More Sugar Sun teasers

It’s a hot summer! The teasers have been so popular—and so much fun to make—that I have a few more for you from the rest of the series. Enjoy!

I will continue to create more for the #TeaserTues (#TeaserTuesday) and #ThursdayBookTease hashtags on Twitter, and I will post everything I make on both my instagram and Pinterest pages.

Note on all images used: All are either CC 2.0 licensed photos (which I may use with attribution, so check the fine print on the photo) or are released free of copyright (CC 0.0) and found at Pixabay, Pexels, or Unsplash.

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Sugar Moon teasers for the impatient

My writing process involves about ten set of revisions, and I am hopefully doing the last set now. Then it’s full-on editing time, and inevitably I have to rewrite something. My best guess for the arrival of Sugar Moon, book 4 in the Sugar Sun series, is—at the earliest—September 2017. (It will probably not be then. Sorry.)

But I’m having a blast writing (and rewriting) it, mostly because Allegra Alazas is such an ornery spitfire. People always look for pieces of the author in their characters, but I have to say that Allegra is totally her own woman. I wish I were as confident and blunt as she is. Maybe she’s aspirational to me. I don’t know.

Allegra (or “Allie,” as Ben calls her) is certainly what our troubled hero needs, both inside and outside the bedroom. By the way, this book will be sexy. The teasers below are pretty sexy. Just a warning. Or is that an inducement? You choose.

None of the text is set in stone, of course, because my editor hasn’t gotten to it yet. (It will be better and shorter when he is done.) But these are meant to whet your appetite, not satisfy it. I will continue to create more for the #TeaserTues (#TeaserTuesday) and #ThursdayBookTease hashtags on Twitter, and I will post everything I make on both my instagram and Pinterest pages. So follow me at one of those places to keep up with all the latest from Ben and Allie. I also have a few favorite memories from the other books in the series, too. Enjoy!

Note on all images used: All are either CC 2.0 licensed photos (which I may use with attribution, so check the fine print on the photo) or are released free of copyright (CC 0.0) and found at Pixabay, Pexels, or Unsplash.

Sugar Sun series glossary term #31: banca (bangka) (but really this is the post on language)

The Definition

What is a bangka? It depends on whom you ask.

Javier was not thrilled to be out on the water at such a late hour, even if the moon was bright and the rowers competent. Had this been a pleasure tour, the hacendero would have had no complaint, but tonight he wanted to get on with it or go home. As if they could read Javier’s mind, the rowers abruptly beached the banca, hopped out onto shore, and dragged the vessels away from the water line.

Under the Sugar Sun

As you can probably guess from the context, banca or bangka means boat—specifically a double-outrigger canoe. If you have visited anywhere outside Manila, you have probably taken a bangka. When I first drafted Sugar Moon, Ben and Allie did a fair amount of bangka travel in Samar.

Historic image of banca at Taal volcano by University of Michigan as illustrating Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series.
A colonial photograph of a banca in the crater lake of the Taal volcano, accessed at the University of Michigan Philippine Photographs Digital Archive.

But here’s the problem: bangka may mean outrigger canoe in Tagalog and Cebuano, but I found out that it means cockroach in the Waray language of Samar, Biliran, and parts of Leyte. While strange stuff happens in Sugar Moon, riding a cockroach through the surf is a whole new level. So I took the word out and used boring old English.

The Implication

This brings up an important point about the Philippines: it the tenth most linguistically diverse country in the world. There are eight language groups, 19 local languages that can be taught in early childhood education (from kindergarten to 3rd grade), and now 200 total languages identified. Such linguistic abundance makes geographic sense. The Philippines is an archipelago nation of 7,641 islands, and it is so spread out that it stretches almost from Seattle to Los Angeles. No wonder one language could not dominate. But this doesn’t make things easy.

Area comparison map of the Philippine and United States and a linguistic and language map of the Philippines for illustrating Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series
On left, an area comparison map of the Philippines as created by the Central Intelligence Agency; on right, a linguistic map of the Philippines by GeoCurrents.

As you may remember from previous posts, the Americans turned this rich multilingual heritage into a justification for a monolingual (English) education system. English is still one of the two official languages of the country, along with Filipino. (Filipino is the “most prestigious variety” of the Tagalog language of Metro Manila, according to the chair of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, or the Commission on the Filipino Language.)

For the purposes of my series, Filipino (or Tagalog) had not yet been designated official (1937), which means that regional languages, such as those in the Visayas (like Cebuano and Waray) would have been even stronger at the beginning of the twentieth century. I have to thank Liana Smith Bautista (and her mom) for being my newest go-to research sources on Cebuano, though all errors in my books are my own. I also am deeply indebted to the creator of the amazing Binisaya online dictionary and reference guide.

Top ten language myths in the Philippines from Inquirer newspaper to illustrate Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series
From the article “Debunking PH Language Myths” in the Inquirer newspaper.

American readers, have I utterly confused you? The number of indigenous languages is daunting—and I have not even mentioned the foreign tongues spoken in some families, like Hokkien (from China). Is it any surprise that most Filipinos grow up bilingual, at the very least? As Javier said to Georgina when they first argued about her English textbooks: “I grew up bilingual, learned three more languages in school, and another while traveling. It’s only Americans who can’t seem to manage more than one.” (And with the direction of funding for foreign language education in US public schools, we will not be getting much better.)

Allegra is a polyglot, too, by the way:

“To be honest,” Ben said, “it’s a little eerie how American you sound, Allie. From what the folks here tell me, you also speak Spanish like an Iberian. And Cebuano, and Tagalog, and Latin…”

She used her other hand to wave away the compliments. “I was raised speaking Spanish in the house and Cebuano everywhere else, and I had to learn Tagalog in Manila. No one but a priest speaks Latin, but I learned how to read it in school—”

“You’re missing my point. You’re a linguist, a natural.”

She blushed even more furiously than when he had first taken her hand. “Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me yet. I’m telling you why you scare those American phonies at the club. Do you really think they’ll award you a scholarship for being smarter than they are?”

— Sugar Moon (upcoming)

Ben’s respect for Allegra’s intelligence has been one of the most fun things about writing this couple. He is not a scholar and doesn’t pretend to be, but he is not intimidated by her skills, either. In fact, as we’ll see, he needs them.

So we’ve gotten a little bit away from the bangka in this glossary “definition”—sorry—but you probably just needed a picture for that. (If you want more nautical know-how, read about this group trying to help local fishermen design bangkas out of fiberglass—a light, durable, super-typhoon-proof alternative to wood.) Otherwise, I hope that you, like me, have learned a larger lesson about language through the study of this one little word.

Maybe we all need a vacation to ponder these languages a bit more. Photo at Pixabay. Featured photo at top of post also from Pixabay.

How to Blue Apron: Jen’s Tips from Sabbatical

Note: I received no compensation from Blue Apron for this post. (I mean, if they offered, I might take it. But they didn’t.)

One of the biggest drawbacks of sabbatical was losing access to my school’s wonderful dining hall. Would I ever eat a vegetable again? I certainly did not know how to cook any.

Enter Blue Apron. My friends at work laugh because they don’t think this is really “learning how to cook.” That’s unfair. As you can see, these are not ready-made kits. You are sent raw grocery ingredients, along with instructions on how to prepare them. That’s cooking! Blue Apron does have its peccadillos, though. Here’s how I’ve learned to best “Blue Apron” your kitchen:

  • Buy a big thing of quality olive oil and keep it next to you at all times. Don’t worry too much about measuring oil for your pan, like the instructions say. Learn to eyeball it.
  • Keep kosher salt in a bowl for easy seasoning—you’ll do it a lot. I also recommend a good pepper grinder.
  • The box of food comes once a week, but don’t worry about sorting through it right away. Just throw it all into one of the bottom drawers of your fridge, and keep it separate. (If you use Blue Apron, you will be buying less food at the store. You’ll find the room.)
  • Use your dishwasher to clean all those prep bowls and plates, especially if it has a quick cycle. Treat yourself.

  • Blue Apron’s instructions show every ingredient in its own cute little bowl. Well, dishwasher or no, that’s a lot of waste. Read down the instructions and find out what’s going to be thrown into the pot together, and combine them now. You can see the comparison between Blue Apron’s prep bowls and mine for the same dish (above). Because the ginger and rhubarb were going to be cooked together, I let them start together. Same with the celery, garlic, and scallion bottoms. Why not?

  • You will be peeling a lot of vegetables. (Mr. Hallock and I are not vegetarians, but Blue Apron does excel at vegetable-rich dishes.) Get comfortable with a selection of peelers and knives to take the skin off everything from radishes to large squash.
  • Deseeding lemons? No, thank you. Look at the instructions, see how the juice will be used, pre-squeeze it, and fish out the seeds.

Those are just a few easy tips for making cooking manageable with Blue Apron. I’ll be back in the dining hall soon, but I will be keeping a lot of the recipe cards for my own “sabbatical cookbook.” And this from a woman who had to be taught how to boil water in college. You can teach a dog new tricks!