Monday, March 17, 2014

Publishing Your Work Part One - The Basics

Now Playing -  Creepin' Up The Back Stairs by The Fratellis
 
Life -  
 Over the past few weeks I've had an unusual number of people ask me about resources for publishing their own work and I figured rather than cutting and pasting the response to everyone, I'd make a blog I could send people to.

Obviously, this is far from complete and I'm not going into extreme depth on most things in this blog, maybe later ones. This is just a list of essential steps for getting your creation into people's hands.

Step One

Write something. This is the obvious one and we'll assume you've written a novel, done a few drafts and figured it's ready to go. It's also important to note that this something should be written in a decent editing program. The more familiar you are with it and it's functions the easier and more professional everything will be. Word is great. OpenOffice also works. (And is Free )

Go back over it. Unfortunately, most aspiring authors can't afford professional editing or proofreading. If you know someone that can do it effectively, or is willing to do it on the cheap, cherish that person and never let them go. This is the first place we will spend real money on if we are ever making any of said money.

For any said novel, we typically write 2-3 drafts, do a thorough edit and proofread, then pass it off to the other person who does the same. Then we print it and do the same thing in paper form. And still miss things. Rules, odd spelling things, Simple mess-ups... Linz is especially bad with homonyms. There's nothing worse than publishing a book with english errors or spelling mistakes, but there's also only so much you can do without hiring a pro. Which will cost you. Hundreds, most likely.

On the bright side, most readers of your work will be aware that your book isn't from a major publisher and unless it's a particularly egregious error, are willing to cut you some slack. But do the best you can. In addition to the usual functions like spellcheck and grammar, we use a program called ProWritingAid. It's an online site that allows you to paste a block of text and it analyzes it a few dozen different ways. Overused words, phrases, spelling,  weird rules. It's really nice. You can also pay for it to be used as a widget in Word itself, which is really convenient and quite useful.

Step Two

Decide how you want people to read your book and where. The two major choices are physical books and as an eBook. (Naturally, you can post it online as a blog and what have you.... ) We like our novels to be available as both physical paperback novels and ebooks, but be warned, the physical copy is a LOT more work than making an ebook. For the purposes of this blog, We'll concentrate on making an ebook. Maybe I'll do a follow up on paperbacks. However, if you are interested, we use CreateSpace to make ours. It's run by Amazon, has full integration with them and most of their steps are really easy to follow. They run a print on demand service and you can order books yourself at cost.

As for where people can find your book, that's trickier. Realistically, the best way to reach the most people is to have your book on as many sites as humanly possible. That means publishing your book on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble as well as sites like the Kobo store, Apple, etc.

However - Each of those stores require different formatting of the manuscript, separate accounts, different hoops and rings of fire to navigate. They even care about how you tab your manuscript and how many fonts you use.  You can publish on all of them and more however. It's just a lot of work.

There's another catch too. Amazon.com, the obvious big daddy leader in eBooks thanks to the Kindle has a program with perks available to the author that chooses to e-pub exclusively through them. They let you run promotions, give away free books, discount books to people that own the physical copy, swell stuff like that.

We've tried it both ways and right now, we find that we get better exposure and results from being exclusive to Amazon than we did being on all of the sites. That may change as our bibliography expands and we can build a base of readers outside of the kindle, but for now we publish exclusively there. For those wondering, you can read Amazon books on other devices, it just takes a number of extra steps. I made a tutorial about it HERE. (Which is older and may be out of date.) I own a nook, and I can understand wanting to be on more than just Amazon. I'll get into the other sites at a later date. (Probably)

Step Three

Okay, so we are going to publish an eBook on Amazon.com, and not worry about the other sites and options. The first step is to go to kdp.amazon.com and log in. You can use your amazon.com sign in or create a new one for your publishing empire. KDP is the world of tools for the aspiring self-pubbed author. Not only does it get you the best exposure, the site is well laid out and walks you through things simply and intelligently (For the most part) I'll make another post later on the exact steps of publishing on KDP, but in all honesty, you probably don't need it. Just click on the yellow button labeled "Add new title" and start making a book!

If I were you, however, I would click on the Help button on the top of the page. When there, Click on, download and print the entire guide titled "Building Your Book For Kindle" not only will this walk you through each of the steps, it explains the trickier stuff, like spacing, tabs and tables of contents in a way that anyone can do it. It's a very nice guide that I still refer back to every time.

That alone should be enough to get your book into someone's digital reader. Not impossible, but it also looks misleadingly simple. There's a lot of little tricks and slang the process uses that can trip you up. Just remember to take your time and read the guides and help sections if you're stuck.

A Couple of Notes:

I would be terribly remiss if I didn't add a few things here that I think are incredibly important.

READ OTHER BOOKS. Lots of them. Pay attention to how they lay things out, the way the page looks. What the front pages look like before the story starts. Especially books in the same genre as your work.

HAVE A GOOD COVER. As an artist, I concentrate on this a lot more than other people, I'm sure, but it is vital. With the tremendous amount of ebooks available, you MUST have some way to stand out before anyone ever gets around to reading your plot synopsis. Sending people to buy your book is all well and good, but if you can't get Average Joe to buy it, you'll never become successful. If you aren't artistic at all, you can still make a decent cover. Pay attention to color and font. Look at lots of covers. Browse Amazon's listings for similar books and see what they do on theirs that makes them successful. Remember that the first time your cover is seen it's less than an inch tall. That's important to note - some covers become a jumble of ugly at thumbnail size.

If at all possible, don't go the generic "Colored background with white words" route. They scream amateur. I read over 200 books a year usually, about half are self pubbed or independent and I have never bought one with a cover like that.

At the same time, neveruse an image you found online unless you bought it for your use. Anything on the internet, whether it says so or not, is protected by copyright. There are some sites that offer images for use, but be sure to check and make sure it's okay to use for commercial matters. Some sites look like they have free images, but it's only if they're used for editorial or non-profit reasons. If all else fails, take a picture and add your title to your own photograph. That's relatively easy with free programs like PhotoScape.

Another option is to hire someone to create a cover for you. We do that on our site Octopress Books where we make custom covers and have started selling template covers that we can add your title and name to a pre-made design for a lower price than our fully custom covers. NOTE: I didn't write this blog to plug our cover services, but I couldn't write this and not mention it, could I? :)

Believe in what you write.

Both before and after publishing your novel, you have to love what you write and what you are doing. People online can be cruel or mindless and that can result in some harsh criticism. My suggestion is to ignore reviews completely if possible. Or have a trusted friend read them and forward ones that are positive, uplifting or genuinely useful. Don't ever let the haters stop you from writing and loving the process and result. Most authors hate their first works. But you have to keep writing and improving.  

(This post is being cross-posted to our other blogs, so I apologize if it's redundant to my readers that follow all of them.)

  
The ROUS FAMILY -   
  
 
 
 
 

Monday, February 10, 2014

TempleCon 14!

Now Playing -  One Night In Bangkok by Murray Head

Life -  
I just posted an update on the Deeply Dapper Blog - a post on my recent table time at TempleCon 14. The first update on that blog in almost a year... hahah  Enjoy!
 

 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Another update on our plans - 2014 version

Now Playing -  Here It Goes Again by OK GO
 
Life -  


The more we think we have a plan figured out, the more curves life seems to throw at us. A few months ago, we laid out our plans for the rest of 2013 and our moves in 2014.  It was a fine plan, but a number of major problems presented themselves. Our house in Idaho was severely under-appraised due to a bunch of foreclosures in the area, making it worth less than we actually owed on it. That's a situation that will likely improve, eventually, but for the time being, that means my mom buying it would be a bad move for both her and us. She could get a better house in the area for less money than our place and find one that would suit her needs better. We'd end up losing over $30k if we sold now. On top of that, our Christmas was dramatically worse than we'd predicted. Between the government shutdown, a late Thanksgiving and a myriad list of other reasons, people weren't shopping as heavily as predicted. Our shop wasn't doing itself any favors either. Apart from our soaps, which we'd debuted too late to really get the full benefit, we didn't have anything new and exciting to draw in shoppers.

After we'd gotten the news of the house, I made a trip out there and we decided that the best option would be for Lindsay and I to move back to Idaho, to our old home on Rosewood. That would mean forgoing our plans to move to Washington, but it wasn't all bad news. We still like the house on Rosewood, we just never really gave it a chance. The whole time we lived there, we were looking for plans to move away. Which is really how we've spent the last... seven years or more, actually.

The initial plan had been to sell the trailer and abandon Maine as soon as the holidays were over, traveling south to avoid the weather and get back to Idaho in late January. It would mean us losing money on this trailer, selling it as fast as we could, just to get out of here, the exact reasoning that had kept us here before but this time it was compared to how much we would lose if we sold the house... a number nearly twice as large.

Unfortunately, the holidays underperformance now means that is delayed. We will have to wait until at least spring, when we can sell the house at closer to what we owe and in the meantime I can concentrate on the shop, conventions and possibly a part time job, while Lindsay re-dedicates herself to writing. (Despite not releasing a book in over a year, her romance novels are still selling regularly if not in great numbers)

So this is kind of a non-update. But despite the setbacks, we are actually quite excited about the next few months. It would be more exciting if we were moving back to Poky and better still if our original plans of Washington were possible, but we aren't rushing to escape Maine quite as urgently and that should allow us some time to do it properly. Eat at Red's Eats one more time, do some sightseeing and photography, I plan to hit a number of conventions in the area. It should be good stuff.
The ROUS FAMILY -   
  
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Trimming The Tree

Now Playing -  Last Christmas by Dexter Freebish
 
Life - 


Every year for Christmas, we get a new ornament. It's a tradition I've been doing since I was a little boy. When Lindsay and I started getting a tree together we started choosing an ornament as a family. I've been lax on updating this blog and as we were trimming the tree this year, it struck us how much we like having a diary of sorts on here. The ability to hop on and read about what we did on a certain day or, in this case, what ornament we bought a certain year. So ROUS is back. I hope. And to start, a rundown of ornaments past.

2004
Our first ornament together was a simple, pretty thing. Just a small glass star with blue glitter. We bought it at Pier One and it hung on a tiny tree in my basement apartment in Pocatello, ID. 
2005

 2005's ornament was keeping with the theme - a pretty, delicate glass piece with a bit of iridescence. We bought it at Pier One as well. I think we were in Missoula MT for this Christmas.


2006

 For 2006, we couldn't find anything at Pier One we liked - they'd gone from delicate pretty things to big gaudy colored stuff. Pink and fuscia, etc. So we found this cute guy, made from porcelain and silver paint at Target. This was our first year in our new house in Pocatello, ID. 

 
2007

 We had a hard time finding an ornament we liked in 2007. We looked all over the place but between the trend leaning big and gaudy and the fact that we were pretty broke that year, we struggled. We finally found this goofy little fellow on a side panel tucked away in the back of a Target and though a bit silly, we like him a lot. He's only about an inch tall and made of metal with a glass bead.


2008

2008 was the year we decided to start making the ornaments more meaningful than just being pretty. We had discovered how much we loved the Pacific ocean and found this cute little articulated enamel and metal seahorse to commemorate it. This was also when we started looking into buying a motel in earnest. I have no idea where we bought it... maybe the aquarium in Newport?

2009
2009 was the year our ambition kind of got the better of us. optimistic about the prospect of leasing a motel in Washington, we chose this ornament which we found at a World Market in Boise, ID because well... it was money! haha. Turns out, that plan fell through and we ended up making much larger changes to our lives that coming year. We've yet to see that money, but it's still a pretty ornament.

2010

This ornament was chosen to represent our move to Maine in 2010. We also liked how it went well with our little seahorse guy. Kind of one for each coast. We bought this in a little jewelry store in Brunswick, ME. We were renting a trailer in Topsham, ME that year.

2011

2011 was our year of frugality. We tried to start paying down our debt and figure out what we were doing for our future. We had no idea how much would change in the next year. Lindsay made this ornament from wire and a bead, including the funky hanger. It's a cute little thing.
 
2012

Deeply Dapper changed our lives in 2012. Lindsay quit her job to run the shop in November and I retired from Walgreens after ten years in January. One of the main reasons we were able to was our tremendous sales of our Harry Potter themed light switch plates. So we designed and I made us this ornament, in the shape of the Harry Potter lightning bolt, cut from an actual switchplate. It's easily our cheapest ornament, but it signifies the largest change for us.
 
2013 
 This is our ornament for 2013. It's easily ouyr most expensive ornament, costing nearly $40, but well worth it. It's a Maine leaf, metalized in beautiful red-copper. We chose it because this will be our last year in Maine. Plans are in motion to move back to Idaho in January of 2014. (More on that in a future post.) This big, beautiful ornament will remind us of what we came to love about the east coast.  
 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

VACATIONLAND - Updates and Plans

Now Playing -  Don't Forget To Breathe by Bitter:Sweet


 
Life -  


I have been bad. Not just at updating this blog, but all of our blogs, social media sites and in my own writing. It's literally been over a month since I've written a single word on a novel and apart from some last edits on the print version of MR PALE, Lindsay and I have been totally out of the loop on the author end of our lives. There's an okay reason behind some of it, but I feel bad all the same.

Part of the reason it aggravates me is that I genuinely like writing, and I like positing on this blog. If nothing else, I actually think it makes a great little record of our lives and right now our lives are different than they've ever been.

I've said this before, but I'll say it again now – I'll try and be better.

So what's been going on? A ton. This year has been amazing for us in so many ways but in other facets it's actually been one of our hardest years ever. The opportunity to quit my retail job and for both of us to concentrate our efforts on Deeply Dapper and our various other pursuits has been a dream come true. But True Life is never quite as sweet as the dream. We've had some ROUGH months. Rough estimate, we need about $3000 a month in income to pay bills, feed the animals and keep the shop going. There were a few months in late spring/ early summer where we didn't make half that.

When I quit my job I did something somewhat ill-advised – I cashed in my retirement fund from Walgreens. The simple fact is that if things go the way we've planned, I could either use it now to work towards our future or save it and give up our dreams right now. It was a no-brainer to us – we're dreamers.

So that money has supported us at times and every time we sat in the red and needed some new item for the shop or a big load of supplies that had to come out of that savings, it sucked, pure and simple.

So there's that. Money troubles.

In addition, there's the sheer, unadulterated claustrophobia of two people, two large dogs and two cats going from a 1600 square foot house with a huge fenced yard, two sheds and a garage in Idaho to an 800 square foot tin box in the middle of nowhere. Add in the fact that we're both here ALL of the time and are at heart both very alone-time centric, this has been a Challenge. We did what we could – we bought Linz a writing cottage and we cordoned off our place into private zones but we live in a house that takes roughly twenty paces to reach from one end to the other. It takes the dog less than a second to run it.

After a few rough months of living here with the shop hitting a few speed bumps, we made a fateful choice. We needed to get out of Maine. Neither of us have any friends out here. Linz worked the overnight shift at a hotel and I was most of my peers' boss at Walgreens. We don't socialize, especially when we live 40 minutes from any socializing being done. And naturally, both of our best friends are the types that aren't really functional online. I have a few friends that started as online so I had them and I've always been rather content in solitude, but it was especially hard for Linz, especially when it came to writing inspiration and motivation. There are some things that friends can inspire and move along without ever realizing it.

Our plan to move was ambitious, no doubt. The real sticking point was one of the same things pushing us to move in the first place – this house. We bought it out here with the vague allusion that moving to rural Maine would be a smart step company ladder-wise and at the time I bit. We got a decent deal for the place but we still owed a lot on it and unlike a real house, a mobile home is more like a car when it comes to resale. We were gonna lose money. Probably a lot. Luckily, we didn't own the land, so we'd just have to sell the trailer and WEST OR BUST.  The plan was to wait for this coming Christmas, stockpile every penny we could and as soon as the snow receded, get the Hell out of Derry Maine.
One of our home improvement projects, replacing a cracked floor joist.

Unfortunately, once we did the smart thing – Crunch Numbers, things began to reveal themselves. Assuming we couldn't sell the trailer for much and factoring the costs associated with the move – rentals, trailers, gas, tolls, etc., it would cost us approximately $14,000. And that was just back to Idaho, to say nothing of our ultimate goals of getting past the potato and into the Pacific Northwest.

On the other hand, we actually had that much, give or take, between our retirement money and what we forecasted to make over the holiday, so it was doable.  Then things got a bit crappier out here. Maine seemed to close up over us and things seemed more oppressive. We had a few trademark issues with the shop and just plain bad months and we started to get desperate. We had to get out of Vacationland and back West where our hearts were.

Part of it was that we were starting to crunch the numbers in regards to this Christmas. Last year was huge for us and our shop was significantly larger on a day to day basis now. Christmas could be HUGE. And we knew no one out here. If we were to say.... head to Idaho BEFORE the holiday, what would be stopping us from setting up shop in Linz's folks' garage and hiring cheap slave labor under the guise of inviting friends and family over?  It sounded so great. Eating Christmas cookies and packaging switch plates with family and friends.

Enough that the idea seduced any other real logic out of our heads for a while. We started looking at places to buy post-Christmas, figuring out which supplies to buy now and have shipped to Idaho ahead of us...

Then, one day, we looked at each other and said “Crap, it's a good thing we don't run our shop like we run our lives, or we'd be bankrupt.”

For us to get out to Idaho before Christmas, it would not only take every penny of our savings, but we would likely have had to put all of our Christmas supplies on the credit card that we had just spent two years paying off. Additionally, we still owned our house in Idaho. My mom is working towards buying it, but regardless of how the shop does, there's no way we could buy a home in OR or WA while it was still in our name, especially with a new – owner operated business as our sole income. We also had about three months to sell everything in the house that wouldn't fit in a 5x8 trailer and get to Idaho with enough time to prep for the holiday sales to start in October.

SO to sum up, we would be living in the In-Laws basement, have thousands of dollars in debt, not a penny to our name, no way to buy a house to live in and we would be living in Pocatello Idaho... again.

Despite the obvious, we still almost went for it. The day we realized what we were doing was a very hard one for us. It was the same day we realized that if the shop kept having sales the way they were, I'd have to get a job before we left or our bills would tap out the money we'd need to get out of the house in the first place and we'd be stuck here anyway.

On the other hand, if we stayed here in Maine, we'd be in a house that's already being paid on, we'd have enough money in savings to get us to Christmas, buy a few home stuff we really needed and all of our supplies. We'd be in a place that we didn't....hate and we'd be better off financially than we have ever been... Sort of, anyway – at the time, our shop was still a question, but we figured that if worse came to worse, I could work part time during the summer to get us comfortably by in the lean months.

So once again, we did what we do best – we changed our plans. Sigh.

OUR NEW PLAN:

2013:

Deeply Dapper - Keep on trucking with Deeply Dapper on Etsy. At the same time, explore alternate avenues of revenue with the brand – www.deeplydapper.com as well as shops on Zibbet, Goodsmiths and eBay. Finally get DD.com up and running, including the Octopress branch, offering eBook formatting and cover work. Start prepping for Christmas '13 in earnest. Tighten up books and records, become an official business entity. Possibly hire a part time assistant to help out.

Writing – Still write, but let it take a back burner to an extent. We were trying to push it too much and our love of the craft was suffering. Our planned books for 2013 have been pushed back. Unfortunately.

Location – Stay here in the tin can in Maine. Not the best choice, but we've been working on making it more comfortable for us, doing some improvements we've put off, decorating and the like. We've also started exploring the area we live in slightly more.

The Crew – We found the boys a Day Care we could take them to for trips and the like – the person we did have caring for them moved further away and it wasn't fair to them or the dogs. More on that in a later post. On Lindsay and my end, we aren't doing much to change our situation... not yet. The simple fact is that we don't have time to find friends this time of year -XMAS is upon us. We have visits from family this fall too! Linz's folks will be here in about a week for 8 days and my brother makes his first trip to Maine at the end of September.

Addendum – My brother's trip had originally been designed as a bookend to the first leg of our move out West. The plan had been for him to come out, spend a week then he and I would load up Linz's car and drive it cross country with as much of our house as we could do without until the full move. We were looking forward to the cross country trip too. With our move cancelled, we're now planning to take the train back to Idaho, where I'll spend a bit of time. (Hopefully completing the sale of the house.)

2014:

Obviously, a lot of these plans are tentative, based largely on how our shop does over Christmas.

Deeply Dapper – DD goes CON! 2014 will see our shop represented in Comic Cons! We aren’t sure how many, but our first con is this November – in addition to our switch plates and stickers, we'll be selling our new line of geeky soaps. Along the way, I'll also be hitting up comic, game and video stores to see if they would be interested in selling our soaps at a retail level. My plans this year are to expand the brand on a wholesale level. Doing so could stabilize our shop to a tremendous extent. More on this to come! If it doesn't pan out, I'll likely try out a few part time jobs over the summer to supplement our income. There have always been jobs I've been vaguely curious about – this would be the ultimate chance to try them out.

Writing – Hopefully, Linz will be able to continue plugging away at her romance novels – despite no new releases or promotions, her novels keep selling, so we want to add to it. We also plan to release them in paperback. She's also working on a top secret novel series that she's been planning for a long time. We're also looking into writing groups in the area, both from an editorial assistance point of view and for that sweet, sweet human contact. I hope to release GRAVES and write the second MR PALE and MOONSTONE BAY novels. I HOPE. Ha-ha

Location – Here still. Keep calm and carry on. And pay off some of Linz's oppressive student loans. Mow the lawn.

We also hope to find time to start e3njoying the area the way a young work at home couple should be able to – Sex in the forest! Oh, I mean exploring the hundreds of old graveyards out here!  Our wholesale and conventions should be a help here, allowing us to phase out some of the extremely time intensive products from the shop.

The other thing is to pay off the house if possible so that when the move does come, it comes much, much cheaper.

The Crew – Our two main goals here are to free our minds from the stress of moving and where we'll be in a month, etc... And concentrate on enjoying our lives. We're finally making money off our interests and talents – we should be overjoyed! Linz will look for some friends; I'll be better about talking with mine. We'll get out more, be healthier, cook even better food, and lose weight.

The one event we are over the moon about in 2014 is that we are finally planning to take our belated honeymoon to Ireland. Aww yeah. That alone makes not moving a little sweeter.

Beyond that, the real plan is to make as much money from the shop and our writing as humanly possible so that in 2015, after the snows melt and while the air is still cool enough for a long road trip to be pleasant, we head west. For reals this time.
The ROUS FAMILY -   
  
 
 
 
 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My Gateway Books - Part One

Now Playing -  Ho Hey by The Lumineers
 
Life -  

 
 Yesterday, my sister in law asked me for some suggestions for books. This is an awesome thing, because I've never thought of her as a reader. However, when asked what kind of book, she was unclear. That makes it hard, because there are so many different genres and so many great books in each and all very different.

On the plus side, she's also kind of a blank slate. I know she's read books and recently read all six of the books my wife and I have released, which are three radically divergent genres, so that made up my mind for me:

I would write my definitive list of Gateway Books. This is my list of the first book I would want a neophyte to read in each of the genres I love. (Or the first few... I'm not good at being completely definitive...)

 In most cases, these might not be the best book of it's kind in the genre, or completely representative of it. But I think they're books that, when read, would give the reader a good idea of what the genre is about and whether they want to move on to more like it. I also chose ones that were relatively easy reads to the modern reader. As much as I adore Ray Bradbury, HP Lovecraft, Poe and the like, a modern reader has a hard time truly enjoying the reading process with books like that.

  • Middle Grade Fantasy
    • Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling.
      •  Easy to read, incorporating elements of mythology and fantasy, this will work.
        • Additional reading: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents - Terry Pratchett
  • Middle Grade Adventure
    • Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
      • Clever little noir fantasy adventure, this book incorporates detective, fantasy, humor and action and it a hell of a lot of fun to read. (Technically quite a fantasy novel, but I felt it was more of an adventure.)
  • Middle Grade Mystery/Horror
    • The House With A Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs
      • My favorite Gothic horror novel growing up, this book is a spooky little tale of a young boy trying to defeat a house ticking its way to doomsday. 
  • Non Fiction
    • In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
      • This is a tricky category for me. I love reading non-fiction but it took a really long time to get into it and I have a hard time finding ones I like. This humorous travel book by the hilarious Bill Bryson is a fantastic read and will make you want to travel. And read more.
  • Light Fantasy
    • The Misenchanted Sword by Lawrence Watt-Evans
      • This was the first "Adult" book I read as a child and I fell in love. Watt-Evans is still one of my top two favorite authors and this novel, about a simple soldier and his magic sword is the perfect intro to the genre. Different worlds, strange spells and ideas, but easy to read and very light-hearted.
        • Further Reading - Anything by Terry Pratchett. I wouldn't recommend starting with the first book however. The humor is a little rougher, and more British. Harder to get into right away. Maybe start with Guards, Guards!
  • Epic Fantasy
    • Touched By The Gods by Lawrence Watt-Evans
      • I know, repeat author, but Epic Fantasy, stuff like Lord Of The Rings, A Song Of Ice And Fire (The Game Of Thrones) The Wheel Of Time Series, can be VERY hard to get into. They're Epic, after all. This single novel by Watt-Evans has a lot of the elements in one great novel.
        • Further Reading - The Runelords Books by David Farland are a good place to start with a larger series. 
  • Light Science Fiction
    • The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams
      • Non-stop hilarious and full of the bizarre worlds that Sci-Fi is made of, I think this should be one of the first ten books every person alive reads.
        • Further Reading - Possibly The Hunger Games series. It's quite readable. Might even be a better choice for a first foray into Science Fiction. Dystopian worlds, high tech, pining for boys....
  • Hard Science Fiction
    • Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
      • Honestly, I wouldn't recommend starting with Hard Sci-Fi until you have a lot of other sci fi and fantasy under your belt. A lot of it can be indecipherable at first glance or maddening even. But if you try this and like it, there's a LOT of great stuff out there.
  • Horror - Supernatural
    • The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
      • An odd choice, perhaps but The Strain features a great adventure and a hardcore take on vampires that's very accessible to newbies. 
        • After that, some Stephen King maybe or if his slow burn supernatural stuff is a little hard, hit up Jonathan Maberry for one of his action-y zombie novels.
  • Horror - Non-Supernatural
    • Trapped by Jack Kilborn
      • My 13 year old nephew introduced this to me. It's gory and crazy and very over the top. Not for the faint of hearted but features everything this kind of book needs. A horror where people are the horrors.
        • Further Reading - Psycho by Robert Bloch. The original.
 
Next time: Mystery and other fiction wonders!
The ROUS FAMILY -   
  
 
 
 
 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Recipe Review - Joe's Special: Beef And Spinach San Franciscan Style

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Cookin' With Kris

JOE'S SPECIAL: BEEF AND SPINACH SAN FRANCISCAN STYLE
The Uncommon Cook Book, pg95
by Ruth Mellinkoff, 1968

Recipe:

  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach, cooked and drained
  • 1/4lb fresh mushrooms, finely sliced
  • salt, pepper & garlic salt
  • 4 or 5 tablespoons butter
  • 6 beaten eggs 
Saute sliced mushrooms and onions in the butter until lightly browned, then add beef and cook until it has browned. Stir in the spinach and seasonings to taste. Pour in the eggs and stir until lightly set. Turn over once with spatula and cook a minute or so longer. Serve very hot with sour dough bread and butter.

Modifications:
 I removed the mushrooms and onions from the pan prior to browning the beef so that I could drain it after cooking, then added them back in, along with a bit of butter to compensate. We added a sprinkle of grated Parmesan on the top of the finished recipe. 

Rating (Out of 5)

Kris - 2.5
Linz - 2

Review: Both of us had actually rated this recipe higher upon our initial tastes. It has a nice flavor and the browned eggs made a nice strata for everything. But as the meal progressed, we realized exactly how greasy it was, despite draining the beef fat. It might in part be due to us cutting ground beef from our diets - we used to have Hamburger Helper style meals regularly, but haven't for months, but the meal felt heavy and greasy. The sheer number of eggs and meat makes it a fairly unhealthy feeling meal as well. We will be unlikely to try this one again. Interestingly, the leftovers actually cooked up with a better feel and taste than the original meal. 

Notes & Tips: I don't know how I ever cooked with frozen spinach before I snagged my salad spinner. It eliminates that incredibly annoying process of draining the stuff with a couple of quick spins.








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