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French Onion Ramen

French Onion Ramen Experiment!

I woke up abruptly one morning out of a forgotten dream, the words “French onion ramen” lingering on my lips. Sounded like a great idea, so I went for it!

My goal was to make not just “French onion soup with ramen noodles” but something that was more balanced between French and Japanese flavors.

Elements of French onion soup: browned beef bone broth, caramelized onions, toasted bread of some sort, melted cheese (generally browned).

Elements of tonkatsu ramen: long-simmered pork broth, tare (booze/sweet/salt/umami paste), noodles, pork belly, medium-boiled eggs, veggies.

Let us set aside the pork belly and the eggs. I cured the pork belly as in the recipe below (which I made last time), put it in the oven, and fucking forgot about it. It was charcoal by the time I remembered.

And I just completely forgot about the eggs.

Buh.

Broth:

  • 6 pounds of meaty pork neck bones
  • trimmings from a 5-pound bag of yellow onions, including skins
  • various other veggies going bad in the fridge

Bake at 400F for about 45 minutes, then add to a stock pot, cover with cold water, boil at a rolling boil until the tendons are completely melted. This was about 12 hours total, with overnight refrigeration in the middle. I had to add water about every hour or so. I covered the pot. The broth ends up about the consistency of jello jigglers in the fridge, the kind that kids throw at the floor just to see it bounce.

I think the long boil time was worth it, not least of which because OMG THE SMELL is worth bottling and selling as a food-desiac.

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say I would NOT use beef bones instead, given the opportunity, and I WOULD roast the bones beforehand the next time I make tonkatsu ramen. Browned pork broth seems like the appropriate choice for both French onion and tonkatsu ramen. It smells like spirit of caramelization; plus, neck bones have a ton of tendon and made a great gelatin. Go for it.

Once the the tendons were melted, I strained out all the material, tossed it, and reheated the broth with some thyme and bay leaf. (I didn’t want the bay leaf to be too freaking strong.) Next time, I would salt the broth to a barely-noticeable level of saltiness. That tare was difficult to adjust all on its own.

Onions:

Caramelized the heck out of five pounds of onions. I wish I had doubled or tripled the amount. I did a very slow caramelization; I was already stuck in the kitchen for a while to babysit the broth. Onions halved, cut in thin rings, cooked over a medium-low heat with butter, salt, and a little brandy.

Tare:

  • 1/4c shiro miso paste
  • 1/2c or so brandy

Cook over low heat and stir until you have a smooth paste about like honey or a little thinner. I added another bit of brandy toward the end and didn’t cook it down enough; the raw alcohol taste was a bit much.

Noodles:

I got two packages of “Japanese noodles” from the Korean grocery store. They were a little gummy; I think I’ll look for another brand next time. Advice on this point would be welcome.

Veggies:

  • 1 package Enoki mushrooms, bottom trimmed and trimmings used with broth.
  • 8-10 baby bok choi, bottoms trimmed and tossed, washed.
  • butter
  • brandy
  • salt

I sauteed the mushrooms in brandy and butter and salt, set them aside, then sauteed the (rinsed wet) bok choi with butter, with a lid over the pan. These both turned out great.

Cheese:

  • Swiss gruyere from Aldi’s.

I don’t have good bowls to use under a broiler anymore, so I decided to cut up matchstick sized pieces of cheese to hide in the bowl, plus grated some on top.

Assemblage:

Two teaspoonfuls of tare at the bottom of the bowl or to taste; ladle in a scoop of broth and stir, adjust for flavor. Add noodles, then cheese matchsticks, then veggies. Add more broth to cover the noodles. Grate a bunch of cheese on top. Serve.

I also put taijin seasoning on the table, because that’s what I used last time instead of furikake (for Ray’s birthday). Is good. Can recommend.

I am still regretful about the pork belly turning to char. AIYYYY.

Here was the starting recipe: https://glebekitchen.com/tonkotsu-ramen-home/

The Woman King Amazons and the Kingdom of Dahomey

The Woman King, Amazons, & the Kingdom of Dahomey

Waiting for the new action movie The Woman King? Starring Viola Davis, the movie is inspired by true events that I just had to check out!

I was just going to geek out over this trailer (I love Viola Davis in things and here she’s kicking ass), but of course I went, “Dahomey…where do I know that from?” and had to look it up. (I’m posting this so I have some kind of fruit to my labors.) There are LOTS of people who know more about this than I do, though, so don’t take my word on it. I’ll be adding links below as I find them.


The Kingdom of Dahomey was an African kingdom that lasted from 1600 to 1904. If you click the image below, you will see a larger version that shows where Dahomey is (it’s relatively small and on the southern coast of Western Africa).

Somebody500, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Because this debate is already coming up online, I’m going to mention here that Dahomey did participate in the slave trade; Dahomey was part of the “Bight of Benin” area listed below.

From Wikipedia’s article on the Atlantic Slave Trade:

Europeans would buy and ship slaves to the Western Hemisphere from markets across West Africa. The number of enslaved people sold to the New World varied throughout the slave trade. As for the distribution of slaves from regions of activity, certain areas produced far more enslaved people than others. Between 1650 and 1900, 10.2 million enslaved Africans arrived in the Americas from the following regions in the following proportions:[101]

Dahomey seems to have been singularly picked out as profiting from the slave trade, rather than one country amidst others who did so.

I’m not an expert, but the narrative that “Africans sold themselves into slavery!” sounds like nothing more than a handy excuse to justify having entire countries taken over and millions of people murdered, starved to death, or denied medical care.

If someone brings up a point about Dahomey being a nation of slavers and why would we have a movie about terrible people like that, my only response is: So was America. Please boycott the bajillion pro-slavery movies set in America before worrying about boycotting one movie about Dahomey.

Anyway…

The Kingdom of Dahomey had an all-female regiment, the Agoji, that Westerners nicknamed Amazons after (earlier) legends of the Amazons in Anatolia, or present-day Turkey. While other kingdoms had female guards or ceremonial troops, the Agoji were regularly used as combat troops.

Traditionally, the troops were said to be founded when teams of female hunters, or gbeto, were drafted by King Ghezo around 1850. However, a French slaver reported seeing female troops armed with spears in 1725, so maybe not.

Another contributing factor might have been Queen Hangbe, who briefly ruled from 1716-1718 after the death of her twin brother and was largely erased from the historical record after supporting her nephew for the throne instead of her (victorious, power-hungry, and sexist) younger brother.

Men still ruled in Dahomey. Women who trained as Agoji were thought to no longer be women and become men, generally at the time they disemboweled an enemy.

The titular character of The Woman King appears to be Nanisca, who was recorded in 1889 as not yet having killed anyone; however, the story is more likely to focus on earlier events, that is, during the reign of King Ghezo, who ruled Dahomey from 1818-1859.

While there was no “woman queen,” strictly speaking, of Dahomey, each position in the royal court had a female counterpart or advisor, just as their religion had male and female gods.

Alas, Dahomey was taken down during the rabid colonial expansion after 1880 by the French, with the Agoji mowed down by superior French weaponry. The last known surviving Agoji is said to be a woman named Nawi, coincidentally one of the characters from The Woman King, and who died in 1979.

The Woman King is not the first time fictionalized Agoji have appeared in recent popular culture. Agoji were used as an inspiration for the Dora Milaje in the Black Panther movie and comic book series (you can read more about the inspirations for Wakanda and the rest of the Black Panther movie elements here.)

The Woman King is scheduled for release on September 16, 2022, and I’m looking forward to it!


Here’s where I’d heard of Dahomey before: Sir Richard Francis Burton, noted explorer and intelligence gatherer, traveled to Dahomey in the 1860s, supposedly to persuade the nation to end its slave trade. He wrote a book, A Mission to Gelele, King of Dahomey, about the area. Caution: the book appears to be more than usually racist, even for Burton. (I like Burton as a character, but wow was he an industrial-strength egotist and asshole.)

More articles!

James Reese & the Harlem Hellfighters

James Reese Europe & the Hellfighters

(Alas, I’m having trouble sourcing this video! The narrator is a famed Black actor and I cannot remember his name. My apologies.)

During WWI, the United States had no idea what to do with an entire National Guard Regiment of Black soldiers from Harlem, so they loaned them to the French. The Harlem Hellfighters were born.

Eventually becoming the 369th Regiment, the Hellfighters not only served as the most decorated U.S. regiment in WWI, but introduced early jazz to the French. The regiment band, led by seminal jazz influence James Reese Europe, played a swinging version of the French anthem, the “Marseillaise,” that set Paris on fire.

James Reese Europe of the Harlem Hellfighters
James Reese Europe

James Reese Europe was a classically trained violinist but played brothels and saloons when white people refused to accept him. In 1910, he started an exclusive club for Black musicians called the Clef Club, which boasted of being able to get together an orchestra of up to 30 men at any time of day or night, and which played at Carnegie Hall.

Europe joined the regiment as a machine gun regiment lieutenant but later became a sergeant in the regiment band. French officials asked for the musical arrangement of “Marseillaise” but French groups were unable to reproduce the swinging sound. The Hellfighter musicians were accused of doctoring their instruments!

Europe later left the regiment band to return to his post with the machine gun regiment, and became the first Black officer to lead Black troops into combat, as part of the 1918 Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The Harlem Hellfighters suffered some of the worst casualties of an American regiment during the war. James Reese Europe was gassed; he wrote his most famous song, “On Patrol in No Man’s Land” while recuperating.

Overall, the Harlem Hellfighters spent 191 days at the front, more than any other American troops.

On their return to America in 1919, the Hellfighters and their band were recognized with huge parades, and Europe had plans to start a symphony orchestra. Unfortunately, he was knifed to death by his own jealous drummer during the intermission of a performance at Mechanic’s Hall in Boston, and died before his time. He was granted the first ever public funeral of a Black man in New York.

I’m supposed to be researching spies in WWII for an upcoming class…but instead I ran into a documentary about Black Americans in Paris in the 1920s, “Paris Noire,” and have been running down associated rabbit holes ever since. I still haven’t finished the documentary because I keep getting sidetracked. The 1920s period fascinates me; I suppose I will always find periods that were shiny and glittery but rife with corruption/chaos/change attractive. (I’m also obsessed with the Napoleonic period and the Victorians, too; I highly recommend The Invention of Murder for a “light” read on Victorian attitudes about sensational death.)

James Reese Europe struck me as a talented guy who got the job done no matter what he was doing, and, not to be disrespectful but I have to say this, was hot as hell.

I don’t have any fiction in mind featuring or inspired by James Reese Europe yet! But please check out my collection of 1920s short stories about con artists and other deceivers, A Shrewdness of Swindlers: Ten Tales of the Fantastic and Falsehood in the Fabulous Roaring Twenties.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/369th_Infantry_Regiment_(United_States)
Amazing Monster Tales Into the Briny Deep Blog Image

New Book Release: AMAZING MONSTER TALES #4: Into the Briny Deep

Amazing Monster Tales #4 Into the Briny Deep Cover Image

After much delay, the pulp/adventure/horror short story anthology Into the Briny Deep is here!!!!

Come sail away, come sail away…
…on a quest to find sea monsters!

Ten tales about mysterious watery creatures, gods of the sea, aquatic aliens, and a couple of mermaids you do not want to meet. Under the water, in a boat, or just hanging out on the shore, these monsters are playing with all tentacles.

Grab your scuba gear, start the motor, or sling on your jetpack. Whether you’re flying far above the water (and hopefully aren’t low on fuel!), catching a wave on your surfboard, or diving down, down, to the dark, cold depths of the ocean, we’ve got the monster for you!

So strap on your water wings and jump in—the water’s f-i-i-i-ne!

Featuring stories by:

J.F. Penn · Charles Eugene Anderson & Jim LeMay · Lee Allred · DeAnna Knippling · Brigid Collins · Travis Heermann · P.D. Cacek · Grayson Towler · Alethea Kontis · Jamie Ferguson

AMAZING MONSTER TALES

Amazing Monster Tales is a series of monster anthologies full of fast-paced action-adventure stories. Whether you love monsters or fear them, they are the coolest! This series features a mix of classic monsters and monsters that you’ve never seen before!

NEXT ISSUE

Look for MONSTERS IN LOVE…who says monsters can’t be romantic?

The Write Stuff Interviews Advice for Writers

Are You Ready to Publish?: Interview with Author DeAnna Knippling

Writing Craft Are You Ready to Publish by DeAnna Knippling Cover Image

Are you ready to publish? Why is it so much harder to get published all of a sudden? What should you do if you get asked to do a freelance project on the side? How do you get any better when you already read all the “good” writing books?

What if you screw something up?

Sometimes when writers have writer’s block, it’s because they’re struggling with the questions surrounding their writing, not with the writing itself.

This book is about getting your head clear so you can learn your craft without side issues derailing you and your career.

Writing Craft: Are You Ready to Publish? & Other Burning Questions is part of the Write Stuff Storybundle, ten works on the craft & business of writing fiction available for a limited time.

UPDATE! The Write Stuff Storybundle is over, but you can still find my book at the updated link below:

Everyone else who gave me answers got to have an interview! So I’m gonna “interview” myself, too. >.>


1. What type of writer is your book aimed toward? 

My book is aimed toward intermediate writers, that is, people who feel like they’ve heard the information found in most books on the craft of writing, but who aren’t ready to call themselves masters of the craft yet.

If you know what the “rules” are and have started to break them, you’re probably an intermediate writer.

 2. What problem does your book solve for those writers?

I wrote this book to help clear writers’ heads so they can focus on their craft.

It’s really easy for writers to get spun up about something and avoid writing because it brings up uncomfortable situations and associations. This book goes through the main issues that I experienced or that multiple other people experienced or asked me about.

3. Who do you consider your writing mentors? 

Kris Rusch and Dean Smith are my main writing mentors. I go to their in-person classes whenever I can, and I’ve taken a ton of online classes of theirs, too. Good stuff.

I’m a huge fan of studying other people’s work, though, so any writer who writes well is subject to getting fangirled by yours truly as I go through their work <3

On the copywriting side, I’m a big Gary Halbert fan. Studying his material felt like learning from a master con artist, and I’m a fan of that.

4. What else would you like readers to know about?

When you go from beginning writer to intermediate writer, there’s a big jump in how difficult it is.

It can seem almost like you’re being sabotaged, like other people are only succeeding because they know the right people.

That kind of thing does happen, but it’s mostly about editors (and Amazon algorithms!) trying to sell more copies.

Generally, writers either quit writing or move into an intermediate stage, then stay there a long time. Learning how to truly please readers takes a while. That means you’re likely to be competing against people who have been doing this longer than you, network better than you, and who have more skills at pleasing readers than you.

Keep at it! Study your craft, take your successes, and expect to get knocked on your butt every time you try to succeed at a bigger level.

Also, on my Patreon I post the draft versions of the subsequent Writing Craft books twice a month; I’m working through how to write opening sentences and sections at the moment. (The short version: prioritize elements that confirm the reader is reading the right genre.) If you’re struggling with craft and don’t mind my mad-scientist approach, check it out.


My bio:

DeAnna Knippling lives within easy driving distance of the soft white sands of the Florida Gulf, where she can be found on an old beach blanket reading science fiction, fantasy, horror, and geeky nonfiction on her waterproof e-reader. Join her at wonderlandpress.com, where she builds her mind-bending castles in the sky, or writing-craft.com where she investigates the foundations of the art and science of writing. Or check her out at Facebook, where she posts collections of stories that people wish would get written.

You can find me at:

This website!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deanna.knippling

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dknippling

The Write Stuff Interviews Advice for Writers

Create a Character Clinic: Interview with Author Holly Lisle

Create a Character Clinic by Holly Lisle Cover Image

Struggling to create a character in your fiction? Feel like they aren’t quite as cuddly (or stabby) as you’d like?

Or do you know you have a great character, but you struggle to show the reader how great they are?

Holly Lisle is a long-term professional writer who also helps coach writers through difficult issues from writer’s block to revision. Here, she walks writers through several ways to develop their characters and bring them to life, instead of just fumbling around with lists of traits and appearances.

If you’ve ever said to yourself, “But in my head they were interesting,” then give Create a Character Clinic a try!

Create a Character Clinic is part of the Write Stuff Storybundle, ten works on the craft & business of writing fiction available for a limited time.

UPDATE! The Write Stuff Storybundle is over, but you can still find Holly’s classes at the updated link below:

I got to ask Holly a few questions for the StoryBundle!


Holly says:

At the point where I decided to go indie full-time (after many years as a commercially published author), I’d already written some online ebooks for writers who’d been asking me writing questions for years.

The first of those, Create A Character Clinic, answered many, MANY questions the fiction-writing part of my readership had been asking me. The book has had a number of updates to fix links and make the worksheets easier to get, as well as to add in some new techniques (and fix typos).

1. What type of writer is your book aimed toward? 

Create a Character Clinic is solely for fiction writers, and while I initially wrote it with beginners in mind, I’ve expanded bits of it as I’ve developed new techniques — it’s now a nice reference book for anyone who would like some new approaches to creating characters, and who would like to avoid some of the gawdawful mistakes writers from beginner through the occasional published pro make when building and writing fictional folk. 

 2. What problem does your book solve for those writers?

Character Clinic eliminates the “character sheet” approach that starts with giving fictional folk height, weight, eye color, and other absolute non-essentials of character creation. 

Instead, my process presents the writer with questions in seven critical areas of character development, shows the writer how to get answers to these questions, then walks the writer through  bringing the character to life in ways that use those answers to create great story conflicts.

I also demonstrate how to use Maslow to build better conflicts, and how to SHOW your readers a character, rather than telling them.

[“Maslow” refers to Abraham Maslow, American psychologist, who established a famous “heirarchy of needs” model of psychological processes.–Ed.]

In the third section of the book, I demonstrate The Sins of Characterization, and How to Commit Them RIGHT (though one sin is only, always, EVER a sin, and should never appear in published, professional fiction). 

So to sum up, you’ll learn to imagine and write living, breathing folks who face real problems… and who don’t cheat getting through those problems to satisfying resolutions at the end.

3. Who do you consider your writing mentors? 

The folks whose books and stories and writing articles I read while teaching myself how to write fiction… Primarily:

4. What else would you like readers to know about?

I’m currently writing (under a pseudonym), a five-novel urban(ish) fantasy series set in a small town in Ohio — my home state, and one it took me forty years to get back to. The series includes aliens and monsters, inhuman allies, both bright and dark views of humankind and alienkind… a disturbing pet cat who’s more than he seems… and cookies that might just save the world.

I’m halfway through the first draft of book five, and will be publishing all five novels at a rate of one per month when they’re done.

Interested readers OR writers can get a free story or writing class and find out more here. I’m the face in the picture.

[She has a free flash fiction class available here, too!–Ed.]


Side note: Holly has some great examples of copywriting on her course website, too. She has over 20 classes to take…and she makes them very hard to resist!

Holly’s bio:

I’ve been writing with intent to publish since January 1st, 1985 when my New Year’s resolution was to write a novel before I turned twenty-five (ten months later, more or less).

I hit my resolution with a few days to spare, but the book, Hearts In Stitches, sucked.  I wrote a LOT after that, accumulating a big shoebox with well over a hundred rejection slips in it before anybody decided I was good enough to pay for fiction.

I actually started selling in 1991, and I broke in with with the fantasy novel Fire In The Mist (which won the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel), and with a couple of sonnets I sold to the SF magazine Aboriginal.

It was a long hard slog between intent and realization.

It’s been a rollercoaster ever since.

But I love telling stories.  In fiction, I’ve found the work I want to do for the rest of my life.

You can find more about me (and a ton of free articles I wrote about writing fiction) at https://hollylisle.com/articles/

I am not my work.  But my work is me.

You can find Holly at:

Her website: https://hollylisle.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/hollylisle

The Write Stuff Interviews Advice for Writers

Domesticate Your Badgers: Interview with Author Michael W. Lucas

Domesticate Your Badgers by Michael W. Lucas Cover Image

Professional writers have to learn a lot of different techniques, many of which aren’t written down in books or taught in classes.

How do they learn those techniques, then? Read a bunch of good fiction and hope for the best?

Not exactly.

Michael W. Lucas writes both fiction and nonfiction, writing across multiple genres and always with a twisted, unique sense of humor. He takes “taking things to their logical extremes” to a new level.

If anyone has had to learn how to learn good techniques while still going completely off the rails with the content of their fiction, it’s him.

In Domesticate Your Badgers, Michael takes apart the process of learning good writing craft, approaching it from multiple directions to help you craft a plan to stop spinning your wheels and move forward as a writer.

And he’ll show you how to do it without pigeonholing you into concepts or plans that will restrict your creative imagination.

Domesticate Your Badgers is part of the Write Stuff Storybundle, ten works on the craft & business of writing fiction available for a limited time.

UPDATE! The Write Stuff Storybundle is over, but you can still find Michael’s book at the updated link below:

I got to ask him a few questions for the StoryBundle!


1. What type of writer is your book aimed toward? 

Domesticate Your Badgers is aimed at writers of all levels. I
deliberately wrote the book I wish someone had given me fifty years
ago, but it would have been helpful in college or even a few years
ago. If you want to become a better writer, and need to create a plan
that targets your personal weaknesses, this can help you. Fiction,
nonfiction, it doesn’t matter.

 2. What problem does your book solve for those writers?

DYB attacks two problems.

First, the world is full of writing advice. Some of it is actively
terrible. Some of it is good, but not for you. Some of it is great
advice for your field, but you needed it ten years ago–or, worse,
you must learn something else before you can take advantage of it.

Second, writing is an art like pottery or painting or music. Unlike
those fields, it’s very hard for a writer to judge their own work. A
student painter can look at their work and say “That looks like a
really nice apple. Too bad I wanted an armadillo.” They see their
problem and can try again. Musicians train their ears to hear
problems. Unlike those arts, the act of writing is completely detached
from the experience of reading. The student writer needs a unique
mindset to polish their craft.

Between these two problems, I’ve seen so many writers with a special
spark spend decades spinning their wheels. I should know–I was one of
them.

I wanted to help writers develop the way of thinking that lets them
recognize useful advice, practice those skills, and get useful
feedback that will improve their work.

Plus, the world needs more badgers.

3. Who do you consider your writing mentors? 

I’ve gone out of my way to study with anyone who would have me, but
I’ll drop a few names: Tim Powers, Joe Haldeman, Kris Rusch, Nancy
Kress, Dean Smith, and Samuel R Delany.

4. What else would you like readers to know about?

If you’re reading about this bundle, you need to know about Alex
Kourvo’s Writing Slices blog. As far as I know, it’s the only blog
dedicated to reviewing books about writing. She’s saved me from
wasting a bunch of money on bogus books, but that’s probably countered
by how many titles I’ve purchased based on her recommendations.
https://writingslices.wordpress.com/

And I would say this even if she hadn’t given five stars to my Cash
Flow for Creators
.

[Side note, I know Alex, and she is amazing. At one point she dead-ass looked me in the eye and criticized something I wrote, totally expecting me to go off on her. She has that kind of integrity. She was right, too! I can’t remember what it was now, just the look on her face.–Ed.]


I really liked Cash Flow for Creators and recommend it!

Michael’s bio:

As Michael W Lucas I write books explaining exactly how computers were a mistake. As Michael Warren Lucas I write SF, thrillers, mysteries, the odd tidbit of romantic suspense, and a bunch of other stuff. To find out when I release a book, sign up for my topic-specific mailing list.

You can find Michael at:

His website: https://mwl.io/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/agshekeloh

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mwlauthor

The Write Stuff Interviews Advice for Writers

Do…Quit Your Day Job!: Interview with Author Christina F. York

Do...Quit Your Day Job by Christina York Cover Image

You want to quit your day job and start a creative career for yourself. You’ve run the numbers. You think it might be logical and doable. Maybe even profitable.

But.

You’ve been here before, where the logical and practical don’t coincide with actual reality. It feels like any day now, another shoe is going to drop.

What’s missing?

Christina F. York is one of the most practical, logical people I know, as well as one of the most widely written. It seems like she can pick up almost any genre and do it well, although she tends to spend her time most notably with mystery stories.

In her book, Do…Quit Your Day Job!, she writes a series of old-fashioned essays, the kind where the writer writes in order to clarify their thoughts about a subject and polish something so finely that it reflects a larger truth.*

Here, Chris writes about how she’s navigated her creative career. The bigger truth that these pieces reflect–well, in my opinion–is that a creative career has to have not just logic but emotional preparedness and resiliency in order to succeed. Spiritual resilency, too.

Here’s a quote:

I left school years ago, and though I am still a mother my children are grown and on their own.

The business we owned then died many years ago, before that marriage did.

Even the job I held for the last 21 years is now in the past.

So who am I now?

from the “Who are you” essay

These were the types of questions I didn’t answer in time to save my business when I got divorced. I can recognize that now. But reading parts of Chris’s book makes it hit home all over again.

Do…Quit Your Day Job! is part of the Write Stuff Storybundle, ten works on the craft & business of writing fiction available for a limited time.

UPDATE! The Write Stuff Storybundle is over, but you can still find Chris’s essays at her Patreon link below:

I got to ask Chris a few questions for the StoryBundle!


1. What type of writer is your book aimed toward? 

Do…Quit Your Day Job! is aimed at writers at all levels from beginner to seasoned professional. It’s for anyone contemplating leaving the “day job” world for the life of a full-time creative, whether as a retiree for whom writing is a fulfilling hobby, to the pro with a day gig looking to make the leap to full-time writing. 

 2. What problem does your book solve for those writers?

I wish I could claim this book solves problems, but one thing I have found over the years is that every writer is different, their issues are different, and therefore their solutions are different. In Day Job I have tried, rather than offering hard-and-fast solutions, to provide a framework for approaching and weathering the change: what questions to ask yourself and your family, what your needs are and how will you use your unique skills to meet those needs. I have tried to provide real-world examples, including the mistakes I have made in my first two years of retirement, to help writers find the answers they need.

3. Who do you consider your writing mentors? 

Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch of course. They have been my friends for decades, well before I started seriously writing, and have provided encouragement and swift kicks in the backside as each was needed. In addition I owe a huge debt to Denise Little. While not a writer herself, Denise is one of the wisest and most generous editors I have had the pleasure to work with. She taught me more than I could have imagined over the course of writing several books with her as my editor, and she guided me through the process of traditional publishing with patience and amazing kindness.

4. What else would you like readers to know about?

Coming through the period of change that is documented in Day Job forced me to seriously examine how we approach a major life change, and the pitfalls and roadblocks we don’t see coming. There is one big lesson I took away from that experience:

Know that you are not alone, that others are facing the same challenges and there is someone out there who understands your situation and faces the same questions and challenges you do.

Trying to combine creativity and daily life is a huge challenge – one we need to acknowledge and examine – and there is no right answer. Your situation, your life, will always be a unique combination of you and your world, so don’t let anyone else dictate what is “best.”

I have a Patreon channel, Dispatches from the Tsunami Zone, which was the inspiration for Day Job and where I post every week about the creative life. I would love to have anyone who finds Day Job of value join the Patreon crew!

My choice is to build my full-time career with the release of the fifth book, Murder Buys a Lemon, in my Haunted Souvenir Shop cozy mystery series. This is the first book in the series to be released as an indie publication (books 1-4 were traditionally published). [Murder Buys a Lemon is currently exclusive to Chris’s Kickstarter supporters at the moment but will be released soon! You can sign up to find out more by clicking the SUBSCRIBE button here: www.yorkwriters.com/dispatches–Ed.]

I just joined the collective of writers at Mystery, Crime, and Mayhem Magazine, a crime-story quarterly, and I hope to finally launch the Spy Girls mystery series, as well as at least one more cozy series over the next year or so.


*She probably rolled her eyes when she read that, but it’s true. I think this one’s going after Johanna’s book. Fun fact, after Chris read Johanna’s interview she got, well, a bit jealous and rewrote her answer for question 4, too. I’m glad she did!

Chris’s bio:

Christina F. York, best-selling writer of mystery, romance, SF/F, and historical fiction, writes under her own name as well as mystery alter egos Christy Fifield and Christy Evans. York says she never met a genre she didn’t like to write, with the possible exception of horror. Even that changed when she was short-listed in the Year’s Best Horror a while back (she didn’t know it was a horror story, but the editor clearly did).

Evans wrote the popular Lady Plumber Mystery series, and Fifield writes the Haunted Gift Shop Mystery series.  Fifield is also launching a new Spy Girls novel series soon with Tsunami Ridge Publishing (www.TsunamiRidge.com).

Retired after more than 50 years as an accounting and finance professional, York no longer has to balance accounts and now spends her time balancing the other parts of her life: writing and other creative interests, family, friends, reading, and falling down Internet rabbit holes in pursuit of obscure knowledge.

Like so many others before her, she says she doesn’t know how she ever found enough hours to hold down a full-time day job.

You can find Chris at:

Her website: https://www.yorkwriters.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christina.york.37

Twitter: https://twitter.com/christinafyork

The Write Stuff Interviews Advice for Writers

A Freelancer’s Survival Guide to Starting Your Own Business: Interview with Author Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Freelancers Survival Guide to Starting Your Own Business by Kristine Kathryn Rusch Cover Image

Starting your own business as a freelancer isn’t easy…

…wait, what am I talking about? It’s not that hard. There are some hoops you really ought to jump through, but the real hurdles of going freelance involve a couple of mind-shifts. Your employer is no longer responsible to solve business-related problems for you or to put a chokepoint on what you can do.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has been a professional freelance writer on both the traditional side and the indie side for quite some time. (Yes, being traditionally published is still freelancing!)

In A Freelancer’s Guide to Starting Your Own Business, she talks about starting a business, quitting your day job, and navigating the rocky shores of other writers, who may or may not have your best interests at heart.

I consider Kris a writing mentor of mine, specializing in writerly perspective adjustment. Get a real look at what it takes to go freelance and stay that way.

It’s the staying part that’s difficult. But maybe not as hard as you think!

A Freelancer’s Guide to Starting Your Own Business is part of the Write Stuff Storybundle, ten works on the craft & business of writing fiction available for a limited time.

UPDATE! The Write Stuff Storybundle is over, but you can still find Kris’s book at the updated link below:

I got to ask Kris a few questions for the StoryBundle!


1. What type of writer is your book aimed toward? 

My book is geared toward writers who are serious about having a long-term career. It’s probably better if new writers read this, but the book can help established writers tweak their systems.

 2. What problem does your book solve for those writers?

Most writers are not business-minded. That’s something anyone can learn. So this book gets them started on building a business, which is what a writing career is.

3. Who do you consider your writing mentors? 

Damon Knight, Kate Wilhelm, Jack Williamson, Harlan Ellison

4. What else would you like readers to know about?

I have a book, Killer Advice, in another Storybundle. This bundle is space opera. So you can see what I write, and how I write it if you get both bundles.

[There were issues with my website, and this post didn’t go up when it should have! That StoryBundle is closed. You can find Killer Advice here instead.]


Kris’s bio:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes in almost every genre. Generally, she uses her real name (Rusch) for most of her writing. Under that name, she publishes bestselling science fiction and fantasy (including the Fey series, the Retrieval Artist series and the Diving series), award-winning mysteries, acclaimed mainstream fiction, controversial nonfiction, and the occasional romance.

She also edits. Beginning with work at the innovative publishing company, Pulphouse, followed by her award-winning tenure at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, she took fifteen years off before returning to editing with the original anthology series Fiction Riverpublished by WMG Publishing. She edits a wide variety of projects, including the Holiday Spectacular for WMG Publishing.

She lives and occasionally sleeps in Las Vegas.

You can find Kris at:

Her website: https://kriswrites.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KristineRusch

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kristinekathrynrusch

The Write Stuff Interviews Advice for Writers

Publishing Pitfalls for Authors: Interview with Author Mark Leslie Lefebvre

Publishing Pitfalls for Authors by Mark Leslie Lefebvre Cover Image

Want to avoid the publishing pitfalls that nearly ever author seems to be prey to, sooner or later?

The letter p is for the pitfalls of…

  • perfection
  • practice
  • productivity
  • proofreading
  • predators

And more!

Mark Leslie Lefevbre is an indie author and publisher himself, a great podcasters, amd has worked with a number of companies in the publishing world, like Kobo and Draft2Digital. He also has a very, erm, abundant sense of humor, and uses it to defuse tension around difficult topics.

When you’re facing a problem as a writer and you suspect you might not be up for “tough love”…maybe go with the funny, encouraging support of Mark’s advice instead. “Tough love” can be overrated.

Publishing Pitfalls for Authors is part of the Write Stuff Storybundle, ten works on the craft & business of writing fiction available for a limited time.

UPDATE! The Write Stuff Storybundle is over, but you can still find Mark’s book at the updated link below:

I got to ask Mark a few questions for the StoryBundle!


1. What type of writer is your book aimed toward? 

All writers (traditionally published, self-published, beginners, and experienced). The pitfalls can happen to any writer at virtually any time.

 2. What problem does your book solve for those writers?

It helps them to be aware of potential traps, dangers, and habits that could get in the way of building long-term author career success.

3. Who do you consider your writing mentors? 

While there are too many experienced and wise mentors for me to mention, I also consider virtually any writer I meet to be a mentor of some sort. There isn’t a single writer, regardless of their experience, path, etc, that I can’t learn something from. I take Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch principal that “Everybody counts, or nobody counts.”

4. What else would you like readers to know about?

That it’s not too late. It’s never too late. Don’t fall prey to FOMO and the belief that you missed out on the “Kindle Gold Rush” or any of that. New opportunities and options for writers open up every single day. Go forth and conquor.


I love that quote 🙂

Mark’s bio:

Mark is a writer, an editor, a professional speaker, and a book nerd with a passion for craft beer.

You can find Mark at:

His website: http://markleslie.ca/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarkLeslie

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/markleslielefebvre

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