An Update and a New Beginning

This post comes a little late, but there are reasons. I promise! I wanted to give an update on what’s been up with me and make a new commitment to my blog. I’m thinking a post like this is a great place to start.

First, let’s go back a bit to 2011, when I wrote Mind Magic and suddenly things began to change. I never thought for a million years that it would be published. No really. I never dreamed it. But I was encouraged by a fantastic group of friends to give it a go, and submitted the book to Dreamspinner Press in August of 2011. I got my first contract at the very first GRL retreat in New Orleans that October. I cried like a big old baby. Sobbed. No kidding. It was a life changing moment, and I knew it.

From then on, writing became even more of a passion. I’ve always loved to write, but now I found a focus for that passion. An energy that I didn’t know I possessed. I whipped out a few books using the fuel of the excitement over Mind Magic and the Triad series came to life.

And I kept writing. And learning. And loving every minute of it. Until early 2014, that is. Then I hit a road block. I found that I’d run out of steam, that the passion and excitement had started to disappear and it broke my heart. I tried to force myself to write, but just couldn’t.

The passion was still there, however, it just transformed into a different one. I became passionate about helping authors understand the ideas behind branding and marketing. I had a degree in it, after all, so it seemed natural to me to help fellow authors out behind the scenes. I’d been helping all along, actually, but the passion really began to shift for me.

I decided to take some time off from writing. I didn’t make a public announcement or anything, I just…stopped. I needed a breather, and in a series of very fortunate events, my breather happened to coincide with Dreamspinner deciding to add a new member to their marketing and social media teams. It was the opportunity I’d been waiting for, and I didn’t even realize it. Suddenly, everything started coming into focus again.

I’ve been working for Dreamspinner for a while now, and I can’t tell you how happy I am. Funnily enough, my self-imposed writing breather came to an end as well. I told myself I was going to take off until the beginning of 2015 to regroup. In January of 2015, I sat down and wrote the first book in a new series that began burning a hole in my brain during my sabbatical. Books two and three are also partially written.

The first book of the Holly Creek series, Dogwood Days, was just contracted for a September, 2015 release date.  In early March, I attended the Dreamspinner Author Workshop and made my first “public appearance” as Dreamspinner’s new Marketing Director. Both the new series and the new job have brought me back to where I wanted to be.

I realized something, however. I wasn’t practicing what I preached as far as author marketing was concerned. I listened and I advised, but I wasn’t doing what I needed to do either. How could I ask our authors to do things when I wasn’t doing them myself? I couldn’t, and I can’t.

So here I am, laying it all out in front of you and telling you that I am new and improved. It’s been a rough road in some ways, but mostly, it’s been a dream come true. If you’d told me in 2011 when I hit submit on that first book that I’d be here today making this post, having this job, and this many books under my belt, I’d have laughed at you. But I did it. And I’m so dang happy.

For readers, I’m promising to be around more. You’re going to get to see the silly side of me that you’ve seen in my books. You’ll see even more of me in Dogwood Days, as it’s based on a small Southern town very much like the one I grew up in.

For my author friends, you’ll be seeing me practice what I preach on marketing. I’m hoping to give you all some tips and tricks on this blog as well. Why not, right?

So thank you for reading this post! I know it was a long one, but it had been a while and I had a lot to report. I can’t wait for you guys to see what I’m cooking up for you!

~Poppy

A personal note

Dear Bully-
Actually, you know what, I’m not going to call you a bully because by definition a bully picks on someone weaker than them. I’m not now, nor will I ever be, weaker than you.
It’s funny. I hadn’t heard from you in a while. I mean, I knew you were still out there occasionally spewing your nonsense, but you really hadn’t been actively being an ass to me or my friends. I thought there for a minute that you’d actually moved on. Gotten a life, perhaps.
But no, here you go again. I’ve got to tell you though, this time? Yeah, you made me laugh. I really appreciate that you made a total idiot of yourself in your quest to “get me”. No really. It was funny as hell and I really needed a good laugh.
Here’s the thing though: I’m sick and tired of you. Your gossip doesn’t really hurt me, but it does hurt my friends. That’s not okay. Come after me if you must. Leave the people I care about out of it. Although, I’m sure you get a thrill out of all the drama you think you create. Honestly, it’s the only reason I can come up with for why you continue to do what you do.
I’ve got to tell you though, just as your lies haven’t hurt me in the past, they aren’t going to hurt me now. The only thing you really do is waste my time. See, I’ve got great friends and those friends know who I am, lumps and all. They know I’m cranky some days and they know I have a bad temper on occasion. They also aren’t afraid to point out when you do something ridiculous, just so I’m aware. (And yes, I know about your other identity, the one you don’t think I know about.)
So yes, I know you’re still doing that thing you do where you try to make everyone else look bad so you can prove that you’re right and make yourself look like some sort of hero. The thing is, you aren’t right. And all of your so-called “proof” is a made up bunch of horse crap that no one believes.
If you’d once bothered to ask the question you so desperately want the answer to, I’d have given it to you. But I refuse to “go public” with your accusations as you so obviously want me to do. In fact, this post is as close as I’m going to get to ever lowering myself to your level.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, thank you. Thank you for not following gossip mongers who have a vindictive streak a mile wide. Thank you for not paying attention to small-minded people who get off on hurting other people to make themselves feel better. I wish I could tell you that I would explain this whole mess to you, but I can’t. See, that would just give the mean and spiteful person who keeps trying to hurt me more power and it would hurt the other people this person has set their sights on too. I refuse to do that. So please don’t ask, because I won’t explain. I would like to tell you not to let some random stranger on the internet have power over you. And I’m here, if you need someone to talk to.
And for you, the one who keeps on pushing, who seems determined to “find the truth” at the expense of so many others, to you I say get a life. Seriously. You need one that isn’t so full of hate and drama. You need real people in your life who aren’t afraid to tell you when you’re being a total asshole. You really need people who aren’t entertained by your antics—because in reality, they all make fun of you behind your back.
I really do wish you well. I hope someday you realize what you’re doing and change your ways. That would be really amazing.

Poppy

A Poppy in Texas

Texas Burgers
In-n-Out Burgers for Three. Yum.

I had an amazing trip to Texas over Memorial Day weekend. Visited with +Xara X. Xanakas and had a blast in the Lone Star State. Warning: Do not read this if you are hungry. *g*

To recap, I shall first say that *getting* to Texas was the worst part of the trip. After flight delays out the wazoo, I was only able to make it as far as Dallas, so Xara and her Spouse had to make the 3 hour trek to pick me up. It’s okay though, they fed me dinner at midnight…my very first In-N-Out Burger. (California’s finest on my first night in Texas–the irony was not lost on us.)

Dinner at Jack Allen’s

We fixed that on Thursday though with Breakfast Tacos for brunch. I had never had chorizo so it was another culinary adventure for me!

Mani/Pedi and shopping time followed. I would show you a picture of my cute toes, but well…you’d probably rather see the food. Then we met up with Spouse for dinner at Jack Allen’s. If you’re in the area, GO THERE. Seriously. Amazing food. And drinks. And more food. Also, our server was absolutely adorable and I wanted to keep him.

John Mueller’s–Home of Awesome BBQ

The next day, Xara’s Spouse and I were out the door bright and early to…wait for it….get in line for BBQ. Yeah. We had to wait in line because if you don’t, it’s all sold out. Crazy, huh? Apparently it’s part of the experience or something. I’m still undecided on that part.

There were a few jokes at my expense, mainly that I’d never had BBQ before because I hadn’t had Texas BBQ. I scoffed. No really, I did. Then I had a wee little taste of brisket. Um. They were right. I’d never had BBQ before. Cause wow. Seriously. I just….yeah. It was awesome.

John Mueller’s BBQ

Besides the brisket, we had beef sausage, beef ribs, and prime rib. Oh, and this squash casserole that was…well, let’s put it to you this way. I ate it. All. By myself. I didn’t share. I didn’t think I was ever going to eat again. Like…ever.

Of course, I hadn’t considered that I’d asked Xara’s Spouse to make me a real Texas steak. Yeah. More food.

Xara’s Spouse’s Steak…and sides. YUM

Not only the steak, but brussels sprouts and potatoes and mushrooms and…seriously. I didn’t think I was ever ever going to eat again.

(But OMG just remembering those brussels sprouts is making me want to make them for myself right now.)

Okay, so it wasn’t all food. There were drinks too. You’ll have to check out Xara’s Thirsty Thursday posts to find out what tasty beverages we were sampling.

Okay, fast forward to Saturday and we had made our way down to San Antonio. Dinner was at the super cool Tower of Americas.

View from our table at Tower of America

It’s one of those restaurants that rotates. Yeah. I was a little concerned about that bit, but it was really awesome. Food was good, but the view was spectacular. Plus, got to see my aunt, uncle, and cousin which made it even more awesome-sauce!

Out-building at the Alamo.

And then the big reason for the trip to San Antonio! I wanted to see the Alamo. You can’t take pics on the inside, but we did get a couple outside and of te grounds. Such beautiful buildings and so much history.

Gorgeous tree at the Alamo

The grounds were really beautiful too. I wasn’t expecting that so it was a nice surprise. We wandered around for a while and did a bit of souvenir shopping (I got a cool coffee mug!) before…wait for it…we had more food.

I know, I know. All we did was eat. LOL But apparently Mi Tierra’s is a “gotta do it at least once” kind of place in San Antonio. It’s a huge restaurant. Lines around the block to get in.


And then I had to see it for myself–anyone who’s read Snakeskin Boots by Xara might remember a little scene in that book with bats coming from beneath an overpass. That’s a real thing! The pics were really hard to take, but that smoky looking stuff? Yeah. That’s bats!! Gazillions of them!

All in all, a fantastic weekend with great friends and new experiences! I can’t wait to go back!

Couch to 5k: Day Two Plus Soul Magic Promo!

Really excited to report that I completed the second workout this morning on the Couch to 5k program! Not going to lie, it was tough today! I made it through though!

I can’t believe the outpouring of support I’ve received! You guys are amazing! I’m so thankful you’re all following me on this journey and that several of you have hopped on the C25K bandwagon with me. 🙂

So I’ve gotten some pretty fantastic advice over the past couple of days and I thought I’d pass some of it along to help out anyone else considering this program.

  1. Make sure you give your legs a rest on the off days- I don’t know about you guys, but yesterday, I wanted nothing more than to go for another walk! I was so enthusiastic and excited about getting started that I just wanted to do more! But don’t give into that temptation! Your legs need the rest, especially if you’re in bad shape like I am. Instead, I did “arms and abs” yesterday with some exercises recommended by a friend. I still felt great having done something, but my legs had a day to recover.
  2. Be prepared to be hungry! — See, I wasn’t prepared for this at all. The afternoon of my first run I was so hungry! Which is really unusual for me. Have some healthy snacks around in case this happens to you too! I’ve been recommended fruit and nuts as healthy options to get me through the afternoon slump.
  3. Check out the podcasts — It really helped me on day one to have the music queues on the pre-recorded music lists I found. I used this one from Go Nicole Yourself. I downloaded 1.2 and have used it for both my workouts so far! 
So how are you guys doing? I’d love to hear some updates!
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In other news, I’m excited to report that I’m over at Babes in Boyland today for an interview about Soul Magic! Please go check it out…and help me blame Piper Vaughn for my pie obsession! 
Soul Magic is now available from Dreamspinner Press and on Amazon. 

Couch to 5k: Day 1

C25K

Today I’m starting a really exciting adventure toward good health: the Couch to 5k running program. Since I need a little accountability, I’m telling you all about it!

See, this writing gig I’ve got is pretty cool. It’s my dream job! There aren’t many downsides to it, to be honest. I mean, yeah, writer’s block sucks big giant hairy donkey nuts, but it’s really not the end of the world or anything!

There is one thing that is a really bad drawback though. I like to think of it as Chair Butt. You know what I mean, I’m sure. It’s what happens when you sit on your rear end all day working and not working out!

GRL Retreat, Poppy Dennison
Poppy and Amy DiMartino-GRL Retreat 2011

For the past year, I’ve been on a quest to take better care of myself. See, back in 2011 I went to the Gay Romance Lit Retreat in New Orleans. After the event, as I was sorting through the gazillion pictures I took, I found myself really frustrated with my size. I didn’t want to be that heavy and knew I needed to make some serious changes. It started with my diet and I’m happy to report that I’m down 50 pounds. It’s taken a lot of hard work, but it’s totally worth it!

Poppy Dennison, Amy DiMartino
Poppy and Amy-February 2013

My friend Amy had a similar epiphany. That gal has rocked it out and lost a ton of weight. Those of you who know her have watched her journey along with me. She’s amazing and an inspiration to me! Just over a year into our commitment to change our lifestyles and she is hardly recognizable!

Now it’s time for the next phase of my adventure: getting in better shape. And that’s where Couch to 5k (C25K) comes into play.

A year ago, I could barely walk down to get the mail without losing my breath. It’s easier now without carrying so much extra weight, but I still have a long way to go to get to the me I want to be.

Running has always been on my “can’t do it” list. I don’t know why, really. I just got it into my head that I couldn’t. For those of you who know me and the changes in attitude I’ve made over the past few years, you’ll know that the “can’t do” has become a “you can do it” challenge.

Another change in my life is that I’ve surrounded myself with people who encourage me and support me. I’m very blessed to have amazing friends. One of the things I noticed is that those friends were often saying things like “okay, I’m off to the gym”. Those simple statements became nods of encouragement to me, whether my friends realized it or not.

I finally got my head in the right space and moved working out from my “can’t do” to my “must do” list. Today, I did the Day One workout on the C25K program. And I did it. All the way through. I walked and jogged for 30 minutes and *gasp* nothing bad happened. I didn’t get struck by lightning, I didn’t fall over in a slump.

I’ve decided to share this journey of mine with you! If you’re interested in doing the Couch to 5k program, I’d love for you to do it with me! You can find more information about it here: http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml. I highly recommend downloading the playlists so you’ll have tunes to work out to! There are several available and man, did it make today’s workout easier.

Jogging 5k here comes Poppy!

Friends With Benefits: Straight Women and Gay Men

Last week, on my drive home from seeing my brand new baby niece in Indiana, I heard a discussion on a morning radio show that had me actually yelling out loud to the poor, deluded lady who called in. See, she’d fallen into one of the pitfalls of being friends with a gay  man—she’d developed a crush on him and wanted to ask him out on a date.
As I’m speeding along on Interstate 69 (and no, I’m not making that up!), I was telling her not to do it! Trust me “Kristy” it’s a train wreck waiting to happen. Alas, the call I was listening to that morning was the follow up call. I was right. Not only did she get turned down, but her friend and co-worker filed a sexual harassment complaint against her. You can listen to her story here: 
“Kristy’s” dilemma did get me thinking, though, and for that I thank her. See, about a decade ago, I was in Kristy’s shoes.  I had a relationship with a gay man (we’ll call him “Steve” since I haven’t actually asked his permission to share our story!).
Steve and I met through work and quickly became inseparable. Everyone at work thought we were a couple—at one point Steve even had a picture of the two of us on his desk. We went on dates and bought each other presents. We’d even gone away for the weekend together, although we never had sex. After about five months together, Steve told me he was moving away. Our relationship had confused him, and although he loved me, he didn’t want to have sex with me. Funnily enough, I felt the same about him. My heart was still broken because his leaving left a hole in my life.
As I had a seven hour drive ahead of me, it gave me too much time to reminisce on the pitfalls of friendships past and present. I’d learned a lot from my experience with Steve though, most of all the importance of putting my gay friends firmly and immediately into a “friends-only” box to keep myself from having confusing feelings again. My mind was whirling though, and no one who knows me will be surprised by the fact that I wanted to talk it out. The first person on the speed dial was my amazing friend Tim.
Tim and I met about five years ago. He’s a good friend of my brother’s and when we met, we became insta-friends in a way that doesn’t happen to me very often. Tim is openly gay, so it wasn’t too hard for me to put him in that friend box. Then things got a bit complicated.  I’d gone to an event and met Tim’s family. His grandma took an instant liking to me, and she has been trying to convince Tim and I for years that we are perfect for each other! Tim and I both know better, but the lines did get a bit blurry for a while. So when I talked to Tim about poor Kristy’s unfortunate choice, he understood completely.
My question for him was primarily whether or not the reverse happened…were gay men sometimes confused by their feelings toward straight women? Tim assured me that it does happen—not often, but it does. By this point my brain was spinning with so many thinky thoughts that I probably should have stopped driving. I didn’t, of course.
What I did begin to think about was an expression I’ve heard many times in regards to straight women finding a good partner. How many times have you heard someone say “they’re either married or gay”? I’ve heard it quite a bit. And I’ve found that it’s often true. Finding a good partner is hard for most of us. If only it were as easy as we make it out to be in our romance novels, huh?
The thing is, as a straight woman, I find it difficult to be “just friends” with a straight man. In my experience, it always turns into something else for at least one of the friends. And heaven forbid you try to be friends with a married man. The lines are way too easy to cross. I’m a flirt, who also happens to be a bit on the touchy-feely side. I have to always be aware when I’m around straight men—single or married—to not smile too much, to not touch too casually, or any of those little things that I generally do to my friends without thinking. I’ve had way too many female friends get upset with me over being overly friendly with their boyfriends or husbands, even if the thought of being with them in any way other than “oh that’s so and so’s husband” had never crossed my mind. Sad, huh?
My thinky thoughts then turned to why it’s okay for me to be touchy-feely with my gay friends when I don’t do that with my straight friends. Am I being disrespectful to their relationships? Have I crossed lines there? EEK! I was only half-way through my seven hour drive and I needed to make sure I wasn’t ticking off someone’s other half!
Thank goodness for speed-dial and hands-free cell phones because I was able to pick the brain of one of my married gay friends on this very subject. After a bit of an eye-roll at the question, he assured me that it didn’t bother him at all when I touch his husband—but he had been upset before by other women who get a bit too up close and personal with his man.
Whoa. Brain spinning in loopy loops. What’s the difference between what I do and what other women do? Well, it seems like it comes back to that box I mentioned earlier. The guys I consider close friends know that I’m not thinking about what’s in their boyfriend’s pants and I’m certainly not imagining what’s going on in their bedroom. They are in the “friend box”. It’s really all about intent. I don’t want to know what goes on in my girlfriend’s bedrooms with their significant others and I don’t want to know what goes on in my gay friends bedrooms with their partners either! I don’t use their lives as fodder for my own fantasies and certainly not for the sex I write in my novels.
However, my friend assured me that not all women keep to those guidelines. Especially not women who read or write in the gay romance genre. Oh my. While this news probably shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did, I found myself both shocked and a bit mortified that someone would be picturing my buddies in bed. (Yes, I’m blushing just thinking about it and I know the guys who I talked to about this subject know that and are already laughing at me!)
After much more thinking, I finally arrived home, and being me, immediately messaged another friend who I knew had had an uncomfortable experience with a female writer getting a bit too close for comfort. The thing is, as female writers in the gay romance field, we’re going to want to ask questions sometimes. Let’s face it, there are bits we don’t have so making sure we portray things accurately is pretty important in the scheme of things.  I know I always try to have at least one guy beta read for me, because they will find something the gals miss. 
So this friend and I spent time chatting about the difference. It became clear to me pretty quickly that while I was looking for more technical info, this other writer was actually looking to add specifics into her novels from my friend’s private life. I’m not sure if I would call what she did objectification or fetishizing, but either way, it left me feeling perturbed on my friend’s behalf.  The line had clearly been crossed and, as a result, that writer no longer has my friend to talk to. Her actions cost her a friend.
And the objectification doesn’t come only from the women. As my gal pals and I have experienced, there is a certain amount of objectification that happens with gay men and straight women, particularly where breasts are concerned. Oh yeah, I went there. But I know straight guys wouldn’t grab my chest the way gay guys seem to feel free to! And the comments. Seriously, guys. Take a minute to think before you ogle or grope, please.
As the title of this post suggests, I think there are many benefits to being friends with gay men. They just aren’t the typical “friends with benefits” that the term has come to mean in society. I love having a man’s ear to talk off when I’m having man troubles of my own. I love having men in my life who are “safe” to hug—I don’t have to worry about them thinking I want in their pants if I touch them! As a writer, it’s amazing to have someone who I can turn to for questions when I have technical questions. There are a lot of other benefits, but really, it’s just about having friends—male or female—where sex isn’t part of the equation.
What I’ve learned from talking to my friends about this is that we need to be *very* careful not to make our friends feel like research projects or science experiments. There are lines that shouldn’t be crossed.  Although our intentions may seem noble, they come across as intrusive and downright rude.
With all that thinking, I really haven’t come to any solid conclusions other than the one I’d already come up with: make sure I have my friends in the appropriate box. I have to wonder though, have any of you had similar experiences? After hearing Kristy’s dilemma, remembering my own, and talking this over with several friends, it seems like the experience is more common than I’d first imagined.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. The topic has certainly stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest among my friends. So what do you think? Where are the lines and when do they get crossed? Have any of you lost friendships because of this?

Passing On and Passing It On

Yesterday, I had a moment of clarity that made me smile and released a huge weight from my chest. I wanted to share that moment with you, as well as a bit of sad news.

My grandma taught me many valuable lessons. One of them was the importance of passing it on. We call it Paying it Forward these days, but it’s the same thing. When you have blessings in your life, you share those blessings with others. You don’t do it because you want something in return, but just because you appreciate all the gifts that have been given to you.

See, when my grandma was younger, they went through a pretty rough patch. Grandpa was sick and couldn’t work, and in those days if you didn’t work, you didn’t get paid. Grandma worked nights at the canning plant, but had 6 kids at home to take care of as well as a now-sick husband. Things were rough, but the VFW saw their need and helped them get groceries, put gas in the car, and even helped fix the car when it broke down.

When grandpa got back on his feet, they passed it on. They joined the VFW and made it their mission to help other families like they’d been helped. They ingrained that lesson in their kids, and it was a lesson taught to the grandkids and great-grands as well.

It’s funny. I sometimes take it for granted the way I was raised. Giving is just what we do. Yesterday, one of those moments happened for me. I had a chance to connect a couple folks who needed each other. It put a huge smile on my face, and I realized that those moments, when you give and expect nothing in return, even for the smallest little thing, those moments are the ones that fill your spirit up, that make your soul healthier, wealthier and wiser. Getting a book contract or a great review has nothing on those moments.

Grandma passed away a few weeks ago. I count it as one of the biggest blessings in my life that I was able to be with her for those last few weeks. To hold her hand and have her remind me of the lessons she’d been teaching me for years. It’s been hard for me. Grief is a difficult thing, but yesterday…in that moment when I realized that I’d done exactly what my grandma had taught me to do, when I felt my soul fill up with joy over a simple little thing, I realized I don’t have to be sad anymore.

I’ll miss her every single day. I wish I had her here to help me cheat on my crossword puzzles…how that woman knew the strangest and most random words is a secret she’d never tell me! But having her was a blessing and the lessons she’s taught me will be with me forever. A part of her lives on. She paid it forward and with 6 kids, 12 grandkids and over 20 greatgrands…she’ll be paying it forward for years to come.

Poppy’s Birthday Bash: Rick Reed Stuffs My Box!

Welcome to day one of the 12 Days of Poppy Birthday Bash! I’m really excited about my birthday this year because it falls on December 12th…which is 12/12/12 this year! Pretty cool, yeah? In honor the coolness of the date, I decided to gather a few of my friends for a blog party. 

Today’s post is a gift list from one of the loveliest men I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, Rick. R. Reed. Rick and I met last year in New Orleans and again this year during a trip I took to his hometown of Seattle. I also got to see him at the GRL Retreat in Albuquerque. He’s an amazing man, and such a talented writer that I find myself in awe of him. I’m very proud to call him friend, and can’t wait to see what gifts he has in store for me!


For Poppy’s big birthday, these are a few of my favorite things, so I thought I’d stuff them in your birthday box. Each item has special meaning for me, some serious, some not so much. Hope you enjoy these things as much as I do.
  


1. Best Book Ever–What writer’s box would be complete without this? For me, it’s John Kennedy Toole’s A CONFEDERACYOF DUNCES.

Poppy: I hate to admit that i haven’t read this, Rick! It’s going on my amazon list right now! Happy Birthday to Me. 

2. Best M/M Book Ever–James Purdy was writing strange, lyrical gay love stories long before anyone even thought of the term, “m/m” and his books still resonate as not only the very finest in gay literature, but the finest in literature period. For Poppy, I pick what I think may be his best, IN A SHALLOW GRAVE.

Poppy: Another one I haven’t read! Gosh, I know what I’m going to be doing over the next couple weeks. Reading some great books. 


3. Best Junk Food Treat–I’d like to shove a Ding-Dong in your box (RIP Hostess!)

Poppy: Now you’re speaking my language, sweetheart! I must admit though that when you say you want to shove a Ding-Dong in my box…well….


4. Best Epicurean Treat–I’d bring you back one of my most delicious finds on my trips to Italy: anchovy-stuffed olives from Peck’s Gourmet Food store in Milan.

Poppy: Anchovy stuffed olives? I’m going to have to trust you on this one, Rick! Now I know that you have great taste….how about on my next trip to Seattle you hook me up with one of these bad boys? *g*

5. A Pair of shoes–But not just any shoes…and what girl doesn’t want a pair of birthday pumps (we’re talking shoes here, dear) on her special day? For you, I offer Kate Middleton’s classic beige pumps.

Poppy: Shoes! Wee!! Gotta love shoes, and these are fantastic. Believe it or not, I don’t own a pair of beige pumps! You’re a great gift giver, Mr. Reed! 


6. A Fling–With Bradley Cooper, one night only and I get to get in the middle.

Poppy: Okay, hold on here a second…one night with you AND Bradley Cooper? Cause…yeah…wow….I’ve got some mental images going on here buddy! I think I’m going to have to write down this plot bunny right this very second. Oh my. Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me? 


7. A Long Weekend–In the San Juan Islands. We’ll take the ferry over from Anacortes, WA to Orcas Island and spend the weekend relaxing in a cabin and soaking in the clothing-optional outdoor hot tubs with gorgeous views of the bay.
Poppy: Please? Pretty please with sugar on top and a picture of Bradley Cooper? I am planning a couple trips to Seattle this year and…yeah…*whimpers*…I think this is your best box stuffer yet! 


8. A melon baller–Because everyone needs one.

Poppy: A melon baller? Really? Okay, this one made me giggle like a loon! And yet another thing that I don’t own! Did you sneak into my house and take a look around? 



9. A puppy! We’ll head down to the pound together and rescue one of the neediest cases and you will never feel so loved and appreciated.

Poppy: I’d love nothing more than a puppy of my own to love as much as you love your Lily! 


10. A pajama party–with all your favorite people selected from the cast of characters assembled at this year’s GRL.

Poppy: Oh how fun! Now I want to go pajama shopping! Rick, your birthday list is going to be very bad for my wallet! Can you imagine all of us hanging out in our cute pjs and partying like…well…like us! Cause rock stars don’t have anything on us! 


11. A pack of smokes–it’s your birthday…indulge yourself.

Poppy: *blushes* You know me too well. But I haven’t forgotten our little talk in Albuquerque! 


12. Love, love, and more love–because we can never have enough.

Poppy: And this is the best gift of all. Thank you, Rick. And I wish you all the love in the world as well.


As a bonus, my sneaky friends agreed to do these posts only if they got to ask me any three questions in return. Since I’m a bit of a glutton for punishment, I agreed. Here are the questions Rick wanted to ask me:

1. Now that you’ve reached this age, what’s the single most important thing you’ve learned?

The most important thing I’ve learned is to love me for me. I’m not perfect–Lord, am I so far from perfect–but every thing about me is just the way it’s meant to be. I love that I can embrace the things about myself that make me happy and work on the things that don’t. It’s a gift that I give myself and wish the same for everyone else.

2. Name the three most unusual things in your refrigerator right now.
Unusual? Hmm. That’s a bit tricky as the fridge is a bit bare at the moment. *goes to look*
Oh wow. I just found a science experiment in the veggie bin that used to be some sort of green vegetable. I’m going to guess asparagus, but I can’t be sure. *shivers* It’s now in the trash. I’ve also got a jar of Devon cream that I picked up to go with some scones I plan on baking next week. Scones and clotted cream are one of my favorites treats, and you just can’t get them here like I could over in England. And the third is a jar of apple butter that one of my neighbors made for me. Homemade! Yum!

3. Just who do you think you are?
I’m proud to say that I’m an author! Not much more than a year ago, that title seemed to be an impossible dream, but now I’m living the life I’ve wanted to since I first put my first story to paper.



Rick R. Reed BiographyRick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a two-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his partner and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.” 

Visit Rick’s website at http://www.rickrreed.com or follow his blog at http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/. You can also like Rick on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/rickrreed.

What’s Up Wednesday? (The Thursday Edition)

Well, I *meant* to update my blog yesterday. I really did. But there was shiny…

As a result, I’m doing What’s Up Wednesday on Thursday. Which pretty much sums up my week. I’ve been so busy I don’t even know what day it is!

The biggest busy? The garden. It’s that time of year and the crops are coming in faster than we can keep up. This week we put up 10 bushels of corn. For those non-gardeners among us, that means picking the corn, husking the corn, silking the corn, washing the corn, cutting the corn off the cob, and finally…canning it. Crazy process, but I can’t argue with the results!

It was a great writing week though. My works in progress is up to date, and I’ve almost got two novellas knocked out. Now on to the editing part of the process, which is most un-fun for me.

You can follow my process through my Works In Progress page.

The next item on the agenda is a short piece for Kool Queer Lit. They’re having a really fun month over there in August, with lots of smuttastic offerings planned. I’m excited to be part of it, and can’t wait to see what naughtiness my brain comes up with for this one. I have an inspiration image in mind already. *eyebrow wiggle* I just love those inspiration images.

In other news, are you following the submissions for the Rainbow Awards?  What an amazing list. Over 300 entries at last count. I love checking out lists like this to find stories in my favorite sub-genres that I might have missed. Good stuff! My to-read list grows ever time Elisa posts an update!

One of the random shiny things I’ve stumbled across is the sock bun curling method. Yeah. Sock bun. You apparently can whip your hair up in a bun over night using a sock and you get beautiful curls as a result. Let the experiment commence. I think I’m going to try it tonight for kicks and giggles. I’ll try to take some pictures. No promises. LOL But here’s video proof that it works.

Hope you all have a fantastic week.

A Week in Review

Poppy’s Grandma

Whew! What a fantastic week this has been! I made a quick trip down to Florida to visit my grandma and hand deliver a copy of Mind Magic. She wasn’t proud or anything. Nope, not one little bit. She sat down and read her copy right away. And said it was the raunchiest thing she’d ever read! Gotta love an 86 year old grandma who will read anything her granddaughter writes, even if it does have “those scary vampires and shifters”. She has requested a cowboy book. No worries, Grandma. I’ll see if I can wrangle up a hot rancher, just for you.

Friday, I posted an episode of Boxer Falls over on the M/M Romance Group at Goodreads. Are you following Boxer Falls?? If not, you should be! It’s a Gaytime Drama and is soap-tastic. No worries if you’re behind! You can catch up by checking out our “reruns” over at the Boxer Falls website.

Saturday, I had a fantastic chat over on the Dreamspinner Facebook page. Made a ton of new friends, and even had a marriage proposal! (Okay, so I swiped someone else’s proposal and pretended it was mine…but it was on my chat so I called dibs! *g*) The conversation turned to bacon, as it tends to do when I’m around.

Fast forward to Monday, and I’m over at Paranormal Paradigm’s posting about The Hulk. Yep, that Hulk…the big green guy! In Make Like the Hulk–And Shift, I gab about the importance of the little details in world building. Things like what happens to a shifters clothes when they shift! I happen to think that the Hulk wearing shredded clothes is downright sexy. There must be someone out there who agrees with me. Anyone? Anyone? *taps microphone* Is this thing working?

Monday night found me out to dinner with the fantastic folks from Mantastic Fiction. They are doing a really great challenge in preparation for the GayRomLit retreat this October in Albuquerque. The challenge is to read a book from every author attending before the retreat in October. They have it broken down by week, and last week I was on the list.

*pants for breath* Sheesh, I was busy last week, and I’m only through Monday!

On Wednesday, I was interviewed by the lovely Dawn at Dawn’s Reading Nook. She *may* have gotten me tipsy first. I can’t be blamed for any silliness!

I also had the opportunity to hang out over at Joyfully Jay! I explained a bit about the Magic in Mind Magic and how the “power of three” works in the novel. And the best part? You can ENTER TO WIN a copy of Mind Magic by leaving a comment on the post. It’s only open until Tuesday, May 8 so hop on over and leave a comment.

Well, I’m only to Wednesday and have written volume one! I suppose I’ll shut my pie hole and get back to writing. Next week, I have a ton more blog appearances lined up…and if you’ve ever wanted to hear what your favorite Poppy sounds like, tune in Wednesday, May 9 for the ParaYourNormal Radio Show. I’m their featured guest!