Thursday, November 21, 2013

Meatloaf recipe



Made a fantastic meatloaf last night. Served it with spaghetti squash and broccoli. Big hit.

Cooking may be the most social of the creative arts. Writing, in contrast, is a lonely pursuit while you are writing, and maddeningly fraught with social discourse when you are trying to market the fruits of your labor. With cooking, you've got all those wonderful smells to do the marketing for you, so all that's left socially is to serve it up and receive compliments.

Great Meatloaf Recipe

  1. 1.5 - 2.0 lbs meatloaf medley (I get mine from Publix. It's 1/3 ground pork & 2/3 ground chuck.)
  2. 1 egg
  3. 1 cup panko
  4. 1 cup milk (I use skim)
  5. 1 med carrot cut into tiny cubes
  6. 1/2 med onion, chopped fine
  7. 1/3 med red bell pepper
  8. 1 tbs vegetable bouillon (I use Better than Bouillon paste. Flavors are really intense.)
  9. 1/2 tsp salt
  10. 1/4 tsp black pepper
  11. 1/3 cup ketchup
  12. 2 tbs mustard
  13. 2 tbs brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine first 10 ingredients. Shape into a loaf and place on a slatted broiler pan to allow juices to drain off during cooking. Combine ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar and smear on top and sides of loaf to create a glaze. Bake for about an hour and a half, or until internal temp reaches 160 degrees F. Allow to cool for 5 - 10 minutes before slicing.

Next time I make this, I'm going to substitute shallot for part of the onion and sautee the onion, red pepper, and carrot before adding to the loaf mixture. This will serve 6 - 8 people pretty handily, or 4 with plenty left over for sandwiches the next day. Or you can do like me and have a slice for breakfast with a fried egg on top. Yum.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Survivor Man!


I like to think that I'm not easily defeated. By way of evidence, I submit that I have beaten cancer twice. One year ago today I was undergoing a gruesome 10 hour long surgery to remove a large tumor from my sinuses. The procedure involved peeling my face down over my chin, harvesting bone from the upper portion of my forehead, and reconstructing the bridge of my nose, my brow line, and bits of my right eye socket. The amazing thing is, not only did I survive the procedure but I still look mostly human. People keep telling me I look great, but that is a relative thing. They wouldn't say it if they didn't know some details about what I went through to survive.
The actual procedure was, of course, a piece of cake for me. I quite enjoyed it. All the attention, the care, the well-wishing and prayers and concern were gratifying. Plus, for the truly terrifying parts, I was sound asleep. When I woke up, I was surrounded by my wife and her sisters, my own sister, and some nurses. I thought I had gone to heaven. It was a wonderful experience. I'd do it again, although I don't think anyone else enjoyed it quite as much as I did.
The misery started the next day. It's been a year, and I'm still not back to normal. I have random attacks of pain and discomfort in my face and eyes. I'm kind of used to it by now. It's part of the new me—the guy who has trouble getting up out of a chair even though he's demonstrably tough as nails. The guy who has suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and lived to tell the tale. Happy anniversary to me! Superhero. Survivor Man. I just need a Spandex suit.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Relentless Promotion with a Twist

All the best advice I've seen about how to succeed as an indie published author claims that you have to be relentlessly upbeat in all your social media posts while you're trying to market your book. I've tried this to the best of my ability, but it has become increasingly difficult to do given my lackluster sales numbers and the fact that, even though everyone tells me to my face that Speedster is a real page turner, hardly anyone has bothered to go to Amazon or Goodreads or Barnes & Noble or any of the other places where the book is retailed and give me a nice 4 or 5 star rating or post a review. Staying relentlessly upbeat is requiring ever greater amounts of gin and vermouth and repeated trips to the grocery for olives and/or lemons. Just sayin' . . . in the most relentlessly upbeat possible way.

BTW, if this piques your interest in any way, Speedster is now FREE for a limited time in virtually all ebook formats, including Kindle, from the Smashwords Store. Just follow this LINK.

People who have read it really do say good things about it, and I tend to believe them even though the only posted rating I have from someone who is not a friend or relative only gave it two stars. Two stars in the Goodreads universe means okay. To have any chance of respectable sales numbers, I apparently need to have an average of 4.5 stars.

I really want to know what people think. If the book is not as good as I think it is, as I've been led to believe by others that it is, then I want to be able to to make the next one (already in progress - working title, Hiding Teeth) that much better. I need some thoughtful and independent feedback. If you want to help me out in this regard, I promise to love you forever in the most relentlessly upbeat way possible.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

#@!&##%

But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. Mark 6:4

Apparently this little proverb applies to writers as well as prophets. I can attest because getting my family to read Speedster has been like pulling teeth. Some are easy. My wife, cousin, and two sisters-in-law, for instance, were early readers and supporters. They even talked me up—said things like once they got started they couldn't put it down etc. You'd think statements like that would get more family members motivated to give it a try. Not so much.
Language might be part of the problem—that and my decidedly irreverent spin on things. Many in my family are devoutly religious. They home school their children in order to shelter them from the kinds of things I write about. Knowing that, I can hardly expect them to download the very stuff they are guarding against directly into their homes. Still, you'd think they'd be at least a little curious.
Now, to be fair, I have pointed out to them by way of forewarning that parts of my book, especially any dialogue involving the characters Dwayne and his boss Earl, are liberally peppered with F-bombs and scatological references. I know that people really talk this way because I have worked for people who talked this way. I've had more than one boss who thought nothing of standing hard working and dedicated employees up against the wall without much provocation and yelling obscenities at them until the paint peeled around them.

In addition, a great many of my 'mommy blogger' acquaintances talk that way in their blogs. They are perfectly lovely young women with small children, who write about their day-to-day lives, managing their familial obligations, and dealing with husbands who seem to grow more useless and ignorant at an accelerating pace. They talk about these things like drunken sailors. It seems to be a requirement to get in one of the many 'mommy blogger' clubs.

A certain amount of unseemly language is essential to disagreeable tasks. I know, for instance, that it is impossible to repair an automobile or perform rudimentary plumbing without cussing. Should raising small children require any less? I don't think so. I've done some of that too. It's certainly stressful, often painful, and almost continually icky—just like plumbing. I'd say cussing is a job requirement for mommies, and on that basis, I think F-bombs and vulgarisms ought to be an accepted norm of expression. If you're thinking, 'What would Jesus do?' you should bear in mind that Jesus didn't have small childrenor plumbing.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Moluccan Cockatoo



I was reading an excerpt from my new book (working title - Hiding Teeth) yesterday at a new writers' group I am trying on for size. While I was reading, a Moluccan Cockatoo named Floyd flew across the room and landed on my shoulder. I took it as a fortuitous omen. The group moderator said my writing was 'brilliant'. Taken together, I think that these two things mean that you should definitely buy my book, Speedster. Honest to God, you just can't argue with signs like that! BTW, Floyd is a girl. That's not her in the picture, but she looked just like that. Quite lovely don't you think? I think she was mesmerized by my reading voice. Someone else said I sound just like John Goodman. All in all, it was a pretty cool day for me.