The 'Write' Information

Do You Believe in Magic?

How many books have you read where the strongest magic is love?

“I don’t want realism. I want magic!”
― Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

If you are like me, it’s a lot. Whether it’s Harry Potter or even some of my own titles, love can steal the show. It is as strong and powerful as any main character and can foil a villain without violence. But is that notion real or fantasy?

I’d like to share with you a story:

It was anything but a typical Mother’s Day. My husband had been diagnosed with terminal cancer the November prior. He didn’t go out much and I hadn’t expected a gift, but there was one. A tiny rose plant sat on my desk, little red buds ready to explode into blossoms. He told me a cut flower would wither and die but this plant would last forever.

The following January he passed away. The plant sat on my desk, a reminder of his love. I went through another tragedy soon after when my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I began home care. He passed away the following January. My rose bush bloomed a single white rose.

You might think nothing of a flower, but the roses had always been red until that day. Now on special occasions such as mother’s day or my birthday I receive a present – flowers in all different colours from the same plant. I’ve seen pink, white, yellow, orange, peach and starburst. To me it’s the very definition of magical.

So, when someone asks if I believe in the magic of love, I will always answer, “Yes, I do.” Until next time, Happy Reading.

Until next time. Happy Reading.

Interviews

Q&A: Greg Alldredge

I’m excited to have the chance to take a peek into the world of another new-to-me author. Today we are talking with Greg Alldredge about his novel,  Lights in the Night.

Plagued by nightmares, Trevor’s drawn to Texas by unknown forces. What are those lights? Join Trevor and the quirky town residents as he searches for answers and tries to fill the void in his heart.

To start things off I asked Alldredge to tell us a bit about himself. Here’s what he had to say:

I guess I said it best on my author page, I’ve had several careers over the past 50+ years. Currently, I am a theatre teacher and a writer, this is probably where I will continue to work until I die. Growing up, I was bitten by the travel bug. Since my parents were not independently wealthy, I joined the Navy to see the world. I spent twenty years in the Navy I met and married my wife we adopted our son and we traveled extensively, I also acted professionally from time to time. Once I retired from the Navy I went into the medical manufacturing industry that was great it put my son through college. I came to Texas to retire, I failed at retirement. I began teaching because several people said I would be good at it. After five years teaching in Texas, we decided to travel overseas and teach. While in China I found an outstanding opportunity to write. I had tried and failed to write books in the past, either by location or maturity this time I was able to complete what I started.

I’ve been provided with the first three paragraphs of Lights in the Night to share with readers.

Let’s take a look inside this Sci-Fi Novel:

Everyone in town called ‘Old Sits’ the crazy old hermit. One of those men that by choice decided to live a life of solitude in the open desert.

Yet, this particular night, he was on a mission. Like a forward observer, equipped with surveillance equipment more suitable to the NSA or catching cheating spouses. Dressed in a ghillie suit, camouflage netting covering his entrenched position. Armed with a high-power camera, hyperbolic microphone and a four-inch tripod mounted telescope all targeted at the distance southern mountain range under observation.

Any rational observer would recognize someone who was spying on someone or something. He chose to position himself here, in this very location watching the same chunk of real-estate for the last four months. Every night from before moonrise to first light, eating cold spam sandwiches and drinking vodka, waiting for anything to happen.

It’s time to delve into the Q. & A.

This my favourite part. My questions are crafted to give a reader a clear look at how an author writes, what drives them, and what can be expected in their books.


Question: What genre would you say the book falls into?

I always say you must know your genre to know your audience. My book as science-fiction with a bit of humour. Of course if you find it funny it’s humour with a bit of science-fiction. I do feel every good book should have some mystery and suspense thrown in. If you know the end of the story, that’s half the reason for finishing the book. No one is surprised when the Titanic sinks.

Question: Are there any trigger warnings and/or explicit content readers should know about?

Not really, if it were a film it would be rated R for drug use. It’s not excessive drug use, the language is not harsh and there is very little sex. Oh my God, I just made it so a good portion of the world will not read my book. Hopefully, you read it even with my last sentence.

Question: Do you have any upcoming events?

My current events all revolve around finishing classes towards my master of theatre education from the University of Houston. After that, I must travel back to China and begin teaching a new school year. Any events between now and June I will have to schedule via the Internet.

Question: What is next for you? Do you have anything in the works?

Currently, I am working on the second book in the series. It has a working title of Darkness at Midday.

Question: Do you have any special mentions? (Editor, cover art etc…)

I must mention my wife, Connie. She is my editor, my muse, my sounding board, my proof-reader, and just about everything else. I’ll never understand why she has put up with me for the last 30+ years.

Question: What was your favourite book when you were growing up?

Funny thing is I didn’t read a lot until I got out of high school. I guess my favourite book in high school was by Alistair MacLean Where Eagles Dare. I was more of an action adventure reader. I didn’t begin reading a lot of science fiction until I was in the Navy and an early adult.

Question: If you could meet any character from any book, who would it be? Why?

Crystal; I think she could teach me a lot about yoga.

Question: When did you realize you were meant to be a writer?

That is a loaded question, I’m not 100% sure I should be a writer now. Lights in the Night was my third attempt at writing a book. The first two failed. Either time, space, or both has changed enough to allow me the motivation to finish this book. Now I feel the dam has been broken, I am finding it hard to not write. I guess it will be up to my readers to decide if I am meant to be a writer or not.

Question: If your life was a book, what would be the tagline?

Will he ever stop moving?

Question: What advice would you give new writers?

Just do it. There will always be excuses why not to write. There will be times you start, and times you never finish, but you’re never really done until you die.

Question: What has been the worst mistake you have made in your writing career?

Not finishing my first two books. Even if they never saw the light of day it would’ve been a start. I know I needed to mature before I could finish a book. It would’ve been nice to have started writing before the Internet became so popular and changed the way publishing happens.

Question: What is the best moment you have had with a fan?

I posted a saying on Facebook. A former student replied saying “I don’t know if you meant that for me, but I really needed it today.” There are times I think we overlook the simple things, and the effects they can have on those around us. I never want to forget the simple things.


Lights in the Night is in my TBR pile – watch for my future review! If you’re interested you can follow the following links to find out more about this author. 

www.amazon.com/dp/B071ND2SMF

www.facebook.com/G.Alldredge

www.greg-alldredge.com

Thank you, Greg Alldredge and all my readers for your time!

Recipes

A Meal to Satisfy Emond’s Fielders

Wheel of Time Series

The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, in all it’s 14-book glory, is one of my absolute favorite series. Some consider it to be overly detailed in certain ways, but I love the world-building and hunger for more. This sprawling fantasy series has similarities to our own world, but uses magic and has less technology than we currently do. Jordan pulls from Taoism, Arthurian legends, messianic stories, folklore, and mythologies to weave a fascinating tale of prophecy, change and good versus evil. He is incredibly detailed in building culture, history, geography, food, customs, and more.  

As a foodie and a superfan (I’ve read the series at least 10 times), I wanted to make something that could work in the setting of Randland (the name fans have given to Robert Jordan’s world). While looking for recipes to make for the week, I came across a recipe for Onion Herb Socca, Kurdish Stew with Fruit and Split Peas, and Peach Cobbler.

Onion Herb Socca

The Onion-Herb Socca I discovered in The Blender Girl by Tess Masters. Simple and easy to make, this recipe is basically a flat-bread made with chickpea flour, water, salt and pepper, olive oil, onion, thyme, parsley, and garlic. This is perfect to put chutney on, to accompany stews and chilis, or to just eat the entire thing on its own. It is super delicious and savory.

Given the nature of the cookbook, of course, a blender is used. 1 cup chickpea flour, 1 cup of water, a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and 2 tbsp of olive oil were blended and left to stand for an hour. The cookbook said to let it sit until it looked like buttermilk, a minimum of 30 minutes. While it rested, I chopped ¾ cup of an onion and sauteed it with a couple teaspoons of minced garlic and a little olive oil in a pan. Then, I mixed it with 2 tbsp of parsley and 2 tbsp of thyme, though these herbs can be changed to fit your taste.

I put the onion and herb mix at the bottom of a pie pan and poured the flour mix over it and mixed the two together. It baked for 10 minutes at 450 degrees F. The cookbook says it’s best served immediately, but I found it quite delicious even cooled a few hours later.   I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to use the blender, so next time I make it, I’ll probably do it by hand.

Kurdish Stew with Fruit and Split Peas

I discovered the stew in in The Taste of Persia cookbook by Naomi DuGuid. This combination of cumin, turmeric, ground beef (though you could use lamb or chicken instead), split peas, plums or apricots, tomato paste, potatoes, and broth. It’s an easy recipe for sure, made in under an hour.

It seems Persian recipes, based on the few I’ve done from the book, don’t use a lot of onion. I just heated some oil, added a tablespoon of cumin (the recipe called for 2 tsp cumin and 1 of either Nigella seeds or ground Nigella, a spice I didn’t have and wouldn’t use except in this recipe – it’s similar to cumin, so I just substituted that), a teaspoon of turmeric and heated a minute or two. A pound of beef was added, along with a cup of green lentils, the tablespoon of tomato paste, and ¾ cup of fresh plums. The recipe called for dried plums or apricots, but since I can’t eat sulfites, fresh had to do.

As I’d forgotten to buy split peas at the Farmers’ Market or the Co-op, I had to do a bit of research. It seemed like lentils could be a good fit – unfortunately I had only a cup instead of two as was required in the recipe. Once the beef browned, I added the potatoes and broth. The recipe called for waxy potatoes, which I don’t like, so I used small brown ones from the Farmers’ Market. It also called for up to six cups water or broth. I used four cups broth, and even that made it more like a soup instead of a stew. Substituting lentils, and utilizing only one cup lentils instead of two cups split peas, as well as using fresh instead of dried plums all could have contributed to the extra liquid, even though I used less liquid than it called for. Please take this into consideration if you try it at home!

The recipe called to serve it with herbs and flatbreads, so naturally, I ate it with the Onion-Herb Stocca. If you would want rice with it to soak up some of the juices instead of bread, I’d suggest cooking some rice with a tablespoon of olive oil and a couple strands of saffron.

I can imagine the socca and the stew being served in Altaran or, especially, Andoran inns and taverns paired with beer or cider, with the socca being much more widespread using different herbs for each nation. The Seafarers would likely pair it with a fish stew.

socca and stew.jpg

Peach Cobbler

As for the peach cobbler, which I chose in part because August is Peach Month, and peaches are considered quite poisonous in Randland, it’d be perfect for the Darkfriend to serve to an inebriated guest they would want to poison. It’s easier than peach pie but still delicious. I found it in Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and, like all of her recipes that I’ve made, it is simple. Clearly, she writes recipes for those who like good food but don’t have a lot of time to make food.

The filling is made up of 5 cups of peaches, ¾ cup brown sugar, a teaspoon ground cinnamon, two teaspoons of pure vanilla extract, and two tablespoons organic cornstarch. I used peaches that had been jarred by a local canner so it made it even easier. These get mixed together in a 9×13 baking dish. I’d recommend mixing the dry ingredients before mixing in the peaches.

In a separate bowl, I mixed a cup of flour, a teaspoon-and-a-half of baking powder, a teaspoon ground cinnamon, a half-teaspoon ground allspice, ¼ cup light brown sugar, ¼ cup canola oil, ⅔ cup flaxseed milk, and a teaspoon vanilla extract. Once these were thoroughly mixed, I used a spoon to add a dollop of the mix atop the peach mixture, leaving about an inch of space between each.

The recipe called for baking for 30 minutes at 450 degrees. However, I found that the result was that the flour mix on top looked too burned, but that could easily be fixed by adjusting the temperature, time, or even the placement in the oven next time. This was the first time I’ve made cobbler, and despite looking a bit burnt on top, my taste tester (also known as my life partner) ate most of it.

peach cobbler.jpg

Interviews

Q&A: Stan Faryna

Today I’m taking a look into an author whose book, Francesco Augustine Bernadone: A Brief History of Our Tomorrows, I’ve recently reviewed for Books and Quills.

“A disabled, recently unemployed man is desperately searching for hard cash in a brutal, post-apocalyptic MMO game about zombies, greed and survival. All of which strongly reminds us of Shakespeare’s midsummer qualm, the course of true love never did run smooth. This epic, near-future science fiction and fantasy at its best – it asks us big questions about what it means to be human.

Stan gives us glimpses of the future that are as interesting as anything being said by Michio Kaku, Ray Kurweil, Marc Andreessen, and Jeff Bezos.

RIP Dollar and Euro! Viva la #Bitcoin!”

— Liam deTroch, Generation Z blogger

 

Mr. Faryna does an excellent job in describing the human condition, no matter how painful it may be. In short — This story is truly a must-read.

— Ms. H of Mom’s Minute Video Game Show

Stan Faryna was gracious enough to take the time out of his busy schedule to answer a few of my questions:

Question: What genre would you say the book falls into?

Answer: Primarily, Science Fiction and Fantasy. Some have suggested, Literary Fiction. Others have said it is a multi-genre work with elements of classic literature, fantasy, action and adventure, romance, futurism, apocalyptic, dark dystopia, and litRPG.    

Question: Are there any trigger warnings and/or explicit content readers should know about?

Answer: There is a shocking and horrible scene near the beginning of the story. It’s a gruesome metaphor of the real world and game world in which the story takes place. Maybe, our world too.

Question: What is your favourite Quote?

Answer: “Love never fails.”

Question: What advice do you have for new writers?

Answer: Write the words that travail the longer darkness and distance. Like starlight. Be the light in a dark place. Be truthful. Love strongly. Do try to write something good, excellent and praiseworthy.

Question: Where do you write?

Answer: Wherever I am – assuming I can plug in my laptop. The mundane and peculiar rituals of writers can become traps and prisons. I might have some, but I don’t want to admit it. I don’t want to give them power over me.

Question: Are your characters real to you? Do you speak to them?

Answer: Reading a fanfiction piece related to my novella, Grimdark Fantasy author M.L. Spencer commented to me in a private message that I really love my characters.

Is there something more real and worthwhile than love?

Question: What piece of advice from other authors do you hear the most but choose to ignore?

Answer: Just write.

No human activity is useful to us for its own sake. Neither art nor writing or any talent. If it does not serve a higher authority and virtue, it’s all just more dust in the wind.

Question: Which do you prefer Novels or Novellas and why?

Answer: I like them both. I imagine, however, that the Novella has a better shot with the much-diminished attention of modern people.

Question: Are there any Easter eggs in your book(s)?

Answer: There are lots of Easter eggs in my novellas!

The red dumpster in the beginning is a big one but I can’t explain it without spoiling a larger story.

Question: What’s your favourite food? Have you ever mentioned it in your book(s)?

Answer: I like good and healthy food. I like good cooking. I mention a smoothie recommended for cancer patients.

Question: Do you have a writing Motto?

Answer: Nudi nudum Christum sequi.

To nakedly follow the naked Christ.

Question: If you could change the date to any year past or future, what date would you change it to and why?

Answer: Are you asking me if I could time travel, where would I go?

I was born for this time so I have no regrets. The grass is not greener…

But if I could travel in time, there would be many stops in my adventures. First stop would be when Jesus speaks his sermon on the Mount.


I’d like to thank Stan Faryna for his time!  In my review, I recommend this story to anyone looking for something thought-provoking. If you are interested, it’s here on Books & Quills Magazine.  

If you are looking for more information, here are all the links you need:

Book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071S75DWB

Author’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/Faryna

Author’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stan.faryna

Facebook Fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/Faryna.FanPage

Author’s blog: https://stanfaryna.blog