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Baking

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I don't enjoy baking or cooking, but I do enjoy eating good food. Since I don't have a live in chef (yet), it falls on me to make the good food, whether I feel like it or not.

Anyway, I was thinking about sourdough a few months ago. I'm a fan of live culture foods--yogurt, kimchee, kombucha, saurkraut, but I'd never tried my hand at sourdough. Someone gave me some starter over 20 years ago, I neglected it, and within 10 days I'd tossed it in the trash. This time I was more committed.

I ordered some starter from King Arthur Flour because I've found having the right flour does make a difference, and theirs is good stuff. Plus, I liked the idea of growing starter from a batch that's over 200 years old (1790). When my starter arrived I waited for a period when I knew I'd be home and able to feed and nurture it, started it going, and soon enough, we had starter.

The first bread attempts were surprisingly tasty. However, the  thing about starter is, you have to discard some when you bake. I hated to throw away what I'd nurtured and began to look for other sourdough recipes. Last week I made sourdough scones that came out yummy, and yesterday I made a sourdough apple honey cake for Rosh Hashanna. It too was a hit, the cake was easier to make than what I usually fixed for the holidays, and that equaled a win in my recipe book.

So the culture's taken over my life. As long as I can keep it going, I'll keep making bread and other goodies with it, and I hope those little live critters in the culture will give me some added nutritional benefits. At the very least, I'm getting some yummy challah each week.
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I wouldn't have visited Ireland and London if not for Loncon3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention. This was my third UK convention. I'd been to two in Scotland, but I'd never been to England, so this was a grand opportunity.Read more...Collapse )
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I'm back from travels to the UK and Ireland, pleased with myself once again for keeping a travel journal (Moleskine with Rhodia paper, written with a fountain pen, of course.) This journal entry will be about the trip before and after Loncon3. I'll write about Worldcon as a separate entry.

Two things I've learned from travel over the years is to stay awake until normal bedtime hours, as much as possible, and the more I walk the more I can eat without worrying about fitting into my clothes at the end. When we arrived in Dublin I went for a long walk around our hotel, orienting myself to the area. I was immediately struck by one of the hallmarks of Dublin, the colorful doors on the Georgian-era flats. One tour leader later said there were two theories about this: One was that when King George died in the 18th c., all the English painted their doors black in mourning, and the Irish were told to to the same. Not surprisingly, the Irish didn't take this order well and responded by picking every color imaginable.

The other theory is that everyone made sure her/his door did not match the neighbor's door, so that someone rolling home under the influence wouldn't try to enter the wrong flat.

Whichever theory is correct, the doors are a delightful touch. The neighborhood where we stayed near St. Stephen's Green is full of Georgian architecture, most of it well maintained, some of it obviously at the high end of the real estate market.  I treated myself to my first (but not my last) tea and scones with clotted cream afternoon, then headed back to the hotel.

Our first full day was on/off bus touring, my favorite way to get the highlights of a city I'm visiting. I've never done it in the States, but I may consider it on my next trip to one of our large locales just for a change of pace. I made note of places to return to, like the Writers Museum, and we stopped for lunch in Temple Bar, the entertainment district. The previous evening's pub dinner had 60s rock, which was fun, but not what I came to Ireland to hear. This time the musician was playing more traditional Irish melodies, probably because Temple Bar caters so heavily to tourists.

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We promised each other no driving in Ireland--I still have nightmares of the Scottish attempt--so we took a coach tour out to the country the next day. Collins Day Tours was recommended by our concierge and TripAdvisor, and it lived up the billing. Great tour guide with a snappy patter, and the sights were magnificent. We went to Wicklow, Glendalough and Kilkenny. My only regret was we didn't have enough time in Kilkenny to tour the castle grounds and the city. Also, there was some kind of festival going on and the streets were packed with tourists local and international. I especially enjoyed the nature walk through Glendalough, the Valley of the Two Lakes (above) and the stop at Wicklow Gap, site of many movie scenes. I regretted we wouldn't get to see more of the country, but if you only have one day out of Dublin to tour, this was a good choice.


The next day was sunny(!) so we went to some area parks to admire the lovely flowers in all their glory, then went to the National Gallery to view the fine collection of art. My husband was feeling tired and left after lunch, but I decided to explore more of Dublin. I ended up walking back a few miles to our hotel, but my route took me past the National Library of Ireland. I could easily have spent another afternoon there, but had to pass. I did manage to get a selfie in to add to my "Darlene Marshall in front of Libraries" collection.


Selfie at Irish Library


I also got to do some sightseeing on my own, since my hubby arranged a golf date with some Irish buddies from the insurance industry. He'd really looked forward to this, and the weather more or less cooperated. I visited the Irish Writers Museum, mailed some postcards, and shopped for woolens at a wonderful store called Avoca. Since this was our last evening in Dublin, we wanted to finish with some traditional Irish music in a pub. On a Tuesday night, the pickings were pretty slim, but we had a great time at Oliver St. John Gogarty's Pub in Temple Bar. I even knew who he was since I'd been to the Writers Museum.

My only regrets about my Irish trip is that I didn't have enough time to travel more through this green and lovely land. The people were friendly, the food and drink were fantastic, and I would love to go back some day to see more of it.

Loncon3--Darlene Marshall's Schedule

The Pirate's Secret Baby

I have my (meaning, Darlene's) final schedule for Loncon3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in London, UK. You can read my con bio here, and I'm looking forward to jetting across the pond and seeing old friends, as well as meeting new ones. There's a nifty app to help you schedule your time at Loncon, and you can download it in iPhone or Android formats.

Where there's an (M) next to my name, I'm the moderator for that item.  I'll also be doing a reading from either The Pirate's Secret Baby or the WIP [Mattie's Book]. Don't forget, The Pirate's Secret Baby, along with all my previous novels, can be purchased from Amazon Kindle UK, as well as at NOOK, Kobo and other ebook dealers. Paper editions are available in the US.

I'll be out and about at the con as a fan as well as a programme participant. If you see me, please come up to me and say "Hi!" Worldcon is no place to be shy, we're there to see friends and fans!

Teen Romance

Friday 15:00 - 16:30, Capital Suite 10 (ExCeL)

Romance is in the air! Authors discuss the trend of weaving romantic entanglements into young adult literature. From true love to pining for that special someone, authors tackle the thorny subject of love, sex, and the supernatural--not to mention the fateful first kiss. What is it about a supernatural love interest that leaves mere mortals a distant second? Is there a discernible difference in how teen romance is handled between SF/F and its peer genres? And how far is too far when writing teen romance?

Mary Anne Mohanraj (M), Amie Kaufman, Mary Turzillo, Sarah Rees Brennan, Darlene Marshall

Sex in SF&F: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Saturday 11:00 - 12:00, Capital Suite 7+12 (ExCeL)

Genre fiction's relationship to sex can best be described as 'It's Complicated'. While a sub-genre such as paranormal romance is sometimes belittled for its libido, other fields play it overly coy or, worse still, deal with sex almost entirely within the context of sexual(ised) violence; moreover, space given to non-heteronormative sexualities is small and may even been dissipating. What has occasioned such divergent approaches? How can portrayals of sex in general be used to communicate more complex and positive ideas and responses? Whatever happened to fumbling foreplay, the intimacy of commitment, and the post-coital chat?

Darlene Marshall (M), Tiffani Angus, Terry Jackman, Stephanie Osborn, Jennifer Stevenson

Coming of Age in Game of Thrones

Saturday 18:00 - 19:00, Capital Suite 14 (ExCeL)

In a world were life and death hang in the balance for every character no matter how despised or loved, it is the children who pay the heaviest price. Their parents' plots and intrigues sit squarely upon the shoulders of the Stark, Lannister, and Targaryen children, snatching their childhoods away and forcing them to wield their own power to survive the game of thrones. But have the adults underestimated their children's value as players? Who will survive? Who will gain power? Will they have a chance to be children again? And who will be the biggest surprise? At what point do these children, despite their tender ages, take on the mantels of their parents and become adults themselves? Panelists will examine issues surrounding childhood and coming of age during a time of conflict where familial normalcy is gone and the rules of their world are in the process of being rewritten. *Spoiler Alert: Discussion will include all previously published books within the series.*

Darlene Marshall (M), Liz de Jager, John Hornor Jacobs, Django Wexler

Reading: Darlene Marshall

Sunday 14:30 - 15:00, London Suite 1 (ExCeL)

Darlene Marshall(darlenemarshall@darlenemarshall.com)

When Genres Collide: Does SF&F have its own form?

Monday 10:00 - 11:00, Capital Suite 7+12 (ExCeL)

Science fiction and fantasy often borrows structures and forms from other genres like noir, western, romance, etc. What are the structures and forms that are native to science fiction and fantasy? Are these storytelling conventions that can be exported to mainstream fiction? What is it about science fiction and fantasy that makes it so flexible for folding in other genres?

Duncan Lawie (M), Peter Higgins, Darlene Marshall, Nick Harkaway

Darlene Marshall's Draft Loncon3 Schedule

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Here's Darlene Marshall's draft schedule for Loncon3 and I'm pleased to see that my programme items don't start until Friday. I'm arriving in England from Ireland late Wednesday, so this gives me time to settle in and pick up my registration items without feeling pressured.

Teen Romance

Friday 15:00 - 16:30

Romance is in the air! Authors discuss the trend of weaving romantic entanglements into young adult literature. From true love to pining for that special someone, authors tackle the thorny subject of love, sex, and the supernatural--not to mention the fateful first kiss. What is it about a supernatural love interest that leaves mere mortals a distant second? Is there a discernible difference in how teen romance is handled between SF/F and its peer genres? And how far is too far when writing teen romance?

Mary Anne Mohanraj (M), Amie Kaufman, Mary Turzillo, Sarah Rees Brennan, Darlene Marshall

Sex in SF&F: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Saturday 11:00 - 12:00

Genre fiction's relationship to sex can best be described as 'It's Complicated'. While a sub-genre such as paranormal romance is sometimes belittled for its libido, other fields play it overly coy or, worse still, deal with sex almost entirely within the context of sexual(ised) violence; moreover, space given to non-heteronormative sexualities is small and may even been dissipating. What has occasioned such divergent approaches? How can portrayals of sex in general be used to communicate more complex and positive ideas and responses? Whatever happened to fumbling foreplay, the intimacy of commitment, and the post-coital chat?

Darlene Marshall (M), Tiffani Angus, Terry Jackman, Stephanie Osborn, Jennifer Stevenson

Coming of Age in Game of Thrones

Saturday 18:00 - 19:00

In a world were life and death hang in the balance for every character no matter how despised or loved, it is the children who pay the heaviest price. Their parents' plots and intrigues sit squarely upon the shoulders of the Stark, Lannister, and Targaryen children, snatching their childhoods away and forcing them to wield their own power to survive the game of thrones. But have the adults underestimated their children's value as players? Who will survive? Who will gain power? Will they have a chance to be children again? And who will be the biggest surprise? At what point do these children, despite their tender ages, take on the mantels of their parents and become adults themselves? Panelists will examine issues surrounding childhood and coming of age during a time of conflict where familial normalcy is gone and the rules of their world are in the process of being rewritten. *Spoiler Alert: Discussion will include all previously published books within the series.*

Darlene Marshall (M), Django Wexler, John Hornor Jacobs, Liz de Jager, David McDonald

When Genres Collide: Does SF&F have its own form?

Monday 10:00 - 11:00

Science fiction and fantasy often borrows structures and forms from other genres like noir, western, romance, etc. What are the structures and forms that are native to science fiction and fantasy? Are these storytelling conventions that can be exported to mainstream fiction? What is it about science fiction and fantasy that makes it so flexible for folding in other genres?

Peter Higgins, V. E. Schwab, Darlene Marshall, Michael Swanwick


Looks pretty good, more on this as it develops. See you in London!

Release Day for The Pirate's Secret Baby

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When it's Release Day for an author's book, it's almost like having a mini-birthday. People say nice things to you and buy you the best gift of all--a jump in your sales rankings.[g] So, here are the details:

The Pirate's Secret Baby by Darlene Marshall is now available at Amazon Kindle, All Romance eBooks and Amber Quill Press. It's in the queue for NOOK, and will be out in paper by the end of the month.

As always, reviews and rankings at Amazon and Goodreads are greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support!

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I was leafing through my notebook of recipes I've gathered over the years, and was startled to realize a recipe I copied 30 years ago was clear, legible and neatly penned.

That's a far cry from my handwriting in 2014.

I'm still a fan of handwriting. When I'm writing I take notes with a fountain pen (on Rhodia paper) because I retain the information more than if I type it. However, my handwriting has deteriorated to such a degree that I'm making a conscious effort to be neater while I'm taking notes. I suspect this is one of those healthy brain activities that'll keep my cognitive skills fresher as I zip through the 21st century. Can't say for certain, but it's worth a shot.

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Travel is wearing on you...and your luggage

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I replaced my Travelpro 22" rollerbag after Boskone. It was time, and I got another Travelpro 22" bag, but this one is two pounds lighter than my old bag. I love modern technology. I also got it in Sienna (red-brown) rather than black, making it easier to spot on the luggage carousel.

The old bag will be donated to the Children's Home Society Thrift Shop. Children in need get first pick of donated items, and I know from past experience with CHS that one of the biggest needs for children in foster care is luggage. Too often they have to carry all their worldly possessions in a black garbage bag from foster home to foster home. Imagine how that would make you feel. Having a nice rolling suitcase, even one that's pretty dinged up, is still an improvement over a garbage bag.

I'm looking forward to using my nice, shiny new bag for a weekend getaway in March, and then I'm going to do my best to only take the 22" and a tote to Loncon 3 this summer. Wish me luck!

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Darlene Marshall's Boskone 51 Schedule

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I'm only along to schlep Darlene Marshall's bags. She's got the nifty schedule and program items:

Bleeding Hearts

Friday 18:00 - 18:50

A Valentine's Day panel about romance in science fiction, fantasy, and horror. What are some of our great love stories for the ages? What stories turned out to be tragedies -- or worse? Panelists will discuss how love can turn a character's world upside-down.

Darlene Marshall (M), Steve Miller, Nancy Holder, Leigh Perry

Reading by Darlene Marshall

Saturday 14:00 - 14:25

Reduced William Shakespeare Star Wars Reading

Saturday 21:15 - 22:45

Join us for Boskone's special reading of Ian Doescher's Shakespearian _Star Wars_ mashup with droids, heroes, heroines, villains -- and rhyming couplets. Abridged and directed by Laurie Mann.

Laurie Mann (M), John Chu, Joan Slonczewski , Bruce Coville , Bob Kuhn, Mary Crowell, David G. Grubbs, Jane Yolen, Kate Baker, Darlene Marshall, David Palumbo

Humor in SF

Sunday 10:00 - 10:50

Comedy is hard. Trying to write humorously in science fiction, fantasy, or horror takes iron nerve but a light touch. You run risks ranging from committing self-parody to simply (horribly) falling flat. How can it be done skillfully (situations, characters, plot, etc.)? Who's writing funny right now?

Janice Gelb (M), Darlene Marshall, Ian Randal Strock, Jennifer Pelland, Bruce Coville

Wicked Good Villains!

Sunday 13:00 - 13:50

A look at the awesome antagonists who make their stories come alive. What makes a good bad guy or girl? From Maleficent to Sauron, magic-wielding villains have been a staple of the fantasy tradition. But what makes them tick? Why do we find them so compelling? And when do they cross over the wicked good line to join the best villains in fantasy literature?

Daniel P. Dern (M), Myke Cole, Darlene Marshall, Scott Lynch

Writers on Writing: Sex Versus Romance

Sunday 14:00 - 14:50

Authors share ideas and experiences about writing scenes that are erotic as compared to scenes that are romantic. Which is harder? Which is more fun to write? Does your protagonist's gender or preference make a difference? How do you accommodate audiences of different ages or sexual orientations? Is romance just sex in soft focus?

Darlene Marshall (M), Nancy Holder, Carrie Cuinn, Anna Davis

I've got my winter wardrobe ready to go, snow boots and all. See you in Boston!

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Thor

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Some thoughts on Thor, The Dark World:

1. When Tom Hiddleston's on screen, I can't take my eyes off of him. When he's not on screen, boredom ensues.

2. "Plot? We don' need no stinkin' plot!"

3. Anyone else think, "Hey! I didn't realize this was a Dr. Who Christmas episode!" when London was getting trashed?

That's about all I took away from the movie tonight. Your mileage may vary.

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