Clarissa Johal: November 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

STRUCK-1-Year Anniversary Blog Tour

STRUCK is looking for Blog Tour Hosts!

January 2015 marks the one-year anniversary for my paranormal gothic horror STRUCK.

Sapphyria's Book Reviews is hosting my blog tour.
If you're interested, please follow THIS LINK


The shadows hadn't been waiting.
The shadows had been invited.

After a painful breakup, Gwynneth Reese moves in with her best friend and takes a job at a retirement home. She grows especially close to one resident, who dies alone the night of a terrific storm. 
On the way home from paying her last respects, Gwynneth is caught in another storm and is struck by lightning. She wakes in the hospital with a vague memory of being rescued by a mysterious stranger. Following her release from the hospital, the stranger visits her at will and offers Gwynneth a gift--one that will stay the hands of death. Gwynneth is uncertain whether Julian is a savior or something more sinister... for as he shares more and more of this gift, his price becomes more and more deadly.

Reviews 

Lovely Reads "This book grabs you in right away and hold your attention...I so loved this book and didn't put it down until the very end."

Straight from the Library "The characters are well drawn and likable....The action is fast paced-- I read the book in one sitting "

Bex'n'Books "This is a spooky thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. You won't be able to put it down because you must finish it to see what happens, even if it keeps you up late at night to do so."

Bibliophilic Book Blog "STRUCK will get beneath your skin from the very beginning. Gwen’s a likable character with a difficult past and tenuous future after meeting Julian. I liked the secondary characters, especially Fenten and Poppy. The characters were definitely all well-developed and engaging."

Friday, November 28, 2014

Frightening Friday-10 Facts About Black Friday

Black Friday. Words that strike terror into any sane person's heart. Aside from the ridiculousness of giving thanks one day and then overdosing in materialism the next, Black Friday has a reputation of being downright dangerous for shoppers.

Retailers traditionally operate at a financial loss or "in the red" from January through November. Black Friday indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or  operate "in the black."

Here are 10 interesting facts about Black Friday.

1) It is estimated that 55% of Americans plan to skip the crowds on Black Friday and spend it at home.

2) Many Black Friday shoppers confess to shopping on very little sleep (36%), or under the influence of alcohol (12%). It that's not a good reason to stay off the roads, I don't know what is.

3) More "deals" are found online than in the stores.

4) Many products advertised as deep-discounts on Black Friday are “derivative products” — items that are similar to the standard model, but made with cheaper components and may not have the same features.

5) Some products during the last few days of the holiday shopping season sell for 10-15% less than they do on Black Friday

6) Many Black Friday doorbusters are either matched or beaten later in the season.

7) In the past several years, retailers have been caught jacking up prices before Black Friday, then lowering them with supposed "discounts" that leave the price higher than it was before.

8) Black Friday also gave birth to "Buy Nothing Day" by social activists against consumerism. It was promoted by Canadian magazine Adbusters to mark a day to examine the issue of over-consumption. When they tried to spread the trend in America, Adbusters was denied advertising time by all television networks except CNN. 

9) Up to 70% of in-store Black Friday deals are also available online for the same price or less.

10) Amazon will price match even the hottest in-store offers from retailers like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart.

Enjoy your day — however you plan to "spend" it. 


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday-#Photography and How Not to Steal

As some of you may know, I'm an amateur photographer.


I take pretty pictures like "Seraph"



Surreal photos like "Masques"
   



Creepy photos like "Body Snatcher"




...and don't forget my Victor series.

"Rules are for Chumps" is my favorite-Victor gets out of hand sometimes.





But I suck at taking pictures of food which is why I sometimes borrow public domain photos for my blog. I'll always cite the photographer in this case.

If you're using a photo in your blog or elsewhere, make sure you have permission to do so. The photographer can sue you for stealing. Photography is an art and you want to give credit where it's due. I would love to see more people on Pinterest cite the photographer when they "pin" a photo. It takes but a moment to check a link or drop the image in TinEye and figure out where it's from.

If you don't know where to get photos you can usetry these Public Domain Image sites. They're my go to's if I need a food photo or don't have time to take my own. In all cases, please cite the photographer!

Morguefile
Flickr  *Use the drop down License menu to select Creative Commons Only option.

I have a photography portfolio on deviantART if you want to check it out.
Join me on Facebook too. I post a lot of my silly photos there.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

#Paranormal Wednesday-Giving

Today's post isn't paranormal in nature, at least not the way you're thinking. But technically, it is. One definition of paranormal is, "out of the realm of normal" which means this applies.

My daughter's high school requires students to volunteer 20 hours per year towards an organization or project of their choice. We've just learned thishalf-way into the school year. And yes, it's because I haven't quite gotten my, "I have a child teenager in high school" sh%t together. But I'm all about philanthropy. The fact that the time commitment (which isn't much) caught me off-guard forced me to do some soul searching. Are my kids aware of community needs? (and) We volunteer from time-to-time, but do we need to make more of an effort?

Sort of, and yes.

So, we're starting a new tradition in my household. Each month, we're going to volunteer for something. We'll rotate who gets to choose what. It sounds easy but in the teen world of, "I'm too busy" it may be a bigger challenge than I anticipate.  But I want to make the effort. I want to raise my children teens to look beyond themselveswhich means I lead by example. It should be an eye-opening year.

Have a great holiday weekend everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tangled Tuesday-12-year-old Guest Poet: O. Johal

I'm going to share with you a poem written by my 12-year-old daughter. She's a gifted poet. Get ready, I expect she'll be outshining me very soon.


Ice-Kissed

Of swaying branches and saffron leaves
Heed, the faintest blow of winter’s breath
Hear, the final nocturne of sun-bleached days
A hum, “Far, the warmth blows away”

The sight of frozen gossamer breath
The faintest feel of cold winter’s kisses
Cracking lips and sandpaper skin
Hanging in the air, “Far, the warmth blows away”

Presence of summer creatures, gone
A promise that waits,
“We will be back, but now we sleep”
Lorn, in the growing frore

Now, of blackened wood and bleached sky
Pin-tipped branches and powdered ground
A colorblind world, cold beauty

No songs to hear, only promises to retain

© O. Johal

  

Monday, November 24, 2014

#MeatlessMonday-Broccoli Sliders with Alfredo Sauce

Photo courtesy of miikkahoo via flickr
Broccoli Sliders

Ingredients

2 cups steamed broccoli
2 eggs
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper (or to taste)
Oil for pan frying

Directions

Combine in food processor: steamed broccoli, egg, salt, panko bread crumbs, pumpkin seeds, feta cheese and salt/pepper.
Blend just till chopped finely.
Using 1 heaping tablespoon at a time, form into balls.
Heat oil in a skillet. Drop balls of broccoli mixture into pan. Flatten with a spatula and cook until both sides are crispy.
Serve plain or on a slider bun with Alfredo sauce.


Alfredo Sauce

2 cups light cream
1 T butter
1 tsp garlic
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
4 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon pepper

Whisk egg yolks until lightened in color. Set aside.
In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together butter, garlic and cream, Bring to a simmer, 
Whisk in Parmesan cheese. Remove from heat. Add small amount of cheese mixture into egg yolks and combine. 
Pour egg mixture back into saucepan. Over low heat, whisk until well combined. Add salt and lemon pepper. 
Remove from heat. Alfredo sauce will thicken as it cools.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday-Noise

I'm one of those people who needs absolute silence to write. I can't have anyone if the house either--I find their energy distracting. The other day, I was trying to pull up what a golden bell would sound like (research for The Island) and came across this.



Oddly, I ended up listening to it for the rest of my writing day. Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

#Paranormal Wednesday-The Ghost in My Machine

My car is possessed by a ghost. Laugh if you will, but it's true. It all started one evening while I was chit-chatting with a friend and lingering over good-byes after coffee. As many times as I unlocked the door to leave, the door would lock itself again. This happened over and over until I finally gave up. I manually unlocked the door, got in and drove away--only to have the door lock itself again. 

The other night, I was parked near the woods and got spooked by a noise. I hurried to my car and tried not to trip over my own feet in the dark. My interior lights turned on even before I pulled my key out. How thoughtful.

My CD player clock numbers have completely faded on my side of the read-out. Consequently, it's usually :13 o'clock or :26 o'clock, which can be a bit confusing. My husband tried to replace the built-in clock with a portable one--only to have it stop working within a week. My ghost evidently doesn't like to be kept on a schedule.

There are times the readout on my dash will brighten to a glare, but that tends to happen only when I'm singing. I guess the ghost doesn't like my singing. Everybody's a critic.

Sometimes, I feel like I'm not alone in my car. The feeling will be so intense, I'll have to pull over and check the back seat and trunk. It's kind of stupid but...  There have also been times when I'll feel a kick and the sensation of someone's foot running up and down the back of my seat.

None of the electrical issues are consistent or I would have them checked out at the dealership. It depends on my ghost's mood and the situation. So for now, I appease the ghost by not spending too much time on good-byes after a coffee date, not staying out after dark, not bothering with a schedule, and definitely not singing.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tangled Tuesday-And now....for something completely different

Photo courtesy of april-mo via flickr
Stuck in a rut? It happens. It's a great way to kill creative productivity. In most cases, the best solution is to take a break and walk away. That doesn't mean walk down the hall or around the block (although in some cases, that may work) but really--walk away. Try something different. Rattle your brain. Whatever it takes to climb from your personal rut and get your creative self flowing again. Here are some things to try. And don't just read through them and say, "I should do one of these" and not do it. Because I'll hunt you down.

1) Do something physical. Your brain can't be creative and spit out "stuff" if you're catatonic in your chair. Muscles need to move. If you're stuck in an office, buy a mini-trampoline and keep it in the corner for jumping breaks.

2) Play. Jump rope, do cartwheels, build a fort, blow bubbles--you know, all those fun things you used to do as a kid but don't now because you're a boring grown-up.

3) Visit a factory. See how something is made. Candy factories are awesome.

4) Learn something new. Take a tap-dancing class if you like noise, a fencing class if you like swords, or a painting class if you like art. It always makes me sad when I hear people say, "I've always wanted to..." but they haven't.

5) Stomp grapes at a vineyard. While you're there, take a winery tour and see how wine is made. Next time you buy a bottle, you'll truly appreciate the crafting that goes into it.

6) Build a bird or bat house. Hang it in your backyard or donate it to a local recreation center or garden.

7) Rent a paddle boat, house boat or kayak and take off for the day. Find a secluded spot and go skinny dipping.

8) Do you paint using watercolors? Buy some clay. Work with numbers all day long? Finger-paint a picture. Write romance? Try writing science fiction.

9) Plan and cook a meal using a one color palette. For example; a cheddar omelette with corn, butternut squash and saffron toast. End the meal with a lemon tart and an apricot screwdriver.

10) Juggle--it's okay if you drop them all!

11) Fly a kite

12) Take public transportation to some place random. Get lost and wander. It's okay, you will find your way home again.

13) Rent a Ferrari for the day. Go for a drive. Feel like a rock star.

I see you still sitting there. Don't make me come get you.

Monday, November 17, 2014

#MeatlessMonday-Tofurky and #Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy

Photo of a Tofurky in the wild courtesy of megabeth via flickr
Yeah, we're gonna go there.
The first time I saw the words 'Tofurky.' Even I, a 20+ year vegetarian, thought, "Oh hell, no." This Thanksgiving, I asked my daughters (who aren't vegetarians) what they wanted for Thanksgiving dinner. One decided on stuffed salmon and the other wants flounder. Add some rice and vegetables, and they're good. But since I don't eat fish, that leaves me out.

Now, I could do what I always do and go with soup. I'm not very traditional. But this Thanksgiving I have a lot to be thankful for and thought I'd dabble in the traditional thing. So, I'm gonna go there. I'm going to buy a Tofurky and give it a try. I'm not fond of the flavor of meat but we'll see how it goes. Maybe my daughters will give it a try and discover a new family favorite.

Here's a Tofurky recipe I found on The Farm Sanctuary's website. We sponsor a turkey there every year. I tweaked the ingredients to suit my tastes. If you give it a go, let me know what you think. If you're a gravy fan, you can try the vegetarian mushroom gravy (which is really good on french fries, by the way!). Enjoy!


Tofurky Roast

Ingredients:

1 thawed Tofurky roast, unwrapped
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Chinese chili paste with garlic
8 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Whisk together honey, soy sauce, vinegar, chili paste, garlic, cumin and pepper. Pour over the Tofurky, coating all surfaces.
2. Cover Tofurky and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
3. Drain the Tofurky and place on a rack in a large, shallow roasting pan. Save the marinade!
4. Roast in preheated oven 45 minutes, basting with marinade.
5. Allow the roast to rest for 10 minutes before serving. 

Easy Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy

Ingredients

6 T butter
2 T finely chopped onions
2 T finely chopped mushrooms
2 minced garlic cloves
3 T flour
2 T soy sauce
1 cup water
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp basil

Directions

1. Saute the onions, mushrooms and garlic with the butter.
3. Make a roux by gradually adding the flour. Make sure you continuously whisk to avoid lumps!
4. Still whisking, add soy sauce and water to the mixture.
5. Add salt and pepper and cook until it reaches the desired thickness.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Frightening Friday-Adventures in Hair Color

I've always been a do-it-yourself person when it comes to hair color. Yes, yes, I know that makes hair stylists everywhere cringe. Rant away. I have two teenage girls and can't afford to spend $80 every month to get my hair done.

Usually, I'm good at a quick root retouch with a non-permanent dye. No fuss, no muss; $7 and 20 minutes. But this time, I decided to do something different. I was feeling adventurous and kind of...red. I like red. I used to have red hair when I was very little and it darkened to brown. Dark red seemed like a nice choice.

I went to the store and took no less than a half hour to choose the perfect shade of red. But when I finally settled on the one, I was happy with my choice.


< I bought this

After mixing A with B, the dye was the color of an orange Creamsicle. Gee, that wasn't alarming at all. I saturated my hair and waited in breathless anticipation-praying to the color Goddesses that the finished result wouldn't be some sick chemist's joke. The color once it was done?

Screaming red.


Kind of like this >

Which would have been fine--except it only took at the roots. About 2 inches of roots. Yay me.
I looked it up. My "oops" had a technical term--hot roots--which is exactly what it looked like.

I played around with bright hair color in the 80's when I had a mohawk. Green, pink, purple, bright red, I did them all. Cool when you're a 20-something college student, not so much now. But, it is what it is, and I take things as they come. My thoughts after I blow dried my hair? Yeah sure, I can rock this.

That afternoon, I went out shopping with my daughters. While one of them was trying on some clothes, I caught my reflection in the store mirror.

Oh, hell no.

The next day I bought a semi-permanent dye. Loreal "Healthy Look" in Dark Brown. I figured it would mellow out the red--kind of like mixing paint, you know? I held my breath for 20 minutes...and yes, it worked. It's about the color of the first photo now. Eventually, after 28 shampoos (so says the box) it will wash out.
But for now, it is what it is.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday-Totems

Last May, I took a trip to Canada. In addition to uninterrupted hours of writing, I was able to do some sightseeing and reconnect. I grew up around First Nations totem art. I love the anthropomorphic faces and the complexity. Totem poles of the Northwest Coast are probably the most recognizable artifact of the culture.

The poles are usually carved from red cedar and complex in design. They were never used as objects of worship or to "ward" off evil spirits. They tell a story, revealed only if one knows the meaning assigned to various animals, fish, birds and designs and where they are placed on the pole.

This is storytelling at its finest; no written words where the "reader" has free reign to elaborate.

Some Animal Symbols 
(meaning varies according to tribe)

Killer Whale - Representing strength and bravery. The mythology of the killer whale states they will bring food and assistance to those in need.
Beaver - Creative, artistic and determined.
Raven - The trickster. Curious and mischievous.
Sea Turtle - Representative of Mother Earth.
Thunderbird - Manifests thunder while beating its wings and lightening by blinking it's eyes.
Eagle - Intelligent and resourceful. He rules the sky and is able to transform himself into a human.
Wolf - Very powerful with the ability to help people that are sick or in need. Represents strong family bonds.
Bear - Strength, a teacher and motherhood. It is believed that the bear taught the people how to hunt and pick berries.
Dogfish - Persistence and strength.
Moon - Protector and guardian at night.
Seal - Bright, inquisitive.
Dragonfly - Ever-changing life.
Frog - Known for bringing wealth.
Otter - A symbol of laughter, curiosity, grace, mischievousness and empathy.
Salmon - Instinct, persistence, and determination.
Owl - Symbolizes the souls of the departed.


Colors 
(meaning varies according to tribe)

White: Symbolizes the skies and the spacious heavens. Also purity, peace and death.
Red: Symbolizes blood, war or valor. Sometimes, it is used purely as it appears in nature.
Blue: Symbolizes oceans, rivers, lakes and the sky. It stands for sincerity and happiness.
Yellow: Symbolizes the sun, light and happiness.
Green: Represents the earth, the hills, trees, and mountains.
Purple: Used to represent mountains in the distance.
Black: Represents power.

Pole Types

Heraldic totems were carved with human or animal forms. They represented the clans standing, ancestry, rights and accomplishments.
House posts were located the center of longhouses to support the building. Similarly, some longhouses featured a house frontal pole, which would be located at the main entrance and often contained an opening for passage into the house.
Mortuary poles served as both a tomb and a headstone. They oftentimes contained the remains of the deceased in grave boxes at the top, Likewise, a memorial or commemorative pole was often created to honor an important deceased person. These poles carry a story of the deceased.
Legend Poles illustrate folklore or real life experiences.
Potlatch Poles commemorate a festival or event.
Shame poles were less common but served to ridicule neighboring tribes or those who have unpaid debts. Recently, they have been used as a form of protest against the loss of Aboriginal territory or for other political grievances.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

#Paranormal Wednesday-The Attic

Photo courtesy of billnwmsu via Flickr
We have an attic. To most, this would be unremarkable. But to me...it's a distraction. Sometimes, I hear thumping up there when I'm alone and writing. I used to make the climb to investigate and see what it was. After doing this countless numbers of times, I stopped. There's nobody up there. Not a bird, not an animal...nothing. That I can see.

The attic was empty when we moved in, save for one writer's reference book. Ironic. Out of the three people who owned the house before us, none of them were writers. Maybe that's why it got left behind. Or maybe it was a house gift...from the Attic. I'm tempted to take my computer up there and write in the hopes the space will inspire something spooky. Or at least to show the Attic how much I appreciate it's thoughtfulness at leaving me a writer's reference book.

Why do people find attics so creepy? It's a convenient place where forgotten things are stored away. True, the space is usually dusted with cobwebs. And true, sometimes shadows lurk in the corners. That must be it. Attics are similar to basements. When I was a kid, one of the houses we lived in had a basement filled with shadows. I wasn't a fan. The fact that the house was haunted (the previous owner had passed away) made it all the more challenging. But, back to my attic...

If I thought the thumping up there was an animal or bird, I would go out of my way to make sure they could find a way out. But it's not. It's Nothing. Not in the sense that it doesn't matter, but in that I can do nothing about it. Does that make sense? Regardless, Nothing needs to keep it down up there because I'm trying to write.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tangled Tuesday-Danse Macabre

I woke with this poem-song thingy written in my head.
It's a spooky little place in there sometimes. Even when I'm sleeping.



Dance of Death by Michael Wolgemut (1493)
Public Domain
Danse Macabre

Danse, danse! Join in the danse
Around and around it goes
Grasping hands, beating hearts
Daring you to let go.

Spinning 'round, catch a glimpse
Of One you’ve felt before
Cobweb'd breath, final farewell
Tracing along your pores.

Masques off, the Danse is done
Crossover the unknown
Slipping through stones, playing tag
With icy fingerbones.


Monday, November 10, 2014

#MeatlessMonday-Cream Scones

Photo courtesy of Astrid Kopp via Flickr
This is a family recipe. Good with jam, lemon curd or Devonshire cream.

Cream scones

2 cups flour
1T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2T sugar
1/4 cup butter (cold and diced)
1 large egg
1/2 cup light cream.


Preheat oven 425F.
Combine dry ingredients and cut in butter with pastry cutter until mixture is crumbly.
Whisk egg and cream together in separate bowl. Add to butter/flour mixture.
Stir quickly and briefly to make soft and sticky dough (add more cream if needed).
Gather into a ball and place on lightly floured surface.
Knead gently with floured hands and pat out to 1/2 inch thickness.
Cut into rounds with cookie cutter and place on baking sheet. 
Brush lightly with milk.

Bake for 12 minutes.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Frightening Friday-Death by Laughter

Photo courtesy of weezerthewonderful via Flickr
Did you know you could literally die laughing?

…which is why I write paranormal and horror. Wouldn’t want to kill any of you people. 

Death by laughter usually results from cardiac arrest or asphyxiation. Instances of death by laughter have been recorded from Ancient Greece to the modern day. It's rare but it does happen.

In 1410, King Martin of Aragon died from a combination of indigestion and uncontrollable laughter. He was eating an entire goose when his favorite jester entered his bedroom. When King Martin asked where the jester had been, the jester replied with: "Out of the next vineyard, where I saw a young deer hanging by his tail from a tree, as if someone had so punished him for stealing figs."
I'm not sure why that was so funny...but perhaps it was lost in the translation.

In 1975, Alex Mitchell of King's Lynn, England, died laughing while watching an episode of The Goodies, which featured a kilt-clad Scotsman battling a master of the Lancastrian martial arts armed with a black pudding. After 25 minutes of laughter, Mitchell died on the sofa from heart failure. It was determined that the family carried Long QT syndrome, a genetic disease which results in heart rhythm abnormality. Mitchell's heart attack was caused by the excess of stimuli--in his case, laughter.

In 1989, Ole Bentzen, a Danish audiologist, died laughing while watching A Fish Called Wanda (one of my favorite movies). During the scene where Otto sticks a chip up Ken's nose, Ole died of cardiac arrest brought on by laughter. According to rumor (confirmed by his son) Ole apparently had a similar experience to Ken's. He put a piece of cauliflower up his and every family member's nose as a joke and made a bet as to who could eat their carrots without the cauliflower falling out. He sounds like someone who would make me laugh.

My heart goes out to these families. All I can say is that at least they died with a smile on their face.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday-The Things That Scare

Photo courtesy of Anant Nath Sharma via Flickr
It may be because I write paranormal horror, but there are very few things that scare me. What ranks up there is watching my youngest during her horseback riding lessons and wondering why it takes my oldest so long to answer my texts. You know. mom stuff. The things most people find scary don't do it for me any more.

At what point do classically scary things fade into real-life scares? I can't say that I've ever been afraid of the paranormal. It is what it is. The real fear came after I had kids. The first time my 3-month-old spiked a fever, the first time my 2-year-old fell down the stairs, the first day of Kindergarten when I wondered just how far the umbilical cord would stretch. And it got worse. I still remember when my 7-year-old thought it would be a neat idea to do a back flip off the chair. That went well. Fast forward to school dances, hanging out at the mall, first texts and the internet--all scary, scary things.

That said, I do find this picture kind of scary. Not because of the shades of paranormal within it but because the thought of suffocating behind a sheet is freaky. Have a great week everyone...and mind the bed sheets.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

#Paranormal Wednesday-Dog Drool

Photo of Vader courtesy of Fellowship of the Rich
...Or Why Dog Drool is Paranormal in Nature.

1) Drool vs. Spiritual Attachment - It will attach itself to you and nothing short of an exorcism can get it off. Be forewarned.

2) Drool vs. Ectoplasm. Ectoplasm begins clear and then darkens and becomes visible. In extreme cases, it will develop a strong odor. Enough said.

3) Drool vs. UFOs - Occurring especially after bath time. Watch when Fido gives himself a good shake. The Truth is Out There.

4) Drool vs. Spirit Manifestation - There have been cases where drool has been reported to manifest on its own with no probable cause.

5) Drool vs. ESP - My dog is especially sensitive to the times I'm wearing my Calvin Klein dress that can only be dry-cleaned. I can only attribute this to the fact that the drool itself, must be psychic.

6) Drool vs. Reincarnation - Reborn even after I've killed it with a washcloth. Drool is eternal.

7) Drool vs. Out of Body Experiences - The sensation you get when you've failed to dodge the sticky thread of saliva as it smacks you in the face.

8) Drool vs. Demonic Possession - You know that gleam in your dog's eye when drool trails down the sides of his mouth? And he takes a step towards you...and another...and another?

9) Drool vs. Orbs - If you watch very carefully, these can be seen surrounding the threads of saliva as it's flung in senseless abandon.

10) Drool vs. Paranormal in General - Drool is way scarier. Run in fear.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tangled Tuesday-Guest Author Barbara Custer

How I Created My Villains
by Barbara Custer

When it came to creating villains for my work, a mentor’s advice stuck to me like a Mylar balloon: You can’t have a mindless brute that plunders and kills for the fun of it. No one is all good or all bad. Even Hitler had his kind moments with his dog.

What Hitler did was despicable, but he was generous with treats when he spent time with his dog. Herein I found my lesson on the multi-layered personality of the villain, and I considered my mentor’s advice when I wrote Twilight Healer and Steel Rose. Drusilla of Twilight Healer started as a cold, bloodthirsty vampire who made feeding on humans her sole mission. After my lesson, I gave Drusilla an impoverished childhood. The story opens with Drusilla as an indigent seeking work at a place where her employers wouldn’t abuse her. After she turns, she destroys, but one scene depicts her comforting an injured child beaten by her stepfather. She then goes after the stepfather. Drusilla’s other actions were despicable, but she had a soft spot for abused children.

Laurel of Steel Rose began as a death angel type of nurse who used her job as a beard for killing young woman and eating their remains whenever the fancy struck her. Her cold, calculating eyes hint that she’d kill just as soon as look at someone. Ah, but Laurel loved her dog Pluto, and she’s good with doggie treats. After her severe injuries in a car accident, she fears something will happen to her beloved Pluto. A scene takes her back to a horrible childhood with parents who duct tape her to a mattress and leave her there for hours without food or water. Laurel also grieves over the death of her older sister. Her killing sprees start when her mind conjures an imaginary visitor named Abaddon who orders her to kill patients and other people. One reviewer felt that Laurel made a stronger character than my protag did.

I’ve struggled with developmental edits on the sequel to Steel Rose, but the editor complimented me on my villain. We meet villainess Woehar in Steel Rose, but she continues manufacturing zombies during the sequel. I’d want to give Woehar more explanation because most people don’t start out life being pure evil. Perhaps someone bullied as a child turns into a bully later on in life. Evilness is relative, too; people have different standards of what they consider evil. One reference I found helpful was the Evil Overlord List.

Basically, the villain will be the opposite of the hero, so I had to give my villains humane moments. Perhaps he or she has a favorite pet, plant, or relative. I had to come up with a real motivation for their bad behavior; having a villain go after the hero because of real or imagined slights on the playground in grade school won’t cut it. I wanted my villain to be someone people could understand, even if they found the actions deplorable.

Blurb for Steel Rose:

The denizens of hell attack. The zombies feed. She's their meal.

Sometimes they come back. At least the Kryszka aliens do. Their leader injects captured humans with a drug, turning them into zombies. Yeron escapes the Kryszka Colony, hoping to practice medicine on the humans who fear him. Alexis-a patient-is afraid too, until his seductive attentions arouse her. Despite his experimental drug, severe arthritis leaves her too weak to handle most guns. The Kryszka troops and zombies who break into the hospital are hungry. Very hungry. How will she fight them?

***

Giveaway 
A random commenter will receive a $5.00 Starbucks GC and PDF copy of Night to Dawn 26.

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Monday, November 3, 2014

#MeatlessMonday-Tomato Soup with Israeli Couscous

Photo courtesy of Chris Potako via Flickr
This is probably the easiest crock-pot soup recipe ever. I use Israeli couscous. It's larger than regular couscous (more like Italian orzo) and doesn't fall apart in the hot soup. If you don't like/have couscous you can substitute white/brown rice. quinoa or pasta. You can also add 1/2 cup of carrots along with the spinach for extra veggies. Enjoy!

Tomato Soup with Israeli Couscous


Ingredients

1T olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cup vegetable stock
1-28 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1T tomato paste
1/2 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup Israeli (cooked) couscous.
Fresh basil, chopped for garnish

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil

In a crock pot--combine vegetable stock, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped spinach.
Add sauteed ingredients.

Cook on medium/low for 3 hours. Blend until smooth.

Serve over couscous topped with fresh basil. I like mine garnished with a spoonful or sour cream.