The Healer and the Pirate

The Healer and the Pirate is available now on Kindle and Nook, and in print at Lulu and Amazon!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Characters Keep Coming Back

I'm still working on a short story that's changed main characters, storylines, POV characters (twice!), storylines again, and even themes. More changes than I can count at this point. One thing the story really needed was a clear antagonist (see: Why Every Story Needs a Zombie by Jody Hedlund).

No, the character I started with in my imaginings a couple years ago isn't the antagonist (I don't think). But my antagonist has a...let's call her a victim of sorts, I suppose. My jaw dropped today when I realized this victim could VERY easily be a slightly revised version of that character I had intended to put in this (now-changed) story. Which means that I could write a companion story where her story gets told after all.

Well, I think it's interesting, anyway.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Last C.S. Lewis Interview; Tetris at MIT

Found this through Matt Mikalatos' blog; the reported last interview with C.S. Lewis. Some fascinating thoughts about Christianity, writing, space travel, and even a brief touch on C.S. Lewis meeting Billy Graham!

And this is pretty cool. Tetris on a building at MIT.

Friday, April 20, 2012

1920s Baking Mixes - Aunt Jemima Company Cake

A Cake Mixture With Many Possibilities--"Add Water and Bake"
LAYER cakes, cup cakes, drop cookies and cottage puddings come out of Aunt Jemima's latest creation. This product contains flour, sugar, shortening, powdered skim milk, baking powder and salt. all the cook needs is water to make a batter. In the Institute we used one and one-eighth cupfuls to a package, which is more than the directions call for. This made a simple, plain cake, which is best eaten as a cottage pudding or covered with a good frosting. One package (three and two-third cupfuls sifted) is sufficient for the usual cake, at about 16 cents.
Possible Improvements
One or two eggs added to the batter, decreasing the amount of water by a couple tablespoonfuls, makes a richer cake, which browns beautifully, and such ingredients as coconut, nuts, chocolate and spices give delightful variations. Any frosting improves the cake, whether baked in layers or in muffin pans as cup cakes. Do not stint the flavoring in either cake or frosting. Almond in the cake and chocolate frosting are an excellent combination. Delicious apple cake and fruit puddings are produced from this mixture when combined with the fruit and baked in a deep cake pan--easy desserts which are quick to make and good to eat.
How It Analyzed
The flour shows an analysis of 5.7 per cent protein, 11.6 fat, 26.9 sugar and 2.5 per cent total minerals. The 2.2 per cent milk sugar represents a little over a half pint of skimmed milk to the package. The baking powder content is slightly higher than in the cakes made at home, but not excessive for a packaged product, which must stand shipping and storage and cannot carry egg easily.

--New York Tribune, April 23, 1922

The product in question is "Aunt Jemima Company Cake." I couldn't find any links to the company cake online…just lots of pancake ads that are cute until you get to the creepy racist stereotypes.

--El Paso Herald, December 6, 1918

The same page also has references to "Muffin Makins" (an instant muffin mix) and "Flako" (an instant pie crust) as additional convenience flours.
The busy housewife and business woman alike (shall we include the bachelor who sometimes likes to play at cooking in his apartment) find in these flours a key to variety that requires but little skill or time in the turning." For the "unskilled laborer" gets expert assistance through these mixtures….The Institute does not for a moment advocate emergency cooking as a regular procedure, but it finds a useful and legitimate place for such well prepared products in short-cut cookery.
--New York Tribune, April 23, 1922

Anyway, this was all news to me, since Bisquick's official site certainly implies it's a revolutionary baking mix. Even more astoundingly, Aunt Jemima's official site claims its Buttermilk Pancake & Waffle Mix came out in 1957 and its "Just Add Water" version came out in 1970. Yet the "just add water" pancake mix was EVERYWHERE by 1918 and probably earlier. The fine print in the ad above even notes you can use it for waffles! The Food Company Cookbooks has a good writeup on Aunt Jemima and an even better writeup on Jenny Wren Flour, another precursor to Bisquick.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thank God I'm When I Am

I've been fascinated with the idea of other worlds and times as long as I can remember. Narnia, 1800s, 1920s, Ren Faire fun would it to be live in any of those places!

Or would it? OK, so Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter had a grand time growing up in kings and queens!!!! All the other kids from Earth just had brief adventures. I'm sure it would be amazing to visit Narnia, but I'm not sure I'd want to live there (unless I was royalty in those amazing royalty clothes). And even little Shasta from The Horse and His Boy would note that being royalty isn't always fun either!

The 1800s...rather unusual for a woman to make her way independently. Never mind the child mortality rate...I likely would have lost at least one family member growing up, if I even survived that long myself. And corsets may be fun to wear for costuming, but I'm not sure about all day long.

1920s? Most of the necessities of modern life were actually around then...but no Internet. Enough said.

Ren Faire live in the real Renaissance would entail a large chance of dying of the plague. (By the way, if I learned nothing else from Connie Willis' Doomsday Book...if you ever go back in time to plague-era Europe, get to Scotland.)

Scotland. It's slightly safer!

It's fun to imagine the good old days, but I shudder to think about how women and non-whites and even many servants were treated through many of those "charming" time periods. No, I don't have a human maid, but machines do so much of the menial work for us today.

It's fun to dream, and I still think it would be fun to visit another time. But I'm sure God put me WHEN I am for a reason. And I'm glad to be here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

When writing comes full circle

So I've been working on a short story (tentative title: "The Savior and the Selkie") for quite some time now. When I started it, the point of view character was the female lead, but I swiftly changed it to the male lead because I found him more interesting. (Never mind that in the romance genre, it's unusual to have a story JUST written from the male's point of view.) Several versions of the story later, and guess what? Yup. Switching back to the female's point of view after all.

I wish I could use the Snowflake Method better, but most times I just need to start writing things out to actually know where I'm going. Though I did the first couple steps of a Snowflake on my new improved short story (I think doing the WHOLE thing on a story that should be less than 10,000 words may be a bit much) and it seems to be holding up.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Joined the Dark Side--I mean, Pinterest

Finally started a Pinterest account. Can't say I've done terribly much with it...I'm not sure it's quite my way of doing things. (Particularly given that there are some concerns about potential copyright violations.)

Right now I'm mostly using it like a set of photo albums.
But yeah, I'm there. Are you using Pinterest? If so, has it sucked up all your free time and/or ruined your life yet? :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Real Meaning of Easter 1922

Probably one of the most interesting facts in connection with Easter, which, to those of Christian belief, marks the Resurrection of the Saviour, is that its origin dates back to the old Jewish Feast of the Passover.

"The first Christians being derived from or intimately connected with the Jewish Church," says a Church historian, "naturally continued to observe the Jewish festival, though in a new spirit, as commemorative of events of which those had been shadows. The Passover, ennobled by the thought of Christ as the true Pascal Lamb, the first fruits of the dead, continued to be celebrated and became the Christian Easter."…

Increasing importance has been attached by Christian communities in later years to Long or Good or Great or God's Friday. It is probably, as the day on which Christ offered up his life for the redemption of the world, the most sacred and solemn of the Christian year. In the churches on that day the altars are stripped of all decorations; except the Cross, which is veiled in black; the hangings are all black and the day is given over to prayer and meditation. The note of sacredness and solemnity has found its way even into secular affairs, many of the states of the union having made it a legal holiday. The custom of celebrating the day is involved in obscurity; though from the earliest times, every Friday among the Christians has been observed as a Fast Day, as every Sunday has been a Feast Day, and the connection between the one as marking the day of the Crucifixion and the other as marking the day of the Resurrection easily traced.

--The Coconino Sun, Flagstaff, Arizona, April 14, 1922 (Page 3)

Have a blessed Easter, everyone! He is Risen!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Bonnets

Yes, even in the 1920s, Easter wasn't a completely religious holiday.

--The Ogden Standard-Examiner, Ogden Utah, April 16, 1922 (page 3)

Don't they look like silent movie starlets? Not indecent, per se, but kind of a weird way to celebrate the resurrection if you ask me.

Interestingly, the designer, Lady Duff-Gordon, was a survivor of the Titanic.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Writing in the 1920s

Here's a little ad from the Evening Public Ledger in Philadelphia (June 15, 1921).

I find it kind of odd to imagine the problems writers used to face. If you read the ad you can tell exactly what problems many fountain pens had (they could leak, needed to be refilled often, required repairs (!)). This remarkable pen--which had no such problems and could write for two miles without a refill (per, about as long as a modern-day ballpoint)--sold for a mere $4.00. (Per Historical Currency Conversions, that's about $50 in modern dollars.)

Most people don't even pay that for their touchscreen phone nowadays!

Yes, people could write in pencil, granted, but now many people write directly on their laptop. It's easy to edit without having to retype pages upon pages. Publishers don't have to manually typeset each page. Computers have become our typists and our typesetters. Well, I guess more accurately, most of us have become our own typists and some of us have become our own typesetters, using computers as a tool.

I wonder if authors' thought processes were different in the 1920s, knowing that what they wrote couldn't be rearranged so easily. How much harder must it have been to write back then!

Though they didn't have the Internet to distract them back then, so maybe it is kind of a wash.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Alternative to Google?

So lately I've been getting kind of twitchy over Google's privacy policies. (I know, ironic that I say this on Blogger, a service run by Google.) Namely, the idea of personalized search, selling everyone's personal information, etc. I've been looking for an adequate alternative and I think I may have found it in Goodsearch.

GoodSearch: You Search...We Give!
Is it really worth a halo?

As I understand it, Goodsearch runs through Yahoo and it gives a penny per search to the charity of your choice. Elsewhere on the site they note half the revenue goes to the charity of your choice. I can't swear to you that it is legit, although it has been profiled on major TV networks. Once you're set up, you can change your default search engine in your browser (on mine, to the right of the address bar) to Goodsearch.

I'd say the results are fine for about 90% of the things I search. And I'm one of those people who runs a LOT of searches. I signed up about 2 weeks ago and the site says I've earned just over $4.00. Not bad for something that's free to me.

If the search doesn't get me what I need after a couple tries with different words, I just change my search browser to Google and find what I really want. But Goodsearch is a way to give less of your personal data to Google (while giving it to another party, but at least you earn some money in return...probably). Works for me.