Writing is Hard. So Why is being Forced to Stay Home Making it Harder?

I am not getting much done on my books. I have health problems and ‘m forced to stay home and away from people. So why can’t I get more writing done?

You would think that forced isolation would be great for a writer. But even introverts need social contact. Two weeks ago I ran two zoom meetings and participated in two other zoom meetings. Last week it was three zoom meetings. To show you how I feel about zoom meetings, like the one I’m running tonight, here’s a quote from a play you won’t recognize; “It’s not the same, captain. It’s not the same.” or “Last Thanksgiving was awful, just a food supplement pill with turkey written on it.” Zoom meetings are great but they’re not the same as being there.

The above line is important. A recent NPR broadcast said most millennials have not watched or seen “Gone With the Wind”. Young people do not care, or resist, or hate anything older than they are. This is good for writers. Young people want new stories. (and yes I know of one writer that takes old stories form the thirties and forties, doctors them a little and sells them).

With all these people looking for new stories it is the greatest time to be a writer. All those old writers aren’t selling and are not competition for today’s writers. Who’s going to read a book from the seventies, even a classic, that story is so last millennium.

So what’s keeping me from my writing. Is it the old problem in psychology, where you have to heal yourself. Like how do you stop acting a certain way or stop thinking a certain way. It doesn’t work that way. People are not a light switch. Maybe my friends and family are more important than my writing. Maybe I am more important than my writing. Maybe I have a lot of things to do that are not writing.

I haven’t eaten out in three months. No take out or delivery. I have made two trip of 13 miles in the last three months, and one of those was to a doctor’s office. Other than that, I go to the grocery store once every two weeks, and I worry that I will mess up and get the virus every time I step out the door.

And you know what, I am lucky. I have a friend who is over 80 years old. He can’t leave his house. He has people that make sure he doesn’t step out the front door, and it’s starting to get to him. (80 percent of virus fatalities are people over 80).

You think being stuck at home is bad. In college I got a letter. It said the deferment for the draft for college students was cancelled and I was 141 on the draft list. Not only was I not going to graduate, but I was going to be sent off to where there was a good chance I would be killed, like so many of my friends and family. So if you’re a writer, then write. If you’re a reader, then read. And yes, it can be worst.

Recipe

Fudge in 5 minute

Ingredients:
1 cup 12 ounces evaporated milk
3 1/3 sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup nuts
3 cups small marshmallows
12 ounces package chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions:
Line 9 by 9 inch high sided pan with wax paper or butter bottom and sides of Pyrex dish.
Butter sides and bottom of large skillet. Add milk, sugar and salt to skillet. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for for five minutes.
Remove from heat and add marshmallows and chocolate chips. Caution the mixture is hot. Stir until marshmallows and chips are melted.
Stir in vanilla and nuts. Pour into buttered or wax paper lined disk.
Let cool over night. You can refrigerate for several hours to speed up cooling.
Cut into small squares.

Stay strong and write on, and hang in there.

Professor Hyram Voltage

A Talking to People Contest and Cinnamon Rolls

Last week I attended four zoom meetings. Three of the meeting I hosted. Of those three meetings, two of them I generated an agenda and after the meeting I generated minutes.

So what did I do this weekend. I competed in a contest to talk to as many people, one on one, as I could, using radios. In this contest I get to use the highest frequency radios I have. Up to five gigahertz. My 10.7 gigahertz radios need repair. That’s not cell phones either.

This was a nation wide contest, although I would have gladly talked to anyone around the world. The atmospheric conditions only allowed me to contact stations in Canada and Mexico. Still that a thousand kilometers away.

Why would I sit for a day and a half working with a computer controlled (no internet was used) radios talking to people. Because it’s fun. I also get bragging rights, about how many people I talked to, how good my equipment worked.

I now have plans for the next contest in August. I have to get the 10.7 gigahertz radios fixed. I gotta figure out the fine details of using SDR radios. I need to get the 55 foot tower up, but city hall is closed and I need a building permit. There are bugs in the system to work out. And I have to try out everything before August. You don’t go into a contest without a dry run or the contest will be a lot less fun, with easily avoidable headaches.

The standard old add; Buy my book;

Recipe;

The bread making is getting under control. The last loaf was not as light as I would have liked. But it’s good enough to get eaten. The dough is very sticky after being mixed. The loaf did fall a little when I put it in the oven. Next time I taking some of the dough and making cinnamon rolls.

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

1 cup milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
3 1/3 cups bread flour plus flour to flour working surface and hands
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Filling:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 dash of ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped and lightly toasted nuts

Preparation:

Gently warm milk (place cup of milk in microwave for 30 seconds (at 1000 watts, you want warm milk, not icy cold or boiling hot.). Add milk to bucket in bread machine. Add sugar to milk. Add yeast to to mixture. Lightly beat egg and add to mixture. Let mixture set for three minutes.

Add flour to mixture. Add salt to top of flour. Do not let salt get into liquid.

Set bread machine to dough cycle.

When cycle is finished, scoop dough out onto floured table top or other working surface. Knead dough about 1 minute, then let rest 15 minutes.

Roll dough into a rectangle, about 15 x 10 inches.

Spread 1/4 cup melted butter over dough to within 1 inch of edges (use brush if you have one). Mix sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar, the cinnamon, nutmeg, and sprinkle (I use an old aluminum shaker) over buttered surface. Now distribute chopped nuts evenly over dough.

Roll dough up tightly on long side. Press edges to seal and form into a 10 to 15 inch long, evenly shaped roll. With a knife or 8 inch long piece of dental floss, cut roll into 1 inch pieces. Place rolls cut side down into a greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Cover with towel and let rise in warm, draft free place until double in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Preheated oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on rack for 10 to 15 minutes.

To make icing. Combine 1 cup powdered sugar with 1 to 2 tablespoons milk and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla. Stir until smooth. If too thin or too thick, add more powdered sugar or milk, respectively, until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle icing over rolls. Let icing firm up.

Cut rolls apart and remove from pan.

Stay strong, write on, and in this time of isolation, reach out and talk to someone. Even if you’re an introvert and need a contest to get you to talk to a stranger.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Tired of Reading Bang-bang Shoot Em Up Spaceopera?

May I recommend a literary science fiction book written by a philosopher.

Olaf Stapledon was a British philosopher that wrote science fiction books in the 1930s. These are not fast paced, light-reading, but his books influenced many later science fiction authors. He introduced many ideas to science fiction.

His book Odd John started the whole mutant super human trope that also appear as heroes in comic book. The trope got very over done in the 1970s.

His writing is in the style of the 1930s. It’s flowery, at times even purple prose. Strunk and White railed against overly flowery writing in their book the The Elements of Style. If you don’t have a copy of the Elements of Style, get one and read it, very couple of months. My English teachers told me that over and over.

His book The Star Maker has been called a history of the universe. A big statement. When he wrote the book, Black Holes were a mathematical concept. It was not until 1958 that a book came out that made Black Holes a popular concept. In the 1930s liquid fueled rockets were just being experimented with and some people argued that they could not work. The V2 would come crashing down on that idea a few years later. Galaxies had just been determined to be object like the Milky Way, not part of the Milky Way. There were no Cell Phones back then, it was primitive.

So plow through one or more of his books. You will find that ideas we think of as modern go back a long ways.

Someone has to thinks the books are good. They are out of copyright, but Amazon still charges top dollar for them.

Recipe.

I’m baking another loaf of bread. I’ll let you know how it came out next week.

Bacon recipe

Sugar Crisp Bacon

Ingredients
1 pound thick-cut bacon
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup brown sugar
Optional thin, very thin sliced apple pieces
Direction

Stay strong, write on, and make it with bacon.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Lunch with Ray Bradbury and Peanut Brittle

I had lunch with Ray Bradbury back in the 1970s. I know, that was before you were born. Still he was one of the classic science fiction writers. He sold his first story in 1938 so he had been writing for a long time before I first met him.

He considered himself a fantasy writer rather than a science fiction writer. But with a book titled The Martian Chronicles I still think of him as a science fiction writer. (Someone once said that Mr. Bradbury admitted that he knew when he wrote the book that Mars was nothing like he was writing about).

What did he have for lunch. I don’t remember. I do remember that I asked all the usual dumb questions people ask famous writers. I was young, but I had never been to a science fiction convention. I had read every science fiction book in the town’s public library, and had asked the ladies that ran the library to get more science fiction books. I had read all of my friends Analog magazines because I couldn’t afford my own subscriptions. Not bad for someone that grew up in a small town in the middle of the desert.

I didn’t know anything about writing or writers. I still don’t, but I have come to believe that nobody knows nothing about writing.

Example; have you every stopped reading a story because it was written using the snowflake method of plotting instead of the three act structure method? Would you care. Of course not, you, the reader, want a good story.

Mr. Bradbury once said, “Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations. Plot is observed after the fact rather than before. It cannot precede action. It is the chart that remains when an action is through. That is all Plot ever should be. It is human desire let run, running, and reaching a goal. It cannot be mechanical. It can only be dynamic.”

Can you tell if Harry Potter was written with a three act plot structure? Do you care? Does it matter?

If you’re anything like me you just want another good story to read. But most people have and hard time telling someone what a good story is. “I know it when I see it,” just doesn’t cut it.

Me, I’m going to follow the foot steps in the snow. I don’t want to see what’s coming. I don’t want formula.

Was it a waste to have lunch with great writer. No, it made for good memories and a learning experience.

Recipes;

I have cut back on my bread eating this week. All this stay at home stuff is hard on the old waist line. I didn’t make a loaf of bread this week.

I’ve got a sweet tooth. Not a good thing to have while locked in a house.

Peanut Brittle
Microwave directions. The cooking times vary based on the wattage of your microwave.

Cook Time: 9 Minutes
Prep Time: 7 Minutes


Ingredients
⦁ 1 cup sugar
⦁ 1/2 cup light corn syrup
⦁ 1/8 teaspoon salt
⦁ 1 1/2 cups shelled raw peanuts
⦁ 1 tablespoon butter
⦁ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⦁ 1 teaspoon baking soda

Preparation
Lightly grease baking sheet.
Microwave first 3 ingredients in a 2-quart glass bowl on HIGH 5 minutes, using an 1100-watt microwave oven. (Microwave 1 more minute if using a 700-watt microwave.)
Stir in peanuts. Microwave 3 more minutes in an 1100-watt oven (add 1 more minute in 700-watt oven). Stir in butter and vanilla.
Microwave 45 seconds in an 1100-watt oven (add 1 more minute in 700-watt oven) or until candy is the color of peanut butter.
Stir in baking soda (mixture will bubble). Working quickly, spread hot candy in a thin layer onto a lightly greased baking sheet using two metal forks.
Cool completely. Break candy into pieces.

Stay strong, write on.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Isaac Asimov, D-rings, Fusion, and Predictions

You’ve heard of the old axiom of write what you know. Don’t buy into it. Issac Asimov was a teacher at a college and wrote Science Fiction. If you have not read his books you should try some. He wrote over 200 books, but many were hard science books.

He wrote about space ships traveling between star systems before a man was put into orbit. Yet he did not drive a car nor would he fly in an air plane. He past away in 1992 so there were airplanes and car around during his life.

He wrote about artificial intelligence, except his AIs had arms and legs and we called them robots or androids. Yet he was a chemistry teacher. I have yet to see anyone propose forcing developers to incorporate the three laws of robotics into AIs.

He wrote about young people on Mars. See the Lucky Star books. These books were written back in the nineteen fifties and are said to base the main character on the Lone Ranger. The story is set 7000 years after 1944. That is a lack of imagination. I don’t know if it was the author thought that the public would not believe that Mars could be settled in reasonable time frame. It only took 200 years to establish a permanent settlement in America. And, back then, open ocean ship travel was as risky and dangerous as space travel is today.

In his Caves of Steel series of books he wrote about man made covered cities. He knew big cities from living in New York. But the New York he grew up in was not as crowded as it is today. You have to assume that they had conquered disease in those futuristic stories.

Back in the fifties using fusion (putting atoms together), the opposite of fission (splitting atoms apart), for generating cheap power was just twenty years away. It’s now thirty years away.

What about D-rings? In the foundation series of books he has a futuristic civilization that has cheap power. These were written in the nineteen fifties so the power was atomic based, but in place of reactor piles he used D-rings. In the 1930s the first man made radioactive particles were generated by cyclotrons. Inside a cyclotron are two container shaped like a half a pancake. The insides of the containers are drawn down to a high vacuum. At the time it seemed possible to make a power generator out of them. Instead we are still using reactor based on the 1950s style reactor pile design.

In the Asimov books the D-ring power generators last for thousands of years. In real life reactors last twenty to thirty years, but are granted extensions. The still wear out and we haven’t figured out what to do with them when we junk them out.

Predicting the future is hard. There are always black swans. And people, even science fiction writers, can have narrow vision. Two years ago they were selling a rifle that was guaranteed not to miss the target under a set of conditions. How’s that going to mess up your space opera if the guy that shoots first always hit his target? Just point your gun and the computer will do the work.

Complimentary add;

The great bread experiment goes on.
This month I used a recipe that called for one cup plus three tablespoons of water to three cups plus one quarter cup of flour. Not quite there but close.

recipe
Pork Fried Rice

1 tablespoon cooking oil or butter
1 (6 ounce) boneless pork loin or pork chop (whatever is on sale), cut into small pieces (about 1/2 to 1/4 inch square)

2 or 3 green onions, chopped (about the same size as the pork)
1 or 2 eggs, beaten

2 cups cooked rice (we had a big family and 1 cup of rice cooks up to 2 cups cooked rice) 

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cook rice and set aside.
  2. Beat eggs in small bowl, set aside.
  3. Add oil or melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Mother always used the big 12 inch cast iron skillet.
  4. Add pork, green onions and cook until pork is cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes.
  5. Add eggs and scramble until eggs are set.
  6. Stir in rice, chop up omelet and stir until rice is heated through, 7 to 10 minutes.

Write on, stay strong and try an old classic science fiction book.
Professor Hyram Voltage

Rushed Ending and Making Bread (yes I’m talking about a loaf of bread)

My copy editor said my story ending is rushed. When you pay someone for comments you better consider those comments. I thought I wrapped the ending up with a bow in one chapter.

The problem is the heroine has been trapped in a mine all story long and has no communication with the above ground world. While the story is not strictly first person, how would she know what is going on outside the mine? The bad guys control the communication with the surface. They know what is coming. I don’t want a covenant way for the heroine to find out what happened in the past and on the surface.

I have to rewrite the story ending and that is going to be a pain. The heroine does not have X-ray vision or other superpowers. I can’t hand her the information on a silver platter. I am playing by the rules. No deus ex machina. This is a pain.

What do you, the reader, want in an ending? Do you want a quick ending? Do you want it to end with hugs and kisses? Do you want every last plot line tied up? Or can I leave some things for the next book? Write me or leave comments.

The ad, always the ad

Isolation bread

In a previous blog I mentioned that I have been making bread. The loaves are less than mediocre. I’m not looking for a great loaf of bread, but I do want a good loaf. Currently the loaves are tough and crumble when sliced. The bread taste OK, but something is wrong.

There is an old rule for cooks: In cooking you follow your taste; In baking you follow the recipe.

So, I researched for light bread machine bread recipes. I got three that were at the top of the search results. I tried them. It helped, but it didn’t help much.

The standard recipes for bread machine bread calls for one cup of water for three cups of flour. The first recipe called for one cup of water for two cups of flour per cup of water.

With two cups of flour the loaf came out a little better and was softer, but the top of the loaf did not get done. This happened twice.

In this time of stay at home I can not get all the ingredients the recipes call for. The store is out of bread flour. I have some store brand (regular) flour and I have to make the best of it. Many recipes call for the little packets of yeast, either quick rise or bread machine yeast. Those packets coast more than a loaf of store bread and the store is out of the packets and has been for weeks. I was able to get a block of Red Star Active Dry Yeast. It cost about the same as six foil packets (one packet equals 2 teaspoons of yeast). I’ve got enough yeast to last years, but yeast does not last that long so I need to use it up.

I am experimenting. That means things fail and bread, or the bad imitation of bread, gets thrown out. First experiments were to figure out if active dry yeast needed to be proofed before being added to the bread machine. It looks like the active dry yeast can be added to the bottom of the bread machine pan along with the water and sugar as long as the salt is added on top of the flour. Salt kills the yeast, but the bread needs salt in the dough.

Some people rave about how bread taste better when you use butter in place of oil. I have tried it both ways. Not a noticeable difference in the crumbling of the bread or the fluffiness of the inside of the bread.

There are only five ingredients in bread. That’s five things that I can change the amounts of, or try substitutions for, but I record the difference the changes make. You have to keep straight what did what, and your memory is not good enough.

So far I have used to much yeast and blown the top off one loaf of bread. I have used to much water (or more water that is standard) and gotten a sunken undone top of the loaf. I have made a loaf without salt and it did not make much difference. I have made dough in the machine then placed the dough in a pan and baked the loaf in the oven. I did it a second time and kneaded the dough ten minutes before placing it in the pan (it was still dense and not to good). Why is the loaf dense and crumbles when I cut it? More disasters to come.

If at first you don’t success, try changing something, but keep records so you can track what change gave you what results and when it goes right you know what works.

Stay strong, write on, and bake, bake, bake.
Professor Hyram Voltage.

Lists and Making My writing Better

You’ve heard the sayings; Those that don’t learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them, and; The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different response.

To stop the insanity I make lists of things that readers, editors, and I have found wrong with my writing.

I tell you the computer is out to get me. On the check list I go through before sending a manuscript to an editor, Spell Check is at the top and the bottom. The very last thing on the list is spell check.

The last manuscript I sent to an editor had several spelling errors. Not the wrong word that was close to the right word. No, plain spelling errors that the word processor red underlined. I use two spell checkers and the words were wrong in both.

It has to be enemy action. I have autocorrect turned off and I ran two spell checks. Plus I use two different spell checker (that don’t always agree with each other) so there must be a leak in the program or computer.

As I am going through the corrections the editor made to the manuscript I list the error she found. It’s a big list. Some of the problems are grammar, I have a problem with commas. So the list has a section bugging me to go study the grammar books and sites on how to use a comma.

It takes a lot of search and replace to go through the list of my common errors. But I go through each item on the list.

I do it for you, the reader. Hour after hour of slugging it out so you have a good readable story.

I have been to book signing where the author corrected an error in his hard bound book with a pen and he signed the correction. This guy had written dozens of books and stories. He was published by a big name publisher, and he was embarrassed by the error. I’m a small time author, the trolls don’t cut me any slack.

Editing is a time suck. Editing is hard, hard, hard, but I do it for you.

Once again, an ad for my book. The second one is coming soon.

Green pancakes and bacon

Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 drops green food coloring
1 tablespoon olive oil plus some for the skillet

Instructions

Add to a large plastic bag the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Shake dry ingredients together.
In a large bowl, beat the egg. Add milk, olive oil, green food coloring, and vanilla and beat together.
Dump dry ingredients into bowl on top of wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated (it will have lumps). If the batter seems too thick, add more of the milk, a little at a time.
Place a large skillet or griddle over medium heat.
Add dash of olive oil to skillet.
Pour or spoon about 3/4 cup of the batter onto the skillet per pancake.
Cook until bubbles break the surface of the pancake, and the underside is golden brown, about 3 minutes. The time depends on how hot the skillet is.
Flip with a spatula and cook about 1 minute more on the second side. Remove pancake from pan and place on a plate.
Repeat until you have enough for breakfast.
Excess batter can be stored, covered and sealed, for a couple of days.

What if it goes wrong? Relax, you haven’t wasted expensive ingredients. If the first pancake is dry then add a little (more than a drop and less than a teaspoon full) of milk to the bowl and stir. If the pancake is too thin then add a little flour and a pinch of baking powder to the bowl. Stir and try again.

No syrup, try them dry or make the pancake very thin with too much milk and call them crapes. Use a little jelly in place of the maple syrup. Honey is good to on top of pancakes. Cinnamon and sugar is good. Even try a dash of paprika.

Two pancakes, two strips of bacon, and a glass of orange juice. That’s a special breakfast, for this special time.

Stay strong, write on, and edit.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Looking for a Good Fantasy Story?

I’m in the middle of editing a book. It’s hard work and I don’t have much time to read (I’m suppose to be editing my book not procrastinating).

So try The Lord Darcy series by Randall Garrett. I suggest ‘Murder & Magic’, Too ‘Many Magicians’, and Lord Darcy Investigates. These books were written in the 1960s, but feature and alternate history long before flood of current alternate history books. It also could be called Steampunk, but these books were written before Steampunk was thought of.

The magic in the stories is a system and is not Deus ex machina. It has rules and the stories had to be thought out to follow those rules. I do not like the base rule that a magic user had to be born with the talent. Oh well that’s a personal preference and does not detract from a good story.

Now if you’re strictly a science fiction reader try Mack Reynolds / Dean Ing ‘Home Sweet Home”. Or try Christopher Anvil. Many of his stories explore unintended consequences.

Unintended consequences, that’s when something sounds so good and it’s cheap we do it. Besides how could it go wrong? California, in 1980s went from teaching Phonics (to help reading) in school to mandating the teaching of Natural Language reading. It took them ten years and tying for last place among states in school children reading ability scores before they went back to Phonics. Of course California is a liberal state and teachers teach how they want to not to state mandates, so children are taught with methods that are dubious in their results. We have a generation of people in and from California that can’t read well, but it’s not a worry, we have audio books and cell phones. Who needs to read. Us authors that’s who. I need to publish audio books.

Got a story or author you like. Let me know.

Boring old add;

The serious side of recipes

The news has stories of food shortages. We have had outages, but in the last 100 years we have not had a time where you could get something to eat. We have had soup kitchens and bread lines, but what if there is no food at any price?

Living in earth quake country I have a two week supply of food. My friends have drawn down their stock piles and that may be a bad thing. Now is the time to think about stocking up on food that does not need refrigeration and can be stored for a long time. If everyone does that then we will never need it.

Oatmeal, canned tuna fish, crackers, flour, powered milk, are basics and can be stored for a long time. Water is taken for granted, but if it stops you are in trouble. Rice, beans (canned and raw), that will get used in a year anyway. No one will know you stocked up and you can laugh at yourself a year from now for doing it.

Stay strong, write on.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Writing is hard, what we do to give you a story

Writing is hard, editing is harder, but doing a rewrite after the editor has worked over your story makes me feel like the lowest slave rowing the galley or the only slave rowing (and everyone on the boat is standing over me with a whip). No wonder people never finish their book.

As you read this blog remember, I don’t want to slug through another rewrite of my manuscript. But, I WILL. I’m a writer, an author, and there are readers who want stories.

I think my problem is overwork, loneliness, and exhaustion.

I run two to three Zoom meeting a week. I got to create an agenda for each meeting, schedule the meeting, email everyone, and set time aside. On some of the Zoom meetings I have to write up the minutes of the meeting. It takes an hour to three hours for each meeting. Now I’m doing this for myself as well as for the others attending the meeting.

I’m amazed that some people have so much trouble using the zoom program. I figured it out so it can’t be that hard to do. And the meetings are appreciated, there are members of the meeting that have begged for more meetings.

Note to self; do a blog about setting up zoom. Email me if your interested.

Even with all the zoom meetings, the loneliness is wearing me down. I’ve been holed up for six and a half weeks. The only time I’ve been out of the house is to go to the grocery store or the drug store. I wear the protective stuff and I’m in and out of the store as quick as I can be. There’s no time for interaction or even browsing. And before the troubles my critique group fell apart. I have to join one of the on line groups.

The biggest problem is I’m exhausted. I’m helping people, I’m helping a club I belong to, I’m writing these blog, I’m taking a screenwriting course, I got a garden half full of weeds, and I’m writing two other books.

I don’t want to slug through another rewrite of my manuscript. But, I WILL.

The usual ad for my book.

In this time of stress there is nothing like a warm brownie.

One box of brownie mix.

One or two eggs (plus one more than is recommended by the directions on the box).

Oil as recommended on the box. I use olive oil.

Water as recommended on box. Tap or bottled water.

I use the directions from a box of cake mix.

In a large bowl add eggs. Using fork lightly beat eggs. Add water and oil. Beat mixture until foamy.

Add brownie mix. If you feel adventurous add a small hand full of walnut pieces and/or chocolate chips. Mix until just blended. Do not over mix. Mixture will be lumpy.

Pour, scrape with a spatula, into greased pan.

Baked as directed. I have found that my oven takes a couple of minutes longer to get center on brownies done. The oven also runs 25 degrees cooler than the knob says, so check your oven temperature with a thermometer. Give brownies the tooth pick test. Toothpick must come out clean. If worst turns to worst and the edge of the brownies are overdone and hard then trim the over done rim of the brownies off like the crush of a slice of bread.

If you need a quick cake. Add one more egg to brownie mix. A cake with nuts and chocolate chips in it will be a surprise.

Stay strong, write on, and don’t stress eat.

Professor Hyram Volage

For the Readers of Steampunk

This blog is taking a change of direction. This is a time of great stress and that is going to drive a lot of changes.

For years I have written blogs about writing Steampunk and the occasional rant about software. All I got were … well nothing. Then at Wild Wild West con 9 I had someone say they read my blog. I was shocked. Someone actually reads this blog.

Thank you, I should have gotten your name. Still, no one has ever said they still read my blog (o long time readers) and no one has ever objected to what I said. All my posts can’t be winners. Some of my post should have upset someone.

There are more readers than writers out in the big wide world, and I would like to sell a few books. So; I’m going to focus on readers. I hope that’s you. I still have a ton of stuff to say to writers. I and other writers like to share. If you have concerns about the change of directions for this blog, then let me know. The comment section is open or email me.

For writers reading this, go to the bottom of the blog for a on-line-class review.

How do I give the readers of Steampunk something? How about a book review? I’m always looking for a good book to read. If you have read a good book let me know. If the book has humor in it that is a plus.

Book review; “The Glass Gargoyle” by Marie Andreas.

I liked it. How that for a succinct review?

It’s got drunken faeries. What’s not to like. It’s a magical fantasy story. It’s a light read for this unusual time. It kept me guessing what was going to happen next. That is a big thing in books I like.

The author did make the jungle where the protagonist worked to charming. I’m a desert rat. Jungles are hot, damp, unpleasant places to live and work. I’m sure a person who lives in a jungle says the desert is hot, dry, unpleasant place.

Anything else I say could give away some of the plot so go read the book.

Plug, asking you to buy my book;

For Steampunk writers;

I’m taking Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Ad Profit Challenge free course. It’s five days long. It open until the 27th. It’s a come on to take his big course, but that’s normal. I’m impressed by the free course. It contains useful information and it makes you go through the steps of sitting up an Amazon Ad for your book. And did I mention it’s free?

I get the feeling that the operation is a bit of flying by the seat of his pants. There were some typos in the slides. That’s a turn off to authors. We have to work with words every day. And boy will readers complain if there is a typo in my book. But the slides were better done than another course I am also taking. The course is a struggle for me, but I’m an engineer and I don’t think like a writer. If you want to dip into making ads this would be a painless try out.

Recipes;

I’ve been eating lots of tuna fish sandwiches and bacon sandwiches. So here’s something a little different.

Chicken tacos.

1 chicken breast or thigh.

2 tortillas

2 tablespoons hot sauce

A bit of lettuce

1 small hand full of cheese

A dash of seasoned salt

Directions;

Heat eight inch skillet on stove. Add tablespoon of oil. Place tortilla in skillet. Flip tortilla over before it gets hard. Place heated tortilla on napkin to drain, heat other tortilla, then set them aside. This is how it’s done in Mexico near where I grew up.

You can heat tortillas over open flame using tongs. Be careful not to burn tortillas.

Cut chicken into quarter to half inch strips wide. Make enough for two tacos. Add a little bit of oil to skillet. Heat skillet. Place chicken strips in medium hot skillet. Sprinkle chicken with seasoned salt. Cook chicken till done, be careful to not over cook or chicken will be dry. When chicken is done place the strips on napkin to drain.

Build taco. Place chicken on tortilla. Add hot sauce, sprinkle with cheese. Add lettuce. Eat.

Stay strong, write on, read, and make ads.

Professor Hyram Voltage