Wednesday, December 31, 2014

ZA Maxfields New Years M/M Writer's Buffet!!

Thanks for joining me for Appetizers!
Here's how this works....
You can "choose your own dinner adventure" from appetizers, soup, salad, main dish and dessert, but those of you who visit and comment at each and every blog will be entered into a drawing for one of three (3) $35.00 gift cards to the venue of your choice: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or All Romance Ebooks.Plus, some individual authors (like me, ZAM) might include a private drawing for those people who stop by. So read, drink and be merry! Happy New Year from all of us, at the M/M Writers' Buffet!
For Lynn's portion, if you click this link and sign up for my newsletter, you'll be in the running for a pick from my backlist! I'll be picking a random winner or two once the contest closes.
For full blog links visit

 Now for the recipes!  Keep reading for the excerpt from Best Vacation That Never Was!

Just like a good book needs a great opening, every dinner needs a little something to whet your appetite - thus the appetizer was born!

I used to give a lot of parties - I come from a party family and having been raised in New Orleans, my family and friends are no stranger to the "hey y'all, we just came by to visit" - only we call it "passing by your house."  It's when a bunch of people show up, unannounced, on a Friday or Saturday night. Next thing you know, the guitars are out, someone's got a small drum, and another person has taken over the upright piano.

Tunes start happening, people sing along, and someone or two have disappeared into the kitchen to whip up some appetizers from whatever is in the ice box. We learned quick to make easy, fast snacks from what we had, and I'm going to pass a few on to you. You might have heard of them before, but if you haven't I hope you'll give them a try.

Cream cheese block (two ways)
1. open a block of cream cheese and place it on a plate to serve from. It needs to have room so you can put crackers (saltines will do in a pinch) around it.
2. Pull out the bottle of Pickapepper sauce (every home in New Orleans has this in a cabinet somewhere in the back).
3. Pour it over the cream cheese.
4. Add crackers and use a small knife to serve.

Second Block -
1. open a block of cream cheese and place it on a plate to serve from. It needs to have room so you can put crackers (saltines will do in a pinch) around it.
2. Get the horseradish and the orange marmalade. Mix them together to taste, usually a small jar of marmalade is enough and a couple of tablespoons of horseradish works good. This odd mixture tastes just like boiled shrimp, but without the shrimp.
3. Pour it over the cream cheese.
4. Add crackers and use a small knife to serve.

Next appetizer - spicy meatballs or sausage.
Usually we have a few links of sausage in the fridge, well, cuz it's Nola, the type of sausage won't matter. Ideally, you use a crock pot to keep the mixture warm and ready to eat, but you can do this in a pan on the stove top.
1. Slice the sausage into bite size pieces, or open a package of frozen meatballs (defrost them first).
2. Use one jar of grape jelly and one jar of Chili Sauce. (both 12oz jars) Mix them together in the pot and add the sausage/meatballs and let it all melt. Stir occasionally.
3. Once the liquid has melted, set it on low, let simmer for 15-30 min and serve with toothpicks.
This never fails to disappear.

Crab Ball
If you're really lucky and you have a small container of crab meat, lobster, or small shrimp and you have some cream cheese left over, you can create your own cheeseball.
1. drain seafood, pat dry. If it's big, cut it up to go farther. (1/4 inch diced pieces)
2. chop up some green onions/scallions/leeks or even some good sweet Vidalia onions, diced small, please. You can add whatever you like to the mix, like celery or red/green pepper. Taste as you go.
3. mix crab, onions, and cream cheese in a bowl.
4. after thoroughly mixing, shape into a dome on a plate or cutting board, smoothing with a knife or spatula. My mom used to shake paprika over it to give it a festive look and add some pop to the taste.
5. surround with crackers and add small cheese knife to serve.

Fast and Easy Cake - This isn't really an appetizer, but it's always good to put out something sweet.
If you're lucky enough to have a plain cake sitting around but don't have the frosting, use these tips to dress it up. My mom used this for angel cakes, bundt cakes, or plain round cakes.
1. My mom used to have those paper lace doily things lying around - she'd place one on the top of the unfrosted cake and sprinkle either powdered sugar or powdered cocoa. Pull off doily and you have a pretty design!
2. Have you got Hershey's syrup in the fridge? Drizzle it over the top of the plain cake and let it drip artfully down the sides. This works for any flavor, such as strawberry or caramel.
3. slice and serve.

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels --
Another quick sweet and salty winner.
1. use the chocolate that hardens when it cools and melt it in pot or microwave.
2. dip any type of pretzels into the chocolate. Let them drip over the pot.
3. remove and if they're regular pretzels, place on waxed paper to cool. If they're stick pretzels, stand them up, undipped ends, in a small glass until cooled.
Serve or you can embellish with mini candies, like M&Ms or Red Hots, shredded coconut or crushed peanuts. (Be careful about the peanut allergy) or other nuts like almonds.

Now, here's the opening of the re-release of Best Vacation That Never Was. It's about a man who has lost everything in a fire, and the hunky, hot firefighter who rescues him, in more ways than one. (If you've already bought this book before Nov 2014, other than the cover, nothing has changed.)
Chapter One

“I don't care what you say; this trip is going to be just what my relationship with Douglas needs to push it to the next level.” Troy held the cell phone to his ear with his shoulder as he crammed the last of his toiletries into his shaving kit.

“That's just it, Troy. You don't have a relationship with Douglas. All you have are a couple of fucks.” Troy could always depend on his best friend Carlton to speak frankly, but frankly, this was not what he wanted to hear.

Great fucks.” Troy's body tingled just thinking about the three times he and Douglas had done the dirty deed.

“But only fucks. The best you can say is that you're friends with benefits.”

“But that's going to change. This cruise is perfect. The romantic nights, the ocean, the exotic ports of call.”

If you can keep that alley cat Douglas in your room. Good luck with that.” Carlton snorted. “You'll have to tie him to the bed.”

“That sounds like fun. Maybe he could tie me up. I should pack a few ties.” Troy dashed to the closet, pulled two silk neckties out, folded them, and put them into one of his bags and zipped it up.

Carlton sighed. “Look. I just don't want you hurt, you know. You've been in lust with Douglas since you met him a year ago, and nothing's come of it.”

“Of course something's come of it. There's something special between us, Carl. I can feel it.” Troy lugged the suitcase to the living room and placed it next to the other one and headed back to the bedroom.

“If there was, don't you think Douglas would do something about it? I'm going to tell you this because you're my best friend and I love you.” Carlton paused, and Troy braced for the blow he knew was coming. “He's just not that into you.”

Troy sank onto the bed and took a deep breath. “That's why this trip is so important. It's my chance to have him all to myself. To make him fall in love with me.”

There was silence, then a chuckle. “Well, if anyone could make a man fall for him, it's you, Troy. You're incredible. Smart. Witty. A gorgeous guy with a heart of gold. Shit, Douglas isn't good enough for you, in my opinion.”

Rolling his eyes, Troy said, “Yes, Dad. No one's good enough for your little boy.”

Carlton laughed. “Damn straight.”

“Well, here's a news flash. Your little boy wants Douglas, and he's going to get him. This week. Trust me; Douglas isn't going to know what hit him. When I get off that boat in seven days, it's going to be on Douglas's arm, and he's going to be so in love with me he'll be making reservations for a honeymoon suite in New Hampshire.”

“For your sake, I hope so.” Carlton sighed.

“Wish you were coming with us. It won't be the same without you.” That was the one thing that sucked about the cruise; all his friends, except Carlton, were going.

“No can do. My flight leaves in”—a pause, then the swearing started—“forty-five minutes! Shit, the fucking cab is stuck in fucking traffic, and I can see the sign for the fucking airport just ahead.”

“Hey, do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” Troy laughed. “Say hello to your mom for me.” If Troy hadn't booked the cruise, he'd also be on the plane to Seattle to hang out with Carlton's family for the holidays, but the chance for a once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation with Douglas was too much to resist.

“She's going to miss you, but she'll understand. Driver! Can't we get out of this mess?” Carlton shouted into the phone.

Troy winced, then laughed. “Don't worry, you'll make it.”

“Mom'll kill me if I miss the flight. She's sending a car to pick me up. Look, I'm going to get off the phone so I can yell at the traffic, the driver, and anyone else foolish enough to get in my way. It won't be pretty.”

“Okay. See you in seven days.”

“Have fun, Troy. And for what it's worth, I hope you get the man you deserve.” Carlton hung up.
Troy stared at the phone. What had Carlton meant by that? He shrugged, flipped his cell shut, and tossed it on the bed.

He glanced at the clock. Nearly nine p.m. and there was still so much to do before he left. He stood and looked over his checklist. He'd called for the cab to pick him up at five in the morning, an ungodly hour, but he needed to be at the dock in Galveston by eight to load his luggage and go through security.

He'd given his neighbor Mrs. Samms the spare key to his apartment so she could water his plants and collect his mail. His cruise tickets, passport, and itinerary were in his carry-on bag sitting on top of his two matching pieces of luggage.

He opened the door to his closet and pulled out the clothes he'd wear tomorrow. Light oatmeal-colored linen trousers, a loose cotton shirt, and a hemp belt, with a matching linen jacket. He'd gone with the lighter colors to set off his new tan.

He stared at himself in the full-length mirror on the back of the closet door, then shrugged off his white terry cloth robe. It pooled like a cloud around his feet on the floor. He'd paid good money over the last four months to build up that sun-kissed glow in a tanning salon, and now it was going to pay off.

He'd gone for an all-over tan. Not a single line marred his body. He turned and checked out his ass in the mirror. Perfect. Plump. Tanned.

If that didn't drive Douglas wild, he didn't know what would. He'd seen the way Douglas had looked at other men, especially men with darker skin. So in Troy's plan to get his man, getting a tan had been one of the first things he'd done.

He ran his hand over his abs and flat belly and turned to the side, stretching his back leg out like he'd seen so many cover models do.

“Fine as frog's hair,” he whispered. His eyes dropped to his cock. “And hung like a horse.” He flicked his dick with his finger, and the brief sting shot up its length and into his balls.

He chuckled and, naked, entered the bathroom to start his bath. Just an hour or so soaking in a hot tub of scented water would do him a world of good and take some of the tension out of his shoulders.

Really, there was no reason to be so tense. He had it all under control.

His dream vacation was just ten hours away.
* * * * *

The cigarette dangled from the old man's lips. The television blared. The bottle of whiskey he'd emptied lay on the floor next to his recliner.

He snorted in his sleep.

The cigarette fell, rolled down his belly, and came to rest on his thigh. The embers flared, burned a hole in his flannel pajama bottoms, and seared his skin.


Half-awake, still drunk, he swatted at the pain, knocking the still-burning cigarette to the floor. It rolled across the bare linoleum and landed next to the rug under the couch.

The cheap cotton rug smoked, smoldered, then ignited.
* * * * *

“I'm not getting out of this tub until the hot water is gone and I look like a prune.”
Troy closed his eyes, inhaled, and then exhaled, taking in the calming scents of the too-generous dose of aromatherapy salts he'd dumped into the bath. The water in the tub was the perfect temperature, the candles he'd lit gave off a soft glow, and he sank deeper in the water, letting go of the tightness in his body.

He could just imagine the look of lust on his face when Douglas first saw him, how he'd wonder if Troy's tan was all over. He couldn't wait until Douglas explored every inch of his body to discover if it was.

Carlton was all wrong. Troy wasn't fooling himself; he knew exactly the kind of man Douglas was. 

The kind who fucked around, but during this vacation, that was going to change.

No more alley cat.

Douglas would be eating out of Troy's hand and purring like a kitten.
* * * * *

The edge of the worn, floral-patterned couch caught fire; hungry red tongues of flame ate their way up the front, devouring the cushions, and then unsatisfied, leaped to the drapes behind them. As they ignited, black smoke in unrelenting hot billows rolled upward to meet the ceiling and then spread across it.

The temperature in the room skyrocketed as the fire attacked the far wall.

The old man's lungs filled with black smoke. He coughed and fell forward out of the chair, landing on the warmer-than-usual floor.

“Shit!” Coughing, gasping, near-blind, and desperate for air, he crawled on trembling hands and knees toward the door. Greedy, unmerciful, the fire took possession of the room, filling it with thick black smoke and lung-scorching heat.

The old man collapsed two feet from the door.

The entire room seemed to groan, held its breath, and then surrendered to the red and black hell of a flashover.

Slender orange fingers, searching for more oxygen to feed on, wound their way through the thin walls between apartments and found fresh fuel next door.

Available now for $2.99!

now at Amazon 

And at ARe 

Also at B&N

and Kobo

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Hot For The Holidays!!

It's the holidays, or at least on the way to that state of either aggravation or exhilaration, depending on your age or your state of mind.
If you're a kid, it's magical! If you're an adult, laden with all the holiday expectations, it can be a season filled with stress.

Around our house, we celebrate Christmas, but without all the religious/traditional stuff. I know some might say, hey, did you forget the reason for the season?

Let me explain. I come from a mixed family, religion-wise, and so does my husband. We have two kids, a boy and girl. On my side of the family tree, we are Southern Baptist, Methodist, and Catholic. On my husband's side of the family, there is Jewish, Lutheran, and Buddhist. Do you see our problem? Which of these are we supposed to teach/indoctrinate our kids into, when neither of us believes in any of them? My kids have been to Catholic and Methodist churches, and have been to Synagogue; we have exposed them to religion. What we do believe in is teaching our kids to think for themselves, to have a personal relationship with a higher power(God, if you will) and to learn all they can about a religion before jumping with their whole hearts and souls into it's tenants and dogma. And you really can't do that as a child. My kids are adults now, and are free to make a decision based on what they believe, and if a religion meets those beliefs, then we're happy for them.

But we also believe that what the Christmas holiday has morphed into is one where kids get gifts, the spirit of the season is love and charity, and that a family who loves, supports and truly cares about each other, is the most important thing. So we had a tree, bought presents and put them under it for that magical Christmas morning. Until the kids didn't want to put it up. Fine. One less stress removed. We don't have the big Christmas dinner anymore. We eat Chinese and see a movie. It's our family's tradition, with a nod to my husband's Jewish side. And to my sanity, because what is crazier than cooking a huge traditional meal year after year and having no one eat it? No one, other than me, likes turkey, or dressing, or sweet potatoes. They don't eat ham, much less goose. They eat mashed potatoes and gravy. So after doing this for several years, I ended it. No cleaning the house. No cooking for days. No sitting down to a meal where they put mashed potatoes and corn on their plates, eat a roll and then ask to be excused. They don't even like pumpkin pie, for goodness sake!

And you know what? It's a good thing. It's one less stress for me. I worked a big corporate job with plenty of stress for a hell of a lot of years, so less stress is good. And guess what? We're happy! Everyone looks forward to eating out, seeing the latest blockbuster movie and having a relaxing time spent together.

Another thing we de-stressed over was their gifts. Since they were young teens, we've given them a dollar amount we would spend on them, and told them to make a list of what they wanted and prioritize it. When the money ran out, that was it. So...less stress. They knew what they wanted, we weren't guessing and getting it wrong, we kept to our budget, and all was right with the world. We did the same thing, my husband and I. No surprises. Everyone's happy. Less stress!

I love my holidays now. The kids are just as excited to open their gifts, to see which ones made the list. My husband and I are happy, because we got what we wanted too. Without any of the games or disappointment.

And now I want to make your holiday happy too!! If you leave a comment here, tell me how you de-stress the season, I'll pick a comment at random and gift that person with a copy of my latest book, Bayou Des Enfants! Just be sure to leave your email, so I can reach you.
And don't forget - if you comment on all the blogs, you're in the running for the BIG Holiday prize! Good luck!

Don't forget - to hit all of these blogs and leave your email!

Vanessa North:

Becca Jameson

Jianne Carlo

Robin Danner

Parker Kincade

Monette Michaels

KaLyn Cooper

Emilia Mancini

Rosanna Leo

Good luck and have a safe, stress-free, loving holiday, no matter which one you celebrate or not.