Friday, 6 July 2018

Invisible sounds

Normally one doesn't pay attention to the little sounds around you until you're working with audio files. Then every little invisible sound comes to the fore.

This week I've been recording an audio book. During that time, my cool studio condenser mic has picked up:

  • neighbours' dogs barking
  • helicopter
  • my cat looking for me
  • neighbours' cars
  • kids playing outside
  • the TARDIS
  • hot water heater kicking in
  • neighbour's doorbell
  • rainstorm
  • thunder
  • my growly tummy
  • carbonation bubbles from the soft drink next to me
  • ambulance siren
  • basketball bouncing from FIVE HOUSES AWAY
  • hot water heater kicking in when the husband took a shower (but not the sound of the shower itself)

The list is extremely impressive. Most of the time I don't even notice those sounds (except the cat). And this is considered a "quiet" house. Looks like I've got some editing to do when I'm done laying down track.

Her Grace was a sound engineer in a previous life/degree. If only she had today's tools back then, mixing would have been much easier.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Recipe: Aloo (Potato) Curry

An Indian friend of mine (Harry) once pointed me to an excellent vegetarian Indian recipe website. While many of the recipes were fabulous, this one (or rather, the mother from whom this recipe descended) was our favourite. It's rich and spicy and full of flavour.

Normally I don't like onions and onions don't like me. (I have a food intolerance.) But if they're cooked long enough, whatever it is that objects to being present in my stomach gets denatured. This recipe cooks them enough for me not only to tolerate them, but enjoy them thoroughly.

If you're unfamiliar with making curries, don't let this recipe daunt you.  Yes, that spice list is very long, but it's sooo worth it. If it truly scares you, you could substitute a half-cup of Garam Masala spice mix or a bog-standard curry powder, though it won't be nearly as good. My spice list uses whole spices, where possible, but if you can't find whole spices, you can use pre-powdered spices. Just be sure to reduce the amount to nearly half for volumetric purposes.

Aloo (Potato) Curry

1kg (2lbs) potatoes, peeled, cubed and boiled
1kg (2lbs) onions, peeled and sliced thin
250g (8oz) butter
2 Tbsp oil
Curry Spice Mix (see below)

Prepare your potatoes first by peeling, cubing and boiling them until tender but not falling apart. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt the butter and the oil. As soon as it is hot, fry up the onions until very soft and starting to colour. This should take a good ten to fifteen minutes. The more colour on the onions, the better the flavour.

Add Curry Spice Mix and stir in with the onions until fragrant. 

Add potatoes and stir until thoroughly coated with the onion spice mixture. 

Serve up as a side dish, or as a vegetarian main with flatbread. Serves 4-6.

Curry Spice Mix

You will need a grinder. While possible to grind in a mortar and pestle, I highly recommend a spice grinder (or a coffee grinder, or a blender or one of those turn-whole-veggies-into-a-smoothie blenders like my Nutri-Ninja) or anything that will turn whole spices into powdered spices. If your grinder's not big enough for these quantities, you can grind a few spices at a time then blend together in the end.

Place in your grinder:

1 Tbsp powdered tumeric
2 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cardamom pods
1 tsp whole cloves (or substitute 1/4 tsp powdered cloves, these are so strong)
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1/2 stick cinnamon (or 1/2 tsp powdered cinnamon)
2 bay leaves
1/2 a nutmeg (or 1/2 tsp powdered nutmeg)
1 star anise
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp kashmiri chili (or 1/4 tsp cayenne powder)
generous pinch of asfoetida powder (optional, if you can find it)

Grind up until a fine powder. Add to your aloo curry. Can also be used in other recipes asking for curry powder.

Their Graces are suckers for a good curry.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Release date - God of the Dark

About time!

Her Grace can't wait to see the final book cover finished...

Friday, 8 June 2018

Busy being your own fandom

I recently met a fellow author in a conversation about craft. She was talking about how she was  making articulated dolls of the characters of her book. We're taking some seriously impressive figurines. She'd nearly finished the whole set, with plans for more.

Sometimes this kind of thing happens. Authors are often creative in other areas. Some will draw their characters, or compose theme music, or, in this case, draft dolls.

I'm usually keen to support local authors, especially if we share genres. "How many books you've got out?" I asked, in the interest of maybe buying one or two.

"None," she admitted, with some embarrassment.

I felt a little guilty, as I know how long publishing can take. "Estimated release date?"

"Um... I haven't finished it yet."

Excuse me? Here she was creating time-hungry articulated dolls and hadn't even finished the first book?

"Haven't had the time."

And here I knew I had come across someone who'd become so enamoured of her own work, she was busy being her own fandom. She'd given in to the magic an author weaves, getting lost in her characters and worldbuilding.

Granted, one does have to love one's work long-term, even if there are times one detests one's own work. (I always have a moment where I loathe or despair over my work, swearing I've stagnated or have written the story in the wrong direction. Yet it gets published.) But sometimes there is such a thing as taking that love too far.

Yes, you're the author. Love your work; it will be better because of it. But don't become your own fandom. Leave the gushing and the anime art and articulated dollmaking to your readers. If you wish to be a career author and not a dilettante, actively choose to finish your project. You don't have time to be sidetracked into non-productive projects at the sacrifice of your work.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Happy 12th Birthday, The Wild Rose Press!

Happy Birthday to my publisher, The Wild Rose Press.

It's their birthday, but they're giving away the presents. Enter the Rafflecopter to win a Kindle plus free books.

Her Grace is glad to be a Rose.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

No A to Z?

Now I know how Chuck Norris feels.
As You Know, Bob, I've participate in the A to Z Challenge for several years.

However, I'm not doing it this year due to time constraints. Notice how I haven't posted to the blog in yonks? That's because I've been working full time, plus parenting teenagers, plus teaching a morning class, plus my own Astro studies, plus getting three novels ready for publication this year, and Guilder to frame for it. I'm swamped.

While A to Z has been marvelous in the past for drawing in new readers, I simply don't have the time this year to devote.

This is a shame, for several months ago I started sketching ideas. I was going to do Astronomy again, and had come up with some spiffy ideas, some of which I might have lost during the death of a computer. Dunno. Haven't had time to go see what happened to certain minutiae.

Maybe next year. Or maybe at some random, non-April time, when I feel the itch to wax eloquent about the heavens above.

Meanwhile, feel free to ignore my blog until I have the time to be interesting once more.

Or go download the audiobook version of "A Lady of Many Charms and Other Stories".  I hear the narrator did a good job.  Google Play |

Her Grace doesn't have the time to give a flying foxtrot.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Back to School

In Australia, the school year begins in February (or late-late January). I'm not worried about my daughters as they're old hands at this. It feels like they've been going to school their whole lives.

Instead, I'm reminiscing on my eldest daughter's first day at high school.

She got into a excellent specialist school about an hour's train ride away. I think I was more nervous than she was! I went to school in a foreign country where I walked to school every day. And here I was tossing my firstborn onto the public transport system to send her off in the wide, wily world.

She was gonna be doing this every day. Without her momma.

Okay, that first day I went with her. Being the organised creature I was, I immediately spotted any other student with the same uniform she had.... granted, this wasn't until the half-way transfer. Our train was woefully short of her fellow schoolies, but there were plenty of other students going to other schools. (Perth is very much a commuter town, with lots of students going to specialist or private schools well outside their suburb. This pleases my meritocratic soul.)

Yes, my baby had to make a transfer from one train to the other. By herself. Every day.

Except for today, as I was going with her. Fortunately, the train we hopped to was the school special. It serviced four schools along its route, dropping off the Apples, the Mellies and so on, as they came to their schools.

This bus was crammed with plenty of students for my daughter's school, along with their parents doing the same thing as me.

Best thing to do: network with these other students, as chances are they'd be commuting every day together. Not that I'd have to worry. I learn from a few people that during the commute, the students all watched each other's backs. Also, the trains had extra guards to protect the students as they travelled.

When we got to school, I dropped of my diminutive daughter and asked her if she wanted me to pick her up after school and ride the trains home with her.

"No, I've got this."

And later that day, when I picked her up from the train station, I discovered that she did.

Her Grace is gonna enjoy the First Day of School sendoff, as there's not many of them left.