Monthly Archives: April 2013

Renovations–Need your help

Hi! We’re doing some household renovations and I will be offline for a while and off the blog for a longer. I’d like to make good use of this time for writing and posting as well as for having the joy of a lighter load in the house (we will use the renovation as a time to clear out things as well as put in the new. I’m not asking you to come and clean out the house or help lay the new floors. What I’d like is for you to use the comment section to tell me what you would like to see in Family Creativity, Food posts and writing and performing posts. Do you want to guest? Let me know. When I start up again, I’ll try to fill your wish lists as best I can. The purpose of my blog is to serve you while putting forth my ideas and books. How can I deepen our relationship and broaden the appeal and utility (to others) of the blog? Thanks. 

Why for children?

Because what we do for them is timeless.

Why I perform for children–a FB friend asked this and I gave a short answer, but the feedback on our Easter Puppet show is a much better illustration.’ Our church, Faith Presbyterian in Myrtle Beach, put on a puppet show. I wrote it and helped , two other members helped with puppets, yet another person dressed the puppets, The show stuck pretty close to the scripture story of Easter. Easter is over, but the show goes on–one of the women filmed it on her iphone and now the show is posted on the page. A former member in another city just commented to say her three year old has watched it three times and loves it. So, Easter bunnies and  chocolate are gone but the Truth marches on into the hearts of little ones, even after The Day. Humbling and reminds me how important is the work we do for little ones.
Link

Puppet Show

Puppet Show

We did a Bible-based short Easter Puppet show. Take a look at the video

Lovely Lentils

Even if you are not into veggies, lentils are a great addition to your meal roataion.

Try this Lover’s Lentil

Lover’s Red Lentil Loaf

2      cups water

1         teaspoon salt

2         cup red lentils

1      small onion, diced

2      cup quick-cooking oats

3/4 cup grated cheese (cheddar, Swiss, jack or American)

1 egg, beaten

1 T olive oil

1 four ounce can of tomato sauce (optional)

1 clove of chopped garlic

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Boil lentils in the two cups water for five minutes and simmer covered 25-30 minutes, until lentils are soft and most of water is evaporated. Drain and mash lentils. Add salt and pepper, onion, garlic, parsley, basil and egg, olive oil, oats and cheese. Put in non-stick or greased loaf pan, smooth top with back of spoon and bake at 350 degrees for 30- 45 minutes. Loaf should be golden brown when done. Heat tomato sauce and pour on when serving if desired.

Loaf

 

Family Time

When you look at your schedule this week, count how many suppers you will have with family.

 

Guest!!! Introducing the wonderful Sheila Boneham, writer and animal lover, on writing!

Sheila is an accomplished writer and animal lover. Sample her mysteries, sample her non-fiction books on animal care and other topics, share her insights into writing on her blog–and today, here on my blog! You can find Sheila blogging at http://sheilaboneham.blogspot.com/, at her website at http://www.sheilaboneham.com, or on Facebook at http:://www.facebook.com/sheilawrites.  PS–She has great photos too!

Thanks, Shelia

Tough Calls – Handling Gritty Issues in Cozy Fiction
 
by Sheila Webster Boneham
 
If you have read Drop Dead on Recall, my first Animals in  Focus mystery, you know that dogs and cats and other critters are vital  characters. After all, the series isn’t called Animals in Focus for nothing. In  fact, each book in the series spotlights a different “animal activity” and each  mystery hinges on an animal-related issue. Just as they do in real life, serious  issues can create major problems for writers.
 
 
In the first  book, Drop Dead on Recall, we meet animal  photographer Janet MacPhail and her Australian Shepherd Jay at an obedience  trial, where a top-level competitior keels over. Soon Janet, Jay, and their very  important feline family member Leo find themselves embroiled in a series of  murders that seem to be linked to breeder ethics (or lack thereof) and  cut-throat competitiveness. That infant puppy is my real-life Jay at one week  old.
 
In The Money Bird, coming in September,  Janet has her lens focused on retrievers training for AKC retrieving tests,  especially the handsome Drake and his almost-as-handsome person, Tom Saunders.  Drake, too, is inspired by the Labs I’ve owned and rescued over the years,  especially my first Lab, Raja, a big chocolate field-bred goofball. Here he is  with my beautiful Malcolm, who was one of the real-life models for Leo.
 
A number of  challenges presented themselves as soon as I began writing. First, this series  falls under the “cozy” umbrella, meaning that readers expect a few things.
  1. Murder and sex are  fine; graphic details are not.
  2. Adult humans may be  killed; children and animals may be threatened, but shouldn’t be harmed.
  3. Serious issues may  be presented, but soap-boxes should be kept mostly tucked under the writer’s  desk, not plunked down on the page.

 

Knowing these “rules” is helpful in some ways,  restrictive in others. After all, I’m writing about creatures and issues that  stir intense feelings in me as well as in my readers, and it isn’t always easy  to stifle myself. Many authors face this problem in fiction, where characters  and story (plot, if you prefer) are the real focus. So how do we strike a  balance? Not all of us do – I’m sure we’ve all read books in which the author’s  passion for some cause overshadowed everything else. If you’re like me, you may  have quit reading. I don’t like to be bludgeoned when I’m reading mostly to be  entertained.
 
On the other hand, I  do like to learn new things, and I have often read fiction that teased me into  looking for more information about something.
 
I hope I’m striking  that balance in my own fiction. In The Money Bird, wildlife trafficking  is the larger issue woven into the plot. It’s an ugly business, and I’ve tried  to present it in a way that will encourage people to learn more without  overdoing it. While I wait to find out whether readers think I’ve succeeded, I’m  working on the next book in the series. Activity and issue, you ask? For now,  they will remain a mystery.
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
The Money Bird is available now for  pre-order. Autographed copies of Drop Dead on Recall, Rescue  Matters, and The Money Bird are  available from Pomegranate Books. You can find Sheila blogging at http://sheilaboneham.blogspot.com/, at her website at http://www.sheilaboneham.com, or on Facebook at http:://www.facebook.com/sheilawrites.

Bonus! A Book Review! Settle into Syria

Storytelling in Syria

By Muna Imady

  • 126 pages  12.95

MSI Press (January 6, 2012)

ISBN-10: 1933455098, ISBN-13: 978-1933455099

 

This slim volume is a perfect example of the old adage that good things come in small packages. In this case, great things. Not only are we able, through Imady’s careful research and strong simple writing, sample the cultural heritage through folk tales we are given the gift of  recipes, jokes, and favorite sayings of the Prophet so we can savor  the greater flavor of Syria, region by region.

 

Her organization of the tales by governmental entity underscores the differences and well as the overall connections of diverse parts of  a country many of us know little about except as a whole.  Her book takes us into the homes of the people, now caught in the political crossfire of the current rebellion and reminds us of the human connections among us all.

 

I am often tell Middle Eastern tales and Imady has given me and all who read her book, permission to tell the tales in oral performance as long as she and her book are properly credited. It’s quite apparent in the way she has captured these tales, told to her in her native Arabic, and then translated into English, that Imady is a master of  English usage. Her style is simple and elegant, retaining the flavor of a tale shared, perhaps in the kitchen while making the very dishes she tempts us with in the recipes offered, or at table while enjoying these masterpieces of lamb courses and other Syrian delights. Sharing meal with family, with visitors, with friends, is a “sacred” experience in my own heritage culture (Italian) and all over the Middle East. Imady generously shares the meal and the conversation (by way of the tales) with us.

 

One of my favorite childhood memories is going to a Syrian owned restaurant in Pittsburgh.

After the dinner (usually a lamb dish for me) the owner, a friend of my grandmother would allow me to select a pastry  from the front counter case for dessert, always as a gift to take home. Imady’s  book of stories is like that counter of sweets–delights for the reader to take into his/her heart and for a teller to share with others.

 

This is a must for anyone who tells tales from this region of the world or who simply has an interest. I own several books of tales from this region and found stories here that I had not heard before. The sayings and riddles she offers are great additions to any story program (again, be sure to give proper credit if you do. “Like” her page on Facebook (Syrian Folktales, Muna Imady) to follow this marvelous teacher of (and writer in) English and scholar and sharer of Syrian folklore.