Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday Men: Two in Bed

An old postcard I found at the flea market.

Those wore more innocent times when to men snuggled in one too-small bed and the mentioning of big feet didn't make folks snicker. I'm befuddled by the hat, however.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wednesday Word Going French

clafoutis |klaˈfoōtē|
noun ( pl. same)

a tart made of fruit, typically cherries, baked in a sweet batter.

ORIGIN French, from dialect clafir ‘to stuff.’

Leave it to the French to have a different word for every nuance of cooking and baking. You see, tarts and clafoutis are not the same. Tarts are composed of a baked shell on top of which a batter like frangipane  and fruit is spread and it's baked again.

frangipane |ˈfranjəˌpān; ˌfränjiˈpän|
1noun an almond-flavored cream or paste.
• a pastry filled with this.

2 variant spelling of frangipani .

ORIGIN late 17th cent.: from French, named after the Marquis Muzio Frangipani (see frangipani ). The term originally denoted the frangipani shrub or tree, the perfume of which is said to have been used to flavor the almond cream.

Clafoutis, on the other hand, consists of a batter on top of which fruit is spread, and the whole thing is baked once. No shell. The fruit sinks into the batter during baking.

Technically, the French calls it clafoutis only when it's made with black cherries. They don't pit the cherries, claiming that the pits add an almond like flavor. In my opinion, they're just lazy. It's easy to add almond extract if you desire.

If this dessert is made with any other type of fruit, they call it flaugnarde.

flaugnarde [floɲaʁd]) also known as flagnarde, flognarde or flougnarde

a baked French dessert with fruit arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter.[1] Similar to a clafoutis, which is made with black cherries, a flaugnarde is made with apples, peaches, pears, plums, prunes or other fruits. Resembling a large pancake, the dish is dusted with confectioner's sugar and can be served either warm or cold.
ORIGIN The name is derived from the Occitan words fleunhe[2] and flaunhard,[3] which both translate as "soft" or "downy". The dish is common in the Auvergne, Limousin and Périgord regions of France.

Right. I'll just call this dessert tart. The French can bite me.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Monday Men: Winter

This is the only suitably seasonal photo I have, and it's not very good. The snow is all blown out and  two kinds of blurs are obscuring the men's features. But that's the magic of these photos--the person who had it in his album didn't need a clear image, only enough detail to jog his memory. Looking at this fuzzy picture he remembered how one guy's laugh sounded and how crisp and cold the air was and even how he felt that day. Snapshots, more than anything, are dependent on viewer participation.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Stuff


So the world didn't end. Again. What a surprise.  I could have predicted that. First of all the world won't end with rapture, fire and brimstone, and any other Hollywood pyrotechnics. It'll be with a slow whimper.

I'm a Grinch; the whole month of December is nothing but stress, cheesy supermarket music, and way too few daylight hours to me. I cope by batting down the hatches and trying to ignore the whole thing as much as possible.

The only decoration I have is this crocheted snowflake—a gift from Jo Myles. In lieu of tree, it hangs from my Dalek's plunger arm.

No wonder last years Christmas short—the one in Winter Warmers—ended up sort of melancholy. I was battling the flu and fleeing Mariachi music when I started writing it. No holiday short this year, although the second story in Dead in L.A. ends at Christmas time.  I was battling a wee bit of anxiety at the time of writing, and did my best to channel it into Jon's character. If you have it, use it. Am I right?

On the brighter side of things: winter solstice was on Friday, and from here on the days are getting longer. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday Word: Imbroglio

imbroglio |imˈbrōlyō|noun ( pl. -glios)an extremely confused, complicated, or embarrassing situation the Watergate imbroglio.• archaic a confused heap.ORIGIN mid 18th cent.Italian, from imbrogliare‘confuse’ ; related to embroil .
I love the sound of this word--so Italian. And it wouldn't be too hard to fit into everyday conversation. Imbroglio is a good word to describe the state of my work area or the plot of the latest James Bond movie.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Winter Warmers Winner

THANKS to everyone who joined the authors of Winter Warmers this week on our Toe-Tingling, Finger-unFrosting, Neck-Nuzzling, Sofa-Snuggling Blog Tour – all for the purpose of keeping you warm, you understand!

Thanks for sharing your winter season chat and cheer, and we're pleased to announce the WINNER of the free download of the book:


Congratualations! Clare will be contacting you re your preferred format. And to everyone else, thanks for playing!
Hope you all have a sizzling hot Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday Men: Out For A Ride

I prefer amateur shot to studio portraits, but these two gents are more relaxed than the subject of these photos usually are.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wednesday Word: Cockle

cockle 1 |ˈkäkəl|
1 an edible, burrowing bivalve mollusk with a strong ribbed shell. • Genus Cardium, family Cardiidae.
2 (also cockleshell) poetic/literary a small shallow boat.
warm the cockles of one's heart give one a comforting feeling of pleasure or contentment.
ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French coquille ‘shell,’ based on Greek konkhulion, from konkhē ‘conch.’

 How did this saying come about? What do mollusks have to do with holiday cheer? I'm guessing, cockles need a lot of warming, living in the cold ocean.

It's almost Christmas again, and you start to wonder where the year went. Well there's no use to ponder; it's good and gone. Time is better spent curling up on the sofa with mug of mulled wine or hot cider and a good book.

Come and join the authors of Winter Warmers this week on our Toe-Tingling, Finger-unFrosting, Neck-Nuzzling, Sofa-Snuggling Blog Tour - all for the purpose of keeping you warm, you understand!

Each day, one of us will chat about the why and how of our warming, heartfelt, romantic and amusing stories. Feel free to chat with any of us about your thoughts for the season - especially if you have equally good ideas to keep warm :) And your comment will also enter you into a draw on Monday Dec 17 to win a FREE COPY.

Clare London's turn was on Monday—that's where I stole cockles from. Jo Myles posted yesterday.

My story in the collection, Wintertide, is set in Los Angeles, where I live. Here in Southern California we don't have picture card winters, there's no snow, but they days are shorter and cooler, and might even rain. It's easier to get melancholy. So it's now wonder that my story is about a couple of guys suffering from seasonal sorrows.

WINTER WARMERS - a seasonal anthology

Mulled wine. Butterscotch kisses. Hideous sweaters. Candy at the beach, or a trip to a sex shop in Amsterdam. And the man of your dreams, wrapped around you...

Winter warmers come in many shapes and sizes, from the tongue-in-cheek to the hot-as-hell. Enjoy a quintet of heart-warming tales of men loving men from Clare London, Chrissy Munder, JL Merrow, Josephine Myles, and Lou Harper that are guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face.

One thing's for sure—it's going to be a red-hot Christmas!


Lucky Dip by Clare London
Andy Jackson always knew that class 2C’s help in preparing for the annual Christmas Fair would be a mixed blessing. Then he’s paired up on the Lucky Dip with Greg, the man who dumped him but now can’t keep away, the pupils are either lecturing him on his lovelife or losing bladder control, and no one’s fixed the broken handle on the storage room. It may all be one whoopee cushion too far for him.

Butterscotch Kisses by Chrissy Munder
Matthew Morrison is determined to conquer his fear of heights and achieve a winning outcome. At least, that's what the best-selling, self-help book he's listening to promises. Being stuck on a three-story tower in the middle of a snowstorm wasn't part of the plan. With no St. Bernard in sight, it's Cute Ticket Guy Adam to the rescue, and an outcome Matthew never anticipated.

Wintertide by Lou Harper
May meets December when Jem and Oscar chance on each other at the Santa Monica Pier, only weeks before Christmas. The two men are separated by age, social status, and their taste in candy, yet if they are both naughty and nice, they might just find holiday cheer together.

When in Amsterdam... by Josephine Myles
Brandon is on his first visit to new boyfriend Jos's home country, just in time for their Sinterklaas celebrations. But an unexpected detour into a sex shop leads Brandon to new discoveries about himself, and a whole new dynamic to their relationship. The weather may be cold and damp, but Brandon and Jos soon heat things up!

A Pint of Beer, a Bag of Chips, and Thou by JL Merrow
What's the best gift a young man could get for Christmas? Mohawked saxophonist Liam wouldn't have picked the hideous collection of knitwear he's presented with by his mum and his aunties. He'd rather have the gorgeous older man he sees every day while busking at King's Cross. But with a little Christmas magic in the air, maybe those garish garments are just the thing for attracting a silver fox...


Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Men: Three by the Water

When I buy old photos, I usually sort through a whole box of images randomly thrown together. I pick the few I do because something about them grabs my interest. In this case it was the guy on the right. I imagine him to be a man with a booming voice, big appetite, and a laugh loud enough to scare pigeons.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wednesday Word: Frazzle

 frazzle |ˈfrazəl| informal
verb [ trans. [usu. as adj. ( frazzled)cause to feel completely exhausted; wear out a frazzled parent.• fray change the skirt if it gets frazzled figurative it's enough to frazzle the nerves.noun ( a frazzle)the state of being completely exhausted or worn out :I'm tired, worn to a frazzle.ORIGIN early 19th cent. (originally dialect): perhaps a blend of fray  and obsolete fazle [ravel out,] ofGermanic origin.

Because this is the time of year to be frazzled. Funny how Christmas is supposed  to be a season of love, but instead everyone's running around frantic till every last one of their nerves are in tattered.

As a Grinch, I do my best to ignore the season altogether—December for me is a month to get through, waiting for the world come back to its senses. However, it's not so simple this year. I just finished putting together my first semi-serious self-published book, Dead In L.A., and the formatting and creating various file types took me most of a day, leaving me frazzled. And now I have to promote.

Not only that, but I decided to publish it as Print On Demand, using Createspace. this is the full cover--I'm still waiting to hear back from the review.

I have a novel coming out with Samhain Publishing at the end of April, and the editing for it should commence any day now. It'll be my longest book so far—73,000 words, and it's titled Spirit Sanguine.

No matter how hard I ignore the jingles, jangles, and cheesy holiday musing infecting the airwaves, December doesn't promise to be a relaxing month.

Oh, by the way, I'm delighted to see that the practice of creating new words by smushing (mush+smash) other words together is a time honored one.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday Men: Welcome Home

I'm full of questions. Welcome home from where? When? Where are we, Britain or Australia?

On the back of the photo they are identified as Loyde and Harold. Am I the only one immediately thinking of Harold Lloyd or am I simply old to even know his name.

These chaps look like the could be one of Bertie Wooster's pea-brained friends. Am I dating myself again?

Saturday, December 1, 2012


I chatted with a well-known and respected M/M author recently, and she confessed that her blog posts about her cat garner more attention than those of books, new releases, and other, you know, writerly stuff.  To quote Annie Lennox, who am I to disagree?


This is Fuzzy Devil, Devil for short. Devil-pooh at times. He passed away this spring at the ripe age of nineteen. He had a good life; I spoiled him rotten. He had canned food twice a day, cat treats, cat toys, catnip, and cat toys filled with catnip.

All this cat stuff has relevance to my writing. One of the important characters of a story I'm currently editing is feline. A crit partner remarked how on spot the the characterization is. Because cats have characters, trust me.