Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hunters snag 1000 pound alligator and Wakefield Plantation: history and cookbook has a recipe!

Wakefield Plantation: History and Cookbook of one Southern family Wakefield is very close to Camden, Alabama. It's a good thing we included a recipe for cooking alligator in our cookbook!

Alligator and Andouille Sauce Piquante
Pounds Alligator Meat
Cajun Seasoning
1/4 Cup Olive Oil + 1 Tsp.
1 1/4 Pounds Andouille Sausage -- diced
1 10 Oz Can Tomato Sauce
1/3 Cup Margarine
1/3 Cup Dark Roux
1/4 Cup Chicken Base
4 Cups Spanish onion -- chopped
1 Cup Bell Pepper -- chopped
1 Cup Celery -- chopped
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 Tablespoons Jalapeno Pepper -- diced
1 Teaspoon Sugar
2 Tablespoons Garlic -- chopped
3 Cups Fresh Mushrooms -- sliced
2 Quarts Water
1/2 Cup Green Onion Bottoms -- chopped
1/2 Cup Parsley -- chopped
3 Cups Rice Bran -- cooked
Rub both sides of alligator meat with Cajun seasoning and
Cut into 1 inch by 1-inch pieces.
If possible, allow to marinate overnight. Brown alligator
in olive oil over high heat.
Remove from pot.
Sauté Andouille in same oil for 5 minutes and remove
from pot. Pour tomato sauce into pot with remaining oil.
Stir sauce over high heat until it is very brown, burned.
Keep stirring until a thick ball of paste forms.
Add margarine, roux, chicken base, onions, bell pepper,
celery, cayenne pepper, jalapeno peppers and sugar.
Sauté until onions are clear.
Return alligator and Andouille to pot.
Add garlic, mushrooms and 3 cups of water.
Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat.
Cook for 1 hour, adding water as needed.
Once alligator is tender, add green onions and parsley.
Cornstarch mixture may be added to thicken gravy.
Serve over hot cooked rice.
NOTES: Regular sausage may be substituted for Andouille.

http://www.berkshireeagle.com/policeblotter/ci_26357255/alabama-hunters-haul-1-000-pound-alligator

Friday, August 15, 2014

Wakefield Cookbook and the story of its publication



Wakefield Plantation, now owned by my sister, Sylvia, and her husband, Tom, is known in Wilcox County as the anchor of their Furman tour. The beautiful old home has been featured in books and magazines for its history and unique architecture. I thought the history and cookbook might actually be interesting to some of the folks who come to see the house, as well as a remembrance for our own family. Wakefield is a big part of our family history, a little piece of who we all are and have become. I must admit this 1832 Steamboat Gothic home did inspire my Mint Julep Mysteries. I had dreams of a big beautiful coffee table book, but that effort was beyond my ability at the moment. However, there may be big things coming up that Wakefield will play a part in.

For those of you who are writers who visit my blog for more utilitarian reasons, the process of the past couple of days may be interesting to you. I started this blog several days ago with the following paragraph and then got detoured by the actual process of publishing the Wakefield Plantation book.

The Wakefield Plantation: History and Cookbook is on hold. I was not really happy with the picture layout. I did a search and discovered BLURB that I also found was a subsidiary of Amazon. The good thing about that is that you can upload a book to Amazon for purchase quite easily (according to their website). That is a good thing since I hope this effort produces a higher quality than the first one I came up with. For one thing, it will be hardback.

That was my goal, but the road to that object proved more difficult than I had anticipated. I had read that Blurb was easy to use. I have LOTS of pictures in my I PHOTO and it tried to load all of them (90,000). Perhaps I just didn't know how to use Bookwright and Booksmart, but the time it took was more than I was willing to give it. I returned to Createspace and after a day of attempting to address the different problems I encountered, I finally got a product I think I can be happy with.

So, what do I mean about the problems I encountered? Pictures shifting. Sentences moving about that only showed up after the saving process through the online book proofing process. I found some help, however.

1. Formatting the pages: A Step-By-Step Guide to Formatting Your Book's Interior
By Kelly, CreateSpace PrePress  https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1482
I followed Kelly's directions for putting the margins in. That really helped!

2. Starting off with the correct template for the book you choose to create is helpful also. Before you make that serious first step know where you are going with that book. If you look for Expanded Distribution (making books available to bookstores and libraries) check into the sizes they will accept. I wasted a lot of time with the wrong size before I got to the Distribution area of production and discovered I used the wrong format. I then chose 6 x 9 and had to spend a lot of time reformatting. https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1323

3. Get punctuation right the first time. Let me suggest this helpful online booklet:  http://www.12on14.com/mechanics_punctuation_072910a.pdf
A. Remember to only put ONE space at the end of a sentence. When you finish your manuscript, use the Find and Replace to double check yourself. I go down the complete alphabet and then also double check every form of punctuation to make sure I only put one space. So, how do I do that?
a  A  type in the letter and then two spaces. That function pulls up every time that letter appears with two spaces beside it.
a A    Use the replace function to close up the space.
Remember every form of punctuation, :, ", ?, (, ..., etc.
I will assure you that the time is well spent taking the time to do this. You will have to go through the whole republishing process when you spot those errors if you don't. You want the very best product you can produce out there.
Or you can pay an editor to do all of this for you!

4. Publishing to Kindle calls for all of this effort again. I discovered that just sending it over to Kindle does not assure that it will look like it did with Createspace. You may have to correct and upload what appears on a Kindle.
a. This is where I discovered the importance of Page Break. I like for Chapters to appear at the top of a page. I also had to use it after the Title page, Copyright page, etc. as well as between Chapters. I also found that using Word doc files came up better than turning it into a PDF file.

5. I have chosen NOT to publish the cookbook on Kindle. All of those pictures do not transfer well and it looks really bad. So, it will ONLY be available through traditional book form.

Will anyone other than family be interested? Perhaps not. And in a way, that really doesn't matter. It began as an effort simply to share with these little ones in our family giving them an appreciation of their past and an introduction to some of those who came before. Maybe that is enough.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lessons learned, Goodreads and planned Book Events


 
History books at SIBA conference 2013

I learn something new every day. There are so many books out there, how can a reader know which to buy? Marketing is important. Facebook only takes you so far and with newsfeed, that is only as far as someone who is sitting at the computer when your post flits by. Organizing an event on Facebook is a good option, but I think folks are getting pretty jaded about those invitations. Punchbowl also offers the opportunity to invite folks for free to an online event. Those are getting complicated these days with imaginary snacks and activities to go along with the event. I've thought of planning one of those since as a writer I live a life in my head now anyway. A party where I just imagine friends being there might actually be fun! 

Then the other day, I was exploring Goodreads and stumbled upon the button to press to invite the friends in your contact book to "check out my book." I thought that could be the option I had been looking for to let folks know about the Mint Julep Mysteries. So I pressed the button on top. The page did not seem to respond or change pages. So, I pressed send once more. Still nothing. Undaunted, I pressed it again and still no signal that anything had been sent. I gave up. 

Then someone sent me a heads up that my computer must have been hacked because she got three emails with the same message. Oh no! Now I have really upset the apple cart. Nobody who's outraged that their mail box has been flooded is going to buy my book (s)! So, here is a warning. When you go to your dashboard and go to the part about finding friends in your address book who are on Goodreads only press the button ONCE! Have faith in Goodreads, I guess. 

The good thing is I only got two nicely negative emails. The rest were quite positive AND I have acquired a few new friends on Goodreads. 

I found out some good news about the Expanded Distribution that I selected through Amazon. Theresa at one of my favorite Independent Booksellers, Red House Book Store in Dothan, Alabama, checked the Ingram catalogue and found my books available through their distributorship. They offer the booksellers a discount that she was happy with so she will probably order some of my books to be available in Dothan, Alabama. If those of you in Dothan would like to order through the 
Red House Book Store
2013 S. Oates Street in 
Dothan, Alabama, call 
(334) 702-1475. 

I can always drop by and sign the books, or you can wait until the book signing Theresa plans at the Red House Bookstore when the weather cools.  

Hannalore Holland at Somethin's Cooking in Panama City also wrote that she wants to include me and my books at an event. She does wine tastings at 
93 E 11th St,
Panama City, FL 32401
(850) 769-8979

Call Hannelore and reserve a spot for the night and a book (or all four books, including the Wakefield Plantation: history and cookbook with primer on Southern manners and etiquette). Since Mint Juleps play such a big roll in the novels (the Five O'clock Somewhere Mint Julep Hour is attended by Saks Fifth Avenue Quality gentlemen on the front porch of Sister's 1832 Steamboat Gothic plantation house) I've asked Hannelore if she might have some Mint Julep cups. I need some! 

Sulynn Creswell will have my books at Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center
209 Claiborne Street

Camden, AL 
 (334) 682-9878

There will be a pilgrimage in Furman where Wakefield is located in April. We'll probably be signing books then at Wakefield should any of you decide to make it to the Furman Spring Pilgrimage next April. Sylvia has agreed to the audio and ghost tour series. Ghosts you say? Did I fail to mention that?


I am looking forward to visiting with the Dothan Fine Arts Club on Wednesday, September 24, 2014, at 11:30 at the Dothan Country Club. It's always lots of fun being with that group of ladies.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Past lives and Present lovers


This is an excerpt from Mayans, Muscadine and Murder. Dabney's genetic memory brings the past into the present. I really think this turned out to be a beautiful story of love and friendship that transcends time. 
I held up my hand to silence the applause and picked up the microphone to an ear-piercing shriek. Thinking it was feedback, I held the microphone as far away from the speaker as I could. Then I heard the second scream and all heads turned in the direction of the periwinkle shed with floating yellow metal butterflies attached to the side of the building. My heart took a leap when I saw Tasha, Bernice’s seven year-old daughter, running toward us screaming. Standing as I was above the crowd, I could see a little girl with long black hair, around three years-old, kneeling between the rows of that allotment rocking back and forth and sobbing. Others still looked around confused about from where the noise came.
Regardless of being constricted by FanEx and handicapped by Sister’s borrowed extremely high-heeled Manolo Blahniks sinking into the soft dirt, I made my way off the stage and ran down the path toward the children. I caught Tasha up in my arms. 
“She’s bleeding and won’t move!” Tasha told me. 
My first thought was the child I saw. I abandoned the Manolo Blahniks as I handed Tasha off to her mother Bernice and ran barefoot after Palmer Police Chief Carrow Dee Gunther who moved mighty fast for such a big woman. I glanced toward the periwinkle painted shed and caught a glimpse of a man in fatigues deformed by severe burns carrying a ratty pink knit baby blanket appear from inside. Alarmed by something he saw behind me, he turned and ran in the opposite direction. The child I saw from the stage had disappeared.
 I did not see the shovel lying in the path and went sprawling full length and face to face with a woman only partially buried beneath the marigolds and nasturtiums. Her brown eyes stared sightlessly at me. My head pounded.
“Ilyana?” I cried out. And then I passed out.
-------------------------------------------------------------
“Ilyana!” Saroya pulled the cloak now wet with blood from her friend to press and staunch the flow. So many wounds both healed and festering. And now, the newest that she knew would take her friend’s life.
The child crawled to Ilyana with tears flowing and laid her tiny body across her. Ilyana lifted her arm to comfort the child.
“This is K’inich Balam’s only living child. I have brought her to you,” she said. Blood bubbled at her lips.
 “I stayed until only one of the young daughters of Lady T’abi and K’inich Balam still lived,” Ilyana whispered as I held her in my arms. The blood gushed from Ilyana’s frail body despite my efforts to save her. Kish broke the spear, but knew to pull it out would cause the loss of even more blood. I kept pressure against the wound in a futile effort to stem the flow of blood.
Ilyana touched my cheek to make me focus on her words. She knew her life ebbed with every beat of her heart. Tears flooded down my face. My dear friend. My valiant protector.
-----------------------------------------------------------------

I awoke on a cot in a shed with my heart pounding, tears in my eyes and a scream about to erupt from my lips. It took me a moment to come back to myself and get oriented to the present. The tin roof reverberated with pounding rain. The dream remained vivid. Ever since the SpedEx truck ran into Kevin and me at the intersection we passed through every day of our lives, killing my husband of thirty-five years, the theory of genetic memory confronted me in a way that made me pay attention. From that point forward, what seemed to be ancient memories locked in my subconscious surfaced in a way that transformed my life. At first they were vague. But now these strange visions became stranger, more intense -- and more frequent.