Lemonade Chia Scone Loaf

Lemonade Chia Scone Loaf

Apologies for the recipe title confusion! Is it a scone or a loaf? Our New Zealand and Australian friends have a modified scone recipe that was too fun to not push a bit further. Of course it’s now gluten free and for an extra twist it’s a loaf, not scones. For it’s avant-garde appearance it’s rather traditional in that you may consume it a la carte or with clotted cream and jam.  It’s tastes best with black tea. Healthy chia seeds also add flavor and texture.

 

Ingredients

  • 3 c self rising gluten free flour (like Pam’s)
  • 2 T coconut flour
  • 2 T chia seeds
  • Zest from 2 small lemons, slice the remaining lemon
  • 250 ml lemonade style soda water
  • 8 oz heavy whipping cream
  • coconut palm sugar for sprinkling

 

Process

  • Preheat oven to 450.
  • Oil the bread pans. I use magic pan (7.5 by 3.5) loafs.
  • Mix the flours, chia seeds and zest.
  • Add the lemonade and cream. Lightly mix until blended then let rest so chia seeds may absorb the moisture (10 min); don’t over mix. The chia seeds will do the work and avoid it from becoming too dense.
  • When the mixture is sticky, pour it out into two magic pans.
  • Place a few lemon slices on top and gently sprinkle the tope of the loafs with coconut palm sugar.
  • Bake for 30 minutes on the top shelf, avoiding the center of the oven’s heat.
  • Remove from oven and completely cool in pan prior to removing from the pan.
  • Serve at room temperature.
  • Enjoy!

 

  • Note = I attempted 100 variations to make my own sparkling lemonade. All were a bust, so I went with Niasca Limonata as it had the best blend of ingredients and used cane sugar.

 

Here’s what a slice looks like:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10-Word Story

10-Word Story

I’ve been experimenting with different story lengths and recently ran into a contest by Gotham Writers. Their contest is called the “Very Short Story Contest” and mandates the entire story may be at most 10 words. They’ve based the contest on the Baby Shoe story often credited to Ernest Hemingway.

We’ve all heard the possible versions of what he wrote:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

And the other often mentioned with it:
For sale: wedding dress, never worn.

This 10-word (or less) writing exercise is used at all levels of writing from 2nd graders to graduate students. It pushes the author to reveal enough for the reader to fill in the remainder of the story. Intrigued, I threw my story into the ring. This is not a winner, nor an honorable mention, but a fun attempt.

My Submission:

Rings found at Sal’s Pawn.
I understand. All is forgiven.

 

Check out their contest website. It lists the Winner and Honorable Mentions; they’re great!

Golden Donut Contest 200-Word Story

Golden Donut Contest  200-Word Story

This year a fellow writer told me about the Golden Donut Short Story Contest. It’s a 200-word story based on a photo. I was immediately intrigued and decided I’d give it a shot.

Here are the Contest Rules:

The rules are simple—write a story about the photograph above using exactly 200 words, including the title (each story must include an original title). The image in the photograph MUST be the main subject of the story. We will not provide clues as to the subject matter of the image, or where the shot was taken. That is for you and your imagination to decide. Remember, though, what you see in the image absolutely MUST be the MAIN subject of your tale.

*Again, the photo above absolutely MUST be the main focus of the story, not just a mere mention within the text.

All stories are to be polished and complete, meaning they must have a beginning, middle, and a twisted surprise ending. Again, all stories must be exactly 200 words. Not 201 or 199! So read the word count rules carefully. Over the years, we’ve seen some excellent tales disqualified due to an incorrect word count.

Some notes on word count:

Hyphenated words, for the purpose of this contest, will be counted as two words, or three, etc., depending upon how many words make up the hyphenated phrase/word. Contractions will be counted as two words (it’s, don’t, etc.).

Every single word will be counted as a word. This includes: “a,” “and,” and “the.” To be very clear…if it’s a word, count it. If it’s part of dialog and you think it may be a word, count it. If it’s a stand-alone letter or group of letters, count it as a word. If it’s a number, count it as a word. If the number would include a hyphen if written out as a word, then count it as a hyphenated word. Social media and texting abbreviations will be counted as individual words. For example: OMG = three words. LMAO = four words. 2Nite = one word (tonight). AIAMU = five words (Am I a monkeys uncle). TCIC = 4 words (This contest is cool). 

The 2017 Photo:

My Submission:

Moonshine

Moonlight hit the cobblestone. I transformed and attacked the closest tourist. Howls echoed. Fur flashed. I lived; so did my victim. Failure.

***

Seventy years ago, the Duke’s plan succeeded. He sought death, but to die he needed to infect another where he was infected: this room. He welcomed us, Guernsey child refugees, for it was war and children die in “accidents.”

That night, during the monthly wolf culling, while the villagers hunted and we slept in our bunks, our Guardian appeared in a different form.

His brute strength collapsed the far, locked gate. He pounced wounding us all. Hearing the assault, they raced to the room and killed the dying wolf, already partially reverted. Shocked with this revelation, the gate was repositioned. Later, they set the room ablaze. As I lay dying, my regeneration completed. Immediately engaged by the remaining moonshine, I escaped.

***

I returned for the Estate’s inaugural tour with his plan. Exhausted, alone, and desiring release from my monthly vulnerability, my fangs found no human flesh to infect. In the moonlight, the room had become a den of wolves. Reunited, we previously infected, breached the gate of our transcendence and ran to repopulate the Village.

 

Permission:

Lee Lofland graciously granted me permission to post the photo, rules and my submission. This story didn’t win but it taught me a wonderful lesson: a complete story in 200 words is possible. It also pushed me to write clearer with precise words.

His personal blog is here. The Writers’ Policy Academy website is here.

Kit from The Zeus

Kit from The Zeus

Darkship Renegades
By Sarah Hoyt
Baen, 400 pp., $7.99

Darkship Renegades by Sarah Hoyt continues the space opera excitement while avoiding the sophomoric descent of many second novels in a series. Strap in for more interstellar fun!

**Please note this review has spoilers from the previous book due to ongoing plot revelations. Check out the previous review here.

We resume exactly where Darkship Thieves left off: Thena and Kit docking on the home asteroid of Eden. Upon arrival, Kit is detained as a traitor to Eden for visiting Earth. While his family develops a plan, Thena updates them on their unpleasant visit, and she learns that during their absence Eden’s power supplies were greatly depleted. Good Man Sinistra’s hunt for Thena revealed the darkships’ existence and began an effective hunt to eradicate all ships. Many were lost on runs resulting in fewer returning with the powerpods that provide energy. This loss of powerpods created a power vacuum never before seen on Eden; those who were set up as the Energy Board over 300 years ago suddenly had a different kind of power over others due to scarcity. Their ideal libertarian world was now on the cusp of civil war and was being ruled by a quasi-government.

Kit is voluntarily questioned in front of all Edenites. While it’s proven he didn’t purposefully endanger Eden, retribution for his actions is another trip to Earth in an attempt to bring back Jarl’s writings, for Jarl created the powerpods and with his notes perhaps Eden could grow their own energy. Not everyone agrees with this idea and, as they prepare a ship for the journey, an unknown assailant shoots Kit in the head. Doc Bartolomeu with little choice gives Kit nanites to help repair the damage. Unfortunately, the nanites were imprinted with Jarl’s brain, not Kit’s. It’s now a race against the clock to get to Earth, find Jarl’s notes, and pray they also include a way to stop Kit from having his neural-pathways rewritten and becoming Jarl.

This page-turner book promises to keep you up past your bedtime (again!), but this novel is also interspersed with long dialogs about society. Thena and Kit’s political discussions occur naturally as the plot reveals more about the Mules, their purpose, and Jarl, the pro-human Mule. Jarl betrays his own by leaving them behind, he handpicked those Mules who went to space, and he found a place for their bioengineered servants to thrive. Everyone separated from one another, yet this battalion general’s mistake was to assume he understood everyone’s needs. Book smart and educated by the failing world in which they were created to serve and then lead, he rejected what Mules had become and worked to effect a change.

Hearing Jarl speak through Kit offers a first person viewpoint on these decisions. He generates sympathy despite his lack of compassion, however while the world building discussions are interesting ethnographic studies since much time is spent on the ship traveling it does somewhat eclipse the action and steals some of the thunder from a few plot reveals.

The evolving libertarian world of Eden and the brewing storm of revolutionary changes on Earth remain fascinating in part because they are shown, not told, so the reader experiences it. We see firsthand that agents for change can only estimate so far into the future and then life happens. We also see how little control one really has in a situation. Jarl’s decisions to save the few hurt many. Earth was and is a mess. Eden is also not stable, even Jarl fails there. Lastly, we don’t learn what becomes of the Mules who continued on into space without their servants, but given that two of three solutions failed we aren’t confident. Through these examples, we are left to wonder how smart the Mules are and why any generation would willingly surrender power to the few.

Darkship Renegades reveals more of the ideology behind Earth and Eden with healthy doses of action. The excitement hooks while the overarching questions leave you wondering: how would I have addressed these challenges? It’s another fun jaunt!

Cherry Pecan Cinnamon Scones

Cherry Pecan Cinnamon Scones

Buckwheat’s benefits combined with protein based almond meal provides a no-filler, all goodness, and gluten free scone. These nutritious scones are perfect for breakfast, a quick snack, or proper tea times. I’ve opted for pecans and dried cherries, but other nuts and dried fruit are easily substituted.   

Ingredients

  • 1 C almond meal
  • 1/2 C buckwheat flour
  • 2 T coconut flour
  • 1 T coconut palm sugar
  • 1 T xylitol
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 C butter softened, not melted
  • 1 T (heaping) honey
  • 1/2 C pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 C dried unsweetened cherries
  • coconut palm sugar to sprinkle on the top (optional)

 

Process

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Lightly oil scone pan (I use coconut oil) or use parchment paper/silicon mat if opting for drop scones.
  • Mix, using a whisk, the dry ingredients. Do not include the last three dry ingredients: pecans, dried cherries, and additional sugar.
  • In a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients.
  • Combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Mix until well blended.
  • Add the pecans and cherries to batter.
  • Scope into scone pan or drop onto baking sheet.
  • Lightly dust sugar on top of the scones (optional)
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.
  • Enjoy!

 

  • Note = the scones are darker colored due to the almond meal, not flour, and buckwheat.

 

Credit

The above recipe is a modified version from Glutenfreefix.com which has lots of great gluten free recipes. It’s available online here.

Garden Veggies

Garden Veggies

Here’s a delicious and simple veggie recipe. It’s quick to make and does well served at home or brought to a friend’s to share. People always gobble this one up, so don’t plan on leftovers *grin.*

 

Ingredients

  • 4 small zucchinis
  • 2 large yellow squash
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 large red onion
  • 6-8 garlic cloves (feel free to omit or lower)
  • 2 T butter (omit if prefer dairy free, just add more oil)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt to taste

 

Process

  • Wash and dry the zucchini, yellow squash and parsley.
  • Dice the garlic.
  • Slice the onion into 1/8 inch thick rounds and then cut in half, which will yield long stringed sections, once they separate during cooking.
  • Heat the butter, oil, and garlic in a large skillet on medium heat. As the garlic starts to smell add the red onion and sauté for 3-5 minutes until they’ve softened a bit.
  • While they sauté, prep the remaining veggies.
  • Slice the zucchini into 1/8 inch thick rounds.
  • Slice the yellow squash into 1/8 thick rounds and then cut in half, making half moon shaped pieces.
  • Add the squash and zucchini rounds and half rounds atop the garlic and onion. Sprinkle salt, to taste, between layers as you add the vegetables to the pan.
  • Sauté for approximately 12-15 minutes. Stir frequently to blend flavors and to cook evenly.
  • As it cooks, chop the parsley.
  • When cooked to your level of preferred doneness (I like to see some browning) remove from heat, place in a serving bowl, and then garnish with fresh parsley.

Rejection!

Rejection!

Another rejection just arrived!

The editor didn’t provide feedback, but they did alert me the piece hadn’t been selected. I appreciate them taking the time to notify me.

More importantly, my rejection pile is getting bigger which means I’m writing and gaining confidence to submit.

Athena from Zeus

Athena from Zeus

Darkship Thieves
By Sarah Hoyt
Baen, 384 pp., $15.46

Darkship Thieves by Sarah Hoyt won the Prometheus 2011 award for showcasing an interesting and possible future libertarian world, yet this is just one aspect of her complex novel. It’s a rollicking fun and well-plotted space opera with more twists and turns than a genome map. In fact, the fifth book in the series Darkship Revenge just released in May 2017.

The adventure starts when Athena Hera Sinistra awakens during what she perceives to be a mutiny or highjacking of her father’s space cruiser. She escapes into a lifepod and starts toward the base they’d visited and sends an SOS. As she approaches, a broadcast announcement declared her hallucinating and armed and dangerous. Terrified of detainment, she turns away from the base and into the dangerous harvesting field, seeking assistance from one of the harvesters.

Her lifepod runs into a darkship (a ship of legend) and the captain, an Engineered Life Form or ELF for short, saves her. Bioengineered humans left the planet three hundred years ago and were understood to have died on the journey seeking a new home planet. This information has been redacted for most and partially lost due the ensuing turmoils (riots and wars) after the human earthlings terminated all bioengineered humans. Most on Earth think none survived the turmoils and the launch to space a myth, but Athena has knowledge of their exodus, as she is a type of princess for being a daughter of one of the fifty Good Men, who each run a section of the planet.

Chaos ensues as the captain, Kit, knows all Earth history, and Thena thinks he and his kind didn’t live. Personal revelations and attacks aside it is clear that Thena is being hunted by her father, one of the Honorable Patricians, and the only way to save her is to take her back to the colony called Eden, which results in it’s own set of significant problems.

This page-turner book promises to keep you up past your bedtime. Thena is a petulant, know-it-all, rebellious teenager, raised by a wealthy, disinterested father who has never wanted for anything, except love. Through her first person narration she discloses that she is different from others as she posses speed, strength, sense of direction and mechanical ability. Her transformation over the novel is believable as she learns about her history, understands others’ point of view, becomes less self centered, and ultimately more human. Kit is another clever character who is immediately more likable despite his extensive bioengineering.

The libertarian world of Eden is intriguing. The flyer car scenes in a place of no traffic laws are a hoot while the serious concept of bled geld – paying a fee to the surviving family members for murder – showcase conflicting wills can be a determent of the community. My only criticism is the cover art. Forgive me for being a prude but I worried this was a hard-core book. In actuality the cover doesn’t show a scene from the book. It’s an interpretation of Thena being caught in the powertree plants next to the darkship, which occurred with her in a lifepod wearing a nightgown; she wasn’t naked floating in space wrapped in plants covering her nakedness.

Darkship Thieves was a fun jaunt on Earth and the outpost of Eden. The characters add a healthy dose of excitement while the reader attempts to unweave to multi-layered plot.

 

Sci-Fi Action

Sci-Fi Action

The Worker Prince (Saga of Davi Rhii Book 1)
By Bryan Thomas Schmidt
WordFire Press, 326 pp., $15.99

Bryan Thomas Schmidt author and Hugo-nominated editor, deals up a fun, fast-paced adventure in The Worker Price and it received an Honorable Mention on Barnes and Noble Book Club’s 2011 Science Fiction list. Wow!

The action takes place on several planets in the Boralis Solar System. Captain Xander (Davi) Rhii, the Prince and heir to his uncle, the Emperor and High Lord Councilor of the Borali Alliance, has received his first assignment upon graduation from the elite Borali Military Academy. Despite his distinguished flight skills he’s sent to Vertuliss, the only planet in the solar system with slaves, to oversee the Worker crew guards. Davi knows little about the planet only that it will be a proving ground where he’ll work to earn respect beyond his Royal Family rank.

In his first two weeks he’s stuck at the office, but then he participates in a guided tour of the area he oversees. During the tour he learns first hand the true Worker relations; the Alliance Worker guards are aggressive overlords who incorrectly report Workers are lazy, subhuman, troublemakers, and complainers. The Vertullian Workers accurately accuse the Alliance of unreasonable and unfair quotas accompanied with excessive physical abuse. In the following week he witnesses several instances of barbaric means of discipline, saves a slave from attempted rape by an off-duty guard and unintentionally kills the Alliance solider, and finally learns that two decades ago all first born Worker sons were killed, no matter their age, to “honor the gods,” yet most understood this as a preventative measure against a future Worker uprising. These revelations transform his world and challenge his understanding of the Alliance. Armed with this new knowledge Davi makes decisions that align him with the Workers and could forever alter the path of the Alliance.

Mr. Schmidt wrote an exciting, action-packed space opera embellished by dashes of the Biblical Moses story and dashes of Star Wars. In fact, Chapter One starts the excitement with a flying sky-taxi battle. The writing is easy to read and the content is PG, despite the heavy topic of slavery and freedom, making the book family friendly. There’s a glossary in the back defining all key terms, especially when one needs to know the difference between a Floater, a Courier Craft, a Shuttle, a Skitter, a Transport and VS28. Hint: you’d want to fly the VS28 in battle. The only surprising aspect of the book was religion. The Alliance believes in many gods. The Workers believe in one god. Their disparate beliefs were a source of conflict and while this is true to life and was well presented, it rang a bit hollow and, at times, sounded dogmatic. These rare instances didn’t detract from the overall story; they just caught this reader off guard, as most sci-fi novels don’t delve as deeply into religious beliefs.

The Worker Prince (Saga of Davi Rhii Book 1) introduces a new solar system, with believable good and evil characters, and a unique action-filled plot; it earned its Honorable Mention.