Say Cheese, How Marai grew, Chariss Walker's Mike Lewis, Norman Turrell, and the May Party Hat!
June 4 is National Cheese Day!
An encyclopedia of cheese will cover the alphabet and broaden your vocabulary. It will undoubtedly contain more varieties of cheese than what’s found at the local grocer.
How was cheese discovered?
Since ancient times animal skins and inflated internal organs have provided storage vessels for a range of foodstuffs, it is probable that the process of cheese making was discovered accidentally by storing milk in a container made from the stomach of an animal, resulting in the milk being turned to curd and ...
Cheese is produced from the pressed curds of milk. The milk can come from cows, buffalo, goats, donkeys or sheep. Temperature and aging affect the flavor and texture of the cheese as well as spices and other seasonings added during the process.
The opportunity to go to a cheese tasting or visit a cheesemonger who is knowledgeable about pairings will improve your enjoyment of the cheese you choose. Does Stilton melt? Can you serve Chévre with a salad? Be sure ask questions and provide your preferences. Your favorite wine might find a new sidekick. You might discover a smokey spread to go with bruschetta or a tangy cheddar to pack with lunch.
In the United States, a road trip to Wisconsin isn’t out of the question for quality and variety. But, they aren’t the only place to find outstanding flavor and choice. Local delis have selections of domestic and imported cheeses, and independent shops offer a rotating inventory beckoning us to keep visiting to see what’s new.
Excellent as a snack on its own, cheese is also a perfect ingredient in pasta, soups, souffle and many other recipes. We slap it on a sandwich cold but why stop there when it can be grilled and melted like this amazing Swiss and Tomato Grilled Cheese recipe. When company comes to visit, nothing is better than a cheeseball, especially when bacon is added.
Cheese is multinational, too! Every nation in the world has their own variety of cheese. Italy seems to have harnessed the market. They did add it to pizza, and that’s pretty amazing. Savor the opportunity if you ever have the chance to taste cheeses from around the world. For example, hop on over to Greece.
They have this dessert called cheesecake. Delicious!
Make sure you post to social media using #NationalCheeseDay
One of the things I'm frequently asked about my Children of Stone series
is how I came up with the idea and how I saw my characters evolve over time.
My best friend and a few others were studying meditation, self-hypnosis, lucid dreaming and general esoterica, including spirit communication, when I was in college. We were also comic-book art afficianados and science fantasy movie fanatics. We practiced dream cataloguing and moved into past-life regressions.
(More on that next week)
For a long time I believed I was seeing past lives. Now, I'm not sure that's the only explanation. It could be remote viewing or any number of things. We wrote down our experiences, and drew pictures of the people and places we saw. Much of my friends and my vision centered on Ancient Greece or pre-Greek culture but there was a persistent view of ancient Egypt. The central figure, Marai, showed up early as a tall Zeus-like man full of dark energy. My friend Annette and I saw him as the character High Father from DC Comic The New Gods, which was already a spin on ancient myths.
When Star Wars was released we thrilled to the character of Darth Vader. More than Vader we became hopeless fangirls for actor David Prowse. In fact, I even began body-building about that time in admiration. We stalked at conventions. She did some art for him. He was the epitome of the early concept of Marai. Tall, half-giant, built and buff, but oddly soft-spoken. He was a great Marai after renovation and moving toward Zeus-Odin. But what was he like before the changes, when he was young? We always knew he started out mortal and was likely Middle Eastern, not Greek or Norse. Prowse, unfortunately, was hopelessly English.
My image of Marai had always been swarthy and somewhat rough but underneath it all regal or godly in some way.
I recall an image which I later put in my coming Book 4 Heart of the Lotus in which Marai dreams of being a terrible god. It became my dream within the character's dream. In this excerpt, an entity has invaded Marai's dreamspace to confuse him about his innate godly nature. (Illustration from Rise of Mythos)
Marai paraded on a high wall between a red sky and redder earth. In his dream, he had ruddy-skin and was clad as a mighty warrior in ocean-blue metal armor. He wasn’t the same “half-giant” of his childhood taunts, but a giant the height of many men.
His breath was like the wind. It stirred the earth into mountainous clouds of dust that swept the land to the corners of all that could be seen. Far below him his faithful troops massed, tiny as millions of black and red ants.
When he raised his hands above his blazing hair, bundles of black, white and green lightning formed at the small of his armored back.
The crackling power of light from nothingness rose, traveled the length of his arms and launched into the heavens. Crowds below him erupted into jubilant worship at the display; crying out his name.
“Ma-Rai, Ma-Rai, Ma-Rai!” they beat their tiny shields with their swords and pounded the heels of their spears into the earth beneath their feet. “Ma-Rai!” The lightning opened the sky and a sun-like disc emerged and began to descend. Gazing back down amid his worshippers, he lifted one hand again and began to ascend on a column of light. Their words changed: “Ma-Rah!” then “Ta-Ray!”
Marai jumped as if his soul had fallen into his body from an unimaginable height. He was bathed in sweat.
By the time Voices in Crystal became a reality David Prowse was nearly 80. I was more focused on Marai before and after the renovation and not his wrathful god form. I went looking for inspiration once again in Hollywood and came up empty. My concept of Marai had also evolved over the years. I wanted him more human than godly because he had been mortal. What came to mind, along those lines, was a loner and tragic figure, self-condemned. I knew his face intimately but no star in current Hollywood worked until I saw Jason Momoa.
I’m a bit old for fangirling these days so how I feel is different from the heart-fluttering joy of the Dave Prowse days. I feel something more kin to respect of an image. Momoa's voice and physical build were right. He wasn't middle eastern, but was less Anglo. The pictures of him and his wife and film clips of him playing with his children struck another chord: the gentle giant and a family man. Ironically, he climbs and so did Marai - I could picture him portraying a man who is just as comfortable tending sheep and rock-climbing as I could picture him battling the forces of interdimensional evil, then settling down to a loving woman (or three) A literal god with feet of clay.
In my story, the character Marai is not so sure he likes being a god and dreams that once his duty of taking the Children of Stone to the priests and those b etter suited to handle them is over he will be able to go back to being a simple shepherd.
The universe has other plans. Women, enemies, political intrigues and users come into his life. Hed learns there's a downside to being a god who’s still a compassionate shepherd at heart.
Another way I saw Marai (after the changes) was in a dream He was sitting in my dream space and smiling down at me. This week I made a meme of a drawing I made of the vision. It was my first. What do you think?
Last week Chariss Walker explained her writing and told of her books.
Today she presents her character Mike Lewis!
Go ahead and introduce yourself.
I’m Mike Lewis... Michael James Lewis to be exact.
Tell us where and when were you born.
I was born in New York City. My birthday is April 4th.
How would you describe yourself?
I’m rather large at 6’ 3” tall and weighing close to 200 pounds, but most everyone thinks I’m thin. I guess my size is deceptive. I have dark hair and hazel eyes.
Tell us about where you grew up.
I was born in NYC and I grew up there. I even went to college there.
How old are you?
As this book is written, I’m 44 years old.
Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not?
I’m very fortunate to have had an extremely happy childhood. My parents were educators. They had me late-in-life and loved me very much. My mother had a teaching position that allowed her to take me to school with her and that’s what she did. It was a pilot program designed to teach students in a nontraditional manner.
Past/ present relationships? How did they affect you?
I’ve had a few relationships in the past, but I could never share my real worries or concerns about my paranormal ability with anyone. That didn’t sit well with most of the women I knew. They naturally sensed that I was holding something back, but when I wasn’t forthcoming, they assumed it was another woman. It wasn’t. It was a dangerous secret that I couldn’t share with anyone.
I recently met a young woman, Casey, at a coffee shop. She’s well-traveled, Italian descent, and sexy as hell. She seems to be into me, but she has the oddest way of speaking. Sometimes I think she came out of a 1940s movie. Everything she says ends in ‘dear’ or ‘oh my’ or ‘darling.’ I suspect it is an act, but I can’t prove it. All I know is that I like her too.
What do you value above all else in life?
I value family. In fact, I’d love to have a family like my parents had. It was a natural love that lasted their entire lifetime. Maybe that kind of commitment doesn’t happen anymore, but I’m unwilling to settle for anything less.
What are you obsessed with?
Other than my job, I have very little time to obsess about anything. I do work out a lot. It helps me fall asleep easily and avoid the visions I see. I am a geophysicist and use special equipment to measure the earth crustal movements all around the world. I do love a good cup of coffee though… does that count?
I worry that someone will find out about my ability to see the future. I know the downsides of that… the government or some other well-funded organization studies people like me… people with “special” abilities. I don’t want to lose my freedom just so that someone in a white coat can satisfy their morbid curiosity about me.
What line will you never cross?
I don’t think I could ever take another life. I think that is just who I am, but there are people after me and I’m not sure how far they will go to abduct me. I have to protect myself and it might come down to a ‘them or me’ situation. I really hope it never comes to that.
What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
When I went to Columbia, my parents insisted that I live on campus to enjoy the full experience of college. Through that freedom, I met my five best friends as a freshman and the close relationship continued throughout our educational endeavors at Columbia.
Finding out that one of them betrayed me.
Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?
Oh, you don’t want to hear about that… it’s locker-room stuff. A teenage boy’s worst nightmare. Naked. Exposed. Vulnerable. Let’s not go there.
I see the future.
What is the one word you would use to define yourself?
What is your current goal?
I’d like to find someone to love, to marry, and with whom I could have a family. I don’t know if that will ever happen under the current circumstances. Anyone I loved would be in danger from knowing my secret.
And now, our next Author, Norman Turrell
What made you want to be a writer?
I’d always been a reader from very young. I had a reading of fourteen when I was seven because my head was always stuck in a book. I loved science fiction. At school, I was always very imaginative. I remember my English teacher once wrote ‘tour de force’ on one of my stories (but I had to ask what it meant). I started writing properly as adult only about seven years ago; I think I’d been too busy with my career before that. I wanted to write like my heroes of SF.
Tell us your book’s genre?
Generational is a sci-fi story, but very much focused on character. I don’t get lost in technical details and there certainly aren’t any space battles.
Tell us about your book and how it’s available. (Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, paperback etc.)
Generational is available on Amazon. I like my teaser description:
Earth is desperately troubled by ecological disasters and political unrest. Five years ago, the generational star-ship, Eos--an arc in space--was constructed. But when Leyton arrives to complete his college study of its inhabitants, he finds himself hopelessly confused. A priest with a harem of breeders? The conspiracy theories of the head technician? Can he discover the truth, the real purpose of the ship and the plans of the powerful Victorians?
How important is it to read books when you want to be an author?
Reading is essential to being an author. When you’re a writer, part of your learning—a process which never ends—is to look at others’ work and analyse how they succeed, and how they fail.
How did you come up with this fantastic idea?
I proclaim to be a planner, structuring my work in advance of the writing, but I have to admit, Generational just flowed out. I could tell what would work and the ideas never faltered. I guess it was all floating around in my head, ready to live.
Which character do you identify with most in your novel?
Leyton; my protagonist. He has a lot of character flaws, and I like that. I never wanted him to be a hero.
Did the Bible or other spiritual works have anything to do with your idea for this novel?
There’s a touch of my fascination with spirituality and religious organisations in the on-board faith. But in this novel, the darker side of my ideas won out.
Is there a message you’d like to send through your book?
There are quite a few, but I don’t want to force my opinions on the reader. I’ve told a story and I’m happy for them to take from it what they will.
Which part of the publishing process do you detest most?
Frankly, I find everything interesting to some degree. Detest would be too strong a word for anything I do, or I wouldn’t be doing it.
Tell us how the atmosphere needs to be for you to be able to write. Example, music on or quiet etc.
I mainly write in silence. If I have put some music on, it would be instrumental. Orchestral or electronic compositions—no voice. But, if I’m really ‘in the zone’, when I complete the session I realise I haven’t heard a note of it because I’ve been too absorbed.
What is one goody you must have at your desk when you’re writing?
Water (which everyone should drink constantly). Writing is serious time for me. I’ll save my indulgences for treats wen I’m finished.
What is the worst thing you’ve had to overcome before publishing your novel? IF it’s too personal just make a generalized statement if you can.
I run live critique groups, and there have been a number of ‘characters’. Sometimes, dealing with their comments can be difficult. I want to listen to every opinion, but I often felt (and was probably correct) that their opinions weren’t focused on being constructive.
When you need some extra encouragement who do you turn to?
I don’t bother people with the emotions that may come from my work. That would definitely be a first world problem. I’m pretty strong willed and old enough to know how to get along with myself.
How do you market your book?
That’s an ENORMOUS topic. Marketing is a huge activity. I worry that some aspiring authors don’t know this and get disheartened in their first attempts.
Have readers every contacted you? If so, tell us the best thing they’ve said to you.
I get a few e-mails from readers. One which will stay clearly in my mind was from a book blogger who had a review ready for my book. She was very excited that she’d enjoyed my work so much, and compared it to Black Mirror—one of my favourite science fiction series. I was blown away.
Who do you trust to read your finished books before publication?
I have dozens of people read my work all through development. I trust them all. Am I too trusting? I don’t think so.
Tell us all about your very first book signing. Take us there with your description of people, place, food, décor etc.
I’ve never done one. It would be a bit difficult as I only produce e-book format.
What do you enjoy when you’re not writing?
I particularly like music. I play ukulele and run a strumming club. Great fun. They’ve put up with my terrible singing for years now.
Tell your readers what your favorite food and color is. Let them in
I’m a vegan, so really enjoy everything I can eat, because it’s cruelty free. I don’t talk about this much to people; I have my own beliefs and I’m happy with them.
Tell us your favorite novel?
That’s easy—1984 by Orwell. A profound and serious work (but I am secretly a Harry Potter fan. Shh.).
Now a fun game I’ll ask what your preference. Let your readers know what you love.
A live drama or the opera? A drama. Never got the hang of opera.
Chips or crackers? Chips (the fries kind, not wedges)
Hamburger or chicken sandwich? Err… vegan. Hello.
Fries or onion rings? Fries are chips. Did chips earlier mean crisps? I’m British.
Milk shake or smoothie? I could have a soya milk shake, but I think I’d prefer a healthy fruit smoothie.
Thunderstorms or star gazing? Both, but I star gaze every evening in the garden, so I guess that wins through frequency.
Kindle or paperback novels? I often have both with me when I’m out relaxing around coffee shops. I like the convenience of kindle, but like the experience of a physical book more.
Are there any mistakes you made with your first book? I didn’t know anything about marketing, so it stagnated. I must be honest and say I left off publishing for quite a while because I thought it was a reflection of my ability.
What kind of advice can you give to aspiring authors? Focus on your book and make it your best work. Everytime.
When is the release of your next novel? Name genre or if it’s part of a series. If your book is part of a series tell the readers about the others that are out for sale.
I have a couple of works in progress. Nothing scheduled yet. It could be follow ups to my current works, or something new. Watch this space.
Where can we find your author page of your work to follow you and purchase your awesome book? www.normanturrell.com : and find me on Amazon. It’s all there waiting for you.
May was a busy month for me travel wise. Many times it was a struggle to produce this blog for you on time. I visited out of town relatives twice and finished the edit checking on Book 4.
I conquered the mystery of Instagram (don't laugh, young readers).
I also shifted the blog away from including writing tips and (on reader request) enlarged the font and began to include more about my own writing.
I hadn't included it much because I read that blog readers want a variety of material to read, not just me tooting a horn about myself. Hopefully I've struck a balance. Let me know what you think and always let me know what improvements you would like to see.
AND LIKE AND SHARE
Herein a prize is awarded. My first 4 winners either already had all my ebooks or bookmarks or were overseas and could not receive a gift from Amazon. That was embarrassing. I'm still working out the kinks on how to gift my top supporters outside the US.
So the gift this month goes to CHARLES PATTON who began as a friend of a friend and then became a family friend and fan. He has chosen Book 3 Opener of the Sky Enjoy, Charles, and Congratulations!
NATIONAL CORN ON THE COB DAY
Leyton - Norman Turrell’s Character Release updates and hopefully a special to announce Spirit World Adventures - Part 1 Rick Mullins Interview Some Reviews