HelenKay Dimon Giveaway

In honor of Kate, and the extreme love and genuine enthusiasm she had for the authors and books she edited, I’m giving away a copy each of two of Kate’s releases today from one of her authors, HelenKay Dimon. I have no doubt today is indeed a bittersweet day for HelenKay.

To enter to win a print copy of Holding Out For A Hero by HelenKay Dimon or the anthology Kissing Santa Claus by Donna Kaufman, Jill Shalvis and HelenKay Dimon, simply leave a comment. You can just say “please enter me” if you’re not sure what else to say, because sometimes words are hard to find.

Don’t feel awkward about entering because this is also a tribute post to Kate. I promise you, Kate loved romance, loved her authors, and she loved it when her authors’ books were successful. She’d want you to win their books and then go buy up their entire backlist and make everyone “pots of money”. I’ll choose a winner next Monday, please be sure to leave a valid email address so I can contact you. I’m sorry that I can only offer the giveaway to those in the US.

In memory of Kate.

As many of you know by now, the legendary Kate Duffy passed away this weekend. For those of you who read my blog but don’t follow publishing, I hope you’ll take a few moments to read about Kate. Her obituary is here, and if you have even a casual acquaintance with romance, you’ll recognize many of the authors she edited.

Kate’s passing is…devastating and her presence in the publishing industry is going to be missed. While I was not as close to her as many, many people out there, she was a champion of mine, a mentor, and I’ve had a hard time thinking to put into words what she meant to me. She did what so many authors and editors aspire to do: she left her mark on the romance industry and the people in it. Reading the tributes and memories of her left in various places, it’s clear that she did something amazing. She touched peoples’ lives in a number of tangible and intangible ways. An editor who has done that is an editor who’s succeeded at being brilliant at her job. I’ve always joked that I want to be Kate Duffy when I grow up. Reading the memories of those left behind hasn’t changed that. I can only dream of being as influential as she on so many lives across the industry. Even the readers who will never know she’s the one who brought them the astounding author talent she found. Kate Duffy was irreplaceable.

I know that there were people out there who didn’t like her: she was brusque, tough, critical, didn’t pull any punches and if you got on her bad side, look out. But many of us loved her for who she was, how she said it, her humor, her sarcasm, her practicality and her innate kindness when she sensed you were floundering or needed a boost up. She had a genuine enjoyment of romance and books, and never seemed to lose sight of what was most important: the readers. I’ve regretted her illness and her absence from conferences and most communication these past months, both for my own selfish reasons and for the publishing world in general. I especially missed her with all that’s happened in my professional life lately, because she was so pragmatic and gave great advice. As I write this, I still can’t believe that chapter is closed.

The first time I met Kate was several years ago at an RT conference. I was asked to do a panel for Judy McCoy’s beginning writer’s pre-conference. I walked in and discovered Kate was also on the panel. I had never before met her but knew of her and my first thought was “Oh my God I’m sitting next to Kate Duffy.” Next, “Oh my God, I’m going to sound like a blithering, inexperienced idiot next to her. Please don’t let me say anything stupid.” I was, quite frankly, as terrified as if I’d been pitching a novel to her. But Kate, being Kate, was awesome. She didn’t make me feel as though I had any less right to be sitting there than she, she agreed with, and highlighted much of what I said, and she gave me the “the Kate” look when, during the course of that panel, she revealed she’d been in publishing since 1975 and I ribbed her about the fact that was the year I was born. Our friendship started there and continued over the course of these past few years. I still quote her on certain things about writing and editing she shared with me. I’ll continue to quote her because, well, she was right then and she’ll still be right ten years from now.

At a later RT, I was sitting with her (laughing hysterically) when she filmed this video. If you never had the opportunity to meet her, it’s classic Kate. She was thrilled that her badge said “reader” because she said readers were the most important people in the industry and she was glad to be someone important at that conference, in the form of a reader.

Last February, she took me to lunch and we gabbed for way longer than lunch is supposed to last. We talked about my job, her job, and the possibilities of both. Those possibilities will never be realized now. The reality of this still escapes me.

At that same lunch, she told me I HAD to attend the Washington Romance Writers yearly retreat. “I will kick your butt at Romance Jeopardy and I won’t show you any mercy just because I like you.” Unfortunately, by the time WRW rolled around, she was ill. I was there, participating in Romance Jeopardy and thinking the whole time how much I wished she were there, because she was right–it was great and I did love it. I know that particular chapter will feel her absence keenly, which is a tribute to just how much she gave to authors.

2 years ago, we were at a party at RWA. She had introduced me to author Zoe Archer, whose work she was extremely excited about, and whose work she was still talking about a year later, at our lunch. At that party, Zoe and I riffed on the idea of insperoticals. “Jesus porn”. Mostly we did it because Kate was horrified, and anything that could horrify Kate, while still amusing her, was something to be gleeful about. Kate told us she was glad she was sitting on the other side of the table, as lightning was sure to strike us down at any moment. I’ve thought of that conversation many times these past two days.

Kate, lightning did strike us, in the form of your loss. You will be missed.

Football food! Pizza pinwheels.

It’s been awhile since I posted a recipe on the blog, which is sad because I’ve had some great ones in the past few months. Yesterday morning on Twitter, I asked people what their favorite football food was, and what their most unique favorite was. One of the responses led me to this recipe, and I immediately decided to make it for dinner and Monday Night Football. Have I mentioned how much I love football season, and the sounds of football on TV? This recipe was a big hit with all three of us (Josh, myself and my brother–Brianna is out of town but I don’t doubt she’d have loved it too) so I’m sharing it here. And, of course, I adapted it so I’m writing my adaptation here instead.

* 1 can of Pillsbury French Bread dough
* 1/2 – 3/4 cup pizza sauce (recipe below if you want homemade. And you do).
* Pepperoni (how much you use will depend on you). I also think Canadian Bacon would be great in this.
* 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
* 1/4 – 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
* 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (I used Herbs de Provence direct from France. Thanks, Lindsey!)
* garlic powder
* Olive Oil

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil
3. Sprinkle a clean area of your counter with flour
4. Unroll bread dough and spread into a rectangle.
5. Spread dough with a thin layer of pizza sauce. It shouldn’t be super saucy, this is just for a little added flavor. Yum!
6. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of sauce, then top that with shredded parmesan.
7. Sprinkle a light dusting of garlic powder on top of cheese and follow with italian seasoning. You could also use just oregano or just basil. Crush the seasoning between your fingers to release the oils.
8. Roll dough like a jelly roll and pinch each long end closed (so stuff doesn’t seep out during cooking). Pinch seam along roll to seal as well, and place on lined pan seam side down.
9. Brush outside of dough with olive oil, then sprinkle with a small amount of italian seasoning.
10. Bake for 35-45 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine was done in 35 minutes at exactly 375 (I have an oven thermometer I keep in there).
11. Let cool for a few minutes so cheese and ingredients have a chance to set a bit. Slice into 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick pieces and serve with heated pizza sauce for dipping.

Pizza sauce. I never buy my own pizza sauce any longer, I’ve been making my own for at least a year and it’s better than anything I’ve ever been able to buy. Here’s the original recipe. Rather than measuring out the spices every time I do this, I make a large batch of the spices mixed together, and store them in a plastic container, so all I have to do is add a Tbsp of that to the wet ingredients and the pizza sauce goes together in 5 minutes. I’m providing here the recipe for mixing a large batch of spices together. If you want a single serving just for this recipe, visit the original recipe here.

Mix this in a small plastic container, we’ll call it pizza sauce seasoning:
2 tablespoons and 1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
2-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2-1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram
2-1/2 teaspoons dried basil
2-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1-3/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1-3/4 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes

For sauce mix together in a small bowl:
1 Tbsp of pizza sauce seasoning
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
6 fluid ounces warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic (I don’t always include this, if I’m in a hurry)
2 tablespoons honey (this makes a sweet sauce. I suggest adding 1 Tbsp and tasting)
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional and not an ingredient I include)
salt to taste (remember, cheese and most meats like pepperoni have high salt content so you won’t need much if any)

Sauce should sit for at least 30 minutes to blend flavors. Heat in microwave for several minutes to serve as dipping sauce, to further blend flavors. This recipe makes enough to cover one pizza, or for the above recipe plus dipping sauce for 3-4 people.

And so it goes

Quartet Press has closed.

Let’s just get that out of the way for anyone who hasn’t been around for in the past 24 hours. I can’t write about the details of the why it happened, partly because I’m still a little puzzled and confused about the choice made and wasn’t involved in any part of that decision, but also because I’m still under 48 hours of finding out myself, rather abruptly and without warning, so I’m still processing. Plus, I’m not willing to say anything about it if I can’t be honest, so instead, I can only talk about my personal experience and feelings, I’m sorry.

To say I’m sick, and sad, and shocked (and other “s” words you can think of that might be appropriate) and, yep, angry might be putting it a little mildly. Who would have expected this? But as with my joining of Quartet Press, it’s abrupt closure has caused a lot of speculation, some general nastiness and lots of disappointment, and I know people are looking for some sort of answers that I’m very sorry I can’t give publicly. At the same time, the offers of support and well-wishes have been more overwhelming than anything. Thank you.

Publishing is a business, and like any other business, the chances we take and the choices we make aren’t always going to work out how we planned. Though I didn’t leap into the decision to join Quartet, and spent weeks negotiating with them, agonizing over my decision, long conversations with my husband, and working out contract details, it only shows that even the most carefully thought out decisions and plans can still crumble. It happens. I made a business decision, a choice, and I own that, if anyone expected me to say differently, you haven’t been paying attention to who I am. So, in looking back and Monday morning quarterbacking my decision…I know that I was careful, I didn’t make a precipitous, foolish or sudden decision and I can’t say I’m sure I would have done it differently. And if the opportunity comes in the future for me to work with Kirk and Kassia again, I would be eager to take it, because they’re two of the smartest people I know and I only wish osmosis worked so I could soak up some of that and share the brilliance and ingenuity.

The difficult part of this now is moving on. Moving on to something new and different. Moving on from the speculative comments suggesting I was secretly working for Quartet for months while working for Samhain (I wasn’t, my official start date at Quartet was mid-August and came only shortly after we finalized negotiations. There is no unofficial start date), that I did something unethical or horrendously wrong in making a business decision for myself and my family, or that I somehow got what I deserved for daring to do try to do something different with my career. Moving on from the guilt that I feel towards my husband and daughter, and the people, both friends and strangers, who supported and believed in the project, the authors and editorial candidates that committed time and energy. Moving on to continue to prove that digital publishing IS viable, despite this happening because what happened had nothing to do with the viability of digital publishing. Nothing. And, yes, moving on to the next project I believe in. Because, in the end, I believed in Quartet Press and I still do think it could have succeeded and been an asset to the digital community. That it came to this still has me reeling in shock because, truthfully, the plans were in place, deals were made and we were well on our way to launching and becoming profitable. I’m just so disappointed, you can’t possibly imagine.

So, moving on. Of course it’s not always easy, it’s not always fun but it’s what we do and I’m going to throw myself into that because I’m not the type to be content to sit around. That’s how I ended up in digital publishing in the first place, because I love to work. What am I going to do? I don’t know yet. I believe I have a lot to offer, both in my skills as an editor and in my knowledge of digital publishing. Hopefully some smart publisher out there will recognize that and call immediately 😉

In the meantime, I’ll look at this as an opportunity to make new plans, do some reading and get some sewing done. When you go from tremendously, overwhelmingly busy to…not so much…you realize all the things you’ve been putting off “until you have time”. I guess that’s now!

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