Saturday, October 21, 2017

I love the Fall and Halloween by Barbara Edwards


Fall is my favorite season. I love the changing colors on the trees, the sharp crisp air, frost on the morning fields and cool nights.  Then we have Halloween to bring out some really strange yard decorations. One neighbor has a graveyard next to the road. One has ghosts hung on the porch. I have carved lighted pumpkins on my porch.

Where we live we don’t get trick-or-treaters. Its the last house at the top of a hill  and I think kids are a little lazy. We might get some this year since a neighbor rented to a family with children. We’ll see.


One fun thing is my granddaughter asking to borrow on of my Civil War dresses to wear to school for extra credit.  She was supposed to send me a photo but its not here yet. 

Check out my free stories on my blog, https://barbaraedwardscomments.wordpress.com for creepy, scary stuff.


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Amazon Author’s Page http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003F6ZK1A

Friday, October 20, 2017

Just in time for Halloween - Let's Talk About Blood.


                                 

Since mankind first started slaughtering animals for food, blood has been a part of our diet. Gross? Maybe. Admittedly, an uncut Black Sausage looks like an unappetizing blood clot. 


                                              

Still, blood helped satisfy nutritional needs for our ancestors and can still be found in many diets today. From blood tofu in Asia to blood pancakes in the Scandinavian countries, blood, as an ingredient, can be found in almost every cuisine throughout the world. It is used as a ceremonial drink, soup thickener, and gelled into a high energy snack. 

Where I once thought Black Pudding (blood sausage) was unique to the UK, I've found there are countless varieties of blood sausage consumed throughout Europe, Central, and South America. Think Americans don't eat blood sausage? Think again. Canjun style is called boudin noire in Louisiana and is served with rice. The southwestern part of the United States frequently chows down on Mexican Moronga.

 Historically and in modern day blood is used for more than drinking and eating.

Rumor has it that 16th century Hungarian Countess, Elizabeth Bathory bathed in blood because she believed it would keep her skin fresh and youthful. Now the Countess took things entirely too far as she had over 600 young female servants slaughtered for this beauty regimen. Local Officials seemed able to overlook all the missing peasant girls that went to work in the Bathory household and were never seen again. That changed when she ran out of the local girls, and made the mistake of killing a couple of young women from the upper class. This led to Bathory's subsequent exposure and gruesome sentence. For her crimes, she was boarded up alone in her room. 

We're a little more civilized today but the hope that blood will retain or restore skin resilience carries on. Vampire Facials or 'Facelifts' are a costly fad where blood is drawn from the client, spun in a centrifuge to separate the platelets. These platelets are then re-injected into the face. Most do see improvement but the results quickly fade making it outrageously expensive at over $1,000. a treatment.

More importantly, blood research is ongoing and there's a particularly promising trial with mice. Old mice are injected with blood from young mice, and, so far, results look promising. The older mice show signs of cognitive improvement and rejuvenation. This might be a real boon for Alzheimer's sufferers.

So this Halloween when ghoulish monsters come to your door(or you can wait for the Zombie Apocalypse) offer Black Pudding instead of the usual treats. 

                                    
Take extra care stuffing those sausage casings - I've heard it can be a bloody mess and leave your kitchen looking like a MASH Unit.

A Traditional English Recipe
  • 1 quart pig, lamb or goose blood
  • 16 oz milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. shredded suet
  • 2 large onions, minced
  • 1 oz oatmeal, toasted
  • a length of sausage  skin to stuff

How to make it

  • Bring a large stewpot 3/4 full of water almost to a boil
  • Pour the blood into a deep bowl
  • Add 1 tsp salt, stirring constantly
  • Strain with a seive
  • Add milk, mix well
  • Add suet, minced onions, toasted oatmeal, 1 tsp salt and 2 tsp black pepper and mix well
  • Fill skins using a sausage stuffing machine or a funnel with a large opening, making the sausages the length you require. Do not overstuff or the sausages will burst when cooked
  • Cut each sausage leaving a length of skin on each end in order to tie them off
  • Put the finished sausages in the water for a few minutes
  • Prick each sausage with a cooking fork and turn them in the water
  • Cook gently for about 2 hours
  • Remove from pot and hang to let cool
  • When cool, slice and fry

Or try this Moronga Sausage from Mexico

Materials

Pork skins                                          1/2 c
Pork back fat or porkfat trimmings     1/2 c
Pork blood                                        1 1/2 c 
Tomatoes, diced                              1 1/4 c
Onions, diced                                     1/2 c
Jalapeńos, diced                                1/4 c
Flour                                                   1/4 c

Salt                                                     2 1/2 tsp
Pepper                                                 1/2 tsp
Mint, peppermint, spearmint, chopped  2 Tbsp
Oregano, rubbed                                  1 tsp
1 clove garlic
Instructions
  1. Simmer skins in water (don't boil) until soft. Drain and cool.
  2. Grind skins 1/8”  
  3. Cut fat into 1/4” cubes.
  4. Mix the meat, the skins, the blood and all ingredients with together.
  5. Stuff loosely into hog casings.
  6. Cook at low boil in water for 35                                                                                                                         minutes.
  7.                                                                                                                         Place in cold water 10min.



R.E. Mullins, author of THE BLAUTSAUGERS OF AMBER HEIGHTS SERIES.

Come see what else I'm working on at remullins.com

Buy these or my other books at Amazon

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Dracula and Other Classics by Alicia Dean


I have a confession to make, I have not read many, if any, classic, literary novels, other than maybe those I read in school. I've never read a Jane Austen book, or even seen one of her movies. I have always intended to, but just haven't yet. I did read Gone with the Wind, many times, and loved it. But, other than that, my reading tastes have leaned toward current'ish releases. However, I am now reading (well, mostly listening via audiobook), to Bram Stoker's Dracula. Our OKRWA group is reading it to discuss at this Saturday's meeting. I have mixed feelings. It's surprisingly creepy in parts, suspenseful and chilling. But, wow, are there some very, very slow moments. One thing that surprised me was the description of Count Dracula, quite different from the Dracula we are accustomed to now. Here is what he looks like in Bram Stoker's version:



The book is written completely in journal and letter form, which is a little 'telling' at times. And, there are places where he goes on and on in minute detail about non-interesting topics. The character, Van Helsing, has an odd way of speaking and some of his dialogue makes my brain hurt. Here is an example:

"Winchesters it shall be. Quincey's head is level at all times, but most so when there is to hunt, metaphor be more dishonour to science than wolves be of danger to man."

Huh?

But then, there are sections like the below. This is from Jonathan Harker's journal, who is a guest- turned captive of Count Dracula (Jonathan had previously seen a bag that writhed as if it contained something living, in the possession of the Count and his vampire women):

As I sat, I heard a sound in the courtyard without--the agonized cry of a woman. I rushed to the window, and throwing it up, peered out between the bars. There, indeed, was a woman with disheveled hair, holding her hands over her heart as one distressed with running. She was leaning against a corner of the gateway. When she saw my face at the window, she threw herself forward, and shouted in a voice laden with menace—

"Monster, give me my child!"

She threw herself on her knees, and raising up her hands, cried the same words in tones with wrung my heart. Then she tore her hair and beat her breast, and abandoned herself to all the violences of extravagant emotion. Finally, she threw herself forward and, though I could not see her, I could hear the beating of her naked hands against the door.

Somewhere high overhead, probably on the tower, I heard the voice of the Count calling in his harsh, metallic whisper. His call seemed to be answered from far and wide by the howling of wolves. Before many minutes had passed, a pack of them poured, like a pent-up dam when liberated, through the wide entrance into the courtyard.

There was no cry from the woman, and the howling of the wolves was but short. Before long they streamed away singly, licking their lips.

I could not pity her, for I knew now what had become of her child, and she was better dead.

Nice, right?

Sections like this make it worth the read. And, with it being Halloween month, this is a perfect choice.


What about you? Have you read the classics? Which ones do you like/dislike?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Let's Talk Newsletters by Jannine Gallant

After listening to authors talk about their takeaways from various conventions, classes, etc., the one common theme I've noticed is everyone who's an authority on marketing recommends having a newsletter. Do I have one? Uh, no. I've failed miserably at this piece of the promo puzzle. However, that's all about to change. I'm taking the plunge.

Step One: The Mailing List. Here's what I do know...and it isn't a heck of a lot. You need to start with a mailing list. There are several online sites that allow you to collect addresses for free--up to a certain limit. I chose Mailchimp and created an account. Then I followed the helpful instructions they provided to set up the basic form to collect information, complete with double opt-out so you don't get into trouble for coercing people into signing up by mistake. I took the link they provided and added it to the front page of my website. Not so very hard, even for an old dog! I signed myself up, just to make sure it worked. Amazingly (at least to me), it did. I now had one person (me) on my mailing list. And as the weeks passed and I did nothing, that's the only address I did have. (sigh)


Step Two: How to get people to sign up for your newsletter. Obviously doing nothing has no effect...kind of like how your book doesn't sell itself. I decided to offer a reward to get people to sign up. I have a box of beautiful ARCs (advanced reader copies marketing teams send out to reviewers--not the final, final version, but pretty darn close) of BURIED TRUTH. This is the first book in my new series that will release on January 30, 2018. Marketing had leftovers, so my editor sent me a box. (I was thrilled!) Last week I posted on Facebook that I would draw one lucky winner from the pool of people who signed up for my newsletter, to receive an autographed copy. Proud of my cleverness, I sat back and waited for the signups to roll in. Let's just say I was underwhelmed by the results. I now have ten people on my list, and several are fellow Roses who were being nice! (double sigh) Alrighty, then. Obviously, my minimal efforts weren't producing results, so I contacted the marketing people at Kensington and asked them to spread the word through their social media channels about my bribe...er, I mean prize. They were happy to oblige, so maybe I'll get a little more interest. At any rate, now is your chance. Click on this LINK to sign up for my newsletter if you'd like to get into the drawing. As of now, your chances of winning that ARC are pretty darn good! Contest ends on Sunday, Oct. 22nd, and the winner will be notified by email on Monday, Oct. 23rd. Sorry, but you must live in the US to win since I don't do foreign postage. 😞

Step Three: What to put into the newsletter. So, let's assume I'll have a few interested readers eagerly awaiting my first newsletter. Or to be realistic, I'm hoping readers will at least be motivated to open it before chucking it into their cyber trash. That means exciting content to draw their interest. Obviously, I'll tell them about new releases, any books I might have on sale, and any contests my publisher is running. The basic stuff. (yawn) Since I'm a decent cook and make up my own recipes, I'll also be posting an original recipe or two in each letter. But what else? What do you like to see in newsletters? For those authors who already send one out, what do you do to catch your readers' interest? I'm open to suggestions, and I think this is a great forum to share information. Also, if you have some brilliant ideas to build mailing lists, please share. I know people have sign-up sheets at conventions and book signings, but what about online? Any helpful tips?

For more information on my books, check out my WEBSITE. Happy reading!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What Takes You Home? by Betsy Ashton

Home. We define it in so many different ways. The place we grew up. The place we live now. An imaginary locale we wished we inhabited. It doesn't matter what you call home. It matters that you have one.

And, now that you have admitted you have a home, what calls you to it? Is it the memory of an event that makes you smile? Like that Christmas your Uncle Greg told stories of his days hitchhiking across the United States in search of himself? You roared until your sides ached. Of course, that was the same Christmas when his daughter Cheryl ate all the butter cookies and threw up on a pile of unopened (and never opened) presents. I'm not sure Uncle Greg found himself, but he was a wicked story teller.

Is it a smell? Marcel Proust's memory of a cookie is world famous. Does the memory of a smell draw you home? Your mother's cooking, burnt chicken on the grill, your grandmother's talcum powder, your father's pipe tobacco?

Or, like me, is the home you return to in your memories a place, not a house, but a place. For me, it's a place we called the compound, three trailers with a connecting platform, where my cousin Jerry and I wiled away the hours in our preteen years, vast, open spaces outside the chain-link fence that surrounded that compound. Hundreds of square miles of sage brush, cactus, jack rabbits, chipmunks, a dog named Duke, and two burros, Shorty and Fatso. Today, we'd never name a burro Fatso, because it's politically incorrect, but she was round. We didn't know any better.

The place that draws me back, the memories that are as alive today as they were over fifty years ago, center around those trailers, animals, and my aunt, uncle, and cousin with whom I lived every summer. The only child of a single, working mother, I was grateful for three months of absolute freedom to roam. And roam we did. We walked all over the high desert of Southern California. We lay on our backs in the sand and watch Air Force jets maneuver and leave contrails, those magical pathways that took our imaginations to the stars and back. We rode the burros when we got tired.

My cousin and I read voraciously. My aunt and uncle only had a small television set, three channels, all black-and-white. Not much choice if you didn't like game and variety shows, boxing on Friday night, or wrestling on Saturday. We didn't care. We read the library empty of books, many way over our school grade. We grew strong and sturdy, tan with blond streaks in our hair. We were free-range kids before any such term needed to be applied. We just were.

Because those days keep beckoning me, even though my cousin, aunt, and uncle have all passed, I feel compelled to return, perhaps because I'm the last one who remembers. NaNoWriMo is almost on us. I think I'll make this out-of-the-desert story my project.

What draws you home? And are you doing NaNoWriMo with me?

Monday, October 16, 2017

More Wine Coming Soon by Donna Michaels

Hi everyone,

It's Donna Michaels, and woohoo! I actually remembered to put up a post on my designated day. So sorry I missed it last month. My bad. I was very deep in my writing cave and it never even flickered through my mind.

Today, I'm thrilled to share the cover and blurb of my upcoming release, WINE AND SCENERY, Book 7 in my Citizen Soldier Series. It releases in two weeks, 10/30/17!






His quiet life is about to get a sexy remodel…

Sets aren’t the only thing Ryder builds when volunteering his construction expertise at the local theatre. A surprising friendship forms between him and a vivacious New Yorker. Working side-by-side with the visiting make-up artist whose ready smile and warm brown eyes slowly thaw the ice around his heart, he warms to the idea of acting on their attraction.


But when Sophia’s close-knit Italian family summons her back to the Big Apple, Ryder’s reminded of the past and how his ex-girlfriend chose family obligations over him. To make matters worse, he discovers Sophia lied about her family, because they’re the ones undercutting his bids and threatening his business. Did he give his heart to the right woman this time, or will he end up alone and discarded again, like last month’s scenery?

___________________________________________

Thank you so much for reading,

~Donna
www.DonnaMichaelsAuthor.com

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Together Again by Alison Henderson

If you read my post last month, you know OG and I recently traveled to Kansas City for his 50th high school reunion. Since this was such a momentous event, I thought I'd share some of my observations with you.

First, the trip itself. I've traveled several times since we moved to California, but OG hadn't flown in nearly four years. He was dreading it, and I was dreading it with him. Travel is always easier for me when I don't have to worry about how someone else is doing. I also wasn't exactly at my best. 

The morning we left, I had to get up at 3:30 a.m., so I didn't sleep at all. The night before, I had awakened at 3:05 and never gone back to sleep. The first night in the hotel, the air conditioner in the room came on every 20 minutes with the roar of a freight train, so--you guessed it--I didn't sleep at all again! By the following night, after the first party of the weekend, I had been awake for 70 hours straight. I was getting shaky and a little loopy. That night, I slept and returned to normal--or at least as normal as I ever get. The next couple of days were fine. I went to the art museum with my mother, spoke about indie publishing to a couple dozen of her friends, and met my sister's two new little dogs. However, the weekend wasn't about me. 

OG had been anxious about going for weeks. Two days before we left, he said he wished he'd never agreed to attend. He hadn't seen or spoken to anyone in his class in more than thirty years and wasn't sure he would remember anyone or they would remember him. I think his main worry, though, was how to explain himself and his life. Men in particular tend to define themselves by their careers, and he felt his was a disappointment. My feeling is, it isn't necessary to spill your guts to everyone you encounter at an event like this, but somehow he seemed to think people would be able to tell just by looking at him. 

Fortunately, a few months ago, his best friend from high school managed to track him down through my author FB page (of all things!) They've been emailing ever since, and we've gotten together with him and his wife twice--it turned out they only live a couple of hours away. They're wonderful people, and spending time with them made the whole weekend easier and much more fun for both of us.

From the first minutes of the first event, OG's fears turned out to be unfounded. I watched with great pleasure as he reconnected with former neighbors and his old football teammates. Everyone was happy to see him, and he obviously felt the same. People were genuinely curious about each other's lives, but without judgement, as far as I could tell. By age 68, they seemed to have gained the wisdom to simply accept and enjoy each other. I couldn't have asked for more.

Alison
www.alisonhenderson.com