Brida Anderson

Urban Fantasy

Author: Brida (page 1 of 9)

DIY Fey Christmas Presents for the Adventurous Gourmet

Hey, how are you holding up in the mad rush of the pre-Christmas days?

We are flying out of Doha on Friday but the suitcases aren’t packed yet. Too much ginger bread house making events (every child has their own event at school because their age gap is so big), last Jiu Jitsu training before the Xmas break, Christmas concert for our young piano player …

While looking at last minute gifts, I just came across a product from a Dawanda-Shop that I thought you guys might like. The shop’s name is Erbstuecke which means “heirloom pieces” in German.

They sell a set with 6 vials with a dry dip base and 6 vials of olive oil. Each vial contains only 10 g (dip) or 20 ml (oil), so if you made your own,  you’d have a enough for several gifts from one mammoth fruit-veggie drying session.

erbstuecke_dip_set

Dips sold by Erbstuecke at Dawanda. Click on photo for link.

How do these dips work?

The Italian way to sample some nice fresh bread is: pour a very good olive oil into a small bowl or plate. Drop a few drops of a mild, good Aceto Balsamico vinegar into that, add a few sprinkles of ground sea salt (or another salt of your choice), stir with a piece of bread and enjoy.

For dried dips like this, you need olive oil as a base.

You can either dip bread in olive oil and then dunk it into the dip (which works but isn’t very pretty), or you dip the bread, then scatter a tiny bit of the dip powder over the bread. We use this kind of stuff the way Dukkah powder is used in the Middle East: you add a little bit of the powder to a bit of olive oil, stir it in well and then let it sit for a bit before you scoop it up with bread or use a teaspoon to transfer it to your bread.

What’s in a dip?

Erbstücke, the Dawanda Shop, combined some interesting stuff for their dips.

They say that their dips are made from dried and ground fruit and vegetables with NO ADDED ANYTHING. (Some of the dips have sugar and salt.)

I imagine if elves do the bread-and-dip thing, they’ll use exotic mixes like these for the dip. :-)

The 6 tastes at Erbstuecke are:

  • Carrot-Pineapple: carrot, pineapple, coconut, ginger, salt
  • Red beet-Pear: red beet, pear, orange peel, vanilla, salt
  • Red bell pepper-Mango: red bell pepper, mango, almonds, oregano, chili powder, sugar, salt
  • Pomegranate: pomegranate seeds, lemon peel, cardamom, cumin, cinnemon, cane sugar, pepper
  • Spinach-Ginger: spinach, garlic, ginger, vanilla, salt, pepper
  • Eggplant-Sesame: eggplant, white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, salt, garlic

Since Dawanda is Germany’s answer to Etsy, Erbstuecke might not ship abroad, but if you have a dehydrator — or some time, patience and an oven– you can make these as Christmas presents at home.

All you need is dehydrator/oven, good quality fruit and veggies, and some nice containers with a stopper, like vials. We have also used the small jam glasses you get in hotels to the same effect. Sometimes you can buy a tray with 10 or 12 of the small glasses at the supermarket. Keep them when the jam is gone – they make lovely packaging for edible Christmas presents.

Dry the fruit/veggies in a dehydrator according to your machine’s settings. If fruit is very wet, use silicone inlays or baking paper that you poke holes into for circulation.

In the oven, heat it up to 330 degrees F / 170 degrees C, leave the door a bit open and stir fruit/veggies every 30 minutes. The slower you dry, the better the taste, but unless you have a dehydrator, you might go for higher temperature and be done in 6 to 8 hours.

Let the finished dried fruit / veggies rest for a day, then grind them in a food processor. Then play around, mixing and matching. :-)

I hope you enjoy — concoct something that would make Harcos, the elf, proud. ;-)

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If you’re wondering who Harcos is: He plays a big part in my 2012 Christmas novel “Three Days of Christmas”. At the moment, I took it down from Amazon because I’ve been trying to make it permafree, without success. You can find it on Smashwords and iBooks.

The spam trolls eat this blog for breakfast if I leave comments open, so I close them. But I’d love to hear what you think, so talk to me on Facebook or on Twitter instead.

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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson writes Urban Fantasy and Steampunk. Poison Patch just came out, Book 2 of the Astoria Files series. You can find Brida at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a kobold who still pretends she’s a cat.

NaNoWriMo across the World

In prep for NaNoWriMo 2015, over at NaNo-Headquarters they blog about The NaNoWriMo Writers’ Heritage, “Road Trip to NaNo”. A great idea. The lateset blog post is the one I stumbled on first and was written by Eve Shi (@Eve_Shi on Twitter), Municipal Liason for the Indonesian Writers.

The Road Trip to NaNo posts so far have been about:

It’s always a good idea to “look over the edge of our own plate”, as the German saying goes. So I’m looking forward to future installments of the “NaNo Road Trip” series.

On a different note, it makes me CRAZY and sad that I can’t take part in NaNoWriMo this year.

Robin isn't too keen on November

Robin isn’t too keen on November

I have too many unfinished books that have to be finished first. The kids’ long summer vacation and closing of schools again for 2 weeks for autumn break really put a dent in my schedule. “Poison Patch” was supposed to be reworked with the editors’ comments until the end of August, then the German translation of “Hedge Games” edited in September. I had planned to use October to finally work on our Kickstarter project (non-book related) and to prep for the NaNo book.

When I see the happy NaNo anticipation that sends ripples through the internet right now, I really, really want to take part!

I love the crazy-busy atmosphere of writing a NaNo book in November, the cameraderie with my Nano buddies and Facebook friends who also crank out 5-10-15 pages or more each day, the sleepy urgency of having to get up one hour earlier than usual (so at 5 am) to get in writing time before the kids wake … Magical times. Sigh.

Maybe I won’t be able to stay away. ;-)

Maybe it’s also time to hunt down some fellow Wrimos in Qatar this November. We can’t be many  — there isn’t even a region Qatar at Nano, only “Elsewhere: Middle East”.

The sounds of Urban Fantasy

Research on the Poison Patch front: What is the sound a sword makes that is pushed back into the scabbard? It’s not slid back, it’s shoved in with a decisive push and that makes a nice, short…clattering sound, for lack of a better word.

Googling for possible words brought me to TV Tropes. Love their entry “Audible Sharpness“, with such highlights as:

When weapons with sharp and cutting edges are brandished, a vaguely metallic sound effect will be inserted (along with a bit of Lens Flare) to signify just how lethally sharp the weapon is.The tone of the sharpness, as with musical instruments, is dependent on size.

(…)
Common in animated works, sometimes as a trope, and sometimes as a humorous subversion. Sometimes even non-metal objects make a metallic scraping sound, like a predator’s row upon row of pointed teeth.
(…)

Keep in mind, the creators know that sharp things don’t make noise.

Right at the top of the page I came across a quote from one of my favorite novels. I fell in love all over again and just had to stop work on revising Poison Patch to make a picture out of the Terry Pratchett quote. Hope you like! Here it is to share:

 

Claws make no noise Quote Terry Pratchett
I totally agree. Swords should make a fat ringing sound when pulled from any scabbard, even stealthy leather ones, and claws need a ZING to show their sharpness. ;-) Don’t you agree?
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The spam trolls try to eat this blog for breakfast if I leave comments open. I’d love to hear what you think, though, so talk to me on Facebook or through Twitter instead.

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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson writes Urban Fantasy and Steampunk. Hedge Games released in December 2013 and she’s hard at work on its sequel, Poison Patch. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Does he kiss with elven, Elfish or Elfin skill?

“Shush.” Mattis pressed a finger to my lips. “I was frightened for you.” Shielding me from view, he pulled me into his arms and claimed my mouth in a kiss. It was fierce, desperate, as if he was drowning out the world. I wrapped my arms around his neck. My arm grazed the fresh wound on his cheek and Mattis gasped with pain.

from: Brida Anderson: Poison Patch (Rule of Thorns, Season 2). Coming in fall 2015

So, about that skilled kisser. Does he speak Elfish? Or Elvish?

Are his looks Elfin or Elfish, or elven?

(copyright) Nicolas McComber, iStock

(copyright) Nicolas McComber, iStock

Elfish

When I was writing Hedge Games, I chose to use “Elfish” for everything: the language, the adjective, the people themselves. The same way I’d use Spanish: he’s Spanish, he speaks Spanish, the Spanish swords are of excellent quality.

I love the word “elven” and that the language of elves has its own name, Elvish, but I wasn’t sure if using that gets the LOTR fans up in arms when used in another world.

The editor of Hedge Games concurred, and so Elfish it was.

Elfin

Now the editor of Poison Patch corrected many instances of Elfish to “Elfin”.

To my ears, Elfin sounds like a human who has Elfish/elven qualities, especially a child. It probably got that way because it’s used outside of Fantasy literature to describe someone, usually a girl or a child, with fey qualities.

So I spent the morning researching Elfin, Elfish, elven, and found interesting theories on when to use which.

Elven

My editor would point out that Wikipedia and Google finds are not a trustworthy source, especially when it comes to spelling. ;-) If you ignore that, an interesting theory from two different grammar forums was this:

  • if you write in the tradition of Tolkien, D & D and other computer games/roleplaying systems who follow in that tradition, it’s elves with a v and the adjective is elven. The language is Elvish.
  • if you write in a remotely Walt Disney kind of style or world—one poster called it “Tinkerbelly” :-)—the plural is elfs (doesn’t have to be, though) and the adjective is Elfish. The elfs in that tradition are usually based on Tinkerbell-kind of fairies or Christmas elfs which usually don’t have their own language.

One argument that nailed it for me (revisions, here we go!) was the comparison to thieves. Thief / elf, plural thieves / elves. The old noun based on that wasn’t theft but thievery. The adjective is thieving.

So elf / elves / elven / Elvish makes a lot of sense, even if you had never heard of Tolkien. I’ll change it in Hedge Games and Poison Patch. But let’s get back to the more important things ;-)

Not wanting to ask Mattis for assistance, I used elven sorcery on his glamor. Elven magic worked with intent instead of sigils, so I scrunched up my face in concentration and thought with as much force as I could, Put something decent on me.

The dress flared green for a moment then disappeared. Which left me, once more, buck naked. Ooops.

“Okay, you win,” Mattis drawled by my ear, “I prefer your spell.”

from: Brida Anderson: Poison Patch (Rule of Thorns, Season 2). Coming in fall 2015

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The spam trolls try to eat this blog for breakfast if I leave comments open. I’d love to hear what you think, though, so if you’d like to leave a comment, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead.

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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson writes Urban Fantasy and Steampunk. Hedge Games released in December 2013. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Sweep in Peace is coming

“Clean Sweep” is a book by Ilona Andrews I discovered years after the Kate Daniels-series. It got lost in the murky depths of my Kindle. When I finally did read the book in the Innkeeper series–a free series that had been published in installments on Andrews’ innkeeper website— I fell in love. The wait for book 2 felt very long.

Today I came across a 2nd cover on Ilona Andrews’ official website with the tantalizing button “coming soon”. Yay. :-)

“Sweep in Peace” was available for free on their website (now I could only find 2 chapters), and is now being prepped for the ebook edition.

Screenshot 2015-08-23 14.21.17

If you enjoy Urban Fantasy with verbal sass and quirky magic, the Innkeeper Series is for you.

Love the cover art, too.

Poison Patch – Book 2 of the Astoria Files

NEW WORLD, NEW RULES

This time, Alanna takes the game to Faerie.

The title and cover are still a work-in-progress, but the release date is set. Yay. :-)

So “Hedge Game Book 2” turns into “POISON PATCH” for the moment. So excited.

The 2nd polished draft is with beta-readers right now. Will get their comments back in early April and have time until April 20th for my 3rd deep edit and for reading the whole book aloud once. Then it goes to the editor.

Since I can’t do pre-orders as an indie author, please sign up for my mailing list or interact with my Facebook page – then you’ll know the minute the book comes out. :)

cover_poisonpatch_2_small

work-in-progress-cover. So many nice men to choose from ;-)

 

Romantic Urban Fantasy

out on July 1st, 2015

Sign up for my mailing list for first dibs on the special introduction price.

It’s raining men and Urban Fantasy, halleluja

Hey honeys, I’m so happy I could burst.

And I’ll tell you why. Even though I fear that it’ll jinx the current “yay! the world’s so lovely”- mood ;-)

I found an editor for POISON PATCH, book 2 of Rule of Thorns. I loved her corrections for the sample text (okay: I muttered and blushed and cringed, but then I said “I want that kind of constructive in-depth slaughter for the whole book.” ;o) Her timing is perfect: she doesn’t have time now but on April 20th. Which was my own deadline for working my beta readers feedback into the manuscript. Nice synchronicity. :-)

cover_poisonpatch_2_small

one of the w-i-p covers

 

There’s still some to-and-fro on the title and cover front but hopefully I’ll get that sorted out this week. Any thoughts on “Poison Patch” and “Molten Blue”? The two favs currently. The titles of all Rule of Thorns-books should contain a word that’s usable by an elf as well as an IT-girl like Alanna.  That’s why I love “Patch”. I just don’t like the alliteration, but “Poison Patch” fits the plot perfectly. Any other idea? Or maybe you don’t mind the alliteration?

When I’m not scouting for cover-worthy hunks in stockphoto databases (such a chore, really ;-), I’m reworking HEDGE GAMES. A few of you already know I added a scene which I had cut for the first publication. All beta readers had loved that scene but I was so afraid to run over 100K words that I slashed it. Now, with 2 years’ distance from the manuscript, I went in again and slashed very different stuff, mainly from the first 30 pages, so that I could add back that scene. Mattis and Alanna playing Forest of Fiends. Yum. :-)

Another reason I’m really happy: I finally did some yoga yesterday, first time in months. I know resolutions are for sissies but here goes anyway: I made up my mind yesterday that I will return to my daily yoga practise. Having my second child threw me out of the habit and I have been struggling to get back on board ever since then. I enjoyed the practise yesterday immensely, also because of the Goddess-aspect of the DVD I used. The country we live in now is … ack, I leave that for another post. ;-)

Something else that makes me happy: With Poison Patch in the hands of my lovely beta readers and Hedge Games, edition 2, almost ready for upload, I can plot book 3 of the Rule of Thorns and then write the 2nd draft of Witches of Riverdale. Looking forward very much to returning to Robin’s world of witches, gargoyles and flying magic cars. Diagon Alley for grown-ups. :-)

You feel calm and enlightened? Move back in with your family for a while

‘If you think you’re spiritual and evolved and enlightened, go home for Christmas and see how it goes,’

… Elizabeth Gilbert says in this video where she talks about life lessons from one of her teachers in India. It’s very funny — and very helpful if you can distract yourself from screaming inside long enough to actually implement what she says. Harder than it sounds, that is.

Why? As she also says in the video,

“In AA they always say to you, ‘How come your family knows how to push your buttons? Because they installed them. They know where they are because they put them in you.”

buddha_pumpkin_brida_anderson

I don’t think the lessons she talks about here are restricted to family, though. We run into a lot of people that push our buttons or where you have to make the choice: “If I have to love all people, can I love this person, truly? Or does s/he belong in the group of people I can only love from a safe distance?” ;-) The video’s from November 2014 but well worth (re)watching.

If the embedding works, here it is:

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I’d love to talk to you. Due to an avalanche of spam, I had to close comments on the blog. If you’d like to comment on this blogpost, please talk to me on Facebook or on Twitter instead.

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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Be a good writer and eat your showdown

A glass of water. A handful of dried tart cherries. Two dates stuffed with cardamom and ground nuts. A small piece of parmesan. A few more cherries …

Still not right. I needed something else to nibble on while the water for my tea heated. But what? I was raiding the shelves and the fridge for the second time when I realized what I was doing.

I’ve been reading a lot about Mindful Eating last month. I found triggers and habits that keep me snacking even when I’m not hungry. Or rather: some emotions maskerade as hunger, but eating will never be enough. Because you’re not actually hungry. Go figure.

Brida_Anderson_Blogpost Mindful Eating Writing Showdown

 

What I was trying to eat in the kitchen just now wasn’t food. I am working on the showdown of POISON PATCH (sequel to HEDGE GAMES). Have been working on it for several days now. As most showdowns in Urban Fantasy, it’s a dance between several characters that runs across three chapters. A dance of magic, violence, trust, betrayal — with three main characters and twelve minor characters. An ebbing and swelling and ebbing and swelling of intensity. I keep thinking “now I’ve nailed it”, then read it again the next day and it’s not flowing. So I go in again.

I’ve read it first in Celia Bradfield’s book “Bestseller”. Can’t give you the verbatim quote now because the book is in storage back in Europe with the rest of our belongings. Celia says something like: You’d be a very productive (and slim) writer, if only you kept writing instead of giving in to the urges your inner saboteur throws at you. Every time you reach a critical point in your writing, he’ll make you thirsty for coffee, then hungry. And if everything else fails, he’ll make you sleepy.

It’s true.

The coffee’s always empty when the writing gets tough, isn’t it? “I’ll just get one more cup and then –“ ;-) Snap. Just like that, our focus on that scene is broken. Self-sabotage at its best.

Strange how the need to snack on “just the right thing” disappeared the second I decided to blog about this — instead of working on the showdown. *blush*

But now I am butt in chair and will only get up when it’s done or when I have to pick up my kids. We all know when the going gets really tough in writing: when you’re almost there.

What’s your experience with this?

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I’d love to talk to you, either here on the blog or on Facebook and Twitter.

tendril_small

brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Romantic dinner on a flying carpet

Come on, let’s head to a romantic dinner at a restaurant called “Flying Carpet”. As fellow fans of Fantasy what do you picture when you hear that name?

Let’s put it in an Urban context. Urban Fantasy. The restaurant is not on a real flying carpet (more’s the pity) but one floor of a hotel in a big city.

shot for you today: Torch Hotel in Doha. You can see the (few) stories through the transparent "skin" of the hotel

shot for you today: Torch Hotel in Doha. You can see the (few) stories through the transparent “skin” of the hotel

If I sent my characters there for a romantic dinner, I’d envision them eating sitting on the floor, parked on sumptious cushions. They’d have their own “private” carpet with a low rustic table in the middle. Since the hotel is expensive, I’d put only five or six of such carpets in the large room. The atmosphere would be 1001 nights-romantic, a tad dark, a tad heavy with incense and spices, soft drums would play live in a corner or from hidden speakers. The interior design would look styled by Inara, famous companion from Firefly. ;-)

 

The food comes in small portions, gorgeous (of course), and always meant to be shared. Tea and coffee are free-flowing and add their enticing scents to the air. Mint with green tea and honey, sweet black tea, coffee with cardamom are served in delicate clay cups and you look into the eyes of your sweetheart while you sip the hot brew.

One more thing before we compare my flight of fancy to the real “Flying Carpet” -restaurant in Doha.

If you opened a restaurant called “Flying Carpet” in a hotel that is famous for having a “hollow” core, apart from the pole in the middle that houses the elevators — what would be a cool idea?

Exactly. ;o) In such a building, you’d have the one-in-a-million chance of really offering your guests the impression of dining on a “flying carpet”!

They’d eat sitting on the cushions and lean over to gaze over the side of the carpet to the “depths” below. You could install one-way glass or a fake floor underneath with good tromp l’oeil painting, so no-one down in the lobby could look under skirts. Guests would be led to their private carpet over a narrow “trod” of colored glass to make the illusion more  real. When you sit on your carpet, you can lean over the side and look to the lobby twelve meters ((my guess)) below you.  Wheee.

Let’s do the reality check.

Since this is Doha, Qatar, I learned to hold my happy imagination in check. ;-) As one friend put it on Facebook recently: “I’ve learned to way lower my expectations. I lived in Qatar for years, after all.” (not a verbatim quote, just from memory)

So when I prepared for our romantic date (the first for my husband and me in a long time #kiddies #movingabroad), I checked photos and descriptions of the restaurant through Google search.

wedding_bouquet_brida_anderson.jpg

That’s us tossing the bouquet back and forth at our wedding. Both not exactly the born ball-athletes ;o)

 

Strange: They’re in a huge hotel here in Doha which prides itself on being a high-end tourist spot. And yet their website runs on a free WordPress site, without giving their phone number. %-) Found it through Tripadvisor instead.

Plus-side: I left a message through Facebook to book a table — and received a reply in only 30 minutes.

So, how was the romantic excursion into 1001 night?

Well …

To get you in the mood: That's the design of the "tunnel" leading from Torch hotel to Villagio Mall. Brings back memories of the 80s, hm?

To get you in the mood: That’s the design of the “tunnel” leading from Torch hotel to Villagio Mall. Brings back memories of the 80s, hm?

It was a weeknight but still we were surprised that we were only one of 3 couples/families eating there. We weren’t surprised anymore after we had tried the food (okay, but nothing special) and were rebuffed when we asked for Arabian flatbread to go with the (lovely) hummus. They gave us two plastic-wrapped mini-bread pieces and said that was all the Arabian bread they had. In Doha! In a hotel adjacent to the Villagio Mall where you can buy bread by the cartload. cough

It’s a too small space, with too many tables too close together, giving it the vibes of a school cafeteria. Only one side of the restaurant is covered with carpets, the other side is a brightly lit row of metal food displays for the buffet, also with the exact charm of a school cafeteria. It’s made worse by the light being positioned wrong — it blinds you when you try to look at the food on display. %-)

According to other reviewers, the Flying Carpet’s only saving grace are the carpets hung up under the ceiling.

Under the ceiling … Which means you should see only the boring backside of the carpets. %-)

But the decorators were smarter than that: They hung the carpets overhead upside down. Seeing them “flying” (they were brought into shape with wires) the wrong way round made me seasick, so I kept my gaze on the less-than-charming cafeteria looks.

I’ll have to make do with visiting my romantic version of Flying Carpet restaurant in a short story. But my husband and I don’t give up  hope that we will discover romantic, good restaurants here in Doha. :-)

Would you share your stories of how what you thought would be a romantic spot turned out to be in reality? We could start with “kissing by Niagara Falls” while the surfs makes you deaf, spray gets in your eyes and about a million tourists push by … Or … c’mon. Spill. :-)
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I’d love to talk to you, either here on the blog or on Facebook and Twitter.

tendril_small

brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

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