A late summer toast to old friends, new books, and… Ragnarök?

The Tricksters Lover

I’ve been friends with the hilarious, curious, adventurous, and all-around lovable Samantha MacLeod* since I think third grade. We grew up together, playing anthropomorphized tigers on the playground right up until adolescence, getting into some real questionable music in junior high, and eventually self-publishing a book of our high school poetry before parting ways at college-time.

In the years since then, we’ve both seen the world as WWOOFers (she in Italy and me in Belgium), held a few real questionable jobs (she was a barista at the University of Chicago Divinity School coffee shop, Grounds of Being; I threw my body and soul into many “healthy patient clinical trials” in Boston), and have now settled into pretty awesome lives in our respective climes: she’s a Maine-based mom of two with a kickass chemist husband; I’m a good-times Brooklyn girl who gets to work in my pajamas by day and plan my wedding with the world’s handsomest bass-playing vegan bicyclist at night.

I’m so tickled and happy that Samantha and I have stayed friends all these years. (The fact that I can’t find any e-photos of us together should be no comment on the quality of said friendship! I attribute that mostly to digital cameras’ nonexistence for the first 20-ish years of our knowing each other. To make up for this awful dearth, I am happy to present instead this adorable photo of Samantha’s daughter carrying their cat Maxwell Finnegan up the stairs in the summer of 2013.)

Toddler carrying cat

Girl with cat

Now, a new chapter (pun annoyingly intended) has begun in Samantha’s life, and I want to shout it from the rooftops: she’s a serious published author with a juicy new paranormal romance heating up the shelves!! You can find The Trickster’s Lover right here.

Classic Samantha, the book combines a grad student’s wavering commitment to a career in Norse mythology with a scandalous visitation from Loki, “the enigmatic and irresistibly sexy Norse trickster god.” Mayhem (and many steamy love scenes) ensue as protagonist Caroline wrestles with her choices, her sanity, and Ragnarök—the mythical apocalyptic battle that will ultimately submerge the world in water.

On the grounds that she is a fantastic human being and because capping your summer reading list with an unusual and super-hot book like this sounds like good advice, I hereby urge y’all to order a copy today! And check out Samatha’s blog. It’s also really hot, in the way that funny, clever, and endearing things are really hot.

*Not her real name! Who knows when this romance author might want to run for President?

#LitHappens: A bookish fairy tale come to life

My boyfriend’s company hosts magical holiday parties: employees and their plus-ones dress like they’re going to the Oscars, the food and drinks roll out generously all night, and software guys and gals known for being reserved in the office break into funk moves on the dance floor with holiday abandon. Among the many parties we’re grateful to attend each December, this one is always poised to be a winner.

This year’s fete was no exception, and in fact was particularly memorable for one big, hunky reason: FABIO.

Fabio

Ripe for Refactoring with Fabio (I don’t know; it’s a computer joke)

The party’s theme this year was a literary one, so different rooms in the hotel that hosted it were decked out with the trappings of different genres, authors, and other book-related motifs. There was a Dr. Seuss room, a fantasy fiction room, the Library of Alexandria, etc, and a t-shirt screening corner where you could get a custom-printed frock with your choice of literary pun on it (eg: “#LitHappens”).

And, in one room, there were blown-up, illuminated romance novel covers and a mini photo studio where The Man himself stood ready to receive his fans. We could hardly believe it, but it was not a buttery imitation—it was the real-deal Fabio!

Of course we hopped on the (surprisingly long) line and hammed it up with Mr. Lanzoni (I went the zany route, natch, while Arthur piloted the straight man trope). I can sincerely say that the Italian Stallion was a total doll, patient and affable throughout what I have to imagine was, though a thrilling night for Fabio fanciers, a pretty repetitive and boring few hours for him.

So here’s to you, Fabio! Thanks for reaffirming my love of books, sunsets, and hugs this holiday season, all in the same photo op.

The Friday Sky: Lerici, Italy

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From the hotel parking lot

Overlooking Il Golfo dei Poeti, the Gulf of Poets, so called because so many poor poets were thrown in here as punishment for being nerds.

JK! I haven’t looked it up yet, but hopefully that is not the actual origin of the name.

Ciao!

Inking my summer vacation

Arthur and I are bound for Europe tomorrow, to enjoy two and a half weeks of burning hot Mediterranean sun; explaining our vegetarianism in broken Italian, Polish, Czech, and Hungarian; and attending the weddings of two lovely and sophisticated women we do not know well.

I’ve been nose to the grindstone for the past few weeks preparing to basically shut down my freelance biz for the better part of August. Woo! I also tasked myself with the related duty of finishing my last journal and buying a new one to start on the trip. Last Friday, I done did it!

Goodbye, old friend; hello, new... friend

Goodbye, old friend; hello, new… friend

I always feel way too smugly satisfied when I retire a finished journal (do you know how much genius is in there??), but then I’m always proportionately humbled when I realize how daunted I feel when faced with all those brand-new, blank pages.

I guess parts of Europe are at least marginally inspiring. So here’s to jump-starting the new spiral guy with quotes overheard at smoky outdoor cafes, stories about making out in the shadows of really old churches, and old-school overnight train tickets pressed between the pages.