Check out my fiction - http://www.jaletac.com
Check out my science fiction series - The Fall of the Altairan Empire

Monday, October 20, 2014

Giveaway Time!

Who's up for a giveaway? How about a fun silly scary story collection? All righty then. One ebook copy of Brain Candy coming up to one lucky winner.

Here's the links to buy it:

Kindle

All other ebook formats

And just for Halloween, I'm putting it on sale until the end of October for only 99 cents!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Watchagot Stew, Bean Style

We had watchagot stew again this week. For those who don't know, this is the soup where someone asks, "What's for dinner?" and the answer is, "I don't know. What cha got?" You then open the fridge and see what you got. That gets thrown together in a pot to make watchagot stew. Get it? Got it. Good. (Bonus points if you get the movie reference.)

We have a lot of old food storage items in our basement right now. Long story, but we inherited most of it. Some of it is ours that we just forgot about because it got stored in the wrong closet. It's amazing what you discover when you clean out your basement. My husband found a ten bean mix that needed used, so he dumped 3-4 c. of dried beans in a crockpot and soaked them overnight, then cooked them the next day. He was staring at the beans and wondering what to do with them. Plain beans are not very tasty. So we dressed them up with what we had. It turned out pretty tasty.

Watchagot Stew, Bean Style

3-4 c. dried beans, any variety (lima, pinto, black, red, kidney, garbanzo, lentils, split peas, etc.)
6 c. water
1 t. salt
1 t. ground black pepper
1/4 onion soup mix
5 tomatoes, chopped small
1 bell pepper, chopped small
1 onion, chopped small
2 c. ham, chopped
4 carrots, sliced

Soak beans in water overnight. Drain and rinse. Add enough water to cover beans. Cook on low in a crockpot for 6 hours, until mostly done.

Add in everything else plus whatever else you have laying around that needs used that smells like it would go with the other flavors, like zucchini or green beans or corn. Cook on high for 2-3 hours. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Turn to low and hold for as long as needed.

Makes about 3 quarts of soup.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Meteorite Basics

From space.com - thank goodness it's only a painting!
Meteors. Rocks that fall from space. Who doesn't love a space rock? Okay, I'm weird. I admit that. But I do find meteors fascinating and I'd love to share some of my fascination with you.

Where do they come from?
The easy answer is: Outer space. But where in outer space?
Meteorites come in three basic types: iron, stony iron, and stony. There are more technical terms for them and they are further classified, but for now, these three will work. (If you want to know more, check out this website.)

Iron meteorites are by far the easiest to identify. They are an iron and nickel mix, but mostly iron. Anytime geologists or meteorite hunters find a blob of metal, especially one that shows crystalline structure, they know they've found a meteorite.
Stony iron meteorites are a little more tricky to spot. They're a mix of iron-nickel and silicate minerals, like clay. Stony meteorites are very difficult to find unless you can track them falling. They're very similar to rocks you'd find on the surface of Earth. Surprisingly, a lot of stony and stony-iron meteorites contain quite a bit of water and carbon compounds. If you remember news stories from quite a few years ago, astronomers were surprised to find amino acids, basic building blocks of life, present in meteors and comets. These compounds are sometimes called "organics", not because they were created by life processes, but because they are carbon-oxygen-hydrogen long-chain molecules that are the same as those produced by life processes. Things like methane and ammonia.

So what would they look like if you analyzed them in a spectrometer? You'd get a readout of the basic chemical concentrations of different elements. Take a look at the graph halfway down this page. See how the concentrations of silicates (SiO2) are different for meteors from Mars, the moon, or other known asteroids? That's one way we can tell they are meteorites and not Earth rocks.

Back to the question of where they come from. Chemical composition will give us a clue to the original body. Most meteorites come from asteroids, although we do have some from the moon and Mars. Different asteroids have different compositions but they are still pretty similar to each other. All of these have minerals in different proportions than rocks from Earth.

From space.com - a Martian meteorite
The other way we find out where meteors come from is to find our how old they are. Age is usually determined by using radio-isotope dating techniques. If you've heard of carbon-14 dating, that's the process we're talking about, except with space rocks, scientists usually use rubidium-strontium because it has a much longer half-life. (This site has a great experiment to illustrate what a half-life is. Basically, it is the amount of time needed for half of the radioactive atoms to decay to non-radioactive atoms.) When a rock is melted, it resets this clock. So when a volcano erupts and the lava cools, if we found the age of those rocks, it would be essentially zero.

Our solar system formed about 4.56 billion years ago. Meteorites from the asteroid belt are all about that age. Rocks from Mars are about 1.5-4.5 billion years old. Rocks from the moon are about 3.3-4.4 billion years old. The oldest rock on Earth is about 4.37 billion years old. Most of the rocks on Earth are much younger because Earth is so dynamic and is constantly recycling rocks. Mars and the moon are pretty much dead, geologically speaking. Not much is happening with erosion or renewal of the surface on those bodies.

What would you think if we found a meteor that was dated at 4.89 billion years old? Or what if it gave an age of 6 or 7 billion years? It most likely came from outside our solar system, or it was a chunk of pre-solar system space dust that survived the formation of the sun and planets and other bodies. Whatever it might be, a rock that old would be an incredible find.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Tossed Salad

Yeah, this is an easy one. But it's been that kind of week. What do you like in your salad? This is one of my favorite combos.

Tossed Salad

4 c. shredded greens - leaf lettuce, spinach, spring mix, etc.
1 D'Anjou pear, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/3 c. red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 c. sliced radishes or daikon
1/4 c. sliced almonds
1/3 c. crumbled feta cheese
1/4 c. balsamic vinaigrette dressing
1/4 c. fried onion topping or croutons, optional

Toss greens in a bowl. Sprinkle pear, pepper, radishes, almonds, and cheese over the top. Drizzle the dressing over everything. Serves 2-4 people.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Book Launch - Gone for a Soldier by Marsha Ward

Welcome to the book tour for Gone for a Soldier by Marsha Ward!

Rulon Owen loves two things more than life---his country and Mary Hilbrands.
When Virginia secedes from the Union, Rulon enlists, and finds himself fighting foes both in battle and in his own camp. He struggles to stay alive against all odds, with a knife-wielding tent-mate and a Union army that seems impossible to defeat. It will take every ounce of vigilance he has to survive and, with a little luck, he might make it home to his wife and the son he's never seen.
Forced to live with her parents for the duration, Mary faces a battle for independence. With a mother whispering that her husband won't come home to her and a son who needs her to be both father and mother, Mary has to dig deep for strength to overcome her overwhelming loneliness and the unknown future ahead.
Separated by war and circumstance, Rulon and Mary discover that not all enemies wear the Union blue.

AUTHOR BIO

Marsha Ward was born in the sleepy little town of Phoenix, Arizona, in the southwestern United States; and grew up with chickens, citrus trees, and lots of room to roam. She became a storyteller at an early age, regaling her neighborhood friends with her fanciful tales during after-school snacks. Her love of the 19th Century Western era was reinforced by visits to her cousins on their ranch, and listening to her father's stories of homesteading in Old Mexico and in the southern part of Arizona.

Over the years, Marsha became an award-winning poet, writer and editor, with over 900 pieces of published work, including her acclaimed novel series featuring the Owen family. She is the founder of American Night Writers Association, and a member of Western Writers of America and Women Writing the West. A workshop presenter and writing teacher, Marsha makes her home in a tiny forest hamlet in Arizona. When she is not writing, she loves to spoil her grandchildren, travel, give talks, meet readers, and sign books. Visit her at either her website or one of her blogs! 

marshaward.com
http://charactersinmarshashead.blogspot.com/

Buy links:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Check out the rest of the tour -

October 9 www.saslack.com

Friday, October 3, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Sausage Apple & Sweet Potato Stuffing Casserole

I can't wait to eat this one tonight. It smells so good putting it together. So if you're looking for a way to eat stuffing as the main dish and get away with it, try this version.

Sausage, Apple, & Sweet Potato Stuffing Casserole

1/2 lb pork sausage
1/3 c. chopped onion
1 c. raw sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 apple, chopped into small pieces
1 6-8 serving size packet of cornbread stuffing mix (or your favorite flavor)
Optional: 1/4 c. chopped mushrooms, 1/4 c. chopped celery, or your favorite add-in

Brown sausage and onions in frying pan until cooked. Toss with sweet potato and apple. Stir in stuffing mix and any other add-ins you want. Add just enough water to moisten the stuffing. Toss together then spoon into a covered casserole dish. Bake at 350° for 35-45 minutes, until sweet potatoes and apples are cooked.

Serve as the main dish.

Monday, September 29, 2014

New Release - Jabberwocky by Daniel Coleman

Check out this new release - it sounds very intriguing...

How can a boy succeed where an army has failed? 

Tjaden, a young man who aspires to be an Elite soldier, blames himself when Elora’s beautiful face is disfigured by a bandersnatch. Elora hides behind her scars, feeling unlovable in a world that only confirms her doubts. 

Before Tjaden has a chance to convince her that scars don’t matter, an even more terrifying monster comes between them—the Jabberwock. 


If the secrets of the vorpal sword fail, so will Tjaden.

Buy it now for Kindle! Also available in paperback.