National Apple Dumpling Day Merri Halma's Sarah, A H. Johnstone, Recent reviews & My next pr

National Apple Dumpling Day is observed annually on September 17th. These delicious filled pastries are typically made by putting cored and peeled apples on a piece of dough, sprinkling them with cinnamon and sugar, then folding the dough over the apples to form a dumpling. The dumplings are then oven baked until tender.

Apple dumplings are believed to be native to the northeastern United States, around Pennsylvania. Often found among the delicious Amish recipes, it is frequently eaten as a breakfast item. However, they are also regularly eaten as a dessert and sometimes served with ice cream.

HOW TO OBSERVE Perhaps you can enjoy eating some apple dumplings while watching the 1975 Walt Disney movie, The Apple Dumpling Gang.

Celebrate by enjoying the following recipes for breakfast, snack or dessert! #AppleDumplingDay to post on social media.

My daughter and the man she married just over 10 years ago, met as midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy. There, the Apple Dumpling has another name and comes wrapped not only in pastry but traditional ritual: Cannonball Run. The name comes from a movie about an illegal cross-country race. It starred the recently deceased Burt Reynolds.

The Naval Academy Cannonball Run event consists of two steps:

• Eat a dozen baked apple dumplings and the big bowl of hard sauce (which my daughter says is so thick it's like frosting) served with them. Run up a flight of stairas in King Hall (the Dining Hall) At the top of the stairs, shout "Go Navy, Beat Army!" • Try not to throw up.

“I’ve seen it tried. I’ve never seen anybody pull it off,” said base spokesman Mike Chase, an academy graduate. “I had two of them,” said Cmdr. Tito Dua of the USS Gary, also a graduate of the academy in Annapolis, Md. “Halfway through the second one I asked, ‘Why am I doing this?’ and stopped. “I don’t know of anybody who’s ever gotten it. One guy ate 11 and three-quarters. He ended up losing it all in the grass. It’s kind of a disgusting dessert.”

“They’re really heavy,” he said. Lt. j.g. Ryan Easterday said it isn’t the pastry, it’s the hard sauce. “I never really could figure out what it was made of,” Easterday said. “I think maybe it was just some whipped butter with some cinnamon.” First-year academy cadets who eat the sauce and all 12 cannonballs — the number served for the 12 cadets at table once a month and more often during the holidays — are awarded a “carry on.” “It’s a highly desirable thing, trust me,” Chase said.

Among their other duties, plebes usually must jog wherever they’re going, keep to the middle of any hallway, turn square corners (not round them) and, at each corner, shout “Go, Navy, Sir!” or “Beat Army, Sir!” (their choice). A carry on exempts them from those requirements. “Then you can just sort of carry on like a normal person,” Easterday said. It may sound like legend, but someone at Yokosuka claims he successfully made the Cannonball Run. His name is Lt. Kyle Turner of the USS Gary. It was the summer of 1995, probably August, Turner said, when he decided to do the run.

“First of all, I was kind of trying to eat as much as possible because I was playing football and I wanted to gain weight. Second of all, I liked them,” Turner said. “And third, you were supposed to get a carry on.” Turner did put on 65 pounds, although not all of that was from cannonballs, he said. “It was a lot of apples and a lot of dough,” he said. “At about the fourth one, it started getting pretty bad. And the hard sauce … ” He didn’t throw up, but he wanted to, he said: “I liked cannonballs when I started. Afterward, I didn’t.”

Turner did get his carry on — sort of. “You were supposed to get it for a week,” he said. “I think I got it for a day.” A day, he recalls, he spent feeling sick from eating all those cannonballs.

If you dare … Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Frank Roberts Edrington II’s Web site:

U.S. Naval Academy Cannonballs

• 6 apples, cored and peeled

• ¼ pound (one stick) butter, softened

• 6 oz. pie dough

• ½ pound of granular sugar

• Cinnamon sugar (ground cinnamon and sugar mixed to taste)

• Vanilla or rum flavoring, to taste

Roll out a 1-ounce piece of pie dough into a circle approximately 6 inches in diameter.

Place the cored, peeled apple in the center.

Fill the center of the apple with cinnamon-sugar mix.

Fold the pie dough around the apple and put it on a greased cookie sheet.

Repeat with the other apples.

Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes or until the apples are soft.

If needed, cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent the crusts from burning.

Hard Sauce

Place the granular sugar and butter into a mixing bowl;

beat until thoroughly mixed.

Add vanilla or rum flavoring to taste.

Serve apples with hard sauce.

Last Week Merri Prudich Halma wrote about her life as an author.

Today she presents her character Sarah From Indigo Travelers

  1. Go ahead and introduce yourself.

Hey, I’m Sarah Johnson, second born, sort of and oldest sister in a family I don’t think I belong in. You can read about me in Indigo Travelers and the Keys to the Shadowlands and Indigo Travelers and the Lost Murdoc Princess.

2.Tell us where and when were you born.

That’s a mystery to me. My parents say I was born in Nampa, Idaho. But my oldest brother, Jarrod, says I was smuggled into the house wrapped in blankets by a mysterious stranger in the middle of the night. He claims I’m from another planet and mom denies it. But I don’t know. The closer I grew to age 15, the more I feel out of place and like my brother could be right.

3. How would you describe yourself?

I’m a misfit, a fighter and a deep thinker. I love nature and being close to animals. I prefer dark clothes and don’t care what people say about me. But just let someone threaten my friends Milo and Xander, and I will beat them up good. You can ask Butch about that. I have one of the strongest left hooks of any of the girls in Columbia High School.

4. Tell us about where you grew up.

Nampa, Idaho out in the county not far from Xander and Milo. It is largely a big little town that is growing outwards rather than inwards. I’m sad to see all the corn and wheat fields that were out here being sold in order for the big companies to build more shopping centers or other stuff that we really don’t need. We need more orchards and gardens. Hmm, maybe I can talk to Xander and maybe Milo him and I can plant more gardens for ourselves to share with our families and others.

5. How old are you?

I’m 15. Just turned about five months ago. Maybe a little more.

6. Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not?

I guess my childhood was happy, (scratches my head). My parents say I’m still a child and I say I am a teen, so I’m not really an adult nor am I a child. I can say I enjoy riding bikes and playing at the park still. But now I rather stay in my room listening to Starset and Ghost. Though, I also go over to Xander’s and Milo’s to escape my big brother, Jarrod, who believes Butch got the short end of the stick. He keeps scanning the skies for griffins (go figure) to prove Butch doesn’t have a screw loose. He believes that griffin that scarred his face (see the Indigo Travelers and the Dragon’s Blood Sword) is real.

I mostly feel out of place. Like an alien that has been dropped in the human world. I have to go with Milo and Xander next time that travel out of this world to find where I belong.

7. Past/ present relationships? How did they affect you?

I’m only 15, relationships with boys aren’t important to me. I need to be able to accept myself first and discover where I fit into it. But to honest, (you gotta keep this secret), I like Xander Veh. He’s hair is never combed, and he doesn’t put any airs on. He also sees beyond the physical world or person to see deep within them. His eyes sparkle when I’m near, too. But I can’t tell him I like him because he wouldn’t like me if he knew I was likely from an alien world. He’d be upset that I’ve passed myself as human all these years. I can’t face his rejection.

8. What do you value above all else in life?

I value being about to wear black clothes and army boots without anyone complaining about me not being girly enough. I want to be myself without all those stupid stereotypes that say girls have to act and wear certain clothes or act in a compromising manner. I am me and I like me. You don’t have to like me. Some say I’m scary because I have snakebites and wear black all the time. That’s their problem.

9. What are you obsessed with?

Obsessed? Really? That sounds like an extreme word. I have to think about it. Perhaps I’m obsessed with being true to myself and being a lone if I’m not comfortable with the other people in the room. That says a lot for how I am at school. I just want to do my work, turn it in and get good grades. But in truth, all I’m doing is jumping through the hoops just to please the stupid teachers and society. There has to be a better way to learn. I also don’t like wars and the fighting that’s going on. We need to bring peace to place.

10. How do your beliefs make life better for yourself and the people you care about?

Beliefs? Hmm, you’re speaking about a god or deity. I just don’t know. Xander says he met a spirit named Albagoth that is genderless who created all worlds. Lately, I’ve been dreaming about a large circle with many divisions and hearing a voice say all paths lead to Albagoth. It’s the spiders crawling on the lines that creep me out.

But if you are talking about my beliefs about myself, well, I’m not sure what I believe quite yet. I’m a little unsure where I’m going or what I believe. I need to explore that some.

11. Biggest fear?

Xander rejecting me and meeting spiders.

Spiders. I hate spiders. But I keep dreaming about them and they keep saying they are my friends. I rather have a pet bat.

12. What line will you never cross?

I will never betray a friend nor accept a spider for a spiritual companion.

13. What is the best thing that ever happened to you? The worst?

When I was finally able to show Xander I’m his friend and was able to knock Butch across the room (in Indigo Travelers and Dragon’s Blood Sword). The worst was when Xander disappeared from school and no one knew what happened to him. It didn’t happen directly to me, but I was questioned and treated like I had something to do with it. So was everyone in the school. The police almost shut down the school, too. We didn’t have that kind of luck, though. Middle school sucks big time.

14. Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?

When my gym shorts ripped in gym class and I had wear one of those one size fits all jump suits. It felt gross and I thought everyone was pointing and laughing at me.

15. Biggest secret?

I want to find my birth world, if I am truly from another world. I also want Geoffrey, the albino griffin, to come back to Xander’s to live. I know he misses his friend. I just don’t want Jarrod to know Geoffrey is real.

16. What is the one word you would use to define yourself?


17. What is your current goal?

To travel with Xander and Milo next time they go out of this world. I also want to travel on my own.

A couple new reviews for you on Voices in Crystal.

Leland 4.0 out of 5 stars September 15, 2018 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Something New is Here...That Has Never Been Before

Voices in Crystal follows the trials of Marai, a grief-stricken shepherd who lost his wife to tragic circumstances fifteen years before. Chosen by a the mystical voices of the “Children,” he finds himself reborn and joined by three wise women on a journey toward enlightenment. Although the author doesn’t gloss over the grim details of a world where marauding slavers are a very real threat and where someone was considered old if they lived to the age of thirty-five, it still manages to be a kind and gentle tale.

Voices is a lovingly researched historical fantasy about a period which has previously received little attention. This tale about a wandering shepherd’s meeting with Egyptian peoples at the height of the construction of the pyramids is so well crafted that the reader can smell the scents, taste the food, and gain a feel for the experiences of someone alive then. The level of authenticity and the skill with which it is conveyed are unrivaled in anything else I’ve read about this period in human history.

I really enjoyed the historical accuracy: the details of life and worship, the interaction of various peoples and their separate yet similar gods and goddesses, and the carefully crafted intrigue as Marai works to unravel the mysteries of his quest. My only complaints are that the pacing is often quite slow, and that Voices in Crystal ends without resolving immediate danger facing Marai and his companions. Nevertheless this was an intriguing read, and I look forward to seeing where Marai, Ariennu, Naibe, and Deka’s journey leads them in the next book.

3.0 out of 5 stars

By M. Parker on

September 15, 2018

Format: Kindle Edition

Verified Purchase

It's about the journey, not the end.

I agree with all the other reviews, it is obvious the author spent a great deal of time building out the world and the characters. There is so much depth and detail there. Personally, I found it hard to get into the book. The writing is not a style I favor. The author jumps from one POV to another fluidly throughout. That's hard for me. The writing also wanders some, a bit tolkienesk you might say. None of this is bad, just not what I personally like. I was a bit surprised at the amount of sex in the story, I didn't expect that and also isn't something I favor. I wondered sometimes how everything tied together, but I've come to decide this book is truly about the journey of each of the characters and the world, and less about a specific plot piece. I truly enjoyed some of the characters and the depth in them. While it wasn't my cup of tea, I can see others enjoying the book.

And now the next author, A H. Johnstone author of Charon Unguarded


Charon was once the Ferryman of the Underworld. Now he’s the doorman of a disused office block. If only the old Gods hadn’t lost that drunken bet all those centuries ago, things would be very different. For a start, Ragnarök probably wouldn’t be on its way.

Ra is looking for a way of escaping the mortal realm, but there’s something about his plans he isn’t telling everyone.

Maybe Charon is the only one who’s noticed. He certainly seems to be the only one who cares. But can he do anything about it? It looks like he’s going to try. But there are others who might profit from the situation, and the last thing he wants is the Fae Courts breathing down his neck.

— In Charon Unguarded, A. H. Johnstone tells an unlikely story that somehow seems all too likely and confirms what we have always known; that the Gods of our Ancestors were often all too human. – Harry DeWulf, 2017

Now the Interview

What made you want to be a writer?

I’ve always written stories, or at least for as long as I can remember. I suppose storytelling is part of who I am.

When is the release of your next novel? Name genre If your book is part of a series tell the readers about the others that are out for sale.

I’m a bit of a project squirrel and like to dip in and out of things so my next book is still in progress. The first book of my trilogy, ‘Charon Unguarded’ is already available from Amazon (Kindle and paperback). I’m working on a prequel, but books two and three are in outline. It’s a fantasy based on mythology, so myth lovers will love it. I’m also working on a historical fiction novel set in tenth century Iceland, and a short Sci-fi piece that I plan to submit to Analog magazine.

How important is it to read books when you want to be an author?

Vital, especially if you write genre fiction, but also to research your material. There can be no substitute for knowing your subject. Take historical fiction, for example; a reader who is not experienced in a subject will assume you have done your homework and take your word for it, whereas a reader who does know the subject will know you have guessed or fudged details and simply stop reading.

Do you remember the first book you read?

The first book I could read by myself was The Enormous Turnip.

What book are you reading now?

I’m reading Written on The Body by Jeanette Winterson for my book club.

How did you come up with the idea for the book or series, especially the title?

My ideas come mostly from the what if questions that strike me at times. This series came from the final module I took as part of my history degree, ‘Myth in the Ancient Greek and Roman Worlds’. It’s always been a fascination of mine but as I was ploughing through the works of Homer, Hesiod, Cicero and Ovid et. al. it put my imagination into overdrive.

Which character do you identify with most in your novel?

Loki. He’s my clear favourite because he’s just so deliciously ambiguous but he’s not a major character in book one. He’ll come into Book 2 along with Zoe (the chavvy oracle).

How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know,

or events in your own life?

The setting is my hometown of High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire (UK) but the events of the plot are purely fantastical.

To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?

No. With three children at primary school (under 10) and a limited budget, travel is not really something I can spend on.

Tell us how the atmosphere needs to be for you to be able to write. Example, music

on or quiet etc.

Ideally, I need the kids to be in bed or at school. Trying to do any writing with them in the background is an exercise in futility. Besides which, when they’re around I really need to spend time with them.

What is one goody you must have at your desk when you’re writing?

Chocolate and red wine/coffee.

Which part of the publishing process do you detest most?

I opted to go for self-publishing so that I could retain creative control of my work. I still use other editors and a cover designer, but I like having the final say. I doubt I’d get that if I had gone to a traditional publisher.

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.

Imposter syndrome. I was really nervous about clicking that Publish button. I think I stared at it for an hour before final clicking on it.

When you need some extra encouragement who do you turn to?

My husband. He’s always been supportive.

How do you market your book?

Facebook and Twitter, plus the odd Amazon advert. I’m really short of time as I also work as a freelance editor and have been booked solid since the beginning of April, so with that and the kids, my own promo has taken a back seat.

Have readers ever contacted you? If so, tell us the best thing they’ve said to you.

Not really, but I would love it if they did.

Who do you trust to read your finished books before publication?

I have a selection of reliable beta readers (It’s important to get a selection which are readers of that genre. There’s no point giving a sci-fi to a romance reader.) who give some really good feedback which includes my husband and a couple of close friends.

Tell us all about your very first book signing. Take us there with your description of people, place, food, décor etc.

I’ve not had one yet. Not well known enough.

Is there a message you’d like to send through your book?

It’s more a theme which shows the danger of assumption and complacency.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

Dennis Waterman (Jerry Standing in New Tricks)

Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?

Homer so I can ask if the Siege of Troy really happened or if he just made it all up. Obviously, the parts of the gods were based on much older stories.

Do you have any hobbies?

Loads. I draw and paint, and I’m also a member of a Viking reenactment group.

What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Black (Korean series with subtitles), Friends, The Big Bang Theory

Favorite foods

Chinese and Indian

What’s your sign, lucky number.


What’s your favorite color.


What music do you hear in your latest book?

Rhinestone Cowboy (have an earworm)

Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?

I can’t. I’m a story addict. I would probably go mad.

You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?

With my family (my husband and children)

What do you want written on your head stone?

Sorry I’m late.

Are there any mistakes you made with your first book?

I’m not sure about the line spacing of the paperback. I might close that up for the next book.

When in doubt, who do you trust to help you out?

My fellow editors who have more experience working in the industry than me.

Tell us how we may get a copy of your book. (Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, paperback etc.)

Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and paper back from Amazon and my own website

Social media links and websites?






So what's next for me as far as writing goes?

I'm hard at work fine tuning a short story called "Raemkai's Stairs" for a Halloween themed anthology. Readers of Children of Stone might recognize the central figure. In the series, he was Prince Maatkare Raemkai. This is a different story. Centuries have passed since Children of Stone came to an end. Somewhere along the line the prince lost his bid for immortality and began to take on other forms or reincarnate like regular mortals. Around 1920 he ended up a grown young man in Memphis, Tennessee. He worked as a gardener in a city estate and was the pet/apprentice (some things never change) of a wealthy sorceress.

It didn't work out well. He died and his spirit was trapped in the grand staircase where he haunted and tormented ghost hunters in the now-empty mansion. After 50 years of haunting, in 1970, he realizes he's ready to move on. He's still bound to the stairs and must get free before he moves to his next mortal adventure. More soon! I'm also revising Voices in Crystal so that it's more reader friendly, preparing my Ana story from last year as an Audible release, and prepping for NaNoWriMo with Book 5 Lake of Memory Sage's Reign (The Final Lesson Book 2) Shakyra Dunn Releasing on September 13, 2018 Mourning Rose Kindle Edition

by Morgan Smith (Author) 9-14-18

September 24

National Punctuation Day Let's see your favorite editing faux pas

A H. Johnstone character

+ D. C. Fergerson Interview

Some more of my recent reviews

October 1

National Homemade Cookies Day Recipes please

D. C. Fergerson

+ Geoffrey Porter Interview

October 8

NATIONAL PIEROGI DAY What is it and some popular varieties

Geoffrey Porter Character

+ Michael Parker Interview

October 15

National Cheese Curd Day

Michael Parker Character

+ Yvette Bostic Interview See you real soon!

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