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Marj Watkins

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January 18th, 2011

10:57 pm: Ankle sprain saga
The sprain took three months to heal. The second time I went out at the point where I could drive again--it was my right foot, my driving foot that got sprained--I stepped on a rock that turned and resprained it. Had I been a cursin' person, you'd have heard my naughty words from wherevere you are, even in Australia. So I had to ask myself, what is it that I should be doing that does not involve driving or even much walking?

Well, I finished Jana, Reluctant Goddess, and it's out to critiquers now. This  story set Saxon northern Europe in year 777, which  with araid by a patrol from Charlemagne's Frankish army upon a Saxon village. Her father is off fighting the war, and her mother in Denmark. Deserted by all who could help them,  Jana and her sister escape; their little brother is captured. Jana's challenge is to save her siblings, and to come to terms with and acknowledge her own divinity as an incarnation of Goddess Freya, the goddess of love and peace. Can she love her enemies?  Can she even get her little brother back?

Current Location: home office
Current Mood: chipperchipper
Current Music: Vivaldi
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10:38 pm: Hi, you all!
New Years resolution #87: Top post more often, and get back in touch with as many of you as I can. Blessings and good wishes for this year we've so recently entered.

September 18th, 2010

08:16 pm: I'm back--again!
Hi, friends, if I still have any.
I've totally neglected you for weeks and weeks. Now, laid up with a sprained ankle and torn ligaments, and inspired by my son's intellectual blog, bookselleresversusbestsellers@blogspot.com , I'll try to to somewhat better, but I don't promise to eevn try to match his well thought out and researched blog comparing real Darwinism with the "social Darwinism" of the Third Reich. I do think that the utter failure of the German attempt at applied eugenics, and destruction of the Third Reich itself, proves the truth that natural selection works better than  eugenics at furthering the evolution of the best and brightes tnations in the real world.  Only problem: Those people who applied eugenics by wiping out millions of people they designated as inferior were themselves products of natural selection. Arg!

Back to the real world of my and my attempts to cope with necessary tasks mostly while sitting down.

Here's how natural selection worked in making supper tonight. This dish evolved from an Aserbaijani oven casserol that begins with a raw chicken. Because I dare not put too much pressure on my injured foot, I began with what was left on the carcass of a deli roast chicken.
My recipe is quick and totally delicious. I hope you like it. If you don't happen to have a mostly destroyed cooked chicken in your fridge, start with 2 or 3 raw chicken thighs and cook the chicken, covered, for 40 minutes. Either way, You need a wide, no-stick skillet that has a lid.
When the chicken is done, finish the sauce as described in the second paragraph below.

Serves 2 or 3

Cook 1/2 cup finely chopped onion in 2 Tablespoons of butter until it's golden.Stir in 1 scant teaspoon cinnamon powder and 1/2 cup of chicken broth, or 1/2 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon chicken granules. Add some slabs of cooked chicken breast and any leftrover cooked other chicken parts. Peel and thickly slice 2 peaches. Put the chicken in the pan with the onions. Cover it with a layer of sliced paches. Put the lid on. Bring it to a simmer. Simmer 20 to 25 minutes until chicken is thoroughly heated and peaches cooked but not overcooked. With a big slotted spoon transfer the chicken and peaches to a serving bowl.

Increase heat until the sauce boils briskly. Stir in 2 Tablespoons lemon juice and a mixture of 1 Tablespoon cornstarch and 2 or 3 tablespoons of cold water.  Stir-cook until sauce clears and thickens, adding more  (hot) water if it boils down too much and gets too thick. Taste. Add a spoonful of sugar or honey if you'd like the sauce less piquant.

Enjoy with microwaved yams or winter squash, or steamed brown rice.

June 28th, 2010

10:16 pm: What if enemy soldiers attacked your home town?
Here's my first post in a very long time. Writing and revising my third novel in my series about Charlemagne's family kept my nose pointed into the WIP for at least a year. Now it's out to my critique group. The first two, Rotaida and the Runestone  followed Rotaida's as, sold as a slave in Frankish King Charlemagne's palace,  she searched for her natural father, the mystery of her mother's past, and her own true  identity . In the second Royal Spy, kidnapped by Saxons and carried away into the lands of her farther's worst enemies, she became Charlemagne's spy. Disguised as a boy and forced into the Saxon army, and to fight her own Frank countrymen, she learns  things she'd rather not have to face about her ethnic heritage, yet some answers about her mother's life leading up to her own childhood still elude Rotaida.

The third book tells secrets Rotaida's mother, Jana, would not reveal even on her deathbed. It explores what it was like one forcontinental Saxon family when Charlemagne's army invaded their Saxon state. In the first Chapter, Jana's mother, DanishPrincess Inga , is whisked away to Denmark on the night before a Saxon raid, leaving her three children in the care of servants who disappear. Jana and her little sister Gudrun barely escape. Their little brother Helmut gets captured.

The rest of this new story is their struggle to survive, and to avoid Morag, a "Wise Woman" (read witch) who insists that Jana is Goddess Freya come to earth and uses all her magic arts to force her play that role. Jana wants to track the Franks soldiers and rescue Helmut, but she must protect Gudrun, who wants to save save Jana, even though it means forgetting Helmut for now.

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October 17th, 2009

10:39 pm: Are you a secret Saxon?
Anybody reading my YA novel Royal Spy, or my current WIP, may suspect I am. By the time I finish this new book, the third in the series, they'll probably be sure of it. 

Here's a Monday Morsel:

The Coming of the Barbarians

     A low whistle outside the round Saxon house alerted those inside to a visitor, someone who preferred not to knock.
     Yanna said, "I'll see who it is, Mother. Who could it be and here after dark? That's not a local tune, so it's nobody from our village."
     "Let him in quickly. It's my brother. That's a secret signal we've used since we were children in Jutland."
     The Dane slipped inside. He said in a low voice, "Inga, Widukind sent me. He cannot hold the Franks. They are camped only a few days from Widudorf. An advance patrol could be here any time. I'm to take you to  our Father's kingdom."
     "Now? Tonight?" Yanna asked.
     "Ja. I have a horse saddled and waiting."
     Princess Inga rose. I half expected this. Give me time to tell the Kobolfs and fetch the children,, Anders. Gudrun--"
     "I cannot take all of you. You must leave all three."
     "But surely, Anders--"
     "We travel swift and light through dangerous lands. The wind is driving storm clouds this way, too. We'll outrace it if we can."
     "I cannot leave my children."
     "They would be more at risk with us than staying Inga. Your capture would give the Franks a hold over both the Danes and the SAxons. We cannot take a chance on losing you. Your servants will get them away if real danger threatens them."
     "My Kobold slaves are faithful, reliable servants, but will they not be taken captive or killed also if the Franks come?"
      "Inga, there is no more time for talk. You are the one in most danger. Come!"


July 25th, 2009

05:34 pm: Writer's Block: Leave Room
What's your favorite dessert?
Any kind of berry with spray-on whipped cream.

05:16 pm: My Booth at the Strawberry Festival

Here I am in our Strawberry Festival booth July 17th. It's just a canopy, no walls. Suzanna took the pictureHere I am, displaying  my books, Rotaida and the Runestone, Royal Spy, and Shereluck Ohmes and the Case of the Curried Cookbook, at the Vashon Island Strawberry Festival. last weekend. Suzanna Leigh took the picture.

The red-bordered books are her Atom's Monster. We sold enough books, rune necklaces (suspended from coat hanger at right) and Suzanna's runes, dragons and griffons on silk squares to more than pay for booth rental space and materials. Some vendors sold zilch, so we feel pretty lucky. 

One of the best aspects of  the booth was seeing so many old friends. Some dropped by to buy a book and chat, some just for a mini visit. The Chamber of Commerce gave us a splended location, a corner that caught breezes that hot, hot Saturday, and attracted foot traffic from two directions, next to the kids' playground. The kids especially loved having their photos taken as a knight or as Princess Rotaida. I'd painted the costumes on canvas that we hung at the back left and cut out face holes. Photogragher Suzanna charged $1 to cover the cost of mailing photos that couldn't be emailed. 

We learned ways to improve our act. Next year we'll bring sheets  to hang for walls and to drape the tables. We'll also keep a better tally of how many of each book or rune or silk square we sold, and hope to catch more names and addresses, in writing. The drawing for a set of runestones in  pretty bag netted a lot of them, and we have names and addresses from a few checks that people wrote. We ran out of change-making ability late Sunday and had to ask, "Do you have anything smaller than that $20?"

Although we brought home dozens of unsold books, etc., considering the economy and how light all vendors' sales were compared to last year, we did okay and had a good time doing it. We may do more festivals next year.

See more photos on Suzanna's blog http:/chilrensplay.blogspot.com

June 22nd, 2009

Here are  my illustrator, Suzanna Leigh, and me in our 8th Century costumes before we dyed the dressEs yellow, she with coffee and I with turmeric. We wore them to several school visits the last week of school. Lessons we learned: School visits are loads of fun for us and for the kids, but for book sales we need to instigate more pre-visit publicity aimed at parents, and the last week of school is terrific for teachers and librarians, but not the best time for book selling. At least we didn't sell many.  

Suzanna and I in our 8th Century costumes before we died them with natural dyes. We wore these at several school visits earlier this month. Didn't sell many books, but had loads of fun, and learned a lot. For instnce, the last week of school isn't the best time to present there, and more pre-visit publicity would help spur sales.

June 4th, 2009

04:16 pm: Stage Fright and School Visits
I've been so dragging my feet about doing school visits. How woud I arrange them, and with whom? What would I say or do to interest the kids in my books.  I quivered. I lollygagged and procastinated. Finally, my illustrator, Suzanna Leigh, took charge and arranged a series of school visits. In rapid succession this month, Suzanna and I have presented Rotaida and the Runestone and Royal Spy  to seven classes at three schools.  And you know what? It was wasn't scary at all. It was geat fun every time.

The kids were an attentive audience. They  asked questions that showed thought as well as interest in what we'd told them, and clapped enthusiastically when we finished. We spoke and showed our books in libraries at two schools and today in a middle school classroom. The kids there demonstrated the trebuchets they'd made in a unit about the Middle Ages, so they were already in the mindset of our stories' era. That was a boon.  That class was mostly boys, and the teach had warned us that they'd be rambunctious partly because school is nearly over for summer vacation, and --well--they were boys. We got to watch the trebuchet's shoot tennis balls across the lawn outside their classroom and to see foods they'd made and were eating from Middle Ages recipes.

Dang, we forgot to take a camera to any of those events! Trust me, photos exist of Suzanna and me in our homemade Middle Ages fashions, and I will eventually find them in the maze of thousands of pics in this computer.

May 12th, 2009

08:13 pm: Pictures--not!
Hi, you all, I've been trying to send you pictures of Suzanna Leigh and me and some of our customers at our Open House to celebrate Royal Spy, the YA historical I wrote and Suzanna illustrated. All I can get to show up on the post and on the preview is a square with a a red X in a tiny box in a corner of it. Will try again in a day or two, because I have successfully posted a picture before. Maybe the geniuses who create LiveJournal are working on the site?

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