A is for Azra the advisor and lavender scented sheets

Connections

Today kicks off the month-long Blogging from A to Z challenge. As I said in the theme reveal last month, I’ll be focusing on connections and how we connect with each other. “A” took me a while to figure out. Then I realized–yes, of course! Azra, the advisor to Queen Vina in Taliasman. How can we connect with each other if we don’t have the guidance of good counsel?

Without giving away spoilers, let me say that Azra is the unsung hero of Taliasman. Queen Vina, with her sheltered life of wealth and nobility, would be unable to connect with Talia if Azra didn’t step in.

“My lady.” Azra looks up in alarm as I enter my chambers, and the sweet smell of lavender greets me. Try as I might to convince her not to use the precious oil on something as trivial as bedclothes, she insists that my mother slept on lavender-scented sheets, as well as my grandmother and great-grandmother. Azra says the lavender is spelled for protection and healing rest, and I admit I never sleep well on the rare occasions she leaves my side. She will tolerate no lowering of standards, not on her watch. I hid the bottle from her once in an attempt to save her from spending the household budget we could use to repair poor people’s roofs damaged in the latest storm. She clucked and found the vial on the first try. Her tongue-lashing scalded my ears more effectively than any of my mother’s lectures, and I apologized for my error. Since then, I breathe in the lavender with guilt and gratitude. I am the Queen Mother, the Lady, and the figurehead of the land. I am as flawed as any other woman, but my advisor insists I sleep on sheets scented with oil. (from Taliasman, all rights reserved)

We all need an Azra who will care for us and look after our best interest. Failing that, we need to be an Azra to ourselves. When was the last time you allowed yourself the rest and healing of lavender scented sheets, whatever they might be? Perhaps you need a few minutes of alone time, or the resolve to say, “No, I can’t take on more unpaid obligations.”

I find, as women, that often our lavender scented sheets mean the courage to say, “What I think, want, and feel, are both valid and important.” We are taught to put everyone else’s needs first.

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Taliasman

Born to a destitute woodworker who wanted a son to carry on the family business, Talia grew up with one phrase on her lips: “If I had been born a boy.” If she had been born a boy, she would have been cherished, supported, and launched into the world with her father’s legacy. As only a worthless girl, she toils all day long to earn her handful of inferior grain.

Far away in the heavenly palace, Queen Vina receives a mysterious coin necklace from Nicodemus, teller of stories. Compelled by the throbbing heartbeat, she scours the earth to come across Talia, enslaved to a family who never wanted her. Rather than admit her motives, Vina purchases the girl with a sack full of gold. Furious, betrayed, and homesick, Talia endeavors to share her misery with the entire palace. Vina, afraid to confess her love, allows herself to become trapped in the role of brutal slave owner.

Talia, bred to expect nothing but misery, faces the first choice of her life. Will she accept love, even if it comes from an unlikely source? Or will she reject the one who offers her everything?

A Beyond Fairytales Adaptation of Our Lady’s Child

If you would like to be entered in a drawing to win a free copy of Taliasman (in exchange for leaving an honest review), please comment below with an email address, Twitter handle, or Facebook link where you can be reached. I will draw randomly from all commenters today here and on my Facebook post. You can also tweet @AnastasiaVitsky with the hashtag #Taliasman.

Winner(s) will be announced on tomorrow’s post!

 

Louisa Bacio likes big spoons

SpoonitarianForLife

 

The Church of the Wooden Spoon is growing! We now have 85 people in the church, a newly confirmed class of around ten faithful souls who completed the requirements for full membership, and another class that will be confirmed tomorrow. While we do talk about serious efforts to work against the anti-LGBT discrimination of Indiana and other laws, we also have fun.

Here’s a sample from Louisa Bacio, one of the new class of confirmands. Confirmands are asked to prepare a statement of faith and explain why they desire membership in the church.

Louisa being Louisa (remember her chocolate cross?) managed to post a photo of a LOT of wooden spoons. A lot. As in showing off, plain and simple. So, naturally, what was a Holy Mistress to do?

GETTING

Right. Like you would have done any differently. :)

Louisa threatened to post a photo of her biggest spoon, and she wrote this gem:

(Recited in the tune of Sir Mix-a-Lot)

You and other chefs can’t deny

When another cook walks in with an itty bitty spoon,

And a BIG wooden thing in your face,

You get sprung, want to stir it through

Sauces, soups & stirfrys—

Hop on over to Louisa’s blog for the rest of her song. I’ll punish her eventually, but I have to stop laughing first. :)

 

P.S. Tomorrow begins the April A-Z blogging challenge. I’ll put up a short post each day on the theme of “Connections.”

What are You? An interview with Linda Joyce

 

As part of the release party for Seoul Spankings, I asked authors Linda Joyce, Dahlia DeWinters, and Tara Quan to join us for a panel on diversity in fiction. Linda wrote this wonderful post as a starting point for discussion. Please enjoy her story! Find me on Facebook if you would like to be part of the discussion for the next two hours. After that, we’ll welcome Teresa Wymore, Ashlee Bunn, and Cynthia Davenport to talk about dominant women.

This question to me has frequently followed this path:

“I am Linda.”

No, not who are you, what are you?

“Earthling. Homosapien. Woman. Daughter. Sister. Wife. Friend. Dog lover. Author. American. What are you asking me?”

A pregnant pause. They squirm in discomfort.

“Would you like to know about my ethnicity?” I ask because I’m polite, after all, I’m southern, plus I’m Japanese.

“Yes!” and they brighten.

To which I reply: Asian-Cajun-Irish.

 

What are you? How do you define yourself?

What am I? I’m uniquely me. For example, my birthday is on Christmas Eve. I’m often asked if I wish my birthday were another day of the year. I honestly don’t know how. I have no experience with other birthdays. How would I choose? My birthday is my birthday. The day itself is irrelevant. The important issue is I was born and I live.

I also learned others have fear because of what I am.

I learned mistrust and fear when some second grade boys on December 7th caught me on my way home from school and stoned me because it was Pearl Harbor day. I didn’t even know where Pearl Harbor was, much less what had happened there. When my father explained, I was baffled.

I am bi-racial. My father is Cajun-Irish from New Orleans, the place I consider my true home. He’s as white as it comes. Blond hair and blue eyes. Slightly wavy hair. His documented Cajun family goes back generations. The Irish only a few. My mother, born and raised in Japan, came to America as a bride when she was twenty-six. She is able to trace her family tree not in centuries, but in millenniums. And since I’m of mixed race, my coloring isn’t quite white, nor not quite Japanese. My sister came up with a joke about this: If we were to compare hinnies, yours would be whiter than mine-ies.

Being Hafu (half-Japanese) has impacted me in many ways. After college, when I worked in corporate America, being Hafu was a two edged sword. Woman and corporate ladder equals struggle, and male mangers make assumptions. They don’t know much about women in Japan; however, they read information about men in Japanese corporate culture and they want to apply that to me.

A few years ago, at a writing conference, a woman accused me of not being southern. She predicated her opinion on the fact that I don’t have much of an accent. Really? That’s all it takes to be southern? Darlin’ my granddaddy was one of the last steam-driven riverboat captains on the Mississippi River. My grandmother retired from the New Orleans police department. New Orleans is my home. And I’m not southern because I don’t sound like a Georgia Cracker to her?

The point is, I am Linda. There are many aspects to me beyond the color of my skin and what I sound like, whether or not I love cats or dogs. What I hope you will see in me is the openness of my heart.

After experiencing racism, sexism, religious condemnation, and unacceptance in a myriad of ways all for different reasons, what I know is this: What anyone else thinks of me is not my business. It’s theirs—until they make it mine by crossing a line into disrespect. (Yes, respect/disrespect is a very Japanese concept.) Then, I will respond appropriately.

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”  – Buddha

To clarify, I am a United States Citizen, a southern American woman with Japanese heritage.

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball

Here are a few reference links for what is going on in Japan. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/13/world/asia/tokyo-ward-plans-to-extend-rights-of-gay-couples.html?_r=0

http://aliasis.hubpages.com/hub/Being-Gay-in-Japan

Want to know more about my books?

Bayou Born was a 2014 RONE Award Finalist

Amazon: Bayou Born http://amzn.com/B00B9L1VAC

Bayou Bound won 1st in Romance from the Southeastern Writers Association.

Amazon Bayou Bound http://amzn.com/B00I28U6OC

Bayou Beckons will be released on June 1st.

Find me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LindaJoyceAuthor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B Born and B Bound Post Card

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#CabbageIsSexy! #SeoulSpankings (#Satspanks and Snippet Sunday)

Cabbage is sexy.

Ignore this life truth at your own peril.

Part one: Say my name

Part two: Preparing

“Ah,” she [Hyunkyung] said, and she cupped her left hand underneath the piece of kimchi wrapped around a bit of meat.
Ah must be a command to open my mouth. How else could she use that order? Stop it, Indi!
I wrinkled my nose but obeyed, and she placed the salty-sour package onto my tongue. I expected to wince at the sharp, acidic spice, but grilling had softened the kimchi into pleasant warmth. Paired with fresh meat, it offered the perfect combination. Without thinking, I swallowed and opened my mouth for another taste.
Hyunkyung laughed when she saw it. “No more turning your nose up at good food,” she said with satisfaction.

Seoul Spankings2_1300x2000

Broken-hearted when her live-in boyfriend impregnates her best frenemy, Indigo Adams accepts a one-way ticket to Seoul, South Korea, and a challenge from her Great-Aunt Matilda: Forget that boy. Go and make something of yourself.

Bruised from an international public relations nightmare as the new heir to the multi-billion-dollar Han Incorporated, Hyunkyung Han seeks positive publicity in the form of a wedding. She consults with Madame Eve to find a nice, well-behaved Korean American with bilingual and bicultural skills.

Instead, Madame Eve sends Indi, a naïve philosophy major graduate working for minimum wage at the local pub. Enraged to find Indi can’t speak one word of Korean, Hyunkyung orders her sent home on the next plane to Spillville, Iowa.

Then Hyunkyung shakes Indi’s hand, and the sparks fly. With all of her professional responsibilities, how can Hyunkyung allow herself to fall for the wrong woman? How can Indi feel attraction for a woman who despises her?

Seoul Spankings offers a light-hearted romp through the perils and joys of navigating an intercultural romance. Certain to delight all fans of a happily ever after with a kinky twist.

You’ve met (and feared) the Mistress. You’ve adored Ana. You’ve pre-ordered Living in Sin.

Now it’s time to meet Seoul Spankings!
Don’t forget the release parties! We will have the party beginning at noon EDT on Sunday the 29th.

Hope you can come!

We’ll have games, possibly another roleplay, a discussion about dominant women, and a peek at some deleted scenes from the book. Plus discussion about the title. Seoul Spankings was a compromise. :)

 

Church of the Wooden Spoon

Church of the Wooden Spoon

So. I believe in lighting candles rather than cursing the darkness. In my dismay at the new laws allowing people to refuse service based on religious beliefs (which, as far as I can tell, do not exempt emergency service providers such as EMTs or firefighters), I felt dispirited. Disappointed. Sad for what this might mean for the future of our society.

I could complain about the laws, or I could do something instead. I may not have the legal or political clout to do something that way, but I’m a writer. I enjoy humor. So…in response to this law, I have founded a Church of the Wooden Spoon. I created it as a joke and added two people because Facebook doesn’t allow a group without members.

Within a few hours, the requests for membership starting coming in! So far, we are thirty-eight members strong and still growing. Find us on Facebook and ask to join! The first New Member Class will conclude at the end of today.

What? I’m not any crazier than the people passing these laws. :D

So far, we have a few rules:

Rules of the Church of the Wooden Spoon (will be updated as necessary):

1. ‪#‎CabbageIsSexy‬
2. We are not celibate.
3. Traditional theology dictates that the edges of the wooden spoon must be rounded. However, a special task force is preparing a study on whether angled spoons (formerly known as spatulas and therefore heretics) may be accepted.
4. Wooden Spoon means WOODEN SPOON. No metal spoons, no spatulas, no silicone!
5. It is our sincere religious belief that the Wooden Spoon forbids us to have any business dealings with homophobes. Therefore, as a protected class under US law, we may refuse to serve homophobes in our daily lives.

We even have two prayers. One was composed in Latin by Emily Tilton:

O coclear fidele, tuum auxilium devote rogamus hodie, ut nates illorum qui flagellationem desiderent!

 

You’ll have to ask Emily what it means. :)

The prayer I composed is in English:

O Magnificent Spoon of Wonder
We give thanks to you and strive to honor you
Guide us and protect us, O Spoon,
That we may live in the glory of your ways.

Please don’t ask about the angled spoon debacle. We’re all reeling from the internal conflict. What? You insist on knowing? Okay, okay. Here is the public statement:

It is NOT true that the Church of the Wooden Spoon has splintered into a protest church, the Church of the Wooden Spatula. We at the Church of the Wooden Spoon are working hard to reach out to these lost sheep and bring them back into the fold.

I have commissioned a task force to prepare a statement on the Church of the Wooden Spoon’s position on the shape of the wooden spoon and whether angled edges will be accepted as orthodox.

Please, in times of founding a new church it is easy to get lost in divisive rhetoric. Let’s not get distracted by the little details and instead focus on the glory that is the Wooden Spoon.

We are a new church, and this was an enormous blow. The less said, the better. Even worse, we’re getting reports of publicly expressing love for riding crops, getting seduced by a traveling salesman to love an angled wooden spoon, and *gasp* attending the church of the SILICONE spoon!

The Holy Mistress is not pleased.

If you want to win a wooden spoon of your own, plus an autographed set of cooking chopsticks, visit Jessica Subject’s blog for a post on Hyunkyung Han’s Top 5 Favorite Spanking Implements!

Plus, check out this wonderful 5-star review for Living in Sin by Amy at Inked Rainbow Reads!

 

Indigo’s Thankfulness Thursday

 

Kickass Girls

Hi, everyone! I’m Indi. Ana asked me to visit for Thankfulness Thursday. She warned me not to say too much about my life because not everyone has finished reading my story yet (what are you waiting for?), but I’m supposed to list my thankfulness items. That’s easy! I have so much to be thankful for that I can’t list all of them.

  • I am thankful for kimchi! Really! I never could have guessed that cabbage is sexy, but Hyunkyung proved me wrong. She makes everything sexy.
  • I am thankful for pretty dresses, especially the ones Hyunkyung chooses herself. She always wears her suits or maybe dress pants, but she likes me to wear a new dress almost every day. I could get used to this.
  • I am thankful to have my bathroom sparkling clean every single day!
  • I am thankful for Great-Aunt Matilda who insisted I get out of Iowa and see the world. I don’t know what else I would have done.
  • I am thankful, almost, that Greg cheated on me. It was devastating and I thought my world would end, but I wouldn’t have left the relationship otherwise. I’m glad that I got out before it was too late.
  • I am thankful for Hyunkyung and her romantic ways.

What are you thankful for today?

Seoul Spankings…Cabbage is Sexy

Anastasia Vitsky:

Cabbage IS Sexy! Go and convince #EvilMistressKate!

Originally posted on Kate's Cravings:

Seoul Spankings Promo
Cabbage IS Sexy!

Two years ago when Kate suggested I write a book for the 1Night Stand series, I wanted to set the story in Seoul, South Korea. I’d written Desire in Any Language about a college graduate who studies abroad in Korea, and readers loved the setting.

So when it came time to plan this one-night love affair in the land of Samsung, Mash, and K-pop, I sat down with Kate to work out the details. You see, there are strict rules in writing for this series, and #EvilMistressKate has a heavy hand. She’s even threatened taking my wooden spoon away for misbehavior! (I still have nightmares. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night to make sure my beloved spoon is still with me.)

The first problem occurred with the use of “Madame” in Madame Eve’s name. In Korean context, “Madame” sounded unnatural and perhaps disrespectful…

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