A Rage Against Self-Doubt #rant

goring-300x204I feel a mini-rant/rage creeping up on me. All because I allowed self-doubt to wedge a space between what I knew to be true and real for the characters, their histories, their current circumstances, and the uncertain futures facing them all… and reader prejudices, expectations and entitlements.

I chose to edit the last book in the series through to the first, carefully parsing the overarching plot and the individual, self-contained dramas enacted on a more intimate scale.

I was working up to altering significantly the plotlines and outcomes for at least two of the books, until I got to book #2 today, and realized how wrong, how inauthentic, how downright obscene it would be for me to cave to readers with nothing more than self-indulgent triggers and little understanding of the human condition, of what makes us unique, frail and ultimately worthy of forgiveness… and love.

images (2)During the edit, I did change wording, along with punctuation and the usual adjustments that come with a fresh eye on old material, but those words were forged to strengthen, not emasculate, the emotional core of men struggling with those most intimate of feelings. Men for whom emotional detachment was a modus operandi, until circumstances drove them to confront the consequences of their actions, to make choices, and to fully own their own feelings.

Book 2 ends on a bittersweet note, and a ray of hope, but there’s no fantasy ending here where love conquers all, forever and ever and ever. Rather, it ends in the bosom of reality.

I’m heading into book 1 now, feeling better about my writing than I have in a very long time.

self-doubtI know this thing, but it required reaffirmation—that I must write to please myself, to be true to my worldview, to respect my characters, their circumstances, their uniqueness, and to be the conduit for their voices and their stories.

To all who have supported that vision, who have given Story the respect it deserves… to you all, thank you.




Posted in A Rage Against Self-Doubt #rant | Tagged a writer's lament, authenticity, it's my story, self-doubt, staying true to the character | 1 Comment

A #FREE Valentine Confection and More

First off, I want to say thank you to everyone who participated in the audiobook giveaway for JERKING IRON (Bad Boyfriends). The Winners are:

GRAND PRIZE (complete set of the Bad Boyfriends audiobooks): Brian C.

JERKING IRON audiobook: Sheryl H. and Jodi C.

BAD BOYFRIENDS BOX SET (eBook): Sophia P. and Jennie R.


Now… to celebrate Valentine’s Day tomorrow:

FREE on Amazon through Feb. 15th:



When a lonesome foodie meets the chef of his dreams, more than the scallops are flambéed.

Alan’s the numbers guys, the VP’s golden boy until a corporate shuffle leaves him downsized and at loose ends. It’s a hit to the wallet and his ego. When Alan turns to the kitchen for solace, no vegetable is safe.

With money tight and their options dwindling, Alan jumps at the offer from Jack’s brother-in-law, Ted, to run an audit on the QT. The dealership’s in trouble and Ted needs fresh eyes.

For his cooking class, Jack is faced with making comfort food sexy, not as easy a task as it sounds. Alan floats the idea of a contest, pitting the culinary arts students against the senior ladies. When the media find out, it makes a feeding frenzy look tame.

Dealerships and contests leave them little time to plan for their first Valentine’s Day, but when it rolls around, they make a toast that will change everything.

Contains bonus recipes: bon appétit




And last, but not least…


ALPHA’S LAST STAND (Ranch to Market Chronicles)

Narrated by DAVID HORTON


As always, PEACE to all in these troubling times.


Posted in A #FREE Valentine Confection and More | Tagged Alpha's Last Stand audiobook, free, Giveaway winners, , , The Valentine Toast | 2 Comments

The Eagle & the Fox now in #KU and #Audiobook

The Eagle and the Fox (A Snowy Range Mystery)

Now in KINDLE UNLIMITED and AUDIOBOOK for your reading and listening pleasure.

Nick J. Russo narrates, bringing to life characters you will fall in love with.



Centurion lies in the shadow of the Snowy Range in south central Wyoming, a town of 206 souls, where ranching is and always will be a way of life for those strong enough to handle what nature and outside forces throw their way.


Insular, remote, and rugged, the land breeds a special kind of outlook—where everyone is a friend or no one is. There are good people in Centurion and environs: good men like Marcus Colton who spent twenty years keeping company with his distant cousin and business partner Tommy Henderson. But when Tommy passed, Marcus was left to grieve alone…

It was the mirror that was his danger zone. That and the receding hairline and advancing gut and knowing he was fast-forwarding when all he wanted was to apply the brakes. Kind of an oxymoron when he thought about it. With Tommy gone, he’d done nothing but pine for what had been, drowning himself in memories, yet at the same time trying to wipe them out so he wouldn’t have to hurt so much.


Josiah Foxglove wanted nothing more than to serve and protect, but as a young man, watching his family struggle to make ends meet on their small ranch, his options were limited. Like so many before him, he joined the military and became a career MP. Josiah was close to retiring, but an IUD with his name on it turned his world upside down. Returning home, it was his family and the people in Centurion who rallied around him. Now, a few years later, he still suffers the fallout from that instant of time…

On his face the scars were raised and ridged, too whitish smooth to be natural. Inside it was even worse, because you didn’t get to see it, and if you couldn’t see it with your eyes then you saw it in your imagination. That made it a mystery and it took away some choices. Choices like him growing a beard to hide the scars, though he’d been coming around to the idea that it was maybe drawing attention rather than distracting from the disfigurement.

Why he cared was a puzzle he’d yet to solve. It wasn’t like he was anything to look at. But the thigh bone, the hip and the fake knee… Now those made the real difference, because seeing to his family meant he needed to be strong, to take on more than his share of the load. To give back for them stepping up and taking charge of his recovery, going the extra mile every single time, even when it cost them damn near everything.

Him still limping, still getting his sea legs and figuring out how to work around the stock without putting himself or anyone else at risk… that was the challenge. The pain didn’t help either. It wore a man down some days, made it less easy when his brain short-circuited without notice, or he failed to recognize triggers he’d already identified as putting him at risk.

Two damaged men, hiding wounds that never seem to heal, covering their scars, and keeping their secrets close, discover that not everyone in Centurion is good and that protecting their way of life will require sacrifices they may not be prepared to face.





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And Jerking Iron (Bad Boyfriends) Makes Three! #Audiobooks #Giveaway #GrandPrize

The final entry in the Bad Boyfriends series, Jerking Iron, is now available in audiobook and, as usual, Michael Ferraiuolo does a fantastic job narrating and bringing the characters to life.

To celebrate, I’m giving away:

GRAND PRIZE: the complete set of the Bad Boyfriends Series audiobooks

3 copies of the audiobook: JERKING IRON (BAD BOYFRIENDS)

1 eBook copy of the Bad Boyfriends Box Set (Curling Iron, Pumping Iron, Jerking Iron)




Genre: Crime, suspense, contemporary gay fiction

jerking-iron-audiobookJerking Iron is a hard-hitting tale of suspense when a damaged ex-cop from Miami and a burned out undercover NYPD vice cop pair up for a simple sting operation. Nick and Jace soon discover that under the layers of betrayal and lies runs the threat of an unexpected operation—one that takes the skin trade to new levels of perversion. Neither man is prepared for the mutual attraction that simmers to a rolling boil as it becomes clear that the only way they can cut to the truth is to allow Jace to sink once more into the dangerous underbelly of the city.

They’re about to find out why a man you can’t break is a man worth breaking…


Carly’s Book Reviews says:

“Well written, with a dramatic edge and dark plot line, JERKING IRON explores the underbelly of extreme BDSM practices and the human sex trade. With emotional characters, unexpected twists and steamy sensuality, this is one book you’ll want to read with the lights on!”

Multitaskingmammas says:

“This has me a twitching in my seat, from the erotic scenes, to the violence that I love, and the bullet filled air that hits and misses the targets. It was a Whoa! moment for me. Totally did not expect this.”



To celebrate the launch of the final book in the audiobook series, I’m offering:

THREE free audiobooks of JERKING IRON,

ONE eBook copy of the Bad Boyfriends Box Set,

and tah-day!

The GRAND PRIZE: the complete Bad Boyfriends Series audiobook collection

narrated by the fabulous voice talent of Michael Ferraiuolo:


Kane runs a fitness center by day. By night he services a different clientele. David is out of work and out of options. Kane’s offer of a position with the escort service is as attractive as the man himself. David agrees to a trial period with conditions but quickly finds he’s out of his depth. Confronted with unanticipated roadblocks, one thing is clear, neither man will take no for an answer.


Mike Douglas is the silent partner, the man who prefers his solitude, out of the public eye.

Sean Rourke is the very high profile, in-demand star of Bad Boyfriends escort service.

A joint project brings them together and ignites a long simmering attraction.

It takes threats to both the business and Sean to convince the reclusive Douglas to put aside his past and stake his claim to what he wants most.


Nick Lopez is an ex-cop wounded in the line of duty. Jace McClune works vice. Both have seen and done too much. When Thomas Kane puts out a call for help, Nick and Jace join forces for a simple sting operation. They’re about to find out why a man you can’t break is a man worth breaking…









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When you self-diagnose #dontdothisathomekids

I’m an old fart. I gots me some troubles, I does.

Aches ‘n pains ‘n miseries.

What I didn’t have were red spots appearing like ghost spasms on my finger tips, first the middle finger on the left hand, then the index finger on the right. Thumb. Another finger. They were tiny dots, as if I’d been sprayed with red ink, though not so vibrant. Pale splotches followed, each bit growing and spreading. And no, they didn’t wash off.

My fingers were cold, though that’s nothing new… cold hands, warm heart dontcha know. Nope, I’m talking chill that’s spreading.

Oh yeah, then there were the two nights prior when I awoke with debilitating numbness in my fingers. Not that owie stiffness. Nope, this hurt and it didn’t go away after squeezing, shaking and otherwise doing a St Vitus dance to get my blood pumping.

When you get to be my age, it’s easy to overlook the accumulated signs of aging, not so easy when your blood vessels look to be running amuk and no amount of fleece is warming your bones.

What’s a gal to do?

Well, you Google, like you do. I typed in “red spots on fingertips” and up popped an array of possible causes, including “scleraderma”—an autoimmune disease. Starting at the top and working my way down through the links, I discovered that I hit virtually every bullet point for symptoms.

The Mayo Clinic explained: Red spots or lines on skin. These small red spots or lines (telangiectasias) are caused by the swelling of tiny blood vessels near the skin’s surface. They are not painful and occur primarily on the hands and face.

WebMD provided a handy source guide for symptoms, complications, and treatment (mostly of the it’s incurable but here are some meds that will make you wish you were dead OR will actually kill you… thanks, but no thanks).

Scleraderma even has a Foundation… never an encouraging thing as it underscores the seriousness of the disease. Under “How Serious is Scleraderma?”: Any chronic disease can be serious. The symptoms of scleroderma vary greatly for each person, and the effects of scleroderma can range from very mild to life threatening. The seriousness will depend on the parts of the body, which are affected, and the extent to which they are affected. A mild case can become more serious if not properly treated. Prompt and proper diagnosis and treatment by qualified physicians may minimize the symptoms of scleroderma and lessen the chance for irreversible damage.

Two bouts of Lymes. A history of arthritis and its complications. Joint swelling and pain from horse-related injuries. Now numbness and red dots oh my! This is it, I’m doomed! (There’s more, but trust me… I had every reason to be spooked. Firstborn agreed.)

Convinced I was about to suffer a painful, debilitating death… and with, by my estimate, only a week to live, I emailed the doctor (this all went down on Sunday morning) for an appointment, listing EVERY symptom and offered up any day of the upcoming week in the ‘when are you available’ calendar. I didn’t go beyond that week, because.. you know, one week left to live.

Monday morning, first thing, I got a call from the nurse inquiring about the shortness of breath, the numbness and the red dots. She was concerned and fit me in after determining calling 911 wasn’t necessary.

With a Wednesday morning appointment secured, my symptoms went into immediate remission—no dots, minimal numbness, and a newfound acceptance of my lot in life.

To make a long story short: after jumping through a series of neurological hoops/tests, the doc suggested we look into carpal tunnel syndrome. That includes wearing braces on my wrists, having a nerve conduction test, and seeing a specialist.

Bing bada BOOM! my calendar is now a series of scheduled medical visits, including a by-the-way you need a bone density scan, so that’s today to start the festivities. The other appointments are spaced through March, so I guess I under-estimated my time left on this planet, because they obviously wouldn’t schedule me that far out if I was going to renege on helping health insurance company execs live in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed.

I have the braces, amusingly called Cockup Volar splints, and they are quite something. I can now officially be called #bondagegirl. And after two nights usage, I’m here to tell you they work a treat: no numbness, no red dots, and no pain/swelling/limited joint flexibility.

Huh, fancy that.

I’m not keen on the nerve conduction test. Lots of folks have chimed in, using terms like “legal torture” which isn’t giving me a warm fuzzy.

Of course, I still ache, still suffer from the bucket list of major and minor aggravations from having lived a long life. But that’s okay, because what I now have is peace of mind on the medical front, which is better than the piece(s) of mind I get every morning looking at the latest news.

For someone who has to be hauled, kicking and screaming, to the emergency room (last time: burst appendix), I’m showing amazing personal growth.

Thanks WebMD!

Have yourselves a good day! (And go see your doctor, trust me on this one.)


Posted in When you self-diagnose #dontdothisathomekids | Tagged carpal tunnel, medical stuff, scleraderma, self-diagnosing, stupid is as stupid does | 3 Comments

Generation Butthurt—How Being Constantly Offended (and Offensive) Costs BIG

Wise words!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kenny Louie. Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kenny Louie.

Today we are going to dive back into social media because who we are on-line impacts the odds of our success. Whether we like it or not, engaging on social media and cultivating a following is going to massively impact our professional success (or lack thereof).

In sales we had a saying, Fish where the fish are. Well my darlings, the fish are schooling on social media. When we are online we are not only engaging with the readers of today, we are cultivating future readers. This applies as much to the pre-published newbie as it does the internationally best-selling author.

We are wise to remember that we now have entire generations glued to smart phones and LinkedInInstaSnap, and if we don’t learn how to navigate these waters? Bad juju.

This said. Social media is an extraordinarily powerful tool that is too…

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Tuscan Garlic Chicken #Recipe #Hidinginthekitchen

Honestly, folks… I don’t know what to write anymore. The spreading darkness is a cancer on our collective polity. I’m trying to process it, decide how best to react. But in the meantime, I’m experimenting in the kitchen as a way to keep myself focused and relatively sane.

So, for this evening’s dinner, I made Tuscan Garlic Chicken (grabbed off a pin in Pinterest, not sure from whom, my bad)


1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced (I used 3 “filets”)

1/2 pkg rigatoni, more or less, cooked per package instructions

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 cup heavy cream

½ cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

½ cup parmesan cheese

½ cup chopped mushrooms

½ cup chopped white onion

1 cup spinach, chopped

½ cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped


In a large skillet add olive oil and heat until smoking. Add the chicken “filets,” salt and pepper to taste, and then cook the chicken on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes until brown on each side. Meantime add mushrooms and onions and continue cooking until onions are transparent and the chicken is no longer pink in center (don’t overcook—the thin breasts turn into jerky at the drop of a spatula).

Remove chicken and veggies and set aside on a plate.


Mmmm, that looks good enough to eat as is!

Add the heavy cream, chicken broth, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and Parmesan cheese. Whisk over medium high heat until it starts to thicken. Don’t let it go too long – it will turn into sludge (not cool). If that happens, just thin it down with more chicken stock.


Chicken stock, heavy cream, Parmesan, Italian spices, garlic powder

Add the spinach and sun-dried tomatoes and let it simmer until the spinach starts to wilt.

Add the chicken and veggies back to the pan, heat through and serve over pasta. Rigatoni is always a good choice as it can stand up to heavier sauces. I like the medium size.

Post-dinner assessment:

Very tasty, but a hair on the bland side.

When I make it again, I will:

  1. Use real chopped garlic (2-3 cloves at least)
  2. The Parm was nice but white cheddar might be even nicer
  3. Use more spinach, probably a whole bag as it reduces down to wisps of greens when cooked
  4. Add some smoked paprika to kick it up a notch
  5. The sun dried tomatoes were okay, but I would add a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes to add some color
  6. Make less rigatoni—lordy, I tend to cook for a small army when it comes to pasta!

That’s it! Thanks for stopping by.

Wishing y’all peace, love, and good news (for a change).




Posted in Blog, Tuscan Garlic Chicken #Recipe #Hidinginthekitchen | Tagged Good eats, Needs to be kicked up a notch, , Tuscan Garlic Chicken | 1 Comment

An Open Letter to Donald Trump – the things we just don’t understand

Well worth your time to read.

Well, This Is What I Think

Dear President Trump

Congratulations on your election. We never supported your run for office, and we were frankly somewhat dismayed that it succeeded, as the trend in politics that you represent is far removed from our view of the world.

But we have to put that aside now. You’re in. And we have to work with you.

Of course we wish you well. The world needs a strong and successful America. You are still the locomotive at the front of the train that is the world’s economy. Or at the very least, one of the locomotives.

You are still the home of much of the most fortuitous innovations that will help us manage and preserve civilisation and the world. We need you to do well, which is why even those who oppose your brand of politics wish you success. Who knows? You may surprise us all.

But in saying that…

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I Think You Meant to Say, ‘Thank You’

I like the term foundational for it speaks to the core values we need to focus on now.


philly-marchTo those who saw the Women’s Marches around the country and–damn–around the world and didn’t “get it” — try harder. To those who called the rallies “protests” and compared us to the savages who willfully and criminally broke windows, attacked the police and set a car on fire in D.C. yesterday — try harder. To those who don’t understand that our individual rights and freedoms are under siege — try harder.

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Reflections on a National Day of Mourning and the Duties of an Artist

I brought up the concept of “branding” in an earlier post. Brad takes this in another direction. Good read.

Brad Vance Author

Notice how you don’t hear anybody saying what they were saying just a few months ago? “Give him a chance so we can unify and come together and get over it.”

Well, he had his chance, and look who he’s picked for his cabinet. Anti-gay, anti-women, anti-science, anti-environment, anti-worker, anti-education, pro-theocracy, pro-Crusade, a corrupt congressman who should be in jail for using his office to enrich himself but is getting a cabinet post instead, a Treasury secretary who “forgot” about $100,000,000 in assets because there were, you know, so many forms…

Oh yeah. And proof that Russia hacked the election. I think it’s time that the people who told me to get over it? Get over that.

I read a post that Jessica Faust, a literary agent, put up a few days ago, in which she reiterated her advice to writers that they “keep the YOU out of your…

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