Tag Archives: List Making

Amanda Usen on Making Lists and More

Hello hello! How are all of you? As you see we have Amanda Usen with us today! Whee! She writes foodie romances, and who wouldn’t like that? She’s also got the whole question thing covered at the end, so double win! Here’s what she has to say:

I love lists. I LIVE lists. The first thing I did this morning was make a grocery list of things I need to buy to make Garden Lasagna for a recipe post. Most of the time, I make lofty lists – things that cannot be accomplished in a day, or maybe even a week. I make lists of big things I need to do over a long period of time, and I stick it on the wall. Sometimes, I even make a list of things that need to get done in a YEAR. Currently, I have a list on the wall that says: get yearly, get mammo, get colonoscopy. Two out of three so far…as the daughter of a colon cancer survivor, I really need to get my a#% in there, so to speak, but *shudder*. Still, it’s on the list, so it will get done. Is that TMI?

The most frequent guest on my list is “finish the book.” Actually, that is always on my list because when I finish one I start another. I’m also a teacher, a mom, a wife, and all the other stuff that goes with being those things, so that’s why I make lists. Sometimes the crushing weight of a zillion things to do makes me feel like I’m going to forget to do something big. My husband is convinced I’m happiest when I have the most things to do. I don’t know what that says about me, but I think he’s right! So…lists.

When I started writing Into the Fire, I made a different kind of list: a trope list. Full disclosure: first I had to look up the definition. Then I had to cull the internet for a list of tropes. Then I made a list of the tropes in the books on my keeper shelf. As it turns out, I’m a big fan of the one-night-stand. *snerk* My one-night-stand turned into a fourteen-year-marriage (so far). I also love enemies to lovers. They hate each other but they keep ending up in a conflicted clinch. Half-naked! For two hundred pages! I can’t put the book down because I want them to DO IT already. Finally, I love a reformed playboy, particularly if he’s filthy rich. A powerful man with money to burn and a ton of experience in the sack? Pick me! Pick me! And then he gives up all other women because I am THE ONE! I mean…the heroine is the one. Whatever. I am so in for that fantasy.

That’s when I decided I was on to something. Fantasy. I make no bones about the fact that I try to write books that are fun. I read for pleasure, so I want to write books that give pleasure. How do I do that? I write fantasies. Of course, they are partly my fantasies. Anything I write will be viewed through my lens, but I hope they strike a chord with readers as well. So here’s a list of the top ten fantasies I put in Into the Fire:

  1. The guy you’ve had a crush on for years suddenly notices you…big time.

  2. …and as if that’s not fantastic enough, Mr. Crush takes you to his place and does unspeakably erotic things to you all night.

  3. You go head-to-head with a hot chef in a cook-off and kick his butt…with witnesses.

  4. You are fighting your attraction to said volcanically hot chef, and he says the equivalent of “Let’s have a one-night truce because I simply cannot resist you a moment longer.”

  5. He picks you up for dinner, ravishes you immediately then suggests you put on comfortable clothes because he’s going to take you to three of the best restaurant in NYC, and he expects you to stuff yourself silly. (That’s hot, right? It’s not just me?)

  6. You get the last word in an argument…with witnesses.

  7. You don’t get the last word all the time because then Mr. Volcano would be unworthy of setting your panties on fire and creating all that molten heat in your core.

  8. Not only does your super-fast, semi-public quickie reach a doubly successful conclusion, the sex is always freaking a-ma-zing. Every time!

  9. You ache for approval, and you get it from the person who matters most.

  10. You get the last word.

Noticing a theme, here? It’s that kind of book! Jack and Lila in Into the Fire have issues. Heck, we all have issues, but those two get to work them out in fun ways, not go to the grocery store, get a colonoscopy, and make dinner…again…ways. I’m currently brainstorming a list of fun fantasies to put in Betsy’s book, Book Three of the Hot Nights series. Do you have anything to add to my list? If it inspires me or goes into the book, I will absolutely give you credit in the acknowledgments! What are your favorite romantic fantasies, the things that make you fist pump, melt, pleasantly seethe, grin, giggle, etc? So far I *know* Betsy will be having a hot up-against-the-wall in a French Quarter alley encounter…and that she’ll regret it…mostly. One lucky commenter will win my favorite can’t-live-without cooking tool, a mini offset spatula. I’ll also throw in some swag, including a Chapter One excerpt of Into the Fire. Speaking of excerpts, you can read it here.

(No really, go read it, then come back. We’ll wait. :D)

Whew! Limecello, thanks for letting me relive that moment, and readers, thanks for tuning in!

And just for some more book info – and just so you can see it, this is the original cover. The one at top is the “new and improved” one from the publisher. But I figured, why not share part of the process? 😉

Jackson Calabrese has a lot of nerve. He beat Lila Grant in the Culinary Academy competition using her recipes. Now, he’s opening a restaurant and wants her help? Fine, she’ll fix his menu, but it’s going to cost him.

Heir to the Calabrese restaurant empire, Jackson can buy anything he wants, except creativity, so he buys Lila’s instead. He can craft perfect paella, but to take New York by storm he needs her innovative spark.

Skillets aren’t the only things hot in the kitchen, and an uneasy truce ignites into passion. They’re great in bed, but Jackson doesn’t trust her, and Lila is contemplating revenge. The restaurant opening approaches, the menu is completed, and the tables are set for one final act of betrayal. How can love bloom in the midst of such a hot mess?

Bio: Amanda Usen knows two things for certain: chocolate cheesecake is good for breakfast, and a hot chef can steal your heart. Her husband stole hers the first day of class at the Culinary Institute of America. She married him after graduation in a lovely French Quarter restaurant in New Orleans, and they spent a few years enjoying the food and the fun in the Big Easy. Now they live in Western New York with their three children, one hamster, two guinea pigs, a tortoise, and a new-to-them beagle. Amanda spends her days teaching pastry arts classes and her nights writing romance. If she isn’t baking or writing, she can usually be found chasing the kids around the yard with her very own hot chef husband.

Want chimichurri, chocolate cake or Chicken Alighieri? Visit Amanda’s site, where you can find recipes for many of the yummy dishes in her books. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter if you want to chat about romance, writing, or recipes.

And now for Amanda’s contest question.

Chapter One of Into the Fire is Jack and Lila’s one-night-stand, by the way…so let’s make a list! For the chance to win a mini offset spatula, swag, and the first chapter of Into the Fire…what’s your favorite romance fantasy? Do you enjoy getting the last word, like Lila? Or are you looking for approval, like Jack?