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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Teriyaki Noodles

This recipe comes courtesy of my 14yo daughter. She even took a photo of it for me. This is one of her favorite quick meals to fix for herself. The serving size is one, so feel free to double or triple it.

Teriyaki Noodles

1 serving of pad thai rice noodles (about 1/8 of a package)
1 T. soy sauce
2 t. ponzu sauce
2 t. lemon juice
1/2 T. butter
1/2 t. sesame seeds
1 egg
green onions
bell pepper slices

Cook noodles in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In small frying pan, toast sesame seeds in butter for about 5 minutes, just until lightly brown. Mix in soy sauce, ponzu sauce, and lemon juice. Stir together. Add noodles, cook over med-low heat for another 5 minutes until noodles are tender.

Put noodles in a serving bowl, set aside.

Fry an egg in the pan, over easy or sunny side up is best for the dish. Place the egg on top of the noodles. Garnish with green onions and bell pepper slices.

Eat hot.
Makes one serving.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Writer's Conferences

I attended Write on the River Writer's Conference this past weekend. It was fun to hang out with old friends and make some new ones while we all learned about the craft and business of writing.

That, my friends, is why you should attend writer's conferences if you want to be a writer. Even if you've never been published, or even if you've never really finished a story, if you want to learn how to be a better writer, the classes at these conferences are wonderful for all levels of writers.

I learned how to bump up my story by fleshing out the active plot, the crunchy bit of my story, and beefing up the emotional plotline, the chewy bit. The author presenting had some great ideas on how to get the two to work together to make a much more compelling and powerful story. This is something I need to apply to Shadow Nothings and to Winterqueen's War. I'm excited to edit them, now. I have a much better idea how to fix the issues with them both.

On the business side of things, there were great classes on marketing and publishing and pitching to agents and publishers. Loads of wonderful tips and ideas to help writers reach the next stage of success in their careers.

Speaking of success and careers, there were also great classes about why we write and how we define success. For me, I will probably never be rich or famous at this, and that's okay. I write because I enjoy telling stories and creating new worlds and making things up. I write because I want to fly a spaceship across the galaxy and ride unicorns into battle and cast magic spells that transport me to other worlds. I publish because I want to share those stories with people who also want to do those things.

Conferences are not good places to find readers for your work, but they are great places to network, to make connections to other people who share your passion and interest in writing. Write on the River has members all ages, from high school to long past retirement; and authors in all genres. It was a great conference. Hats off and a big thank you to the volunteers who made it possible.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Baked Rum Spice Doughnuts

My son decided on doughnuts for his birthday. We're all trying to eat healthier so we decided to make them ourselves. I have a lovely doughnut cooker, one of those countertop models kind of like a waffle iron except it makes doughnuts. We adapted a spice cake recipe and came up with something extremely tasty. The frosting and toppings are totally optional, but I loved the coconut ones.

And the rum is just rum flavoring. It added just the right touch to the rest.

Baked Rum Spice Doughnuts

1 c. white flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. sugar
1 c. yogurt (vanilla flavored works really well)
1/2 c. butter, softened or melted
2 eggs
1/4 c. milk (I used coconut milk)
1 t. rum flavoring
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 t. ginger
1/4 t. ground cardamom

Dump everything in a mixing bowl. Beat on low speed just until blended. Beat on high speed for about a minute. It will be very thick.

Preheat your doughnut maker or grease a doughnut pan and heat your oven to 350°. Scoop in the batter and bake as directed for the cooker or for the pan.

Frost while still slightly warm. Sprinkle with coconut or sprinkles.

Vanilla Frosting

2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. butter, softened
1 t. vanilla
2-4 T. milk

Mix sugar, butter, vanilla, and 2 T of milk in a large mixing bowl. Beat on low speed until blended. Add another teaspoon of milk if the frosting is too thick. Beat on medium-high speed, adding milk as needed, until desired consistency. Continue beating until soft and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.

If it gets too thin, add powdered sugar 1/4 c. at a time until thickened.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Dream Journal

I really should start a dream journal. Not a journal of my hopes and aspirations, but a journal of the weird dreams I have. My dreams are full-color, wild adventures involving all sorts of things from pirates to zombies to spaceships to angry cats to swarms of preying mantises. These are not nightmares. Nope, my nightmares are beyond creepy and scary. Those make Criminal Minds' serial killer crime scenes look like happy kids' pictures. My nightmares are why I refuse to take Percocet or watch/read dark horror or even a lot of intense thrillers.

I've had a lot of dreams lately. I think it's my subconscious telling me I really need to step up my writing. I need stories. I need imagination running wild. Now to find the time and energy to make it all happen. And words. Yep, words are important, too.

Meanwhile, I'm still typing away at Winterqueen's War. It's turning into a convoluted mess. I'm losing track of storylines and characters and important events. I'm starting to think it will never make sense and it's a pointless pile of crap. This makes me smile because it means I'm on the right track. About half to two-thirds of the way through any of my books, this is what happens. I go back, re-read the story so far, and realize that it's much better than I thought. I'm still shooting for having this one out by the end of the summer.

Meanwhile, I've got a pile of audiobooks in the works. Fingers crossed that Autumn Visions gets approved this week.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Tortilla Roll-Up Sandwiches

I had a request for more kid-friendly picnic foods. This is an easy one to change up to suit your family's tastes. The nice thing is you can use any size tortilla and put whatever you want inside it. You can slice them into pinwheels or serve them as long rolls.

Go light on the spreads and wet ingredients like pickles, though. Unless you don't mind liquid dripping out the back end of the roll.

Corn tortillas don't work very well with this recipe, they tend to split and break apart. If you want a gluten-free version, you can try the GF tortillas that are similar to flour tortillas, or you could use rice spring roll wrappers and make these more like fresh rolls.

Tortilla Roll-Up Sandwiches

12 6-8" flour tortillas OR 6 10-12" flour tortillas
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1 c. shredded cheese (sharp cheddar or swiss are the normal choices, but use whatever you like)
1 T. fresh parsley, chopped fine (totally optional but makes it more pretty)
1 12-oz package of lunch meat (bologna, turkey, ham, salami, roast beef, etc.)
2-3 c. salad mix - shredded iceberg lettuce, baby greens, spinach, etc
Optional toppings - pickles (drained and patted dry), sliced olives, chopped or shredded veggies, thinly sliced apple, mustard, horseradish sauce, etc.

Mix cream cheese with shredded cheese and parsley. Feel free to add some mustard or horseradish or green onions or chives or dill or other herbs to this mix. Spread over tortillas as thin or thick as you like.

Layer sandwich meats over the top of the cream cheese. Add optional toppings as desired, but keep these to a minimum. Too many of them will make your roll-ups fall apart. You can always serve them as salad on the side.

Roll up the tortillas as tightly as you can. If they don't stay rolled up, dab more of the cream cheese mixture on top of the fillings to help them hold together. Cover and refrigerate the sandwiches for a couple of hours before serving, especially if you want to turn them into pinwheels.

For pinwheels, slice the tortilla rolls into thick slices and turn cut side up to show off the pretty layers in the middle.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Things I Saw Driving the Interstate

I was on another road trip this weekend. Driving ten hours, many of them across Idaho. The state has some lovely scenery and fun places to visit, but I-84 isn't any of those. It is one of the most boring stretches of freeways I've ever been on. The scenery is mostly sagebrush and fields of grass. At least it's green this time of year.

We amused ourselves by watching the other trucks and cars driving the same stretch of boringness. Most of that was boring, too.

On a trip a while back, we saw a little old guy in a battered pickup that looked like it was ready to disintegrate any minute. The best part was his dog, though. He was a gigantic Great Dane trying to fit in the front seat of the little truck. He kept turning around and around with his head banging into the roof of the cab. His face would be smooshed against the passenger side window while his tail was whacking this little old guy in the face. We laughed for a solid forty-five miles watching the antics. Then the old guy took an exit and we drove one with just the memories.

This trip we only saw a couple of semi-trucks with fun logos.

One was a tanker truck with red letters on the back that looked like someone had done them with duct tape strips. They said LIVE TROUT. We had a good discussion for a while whether this was a call to action (Live!, trout.) or a statement about the state of trout or some other weird slogan. Then we got alongside the truck and saw the company logo - somebody's Trout Farm. The tanker truck was full of live trout. It makes sense when you think about it. All those fish need to be delivered somehow so they can stock the rivers and streams where people like to catch the fish.

Then we saw this truck:


Notice the logo - D&D Transportation Services. I have no idea what the D&D in this logo stands for, but we immediately jumped to Dungeons and Dragons.

So I present to you The Truck of Holding.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Italian Pasta Salad

This is a classic for a lot of reasons. It's easy. It uses up all sorts of vegetables. You can lighten it up by using less oil. It won't spoil nearly as fast as a mayonnaise coated pasta salad. And it just plain tastes good.

Enjoy!

Italian Pasta Salad

1 large box of pasta - bowties or the little salad ones are both good in this
1/3 c. red onion, diced small
2 T. red wine vinegar, or use another mild vinegar like rice vinegar
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 c. cherry tomatoes, sliced into quarters
1 c. bell pepper, chopped into chunks, use a mix of green, red, and yellow
1 c. sliced olives
1 c. sliced radishes or daikon
1 c. shredded carrots
1 c. mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes

Dressing:
1/2 c. white vinegar or red wine vinegar
1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 t. salt
1 t. ground black pepper
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried basil
1 t. dried parsley
1/2 t. garlic powder

Start by making the dressing - put everything in a bowl or shaker bottle. Beat until blended. It will separate quickly, so just whisk it together again or shake it up good right before you pour it.

Set the dressing aside.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the pasta. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside to finish draining.

Put onions and vinegar in the bottom of a large bowl. Let it soak for at least 5 minutes.

Add the vegetables and cheese to the onions. Toss to coat with vinegar. Add the pasta. Pour half the dressing over the top. Toss everything gently. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Toss salad again. Add more dressing if desired. Serve cold.