Friday, August 31, 2012

Romancing The Hop: What Makes BDSM Romantic?

When I decided to participate in the Romancing the Hop blog hop, I was drawn by the subject of the hop -- Romance. I've always read, but romance has been my favorite genre since I read my first one when I was twelve. It's not just the happily ever after that gets me. It's the relationship developed between the main characters and their self-awareness. And yes, my interest in romance eventually led to my writing it.

I write romance.
I write erotic romance.
I write BDSM erotic romance.

I write BDSM erotic romance.
I write erotic romance.
I write romance.

I sometimes think I should adopt this as my personal mantra. Whether repeated forwards or in reverse order, to me, romance is the key. It can be found in a butterfly soft kiss, the touch of a hand, the smack of a paddle, or the crack of a whip. Whichever way the emotional connection is established and communicated between two individuals, it reflects two things: Trust and Respect.

Trust and respect. It seems like a simple enough equation: Trust + Respect = Love/Romance. I mean, a person has to trust and respect themselves before they can love themselves. And a person has to love themselves before they can actually love another. At least that's the theory, right?

That's what I find so cool about writing romance. Sometimes an author runs across a character that hasn't discovered how lovable they are. It takes the trust and respect shown to them by someone else to trigger those same emotions in themselves. The happily ever after doesn't come until the the characters trust and respect themselves to love and be loved.

I think this need for trust and respect for oneself and others is what draws me to writing kink. In BDSM, trust and respect are important components of a power exchange relationship. The Dominant must trust and respect the ability of the submissive to make rational, informed, and reasonable decisions on what s/he will participate in. At the same time, the submissive has to trust and respect that the Dominant is capable of doing the same. Add romance to the mix and the stakes can be upped. Due to the inherent need for trust and respect between the participants, readers can more clearly visualize the growing emotions between characters.

So, when some people ask "What makes BDSM romantic?" or "How can getting spanked be romantic?" I point out trust and respect.

Now, on to the part everyone is really interested in -- the contests.

Romancing the Hop has three great prizes, you only need to leave a comment on any of the 207 blogs participating. The more you comment the more chances you have to win. Make sure you leave your email address in your comment so you can be included in the drawing. No email, no entry.

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: A $130 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
3rd Grand Prize: The following Swag Pack!

My contest is similar. Same rule -- no email, no entry. Leave a comment with your email in it. I'm giving away a messenger bag, with a felt sleeve for a computer (max size for sleeve is 15.5"), a pen, Diablo Blanco Club sticky notes, and a key chain wallet. Here's a picture of my prize:

Click on the Romancing the Hop picture to go to the list of other blogs participating. You have until September 3, 2012 to enter. I'll announce the winner of my prize here and on my Facebook page on Tuesday, September 4th.

Enjoy and Good Luck!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday Tarot: The Devil (XV)

Welcome to another Tuesday Tarot.

Again, I have to stress, I am not an expert in the Tarot and I use them for myself and friends (and my characters) to help answer questions about situations and the future.

The Card:
The Devil (XV)
The Devil is card number fifteen in the Major Arcana.
It is representative of materialism and deception, those negative aspects associated with character of the Devil.

When you draw a Major Arcana card it is important that you pay attention to it. Kinda like a "hey look at this!" moment that warns you that you need to pay attention to the events surrounding you.

Meaning (Upright):
Fear, evil influences at work; division within self; wrapped up in material pursuits; journey in life is off course; miserable existence; greed--need for success at any cost; not facing the truth; wasting energy in over indulgences; waste of creative talents.

Meaning (Reversed):
The same as upright, but not as severe; indecision causes weakness; respond quickly now that you've seen the light; free yourself from past habits; reduced selfishness or greed; face reality; accept responsibility; using talents in good ways.

Dragon Tarot Deck created and illustrated by Peter Pracownik
Published by US Games, Inc

The Lovers Tarot Deck Designed by Jane Lyle
Published by Thomas Dunne Books

Steampunk Tarot Deck Designed by Barbara Moore,
Illustrated by Aly Fell, Published by Llewellyn Worldwide 2012

The Devil (XV) In A Reading:
If you were to draw The Devil (XV) upright when doing a reading for yourself you should be aware it indicates that your current path isn't the right one for you. It could mean you are wasting your talents and striving for fame without paying attention to the consequences of your actions.
If this card shows up in your reading take the time to evaluate your situation. Examine all the information and be cautious in your decision making until you can be positive you're dealing with right people.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Prepare Yourself! The Romancing The Hop Blog Hop Starts Friday!

Friday, August 31st it begins!!
Prepare yourself for the Romancing the Hop Blog Hop!

What is your favorite thing about Romance? Well, we authors are ready to share our romantic tips and favorite romance reads! Starting on Friday and ending on August 31st, over 100 Authors and Bloggers will share their favorite things about romance, reading romance, and dating.

And while we do that, we are EACH doing a giveaway. Yep. There will be over 100 giveaways on each blog hosted by that Author or Blogger.

But that's not all....

We have THREE grand prizes. You as a reader can go to EACH blog and comment with your email address and be entered to win. Yep, you can enter over 100 times!

Now what are those prizes?

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: A $130 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
3rd Grand Prize: The following Swag Pack!

Yep. ALL of that! Whoot! Be sure to come back here on Friday and over the weekend to enjoy some stories and facts about our favorite Romance events and reads and enter to win!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Food Fun Friday: Revisiting Mango-Peach-Serrano Pepper Jam

Serrano Peppers
Last Food Fun Friday I posted my first recipe for mango-peach-jalapeno jam. Today I'm revisiting that recipe only this time I'm using Serrano peppers (their BTU rating is higher than a jalapeno). The mangoes aren't ones I cut, but already sliced mangoes I bought at the store. Same with the peaches, but I'm hoping the flavor is going to be good.

Here's the recipe again:

2 mangoes (peeled, pitted, and cut into chunks)
2-4 peaches (peeled, pitted, and cut into chunks)
3 Serrano peppers (diced--seeds left in)
2 Tbs powdered pectin
1/4 c peach or mango juice or water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbs Truvia (you can use 1/4 c sugar or honey if you prefer)

mangoes and peaches
I cut the chunks of mango and peaches and put them into a bowl.

mangoes, peaches, and peppers
Then I cut the Serrano peppers and added them to the fruit. I mashed the fruit...or I tried, but many of the mango chunks weren't very soft.

blended fruit mixed with the
mango, peach, and pepper chunks

So, I put about half of the semi-mashed fruit and peppers into a blender and blended it until it had the consistency of a slushie/smoothie, then poured it back into the rest of the mix.

The brown powder is cinnamon
the red is the cayenne
I left the mixture to rest for several hours then sprinkled and stirred in the cinnamon and cayenne before taking the next steps to make the jam.

jars and caps in boiling water
In a stock pot, heat water to a steady boil, enough to cover the top of the jelly jars an inch or two. You can sterilize the jelly jars and lids by boiling them in the water or you can wash them in a dishwasher and let them go through the dry cycle before you use them.

mango-peach-pepper mixture

Using a medium sized saucepan, heat the fruit-pepper mixture on medium heat, stirring occasionally until it comes to a boil. Let it remain at a steady boil for three minutes, stirring constantly then remove from heat.

pectin and juice at a boil
pectin, peach juice, and
Truvia (sweetener)
In a second larger saucepan on medium heat, mix the powdered pectin and peach juice (or water), stirring occasionally until it comes to a rolling boil and it can't be stirred down.

Once it's at a steady boil, add the fruit-pepper mix to it and bring the mixture back to a boil. Add the sweetener (I use Truvia) but you can use sugar or honey, and bring the jam back to a boil. Stir to keep the jam from sticking to the bottom of the pan and let the jam stay on a steady, rolling boil for three minutes.

remember to let it boil for
3 minutes after adding the sweetener

leave 1/2 inch space between
the jar top and the jam
make sure the water comes
over the top of the jars
After the three minutes, turn off the heat and ladle the jam into the jelly jars. Leave about half an inch of headspace. Finger tighten the lid and set the jars in the waterbath (stock pot of water) and boil for five minutes.

Remove the jars from the water and set them on the counter (I would recommend placing the jars on a dishtowel just to be safe.) Let the jam cool and listen for the lids to "pop" to confirm the jars have sealed. The jam should set overnight (either in the refrigerator or on the counter).
this batch made almost 32 ounces of jam
Hope you enjoy!!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tarot Tuesday: Ten of Swords (R)

I do not profess to be an expert of the Tarot. I've used them for myself and a few friends (not to mention my characters) as a means of answering questions  about situations and the future.

In determining the information about the cards and their meanings, I used multiple books that I have collected over the years:
Sylvia Abraham's How to Read the Tarot; Eileen Connolly's Tarot: A New Handbook for the Apprentice; and Sandor Konraad's Classic Tarot Spreads

I've read through the various definitions and paraphrased as much as possible.

The Card
Ten of Swords (Reversed)

Tens are usually associated with the end of a cycle; the completion (good or bad) of a path or lesson.

Swords are associated with mental compatibility, struggle, animosity, conflict, and intellect/thinking.

Meaning (Upright):
Sense of loss; collapse of plans; feeling of being pinned down and unable to move; the end of a negative cycle; can't change things--just go with the flow; betrayal; loss of confidentiality; plans are betrayed or fail; end of a lifestyle that isn't meant for you

Meaning (Reversed):
No easing of problems but no new ones arise; it's not as bad as you think; mental focus is unclear; potential for new positive vibrations on the way; lessons learned; should see an improvement in business or health (especially the back); learning to cope with the situation

Dragon Tarot Deck Created and Illustrated by Peter Pracownik
Published by US Games Systems, Inc.
The Lovers Deck Designed by Jane Lyle
published by Thomas Dunne Books
Steampunk Deck Designed by Barbara Moore,
illustrated by Aly Fell, published by Llewellyn Worldwide 2012

There are multiple spreads you can use to help answer questions you might have, including drawing a simple single card.

If you were curious if the feelings you're having about a project you're working on and you draw the Ten of Swords (reversed) then the answer for you could be that the problems you're experiencing aren't going to go away, but at least there won't be any new ones. It represents/indicates the end of the situation, but don't expect your project to be successful. You might even want to take a hard look at your situation and realize it's not as bad as you think. There could even be an improvement in your health, but take some time to clear your mind and focus.

Thanks for hanging out. I would highly recommend the three books I listed at the beginning of this blog if you're interested in delving more deeply into learning about Tarot cards and their various uses.

Have a great day, I'll be posting another Tarot Tuesday on August 28th.

Friday, August 10, 2012

First Food Fun Friday

I do love my food. You only have to look at my closet and the bathroom scale know this is true.

Recently I've begun playing with fruits to make jams and jellies. The fun part was making a jam just for my mom...she loves her spice (the hotter the better) and so I decided to try to make a hot jelly from mangoes, peaches, and jalapenos.

Unfortunately, when I made the jam and sent it to my mother, my nephew got his hands on it first. He liked it, but used the two pints (32 ounces) I sent to my mom for a marinade, barbecued chicken then didn't save any for my mother. Let's just say he pissed me off.

So, here's the recipe (and pictures) I used for the first two batches of jam.
Yummy mangoes, peaches, and jalapenos

2 ripe mangoes
2-3 large ripe peaches
1-2 jalapeno peppers
1/4 c water or peach or mango juice
3 Tbs powdered pectin
1-2 Tbs Truvia (Stevia based sweetener)

peeled, pitted, and chopped
First, peel, pit, and chop mangoes and peaches into small chunks. Using a potato masher, smash the fruit. I left my fruit slightly chunky instead of crushing the fruit completely.

Finely chop the peppers and mix into the mangoes and peaches. I kept the seeds from the peppers in the first batch then left them out in the second batch. You can choose which way you'd like to make yours, but the seeds actually make the jam hotter.

I prepped the jars by washing them in my dishwasher and leaving them in it on the dry cycle while I prepped the fruit. I also had a large stock pot with water boiling in it for the sealing of the jars. 

Mangoe-peach-jalapeno coming to a boil
After the fruit and peppers are ready, use a medium saucepan and heat the fruit on medium heat. Bring the fruit to a boil, stirring constantly to keep it from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. In a second saucepan, stir the powdered pectin into the water. On medium heat bring the pectin-water mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it comes to a rolling boil, keep it at a boil for two minutes then add the fruit and pepper mixture. Bring the fruit to a rolling boil. Add the Truvia (you can use sugar too, but you usually need about 1/4 of sugar for every tablespoon of Truvia) and stir well. Bring the mixture back to a rolling boil for three minutes, then remove it from the heat, or turn off the burner.

Ladle the fruit into the cleaned jars leaving about half an inch away of head room. Put the lid on and tighten to finger tightness and place into the boiling water, making sure to have an inch or two over the top of the jar. Boil for five to ten minutes (use the chart you can find on the back of the powdered pectin container to determine the length of time necessary). Remove from the water and set on counter to cool, listening for the "pop" when the lid seals.

Let the jam cool overnight either on the counter or in the refrigerator. It should set or thicken within eight to twelve hours. If it stays slushy or watery looking, you may have to reboil it with a bit more water and pectin. But I haven't had a problem with the jams not setting as long as I brought the pectin-water mixture to a boil for two minutes then after adding the fruit and pepper mixture I made sure I brought it to a boil for three minutes after I added the sweetener.
Mango-peach-jalapeno jam

In the second batch, I added 3 Tbs of cinnamon and 1 tsp cayenne to the mixture while the fruit was boiling the first time before I added it to the pectin-water mix.

Today, I'm going to be using Serrano peppers instead of jalapenos and more cayenne (and I'm keeping the seeds in for more heat for mom). I'll take pictures of each of the steps and post it in two weeks.