Clarissa Johal: May 2016

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

#MeatlessMonday - Roasted Chickpeas with Sea Salt #recipe #vegetarian

I've recently become addicted to Biena Chickpeas Snacks-Sea Salt flavor.

Not to take away from how awesome they are (you should try them!) but at $3.99 a bag, I decided to see if I could make them myself.

Here's a recipe to try. Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Akane86 via Flickr
Roasted Chickpeas with Sea Salt

Ingredients

Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-4 teaspoons sea salt 

Instructions

Heat oven to 400°F: 

Drain and rinse chickpeas. 
Dry thoroughly, patting with paper towels.
Toss the chickpeas with olive oil and sea salt until evenly coated. Don't skimp on the oil (less olive oil means they won't be as crispy). 
Spread in an even layer on an oiled baking sheet.
Roast the chickpeas for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Stir or shake the pan every 10 minutes. (A few chickpeas may pop)
Serve warm.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

#FolkloreThursday - Kodama (Tree Spirits) #Japanese

"Kodama" (木魅) from Gazu Hyakki Yagyō by Toriyama Sekien
Kodoma are spirits in Japanese folklore that inhabit older trees, similar to the dryads of Greek mythology. Some kodama are said to have the ability to move through the forest, while others are rooted and reside in a specific tree. It is thought that when a tree has passed a hundred years of age, a divine spirit would come dwell inside it. Any person attempting to harm this tree would become cursed and suffer misfortune.

In appearance, the kodama was either invisible or looked like an ordinary tree. Forest echoes and the sound of a falling tree were said to be the cries of kodama.

Around the Edo period however, kodama became less of a nature god and more of a yokai (supernatural creature). They were humanized, and stories of kodama falling in love with humans and taking on a human form were common. 

In popular culture, kodama make an appearance in Princess Mononoke, Megami Tensei and The Legend of Zelda.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Island by Clarissa Johal #paranormal #booktrailer


Exploring a remote island can get you into trouble. 
Especially when you stumble upon a cave and awaken two demons. 

Rumors and superstition. 
That’s what Emma thinks about local gossip concerning her grandmother’s “cursed” private island. Emma journeys to the island to ready it for sale. While out exploring, she unearths a hidden cave–a cave which holds answers to the island’s dark past. 
There may be more to the rumors than she thought.


Monday, May 23, 2016

#MeatlessMonday - #Vegetarian Chik-Nuggets

I came across a similar recipe and decided to alter it a bit for my tastes. The original recipe is vegan, this is vegetarian. I've added more spices and used buttermilk (you can use soy milk if you want to keep it vegan). These DON'T taste like chicken but more like a version of a falafel.

Photo courtesy of  angela n via Flickr
INGREDIENTS

Nuggets

1-14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained
1-14 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup Italian panko breadcrumbs
½ cup cornmeal
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
½ to 1 tsp. liquid smoke (Note: I've never bought this and had to make a special trip. I must say it made a huge difference in the way these tasted)
1/2 tsp pepper

Batter

1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup ground flaxseed
2 tbsp. whole wheat flour

Coating

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup Italian panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp basil


INSTRUCTIONS

Place artichoke hearts into food processor and coarsely chop. Add remaining nugget ingredients and pulse until coarsely blended. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or up to a day).

Combine batter ingredients in a small bowl and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes.

Combine coating ingredients in a separate bowl.

Remove mixture from refrigerator and shape into nuggets.

Deep or pan fry in vegetable oil until browned OR bake at 400F for 20 minutes on each side (Note: I tried this cooking method and they weren't browned or as good.)

Makes about 12+ nuggets. Serve with dipping sauce of choice (BBQ, ranch, tomato sauce, etc)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

RELEASE DAY - Poppy by Clarissa Johal #paranormal #excerpt


Book Details:

Title: Poppy 
Genre: Paranormal 
Author: Clarissa Johal 
Editor: Kathryn Galan
Publisher: Faeriemoon Press
ISBN-13: 978-0692708873
ISBN-10: 0692708871
ASIN: B01FW9QP8E
Number of Pages: 264


BLURB

A red-headed, pink-loving mortician who speaks to the dead. 
A moody, unsociable funeral director. 
Poppy and Dante from Struck are back. 

Something is lingering around Skyview Funeral Home—and it's stealing souls of the dead. 
With Dante in tow, Poppy is determined to put a stop to it. 
Can she protect those who are trying to cross over, or will her soul be next? 

*Poppy is a standalone novel*



EXCERPT

The root cellar was a small space with a low ceiling. At one point, it probably smelled of apples and potatoes, but now, there was nothing but the scent of lawn mower gas, dirt, and cold stone. Poppy reached into the darkness, searching for the light bulb string. Her fingers connected, and she pulled it on with a click.
“Gladys?”
Weak light illuminated the usual garden-equipment clutter. Rakes and shovels were piled against a stone wall. Several cans of gasoline sat next to an old lawn mower. Bags of fertilizer and garden fungicide sat beside them. Gladys was nowhere in sight.
A rustle sounded from a darkened corner. Fully expecting to see a rat or trapped bird, she held the bulb in such a way to throw light on it. The door slammed shut behind her.
“Geez!” Poppy lost her grip on the light. The swinging bulb cast rising and falling shadows on the walls. She made a move to push the door open when the lightbulb suddenly shattered, leaving her in darkness.
“Gladys?” Poppy kicked herself for not waiting until morning, when Dante could have accompanied her. The grating sound started up from the corner of the room. It ran slowly along the ground until it stopped in front of her. That’s not Gladys. You walked right into this one.
She clutched the jar to her chest, her heart thumping. “I have the locket, if that’s what you want.”
The answering silence lay across the cellar like a shroud.
“I’ll make you a deal. You leave my dead alone, and I’ll leave the locket right here.” Her voice sounded against the close confines. “Good luck with the sea salt, if that matters.” Poppy inwardly cringed as she felt a trickle of blood from her nose. Dammit. She attempted to put up her barriers, but it was too late.
A heaviness descended upon her shoulders like a mantle. Something lashed out and scratched the skin of her throat.
***

Paperback coming soon 

Monday, May 16, 2016

#MeatlessMonday - Adventures with Cake #recipe

Last week was a week of chaos. I've been working on the June 1st re-release of The Island and Struck, and on my new release, Poppy (June 6th). Having one book release is stressful enough, but three? Absolutely insane. 18 hour work days. Living on coffee and Clif Bars. Looming deadlines. I found myself struggling on the home front. My house went to crap, my teens were living on take-out for dinner, and my dogs were probably posting on Craigslist for a new owner. Yeah, everyone was pretty much on their own.
I was finally able to take a breather when Friday rolled around. I took my dogs on a much-needed walk, I cleaned house (scary!), and I decided to bake a cake to show everyone how much I appreciated their understanding.

Busy Day Cake

Ingredients

1-1/2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 c. milk
1 egg
1/2 c. shortening
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt

In a small mixing bowl combine all ingredients. Spray 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or till done.

_____________________________________

That was the recipe and it seemed simple enough. I'm doing a bit of a rewrite because here's how it went down.

1-1/2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar


Find your flour. Swear profusely because it's way too high up on the shelf. Make a mental note to rethink your kitchen.
Reach (on tiptoe!) for the sugar sitting behind the flour.
While juggling both, drop the sugar. Sugar goes everywhere...onto the floor, onto your computer, and onto the dog. The dog is happy.

2-1/2 tsp. baking powder

Dig through the old marshmallows from last Halloween, mismatched cupcake liners, and stray bottles of food coloring to get to the baking soda. Somehow, get green food coloring all over your hands. Now you look like Yoda. Let out a Yoda laugh for emphasis. Your green hands inspire a story idea. Go to your computer and make a note of it before you forget. While typing, try and ignore the fact that the keys are crunching down on the sugar you just spilled. 
Return to the cupboard to find your baking powder. Success! The tin is almost empty, but you shake the last of it into a single teaspoon. The recipe calls for 2-1/2 - probably a suggestion rather than a hard rule.

3/4 c. milk

Stare at the contents of your refrigerator until it dawns that you have no milk. Wonder if sour cream or coffee creamer will do. If you use the last of the coffee creamer, you won't have any for your coffee later. Sour cream will have to do, because...coffee.

1 egg

Grab the eggs from the refrigerator and promptly drop the entire carton onto the floor. Manage to save one egg. The dog is now your best friend. At least his coat will be shiny.

1/2 c. shortening

You can literally hear the brakes go off in your head when you realize you have no shortening. At least you have butter. Using a butter knife, squish the butter into a measuring cup and get it everywhere. When you finally manage to fill the 1/2 cup, suddenly remember butter comes wrapped in 1/2 cup cubes. *Face palm*

1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt

Digging in the pantry, you find an old bottle of vanilla that's gone dry. There's an entire bottle of peppermint extract, however. Talk yourself into the idea that extract is extract.
Add the salt.

In a small mixing bowl combine all ingredients. Beat mixture for 2 minutes and pour into pan.

Accidentally turn the mixer on high. Batter goes everywhere--and it really smells like peppermint. Oh dear.

Spray 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with cooking spray. 

Swear profusely because the cooking spray can was pointed in the wrong direction. At least the cake won't stick to your face when you eat it.

Preheat oven to 375F  

While waiting for the oven to heat, taste the batter. Shrug it off. Batter usually tastes gross anyways.

Transfer batter into pan 
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or till done. 

Write a quick blog post while you're waiting for the cake to bake. Become so involved with editing, that you almost forget the time. When you open the oven, a cloud of smoke whooshes out. The peppermint smell is strong with this one. *Yoda laugh*
Technically, it's not burned. Completely. No worries. Icing will fix everything.

You search for an icing recipe...


Friday, May 13, 2016

Poppy by Clarissa Johal #paranormal #newrelease #booktrailer

Release date for Poppy is June 6, 2016!

Follow my Amazon Author Page to be notified 
(Click on the yellow button right underneath my author photo)

Until then, I'll leave you with the book trailer....


Thursday, May 12, 2016

#FolkloreThursday - Night Marchers or Huaka'i pō #Hawaii

Night Marchers are ghostly apparitions of ancient Hawaiian warriors, also referred to as "Spirit Ranks" (huaka'i pō). En route to battle or searching for an entrance into the next world, they are clothed in full regalia and armed. Although Night Marchers allegedly float a few inches off the ground, some local accounts tell of seeing mysterious footprints after they have passed.

The ghostly procession must never be interrupted. Resting your eyes upon the Night Marchers is said invite certain demise. Witnesses are urged to avert their eyes and leave the area (best practice), or lie face down to show respect. These ghosts are on a set path and won't deviate to haunt humans. Placing leaves of the cordyline plant (ti) around one's home is said to ward them off.

Alleged Night Marcher Trails by Island

Oahu

  • Nu'uanu Pali Lookout, Ka'a'awa Valley and Kalihi Valley 
  • The Pali Highway that runs along the Kamehameha battle site. 
  • The campus of the Kamehameha School (est. 1887) in Kapalama  
  • Kualoa Ranch - an area said to house the remains of hundreds of Hawaiian chiefs. 
  • La'ie - a city of refuge in ancient Hawaii which held criminals and offenders of the culture's strict aikapu religious practices. 

Maui

  • La Perouse Bay in the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Preserve

Molokaʻi

  • The town of Kaunakakai. Remnants of Ili'ili'opae Heiau, a sacred temple site, are located nearby.


Characteristics of Night Marches 

  • Heavy wind
  • Rows of spirits carrying torches
  • Alternating male and female rows
  • Lightening and thunder
  • Heavy rain or high surf
  • Chanting and beating of drums
  • Revelry and games
  • Mist or fog

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Revolving Door of Publishers & How to Survive With Your Sanity Intact - 10 Tips for #authors

Photo courtesy of  Danielle Darling via Flickr


The publishing world is a tough business, and many small publishing houses fold after several years. I've seen authors hop from one publisher to the next, myself included, in the hopes that one will stick like spaghetti. It isn't a surprise that many authors throw in the towel and go indie. It isn't a surprise that others throw in the towel altogether. Please don't. You have something to say, so say it. The platform may change, but your stories will remain the same. Life goes on.

Here's what I've learned over the years regarding the revolving door of publishing houses. Most of these tips are for those who have considered (or are considering) going indie. If they help one person, then kudos to me. If not... hello! Thank you for stopping by. My books are for sale on Amazon. Several have made the best seller list and won awards (bragging rights). Okay, I'm done now. 

So, here we go. Here's what you can do ahead of time just in case something goes belly-up later.

The Revolving Door of Publishers & How to Survive With Your Sanity Intact 
10 Tips for Authors 

1) Check your book contracts to see what you've signed. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be amazed how many authors don't read the fine print. If the publisher goes out of business or declares bankruptcy, do you get your rights back? What happens to your edits, cover art, etc.? If you can't find these things in your contract, email your publisher and ask. Get it in writing so there's no surprises.

2) Always have a Plan B. What will you do if your publisher folds? Think about it. I mean, really think about it. Do as much as you can regarding Plan B ahead of time. If the worst happens, not only will you have a Plan B to fall back on, but some of the work will be done already.

3) Reconsider your promotional materials. If you're designing promotional materials you may want to leave off your publisher. I know, I know. It's exciting to show off a publisher. I get it. But after one of my publishers folded, I was stuck with 500 business cards and a stack of very expensive rack cards I couldn't use...right down to the QR codes. I could have kicked myself.
(If you lose your cover art, then obviously, everything must be tossed.)

4) Keep a copy of your original submission. Keep a copy of your final edits. Keep a copy of your final PDF after your book is published, if you get one. Keep a copy of the photo-stock that was used in your cover art. Keep a copy of everything. You never know what you might need, and sometimes, publishers who go under won't supply it. You might also want to take a screenshot of all your reviews. Amazon will roll those over to a new edition of the same book - as long as you have the old ISBN/ASINs.

5) Keep track of all the blogs you've guested in. If your publisher folds, you can approach these blogs when it comes time to re-release your book. They've already accepted you once, right?

6) Consider using your Amazon Author Page as a buy link. Speaking of blogs--you know those book buy links? Those become defunct if your publisher folds, which sucks for you. Consider using your Amazon Author Page instead. That way, potential readers will not only see all your books, but the link will always be viable.

7) Keep a contact list of freelance cover artists and editors. That way, you won't be scrambling all over the internet if you're handed a pink slip.

8) Familiarize yourself with self-publishing platforms. Check out Createspace, Smashwords, Lulu, or whatever platform you'd consider. Go through all the steps to publish now - even if it's for something you aren't intending on publishing. You always have the final say whether it goes up for sale, so it's no biggie if the unpublished project sits there. That way, you've done the homework ahead of time, and will be familiar with the system.

9) Familiarize yourself with a PDF creator. There are a ton of programs to choose from, and it's going to be a heck of a lot easier (if you decide to self-publish) if you know how to create your own PDFs. Some programs to consider are; Adobe Acrobat DC (free 30-day trial), Calibre, and MobiPocket Creator.

10) There is strength in numbers. If you find yourself in a position where your publisher has folded, allow yourself some time to cry into your pillow. It's disappointing, but it's not the end of the world.  Grab your Plan B and band together with those in the same boat. Organize a re-release party and rise again!

Several (free) sites I've found helpful in the process of self-publishing:

Bookow Make your own ISBN Barcodes. This site also has Amazon Createspace book cover templates. 
QR Code Generator Create those funny little squares that send people to a site via their iPhone.  
Convert Town  DPIs (dots per inch) affect how clear images are. Most self-publishing sites ask for images to be 300 DPIs or more. Enter your desired DPI, upload your image file and your image will be adjusted instantly.
PicMonkey Super-easy photo editing program to design your own banners, social media cover photos, logos, collages, etc. Free to use, but a $33/month subscription allows for more photo editing tools.
Unsplash Creative Commons Zero high resolution images you can use for book trailers, etc. "You may copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash."
Pixabay Another Creative Commons Zero photo site. "All images and videos on Pixabay are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. You may download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty free for anything you like, even in commercial applications. Attribution is not required."

Final Words of Wisdom

If you're a traditionally published author - please don't stigmatize self-published authors. I've heard traditionally published authors slam indies and there's really no need. There are a LOT of indie authors who write better books and make more money than you do, so shut it. You never know when you may decide/need to take the leap and become indie yourself. I've been on both sides of the fence - traditionally published and self-published. In both situations, my books got equally good reviews and sales. It didn't seem to matter either way. The bottom line was that "I" did all the work when it came to marketing. Being traditionally published has done little for my career other than give me a headache once they closed shop. Food for thought.


Monday, May 9, 2016

#MeatlessMonday - Cranberry-Pecan Quick Bread with Orange Glaze #recipe

Busy day for me, so we're going to go with something quick! This is an easy recipe with an optional glaze. Feel free to substitute any kind of nuts for the pecans (or omit them altogether). Enjoy!


Photo Courtesy of Whitney via Flickr
Cranberry-Pecan Quick Bread with Orange Glaze

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons orange marmalade
2 large eggs

Cooking spray

Optional Glaze

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons fresh orange juice


Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl
Make a well in center of mixture. 
Combine granulated sugar, buttermilk, pecans, dried cranberries, milk, vegetable oil, orange marmalade, and eggs.
Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Spoon batter into an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. 
Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. 

To make glaze:

Combine powdered sugar and orange juice, stirring until smooth. Drizzle glaze over bread and serve warm.


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Struck and The Island by Clarissa Johal - On Sale #99cents £0.99 $1.31 CAD #paranormal #bestseller

Psst! Both Struck and The Island are both on sale this week 
0.99 cents (£0.99 $1.31 CAD)
Spread the word!



#1 Bestseller in Paranormal

Exploring a remote island can get you into trouble.
Especially when you stumble upon a cave and awaken two demons. 

Rumors and superstition.
That’s what Emma thinks about local gossip concerning her grandmother’s “cursed” private island. Emma journeys to the island to ready it for sale. While out exploring, she unearths a hidden cave–a cave which holds answers to the island’s dark past.
There may be more to the rumors than she thought.

Amazon US 
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Barnes & Noble
iTunes



Struck by lightning…claimed by shadows

Caught in a terrible storm, Gwynneth is struck by lightning. She wakes in the hospital with a vague memory of a mysterious stranger. Following her release, the stranger visits her at will and offers Gwynneth a gift—one that will stay the hands of death. She is uncertain whether Julian is a savior or something sinister… for as he shares more of this gift, his price becomes deadly.


Amazon US 
Amazon UK 
Amazon CA
B&N  and  iTunes 



Coming Soon!
June 6, 2016

Poppy

A red-headed, pink-loving mortician who speaks to the dead.
A moody, unsociable funeral director.
Poppy and Dante from Struck are back.

Something is lingering around Skyview Funeral Home—and it's stealing souls of the dead.
With Dante in tow, Poppy is determined to put a stop to it.
Can she protect those who are trying to cross over, or will her soul be next?

_______________


Clarissa Johal is the bestselling author of paranormal novels, Poppy, The Island, Voices, Struck, and Between. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s swinging from a trapeze, or taking pictures of gargoyles. She shares her life with her husband, two daughters, and every stray animal that darkens their doorstep.


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Thursday, May 5, 2016

When Your Publisher Goes Out of Business #authors #booktrope

I had all sorts of plans this week, but found myself juggling a curve ball last Friday.

Some of you have heard (or already know) that one of my publishers, Booktrope, will be going out of business as of May 31st. Everyone was notified via email--I got mine while on a field trip with one of my daughters. Talk about struggling to keep a poker face.

This is the public statement via Geekwire.

What does this mean for me? Business, as usual. I have no intention of letting this setback destroy me. I'm an author. Simple as.
I will re-release Struck and The Island in June and expect my new release Poppy to be released on-schedule. The buy links will change, the ISBNs will change, but the books will remain the same. I am blessed to have editors, proofreaders and cover artists who will work with me during this stressful transition. I poured my heart and soul in Poppy and hope you will buy and enjoy it.

I know everyone in the Booktrope community will find their way. Creative people are remarkably resilient and bounce back. Keep your dream alive, folks. :)
Have a great Thursday.