Did you guys know that you can listen to Blaze books as well as read them?

I love audio books. I’ve been listening to them for a very long time, starting with cassette tapes. Wow, now there’s not only CDs but MP3s, and who knows what kind of media will come next?

I remember listening to Prince of Tides on my commute from Reseda to Oxnard back in the cassette days. Traffic in So Cal was always a nightmare, but I didn’t mind because I was totally engrossed in a book.

Since I don’t commute any more, I listen while I walk or clean. At the moment, I’m listening to the completely delightful British radio comedy Cabin Pressure which stars a hilarious Benedict Cumberbatch, Roger Allum (Thursday on Endeavor, if you’re into PBS mysteries) and guest starring Anthony Stewart Head (Giles from Buffy) from time to time.  Each episode is just under 30 minutes, so perfect for sneaking in a listen.

I’ve loved big, long books as well. I own the whole Harry Potter series, as well as the Hornblower series. I look forward to big car trips for the pleasure of being read a great story.

Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I’ll listen to guided meditations, which never fail to help.

At the moment, TO THE LIMIT, my Uniformly Hot! Blaze is on sale. As a paperback, on line as an Ebook, and at Audible. Which is pretty nifty. You can also find ALL THE RIGHT MOVES, the first of the Uniformly Hot! duet in all media, and LYING IN BED, a Wrong Bed Blaze.

Aug 760 JoJune 752 JoJan 730 Jo

 

Do you have a favorite audio book or series? Podcast, perhaps? (My favorite is The Nerdist). Do you use all the media available, or do you stick with one that seems to suit you? Me, I love it any way I can get it. :)

 

I’m a low carb person. I know that’s not for everyone, but my body likes it. Most of the time, I’m actually glad that my choices aren’t infinite. In fact, the most excitement I get these days (since late January) is deciding which kind of vinegar to choose for my salad dressing.

But then I start writing, and my inner foodie comes out to taunt me like a bratty teenager.

It’s torture. Seriously.

The books I’m writing now all take place in Manhattan, and each book is focused on a particular part of the amazing city. It’s as if I’m writing about small towns that happen to be located steps away from anything one could possibly want.

My current story is about a woman who lives in The Bowery, and a hero from NoHo. The Bowery in particular is known for many Eastern European restaurants. I’ve been to some, and read the menus of others. Her small community is all from the Ukraine, although she’s second gen, and has lived in one house all her life.

It’s been amazing doing the research. A whole world inside a few square miles. I’ve learned about the music, the myths, and the history of how these people came to this country and brought their stories with them.

Amelia is very American. But her culture has very big boundaries.

So of course there isn’t a day that goes by than I don’t want perogies. Just typing that makes me ache for those dumplings. I like the potato and cheese the best.

perogies

Also, borscht. I really love borscht.

borscht

I don’t end up with too many food scenes in the books, but I wouldn’t be able to write main characters without understanding their connection to their culture, especially through their cuisine. I’m always fascinated to hear how our individual customs have been passed down, and how we blend cultures and make them something totally unique.

I personally come from an Eastern European (Lithuanian) background. I’m second generation, and I have the recipes, the ones I don’t have written down, like my mother’s chicken soup, the Friday night challa, the gefilte fish that isn’t from a jar, to prove it.

What are some of your heritage favorites? Some of my most treasured recipes come from friends who’ve shared their legacies with me.

Do you have a dish that is a signature of your family culture? I’d love to hear about it!

Also, before I forget – you can still pick up ALL THE RIGHT MOVES, a Uniformly Hot! Blaze, now in stores, and look out for the companion book, TO THE LIMIT, coming out in August!

Here’s a Challenge Within a Challenge for Sunday…

Do something you don’t do. Something you think is slightly ridiculous. Too artsy-fartsy to be of any real use. Do something to Mix It Up.

Here’s my why:

I’ve been writing a certain way now for umpty-ump years, and having myself a hell of a time because of my written-in-stone belief that I’m a panic writer, and therefore panic must be part of my writing mojo. I’d even argued that if it wasn’t a biological fact that I needed panic to write, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy that now was so ingrained that I certainly was unable to change.

Here’s the truth: HA!

We writers are a flexible bunch. We are quite like pipe cleaners, I think. Fresh out of the package we seem to be perfect in our stand-up straightness. But when we really need to get into the nooks and crannies, we’re quite bendy. :)

All we need is the willingness to bend.

In recent months, I, who don’t believe in writing alters, or crystal magic, or anything that has anything to do with the woo, have taken to

• lighting essential oils when I begin my writing day.
• listening to a Brainsync focus CD that’s supposed to do something neato to my brain
• lighting assorted candles
• writing around 6 pages per day instead of 15
• starting my day with morning pages (well, not every day)
• amazing myself because I’m not only bendy, I’m actually more relaxed!

Yes, it’s true. This old dog has been learning new tricks, and guess what. You can, too.

I’m not saying you have to keep doing this thing you don’t do. But I think trying something new, something daring, something foolish, actually opens up a creativity door deep inside us.

Today seems like a really great time to start throwing things into the fire. See how it burns. See what it does to your brain. See how you can jump start the blahs.

Report back, but give it a week, okay? An honest effort. Although we are bendy, we are also stubborn and we must give ourselves an adjustment period. Or you may find yourself transformed after five minutes.

Here are some suggestions:

• Morning pages from The Artists Way by Julia Cameron
• Meditation before writing
• Artist’s Dates, also from The Artists Way
• Long private walks
• Bring scents to the writing with candles, incense, oils
• Buy and use a magic pen
• Tape applause, the kind with whistles and Bravos and everything, then play that when you finish your day’s work
• Listen to music if you don’t now
• Don’t listen to music if you do

I only subscribe to a few magazines. Entertainment Weekly, O, Cosmo and Real Simple. I don’t have much time to read magazines these days, although I love them. I used to get many more: Mental Floss, Architectural Digest, Scientific American, Wired, Rolling Stone, Teen Beat—well that one was quite a while ago.

 

One of the features I like best in Real Simple is The Question of the Month. They’re often thoughtful questions, and while sometimes an answer pops right into my head, other times I really have to ponder.

 

So, I’m borrowing one of my favorite Questions of the Month to pose here. I’m fascinated by how people answer this. For myself, my answer would have been very different even five years ago, let alone when I was in my early twenties.

 

The question is: What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

 

That’s a goody, isn’t it?

 

At first I thought it would be simple. After all, how many compliments had I been paid? I realized with some surprise that I’ve gotten quite a lot of them. Some were backhanded, yes, but a lot of them were earnest and meaningful. There were many different kinds of compliments as well.

 

In my youth I wanted to be complimented on my looks. Oh, so very much. I suppose there’s no getting past certain stages of life. We must experience growing up. Even if it  means learning the hardest lessons when we’ll still tender shoots.

 

Thankfully, I gave up caring too much about my looks years ago. Although no, vanity hasn’t completely disappeared. It took me longer to reevaluate compliments on my work. Because for many, many years, I believed my work was my worth. That’s how I was brought up, and I had to grow away from the lessons I’d inherited in order to come into my own.

 

Which is, in fact, the essence of what I most like to write about. Women and men who have to shake off an idea or an assumption that they’d taken on years earlier and accept the challenge of creating themselves anew.

 

I’m still discovering what it is not to see myself only as my work, and one of the ways I’ve done that is to rethink how I want others to view me. It took me ages to really understand I’m responsible for how other perceive me. And I realized a while ago that I wanted others to find me kind. To find that making a connection with me made them feel better.

 

It’s been slow going, but I’ve made some progress. So my favorite compliment today  was actually from my chiropractor who told me that when I came to see her, her whole day brightened.

 

Okay, that’s mine. For now. Who knows how it’ll change as time goes on.

 

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received? I’d love to know.

Over at Barnes & Noble, they’re celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Blaze with a lot of fanfare.

HOTSHOT is the featured read in HEART 2 HEART, the Romance Readers Blog.

This story is a perfect tribute to Blaze itself: a true love story, imbued with sentimentality and sensuality, between two people who have traveled far both physically and emotionally. Reading this, there’s no doubt why Blaze is so successful.

See what else Melanie Murray has to say and I’ll be there to chat throughout the day. Here’s the link: http://tinyurl.com/3ustx5m

To celebrate this lovely review, I’ll give away 2 copies of HOTSHOT plus 2 copies of EXTRA INNINGS by Debbi Rawlins! Comment at http://tinyurl.com/3ustx5m to win.

Prizes! Chats! Stuff! Wheeee!

With a new book and an old book and a 10th Anniversary Celebration.

HOTSHOT is part of the Uniformly Hot series, and it’s a reunion love story that was one of the most intense and fabulous writing experiences of my life.

It was originally called BIG DAMN HERO, and while I like the title HOTSHOT, it will always be BDH in my head, because that’s who Luke is. He first became a hero in war, and then became a hero in life, when he grew up, took responsibility for his actions and moved heaven and earth to make things right.

Here’s the first chapter

Come back soon, as I’ll be announcing special give-aways, and Blaze 10th Anniversary celebrations all over the net!

Damn, but Mills & Boon gets HOT

The website person kind of left without notice, but I’m hoping things will get back on track soon. Sorry about the loooooong wait.

Unpacking boxes in the new house. But soon, I will be updating this web site (well, not me personally because I have no idea how to do things on the intertubes, but anyway) and then I’ll start blogging again! I’ve decided to do a twice weekly post. How’s that sound? And yes, there’s an actual book by me coming out later this month. It’s called Sexy Ms. Takes and it’s a 3-in-one Encounters. First book since Oct. 08. That’s a very long time.

* Special bonus quiz: Soon…I promise is a line from what Stephen Sondheim musical?
First correct answer wins a copy of SEXY MS. TAKES!

Sexy Ms. Takes!