Celebrations September 25, 2015 – Finding a Home: Welcome



This is the Celebrating the Small Things blog hop, run by Lexa Cain and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits.



I love this hop, though I can’t always participate.  It is wonderful to see through others’ eyes and understand the various reasons for either outright joy or subtle smiles.

I’ve been busy with various things, some good, some not so good, but nothing horrible (something to celebrate in and of itself.)

On a message board that I regularly frequent, the talk turned to politics.  This is generally my signal to depart but I stayed where I was and reviewed the messages.  One caught my attention, something about returning immigrants to their countries of origin. 

Now, I don’t discuss politics on my blog, my website, any of my social media.  I have opinions, as everyone else does, but I don’t choose to proclaim them.  I imagine that if people want a dose of politics they can read The Congressional Record or any one of a good many major newspapers

The comment, however, made me think of my own family, and the voyages of various of my forebears to what we call the United States.

Lafayette, I can’t recall the word…

We have a fellow from France, a Protestant who left around 1770 and came to what would become the state of Connecticut.  His name was François, from the part of France that borders what we now call Germany.  He spoke excellent English.  Some years later he served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution.  He was tapped to serve as an interpreter to one Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, known as the Marquis de Lafayette, who came with the French forces to support the American Revolution.  He spoke broken English.  I suspect François made himself useful.

There’s another family that left Normandy in the train of a man who was once known as William the Bastard.  They came to England, ended up settling in Ireland around 1100 AD.  They had the surname ‘Savage’ from ‘Sauvage’.  One of their descendants, married to a man from an old Irish family – the Hickeys, from the city of Cork – came to the United States around 1840.

Their daughter married a fellow who came from Alsace (France) in 1848.  This man, Josef Myers, enlisted in the Union Army at the start of the American Civil War, served through the major campaigns, with a stay in the notorious prison of Andersonville, escaped, was sheltered by a family of slaves for a time and finally returned to his unit, serving to the end of the war.  Discharged in New York, he came through Philadelphia and met a young lady of Irish descent.  They homesteaded in North Dakota when veterans were given a grant of land.

All of them newcomers to America, all of them arriving on the shores of North America and registering to become citizens of the United States.


Immigrants.

The discussion took an unpleasant turn on the subject of immigrants.  I didn’t participate.  I did, however, remember two quotes: 

Remember, remember always that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists. (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, addressing the Daughters of the American Revolution)

And this, written by Emma Lazarus, inspired by the Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
We all have journeys behind us, journeys from persecution, from poverty, following dreams or necessity.  All of us.  It is, in the final analysis, something to celebrate.  


What are you celebrating?  

Apple Pecan Pancakes Recipe for Autumn


Autumn is prime apple time.  The cooking apples I like  (McIntosh and its derivatives) are in season, it’s getting cold, and I dust off the recipe and make apple butter, apple pies and, one of my favorites, apple pecan pancakes.
When I make an apple pie, I generally mix the McIntosh apples with hard green cooking apples, since the Mc’s tend to get mushy.  I don’t have that problem with these pancakes.

Apple Varieties

The ingredients are simple: oatmeal, butter, chopped ripe apples, pecans…  They are substantial but not heavy, since the oatmeal is counteracted by baking powder, which makes them rise.  I tend to be particular about the type of apples I use for this.  My favorite apple overall, for eating and for cooking, is the McIntosh and its derivatives.  


Here is the recipe:

Preheat your oven to 350

Mix together and let sit:
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 cups boiling water


While letting the oatmeal absorb the water, measure out and thoroughly mix:

photo courtesy of Lyman Orchards

1 cup flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt, or less
1/4 cup sugar

Stir one egg into the oatmeal mixture, which should have cooled slightly.

Then measure out 1 cup of milk.

To the bowl of oatmeal, mix in the flour alternately with the milk, stirring well between.  The mixture will start getting fluffy.

Add
1/4 cup butter, melted, and stir well

Now peel, core and chop three apples.  I prefer any variation on a Macintosh (Paula Reds are the best, but they’re early apples and easy to miss)  Granny Smith or any tart green cooking apple works well, too.  Stir them into the batter along with 1/2 cup chopped pecans.
3 apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts (optional) chopped
2 tablespoons butter

Heat your griddle, put a pat of butter on it, and measure out the pancake dough by 1/2 cups.  Brown well 0n one side, flip and then brown on the other.  (I’d put the heat down to medium and let them cook slowly.)  Put them on a rack in the over while you cook another batch.

Go for the darker syrup

Serve with butter and good maple syrup.  Grade B (the dark stuff the locals use while they sell the tasteless, light Grade A to the tourists) works well. 

These reheat beautifully.  I put mine in the toaster.


Next time I’ll take pictures (I was too busy eating mine…)

Talk Like a Pirate Day?


Yar, me hearties, today be Talk Like a Pirate Day!

It’s a fun thing, with a website here that has hints for talking like a (Hollywood) pirate, including a Pirate Speak Translator:

The pirate speaks,”greetin’s t’ all me buckos! Today be t’ day! Drink rum, get plastered, fight with cutlass, eat meat and sail into t’ sunset in search o’ treasure!

It’s a lot of fun, with hijinks and silliness , including ringtones for your cellphone, if you are so inclined, and I get a hearty chuckle out of it.  As a student of history, who writes about it, I know a lot about some of the pirates in history, and they are not a comfortable crew to hang with (almost literally, in the end). 

Colin Darch, captured by Somali pirates and held hostage, wrote a book about his experience.  A ladies’ club invited him to come speak to them on the subject of pirates, and some of them, not understanding his involvement with pirates, came dressed as pirates.  When they realized the exact nature of Mr. Darch’s involvement with pirates, they were red-faced and terribly embarrassed.  
Mr. Darch did not turn a hair, and we now have a photo of him with the ladies..

If you want to read the best pirate adventure (in my opinion), then read Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.  It starts with a bang, goes slowly for a while…until you are on the high seas beside the narrator, Jim Hawkins, and you realize that you are on a ship manned by pirates, the former crew of one of the worst pirate captains in history, and you are hopelessly outnumbered.

AND the very worst of the lot, the calm, pleasant, capable Long John Silver, is running the show.

The pirates are vicious, cunning, amoral and colorful, and very, very dangerous.

The movie with Robert Newton  as Long John Silver is considered the best.  I don’t agree.  It’s a romp and good fun, but does not catch the ominous nature of the book. 

L to R Billy Bones, Blind Pew and Long John Silver

For my money, Charlton Heston’s version, featuring Oliver Reed and a cast of character actors, is the best (though someone really needed to tell Jim Hawkins to spit the wad of mashed potatoes from his mouth and speak clearly).  There’s a scene where they are escaping The Hispaniola and the pirates run out a cannon.  One of the crew stands at the rail, watching the rowboat as the heroes try to escape.

“Oh no!” cries one of the heroes.  “Israel Hands was Cap’n Flint’s gunner!”  

Hands has not lost his skill, and the heroes end up wading to shore.  


Talk like pirate?  Hm, could be fun.  But I’ll stick with the real Navy, thank ye very much!  (Enjoy your weekend!)

Small Celebrations, September 11 2015 – Victoria Randall, Author


This is the Celebrating the Small Things blog hop, run by Lexa Cain and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits.



Today I am celebrating a writer I came to ‘know’ on the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Forum message boards when I entered the ABNA contest.

Victoria RandallVictoria Randall was knowledgeable, forthright (very useful when you really do want criticism and guidance), and she wrote some fascinating things, of which more later.

Recently, she posted a request for beta-reads in a collection of short Shorts that she was putting out.  I had found her other work intriguing, and I volunteered.  I read the book, enjoyed it immensely, and purchased a copy when it was published.  My review is here.  But more about that later.

I approached her and asked if she would be willing to have a spot on my blog, and she graciously agreed.  Her work is fascinating and her writing is beautiful.  Read on:

***       ***       ***

Victoria Randall, Author

I really enjoy envisioning scenarios set in other times and other worlds, 
and characters’ reactions to situations they’re confronted with, like a 
talking sandwich or a weaponized cat.


Children in Hiding
(dystopian)


                         Get On Board little Children   Come On Home Children   City of Hidden Children

I like creating characters with differing points of view. It was a challenge coming up with the three different heroines of my dystopian trilogy, Children in Hiding. They are roughly the same age, but couldn’t be alike. 

The first, Sophie, is a practical, down to earth, but romantic at heart young woman who works in a childcare center, and finds herself unexpectedly pregnant in a future when having a baby without a license is a felony. She has to rise to the situation and take drastic steps to protect her child.

The second, Willa, grew up in the warehouse system for abandoned children, escaped from it, but carries the scars of feeling unwanted; despite her insecurity she determines to try anything to protect her small daughter from similar brutality. 

The third is Katy, Willa’s daughter grown to adolescence; she was raised in luxury as a result of her mother’s choices and is self confident, tempted to focus on herself, but chooses to try and rescue her friends still trapped in the warehouse system.
I’m pretty happy about how those three books turned out.

I asked her about her system of writing.  What works for her?  Does she have a specific way?

My system is to come up with a plot or an idea, carry it around in my head for awhile for my subconscious to work on, then outline it and flesh it out as I write. It usually changes a lot in the writing.

Could she share some of her writing that has made her happy?

Some writing that I’m proud of is the description of the riot at the end of City of Hidden Children, book three of the trilogy, inspired mostly by the WTO riots here in Seattle. My rioters, living thirty years in the future and under a brutal and oppressive police force, are more restrained than the WTO rioters, but they have been pushed to their limit by the use of children in labor camps and for body parts. I think it’s a timely topic.

Here’s my policeman, Zander, addressing his fellow cops who are facing the mob in riot gear:

Zander pushed his way to the front of the crowd and raised a hand. “Take a good look, men. These could be your children—do you recognize any of them? They’re your brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces. They’re our people—are you going to shoot them down? You need riot gear for this kid?” He turned and pointed to a small boy of five or six. “You going to use rubber bullets or pepper spray on the babies here? What’s  your plan?”

A tense silence fell. Then a police officer straightened up and tore off his riot helmet. “I’m with you,” said his friend Pete Hastings, dropping his baton and stepping forward. He turned to look at the line of men. “Drop it, chief. We’re not attacking kids.”

These books are meant to be exciting futuristic thrillers with a serious undertone. Shadowcat, on the other hand, is just for fun, and I had fun writing it. I hope others enjoy reading it.

(And for those who would love to read more, the links in the titles are ‘geotargeted’, which means that they will take you to whatever Amazon store is yours, whether US, UK, Japan, or anywhere else.  DW)

And now, Shadowcat (link is geotargeted):


                                                                SHADOWCAT
There is a misty place between sleep and waking, where if you wander long, you may find yourself caught in a world of strangeness. You may meet the irrepressible Shadowcat, recruiter for the Catmasters Guild, who use cats as weapons. You may hear of a colony of spacefarers who have vanished completely, or encounter a sandwich with a terrifying ultimatum, or meet the last known human being in the universe. You may find that the voice in your mind is not yours at all, or learn that time travel has its drawbacks. 

Seven short stories set in the future, and on other worlds, and in this one, which is strange enough when you think about it. 

You can’t miss.  Try them – and enjoy them.

What are you celebrating?  

The Scarlet Pimpernel!! (Just for fun…)


I read The Scarlet Pimpernel years ago and enjoyed it.  It appears to have drawn quite a few fans even though it was written a hundred years ago.  I had not known that there were several books in the series (they are going on my e-reader as I type) and since I enjoy swashbucklers and intrigue, I think I’ll be enjoying them.

There have been several movies, starting (in my experience) with the one starring Leslie Howard as The Pimpernel.

I love costume dramas.

How could I not?

“Sink me!”


Derring-do, an unexpected hero masquerading as a fop, 










A beautiful heroine (who wears some smashing hats!) who does not know that her husband, whom she loves, loves her to distraction… 

Danger, deceit, swords…















Escapes from the guillotine – a formidable (and rather sexy) villain (here with words from the musical – sung by Terrence Mann –  combined with a montage of video clips)…



What more can anyone want?

How about a test to see where you fit in?

This test brought to you by Blakeney Manor.

Find out:Which Scarlet Pimpernel character are you?

Fun!

*sigh*

…back to editing. Happy Labor Day!

Static! Cover reveal of S. K. Anthony’s fabulous new book!


In my blogging journey I have encountered some really wonderful people. Creative, caring, enjoyable, fun to know.  S. K. Anthony is one of them.  Her first book, Kinetic, was released to acclaim.  It has to have one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen, and the story itself is wonderful. 

She has written another in the series, featuring the characters that have caught readers’ imaginations.  Enjoy the cover and enjoy the book!



STATIC

The Luminaries
Book Two
Title: STATIC
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: September 2015
Cover Design: Regina Wamba of Mae I Design
Synopsis:

Kevin Pierce is a teleporter, a ladies’ man, and a loyal friend . . . or so he thought.

As a genetically altered Luminary, he helps the government bring down some of the most dangerous criminals. Not very challenging if you have his special abilities. But when a group of rebel Luminaries attacks his Organization the fight for survival begins.

One shattering event after another tests the depth of his relationships, his sanity, and his powers. Emotionally torn, Kevin must choose carefully where his loyalty lies. In the middle of all the unexpected chaos he gets the biggest shock of his life when he’s faced by a betrayal he never saw coming. Angry, injured, and ready to even the score, Kevin goes Static . . .

Add it to your Goodreads *here*



About the Author:
S. K. Anthony is a writer, a reader and a make-stuff-up-er who lives in New York with her husband and toddler twins. She is a wine connoisseur, which just really means she knows she loves it, and a caffeine addict. When she isn’t busy with her family she finds herself being transported into the world of imagination. Well, either that or running away from spiders…she is convinced they are out to get her!

Stalk S.K. Anthony here:

Blog ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Twitter ~ Google + ~ Pinterest




You can find Book One here:



Amazon            ~  Barnes and Noble  
Amazon UK    ~  Goodreads 

Numbers… IWSG September 2, 2015


Today is the first Wednesday of the month, which means it is IWSG day. The once-a-month blog hop started by Alec Cavanaugh . IWSG = Insecure Writers’ Support Group (click the words to visit)

Today’s cohosts are:  Heather M. Gardner, Christine Rains, Dolorah at Book Lover, Julie Flanders, and

Once upon a time I wrote a story.  It was a very good story, at least to my mind.  I got the idea for the story when a major character in a series of mine, seized by enemies who for all he knows want nothing more than to kill or capture him, gives his name to his captors.  It is an important name and, historically, might have given pause to anyone thinking of tangling with him.

I wrote, “Their expressions made him think of the fable of the man who encountered a thirty cubit crocodile.”

HOW big is it???

The ways of inspiration are strange to outsiders.  I started mulling over the notion of a thirty cubit crocodile (a cubit being 21 inches in dynastic Egypt) and I had an idea for a story involving just such a beast who intrudes into the life of a needy man.  In the course of helping the man, it manages to turn the man’s world upside-down.

At thirty thousand words at this moment, it is a nice novelette and an enjoyable addition to the series. 
And then I thought of a certain publishing contest.

You submit your work, and if it is approved they obtain a photo of you (something I would worry about later), a blurb and a pitch, and they put it up online for those who might like to look at it, vote on it,and puff out their chests for volunteering to. 
This is doable.  Elegant, in fact.  And heaven knows it’s good story.  Thus far.

The problem is, the submission must be 50,000 words.

It isn’t such a problem, if you think of it.  Beautiful manuscript not lost, story moving along nicely…  We should all have such problems, shouldn’t we?


The thing is, I have to take that story and add two-thirds of its length.  Twenty thousand words needed to qualify  for the contest which, God same the mark, I very well might not win.


Words can’t begin to describe the annoyance.  


Yeah, well, we all have things to do, don’t we?  20,000 words equals twenty sessions of a thousand words each.  Or ten sessions of two thousand words each.  Heck, just in this particular animadverting session I have managed to generate just about five hundred words.

And that brings me to the phrase that helps me when I am trying to come up with numbers:

Just Spit It Out


I know very well that I’ll be adding and subtracting, polishing, deepening…all the things that, for me, make writing so rewarding and fun.

My problem is that I get hung up on the notion of numbers and end up not producing any.

The answer?  See the red letters above.  Write the words.  Break the ice.  Get cracking.

Will I enter the contest with my crocodile story?  I might.  Then again, I might not.  It does need some additions, and I can see at least five more chapters at about 1500 words apiece. If you do the math, it’s do-able.


If, that is, I can get myself to put away the calculator, open up the laptop, review the piece, and just go to town.  I think I can.

**************
Visit the other blogs on this wonderful hop.  I guarantee, the other bloggers have a lot more to say, and a lot more on point.  (Cough!)

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Paving My Author's Road

...one writing step at a time

Only for the Brave - Diana Stout, MFA, PhD

Musings of an author, screenwriter & blogger.

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