Today’s laugh-out-loud moment courtesy of @pablod

So there I was a few weeks ago, on 5th Avenue, sitting in a Tommy Hilfiger store, innocently reading my tweetstream while I wait for Jane to try on some white linen pants when I come across this tweet:

And then this one:

And laughed so hard, people actually stopped and stared. At me. On 5th Avenue in NYC, and it’s all Pablo’s fault. I made Jane read it immediately when she came out of the dressing room, so she could make a spectacle of herself too. And she did.

Thank you, Pablo. This may be my favorite Twitter moment ever.

This one is for everyone who’s had a difficult work week this week!

Summer Cooking: Grilled fish with cherry tomatoes & tapenade, Rice-Orzo side dish

Honestly, sometimes the parts of the meal that I like best surprise me. Yesterday we made grilled swordfish, cherry tomatoes and homemade tapenade. I wasn’t so sure I would like the tomatoes and tapenade, but was really looking forward to the swordfish. Turns out? We really loved the tomatoes, I loved the tapenade (no one else eats it) and we thought the swordfish was just okay (but we determined that was the fish itself, not the marinade).

So here’s an easy meal, great for summer because it doesn’t require you to turn on the oven or use the stove, and it’s SO refreshing.

For the fish and marinade:A?

Fish, you can use swordfish, tuna, shark or other fish of your choice. Next time I’ll use tuna.

For the marinade:

1 cup white wine (grab a chilled bottle from your wine cooler. Pour a cup for marinade. Pour a glass for you to drink while cooking)

5 cloves minced garlic

2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (you grow rosemary, right? Why not? SO easy)

Combine the marinade and put fish in an 8×8 container, turning to coat. Salt and pepper top of fish, marinade at least an hour. Don’t overmarinate (no more than 4 hours).

To cook: preheat grill to medium high. Make sure the grill is clean! Drain marinade off fish, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 4-5 minutes on each side, for a total of 8-10 minutes. Let cook on one side the full 4-5 minutes, until good grill marks are developed. Use tongs and a spatula to flip.

Serve grilled fish with a side of fresh cherry tomatoes and tapenade.

For the tomatoes:

1 pint cherry tomatoes, washed and halved

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp chopped fresh mint (and you’re also growing fresh mint, right? It grows like a weed!)

Toss tomatoes with olive oil and chopped fresh mint. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand 10 minutes, while fish is grilling. Serve. Incredibly refreshing and delicious.

For the tapenade:

1 cup pitted kalamata olives

2-3 sundried tomatoes (from the jar, in oil)

2 cloves minced garlic

8 basil leaves torn into small pieces

2 Tbsp fresh mint chopped

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp dried thyme

One quarter of a fresh lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

Put olives, garlic and tomatoes in small food processor (this is the one I use and LOVE) and combine until chopped & mixed. Add fresh basil, fresh mint, cayenne pepper, thyme and olive oil and pulse to mix. Taste and reseason to your liking. Squeeze in the juice of the quarter lemon, mix with a spoon. Don’t eat it all while you stand there though!

Serve grilled fish with the side of tomatoes and a spoonful of tapenade. Save excess tapenade for sandwiches, crackers, etc. I also served the fish with fresh buttered bread rolls and the below rice/orzo side dish that’s a summer favorite at my house. You could also serve with this orzo dish.

Homemade Rice-a-Roni (sounds fancier when I say rice and orzo, right?)

1/2 cup orzo

1/2 cup white rice

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups chicken broth

2 tbsp butter

1. Melt butter in pan, add orzo and garlic and cook until orzo is lightly browned.

2. Add white rice and chicken broth, stir and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to simmer, cooking 20 to 25 minutes until broth is absorbed and rice/orzo are cooked. Serve. If it gets too dry, just add a small bit of broth to remoisturize.



Before You Hit Send: the price is going up

The next Before You Hit Send workshop starts next Monday, July 11th and the cost is $35. Starting in the fall, subsequent workshop prices will be rising to $49. As I’ve developed and given this course, attendees have, without fail, told me it’s underpriced. My reply has always been that I fear it will be harder to draw in new attendees at a higher price, because it’s only after people have paid and taken it, that they realize its worth. And my goal has always been to get the information in front of authors, because it’s worth it to me in the form of cleaner manuscripts. Though I’m not so altruistic that I’m going to offer it for free, as someone asked if I’d do on Facebook 😉

However, I’m going to be branching out and promoting the course in new venues. Venues that cost money, so I’ve decided to do two things 1) raise the price and 2) offer coupon codes at certain times. After a lot of market research of similar workshops, and seeing people charge not just 10x, but 20, 30, and 40x what I’m charging (yes, upwards of almost $1000) for writing workshops of comparative length, I feel comfortable that a price increase of $14 is not exorbitant or unreasonable. And I don’t want to undervalue the material.

I wanted to let people know of the price increase, in case they’d been thinking of waiting, so no one had reason to be angry that the price was unexpectedly raised without warning (though this is something that happens as a matter of course in commerce situations)

So if you have friends, chapter members, critique partners or otherwise who you feel would benefit from this course (and if they’re an author–aspiring or established–I’ll bet they’d benefit) please let them know that this is their final opportunity to take the workshop for the lower price.

Workshop registration can be found here.

San Diego Zoo: Day Five of Sharing

I saved the best for last. The Backstage Pass. I paid an extra $100 to do this 2 hour experience and it was SO worth it. So worth it. I loved every minute of the experience, getting to feed and pet the rhinos, feed the flamingos, and get pictures taken with the cheetah and the serval. Fantastic. And hearing the wolf howl was amazing! If you ever go to the San Diego Zoo, I highly recommend the Backstage Pass as something that will really enhance your visit.

In addition to these photos, I also shared a lot of photos on Instagram, if you want to check them out.

San Diego Zoo: Day Four of Sharing

This day is for Shannon Stacey, who tells me she loves polar bears. Some of my favorite pictures are in this group! Also, I think the baby hippo may have been one of my favorite exhibits. He was so cute and playful. I wanted to spend more time watching him, but the viewing area was super crowded.


San Diego Zoo: Day Three of Sharing

If yesterday was the day of monkeys, today is the day of birds. Mostly flamingos because I spent a lot of time watching the baby flamingos. I’d never seen a baby flamingo before!

I should also share the “Backstage Pass” photo of me feeding the flamingos. Love!

San Diego Zoo: Day Two of Sharing

Today I’m going to share some of the monkey pictures with you. Yes, there were enough pictures of monkeys to show only those in one day. Remember, I was at the zoo by myself. No child to tell me to “Hurry up, Mommy, let’s gooooo” so I could stop and watch whatever I wanted for as long as I wanted. Probably why I ended up spending so much time at the zoo (8 hours) and still not seeing everything (I missed an ENTIRE section!)

So below are some of the monkey shots I took. I have to admit I am disappointed because somehow I missed the orangutans. I’ve always been fascinated by them. I blame Clint Eastwood. So, no pictures of orangutans.

San Diego Zoo: Day one of sharing

Two weeks ago I was in San Diego, hosted by the fabulous RWA chapter there. I went in one day early to do something I rarely get to do when I travel: sightsee. I was determined to spend one free day in San Diego, and see more than the hotel and airport. I spent all day Friday at the San Diego Zoo, which was fabulous. I had an amazing time there. And took a lot of pictures. So I’m going to share them with you every day this week (while I’m off at RWA Nationals in NYC!)

For the first set of pictures, the first thing I did when I got in to the zoo was took the 40-minute guided bus tour they offer as part of admission. I was so glad I did, because it gave me some insight into the zoo layout, and I also got to see a lot of the animals wide awake and active first thing. Here are my favorite moments from that bus tour.

Summer cooking: Spicy Fish Tacos with Corn Salsa

I love fish tacos and it’s hard to find good ones where I am. Odd, since I’m near the ocean. But I’m in Maryland, and I must say that California (and Arizona and Texas) have much better fish tacos than around me. So I went searching for a recipe, and came up with this one from Of course, I promptly changed it, but still. Loved it! Warning: these are spicy. If you want not spicy, you’ll need to change the seasoning on the fish.


    For Salsa:
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup peeled, chopped jicama*
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper (I omitted.)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • For Fish:

  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 6 (4 ounce) fillets tilapia (I used about a pound and 3/4) You don’t have to use tilapia, any white fish will work, including cod and catfish.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 flour tortillas, warmed (original recipe called for corn. Blech!)
  • For sauce:

  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • leftover spices (anything you didn’t sprinkle on fish, or to taste)
  • 1/2 jalapeno
  • rest of cilantro (will probably be about 1/2 to 1 cup after you add 1 cup to salsa)
  • salt to taste
  • a dash of olive oil

*Jicama can be a bit difficult to find. Don’t look for it in Walmart, you’re going to have to go to a grocery store with a good produce section. I found mine separated from the other veggies, where they sell some of the more exotic veggies. If you’ve never had jicama, and are worried you won’t like it, or should skip it, don’t. It’s a tuber, one with a very subtle, almost sweet flavor. Once it gets in the salsa, you know it’s there, but it doesn’t have an overwhelming taste, and it adds a fantastic, and necessary, crunch. The salsa wouldn’t be the same without it.

1. Mix together cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt in a small bowl. Sneeze repeatedly like I did from pepper floating through air. Don’t sneeze on the food. Brush fish with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with seasoning mix. The heavier you coat, the spicier it will be. Set aside.

2. Mix corn (I boiled corn on the cob and then stripped it from the cobs. You could use leftover corn or corn from the can, but fresh is best!), red onion (yes, red, not white or yellow, red), cilantro, jicama and lime juice in a bowl. This is your corn salsa and it’s amazing.

3. Grill or fry the fish fillets. I fried mine, using no more olive oil than I brushed on the fillets. It was perfect!

4. While you’re grilling/frying the fish, prepare the sauce. I used my mini food processor (have we talked about my love for this thing?) but you can use a blender or regular food process. Put all of the ingredients in the mini food processor and combine until in liquid form. This should be to your taste, so test it and add ingredients as you want. It’s meant to be a combination of spicy and cooling. I felt mine had too much lime this time (I used a whole lime) so next time I’ll use only half. You could add more sour cream, if you wanted to stretch it. Put the sauce in a bowl or squeeze bottle.

5. Serve the fish tacos. Lay out flour tortillas. Let hungry folk top their tortilla with fish, then salsa and sauce. Can also serve plain sour cream alongside.

6. Drink with beer to reduce spicy effect. Enjoy!

A Carina Press anniversary post from Rhonda Stapleton

In celebration of our one year anniversary, I asked as many of our Harlequin team members and Carina Press freelance editors as possible to write a short blog post, talking about what the past year or so has been like for them, working on Carina Press. I deliberately didn’t provide any direction other than that, because I wanted to see what people came up with, in the spirit of Carina’s 1st anniversary. I was so pleased when I saw what they’d all come up with, and had to say (and some of these posts made me just a little teary)! I hope you enjoy the post, and look for your opportunity to win a Carina Press book at the bottom of this post. If you’re curious about my thoughts on the Carina Anniversary, you can find me on the Carina blog today, and on Nadia Lee’s blog, talking about it ~Angela James


Rhonda Stapleton is a freelance editor for Carina Press. You can follow her on Twitter.


Happy 1-year anniversary, Carina!


Being an editor for Carina Press has been one of the most awesome experiences of my life. This past year, since Carina launched, Ia??ve read hundreds upon hundreds of submissions, edited some amazing manuscripts, learned the fine art of balancing my schedule and bonded with fellow freelance editors over how glorious cheese really is.


Herea??s a bulleted list of a few things Ia??ve learned, experienced, loved and hated about being a part of Carina this past year:


–You really cana??t be too nit-picky about the details within a manuscripta??because if you arena??t, the copy editor will be. Those people catch EVERYTHING and will make you feel dumb with every. Single. Manuscript. And if they dona??t, the readers do, and then we get to hear ALL about it, haha.


–Therea??s something intoxicating about being one of the first people to get a real gem of a manuscript. As youa??re reading, youa??re already planning how youa??re gonna pitch it for acquisition, looking for edits you think it needs, etc. In short, youa??re vesting yourself in ita??and THATa??S how I know a story has hooked me.


–One of the only things I hate about working for Carina? When I fall in love with a story and get to acquire ita??only to lose it to another publisher. I finally understand how awful that feels. IT SUCKS.


–The other thing I hate about working for Carina? Having to reject manuscripts (not writersa??manuscripts). Sometimes I fall for an authora??s voice, but the story itself doesna??t work for me. Sometimes the author needs to work harder on the craft before submitting. Sometimes a story is sooooo close but not quite there. It never gets any easier, regardless of the reason for rejection, and I always feel guilty about it. Luckily most authors are incredibly gracious.


–I love working at home. As Ia??m typing this, Ia??m sitting on my covered patio, listening to birds chirp. The sun is warm, soft, with light breezes flowing through the large screened windows. My old job? I was in a gray cubicle facing the mena??s bathroom. Yeah, Ia??m happy to be done with that.


So, happy 1-year anniversary, Carina Press! Thanks for letting me do what I love mosta??read, bond with authors and make stories as strong as they can be.

To celebrate Carina’s one year anniversary of publishing books, we’re giving away some prizes. Today, on each of the nineteen blogs our team members are featured on, we’re giving away a download of a Carina Press book to one random winner (that’s nineteen total winners!) All you need to do to be entered to win is comment on this post. You can enter to win on all nineteen posts. In addition, on the Carina Press blog, we’re giving away a grand prize of a Kobo ereader and 12 Carina Press books of the winner’s choice. Visit the Carina Press blog to enter to win, and to see links to all 19 of today’s blog posts.

And a sincere thank you from all of us, to our readers and authors, for making Carina Press’s first year a success!


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