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Check out my science fiction series - The Fall of the Altairan Empire

Monday, December 30, 2013

Summing Up 2013

It's been a year. Can we leave it at that?

On the writing front, my publisher broke up with me in July. I started self-publishing the rest of the series because who would pick it up at book 4? Books 4-6 are done, ebook and print. Book 7 is out in ebook. Still working on the print version. Books 8-11 are going through final edits, cover design, and the rest. Book 1 reverted back to me, so I'm going to edit it again and redo the cover, then re-publish. I wanted to get them all out by February, but I don't see that happening. Maybe by summer I'll have the whole series done. I'm still doing a few short stories, but most of my writing time is focused on a different genre than SF/F or horror. It's called Academic Writing. Meanwhile, go read the fun stuff. It's all linked here.

I'm back in school working on a Master's degree in Instructional Design. It's hard, especially after being out of school for twenty years, but it's so much fun. I'm loving my major and the great conversations. It's a little disconcerting to realize that when my professors were in first grade, I had four kids. And that I'm old enough to be mom to most of the other grad students in my classes. But since you're only as old as you act, I'm doing fine. I'm writing lots of academic papers, including grant proposals.

As far as work goes, it's been all drama all the time this year. The school district is playing hardball politics with the CMSEC and its employees as the ball. I almost never work there anymore. It makes me very sad to see what used to be such an awesome program, full of energy and innovation and enthusiasm, reduced to a shell of its former glory. The private space center, the Discovery Center, is going through growing pains. It opened in March and overall is doing fairly well. The energy and enthusiasm are there, but unfocused and all over the place. If they can pull things together and get a good leader, they'll do very well. Which is a good thing because that's where I'm focusing what little energy isn't sucked away by school. Bossman is building his new center at Renaissance - Farpoint Station. It's interesting to be involved in this, but it can be disheartening, too. Change is inevitable. Let's hope 2014 sees more positive changes.

On the craft front, I make things when I can't think anymore but I'm too worked up to sit still and relax. I crochet a lot, and post most of it on Ravelry in the Starfleet Fiber Arts Corp. It's silly, but I need some silly in my life. I need some writing assignments that aren't going to be judged by professors or reviewers or an editor. I need something just for fun.

Family wise, we're doing well. Two weddings coming up this year - daughter who already got married but still wants to celebrate and a son who just got engaged. A high school graduation is coming up, too. And possible mission preparations. We'll see. One son was just awarded his Eagle scout, the other just has paperwork to finish and submit. The youngest boy needs to be registered as a special needs scout. We jumped through the hoops with a psychologist so he could. The rest are doing well. Life is life.

May you and yours be blessed with a wonderful year. I'm not going to curse you with, "May you live in interesting times," because I think we already are. Good and bad will come to all. May you find joy in living, whatever comes your way.

And may you always have backup tacos handy. Although I prefer mine a bit more edible than these. (And if you're on Ravelry, stop by and say hi. I'm vampiresquid and I'm a Lt. Cmdr. in Starfleet Fiber Arts Corp.)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thursday Recipe - Waffles

Cooking adventures continue at our house. Instead of Santa bringing granola bars, cold cereal, and pop tarts for breakfast, we decided to save him the chore and make waffles Christmas morning. I woke up too sick to do it, so my hubby and boys stepped in.

Vampire waffles, anyone?
They were tasty and it was a fun start to the morning.

We like to top our waffles with just about anything and everything sweet - yogurt, marshmallows, chocolate syrup, pancake syrup, fruit syrup, fruit salad, pudding, ice cream, pie fillings - you name it and we'll slap it on top of a waffle.

My family used to have huge sourdough waffle parties. It would start several days before when my dad would pull the grody sourdough starter from the fridge and start feeding it. The stuff grew and grew and grew and smelled all sorts of nasty as it fermented and bubbled in the crock. On the day of the party, he'd mix in the rest of the ingredients. And then we'd start cooking waffles. Even with three waffle irons going, it took hours to cook all the dough. We made hundreds of waffles. And topped them with everything under the sun. Good times.

This isn't a sourdough recipe, but it's a good one. It takes a bit of work and makes quite a few dirty dishes, but waffles are worth it.

By the way, that waffle iron in the picture was a wedding present - almost 28 years of waffle-y goodness. They just don't make them like that anymore.

Sunday Morning Special Waffles (adapted from an old Betty Crocker cookbook)

3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 c. milk (2%, whole, or buttermilk preferred, although you can use almond milk, too)
1 3/4 c. flour (half whole wheat if you want a richer taste and better nutrition)
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. melted butter

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
Mix milk, melted butter, and egg yolks in another mixing bowl. Set aside.
Whip egg whites in a third mixing bowl until very light and fluffy. Set aside.
Heat waffle iron, spray with spray stuff or oil or whatever it is you do with yours. Mix dry ingredients with milk mixture. Stir just until lumps are mostly gone. Fold in egg whites very gently. You want to keep the fluffiness as much as possible.
Spoon into waffle iron and cook according to the directions for your waffle iron. Serve with toppings.

Some of our favorite combos:
Sliced bananas, chocolate pudding, whipped cream
Cream cheese, strawberries, and a drizzle of raspberry syrup
Cream cheese and cinnamon sugar
Syrup and sausage
Honey butter
Strawberry yogurt and sliced fruit

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's Not Too Late...

To buy ebooks! For yourself or for Christmas presents. Amazon makes it easy to gift Kindle books to other people. All you need is their email address. Smashwords also makes it easy to give ebooks as gifts, if you need a different format than Kindle.

So why not give a book this year?

Now for the blatant self-promotional pitch - why not give some or all of my books? I'm up to book 7 in the series, with four more to come. Lots of action and adventure. Just go to for a list of all the books and links to buy them.

Get book 1, Nexus Point free with code AA47G at Smashwords.
Get book 4, Kumadai Run, for just 99cents with code TG89S at Smashwords, but only until January 14, 2014.

Follow this blog or follow the page on Facebook to get more coupons and special deals. Or just do it to make me feel better as an author. Some days I feel like I'm shouting inside my head and no one notices. Do you ever feel like that? I love comments, too. One of these days, I'll get a contest thing going for people who comment...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thursday Recipe - Almond Poppyseed Loaf Cake

This is from an old version of Betty Crocker. It wasn't originally poppyseed or almond, but it turned out so tasty, I wanted to make sure I could duplicate it next time I want poppyseed loaf cake. So, here you go. It's very similar to pound cake. I think next time I make it, I'll try baking it in a bundt pan. The loaves cooked faster than I expected and weren't quite as moist as I like. It was also crumbly, but it tasted delicious.

Almond Poppyseed Loaf Cake

2 c. flour (I used all white for this one)
1 c. sugar
3 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. shortening
1/4 c. butter
2 eggs
1 t. rum flavoring
1 t. lemon extract
2 T. poppy seeds

Put everything except poppy seeds into mixing bowl. Beat on low speed until blended. Beat on high for three minutes. Stir in poppy seeds. Pour into two greased and floured regular-sized loaf pans. Bake at 350°F for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans about five minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.

Or pour batter into a greased and floured bundt cake pan. Bake at 325°F for 50-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan five minutes, then invert onto a serving plate.

Great with lemon glaze or cream cheese frosting.

Lemon Glaze

1 c. powdered sugar
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. melted butter
1/2 t. vanilla

Blend together until smooth. If too runny, stir in more powdered sugar. If too thick, add more lemon juice. It should be like a thick syrup. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Finally, FINALLY, book 7 is out! Get Obsidian Tears today!

It's been a long haul the last month and a half. School ended up being a lot more draining than I anticipated. It's a good thing, but it slowed down my editing considerably. But, finally, I can announce that Obsidian Tears is available for the Kindle and should be available on Smashwords later this week. I got books 4 and 5 in the series up on Smashwords, too. Books 5 and 6 will follow shortly. Now to get book 7 formatted for print and edit book 8...

Obsidian Tears, The Fall of the Altairan Empire Book 7

When Tayvis goes missing, Dace can't turn her back on Lowell's request for her to investigate. Especially not when he hands her the shattered remains of the Eggstone. But her decision might cost her heart and her freedom.

Cold Revenge, book 5, in any ebook format.

Kumadai Run, book 4, in any ebook format - get it for 99 cents from now until Jan 14 - use coupon code TG89S.

Get book 1, Nexus Point, for FREE - use coupon code AA47G.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thursday Recipe - Mushroom Rice

I've been doing a lot of dessert recipes lately. Time for some veggies or main dishes instead. How about mushroom rice? This makes a nice side dish to serve with chicken or fish.

Mushroom Rice

1 1/2 c. sliced mushrooms, about eight medium sized ones
1/4 c. finely diced onion
2 T. butter
1 t. salt
1/2 t. turmeric
1/2 t. black pepper
1/2 t. garlic powder
1 t. dried parsley
2 c. short grain white or brown rice
4 c. hot water

Sauté mushrooms and onion in butter until softened. Add spices. Stir until blended. Add rice and water. Stir well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until rice is cooked through. This takes about 20 minutes for white rice, 35 for brown. Stir every ten minutes or so to keep the rice from sticking.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Author Interview - Mikey Brooks

Please welcome Mikey Brooks to the Far Edge of Normal. He's here to tell us about his latest book.

Welcome to the Official Blog Tour of:
Book Two in The Dream Keeper Chronicles
A thrilling fantasy-adventure series for middle-grade readers!

Don't forget to check out the GIVEAWAY
at the bottom of this page for a chance
to win one of over 30 prizes! 


Interview with Mikey Brooks

Tell us about your writing - What genre do you prefer to write? What books, stories, other publications that you've written are your personal favorites?

I love to write stories for kids. I have picture books and middle-grade books. I love writing for kids because they already believe in magic so it is easy to open a new world for them to explore. My first picture book was Bean’s Dragons and I think it will always be my favorite book only because it’s a story about my daughter and her imaginary dragons. I think the more personal a book is to an author the more attached they are to it.

What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?

I love to just spend time with my girls. I have 3 daughters and they love to play pretend. We will tear apart the living room couch and imagine it’s a pirate ship. We’ll explorer the ocean and find treasure islands. A second later that ship is a submarine and we’re mermaid hunters. Another minute passes and we’re on our way to the moon in a rocket. There is nothing you can’t do with a couch and four heads of imagination. At night when the kiddos are in bed I like to snuggle next to my wife and watch movies. We like “feel good” movies, you know, the ones that make you feel better about yourself when it’s over. We also like magical shows like Once Upon a Time or Charmed.

"All writers must have cats, especially if they write fantasy or speculative fiction." Do you have a stand on this one? Any cute pictures of your kitty or other pet?

HA! I do not like cats! To me cats are the worse pet in the world. Half the time I wonder who is the pet when it comes to a cat. I’m a dog lover. Although I don’t have one now, my lab passed away two years ago, I hope to have another. I do have some really squawky birds, 4 parakeets; they specialize in headaches.

What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers? Any advice you'd like to share about writing?

I think there are some great groups you can be a part of. Some require a membership fee and some do not. The first on my list is to join the Authors’ Think Tank. It’s a Facebook group of about 900 authors, with all levels of success. You can check them out at their blog at Next I’d check for local writers’ groups. In Utah we have what’s called the League of Utah Writers. They have local chapters that meet weekly or monthly. It is good to meet and get to know other writers because we help each other to succeed in our goals. Writers are like family, we understand each other. If you write for kids, I’d recommend the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators. They have a membership fee but they also work with local chapters and have very large conferences.

What writers inspired you to become an author?

L. Frank Baum is the one who got me reading as a kid and is the instigator of my love of middle-grade fantasy. I have all of the Oz books and share them with my daughters. They will forever remain on my favorites list.

Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?

I have the blog tour for The Dreamstone running now until December 16th. You can check out the full line up at my website: We have some great giveaways so make sure you enter the contest. Also the audiobook for The Dream Keeper is now available. I encourage you to check that out. It is pretty amazing!

If you could travel to any time in history, when would you visit?

I’d have to say the 17 century. I’ve always loved Alexandre Dumas and his tales of swordfights and noble brotherhood. I’d want to be a musketeer for a day. Learn how to ride a horse and swordfight, maybe even challenge a man to a duel.

If you could have dinner with any of your characters, which ones would you choose? What food would you serve?

I’d love to have the whole cast of The Dream Keepers for dinner, nightmare NOT included. I think I’d have it lax and serve pizza. I’d love to just chat with them and catch up on life.

If you could travel anywhere, on earth or off, where would you go?

England. I have always had a fascination with the United Kingdom. I love everything about it. One day I hope to visit there.

What color would you wear if you had only one choice?

Brown. I don’t know why but that’s what I’d wear.

Describe your dream writing spot.

I like it quite, clean (I can’t write if the room is messy otherwise I want to clean), and against a black wall. I do that now and for some reason it helps. Maybe it’s because nothing is distracting me. I can fully delve into the world I’m creating.

Anything else you'd like to share?

I am excited to announce the release of book two in middle-grade fantasy series THE DREAMSTONE. It is an action-packed adventure with a toe in both the real world and the fantastic. 


Dorothy called it Oz, 
Alice called it Wonderland, 
but Nightmares call it HOME. 

When Parker’s mom is dreamnapped by the wicked Mab, it is up to him and Kaelyn to save her. When they return to Dreams, they discover Mab isn’t their only problem. Gladamyr has lost his powers and the only way to get them back is to become what he fears the most—a nightmare.

In Book 1, The Dream Keeper, Parker and Kaelyn discovered that Dreams was a real place that everyone visits while they sleep. An evil nightmare named Fyren took control of the gateway to that world. Parker and Kaelyn teamed up with Gladamyr, the only dream keeper to escape capture by Fyren, and together they save Dreams from Fyren’s rule. After the defeat of Fyren the children return to Awake to find Mab, Fyren’s next in command, has dreamnapped Parker’s mom. 

The story continues in Book 2, The Dreamstone, as the children return to Dreams to save Parker’s mom. Finding her, however, is not their only problem. Mab has waged a war on the Crossing and has sent an army of dragons to bring it down, nightmares have been released from prison, and Gladamyr has lost his powers to shape-shift. Parker, Kaelyn, and Gladamyr must once again defy all odds to set things right and save Parker’s mom before it’s too late.    

“The Dreamstone, by Mikey Brooks, is a wild stallion of a story: fast, thrilling, and unpredictable. I was hooked in chapter one. If he can snare the attention of an old reader like me, he’ll have kids sneaking this one into class underneath their text books…If this one isn’t a kid-pleaser, I don’t know what is.” –Michelle Isenhoff, author of the Divided Decade Trilogy and the Taylor Davis Series.

“This really is a cracking novel. Action-packed and spellbinding!”—Cas Peace, author of The Artisans of Albia series.

"If you like the Percy Jackson, Fablehaven, or the Harry Potter series, you'll love this!" –An Amazon Reviewer.

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several books including the best-selling ABC ADVENTURES: MAGICAL CREATURES and BEAN’S DRAGONS as well as the middle-grade fantasy-adventure series THE DREAM KEEPER CHRONICLES. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works full-time as a freelance illustrator and cover designer. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast. You can find more about him and his books at:
Now Available in Audiobook!


Hardback: 978-1-939993-22-9, Paperback: 978-1-939993-23-6, eBook: 978-1-939993-24-3

Hardback: $19.95, Paperback: $12.99, EBook: $2.99.

10 winners will receive a gift bag with numerous signed books marks, 
collector cards, wrists bands, and a handmade dream key necklace.

Paperback Books:

Can You Survive? Treasure Island, by Blake Hoena

The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer, by Lisa Cole Orchard

Color of Freedom, by Michelle Athearn Isenhoff

Explorer X-Alpha, by Lm Preston

Gangsterland, by Ansha Kotyk
Cycles, by Lois Brown
Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, by L.R.W Lee
Princess Kandake, by Stephanie Jefferson
Weight of the Crown, by Stephanie Jefferson
Arrow of the Mist, by Christina Mercer
Cassidy Jones, by Elise Stokes
The Seventh Attendant, by Elise Stokes
Curse at Zala Manor, by BBH McChiller
The Curse of the Double Digits, by Lynn Kelley
Into the Forest and Down the Tower, by Ann T. Bugg
Off to Camp and Discovering Art, by Ann T. Bugg
Agency, by Shantal Hiatt
Psyched, by Juli Caldwell
Ragesong, by J.R. Simmons

Secret Sisters Club, by Monique Bucheger
Trouble Blows West, by Monique Bucheger
The Alien Mind, by Virginia Jennings
The Last Time Keepers, by Sharon Ledwith
Frogs & Toads, by Stacy Lynn Carroll
Nexus Point, by Jaleta Clegg
Warrior Beautiful, by Wendy Knight
Shahira and the Flying Elfs, by Anna del C Dye (PDF)

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