Monday, 19 November 2018

World Building by Fantasy Author Chris Pavesic...

Hobbit Food
“The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why, and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question ‘How can we eat?’ the second by the question ‘Why do we eat?’ and the third by the question ‘Where shall we have lunch?’” –Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
In elementary school children learn that the basic needs are air, water, food, and shelter in that order of importance. The need for other things, like love, security, and meaning, are lower on the level of significance. Anthropologists study the eating habits of a society in both basic forms and elaborate ritual purposes in order to gain cultural insights. The acts of obtaining, preparing, distribution, and eating of food are a fundamental part of a culture’s infrastructure. Is it any wonder, then, that food plays a principal role in the world-building of fiction realms and that some of the most famous and successful speculative fiction authors like Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Suzanne Collins devote a extraordinary amount of narrative time to the central questions of how, why, and where their characters eat?

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit begins with an unexpected dinner party. Bilbo, the reluctant host, is not expecting guests and empties his pantry to accommodate their arrival:

“Quite a merry gathering! I hope there is something left for the late-comers to eat and drink! What’s that? Tea! No thank you! A little red wine, I think for me.”
“And for me,” said Thorin.
“And raspberry jam and apple-tart,” said Bifur.
“And mince-pies and cheese,” said Bofur.
“And pork-pie and salad,” said Bombur.
 “And more cakes—and ale—and coffee, if you don’t mind,” called the other dwarves through the door.
 “Put on a few eggs, there’s a good fellow!” Gandalf called after him, as the hobbit stumped off to the pantries. “And just bring out the cold chicken and pickles!”

As the host, Bilbo knows his duty and is willing to go without food to make certain his guests have enough. He is careful not to offend those he has welcomed into his home. This is an adventure story that Tolkien wrote for his children, after all, and the tone is lighthearted at the start, although it does not end with the typical “happy ever after.” The epic adventure that follows in The Lord of the Rings is a different type of story altogether, and the subtle change in both language and tone at the start gives the reader fair warning of the darkness and intrigue that will develop throughout the novels.

Screen Shot 2017-12-24 at 3.25.06 PMThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ringbegins in a similar manner to The Hobbit with a birthday party for Bilbo (shared with Frodo of course). There is an overabundance of food, even by the standards of hobbits, and yet the host’s courtesy is gone. Bilbo concludes the evening by making an insulting speech and playing a trick on his guests. This breech of civility is in its own way foreshadowing the negative effect of the ring on Bilbo. It has eaten away at him, as he later confesses to Gandalf, leaving him feeling thin, “like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.” The fact that Tolkien describes the effect of the ring in terms of food highlights this connection.

  Screen Shot 2017-12-24 at 3.25.22 PM

One of the most successful speculative fiction series of recent times, The Hunger Games, focuses on food as a way to explain the power dynamics in a culture. Almost every scene in the series of novels revolves around food in some way, from the starvation in the districts, Katniss’s hunting and foraging in the forest near her home and in the arena, the meals on the trains, the heavily controlled food portions in District 13, and the excess in the capital. Characters are associated with food: Peeta and bread; his father and cookies; the Mayor and strawberries; Greasy Sae and questionable beef; Rue and grooslings. The control over and distribution of food equates to power. This even occurs at the familial level when, at the start of the first book, Katniss is at odds with her mother because of the older woman’s mental collapse and the following exchange occurs:
One time, my mother told me that I always eat like I’ll never see food again. And I said, “I won’t unless I bring it home.” That shut her up.
The balance of power in the relationship is established by which person literally “puts food on the table” and Katniss seems to revel in the fact that she wins that battle. It’s one of the moments in the series when Katniss’s anger is not directed toward the capital, although their policies are the base cause of her tension with her mother.

There is more to a story than wonderful characters, evocative prose, stirring adventures, and exciting battles. World building by authors is far more than creating descriptive passages about landscapes, villages, or towns. Meanings are encoded in the texts and some symbols—like Tolkien’s One Ring or Collins’s Mockingjay Pin—will grab a reader’s immediate attention. They are too obvious to be overlooked. Others, like the ideas behind “how, why, and where” food fits into the society, are subtle: they add meaning to the story without waving a red flag in the narrative itself and pointing at the symbol as being particularly significant. * Yet their inclusion influences the meaning of the story and creates a richer story world experience for the reader.

*Writers do give us hints of course! Just look at the titles of the works, or at the chapter titles.

Take a peek at the Unquiet Dead, the first book in Chris Pavesic's newest series, the Chiaroscuro Chronicles. Blogcatherine

In Chiaroscuro it’s important to keep the faith.


When the Temples north of Chiaroscuro are burned and followers of the Sun Goddess are murdered, Catherine, a bard of the Ealdoth Temple, sets out to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. With only the help of a traveling group of minstrels and a retired fae investigator, Catherine must solve the mystery before more people are killed. So saddle up your clockwork mount, buckle on your electro-dagger, and join Catherine as she finds herself pitted against members of her own Temple, rogue members of the Seelie Court, and a seemingly unstoppable army of undead.

Purchase Your Copy from Amazon 


IMG_0886About the Author Chris Pavesic lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, fairy tales, steampunk, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends. Learn more about her at chrispavesic.com References
  • Adams, D. (2010). The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. [Kindle Edition.] Random House, Inc.
  • Collins, S. (2009). The Hunger Games. [Kindle Edition.] Scholastic Books.
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. (2009). The Hobbit. [Kindle Edition.] Harper Collins, Inc.

Monday, 12 November 2018

6 Tips to Revise Your Writing by C.D. Hersh...


While we have been working in our (my wife’s) garden, between rainy days, cleaning up weeds, volunteer trees and leaves, we have been talking about cleaning up the two years’ worth of bird droppings and green mold from the railings and edges of our Trek decking. Our deck is a three-level beauty, designed by Catherine. The deck is a joy to sit on and a great place to entertain, but it’s a bear to clean. We have noticed the birds’ ‘gifts’ deposited on the railings and the mold creeping across the banisters, and meant to get out and take care of them, but other things got in the way. We got too busy, worked too hard, it got too hot to work on the deck, and we were just too lazy.

In retrospect, we should have paid more attention to what was happening, because we have let a minor job turn into a major one, once again. Oh, yes, we’ve faced this challenge before.

Last time we cleaned, we spent about five hours cleaning the railings and about two feet around the lower two decks, scrubbing, rubbing, and rinsing. We even cleaned some spots with a toothbrush! Then we cleaned the center of the two lower decks, the steps, and the balcony.

This cleaning exercise, that we have to do again, is a lot like revising a book—you have to take the time to get rid of all the crap you let accumulate. That’s every time you write.

We’re not saying our books, or even your books, are crap. We all write well, right? But it’s so easy to get lazy and let a lot of stuff slip in like passive voice, adjectives, groaning dialogue tags, purple prose, slow pacing, and way too much back story, until, like the railings of our deck covered in bird droppings, you can no longer see the beauty of your original creation. We don’t know about you, but we hate revisions and would rather do everything we can to get our books as clean as possible the first go around.

So, here are six tips we use to get the bird droppings out of our writing.

• Reread the previous days’ work. This not only gives a fresh look at your writing but also helps get back in the groove. If you’ve been away from a WIP more than few days you might even go back to the previous chapter. By revisiting each chapter, you get a head start on the small revision stuff.

• Write with grammar check turned on. You can set grammar check to highlight a lot of things, but the most important use we have found is to highlight passive writing. Having attuned yourself to those squiggle grammar check lines, the passive verbs are very clear to see. A glance tells where you need improvement in this area. Not every passive sentence can be revised into an active one, but many can and doing so will make your writing stronger.

• Do a search for “LY” on each chapter as you complete it. It’s amazing how many of those sneaky adjectives creep in.

• Look for long paragraphs. Too little white space on a page can often be a warning sign of heavy narrative, back story, or too much description.

• Check every page for tension. Donald Maas says we should have tension on every page. It doesn’t have to be bang ‘em up, slam ‘em up tension, but there needs to be something that keeps the story humming along.

• Do a check of dialogue. Are there too many “he saids” or “she saids.” Or are there too many lines with no dialogue or action tags? Have you gritted or laughed the dialogue? Teeth are gritted not words, and how in the world do you laugh words? We know we can’t.

These six items may seem like little steps toward revision, but sweating the small stuff now can make your major revisions easier. And who doesn’t want that?

What do you do as you write to help your revisions go faster?

Now here is a little about our paranormal series, The Turning Stone Chronicles.


Three ancient Celtic families. A magical Bloodstone that enables the wearers to shape shift. A charge to use the stone’s power to benefit mankind, and a battle, that is going on even today, to control the world. Can the Secret Society of shape shifters called the Turning Stone Society heal itself and bring peace to our world? Find out in the series The Turning Stone Chronicles.

The Promised One, book one: When homicide detective Alexi Jordan is forced to use her shape shifting powers to catch a paranormal killer, she risks the two most important things in her life—her badge and the man she loves.

Blood Brothers, book two: Shape shifter Delaney Ramsey’s daughter is missing, and she is bound by honor to protect the man she suspects of the deed. To bring him to justice, she must go against her code, the leader of the secret shifter society, and the police captain she is falling for.

Son of the Moonless Night, book three: Thrust back into the world of paranormal huntress, Deputy Coroner Katrina Romanovski must unravel a string of murders she believes are vampire attacks. When she discovers the shape shifter she’s in love with is the murderer, she must reconcile her feelings for him, examine her life of violence against paranormals, and justify deceiving him in order to bring him to justice.

The Mercenary and the Shifters, book four: A desperate call from an ex-military buddy lands a mercenary soldier in the middle of a double kidnapping, caught in an ancient shape shifter war, and ensnared between two female shape shifters after the same thing ... him.

C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories.

Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

The books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They also have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. Also a standalone novella, Can’t Stop The Music, in a collection with thirteen other authors.

They look forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.

Learn more about C.D. Hersh on their website and their Amazon Author Page. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Get Ahead of Holiday Baking and Shopping with this Sweet Treat and YA Read...

This wonderful peanut brittle has a WOW factor that adds to any celebration or holiday. Give as gifts (tie a bag of brittle to a bottle of wine, or fill a decorated mason jar for party favors) or just enjoy with family and friends. This recipe is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser! Make sure you have all the ingredients measured and ready to go, as it requires you to react quickly between steps.

FATHER (CHRISTMAS) KNOWS BEST PEANUT BRITTLE


1 cup white sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup water
1 cup peanuts
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp. baking soda
Candy thermometer

GREASE a large cookie sheet. Set aside.

BRING sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water to a boil in a heavy 2 quart saucepan set over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

STIR in peanuts.

SET candy thermometer in place, and continue cooking. Stir frequently until temperature reaches 300° F (150° C).

REMOVE heat. Immediately stir in butter and baking soda. Pour at once onto cookie sheet. With two forks, lift and pull peanut mixture into rectangle about 14x12 inches. Allow to cool.

SNAP candy into pieces and enjoy while you take a glimpse at my latest novel that will whisk your avid reader away to a supernatural adventure in the mysterious town of Fairy Falls.

Fairy Falls was bores-ville from the get-go. Then the animals started talking... 

The Fairy Falls Animal Shelter is in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey—a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation—to find a new human pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear.

Forced to live with her Aunt Izzy in the safe and quiet town of Fairy Falls, Meagan is caught stealing and is sentenced to do community hours at the animal shelter where her aunt works. Realizing Meagan can hear her, Whiskey realizes that Meagan just might have the pack leader qualities necessary to save the animals. Avoiding Whiskey and the rest of shelter animals becomes impossible for Meagan, so she finally gives in and promises to help them. Meagan, along with her newfound friends, Reid Robertson and Natalie Knight, discover that someone in Fairy Falls is not only out to destroy the shelter, but the animals as well. Can Meagan convince her aunt and co-workers that the animals are in danger? If she fails, then all the animals’ voices will be silenced forever.

BUY LINKS

Monday, 29 October 2018

Book Release: A Light in the Desert by Anne Montgomery...

Acclaimed journalist Anne Montgomery weaves her latest mystery/suspense novel around one of the most enduring cold case crimes in Arizona history.

Following in-depth research into the deadly 1995 cold-case derailment of an Amtrak train in the wilds of the Arizona desert, novelist Anne Montgomery penned the story of Jason Ramm, a broken former Special Forces sniper, and Kelly, the lonely pregnant teen who appears to be his salvation in the 2018 suspenseful mystery A Light in the Desert releasing November 6, 2018 from Treehouse Publishing Group.

Set in Hyder, Arizona, Montgomery’s A Light in the Desert details the crumbling world of a former soldier whose crimes assault his conscience and an isolated child who, in the guise of love, falls victim to abuse. Is Ramm her savior or something more insidious? Montgomery suffuses the tale with heartbreaking melancholy, both from the point of view of a rejected child who understands little of the outside world and the assassin who’s descending into the grips of an odd mental illness, the Jerusalem Syndrome, that threatens to replace who he is with something else.

A former ESPN sportscaster, Montgomery, a foster mom to three sons, works in Arizona as a football referee and high school teacher at a Title I school where many of her students live in poverty, some are abused, and others are relegated to foster care. On why she wrote the book, Montgomery says, “I have seen the suffering of neglected and abused children first-hand. Often, their voices go unheard. I believe child abuse needs to be a topic we address with ardent regularity, loudly and often, so that someday, perhaps, this cruelty can be relegated to the past.”

This novel is a definite must read!

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon.

When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil as local and state police, FBI investigators, and a horde of reporters arrive on the scene. As the search for the saboteurs heats up and the authorities question members of the cult, they uncover more questions than answers. 

And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.

BUY NOW from MIDPOINT BOOK SALES

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Get Ready for Halloween with a Bewitching Punch and YA Paranormal Read by Leigh Goff...

No trick here. This is a treat all you adult ghosts and goblins are sure to enjoy.

BEWITCHING PUNCH

1 750-ml bottle orange vodka
2 750-ml bottles Prosecco
2 1-liter bottles of orange-flavored seltzer
½ gallon orange juice
½ gallon lemonade
2 pints orange sorbet

Gently mix vodka, Prosecco, seltzer, orange juice, and lemonade in a large punch bowl.

Scoop the sorbet into the punch bowl, so it has time to melt. Add the ice ring to keep the punch cold and colorful.

ICE RING

Water
15 seedless red grapes
10 maraschino cherries, halved
1 orange, peeled and sliced thin

In a 6 – 6½ cup ring mold, arrange thin citrus slices and grapes or cherries in an attractive design. Pour water into mold to partially cover fruit. Freeze.

When frozen, add water to fill mold ¾ full. Refreeze. At serving time, unmold and float fruit side up in punch bowl.

If you prefer, freeze ring without decorations. Or, instead of water, freeze with orange juice. This will keep punch cold without diluting it.

Serves 12 - 15

Here's a little from my latest novel to put you in a Halloween mood.

Hannah, the thirteenth great-granddaughter of the Wizard Earl Fitzgerald, has always known she was descended from a troubled legacy of alchemy and dark magic. Although a stranger to her coven in Annapolis, she is no stranger to grief and denial; however, when an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful witch and the impending death of another, she realizes she can no longer afford to suppress the magic that has taken away so much. She seeks out the frighteningly scarred, yet mysterious W who is destined to change her life, but even he cannot prepare her for the secrets she must unlock – including one that reveals the location of an unimaginably powerful elixir.

Enemies will hurt her. Loved ones will make her vulnerable. And the impending prophecy that drives her to unleash her magic will cause her to unearth the sins of the past and doubt any promise of a future. Without knowing whom her true rival is, Hannah isn’t certain she’ll survive the game Fate is playing, and if she loses, she may lose everything, including the ones she loves.

EXCERPT

The imposing entrance segued into the main part of the old family chapel. Shadows flickered across the white walls as candlelight streamed down from an ornate iron chandelier cradling clear-colored hurricanes. Angelic sculptures hung between the arched windows and beneath the cloud-painted ceiling that Michelangelo himself would have envied, four wooden pews graced each side of the aisle.
I tiptoed farther in and spotted another black-lined white envelope on the altar. I was definitely in the right place.
My fingers trembled as I traced the letters that formed my name. This was way beyond ordinary, but why and—more importantly—who?
“W?”
A hint of the Shadow’s amber and woods scent mixed with the faint candle smoke of the chapel. “No. Way.” I spun around ready to stomp right out of there.
In that moment, a heavy gaze fell on me and the air felt charged with electricity. I searched right and left, seeing no one. “W? Whoever you are, show yourself.”
“This will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.” His potent voice reverberated off the walls and seemed to come from everywhere, including the inside of my head.
I locked my wandering gaze on the loft above the entrance where I spotted his silhouette. “Was leaving me in a burning wreck the hardest thing you ever had to do? Was it?” I raised my volume. “Who are you? Why did you leave me for dead?”
His intake of breath was audible. “I would never. I mean. I didn’t want to do that. I don’t.”
“Oh, lucky me.” I stuck my hands on my hips and tapped an impatient foot on the floor. “If you don’t want to finish me off, then you lured me here to do what, exactly?”
“To help you. I want to help you.”
“Ha!” The sarcastic laugh burst out before I could stop it. “You’ve done a bang up job inspiring my confidence and trust in that department.”
He simmered in silence for a moment. “What do I have to do to inspire you to follow my directions?” Following someone else’s directions was definitely not my strength. I grimaced, but curiosity got the better of me. “What do you want?”
“You read the note.”
His desire to remain in the shadows was increasingly irritating. “I consider myself a very smart girl, so when a guy who left me in a burning car tells me he wants to help me take on a different deadly problem, I have to wonder if he’s not setting me up to fend for myself again. What’s your motive?”
I dropped my eyes to the envelope, turning it to and fro.
“Emme Blackstone is a mutual enemy and means us both harm.” A tinge of anger laced his tone.
The anger, I understood. After all, we were talking about Emme, but there was also a hint of sadness that intrigued me further. “Why do you think Emme means you harm?” “It’s inevitable—because of what I am.”
What was he besides completely contemptible?
“It’s in her blood and I believe it’s in her destiny to wreak havoc, especially against someone who can challenge her in talent like you can.”
I dropped my hands to my sides, still clasping the enveloping. “Whoa. Like me? You don’t know me. You don’t know anything about me. How could you? I’ve been gone for the last year.” A chortle caught in his throat. “What’s a year when you come from a bloodline with hundreds of years of history? A history that’s written down and available to certain people with the right—pedigree.”
Confused, I creased my brow as I continued to stare at his silhouette. “Have you been cyber-stalking me on Ancestry.com or something?”
“Hardly.” There was disdain in his voice as if he considered cyber-stalking to be worse than leaving a girl to die.
“Look, whatever you think you know about my family, I’m not like them. I’m not talented, and I don’t want to challenge Emme. I just want to live a normal life. Normal.” My voice escalated. “Do you hear me all the way up there?”
He huffed. “Normal? You don’t get to pretend to be normal when you’re not. It doesn’t work like that. Not in Annapolis. Someone always knows. Someone always unravels your secrets.”
I thought of the Witch’s Grave. I pictured the women’s slender figures dangling from sturdy, gnarled branches. Their tragic endings proved what I already knew. Magic only brought suffering and death. “You make it sound like I don’t have a choice. I’m telling you I do, and I won’t be a part of this.” I stomped my foot hard on the floor.
He shifted from the shadows into a dim ray of light, seething. “You read the note and you know Emme won’t stop. You need my help.”
I glared, trying desperately to make out the details of his face. “I don’t need anything from you.”
“You don’t have to like it, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are a part of this. You know you are or you wouldn’t have come here. However, if that’s how you feel then you should leave.” The cold in his voice crystallized.
My pulse escalated. “Yup. That’s how I feel. And I’m only leaving because that’s what I want to do, not because you suggested it. Bye.” I marched to the door and wrapped my hand around the knob. I yanked it open. From the moment I’d first laid eyes on him, he’d been nothing but trouble. Horrible, awful trouble. However, as much as I hated to think it, he knew about me and the other witches in town. He was full of answers—answers I needed. I shut the door and turned back around. “How do you know all this about Emme and me?”

Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it's also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area's great history and culture.

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers' Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch's Ring which is set in Annapolis.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Monday, 15 October 2018

In Proper Proportion by HL Carpenter...

So there we were, with a packet of strawberries threatening to go soft and the need for a recipe to make good use of them. None of the sauce recipes we found called for as many berries as we had.

 And then we realized all the recipes could be reduced to proportions. In this case, the proportions were 1:1:2, meaning that as long as we used 1 part water, 1 part sugar, and 2 parts strawberries, we could adjust the quantities to achieve the result we wanted.

Once the sauce was made and we were eating vanilla ice cream with strawberry sauce topping, we began to think of all the ways we use proportions in our writing.

Here are two examples.

Book covers

The Golden Ratio or Golden Mean is a mathematical concept that creates a symmetrical, eye-pleasing composition. Yes, we know—math! EEK! Thanks to web-based calculators, you don't actually have to do the calculations.

But understanding the idea that proper proportions are an important design element will make your book covers naturally attractive. As a bonus, you can use the Golden Ratio to design your logo and website, and to choose the right text size and spacing for your printed marketing materials, such as bookmarks.

Time management

Much as we'd like to write ALL THE TIME, we schedule our days to include other tasks that go along with the business of being indie authors. For example, we allot 20-25% of our workday to marketing. We want to keep the results we achieve in proportion to the effort we expend.

We also need a lot of time to refill the creative well—or, as some would say, loaf around doing nothing. Here, the trick is to keep the proportion of time off to work time in harmony so we don't end up procrastinating instead of starting new projects.

Whether or not you like math—or strawberry sauce—we're sure you can figure out other ways to apply proportions to your writing. Tell us your tips in the comments!

And now a little from our fun Space Opera. We hope you enjoy it.

Flying frizzles! The year is 2176, a rebellion is brewing, and the boss wants a recon report. Ichann Count is all wet as a spy, but she plunges into the fray. Will she emerge with her memory banks intact?

Ichann Count is an expert at accounting warfare. She spends her days crunching numbers at the Etherworld Tax Bureau and crushing on her really cute co-worker. When the Water Tax Rebellion of 2176 geysers to the surface, Ike finds herself—and her really cute co-worker— drowning in trouble.

Can Ike save them both? Or will events continue to burble downhill?

EXCERPT

The biggest surprise about the Shewawa Water Tax Rebellion of 2176 was that no one on Xerios read the signs correctly.
Oh, the Celestial Council knew cosmic numbers of Shewawans were swelling the ranks of the opposition. Who could miss that? Long before the proposed Water Tax had taken effect, news reports overflowed with stories of protestors and frivolous arguments—well, arguments the Council called frivolous. The protestors were deadly serious. When civilized avenues of protest failed, they turned to more forceful ways of expressing displeasure.
Tax accountants who'd been posted to Shewawa on standard duty tour understood the brewing danger. We encountered antagonism every day, first hand. We sent urgent red-alert notices to Xerios. We nearly melted the tax hotline advising the Council's Senior Tax Commissioner of the agitation boiling in the colony.
The STC and the rest of the Council dismissed our warnings. They refused to believe a ragtag group of upstarts would challenge their authority to impose the Water Tax. So events continued to burble downhill, the way they do when no one has the courage to face the truth or the vision to chart a new course.
I never expected to get caught up in the rebellion. I was not a Shewawantologist. I was a Certified Etherworld Accountant, an expert at numbers warfare. Maybe I should have been less casual about the impact of the Water Tax, since I was part of what the protestors had begun to call the "oppressors." But in some ways, I was as blind as the Council.
As surely as my name was Ichann Count, I knew what was going to happen. I just didn't want to acknowledge my intuition or admit the protestors had a valid complaint.
Why would I? I was an ordinary Xerian, doing an ordinary job. Like a gazillion others across the Tri-Galaxies, I got up every morning, ate breakfast, brushed my ivories, and went to work. I spent my days crunching numbers at the Etherworld Tax Bureau with a hundred other CEAs. I also spent a considerable amount of time crushing on my hunky cubicle-sharer, Fifo Ventry.
The Monday the Water Tax went into effect, I sat behind my light-beam privacy curtain, working on an audit report and stealing glances at Fifo. Outside my little bubble, the office was in turmoil. My co-workers had abandoned their desks. They gathered in uneasy clusters by the main conference room, sipping hot fragrant Starshine coffee and muttering to each other.
We were all waiting for our boss to brief us on his morning's skull sessions. He was confabbing with the political factions on Xerios who wanted us to enforce the legislation as well as the Shewawan revolutionaries urging its repeal.
None of us expected the news to be good. We'd hoped to be back home in Xerios by now, but redeployment was doubtful. The Water Tax meant fathoms more work and the Tax Bureau was already short-staffed.
I wrapped up the audit report on the local branch of the AquaDrip Water Company and touched the moon-metal brooch I always wore. Dad had given it to me a few months after Mom died, when I was a skinny ten-year-old. I opened the ornate clasp and studied the hologram inside. I always studied the hologram of my parents on their wedding day when I needed strength or courage. That happened a lot.
In the picture, Mom wore a lacy bridal skinsuit. She was slender and tall, like a long drink of water, though she seemed tiny beside her imposing new husband. A cascade of dark blond hair flowed back from her intelligent face as she looked up at Dad. Her smile was insouciant and beguiling.
As always when I touched the brooch, Dad's words echoed in my mind. "Mom wanted you to have this picture so you can carry her close to your heart, Ike. When you're grown, you'll be exactly like her."
Though he too had long since passed and would never know, at least part of his prediction had come true. I missed out on Mom's beauty, but I inherited her mental acuity. Fortunately. I needed the advantage of Brainbox genes to figure out the problem at AquaDrip. The company was in serious financial difficulty.
I stared across the office at Fifo as I balanced the audit disk in my hand. Neither of the higher-ups I reported to would be happy to read my recommendation for fixing AquaDrip. Still, someone had to face the truth. I just hoped that truth wouldn't circle back and drown me.
At the same time, I knew it would.
The only question was how quickly the water would run downhill.


Mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happeni ng in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, GoodReads, and their Amazon Author Page.

Monday, 8 October 2018

My Recipe Review Prepared from the Cookbook: Date Night Dinners by Sloane Taylor...


Book Details:

Publisher: Toque & Dagger

Publication Date: May 29, 2018

ASIN: B07DD5HDVL

Page Count: 136 pages

Genre: Cookbook

I added an extra bottle of Chardonnay...just in case.


So, I decided to take a chance and prepare Sloane’s special Chicken Cutlets from her Date Night Dinners, Meals to Make Together for a Romantic Evening cookbook. This recipe drew me in for some reason, and I liked the serving suggestion that accompanies this meal. Plus, she had me at Chardonnay. Wink. Here’s what the Gourmet Goddess herself, has to say about this dinner choice: “This is a lovely meal for two to share by candlelight or with family and friends and rousing conversation. It’s also perfect al fresco on a Sunday afternoon.” Sounds good, right?

I went all in and used the suggested servings which included roasted potatoes, candied orange carrots, and my favorite white wine—Chardonnay. My mouth waters just thinking about this succulent supper! Below are the ingredients to create Sloane Taylor’s simple and tasty version of Chicken Cutlets and suggested sides, as well as my review. Bon appetit!


Chicken Cutlets

What You Need:
5 slices bacon, chopped
¼ (30g) cup flour
3 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
1 tbsp. (15ml) butter
4 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped fine
1 tbsp. (15ml) fresh rosemary, chopped or 1 tsp. dried
¼ tsp. (1.25ml) red pepper flakes
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
2 tbsp. (30ml) lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Candied Orange Carrots:

What You Need:
½ lb. (250g) packaged mini carrots
Juice from one medium orange
1 pinch nutmeg
¼ cup (60ml) maple syrup
4 tbsp. (57g) butter
Fresh parsley, chopped



Roasted Potatoes:

What You Need:
3 tbsp. (45ml) olive oil
3 tbsp. (45ml) cider vinegar
1 tbsp. (15ml) kosher salt
1 tsp. (5ml) dried thyme
1 red potato per person, quartered but not peeled






What I Thought: 5 Star Sizzle and Yum

My mouth still won’t stop smiling. Or watering. To be honest, meals like this overwhelm me for some reason. I’m not the greatest cook, but I thought I give it the old college try and throw myself to the mercy of the judges (hubby and daughter). The whole meal tasted excellent, and it got a thumbs up from my family. Mind you, I had a little help from my daughter with the preparation, but all and all, I loved the way this meal came together. Either one of the sides can be easily served with different main courses too.

Satisfaction guaranteed with every bite!
Just a few things to consider. If you have a gas stove, adjust your times accordingly. The potatoes were slightly burnt on the bottom, but this didn’t deter from the taste. We had to add a little flour to thicken the sauce with the Chicken Cutlets, and we’re so glad we did. Would I do this dish again? You bet! And next time, I won’t feel so stressed or overwhelmed. Cooking is all about the experience and experimenting with the ingredients. It’s almost like an alchemic dance with food. Yeah, sometimes it gets messy, but in the end it’s the satisfaction of creating a meal that’s not only sublime to your palate, but to your whole being as well. Cheers!

Cheers for creating this fabulous meal, Sloane!

Follow the tour to read reviews about many different recipes in the cookbook:



About Date Night Dinners:

Ready to ignite that old flame? Or perhaps spark a new one? Take your partner by the hand and turn on your stove. A true romantic, award-winning author Sloane Taylor brings her creativity to the kitchen with easy-to-make meals sure to spark the intimacy and quality time you want with your special someone. Cooking together is only the start of the fun!

Create 45 complete dinners for two or flavor your evenings with a new dish. These 80 recipes use everyday foods already on most kitchen shelves. The recipes are easily increased for those fun times friends or family join your table.

Date Night Dinners, Meals to Make Together for a Romantic Evening, is an ideal gift for engagements, bridal showers, anniversaries, or for anyone who wants to spice things up.



Meet the Author:

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning author with a second passion in her life. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy. Taylor currently has seven romance novellas released by Toque & Dagger Publishing. Her first solo venture into non-fiction is a cookbook with eighty of her favorite recipes DATE NIGHT DINNERS, Meals to Make Together for a Romantic Evening. Excerpts from her books can be found on her website, blog, and all popular vendors. Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.