Monday, March 28, 2016

Snow and Airplanes

Our El Nino fizzled out here in Southern California. We had a great start, but it just stopped, leaving us with a warm February and March, and not all that much snow.
As I am leaving town, which requires me to get off the mountain to get to an airport where I will catch a plane to another airport, where I'll catch a plane to take me to Japan, the weather folks tell me we will have more snow!

I will post here and on The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy's Facebook page as I can, but this may be harder than I think it is, as I won't have a real computer -- I'll have my iPad and iPhone -- and we'll just have to see about that.  If I can't figure it out, I'll post all the pictures I'm going to take when I get back!  Enjoy April.

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy
A series of fantasy-adventure novels set in Meiji era Japan by Amazon Best-Selling author Claire Youmans.  For tweens through adults.
Hard and e-formats available at:

and all the usual outlets.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Four Books At Once

In a few days, I leave for Japan.  I'm going to a splendid festival at Taiseki-ji, the head temple of the Nichiren Shoshu sect of Buddhism.  I will do some publicity for Books 1 and 2.  I will also do research for Book 4.

Book 3 is with its editor, and when I get back, I will swing into the production schedule so it can launch in June.   That will include rewriting and touching up, preparing front and back matter, the back cover, cover design, copyediting, illustrations and a dozen other things I don't remember right now.  Series publicity is ongoing.  And all the while Book 4 will be forming itself in my head so I can begin writing a draft after Book 3 is launched.

It's a little crazy-making, and it's only going to get worse as more books in the series come out.  But this is so much fun!

I plan to post here and on The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy's Facebook Page photographs and updates from the trip so you can be included and start guessing what's going in Book 4.  Even I don't know yet!

I have pictures of Taiseki-ji because I've been there before, but others do it better.  Here are a few.  It's huge, much larger than any other Japanese temple complex I have seen in terms of land, and these photos don't even scratch the surface.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Amazon Best-Selling Author

I'm now an Amazon Best-Selling Author.  Pretty cool, huh?


Get Book 3 a NEW contract:  vote at
The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy
Hard and e-formats available at:

and all the usual outlets.

This is a Thundercloud Plum in bloom.  It's not mine, but mine will bloom this week.  The leaves are a dark red and the fruit is small but tasty.  Mine is little, but they can get huge.  Spring has come to the mountains.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick's Day (recipes)

It's St. Patrick's Day and I have made soda bread and colcannon.  I like the simple and traditional soda bread recipe.  This makes one loaf.

Oven at 350F

2.5 cups flour
1 t soda
1t salt
1 - 1.25 cup(s) sour milk (1 cup milk to 1 T vinegar or lemon juice).  Non-dairy milk will work.  It is for richness and acidity.  It's the acidity that makes the bread rise. Yogurt or buttermilk will work, too, but sour milk seems to be the most traditional.

Mix all of this together to form a soft, smooth  -- but not sticky -- dough and knead lightly to form a round loaf.  Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Cut a cross on the top.  Bake for 45 minutes and serve warm or toasted.  Traditionally, it would be served with lashes (lots) of butter, if you've got it.

Like much traditional food, this starts out simple and gets fancied up.  Just plain, it works as a regular bread, crusty and great with soup.  Add currents (traditional) or raisins, or orange zest or glaze it, or add an egg and you come up with something much fancier and either a breakfast bread or a sweet tea bread.   I've never gone further than currants.  I tend to like plain food.

Colcannon is cabbage and potatoes, together at last.  Again, it can be as simple as stirring chopped cabbage into mashed boiled potatoes, and then it starts getting fancy.  It's very good in its simplest form, but Alton Brown has taken it over the top in a good way.  Here, OTT is good.

Alton Brown's Colcannon Recipe

Potatoes and cabbage?  What could be special or wonderful about that?  Well, choose your potatoes carefully and put on to boil; put a lot of butter, browned, please, in a saute pan; saute that cabbage and deglaze the pan with Irish Whiskey, mash the drained cooked potatoes, with a little water or milk if you have it, stir in the cabbage, add salt and pepper to taste and butter to tolerance and WOW!  I honestly cannot improve on Alton's recipe in any way.

As I have often noted, if you take the butter and booze out of UK-Eire cooking, there's often very little flavor left.  But if you leave them in, those simple, plain foods are terrific.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Nature Challenge

No secret that I like nature, and I like science.  So when a friend nominated me for the Nature Challenge, I was happy to take it up.

For a week one posts beautiful nature pictures on one's social media.

It's a relief from all the political nastiness one sees, and there is plenty of nature out there.

So, why not take it up yourself and pass it on?

Get Book 3 a NEW contract:  vote at
The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy
Hard and e-formats available at:

and all the usual outlets.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Doing my Proper Job

Writers of books are now, it seems, required to blog on schedule, buy copious and expensive advertising; schedule, promote and run around to "events;" and handle all their own merchandising and marketing.  The latter isn't new. BTW.  Besides catalog placement, even the Big 5 have never done very much in those lines for authors, unless said authors are already huge.  Nobody really knows how to connect with the reader, and it's mostly a matter of luck.  BTDT.

But...but...but...isn't the proper job of a writer of books to write books?

Well, yes.  And that's what I've been doing.  Book Three will go to its editor next week, after a rest involving some travel and dental work (Implant, Part Two) on my part, and a final review.

It's not over, though.  There will be revisions.  There will be line-editing.  There will be copy editing. There will be illustrations.  There will be the writing of front and back matter.  There will be formatting and cover work, which I have to review.  These are part of writing a book, and it has ever been so.  Then, finally, there will be publication.

With this third book in the series, I find that all the non-proper-job things are mere distractions from my real work.  This poses a problem for which there is no easy solution, especially in the days when the "industry" has revamped itself to take money from writers by promising reviews and advertising and do not promise results in terms of sales because they actually do not deliver those sales.  It's also a problem because so many writers toss out first drafts which need serious editing and revision at best and it's hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Especially since all of the pay-to-play exposure forums are accessible to anybody with the cash.  What to do?

I keep on with my proper job.  I write books.  And here I am, back on the blog trail for a while until I head off to Japan for, among other things, research for Book Four.

It's enormous fun, the books are professionally published, and damned good, so my proper job is what I plan to keep on doing.

Get Book 3 a NEW contract:  vote at
The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy
Hard and e-formats available at:

and all the usual outlets.