Friday, August 17, 2018

Weekly Adventure - On Parenting

Let's talk about parenting. Let's discuss all the things people tell you and what they don't:

  • It's hard - [Obviously, it's hard. I'm not sure who the people are who think parenting will be easy, but it's not. Ever.]
  • They grow fast - [This is both true and false. Time travels the same both before and after you have a child, what actually happens is your perspective changes. Before, you tend to think of yourself. After, you have this small human you're terrified you're going to ruin that adds all kinds of stress, thus, making time FEEL as though it's moving in every direction but the right one.]
  • Listen to your gut - [This is normally sound advice. I'm a fan of embracing intuition and listening to my gut. But when it comes to parenting, you need to be careful. No one tells you when your kid hits a certain age you'll want to pummel other children who aren't nice to your kid. No one says, "When little Timmy is 9, you're gonna wish you could choke out a few random bratty kids to keep Tim feeling safe." Because, in reality, no one wants to be that person. But we all freaking think about it.]
  • They're precious gifts!  - [This is actually very true. Kids rock and we adults give them little to no credit for it. We box them into what very little we remember of being a kid and then try to hold them there. We, adults, say, "Hey! I loved this! Sally will, too." Yet, Sally couldn't care less about your obsession with My Little Pony. She'd rather have slime. Let Sally have slim and embrace she isn't you.]
  • You need to be their rock - [Also true. Also hard. When they fall apart, it's *hard* to be their rock. Because inside (and sometimes outside) you're a puddle as well. You need to swallow that down and stand there like a mountain. "Yeah, Timmy. I'm here. I love you. I will always be here and always love you--regardless.]
Parenting in the digital age is also tough. In this day and age, we talk a lot about society and the bubbles we live in. The selected worlds we choose to surround ourselves with filled with the privileges we choose to pull inside the bubble dome. But the dome is clear and if you glance out you'll see all sorts of things our parents and grandparents never had to deal with. No one tells you this. We've started playing a whole new game of ball but never took into account the rules also changed. 

The days of parenting the exact same way as your parent, grandparent, great-grandparent is over. We're inundated by social media. We see people do and say things that make you gasp in a way your throat closes up. 

Like I said, parenting is hard. It's the hardest damn thing you'll ever do in your whole life. One of the hardest parts is embracing your child IS NOT you. They may be "from your loins" but they're not your clone. They will have their own thoughts, feelings, wants, loves, dislikes, and feelings--most of which have to do with you. 

In the year 2018, I'd like to believe we're not so narrow-minded anymore. Not like back in the 1980's where boys "played sports" and girls "had dolls" and that was that. I read a tweet today written by a teacher in Minnesota who banned ebooks, online reading, and comic books for her class - grow up. I read tweets like this all the time. Adults tearing kids down for simply being kids living in a different era than their adult counterparts.

"Why do they ask so many questions?" "Why can't they sit still?" "Why don't they know this, that, or the other thing already?"

Who hurt you? That's the real question. Who looked at you when you were a child and told you to shut up? Better yet, when did you believe them?

Parenting is hard enough. Traversing the tandem experience of the parent-child relationship is difficult without adding needless expectation. Why add to it? Why not use the extra energy to show your kid how not to get aggravated at the oversized kid who thinks he or she is better than your kid, simply because they had a growth spurt two years too early?

This, my fellow parents, is a way to release some of the parenting anxiety. Let your kids be themselves, even if it scares the ever loving shit out of you. And while they do it, prepare for the "You need to be their rock" portion of parenting advice. Because it's the most important thing of all.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

One can only care so much

This is the truth.
One can really only care so much
Because reality won't let you care about stupid for too long
If you do
You'll go mad
If you think too much
You're brain will fry

Most of the shit I see on the internet
Is nothing more than fodder
It's trash
Basic lies created to make you feel something you shouldn't

Everyone with a blog is a fucking expert now a days.

Guess that makes me brilliant

But then again, I know it doesn't
Because at the end of the day, I know my limitations

When we spend our time caring about things
Other people think we should find important
We only waste our time

Time is precious my friend
It's like land
There is only so much, and they're not making more

Using it to get angry about the errant stupidity of the world
Will only lessen the amount you have
So care less, my friends

Care little

Save your energy for things that are important
Realize you are allowed to have an opinion--yet not allowed to shove it up everyone else's butts

Life it too short for bullshit

But it's just right for a nap

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Fun. Games. Change and coffee.

Ah, it's a happy Wednesday in good old Los Angeles. The sky is party overcast, last night my neighbors threw a huge "Back to School" party, keeping their children up well past 11p (Because what's better for the second day of school then dropping off your crabby, sleepy kids? Yes. My neighbors are a breed of their own.) 

But alas, that is not what brings me here this lovely day. Today, I am here to discuss the happenings in my life. Yes, that means I'm once again neglecting my other blog--but I'm liking it here. It's like discovering an old room in your house. One you used to spend all of your time in, and then for some stupid reason, decided to board it up.

With a lot of nails.

Because when I go for it, I don't like messing around.

I'm my own personal sadist. Why have others f with you, when you can just f yourself till next Thursday and back?

Life is...well, I was going to write "confusing" but it's not really confusing. Not if I put my big girl pants on and take it for what it is. Realistically it's just frustrating. Some days I feel like I'm slapping myself in the head with a cricket bat*, and can't figure out why I have a headache. [*they are flatter and more efficient than a Louisville slugger. This way I get more of the side of my face and not just the temple.]

Duh! It's because of Communism, or Nazis, or soccer moms--which fits in that same category as the other two.

What all this means is I have to make some changes, like trying to figure out how to deal with my back to school, anti-social anxiety disorder. (said disorder may not be on the books, but it's real in my life.) Or, how to get someone to read my damn manuscripts that isn't a like long friend, blood relative, or the guy I'm sleeping with.

Turns out when you share a vagina with someone (or a penis), they'll read your writing easy-peasy. And some people think marriage is a dead sacrament...obviously they're not "aspiring" authors. (this theory applies to me in my husband's writing life as well)

Or maybe I'm not officially "aspiring" any longer since I posted on Wattpad?
Or maybe writing on here makes me, like, the super duper special writer Queen woman?

Or maybe I should drink less coffee before I blog.
Jesus, I regretted typing that before I even finished knocking out the sentence.

Coffee is my only vice these days. (In the category of foodstuff, I'm sure I have other vices--but am not up to discussing them just yet. And now I want more coffee.)

The hardest part about waiting is feeling like you may explode at any minute. I have a million stories to tell, choosing which one to lean on is hard enough, and then I have these vivid dreams at night that only give me new ideas, on top of old half written stories sitting around for me to get back to them, on top of other pieces I promised to write for other people. ARGH!

I read a lot and sometimes the voice in my head screams, "Your stuff is just as good as this!! What's the hold up?? What is wrong with you?" (probably my massive use of over punctuation.)

I am my own worse enemy.
I know this.
I freak myself out and then I give up.

I over think EVERYTHING!

Because it's easier to be alone in my bedroom with a laptop not finishing things, than reading multiple form rejection letters from no-faced agents.

See! I can figure out the root of my own problems! Kinda.

So, like I said--this post is about changes. The ones I need to make so I'm not sitting here in ten years writing this same damn blog post, but even more discontent and caffeine free. (Which will be due to doctors orders--obviously.)

How does one do that?

I guess it's back to the big girl pants. How can I sit here and say 'what if,' when I very well know I have a better chance at succeeding if I put myself out there for general ridicule.

Shit balls I hate ridicule. I pretend I'm okay with it and then I'm on the sofa at 3am crying into a dish towel. (because my face is a platter from all the cricket bat hitting)

Not sure how I got to this portion of the blog--I veered off somewhere and tripped down the embankment, and now I'm hungry, craving coffee, and a bit excited to get back to writing.

I guess that means it worked?? (insert appropriate emoji here)

I know it hasn't been that long, this writing life of mine, but on days it feels like an eternity... I guess that's the lesson here. All that, if first you don't succeed, stuff, and getting out of my own head. Because, let me tell you, it's a regular Freddy Krueger self-esteem, emotionally depleting massacre in there. I'd invite you in, but that's just cruel.

All righty... Putting on my happy face. Getting the heck off the internet. Writing and editing here I come!

After more coffee.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Well, hello!

I haven't written on this blog in over two years, maybe longer, but lately it's been itching at the back of my brain. I'm not sure why, but I thought I'd swing by and throw up some words.

On to the screen--not like vomit into a toilet.

In the past two years my life has been very much the same, and has changed drastically. I now have a elementary school aged child--when I started writing this blog I was pregnant. And I've also self-published a novella on wattpad. <-- a="" and="" big="" course...="" deal="" feedback.="" feel="" free="" is="" it.="" leave="" me.="" of="" p="" positive="" read="" this="" to="">
In those two years I've done a lot of things--changed in many ways, but like I said--some things stay the same. I've always been an advocate of trying new things--adventuring if you will, but in these recent years I've also learned, some forms of stability are just fine, too.

Mostly because I like to sleep in a bed and am a fan of showering.
You're most welcome.
Yes, that smell isn't me. (I swear I did not, in fact, deal anything.)

And yet, while so much has changed, there is still so much more I want out of this life.

Sample (I want) list:

- To see the world with my son, because I think the best social studies classroom is found down the boarding plank of a plan.

- Write more books. I have two in the editing stage (edited by me, of course). One is currently in process, the other one is being researched, because it's historic and I'm a stickler for accuracy.

- Have more adventures. It has come to my attention that I have issues staying still. I get bored easily. (Not like I don't appreciate things and let them drop by the wayside. Mostly, I want to learn more, to do more, to meet more people. Like I said, I want to see the world--that includes all of the United States, Mexico, and Canada as well. )

- Surf. I want to learn how to surf. I love the ocean. It is, by far, one of the most beautiful things I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. I want to live in it. HA! Slap on some fins and call me a mermaid.

These are all "Adventures in Progress." It's good to have things waiting for you, but as I said, sitting still isn't my strong suit. That leads me to my current Adventure. The Avon 39 The Walk to End Breast Cancer.

This "Adventure" has slowly become more of a challenge than a carefree venture into the world of possibility. Between convincing people to donate (I needed to raise $1800 to walk at all, and can still raise more. Feel free to help a girl out!), to finding the right shoes to complete this walk. (Let's just say Nike and my feet don't agree on how bloody my feet should be. My feet think they're fine how they are... Nike on the other hand...)

When I chose to do this, I quickly realized the way to success was to call out into the world of friends and family and ask them for both emotional and finical support. This means I put myself out there for general public ridicule (because that's what happens when you write and publish your own book, and you sign up to walk 39.3 miles wearing pink--people judge you like they get paid by the minute. This is a sad, but very true, statement.)

So, with the relaunch of this blog (because I'm enjoying myself right now, and the fact I can write the word "adventure" ever third word or so) I'm going to talk about walking. I'm going to use this as a platform for expressing what it's actually like to walk the Avon 39.

Things you need to know:

#1 - the walk is on September 12-13 and is 39.3 miles long. The first day I will walk over 20 miles. For all of you who don't walk and think, "Pfft! BFD! It's just walking." No it's not. It's hard. That's why these ladies and gentlemen do it. As a bit of an offering to all the women (and men) who have breast cancer--and can't walk five feet. Walking for a solid two days ends in cramps, bleeding, blisters, and heat stroke. It's also rewarding on so many levels--but that doesn't mean it's easy.

Binge watching Netflix shows is easy. Getting off your butt and walking 39.3 miles is hard.

#2 - I am frustrated by all the road blocks I have met along the way. To make it very clear, I understand everyone can't donate. I am on a budget, and I can only donate so much a year. What hurts is the lack of replies. All you have to say is, "I can't" and I will understand. The deafening silence makes me questions a lot of things.

Like I often tell my son, I can't read minds, and I don't know every facet of your life unless you share it with me. Not talking isn't sharing--it's not you silently saying, "I don't have the money right now." It's you silently saying, "You're not important."  I am telling the world this, because if it makes me feel like this, it makes others feel like this as well. The next time someone asks for help, explain why or why you can not help them.

#3 - Avon 39 is in now way, shape, or form affiliated with Susan B Koman (or however you spell her name. She is a rip off artist.) Avon 39 donates money to programs that help people with breast cancer and help their families as well. Also, just because you don't LIVE in California, doesn't mean people in California don't deserve your support. Cancer doesn't give a shit about State Lines or Country Boarders--why should you?

#4 - Yes, I know that breast cancer has the most funding out of all the cancers out there. Does that mean they aren't worth donating to? No. Does it mean we need more people helping raise money and awareness to other cancers? Yes. Turn judgement into something useful. Use that energy to help others, not act like their choices aren't up to your standards.

#5 - Why I'm doing this at all. I feel helpless when it comes to something like cancer. I've had three scares in my life. My grandmother had a hysterectomy because she had cervical cancer. I know more than a dozen people who have had and beat cancer--but the reason I'm walking is for the one who didn't win out. This is my way of coping with her death. I'm not even sure her family supports what I'm doing here--and that's okay, because this is for me, and I know that. This is so I can wake up and say, "I tried." I know this. I am well aware of it.

I couldn't help my friend, so I will walk 39.3 miles in tribute to her and donate over $18k in her memory to help other families who still may have a chance.

That, my friends, is my current adventure. It's a life lesson for me. One that's been a roller coaster from the moment it began. and probably will be until well after I cross that finish line. (And did I forget to mention that I haven't been able to train in the last two weeks due to foot injury and lack of time??)

But that's what all adventures are, I suppose. Small lessons that transform us out of the shell we've built around our tired frames. They make us happy, sad, angry, and mad - because without myriad of emotions, how else can you grow?

Wishing you all a happy day, my friends, and now I am off to write. Because, as I tweeted earlier, that is what writers do, or otherwise they wouldn't be writers at all.

Also, Command Center Earth (my novella) will be free on Wattpad for about another month, and then I'm shipping it off to so make it an official self-pub'd book. If you read it, let me know! I'd love to hear from you. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Author Interview - Katherine Ernst & "The Long Game"

Katherine Ernst
Katherine Ernst graduated Magna Cum Laude from Loyola Law School, New Orleans and worked as a high profile criminal and corporate fraud attorney in Philadelphia.  After practicing for a short time, she gave up the practice of law to focus on writing novels.  Katherine lives in Pennsylvania with her amazingly supportive husband and their three cats.  She is represented by Pooja Menon of Kimberley Cameron & Associates.

What is your genre of choice, and why?

I don’t know that I’ve settled on a genre or category.  I’ve written a Middle Grade contemporary that landed me my first agent, a Young Adult fantasy that landed me my second, and now I’m publishing a New Adult contemporary which will be my first release. All of my books, however, are about people who don’t fully feel like they fit in, one way or another. I think it’s the theme of my life.

How many books have you published? (self or otherwise)

My first book, The Long Game came out Oct. 7 under the pen name J.L. Fynn. It’s actually a co-written project with my long-time collaboration partner, Chelle Bruhn.

Tell me about your current project.

I’m now working on the prequel to The Long Game. It will be available in January, and I agreed to write the first half, so I need to get it done so Chelle has enough time to finish it.

Where can I buy copies of your work?

What are you reading right now?

Found in You by Laurelin Paige.  I adored her first book Fixed on You, and I’m loving the sequel as well.

What keeps you going on those days when writing gets hard? (e.g., a favorite quote or a personal motto)

My favorite writing quote is: “Whether or not you write well, write bravely.” Also, for me, writing is always hard.  Each day I wake up dreading getting down to work, but I love conceptualizing my plot and I love editing the manuscript into tip top shape, so looking forward to that payoff is what makes me muscle through.

What advice can you give other aspiring writers out there?

Just keep writing.  It’s trite, and it’s not what people want to hear, but there is no better advice.  Also, if you have quick success, don’t believe your own hype. If it takes you a while to find success, don’t think that means you don’t have talent. I’ve seen both issues trip up new writers.

What cautions do you have?

Beta readers or critique partners are critical.  However, make sure you find readers who are compatible with you and your vision.  You need people who will help you make your book the best it can be. Not people who will want to make it a completely different sort of book. (Real life example: one author was telling me her beta reader was upset because she hated any writing in the first person and hated manuscripts with paranormal elements—and this author was writing YA Paranormal romance.  Not a good fit!)

Do you work on more than one project at a time?

I might be editing one project while beginning to write another, but in terms of writing, I stick to one project at a time.

Do you have a process? (e.g., outlining, character creation, location)

Doesn’t everyone have a process? I wish my novels came fully written, but I haven’t figured out how to make that happen yet.  (Soon.)  No, I have a pretty involved process and it works well for me.  First, I beat sheet out the book. (Using the Save the Cat method.) Then I outline the book, which involves writing what will happen in each chapter in fairly close detail.  (The outline usually ends up being 1/4 of the length of the final manuscript.) Then I write the book. Then I edit it.  Then I edit it four more times. 

Where do your ideas come from? What inspires you?

Lord knows. Usually I’ll be doing something or watching something and think, “What if X happened?” I always say that the trick to being a writer is just taking yourself seriously.  Everyone has interesting ideas, but most people let them fall away without exploring them.  A writer takes the initial what-if question and keeps asking more questions until they have something resembling a plot.  My husband had been interested in writing for a number of years, but he always said he had no ideas. I told him he just needed to take his ideas seriously. In the last two months he’s decided to do that, and in that time he’s outlined an involved adult fantasy novel and has written the first fifteen chapters. Take yourself seriously!

If you could do it all over, is there anything you would change about finding an agent and finally publishing?

That’s an interesting question. My first agent was Amy Tipton of Signature Literary Agency.  I absolutely adored her, but she was unable to sell my MG contemporary manuscript (that’s the way the cookie crumbles). The next book I wrote was YA fantasy and she doesn’t rep fantasy, so I had to find a new agent. I was then picked up by Pooja Menon of Kimberley Cameron and Associates.  She’s still in the process of selling that book. (Fingers crossed). Plus, while that long process is going on, I decided to independently publish a third book. That’s not exactly the most straightforward of paths, but I can’t say I regret anything.  Sometimes, you just can’t know what the future holds until you get there.

What has been your toughest criticism? What has been your greatest compliment?

When I first started writing I hadn’t yet made any writer friends and I went on this site called Critique Circle.  I actually met some good people there, so I’m not suggesting it’s all bad, but some people love to tear others down. I put up the first couple chapters of my book for critique. The main character of that book was based on a teenage version of myself, and I had many stinging critiques including one woman say that she not only hated the main character, she thought she was not appropriate for teens to read because she was such an awful person. (To this day, I still don’t understand why. The chapter was about the character thinking about being nervous on her first day of school!) When I finally queried that book, I got a lot of positive feedback from agents, which goes to show you shouldn’t let negative criticism go too much to heart. 

The greatest compliment?  Wow, we’ve gotten a lot for our book The Long Game
.  It’s been humbling.  Getting a five star review from NY Times Bestseller Emma Hart was huge.  But having a stranger message me and tell me that she reads 2-3 books a week, but can’t stop thinking about my book and feels that it’s in her top 5 favorite books of all time—that was incredible.  

Who is your greatest influence(s)

My husband Max. We have so many wonderful conversations not only about my writing, but also about books—figuring out why they worked or didn’t. He makes me a better writer, and person, every day.

Who are your favorite people to follow on Twitter & why? (e.g., authors, non-authors)

@mstrcatscinema is a funny one. (Although my husband might be behind it…)  It’s all amusing cat-related posts. Other than that, to be honest, I don’t spend a lot of time reading other people’s tweets on twitter.  I interact with people who follow me and who I follow back, but I don’t spend a lot of time watching famous people. (Is that wrong?)

Do you have any other passions besides writing?

I love singing along to music, including, but not limited to, karaoke. I’m a *huge* political junky, although I’m trying to keep it out of my social media these days. I am also an enormous New Orleans Saints fan.  Who dat! 

When did you know you wanted to write?

I’ve always liked writing, but I only started writing creatively three years ago.  I was also one of those people who thought I had no ideas because I didn’t take myself seriously.  Now that I think of myself as a writer, I never stop having ideas.

 Do you have a day job?

I used to be a full-time attorney.  Now I just do a little legal work here and there. I also do some other odds and ends, but for the most part, I write full time thanks to my amazingly supportive husband.

Final question, why do you write?

Because even though I hate it, I can’t live without it. There’s something about writing that’s addictive. And now that I’ve gone through the publishing journey, I realize that’s addictive too.  Putting in so much hard work promotionally and watching it pay off is incredibly gratifying.  I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing this.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pour Some Vegan on Me - Vegan Potato Skins

Last weekend marked the beginning of football season, and the beginning of the end of summer. With Autumn comes orange-y hues, cinnamon beverages, beer, and game day treats! At least in my world it does.

So I give you... stuffed potato skin!


Potato skins are wonderfully convenient food at parties, especially those celebrating a sport. Be it at your home, or even tailgating - potato skins don't require a plate, fork and knife. They require a free hand, and maybe a napkin.

The ones I made (picture above) are simple, and to the point - but with little potato boats, you really can put whatever you'd like in them.

What you'll need: (6 potato skins)

3 medium to large sized potatoes (I used california golden potatoes, because they're amazing)
1 bag of Dayia flavored pepper jack cheese
4 strips of tempeh bacon - chopped
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 425*

Use a fork to poke holes into your potatoes. One stab 2x per potato. You don't want to overly damage the skin, or your little boat will fall apart.

Pop into the microwave for 4 minutes - flip - 4 more minutes on the other side.

Allow potatoes to cool.

Once they've cooled, brush skin with olive oil, dust with salt and pepper. Then cut lengthwise:

With a spoon, gently hollow out the center of the potato:

Leave a quarter to half inch of potato. If you make it too thin, it will fall apart on you.
Set the skins on a baking sheet:

I added the cheese, and bacon - then sprinkled salt and pepper on top.

Bake at 425 for 20 minutes and they will look like this:

Now, you can stop here - OR - you can add freshly cut chives, sour supreme (soy sour cream), cashew cream (fake sour cream made with cashews), maybe even a little chili, or who know! They're your skins - get creative.

The skins should be crisp, if they are not - pop them back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Pour Some Vegan On Me - Vegan: On The Go


Happy Meatless Monday! This week I would like to talk to you about being (and staying) vegan on the road. Enjoying the life of a vegan, at home, is easy. You are in charge of what is brought into your house, so you don't have to worry about accidentally cooking your Vegan Grilled Cheese in Burger juice... but (unless you're striving to become agoraphobic) you can't stay home forever.

Living in Los Angeles is a wonderful thing, but - I'll admit it - living in Cleveland, as a Vegan is pretty darn special too. Once upon a time, I thought Cleveland wasn't so hot in the area of "Vegan Food" - and then I drove across country, and spent the night in places like Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and New Mexico - let me tell you... it wasn't easy.

As you enter "Cow Country" you run out of places to eat very quickly (and people look at you like you announced you at human flesh. Actually, part of me feels they would be more accepting to that, than being a plant eater). So what will you do?

First - know there are resources available.
We live in a golden age of technology. Ever connected by the internet - you can find free wifi at gas stations, hotels, overlooks and more. So, hop online. There are websites that dedicate all of their time to inform you about where you can an can not eat. Does a restaurant have a Vegan option? They'll let you know - my favorite is They span the U.S., allowing vegans and vegetarians the option to eat something other than french fries and a side of apple sauce.

Second - when resources stink (there are parts of New Mexico you can see straight to Neptune, the sky is so clear.) So, now you don't know what is around you - all you DO know is there is a place called "Dagnammit Beer and Grub" and you're starving... They're called "side dishes". I know you already know that side dishes save lives in the vegan world - but always remember a few other things:

- All you can eat Salad Bars are a mirage in the desert
- Children Menus are created for picky eaters
- Breakfast, sometimes, is severed 24/7 and fruit is an option
- Talk to the cook. S/he may look at you weird, but chances are they'll be up for the challenge.

Third - The good old "Chain" Restaurant

Subway is a life saver.
Denny's as a veggie burger (it's not vegan, but it's not beef either)

Peta has a list of major chain restaurants and fast food restaurants that have vegan options. Check it out before you go - memorize - and have fun. (or you could just print the list...)
[Eating Vegan at Fast Food Chain Restaurants]

Fourth - (by far my favorite) - Farmer Stands!

As you drive down RT. 66 - keep an eye out and buy fresh (and amazing) fruits and veggies as you amble by. This is also a wonderful way to get to know the area you're driving through. Most people I've met are friendly, and willing to chat you up about local places to eat, stay, things to do, and even a little history if you're into that sort of thing. (which I am)

Becoming an "At Home" Vegan/Vegetarian is really an easy thing, but leaving the house... that's when it can become difficult. But don't let it sway you - if you want to travel the world, you have options! Worst case scenario? Find a grocery store, stay at an Extended Stay, and learn to travel with camping cookware. What? It's better than the alternative! 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Pour Some Vegan on Me - BBQ Black Beans with Tempeh Bacon

Happy Labor Day! A day dedicated to all you workers out there, and a little reminder that summer is now over... But let's not dwell on all that, let's talk food.

I've always been a fan of Baked Beans. Growing up we bought the kind where the bacon and fat sat on top. You dumped it all into a pan, heating it up and mixing it together just right. Needless to say, I don't go that route these days. Prior to the inception of this recipe I bought the Vegetarian Beans, but to be honest... *shrug*. I figure if I can make it home, then why aren't it? And if I can't make it at home, then I shouldn't be eating it in the first place!

This is my interpretation of that fatty can of Pork 'n Beans from back in the day: BBQ Black Beans with Tempeh Bacon.

What you will need:

1 can of Black Beans (or the equivalent of dried, hydrated)
1/2 bottle of Vegan Friendly BBQ Sauce (Trader Joe's has a nice spicy variety)
4 slices Tempeh Bacon - chopped
1 small onion - chopped
1 Cup Vegan Broth
Olive Oil

Let's begin:

Put about 2 tablespoon of Olive Oil in to your sauce pan (I use a sauce pan "a.k.a. Stock Pot" - add the chopped onion and cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat until they begin to turn translucent. Add Tempeh Bacon, and mixed it all around. Let it cook for another couple of minute, and add the beans.

The onions will be a little brown, which is find, and delicious. Mix it up and then let it sit for a minute or two so the beans soak up some of the lovely onion bacon flavor. Then add the 1 Cup Broth and 1/2 bottle of favorite Vegan BBQ sauce.

It will look like a weird Black Bean soup. Stir and walk away - keep an eye on it, but let it begin to boil and start to cook down.

All nice and steamy, it will begin to condense bringing all those flavors together. This will take about 5 -10 minutes. And then you will have...

A delicious variety of not really Baked Beans for you and all of your friends to enjoy. Trust me when I say, all you meat eaters won't miss the meat even a little.

Have a wonderful holiday, and happy eating!!


Friday, August 30, 2013

Author Interview - Carissa Andrews author of "Pendomus" due out October 10th

Carissa Andrews
Carissa Andrews is another author I've had the pleasure of meeting via Twitter. It has been 3 years since the first time we began to tweet back and forth, and now - years later - I have the pleasure to interviewing her for her up coming book release, "Pendomus"

What is your genre of choice, and why? 

Sci-fi/fantasy has turned out to by my pen of choice. I enjoy the freedom to explore pretty much anything I want to, but still dig myself into a world entrenched with technology and science. Two areas I love in real life.

How many books have you published? (self or otherwise) 

I’m publishing my first novel, "Pendomus", this October. "Pendomus" is the first book in a three-book series about a seventeen-year-old girl and her quest to save the planet she lives on.

Tell me about your current project.

Right now, I’m currently wrapping up "Pendomus", reworking the flow based on recommendations from my editor. It’s been a challenging process, but I’ve learned a lot just in these past few months of piecing the puzzle back together.

"Taking place on a tidally-locked planet known as Pendomus, humanity has evolved. Having left Earth long ago, we’ve found a way to survive on what should be a desolate planet. Taking root on the temperate band between light and dark, where it’s is always perpetual dawn, the Helix commands its presence to be known. Operating under the assumption that everyone works in total fulfillment of their higher-calling, no one questions their daily routines.
There is more than meets the eye to this planet, however. It is Runa Cophem’s calling to find out her place in the world, far beyond the confines of the Helix. Destruction and havoc will follow in her wake. The only question is, will it be for the betterment of all?"

Where can I buy copies of your work? 

"Pendomus" will be available October 10th on, or you can visit my Kickstarter project to pledge for an advance copy. The Kickstarter project runs today (August 26th through September 9th)

What are you reading right now? 

For pleasure reading, I’m in the middle of the naughty indulgence of the 50 Shades series. With all I’ve been working on, it’s been hard to get around to all the great books out there. For work purposes, I’m also reading "Story Physics", by Larry Brooks.

What keeps you going on those days when writing gets hard? (e.g., a favorite quote or a personal motto) 

I love Jillian Michael’s quote, “Why choose failure, when success is an option.”

What advice can you give other aspiring writers out there? 

Keep writing. It doesn’t matter what you write, how you write, or where you write. Just make it a goal and keep at it every single day. In the beginning, your words may not be great—but they’re aspiring to be. One day, you’ll look back and realize your writing has grown with you.

What cautions do you have? 

Don’t limit yourself to what you think will sell. There are a lot of other authors out there who will go on the hunt for the “next big thing”. Don’t be one of them… If there’s a story gnawing at your mind, it needs to be told. End of story. ;)

Do you work on more than one project at a time? 

Yes – but not book-wise. I’d like to think I could do so, but my brain would have a meltdown with all those voices. So I limit my extra projects to a different medium. I am a graphic designer by trade, so on the side—and when I get stuck—I will switch gears and dabble with my visual art. In addition to "The Pendomus Chronicles", I am also in the middle of getting Malarkey Publishing and Design up and running.

Do you have a process? (e.g., outlining, character creation, location) 

I go through a series of daydreams first. I write down the basic principle, the concept of the story and expand it from there. I try to write outlines, but they never really stick for me—but I think that’s because my process is evolving. I go deep into backgrounds for characters, trying to come up with reasoning for their behaviors and actions. I love imagining the worlds, the technology, etc. I have so many notes I don’t know what to do with them all!

Where do your ideas come from? What inspires you? 

"Pendomus" sort of just struck me out of nowhere. But as time has gone on (I’ve been working on it for the past three years), I see a lot of influences in it. Particularly influences from my favorite writer, Joss Whedon. But really, writing inspires me. Living life and looking at the world around me and the way we take technology inspires me.

If you could do it all over, is there anything you would change about finding an agent and finally publishing? 

Honestly, I’m glad things turned out the way they have. I have a background in printing, marketing and graphic design, amongst my interest in writing. So really, taking my authorship to the next level myself, was a logical decision. I am, however, glad that I sent off my queries, tried for an agent, because it validated what I knew already anyway. That I wanted to try this myself first.

What has been your toughest criticism? What has been your greatest compliment? 

My toughest criticism was actually from my beta-reader-extraordinaire the very first time I got a chapter back from her. When I first started writing, I was hoping to be a natural. However, her criticism had me spinning. It was detailed and driven. After first prickling at such a brutal criticism, I realized she was totally right. I was able to incorporate her feedback, and ultimately, grow as a writer and make the scene stronger. Since then, any time I get feedback and criticism I know not to take it personally and dive into changes. These people only want to make my work shine as much as I do.

So far, my greatest compliment has been from beta readers who have said my characters are very three-dimensional. As I make all the changes I’ve been introducing, I hope I maintain that same level throughout the final version of Pendomus.

Who is your greatest influence(s) 

My greatest influence is definitely Joss Whedon. I love his style of story telling. But I have many others closer to home—There are many friends I have made in my journey to become an author and their stories always inspire me. People like Pavarti K. Tyler, Cassia Leo, and of course, my husband, Colin Andrews.

Who are your favorite people to follow on Twitter & why? (e.g., authors, non-authors) 

I love following people who will actually respond back and have a conversation. I pay very little attention to the constant blasts of “My book is on sale again – go buy it!” So it really depends on the day and who pulls me into a conversation or responds back to something I’ve said.

Do you have any other passions besides writing? 

If we exclude the obvious ones like hanging out with my gorgeous husband and kids… I love astrophysics and all things space or hell, science-y. Then again, I love neuroscience, too. I’m kind of a big nerd.

When did you know you wanted to write? 

On some level, I would have to say at a very young age. In the 7th grade, I wrote a full length YA novel that was sort of emulating a dream I had. I can still remember the dream like it was yesterday. Who knows, maybe someday I will have to go back in and rewrite it. ;)

Do you have a day job? 

Yes, I do. I work as Marketing and Sales Coordinator for a SaaS (Software as a Service) company. I get to do a lot of the same fun things I do for self-publishing… Social Media, ordering fun trinkets, scheduling and launching events. It’s pretty awesome.

Final question, why do you write? 

If I didn’t, those voices would only get louder and more obnoxious.

About the Author:

Born and raised in central MN, Carissa Andrews has always loved books. She started her career at 15 in a bookstore, just to be able to afford her book fetish. By 19, she worked for a magazine publisher. At 22, she was working for printers to learn their trade. At 27, she went back to school for graphic design, and became an award winning designer. Little did she know all of her experiences would lead her to becoming a self-publishing power house. 

To learn more about Carissa Andrews and "Pendomus"- visit her website. Also check her out on Facebook (Author page), Facebook (Pendoums page) Twitter and Goodreads

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"Found in You" by Laurelin Paige **Cover Reveal**

From Laurelin Paige, author of "Fixed on You", due for release October 1st is, "Found in You".

"Alayna Withers has only had one kind of relationship: the kind that makes her obsessive and stalker-crazy. Now that Hudson Pierce has let her into his heart,  she’s determined to break down the remaining walls between them so they can build a foundation that’s based on more than just amazing sex. Except Hudson’s not the only one with secrets.
With their pasts pulling them into a web of unfounded mistrust, Alayna turns to the one person who knows Hudson the best—Celia, the woman he almost married. Hoping for insight from someone who understands all sides of the story, Alayna forms a bond with Celia that goes too far—revealing things about Hudson that could end their love for good.
This is the first relationship where Alayna hasn’t spiraled out of control. And she might lose Hudson anyway…"

Laurelin Paige is a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Mad Men and the Walking Dead, or dreaming of Adam Levine. She is represented by the wonderful Bob Diforio of D4EO Literary Agency.

 Head over to Amazon and check out "Fixed on You", and then check out Laureline Paige on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter and Pinterest! And lastly, for updated on everything sexy. :)

AND!! The author is hosting a giveaway!

(1) $25 Gift Certificate
(5) Advanced Reader Copies of Found in You (Fixed, #2)
(5) e-copies of Fixed on You (Fixed, #1)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pour Some Vegan on Me: Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili

Today we are making some delicious black bean sweet potato chili (or yam, if you can't find sweet potatoes).

Here are things you will need: 

Sweet Potato, Red Pepper, Yellow Onion, and Garlic

Tomato Sauce, Cinnamon, Chili powder, Cumin, Cayenne,
Salt & Cocoa powder (not shown) 
And it goes a little something like this:

Beautiful Black Beans
  • 1 can vegan black beans – drained and rinsed (or the equivalent of dried beans rehydrated)
  • 1 large sweet potato (or yam) peeled, and diced into small bite sized cubes 
  • 1 red pepper – diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion – diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic – diced
  • 1 Can tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of Chili powder
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 1 tspn cumin
  • 1 tspn cinnamon
  • 1 tspn coco powder
  • ½ tspn red pepper
  • 1 Cup water (or veggie broth)
  • Olive oil

And to put it all together:
Saut̩ sweet potato in about 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Stir to keep from sticking to the pot (my pot is old Рeverything sticks to it). Add onions and peppers, saut̩ for another 5 minutes and then add garlic. Wait at least 3 Р4 minutes for the garlic to cook a bit, and then add the black beans and stir.

Add can of tomato sauce, Chili Powder, salt, cumin, cinnamon, coco powder, and red pepper. Stir, coating all the potato, onion and pepper bits. Add 1 Cup water, and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Cook rice as instructed on the packaging.  

Sans Avocado

Serve with brown rice and avocado slices.

Happy Eating!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Weekly Adventure Interview! with Mindy McGinnis, author of :Not a Drop to Drink"

Mindy McGinnis

I met Mindy McGinnis on a wonderful online writing group, and she has been kind enough to allow me an interview. An assistant YA librarian who lives in Ohio, who cans her own food. She graduated from Otterbein University magna cum laude with a BA in English Literature and Religion. An in just under a month, her debut novel, "Not a Drop to Drink" will hit the shelves. 

What is your genre of choice, and why? 

I write YA because I'm also a YA librarian in a public school. I'd been writing for adults an getting nowhere for years when one day I realized if I wrote YA I'd be immersed in the market and surrounded by my target audience 40 hours a week. Honestly it's embarrassing I didn't figure that out sooner.

How many books have you published? (self or otherwise)

My debut novel, NOT A DROP TO DRINK, will be published by Katherine Tegen / Harper Collins September 24, 2013. I'm also slated to have YA releases from the same house in 2014, '15, and '16. I have short stories in the seasonal anthologies from Elephant's Bookshelf Press - SPRING FEVERS, THE FALL, and SUMMER'S DOUBLE EDGE.

Tell me about your current project.

I'm doing research - and a lot of it - for a project that I hope becomes my 2015 release.

Where can I buy copies of your work? 

NOT A DROP TO DRINK is available for pre-order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, or any retailer of your choice. If you prefer to support independent booksellers, let your local bookseller know you're interested in my book and I'm sure they can order for you.

What are you reading right now?

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson. It's ridiculously awesome.

What keeps you going on those days when writing gets hard? (e.g., a favorite quote or a personal motto)

Honestly, it isn't pretty, but I always say to myself - "Okay Mindy, make some shit happen."

What advice can you give other aspiring writers out there?

Learn how to take criticism. Don't be defensive about your work, even though it's an understandable knee-jerk reaction. Get great crit partners that you trust and consider their opinions.

What cautions do you have?

Don't be too proud. Don't think you know everything.

Do you work on more than one project at a time?

Nope. I'm monogamous. 

Do you have a process? (e.g., outlining, character creation, location)

Oddly, no I have just about zero process. I pretty much pants everything and I write linearly. 

Where do your ideas come from? What inspires you?

Ideas for books can come from a dream, a song, something random I see on the street. Or it can just randomly pop in my head. I don't question inspiration when it volunteers itself.

If you could do it all over, is there anything you would change about finding an agent and finally publishing?

I would seek help from compatriots sooner. I was foolish and thought that I could only learn from people *above* me on the publishing ladder when I first got into the game.

What has been your toughest criticism? What has been your greatest compliment?

I haven't really had any harsh reviews yet, but I know that there are people who won't like my book. It's literary, and some people are going to want it to be a straight-out fun ride. And it's not. Also, I'm mean to my characters. But... you'll see.

Actually my favorite compliment came from a guy at a gym who rushed over to help me lift something and then said, "Oh, never mind, you're stronger than you look." Or wait, did you mean writing compliment?

Who is your greatest influence(s)

I can't say for sure. I read so widely that if I started to try to figure that out you'd end up with an index for this interview.

Who are your favorite people to follow on Twitter & why? (e.g., authors, non-authors)

I like to follow other YA authors so that I can help promote them and their titles to my own audience. 

Do you have any other passions besides writing?

I'm a softball player. I love sports in general, but baseball and its relatives are my heart.

When did you know you wanted to write?

I distinctly remember telling the lady who came to administer our career testing in 8th grade that I was going to be a writer. Then my profile came back and it said I'd make a great cop.

Do you have a day job?

Yep. I'm clocking 40 hours a week as a librarian :)

Final question, why do you write?

I write because the people and voices in my head aren't going to stop simply because I stop writing them down. I think it's more of a question of - why not?

You can follow Mindy on Twitter - @MindyMcginnis, and be sure to check out her Facebook Page, and most of all - her wonderful blog: Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire!