Angry Walks

So today, my older daughter bombed a couple of exams she had sworn she was prepared for, and therefore didn’t need to study for. Then my husband got home from work and started loudly threatening all sorts of things, such as NO DATING FOR THE NEXT YEAR! (She’ll be a junior in high school, so good luck trying to enforce that. Also, she currently isn’t dating anyone anyway.) And NO PHONE. And NO INTERNET ALL SUMMER. (All of which I would have to enforce, since he’s at work all day.) Then my younger daughter insisted that A. it’s okay to eat a bowl of whipped cream, B. it’s a snack, not a dessert, and C. fruits and veggies aren’t really part of dinner.

I was just finishing up the Really Awful Semester anyway, and I just about lost it. Heads were going to roll.

But instead of going postal, I took an Angry Walk. I’d already done my daily 3.2-mile walk, but I stormed out the door, iPhone in armband, and did another 1.5 miles. Fairly fast. I probably stomped.

I felt way better by the time I returned, and nobody suffered bodily injury.

The past few months have been tough, and I’ve been doing a lot of Angry Walks. I’ve walked over 1400 miles–over 3.3 million steps–since I got my Fitbit last year. It’s a lot better option than booze or mayhem.

Do you take Angry Walks? What are your healthy stress relievers?

Ooh! That’s Interesting!: Flow

One of my favorite psychologists is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. For one thing, there’s that wonderfully unpronounceable and unspellable Hungarian name. More importantly, though, he pioneered research on the concept of flow.

Flow is the wonderful experience of becoming completely immersed in whatever you are doing. So much so that you temporarily lose your sense of self, and the rest of the world drops away. While you’re in flow, you essentially become what you are doing.

In order to achieve flow, you have to do something that you perceive to be challenging and that you believe you are skilled at. It might be achieved while playing a sport, repairing a car, painting a mural… or writing a story.

I don’t always achieve flow when I write. Some days I have to barehandedly wrest every goddamned word from bedrock and lay it bleeding on the page. Some days hitting my minimum word count goal–2000 words–is like wrestling alligators in a pit full of porcupines, and I’m certain that every word I do write sucks. But then there are the days when the words just, well, flow. The story enfolds gorgeously in my head, the pieces of the plot fall together, the characters shout their dialogue gladly, the metaphors leap right into my lap. On those days, I clack out paragraphs as fast as my poor typing skills permit. I write five, six thousand words. My record is over 7000 words in one evening.

I think reading a really good book can put us in the same mindset. When I was maybe 12, I sat on the little patio outside our house, deep in a book. I can’t remember what I was reading and I don’t know how long I sat there. But I do know that when I finished the book and rejoined the world, I realized that a spider had anchored her complex web between me and the edges of the chair. That’s how still and unaware I’d been.

What activities give you the flow experience?

Milestones

As a parent, I’ve celebrated some of my kids’ milestone events. First word (for the record, my older daughter barked like a dog before she spoke). First steps. First day of school. Others I empathize with, like the first Advanced Placement test my older daughter just took. And some I just dread. Like this one.

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That’s right–she has her learner’s permit. And now also a total of two hours’ experience behind the wheel. Shudder. (And yes, she posed for her license photo wearing an avada kedavra T-shirt.)

 

What’s Kim Reading Now: Psycop #1-4

Nowadays most of my reading is confined to audiobooks. That way I can multitask: listening to a good book while doing my daily 5K walk. And I’m not complaining, because there are some terrific audiobooks out there!

Recently I listened to the first 4 books in Jordan Castillo Price’s Psycops series. These books are fantastic–funny, suspenseful, hot. I absolutely love the awkward, neurotic protagonist, Victor Bayne. The other characters are great too. And Gomez Pugh narrates really, really well. He’s become one of my favorite narrators, as a matter of fact.

Thanks to this series, I’ve found it easy to get in at least 10 thousand steps per day. So Psycop is good for your health! I just hope the 5th book releases soon on audio.

End of the semester conundrum

My day job is university professor. It’s not really a “day” job at all–I do a lot of it at nights, on weekends, and over vacations. I’m department chair too, which adds considerably to the workload. This semester–which comes to an end this week–has been especially long and difficult, with lots of disasters and drama. I will be very, very pleased to see the semester done.

Now is the time of year when I’m getting an especially large volume of emails from students. And here’s where I face a dilemma, because a lot of those emails ask questions the students could easily answer for themselves if they spent a little time on the university website or elsewhere (or reading the syllabus). I guess they find it quicker and easier to email me. Am I being crotchety if I insist they look up the answers themselves?

They are Criminal Justice majors, for one thing. How do they expect to solve crimes if they can’t figure out how to find the university catalog or discern what day their final will be? Plus they are adults who should be capable of solving their own problems without someone else’s intervention. And the laziness galls me too. Maybe it takes them a few seconds to tap out an email, but when I get dozens and dozens of them weekly, answering takes up a good chunk of my time.

When my daughters ask me questions like this, I refuse to be the Momcyclopedia. “Look it up,” I tell them. It’s for their own good. I’m hoping that in a few years they will not be plaguing their professors with questions like, Where’s the dean’s office? and What’s the last day of registration? and Which classes count for GE area F1?

But what about my students? Should I give them the answers? Ignore them? Or tell them to look it up themselves–which takes as long for me to type as just telling them the answer, but might encourage them to future responsibility?

Ooh! That’s Interesting! When local flavor doesn’t work.

Like many authors, when I write I try to give an authentic flavor of the location in which my story is set. For readers who are familiar with those locations, this makes a story feel more real. And for those who are unfamiliar, the details help them get a good sense of place.

Sometimes I can give a sense of place with the specific minutiae of daily life. Examples of this include the bewildering (to foreigners) way in which groceries are bagged in a Venetian grocery store (Venetian Masks), the frustration of getting stuck when the bridge is up and you’re in a hurry (Good Bones), or the rituals of drinking coffee in 15th century Bosnia (The Pillar) or modern Croatia (Dei Ex Machina–due out in October).

Another way to give authentic flavor is by using local terminology. For instance, Southern Californians use definite articles when referring to freeways–“There was a huge traffic jam on the 5 today.”–while those of us to the north never do. Local phrasing is great, except sometimes those terms may bewilder or confuse readers. That’s when I have to step back–often at my editors’ suggestion–and reevaluate whether to use a particular phrasing. Here are a couple examples I can recall:

–In Violet’s Present, a character originally stated that a relative had moved “out state.” Eastern Nebraskans use this phrase to mean Western Nebraska (which, incidentally, irritates some Western Nebraskans). But to everyone else it probably looks like a typo for “out of state,” so we changed it.

–In Astounding! (to be released next month), it’s raining hard in one scene and a character has bark dust on him. One of my editors asked how there could be dust in the rain. Ah. To folks in the Pacific Northwest, bark dust means large chunks of bark used in landscaping. Why it’s called “dust” I’ll never know. Anyway, we changed it to bark mulch, which everyone can understand.

–In Corruption (to be released June 12), a character is in Kansas, standing among fields of milo. One of my editors pointed out that Milo is a brand of drink powder in Australia. Australian readers might imagine my guy surrounded by acres of green cans and packets. Not quite the picture I was aiming for. So we substituted another name for the crop, sorghum.

What are some of the terms used where you live that would get outsiders scratching their heads?

 

Moment of Clarity by Karen Stivali

clarity-640The last installment of Karen Stivali’s Moments in Time series, Moment of Clarity, has just been released. At the same time, the paperback Moments in Time that contains all three novellas in the series has also been published!

Title: Moment of Clarity

Author: Karen Stivali

Length: novella

Genre: gay romance, contemporary, new adult, college.

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Synopsis

Spending the summer together on Fire Island brought Collin and Tanner closer than ever, but back in their conservative college town, challenges confront them at every turn.

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As they search for their new normal in their old environment, Collin’s brother Sean surprises them with help when they need it most. But when word about their relationship gets out, trouble erupts with friends and family. When Collin’s relationship with Tanner becomes an issue in his brother’s custody battle and Tanner struggles with his feelings for a heartbroken Wendy, Collin wonders if everyone he cares about would be better off without him in the picture.

In order to save them both, Tanner must make it clear to Collin that their love for each other is all that matters.

Buy Links

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WYN27H0/

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00WYN27H0/

DsP: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6283

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-momentofclarity-1792207-149.html

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/moment-of-clarity-karen-stivali/1121843058?ean=2940151645423

Moments in Time – Series Paperback

Contains books 1, 2, and 3 – Moment of Impact, Moment of Truth, and Moment of Clarity.

DsP: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6284

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Haven’t read books 1 and 2? Then hurry up as Moment of Impact and Moment of Truth will be on sale for 99 cents for a limited time (May 5 -18).

Moment of Impact

Outside Collin Fitzpatrick’s dorm room is a dangerous place. Beyond his door the students of his small, conservative college think he’s straight, as does his Catholic family who’d disown him if they learned the truth. Inside, he’s safe with his incredibly sexy roommate Tanner D’Amico. Their room makes a perfect place to hide away and fall in love. The moment they cross the line from roommates to lovers, Collin becomes caught between their heavenly passionate encounters and the hellish reality that someone might find out and destroy everything. Tanner’s not used to being so confined, and wants to show the world how much he loves Collin. But Collin’s not sure he’s ready for the impact stepping outside will make.

Buy Moment of Impact

Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5855

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RO1Z6ZC/

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00RO1Z6ZC/

Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00RO1Z6ZC/

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-momentofimpact-1700287-340.html

Moment of Truth

Collin expected to spend another summer fixing cars and working at the college pizzeria. Instead, he’s living in a beach house on Fire Island, waiting tables at a hip seaside restaurant and, for the first time since he and Tanner got together, they can publicly be known as boyfriends. Being “out” takes some getting used to, but with the help of new and old friends, Collin is happier than he ever imagined. And more in love. But newfound freedom brings unexpected challenges, and when friends get flirty, old insecurities arise. Moments of doubt and jealousy threaten their happiness, and Collin and Tanner must confront the truth or risk losing it all.

Buy Moment of Truth

Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6066

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TWO2XH8/

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00TWO2XH8/

Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00TWO2XH8/

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-momentoftruth-1751880-149.html

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/moment-of-truth-karen-stivali/1121262738?ean=2940151483421

Want more? Moment of Silence and Moment of Fate, featuring secondary characters in Collin and Tanner’s story, will be released in late 2015 and early 2016.

About the author

Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies, and fictional British men. She’s also the multiple award-winning author of contemporary and erotic romances. Her lifelong fascination with people has led her to careers ranging from hand-drawn animator, to party planner, to marriage and family counselor, but writing has always been her passion. Karen enjoys nothing more than following her characters on their journey toward love. Whether the couples are m/f or m/m, it’s guaranteed that Karen’s novels are filled with food, friendship, love, and smoking hot sex—all the best things in life.

When Karen isn’t writing (and often when she is), she can be found on Twitter attempting witty banter and detailing the antics of her fruit-loving cat, BadKitteh. She loves to hear from readers (and other writers), so don’t hesitate to contact/follow/like her at:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/karenstivali

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/KarenStivaliAuthor

Website: http://karenstivali.com

Excerpt:

It took me four hours to finish writing my paper, probably in part because I kept stopping to check my phone. I’d been hoping for an update from Sean even though I knew that wasn’t likely. It was the weekend, and any more info from his lawyer probably wouldn’t arrive until Monday. I also kept thinking maybe we’d hear something from Housing, but so far, silence.

After I’d saved my document, I went in search of Tanner. He’d finished his work an hour earlier and said he’d be reading in one of the lounges. I found him in one of the alcoves, sprawled on a big couch under one of the heavily leaded windows. An open book lay tented on his chest—Dostoevsky’s short stories. His eyes were closed, those thick black lashes casting shadows on his cheekbones.

I approached slowly, wanting the time to keep looking. Tanner hadn’t had a haircut in weeks. Silky dark bangs fell across his forehead, begging for my fingers to sweep them off his face. Perfect lips, ever so slightly parted, looking desperately in need of a kiss. My gaze passed lower, taking in his long strong fingers as they rested on the book, his narrow waist, slim hips. I struggled to swallow. My cock enjoyed the show with me, not so silently encouraging me to climb on top of Tanner, toss that book aside, grind against him….

Tanner’s eyelids fluttered open, and he shook his head, craning his neck to look around. He yawned and stretched as he sat up. “What time is it?”

“Little after ten.” I sat next to him, needing to be close to him. He smelled warm and sweet. I breathed in, taking in as much of his scent as possible. God, I missed that. Sleeping apart for two weeks had me waking in the middle of the night craving him—his touch, his smell, his taste—all of him.

My thigh knocked into his, and he pressed back against me. “You wanna get out of here?”

I nodded, wanting to be anywhere as long as he was there too.

A light rain had started to fall, so we half jogged to the Towers.

“What do you suppose is going on in Wendy’s room?” I asked as we rode the elevator.

Tanner brushed rain droplets off his backpack. The elevator dinged and opened. “Guess we’re about to find out.”

Wendy’s door was open. Music and voices filled the hallway, and as we approached the room, a purple bra came flying out, followed by the sound of drunken laughter and cheering.

Tanner caught the elevator door just before it closed. “What do you say we go for a drive instead?”

“I say that’s the best offer I’ve had in weeks.”

 

Heart Knot Mine by Lily Velden

Heart Knot Mine by Lily Velden Blog Tour

Title: Heart Knot Mine

Author: Lily Velden

Genre: gay romance, contemporary

Length: novel

Publisher: DreamSpinner Press

Despite a successful college teaching career, Noah Daniels has become depressed. He feels he’s leading a monochromatic life: love has eluded him. When he’s offered a chance to teach in London as part of an exchange program, he accepts, hoping a change of scenery will do him good. But once he’s there, his outlook on love and sexuality changes in ways he never expected.

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Robert Callinan is Noah’s English counterpart in the program. The men exchange not only their jobs, but also their homes, and it is what Noah stumbles across while staying at Robert’s house that sends him on a journey of self-discovery — both mentally and physically. A journey that puts color back into his life… just not in the way he expected. When the exchange program ends, Noah has to go home, but he doesn’t know if he wants to return to the life he left behind.

EXCERPT: ONLY HERE FOR THE SPA AND SAUNA

MY STOMACH muscles clamped down as they fought against the nest of vipers writhing in my belly. I couldn’t decide if they were seeking their freedom via my belly button or my esophagus. All I knew was my body was too small and too rigid to contain them. I wanted them to leave my body. They made me feel ill.

My head was too full and overflowing, my limbs too heavy. I couldn’t hold onto a single thought. Hell, I couldn’t hold on to the smallest of breaths.

I was more nervous, strung tighter than I’d ever been for any exam I’d sat for or job interview I’d attended. What was I thinking? What on earth was I doing? Did I really want to open this can of worms?

While my mind tied me in knots, my legs hastily carried me of their own volition across the road with my head down and shoulders hunched.

While my inhibitions crippled me, my hand acted of its own accord and turned the doorknob that would take me into a foreign world… a gay world.

I hesitated with my hand still on the doorknob, unable to resist, quickly scanning up and down the street, needing to make sure no one I knew was around to witness what I was about to do. Seeing no one I recognized, I gave the door a small push.

After stepping inside the discreet entrance to the bathhouse, I paused and took a deep breath, scanning the room. The first thing that struck me was how quiet it was. Other than some softly playing generic background music, I couldn’t hear a thing. It was only as that information registered that I realized

I had anticipated hearing something.

The room appeared innocent enough, with a rather plain wooden reception desk immediately in front of me and some comfy-looking armchairs and coffee tables to my left. Glancing behind the reception desk, down a long corridor, I could see a sliver of what appeared to be a bar. To my right, beyond the L-shaped desk, was a closed door I assumed led to the rest of the complex—to the areas that made me in equal parts nervous and excited.

The guy at reception wasn’t what I expected, though what I’d expected was somewhat vague—I just knew a six-foot-four hulk of a guy with a shaved head and pierced ear through which he’d hooked a dangling, almost chandelierlike earring, wasn’t it. My gaze traveled down to his thickly muscled chest, covered by a tight white T-shirt emblazoned with the phrase “I’m only here for the spa and sauna.”

I smiled, the tension flowing out of my limbs. At least the management had a sense of humor.

Still feeling very unsure of myself, I slowly approached the guy, who watched me with an amused grin on his face. He was, it seemed, an expert at spotting newcomers.

“Let me guess,” he began with a big, rather toothy grin. “You’re only here for the spa and sauna.”

Buy Links:

Amazon US http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K2NT2MW

Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00K2NT2MW

Amazon AU http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00K2NT2MW

Amazon DE http://www.amazon.de/dp/B00K2NT2MW

DSP https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4936

ARe https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-heartknotmine-1496007-149.html

B&N http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heart-knot-mine-lily-velden/1119404587?ean=2940149377640

Giveaway

3x DSP Gift Vouchers for any Lily Velden Title – $6.99 each

About the author

Lily Velden avatarLily Velden lives on the east coast of Australia, her family having emigrated from Holland when she was a child.

She’s both a left and right brain person, holding qualifications in both Finance and Fine Arts. She tells her friends that her way with numbers will make her a profitable artist and writer… one day.

Lily has always had a love of language and a beautifully crafted sentence, and admits to having a fetish for collecting quotes, poems, and song lyrics. What she won’t admit to is how many notebooks she’s filled with those quotes… Her fascination carries on into her artworks where she often incorporates text. When a shoulder injury slowed down her art practice she decided to explore her love of the written word more fully and began writing. “I’ll paint my pictures with words.”

Not that she’s abandoned artmaking in its entirety—Lily collaborates on the designs for all her book covers.

There are many things Lily loves, here are just a few of the PG rated ones: a good laugh (all the better if caused by a naughty joke), the smell of freshly baked goods and mown grass, a smile from a stranger, rainbows after the rain, and witnessing a promise kept.

Lily Velden can be found at:

Website: http://lilyvelden.wordpress.com/

Email: lilyvelden@live.com.au

Twitter Name: @LilyVelden

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lily.velden

Tumblr: http://lilyvelden.tumblr.com/

What’s Kim Reading Now? Hell & High Water by Charlie Cochet

I should probably be honest and call this feature What’s Kim Listening to Now, because lately most of my books have been audio. Not that I’m complaining. Listening to books gives me the incentive to do my daily 5K walk.

My most recent listen was Charlie Cochet’s Hell & High Water, and I really enjoyed it. Charlie has done a fantastic job of world-building in this series, and she’s a real master of getting details right. Her characters are easy to fall in love with. And the writing is exciting and often funny as well. Dex and Sloane make a couple I’m really rooting for. I liked the narration, too. It kept me stepping quickly.

I’ll be looking forward to listening to the next book in the series soon.

Blast from the Past: On the Road to a Perfect Match

roadTodd and Brad have been friends since they were kids dreaming of making their pro wrestling dreams a reality. After Todd’s college girlfriend ditches him, he convinces Brad to put his education on hold and go to wrestling school in Portland.

With money tight, Todd and Brad end up sharing a pull-out bed in a small apartment. It gets increasingly difficult for them to hide their feelings—or even to determine exactly what it is they do feel for each other.

When Todd’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, he returns to Seattle. Brad is left to fend for himself in Portland and struggles with jealousy and guilt as he wishes for Todd to be with him again. Will their wrestling careers ever take off? And what will happen to Todd and Brad’s relationship, in and out of the ring?

Here are buy links: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3992
https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-ontheroadtoaperfectmatch-1241353-149.html