Check out my fiction -
Check out my science fiction series - The Fall of the Altairan Empire

Monday, April 30, 2012

Author Interview - Sue Bolich

Please welcome author S. A. Bolich to The Far Edge of Normal!

S. A Bolich is a fulltime freelancer with a number of published fantasy stories as well as many nonfiction articles. A native of Washington state, she resides there again after serving six years in Germany as a regular army military intelligence officer. She graduated summa cum laude from college with a degree in history, which she confesses was greatly aided by devouring historical fiction of every era and kind through her formative years.  Her first novel, “Firedancer,” was released in September 2011.  Her short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, On Spec, Damnation Books, and Defending the Future IV: No Man’s Land, among many others, and is upcoming in the anthologies Gears and Levers and The Mystical Cat in 2012. Her newest novel “Windrider,” Book 2 in the Masters of the Elements series, is due out in Spring 2012. Currently she is working on “Seaborn,” the third book in the series, due out in 2013, as well as a high fantasy stand-alone novel and an alternate history series using an unexplored explanation of what really happened in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692.

1. How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.

You can find out more about me and my work at, which includes links to my published short stories as well as my novels. You can also listen to me read from my novel Firedancer and its upcoming sequel, Windrider, at my website. The links are on the home page.

I am on Twitter @suebthewriter
I am on Facebook at
I write a regular blog series entitled Horses in Fiction to help writers more realistically put horses into their stories. You can find on at my blog “Words from Thin Air” at 

2. Tell us about your writing - What genre do you prefer to write? What books, stories, other publications that you've written are your personal favorites? Anything new coming up?

I started out to write historical fiction but somehow ended up writing fantasy, alternate history, and science fiction instead. Go figure! I love anything with an historical slant but I also write swords and sorcery, high fantasy, soft SF, military SF, and what I call “other world” fantasy that is not set on Earth, like my first novel, Firedancer. I think the possibilities in fantasy are just so endless that as writers we should not limit ourselves to the usual breakdown of subgenres and tropes. I have published urban fantasy, steampunk, Weird Westerns, dark fantasy, high fantasy—you name it, I like to write it. I also combine genres at will, which makes a lot of my stuff hard to classify. One of my as-yet unpublished novels is a Civil War ghost story that is also magical realism. I just write whatever I’m inclined to write. I’ve learned not to fight the muse, as she invariably sulks if I do.

My very first published story, “Where Magic Lives,” which appeared in On Spec back in 2002, was an Honorable Mention in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror that year and remains one of my favorites. It’s about a writer who dies and her characters come to her funeral. Death holds a big fascination for many people. I think the reason so many books and movies choose it as a theme is because it helps to defuse death’s terror, or at least make it comprehensible. It’s—maybe fun is not a good word—but at least interesting as a writer to explore all its facets. “Kraken’s Honor”, which was published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies [] in December 2009, is also a favorite of mine because I really got to indulge my love of words and beautiful imagery in it. Also, it was written right after my dad died, and it became sort of my personal therapy, wrapping in themes of love and loss on top of the heroic fantasy storyline.

As to what’s new on my personal horizon, I have a new novel coming out this spring entitled Windrider, the sequel to my first novel, Firedancer. It is Book 2 in the Masters of the Elements series from Sky Warrior Books, in which fire, water, earth and wind are all actual living, thinking creatures at odds with the humans of my fantasy world. The hero of Windrider must battle the angry manifestation of Wind known as the Hag, but unfortunately, he has lost the ability to wield the magic that can tame her. He finds out the hard way that anger is almost never a persuasive bargaining position!

I also have stories coming out in a couple of anthologies this year, the Gears and Levers steampunk anthology and The Mystical Cat, which is, of course, all about cats. I’ll have links to those on my website when they’re available, so stay tuned.

3. What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?

I don’t have time for the hobbies I used to do, since my main hobby, writing, has turned into my living. I do still have two horses that I ride whenever I can. I grew up riding bareback and western and took up 3-day eventing and dressage as an adult. Mostly I trail ride or ride dressage now but I don’t show anymore. I like to draw, I used to play the piano, and needlework was a passion at one time. Now I relax by walking and puttering around with my endless landscaping projects. Maintaining my 20 acres gets me outside and working, which is good, and I love being outside.

I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I confess to a guilty passion for NCIS and Criminal Minds as well as Supernatural. I read a lot of historical non-fiction in pursuit of my research. I majored in military history in college so it is a continuing passion that accompanies my service as a military intelligence officer in the Army way back when.

4. What gets your creative juices going? Do you write to a music, and do you want to share your playlist?

Deadlines get my attention... I enjoy writing challenges like the twice-yearly Short Story in a Week challenges put on by my writing workshop, Other Worlds Writers Workshop at Those force you to use five words submitted by the members in a short story, and you have to write it in a week, so it jumpstarts the muse and forces her, grumbling, out of bed. I’ve sold quite a few of those stories, actually. I vary between needing silence when I write to needing music in the background. If I am especially scattered and distracted I put on music, which I am told is actually a normal thing for women. We were made by nature to have a macro-focus on our surroundings to keep track of the kids and know all the dangers and opportunities in the area (and they call us scatterbrained!). Using one sensory input like music can help tune out our instinctive need to absorb input from everything around us. I listen to classical and soundtracks of all sorts, anything instrumental, as I tend to want to sing along if I put on anything with words in it.

5. "All writers must have cats, especially if they write fantasy or speculative fiction." Do you have a stand on this one? Any cute pictures of your kitty or other pet?

How can one live without cats, hmmm? I have four wandering in and out all the time and vying for space around me on the couch. I do also have a dog and two horses, but they’re too big to fit in my lap.

6. What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers? Any advice you'd like to share about writing?

Find a good writer’s workshop in the genre you write in. A mainstream group is not a good fit for a fantasy writer, and horror and mystery each have specific requirements for the genre that you should understand if you are going to write those. Picking a workshop like Other Worlds gets you in with a readership who understands what you’re trying to do and can help steer you clear of creaky old ideas or bring out the best in what you’re trying to accomplish.

There’s really only one maxim to writing: Finish it and boot it out the door. I have let too much stuff molder for far too long in the drawer, only to see someone else make it big with the same idea. No editor can find your wonderful work if you don’t dangle it in front of them.

7. What writers inspired you to become an author?

My favorite authors as a teen were Rosemary Sutcliffe and Andre Norton. One wrote historical fiction, the other science fiction and fantasy. Now do you see why I ended up writing historical fantasy?

8. Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?

I’ll be at Miscon in Missoula, Montana over Memorial Day weekend. The rest of the year is still up in the air.

Thanks for stopping by! It's been a pleasure getting to know you.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday Recipe - Vern, Dragoneye PI, and his Fast Chili

Please welcome Vern, the DragonEye PI, to The Far Edge of Normal. I admit I don't often get to interview dragons. I'm glad this one was long-distance, despite his assurances that he doesn't eat people.
Hi, Vern. I hear you are quite the private investigator. What case was your favorite?

My favorite? How about the ones where I’m not hurt, embarrassed, or lose something valuable—and I get well paid in the end? *sigh* Those, unfortunately, don’t make interesting reading.

Karina chose to write one of the most embarrassing, annoying cases for her first DragonEye, PI novel. We were “volunteered” to babysit a bunch of Faerie at a Mensa convention. Okay, it was a convention; we didn’t expect all the Magicals to behave, but to declare war on Florida? Magic, Mensa, and Mayhem won the 2010 INDIE award for best fantasy, so apparently, you Mundanes enjoy reading about me being annoyed.

Thus encouraged, Karina has novelized the case where we take on a Norse goddess who wants to destroy the world—your world—in hopes it will get her husband out of Helheim. (It’s a Norse thing.) I actually had a lot of fun on this case, which almost made up for iron poisoning, nearly being eaten by a giant board game, and getting shrunk to the size of a Great Dane. Live and Let Fly comes out in April from MuseItUp.

Does being large, red, scaly, and a dragon help or do you find people are prejudiced against dragons?

I am a superior species, top of the food chain. I command respect from all sentients (intellectually challenged knights notwithstanding). Of course, that was in Faerie. Here, in the Mundane, I spent the first few years just trying to convince people that I had not eaten their cats, did not need rabies shots, and, yes, I was better “housetrained” than aforementioned intellectually challenged knights. Things are better now, but I’d just like to mention that the government still refuses to consider dragons as “persons,” and I still cannot get a green card.

Coyote the Trickster God has a green card, and I cannot get one. Where is the justice in that?

I've heard rumors that dragons eat virgins. Is that still true or are you enlightened now?

The only enlightenment needed is for the humans. Let’s do the math: two-ton omnivore… 125-pound adrenalin-filled waif dripping tears and snot? Or 1200-pound dairy cow, milk included? Honestly, virgin meals are kind of like French Haute Cuisine—looks good, not exactly filling. Plus, dealing with the heroes was a pain. Give me a nice juicy bovine instead.

I was just starting to get the humans in my territory trained up to this fact when St. George decided to use me in God’s ineffable plans. One thing I will say about the Mundane world: when you get a take-out order wrong, you usually apologize and offer a discount on the next meal.

What about Hostess products? At our house, we call them politically correct virgins because they're untouched by human hands.

*snort* I like that. Unfortunately, I’d probably get in trouble if I used that phrase. When a dragon mentions virgins, people automatically get the wrong idea.

I don’t like chocolate, and the individual wrappings are a lot of work for what’s, to me, a tiny reward. I’d rather pry a knight out of his armor. However, when I was bored and truly desperate for food, I did come across an entire gross of Twinkies in the back of my lair. (The lair is an old warehouse of some crazy packrat who upon death, donated it complete with contents to the local parish, who sold it to me.) I spent two days just opening plastic wrap and eating Twinkies. The next day and a half, I pretty much slept. Too much sugar, even for my metabolism.

Are you into health food? What would constitute a good meal for a dragon?

After the Great Twinkie Feast, I’ve been a little more careful about what (or at least how much) Mundane food I put in my gullet. Having said that, I thoroughly enjoy the variety of cuisine I’ve found in Los Lagos. Natura, who owns a restaurant that does theme buffets, is always good for giving me the leftovers. Love Indian nights! Of course, nothing beats Rosa’s chili. She always adds extra Bhut Jolokia pepper sauce for me. Closest thing to breathing fire you can get.

Would you mind sharing your recipe?

I’m a dragon. My recipes tend to be swoop from above, snag, carry off and use your teeth to peel off the hide. Or in some cases, roast to taste. Unlike the dragons in your movies, I have precise control over my fire. I can cook a steak to medium-well or I can weld a steel door shut. I’ve lit cigarettes, too.

Rosa won’t share her recipe, but I’ll pass you on to Karina for hers.

Karina: Mine is pretty basic, but only takes five minutes to do, and even the kids can put it together. I usually make it at the same time I make sloppy joes, so that we have two meals done at once.

Fast Chili:

1 pound ground beef
1 can hot chili, no beans
1 can chili with beans
½ can diced tomatoes
½ to 1 can tomato sauce (depends on how thick you like the chili)
¼ chopped onion
¼ can chopped green chilis
Chopped bell pepper (optional)

How simple is that? Brown the beef, drain the grease, crack open the cans, pour them in and stir while you heat it up. It’s a great meal on cold days for a busy family.

Thanks so much for stopping by. And thanks to Karina Fabian for putting me in touch with Vern, the dragon PI.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Author Interview - Melisse Aires

Please give Melisse Aires a big welcome to the Far Edge of Normal. How can we find you?

Tell us about your writing - What genre do you prefer to write?
My favorite genre is scifi romance, which includes steampunk. But I also like to mix in paranormal elements like shifters.

What books, stories, other publications that you've written are your personal favorites?
The Starlander Frontier: Starlander’s Myth is a steampunk space western romance, the first of a trilogy.

Anything new coming up?

 Refugees On Urloon just released. It is a scifi romance set on a waterworld planet.

I'm intrigued by the idea. What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?

I’m a homebody and my family (three teen daughters and hubby) loves to cook, so we have a great Sunday dinner. I love to crochet and read a book a week, at least. I also have a little Maltese/Yorky cross dog, Baxter, who keeps me busy with walks and ball tossing. I have a garden, too.

Hubby and I try to see scifi movies, and we watch scifi/fantasy/paranormal type TV shows. In good weather we like to enjoy Wyoming’s mountains.

That sounds like enough to keep anyone busy, without the writing. What gets your creative juices going? Do you write to a music, and do you want to share your playlist?

Music is important to me. I write in my living room because I hate to feel closed in and separated, but I usually play New Age pipe/drum/harp type background music or movie scores. I also listen to old familiar music –Bon Jovi, The Boss, Tom Petty.

For hot scenes I like Chris Isaacs, and I listen to Mazzy Star for black moments.

"All writers must have cats, especially if they write fantasy or speculative fiction." Do you have a stand on this one? Any cute pictures of your kitty or other pet?

I do have cats! A calico, a long haired B&W and a 6 toed torty. But Baxter is my baby. See attached picture!

What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers?
 The Website Romance Divas( If you write scifi romance, the SFR Brigade is a great place to network. Living in small town Wyoming, my resources are all online.

Any advice you'd like to share about writing?
Don’t give up, keep working to improve—but have some gumption, too. Do not turn yourself inside out due to a critique but know it is just one person’s opinion. And submit—some of the most insightful info you will get will come from a rejection from a professional editor.

What writers inspired you to become an author?
Zenna Henderson, Julia Quinn, Elizabeth Peters, Anne McCaffery, Loretta Chase, Stephen King—many! I’m a bookworm.

Yay! Someone who has heard of Zenna Henderson. I love her work, and Elizabeth Peters is the queen of tongue-in-cheek romance. Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?
April –I am celebrating the release of Refugees On Urloon with a drawing!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Melisse. It's been great getting to know you better.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thursday Recipe - Medieval Feast

Once again, please welcome Sue Burke into my kitchen. She's got a tasty medieval feast for us.

A medieval Spanish dinner

History tastes good. I'm translating a medieval Spanish novel, Amadis of Gaul, at It's a novel of chivalry, and while the book says that the knights ate well in their castles, it doesn't say exactly what they ate.

But old cookbooks exist, so we know. This is a rather simple meal, but tasty and easy to cook. Remember to round it out with bread, olives, and wine.


Rabbit is still common in Spanish supermarkets, but you can substitute chicken.

salt to taste
a good handful of parsley
two spoons of vinegar
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
olive oil
one rabbit, cut into quarters or pieces

Crush the garlic, salt, and parsley in a mortar, then add vinegar and oil to make a paste. Spread it over the rabbit, and bake in a 350ยบ oven for about 45 minutes to an hour.


Note the Moorish influence.

medium-sized onions
ground cinnamon, cloves, or other sweet spices (I recommend ginger)
salt if desired
honey or sugar

Peel the onions and cut a cross at the root end. Arrange them in a cooking pan, root end down, next to each other, but not crowded. Sprinkle with salt, saffron, and spices. Cover with water and add a little butter and the sugar or honey. Cook uncovered over a slow fire for about 20 or 30 minutes until the onions are tender and the water has evaporated. Be careful at the end to be sure the onions and sugar caramelize but do not burn.


This comes from a 14th-century Catalan cookbook, Libro de Sen Sove. You can substitute a quart of cow milk, soy milk, etc., for the almond milk.

2 cups blanched and skinned almonds
1 quart boiling water
1 cinnamon stick
1 large piece of lemon peel, yellow part
1 cup sugar
6 tbsp. rice flour (or cornstarch)

Grind or very finely chop the almonds. Place in a bowl and pour boiling water over them, let them sit for at least 10 minutes, then pour through a cheesecloth, squeezing tight. Put the almond milk in a saucepan, add cinnamon, lemon peel, and sugar. Simmer a few minutes. Dissolve the flour in a little liquid and add, stirring constantly until thickened, and simmer a few minutes more. Remove the cinnamon and lemon peel, pour into a mold, and chill.

— Sue Burke

Thanks again for sharing your wonderful recipes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Red Alert! Battle Stations!

Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6
Edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Flying Pen Press, 264 pp., tbp, $16.95, April 18, 2012

Red Alert! Red Alert!
This is not a drill…

Anna Paradox’s “Between The Rocks”: The Courtly Vizier, a utility truck, renders aid to a colony ship but when they return to their asteroid home from supply runs to mines on Old Lumpy from Jupiter’s atmosphere, the colony ship they once helped attacks them. But the situation is not what it seems, and strange circumstances are at hand.

David Lee Summers’ “Jump Point Blockade”: While pirating a mine on an asteroid, Captain Ellison Firebrandt and the crew of the Legacy find themselves forced into battle by Captain Stewart of the New New Jersey, serving as shields against the Alpha Comas at a jump point to Rd’dyggia. But instead of obeying Captain Steward, Firebrandt has plans of his own.

Jean Johnson’s “Joystick War”: Scavenging a storage bunker for salvage, Scott Grayson and Rrenn F’sauu stumble onto mint condition Targeting Drone A.I.’s, joystick controlled combat suits and can’t resist taking them for a test run. Then an old enemy, the Salik turn up, and instead of joy rides, they’re fighting for their lives and their people...

Mike Resnick & Brad Torgersen’s “Guard Dog”: Watchfleet sentinel Chang leads a lonely life of extended, dream-filled sleeps in between frenetic, life-or-death battles. The Sortu had almost defeated humanity and the lives of everyone, including his wife and son, depend on men like him. Then, called to battle again, he finds himself up against the last opponent he’d ever expected...

These and more stories await inside…

All personnel, report to battle stations!

Between the Rocks – Anna Paradox
The Thirteens – Gene Mederos
Like So Much Refuse – Simon C. Larter
Jump Point Blockade – David Lee Summers
First Contact – Patrick Hester
Isis – Dana Bell
The Book of Enoch – Matthew Cook
The Joystick War – Jean Johnson
Never Look Back – Grace Bridges
The Gammi Experiment – Sarah Hendrix
Space Battle of the Bands – C.J. Henderson
A Battle for Parantwer – Anthony Cardno
With All Due Respect – Johne Cook
Final Defense – Selene O’Rourke
Bait and Switch – Jaleta Clegg
The Hand of God (A Davi Rhii Story) – Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Guard Dog – Mike Resnick and Brad R. Torgersen

Monday, April 16, 2012

Author Interview - Faith van Horne

Please welcome Faith van Horne to the Far Edge of Normal. She has written the horror novella All Hope Lost and the young adult fantasy novel Slideways. By day she works as a librarian, and for fun she practices karate. She lives in Ohio with her husband and dog.

How can we find you?
 My website is I (very occasionally) venture onto Twitter as @fvanhorne.

Tell us about your writing - What genre do you prefer to write? What books, stories, other publications that you've written are your personal favorites? Anything new coming up?
 I write speculative fiction: science fiction, fantasy, and horror. The one subgenre of speculative fiction I’ve never dipped my toe into is alternative history; I’m not a history buff and I don’t think I could pull it off! My newest project is my young adult fantasy novel, Slideways, which is out now.

I'm not a history buff, either. You'd have to know a lot in order to figure out how to twist it to a different timeline. What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?
 I practice karate and received my first degree black belt last year. I love it; I’ve found that the focus and discipline required to practice karate has helped me develop the same skills in my writing.

You're the person I want with me when I venture into dark alleys. What gets your creative juices going? Do you write to a music, and do you want to share your playlist?
 I can’t listen to anything when I’m writing! I’m most productive when I have no access to the internet. As such, I scribble jumbled notes into my notebook (the paper and pen kind). When I’m ready to compose, I move to my laptop or desktop.

"All writers must have cats, especially if they write fantasy or speculative fiction." Do you have a stand on this one? Any cute pictures of your kitty or other pet?
 Not me! I’m strictly a dog person, and big dogs at that. I’d live with a St. Bernard and a Great Dane if we had the space. We have one pup, Leeloo, a Lab/Shepherd/Husky mix.

Your dog sounds like a lot of fun. What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers? Any advice you'd like to share about writing?
 Get involved with other writers, preferably ones who are a little further along in their careers than you are.  Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has a lot of great free resources on their website, but you have to be a semi-established writer to join. If you write speculative fiction, attend a local science fiction convention (there are tons!). Usually local groups will have tables set up, and authors on panels are usually happy to talk to you. Just don’t chase them into the bathroom!

What writers inspired you to become an author?
 When I was a kid I loved Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series. I also read Roald Dahl, Stephen King, and Richard Bach.

Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?
I’ll be at Context, a convention for fans of speculative writing, in Columbus, Ohio, September 28-30.

Thanks so much for dropping in. It's been a pleasure getting to know you better, Faith.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thursday Recipe - OMG BBQ Beef sandwiches

This was an experiment, but one that turned out so tasty I don't want to forget what I did. It was easy, too, which is always a bonus. So if you're looking for a lazy dinner, this is a great one. I put it in the crockpot before I left for work in the morning. By dinner time, it was totally tender and delicious.

OMG BBQ Beef Sandwiches

1 lb beef stew meat
4 - 6 carrots, peeled and diced (about 1/2 inch cubes)
1/2 c. vinegar, cider preferred but any will do
1/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. cocktail sauce (the tomato and horseradish sauce for dipping shrimp, if you don't have it, just use ketchup, but it won't taste the same)
1/3 c. spicy brown mustard, not the yellow stuff, you want the bold taste
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. worcestershire sauce
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t. cayenne pepper

Put beef and carrots in a medium size crockpot. Mix everything else together in a separate bowl. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce is well mixed. Pour over the meat and carrots. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve on buns or hard rolls. Makes 6-12 sandwiches depending on how full you stuff them and how big the rolls are.

You can also serve this over noodles, rice, or baked potatoes. Add a green salad and some sliced fruit and you have an easy, healthy meal that tastes absolutely fabulous.

You can also add 1/2 c. of diced onion with the carrots if you want. I didn't because I have a couple of children who can detect subatomic levels of onion and will not eat anything that has even come in contact with onions.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Author Interview - Janet Lane Walters/Dame Amber

Please join me in welcoming Janet Lane Walters, aka Dame Amber, to The Far Edge of Normal. In her words:
I've been writing since the days of carbon paper and typewriters. My first short stories were published in 1968. In 1972 I published the first of four novels. Then I returned to work to help put my four children through college. Returned to writing in 1992 and have never looked back. I'm published in romance from sweet to sensual, from contemporary to paranormal and fantasy. I also write cozy mysteries and fantasy for YA and adults. There are several non-fiction books floating around also, Including Becoming Your Own Critique Partner with Jane Toombs. That was an EPIC winner in 2003. There are other awards or near awards floating in the stratosphere.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.!/JanetL717

Tell us about your writing - What genre do you prefer to write? What books, stories, other publications that you've written are your personal favorites? Anything new coming up?

Interesting question. I'm not sure I prefer any genre but there are some I don't. Horror is one. Action adventure is another. I write Romance from contemporary to fantasy and several genres in between. I have a series of cozy mysteries. I also write fantasy for YA readers. I bill myself as Eclectic Writer and my writing is as varied as my reading interests. As to favorites, this is like asking a mother which of her children she loves the most. Can't answer that. Usually my favorite is the one I'm working on at the time. I've had some poetry published but that was in my early days of writing and I was using poetry to hone my skills at choosing words. I've also written some non-fiction, some of it as a ghost writer. My friend Jane Toombs and I have written a non-fiction book on writing that's soon to be out in it's second edition. Becoming Your Own Critique Partner. The new things coming up are several. One is a short spicy romance A Surprising Seduction, one is the fourth of a YA series called Confrontation, I have a fifth Mrs. Miller mystery in the works and a new series called the Hiring Hall.

What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?

What do I do to relax. I'm a reader and re-reader of books I've enjoyed. I'm interested in Astrology and study this on occasion. In the past I composed music but writing has consumed my creative energies. I'm not much of a one for movies and haven't been to a theater since the last of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. There are times when I do a marathon of the three LOTR or Pride and Predjudice, the A7E version. Now I do a bit of TV watching with the crime shows at the top of my list. Hawaii 5-0, CSI New York and Miami as well as ones like the Closer and others on the cable networks. I watch no TV until after 9 PM, except for Jeopardy. I jokingly tell people that housework is my hobby since that's what you do in your spare time. I enjoy spending time with my 7 grandchildren. Three live close and are adoptees from China, The other 4 live in Florida and are biracial. Our youngest daughter is adopted.

What gets your creative juices going? Do you write to a music, and do you want to share your playlist?

I can pretty much write in the middle of confusion and noise. I've written in doctor's offices, in the surgical waiting room. I don't need music though I do enjoy most classical pieces. I have a lot of Tchaikovsky symphonies and ballets that I put on. Love the 1812 Overture and when I'm really in a non-writing mood I'll put that on or something crashingly loud by Beethoven. I prefer when there's music that there are no singers. Words play in my head like a recording when I write and singers distract me.

"All writers must have cats, especially if they write fantasy or speculative fiction." Do you have a stand on this one? Any cute pictures of your kitty or other pet?

I agree with this but I no longer have a cat. My familiar, Robespierre a Maine Coon cat, died and since I have a husband who doesn't want any more pets, I do with a picture of the cat in my study. He is a featured character in the Katherine Miller Mysteries and his picture is on Murder and Mint Tea if you'd like a look. In my alternate Egypt books there is a sacred cat called Bast Ka.

What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers? Any advice you'd like to share about writing?

I'm not sure since some of the organizations I belong to are for published writers only but if a writer is interested in Romance, RWA is a good group since they hold on-line classes for writers and they have local chapters that do help inspire struggling writers. As to advice, one is to find a good critique group. Having other authors willing to critique your work helps. I've belonged to the same one for nearly 20 years and though the membership has changed we've helped a number of people move from writer to author. Another bit of advice is persistence pays. I revised my first book over and over again and it was published.

What writers inspired you to become an author?

I'm not sure I was inspired by any particular author. As a child from early on I was read to and my grandfather taught me how to read when I was three. He read John Donne's poetry to me every time we were together. So you might say the poet inspired me. There are many authors I enjoy and when I decided I wanted to write as well as read, I began to read many of the classics and also many American writers going back to the Colonial days. I think if one is going to be a writer, they must be a reader and they need to read extensively, especially in the genre they want to write. Maybe that's why I write in so many genres.

Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?

I will be taking part in a Nook Book signing at the Barnes and Noble store in the Pallisades Mall in New York some time around Mother's Day. Not sure of the date. On May 5th I'll be participating in a signing for Vanilla Heart Authors at Letchworth Village from 1 PM until later.

Good luck on the book signings. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thursday Recipes - Guest chef Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Danielle Ackley-McPhail has written some great stuff, including these titles:
Today's Promise - the final book in the Eternal Cycle series ~Coming May 2012 from Dark Quest Books!
Yesterday's Dreams, Tomorrow's Memories, and The Halfling's Court
Editor of the Bad-A** Faeries Anthology Series -

Find more about her at or stayed tuned on May 21 for a great interview, right here on The Far Edge of Normal.

But her real claim to fame is her cookbook - Everyone's Favorite Auntie D's Recipes. No, you can't buy it in the store. It's a very limited edition. She was gracious enough to share the story behind it and a few of the recipes here. In her words:

I am a creator. I love to make things. Being a small-press author who hasn't had an amazing stroke of luck, there isn't a lot of extra cash laying around, so each year at Christmas I generally find something I can make for my family as gifts, something that would mean more than anything I might buy. Well, I've been doing this a while so I have to admit that I've pretty much run out of stuff to do that isn't a repeat of something I've already done in one way or another. Everyone has an afghan, sculpy sun-catchers, hand-painted tree ornaments...I could go on, but you get the idea. That got me to thinking, what else do I do?

I cook. And I make books. Some of what I make my family and friends are particularly fond of so I thought, why not share? Most of my recipes start out on a foundation of an existing recipe, but I love to put my own spin on things so for them to truly achieve the same dish I was going to have to transcribe things. I went with the most popular and tried to give an even spread of the various types of recipes so that it resembled a cookbook you would buy in the store.

I tried to make it as book-like as possible so that it wasn't just a collection of papers with recipes on them. That would hardly constitute a special effort, now, would it? That's one of the reasons for the name...everyone knows all the cool cookbooks have catchy names, right? I wanted something that danced on the tongue and had a nice flow to it and I felt Everyone's Favorite Auntie D's Recipes was cute :). In part it's because when I sign an email to my nieces and nephews I always sign it AD for Aunt Danielle.

In the end I did 20 print books for my family. Funding being an issue, I went down to Staples and had double sided copies made, two to a page and then comb-bound them myself. I think even if I had extra money I would have done it this way, though, because of the convenience of being able to lay the book flat on the counter when actually trying to make one of the recipes.

Beyond the print copies I also emailed a PDF version to special friends as their Christmas gifts.

I don't currently have this on sale anywhere, but mostly because of time and not being familiar with the ebook conversion. Otherwise I'd have it posted on Amazon just for the heck of it. My husband and I are thinking of expanding it, who knows...maybe then. I would consider taking orders by email, if there were interested parties.

Here's one recipe from her book, just to give you a taste:
Homemade Pot Stickers

1 package of wonton wrappers (100 count)
1 3⁄4 lb ground meat of your choice
1 tbs fresh ginger, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbs sesame oil
4 tbs soy sauce
Two green onions sliced thin
5 cups Chinese cabbage, chopped fine

Electric frying pan with lid or steamer
Bowl with air-tight lid
Measuring spoons
Measuring cup
Large platter
Small plate
Conventional teaspoon
Several quart-sized freezer ziplock bags

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl except for the wrappers. Lay a wrapper on small plate and place one round teaspoon of mixture in the middle. Wet the edges of the wonton wrapper with water and fold the wrapper over into a triangle, firmly press the edges together and then shape into a half circle. Repeat. (I have taken to shaping these into purses, rather than triangles, by bringing up all four points to the center over the mixture and then pressing the edges together for a complete seal. The purses are easier to manage in the frying pan.)

If you intend to steam the dumplings arrange them in your steamer and steam them for 10 to 15 minutes. If you intend to fry them, put two tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Fry for two minutes until the bottoms are golden brown, then pour 1⁄2 cup of water into the pan and cover with lid. Let them steam for about 7 minutes. The mix is likely enough to make all 100 wontons, which is fine if you want them for a party, but if you just want them for a meal make the quantity you need (probably 4 to 6 per person) and freeze the bal- ance of the mixture in one-meal portions using the freezer ziplock bags. Do not prep out the pot stickers until you intend to cook them as the wrappers absorb moisture and tend to stick together. Serve with edamame or rice.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Author Interview - MeiLin Miranda

Please welcome MeiLin Miranda to the Far Edge of Normal. MeiLin Miranda came back from the dead (for serious) to write the fantasy series "An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom" and the online fantasy western serial "Scryer's Gulch." She lives in Portland, OR with a husband, two kids, two cats, a floppy dog and far, far too much yarn.
How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.

Facebook personal:
Facebook fan page:

Tell us about your writing - What genre do you prefer to write? What books, stories, other publications that you've written are your personal favorites? Anything new coming up?

I prefer to write fantasy, though I occasionally dip a toe into science fiction.

Perhaps the two most favorite things I've written are the short story "Dalston Junction," a Victorian (non-steampunk) science fiction story, and the flash fiction piece "Non Si Muove," a teeny bit of fantasy about the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin.

New and coming up: The second novel in the series "An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom" debuted on March 20th. It's called "Son in Sorrow," and is the follow-up to "Lovers and Beloveds." The paperback is due in late April/early May. I've already started research for the third book in the series, which has the far-from-final title "Queens."

I'm currently working on a novel in a collaborative universe series called "The Drifting Isle Chronicles." I'm part of a team: me, Joseph Robert Lewis, Coral Moore, Katherine Tomlinson and Charlotte English, all indie fantasy writers. We co-created a world in which to tell five different stories, all interlocking but stand-alone novels. Unlike many collaborations, the novels are entirely written by one author only; we just share the universe. My book, tentatively titled "The Machine God," will be released with the other four some time in late 2012.

And I'm always working on the webserial "Scryer's Gulch: Magic in the Wild Wild West."

What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?

I am not much of a TV watcher these days; I just don't have time. About the only appointment TV I have is Dancing with the Stars, my main guilty pleasure. I have a Roku set-top box (no cable), and it's more than I can watch. I am an inveterate Mystery Science Theater 3000 fiend, and when I don't know what else to do with myself and need comfort watching, that's where I go.

As to hobbies, I love audiobooks; I always have one going. Right now I'm in the middle of an Anthony Trollope kick. I love reading and my constant companion is my Kindle. I also knit, crochet and spin yarn. I'm hoping to get back into sewing this year.

What gets your creative juices going? Do you write to a music, and do you want to share your playlist?

I have a Livio internet radio box and usually listen to either a classical Pandora channel or a channel called Concentration Radio that I seeded with jazz, soundtracks and non-English-language music; if it's in English I get distracted, though occasionally an English-language track will sneak in. Here's the URL to that: (I hope it works)

Often, when I'm really in it, I listen to Iron and Wine. A LOT of it, especially the EP "Woman King."

"All writers must have cats, especially if they write fantasy or speculative fiction." Do you have a stand on this one? Any cute pictures of your kitty or other pet?

I am pet-agnostic as to whether writers need one. I certainly think life is better for having one, though, writer or not. I have two black cats who cannot be told apart unless you live with them (Inky and Blackberry), and a floppy Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Henry. Every depressed person should be issued a Cav, they're ridiculous little dogs. I have no pictures of them; I'm not a very good picture taker. The cats usually are asleep on the back of my chair when I write, while the dog usually sleeps on my feet.

What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers? Any advice you'd like to share about writing?

For the female genre writers, you can't go wrong belonging to Broad Universe. The Broads are awesome. Apart from that, no, I really don't. As an indie, I am barred from membership of many other, if not most, writers organizations.

The best advice is the most common: Read, write, read, write, read read read write write write. It's common for a reason.

What writers inspired you to become an author?

The earliest inspiration I can remember is C.S. Lewis, though frankly I cannot re-read the Narnia books now without wishing to throw them against the wall.

Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?

The next event I'll be attending for sure is Orycon in Portland, OR November 2nd-4th, 2012. I'm also hoping to go to GeekGirlCon in Seattle in August.

Thanks so much for stopping by!