Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Recipe #1: Seafood Chowder

Someone recently asked what I use for Thanksgiving recipes.  Here's one that is requested quite often.

Seafood chowder

Progresso clam chowder (1 can for two people)  / Campbell's "Chunky" New England Clam chowder (the same)
1 can crab
1 can clams / clam chowder (2 if you really like clams)
1 can tuna / clam chowder
Salmon (I tend to throw in one salmon steak, usually frozen, but canned will work)
Half bag frozen scallops (Costco version)
Half bag frozen shrimp (CostCo version -- cooked, tail-less, and I suggest the salad shrimp)
Rinse clam chowder cans with white wine (as little as possible, it's quite effective)
Garlic powder (enough to cover the top of the pot)
Onion Powder (enough to cover the top of the pot)
Sea Salt (enough to cover the top of the pot)

Throw in all canned items [INCLUDING THE WATER], spices, and white wine, bring to boil.  Throw in each frozen item individually, bringing each to a boil before throwing in the next one.  If you're using frozen salmon, be careful to break it up as your cooking.

Shrimp goes in last, the rest can go in any particular order.

Bring to boil again, and keep going for some extra time.  Allow to simmer if you like (and need to wait for people so show up.)  Serve. Enjoy.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Black Friday Book Shopping list.

Once again, Christmas decorations went on sale in August. August!  ARRGGHH.

Anyway, black Friday is coming, and we must be prepared. This is yet another list to make your shopping lives easier -- for Black Friday, or for the upcoming Cyber Monday. I've reviewed some of these books (links attached), and others are new even to me, but have come recommended to me. You might want to try some of these items below.

A Pius Man: A Holy Thriller -- of course I'd start with my own novel. It's surprisingly well reviewed, no one hates it (yet, give me time), where I take the war to Dan Brown, and every other nimrod who thinks they can write bad history in a thriller and get away with it.

A Pius Legacy: A Political Thriller -- The villains who survived A Pius Man have decided that some payback is involved.  Step one? Kidnap the Pope. Then the fun really starts.  Surprisingly, this one had better reviews than the first.... also fewer. Anyway, please buy the book already. Thank you.

A Pius Stand: A Global Thriller (UPDATED, yes, this wasn't here last time.): The end of the trilogy. Saving the Pope has consequences.  And army. A war. And no quarter given. It's time to finish the fight.

And, while I"m doing this.....

Codename: Winterborn .... the "other" novel, also strangely well reviewed. Genre: character-driven scifi espionage. While on a mission to the Islamic Republic of France, Lt. Kevin Anderson's team is betrayed by the politicians who sent them. As the only survivor, Anderson must stop the senators involved before the next team is slaughtered on the altar of political greed. He's certain he won't survive, but he will make this sacrifice, for his Codename is Winterborn. I recommend this for all fans of Baen novels -- like John Ringo, David Weber, and even your straight up thriller writers, like Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, et al.

On with everyone else.

Several of the following books you may have seen before. Trust me, there's a reason they made one of my top reading lists.

Murder in The Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes -- if you've been reading my blog for a long time, you know that I loved this one, and I can't possibly recommend it enough.... and then there's The Watson Chronicles, which is even better.  The only books I will recommend over my own, and I'm told my books are pretty awesome, so, yeah...

The Book of Helen -- dang, this was a kickass little novel.  The West Wing meets the Trojan war, this novel goes beyond the "they all lived strangely ever after" of Helen of Troy, and follows the rest of her life after she came home from Troy.  Yes, Helen did have an "after Troy."  You know the mythology, and now, this is the rest of the story.

Ordinance 93:  I've reviewed this book, I've interviewed this author, and I somehow still haven't mentioned her on the blog yet. Ordinance 93 is a thriller that sort-of centers around abortion. It's not really a pro-life book, despite how I referred to it in the Examiner posts.  It's a very long story, but if you're interest, check out the review. It would take too long otherwise.

Mind Over Mind -- The short version? "No, he's not crazy, aliens really are messing with his brain."  Then there's Mind Over Psyche, which feels like CS Lewis' science fiction trilogy. Then again, Karina was already involved with a scifi-anthology, so, yeah...

Greater Treasures -- Imagine the Maltese Falcon with dragons. Nuff said.

Stealing Jenny, by Ellen Gable: After 5 miscarriages, Jenny is about to have a pregnancy come to full term... until a psychotic woman kidnaps her and chains her in her basement with the intention of taking the child for her own. I liked this one.

Amy Lynn: You can read my review right here.

Night Machines by Kia Heavey .... this one was interesting.  Almost Doctor Who-ish by way of Rod Serling.

And, of course, there is an endless list of books I can recommend, which happen to be a different tab at the top of the page -- includes Flynn, Ringo, Weber, Thor, etc, etc.

Now, as far as books I haven't looked at yet.... [Below the break.]

Monday, November 17, 2014

Taking a stand, for the last time.

Last week, I said that A Pius Stand is coming.

It's finally going to be over.

If you've been with this blog since the beginning -- or if you've read "Pius Origins" link on the sidebar -- you know that this started out as a history paper gone amuck. It was a graduate paper in which I examined the truth behind Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust.

SPOILERS FOR A PIUS MAN, but, what I learned from my research was simple. Pius XII did more than any one person to save people in Europe during World War II.  More POWs. More Jews. More refugees. Because life was precious, and if they didn't like it, they could just come and get him.

But if you read any media around Pope Pius XII, you get Hitler's Pope. And Susan Zuccotti. And John Cornwell. And Gary Wills and Michael Phayer. The Wiki page on it has become more balanced, but still incomplete. You don't even want to know what it looked like when I started writing.  All of these great big names trying to spin a story I know to be false, and I spent a whole four months looking at primary documents as a grad student in America. They were journalists and historians. They should have known better.

I don't like liars.

The Pius Trilogy started out as a devotion. One that I tried to make readable for everyone. I wanted the opening to be dark and ominous to trap anti-Catholic to reading on, until they are so hip deep in the book that by the time that the revelation is given, the trap springs shut.


The short version is, this was a devotion.  This was to sing the praises of God and His followers. This was a devotion to the truth, and a war on lies. At the same time, I was making it readable for other people. Heck, one of my friends on Facebook became a friend of mine BECAUSE of A Pius Man, and she's Jewish, I can't make it too much more open and readable than that.

The reason my cast was so big was simple -- I wanted to make it clear that the truth was not some subjective moving target. I needed a doubter, a neutral party, two red herrings, confirmation of the mystery ... well, you'll just have to read it to perform that matching column.

But my premise was that of philosopher Peter Kreeft -- this was an ecumenical jihad, a war against one very specific force of darkness, and one that the religions in A Pius Man could get behind. Because the liars I've been fighting since the beginning all have one thing in common.  What is that thing? Read A Pius Legacy.

But then I couldn't get the Catholic Writer's Guild Seal of Approval for APM. Why? Because the book was too violent, and some poor little dear was squeamish. I know this happened because I had officers of the Guild come up to me and suggested that there needed to be changes in the was the Seal of Approval was handled. Devotion to truth? Devotion to God? Who needs it? I've got a gun-toting Catholic! Run!

Then I had one or two of those officers write positive reviews. I'll take it.

The reason I kept going was that some things needed to be said. Some things needed to be put out there and thrown at people's heads until they either take notice or are bludgeoned to death.  Because the truth is not a game, or a weapon, except against lies. Truth is what happened, and maybe we can speculate about reasons, or about the why of things, and sometimes people will leave a diary detailing what and why they did. Then we hope the poor schmuck isn't a schizophrenic or a pathological liar.

And I kept going because I had to. Because writing is all I have.

This trilogy has been my life for ten years. And now it's time for me to say goodbye.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Arrow: Black Canary Reveal

If you're a comic book nerd, you've been laughing ever since the pilot of Arrow, where it was revealed that Oliver Queen's ex is named Laurel Dinah Lance.  As readers of the comic books know, Dinah Lance was both Queen's on-again / off-again girlfriend, but also the superheroine known as The Black Canary.

In a series that doesn't like to use the colors, it's time for a change.

Now, I know what some of you comic book nerds are thinking -- why isn't she wearing the traditional fishnets that have been part of the black canary character since seemingly forever?  After all, they even made a joke about Laurel and fishnets back in season 1.

Answer: because fishnets make no sense on this show.

Also ... a night stick? Why a night stick?  Um, because her father's a cop.

I like the look, and the wig makes a lot more sense in this context than it ever did with the other Lance sister, Sarah .... who was already a blonde ... but that was the only way to get the comic book color down correctly, I guess.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Pius Stand is coming


If you don't know what A Pius Stand is, it's very simple. It's the last Pius novel. The final round. Where ten years of beating my head against a wall finally comes to a head.

At this point, I just need a cover (being provided by the graphic artist / site admin of The American Journal, Allen Scott), and a proof copy (which comes after the cover) and I'm set. It will be done.

If you remember A Pius Legacy and A Pius Man, you can probably see how A Pius Stand came to life.  APS was simple the inevitable conclusion of the battles in APL. You could say that it's almost a train wreck of the church and the power of this world, and that it's going to happen again and again.

One of the things that has put me off of the news has been, well, the news.  Mass media in general 00 and reporters in particular -- know jack all about what Catholics believe in, which means darn few other people do either.

Heck, even the Pope has been a bit of a jerk -- not for anything he thinks of does, but for what comes out of his mouth.  I mean, damnit, even without the media translating him through their own PC-ears, Pope Francis is a bear and a half to deal with in general.  There are people who looked at the Pope's recent statement on science and went, "Huh?"  There are some people who thought that Francis had demoted God.  The only reason I knew what Francis was talking about is simple: I've got the useless degree in philosophy.

Anyway, A Pius Stand is the end of a very long journey for me. It has beaten me up a lot, and I would like to be able to say I got through it. I started what would become The Pius Trilogy because I wanted to make sure that the truth was out there. Then the truth kept saying "tell more of me." And I dumped practically my entire college education into that book.

And now it all comes to three words: This is war.

A Pius Stand will be out soon. Then, at long last, I can take a nap.