Sunday, January 19, 2014

Building Code Be Damned in the 1-2-1-8-OH MY

In the course of my adventures, I visit a fair amount of older houses in Troy New York (12180 etc) and surrounding areas. But there is something about the unique building, rebuilding, renovating, and jerry-rigging in the Troy area (including Brunswick) - a style and dare I say, architectural abandon paired with wanton disregard for anything that smacks remotely of sensible, sane, and Code, that leads to all kinds of inventive configurations that put safety a distant third and make you wonder WTF was the DIY'er thinking at the time of install because it wasn't what they *should* have been thinking.

So without further ado, my most recent find that somehow captures everything you need to know about "TROY built". This Old House it Ain't. Only Rehab Addict with Nicole Curtis (DIY network/ and most recently HGTV) comes close to the kind of maniacal yet utilitarian approach to construction in the Collar City and it's suburbs.

Some would call this character. Others, Bathtub Russian Roulette. So, do you feel lucky?

By the way, this is now the wall opposite the light switch in the bathtub enclosure. A similar fate shall soon befall the other walls as some order gets restored, and the electric gets moved to a less dicey region of the bath.


Saturday, November 02, 2013

SEO, Prohibition Era Cocktails, and the Independently Published Author

I went to the Chatham Public Library today to hear uber-agent Steve Axlerod  speak about independent (self) publishing and the way it’s changing the industry. We arrived embarrassingly late to a wonderful presentation (for which I apologize again) At the end I asked a question and then, in doing so, had to give a brief explanation of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It occurred to me later that explanation was a fraud – it was completely inarticulate and mostly useless. I’d met some fantastic folks after the presentation who’d had questions on it, so I wanted to throw something together that is more coherent and (I hope) accurate, and give some useful links where it is really explained. SEO and Keywords and internet exposure is a sort of alchemy plied in the murkey underworld of Cyberspace City: its freaky, its simple yet complex, and it's like your phantom invitation to denizens to visit your blogosphere speakeasy and take a taste of what you've been cooking.

As a writer, you want people to find you. SEO and Key Words well placed with solid interesting blog content help that happen. Long story short, when people search for things on line, there are patterns for what they search for and how they word it, so you use this to draw folks to you by placing up in the search pages. These folks may like your book because it might have something in common with what they read, like, do, care about, etc. You determine what words and combinations of words has high search rates, then you use those as Hyperlinks in your blog post. That may get you up in a search where someone may say, Hey, let me check that out. And behold, you are FOUND. Bought is another topic. Let us stick to “FOUND” – that alone is a major feat akin to birthing an elephant while dancing the Lambada on a high wire, in stilettos.

The theory goes - Your blog posts should relate in some way to your author platform which may or may not relate to what you write. Some authors may say – my platform is mysteries set in England during World War One, told through the eyes of a British Nurse (A solid and streamlined body of work) – and so I’m going to write about trench warfare and battlefield medicine and my book releases. Others may say (like me) my platform is All about the Adventure (aka food, weird things that catch my attention, and monkeyshines) and I write paranormal romance but I may write things like mystery in the future (a diverse body of work – which means the author needs to have more of an identity) – so I shall write about my various adventures including but not limited to cocktails, kitchen experiments, mad science, conspiracies, and the occasional Troy Sewer Corn sighting. Well crafted blog posts and SEO deliver high value to your reader and help make new connections. [That last link? Yet another great article on 10 tips for great blog posts for authors PLUS sweet links to analytics n stuff]

In my ham fisted explanation today at the library, I used the phrase Prohibition Era Cocktails, which caught some crowd attention. Later a few folks came to chat with me and were talking about how they heard the phrase and said “hey, I like cocktails” and we were on from there to discuss my favorite prohibition era cocktail, the Aviation (which really predates it by 5 years but who's counting?) and then the local watering hole that makes them plus an abundant amount of fab martinis. On the drive home, I realized in a way that is SEO in action, someone heard that and thought, I want to know more about Ursula Bauer (beyond what the police blotter has to say). Except we were in a crowd, vs in the cloud. But I digress.


I write a lot about food and drinks and what I’m up to because that’s interesting to me, and luckily that coincides with my author persona platform. BUT, the magic of SEO says – (A) while you’re doing that Ursula, see if you can think about writing your topic in a way that might interest someone you don’t know who might potentially check you out and one day become a reader. Then, (B) highlight words in your post that might be things they search for on the net, citing legitimate low or no advertising sites that are not Wikipedia. I treated it like a game, a sort of a writer’s challenge, and learning about it became fun. Then (C) do the hyperlinks, and, (D) if possible try to make it wide enough topic or word/cluster that a bunch of folks would look be using, stated exactly that way and a few other ways with at least seven permutations/links, and (E)you will rise in the search which may (D) draw in a few more people who might like to find you. It seemed legit, so many people were talking about it,but we all know the internet lies like a cheap rug, so I needed to run my own experiment before I’d give my buy in.

I concluded after a few short trials: SEO is not clap trap, and when used well and right, provides value to the author and the audience. On one link alone I was on Page 3 of a google search for Chocolate Chip Cookies, and a specific type of bake-ware. Which did translate into sales. Some industry darlings have an axe to grind about SEO and Key Words, deriding them as useless to today’s author. The cold truth remains – the digital author needs visibility to build audience as well as books and when in Digital Rome will need to do what the Digital Romans do – and this is one thing they do in electronic that works. In fact, if Key Words didn’t matter, then I submit this – why do some publishers request a list of these from authors? (That last hyperlink is a trip to a juicy and useful article for fiction authors on key words and keeping current in searches written by literary agent Stephanie Barko for the informative site – SheWrites )

I decided to venture further into the method, did more research, and then sat down and put it to work by writing about something I had wanted to write about anyway: paranoid mad science conspiracy television programming – aka – Orphan Black. I'm going to write about this anyway, why not make it do double duty? (See the post, follow the links if you want an example)

I LOVE this show and wanted to do a fan girl gush, and I thought, hey, maybe someone who likes that might like my books too, so while I gush, let me also experiment with more vigor and throw in some SEO tactics. I linked back to the Actor’s pages in IMDB. I linked back to older blog posts ( a big must do, I’d learned.) I linked to all kinds of stuff. At one point I was 8th place on the front page of Google, for searches. I got “FOUND”. Later, I may get lost again, but that fifteen seconds of almost fame creates electronic connection, and in the digital age for an indie author, this is your equivalent to meeting someone at a brick and mortar store book signing – someone who wandered by, maybe, and liked your display of spif cover art, or the sound of your title, or your blouse, and you got to talking and all of a sudden you’re out for drinks and someone's saying '...and there I was, in the Congo, when...'.

See where I’m going with this? I wrote about what things I’m interested in and enjoy - paranoia, ass-kicking heroines, and the menace of mad science - things I was goign to write about anyway - and hey, a great byproduct  was that other folks who liked that stuff too checked me out. (PS I violate ALL laws of good blogging so don't use me as an example of that. Ever.)

Now this is basic, and most of it may be wrong, or not quite right but not wrong, so you need to touch base with the experts however, this is close enough – sort of the way bathtub gin was close enough to get the job done when the real deal was an enemy of the state. I think this gives you the gist. Just don’t go on overload, but do be creative.

For a final act, I’m going to do what I’m told you’re really not supposed to do and that’s put out a laundry list of links blatantly labeled as “FOLLOW THESE LINKS”.  I used them initially to help get my head around how to make what I like to write help people find me who might like what I write about. These are your start points. Follow links, do searches off of that. Check out other authors who do this. There is all this stuff, key words, and all kinds of titles for posts and stuff that I can’t begin to explain coherently or cover in a single post but this is the good lead in point.

The Book Designer for Author Blogging 101. A basic primer.

How to write an SEO post – another basic primer.

Quality Gal (blog post on Link Bait and value, also check out the blog in general. This is a company that recruits authors to create SEO articles for websites to drive traffice )

The Writers Guide to E-publishing  A clearinghouse blog that has all kinds of useful stuff turn up that includes SEO.

Think; what do I like that similar people would like who might like me and what I write? Use that to drive your posts. Then link to words, and common phrases, that might be used a lot in a search, and to web sites, expected and unexpected that folks of similar mind would visit. And Bob’s your Uncle.

PS – try the Aviation cocktail when you get a chance, especially if you’re a local. Daisy Baker's in Troy, NY - ask for Chris - he'll serve it up like it was meant to be served and you can taste a piece of history.  While by no means the most popular cocktail of it's era it definately gives taste to the spirit of an age - tart, cool, sophisticated and just a little outlaw.


Thursday, June 06, 2013

Chocolate Sauce & The Ice Cream Cocktail

Who said cold comfort is a bad thing? Chocolate Sauce (a legitimate cocktail on it’s own) paired with ice cream creates a kind of smooth slide down your throat and turn you all kinds of mellow comfort that screams decadence, yet whispers simplicity in it’s assembly. The kind of simplicity and adaptability that makes it oh so suitable for the evening aperitif designed to round the edge right off the day. 

If you really want to go all in, build it and dump it on the 60 second microwave deep dish cookie. I’m giving up my favorite cocktail recipe here (even though I’m sure someone out there on the inter webs has done it more formally), and I’m including the variants of Chocolate Sauce (Milk Chocolate Sauce, and Milk Chocolate Hazelnut [aka Sinful Sauce – tastes like boozy Nutella]).

I give the main proportions because if you’re doing it in a bourbon glass like I did for the photo and most nights, you’d end up with a shot of chocolate liqueur and ½ a shot of butterscotch schnapps, where as, if you’re going for the bowl, you need to upsize? You dig? Yeah, you dig! [ps Legal drinking age only]

Chocolate Sauce (In all its guises) is a favorite after a hard day cocktail, and adding the ice cream makes bliss and fairy dust and wonderful explode right inside of you. (If you don’t believe me, try it yourself. Or if you believe me, try it.) One is enough to make all wrongs right and ease you right into the groove. So without further blathering, behold - cocktails!

Chocolate Sauce (for those who like smooth)
Proportion: 1 part chocolate liqueur (I prefer Godiva) to ½ part butterscotch schnapps

Milk Chocolate Sauce (for those who like sweet smooth)

Proportion: 1 part chocolate liqueur to ½ part butterscotch schnapps & ½ part white chocolate liqueur (oh yeah…but wait…it gets better. Read on.)

Sinful Sauce / Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Sauce (For those who like sweet, smooth, and sinful)
Proportion: 1 part chocolate liqueur to ½ part butterscotch schnapps & ½ part white chocolate liqueur & ¼ - ½ Frangelico (or hazelnut liqueur, but really, is there any other that’s acceptable?!?!?)

Ice Cream Cocktail
Your Favorite Vanilla Ice Cream (it doesn't have to be lactose free unless you're me) scooped to fill the container (I use a bourbon/or/highball sized glass, and on occasion, a 1 cup sized bowl)

Add your favorite Chocolate Sauce (based on above recipes, sized up or down depending on your needs.)
Example: in the bowl, I use two giant scoops ice cream, and a decent sized shot glass to measure out the Sauce and did 1 full: 1/2 for plain chocolate sauce. I tried measuring it in for the bourbon glass, using a graduated shot and it turned out to be 4 tsp:2tsp:2tsp:2tsp for the full monte.
It may not sound like a lot, but in a small glass, the ice cream fills the space, and then you throw on your Sauce and let it melt just a bit. That's when the magic starts. Bigger container = larger serving = upsize the Sauce.
For variations try:

Ultimate Sin Cookie

Dump the assembled Ice Cream cocktail on top of the 60Second Microwave Single Serve Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie (recipe here)

The "I Am Out of F’ing Control And I Don't Care"

Top Ultimate Sin Cookie with boozy whipped cream available at all fine liquor stores and add sprinkles of your choice,, and if you don't mind the cancer risk, a maraschino cherry on top. Then eat it all and impress someone by tying the cherry stem in a knot with your tongue. Just don't choke. Remember, safety third.
The Bare Bones
On a final note, if you can only do one thing, throw the butterscotch schnapps on the ice cream. It really is all you need. ;-)



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Orphan Black is the New Black

BBC America has a fantastic line up of shows for the mystery and thriller fans, whether you’re looking at historical set police procedurals like Copper or Ripper Street, detective mysteries like Sherlock, or over the top police drama like Luther, but the most inventive and off the hook so far and my favorite has to be Orphan Black. I think Orphan Black also most clearly represents all the elements in the other shows that take a refreshing dramatic departure that makes the BBC line up such a powerhouse.

For those who have not seen Orphan Black, it’s a ‘future is now kind of black thriller/mystery’, in that you quasi know the villains, but are mostly finding things out as the main character discovers then, with little explanation like you get these days with so many shows. Plus it’s got the sci-fi element down with dark science gone bad. The premise revolves around a street smart foster child grown up named Sarah, who’s coming home to her foster brother, and former foster mom, in hopes of getting back her young daughter. In doing so she sees a woman who looks just like her jump in front of a train and kill herself. Sarah is already on the run from a drug dealing ex and ever the opportunist, sees a chance to steal the identity of her dead ringer along with her bank account. Except she gets snagged in the life as well – her doppelganger was a cop, up on charges for shooting a civilian and seeing a shrink for tottering on the brink of madness. And with good reason. Beth, the cop, is a clone. And in becoming Beth, Sarah learns she’s a clone as well. She meets (so far) 4 additional versions of herself, including two who are also trying to figure out why they are clones, and who’s trying to kill them. True to form, they’re not what you’d expect as clones, once being a control freak soccer mom Alison, and the other, an off-beat hipster science student named Cosima.  

Someone is trying to kill the clones. Sarah just wants Beth’s cash, but to get it, she has to play the long con of being Beth and that brings her into the orbit of the other clones, and the conspiracy that created them and is now trying to destroy them. The more she tries to dig out, she digs in. The more she tries to escape, the deeper she goes. Meanwhile she’s keeping up the façade of Beth, and most times barely maintaining the front.

She has a partner cop named Art who is just the right mix of surly and suspicious, who knows things are not right in paradise. She has Beth’s boyfriend Peter, who’s also not what he seems. But best of all, she has Felix, her foster brother, a modern day painter version of Freddy Mercury with better teeth and the same level of creative panache and droll wit. Felix is her loyal partner in crime, and even helps her fake her death, identifying Beth’s dead body as Sarah, and helping her detonate the powder keg that becomes the story of Orphan Black.

The Canadian produced mystery is not always factually correct, in fact the first episode was supposed to be NYC, but it bombed on accuracy, and is now simply set in “the city” which could be anywhere USA. What they nail with absolute deft brilliance is storytelling and character – my GAWD do they get character. You are dropped into the madness with Sarah, what she knows you know, and occasionally just a smidge more but not enough for things to get laborious.

It’s refreshing to watch not only because you have no idea what will happen next, and really, it’s a complete rollercoaster where insane plot twists and turns are concerned, but because no one is info dumping constantly and ruining the magic. It’s modern day Perils of Pauline with a very likeable, very capable, street smart female protagonist in a creepy here and now that could very well exist in the shadows of today’s mad science. Cloning is the premise, but mother daughter sister relationships are explored, as well as modern day family concepts, and motherhood (both biologic and there for the long haul). Sarah’s especially enjoyable because she’s not tied up in emotional drudge with a male lead. She’s happy enough to use Beth’s boyfriend to get what she needs, but deftly keeps him at arms length, instinctively knowing that he’s a complication her long con can’t afford.

This is the kind of story I enjoy reading, the kind of heroine I favor, and I wish more books and more TV took this vigorous approach to story-telling. Now I am known for favoring more action than not, and everyone knows I love weird stuff and mad science, but still, there is a vibrancy to this that so much pre-produced drama lacks and I think it’s because we spend too much time out of the gate trying to explain every detail and nuance thus numbing the audience into a coma, and too much effort on rubber stamp clichés that act in all too predictable a manner. I think BBC America has nailed it with this brilliant Canadian science fiction mystery/thriller and that Orphan Black is worth anyone’s time if you’re the kind of person who enjoys a wild, and sometimes frantic ride through a story filled with complex, conflicted and not always on the game characters.



Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Coming Soon: In the Flesh

Well, I suppose you could say it took long enough, and you'd be right. But timing *IS* everything so lets say I'm being fashionable as opposed to dallying, and call it a day.

Here's the update on my soon to be released Contemporary Paranormal Romance Novella: IN THE FLESH. (note - cover not trad romance. book more horror-esque w/some gross and creep factors. release date - w/i a few days.)

Buried Secrets. Lost Love. Unspeakable Evil.

Investigative reporter Angel Malone lost her professional reputation and the love of her life, FBI Agent Colt Lannigan, chasing down a missing persons story riddled with conspiracy and dead ends. Now she’ll risk the only thing she has left to prove a mass murderer is behind the disappearances – her life. All she has to do is break into an abandoned insane asylum and steal the proof before the killer turns up.

Angel thought she was ready for anything. But with Colt's reappearance and the raw heat of their attraction surging back to life, and the evil madness hidden in the bowls of Parker Sanitarium, she realizes this sick and twisted game may have an higher price. Unsure if Colt’s an ally or an enemy, she’ll take the fight to the front lines, and brave mad science, magic and ravenous ghosts all in the name of truth and a second chance at love.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe EVER ('cause it can be any kinda chip!)

Here it is, the best *INSERT YOUR CHIP FLAVOR HERE* cookie recipe. (SECRET RECIPE ALERT - I developed this through experimentation with the toll house cookie recipe on the backs of the nestle chips. This is seriously road tested.)

The preferred home favorite is White Chocolate Macadamia. Second runner up - plain White Chocolate. Third - Chocolate Chip.

All of them fab. Here is the secret why: you will increase the vanilla, add an extra 1/4 cup flour, and heap the teaspoon of salt just a smidge, instead of using the exact recipe on the back of toll house chip bags. I did a fair amount of test kitchen work to get these proportions. The additional vanilla and slightly heaping the teaspoon of salt is done to enhance the sweet flavor. Believe it or not, salt can do that - heighten the flavors of other items. And vanilla is notorious for accentuating the flavor of all chocolates. The additional 1/4 cup of flour gives more body but preserves softness, and prevents the evil flat cookie spread BUT doesn't yield hard and heavy like any more flour often does.

So: Here we go. Your waist line will hate me but your tummy will bless my name and erect monuments in my honor.

OVEN: 375 - preheat


2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt ( very slightly heaped, not flat cut - so mound it lightly in that tsp)
1 tsp baking soda (not powder, but soda - like Arm n Hammer)
3/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract (not imitation. don't cheap out here.)
1 cup (aka 2 sticks) butter UNSALTED!!!!! must be sweet cream or nothing!

White chocolate macadamia - 1 12 oz bag Nestle premier white morsels, and about 3/4 cup cracked up macadamia nuts. Here's the skinny - yes, Giradellie has a finer taste, however they also have a lower melting point and caramelize and burn quicker so this brand is out if you want good cookies. For the nuts, I get them loose at the grocer, a little over a cup whole, put in a glad bag and hit with the meat mallet. Or rolling pin. Don't make dust of them, just smash to medium and small bits.

White Chocolate = 1  12 oz bag Nestle premier white morsels.

*NOTE: these are not so much white chocolate as white chips. Don't think to hard on it, trust me, your taste buds won't care about the details here.

Chocolate Chip - 1 12 oz bag Nestle semi-sweet chocolate morsels.

Additional materials
2 big reliable cookie sheets - aluminum is best. I always think the darker non stick are weird. There is a wide selection of cookie baking sheets and I like Quaker Oats Baking 101 for the explanations of the differences, though I am partial to air filled aluminum despite the questionable description.

2 mixing bowls, one big, and one not so big but big enough to hold all the flour.


Warning - I am an old school baker. My results are universally loved so the methods are not questioned. Whether you can cook or not, if you follow this, you will succeed and be deemed a Kitchen God/Goddess. So even if it sounds silly, do it.

You will need two bowls. Your big bowl is your wet and all ingredients bowl. The smaller is for your flower, salt, and baking powder.

Prior to baking, take out the butter and eggs, and let warm to almost room temp. A little before you are going to cook, dump butter sticks into your mix bowl for wet ingredients (yes, wet, we'll get to the rest), and cut up a bit with a knife. This is science in action - by increasing the surface area, you increase the speed it will soften.

Put flour in smaller bowl. Add salt and baking soda. Mix dry with a dry fork, until it looks blended. Set aside.

The butter should be nice and soft. If not, let it get there, and not with the use of a microwave. You can set it n ear the stove if you need a hurry up. Cream it smooth so it is well blended.

Add brown sugar and blend well into the butter. When that is evenly mixed, add the white sugar and mix again until well blended. Crack in the two eggs, hit two or three times to break yolk with your mixing spoon. Then before blending further, add the 2 tsp of vanilla extract. Now, blend it all together. Mix so that it's sloppy, wet, and brown. And well blended.

Add the dry to the wet. Mix. Slowly at first, almost like folding. It helps, I've found, to spin the bowl periodically while mixing. Like a sit and spin. Yes. Really. Not kidding here. It's an easy way to evenly mix. Pretty soon you will have cookie dough at which point everyone eats some. It's only human nature. Go ahead and grab some, but no more than a teaspoon.

Next, mix in your select additives. If you are doing chips n nuts, pour in chips, empty nuts and any nut dust on top of that, then blend.

When well mixed, you are ready to drop your cookies. Some folks use one of those little cookie dropper things that look like an ice cream scoop. That's cool. I don't own one. I use two teaspoons. Mound a teaspoon (not huge, a gentle mound) and use the other to scrape the batter into a drop onto your cookie sheet. Repeat until they are filled.

7-9 minutes depending on your oven.
You want the edges to be faintly gold, and the tops to be high with another light dusting of gold.
On average, 8 seems to work, but occasionally I have to add an additional minute. Years ago I owned an oven that 7 on the dot was the exact magic time.

Take the sheet out and set on stove top. For about 30 secs let the cookies sit. Then, using a metal spatula, or one that is VERY CRISP EDGED AND FLAT, remove cookies and place on a flat plate to cool. or a flat cold surface. It's important to take care as the cookies are very soft.

If the bottoms are unbrowned and white, put them back in for another minute.

Let cool, if you can manage, repeat baking process.

consume with insulin at the ready. ENJOY!!!!!

60 Seconds to Sin: Microwavable Single Serve Chocolate Chip Cookie

File this under: Holy Crap, this REALLY works. No Lie.
And also stick it in: My Hips Say No but My Stomach says GET IN MY BELLY!!!!

This is a single serve deep dish chocolate chip cookie that really serves 2. It takes about 7 minutes to mix, and usually 60 seconds in the microwave on high to cook. Yes. 60 freaking little itty bitty seconds. This cookie is sin in a dish. The recipe came from Linda Blesser on Facebook and I had to try it in the test kitchen because I did not believe it would work. But it did. And I tweaked the recipe just a smidge because I'm a nut for chip cookies, have my own recipe, and generally can't leave well enough alone. For full on chocolate chip cookies, or any kind of chip cookie base, see my basic  chocolate chip cookie recipe.

This is a very easy desert to make fresh for two, and I bet if you had kids, an easy way to make a quick desert for them, without having to do up an entire batch of cookies, because really, then you'd be obligated to eat them all, right? Right!

First: some recipe notes:
*DISH SIZE/TYPE: For dish I used one of the medium sized ramekins, so about 2 cup sized, flat bottom. It is microwave safe and allowed me to press the cookie flat. A pyrex 1qt glass container will work too but give a thinner cookie. So in that case do 40 seconds, then go up to 60 if it still needs to cook more.

*CHIPS: any kind, even peanut butter. Yup. It's that flexible. I prefer the white chips.

*TOPPINGS: deep dish cookies call for toppings, so ice cream, and, for the adults, Godiva Chocolate liquor and/or Butterscotch schnapps. Or Baileys. Be creative.

Basic Ingredients:
1/4 cup flour

a little less than 1/4 teaspoon salt. (about 2/3rd of the 1/4 teaspoon)

1 large egg YOLK (if you use extra large, add enough flour to compensate. since you're off script, you'll need to eye ball that yourself)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla (I usually add 2 since I have my own chip cookie recipe that heaps in vanilla)

1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar

1 Tablespoon White Sugar


Basic instructions:
Just as with chocolate or white chip cookies, soften the butter and blend in the sugar. In a different container, separate white from yolk. Mix vanilla and egg together, toss in salt, and add to the butter sugar mix. Once well blended, add the flour and mix together, then the chips. 

It will seem like they won't all go into the mix, and you may have to toss a dusting of flour in and then sort of press in with your hands, and then press into the dish so that the edges touch. that is why a flat bottomed dish works well.

For your first one: TEST your home nuke (microwave). Start with 40 seconds. Take it out. it should be puffy and the top a little bit dry looking like a finished cookie, but if it is still soft and falling on itself, give it the next 20 seconds. On a dry day 60 seconds will do the trick. On a humid day or if the wet ingredients are very wet for what ever crazy reason, you may need 10 seconds more in 1 or 2 increments.

So once you establish that time, which is on average 60 seconds, you are looking for a cookie that is slightly firm when removed, not sinking in on itself. It needs a minute or two to "set up" but should be soft inside, yet not uncooked. You'll know it needs 10 seconds more if you see it has yellowish insides that seem wetter than the top. Then go 10 secs n check, 10 secs in check. You'll need no more than 20 additional seconds, but as I said, most likely 60 will be your sweet spot.

Let it rest for like a minute or two. Use this to get out the ice cream and booze. Then, have at it. (if it's for kids, leave off the hooch, okay?)

I think this recipe is so easy it should be illegal.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sewer Corn: Local Grown in Troy NY

File this under: Only in Troy (NY).

Let me preface: Troy, NY, my adopted home town, is nuts. Things happen here that happen no where else on the planet. Nor should they. Troy has what peole call "Character", as well as all other kinds of monkeyshines. Currently I reside in Brunswick, on the eastern border of Troy, though if the postal service had it's way I'd be considered Troy. We call it the 'disputed lands', and leave it at that.

Anyway, a few weeks back driving our local route out of the city (Troy) we noticed corn growing wildly. Brunswick is heavily agricultural, so that was not weird. But we were solidly in Troy, and the corn was not growing in the park, in someones front yard, or even in dirt. No, it was growing out of the sewer drain. So, Troy, known for so many things like South Troy (It's own universe that is ready to fight you), a history of 2 police forces that dueled it out for supremacy, and the creation of disposable collars, now can boast, in addition to it's fantastic Farmers Market, locally produced urban farmed Sewer Corn.

Gives new meaning to the phrase "Locally Grown."  You are what you eat, folks. (Note: for locals this is the sewer on the Northeastern corner of Ingals and Oakwood Ave.)

It's actually pretty tall. It is growing up through the vent and that fuzzy thing that pops out of the top of really tall cornstalks is just making it's appearance. I estimate several feet of stalk well below the grate. NYC grows alligators, but upstate, we are more tame, and sustainable.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chicken "Curry in a Hurry"

 I love fast, easy, tasty cooking, especially if it's paired with bold flavors and even some health beneifts. And I love curry. That's how I ended up with my infamous “curry in a hurry” go-to recipe. It is a fast one pot meal that takes additions and substitutions well, cooks in a jiff, and always comes out perfect.

This tastes fantastic, and is disgustingly healthy. It is also budget friendly, easy, and makes you look like a Iron Chef to your guests. If you like Curry, you will love this dish. Enjoy!

The main ingredient is Seeds Of Change Madras Simmer sauce (which by happy coincidence is organic and lower in sodium than many other curry sauce alternatives). I discovered this at Fresh Market and tried it on a lark and discovered that alone it's pretty tasty, but when jazzed up with a few more select additions, it really took flight. Plus it makes curry a fast affair that mimics scratch made. This serves 4 adults and more if you add more veg to the mix. I have found it in local food co-ops, in healthfood stores, and speciatly grocers like Fresh Market. If you can't find it local, try on-line. Even sells this little jar of wonderful.

1 lb skinless boneless chicken roughly cubed (you can use tofu also, just alter cooking temps)
1 red pepper, cut in chunks
1 green pepper, cut in chunks
1 fresh Jalapeno pepper diced, no seeds, or two tablespoons of jarred jalapeno rings (optional)
About ½ cup frozen greens (I use chopped mustard, takes collards, turnip or spinach, or bok choy too)
About two tablespoons olive oil (I never measure, I just coat the pan by eye and go to work)
1 full jar Seeds of Change Madras Simmer Sauce
Optional ground red pepper to taste to get it hotter if you want. If you add the jalapenos it will be pretty spicy, and this is from someone who eats heavily spiced foods.  When I serve to guests who say they eat spicy, just the jalapeno is enough to set tongues to wagging. But in the hot weather, adding that extra 1/2 teaspoon or teaspoon ground red pepper takes it up to a blissful level of taste and tingle that's a perfect fit for the summer swelter.

 Also optional: any other veg you have around.  Frozen works especially well here. I’ve added everything from Snow Peas and Scallions, to Cauliflower and Okra. When it comes to the veg portion, you can get very creative. Just keep in mind cooking times (things like snow peas or scallions add more toward the end). Also keep in mind how far sauce will stretch.
In a non stick pan or skillet large enough to hold all the above ingredients so they are not heaped over each other (this will be a 12” – don’t skimp), throw in the olive oil, the veg, then the chicken, and cook over medium-high heat until the chicken can be cut with a dull spatula and is cooked mostly through. This is about 15 minutes give or take, depending on your flame and pan.
The peppers should just begin to soften.
Pour in the simmer sauce, spend a few minutes mixing to coat everything evenly. Keep the heat up for another five minutes or so, then reduce to medium and let simmer. You want the sauce to reduce (cook down so that it’s not as fluid). You will need to periodically stir. I find a spatter guard helpful at this point (it is a screen that goes over your pan to prevent oil or sauces from splattering all over).
Cook like this until sauce is thicker, but not caramelized (burned a little).
Serve plain, with naan, pita, or as I do: with basmati brown rice.
Pairs well with a nice full bodied, juicy red wine and a deck overlooking something scenic, or with a TV tray, recliner and e-reader.
*Naan is an Indian flat bread made in special ovens. You can get it frozen at Indian and some Asian grocers. It is a total bad carb fiesta and indecently yummy.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Platform technology and something really usefull

There is a HEAP BIG TON of stuff now on author platform. So I decided, let me check stuff out on my blog and see what platform it reveals. Which lead me to the conclusion my author platform is as follows: Food, booze, monkeyshines, and the occasional foray into weird science and Internet gossip. I am not certain if that is meaningful, but there it is.

I did find something recently that is VERY MEANINGFUL for writers, experienced and aspiring. Or rather something from someone: Kowloon by Night, the site and the blog of editor/writer Adrien-Luc Sanders.

He edits for Entangled Publishing, and on his blog he's posted a raft of his editor tips dispersed via twitter feeds from 2011. You should visit here, and stay a while. Read the whole post collection of tips. It will take a bit but it's so totally worth the time. First, it's funny. Damn funny. Second, it's helpful. Third, it's irreverent and occasionally absurd (the best part).

He also has a fascination with Kowloon, the walled city of Hong Kong and has a great section on it. Also has links to wish list and cattle calls. Check it out, lots to read, and you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mom's Mac-n-Cheese

So many resolutions at the new year center around eating better. Here's a recipe for those who want to eat good. Damn good. Dave's mom makes AWESOME mac-n-cheese. Great for feeding crowds, a 6 qt crock pot favorite. If you're looking for something to stick to your ribs and make you tingle to your toes (in a way that makes you want to dial 911 for cardiac life support), then this is the one you want. (BIG THANKS to Mrs. C for yet another batch of fantastic yummie stuff!)

(Dave's) Mom's Mac-N-Cheese

3 lbs. elbow mac. cook until done let sit in the water do not drain yet.
3 lb block of hunter's Cheddar (this is a very sharp Cheddar cheese)
1 lb block of regular Cheddar (this is the mild or regular Cheddar)
1 lb Colby
1/4 lb of butter
flour as needed (see below)

Boil up the macaroni till it's about 3x it size. Yep. Puff it up real good.

Shred all cheese and set aside

Melt 1/4 lb of butter in a large pan, add flour by the tablespoon stirring until you get a flour/butter paste like consistency...add milk and stir until blended, creamy and smooth.

When macaroni is cooked, pour any water that is now left in the mac off, add the cheese and stir in the milk/butter sauce until you get the thickness you want...a little bit towards soupy is ok...pour into baking pan etc. ..cover with MORE shredded cheddar and pepper to taste...bake at 350 until golden brown on top

Seasoned or plain breadcrumbs on top.

For group serving:
Crock pot it after you bake. Yum!!!!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Ghost Hunters v. Mediums, round 1 (Insider's view: A Haunting Affair)

Ghost Hunters have a different approach to connecting with the spirit world than psychics. Evidence is gathered in abundance via technologic means and then reviewed, and even then, it's preferred for example, with Audio, to have three independent listeners agree on what they're hearing for the event to be considered legit. (also called 'the law of three').

In the case of audio, older tech is better per some experienced ghost hunters. It's believed that an analog tape recorder provides a better 'medium' for capturing spiritual noise, and that digital, while reliable, somehow falls short. However, today's technology allows recordings to load into a computer program, where background noise can be cleaned up, and sound mapped into visual waves, making it easier to identify alleged spectral communication. It's not unusual to have things show up at subsonic levels that are then manipulated, cleaned, and exposed to the naked eye/ and ear. Documentation of this is then determined proof of life, so to speak, where as the Medium only has their word.

In A Haunting Affair many ghost hunters have already debunked the lodge, however, the owner believes there's still a haunting taking place. The ghost is able not only to communicate to the psychic Emma, but brings on several hair raising contacts not unlike a poltergeist. Just like no two mediums are a like, no two ghost hunters, or hauntings are alike, so it allowed me to bring in a unique angle to the ghostly activities in the book.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Insider's View: Immortal Protector

When life becomes art, or something like that...

Immortal Protector had a lot of action scenes, that including more than a few places getting wrecked.

For one scene, the hero, Gideon, an Immortal Soldier, fights a demon in the heroine's house. For the setting I used my friend's house, a few blocks over from mine. It was a nice little brick cape off the local park and golf course. A slice of suburbia that bit the dust.

I never told her about this, only that I had a surprise for her in the book, but it was up to her to figure out what it was.

She was psyched when she found it and to this day, when out at bars, still tells people a demon and immortal soldier destroyed her first house.

It's a great reader reaction, and perfect sales pitch.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Insider's view: A Haunting Affiar

This is the first of posts that I've had up over the the Kindle Boards pages, all inside peeks into the books I've written. I'll be posting them here on the blog, and I'm starting w/the most recent book: A Haunting Affair

A Haunting Affair features a psychic with a shady past. For the psychic part, her skills come from using psychometry along with Tarot cards, and an element of spirit communication.

I've read Tarot for over 20 years now, professionally, personally, for charity, and when I owned a metaphysical shop. So that part was easy. Same with psychometry, where you hold an object and pick up the vibrational energy to help stimulate psychic connection. Where I was lacking was the spirit game. Mediums hold purview over that realm, so to mediums I went. I attended a group Medium event with a very popular local Medium I knew professionally, a smaller version of what John Edwards does. I then did some research by reading 3 John Edwards books, and watching a few documentaries. In the end, Emma (the psychic) winds up working for a world famous medium, and is developing spirit connection as the book opens.

Mediums are fascinating, and use a variety of techniques, including spirit guides (spirits who they work with on a regular basis) and acting as a conduit for spirits trying to get through. One of the things I noticed is that the Medium was rarely aware of the meaning of the message when they were the conduit. It seems even working with guides, the dearly departed aren't as cooperative, or logical as we would like them to be. It's something that Emma struggles with and factors into the story through out the mystery's unfolding. What gave me the idea for incongruous communication came from the group medium event I attended, where a friend was given a message so out of context no one could figure how it fit, and all we could assume was that either the medium was making it up, or the spirit was communicating in terms only they understood.

Was it a scam artist con job or a true spirit communication from the great beyond? Hard to tell. And that's the struggle the upright ex-cop Sam has to figure. Sooner or later he'll need to trust Emma if he wants to get to the bottom of things, but trusting a former con artist isn't easy. In the end it will come down to a tough choice and defining moment for a Hero with everything to lose and gain.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Up to no usual

Lately I've been doing mini-trivia kinds of posts over at the Kindleboards, on each of my three books. They're like blogs, so I'm going to post them over the next few weeks, and keep it updated as not everyone searches the kindleboard book bazaar (as I was recently informed!!!!! :-)   ) I've hadreader feedback that folks are really enjoying more of an 'inside baseball' kind of scoop. The posts range from what got me going on the book, to strange facts (like how it was a friends house that was trashed in a demon fight in Immortal Protector and now that's a fav bar tale of the same friend), to the influence of League of the Superfriends and The Mighty Isis. (Yes, it's true. None of this is made up. Some days it would be nice to say fact is indeed not as strange as fiction, but in my life the two seem to be tied at any given moment)

Here are the links to the individual threads if you want to read them in one stop shop fashion. You can save to your favorites to continue following the thread, or just pop back here periodically for updates. I'm not on a particular time table, but I try to shoot for at least every week to two weeks on the boards. I'll be adding the updates over the next week or so to this blog.

A Haunting Affair

Immortal Illusions

Immortal Protector


Monday, August 01, 2011

Haven - Crazy Lives in Maine

I really like the show Haven. Last year it was a refreshing breath of strange, as opposed to recycled strange, passing strange, and strangely arranged, in that it took small town Americana on a ride to the heart of the twilight zone.

You'd expect no less from a product based on Stephen King storytelling (It's loosely based on a story called the Colorado Kid).Yet it delivers so much more.

It's certainly innovative, I think, but not pretentious, and unapologetic about how it lays things out and leaves things hanging, giving enough finish and enough open ended to keep you coming back for more. Stuff happens, weird stuff, and even beyond weird crazy psycho stuff too, and somehow life perseveres. People gossip and feud, run out family dramas, and commit petty crimes (and large crimes). Life as you know it continues amidst the cyclone of crazy. Plus, it's full of camp & quirk, the kind you can only get in a remote, seaside town shoved along the upper east coast. You have hanging threads that pick up and drop, not like Lost (where it was a cluster-fox trot), but with enough skill to tantalize and tease and make you think about things well after the episodes are over.

Central to it is an enigmatic female FBI agent with a murky past that turned positively pitch black with season two. She's what's missing in television heroines, strong, capable and not a raging bitch. Intelligent, but not too smart for her shirt.

The most recent episode, #3 of season two, called Love Machine, made me look twice at my dryer and all the other electronic devices in the house.

If you have not tried Haven, and want something different to freshen the viewing schedule, give it a try.

Here's the quickie wickie def on it, and it's quite good, but no where near complete.
Shrewd and confident FBI Special Agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) has a lost past and an openness to the possibility of the paranormal. When she arrives in the small town of Haven, Maine, on a routine case, she soon finds herself caught up with the return of The Troubles, a plague of supernatural afflictions that occurred in the town at least once before. If that was not enough to draw her in, she also finds a link that may lead her to the mother she has never known.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Available Now: A Haunting Affair

It's official: my third book A Haunting Affair is available on Kindle, Nook and Smashwords.

 When the cold case from hell heats up and the body count rises, no secret is safe, no matter how well hidden - and no heart's safe, no matter how sheltered.

A Haunting Affair is set in a creepy lodge in the Adirondack mountains and is a contemporary paranormal/gothic romance. For more details read the previous blog post or follow the links above.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gothic goes Mountain...blurb from A Haunting Affair

Contemporary Paranormal Romance, Gothic tone, set in the Adirondack mountains. No Sasquatch, but does have ghosts, psychics, a high body count and a few hot men. Tentative release date: July 2011

My first indi pubbed release is not too far off, so I decided to post the back cover copy. Yes, I know, still need to update the website and all. Will get there. This is my summer of Island Time, so I'm taking the as it comes when it comes approach.

Ex-cop turned private security consultant Sam Tyler made a deathbed promise to uncover the truth behind the murder of his friend’s wife at a remote Adirondack lodge, and his sense of duty won’t let him fail. When he realizes the case is at a dead end, and the lodge is haunted, he fast concludes his only hope of making good on that promise is Emma Bishop, a psychic with a shady past. He’s a man who believes in hard evidence and stone cold proof, but with too little of either, he’s ready to take his chances with Emma.

Emma grew up with con-artist parents, but went legit when she hit eighteen. She knows the action at Holloway Lodge is a dangerous game, but one she needs to play if she plans to build on her already formidable reputation. Falling hard and fast for Sam Tyler is an unwanted complication she never sees coming. Not only is he a former cop, he’s looking for happy ever after, and she sees love as the ultimate liability.

The dead demand justice and she can’t turn away, even with a murderer drawing a target on her back. As old secrets and fresh bodies turn up, Emma and Sam race against time to bring the truth to light. Neither plans on the attraction they share kicking into overdrive, but with danger and passion heating to the flash point, life, and love are put to the ultimate test.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Girls

There are all kinds of witty things I can post on, but I'd rather post on kitties. It's a dreary, rainy Monday, cold for June even in the frigid north east. Kitties are fun and furry and always make the day a little brighter.

Here are my two ladies, recent additions to our house. The orange one is Bizzy (short for busy body kitty, she is the nosiest cat ever, into everything, and our little explorer girl.) The tiger is Val (short for Valentine). She was a feral, named for Valentine's day, and it was a perfect choice: she loves everyone and has an amazingly sweet temperament. (Biz makes up for that).

We adopted them, one on a Saturday and one on a Sunday, at a Pet Adoption clinic, a few months back after our 19 year old kitty passed to the summer land.

Bizzy was marked as 'cranky' and 'danger/beware' on her cage. I think it was the red hair that did it. We are cranky and dangerous too, so figured she'd be a good fit.

Val loves sleeping upside down when she's not trying to love and groom everyone in sight, or beating up the cat toys.
They never fail to make us smile and we're lucky they picked us of all the humans that came by Petsmart that weekend!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Of course, you know this means war

It's hot. It's after Memorial Day. That means gardening. And war. Me. The woodchuck. The plants hang in the balance.

This year I went small, last year not at all, but my new strategy involves whiskey barrels (yes, once again whiskey saves the day). Previously I'd planted in them, now I doubled up, so the top barrel half is raised waist height for me (I'm 5'9"). Fingers crossed this will keep the critters out of my stuff. As an added protection, I planted a Shepard's crook into the barrel half, and hung a planter off it filled with the woodchuck's favorites: petunias and flat leaf Italian parsley. The main barrel has cherry tomatoes, more parsley, basil, Greek oregano, and German thyme. Very international. Smells amazing! Especially in the rising heat.

The barrel of sage must not be on his tasty treat list. Each year it remains in the same spot, untouched, growing bigger and bigger. The bees and butterflies are loving it this year, and the blooms are out of this world purple. At sunset they seem to glow.

But let this not be a lull, more so a call to arms. I'm ready, if there is any foray by the critter across the borders, I will get the have a heart trap and we will tangle.

On other notes, A Haunting Affair is almost ready for release. It's in production now for formatting, and I'll be updating the website to have all the relevant information. Very exciting, a garden and a new book. A good way to venture into June.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

TIP FROM THE TRENCHES: Cooling Down Self Editing Hell

If you write, and ever get a chance to take the Self Editing Class with Angela James, do it. Better, if you ever get a chance to work with her directly, grab with both hands!

Been in edit hell for a while. I've had at this manuscript multiple times so it's easy to numb up and miss things when surgical precision is most needed. To aid the scalpel sweep that produces my final line by line read through copy, I used a TIP from Editor Angela James and it worked to highlight weak spots quick: Grammar check on Word. I know - that's like 'so Mickey mouse' - except, it isn't. You won't accept most suggestions, since voice comes through in style and style isn't always on the 'up and up' as far as the check is concerned. It's a quick way to zero in on potential trouble spots, and worth it as one of your first, and one of your last round pre-flight checks.

I had format issues that this sussed out which is why I gave it a try, but I also found it caught some weak sentences, as well as confusing text, faster than another line by line read through. Employing it gave me a much better copy to do my last line by line read through, too, a big plus. It helped my adverb hunt (Stephen King in On Writing has an excellent explanation of why to avoid overuse of adverbs.). In the end it forced a few re-writes that made better sentences, and gave me a chance to cut more junk words. A Haunting Affair is a category sized contemporary paranormal romance. Its length and story demand tight pacing and economy of words. I like words, and often use way too many. So I know my weak spots. But this made finding them faster and trust me, after so many times at the wheel, I was ready for a co-pilot. After going through the last process, I had my final line by line read through copy and was able to get through that edit round in half the time it would have taken if I'd not tried this tip.

So on this leg of the revision journey in addition to weak sentences I hit the low hanging fruit of:

1. Extraneous activity w/dialogue. Dialogue makes things move fast when you read. Attribution is key, but motion for the sake of motion doesn't enhance the story. So cut a bunch of that.

2. LY - adverbs - kept some, junked most

3. Overuse of low value words: Just, Really, Very, etc.

4. Passive voice and extraneous description

5. Weird format errors achieved though multiple revisions w/track changes.

6. Name change justification and name consistency

7. Flagrant spelling errors (My personal favorite - I am inventive w/letters and do not follow rules, only whim)

What's left:

■25 more pages to 'The End'

■Changing a key item to something more timely and recognizable

■Tim's last pass on copyedit for spelling or misused words


Off to the format guy (who also did my cover)


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Make it So - The Impossible becomes Possible

I read this fantastic book recently: Where Good Ideas Come From - The Natural History of Innovation , by Steven Johnson. I found it as a recommendation on a blog. It’s a science writer’s analysis of Innovation and what drives it. I read it because samples were intriguing, and because I wanted to really think about how I can be innovative – in my writing, in my career, in my life. I first purchased it on Kindle and read it in one sitting because I couldn't stop (crack for the mind, got to love that). Then I purchased the hardcover.

So, you’re thinking egg head bore snore, right? Wrong. There are many ideas he considers, but I want to talk about something Mr. Johnson calls Adjacent Possibilities, and relate it back to the revolution in publishing, the changing power structure between author and producer, because it really fits. And because if you have this framework in place to funnel thoughts, you might wind up popping out of your usual track and making some quantum shifts. At the very least, you’ll get wheels turning in a different way.

Adjacent Possibilities, basically, are the things that exist to make other things happen. Without electricity, for example, would the lightbulb work? Nope. We had to have some other things in play prior to the lightbulb making a meaningful entry onto the scene. If the curtain call came prior to understanding some basic electrical principals, the lightbulb would be a dismal failure. Or at least, an un-self actualized failure. Let’s bring that in focus for the writer. An idea must have the right time. If the idea is there, but it’s missing solid adjacent possibilities to help maximize or enable it’s impact, then it remains an idea, and sometimes a failure. Failures aren’t bad, they’re actually good, but that’s a discussion for another blog. Back to Adjacent Possibilities. Let’s talk about the prototypical mass publisher, Guttenberg, and what publishing and book release was prior to his appearance.

Bibles were hard to make. Time consuming. Expensive. So not a lot of folks had bibles. But some did. They were around. In circulation. But man, did you need to lay it in to make one happen. (Think Publishing of 5 years ago). Guttenberg’s around, and he’s an idea man, but he’s missing something: an adjacent possibility that when it appears, will change his life, bank balance and the world for ever after. Fast forward to the revolution in printing that allowed for mass production: the printing press. Enter the adjacent possibility. Guttenberg sees this and thinks, 'man, I can DO something with this technology'. He takes an existing product, a book called the Bible (an existing manuscript), and applies the adjacent possibility of this revolutionary new technology (e readers, e publishing platforms for author direct publishing, and the net/social media platforms that make marketing easier, faster and far more direct), and wham! Now bibles are getting out there, into the hands of many. These bibles are not as pretty in production value as the first bibles, but they’re bibles. Guess what? His audience is hungry for them. It’s this vast untapped demand. They like the price, the immediacy, it works for them. So both bibles exist in tandem now, but his is out and about, and here’s the turning point: publishing was never the same again.

Fast forward to today’s digital publishing revolution. The technology and convergence of so many adjacent possibilities (The internet, social medial, Print on Demand, Amazon, e readers, B&N, a recession causing a new awareness of cost containment in a buying public, blogs, instant exchange of information) has created an evolutionary leap no one could have predicted. In fact, I’m not sure where this will head, and what the final iteration will be but there is one fact we can’t escape: THIS IS A GAME CHANGER. The power structure is shifting, what will it become? Right now, large entities are slow to catch up so indie pubs are enjoying unprecedented opportunity. Will that change once the NY pubs figure out a way to maximize electronic and personal marketing strategies? Will top authors do the same? For example: Amazon gives passive publicity by rankings. Depending on price, or free, you can increase a chance of getting into a TOP RANKING. 99 or Free. I’m noticing more big name authors giving up freebies and 99 cent work. Will the combination of price and name squeeze out spots for the indie author, the way they did in the traditional model of ‘we have only so many slots for books, so we’re going with reliable producers vs. the unknown with the off the wall idea’? Or has the indie author carved a place that the large machine will never be able to remove, or duplicate in response? What about trad publishers like Harlequin opening up digital only press affiliates like Carina Press? What will happen when/if trad publishers give more digital % royalty to authors? Will we see more digital bidding wars for authors in the future? (already several indies have been picked up by agents and a few courted by publishers). What role will small press mainly digital publishers play, like Samhain Publishing, and how might that change? What will be the new measures of success? Will Print on Demand save bookstores, or be another coffin nail?

There are millions more questions. Like, as an author, why would I go with a traditional publisher vs. going it myself? As a publisher, how will I recruit and retain productive authors and what do I need to change in the existing model to stay not only competitive but out of bankruptcy?

I don’t know the answers. But I do find it all amazing. We are in the midst of a revolution.

For some additional thoughts on innovation and the ways to support and develop an innovative state of mind, read Steven Johnson’s book Where Good Ideas Come From - The Natural History of Innovation and visit his blog. You will not be dissapointed, and I bet it may trigger your own personal revolution.

For more on the state of the indie publishing revolution, check out Joe Konrath’s blog and step off from the many links there. I liken him to a war corrospondant. He's on the front line, reporting as the salvos fly, and has more voices speaking there than I could ever capture. He also has links to each side the revolutionary front, trad and indie. 

For cutting edge info on where digital publishing is headed, follow anything Angela James writes. She's a former Samhain editor and the current head at Carina. If anyone knows digital and impact to the industry, it's her. (She's on twitter, and facebook)

Now if I were really tech savvy, I'd give all kinds of link backs but since I'm barely beyond chisle and stone tablet some days, the links in the post will have to do. To those I referenced, thanks!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Welcome traveler - the future is NOW

I found this great spot I bet TONS of folks knew about already: Goodreads. I finally have a place I can post book reviews in a quick manner, and a place to find more books to read. And I dig the list of recent reviews because it’s such a mixed bag you don’t know what you’ll run across while exploring.

What does all this mean? It means I’m coming out of the cave and discovering technology. Uh oh. That can only hint at much trouble to come.

Personally I get bogged down sometimes by all the tech floating around. Maybe because I’m working on a computer all day for the day job. Not sure. But I have decided it’s worth it to judiciously connect here and there, because there's a ton of cool things and people to find. I see some folks are plugged in everywhere. Impressive. They’ve figured out the secrets of bending time. Not to post resolutions, I want to bypass written records of intentions as much as possible this year, but, I’m shooting for balance. Balance in work/home, balance in organic/tech, balance in busy/and chill. That means balance in off and on line, because on line is a place curious travelers can lose themselves in, like visiting the fairy realm. Time is different, fluid and trippy. So back to Goodreads: it makes it easy to shop and easy fits in with the 2011 master plan of balance. There, master plan. Way better than ‘annual resolutions’. So props Goodreads, and my favorite authors and those yet to become favorites, reviews coming at you!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Rosemary Bread Recipe

By popular demand, here is the homemade rosemary bread recipe. I made this after reading The Search by Nora Roberts. The heroine had a friend who made her the bread and homemade minestrone soup too. And I thought, mmm, sounds good. Then I got busy in the kitchen and made both. I have the recipe home made minestrone as well.  Will post that one at a later date. It's the easiest soup recipe ever. (and I am not kidding!) But for now, here's the bread.

  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Optional: 1 full heaping teaspoon of either garlic pepper or garlic powder
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 egg, beaten (optional)
1.     Dissolve the sugar in warm water in a medium bowl, and mix in the yeast.
2.   Optional: grind 1 1/2 tblspoons rosemary, add other seasonings, set aside. This releases the oils and reduces the woody spikes of the rosemary.
3.   When yeast is bubbly, mix in salt, butter, 1 tablespoon rosemary, and Italian seasoning. Mix in 2 cups flour. Gradually add remaining flour to form a workable dough, and knead 10 to 12 minutes.
4.     Coat the inside of a large bowl with olive oil. Place dough in bowl, cover, and allow to rise 1 hour in a warm location.
5.     Punch down dough, and divide in half. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly grease paper. Shape dough into 2 round loaves, and place on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining rosemary. Cover, and allow to rise 1 hour, or until doubled in size. (Optional tip: if you toss a little bit of corn meal down and then put the bread on that, you bake up a nice bottem.)
6.     Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
7.     Brush loaves with egg. Bake 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown. The egg wash makes them golden and helps the crust form. (Optional: you can also toss ice cubes into the oven, or an oven safe dish while baking to get a thicker crust. it's an old breadmaker's tip, the steam helps a crust form.)