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gen--champ toast
Thanks, E.M., for hosting me on your blog, and for the yummy idea of sharing thoughts about writing and food! Since my upcoming Dreamspinner Press release, Aria (Blue Notes #3)takes place in part in Paris, I thought I’d offer up a favorite Parisian treat of mine with your readers: French hot chocolate (or “chocolat chaud”).

After writing, my second favorite pastime after reading: eating. Better even, eating chocolate. The French version of hot chocolate is rich and creamy, but not the overly sweet counterpart we find here in the US. The key to a great cup of chocolat chaud is to use the best chocolate you can find. French chocolate is best, but since it’s often hard to come by in the States, I recommend using a good Lindt bittersweet (Swiss chocolate is similar enough), which is more readily available. This is not a recipe to cut corners on in terms of fat content, so use whole or 2% milk. Want to bump the creaminess up a notch? Try substituting half and half for a portion of the milk in the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped (good French or Swiss bittersweet)

  • ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons hot water, divided

  • 3 cups hot milk (whole milk is best)

  • Sugar, to taste (I prefer mine a little less sweet so I can enjoy the richness of the chocolate)

  • Whipped cream and chocolate curls or cocoa powder (optional)


Preparation:


Using a double boiler, melt the chopped chocolate into ¼ cup of the water. You can also do this in a glass bowl in the microwave, but you need to heat it very slowly on medium, taking time to check every 30 seconds or so! Stir in the 3 tablespoons hot water and milk until the chocolate mixture is smooth. Pour the hot chocolate into cups and add sugar to taste. Garnish each cup with a spoonful of whipped cream and a few chocolate curls or a dusting of cocoa powder.

 

AriaSMI'd also like to share a bit about the new book! Aria (Blue Notes Series #3) is, like all the other Blue Notes Series books, a standalone novel that can be read independently of the other books in the series. These character-focused stories center around real men with real issues to face in their lives and in their relationships. Aria will be released on December 24th, and is available for preorder on Dreamspinner Press’s website.

In Aria, opera singer Aiden Lind and attorney Sam Ryan reconnect in Paris after five years. When they first met in New York City, Sam was reeling from the loss of his longtime partner, Nick, and Aiden was on the verge of a successful operatic career. They date for only a few weeks before Aiden receives a prestigious scholarship that takes him to Europe.

When the two men meet again in Paris, the attraction between them is still powerful. But Aiden’s hectic performing schedule means that he’s almost never in the US for long, and Sam has a Philadelphia law firm to run. It takes time, but Sam and Aiden finally decide to live together. Soon Sam realizes that maintaining a long-distance relationship is far harder than he expected, and Aiden finds himself confronting the ghost of “Saint” Nick, who still lives in Sam’s heart long after his death. Over time, what starts out with such promise begins to fall apart. Will the two men learn to communicate before time and fate combine to draw them apart?

Piqued your curiosity? You can read an excerpt here. Just scroll down and click on the “excerpt” link.

In her last incarnation, Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.



Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing, she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 30’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.



Shira can be found on Facebook, Goodreads, or on her website, http://www.shiraanthony.com. You can also email her at shiraanthony@hotmail.com.

 

 
gen--champ toast
fireworksI'm so excited to formally announce Smooth Draft!

As many of my friends and readers know, in addition to writing full-time, I also work as an editor. I've worked with MLR Press, Ravenous Romance, and most recently Silver Publishing. I've also taken on private freelance clients for fiction editing work over the years.

Now, I'm ready to take my editing to a new level by starting Smooth Draft Editing.

One impetus for the change, as many people also know, Silver's financial problems meant that they cut back on their freelance editors. They focused editing work on the full-time staff, so the steady stream of Silver editing projects that had been paying the bills dried up a few months ago and not much new work arrived to replace it.

editorThat's when I started increasing work for private clients, and now it's time to formally start my own editing business. Smooth Draft is it. I spent quite a while thinking of the right name, and that sums up what I can do. Smooth out your rough draft, or polish what you think is ready to go. All with the aim of getting it into a publisher's hands, or ready to format if you're self-pubbing.

My background and experience


I've edited four anthologies, which included the acquisitions and all content and line edits. I'm more than familiar with what it takes to get published at any length, and how to address issues from commas to pacing to theme. Just ask anyone who's subbed a story to me; I make them work hard to improve their writing and I've had plenty of authors thank me for being tough, offering suggestions, and giving them a learning experience.

penBefore I got back to writing fiction and eventually publishing it five years ago, most of my work was in the field of finance. I wrote and edited newsletters and website content for my employers mainly about financial markets, including lots of reports and analysis of mutual funds. Most of it would bore you to tears, but I love writing no matter the subject. I worked in finance for five years in Japan, plus a year at an editing company where I rewrote financial publications that had been translated from Japanese. At one financial research job before that I was expected to proof and edit my Japanese colleagues' articles when they wrote in English.

Long story short, I can offer suggestions and guidance to improve any manuscript after the work I did in Japan, and with my work helping many new authors get published for the first time.

How my experience can help you


acceptedEver wonder just what an acquisitions editor is looking for? Not sure how to meet submission guidelines or wonder why your story got rejected?

If you're looking for someone to edit your next piece, especially if you're going to self-publish, give me a shot. I offer several different levels of editing, and include as many rounds of edits as required to get the job done. Rates are flexible, and much less than you'd pay for the majority of professional editors, based on my research. I've seen other editing services provide rate quotes in the thousands of dollars for a novel-length MS.

Stop by Smooth Draft and check out testimonials, information about my services and a blog full of writing tips.
pen nib new
The Delectable December event with authors and readers talking about holiday food traditions is getting a late start, but it's still delicious! Stop back to check out all the yumminess between now and the end of the year (possibly into January). I still have room for more guests to share favorite recipes or memories of things they like to eat. Email me em@emlynley.com .


My first guest is Keira Andrews. For those unfamiliar with kugel, it's a side dish of baked noodles or rice and can be sweet or savory. My grandmother used to make one very much like the recipe Keira's sharing. She also had a lovely cinnamon rice kugel. I should find that one to share too!

Food, Glorious Food

There are so many wonderful things about the holiday season, but I have to confess that all the delicious treats everywhere you turn is probably my very favourite thing about December. I love baking, so always wind up munching on far too many cookies and pies and other goodies.



When it comes to savory food, Dave Lieberman’s noodle kugel is as easy — and delicious! — as it gets.

Noodle Kugel


Ingredients



  • 1/2 pound wide kosher for Passover egg noodles

  • 1/2 stick butter, melted

  • 1 pound cottage cheese

  • 2 cups sour cream

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 6 eggs

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup raisins


Directions


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Boil the noodles in salted water for about 4 minutes. Strain noodles from water. In a large mixing bowl, combine noodles with remaining ingredients and pour into a greased, approximately 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Bake until custard is set and top is golden brown, about 30 to 45 minutes.

*

KA_EightNights_coverlgTo celebrate the season, I’m giving away an electronic copy of my Hanukkah romance Eight Nights.

Lucas McKenzie figures spending the holidays with his annoying roommate’s family is better than being alone on campus. The last thing he expects is to lust over Sam’s brother — or for Nate to actually want him back.

They hide their attraction during Hanukkah celebrations, but behind closed doors, Lucas and Nate can’t keep their hands (or mouths) off each other. Nate’s only looking for a bit of holiday fun, and amazing sex with a hot virgin definitely fits the bill.

Yet as the candles burn, Nate and Lucas begin to realize eight nights will never be enough.

To win, just leave a comment here in the next eight days (Actually you have till Dec 28). Mazel tov!

After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical and fantasy fiction, and – although she loves delicious angst along the way – Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.” You can find out more about Keira and her books at her website and on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 
pen nib new
 

The Next Big Thing for EM Lynley

Welcome to the Next Big Thing blog hop. First a big thank you to Belinda McBride for inviting me to participate. This is different approach to blog hops, and I wasn't quite sure what I was supposed to do. Belinda McBride tagged me, Amy Lane, ZA Maxfield, and Christopher Koehler . Go check to see what their next big things are!

My Next Big Thing is CRUSH.

 

What is the title of your book? CRUSH. At least that's the working title. It might change. Crush is what the wine harvest is called, because winemakers crush the grapes immediately after picking them. It's the most intense time of the year in the wine business and a wrong decision or error can ruin a whole year's worth of work in the vineyards. Pressure and excitement are at a peak.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I worked in the wine industry in Northern California for nearly seven years and I always wanted to write a book about a winemaker and show what it's like working in the wine business. And since I love writing books about people whose jobs put them at odds, I chose a family winemaker and a business guy whose company wants to take over the winery, forcing them to made a choice between their jobs and their feelings for each other.

What genre does your book fall under?

M/M Contemporary

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

That's easy, Matt Bomer. He can play any character in any of my stories. He could be Simon Ford pretty easily. For Austin Kelvin, a younger Ewan McGregor would be great, kind of like the way he looked in Moulin Rouge, younger and more innocent, but serious.



What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Can a young man give up what he thinks is his dream job to help save a man who stands to lose everything he loves, even when they come from opposite backgrounds? There's so much more to it than that, but it's at the heart of the decisions these men face.

Will your book be self published or represented by an agency?

It's Book 3 in the Delectable series published by Dreamspinner Press, so I expect that's where it will be available. Book 1 is Brand New Flavor, which came out November 21 and Book 2 Lighting the Way Home, co-written with Shira Anthony, will be out in March 2013.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I decided to write this as my NaNoWriMo project for 2012, so all 69,300 words were written in 30 days. I don't think I'd try this again. Originally, I wasn't sure if it would be a novel or novella, so one month didn't seem such a short timeline. But as I got deeper into the characters and their stories, it became a novel.

This wasn't quite as much of a daredevil move as it might seem. I've been thinking about this storyline for about two years, and spent about a month working on character development and plotlines pretty intensively before I put a word of story on paper (or pixel). As I wrote, I deepened character and backstory and layered in some additional subplots. A lot more of that work happens during a second draft for me anyway, usually adding 10-20 % more word count as I flesh out ideas I only skimmed over in a first draft.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Nothing springs directly to mind, though if you like Andrew Grey's food-related series, you'll probably enjoy this one.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

In the Napa and Sonoma areas we've seen a big change in the wine industry as more money has come into the region. Big business has taken over what used to be family wineries. Silicon Valley money has pushed the prices of real estate and everything else through the roof and tourism has changed both the landscape and the lifestyle for natives. I wanted to write a book dealing with those influences and how two men, one a Napa native of modest background and the other the son of a rich man who buys up a winery with a self-made fortune would interact and whether they could find common ground upon which to build a relationship, when they seem to have such opposite viewpoints, goals and interests.

What else about your book might interest the reader?

It's got lots of insider information about winemaking, the wine industry and local color and flavor. If you love wine, or just want to know what it's like to live in the area, you'll enjoy reading it for those details, as much as for the love story.

Stop back later for an excerpt. Since it hasn't yet been edited, I need to do some work before it's ready to share.
hol--santa pr0n
PurrfectlyGiftasticCBH_200x300
I'm participating in this year's Purrrfectly Giftastic Christmas Hop which means I'm talking about breaking out of my comfort zone to write Christmas stories and I'm giving away a few of my those stories as e-books. Please stop by my blog to enter by telling me about your favorite holiday traditions.

Read more
gen--champ toast
I'm thrilled that ITALIAN ICE, Book 2 in the Precious Gems Series, won a 2012 Rainbow Award (4th place) for Best Gay Mystery/Thriller! To be honest, I didn't expect to get anything this year because there were SO many entries this time around. And there was some very tough competition. I think most of the winners in Mystery/Thriller were male writers, so I'm glad to get some notice among that boy's club.

It joins Rarer Than Rubies, Book 1 in the series, which earned a 3rd place Rainbow Award for the same category last year. I'm really happy that readers are enjoying Trent and Reed's adventures.

To celebrate, Dreamspinner Press is giving 25% off all 2012 Rainbow Award winners until December 8. It's a great time to grab a copy of a bunch of fantastic books all in one spot!





 
1-ice cream
Melon-Sorbet-Bakers-RoyaleHere's an excerpt from Brand New Flavor, my latest release. This isn't the Chapter 1 excerpt posted at Dreamspinner and All Romance eBooks. It's something much more delicious, and it's part of what I learned when I spent a day at a local ice-cream kitchen for research. That was fun. Very yummy fun. But prepping the ingredients is hard work and so is starting a business.

Blurb: When artisan ice cream maker Jay Brown first meets food writer Cameron Clay at a charity tasting event, they get along like strawberries and chocolate sauce. Jay's unique flavors thrill more than Cameron's jaded palate, but after a delicious encounter in Jay’s delivery truck, where extra-creamy frozen treats are not the only delights sampled, Cameron loses Jay’s contact info—and any hope of a real date.

Desperate, Cameron convinces his editor to host an artisanal ice cream contest in hopes of drawing out the elusive genius. But more complications threaten to intervene. Will Jay even enter the contest? Or will the chance of a happily ever after melt away? Brand New Flavor is available from Dreamspinner Press, ARe and Amazon.

 

Excerpt:


On Monday Jay descended the stairway from his apartment over his industrial kitchen, making sure he had his cell phone and that it was fully charged. He even brought the charger with him, just in case. He didn’t want to miss the call from Cameron Clay. Jay believed Cameron’s promise to call, and even if it didn’t turn out to be anything more than the one casual encounter for them, Cameron had enjoyed Jay's ice cream almost as much as he’d enjoyed Jay. Hadn’t he?

Jay never had very good judgment when it came to guys. He’d made the mistake of jumping right in with both feet before. Best to take it slow, and not get burned again. He still hadn’t recovered from the last time. One thing to want to get a guy’s clothes off, but it was never a good idea to fall in love too easily. Not that Jay had fallen in love with Cameron or anything. He hadn’t. How could he? Cameron had said “mmmm” and “oh yeah” and a few other things along those lines. Certainly flattering to Jay and his ice cream, but not enough to base a relationship on; even Jay understood that.

But Cameron Clay did know how to speak—or at least write—coherently and use words with multiple syllables. The guy even knew when to use semicolons, which impressed Jay. He’d Googled Cameron Clay as soon as he’d gotten home from his deliveries. He’d read a few of Cameron’s articles and columns and ordered two of his books from Amazon. Real paper and two-day delivery and everything—not just Kindle versions. Fuck, maybe I am in love already.

He certainly was in love with the way Cameron thought and wrote about food. Jay had never read anything quite like it and it practically gave him a hard-on just reading Cameron’s words. Okay, it actually had turned him on if he was going to be honest about it. Cameron was a mixture of James Beard, Julia Child, MFK Fisher and Ruth Reichl all in one extremely sexy package. A sexy gay package—even better.

For the next thirty minutes, Jay forced himself to concentrate on ice cream and not on Cameron. He went to the big walk-in cooler to see what fruit was ripe. He'd used up nearly everything on hand making the product for the tasting event. He'd use up what he had on hand and then call his suppliers and see what was ripe and when he should go to their farms to collect his orders.

1-sliced melonsHe glanced around the cooler and selected several baskets of berries. He loaded them into a wide plastic tub, shut the cooler door, and strolled over to the ripening room to see what looked and smelled best. He picked up and sniffed a series of melons, choosing three varieties that were approaching perfection. The heady, sweet scent and just the right give under his thumb. He rinsed everything under warm water in the sink, and then brought his bounty over to the cutting boards. Within a few minutes, he had a pile of delicious chunks of three kinds of melon. He pureed each separately, pouring the thick sweet-smelling result into wide beakers. He did the same with the berries, sieving the ones with seeds, until he had a little rainbow of beakers. From the blue-black of blackberries to the celadon of Persian melon.

What were Cam’s favorite flavors? That did it. Jay's concentration broke, and he lost the battle to ignore the phone after only twenty minutes of work. He pulled his cell out of his pocket just to make sure he had a signal: four out of five bars. What the fuck am I doing?

“Whatcha working on this morning?” Maya’s voice shattered the silence and Jay nearly dropped his phone into a beaker of bright watermelon puree. He hadn’t heard her unlock the door. Had he locked up properly the night before? Probably too distracted with fantasies of Cameron Clay. Maybe he needed to increase security.

“Nothin’.”

“Looks like something. Trying a new combo?”

“Yeah. Maybe some sweet melons contrasting with a tart berry. Or just layering the melons. I’m gonna play with the proportions for a while before I prepare a full batch.”

“I’ll help taste test once I’ve made the calls, okay?”

“Sure.” Jay pushed the phone into his apron pocket and grabbed a stack of small Pyrex dishes where he’d mix flavors, like an artist combining shades on his palette.

“Oh, do you want to start selling any of the flavors we handed out yesterday?”

“No. Not ready.”

“What do you mean ‘not ready’? We had people lining up three, four times to get samples. Our clients are always asking for new stuff.”

“Not ready.”

“Jay….” Maya let her voice drop into the lower register. “What’s wrong?”

Like he was going to admit Cameron Clay hadn’t called yet. “They’re not ready.”

“They why aren’t you working with them? Why are you playing with new stuff? Are you just giving up on those flavors?”

“They’ve gone public. I can’t risk it.”

“Come on, Jay. Don’t you think you’re carrying this stealth thing a bit too far? No one’s spying on you.”

“I won’t risk it. Not after….”

“Jay, that was almost two years ago. You can’t keep hiding in here like it’s some sort of Batcave because you think someone’s going to steal your flavors and your ideas. The way to avoid that is to actually start selling them, get them into the market so everyone knows you created them. The longer you wait, the more chance you do have of being scooped.” She clapped a hand over her mouth to suppress a giggle. “Sorry.” She dropped the hand and her expression turned serious again. “I mean it. You’re not helping yourself. You’re letting that asshole win if you keep this up.”

Jay took a deep breath and pulled himself up to his full height. He exhaled and watched Maya’s face. His pulse skyrocketed and he heard the sound of glass shattering. He’d dropped the bowl he’d been holding. “Crap.” He bent to clean up the shards, nearly bumping his head against Maya’s.

“I’ll clean this up.” She knelt and pushed at his shoulder. “I shouldn’t have mentioned him. I’m sorry.”

Jay stood and watched as Maya swiped a damp towel across the floor, and fought to get his breath under control. Thinking about Paul Rhodes always did this to him. He went over to the sink and washed his hands, lathering up the anti-bacterial scrub and letting the hot water scald away the memories and distract him from the knot in his stomach.

* ~ *

Brand New Flavor is available from Dreamspinner Press, ARe and Amazon.

 

 
1-ice cream
At midnight Eastern, Brand New Flavor released from Dreamspinner Press!


I'm so excited about this novella, featuring an artisan ice cream maker and a food critic and set in San Francisco. Though it was written a few years ago, when I revised and expanded it, I got to do some research at a local sorbet shop, Scream Sorbet in Oakland CA. I took much of how Jay experiments with flavors and how he runs his business from what I learned there. I also spoke with several chefs about whether the flavor combinations I made up would actually work, and while they agreed the would taste great, I couldn't convince anyone to actually make them!

Maybe someone out there will email to tell me they tried and let me know how they taste!

Or I may just have to start making ice cream at home.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway over at Facebook (say you're GOING to be entered), and find out more about Brand New Flavor and read an except. Or just buy the darn thing. (Stay tuned for Amazon and ARe links).
gen--champ toast
Pot Roast with Caramelized Onions and Roasted Carrots

I know I'm not the only one who loves to cook (and eat ) around the holidays. During December I'll be featuring favorite recipes of mine as well as those of other authors and readers. Even if you don't cook, join in to share what your favorite foods are to eat this time of year. Entries will be posted at both my main blog and my LiveJournal.

Starting December 1, stop back in for a great selection of tasty posts. You may just start a new family tradition. Disclaimer: EM Lynley is not responsible for any holiday weight gain.

Got a favorite Christmas or Hanukkah recipe? If you'd like to participate, email me: em AT emlynley.com and I'll give you all the details.

[photo credit: Epicurious.com]

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Coming Soon

Brand New Flavor -- from Dreamspinner Press

Lighting the Way Homje -- TBA

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