A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Foods - Fun summer dinner

Well, what's summer without the use of a grill? The most iconic symbol of summer is cooking over a charcoal or gas grill. Everyone has done it or been invited to a party where the host was doing it at some point in their lives. So I'm going to share with you one of my favorite summertime meals.

(Picture courtesy of allrecipes.com)

Honey Chicken Kabobs
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/3 c. honey
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. black pepper
8 skinless, bonless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cloves garlic
5 small onions, cut into 2 inch pieces (2 large onions works too)
2 red bell peppers, cut into 2 inch pieces (you can use green, yellow, orange, whatever color you like)

1. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, honey, soy sauce, and pepper. Before adding chicken, reserve a small amount of marinade to brush onto kabobs while cooking. Place all remaining ingredients in the marinade and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (the longer the better).
2. Preheat the grill for high heat.
3. Drain marinade from chicken and vegetables. Discard used marinade. Thread chicken and vegetables alternately onto the skewers. (If you're using bamboo skewers, I always recommend soaking your skewers in water first.)
4. Lightly oil the grill grate. Place the skewers on the grill. Cook for 12-15 minutes, until chicken juices run clear. Rotate frequently, brushing the reserved marinade over the kabobs with each turn.

(Photo courtesy of allrecipes.com)

Potato Salad
2 lbs. russet potatoes
1 c. mayonnaise
4 tsp dill pickle relish (you can use sweet pickle relish if you prefer)
4 tsp white sugar
2 tsp chopped onion
2 tsp yellow mustard
1 tsp white vinegar
1 T chopped celery
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
salt to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Peel and cook potatoes until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool, and chop.
2. In a large bowl, mix together potatoes, mayonnaise, and everything else until potatoes are coated. Chill and serve.

(Picture courtesy of allrecipes.com)

Rich S'mores
8 large oatmeal cookies (I've used chewy chocolate chip cookies, and chewy molasses cookies)
4 oz. milk chocolate
8 large marshmallows

1, Preheat grill for high heat.
2. Place 1 oz of chocolate on flat side of four of the cookies. Skewer the marshmallows and cook, turning frequently until golden brown.
3. Slide two marshmallows off onto the chocolate and top with the other cookie (flat side down). Give it a couple minutes to melt the chocolate and then enjoy.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thursday Thoughts - Friendship

(Picture courtesy of www.morguefile.com)

Friends. Where would we be without them? They are the ones who laugh with us in the best of times and cry with us in the worst of times. They are there through our good days and our bad, and are willing to forgive us for our bad days. Friends are the family we make for ourselves.

Friendships have evolved and changed over the last few years with the rise of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. Friends no longer have to pick up the phone or meet for coffee. They can hop onto whatever their favorite site is and make a post, either a private message to their friends or a status update to the whole world. This puts you in contact with everyone you've made friends with.

This can lead to problems as not all the friends you make will be interested in your status updates. Maybe they friended you because you play the same game as they do, or because you share a similar interest. They have no real interest in being "friends", they just want to pad their numbers. These people are the ones you need to watch out for. I call them "fairweather friends" - ones who are there only to enjoy the good times.

I've made a few good friends through Facebook and Twitter. Two who come to mind are Joelle Casteel and KD Sarge. I of course have many others that are friends but these two have become my closest friends through social media. I also have friends IRL that I spend time with as well. It's important to balance your online life with your real life, because sometimes you just need that physical shoulder to cry on.

Enjoy your friends, for they are the ones who will put up with your antics because they care about you and not because they have to.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Writing Wednesday - Characters

Let's talk characters for a minute. Characters are vital components of your stories. You can't have a story without a character. Even if you're writing about inanimate objects, that inanimate object becomes the character in the story.

The main thing you need to do is make the character interesting. They don't have to be the good guy, but they have to at least be interesting. If they're not interesting, we won't care what happens to them. If we don't care what happens to them, we're not going to want to read their story.

Give your character flaws. If they're too perfect, they're unbelievable. We want to see that your character is pretty but shallow, or tough but afraid. The more real your character is the more your reader is likely to connect with them. The caveat to this is if you're writing satire or parody. Then you can make your characters as absurd as you like.

George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire is a good example of a character driven story. You become engrossed in the lives of these characters as they live their lives and deal with the political turmoil of the kingdoms as well as the threat of the White Walkers.

So who's your favorite character? What makes them your favorite?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Travel Tuesday - Sequim, WA

I once lived in a small town called Sequim (Skwim) in Washington. It was a pretty little town, not too far from Port Angeles and Port Townsend. It was on the coast so you could go to the shore. It was a pretty little town that a lot of retirees found comfortable. Sequim is often called "Sunny Sequim". It's in a rain shadow, so while a good portion of Washington is rainy Sequim has more sun than rain.

One of the big draws to Sequim is the Olympic Game Farm. Here's their website. The Olympic Game Farm worked with the Walt Disney company for 28 years. When the Disney company moved away from the nature films, the owner of Olympic Game Farm got permission to open the gates of the farm to the public. You can take driving tours through 84 acres of the farm and get face to face with many animals.

The other big draw for Sequim is the Lavender Festival. Sequim is the lavender capital of the Pacific Northwest, possibly even in the U.S. Here's the link to the festival webpage. This year is the 17th year of the lavender festival. There is a lovely tour of the lavender farms in the area, and a very busy street fair. The scent of lavender perfumes the air, overriding even the salt smell from the ocean. It is a gorgeous sight and one that I would highly recommend you take in if you like lavender. This year, the festival is July 19-21.

In the summer, Sequim also has a regular farmer's market in downtown where you can get fresh vegetables, homemade soaps and candles, and various other handmade crafts. It has entertainers come and perform for the people shopping. It's a very popular destination for the locals and even those who have come from out of town to visit the town.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Snippet - A Murder of Crows

This is from one of my various short stories that I've written over the last few years.

Aya held up her hand. The light Bailey was following fluttered down and settled just above the old woman’s palm. It darted here and there above the old homeless woman’s hand. It looked like she wanted to fly off but was held by something. “Interesting little thing, isn’t she?”
“What is she?” Bailey asked.
Aya smiled, showing a distinct lack of proper dental hygiene. “She’s a Glitter Wisp.” She extended her dirt covered hand. “Watch.” Aya closed her fingers around the light. It went out, and the music stopped. A moment later, Aya opened her hand again.
A piece of faceted yellow topaz glittered on her palm. Bailey’s eyes narrowed. “This is one of those stupid sleight of hand things, isn’t it?” she asked suspiciously. “My mom told me that there were a lot of street people who would try and beg money off of me with these kinds of tricks.”
“Your mom sounds like a sensible woman,” Aya said with a snort. “This is what happens when you catch a Glitter Wisp. It’s how they protect themselves. Otherwise the poor dears would be pecked to death by magpies and crows.” Bailey heard a rustling sound. She looked up, and saw a bunch of crows staring down at her. Aya set the crystal down on the edge of her box. “Watch.”
Bailey crouched next to the box. Two of the crows landed on the box, but Aya shooed them off. They cawed angrily at her, and Bailey saw the gem shiver. For a moment, even the shadows in the alley seemed to grow darker and colder. Aya’s eyes glittered cold and black as she watched the young woman.
“Nothing’s happening,” Bailey said after a few minutes passed in silence.
“Patience, girl. I gave her quite a scare,” Aya said. She jerked her head at the crows. “These damned birds aren’t helping things either. She’s terrified.” There was a faint sound, almost like glass cracking. “Ah, here she comes.” Aya’s voice dropped to a whisper. “Quiet now. We don’t want to scare her again.”
“What’s she doing?” Bailey whispered.
“She’s peeking out to make sure that we’re not a pair of nasty old birds with a taste for Wisp,” Aya said.
There was that tinkling sound of breaking glass again. Suddenly the gem exploded in a flurry of sound and
light. Bailey blinked. A tiny woman with dark gold hair and crystal dragonfly wings stood in place of the gem.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Fallen off the face of the planet

I know, I know. It's a shock to see me posting here again. You probably thought I'd forgotten all about you. Well I haven't. I just didn't know what to blog about so I've kind of been neglecting this again. I will endeavor to do better. The other reason I haven't been posting here is because once again life jumped up and bit me in the behind.

I'm not going to get into gory details. Let's just say financially and medically, things have been...........interesting, to say the least. If you're really that curious, you can ask and I'll answer. But I know none of you are probably all that curious about it.

On the writing front...*sigh* I've scrapped my world building again because it was all too implausible/impossible. So I'm back at square one. All of the work I've done has been scrapped too. Though I haven't deleted it completely. It all exists in a file folder on my computer (and on Google Drive and on Dropbox) entitled "Story Graveyard". That way I don't lose anything I've written, because there may be something in it that I can use. I'm just no longer pursuing that avenue with the stories I'm writing.

As a result, Burning Dreams and Only A Name have both been scrapped and are being reimagined. And I'm doing some serious reimagining on those two. Cracked World has never been finished enough for me to have to do a great deal of work on it to rewrite it.

On Sundays, I'm going to be sharing snippets from some of my short stories, and I will go back to publishing my Food Fridays. If there's something else you'd like to see on my blog, please let me know. I'd be interested in some new ideas.