alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Feels like Autumn; USA color (WA))
The hero of my fantasy series Night Calls is Alfreda Sorensson, a young practitioner on her way to being a full blown wizard. While I am not Allie, I carry in my heart many of the things she loves and creates wherever she lives. I grow herbs when I can, seek out fresh, organic food and seasonings, and dream of growing heritage apple trees. In a sense, the seeds of her grimoire, Denizens of the Night, are stashed in bits and pieces in folders and my computer.

It’s the season for her elderberry cordial, so I thought I’d share her recipe with you.

This recipe is traditionally used to keep pretty much everything in the unfriendly microbe category away. Fans of it back in colder climes start making it in November and take it until March. Refrigerated the mix can last two months or so, and then seems to go off slightly in flavor. If you cut the honey, it doesn’t last as long. I personally make 2-3 batches a winter. If you are taking it only for preventative purposes and stay healthy, you probably need only a teaspoon a day. If ill or immune compromised, or everyone else at work is ill, you may choose to take up to a tablespoon a day. When ill, if you can keep it down, a half teaspoon an hour might help.

Does this really work? Well, I haven’t had flu in the ten years I’ve made this recipe. So either it works for me, or my immune system is now scary strong. YMMV. I am not a doctor or a practitioner.

Yes, this could be the base for an alcoholic version, but the honey benefits will probably die gasping under the alcohol. Check with your herbalist, or research medicinal cordials. I never add alcohol to mine, but alcohol in correct proportions could make it shelf stable. Use good honey, not mixed from all over the world pasteurized stuff. Honey has curative properties, but you don’t want the honey to get too hot. So do NOT add honey before boiling; add after the mix has cooled down quite a bit.

Remember, do not give this to a child under two years of age. Research honey–there are sound reasons why you don’t give it to infants or toddlers.

Elderbery Cordial for Health

1 cup dried elderberries (organic if possible)
4 cups filtered water
1 square inch peeled organic ginger, slivered up or grated (if desired)
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. allspice
sprinkle ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Ceylonese cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Saigon Cassia cinnamon

Up to one cup unpasteurized local honey.

Bring water, berries, ginger, and spice mixture to a low, rolling boil. Cook at a gentle roll for fifteen minutes, mostly covered (it can spatter) but not sealed as boil-over will happen. Then set aside to cool down a bit.

Set strainer in 4 quart Pyrex measuring cup; strain mixture. Gently press berries and ginger to get last of juice out. Compost berries, if you compost. Let juice cool some more. You may have up to 3 cups of liquid.

Add one cup of unpasteurized honey. I sample until desired sweetness is reached, but do not add more than one cup. Stir until dissolved, then carefully pour into a clean one quart wide mouth ball jar. (You may add more spring water to recover a full four cups, if desired. But boil that water first.) Refrigerate. Always use a clean spoon each time you dip into the jar. I actually stir and then pour into a shot glass and shoot my morning cordial. You’ve got enough for 1 tsp. a day for three people, with a full recipe. I have halved this in the past to keep it fresh, or if I am heading out for holidays for a few weeks. I try to start taking this two weeks before extensive travel, and then make more on my return.

Thanks to writer Becky Kyle for the ginger suggestion.

I will add that I most definitely am not a medical practitioner. If this has entertained you, I’m glad. And if you feel this traditional berry can improve your life, Allie is delighted that you made its acquaintance!
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Kindred Rites)

The fine folks over at The Book Pushers have put up the cover for Spiral Path (Night Calls #3)!  As always, I've done my best to make this a stand-alone book.  You can start reading anywhere in one of my series, but there are advantages to reading them in order.

Book Pushers also linked their reviews of the first two books in their post, so if you missed them and are curious, you have easy access.

“The world is woven of secrets.”

Join the adventure!  And to make it easier to encourage friends, you can find Night Calls on sale for .99 this month at your favorite venues.  It hit #88 at the Kindle store last Tuesday!

Book View Cafe


Amazon UK





alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Mascot)
I'll try to get the cover and new versions uploaded to the major distributors tonight for rollover as fast as they move.

Night Calls in DRM-free EPUB and MOBI.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Mascot)
alfreda89: (Winter_Mette's Glogg)
Although the earliest presidents did declare days of Thanksgiving and gratitude, Thanksgiving as we now it is more recent. At the urging of Sarah Josepha Hale, Abraham Lincoln declared a day of Thanksgiving halfway through the Civil War, and it has reoccurred as a theme ever since, finally being named into law (first the fourth Thursday, then the last Thursday). But what did they eat at those early Thanksgivings?

Some things on the menu don't even exist anymore, like Passenger Pigeon. Venison would have been there, and corn--real corn, not "corn" in the European sense covering all commonly used grains. (Though we probably would not recognize the varies of corn present. They would have been flint corn, multicolored and tasting quite different.) Wildfowl, too. Stuffing was probably diced onions, herbs, and shelled chestnuts. Being close to the shores, the first European settlers undoubtedly ate shellfish.

Beans, squashes, root veggies--the Wampanoag ate well, and taught the colonists a lot. I'm guessing that Allie would have had a mixture of old and new on her family's table, the remnants of those great early foods as well as the precious addition of wheat, sugar, dried berries, and so on. No shellfish in her part of the country, though. Too much travel time even from Lake Michigan, and at the time of Kindred Rites, she didn't know about the advantage practitioners had in this regard.

But the foods we often think of as staples at Thanksgiving are mostly from the mid-nineteenth century. Read on.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Night Calls)
Down to the last 25 pages of Kindred Rites. My proofreader has pointed out that Allie is not using proper grammar at one point. Well, Allie's thirteen. Sometimes she doesn't. I will probably give the proofreader this one.

Someday I will write a book where a character's dialog doe not change from what I put down unless what she's saying is unintelligible.

The power of self-publishing. There have to be a few pluses to this nonsense.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Mascot)
When you have the Gift, your life is not your own.

I was born to a family that harnessed the winds and could read futures in fire and water. Yet my mother kept her secrets.

Then the werewolf came, sharing his madness.

Now it's my turn to keep secrets....

alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Mascot)
There are things I can catch and change, like "monstrous" carpetbags, or corn "stooks" instead of stocks. But I just realized something that was lost from the original manuscript that will have to remain lost, unless there is ever a special edition of Night Calls and Kindred Rites. Marta is a language chameleon--she changes her voice patterns to help her connect with the people she's currently speaking with. Allie even notices this at the beginning of the third book.

But the copy editor, thinking this was an adult, smoothed out those times when she did it with someone who was less educated, or who needed the comfort of a dialect.

The original files exist, but I can't stop to look for that now--I am officially late for the first time in my career, but grateful to still be editing....

Still. It seemed small or inconsistent to the editor, so she didn't ask, she just changed it and turned it in.

I find that my subconscious usually has a reason for something it does.
alfreda89: (Books and lovers)
Yes, you can have a taste of SF and a taste of fantasy in this little chapbook from Yard Dog Press--now in .mobi format! One story is a reprint of the tale I did for the anthology Lord of the Fantastic: Tales in Honor of Roger Zelazny and the other is a unique Alfreda short story that has never appeared anywhere else.

And you want to read them. You know you do.

It is still available as a saddle-stitched chapbook, but if you prefer to buy an ebook version?

Here you go.
alfreda89: (Blankenship Reeds)
I'm going through and editing the manuscript for Night Calls to match the HarperCollins release of the book. Most of the time this is fine; I had a very good copy editor, who paid attention and caught the spirit of the book. Allie was still learning tenses in my original idea of her, and the copy editor wasn't having any of that nonsense. She was firmer about it than Allie's father. But today I hit a change she made that was period, but not right for the fantasy. (I half left it as she changed it.)

Then I hit things such as the copy editor wanted an enormous carpetbag instead of a monstrous carpetbag.

And I can hear Allie thinking: "But it was monstrous."

Still, some people have read this so often they will notice changes, so it will remain enormous in the new version.

(But we'll know it was also a monstrous carpetbag. Perhaps I will describe it more fully in the third book, so you understand how a candelabra can be pulled from it.)
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Mascot)
Alfreda would use maggots as a healing tool, as well. Here's an article talking about not only historical use, but recent investigation into maggot therapy.

Some maggots ARE injured in the course of this examination - but their secretions are still healing. They don't appear to be munching on anyone, but if you don't like crawlies at all, skip this link!
alfreda89: (Winter_Mette's Glogg)
Not, it's not your imagination. Fresh eggs are harder to peel than ones that are 7-10 days past laying. Eggs from the farmer's market may need ten days as opposed to 7-8 days. And there's a tiny percentages of eggs that will remain horrible to peel.

Here's why.
alfreda89: (Blankenship Reeds)
No one asks questions when it’s the butler who is escorting you.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
A tidbit for the end of the week --

Break the circle?” I probably sounded like my Aunt Dagmar, she of the fancy airs and oh-so-proper behavior. But once you start a ritual, if you’re going to break the circle, you might as well kill yourself right there.
All right. That’s an exaggeration.
But it’s not much of an exaggeration.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
Does anyone remember whether or not Shaw is left-handed?

The things I don't have down in the notes -- sheesh....

UPDATE: He's left-handed, like Allie!
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
Just thought I would stop by to tell folk that I am still alive. I am hiding out in a slightly cooler location, and spending my time reading, writing, and walking on the beach (averaging four miles a day.) I've finished Chapter 7 of Allie #3, and am within two pages of the end of Chapter 8, with Chapter 9 in sight. So, work is happening.

Sales at seem to be up, and I have not decided what to do with Google+.

I have no Internet where I am -- I'm at a local library right now with my laptop. So -- back into the wilderness of no Internet for me!

Merlyn is healthy but lonely -- he's yelling a lot. So those of you who know where he is, check in with W to see if you can come cuddle the kitty!

Still trying to fix my camera -- taking pics with my sister's camera. So, sunset pics when I return!

Back to exam day for Allie! She's being tested for placement at the school. Yipes!
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
A fan asked a question over on Facebook about what were some of the things that inspired me before I wrote the first Allie story. Well, I thought about it a while, and decided that I'd bring it over here.

Place and tone were two things that concerned me with the Alfreda tales. I wanted the language to be clean and uncomplicated, but also wanted the books to have layers. Allie was starting from pioneer roots -- from people who lived very close to the land. Where she'll end up may be very different, but deep inside her always will be this smart, observant person with a big heart.

Here's my response to Heather:

It's hard to remember exactly what I was reading when I started the Alfreda stories, but I can tell you one thing I read -- the Manly Wade Wellman stories about John the Balladeer. I didn't like his women as well, but I felt drawn to the rugged simplicity of his world. I wanted some of that for Allie's childhood, because I wanted that honest base for her.

Also -- THE NINE BRIDES AND GRANNY HITE was a wonderful series of short stories -- the author's name escapes me right now. Any of Ardath Mayhar's books that include families would be good to read. Ardath likes to say that "Children are not fools," and are capable of being trusted with a lot. THE WORLD ENDS IN HICKORY HOLLOW was a good one.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Ukrainian Easter Eggs)
Six and a fraction pages today, over 1500 words. I'm not done, but it's time to start dinner, whether it's today's dinner or tomorrow's. Time to brown the shoulder meat from the freezer. I'm going to use some leftover beef stew broth as a base, and build new guts for the stew -- meat, carrots, celery, onion, turnips, red wine, beef stock. A little garlic and parsley, but I'm out of thyme and keep forgetting to get more. The leftover sauce/broth includes leeks, so will be especially rich.

A fairly productive day, including several loads of laundry and a dishwasher full of pans. Finished an anime DVD to return to Netflix, and looking forward to some reading tonight, if I can get a few more pages written.

Tonight includes measuring to decide how much material I need to make a machine quilt for my niece's graduation. Argh! Another project! I'm still making Xmas gifts from last year! (Hard to crochet when the temp is over 80 F.)
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
So, we haven't talked about it for some time, because it was depressing, but remember that submission YEARS ago? (Yes, a lot of people are taking that long to respond to submissions. Which is one of two reasons why no one will die over this.)

Found out this weekend that the editor never received the submission. Now, my agent uses a messenger service, where they show up with a package and someone at the desk or the mail room signs for things, right? Somewhere between that point and the editor, it disappeared.

We are going with this because at this point it does not matter if a lowly clerk misplaced it or what -- the glitch has been found. I wasn't at my healthiest when the original submission went in, so now is in many ways better. That is the second reason no one will die over this.

The important part is -- the editor still wants to see the partial. Which is now larger, despite my being depressed about the project and working on other things. So -- polished up the copy editing on five chapters, FedExed to agent, who read, put together with previous two books, and sent over to the editor. I am quite confident he will be double-checking personally on this, not trusting to a signature on a form. I'm sure that like me he feels that this was the Mercury Retrograde glitch of the career, and Shall Not Be Repeated.

And -- just to make sure the editor knows I Was Not Kidding About Submitting, I packed up a copy of the chapbook with the Allie story "Ducks" in it to arrive on Friday.

You may now cross your toes and get back to whatever I interrupted. Be thinking up blurbs for Fires of Nuala -- or go write a review for it!
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Fires of Nuala book cover)
As y'all know, the first SF book, FIRES OF NUALA, is going up at Book View Cafe next month. Might even be a Kindle version soon, if I can figure out the transfer without too much stress. As part of this, I plan to put up a Nuala Facebook page. This will be the place to go for all things Nuala, the place to send people to find out what it's about, etc. So -- if you have a favorite way to lure people to the Nuala books, that's where you will want to enter it! You have a brief review you use, an elevator speech? Facebook -- AND and other such places. Remember that Amazon was a young beast when those books came out. Fans came back later and wrote a couple of comments when they found long-sought copies, but a few good reviews somewhere will help. One hopes that people who liked the books will be the ones who bother to review them!

Writers, a special request -- if you liked the books, could you blurb them? Short and sweet is great. If you'd like to see it again, I can send you PC/MS Word now, or .pdf or epub files soon. If you have never read it and would like an ARC, please ask, I'd be delighted to send you the file.
Now -- patient Allie fans. Allie has been sitting with an editor for two years. My agent feels it's not a rejection, so we leave it alone. When I mentioned I would have a chance to see the editor soon, he said re-pitch.

I could use some help with this re-pitching. This editor liked the books when they came out -- the job is to make re-launching them seem like a good idea. I am almost to the end of my rope -- Allie may never move past page 105 of book 3 if I don't get some encouragement. So -- if you've thought about doing a review at Amazon, but never got over there? Tomorrow would be a great day to wander through. If that editor hops on the internet HERE, she will see reviews for those books (Amazon looks different in different parts of the country, as many of you know.) The more good reviews, the better. NIGHT CALLS and KINDRED RITES -- why doe Allie stick with you? Doesn't have to be involved -- say why you love them and want others to read them.

If this falls through, I will either abandon the book except when nothing else is cooperating, or I will put up a PayPal link and do something like Miller & Lee did for FLEDGLING.

A common definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. So -- this time, we try different.

Start planning your Facebook/Amazon Nuala reviews! Writers, it's blurb time -- all help appreciated, and I'd be happy to send files. (Heck, I can find a couple of hard copies for die hard paper lovers....) And reviews for the Allie books and chapbook -- anyone who can help out, it will be greatly appreciated. You may be the straw that breaks down NYC's resistance.

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