melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
I hope things are going well.
melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
I have two confessions to make.

1. J.K. Cheney is a friend of mine. I’ll try not to let this bias my review of this book, which I really did enjoy.
2. When I got the ARC, it was a lovely pristine thing with pure white pages. Now it has spots of tomato sauce and cheese on it. That’s because my lunch break at work is only ½ hour, and I’ve been spending said breaks with food in one hand and the ARC in the other, because I couldn’t put the darn book down.

I’m not big on mysteries, romances, politics, or books with dead bodies in them. All of which this book has, but that’s fine, because they’re all part of a lavish, intricate story set in a marvelously detailed world. It continues the story of Oriana Paredes and Duilio Ferriera, trying to have a life together despite interspecies political intrigue, plots involving body parts, magic, murder, and a ladies’ maid determined to make Duilio behave himself whether Oriana wants him to or not.

The book is set in 1902, in an alternate Portugal where selkies, sirens, and otter-folk are all part of the culture (albeit illegally.) It’s so realistic I found myself thinking “Gee, in 5 more years my grandpa will be born over in America.”

J.K. Cheney’s non-human characters are wonderfully believable. (I hope it’s not too much of a spoiler to say that I loved seeing Lady Ferriera come into her own this time around. And I think I’ve fallen in love with Joaquim.) She handles what could be overly gruesome scenes with tact, making us feel the emotional horror of the crimes without going for “gross out.” The plot held my interest right along, and the romance between Oriana and Duilio continues to be compelling, exciting yet discreet.

I only have two regrets:

1. The ARC doesn’t have the stunning cover art of the actual book.
2. I don’t have Book 3 yet.
melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
Just finished the edits for the first story in Daily Science Fiction's Twisted Fairy Tales Series. It's set to go up on Wed, Jan 2nd.
melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
After years of no trick-or treaters, my husband had one before I got home from work. Then, just before we were about to turn the lights off, the new kids from the end of the street rang the doorbell. Mike held out the bowl of full-size candy bars, and we said “Take several.”
:Stunned pause: “Several?”
“Yep. Go ahead. Take as many as you want.”
The little girl took one, and we persuaded her to take 2 or 3. The little boy took a handful, put back two with nuts, and said cheerfully. “Now I have 3. I must’ve had 5!”
They said “Happy Halloween,” and the boy ran down the driveway shouting “Omigod, dad…!!!”
Happy Halloween, everybody. ;)

DSF Series

Oct. 24th, 2012 07:05 pm
melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
At last, I can share some news! Daily Science Fiction will be doing a single-author series next year, and, um, I'm the author. It'll be a Twisted Fairytale Flash Series of 14 stories. Snow White with bite, Humpty Dumpty as a space alien (yes, I know that's technically a nursery rhyme), and more. I hope it'll be really fun. :)
melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
A friend at work gave me some kohlrabi that were too big and tough for raw snacking, so here’s what I did with them. The onions needed to be cooked longer and I think it would be much better with some salt, which I left out for health reasons, but the basic idea worked.


3 medium kohlrabi
1 sweet onion
1 bay leaf
Low-sodium chicken broth (I think other kinds would work too.)
Butter or oil for sautéing the onion
Approx 1 tsp minced garlic
Lemon pepper + salt to taste.

Peel + chop kohlrabi. Put in crock pot (Or pan- it might be quicker that way), add bay leaf, cover with broth, and cook until tender. Remove the bay leaf. Puree with a stick blender.
Peel, mince + sauté the onion. Add it to the soup.
Stir in the garlic + spices.
melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
[ Remember Peas, Plots, and Peril by Melissa Mead? It's now up on the web, and if you'd like to share the link with your friends, now is a good time: ]
melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
This may be too simple and flexible to even count as a recipe, but I like it better than some take-out, and it has MUCH less sodium. Just about everything but the veggies is optional or can be adjusted "to taste."
(Note: Check labels carefully. Most brands of veggies and sauce have lots of sodium, but a few don't.)


1 can Chinese vegetables, low sodium, drained. (I use Kame stir-fry blend. I think Geisha might have some too.)
Approx 1 tbsp low sodium sweet-and-sour or duck sauce. (I use Hickory Farms Sweet + Sour)
About a clove's worth of minced or crushed garlic.
Drizzle of red pepper oil. (I'm always shocked at how spicy it is and swear to use less next time.)

For a heartier version, add leftover chicken. It's also awesome with pineapple.

Put all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir. Heat. Eat.

Experiment! I just tried adding a crystal of crushed candied ginger, and it was good. I've also added a splash of vinegar when I thought it was too sweet.


Apr. 22nd, 2012 03:39 pm
melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
Peas and lettuce planted. 3 stories submitted. Refrigerator pickles pickling in the refrigerator. All in all, a nice productive weekend.
melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
I have 2 stories out at once! "Frog/Prince" is now available at Daily SF:

And "The Salt Man" is out at IGMS:
melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
I thought I'd post some comments on the River anthology, edited by Alma Alexander. They're purely subjective, especially since several people involved with the book are friends or online acquaintances. I’m not any kind of an experienced reviewer, just somebody who loves stories.

I enjoyed the book a lot. First of all, I've never seen a book that used a literal map of a river as a TOC. Nice touch. And I understand the editor's premise that all rivers share in the same deep magic. A book about water and water creatures always gets my attention.

Now, some brief personal thoughts about the stories:

"The Mill-Keeper and the Wolf," by Tiffany Trent- The book starts with a love story. There’s a twist, though. The lovers are an eternally-dying wolf and a wild spirit bound to guard a sacred well, the start of the River. The ending leaves it up to the reader to decide whether or not their perpetually-repeating fate can change.

"Rites," by Mary Victoria- I loved the setting for this story- Cyprus. The author brought it vividly to life, and used it as the backdrop for a mythological retelling focusing on Effie, the timid, lonely protagonist.

"The Fall," by Irene Radford- The author does a fantastic job of writing from a river’s POV. At first I thought it was based on the legend of Aunt Sarah’s Falls, in NY, but apparently lots of waterfalls have stories of sacrifice attached to them. Unfortunately, this is one of two stories in this book that struck a personal nerve for me- the disabled character who exists to be either cured or sacrificed. I suspect the author was limited by the original legend in this case, and overall she did make the character a fully rounded human being, which I appreciated. Heck, she made the RIVER a fully rounded, um, being. ;)

"They Are Forgotten Until They Come Again," by Jay Lake- The other story that hit that nerve, although the characters’ actions make sense in the context of their culture. It’s a well-developed culture that hints at a larger world and more stories to come. I’d be curious to know if this story is part of something bigger.

"Scatalogical," by Deb Taber- I shouldn’t have read this story at lunchtime, becuse it lives up to its name. :) The mudfrogs are a clever creation that made me wonder just what might be going on at the local dump.

"Floodlust," by Jaycee Bedford- A story of love and sacrifice, and river angels. I wouldn’t mind reading more stories about the river angels.

"Five Bullets on the Banks of the Sadji," by Keffy R. M. Kehrli- Another story rich in worldbuilding. In this case it’s a violent, grim world of politics and poison hounds, and a scrap of hope in spite of it all.

"The River," by Joshua Palmatier- This story is set in the same world as the author's "Throne of Amenkor" series. Readers who already know the world and characters will enjoy revisiting it, and those who don't may be tempted to read more after this tragic, haunting story of desperate people and dark choices.

"My Grandfather's River," by Brenda Cooper- This is a small, sweet story about a beautiful gift. It made me miss my grandparents, and a certain lake.

"Lady of the Waters," by Seanan McGuire- This one was fun! If there’s a book set in this would, I want to find it. It’s got a centaur sea captain and a most unusual mermaid, and it may be my favorite story in the book. Possibly. In a book like this, it’s hard to choose.

"Vodnik Laughter," by Ada Milenkovic Brown- I love mythological-creature stories, folklore, and historical settings, and this story’s got it all. Czech folklore too, which I haven’t encountered all that often.

"River-Kissed," by Joyce Reynolds-Ward- Did I mention that I love mythological-creature stories? This book’s full of tales of sacrifice and change, and this story embodies both.

"Beyond the Lighthouse," by Nisi Shawl- And the book ends with a love story, one set in our world, that feels both real and magical. This was the perfect story to end the anthology. It was touching and poignant, and I kept fearing that it was going to end a totally different way, and was very happy with how it turned out.

So, overall, this is a fascinating anthology full of variety and well-written stories, and I recommend it highly.
melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
Well, I feel a bit funny about doing this, but if you're eligible to vote for the Hugos or Nebulas and would like to read my story "Melonheads and Squashers" from Cucurbital 2, just let me know.

I'm guessing that my stories from Daily Science Fiction ("...And A Bottle Of Rum," "Sister," and "Inside Things" are eligible too.

Speaking of Daily SF, 2 of my favorites were Eugie Foster's "Requiem Duet, Concerto for Flute and Voodoo," and "Are You There? Are You Safe? Is The Flock Safe?" by D. Robert Hamm.

I don't know if "Banjooli," in S&S 26, is eligible for anything or not.

(Thanks, Cucurbital, Norilana and Daily SF!)
melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
Santa's been Christmas shopping! Every year, Mike + I go to our local grocery + drugstores after Christmas and pick up some of their steeply marked down toys for next year's Toys for Tots. We make sure not to get anything with batteries, candy or other perishable stuff in them and store them in plastic bags, and next year they're nice and clean and good as new. If you've got a little storage space, it's a way to make twice as many kids happy.
melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
Clearly, the Universe has decreed that I shall never make roasted carrot soup.

The carrot juice that I bought for the last disaster attempt, where I spilled all the lovely roasted carrots down the sink, expires on 12/11, so I decided to try again. It started off perfectly. My little roasting pan just holds 1 lb of carrot chunks, and we had just enough olive oil to coat them. I spent the next hour roasting them to a perfect golden brown.
Remembering how tippy the stick blender carafe was, I opted to use the squat, wide-bottomed mini food processor. Rather than work anywhere near the sink, I carried everything oh-so-carefully to the kitchen table. Rather than try to pour the carrots from the pan into the bowl and risk spillage, I moved each chunk over with a fork.

Then I picked up the chopping mat full of onions, and knocked all the carrots onto the floor.

melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
(Note: I'm posting about this not to show off, but in hopes that others will pick up the tradition.)

Mike started it. He was working at Woolworth's, and they had kids' bikes on sale. With his employee discount, they were a fantastic deal. So he bought one, and took the big, plain brown box out to the Toys For Tots donation barrel. It didn't fit.

"What's in there?" said the Marine on duty.
"A bike."
Pause. "You're donating a brand-new bike?"

I swear that stern-faced Marine teared up. He cleared out the barrel and made that box fit.

Well, that started a trend. We didn't usually donate much. (He was a stock clerk, and I was a college student.) Then we realized that AFTER Christmas, stores have 50-75% off sales. So we started stocking up. And then we realized that some of the teddy bears, stuffed bunnies, etc left after Valentine's Day and Easter are pretty generic. (Come to think of it, there are great sand-pail bargains in September. Hm.)

Anyway, so all year long we buy toys at a fraction of their cost, put them in plastic bags to keep the dust off, and stash them in a closet. (One of last year's finds: A shopping cart full of big, cuddly stuffed dogs in the grocery store, for about $2 each. We just pushed the whole cart up to the register and said "We'll take them all.". ;))

So today we took our haul over to the local Dunkin Donuts. The box was empty when we got there. When we left it was literally overflowing with stuffed dogs, art kits, puzzles, teddy bears, a giant floppy stuffed reindeer...

There were at least 40 toys. I don't think anything was over $10. (Maybe the reindeer.) Most were much less. We probably spent less than we would've for a daily cup of coffee, and dozens of kids will have a new toy this year.

So please, spread the word! Let's see how many boxes we can stuff.


Oct. 31st, 2011 08:00 pm
melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
No Trick-or-Treaters here. ;(

Happy Halloween, everybody!
melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
(* Not sodium free, but it has much less than most store-bought stuff.)

Start with a dressing shaker bottle. (anything with a lid will do, but having measurements marked off is nice.)

Add a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice or your favorite vinegar to an almost-empty bottle of mustard. (Lime, cranberry or orange juice can also be good, although lime is often really strong. Orange will add sweetness. Shake to rinse off the inside of the mustard bottle, and pour the liquid into the dressing bottle.

Add double this amount of your favorite vegetable oil. Cap and shake.

You can use it just like this, but it'll be seriously tangy, Add sugar or honey to sweeten as wanted.

That's the base. For variety, add fresh or dried herbs (Ex, dill, thyme), garlic, or pepper or other spices. You can even get creative and add things like hot sauce or liquid smoke. I've made semi-creamy versions by adding a spoonful of mayo. Less healthy, but good.

The one I just made has plain yellow mustard, lemon juice, avocado oil and raspberry honey. One of my favorites uses dill mustard, lemon juice, minced garlic and olive oil, sometimes with honey or pepper added.
melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
Golden Lilies Soup.

2+1/2 cups Stock of your choice. (I used Low Sodium Chicken)
1 bulb (not clove- the whole head) garlic
Various other oniony things of your choice. At a minimum, 1 sweet (like a Vidalia), 1 red and 1 yellow (I added a leek and a shallot. I wanted to add cipolinis,(sp?) but I got a bad batch.)
1+1/2 tsp fresh thyme (dried would probably work, but I don’t know the conversion.)
¼ tsp pepper.
1 tsp turmeric
Olive oil. (I used part garlic infused + part regular.)
(I thought about adding a tsp of lemon juice, because it was great in the last “oniony” soup I made, but I haven’t yet.)

Preheat oven to 325
Chop the various bulbs. Coat them with olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Put cooked bulbs into a crock pot or large container. Add the thyme, pepper + turmeric. (I threw in some chives and chive flowers from my garden, just to add more members of the lily family. ;))
Puree the heck out of it.
Heat until bubbly. (I nuked it. Could’ve used the crock pot.)
Add more pepper, lemon, curry powder, etc to taste. It’s a very flexible recipe. Instead of putting cheese on top, I chopped up a big chunk of Smoked Gruyere, nuked it some more, and pureed it with the stick blender again. Yum!
Warning: Your kitchen will smell like onions and garlic. LOTS of onions and garlic.
melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
Red Hood's Revenge by Jim C. Hines, that is. I've been blessed with an ARC. So, here's a glimpse of what's to come:

Readers who only know Jim Hines via his Goblin books should keep in mind that the Princess books are deeper and darker, though still with plenty of chuckles. In fact, one of my favorite things about his books is their ability to make readers both explode with laughter and stop and think- sometimes in mid-laugh.

This book takes our 3 fairy-tale princesses and Roudette the assassin (AKA the Lady of the Red Hood, AKA, well, go ahead, guess!) to Talia's homeland of Arathea. There Talia meets up with old friends, old enemies, and old thorny problems, and we learn more of the story behind the story of Sleeping Beauty, plus why you should never take fairy blessings for granted.

This book's desert setting was an interesting new touch. We also meet some fascinating new characters. I found Talia's mixed reactions to being back in her homeland poignant and one of my favorite parts of the book.

I've enjoyed the entire series so far. The only thing tempering my eagerness for the next book is the knowledge that it's also the last one. If you haven't tried these books yet. by all means, go get 'em!

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