Grannies and apple turnovers! Plus meet Regann: reading and reviewing, part three

(This is part three in my series on reading and reviewing books. Please read parts one and two if you haven’t already. Thanks!)

Reading and Reviewing Part 1

Reading and Reviewing Part 2

Yesterday morning, armed with a brand-new food storage container filled with home-made apple turnovers, I popped into my church’s quilting session. I’ve never made apple turnovers before (or watched them being made), so I looked up ten different recipes online and cobbled together a plan. I used some regular bread dough instead of pastry (easier to work with and sturdier), sliced up a bagful of apples to simmer for filling, and learned by making a few mistakes.

One: cover the dough with a damp cloth while shaping the first turnovers, or the dough dries out. (I managed to salvage it with a bit of extra oil and a flick or two of water, but it was harder to shape.) Two: no matter how gross I find cornstarch (no rational reason for doing so, just an odd aversion), I should give a try rather than plain flour. My filling did thicken, but it didn’t have that lovely smooth texture of a proper pie filling. Three: Even if the recipe calls for one cup of brown sugar, don’t believe it. I reduced the sugar to two-thirds of a cup, but the filling was still too sweet. Four: Buy a silly pastry brush because doing an egg wash by hand (literally) is messy and goopy. (I debated between silicone and natural bristle pastry brushes, and I finally chose natural bristle because the silicone looked too stiff to use on fragile dough.)

How in the world do people roll out apple turnover dough and make them all the same? I know I could do it by using a round circle cutter, but that seems like cheating.

At any rate, I arrived with my armload of apple turnovers, afraid no one would like them. After all, who knows better how to make apple turnovers than a roomful of quilting grannies? 😀 However, they were all so warm, so welcoming, and so thrilled to have me join. When I hesitantly mentioned I had some apple turnovers to share for lunch (with many disclaimers about the funny sizes, funny shapes, and the first time attempting to make them), they said how nice it was. I wonder if they were thinking, “How cute, she did it all by herself!” *giggle* And…I did not bring a single turnover home. Every last one got eaten. Yay!

I knotted squares, ironed fabric, straightened thread spools, draped partially finished quilt tops over tables, and chattered with everyone. Gosh. It was my first time visiting (although I knew one woman from a Bible study, a few others because they are greeters, and two others knew me from handbell practice the night before), and everyone could not have been nicer. I’ll go back tomorrow, and this time I’ve been requested to make more goodies.

How to make Ana happy: Eat the food she makes for you, enjoy it, and ask for more.

I’m happy!

Best of all, the oldest granny of the group gave me a moment I treasured all the way home. She showed me how to use a measurement block to put my knots in the center of each square, and she gave me safety pins to mark each center before knotting. I chatted with her about everything from her daughter to cross-stitching to my position on coffee (don’t like it). We talked about the intricacies of “real” quilting (as opposed to the utility quilting we were doing, easy stuff meant to keep people warm rather than an art form in its own right), and I said I didn’t have the patience or spatially analytical mind to get all of the patterns right.

Ana: Is the quilting on ongoing project, or is it a one-time thing?

Granny: Ongoing. There’s another group making quilts for at-risk babies, and they take special orders.

Ana: Wow!

Granny: Those are beautiful.

Ana: They must be done by real quilters.

Granny: Oh, yes.

Ana: Do you do real quilting?

Granny: No! I don’t like all of the fussing.

Ana: Me, either. I never learned. It’s too complicated! My mom used to quilt, though.

Granny: Does your mom laugh a lot, like you?

It’s funny how the sweetest compliments are the ones people don’t realize are a compliment. This 95-year-old granny asked the question in passing, without special emphasis, and as part of continuing the conversation. Yet while I drove home from church, I played back that conversation in my head and blinked back a few tears. The image of a laughing self, someone who must have been raised by a mother who also liked to laugh, is not an image that resonates with my experience with my family. For this elderly woman to hold up that image of myself (albeit after only a few hours of working together), well..it was special. I want to be the sort of person who makes people think I was raised by a woman who loved to laugh. A few others made comments about my enthusiasm, my talent at picking up the handbells right away (gulp! not exactly!), and energy.

What a gift this granny gave me. All last night and this morning, I’ve thought about the effect of one small comment. Thinking about how the words I say can either tear down or build up those around me. Resolving to say more positive words and fewer words of complaint.

On that note, I’d like to introduce a reviewer who has always made an effort to be positive. Regann reviewed both The Vengeance of Mrs. Claus and Becoming Clissine: Bastia, Book One.  She earned my respect by writing an intelligent review of Becoming Clissine that demonstrated both respect and understanding of the book. Did she give it five stars? Nope. Did she give both the book and author respect? Absolutely. Let me repeat the review excerpt from the first post in this series, and put it in context:

This is a hard review to write because there were many aspects I liked and disliked about this book.  First, the synopsis captured my attention right away because I LOVE feminist dystopian novels and have read The Handmaid’s Tale and The Gate to Women’s Country. I also liked the concept of a matriarchal society where homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuality is taboo and improper. But, this novel was nothing like I expected and the author succeeded in writing such a vivid, original, and unique universe instead of just a story.

Unfortunately this one almost became a DNF to me because I struggled with the age play content.  This is the first time I have encountered age play in a novel and it personally makes me uncomfortable.  However, reading is an experience and now from experience  I know that this type of content is now a hard limit for me.  Regardless, I enjoyed the core of the story and will pick up the next in the series. (For the rest of the review, please click here.)

These two paragraphs are a good example of Regann’s philosophy of reviewing and why she is respected as a reviewer. And now, let’s hear from Regann herself!

 

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Hello and thank you for answering questions about reviewing F/F fiction! Please introduce yourself, the site you review for, and the types of books you usually review.

Hello! My name is Regann and I am a Midwestern twenty-something reader and blogger.  I started reviewing on Goodreads but had the desire to start a blog so I started Lipstick Lesbian Reviews http://www.lipsticklesbianreviews.com .  I review lesbian, F/F, and LGBT books primarily fiction.  I also review books that feature F/F dynamics but may not be fully F/F.

 

Why do you review F/F fiction? What appeals to you about this particular pairing?

 

Before Goodreads I had no idea there was such an overwhelming selection of lesbian / F/F books! Well first I enjoy F/F because I am a female who dates females 😉  Secondly I enjoy F/F because the dynamic between two females is beautiful, sensual, and there is a connection that cannot be mimicked in other pairings.

 

What do you find most challenging about writing a review?

 

Reviews usually flow for me since I write them right after I finish reading so everything is fresh in my mind.  Sometimes it can be a challenge to put into words the emotions or feelings I have after reading.

 

What kind of interaction do you wish from authors? Are you open to discussion with an author about your reviews, or do you prefer your review to stand on its own?

 

I review out of personal enjoyment and am by no means a professional or a critic.  My reviews are very subjective and my own thoughts.  I’m an honest person so I won’t sugarcoat a review but I would never bash a book either.  The interaction I primarily wish from authors is what a review is for: to find out what one reader thinks of their book.  I do enjoy open discussion with authors as well but don’t expect it either.  Simple things like retweeting my review or posting a comment makes my day so I’m a pretty easy blogger to please. 

 

What do you wish authors knew about reviews and reviewers? Specifically, what should authors avoid doing or be sure to do when interacting with reviewers?

 

My first thought about this question is I think authors should avoid seeing a 3 star as a bad review.  I’ve always thought a 3 star means the book was good, enjoyable, and recommendable- but maybe not going to be a re-read.  Books I rate 3 stars are ones I usually recommend to other readers who are looking for a certain read that maybe wasn’t my favorite of all time.  As a reader I am also more influenced by mid-level ratings than one star/5 star ratings. 

 

 

What is the worst example of author behavior you’ve seen in regards to a review? Feel free to change identifying details to protect the guilty!

 

I reviewed a book (not F/F or for my blog) and the author asked me to withhold my review if I didn’t give it a 4 or 5 stars.  I felt uncomfortable because the author didn’t share this before I read the book and I enjoyed it! I thought only having high ratings posted was misleading other readers.

How can authors best show appreciation for reviewers and encourage you to continue giving your services?

 

Authors showing anything is appreciated 🙂 Retweeting, leaving a quick comment, etc. are very simple ways that are nice to see once logging on.   I also feel very honored when an author asks me to review again as well. 

 

 

 

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“Why do you let him?” (Advent Calendar bonus post)

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, Seductive Studs & Sirens, Snippet Sunday, and Saturday Spankings! Each weekend, I showcase eight sentences of a work in progress, not-yet-published book, or a book from my list. Today, I’ll show you a snippet from Daughter of Discipline, the sequel to The Vengeance of Mrs. Claus (currently on sale for only $1.99 at Blushing!).

For those of you who participated in today’s discussion on DD (domestic discipline) and/or who are familiar with my writing, Daughter of Discipline will surprise you: a story of M/F spanking that includes a marital relationship, husband who spanks his wife, and a society in which marriage means submission. (Ah, the precursor to Bastia!)

21-year-old Claire, soon to graduate from college and blushing with her first sort-of boyfriend, struggles to accept the astonishing news of The Vengeance of Mrs. Claus: Mrs. Claus is real, Mrs. Claus spanks naughty boys and girls when they become an adult at age 21, and Claire’s own mother gets spanked by Claire’s father! Worse (in Claire’s eyes), Claire herself will be spanked once she marries.

Minelle, Claire’s loving but technologically challenged mother (Yes, that Minelle! Yes, our very own Minelle who plays the Advent Calendar and torments enjoys teasing yours truly!), struggles with her own conflicts. She loves her husband and trusts him, but his rules and spankings are starting to enrage her!

In this scene, Claire enters Minelle’s bedroom after finding out she (Minelle) was spanked–and still furious about it. Minelle calms herself down for Claire’s sake, and they have a discussion about living a DD life. Minelle and Claire’s mother-daughter relationship is the center of the book.

Oh, and our lovely Bas (and his little dog, Unique!) appear in a cameo scene edited and approved by Bas himself, as well as with input from Mick.

(Punctuation altered to comply with 8-sentence rule)

“Don’t you hate it when Dad…you know?” It was hard to say who was more embarrassed, Claire or Minelle. After several choking coughs, Minelle regained her composure.

“Sometimes, yes,” she said honestly. Like right now, she added to herself.

“Then why do you let him?” Claire tried to keep her voice light. Ever since Minelle had told her that getting married would mean submitting to…that…the whole dating and marrying thing had become a great deal less attractive.

Minelle thought for a moment. “Because I love him?” she asked, as much to herself as to Claire.

Daughter of Discipline will go on sale at Blushing today (Saturday) evening. In the meantime, please enjoy The Vengeance of Mrs. Claus.

Advent Calendar players, please answer one or more of the following questions:

  1. Have you read The Vengeance of Mrs. Claus?
  2. Do you believe Mrs. Claus spanks?
  3. Would you ever let someone spank you? If yes, under what circumstances? How would that person earn your trust?
  4. Why do you think Minelle wears granny panties? (Find out in the book!)

Please note: this is an *additional* extra-credit post, and the regular Advent Calendar post will go live at 8 AM EST Saturday. Have you missed only one day in your quest for Perfect Attendance? Here’s your chance to make up your missed day! You’re welcome. 🙂

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The four unspeakable words of an Ana Vitsky book

I’m online! Hooray! This computer that’s old enough to attend first grade hasn’t been quite bad, actually. Knock on wood. Thank you to everyone who has been really great and understanding. If you need me immediately for something, please contact Celeste Jones (hyperlinking is going to take too much time here, so find her blog on the blogroll, please). You’ll want to contact her anyway because THIS Friday is the VERY first book discussion of Mira!!! If you don’t have your copy of Desire in Any Language yet (what’s wrong with you? hehe…), make sure to pick it up and start reading before the discussion. Everyone is welcome! Please go show Mira some love! Oh…wait…not that kind of love. Giggle.

Some exciting news.

The sequel to The Way Home? Just finished it yesterday and will sign the contract as soon as computer stuff gets worked out. Release date: June 6th. Why? That’s Kat’s birthday!!! We’re going to throw the biggest birthday bash EVER for little miss naughty Kat. I know several of you are the best party planners around, so please put on your thinking caps so we can fete her in style.

Plus, the release date for the Coming to Terms anthology (which I’ll tell you more about later, but is a Kat and Natalie story) is set for May 15th.

If you’re having trouble keeping things straight, here is a quick rundown:

  • March 6th: The Way Home (Kat 1)
  • April (date TBA): Simple Gifts (Leila and Carene)
  • May 15th: “Tomorrow,” (Kat 1.5) in the Coming to Terms anthology
  • June 6th: Kat 2

Plus a few others without dates yet…and one will be especially fun!

Okay. Sorry not to respond to comments, but I did read the Fika discussion (wasn’t that an amazing post? so glad you liked it as much as I did!) and all of the SILLY comments yesterday. I didn’t *really* mean that I deserved a spanking. No need to jump on that bandwagon! Hmph! Okay, maybe I giggled a bit while reading the comments.

Bas dear, if you are reading this: All of my love to you. Thinking of you. ❤

Don’t forget that Love Spanks is fast approaching on February 9th-10th!

Okay! The game. While I’m busy offline for most of today, here’s something to amuse yourselves with.

I hope to announce the release of a new book very, very, VERY soon. (Crossing fingers)

However, there is something unique about this book. Something you would never expect to see in an Ana Vitsky book. Something pretty close to shocking.

What do you think that might be?

What four words (a phrase, not four separate words) would you NEVER expect to read in one of my books?

Some hints: Sue Lyndon has already guessed the phrase includes “swear words and sexy body parts” Nope. Some of the other (hysterical) guesses have included “Spank me, macho man!” “Real men spank better!” “Too good to spank” “Man, can he spank” (Aw c’mon, Matthew spanked Minelle in Vennie! Sheesh. I don’t completely shun M/F), and “Spank my a** now!”

LOL!!

So…it’s your turn. What four-word phrase would shock you right out of your socks?

Mrs. Claus surprise check!

Today’s Advent Calendar post is here.

I admit it.  Yesterday I wanted to conduct a surprise check for the first person to vote for Team Ana.  I told myself that this was *my* Advent Calendar, I set the rules, and if I wanted to use an after-the-fact bribe it was within my prerogative.  I figured if I put up a reward for voting for Team Ana, the votes would all come my way and it would be a landslide.

Then a vision of Mrs. Claus appeared, and I must say that her wooden spoon was rather intimidating.  I tried to reason with her that Sue was using bribery and it was only fair for me to level the playing field, but Mrs. Claus crisply told me that I should be concerned about my own behavior.  Then she gave me reason to become *very* concerned, *very* fast.

Let’s just say that Mrs. Claus and I have an “understanding” now.

She makes her wishes known, and I understand them.

In deference to the avenging Mrs. Claus, I conducted a “Mrs. Claus” surprise check for yesterday’s entries.  Everyone who mentioned “Mrs. Claus” in his or her comment was put into a prize pool:

  • Pao
  • Minelle
  • Joelle
  • Sunny Girl
  • Julia
  • Cat
  • Sassy Chassy

Then I randomly chose one of the names.  Who was the winner?  Why, it was our very favorite:

Sunny Girl!

I randomly selected one of Sue’s books for you, and you win A Firm Husband.

Congratulations, Sunny!  Please email me so I can set you up with a copy of the book.

Regarding the Perfect Attendance Award, we have an impressive eleven contenders as of yesterday!

  • Bas
  • Minelle
  • Abby
  • Jade
  • Julia
  • Kelsey
  • Pao
  • Renee
  • Sassy Chassy
  • SassyTwatter
  • Sunny Girl

***THIS IS AN ANNOUNCEMENT POST ONLY, AND COMMENTS DO NOT COUNT AS ADVENT CALENDAR ENTRIES***

Six Sentence Sunday: Performing His Duties

Good morning, Sixers!  If you want to play Ana’s Advent Calendar, please sign up here so that your comment today will be eligible.  If you don’t want to play and just want to leave a Six Sunday comment, that is also great!  (As a side note, sixteen readers are on their way to a Perfect Attendance award!  Congratulations!)

Today’s snippet is from my soon-to-be-released book, The Vengeance of Mrs. Claus.  Look for it on December 8th from Blushing Books!  Cover and blurb are below.

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Minelle gave a nervous giggle.  “Matthew,” she whispered as she ran a hand down his arm, “slow down.  I don’t even know what we’re doing.”

Matthew gave a flick to his wrist that sent the soft, silky strands of the flogger playing across her breasts.  “I am,” he said slowly, “performing my duties as a husband to my wife.”  He unbuttoned her blouse further.

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vitskymrsclaus

In some countries, turning 21 means gaining the right to vote and drink alcoholic beverages.  For Claire Labraun, the Christmas after her 21st birthday would be beyond her wildest imagination.

Minelle and Matthew Labraun believed in a traditional marriage.  Matthew was head of their household, and Minelle was his helpmeet.  When it came to raising their headstrong 21-year-old daughter, however, they found themselves at a loss.  Minelle had always taught Claire to do the right thing for right’s sake.  Claire, however, had different ideas.  She rebelled against their rules, flaunted authority, and connived to get things she wanted.  She had never been spanked in her life; Matthew and Minelle kept that adult privilege strictly between themselves.  But this year, a visit from Santa plus Claire’s newly adult status would change her idea of Christmas forever.

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For more excerpts of other authors’ works, please visit sixsunday.com

Six Sentence Sunday: Playing Nice

Good morning, Sixers!  Today I am showcasing my newest book that will be published on December 8, titled The Vengeance of Mrs. Claus.  It is a cross between a lighthearted fantasy and a traditional DD romance.  “M” (full character name to be revealed closer to the release date) thinks that there should no longer be a sexy sizzle in her marriage, but her husband thinks otherwise…

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           Sometimes she felt too young for him even now in the midst of comfortable middle age, but at other times she felt much older and wiser.  On their first dates, though, when he taught her about kissing he had teased her by calling her his “little girl”.  His friends called him a cradle-snatcher.  Just barely twenty-two when they married and twenty-three and twenty-five when their children were born, she often felt she had grown up right alongside their babies.  It was ridiculous after all these years for him to still call her “little girl,” but something inside of her tingled at the name.

            “Yes,” she whispered, trying to ignore the funny flips in her stomach as he eased her pants and then her silly granny panties first down to her knees and then completely off.  “You’re far too old for this nonsense and I should put my clothes back on and take that chicken out of the freezer…”

            “Put a hand on your clothes and I’ll stop playing nice with the flogger.”

(c) Anastasia Vitsky

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For excerpts of other authors’ works, please visit sixsunday.com.

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A note to bloggers using captcha (word verification): I try my best to leave a comment, but many times I am unable to do so because of the word-capture.  If you are using blogger and have not manually shut this function off since it became automatic last January, it is still in effect and may be deterring other commenters.  Please see my instructions for how to remove captcha from your blog and why you might wish to do so.  Thank you!