Double Happiness

thousands-of-candles-can-be-lit-from-a-single-candle-and-the-life-of-the-candle-will-not-be-shortened-happiness-never-decreases-by-being-shared

I have two reasons to be happy today.

I mean, two reasons besides the fat slice of homemade chocolate cake with my name on it sitting on the counter. Oh, and everything I try not to take for granted but do – health, supportive family and friends, a cozy home in a country that isn’t devastated by civil war (yet) or controlled by religious extremists.

Reason Number One:

As if being a finalist in LVRWA’s I Heart Indie Contest wasn’t awesome enough, I’ve just been notified that Please has placed in the top three in the Erotic category! The final results will be announced in early November, so watch this space to find out if Please ranks bronze, silver or gold.

Reason Number Two:

I’m the first author interviewee on Over the Rainbow contributor Cameron Allie’s brand spankin’ new blog! We talk about early influences, literary inspiration and the weirdest interview question I’ve ever been asked. You can check it out here.

While you’re visiting Cameron’s site, be sure to read the erotic romance author’s post on popping her romance novel cherry. Whether you’re a crafter of steamy scenes yourself or prefer to just read them, it’s bound to put a smile on your face.

 

The Erotic (Writing) Education of Hazel Hughes

study

When I was in teachers’ college many moons ago, there was a catchphrase the professors kept drilling into us which really got my hackles up.

Lifelong learner.

We were charged with molding our students into lifelong learners. But more than that, we had to become them, too.

Annoying alliteration aside, it was the concept that bothered me. That I always had more to learn. That I would remain a student forever. That I could always know more, do better. That I, essentially, would never, ever be good enough.

At the time I was planning my wedding on top of putting in ten-hour days in the classroom and spending my evenings and weekends preparing lessons, grading, doing assignments, and building sets for a middle school production of Little Shop of Horrors (Who thought that was a good idea?Sexual innuendos much?).

I barely had time to do my laundry. The thought of taking workshops with names like Literacy and the Inclusive Classroom and Statistics: A Hands-On Approach didn’t thrill me, to say the least.

Homework for life? No, thanks.

Fast forward several years and things have changed. I still barely have time to do my laundry. But I’ve kind of done a 180 on the alliteration thing. And on the idea of being a lifelong learner.

The key, I’ve discovered, is passion.

When you are fascinated by something, learning about it isn’t work. It’s play.

That’s why I’ve taken more courses and workshops in the past few years than I did during my entire teaching career, and I took my fair share of those.

The courses’ names are a little different. Keeping it Hot: Social Media for Erotic Romance Writers, for example. Or the one I’m taking now, Burning Ink, with NY Times bestseller Angela Knight at the helm.

Sure, I’m a published author. One of my books has even been short-listed for an award. But that’s nothing compared to some of my classmates’ accomplishments. Even though many of us could be considered experts at what we do, we’re all still learning.

And I’m pretty sure I’m going to be doing it – happily – for life.

*Are you a romance writer? I can’t recommend the workshops offered by RWA and Passionate Ink (the erotic romance chapter of RWA), enough. Inexpensive – or even free – for members, the workshops are lead by established romance authors and attendees run the gamut, from rookies to multi-published authors. Check them out here

The Thrill of the Old

To say there have been a lot of changes in my life within the past year is an understatement. In fact, even within the last couple of months I’ve adopted a new country, moved into a new house and signed a contract with a new publisher.

Now, I like new. I like different. I like change. But when the default mode in my life is transition, I need to balance it with a little familiar.

How do I do that?

Like Sherry Wilson-Wong, the heroine of my latest novel Dance with Me, I put on my proverbial apron and cook.

Sherry’s no domestic goddess. The dust bunny collection gathering under the Ikea coffee table in her Brooklyn studio is evidence of that. But when she’s feeling overwhelmed, it’s stirring and sautéing the spicy dishes her Singaporean mother taught her that brings back her equilibrium.

While the menu at our house tended more toward shepherd’s pie and mac and cheese, and my dust bunnies never live to breed, I get the same sense of calm from slicing and dicing that Sherry does. But whereas she sticks to her mother’s recipes, I try to recreate tastes I’ve had on my travels, like these cheese-filled poblano chiles.

pep

When we were poor English teachers living in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, one of our favorite splurges was a visit to a local family-run restaurant for stuffed poblano peppers on the grill. The combination of spicy charred chile and creamy molten cheese was insanely delicious. So when I saw a pile of emerald green poblanos at my local farmers’ market, I knew exactly what I had to do.

Speedy San Luis Poblanos Rellenos

Serves 4 greedy people.

Ingredients:

5 poblano peppers

3/4 cup queso fresco, crumbled (feta will work, in a pinch)

1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend

1 cup quick-cooking farro

1 (15 oz) can of black beans

  1. Preheat the broiler and place the peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil the peppers, turning occasionally, until the skin is blistered and black in places.
  2. Place the peppers in a large Ziplock bag and seal.
  3. In the meantime, turn off the broiler and set the oven to 400 F. Prepare the farro according to the package directions and drain and rinse the beans.
  4. Remove the peppers from the bag and carefully peel off the blistered skin. Don’t worry about removing it all. Slice off the tops of the peppers and remove and discard the seeds.
  5. Combine the two cheeses and, using a spoon, fill the peppers’ cavities. Return to the foiled baking sheet and pop in the oven for 2-5 minutes.
  6. Drain the farro and combine with the black beans. Spread on a plate. Top with the oozy, melty peppers. Eat and enjoy. (Alternatively, you can skip the farro and beans and just serve them with warm corn tortillas.)

I consider it comfort food with a kick. I’m pretty sure Sherry would approve, and I think you will, too.

WARNING: Poblanos can vary greatly in heat intensity. Dance with Me, on the other hand, is consistently hot. Consume with caution.