August is almost halfway gone…

“Good grief, Charlie Brown, it’s almost time for school!” Certainly, that phrase was said over and over again, by the wonderful Peanuts’ kids. And here we are again, almost mid August.

I don’t know about you, but my summer has definitely been eventful–in a good way. Every time I look at my blog page, I am more and more aware of how far the internet stretches. I see people from all over the world that have looked at my page. I wish I could meet them all. Regardless, thank you!

I think it takes a year for things to really start to percolate for a writer. As some of you know, my year–Phillip’s one year anniversary was July 7th. Since then, things just started to rock ‘n’ roll. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/061593739X&quot; title=“Phillip’s Quest, Book I: Winterfrost”>Winterfrost” has received new energy and new followers. The Gnome Gnewsletter was published and accepted by most. Personally, I would recommend a newsletter for any author. It allows one to get the word out to those who are not a fan of social media–yes there are some “un-fans.”

It certainly takes a village to market a book. So, I was able to put together a team of unbelievably professional women to help me out. From one of the sweetest and most brilliant ladies I know–Ms. Katherine Gotthardt, who helped me when I was a floundering guppy (floundering flounder?), to the amazing Bethany Joy Carlson, of The Artists’ Partner (my personal cheerleader and marketing guru), to the wonderful Jessica Parker and her team, at BookLogix Publishing Services, I couldn’t be in better hands.

So, Phillip will be ready for his next adventure without the bumps and bruises he suffered before. Can I just tell you how important it is to find the right people!

Our next endeavor happens September 1, 2014. The Kickstarter Campaign begins for Phillip’s Quest, Book II: Above the Stars. Don’t let anybody kid you, it is definitely laborious. But, with the support of a great team, it can be done. We have put in many pledge rewards. There are different rewards listed for the level of pledge you make. When I say “pledge,” I mean MONEY! As I said, producing and marketing a book takes some outgo of cash to pay the team members and help defray other costs, so anything you can spare to keep Phillip’s Quest, on the shelves is very much appreciated.

September 18, 2014 will be the closing night for Virginia’s <a href="http://fallforthebook.org/2014/08/10/haute-cuisine-at-the-hylton/&quot; title="Fall for the Book”>Fall for the Book festival. The event starts in Fairfax, Virginia on September 11th at George Mason University and ends at the Hylton Center for the Arts in Manassas, Virginia–you can follow all the activities on their app. The event is a Haute Cuisine event and will have food tastings, demonstrations and discussions by a variety of chefs, foodies, cookbook authors and Cluadia Lefeve, a fellow author and friend. Oh! And me! From the recipes of “Winterfrost”, and “Above the Stars”, to the recipes from my Mom’s table. I was and am honored to have been chosen to participate and will be serving; Ivy’s Tater Dumplings, Phillip’s Mater and Hazlenut Sauce and one of the recipes from the new book!

This week, I was able to start scheduling my signings for the Christmas season and was thrilled when the owner of <a href="http://www.thethingsilovemanassas.com&quot; title=“The Things I Love”>The Things I Love, an exquisite shop in Old Towne Manassas, allowed me to do that on December 5, 2014, during the Tree Lighting Festival. This store and the downtown area comes alive and turns into a Winter Wonderland. I am thrilled, to say the least. Then, on Sunday, December 7th, I have another signing at <a href="http://www.flowergallerymanassas.com&quot; title=“The Flower Gallery”>The Flower Gallery. Another magical shop where I will be part of their Holiday Open House. Such a special opportunity and I am grateful.

Not to leave out one of my favorite events for November! I will again be reading to the children at Mayfield Elementary School–as I did last year.

So, this summer has flown by, but what a great summer it has been. Thank you to all my gnomes, fairies and angels! I’ve loved every minute.

2014-06-05 20.02.16

Truth or Dare…A Gnome’s Recipe

Is this recipe a fantasy?  Maybe, maybe not.  It sure sounds good, especially on a very cold Virginia day.

Phillip made this sauce in the Vast Enchanted Forest after he and Edward hadn’t eaten for a whole day. They had just left the Farmer’s Market where Phillip said his “good-bye” to a very unhappy Ivy.  What had happened afterwards, Phillip did not know until Azur broke the news.

It was evening when Phillip and Edward entered the Forest and they were exhausted.

There were many Tree Folk in this part of the forest.  Groups of them line the curvy path and appeared to be engaged in important conversations with one another.  Their twiggy hands pointed and gestured.  One of them glanced over and gave Edward a little wink as the travelers walked by.

Phillip’s Quest, Book 1: Winterfrost, “The Staring Statues”

Edward, the squirrel was always hungry and enough was enough.  He knew that Phillip could not go much longer without food so,

He jumped from tree to tree, for a good hour, while Phillip looked over his maps (they were lost, at this point).  One of the Forest Fathers even helped by shaking his branches and allowing Edward to gather all the fallen nuts!  Phillip then made the sauce with some maters he bought from a dwarf at the Farmer’s Market.

Five or six small ripe maters will make enough for one gnome and one hungry squirrel.

Finely chop the maters up into a hollowed out rock or a saucepan that’s been coated with a little oil.  Simmer the maters until some of the water cooks out.  Put a handful of crushed hazelnuts into the mater sauce with some salt and a bit of black spice (if you have it) and cook until thick.

A perfect meal for day old tater buns and if you’re lost in a vast forest.

…Appendix F: Phillip’s Mater Sauce with Hazelnuts

 

The Appendices, B-F are recipes that I adapted.  Some important ingredients have been omitted and revised to coincide with the story. Still, an experienced cook could improvise and make with his or her child. Actual recipes will be reprinted here or in an upcoming cook book!

By the way, the artwork for The Vast Enchanted Forest is brilliant!  Please look at the Twisted Oak Press website: twistedoakpress.com, where you can by beautiful art prints from Phillip’s Quest, as well as other art from my collaborator, Dean Kuhta.

You Just Never Know…

when things will happen.  In my Chicken Soup blog, I mentioned that I had family in Queens and Brooklyn.  My mom was raised in Brooklyn, during the days of prohibition.  She could tell some stories.  Big black cars going into a funeral home, when there was no funeral…but that’s for another time.  Her maiden name was “Peluso” and she came from a large Neapolitan family.  Most of her brothers and all of her sisters moved to Queens, to raise their families. ( Quick geography lesson.  Queens and Brooklyn are two of the five NYC boroughs on Long Island. Queens, being the largest.) My uncle Salvatore,(“Sal” for short), stayed in Brooklyn.  He and my Aunt Josephine had two girls, Loretta and Geraldine, both older than me. I didn’t get to see them very often, but I always remember how much I enjoyed being with them.  I was always especially fond of my cousin, Loretta.  Over the years, and my thousands of miles of vagabonding, (Ma used to call me “the gypsy”), we lost touch.  They, however stayed in Queens. I am happy to say that this morning, I received an email from Loretta! You just never know when someone you love comes back into your life. Loretta! Stay in touch! Love you!

The Care and Feeding of Gnomes

When writing my first children’s book, Phillip’s Quest, Book 1, Winterfrost, I found it was necessary to spend many hours at the main library in the Village of Twistedoak, to research the species genomos or “earth dweller.” One cannot simply look at the commercialized and sometimes obnoxious “garden gnome” as popularized by a certain travel company and think, “Ugh! Why would you write about those creepy creatures!”  Mais, non! To know a gnome, is to love a gnome.  And so, my love of Phillip began.

Gnomes are self-sufficient and resilient, by nature.  Very easily pleased, their normal psyche is that of loving, caring beings, with huge hearts and a general joie de vivre. Although small in stature, smaller than their dwarf counterparts in height, their hands and feet are disproportionately larger.  Requiring very little physical care, the gnome is naturally quite healthy due to its diet, rich in organic fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and  occasional raw dairy and eggs. Even though rarely sad or depressed, a tasty cookie or wiskit, will change the mood of the gnome from sad to glad! Not comfortable with confrontation, the gnome is a master diplomat.  One of the favorite gnome mottos is, “Don’t worry, be happy.” (Yes, it originally came from the gnome community and found on Rune stone in 1579 A.D. by Swiss alchemist, Paracelsus.) Since the gnome is not normally equipped for protecting itself, it has many natural predators; goblins, trolls, orcs, snakes, wolves, giant spiders, bats, ice hornets, etc… and evil witches. Their only means of protection comes from the help of a higher being, i.e. humans, blue witches, wizards.

The gnome’s eating habits differ, slightly, from region to region.  The gnomes of Twistedoak are vegetarians while other gnomes add dairy, fish and poultry to their diet.   The female gnome, given to having a large family, are excellent cooks.  They can turn anything into a feast.   The gnomes of Twistedoak arrived from their Old Country as mushroom farmers, many millennia ago. They “settled at the edge of the Great Granite Mountains and the Vast Enchanted Forest… They grew the most lovely mushrooms.  Some looked like little white pearls.  The farmers called them ‘candy ‘shrooms.’ They were as sweet as sugar and the wee ones would steal them as quickly as they popped out of the ground.  Their mothers and fathers always knew when they’d eaten too much, because they would come running home, crying, with tummy aches.  Some of the mushrooms were golden and big enough to feed a family of four…” However, due to circumstances beyond their control, these resilient gnomes have learned to adapt their diets to the main crops of  “taters and onions.”

Not for a lack of recipes, the female gnomes are very sharing, often having recipe trading parties.  Before the passing of Ivy, she was kind enough to share some wonderful recipes that she loved, as well as recipes from the Great Granma Polli. A recipe from Oli, the squirrel and a favorite of Phillip’s were also shared for our book.  They are:

Ivy’s Tater Buns

Ivy’s Tater Dumplings

Ivy’s Tater and Onion Pancakes

Oli’s Nutty Cakes

Phillip’s Mater Sauce with Hazelnuts

All recipes can be found in Phillip’s Quest, Book 1: Winterfrost.  An upcoming cookbook, adapted for human consumption, is in the works!