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Archive for March, 2012

Walk to Defeat ALS… because you can

Thank you so much, Lime, for letting me share information about ALS, the Walk to Defeat ALS and to spread awareness of the urgency to find treatments and a cure. I really appreciate all the good that you do for social causes and how generous you and your readers are with your time and money. I’m here to ask you to open your hearts once more for a disease that has struck my family.

ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a neuromuscular disease. There is no cure at this time, or even any treatment. Basically, ALS robs a person of everything except their cognitive abilities. The muscles begin to weaken, as nerves don’t fire correctly. You slowly begin to lose your ability to walk, talk, swallow, breathe. Yet you remain completely aware of everything going on around you and can still feel pain. It is among the cruelest of diseases. Every 90 minutes a person in this country is diagnosed with ALS and every 90 minutes another person will lose their battle against this disease. ALS occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic boundaries. This crippling disease can strike anyone. Presently there is no known cause of the disease, though support is bringing researchers closer to an answer. In the meantime, it costs an average of $200,000 a year to provide the care ALS patients need.

Part of the problem is that there is no test for ALS. It’s a diagnosis that’s only made after ruling everything else out. So it frequently takes up to 2 years to diagnose the correct disease. That’s 2 years of disease progression before you’ve even gotten a diagnosis. You may have seen this video feature of New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason during the SuperBowl this year:

Here’s my own ALS story:
My sister-in-law Sue was diagnosed in October 2010 with ALS. The diagnosis took 18 months, which is sadly not unusual. In the 1 ½ years since her diagnosis (3 years into the disease), she is now completely dependent. She is in a wheelchair, and requires assistance around the clock. The saving grace for my brother and sister-in-law has been our local chapter of the ALS Association. The ALS Association serves several purposes. First, they are there to educate ALS patients, families, and the public about this disease. But more importantly, they are there to help families in their local communities with the necessary adjustments – providing affordable equipment such as wheelchairs for patients, contractors to retrofit houses, and social services to give patients and their families the support they need. Our local chapter helped my brother find a handicap-equipped van at an affordable price. They recommended a contractor to them who works with the ALS Association to give a special break in price to ALS patients for retrofitting their home.

The average life expectancy of an ALS patient ranges from 2 to 5 years from the time of diagnosis.  We are now at the 1 ½ -year mark from diagnosis. My brother and sister-in-law and my 2 nieces are coping with the help of family and friends, but I know that there is quickly going to come a day when we no longer have Sue with us. Though she is enrolled in some clinical trials, and we remain hopeful for a treatment to slow progression or a cure. However, it’s not likely that Sue will benefit directly from the ongoing research. Where she does benefit immediately is with the support offered to them by the ALS Association and the community of families that reside within it. The ALS community is a tightly-kit one, and it breaks my heart every time my brother tells me that one of their friends has lost their battle.

My greatest hope is that Sue will win her battle, and be here to watch both of her daughters graduate from college, dance at their weddings, and live to see her grandchildren. I pray we find an answer for the millions of people with ALS, but most especially… and selfishly (I admit)… I pray for a cure for Sue, my brother, and my nieces. They are fighting so valiantly, and staying hopeful and optimistic.

Because every donation goes almost exclusively to the local chapters, every gift you make will go directly toward helping my brother and his family.

Here is, in part, how donations help:

  • $25 pays for a walking cane that will transform the hope for safety into peace of mind.
  • $60 helps webcast an “Ask the Experts” research summit online for those who are unable to attend in person.
  • $100 enables repairs and maintenance of an augmentative communication device (AAC) from the ALS loan closet.
  • $250 funds one of sixteen monthly support groups that serve people with ALS and their families in my community.
  • $600 supports one day of a multi-disciplinary satellite clinic which serves people with ALS who aren’t able to travel long distances.

I know that money is tight for so many of us. I’d really appreciate anything that you could donate to help fight against ALS. Even $5 or $10 helps! With so many government budget cuts, subsidized medical research is often the first thing to go. With your help though, we can make a tangible difference in the lives of people affected by this disease. Last year, your generous donations helped to raise close to $6500 for my team of walkers. My own personal goal is to raise $1500.

To donate to my Walk to Defeat ALS: http://webgw.alsa.org/goto/loris

Find out more about ALS and the amazing work being done by the ALS Association here: http://www.alsa.org/
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Donations also are used to fund important research – the ALS Association has the most active research program in the world, and over the past year many new discoveries have been made. One of the current studies is focusing on the increased incidence of ALS in our armed forces. Here are some other important breakthroughs – among which is discovering a gene that is common in familial ALS (when it runs in families).

(9/21/2011) New Genetic Mutation Identified: Most Common Cause of FTD and ALS, Accounting for as Much as One Third of All Familial ALS

(8/23/2011) Northwestern researchers report breakthrough in ALS research

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You guys! (I realize I’m almost always excited about this but… it’s exciting shit, okay?!) Today we have the darling Louisa Edwards guesting with us! Totally random because she’s so awesome. She’s even traveling, but has worked us in. And she’s hosting a giveaway. So, even if you have no idea who she is, I think you’re getting a clue of the yay, right?!

Quick intro – Louisa Edwards writes hot contemporary romances, with a culinary element. Her current book is part of the Rising Star Chef series, and it just came out this past Tuesday! Ms. Louisa is also the sweetest thing – so show her some love!

I’m writing this post from a hotel room in San Francisco, looking out a rain-spattered window toward the choppy, gray waters of the bay. For someone who lives in Austin, the damp chill of the fog outside makes me want to curl up under a blanket with a mug of hot chocolate and a steamy read!

In case spring hasn’t exactly sprung where you are, either, I’m going to share an exclusive (and very warming!) snippet from my newest release, Hot Under Pressure. This hot moment takes place right in the waters of San Francisco bay, on a clear, moonlit night when our hero returns to the sheltered cove where he first met the heroine more than a decade ago, and finds her swimming in her underwear. Naturally, he goes in after her. And then he…well. See for yourself!

_________

Skye stood there, trembling in the moonlight, the milky paleness of her naked curves glowing like a beacon against the darkness. The sodden scraps of her underwear concealed nothing, clinging to her lovingly. And her expression…

She was broken wide open, like an egg dropped on the floor.

Ferocious need swept through him—the need to touch her, to erase the memories from her eyes, the sadness from her trembling mouth, to take her, to re-stake his claim on her.

Even if it was for the last time.

Beck didn’t want to think about that. He didn’t want to think about anything.

Framing Skye’s soft cheeks between his palms, Beck brought his mouth down to hers.

It was like taking a deep breath of cool air after hours of working in the galley kitchen of a submarine, with no ventilation and no windows and no way out.

He just inhaled her, taking the freshness and sweetness of her into himself and savoring the sugar-lemon taste of her mouth. Skye opened for him on a gasp, her small hands coming up hesitantly to clutch at his waist, and Beck immediately seized the tactical advantage by thrusting his tongue between her pink lips.

She molded her body to his, the soft ripeness of her flesh a perfect contrast to his hard, tensed muscles. Beck swept his hands down the sides of her neck and over her shoulders, curling around to her back to press her even closer.

The chill of her skin was replaced by a warm flush. He thought he could actually feel the hot blood pumping through her veins, pushed through her by the rapid beating of her heart.

He ate at her mouth hungrily, and she met his attack with a ferocious need of her own. Her hands, no longer hesitant, gripped and pressed firmly. She seemed to be trying to touch as much of him as possible without breaking the kiss. Beck approved, and twisted his torso like a cat, trying to give her more skin to play with.

He needed to get closer to her.

They were still standing in knee-deep water, their feet sucked into the marshy Bay floor, making it difficult to maneuver.

Not that Beck was about to let that stop him.

Bending down, he got one arm behind Skye’s knees and plucked her out of the muck. Primal satisfaction filled him as he pulled her in against his chest.

At some point in the last ten years, though, Skye had forgotten everything he’d taught her about being swept off her feet. She gave a little yelp as the world tilted around her, and flailed hard enough that he almost dropped her before getting a firmer grip on her wet limbs.

“Put me down! You’ll throw your back out, Henry, I’m too heavy for this.”

“Chill,” he told her. “The issue is that you’re all slippery at the moment. Other than that?”
He hitched her up easily, until her mouth was in kissing distance again.
Stealing a quick one off her parted lips, he grinned down at her. “Other than that, you’re perfect.”

She melted faster than butter in a hot sauté pan. He could feel the exact moment when she forgot to be afraid of being dropped or worried about her weight as all the tension left her body.

He’d never understood what she was so worried about, anyway. No woman had ever felt better in his arms.


If that little taste of two hot chefs steaming up San Francisco Bay wasn’t enough for you, there’s a longer excerpt from the beginning of the book on my website here.

Or you can just go ahead and read the whole thing, which includes plenty of chef-on-chef action, an interracial bromance, mouthwatering recipes, a romantic subplot between a young rock star and an older French woman, and the most intensely emotional love story I’ve ever written.

Don’t believe me? Answer this question in the comments below for a chance to win a free signed copy of Hot Under Pressure:

What’s the most unusual place you’ve ever kissed someone? (And I’m not talking about the elbow, here. Give me a sexy/funny/exciting setting!)

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Recently a discussion ensued in one of my reader groups about the library.  In the course of the discussion people were upset about many different things occurring at either their local library or one in an adjoining city or county.  It got me wondering about my own library usage and whether or not I could use another city’s system.

Naturally I got online and discovered that for a small fee I could join what has to be the largest library near me.  Since I primarily use Overdrive for audio books I was curious as to whether or not that other system had different audios than what I could get at my own  forward thinking library.  I was dismayed to find out that my fee entitled me to a limited number of physical books, but that I would not be allowed anything from their digital collection.

I could not help but feel that this was wrong.  Let’s say that the fee to join the library is $25 per year.  I could go and check out three best selling hardcovers and abscond with them, hence basically buying one and getting two free.  Digital materials return themselves and while I realize that publishers are attempting to limit the licenses for digital materials doesn’t my yearly fee help to buy at least one?

Okay…so maybe I’m not typical in moving to all digital, but for those readers who still adore their print books isn’t a yearly fee worth paying to access a library that is closer to your home, and provides better services?  After all I feel confident that when I have to pay a fine or a fee for using the service I am contributing to someone’s salary and to the cost of continuing to add  books to the library and thus spread the love of reading to someone who perhaps can not afford to read any other way.

It’s your turn now.  What do you think?  Would you pay a fee to join a better library? How do you feel about the late fees your library charges?  If you use the library what is your primary reason for using it?  Inquiring minds want to know.

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You know, the usual.

First of all, I broke up the About and FAQs pages. Well, the FAQs weren’t so much questions people were asking, as an ideally preventative measure. (Still doesn’t particularly work, but hope springs eternal!) You’ll notice in “About” I put a whole “Hi, my name is Limecello” so maybe people will stop writing “Hi there” or “Hi” or “Blank Space” – or… this one amused me (and Liz)… “Hi Liz!”

I mean, I know not everyone will read or see it. But damn am I tempted to just ignore emails where people refuse to address me. I’ve ranted about it a bit on twitter etc- but I mean the people who after I’ve emailed and responded, with signature and all. When it’s obvious the person is just refusing to say “Limecello” – and it’s not some sort of informal no signatures thing. I mean, yeah, I know I can be unreasonable, but even in those circumstances I’m never 100% straight out there.

Erm, anyway.

We’re working on a review “grade” scale too – do you guys have any sort of preference/better connection with units of measure? Letter grades? Number ratings? Stars? I do want to have some sort of scale, because at times you can’t quite articulate how you feel about the book, even with the review, so the grade rounds it out.

And as always… still looking for reviewers. Cuz you know – there are a lot of new books coming out, always!

p.s. Did you guys know I have a calendar up as well, that loosely details who will be visiting the blog? The features, anyway…

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I know it hasn’t been something I’ve focused on for a while, but a passion of mine that equals, if not exceeds my love of books is social justice. There’s just been so much going on in the world that I’ve been a bit overwhelmed. (And then with me personally. Life and I have been disagreeing on many levels.)

But there’s something I saw today and it just… well broke my heart. If you watch the video – which is lengthy, grab tissues. I cried. This is the article: Killed at Home: White Plains, NY Police Called Out on Medical Alert Shoot Dead Black Veteran, 68. (I’m going to try and embed the video, but for some reason WordPress has always hated me…)

Police Called Out on Medical Alert Shoot Dead Black Veteran

There’s just… I don’t even have a response for that, other than sorrow, and an utter sense of wrongness. That it was police – responding to a medical alert call doing this makes it… I don’t think I’ve been as horrified since I learned the police duty (or lack thereof) to the public when it comes to you the individual as a member of the public, in Torts.

I can’t believe this happened last year that Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr was shot dead. By policeInside his own home. And nothing has happened.

Where’s the national outcry and outrage about this? (That’s a whole new can of worms though… but you have to admit – there’s the whole sensationalist/popular opinion thing. Not to say I don’t think it’s important to care about and fight for justice with Trayvon Martin’s family – but … consistency. Slow and steady.)

Like with FoxConn taking the heat – so many people are throwing around words like “I’m never buying Apple again! I’m going Dell (or insert other electronics) all the way!” It’s just so… *facepalm* to me. I’ll help you out. Hewlett-Packard, I.B.M., Lenovo, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, Toshiba and others. (Also according to reports FoxConn has changed the factory conditions, and is also limiting everything to a (less than 60 – I can’t recall the exact hours now) work week, with no decrease in pay. Expect to see Apple products reflect that in their prices soon, because I just can’t see the company heads eating that cost. Unless they take it out on their other working grunts.)

So we’ve hit a few issues. I’m obviously not going to, and cannot detail everything.

But – let’s go one more with a death that should never have happened.

On March 21, a woman was beaten to death in her home. There, the police actually did their job [they a) didn’t kill her themselves, and b) launched an investigation] – so um, +1 I guess? (Sorry – you can tell I’m pretty salty about the other cases.) Shaima Alawadi was an American citizen, and an Iraqi-American. If you read about the circumstances, I can’t see how it’s not a hate crime. I’m glad the FBI is stepping in, and I hope they catch the killer(s). I know we’re all still tense about 9/11, especially with the recent incidents with flight attendant(s) and pilot(s) losing their minds… but still.

There might have been media stories about this, but I haven’t seen or heard them. Of course, I’m someone who oftentimes distrusts media spin too…

This isn’t a very happy post, I know. But I think it’s important to think about, and know about. We’re obviously not the happy melting pot we’re supposed to be in America. And for all that people say they’re colorblind, many obviously aren’t. And beyond that, to say one is colorblind proudly… I don’t think that’s actually right or helpful. Obviously race/ethnicity/color is a factor, and pretending that it isn’t is basically sticking your head in the sand.

Nota Bene – I am not not not saying that one incident is more important than the other, or trying to point fingers with the “why care about this and not that?” Or even about everything – because honestly – it’s inhuman to expect being able to keep up. No single person is able to know about every incident, everywhere, and to do something about it. But it’s important to care in general, and do what we can. It’s about raising the level of awareness, and concern.

And uh – if you managed to make it this far… believe it or not, I was mentioned elsewhere! Yes! Lil ‘ol me! And she even made me sound good! What’m I talking about? Elise Rome included me in her Bloggers/Readers section for her insane March Madness giveaway/project/thing. I don’t even have words-  I couldn’t handle it. Anyway, if you want, go visit me there and I’ll… um respond? (Yeah sorry  – can’t offer prizes etc, but if I ever win the lottery I totally would!)

p.s. – I know I didn’t post winners Saturday. Sorry – they’ll be up this week though!

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Hullo! As you see we’ve got another AAD spotlight. (Highest of ironies? that I likely won’t even be there… but you know – hope springs eternal etc even when reality screamshints otherwise…) Eliza Gayle is the special author today – so here’s what she’s got to say! And bonus – not only is Ms. Gayle hosting a giveaway, she’s sharing an exclusive excerpt with us!

Thank you so much for having me today. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to Authors After Dark in New Orleans. I’m one of the field trip authors and am hosting two tours with readers that will visit several voodoo shops. The goodie bags will be plentiful and with any luck, and maybe a few drinks, fun will be had by all. While that tour will focus on my magick series Pentacles of Magick, I thought today I’d talk a little about vampires.

I don’t usually write vampires. I’ve been far more involved with shifters, witches and contemporary BDSM romance. But it doesn’t take much to get the bug.

I do like to travel a lot and one of the places I often visit is Savannah, Georgia. Like New Orleans, it is a hot bed for paranormal activity and unbelievable history for a writer to draw on. And after several visits to one of my very favorite southern towns, I’d pretty much built up several ideas for vampire books that would take place in or around Savannah.

Honestly, all it takes is a walk across the cobblestones along River Street at night to get the ideas flowing. The night air rifling through your hair, the glow of the lights from the huge Talmage cable bridge casting their eerie glow. It’s the ideal haven for
supernaturals who enjoy the night.

Of course, being the southern girl that I am I want my vampires to not only be big and strong and oh so Alpha, but a little soft when it comes to their women. While I can’t imagine a vampire who isn’t alpha by nature, I love the idea of the right woman making him a little crazy. When I wrote Vampire Awakening I wanted my heroine to be stopped dead in her tracks when she met the hero. The kind of encounter where she can barely think of something to say let alone function.

And then she has to get up on stage and sing in front of him…

If you can’t already tell, I really loved this book and I’m hoping readers will too. It’s available in eBook now and since it’s a little short for print, I’ve already decided I need another vampire story with an equally compelling hero so I can put them together in a print anthology.

So back to Savannah I go where I can immerse myself in the many ghost stories, legends and creepy tales that feed into the imagination of a writer. Oh and by the way, the 2013 Authors After Dark will be in Savannah and I am already on the schedule of authors!

Will you be in New Orleans this year?

Abby stood still, denying her instant reaction to the sight and scent of a man she didn’t know from Adam. Her mouth watered with an urge to take a bite.

His long, strong fingers swept the hat from his head, revealing black, wavy hair. The kind of thick hair a woman liked to run her fingers through before a man captured her lips in a soul-searing kiss. The dark stubble of a five o’clock shadow covered his jaw– a look she had a definite weakness for. Piercing blue eyes caught and held hers as an untold spark ignited between them, stunning her. Caleb looked down at her with such an intense stare she practically felt him peeling away the layers of herself she didn’t even understand yet. There was so much knowledge there. As if everything about her had been laid bare. Her mind went blank.

His gaze raked over her body from the top of her head down to the boots on her feet and back up, lingering on the bare expanse of her neckline. The inexplicable urge to cover her skin washed over her. She suddenly wished she’d worn her hair down instead of in her standard work ponytail. When he once again focused on her face, the sensual lines of his face struck her again. Handsome yes, but not in a traditional pretty boy way. He was dark and…she searched for the right word to describe him.

Dangerous.

“It’s my pleasure to meet you, Abby.” His deep, dark voice and the underlying sensuality of his words captivated her, the husky tone causing her nipples to peak and her belly to clench with need. Just the sound of her name coming from him shot a heavy dose of lust scorching through her. She tried to take a deep breath to clear her head and only ended up with more of his delicious scent that began to spin her in the opposite direction.

She needed to get away from him fast. Her reaction confused her and the longer she stood here the worse it got. Abby took another breath, trying to calm her nerves.

“What can I get you from the bar, Caleb?” she muttered hastily, afraid to say more.

“Scotch, neat.”

She nodded and forced herself to look away. The unexpected arousal simmering through her veins threw her for a loop. Her skin tingled and itched for something she couldn’t explain. A slow ache began to pulse between her legs and Abby was forced to bite her tongue to hold back a whimper.

Jesus, what the hell?

Abby straightened her spine and gathered herself together as best she could. Caleb smiled at her as if understood exactly what she was going through. That smug grin finally enabled her to pull free from the fog of desire clouding her ability to think and do her job. She pulled free from his gaze and glanced at the other men seated at the table. They all wore various versions of shocked expressions as they watched her reactions to Caleb. Abby inwardly rolled her eyes. They were all incorrigible as far as she was concerned. Obviously they’d thrown Caleb in her path in another attempt to get a rise out of her. They spoke to her with teasing words and their infamous southern charm but deep down they were still guys with an obvious agenda.

A whole host of erotic images pushed their way through her brain, sucking the air from her lungs. This time she didn’t manage to hold back the gasp. Caleb’s brow quirked up in response, the question on his mind obvious. Good God she had no control around this man.

“I’ll be back with your drinks in a few, guys.” She rushed off, gulping in air as she moved in an attempt to clear her mind. Abby scooted around the bar, pushed her way through the kitchen doors and collapsed into a nearby chair. She immediately dropped her head between her knees and prayed the room would stop spinning. Not once in the past six months had she come close to such a visceral reaction to any person she’d come in contact with. Now a perfect stranger had suddenly dropped into her life and she felt the control she’d been clinging to slipping from her grasp.

First an anonymous picture and now this. Was she going crazy?

Every day she’d hoped beyond hope her memory would return, but now… Now she wasn’t so certain she wanted to remember.

So will you be in N’awlins? And what’d you think of the excerpt? One lucky commenter will win one of Eliza Gayle’s books. A signed print book, or an ebook – winner’s choice! (As for when winners will be drawn – the FAQs list that out. Thanks!)

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So… not sure if Shannon Stacey will actually eat either of these things. Even though she should. She said she likes cream of chicken soup – and it’s similar, in a way. This recipe is much healthier though. What am I talking about? Cauliflower soup. I know, some of you are recoiling right now. Me? I like cauliflower. I like it roasted, or with curry, or steamed and with fresh crab meat. Yum.

I’m actually not huge on thick soups, but this was so good and luxurious. I wanted to bathe in it. No joke. I had a large bowl. Then some more. Then I >.> might have “tested” some more. Straight from the pot.

So anyway this is my like 30 second bowl. You can of course make it more beautiful. I also went sparse on the olive oil so the drops aren’t as aesthetically pleasing as a heavier dose might be. If you click over for the recipe you’ll see how amazing it is at food 52, where their professional photographer and food stylist experience obviously makes it look better. I’m just sharing my bowl to show you – hey – you can make yours look similar, and in less than a minute!

All you need is cauliflower, an onion, water, olive oil, and salt. Pepper is optional. “Tools” required are a “heavy bottomed pot” – or just any pot, a knife, cutting board, and… any of these things – a blender, immersion blender, food processor, food mill, ricer, or … even a potato masher really.

The recipe says salt to taste – I actually doubled the recipe and used only a teaspoon for the whole thing, and it was enough. (We don’t go sodium heavy though so ymmv.)

I used an immersion blender for the first time – and I just stuck it in the pot. For a single go, I think it’d be fine. Next time if I double up again, I might as it says blend in batches. The cooking temps I was more lax about, but for the ingredients, I was spot on.

And as the comments say – you might be tempted to add “more” but really, don’t. At least not the first time. This soup needs to be appreciated for how it is. Which is lovely, wonderful, and pretty much genius in its taste and simplicity.

I’m definitely going to be making it again. I can see wanting some texture though – so maybe some toppings. Ones that will only add to the soup, but won’t “take away” from it.

This might even work as a bed for other items – it’s almost thick enough to be a puree if you don’t thin it out as much.

The recipe itself is here. And they mention it on the food 52 blog here – with more pictures etc.

Enjoy! As they said – this really is great for anyone  – even people who don’t like cauliflower. Especially them! In fact the chef who came up with the recipe doesn’t particularly like cauliflower! What a way to get a delicious, rich soup in an extremely healthy way.

Super win. And you know what? It’s onl 72 calories per serving. That’s right. Seventy. Two. For something that you think has a whole bucketful of cream and milk. (Which it doesn’t. It only tastes like it does, in the best way – not the too heavy way.) ❤

[I’m not posting the actual recipe here because it seems … I dunno – silly when food 52 has it already, and better? But what would you guys prefer? Would you like me to include it in the actual post? Whatever your preference is! … Or does nobody care about the recipes?]

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