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

Monday, August 6, 2018

Happy Birthday to Me

It's my birthday week and yes, I'm trying to get back on schedule with the blog posts.

So I'm sharing some of my favorite birthday videos:










Thursday, August 2, 2018

Thursday Recipe - Guest Chef C Michelle Jefferies

Please welcome guest chef and author C Michelle Jefferies to The Far Edge of Normal! She also wrote the guest blog post today. So, in her words:

For as long as I remember, I have wanted to be an author. I’ve created stories, worlds and people in my head since I was young. Since learning my way around a kitchen as an older teen I have also had a love of cooking. My greatest love in the writing world is futuristic suspense, which I often times describe as “James Bond in the future”. While my two greatest loves in the culinary world are a traditional English tea, and Asian food. 

My two published series are Futuristic Suspense, with my most recent work being DESCENDING and the other books in the Ashes series. It follows the Chrysalis series main character Noble’s son Ashby as he navigates his teen and early adult years. 

All he wants is to fly.

Ashby Standing has it all planned out. Prove his ability to captain a starship in the simulator. Then enter the Star Captain Academy a year early skipping another hellish year of being bullied at school. 

When a new street drug proves fatal, taking the life of Elija’s son Nicolai. Noble has no choice but to step back into his role as an agent for Trinity. In spite of his age and his other duties. Including coordinating a twenty year celebration for the colonization of Caledonia. 

After losing Arial, Lyris is hyper focused on making sure all of her children are safe and protected. Even if it skirts what is legal or moral. 

Everything converges into a complicated mess as moral obligations, desires, and ego’s battle for dominance and for some, descending into the depths of dark is the option seems the best choice.  

Lately, my love of food has meandered it’s way into my stories and books. Finding that if I or my characters are hungry, bored, stressed, my characters make and eat what I am craving. 

It wasn’t until I was finalizing edits and formatting my books, I realized that I had incorporated several of my favorite foods into the stories I wrote. Enough of them, as I catalogued them, that the thought of making a “Chrysalis and Ashes series cookbook” was completely possible. 

So, if you want a great futuristic read with lots of good food mentioned, Check out the Ashes Series starting with Descending

Here is a recipe from Blue Moon, the novella in the Ashes Series. It’s a scene where Porter comes home to visit his mother and she is making squash (Zucchini) bread. Since it is summer, and the infamous green squash is pretty much everywhere, it felt like the most appropriate one to share with you. 
Chocolate Zucchini bread

3 eggs
1 c. oil 
2 c. sugar
2 c. grated zucchini
2 t. vanilla

Mix together, then add:

3 c. flour
1/4 t. baking powder 
1 t. baking soda 
3 t. cinnamon 
2 T. baking cocoa
 
Pour into greased bread pans and bake for 60 min at 325°F.
C. Michelle Jefferies is a writer who believes that the way to examine our souls is to explore the deep and dark as well as the shallow. To manipulate words in a way that makes a person think and maybe even second guess. Her worlds include suspense, urban fantasy, and an occasional twist of steampunk. When she is not writing, she can be found on the yoga mat, hand binding journals, dyeing cloth, and serving ginger tea. The author and creator divides her time between stories, projects, and mothering four of her seven children on the wild and windy plains of Wyoming.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Thursday Recipe - German Potato Salad

Yes, I'm still on hiatus, but as I find recipes I've overlooked, I'll add them.

Thought I'd posted this one. It's a family favorite.

Hot potatoes, crisp bacon, sweet onions, all wrapped in a creamy, tangy vinegar sauce. How can you possibly pass it up? I get to, because I haven't found a good potato substitute and me and potatoes are no longer friends.

Enjoy!

German Potato Salad

4 medium potatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
4 slices bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
1 T. flour
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1/4 t. celery seed
1/4 t. ground black pepper
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. vinegar

Put potatoes in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer for 20-25 minutes, until barely done.

Cook bacon in a large frying pan until well-done and crispy. Remove bacon and set aside.

Cook onion in bacon grease until tender. Stir in flour, sugar, salt, celery seed, and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture gets all bubbly. Stir in water and vinegar. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for one minute. Remove from heat.

Crumble bacon into sauce, then slice warm potatoes and add to sauce. Put back on low heat. Stir gently just until potatoes are coated and everything turns into a nice, starchy mess.

Serve hot.

Gluten-Free version:
Follow all directions until you come to adding the flour.
Skip the flour. Stir 1 T. cornstarch into the water. Stir into the onion and spice mixture with the vinegar. Cook and stir until it thickens and comes to a boil.
Continue with the rest of the recipe.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Hiatus, Again

My apologies to the few regular readers of this blog. Life is overwhelming right now. I need to pare down the things I commit to, and unfortunately, this blog is not a priority right now. It takes time and effort to write posts, even weekly ones, and I think I've about run out of my go-to recipes to post.

I might pick it back up in a couple of months. And maybe not.

I'm thinking of putting the recipes together in a cookbook. Anyone interested in a paper copy? Please comment. Ebooks are easy to throw together so I'll probably do those, but paper ones mean I need to go through a cookbook publisher to get the spiral binding and coated paper which means I have to order a whole pile to get a decent per-book price which means boxes stacked in my garage which is not necessarily a good thing at this point. And that was a very long sentence.

So, please comment if you want a paper cookbook. Please comment if you want me to keep posting stuff. Please comment if you read this blog regularly.

Have a great day!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Thursday Recipe - Hibiscus Punch Take 2

Remember that hibiscus syrup recipe I posted a few weeks ago? I made punch out of it the other night. It was delicious - light, cool, refreshing, and a lovely shade of red. Try this instead of that kidney-stain punch mix next time you want a fun party drink.

Look for dried hibiscus flowers online or at a local Latino grocery store. They make a really fun syrup with a sweet floral flavor. If you want to make Hawaiian punch that tastes like the name brand, try the recipe with the Hibiscus Syrup Take 2. Or try this recipe. It's a lemon/lime/orange-ade with mint and hibiscus.

And here is another version of the punch.

Hibiscus Punch Take 2

2/3 c. hibiscus syrup (the kind made with ginger and lemon)
1 quart ice
1 quart cold water
2 cans lemon-lime soda

Mix everything. Serve immediately.

Makes about 3 quarts.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Writer's Block vs. Burnout

"Writers write! If you aren't writing, you must not be a real writer."

"The only cure for writer's block is butt-in-chair, hands-on-keyboard."

I understand the sentiment behind these statements. I really do. If you want writing to be your job, you have to treat it as a job. If you sit around waiting for inspiration to hit, you're going to be doing a lot of sitting and not much writing.

Writing is a creative pursuit, though. If your job is manning a cash register, it doesn't matter if you are inspired or not. If your job is to create worlds and characters and adventures, you can try to force it but that usually results in crap on the page that not even heavy editing can fix. Getting in the habit of channeling your inner muse is great advice. You can train yourself to be more receptive, to be in the habit of putting words down. That makes for a much more productive writer.

But sometimes it just isn't working.

If it's writer's block, that usually tells me that something is wrong with the story. Or I need to dig deeper into the characters. Or I need to re-read things. Or move to another project. Maybe it needs abandoned completely. But the desire to write is still there. It's just that particular story that isn't working for whatever reason.

Burnout is a totally different ball game.

If I push too hard for too long, if problems and crises suck all my energy, if stress and depression eat up everything I have and still want more, I have nothing left for writing.

Burnout means I need to curl up on the couch and nurse my inner muse. I need to feed it books and movies and tv shows. I need to give myself permission to just relax. I need to take a break. When the well is empty, you can't keep pulling up water. You need to give that well a chance to recover and fill up to overflowing again.

Sometimes I make the mistake of not giving myself enough time. A few days might work some times, but when the burnout is severe, it may be months or even years before I have enough to give those projects again.

I've put out very few new things the last few years. I've got some short stories out there, but the novels are taking too much focus and more creative juice than I've got. But I'm slowly regaining that desire to spin tales, to tell stories, to create new worlds and let my imagination loose.

And I still consider myself a REAL writer.

Please keep your memes and platitudes. If they inspire you and make you a better, more productive writer, good for you! But don't push them onto me. Don't judge me for my output or lack thereof. My journey is different from yours.

And at the end of the day, all that matters is that we're kind to each other and we support each other and that we celebrate the triumphs no matter how small. Some days, we cheer for finishing a novel. Others, we cheer because we got out of bed. Each day, we do the best we can and let go of the guilt if we don't do what we thought we should.

Plan for the future, learn from the past, but live in the present. Be kind to yourself and your muse.

And when the words start flowing again, chase that muse and write that story.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Thursday Recipe - GF Chicken Pot Pie Gravy

So I wanted chicken pot pie, but I didn't want to bother with the crust. Or with turning the oven on. I ended up throwing everything in my crockpot. Delicious, easy, and bonus, no heat from the oven. I tossed rice in the rice cooker to go under it but you could do mashed potatoes or biscuits or whatever you want.

GF Chicken Pot Pie Gravy

1/2 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 chicken breasts, about 1-2 lbs, cut in bite-size chunks
1 c. sliced mushrooms, OPTIONAL
1 T. bouillon OR 1 cube
1 t. dried parsley
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
2 c. hot water
3 T. cornstarch
1/2 c. cold water
1 c. frozen peas

Dump the onion, carrot, chicken, and mushrooms in a medium crockpot, 1/5-2 quart size should be fine. Sprinkle parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper over the top. Pour the 2 c. hot water on top. Cook on low for 3-4 hours.

1 hour before serving, stir cornstarch into 1/2 c. cold water. Pour into chicken gravy. Stir well. Add peas. Cover and cook for another 45-60 minutes, until thick and hot. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, biscuits, toast, quinoa, or whatever you like.