical talents, were so vivid in my head that I had to write something down. I had no idea where I was going with it when I started writing, but I knew there was a story there. In fact, I abandoned a paranormal romance I’d been working on for more than two years because Cat was so insistent that I tell her story instead!

And I, personally, am so glad she did. I highly recommend you buy all of her books and have yourself a wonderful time. Here’s a link to the series: The Kingmaker Chronicles (3 Book Series).

SO HOW DO YOU DISCOVER BOOKS? WHAT IS YOUR LATEST, GREATEST FIND? Please, for the love of all the book loving souls looking for great reads, share your wily methods and favorite discoveries! 🙂