Monday, November 18, 2019

Crockpot Monday: Pesto Chicken

8:30 AM 0 Comments
Pesto Chicken:

Ingredients:

For the pesto:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
4 garlic cloves
2 cups fresh basil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

4 chicken thighs, or breast halves
sliced mozzarella cheese
aluminum foil or parchment paper
4 small sweet potatoes, washed well, skin on

Directions:

In a food processor or blender, combine the ingredients for your pesto.

In the bottom of a large slow cooker, arrange your chicken pieces. Layer on slices of mozzarella cheese. Pour pesto evenly on top. Cover with a layer of foil or parchment paper. Scrub sweet potatoes well, prick with a fork, and lay them on top of the paper or foil. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours, or on high for 4-5.

Carefully remove the sweet potatoes with tongs, and remove foil or parchment. The steam that comes out will be hot, so please be careful.



If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Writing Prompt Thursday: Nets

8:16 AM 0 Comments
Do you prefer taking risks or having a safety net?

Oooh...I am 100% a safety net kind of girl. Even my risks have been thought out and weighed. I think this comes from having a childhood where I never felt totally secure. It's made me crave security and scared of risk. Quite often though, I think of a picture that I once saw. On it, it said, "Leap and the net shall appear."

I've worked on following that to a certain extent. Sometimes life is about faith, right? For me, it's having faith in myself that I can do something. I can write a book. I can work hard for my clients and not improve upon their work, but also build good working relationships. Leap and the net shall appear...because that net is me and I'm right there.

If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Monday, November 11, 2019

Crockpot Monday: Tex Mex Pot Roast

8:00 AM 0 Comments
Ingredients:
2 to 4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 (15-ounce) can chili beans, undrained
1 (11-ounce) can corn with peppers, undrained
1 (10-ounce) can Rotel (tomatoes and chiles), undrained

Directions:
Add your meat to the crockpot. It can go in frozen or thawed. After your meat is in, add the chipotle chili powder and all the canned ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or on high for 4 to 6. If it’s frozen, it will take longer. It will be done when the roast reaches your desired doneness.


If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Writing Prompt Thursday: Trouble

8:30 AM 0 Comments
What did you get into trouble for the most when you were a kid?

Whew. Let's see. I'm sure I got into trouble for the usual things, like being mouthy, but the biggest thing I remember getting into trouble for was always about my younger sister.

She was born with a heart murmur (one I should point out has never affected her life) and so my grandfather spoiled her. While I was always made to carry in groceries, she got to sit and watch. While I had to mow, I don't remember her ever mowing. The frustration over the fairness of it all would build up and I would lose my temper. It always resulted in me getting into trouble.

More than once, she would make up things to get me into trouble. I always told to stop picking on her. I remember having friends who would comment on how I always got into trouble, even if I hadn't done anything, but she never did.

....And that, folks, is another bit of insight into my world.





If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Monday, November 4, 2019

Crockpot Monday: Super Easy Fajitas

8:30 AM 0 Comments
Ingredients:
2 pounds of thin cut stir fry beef
1 or 2 packets of fajita seasoning mix (depending on how spicy you prefer)
1 onion
2 bell peppers
1/2 cup of water
*Tortillas

Directions:
Place your meat into the crockpot. It can be frozen or thawed. Cut the onion and the peppers in strips, and add. Add the seasoning and water. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours, or high for 6. The meat is done when it reaches desired tenderness. Serve with your favorite fajita toppings.


If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Writing Prompt Thursday: Lies

8:00 AM 0 Comments
Name one thing that you have lied to yourself about. Why did you do this?

Wow, this is a tough one this week. The first thing that pops to mind is a bit tough to write about, but since it's come up twice today, maybe I'm supposed to share it with all of you.

When I was 29, my ex-husband and I divorced after nearly ten years of marriage. After the divorce, I was broken. I had no idea of self-worth or even identity. During that time, I met a man online and for my 30th birthday, we agreed that I'd fly from Michigan to New York to see him. Everything that could go wrong with that trip did and I should have turned around and gone home, but I believed this man cared about me and I really didn't want to spend my birthday being ignored and alone. I kept telling myself that I just had to get there and everything would be alright.

I was wrong. By the time that I got there, I was exhausted. The airline didn't have my bag so I had nothing other than the cute, dressy outfit that I had worn.  I'll spare you all of the details, but that night was far from fine and I woke up the next morning, bruised and bleeding. Here's where lie #2 comes into play. I was so confused by what had happened. Since we were entering into a new relationship, I wondered if I'd given off some sort of mixed signal. He did his best to convince me that everything was fine and that nothing bad had happened. I was there, I was lost and confused, I believed him. I had nowhere to go and calling someone to come get me never crossed my mind. I didn't believe anyone would come if I did call...and I didn't know anyone else in that area. That night, there was an attempt at it happening again, but when I completely disassociated, it wasn't fun for him, so he stopped. The next day I flew home, confused by what had happened, hurting, and yet somehow looking forward to seeing him again. He was that good at manipulation.

Why did I lie to myself? Because I believed I was unworthy of love, affection, and any kind of positive attention. Part of me believed that any attention was better than no attention. I'm not that girl anymore. I have boundaries. I believe in me. I'm proud of me. That makes a big difference.

I hope you believe in you.






If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Monday, October 28, 2019

Crockpot Monday: Ravioli Lasagna

8:30 AM 0 Comments
Ingredients:
1 pound lean ground beef, browned and drained
1 (28-ounce) jar prepared pasta sauce
25-30 frozen cheese or meat ravioli
2 cups Italian blend shredded cheese
2 tablespoons warm water

Directions:
After browning the meat in a skillet, drain well and add the pasta sauce (save the jar!) to the meat in your sauté pan. Stir to combine.

Scoop a large spoonful of meat sauce and spread into the bottom of an empty slow cooker. Add a layer of frozen ravioli. Then add another layer of meat sauce. Continue layering until you run out of ravioli and sauce. Sprinkle cheese evenly all over the top.

Put 2 tablespoons of water into the empty pasta sauce jar, and shake. Pour this water over the top of your "lasagna."

Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours, or on high for about 4. Your lasagna is done when the pasta on the ravioli is tender and the filling is heated through.


If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Friday, October 25, 2019

Book Review: The Dollmaker of Krakow

9:38 AM 0 Comments
In the land of dolls, there is magic.
In the land of humans, there is war.
Everywhere there is pain.
But together there is hope.

Karolina is a living doll whose king and queen have been overthrown. But when a strange wind spirits her away from the Land of the Dolls, she finds herself in Krakow, Poland, in the company of the Dollmaker, a man with an unusual power and a marked past.

The Dollmaker has learned to keep to himself, but Karolina's courageous and compassionate manner lead him to smile and to even befriend a violin-playing father and his daughter--that is, once the Dollmaker gets over the shock of realizing a doll is speaking to him.

But their newfound happiness is dashed when Nazi soldiers descend upon Poland. Karolina and the Dollmaker quickly realize that their Jewish friends are in grave danger, and they are determined to help save them, no matter what the risks.

~~~

The Good:
I absolutely fell in love with the characters. Each one is so well done that they become real people (and dolls) before your eyes as you read and by the time you reach the end of the book, it feels as if they're friends. Then, there's the story itself. This talented author created a world that I could easily imagine in my mind. I was pulled in and when the end of the book came, the reality of my bedroom was a bit startling.

The Bad:
Only that nobody warned me that I'd need tissues before the book came to its end.

The Summary:
This could easily be one of my favorite books that I've read this year and I've read some really good ones. The story will draw you in, the characters will become friends, and by the time you reach the end, you'll be praying for more of little Karolina. In fact, I would love to see a novella all about what happens at the end of the book. No spoilers here!





If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Writing Prompt Thursday: Mathematics

9:09 AM 0 Comments
Come up with a mathematical formula to express something you know/believe.

Me + My Children + Time = Happy Me

Me + The Man + Time = Happy Me

Me + Hard Work + Dedication = Success

Hard Work + Money = Progress in certain things

Me + Good Book + Cozy Blanket = Downtime

I thought this one might be tough, but really it's all about taking everything down to its base. I think I could probably do this for half the day and have a bit of fun with it, but I'd much rather see your formulas.







If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Monday, October 21, 2019

Crockpot Monday: Pomegranate Beef

9:00 AM 0 Comments
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 pounds beef roast
4 garlic cloves (whole is fine, or you can chop them)
1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
1 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup golden raisins

Directions:

Use at least a 6-quart slow cooker. Swirl the olive oil into the bottom of the stoneware. Add the onion. Rub the spices on all sides of meat and add to the crockpot with the garlic, the whole can of tomatoes, pomegranate juice, vinegar, and syrup. Sprinkle the raisins on top.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for about 5. The meat is done when it has reached desired tenderness. Serve with mashed potatoes and drizzle with the sauce.


If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Friday, October 18, 2019

Book Review: Cherry Ames - Boarding School Nurse

8:30 AM 0 Comments
This is another book in the Cherry Ames series. In this case she's gotten a job at a girl's boarding school which is basically down on its luck. There aren't many students, and most of Cherry's nursing problems are fairly minor. There is a mystery involving one of the girls, though, where she wants to find a formula for a perfume made by an ancestor of hers.

~~~~

I'm still not reading as much as I would like but I couldn't resist this when I spotted it sitting on my night stand. I read this series when I was a kid and fell in love with them. In fact, they're my bucket list book series. I only own three of them so far, but I'm always looking in thrift stores and at garage sales for more. That said, this is the one that always stuck with me...

The Good - 
This is a light, quick read akin to Nancy Drew. Cherry is a regular girl who struggles with a bit of insecurity, but who is always there for her patients and who has a quick mind.

The Bad -
These were written during a time period when nurses were often seen to be below doctors and not as important. Certain things like this are apparent within the book.

The Summary - 
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I suspect that now that I own it, I will read it over and over again. If you're able to keep in mind the time period that it was written versus getting offended, this is a great series no matter the age of the reader.






If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Writing Prompt Thursday: Interpretation

8:00 AM 0 Comments
You are the wind's interpreter. What is it saying?

Keep going. Just keep going. It's tough, but you're tougher. Stand in front of me and I'll give you the nudge that you need. Don't fight it, just go with it. You can do this. Life won't defeat you. I'm on your side and will help push you when you need it.

Thank you, wind. Thank you for hearing my cries and answering. It is hard right now, but I can do this and when I feel that I can't, I'll stand outside and feel you whip through my hair, lifting me. I'm not alone even when I feel like it.

What does the wind say to you?







If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Monday, October 14, 2019

Crockpot Monday: Philly Cheesesteak

8:30 AM 0 Comments
Ingredients:
1 pound sliced tri-tip
1/2 sliced onion
1 red, green, yellow or orange bell pepper, sliced and seeded
1/4 cup of white wine
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Favorite cheese
*French Rolls

Directions:
Place sliced meat into crockpot cover with sliced pepper and onions. Pour white wine and Worcestershire sauce over top.

Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 4-6.

Spoon meat onto sliced french rolls or other favorite bread-item and top with cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until cheese is nice and melty.

If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Announcement: Sale!

2:52 PM 0 Comments


This just in...Due to my car having fits, I am running a limited time sale for new and current clients! How does it work? Super simple!


  • Contact me today about your project (current or future).
  • Put down a deposit to hold your space in my queue. 
  • Get 10% off this project!
  • When you're ready, we'll work together to make your project the best it can be!
That's it! Super simple. Now, how limited is this sale? It will only run until I have enough money set aside to get my car repaired. Don't delay because things will fill up quickly. 

How to contact me?
Again, super simple! Message me on Facebook (Katrina Roets) or email me at close2midnigh@gmail.com - Just make sure that you mention the sale! I'm dubbing it the "Keep Katrina From Losing Her Mind" sale. You can just call it the car sale.

Thanks, all! I look forward to working with all of you!






PS If you love to read as much as I do, make sure you check out my book sale over on Facebook!


If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Writing Prompt Thursday: Worth It

9:22 AM 0 Comments
Write about something presently in your life that is "worth it."

Whew...there are so many things that I could write about. The kids, the man, the dehoarding, the working...but really, I think that they all boil down to one thing. The struggle, the fight. Some of you may read over at Welcoming Weight Loss so you know that I deal with PTSD, Bipolar 2, and OCD on a daily basis. It's not always easy and some days are far easier than others. It often means though that I just "don't want to." The motivation isn't zero, it's negative one million. I'm "out of spoons" or however you want to say it. There are days when I want to do it all. Of course, those are the days that what gets done isn't really what needs to get done. It can be a lot to be me, but the struggle is worth it. Every day that I listen to me and I take care of me makes things just a little bit easier. Every day that I take my medication, I get out of bed, and I work is worth it. It allows me time with my children. It allows me time with the man. It allows me to find me and to be me. If I didn't fight the fight, I would be missing out on a lot and the world would be missing out on me. It's not always easy, but it's always worth it. I have days where I forget that, but I'm lucky that I have those who will help me fight on those days. Today, I have a lot to do and there's an underlying voice saying that I don't want to...but the laundry will get folded, the posts will get written, and I will fight on. I hope you'll join me in fighting the fight that keeps you here with us all.








If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Monday, October 7, 2019

Crockpot Monday: Vietnamese Pho

8:30 AM 0 Comments
Vietnamese Pho:

Ingredients:
6 cups beef broth or stock
2 inch chunk of ginger , peeled
3/4 teaspoon anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 sliced green onions
1 pound thin sliced beef
Package of rice noodles
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Directions: 

Put all of the broth into the crockpot. Add the meat, green onion, ginger, fish sauce, and spices.

Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 4-6. It's done when the meat is fully cooked.

15 minutes before serving, add the entire package of rice noodles to the pot. Push them under the liquid with a wooden spoon, and cover. By the time you set the table, the noodles will be tender and glass-like. Serve in bowls. Add any additional garnish, such as bean sprouts, fresh cilantro or basil, and lime wedges.




If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Writing Prompt Thursday: Where I Live

9:00 AM 0 Comments
Every week, I'm sure I've found a question that's going to stump me, but I'm discovering more and more that my brain kicks right in and starts running away with the answer faster than I can get it down here.

This week's question:
Give your city (or town or region) a new name that reflects what type of place it is, and explain why you chose that name.

This one is almost too easy. I would rename it Farmville and then I would chuckle as people thought I'd lost my mind and thought I was living in a Facebook game. I might even let them think that. It could make life interesting for a while, unlike life here in the village. I often say that I live in the middle of nowhere, Michigan, and I like it that way. It's quiet here. Nobody bothers anyone else and for the most part, the town is surrounded by fields and farms. Did I mention that it's quiet? Often the only sound I hear is when the train happens to come through on the track at the edge of the village. Sure, there are downsides but they're so minimal that they don't even count to me. I only notice them when other people are horrified that the closest fast food place is 10 miles away and the closest Starbucks is something like 18 miles. That's okay. My health would be far worse if I had easy access. I like the quiet, the sense of not being isolated, but being on my own.

How about you? What would you name where you live?






If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Monday, September 30, 2019

Crockpot Monday: Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

10:11 AM 0 Comments

Autumn is here. Football season is in full swing, which means having something bubbling away when we walk in the door at night.

Turkey & Wild Rice Soup:

Ingredients:
2 cups of cooked turkey
8 cups of chicken broth
2/3 cup uncooked wild rice
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 teaspoon sage
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cups baby spinach leaves

Directions: 

Pour broth into the crockpot and add the meat. Chop up the vegetables (not the spinach), and add to the pot. Dump in the wild rice. Add the sage and balsamic vinegar. Stir.  Add two heaping handfuls of baby spinach to the pot.

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-6. The soup is done when the vegetables have reached desired tenderness.



If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Friday, September 27, 2019

Book Review: In the Garden of Rusting Gods

8:00 AM 1 Comments
In the Garden of Rusting Gods delivers sixteen tales from the imagination of multiple Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Patrick Freivald. From time travel and broken monsters to glimpses into the minds of honeybees and ordinary people dealing with unbearable loss, Freivald burrows into the weird, dark places that lurk beneath the everyday to unearth twisted stories of our world and worlds that could be.

Freivald’s range is on full display with In the Garden of Rusting Gods. Here lies science, horror, humor, and the weird. Action, panic, and dread. Loaded with energy, you’ll be tapping to the beat from page one. –Josh Malerman, New York Times Best Selling author of Bird Box and Unbury Carol

Smart, funny, intriguing, horrifying; Freivald shows us the wide range of his talents. –Kaaron Warren, Aurealis Award winning Author of The Grief Hole

A haunting collection of beautifully desperate characters creatively mingled in the agony of their realities. –Kelli Owen, author of Teeth and Wilted Lilies.

~~~~~~

Wow, where to start....I guess where I always do, eh?

The Good -
All of it. The entire book is incredible. I joked with the author that it was so good that it had made me reconsider my future as a writer and perhaps he didn't realize it, but I was only half joking. These stories are written with a skill that aspiring writers can only dream about. There wasn't a single one that didn't pull me in and make me wonder what's next. There was at least one that left me hoping that it'd be expanded out because I wanted to know more.

The Bad -
Heck if I know! Honestly, I usually don't struggle to find something in a book that just didn't sit right with me, but I couldn't find anything for this book. In fact, when I finished it, I kept hoping that the author will release another book of stories.

The Summary -
Sometimes you don't want to curl up with a good book. Sometimes all you want is a couple of stories to tide you over until morning. If that's the case, I can't recommend this book enough. The stories are just the right length to read before bed, while waiting in the car, or any of those times where you don't want to be pulled into a full book.

For those interested, In the Garden of Rusting Gods is currently available on Amazon.






 I received a copy of this book in exchange for this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.

If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Writing Post Thursday: Diary Entry

9:30 AM 0 Comments
I'll confess that I saw a sneak peek of this week's prompt and all week I've avoided thinking about it because it causes anxiety. I'm not at a point in my life/mental health journey that I let myself think long term. But, I'm going to try to relax and just write...after all, that's the night before my 53rd birthday. Who knows what that time will bring?

This week's prompt:
Write a diary entry, dated 10 years in the future.

Well, happy birthday eve to me. There were times that you never thought you'd get here, but you did. The boys are all grown up and doing great. You have a daughter-in-law and grandkids are on the horizon. Do you remember being in high school, thinking you'd never have kids? It's funny now, but it wasn't at the time. You were already so damaged.

Here you are though. You've come through everything that the universe could throw at you and you have a thriving editing and writing career. You get to work with the best indie authors that there are and you're receiving fan emails asking when your next book will come out. Ten years ago, you were just getting started, afraid that you'd never finish that novel, but you did. You did and people loved it. Now, you have an entire series of young adult novels as well as your children's stories. You chose not to choose and it was the right decision. People doubted you. People said you couldn't do it and you did it anyway. You. Nobody else. I'm proud of you.

You've moved to a home that you love, in an area that you love, and you're surrounded by people who love and celebrate you. Life is good and that's because of you. You turned your life into what you wanted it to be and that, girl, is awesome.






If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Wordsmith Wednesday: On Being a Failure

8:00 AM 0 Comments
Comics were easy when I was a kid.  I’d put my pencil to the paper and make it up as I went along.  No planning, they just happened.  After a few days of nonstop drawing, I’d entertain my family with stories of dinosaurs eating cavemen and pooping them back out.  I’d set out to do something and it’d be a success.

This method got me through high school, albeit with more mature story ideas...usually.

I was in college before I gained enough knowledge to entertain the idea of putting together a proper “professional style” comic book.  A good friend of mine, Eric Myers, was pretty well embedded in the early webcomic community and we teamed up to develop an idea that we had discussed about 10 years prior when we attended high school together.

We settled on a format that would be a quarterly comic book with a biweekly companion webcomic strip.  We’d split art duties and write together.  It wasn’t a terribly unrealistic goal and we got off to a good start.

In all of our excitement we announced our work to the world with some previews and synopses.  During production I got an itch to resurrect the comic I’d made famous at my high school as a kid, "Adhesive Man."  I decided Adhesive Man would also be quarterly and I announced the return of my hero.  Eric Myers also began working on a comic strip called "SMS" around the same time.

Not long after, I was talking to a friend of my sister’s at a party and some ideas started forming about another property.  We started plotting and scripting this idea and, predictably, we announced it to the world.  This one was coming soon with no frequency decided.

In no time I was drawing books, writing books, and even developing spinoff books for books I hadn’t even produced a single issue of.  Basically, it would be about 9 books a year.  I was living the dream of being a creator.

One day I made a post on LiveJournal that had updates on my various projects and announced another in the works.  That is where reality hit me like a freight train.  A regular commenter asked a simple question: “Will any of this actually be released?  You make more announcements than comics.”

He was right.  I hadn’t put out a single comic.  By that point I’d put out a handful of comic strips with my buddy and a handful of Adhesive Man comic strips.  But ultimately I’d failed them by moving on to new things.  It’s one of the curses of being a creative: Having more ideas than you have time for.

I ended up dropping everything and focusing on Adhesive Man, which ran for a few issues before I stopped to work on something new.  Despite ending sooner than I had hoped, 2009’s "Adhesive Man" was a success for me.  I had finally finished something and had something to show for the work I’d done.

I’d also learned my lesson when it came to announcing projects.  I would no longer announce projects going into development.  I’d announce projects as they came out of development.  It was a great time of growth for me.

Even though I recognize the importance of that failure, I still feel the pain of that LiveJournal comment to this day.  But as Lance Armstrong said, “Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.”  And I had no intention of quitting.

After eventually producing an Adhesive Man trade paperback, I turned my sights toward continuing the series in an anthology comic, this time with Myers joining me, and my oldest friend, Darren Fitzpatrick, on board.

Kickstarter was all the rage among creators and our product seemed viable, so we pitched it on that platform.  Our goal was modest.  Most of our cost was in printing and shipping, as we produced the book ourselves.  The campaign was a success!  It was followed up with another successful campaign.

In 2016 I wrote a novella called “Blister: A Punk Rock Memoir.”  It was well received and I was encouraged to bring Blister into the comic world.  I also thought it was time to up my Kickstarter game and I asked for double the goal of my previous campaigns.  It too was a success!

A year later I was riding high on some great successes.  I was playing things smart and getting things done.  I teamed up with a newer friend, Gene Hoyle, to write a story I’d had on the back burner (and knew not to announce).  We assembled one hell of a team of indie comic creators and we launched "Dulce: The New Guy" on Kickstarter.

Dulce Base is one of the crazier conspiracy stories I’d stumbled upon, thanks to some crazy television viewing habits. It revolves around a joint operation between humans and extraterrestrials in the New Mexico desert.   A million ideas ran through my head as I processed what life in this place might be like for a new recruit.  Hence, the character of Marcus came into existence.

The idea seemed sound and people seemed to like it.  The expanded art team required a considerably higher campaign goal, and it took every last minute to raise the funds, but we did it.  The Kickstarter was one more success under my belt.

That success was nice, but the reality was that my personal life was not going very well.  After 12 years of marriage, my wife and I were filing for divorce and it was devastating.  Of any failure I have ever endured, this was the most important.  The repercussions of this failure will haunt me the rest of my existence.

Art has always been a positive emotional outlet for me.  As had happened many times in my life, art became my security blanket.  I worked through a script with Gene and we sent it off to our team.  While managing the production of "Dulce: Tour of Duty," I worked on a second Blister comic.  "Blister: Hot for Teacher" was the follow up to "Blister: Angela."

The Blister comic was released low key.  I sold it at shows and on the website, but the cost of producing it was not great enough that it warranted the torture of a Kickstarter campaign on top of everything else I was dealing with.

"Dulce: Tour of Duty" was different though.  So we funded the product out of pocket, with plans to recoup the cost with a Kickstarter.

The premise of the story was that Marcus has been working at the alien base for a short time now.  It picks up with an investigative reporter hunting him down and hijinx ensuing as we spend some time showing off the operations of the base and reveal a new “big bad.”  It was an insanely entertaining ride and we were proud to put it out on Kickstarter.  It would be an awesome return to comics and while it certainly wouldn’t do much to reconcile the greatest failure of my life, silently I envisioned a bit of a phoenix moment.  Rising from the ashes and all that dramatic nonsense.

Unfortunately, I was so eager to release the book that I didn’t consider promotion too much.  Despite the great success the year before, the second issue Kickstarter launched to the sound of crickets.

That failure hit me hard.  I’d only had successes on Kickstarter prior to that.  Four of them.  I hadn’t even considered failure as a possible outcome.  It was easy in the moments following the “Unfortunately, your project, New Dulce Base Comic Book! Dulce: Tour of Duty, was not successfully funded.” email to feel like a massive failure, and I did.

I put on a front, like since I knew why it failed, it didn’t matter and I’d just try again.  But that sucked.  I was beginning a  failure streak.  While it might not match my early failures in quantity, the quality of these failures dwarfed any others.

But, again, pain is temporary, but quitting lasts forever.  Quitting is just not an option.  In the time since the divorce I had pulled my personal life back together.  I was proud of what I had accomplished there.  I was not about to let Dulce die.  I don’t require a dramatic phoenix moment, but those characters deserve a second shot and my team worked too hard for Dulce to be a failure. 

The truth is that failing and being a failure are two different things.  I’ve demonstrated here several times I’ve failed.  But I am not a failure.  And I’m excited by the progress that Dulce has made in its current Kickstarter campaign.  It is tracking to be a success. 

I am certain that you have felt failure in your life.  Maybe a lot of it.  Maybe you’re lucky and have had very little failure.  Regardless of all that, you are not a failure if you don’t quit.  Take some time to learn the lessons of that moment and you can go on to that great success that you deserve.  I know I needed to hear that myself in recent history, and I hope that message catches somebody else at the right time.

-----------------------------------------------

Eric Cockrell is an Aster Award-winning video producer, comic book creator, author, and a co-host and producer of the web video series "Strange Tales Weekly." He is best known for the comic book adaptation of his book "Blister" which follows a group of punk rock kids in their formative years and is very loosely based on actual people and events.  His comic book “Dulce” has it’s second issue running on Kickstarter right now!

Monday, September 23, 2019

Crockpot Monday: Traditional Minestrone

10:04 AM 0 Comments

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me....ahem...hi, all! Today's soup is a classic and I hope you enjoy!

Traditional Minestrone:

Ingredients:
8 cups beef broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup dry beans of your choice, rinsed in hot water
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1 Tablespoon dried minced onion (or 1 small onion, finely diced)
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup uncooked pasta (to add later)
Parmesan cheese (optional garnish)

Directions: 

Use a 6-quart crockpot. Pour broth in and add tomatoes and the beans. Add vegetables, seasoning, and thawed spinach.
Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until the beans are soft. Add dry pasta, and cook on high for about 30 minutes or until pasta is done.

Serve with some warm, crusty bread and yum!




If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Birthday Giveaway #1 : The Tether: None Good

9:20 AM 0 Comments

It's not a birthday without presents! So, over the next few weeks, I'm going to be giving away copies of all three of my books that are on Amazon! I'm going to be giving away one each week and some entries can be done each day so make sure that you come back and enter again!

a Rafflecopter giveaway




 If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Writing Prompt Thursday : Art

9:00 AM 0 Comments
Sometimes a question seems hard when you first read it and it turns out that it's super easy. Ready for this week's question? I am. I love these weekly prompts!

What is your favorite piece of art? What do you love about it?

I want to start out by showing you some of my favorites. Then, I'll tell you all about why I love them so much.

This is the wall behind my table in my studio/office. Every one of these pieces were done by Nick Davis (yep, co-author of The Tether Saga) and all but the bottom right corner one is an original. Why do I love them so much? Well, that's easy but has multiple parts:

  • Nick just happens to be one of my closest and favorite people on the planet.
  • I seriously just love his drawing style. He's switched over to digital art now which looks great, but nothing can take the place of a hand drawn and colored piece for me. 
  • He sold these to help raise funds in his custody battles for his children even. Even though he loved the pieces, he loves those kids more and how can anyone not love that?
  • Some of my all time favorite characters are on this wall: Paddington, Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, Tristan...
There's another larger piece that doesn't show in this picture that has to be included in my favorites list. It was a surprise birthday gift a couple of years ago and I can't help but smile whenever I see it. These are all hung right in front of where my laptop sits when I'm working in this room. Whenever I get stuck, I can just look up and remember how much Nick and others believe in me and how strong he's had to be to keep his own journey happening. I'm surrounded by amazing creators and all of this inspires me to keep going.

What's your favorite piece of art? I'd love to see it!






If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Wordsmith Wednesday: World Building in a Fantasy Novel

10:00 AM 0 Comments
We have a guest this week! I'm super excited to introduce y'all to Russell Nohelty, one of my favorite writers.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I’m doing a lot of promotion for my new Kickstarter, Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter, and as such I have been participating in several AMAs around the internet.

Most of the questions tend to be about the project, or one of my other projects, but sometimes they turn toward writing, and specifically writing fantasy, which is something I am acutely qualified to talk about, being as I’ve made my career writing fantasy novels and comics.

The biggest question I get related specifically to writing fantasy is about how to go about world building in a fantasy story without an info dump.

An info dump is when you explain the world at length in the middle of a scene without explaining it through action. It could be through a song, or a story found by one of the characters, or just somebody explaining the world at length to another character.

This kind of world building stops the story dead and is dreadfully boring both for the author to write and the reader to read. It also demystifies the wonder of the world, which is one of the greatest parts about fantasy.

So, how do you do world building the right way, then?

Good world building is done through the eyes of the main character, or characters, if you have multiple point of view characters, a la Game of Thrones.

In good world building, the world unfolds for the character much like it unfolds for the reader, with each scene building on the next and revealing more and more about the world.

Good world building is like building a train track while a train is barreling forward. You should only lay that track moments before the train arrives, but always with enough track that it doesn’t fall off the rails.

This means that you should strive not to reveal something to your reader until right before they need to know it, so that it’s fresh in their mind when the action happens.

If you reveal a part of the world a hundred pages before the information is needed, readers will forget and become confused when the action happens.

Instead, it’s important to reveal necessary information within two chapters of when the characters will need to act on the information they’ve received, and it is best to do so in the preceding one or during the same chapter when they experience the threat.

For instance, if your characters go into a town and learn about a beast that roams the mountains, and then head into the mountains…they are going to either have to encounter the beast OR learn that there is something else in the woods that is not the beast.

This either reinforces or subverts the information given, and thus cements it in the brain of the reader, because they have just read about the information, and then soon after seen the information for themselves through the actions of the characters.

I also like to use another trick, which is not to disclose any information for my readers until after the characters experience it.

In Ichabod Jones Monster Hunter, the first issue starts with the main character creeping through an asylum unaware of what is happening and scared out of his mind, until he runs into a great, big monster which chases after him, and the rest of the issue is spent trying to figure out what happened and how to kill the monster.

This plants the reader directly into the action, but it is also jarring for the reader, which means it needs to be used sparingly.

In the case above, I used the jarring pace of meeting the monster to show that nothing is safe and Ichabod could be put in life threatening peril at any moment. It drew the reader in immediately and helped them connect with the character.

Conflict is what bonds the reader with the character, and conflict shows the true nature of the character. Good world building is all about how to show the mettle of the characters and put them in conflict with the world.

When you write an info dump, you do nothing to show the conflict of the world with the character, and thus, it serves very little purpose.

The world is only as interesting as the conflict it creates with the characters, which means that showing the world in conflict with the character is the best way to build empathy between your reader and the world you’ve created.


You can check out the Ichabod Jones campaign, and even download the first issue for free at: bit.ly/ichabod5

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

For more information about Russell, check out his website at The Complete Creative. Also be sure to check out all of his novels and comics! He's an immensely talented writer who I am proud to know.








If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Monday, September 16, 2019

Crockpot Monday: Taco Soup

8:30 AM 0 Comments
Mmm....tacos...That's all I have to say to introduce this next recipe!

Taco Soup:

Ingredients:
2(15-ounce) cans of kindey beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15-ounce) cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15-ounce) cans of corn
1 large can (26-ounces) of diced tomatoes
1 (10-ounce) can tomatoes and chilies
1 packet taco seasoning
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1 pound browned ground turkey or hamburger (optional)
shredded cheese
sour cream

Directions: 

You’ll need a 6 quart or larger crockpot.

Brown meat if you plan on using it. Be sure to drain the fat and then add the meat to your crockpot. Sprinkle your seasoning packets over top of the meat. Add your beans and then the cans of tomatoes and corn.  Stir together.

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5.

Stir well and serve with a handful of shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream.




If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Friday, September 13, 2019

Book Review: The Rose Girls

9:19 AM 0 Comments
Life With Katie - The Rose Girls - Victoria Connelly
Thirty-year-old Celeste Hamilton’s life is at a crossroads: she has just left a disastrous marriage, and her estranged mother has recently died, leaving the family’s rose business in jeopardy. Reluctantly, Celeste returns to the family home, a moated manor house in Suffolk, to help her two younger sisters sort out the estate and revive the business.

Having endured the fallout from her mother’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder when she was younger, Celeste is filled with self-doubt and crippling insecurities. But she must find the strength and courage to take charge and make some tough decisions to keep the old house from falling down around them.

The Rose Girls is an uplifting, tender and romantic story of courage, perseverance and the healing power of family.

~~~~~~~~

It's been ages since I've written a review. Then again, it's been ages since I read a book that didn't belong to a client. It's felt really good to reclaim that bit of time each evening. I hope it's something I can continue because I've missed talking about books with all of you.  Now, for this review...

The Good:
Reality. This book felt grounded in reality. There was no insta-love, there wasn't grand drama. It was simply three sisters trying to find their own places in a world where things have changed. I think that we can all relate to that. Life happens even when we don't want it to. The characters also fell under this. Each one was unique and had their own personality, which I appreciated. No cookie cutter characters.

The Bad:
While there was no insta-love, I felt at times that things happened really fast within the book. Perhaps it's because the author never really mentions time passing, it just passes. Also, bits of the book felt rather predictable but that may just be to me. After all, I can never figure out a mystery before the big reveal, but I have friends who have sorted it out by page 10.

The Summary:
A really enjoyable, light read that's perfect if you're looking for some casual reading. I finished it in a couple of evenings and it's really reminded me how much I love getting lost in a book...and taking the time to smell the roses..erm..pages...






If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Writing Prompt Thursday : Speaking Up

8:30 AM 0 Comments
It's time for another writing prompt! I know it seems just a little bit silly, but I'm so excited for these. I haven't had a lot of time for writing lately as my editing business takes off so these are perfect little bites for me right now.

Today's prompt:
Have you ever spoken up when you saw something going on that was wrong? Were you scared? What ended up happening?

I'd love to take the time to really sit and think about this one but the one rule that "the man" has about this book is that I'm not allowed to think about it. I have to just sit and write.

So, part of me wants to just answer no and move on, but I feel as if that may need a little bit more explanation. As some people know, I live in a pretty rural area and I don't get out a whole lot. Because of that, I probably don't have many opportunities to see people being "bad".  The things that pop into my mind all have to do with teenagers...like correcting my youngest son's friend on how he was treating his mother. Was I afraid? Nah...he was like one of my own kids and knew if I was correcting him, he needed to listen.

Have there been other times, in other situations? Possibly. I honestly don't have a single one popping to mind. I'd like to think that I'd speak up without being physically afraid or afraid of repercussions, but I need to be honest. I deal with PTSD from certain things that have happened in my life and I can't guarantee that the flight side of things wouldn't kick in. I tend to be good in emergencies and situations and then fall apart after so I suspect that would happen. I would be fine in the moment and then after it was all done and everyone was safe, I'd break down.

Hmm...turns out that writing without thinking led to some interesting (at least for me) writing.

How do y'all handle these kinds of situations?







If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Monday, September 9, 2019

Crockpot Monday: Salsa Chicken & Black Bean Soup

9:54 AM 0 Comments

Autumn is almost here and it's my favorite time of year for things like apple cider, pumpkin everything, and soup!

Salsa Chicken & Black Bean Soup:

Ingredients:
1 pound chicken breast tenderloins
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup frozen corn
1 jar prepared salsa (16 oz)
1.5 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup sour cream (to add later)
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Avocado slices (optional)
Cilantro (optional)

Directions:

Drain and rinse the beans. Add to the crockpot. Put in the chicken and add the broth and salsa. Pour in the corn and mushrooms and add the cumin. Stir but try to keep the beans at the bottom of the pot.

Cover and cook on high for 9 hours.

If you'd like to thicken the broth, you can use your immersion blender to blend a bit of the beans and chicken. If you don't have one, scoop out 2 cups of the soup and carefully blend in your traditional blender. Stir the mixture back into the crockpot.

Stir in the 1/2 cup of sour cream before serving, and garnish with shredded cheese and avocado slices.




If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Follow Us @lifewithkatie