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

Monday, February 26, 2018

Book Review - Save Our Souls by Leighton Dean

Disclaimer - I read an uncorrected advance copy. The book is coming soon... Check it out here.

This was explained to me as a light-hearted space adventure. Yes, it was adventurous with plenty of action, but light-hearted? Not really. People die constantly in the story. And the space pirates are very brutal. Not quite the light-hearted lark I was hoping for.

But the story rolled along at a good clip. There were aliens and explosions and pirates. Overall, it was an enjoyable story that kept me reading. I did get bogged down with an excess of editing, proofing, grammar, and spelling problems, but I was assured they would be fixed in editing. I was reading an unedited advance copy.

So if you're looking for a fast-paced adventure set in space, Save Our Souls will fit the bill. As long as you can handle lots and lots of violence and death.

I give the book a solid three stars. Was it a book I fell in love with and want to read it over and over? No. Do I regret reading it? No. There was enough of a larger story forming that I'm curious to see where it goes. So if a sequel shows up, I'll probably read it.

3 stars
PG-13 for violence, brutality, swearing, and lots of dead bodies

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Thursday Recipe - Ruane Irish Soda Bread

I was at RadCon last weekend. I chose to participate in the teacher visits at the local schools. I love working with children. We had a blast brainstorming a story beginning. I walked them through my process and let them go to town dreaming up their own story. One class came up with a thriller set in Seattle. Another one had a talking turtle, unicorn, and the usual teen love story. The third class went a totally different direction with a Bigfoot story at an isolated gas station. It was fun to see them get so excited. It's like a light goes on and the creativity just explodes.

One of the teachers, Mr. Ruane, took the time to look me up online. He found my blog and gave me a recipe to thank me for my time. I sent him one of my stories for his classes to read and enjoy. So this is his recipe that he was gracious enough to allow me to share. He says it's his grandmother's secret recipe. And it's delicious.

Thanks to McLoughlin Middle School for letting me visit!

Ruane Irish Soda Bread

3 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
2/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. seedless raisins (more or less)
1 3/4 c. whole-fat buttermilk
2 large eggs, beaten
2 T. vegetable or olive oil

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt. Stir in raisins, adding more if you want them.

In another bowl, mix buttermilk, eggs, and oil.

Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients until mixture is moistened; no clumps of dry flour remain. Don't overmix it, though, or it gets tough.

"Grease" a 5x9 loaf pan with butter. Or use a 2-qt casserole dish.

Turn batter into pan. Make a cut down the middle to guide the rise. On the round dish, make a cross on the top.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake for about 1 hour, until done.

Remove from pan immediately. Allow to cool thoroughly before eating.

From Mr. Ruane: I serve it slathered with plenty of sweet butter. Toasts well, too!

Monday, February 19, 2018


It's been a wild week. Which is why this post is late and short. Too much going on and things have been crazy.

I was at RadCon all weekend. Hats off to the committee for organizing a great con. Was it perfect? No, there were some issues. But there are always going to be issues. I had a blast. Thank you for putting it together.

If you've never been to a science fiction/fantasy convention, try one out. The small local cons can be a wonderful experience. Most areas have one.

Next week, I've got a book review up. Thursday, I've got a secret family recipe for Irish Soda Bread.

If you have suggestions for blog topics or posts you'd like to see, please let me know. After doing this every week, pretty much, for eight years, I'm running a little short on ideas for posts.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thursday Recipe?

I'm out of new ideas for recipes.

But I'm working on ideas for a searchable cookbook online. Stay tuned for developments.

Meanwhile, share a link to your favorite recipe!

Monday, February 12, 2018

It's Coming...

No, not Valentine's Day, though that is just around the corner and we're going to celebrate 32 years of marriage this year on that day. It's not RadCon, but yes, I will be there next week to talk about writing and books and geek stuff and admire costumes.

It's another audio book!

Well, two actually.

Poisoned Pawn, Book 3 of the Altairan Empire series, is in the final stages of editing. The audiobook should be out by the end of February, depending on how long it takes ACX to vet it. I'll post links when they're ready.

And after a year of delays and problems, Dark Dancer is underway again. I'm hoping to have it out by summer.

Book 4 of the series, Kumadai Run, should start production later this year.

It's moving but slowly.

Meanwhile in other publishing news, I've got a slew of short stories coming out in various anthologies. I'm still working through some health issues, but I'm ready to start tackling those long-overdue novels.

So if you enjoy my writing, there is more on the way. I'm hoping to get another short story collection out by summer. And lots more fun stuff into production.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Thursday Recipe - German Marble Cake

I ran across this recipe a while back and printed it out so I could try it sometime. That time came today. And boy am I glad I tried it. This cake is delicious! This is my take on the recipe - a little lighter on the butter and sugar and if you want to try whole wheat flour for half of the white flour, let me know how it turns out for you. I was being lazy and didn't do that this time.

It's pretty easy, too. Mine isn't quite as swirly and pretty, but I was being lazy and trying to keep it to a one-bowl-one-pan-one-spatula recipe because I hate doing dishes.

And I'm in love with bundt pans at the moment. And cake.

German Marble Cake

3/4 c. butter, softened
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 t. almond extract
1 T. baking powder
1/8 t. salt
4 eggs
1 c. milk
3 1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. baking cocoa
1 t. rum flavoring
2 T. milk

Heat oven to 350°. Grease a bundt pan and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar. Add almond extract, baking powder, and salt. Beat until creamy. Scrape down the sides a couple of times to make sure everything is well mixed. Add eggs. Beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides. Add the milk. Beat until very smooth.

Stir in the flour. Beat until smooth.

Pour half the batter into the prepared bundt pan.

To the rest of the batter, add the cocoa, rum flavoring, and extra milk. Stir until mixed.

Pour the chocolate batter over the almond batter in the pan. Run the spatula through the batter a couple of times to give it the swirl effect. Don't overmix, you want swirls, not a light chocolate cake.

Bake for about 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool 5-10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a fancy plate. Let it finish cooling. Or eat it warm. It's so tasty it doesn't need frosting.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Movie Review - Captain Underpants

I admit I enjoy a good fart joke. And I enjoy the Captain Underpants books. So the other day when we were all suffering from the flu and needed something to watch, we turned on Captain Underpants. It was the only thing on Netflix that we actually wanted to watch. (That's a whole separate rant - Netflix has a much better user interface but crappy selection, Hulu has a better selection of shows but a really crappy interface. Don't get me started...)

So here's the review: Captain Underpants is an awesome romantic comedy.

It dawned on me partway through the movie that they were following the basic storyboard for a romcom. Completely. Including the cheesy musical montage number about a third of the way through. It was awesome.

The story is told, and partially illustrated, by the two main characters, George and Harold, mischievous grade-schoolers who adore a good prank. They have a great romance going - bff's forever. The villain, sort of, is Principal Krupp, who is determined to subjugate them and crush all joy from the kids at the school. He also has a shot at romance with Edna the Lunch Lady.

Things get a lot more complicated. Yes, it involves a superhero wearing just his underwear and a cape. But Captain Underpants is awesome. It involves giant robotic toilets. And lots and lots of gags that third-grade boys find hilarious. I know, I work with a whole bunch of them in Cub Scouts.

But the movie rises above the potty humor. It never reaches the point where I just want it to stop. They keep it light. The story is actually a pretty good story. The animation is beautifully done.

And the romance is a tear-jerker. So sweet...

Overall, this was one fun romp of a movie.

Four stars, with some mild violence and a few Poopypants jokes.

Okay, I admit I'm very biased about Captain Underpants. The books potty trained one of my kids. I will love him forever...

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Thursday Recipe - GingerBundt Cake

I've been on a cake kick ever since Christmas. I got a new bundt pan and I love it. Cakes can be so easy to make, too. This one has the great flavors of gingerbread in a fluffy, delicious cake. Serve it with lemon sauce, whipped topping, ice cream, or even hot fudge or caramel.

The mix of honey and molasses gives a lighter taste and color to the cake. I prefer it. If you want the full dark taste, go ahead and use just molasses. If you want a much lighter cake, try using all honey instead.

GingerBundt Cake

1/2 c. molasses
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 t. ginger
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cardamom
1/4 t. allspice or ground cloves
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 large egg
1 c. sour cream
2 c. flour

Pre-heat oven to 325°. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Set aside.

Cream molasses, honey, butter, brown sugar, and spices together. Stir in baking soda, salt, egg, and sour cream. Beat until lighter in color and everything is well mixed. Scrape the sides several times to make sure all of it is mixed in.

Stir in flour. Beat for 1 minute at low speed.

Pour batter into bundt pan. It will be thick. Spread until pan is evenly filled.

Bake at 325° for 45-50 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool 3-5 minutes before turning out of the pan onto a plate.

Serve warm or cold.