Thursday, May 18, 2017

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: SPACE OPERA, HERE I COME!I like to think I've rea...

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: SPACE OPERA, HERE I COME!
I like to think I've rea...
: SPACE OPERA, HERE I COME! I like to think I've read most genres but here's a sub-genre I wasn't familiar with and virgin me...

I like to think I've read most genres but here's a sub-genre I wasn't familiar with and virgin me plunged right in.  The title is KAIJUNAUT by Doug Goodman. It was recommended to me and I was pretty much hooked from the get-go. 

I'm someone who doesn't read a lot of Science Fiction, but I've read enough to know good from bad. Space terminology isn't my strong point--Star Trek was about it for me, with warp drives and tricorders.  What I'd found curious about Star Trek was that I always understood what those things could do. KAIJUNAUT is like that in that there's a pile of space tech terms and somehow, this author wrote in a way that I could understand what the tech does. There's a glossary of the terms at the back, which I didn't know about, and didn't need!

This story is fun.  I grinned a lot throughout. The writing is clever and intelligent writing, the characters unique and interesting (and it's hard to make 5 characters unique in the way they talk, act, and their interests, but Goodman pulled this off.) 

Future astronauts in space investigating a new planet, one full of surprises. By the end I had become a space opera fan.  Unusual monsters (and I hadn't run into this type of monster before in any of the SF books or films I've seen.) The pace is fast, the plot hangs together, the writing is excellent.  What's not to like?  

Recommending this one! Here's the amazon link:

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: The things we do for love...of writing. Because I...

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: The things we do for love...of writing. 
Because I...
: The things we do for love...of writing.  Because I live in Canada and my current novel is published in the U.S., getting copies is diff...
The things we do for love...of writing. 

Because I live in Canada and my current novel is published in the U.S., getting copies is difficult and costly. Recently I was at Stokercon, a convention in southern California this year. I'd stayed with friends prior to the convention and they kindly allowed me to ship a case of books to their place, which I hauled to the convention. I brought along a carry-on suitcase and a shoulder bag, no checked bags for the Air Canada plane to California. My friend and I went to a Goodwill store where I bought a used suitcase for $8 USD and removed the books from the box and parcels and put them into that suitcase to take to the convention.

The box contained the case of trade paperbacks I bought (26) plus 2 copies my publisher sent me. I also had two parcels with 3 hardcovers, 1 purchased, 2 from my publisher.  That's a lot of books.  I purchased the 26 & 1 @ a 45% discount off the retail price, plus the shipping cost which added $1.35 to the price of each book. All that is in US$$s.  I live in Canada and had to exchange money at the current rate of $1. US$ cost $1.35 CDN $$s to pay for the books and shipping.

At the convention, I sold books through the bookstore on consignment; they take a 40% discount. Between what I sold and what I gave away, the numbers were reduced by 8 trade paperbacks, leaving 20 trades and 3 hard covers to haul home.

I had a 45% discount off the retail price for the books I purchased. The bookstore took a 40% discount off the retail price.
I paid for shipping @ $1.35 per book. 
There's also the 20% I must give to the Horror Writers Hardship Fund for the privilege of selling my books at the convention. Again, all in US$$s which doesn't take into account the exchange rate. Obviously, this was not a for-profit venture. 

I decided I couldn't bear the thought of paying for a checked bag @ $35. US$$s to bring home the 20/3 books left. That would add another $1.50 US$$s to the cost of each book.

What I did was madness: I stuffed the 23 books into my expanded 
carry on suitcase and used bubble wrap and a few small rolled clothing items to keep the books from moving around. The bulk of my clothing, extra shoes, jewelry, makeup, toiletries, convention book, small purchase and collapsible cane which I had to take because I hurt my back 2 days before leaving, all went into the shoulder bag, which is more like a soft rectangular suitcase or small duffel bag. I also had my purse. 

Waiting for the plane I heard the dire warning that luggage would be confiscated and checked if it was too large or there was too much of it.  In a panic, I dumped the contents of my purse into the shoulder bag then folded my purse and stuffed it in and barely got the zipper closed. Now I just had the carry-on suitcase and the 'shoulder bag' which was pretty big and which I would be calling, if asked, my 'purse', but apparently all this escaped notice as I threaded my way through the boarding line.  Obviously I had to ask a man to lift the suitcase up and another to lift it down because there was no way I could lift a suitcase with 23 books over my head without a concussion happening.

Getting off the plane was another story.  By then, my back was annoying me (delayed flight and delayed landing meant almost 8 hrs. in the air for a 6+ hr. flight) so I unfolded the cane to help me walk off the plane.  Shoulder bag on top of carry on suitcase, rolling it up the ramp to get off, when everything fell over.  A kind Air Canada flight attendant rushed to my aid and went above and beyond by pulling the suitcase and bag up the ramp for me, remarking, "My, this suitcase is heavy!"  At the top, before the escalator, another flight person from the airline took over and said there would be a cart when I got to the top of the escalator, they are driving back and forth all the time.  I didn't have the heart to tell her that I've flown into PET many many times at night and there is never a cart, ever, and there wasn't one that night either. "Your suitcase is heavy," she remarked. "I can call for a cart--it might take 10-20 minutes."  Knowing it probably wouldn't come anyway, I made my way from the top of the escalator to the moving sidewalk and to customs. She suggested I get in the wheelchair line and with a cane they would let me through. I did and it was a simple process with customs, for once. 

Meanwhile, my back was really killing me. I managed to get to a taxi and get home and after an extended sleep that night and the next I feel a whole lot better and my back is okay.

I always wonder why things are so difficult. Yes, I could have not been cheap and sent the books through the Goodwill suitcase (which I left in the hotel room), but something about having to pay people even more to read my book than what I was already paying just galled me, and Rebel Nancy emerged.  

There has been 'free trade' between the US and Canada for decades, but it's never filtered down to ordinary people that I've seen; it just seems to just benefit corporations. If I'd sent the books to myself in Canada I'd have had to pay a duty of around 20% on the price of the books. And of course I'd still have to buy the books and pay the shipping in US$$s which would be even costlier to Canada than to the U.S.

It's a conundrum. Always has been. Writers have to do a lot of work to sell books, and for most of us, promotion doesn't come easily or cheaply. If there was ever a day when editors and agents did all the promoting and writers just had to write and occasionally appear somewhere to sign books, I don't know when that was because it's not been my experience at all. There must be a better and less expensive way but I have yet to figure out what that is.  I'm certainly open to suggestions!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: Al J. Vermette of Blood Moon Rising Magazinetalks...

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: Al J. Vermette of Blood Moon Rising Magazine
: Al J. Vermette of Blood Moon Rising Magazine talks with Nancy Kilpatrick about Revenge of the Vampir King  Blood Moon Rising interview ...
Al J. Vermette of Blood Moon Rising Magazine
talks with Nancy Kilpatrick about
Revenge of the Vampir King 

Blood Moon Rising interview

Monday, April 10, 2017

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: A Hero of Our TimeThe Bolshoi Ballet streamed the...

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: A Hero of Our Time
The Bolshoi Ballet streamed the...
: A Hero of Our Time The Bolshoi Ballet streamed the ballet A Hero of Our Time on April 9th. The Bolshoi is the only theater where this b...
A Hero of Our Time

The Bolshoi Ballet streamed the ballet A Hero of Our Time on April 9th. The Bolshoi is the only theater where this ballet is performed.

The ballet is in three parts, adapted and condensed from the five-part novel written by Mikhail Lermontov in 1839--his only novel. I like modern ballet and I was sure I'd read this novel in my youth when I was obsessed with Russian literature (until I moved on to the existentialists!).  But after seeing the ballet, I realized I'd read only one of the five parts of the novel in a book of short fiction by Russian writers. Now I know that the novel is sometimes described as five related short stories.

Lermontov self-portrait 1837

Lermontov was a writer, poet and painter, aligned with the school of Romanticism, and a social misfit, his wit defined as poisonous and his humor as sardonic. He was considered second only to Alexander Pushkin in genius. The unfortunate Lermontov (1814-1841) died at the age of 26 in a duel (not his first duel) after challenging a friend. He was famous for his poetry but also for this novel about a military man who is what today we would call a 'player' when it comes to women. In the case of Pechorin, the Byronic protagonist in the ballet, simple and pure women eventually bore him and he quickly tires of the upper class coquettes.

The ballet uses three different male dancers to perform three parts of Pechorin's life. Besides the musical score, each part has an operatic soloist singing and a single instrument being played during especially dramatic scenes.

Part 1 - Pechorin is a young officer in the military and, ruled by his passions, travels across the Caucasus mountains. He kidnaps the exotic Bela (wearing multi-colored belly dancer garb and a translucent mouth veil), a young girl who is a Caucasian princess, daughter of the tribal chief, and persuades her to have sex with him--verboten by tribal law.  Eventually he grows bored and leaves her, although he claims to still love her. Alone and broken-hearted, Bela is beaten to death for breaking tribal law.

Part 2 - He travels to a town near the water and being military, demands accommodation. Only one place is available, and he's warned he won't like it. It's a rough dock area, full of thieves, but also a woman (wearing red) who is an Undine, or water nymph, determined to seduce him. The trick with these supernatural creatures is that if the Undine mates with a human male, she becomes immortal. But there's a risk to the male: he must remain loyal to her for life, or he will die.  Pechorin--not oriented towards monogamy--manages to escape before he is trapped.

Part 3 - Pechorin is now in a sanatorium for wounded military men and meets Grushnitsky there, his old and closest friend. And he also reunites with his old girlfriend Vera, a woman (wearing black) who has always given him support and unconditional love. Soon he notices Grushnitsky, who now needs a cane to walk, attempting to woo Princess Mary (wearing white) and, being the cynical and superficial man that he is, one who cannot resist winning a competition, Pechorin steals the princess away from his friend. Grushnitsky challenges him to a duel and Pechorin switches guns with him, kills his friend and, after this, loses both Princess Mary, and Vera, the woman who he realizes too late that he truly loves.

A Hero of Our Time was presented at the ballet as the first psychological novel in Russian, and I think that's accurate. Lermontov described his main character Pechorin as not so much A man but a kind of Everyman of his era. He is torn in many directions and his fickle appetites and inability to empathize drive him to hurt the women he pursues. 

Quote from the novel translation:  (Pechorin) "Afraid of decision, I buried my finer feelings in the depths of my heart and they died there."

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: Interview with Nancy Kilpatrick re "The Age of Sor...

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: Interview with Nancy Kilpatrick re "The Age of Sor...: Interview with Nancy Kilpatrick re "The Age of Sorrow" "The Age of Sorrow" is a short story I wrote, first publishe...
Interview with Nancy Kilpatrick re "The Age of Sorrow"

"The Age of Sorrow" is a short story I wrote, first published in Postscripts #10 in the UK, then reprinted in The Living Dead anthology in the US, edited by John Joseph Adams. It's also been reprinted twice in Nightmare Magazine. This interview with me was conducted by Sandra Odell for the magazine and although it was published two years ago, I like the interview. And this story is one of my favorites.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Changing Face of Cinema

This is excerpted from the Cinemagique newsletter.

Cinemagique is a film group of which I'm a member.  It's a large, eclectic multi-aged group that screens movies once a week in a Cineplex theater in Montreal a few days before the films open to the public.

"It’s scary how fast movies are becoming available for streaming. Paramount has just struck a deal with two major chains to make new movies available to watch at home just two weeks after they leave theaters. Each movie is its own cautionary tale: just because your film is financed, shot, edited, and in the can, doesn’t mean you’re home free.

"Our movie theatres are increasingly threatened by streaming: digital becoming the distributors’ crown prince. In early 2012, movies were available for digital download about 9 months after theater release. Movies released last summer are now available for download 3-4 months after theater release, roughly at the same time as DVDs.

"Last summer, Paramount announced that the animated film The Little Prince, a record-breaker in France (where it won the Best Animated Film at the Cesars), would not even open theatrically in the U.S.. Paramount had U.S. rights to the pic, was not going to distribute the movie at all. In Canada, we got to see it, thanks to eOne/Seville."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: Review of Child of the Night!This is an older nov...

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: Review of Child of the Night!
This is an older nov...
: Review of Child of the Night ! This is an older novel of mine and it's nice to see it still getting attention, especially on the fi...
Review of Child of the Night!

This is an older novel of mine and it's nice to see it still getting attention, especially on the first of a new book review site:

Monday, March 06, 2017

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: THE RABID BOOKWORMIt's always nice to see a new b...

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: THE RABID BOOKWORM
It's always nice to see a new b...
: THE RABID BOOKWORM It's always nice to see a new blog from a bibliophile.  And it's wonderful to be selected as the first inter...

It's always nice to see a new blog from a bibliophile.  And it's wonderful to be selected as the first interviewee whose book is reviewed as well!  The Rabid Bookworm chose my novel Child of the Night. It's not a recent book but it is still available in print and ebook, and I'm quite honored to be selected.

My good wishes go to the blogger with the hope that he continues with this important work of profiling authors and books. Publishing is a business where every little bit helps! Thank you, Sam. I encourage all of my readers and friends to support your thoughtful, respectful and intelligent efforts in helping to keep fiction vital. Here's the link: 

Friday, March 03, 2017

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: And Now for Something Completely Different...Yes,...

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: And Now for Something Completely Different...
: And Now for Something Completely Different... Yes, it's been over two weeks, and I haven't mentioned my new novel, Revenge of t...
And Now for Something Completely Different...

Yes, it's been over two weeks, and I haven't mentioned my new novel, Revenge of the Vampir King.  Well, I am now.  Ebook is out, print coming in April. Feel free to purchase!!!   lol

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: Jim Jarmusch - PatersonI've seen a few movies by...

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: Jim Jarmusch - Paterson

I've seen a few movies by...
: Jim Jarmusch - Paterson I've seen a few movies by Jim Jarmusch - Permanent Vacation; Stranger than Paradise; Dead Man (with John...

I've seen a few movies by Jim Jarmusch - Permanent Vacation; Stranger than Paradise; Dead Man (with Johnny Depp); and the exquisite Only Lovers Left Alive (starring Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska). I've always liked his work. Jarmusch is a seeker, and his last two films Only Lovers Left Alive and Paterson say he may just have found what he's been searching for.

Paterson is the name of the town in New Jersey where famous poets and other well-knowns were born, and also the name of the main character, a poetry-writing bus driver.  Adam Driver plays Paterson to Golshifteh Farahani's Laura, a young couple in love. This is a simple story about ordinary people living life.  The world is full of ordinary good people, like all the characters in this movie, and in a way that's really refreshing. The film juxtaposes the everyday familiar and routine with the synchronicity that spontaneously appears in the midst of the mundane. The real world is charged with synchronicity, which might just be the underpinnings of poetry. That, and love.

Amazon Studios funded Jarmusch's new film, and, like Netflix, is now in the movie business, producing films that need to be made but are too small for the big studios.  

Peterson should be out soon in a cinema near you. Go see it.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: That's Opera, not Oprah!I have friends who travel...

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: That's Opera, not Oprah!
I have friends who travel...
: That's Opera, not Oprah! I have friends who travel all over the world to see operas, and others who catch every Met Opera in NYC or...
That's Opera, not Oprah!

I have friends who travel all over the world to see operas, and others who catch every Met Opera in NYC or streamed at their local cinema. The word opera brings out a lot of oohs and aahs from fans and a lot of moans and groans from non-fans.

Me, until yesterday, I've been neutral, leaning towards the moan and groan side. I'd seen only three operas. These aren't the productions I've gone to, but they convey what I feel about

The Painfully Tragic death song from La Traviata:

The Light-speed and Joyous "Habanera" from Carmen:

The whatever song from the incomprehensible 
& excruciatingly long LuLu:

Recently I noticed The Met's production of Rusalka (1900) was going to be streamed at a theater in my city. Something about the title of the opera by Czech composer Antonin Dvořák (1841 to 1904) was familiar. I read the synopsis and decided to buy a ticket. Suddenly, a flash of memory: I own a novel entitled Rusalka (1989) by C. J. Cherryh, about a girl who was drowned and becomes a ghost. 

The word Rusalka is derived from Slavic mythology and means the soul of an unbaptized child that lives in a lake, or a virgin. It also means river witch, or a spirit that haunts a river or lake, or a life-draining fairy that haunts the waters and sucks the life from the living. Myths tend to offer a lot of options. 

The Czech opera by Dvořák is a beautiful fantasy based on Slavic myths. Here is The Met's info on the production's stars: Kristine Opolais the role that helped launch her international career, the mythical Rusalka, who sings the haunting “Song to the Moon.” Director Mary Zimmerman brings her wondrous theatrical imagination to Dvořák’s fairytale of love and longing, rejection and redemption. Brandon Jovanovich, Jamie Barton, Katarina Dalayman, and Eric Owens complete the all-star cast, and Mark Elder conducts.

This lovely and charming fantasy opera is a story familiar to everyone who has encountered the 1989 Disney animated movie The Little Mermaid. Of course, Rusalka, the opera, pre-dates the Disney studio, and is adult-based. Here's my rather plebeian synopsis:

Much to the dismay of the Water Sprite, his water nymph daughter Rusalka has fallen in love with a mortal named Prince. Rusalka visits Ježibaba, the all-powerful witch, who agrees to make her human, with a body and soul, but there are conditions, one of which is that she can no longer speak. The Prince is entranced by Rusalka and takes her to his castle to marry her. But Rusalka has a supernatural past he doesn't know about, and she cannot speak. She looks like an outsider and does not fit into life at court, where she is made fun of and viewed with suspicion. The Prince can't understand why Rusalka doesn't meet his passionate advances with her passion. Suddenly a Foreign Princess appears, the opposite of Rusalka, pointing out the coldness of the Prince's intended, and the fickle Prince is charmed away before the wedding. If Rusalka loses the mortal's love, another condition of the transformation comes into play. Broken-hearted, Rusalka returns home and is now relegated to spending eternity alone in the deep, dark waters with only the dead. Ježibaba tells her she can avoid this fate IF she kills the Prince, but Rusalka refuses. The Prince has second thoughts and finds her, but it's too late. Rusalka assures him her kiss would kill him but he insists he wants it anyway, he can't live without her. They kiss, he dies, and Rusalka, who thinks only mortals have a soul, prays for the Prince's redemption for the wrong he has done to her.

Here's Kristine Opolais as Rusalka singing "Song to the Moon" in the Metropolitan Opera Company's production:

Rusalka screens again on April 8, 10 and 12, 2017. If you're intrigued and want to check out this worthy opera, click below, then click Events, then click Met Opera

Monday, February 20, 2017

Interview with Publicist Mickey Mikkelson

Mickey Mikkelson is the Publicist/Owner of Creative Edge, a company that promotes established authors, small press authors and indie self-published writers. He works out of Calgary, Alberta, but his clients reside in all parts of Canada and the United States.

(See link below for a 1 hour video interview with Mickey Mikkelson)

NK - In the video you reveal your background as related to the publishing industry, for example, working for the Canadian chain Chapters/Indigo. You know books and you know the system. But what made you go from the bookstore chain end--the retailer--and backtrack to the start of the process--the creative authors, particularly the independent authors or those publishing with small and mid-sized publishers?  

MM - I definitely enjoyed my time setting up events within the bookstore realm; that helped shape what I am currently doing.  It was a rush and a thrill to see the staff’s faces when we lined up a big-name author like Robert J. Sawyer,  and equally so it was also very gratifying for me when we signed on a relatively new writer who had released their first book, helping that individual do very well in our store in terms of book sales. The change for me was that I saw a market for what I was doing with independent writers, helping indie authors who didn’t know how to market themselves or didn’t have time.  It is very different from simply booking events. Creative Edge is more like a one stop, full service outlet as we not only set up events, but we also book media outlets and help new writers get their name out there. And we advise well-established authors how to build on the momentum with what they are currently doing.  It’s a big difference from booking or being an events planner in a book store and for me it feels more challenging because I have to be more creative in the directions that I go.

NK - You say on the video that your favorite genres are horror and fantasy  (but of course you represent writers in all genres). Have you ever aspired to write fiction?  

MM - I have never tried to write a fiction book. My role, as I say in the video, is that I am not a writer. I don’t understand the premise or logistics of how a writer puts those words on a page or sees the vision of a book cover. I fully respect anyone who can do that and often in talking with clients am mystified by their cultural adaption and knowledge when talking about their finished products. That is not a strength of mine and I don’t pretend that it is, which is why I get a thrill from and am so honored by representing every one of my clients, established or not. 

If I was to ever write a book, it would probably be a non-fiction book about the 1960’s. I'm almost obsessed with that decade, from the events, to the music, to the happenings such as the Monterey Pop Festival, to schematics about things like the JFK assassination, or the civil rights movement. A piece of literature like that would be something I could really concentrate on. But for me the timing is currently not now, as I am clearly focused in other directions.

NK - In the video, you offer indie writers and those with small presses a lot of valuable suggestions about how to promote themselves, and also talk about what you can do for them.  And of course, you have some big-name clients on your roster who can use a few suggestions. You discussed introverted writers. Writers who cannot get out and sell their book, who can't talk easily with strangers, the proverbial garret-wordsmith who just wants to write and trembles at the idea of becoming a sales person for their work. Is there any hope for such a creature in this modern world of "Hey, look at me and my great novel!!!"?

MM - I touched on this in the video. My opinion is to keep conversations simple and to the point. People may not believe this, but sales are relatively easy in any industry provided you have the patience and belief to follow the same routine every time. If an individual sells a book the first time, my advice is to follow those same steps with each and every customer. With that, you are insured of having the success of at least one additional sale.  Why?  Because, it worked the first time. 

The problem is that with introverted people, they tend to complicate the sales process and talk too much about their product (it’s not hard to do when selling something as information-based as a book),  and this is a big reason why they literally have more success selling other people’s books than their own.  Most introverts are also shy and cannot sell themselves--rejection is scary and well, to be blunt: It Sucks!  

The best way to get over that is to literally get out there and practice the craft of selling, following a process where the conversation is simple. Assume the sale and have confidence that your clientele will buy. It’s a matter of introducing yourself right from the start, giving information in limited aspects, ensuring that you are keeping conversation relevant to the topic, but also getting your reader excited while you're doing that. And probably the most important step--volunteering to sign a copy of your book. Don’t ask permission to sign it, offer to sign it! This is a big step in the sales process and one in which 90% of book sales are lost by Indie authors in bookstores across North America--they don't offer.

The bottom line is that if an individual wants success selling product at signings, my golden rules are: be confident at all times; keep conversations simple; and even if you are not, act boastful and be passionate about what you have written. And be excited! It’s a formula that has worked time and time again for my writers and will continue to work as I coach clients through the process!


Mickey Mikkelson can be reached at:


Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Mole People and Them!

Horror movies in the past were fun.  The Mole People (1956) was and is one of my favorites from my youth when I saw it as part of a triple-feature at a drive-in showing a retrospective of old horror films. I found this one especially engaging. Another super favorite was/is the chilling Them! (1954).  So many of these charming b&w movies offered all sorts of undercurrents of a political or spiritual nature.

Sadly, all I could find on You tube for the entire movies were two uploads of The Mole People from a SF group that likes to chat and comment throughout the film, which is annoying if you actually want to watch it--the link is a trailer--; and Them! which can be viewed in the second link but the quality isn't wondrous. Enjoy!


Friday, February 17, 2017

Is it Me, or Is It Pesto?

I can't be the only person on the planet who does NOT like pesto.

Pesto is:

- crushed basil leaves
- crushed pine nuts
- garlic
- Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil

Mix and serve on bread or as a sauce for pasta.

What's not to like, you say?  First and last, it's the smell.  When I eat pesto, mercifully, my taste buds dull pretty quickly, but the scent lingers and leaves me a tad nauseous. I like basil. I like garlic. I like Parmesan cheese and olive oil.  It must be the pine nuts. They are the tiny, edible (they say) seeds of the female cones of pine trees grown in Canada and Siberia--yes, those cold countries!

Would you eat a pine cone?

Apparently these seeds are expensive.

Pine nuts are high calorie--100 grams of dry kernels = 675 calories. They are reputedly nutritional perfection, rich in Omega 3 fats, Vitamin E in abundance, B complex, magnesium, calcium, zinc, potassium, yadda yadda yadda...  I DON'T CARE!

The taste is described by others as sweet, buttery, subtle, delicious, but is none of those things to me. I've heard people say the scent of pesto brings to mind wandering in a forest. This is not the smell of a pine tree at Christmas. It's a strange forest of alien-scented flora and is what I imagine the Aokigahara Forest in Japan smells like--the forest where people go to commit suicide.  Let's just say I would prefer not to be lost in a forest that smells of pesto.

Even the word 'pesto' sounds like Italian for 'pest'. I won't go into the look because I stumbled upon a reviewer I've linked below who did a fine job describing the look and conveys my feelings perfectly.  This fortunate reviewer has not tasted pesto, so you are getting a description of the other senses.

I say, bring on the Marinara, the Carbonara, Pomodoro, Alfredo, Bolognese, Vodka, Puttanesca and Marsala!  Pesto? Forget about it!


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Review--Revenge of the Vampir King

For authors, it's awfully hard to get a book reviewed by a reviewer who knows the subject matter thoroughly and can evaluate it within the context of the whole genre or subgenre. Elaine Pascal is one of those learned reviewers; she knows what vampire literature is all about.  Here's her review of Revenge of the Vampir King on Hellnotes.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Pistachios, and the Evil Thereof!

My New Year's resolution, which I just decided yesterday I needed to make, is to eat only a handful of pistachios a day. Okay, maybe two handfuls, but spaced hours apart. To that end, I bought salted pistachios, reasoning that while they are a tad tastier than the unsalted that I usually buy, too much salt isn't good, it raises blood pressure, etc. Such knowledge should help me keep it to two handfuls a day, which is surely under the prescribed 50 pistachio recommended dose. That has to be a good thing.

I've discovered that I am addicted to pistachios but also allergic to these little nuts. I wondered about my reactions to hundreds of pistachios a day so I checked it out on the Internet, the Holy Grail of a lay person's medical knowledge. Too many pistachios and wham! The system reacts.

Pistachios are a funny nut. When I eat cashews I really don't want more than 5 or 6 a day. When I eat walnuts, 2 a day pushes it for me. But pistachios? They are small nuts, trapped in a small shell with an enticing split which begs to be pried open. I often feel like a pre-historic woman foraging for nuts all day long. I'm convinced I could eat hundreds of pistachios a day. I could live on pistachios. Which, IMHO, makes pistachios an evil nut, calling to me all hours of the day and into the night. And since I don't have the strength to resist, and like every other addict on the planet, with my particular poison I try to push the envelope and get away with indulging as much as I want. I'm trying to fight the addiction in the only way I know how without having to give up pistachios completely: I'm taking care of the more crucial BP, instead of worrying about my feeble digestive issues, or weight gain from these high-fat nuts.

Did you know that pistachios are native to the middle east and are one of the oldest flowering nut trees? Archaeologists have determined that we humans have been enjoying them for about 7,000 years. Pistachios have been used as a dye, and also a remedy for everything, from toothache to sclerosis of the liver. It takes 8 to 10 years for a plant to produce a crop. They have a long storage life and travel well, making them a necessity as the ancients travelled the Silk Road that connected China to the West. As to the negatives, besides being high fat, and the added salt, an allergic reaction consists of symptoms that range from itchy skin (hives) to a severe form of anaphylactic manifestations that include breathing difficulty, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

Naturally mythology surrounds such an ancient nut. The Queen of Sheba is rumored to have decreed pistachios as exclusively a royal food, forbidding commoners from growing nuts for their personal consumption. Nebuchadnezzar, the ancient king of Babylon, planted pistachio trees in his fabled hanging gardens. In the first century A.D., the Emperor Vitellius brought the prized nuts to Rome. In the Muslim legends, pistachios were one of the foods brought to earth by Adam.

Here's a chart which lists the nutritional value of pistachio nuts.  Just because I can't eat more than one or two handfuls a day, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy these tasty morsels.

Pistachio (Pistacia vera),
Nutritional value per 100 g. 
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
PrincipleNutrient ValuePercentage of RDA
Energy557 Kcal29%
Carbohydrates27.97 g21.5%
Protein20.60 g37%
Total Fat44.44 g148%
Cholesterol0 mg0%
Dietary Fiber10.3g27%
Folates51 µg13%
Niacin1.3 mg8%
Pantothenic acid0.520 mg10%
Pyridoxine1.7 mg131%
Riboflavin0.160 mg12%
Thiamin0.870 mg72.5%
Vitamin A553 IU18%
Vitamin C5 mg8%
Vitamin E-?22.60 mg150%
Sodium1 mg0%
Potassium1025 mg22%
Calcium107 mg11%
Copper1.3 mg144%
Iron4.15 mg52%
Magnesium121 mg30%
Manganese1.2 mg52%
Phosphorus376 mg54%
Selenium7 µg13%
Zinc2.20 mg20%
Carotene-ß332 µg--
Crypto-xanthin-ß0 µg--
Lutein-zeaxanthin0 µg--


Monday, February 13, 2017

WIHM (Women In a Horrible Month)

Winter anyplace north!  This particular one in 2017 is a killer in many ways. Because of freezing rain (aka: ice, aka known as black ice) on roads and sidewalks, the number of vehicular accidents has escalated this year as has the number of pedestrian injuries.  In North America's north, meaning Canada and the Northern United States (Mexico is, of course, part of North American but immune to such weather), the news is full of '100 car pileups on Highway --', and injuries and fatalities on city streets. In January, some hospitals in Montreal, the city I live in, reported dealing with 5 times the number of snow and ice related injuries as the previous year, and another hospital's ER was at 165% capacity due to injuries from falls. People are breaking everything in the way of bones but particularly, one hospital said in the same newspaper article, wrists.

What statistics exist for past winters point to older people and older women as racking up the highest number of injuries from slipping on the ice. 

I work at home and don't like to go out when there's ice on the sidewalks. But if I must leave home on such a day because I need to shop for food or go to the post office, I UBER my way around the city. More than once I've asked an UBER driver to help me get to the car or from the car to my front door because the sidewalk between was an ice skating rink--one UBER driver, a 30ish man, slipped and fell before he could help me across the sidewalk!  

So, women (and men), what can you do to guard your safety this winter and every winter during icy conditions, short of staying indoors until spring? There is a good solution (besides rock salt, which you can only put on your own property and only when the temperature is above -13C or 8.6 F).  I bought these little miracles when I first came to Montreal and would die without them (and also succumb to the cold without my polar mittens, another immediate buy on arriving, and another story). 

What, you ask, is this magic cure for walking on ice?  Clampons! 

There are many types of clampons, from the style I've linked here which is similar to what I own, to heavy-duty ones with chains and spikes for the Arctic.  Most of us just need them for day to day traversing our world of ice. In this link, the clampons are rubber, which fit easily over shoes and boots, with rubber guarded spikes on the soles.  It's a good idea to remove them from your boots and shoes when you're indoors, since the spikes are metal and can damage floors. But outdoors? Yay, Clampons!

These are also Clampons but a different design so you strap them onto your boots and shoes.  Called:


Saturday, February 11, 2017

...And This Changed Too!

Everyone connected in any way to publishing, from publishers, editors, agents, printers and distributors to writers, booksellers, librarians and readers, knows that this industry has altered dramatically over the last couple of decades.  The then and now differences have been discussed ad museam...except for this...

Back when my first novel Near Death was published by Pocket Books in 1994, I was sent 30 'authors copies' to do with as I wanted. These were not meant for reviewers, because the publisher was happy to send reviewers copies, but if I came across a reviewer or interviewer I met face to face, I had a copy to give them. But the 30 not-for-sale author's copies were for me personally to hold onto as a hedge against retirement one day (Ha! Joke! Like that will happen!), but really to give to friends or fans and people in the industry.  I did that with those copies and when I ran out, I just had to ask for more and my editor had them shipped to me for free.

Gradually the number of free copies diminished. By 2004 when St. Martin's published The goth Bible: A Compendium for the Darkly Inclined, I received 20 copies of the book. I asked for more and had to pay for them, plus shipping.

The last anthology I had out was co-edited with Caro Soles, nEvermore! Tales of Murder, Mystery & the Macabre 2015, from Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.  My co-editor and I received 2 copies each. Edge is a small publisher, but I'd been editing books for them since 2009, and for every previous anthology I had received 10 free copies. The publisher did send a box of 30 specifically to get into the hands of the 26 contributors plus the 2 copies for each for us.  As we were touring heavily for this book, we asked the publisher for and received 15 copies  to hand to reviewers or interviewers or others who might help the book along and did receive those.

Now it's 2017 and I have a new novel out, Revenge of the Vampir King, from Crossroad Press, and I believe 1 free copy might come my way.  Why? Read on:

I used to give copies to many of my friends and supporters, including other writers, plus reviewers I'd meet or interviewers when I did radio or TV interviews, and other writers did the same. I have many books signed decades ago by writer friends.

At conventions, back in the day, publishers held huge parties and had tons of copies of books in the room for anyone to take.  I recall my World Fantasy Convention--New Orleans 1994 launch of Near Death--the publisher had sent boxes and boxes of books and everyone got a free copy.  That was common. Today, the largest publishers have launches at conventions and there are two copies on a side table, if that and not just a poster of the cover, and no one in the crowded room feels at liberty to take one of the those copies.

Over the years I had to become highly selective until now it's a matter of giving a 'gift' of a print book to friends who, for example, have hosted me in their home.  It's a gift I pay for. I've not asked but I suspect friends wonder why they no longer get a copy of my newest book.

Here's the skinny:

A publisher giving an author books is a cheap perk because a print run is a low cost for the book, the size of the run depending, and the size of the publisher and the quantity of books they do with a particular printer depending. The cost could be as low as $3. to $5. for a book that sells for $12. or $15.  But many books now are done by POD--print on demand. This is a good option for a book that won't be a best-seller. Anyone-publishers large and small and self-published authors--can use POD, it's just a set-up fee for the files and then when books are ordered, the number printed and shipped. But the cost is significantly higher than a print run.  That same book selling for $12 or $15 might cost $7 to $9 as a POD. Obviously, POD printing 10 or 50 or 150  or 1500 copies this way is a lot more expensive than printing 25,000 or 50,000 books via a web-press printer.

But what's happening with POD is that if an author wants copies of his/her own book to give away, they must buy them.  This greatly diminishes the number of books one can give away.

And of course, sometimes authors will go to events where they can sell their books and have always had to buy copies for those events. Normally authors get a discount when buying from a publisher, around 45% or 50%, depending. Paying 50% less off the retail price for a $15 book means it costs the author $7.50 per copy. Factor in shipping, plus tax, and if crossing a border, duty, and if the book is published in another country (say, US and Canada crossing), the exchange rate is in there too, the cost goes up significantly by about $3. to $4. per copy. Now the book costs the author $10.50 or $11.50 and it sells for $15, so the author will make $4.50 or $3.50 for each book she or he sells at a convention or expo for $15. And at these events, buyers expect to pay less than they would pay in a store, so if the author sells the book for $ can do the math.

Does this matter, whether or not the author makes any money by selling their own book directly to the public? After all, the author reaches new fans, and that's important for future book sales, and often gets at least a little promo in the media. But how many people in another business would spend 30 hours over 4 days plus set up/tear down/travel time to/from and in some cases the cost of travelling to and staying in another city for $0 $$s?  Not many. And given that while prices of production and retailing of print books has escallated, advances to the author have for most mid-list writers dropped; many writers have counted on earning something at direct sales events, at least enough to pay for the drinks the introverts have to knock back afterwards to cope with such overwhelming extravaganzas!

All this to say that these days, what I offer friends is an ebook. I know a lot of people who prefer print books and will say that, and in many ways, I do as well. Print is easier on the eyes than reading on a screen, especially for those who work on computers. And there is nothing like the look and feel and smell of a print book--it's comforting. But ebooks have benefits: ereaders are much lighter to hold than print books. The new screens on, for example, the Kindle Paperwhite do not strain the eyes like a computer screen. And the bottom line for the writer is that publishers will usually give the writer copies of their book in electronic format, so one has epub, mobi and pdf to give to friends and to any reviewers stumbled across, or to interviewers who have been kind enough to focus on the writer.

I suppose it's a little like the old days where publishers gave writers 30 plus copies of their print book to do with as they liked.  A little like that.  But I miss all the free copies and handing a book to a friend, or reviewer or interviewer I'd run across at an event.  It feels a tad more personal than getting a business card with an email address and jotting down the preferred format. At least to me.