Wednesday, 19 September 2018

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 19

Pride cometh before a fall?

Chapter 19: Mor-Lath lay imbedded in the dust of the road, several rocks pressing painfully into his back.

Yeah, sometimes one can get the better of a god, especially if he deserves it.

But only once.


Veering off the path: my daughters likes to aid and abet my corruption as an author. Sometimes she'll send me story ideas that get stuck in my head and won't go away.

One recent one is the quest tale of a man who returns from war with a neighbouring Greek state only to find his wife several months' pregnant... by Zeus. Boy, is he angry! So he sets off to find Zeus with the intention of punching Him in the face. Along the way, he comes across several others who were wronged by this god who can't keep His chiton down. By the time he reaches Mount Olympus, he's in the company of grudgeful half-men/half-beasts, spurned demi-god heroes, and one crotchety old woman who we suspect might be Hera in disguise.

P.S.: Arr, me hearties! Only three weeks left until yon book be available! Hie yer ugly swabs to Ye Olde Book Shoppe and plundar yer pre-order today.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 18

"What's that noise?"
"What noise?"

Chapter 18: Down in the village, Adrastea shuddered at the uncommon silence.

Take some time to close your eyes and listen to all the sounds around you. When the world is at a good status quo, there are certain noises that happen about you. For example, the sound of birds outside.

But when something changes, or danger lurks, the world tends to go silent as they wait for..?

When everything stop talking, it's a good idea to stop and listen as well.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 17

Sick of being blamed for the same-old same-old?

Chapter 17: His actions surprised Adrastea.

You'd think she'd be used to Mor-Lath by now. Yet sometimes he does things that she doesn't expect. 

Like throw her over his shoulder and carry her off for [spoilers].

His action baffles her (as well as enrages her), as she has no idea why she's being abducted in this rather undignified manner. He has his reasons, and he needed to make a point, not just to her, but to the others watching. 

Does he get his point across?

Monday, 10 September 2018

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 16

Sometimes one received surprising news.

Chapter 16: "What?!" Carles shouted.

We've all heard something that turned our lives upside down. We learned a fact about someone we never expected. We receive an email or a phone call with unwelcome  news--the death of a friend, a marriage, a dream. It doesn't have to be something drastic like a Stage-Four Cancer diagnosis. It can be something like not getting  a job you really wanted, or learning your best friend is moving away.

Suddenly this big change thrusts itself into your life and whether you like it or not, you have to deal with it. Few of us have the space or the energy to take this mighty change in stride. How do we cope? What do we free up to allow us the resources to deal with this?  What impact will it have?

As war threatens the country, refugees flee to Sacred Spring--a village that's already got trouble enough on its own without needing the problems of others. So what happens when Carles Priest from Crossroads shows up in Sacred Spring with a whole lotta problems to dump on Natan Mayor? Sacred Spring shares its own problems with Carles. He's just been handed a bucket of WTF.

Interesting that this post is on 10 Sept.  In 2001, I learned on 10 September that I was pregnant.  Now, I'd been pregnant before, but always lost my babies. This news for me, on this day, was one of both dread and joy. Yay, I was pregnant. But would it be a keeper?

The next day a friend calls us on the phone. "You watching TV?"  No.  "Turn on the TV."  Why?  "Just turn it on."

So we did.  And so did the rest of the world.

Her Grace thinks she might be one of the very few people who remembers 10 Sept 2001.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

What is the deal with Pumpkin Spice Lattes?

As the revolution of the Earth starts pointing the Northern Hemisphere away from the Sun, Americans start talking about something called Pumpkin Spice Lattes (and their variants). As I am Australian and Mormon, could somebody please explain to me what this is? I admit bemusement, especially as sooo many of you seem annually addicted to it.

Now, I know what pumpkin pie is, having lived in the States for some time, but I left long before lattes became A Thing, ne'ermind pumpkin spice lattes, or even before Starbucks reached Utah. (I find it ironic that the HQ for Starbucks in Seattle is located on a street called "Utah Avenue".)

So... my best guess is that it's a pumpkin-flavoured (?!) milky coffee with a combination of spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves as one might use in a pumpkin pie.  Now, spiced coffee has been around for a Very Long Time, and Chai tea for the same amount of time. I'm just wondering who thought, "Hey, let's throw some pumpkin into our coffee and see who'll drink it."

I have had spiced pumpkin-flavoured milkshakes in Utah several decades ago, so a pumpkin-flavoured drinks isn't a new idea, but pumpkin-flavoured coffee?


Now, if it isn't pumpkin flavoured, why is it called "pumpkin spice latte"?  Why not just call it a spice latte?

Much 'splaining to be had, pleeze?

Australians don't do the pumpkin spice latte thing, either because it's not culturally connected, or they consider it a ridiculous idea, or they call it by a completely different name.  Also, there are no Starbucks in Western Australia. 

Friday, 7 September 2018

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 15

When you're used to living alone, if your housemate situation changes, so can your sleep schedule.

Chapter 15: Natan woke early because Mikal woke early.

Normally, I'm a 5am kind of gal for Reasons. But on the weekends, I love to have me a snooze.

Unfortunately, my cat does not understand the concept of 'weekend sleep-in'.

Natan Mayor, despite his best to turn off his mayoral brain, is extra-sensitive to the changes in his world. When his early-rising nephew Mikal stays with him, he can't help but respond to the changes in his world, even if it means no more sleeping in.

Meh. Rest is for the wicked.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 14

JMCollins needs a cup of coffee.
No such thing as a secret in a small town.

Chapter 14: Sheelagh was true to her word; she kept away from Marta and said nothing about their spat.

When one lives in a small-ish community, when one person's life gets disrupted it can ripple through everyone.

For her own reasons, Sheelagh is rather pro-Adrastea. Marta, because of Adrastea's mother, sits on the other side of the fence. Any wonder that their opinions would soon collide? Significant events in both women's lives came about directly because of Adrastea's secret.

Sharp words were exchanged, but nobody had ever expected it to come to blows.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Cover Reveal: God of the Dark

Several ideas were considered for the cover.  I rejected the idea of stock photos of random Fantasy chicks, because everyone does that. I considered an illustration, but again, that's what everyone does. Instead, I took inspiration from Grecian urns with their umber backgrounds and nearly B&W art. Grecian urns often depicted stories and legends.

This one looked nice: I handed it over to my graphic artist and turned her loose in Photoshop.

Finally! I've got the cover for God of the Dark.

This is the print edition cover, with front and back. I love how the quakie leaves wrap around the spine.

Book up for pre-order on the following platforms:

Amazon | KoboBooks | Barnes & NobleSmashwords | Books2Read

and pretty much anywhere good ebooks are sold.

Otherwise, once the book is out in October, you can request it at your local library. (I encourage this, even if you acquire your own copy.)

Her Grace wrote this series for readers to enjoy. Help share the love.

Friday, 31 August 2018

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 13

Other people's problems: sometimes you've gotta chuck it in the f*ckit bucket.

Chapter 13: Natan left his personal self back at Ari's. He hoped he'd return soon to pick it up.

It's one thing to be Uncle Natan. It's another to be Natan Mayor.

Natan manages to keep his sanity by neatly separating the aspects of his two lives. He knows how serving family and serving community can be at odds.  He also knows that if he takes the worries of Sacred Spring too personally, they will eat him like a toddler eating free-range cake.

One of the tricks Natan has to relieve the burden is to place his worries in a little worry box next to his bed. One by one he'll dump them in there, if only to let him get some sleep. Yes, he has to open the sucker up first thing in the morning, but until then, he likes to have his nights worry-free.

Natan's compartmentalisation is probably his best coping tool for his job.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 12

Preliminary sketch for cover art.
Where does your fiancee take you on a date?

Chapter 12: In darkness, Adrastea's bare feet touched down on cold stone.

Mor-Lath's not really a dinner-anna-movie kind of guy. Nor is he always the kind of date who'll knock on the front door.

When he takes Adrastea out to pitch some woo, he likes to take her somewhere she's never been before.

And he has a good reason.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 11

Home is where the warmth is.
Where is the place you call home?

Chapter 11: Adrastea sat at Ari's kitchen table, a coal oil lamp the only light provided.

Adrastea, now a journeyman healer, had been Ari Healer's apprentice for many years. She'd spent more time with Ari than she did with her Mother Lillybet, especially during her adolescent years.

For those times when Adrastea can't turn to her mother, she had Ari, the woman who practically raised her.

Ari offers Adrastea a kind of stability. When Ari forms an opinion, she tends to hold onto it. When Ari's opinions align with Adrastea's goals, naturally Adrastea turns to her, knowing that Ari will have her back.

Well, most of the time. Ari's got her own issues as well.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 10

If it's the mayor's job to sort out Sacred Spring, whose job is it to sort out the mayor?

Chapter 10: Ari sat at Natan's table, close to his tiny stove.

Once upon a time a young Ari Healerprentice fell in love with a young Natan Weaverson. She had plans for this kind young man who'd caught her eye and her heart. She wanted to marry him, someday.

Imagine her heartbreak when he was offered an apprenticeship to the Mayor.

Mayors don't marry.

When this kind of thing happens, a young woman has three options:

  1. Give up on the love of your life.
  2. Break convention and marry him anyway, even if it means he can no longer be a mayorprentice.
  3.  ...

Ari made choice number three. A tiny corner of her heart regrets it, but not as much as it would have, had she made a different choice.

Her Grace wants to wish Richard Armitage a happy birthday. He would be offered first right of refusal for the role of Mor-Lath in a movie/tv adaption.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Science: Us Figuring Out the World

Hello random Internet user,

Chances are you are here because you read Natasha Hurley-Walker's excellent article "What is Space Made of? It's Complicated..."  It's really good, and not just because of my very simple explanation of the Periodic Table of the Elements for Astronomers.  (And here I was thinking you were here for my books.)

Anyhoo, astronomers really do classify the elements of the universe as Hydrogen, Helium and metals.  Everything that isn't H or He is called a 'metal'.  For those into etymology, this is rather ironic, as the word metal comes from the ancient Greek word m├ętallon, which means mine or quarry, suggesting that metals were something that were found, not made, like wood or wool or fire. In Astronomy, H and He are 'found', whereas metals were made by stars, in one way or another.

Various elements do have certain significance to astronomers for one reason or another.

The  CNO Cycle  is a fun one, and the Lithium Problem is another. The first goes to show us how much we know about the Universe, while the second shows us how little we know.

Probably our most interesting use of the metals in astronomy is through the observation of spectral lines.  Astronomy is almost purely an observational science, with very, very little hands-on experience. Pretty much everything we know about the universe has come because the information came to us, usually in the form of variances in the EM spectrum. As energy moves through the universe, the universe acts upon it, either by bending it, dilating it, or absorbing/re-emitting it.

Matter in the universe tends to absorb or emit at certain frequencies. If we find spectral lines that we know match up with certain elements, then we know that element is present.

Each and every elements does have a particular significance, and we're quite grateful for that mere 1-2% of non-hydrogen and non-helium in existence, which allows us to learn so much about our universe.

But yeah, ask an astronomer about the periodic table of the elements, and they're all, Hydrogen, Helium, and.... everything else.

The spectrum of the Sun, showing absorption lines, demonstrating its metallicity.
The Sun is a Population I star, meaning it's rather metallic, aka, it's full of dirt.

More into astronomy and not so much into Romance novels? I have posted astronomy posts, including an A to Z series about Astronomy.  Go ahead and read those.  Otherwise, go read my novels. I've got three more out in October.

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 9

What to do when the buck stops at you?

Chapter 9: Natan sighed as he left Lillybet's house.

Poor Natan Mayor. It's his job to keep Sacred Spring together. The last thing he needs is to have to deal with family as well.  Traditionally, mayors do not marry. Their lives are dedicated to serving their village. A family would only be a distraction.

But what about the drama of a family into which you were born?  Both Natan Mayor and Lillybet Weaver's parents are dead (as is Lillybet's husband). For the longest time their family had consisted of brother and sister.

Now that Adrastea has picked up an unwanted suitor, Natan is torn between doing what's best for his niece, and doing what's best for Sacred Spring. What might happen if those two goals do not align?

Thursday, 16 August 2018

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 8

Sometimes change can be difficult.

Chapter 8: Mikal still felt like one of the Innkeepers' brood.

Mikal, Adrastea's younger brother, had been fostered out as an infant to the only other breastfeeding mother in Sacred Spring, Marta Innkeeper.

Marta and Lillybet never got along, so there's a whole lotta bad blood there. It wasn't so much the fact that Mikal was fostered out that bothers Lilly so, as much as it is that it was Marta to whom he went. This caused a good decade of drama.

But now that change has come to the village, stirring up dusty old ways, Lillybet's thought process has shifted about, and she finally comes up with a plan for her son.

Sometimes drama has its uses for obfuscating what's really going on behind the scenes.

Monday, 13 August 2018

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 7

There are two ways of learning things: the easy way and the hard way.

Chapter 7: Adrastea had learned caution.

Sometimes one can grow complacent. This does not always serve one well when the unexpected rises up. The habits and trust of a sleepy village can be a detriment when a stranger comes to town.

If someone knocks on your door, sometimes it's best to call out, "Who is it?" before opening the door.

Friday, 10 August 2018

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 6

Not everyone reacts the same way to the same news.

Chapter 6: Adrastea looked at her mother, whose hazel eyes burned with a desire to know.

Tell five different people the same news and they'll react five different ways. Just because you might consider something horrific doesn't mean someone else might not express morbid curiosity.

Everyone's world view is different, even people who were raised in the same village. Adrastea's shared her dilemma with the four people closest to her. Each one reacted differently, and each have offered their version of advice, some of it possibly contrary.  The one thing they are united on is that they must stand together against Mor-Lath. 

The whys behind their unity are not the same.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 5

WikiHow can teach you how to sneak out.
When bad things happen, one does not usually broadcast the fact.

Chapter 5: Mira slipped out of Ari's house as quietly as she could, into the back garden.

Being a story, bad things happen and they're getting worse. While it is a good idea to enlist the help of a few trusted souls when one's life goes snafu, it is a bad idea to broadcast your problems willy-nilly. Your business is not everyone's business, nor should it be. There's just some things that certain people don't need to know. Adrastea trusted Mira the village priestess with her secret, knowing that Mira would keep it safe. After all, this knowledge in the wrong hands could be very dangerous.

Sometimes a secret can be an additional burden for the person to whom it is delivered. I wonder if this is why some people can't keep secrets; the burden is too great for them to bear alone.

For Mira, she considers the nature of the secret and ponders its significance. Being the spiritual and moral leader of the village of Sacred Spring, it is up to her to be knowledgeable about the ways of the Light. Only now does she consider that maybe she needs to be more knowledgeable of the ways of the Dark, especially if she is going to stand up to the Dark God.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 4

By Taleides as potter (signed), Taleides Painter -
Marie-Lan Nguyen (2011), CC BY 2.5
Like the Greek nymph Adrasteia, one can care for a child, even if that child is not of one's body.

Chapter 4: Adrastea sat alone at Ari's dinnertable, her bowl of food before her untouched.

In the village of Sacred Spring, where Adrastea lives, fostering children is a common practice. In their part of the world spring sickness often sweeps through. In some years many people die, often leaving children orphaned. They are taken up by other families and treated as their own. Fostering isn't only for the orphaned. If a parent finds themselves incapable of caring for their offspring, for whatever reason, that child can be handed over to a trusted friend or family member to care for them until the parent is able to resume their duties.

Lillybet had a tragedy in her life that required the handing over of her children to someone else. Adrastea went to Ari, as Ari had already offered to take Adrastea as an apprentice later. Adrastea's brother Mikal went somewhere else.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 3

What do you do when things go bad? You run to your momma.
Adrastea, moon of Jupiter,
and the first Adrastea I fell in love with.

Chapter 3: It was easy for Lillybet to keep the secret.

No one should have to face tragedy alone. After Adrastea received one of the biggest shocks of her life, she seeks out the nearest safe haven: her mother Lillybet's house.

Lilly's no stranger to hard times. Who better to listen to Adrastea, support her, and give her comfort than her experienced mother? Lillybet has learned the hard way that what a person needs during hard times is love and unconditional support. This she gives to her daughter.

In Greek Mythology, Adrasteia was the foster mother of Jupiter. Rhea had charged the nymph Adrasteia to watch over her infant son and protect him from Cronus, who had a habit of eating his children.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 2

Wonder Woman comics had a
minor character named Adrastea.
Novels tend to start with an inciting incident. Adrastea just had hers.

Chapter 2 What did he say? Adrastea shivered.

Sometimes in life we hear some unexpected news, usually bad: the loss of a pregnancy, the failure of a life-changing application, the death of a friend. When we hear this, often our brains freeze. They were not prepared to cope with this information. Everything comes to a standstill while the brain rearranges itself to process and understand this news we just heard. Sometimes our world views get rewritten.

Adrastea just had a significant basis of her theological beliefs shaken. Of course her brain would freeze up.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

First Sentences: God of the Dark Chapter 1

To lead up to the release of God of the Dark, I am posting the first sentences of each chapter, with a little bit of insight.

Chapter 1:  Adrastea descended into the dark.

It took me years before I could come up with a first line to Chapter One that I liked. When I first started writing Of The Dark waay back when, I focused mostly on the adventure of the storyline. Later, as I matured as an author, I started playing with themes. The most blatant one is the question about what it means to be Dark. While I like my metaphors to be more subtle than this, I couldn't resist peppering the opening scene with a few of them. (I also like the opening of the first scene because it satisfies the Bechdel-Wallace test.)

Here we have Our Heroine literally descending into a dark cellar to investigate something. She can't take an incendiary light source, due to the nature of the problem she's investigating. Instead, she must rely on other senses.

Darkness has a way of obscuring or hiding things.  Darkness can also be seen as an absence or a vacuum, one that sometimes begs to be filled. In this first scene, she literally descends into a dark cellar and then must find a way to thwart the darkness and allow herself to solve the problem she came to solve. By the end of chapter one, she is confronted with Darkness itself and is thrust into a situation with a difficult choice.

Often we are faced with choices that seem difficult not because they are morally ambiguous--they may be quite blatant in right or wrong--but because of what we must endure to stand by our choices.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Best friends

Once upon a time I had a best friend by the name of Julie Spencer. I loved her very much. She was pretty and unselfconscious and interesting and creative and not afraid of the world (for she was wise in its ways), or what anyone thought of her. We both had younger sisters named Emily. Her father Richard was a doctor. She was blonde with peaches 'n'cream skin. She lived only a few streets away. We had so much fun together.

You know how you meet that One Person in your life that makes you feel complete?  That's how I felt about her. We were going to have so much fun for the rest of our lives!

Alas, in the Second Grade, Julie Spencer moved away. I often daydreamed that they'd move back and I'd see her again, but it never happened.

Decades later, with the advent of the Internet, I tried finding her again, but with little more than just a name to go on (and a rather popular one at that), I had no luck.

So if you ever come across Julie Spencer, possibly from Cottonwood in Utah, please let her know I am looking for her. After all, if I still miss her forty years later, she must have been some kind of wonderful and I would like to see her again.

Her Grace will see if she has a picture. 

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Fencing and Trophies

TASE Day today, because my life is full of interesting things.

His Grace is a world-class fencer specialising in the sabre. As such, his sport takes him all around Australia, and occasionally overseas to international competitions.

His Grace (foreground) celebrates scoring a point during Commonwealth Veterans competition.

Every once in a while he'll win a competition, coming home with medals and trophies in the form of... bottles?

A rather on-theme trophy from five years ago.
Yep, one particular competition is rather proud of the wine produced in its region. Therefore, they give it out as prizes to the winners. (And why not? If you're a drinking culture who enjoys a cultured drink, wine would be an ideal prize.)

Only thing, we don't drink alcohol. It's not a part of Our Graces' culture.

So His Grace, being a proficient sabreur, regularly comes home with these trophies shaped like wine bottles, weighed down with some sort of liquid (I'm told it's a fermented sort of grape juice).

Being non-drinkers, nor promoters of drinking, we are at a loss. While it would be nice to give these away as gifts, it's hard to give away a trophy His Grace worked so hard to earn. (It's rather gauche to give a bottle of wine to someone on the condition they give the empty back.)

We could display them, but as few others recognise these as trophies, we don't want to give the wrong impression that we are wine-bibbers.

So for now, our extensive collection of fencing trophies hides away in the top of a closet until we can figure out what to do with them.

Not sure if this is a crime or not.

Her Grace considers the possibility of beouf bourgignone or coc-au-vin as another potential. Also, does wine expire or have a best-before date? This Mormon has no idea.

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.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Annual Guilt Post

Currently I'm in my publisher's chat room where they're discussing blogging. Regularity is one of the desirable qualities of a blog.

Guilt monkey lizard.

I'm so guilty of dropping the ball on that one. I used to be a 3x/week kind of gal, with semi-topics (like Tuesday's Tale and Interview Friday), then I wasn't (and I know why; see below).

When I post regularly (like, for A to Z Challenge or something), I get lots of readers. When I slack off, or ramble about myself, the readership drops.

Second desirable quality: be interesting. I aim for this, but sometimes I'm dull, especially when talking about myself. Rambling on about a topic, like Astronomy, tends to be more interesting to readers. I love doing a limited series on a topic. (I should do more of those. I'm open to topic suggestions.)

Now, while this blog is mostly about a Romance author (me), there is more to me than just Romance books. Besides, others are doing a very good job of single-topic blogging better than I do. I don't know if I could maintain a single topic (like, Romance, or Astronomy), and keep up a frequency without becoming bored, or having it infringe on my production time.

Frequency.  I read blogs that vary from several times a day, to once a week, to a little less often. I have an RSS aggregate that I've subscribed to so I can catch the sporadic posts.  Me, I'd love to be predictably frequent, but my life patterns don't run like that.

I used to be a regular poster, staying somewhat on-topic, then I decided to do a Blog Challenge that required I blog every day.

That burned me out. Sorry, I simply can't do that. Even when I was bingeing and scheduling, every day was too frequent. I had better things to do like write novels and study stars and make a quilt.

(That said, I've started collecting post ideas for my next A to Z Challenge. If I take my time putting something together, I can auto-load it all and avoid burnout.)

What is the purpose of your blog?  When I trawl through the A to Z Challenge roll call, I find lots of really dull blogs. Why are they dull? Sometimes it's the subject, other times it's that the blogger can't make it interesting. The dullest ones are those where people are talking about themselves in a self-focused kind of way. The me-ME-me-ness would turn off even their mother.

The best blogs are those that post about something that interests them, especially in a way where they lose themselves in the moment of why the topic fascinates them so. (Yes, I'm posting more Astronomy. Yes, I'm going hard-core, but in a friendly sort of way.)

Meanwhile, does this whole post mean I'm going to be blogging more regularly?

Honestly?  I don't know. I can't say for sure until February, when the Australian Holiday Month of January is over, and we all get back to our regular lives.

Things I'm doing that I could blog about:
  • Astronomy (especially during the semester when I'm studying)
  • Writing (but only in a way that's interesting to you)
    • Upcoming projects
    • Writer's life
    • Tuesday's Tales
  • Cat Fostering
  • Gardening/Recipes/etc
  • Audiobooks (from the production side of things)
  • TASE Day (this is always my favourite)

Her Grace is busiest in RL when she's quiet online.