The Saga is Done

I am now officially an ‘unpublished author’!

I posted a while back about renegotiating a new contract with the company that took over from Mortal Instinct’s original publisher, here, and here.

The contract was about as good as I could make it, so I sent it off to the publisher and waited for feedback … or an email saying they got it … or something …

I was busy with the re-write (Author Preferred Edition) so I didn’t pay too much attention to the fact that nothing was happening.

Six months later … You know how sometimes you just ‘know’ something? The other day I just ‘knew, this window the Universe had been holding open for me, had closed. I wasn’t going to wait any more, so I contacted them and said, ‘thanks, but no thanks’.

Emails were exchanged dotting the ‘T’s’ and crossing the ‘I’s’, and as soon as I have confirmation my book has been pulled from the distributors, I’ll be a free agent.

Unless I get an offer of a gazillion dollar contract I won’t be going with a traditional publisher again. It might be the bee’s knees for some people, but not for me.

So, what’s next? … edit the re-write, edit, and edit, etc, get some decent cover art, and then publish.

… and the serialised story I started here on my blog, ‘Identical’ is waiting in the winds, as is my ‘Lesbians in Spaaaace’ series … there’s also …

I’m going to go into my bedroom now and have a quiet little FREAK OUT!!!, and then get back to writing.

Tales from Otter Lake II

I firmly believe that any sort of camping, be it with a tarp and a blanket, a tent and a backpack, or an RV, you need at least three days on either end of the actual ‘holiday’ time.

It takes three days at the beginning:

To arrive and get set up.

Resolve the inevitable equipment failures.

Do some creative engineering to replace the (also inevitable) things left behind. I’m a firm believer in wire coat-hangers, duct tape, and pegs – if you can’t make do with those three items then whatever it is you’re trying to duplicate isn’t worth the effort, or you need to head into the nearest town and buy a new one.

And finally sit quietly (or exhausted) in front of the fire and breathe for at least an hour.

The three days at the end are for:

‘One last visits’ to the things/places you didn’t get to see/do.

Finding a way to get everything you bought with you back into the same receptacles you packed them in. Including mysterious items that magically appear out of nowhere, as well as the items you so valiantly tried to duplicate with your pegs and tape and wire.

And wind yourself up for the journey home and re-entering your life. Which at this point you’re either desperate to get back to, or wondering how far up into the mountains you can get before you run out of logging roads.

And then there are the stories.

I’m a night owl, (it’s when I do most of my best writing) but the nature of camping, at least for me is that I can’t sleep much past sunrise, or even earlier.

Otter Lake valley runs North/South, and is very narrow and deep, so it takes a while for the sun to appear over the mizzen-mast, let alone the yard-arm.

We were up early one morning waiting for the fire to mature enough to cook breakfast, sipping our tea, and watching the world around us come awake.

The forest is a mix of the usual suspects and lodge pole pines that have died or are dying from the pine-beetle infestation that has devastated swathes of woodlands, and millions of trees, both sides of the border.

A crow had taken up residence at the very tip of one such skeleton, and sat there, occasionally preening, cawing to others of its kind deeper into the forest, but mostly it seemed to be waiting for something.

Once the sun peeped over the high bluff above us, the crow flew away … and I wondered …

Crow has come to make Sure the Sun rises over the Mountains to the East For Sun is Capricious today And may decide to rise elsewhere Or not rise at all

Crow has come to make
Sure the Sun rises over the
Mountains to the East
For Sun is Capricious today
And may decide to rise elsewhere
Or not rise at all

 

Many thanks to the wonderful  Susieee Mac and her artwork ,for inspiring me to take my coloured pencils with me and play with them again, after far too long away.

Tales from Otter Lake

 

You might’ve noticed I’ve been a bit ‘missing in action’ this summer.

Assorted crappy health-ish things, combined with a couple of major self-publishing and Spirituality training summits managed to keep me otherwise occupied. More on those later.

And then … Mrs Widds and I had our (what has now become annual) camping trip in our RV. This year we decided to scale down things a tad. (After our 2015 peregrination across the entire country, anything less could be seen as ‘scaled down’ –  If you want to read of our adventures, scoot over there to the right and check out the ‘2015 Road Trip’ category)

A lake with a view

A lake with a view

Otter Lake is set in a beautiful valley in the North (Canadian) Cascades about 35 minutes north of Princeton, here in British Columbia. Up in the hills the land is quite arid, but once you drive down into the valley, via one of those backroads that’s also used by logging trucks, a whole different landscape emerges. (try driving one of those winding mountain logging roads with an 8 meter (25’) trailer behind, and meeting a fully loaded logging truck coming the other way … on the narrowest part of the goat track. Nerves of steel, that’s us!!!)

Lots of room on this part of the road

Lots of room on this part of the road

 

I was reversing the trailer into the site and Mrs Widds was directing, when another camp-ee said to Mrs Widds as they passed by, “It’s a true test of a marriage,” to which Mrs Widds firmly agreed. We didn’t get any more than a bit scritchy with each other, but it was late in the afternoon and we were both tired, so only to be expected.

We got our trailer into our site with a minimum of fuss however, bought firewood from our most magnificent campground hosts, Betty and Jim, boiled the kettle and watched the local residents, a pair of squirrels and their spouses, or offspring, gather pinecones for the coming winter.

Breakfast of champions

Breakfast of champions

 

One day I was walking back from the pit toilet (the cleanest, best smelling one, this side of the Rockies, thanks to Betty) when I spied Mrs Widds acting rather furtive behind the truck. She mouthed something to me and pointed over the hood.

Not getting any closer ...

Not getting any closer …

... Maybe a little bit closer

… Maybe a little bit closer

Betty and Jim had mentioned there was a brown bear who used the campground as its highway from its foraging grounds to the lake for its afternoon ablutions. I didn’t expect to see one this close. Bruin was busy stripping berries from the bushes on the side of the road, and occasionally glancing at us to make sure we stayed put, then it ambled through a few empty campsites and trundled down to the lake.

Even in the midst of the heat and the pine-beetle devastation life continued unabated.

Mother Nature never wastes a pattern

Mother Nature never wastes a pattern

Itty bitty wild strawberry – we think

Itty bitty wild strawberry – we think

Different species got along rather well

BFF's

BFF’s

 

We had some trouble with the trailer battery, so a big shout-out to Ernie in Tulameen for helping us out.

South along the lake with Tulameen in the distance

South along the lake with Tulameen in the distance

We’re getting the hang of this RV camping thing, but I doubt my cellphone camera is going to be up to the task for much longer.

Of course, when we got home who should turn up on our doorstep, get in our faces, demand cuddles, and then head to the nearest bed for a nap?

Coco, the Community Cat!

Coco, the Community Cat!

And I Think to Myself, What a Wonderful World

“Oh yeah.”

My Reaction the the Wonder Woman trailer

OhMyGodOhMyGodOhMyGodOhMyGodOhMyGadot!!!!!!

Mrs Widds Bakes: Bread

At last … a ‘Mrs Widds bakes’ post.

Enjoy …

All baked and ready to eat

All baked and ready to eat

It’s that time of the week in the Widder household, and as promised, or threatened some might say, I finally managed to remember to take pictures of the process from start to finish … so without further ado, Mrs Widds bakes bread.

First up, boil up ½ a potato with the skin on, until it’s cooked. Drain the water off and set it aside.

Taters about to be boiled

Taters about to be boiled

Mash the taters, and set them aside too.

Then assemble your dry ingredients.

“Ingredients, assemble!”

“Ingredients, Assemble!”

In a big measuring bowl, add …11½  cups of flour/ grains mix (can be whole wheat/white/unbleached, whatever takes your fancy) Mrs Widds uses unbleached. 11½ cups go into the dough mix and 1½ cups (flour only) will be used in the kneading.

Grains: Mrs Widds throws in a handful of oats, some sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and some flax. You can experiment with all sorts of things, but don’t overdo it. There has to be a whole lot more flour than anything else.

Mrs Widds says: Different flours will change the texture/consistency and taste of the bread. You might need more flour during the kneading process, it depends on how the dough feels.

Add, 1 tblsp salt – the salt helps with the leavening process. i.e. helps the dough to rise.

Add 4 sachets of bakers yeast, or 4 slightly-less-than full tblsp.

Next … toss into the bowl 2/3 cup of sugar, or whatever sweetener takes your fancy – honey. maple syrup, molasses.

Mrs Widds says: Any liquid sweetener you use needs to be added to the total amount of liquid you put into the mix, and will also alter the texture/consistency and taste of the bread.

Which brings us to the liquid part of the equation:

You need 5 cups of liquid – including any liquid sweetener you might’ve added – use the potato water you set aside earlier.

Add ½ cup (10 tblsp) marg/shortening/butter to the still warm water, and once it’s melted add the mashed potato.

Mrs Widds says: Butter makes a ‘shorter’/richer loaf.

Now comes the fun bit:

You put the liquid in the dry ingredients, and you mix ‘em all up … to the tune of this song …

Heh, heh, heh … love the Muppets!

Mrs Widds ... mixin’ ‘em all up

Mrs Widds … mixin’ ‘em all up

Make sure all the ingredients are wet.

Mrs Widds says: It looks more like a thick batter than dough at this stage.

Batter-y dough, or doughy batter – ahh, semantics

Batter-y dough, or doughy batter – ahh, semantics

Cover with a light cloth and let it ‘rest’ (everyone needs a nap now and then) until it doubles in size.

Mrs Widds says: As a rule of thumb, each ‘rest’ period ought be long enough to allow the dough to double in size.

Voila, doubled in size

Voila, doubled in size

Mrs Widds says: All the liquid has been absorbed and the gluten has been released.

And it looks like this

And it looks like this

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Use the flour from the 1½ cups you set aside at the beginning.

All floured up and ready for my close-up

All floured up and ready for my close-up

It’s nice to be kneaded

It’s nice to be kneaded

Still a bit sticky

Still a bit sticky

Sprinkle more flour on and knead some more. Until it looks like this …

Ahh ... that feels better

Ahh … that feels better

At this point you’ve probably used up a cup-ish of the flour, but it’s OK if it’s still a bit sticky-ish.

Mrs Widds says: Side note … you can put all sorts of ingredients in your mix, but be aware it will change the dough. e.g. dry cereal (Corn Flakes, Cranberry Crunch, yum) for instance, already has sugar and salt in it, leftover porridge (oatmeal) has liquid in it. But, don’t be afraid to experiment.

Next step:

Pour 1-2 tblsp light oil (not olive oil) into your mixing bowl, place your dough in the bowl and turn it a few times so it’s coated in the oil.

Mah oily self

Mah oily self

Cover and let it rise/rest until it’s doubled in size.

And then: Don’t do this, but if you do, it’s OK, neither you nor the bread will be harmed. (We got into a discussion about something or other and forgot about the dough)

Overinflated

Overinflated

Underinflated

Underinflated

Time for another kneading.

Mrs Widds flying hands

Mrs Widds flying hands

Mrs Widds says: When in doubt, more kneading is better than less. And, pop any bubbles. That’s where the holes in baked bread come from, unpopped bubbles in the dough.

Then, back in the bowl, coat in oil, you know the drill.

Waiting to rise

Waiting to rise

All risen now

All risen now

It’s ‘Kneadin’ Time again … to the tune of this song … and it shouldn’t be sticky anymore. If it is add more flour as you knead.

Your dough is never going to be the same because now, it’s time to make some loaves!!!

Lightly grease/oil your baking pans. (that’s my job. Gorgeous Assistant Extraordinaire! I use the same type of oil that goes on the dough in the mixing bowl)

Mrs Widds saya: I divide up my dough by weight, but you don’t have to. Go with what feels right.

Hack off a piece, throw it on the scales and add or cut off bits until it weighs about 700g (about 1lb 8oz) then knead into a loaf and set aside.

Hacked up and set aside – Le sigh

Hacked up and set aside – Le sigh

A’kneading we will go, a’kneading we will go. Heigh, ho, the derry’O, a’kneading we will go

A’kneading we will go, a’kneading we will go. Heigh, ho, the derry’O, a’kneading we will go

Once all the dough is hacked up and divided, re-knead and set into your pans. Lightly brush with oil.

Mrs Widds says: If you have a bit of dough left over, divide it between the loaves. If there’s too much, flatten it out and put it in a smaller baking dish, drizzle olive oil on top, and sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, oregano, (whatever you fancy) and it’s ready to go too.

Snug as bugs in ... erm ... loaves, in their tins – Note to Self: must get around to re-gluing that poor little Snowperson back together again

Snug as bugs in … erm … loaves, in their tins – Note to Self: must get around to re-gluing that poor little Snowperson back together again

… and guess what? You wait for them to rise. Bwhahahahaha

Before

Before

This might be a good time to preheat your oven to 350°F. Usually about 5 minutes before the loaves go in the oven.

After

After

Clean-up time:

A B-B-Q scraper is great for lifting the dried dough and left-over bits of flour. NOTE: Focaccia loaf in the background

A B-B-Q scraper is great for lifting the dried dough and left-over bits of flour. NOTE: Focaccia loaf in the background

Focaccia loaf all rizzed up – The peek-a-boo version

Focaccia loaf all rizzed up – The peek-a-boo version

Baking:

Bake for 20 minutes-ish, or until the bottom of the loaf makes a hollow sound when you tap it.

Mrs Widds says: The focaccia loaf will take less time to bake so add it to the oven accordingly. Every oven has its idiosyncrasies. With ours I need to turn the loaves about halfway through their bake time.

 

Still warm and half of it already eaten

Still warm and half of it already eaten

– Here we are, back at the beginning ... All baked and ready to be ‘et’

– Here we are, back at the beginning … All baked and ready to be ‘et’

One final task:

The washing-up

The washing-up

Which is usually my job, (Gorgeous Assistant Extraordinaire) unfortunately I had a nasty encounter with a vegetable slicer.

Owwie ... Never a dull moment in the Widdershins household

Owwie … Never a dull moment in the Widdershins household

There you have it. WidderBread!

Star Trek TV Series Teaser Trailer – Blowing S**t Up

Generic voiceover and ‘sploding planets. Gorgeous imagery, but … ** puts on frowny face** … there’s just something missing …