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...

...wine 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...