From the Recipe Box: Gluten-Free Cream of Turkey Soup.

 

1I don’t use buzzwords without a good reason. Yes, this soup is gluten-free because I didn’t use flour to thicken. It’s a new trend I’m on and so far it’s been a success. Wait until I give you the recipe for home-made scalloped potatoes. First off, here is the link to the original recipe.

https://www.dairygoodness.ca/recipes/cream-of-turkey-soup

It’s really good, but what surprised me at first was the addition of cream, and a heavy cream at that. Yes, it will have more calories or and fat, but do you understand the process manufactures’ put whole food through to make it ‘healthy’? When they take out fat, they add sodium; fat is what gives some food it’s taste. Next time you see something that should have fat but doesn’t, think about what they’ve put in to make it palatable. Especially dairy, but I’m going off topic here . . .

Here is my take on the same recipe. Everything is the same with the exception of one ingredient (okay two; I added potatoes) – instead of corn starch, use potato starch. *maniacal laugh*

2 tbsp (30 mL) butter

8 oz (250 mL) cooked chopped turkey

1 onion, finely chopped

1 cup (250 mL) diced carrot

1 cup (250 mL) diced celery

1 cup (250 mL) frozen peas

1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme

1 tsp (5 mL) dried marjoram

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper

2 cups diced potatoes

2 1/4 cups (560 mL) chicken stock

2 tbsp (30 mL) potato starch

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) 35 % cream

Heat butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add turkey, onions, carrots and celery; cook for 3 to 5 min or until onion is softened. Add peas, seasonings and chicken stock; bring to boil, cover and simmer for 15 min.

Mix potato starch in 1/4 cup (60 mL) of cream until mixture is smooth. Start with one tbsp at a time and be careful as it will thicken up quickly. Add the mixture to soup with remaining cream. Bring to boil, stirring continuously until mixture has thickened.

**I added the diced potato with the rest of the veggies but they were still kind of hard when the soup was complete even after cooking for the specific amount of time. I will cook them a bit next time and then add them to the recipe.**

 

 

A Company of Writers: Kenneth Hoover

Shining a Light on Dark Fiction

Screen shot 2014-09-25 at 3.33.07 PMI want to thank Darke Conteur for this opportunity to talk a little about the things I write, and why as a professional writer most fiction I’ve written is dark.

I’ve sold over 60 short stories (and articles) and several novels. Almost all are dark-themed. I concede this says more about me than the state of speculative fiction in general. So it begs the question: Why so dark, Mark?

The bottom line is it gives me an opportunity to tell the kinds of stories I want to tell. I don’t write dark stories because I’m trying to be edgy or ride a popular wave. Those tactics never work anyway. By the time you get around to doing exactly that the field has moved on. But when I tap into my creative self these lurking shadows beg to be let loose. Who am I to deny them?

Personally, I don’t like “safe fiction” which doesn’t challenge or call into question ideas about ourselves. To be sure, fiction which doesn’t challenge can be extremely well-written. But I have a sneaking suspicion the dark things stay with us longest because they are more often deeply buried.

It’s up to writers to bring them to light.

From Shakespeare’s tragedies, to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Deerslayer, to The Empire Strikes Back and many dark myths which have shaped our past and modern culture the power of darkness is lasting. You can come up with many more examples than I can, I’m sure. There’s a lot of darkness out there and it’s not going away.

People create it, and read it, and desire it, for a reason. Because it speaks to who we are as a species and what we want to avoid.

One caveat needs mentioning. Dark fiction doesn’t mean violent. Violence for the sake of violence doesn’t make a story dark. It makes a story clunky and gets in the way of more powerful themes trying to come to the fore.

For example, my dark western novel Quaternity (CZP, 2015) has a lot of violence. So does my novel Haxan (CZP, 2014), the existing weird western short stories, and Seven Devils, a new novel recently accepted by CZP. But it’s not something I dwell upon for the sake of its existence. I don’t describe violence in excruciating detail. That would minimize its power and what the story is trying to convey.

Anyway, that’s where your creativity comes in! Sometimes I’m successful in writing this way, sometimes not. But I’m always trying to find that perfect angle because it’s who I am.

There are lots of writers who tell all kinds of great stories. But you will find me crouched in my own little corner of the universe playing with matches, and trying to shed light on the darker things that make us who we are.

 

Kenneth-HooverKenneth Mark Hoover’s fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, Frontier Tales, and others. He is a member of WWA and his  latest novel, QUATERNITY, is a dark western published by CZP/HarperCollins in 2015. You can find out more from his blog kennethmarkhoover.me or his website kennethmarkhoover.com.

Crystal’s effects on the human brain.

One question I hear whenever I talk about using crystals is, “Do crystals work?” It’s an honest question so after I read the following article I decided to do some research into the topic.

http://www.livescience.com/40347-crystal-healing.html

Being in the right state of mind is crucial for any healing process; ask anyone who works with terminally or seriously ill patients, and they will be the first to state that part of the healing process involves thinking positive, but how does that relate to crystals and the human body?

There has been some preliminary research done on the penal gland with researchers learning that this small part of the brain creates micro crystals, in particular, calcite. Scientists believe these calcite microcrystals could create a ‘second harmonic generation’ within the pineal tissue sections. In laymen’s terms, they could resonate and affect the surrounding tissue in the same way the micro crystals in the inner ear canal allow us to hear. A process called otoconia.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12224052

We all know that sound waves can penetrate tissue. It’s why a newborn child will turn toward the sound of his mother’s voice. The article below suggests that the small calcite crystals within the pineal gland‘…have their own Piezoelectric effect that is responsive to electromagnetic energies outside the physical body, and can also produce its own electromagnetic energy.

https://physics.knoji.com/the-piezoelectric-effect-and-the-pineal-gland-in-the-human-brain/

This opens the possibility that energy waves, whether electromagnetic or sound could stimulate these tiny crystals, and affect the surrounding tissue (brain) in the process. When given the proper stimulation, the Penal Gland could produce psychic abilities depending on the frequency a person used. Example, the Third Eye chakra, which is located in the middle of the forehead, can be stimulated by the keynote A or by a frequency of 426.7 Hz. This sound wave could be amplified by either a quartz stone or another specific stone designated for the Third Eye Chakra.

If crystals can affect the brain, then what’s to say that they don’t have an effect on the rest of the body? As we don’t truly understand our place within the natural world, this is an interesting subject. The questions posed in the comment section of the second article is also interesting. We are now just beginning to understand our connection to nature. We need to explore it even more.

Writing Update: March 17th, 2017

npa-800pxWork has picked up again and so I’m getting more shifts. This has cut into my writing time, but mostly I’ve procrastinated because on my days off I just don’t feel like it. Some days my brain is just a blank and I hate the idea of forcing myself to write something, but I’ve still managed to get some done in the last month.

I think I’ve come up with a good title for my MagicalRealism/UrbanFantasy novel; EARTHENSTONE. I’m about seven chapters in and then I realised an important plot point (the conflict of how the MC enters this magical world) wasn’t as strong or as detailed as I thought it was. It also didn’t make much sense and it veered me off from the original outline I had. I went back through the first few chapters and tightened it up so hopefully I’m back on track.

I’ve been poking at another project that I will call AltHistory/ Epistolary novel. Epistolary means written as a series of documents. Think Frankenstein or Dracula. It’s based during WWI Canada, and will have an interesting twist to the outcome/duration of the war. It’ll still take four years, but things will not go as our history did. I’m especially interested to write out how the Suffrage Movement will be affected. WWI advanced it faster than any other event. I know this because I did my short thesis paper on it. The best thing about this story is that I’ve based it in Kingston and I want to include real events from that era. I plan on doing some research and reading over microfilm of newspapers at one of the university libraries. I actually get giddy when I think about it. I have about 1,500 words done and had to top as I needed some historical events to include and I still haven’t done any research.

I haven’t looked at SURVIVAL RULES since last month. Right now I’m more focused on the other two. That doesn’t mean I’ve given up on it, but Earthenstone and the other WIP are a priority right now. If I had more time I could work on it, but as I still need to do a serious re-write on the rest of the chapters I already have, I’ll need a lot more time and energy to work on it.

 

Of Writers and Prose: To the market with your book. It’s Easy and Cheap. Trust me.

Quill-Ink[DISCLAIMER] I’m not an expert at this and I never claim to be. This is just my perspective and how I view the publishing industry.

Last month I wrote a rather long post on, well it was supposed to be on selling your book and the whole thing kinda got away on me. I’ll try to be more on topic this month. You can read the post HERE.

Marketing your book is easy.

It is, really.

Seriously, I’m not messing with you.

If you have your book on Amazon or Smashwords or one of the other ebook or POD sites, then you have a purchase page generated for your work. Guess what. That is known as the ‘MARKET’; the place where readers go to buy your work. If you want to ‘market’ your work, then you put it where it can be purchased.

It’s. That. Easy.

As I said in my last post, MARKETING and PROMOTING have become synonymous with each other when they are clearly two separate entities, and that’s where the confusion and frustration set it. Writers who say they don’t know how to market their book are really saying they don’t know how to promote it, and that’s another post altogether, but first we need to understand the difference.

Markets include brink and mortar bookstores and online retailers; it about how you get it into the reader’s hands and where the public can access it. Some writers like to keep it simple and have it on just one outlet. Others, like myself, have their book in as many places as possible. I believe the more places my book is found, the bigger my market, and with each new market I’m increasing my ‘potential’ audience. Some people call it ‘target’ audience or ‘target’ readers. I prefer to call them ‘potential readers’. Using the word ‘target’ denotes competition and despite what it looks like, authors are not in competition with each other. I’m not a target and I don’t like to be labelled as such. I doubt anyone else does either.

The biggest mistake I see with writers is not having any book links visible on their website. More than once I’ve clicked on a writer’s blog or website and all I see are paragraph after paragraph about their books, but nothing showing me where to purchase. If you have more than one book, you NEED to have them all on one page so a potential reader can view them all. Don’t put a link to one book on your Twitter account. Not even if it’s a free one. Make it as easy as possible for them to find ALL your work. Like this:

http://darkeconteur.weebly.com/books.html

All my books. All the markets. Period.

When you’ve piqued a reader’s interest, they’ll click your link and the first thing they see should be your books. I know Instagram won’t let me post the book page link, but I can post the web page link. Go figure. Make sure all the links work too. As savvy as we all like to think we are, mistakes can and do happen. Do this with all your social media sites. If you are solely on Amazon, make sure you have the links to all Amazon sites. The four main English ones are .com, .ca, .uk, and .au. If you do good sales on the other markets, say Germany (Amazon.de) include them also, and again don’t link to just one book. You should have an author page for each Amazon site with your books neatly along the top or down the length of the page. USE THIS LINK.

Remember, you’re trying to make this as easy as possible for potential readers. If a reader has to click more than twice to find a market with your work, he may abandon the whole idea altogether.

A Darke Kind of Beauty: Cleansers are not soap.

When I was in grade seven, my mother went away for a week and I spent the time with friends. I remember that week for two reasons; first, it was the first time I’d been away from her for so long, and second, being the age that I was, I had my first (and nasty) breakout of pimples. She bought me some over-the-counter medicated skin wipes and told me to wash my face every morning with hot water and soap and then use the wipes, the breakout would be over by the time she got back.

She was right.

It wasn’t until my thirties that face cleansers became popular, and I’ll admit, I was a skeptic at first. After all, why change something that’s working? Except it wasn’t, I just didn’t know it. As a teen, I’d faithfully wash my face with soap and hot water, but as I got older my skin changed and for the longest time I didn’t change products. It wasn’t until I read an article by a dermatologist that stated that bar soap should never be used on the face and neck, that I decided to change, and I’ve been washing my face with a proper cleanser ever since.

Taking care my skin is a full time job that can be broken down into three parts; environment, lifestyle and genetics. Two I can control, one I can’t. Using cleansers that are created for my skin type is the first step, and while bar soap may be more gentle than it was thirty years ago, keeping my skin healthy is all about what I leave behind.

There is a big difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin. A good explanation is here. http://www.justaboutskin.com/dry-vs-dehydrated-skin/

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The one by Fresh is expensive, but I got a free sample once and fell in love. I love the smell and Husband noticed a change in my skin after a week. It’s very gentle with a soy base that smells like cucumbers. I use it in the mornings but I’m thinking about looking for something a little less pricey. I know the package says ‘makeup remover’, but it’s not that good at removing makeup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is my weekly exfoliate. It has ground apricot nuts as the exfoliant. Ground walnut shells is another good exfoliant, and avoid any product that contains ‘microbeads’. They’re not environmentally friendly and do more harm than good. The one thing I don’t like about this product is that I have to rinse a few times to make sure all the product is off my face. I always end up leaving some in my hair line. They say you should exfoliate once a day, but if you have any type of oily skin, a daily abrasion can make the skin produce more oil. I stopped using a buffer because of this. Oily and combination skin are always tricky to take care.

 

 

 

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The last two are used the most. The black one has a charcoal base and I use it in the shower. The hot mist opens my pores more and it cuts right through the oil and moisturizer/makeup build up from the day. It’s very deep cleaning but the charcoal does leave my skin a little tight. It’s great for blackheads.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Body Shop one I use outside of the shower. It’s a more soapy than the Fresh product so I can get a good lather going and scrub my face good.

 

 

 

 

 

I know, I know, too many products but considering how important our skin is to our overall health, it’s something I don’t take lightly.

Movie Night: The Great Wall

the-great-wallIMBd Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2034800/

Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: When a mercenary warrior (Matt Damon) is imprisoned within the Great Wall, he discovers the mystery behind one of the greatest wonders of the world. As wave after wave of marauding beasts besiege the massive structure, his quest for fortune turns into a journey toward heroism as he joins a huge army of elite warriors to confront the unimaginable and seemingly unstoppable force. Written by Watch_Movies

Review: This movie caught my attention when I saw the trailer. It’s an interesting movie that keeps you not only entertained, but interested. The cinematography and location were incredibly beautiful with just the right amount of 3D effect. The plot moved along at a good pace and it was shorter than most movies of the same genre. It stayed in the ‘now’, and didn’t get muddled down with characters going on about their past or what brought them to the wall. Best of all, this movie had a strong male and female lead that DIDN’T FALL IN LOVE. Oh, there might have been an attraction, but it wasn’t a focal point in the movie. These people were at war, and the movie focused on that.

This movie does what it was meant to do; entertain and make you forget about the ugliness of the word for a few hours. The cinematography and costumes alone are worth it.

5 out of 5

 

 

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