Monday, July 29, 2013

Indonesian Pork

I'll be out of town next week, so this will be my last post until August 12.  In the meantime, if you're looking for something tasty and easy to prepare, look no further!

This recipe is from Mabel Hoffman's Crockery Cookery and it's absolutely delicious! Hope you enjoy it.

Indonesian Pork

1 4-5 pound pork roast
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 t dried red pepper flakes
1/4 lemon juice
1 T crystallized ginger
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter]

Place a metal rack or trivet in the bottom of a slow cooker. Place meat on rack.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  In a small bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, pepper flakes and lemon juice. Pour mixture over meat.  Cover and cook on low 9-10 hours  Remove meat and keep warm.  Skim off excess fat from juices. Turn control to high.  Stir in peanut butter and cook about five minutes.  Slice meat and serve.  Makes 5-6 servings.

Have you ever tasted any Indonesian dishes?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ina Ray Hutton: Soulful Siren of Swing

Before Madonna and before Beyonce, there was Ina Ray Hutton! Never heard of her? Neither had I until I stumbled across her on the Internet.

Ina Ray Hutton (March 13, 1916 – February 19, 1984) was an American female band leader during the Big Band era of the 1930s and '40's.  She was also the sister of band singer June Hutton.  

Beautiful and talented, Ina Ray carried a secret to her grave.  But before we discuss that, a little biographical info from Wikipedia follows below.

Ina Ray Hutton began dancing and singing in stage revues at the age of eight and attended Hyde Park High School on the South Side of Chicago. In the 1930s she appeared on Broadway in George White's Scandals and The Ziegfeld Follies.

In 1934 she was asked by a vaudeville agent to lead an all-girl orchestra, the Melodears.  Hutton and her Melodears were one of the first all-girl bands to be filmed for Paramount shorts including Accent on Girls and Swing Hutton Swing and Hollywood feature films. 

Although the group disbanded in 1939, in 1940 Hutton led an all-male orchestra that was featured in the film Even Since Venus (1944); it was disbanded in 1946. During the 1950s, she returned to the all-girl format for variety television programs including the Ina Ray Hutton Show for a local station on the West Coast. 

Here's the secret to her story:  Her parents were identified as "negro" or "mulatto" by census takers. According to

Hutton was born Odessa Cowan at her parents' home in Chicago on March 13, 1916.  Her mother, Marvel (Williams) Cowan, was a newlywed housewife, married to Odie Cowan, a salesman.  By the time Odessa was three years old, she and her mother were living with her maternal grandmother, and her step-grandfather, a dining car waiter for a railroad.  That year, Odessa’s sister, June, was born at home.  When the census taker arrived a few months later, their father was not recorded as a resident of the family home.

Odessa and June grew up among black neighbors on Chicago’s South Side.  Their mother played piano in dance halls and hotel ballrooms.  Odessa studied dance with a prominent black teacher and choreographer, Hazel Thompson Davis.  The Cowans' hometown black newspaper, The Chicago Defender, first wrote glowingly of Odessa’s performances when she was seven.  But the next year, despite the fact that she had the same South Side address into her teens, mentions of Odessa Cowan in the Defender disappeared.  By some accounts, that was the year she was “discovered” by a white vaudeville producer.

When watching Hutton perform to the segregated audiences of the day, she's quite soulful and jazzy, almost with an attitude of I'm pulling one over on you--I'm getting away with it--and I'm laughing all the way to the bank! Good for her!  Here she is performing Truckin' and Suzy Q.  Enjoy the show!

Had you ever heard of Ina Ray Hutton?  Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Hardest Part of Publishing

How can I keep my sales from going to the dogs?
Please visit me over at Coming Down the Mountain with Karen Jones Gowen today for a post on Marketing and Promotion. 

To me that’s the hardest part of the book publishing process. The writing is easy, but getting people to read what you’ve written is not.

Visit Karen’s blog for some of my basic marketing tips! Aside from writing more books, what are some things you do to market and promote your work?

Thanks for stopping by and have a great week! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Clean Up Your Act: Trash Those Useless Details

This post originally appeared on May 24, 2010.  I thought it would be useful information to share again today!

"In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it 'got boring,' the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling." Stephen King

I'm certainly guilty of descriptive overflow, as well as providing too many historical facts, overusing adverbs, and writing too many details that the reader doesn't need to know.

As writers, we want to entertain, not bog down our audience with how much we know, how beautifully we can describe something or explain every move a character makes upon waking up, driving to work, arriving at the office and riding the elevator to the 9th floor.

All of the above add wordiness and slow the pace. This takes away from the storytelling--what people buy books for in the first place!

In researching historical fiction, I find several things fascinating. But it's important for me to realize, that people read for the story, not a history lesson. Characters in whatever time frame we're writing about should react to events around them as we do today. In other words, no character should start espousing a dissertation on an event which today is considered historical and significant.

Something else I've had to curtail is wanting to describe every movement. "She took a sip of water. Afterwards, she set the glass down." The reader can figure that out, unless something significant happens as she puts the glass down. "She took a sip of water. But after setting down the glass discovered blood stains on the table."

It's also easy to lay it on thick with those adverbs and adjectives. "The large, shiny glaring light nearly blinded him with its overwhelmingly white brightness." Hmm, that's an instant rejection. How about, "The large light shone brightly, nearly blinding him."

Lastly, we should never overindulge ourselves by writing too much description. "Aunt Margaret's study, decorated with water stained antiques and thick gray curtains, appeared gloomy to Elise. She sat down on a wingback chair, feeling the metal springs beneath its threadbare fabric." That's good enough. Don't do this: "The chair once belonged to a wealthy planter in Georgia who'd owned 1000 slaves. At least that's what Aunt Margaret was told when she'd purchased it three years ago in Macon." Who cares?! Unless the history of the chair pertains in some way to the story, all we need to know is that it's old and uncomfortable!

Enough description to set things like time, the place and its surroundings, and the mood of your character/characters should provide enough details for the reader to fill in the rest. That's what reading fiction is all about, using your imagination!

What are some useless details you've learned to cut from your writing? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Aliens and Race Relations

Today I thought I'd share something fun about a famous interracial couple from history.  I'd never heard of Betty and Barney Hill, but if you're familiar with UFO trivia, you might know of them.  This article is from ListVerse.

Betty and Barney Hill were from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Barney worked for the post office and Betty was a social worker. The Hills were also members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and community leaders. On the night of September19th, 1961, Betty and Barney Hill were heading back from a vacation in Southern Canada to their home in New England. They claimed to have observed a bright light in the sky that appeared to be following them. They arrived home at about 3 am and realized (later, when it was pointed out to them) that they had lost about 2 hours of time. Two weeks later Betty began having nightmares. In her nightmares, she described being taken aboard an alien spacecraft and then having medical experiments performed on her. Betty and Barney then decided to undergo hypnosis.  
In separate sessions, they described some similar experiences of being taken on board an alien spacecraft. Betty said she was shown a star map which she was able to memorize and reproduce later, which some believe is showing Zeta Reticuli as the aliens’ home. Under Barneys hypnotic session he said a cup-like device was placed over his genitals and thought that a sperm sample was taken. He also said he heard them speaking in a mumbling language that he did not understand. The UFO incident was distracting and embarrassing for Barney Hill. He feared that the tabloid publicity would tarnish his battle for equality and dignity. The Hills eventually went back to their regular lives but were always willing to discuss the UFO encounter with friends and UFO researchers. The release of the book “Interrupted Journey” in the mid-1960s, and a movie called The UFO Incident, starring James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons turned Betty and Barney Hill into the world’s most famous UFO “abductees.”

Interesting Fact: Some psychiatrists suggested later that the supposed abduction was a hallucination brought on by the stress of being an interracial couple in early 60s. Betty discounted this suggestion, saying that her relationship with Barney was happy, and their interracial marriage caused no notable problems with their friends or family. Barney died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1969, and Betty died of cancer in 2004. Many of Betty Hill’s notes, tapes and other items have been placed in a permanent collection at the library of the University of New Hampshire, her alma mater.

Had you ever heard of Betty and Barney Hill, or have you ever known anyone who claims to have been abducted by aliens?  Thanks for visiting and have a great week!