Dinner And A Movie Monday – Big Stone Gap

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big_stone_gap_pst_2001Big Stone Gap was one of those movies my sister and I love to watch. I guess you could call them chick flicks, but to us, there’s more to it. Movies like this tell the kind of story that makes us laugh and cry…and sometimes all in the same scene.

The story takes place circa the 1970s in a small town in Virginia. Big Stone Gap considers Ave Marie Mulligan a spinster. After all, she’s forty and never been close to considering marriage, even though it’s apparent that childhood friend Jack is in love with her and has been for years. She claims the only thing he loves is his brand new truck.

She’s far too busy running the family pharmacy, being involved in her community, volunteering on the coal mining town’s Emergency Response Team, and directing the town’s annual production of “Trail of the Lonesome Pine”.

When Ave’s mother dies suddenly, she discovers Fred Mulligan is not really her father. Her mother was pregnant with another man’s child when they married. She left Ave’s father behind in Italy, but she never stopped loving him. She even kept his letters. That explains why Fred’s sister doesn’t think she should inherit the pharmacy or the house that’s been in the family for years.

Jack admits to Ave he has always had a crush on the little Italian girl that sat beside him in elementary school, and she realizes she has feelings for him. But when he blurts out they ought to get married, she’s offended.

Ashley Judd plays an independent woman who is a romantic at heart. I admire her passion for life. Whoopi Goldberg’s character is every bit as funny as her character in Ghosts. I love her sarcasm. Jenna Elfman is perfect as her wacky, off-the-wall friend. The movie depicts small-town living as only someone who’s been there can pull off. Great little movie.

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Fried Chicken

Nothing says southern small town cooking like fried chicken, does it? There’s an amusing scene involving fried chicken in the movie. Elizabeth Taylor and her husband, John Warner, make a stop in town while on a campaign tour because she wants to try the friend chicken they serve at the diner.

When my family was young and we were on a tight budget, a friend taught me how to cut up a fryer without hacking it into unrecognizable pieces. We each had our favorite pieces. My youngest always ate the legs, my oldest the thighs, and my daughter and I fought over the wishbone.

These days I don’t fry chicken very often, and when I do, I only cook tenders. However, I still use the same recipe. It’s messy, but simple and yummy.

1 lb chicken tenders

1 cup flour

kosher salt and large grain pepper

one or two eggs, whipped

1 cup milk

Salt and pepper the tenders. Coat them with milk, salt and pepper. Dip each tender in a bowl of egg and milk mixture. Return them to the flour mixture one more time and fry in a cast iron skillet using vegetable oil. Cook until golden brown.

Makes the crispiest homemade chicken I’ve ever eaten.

 

 

Guest author: Susan A. Royal – Xander’s Tangled Web

I’m over at Sue Vincent’s place. Stop by for a visit.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Arbor Low and Stanton Moor Imbolc 001 (125)Image: Sue Vincent

I write Scifi, Fantasy and Paranormal. Most of my stories are about people who have adventures they never expected. Think Twilight Zone or Amazing stories. Something along those lines.

I love to talk about writing any chance I get, and during the course of the conversation people invariably ask where I get my ideas. It takes an imagination.

You have to have the kind of mind that absorbs details and recognizes their potential. Little bits of information, witty comments, engaging phrases, even someone’s appearance or mannerisms. You take note of them and when you sit down in front of the computer you begin to weave them together into a coherent story. Before long you’ve built an entire scenario around something most people overlook.

My latest book began like this. The company where my son, Hunter, worked had sent him to a little town in the state of…

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Picture me here, writing my next book.

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There have been some big changes in my life this past year. Good changes for the most part, but I’ve spent a lot of effort putting them into effect. By the time I sit down in front of the computer, I lack the time or energy to make any kind of progress. My writing has suffered.

It’s time to get back into it, and here’s my plan.

Stay active in a critique group. There’s nothing like interacting with fellow writers. They make me think about what I’ve written. They approach my writing with a fresh perspective. I may not always agree with what they say, but there are times when it leads me to the perfect solution.

Set aside time to write. My schedule has always been flexible and will be even more so shortly. It works best for me to plan to write several evenings a week and a few hours either Saturday or Sunday. The times and days are always subject to change depending on what else is going on in my life. Consistent progress adds up.

Blog on a regular basis. Write articles, do reviews. One of the things I do is Dinner and a Movie Monday bi-monthly. (review a movie and post a recipe). Blog swap with fellow authors. Mix it up. This spring I plan to showcase my friends and families’ talents (they are photographers, musicians, artists…what a creative bunch) and write about my travels.

Enter writing contests. Rising to the challenge to write something within someone else’s guidelines is good practice even when I don’t win.

Always have pencil and paper for notes. Because I won’t remember what I just heard or saw that simply has to be written into my next story.

I’ll think of other things once I get going. And when I do I’ll be glad to share. What’s important is to look until you find out what works for you and run with it. Keep your mind open so the creativity can flow.

Good luck!

A New Normal

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Here I am. It’s Sunday morning. After a year filled with life-changing events, it was my intention to spend the first weekend of the new year by putting my resolutions into effect. Getting organized, being productive, and specifically getting back to writing.

I had my to-do list ready. Saturday I planned to clean the closet in the spare bedroom and put away Christmas decorations, along with necessary evils like washing and housework. I wanted to everything looking especially nice because I planned to have a writer friend visit next Saturday. I intended to be very productive so I could spend all of today writing. That was the plan, anyway.

Sometime Friday night the temperature plunged into the ‘teens. This is my first winter here, and I couldn’t sleep for worrying because it’s up on pier and beam. Not that losing sleep made the slightest bit of difference. All the pipes froze anyway. No water for washing, cleaning or flushing. No water for cooking.

Still I tried to be productive and was even able to go down the road to my kids’ house to shower and get water, so it could have been much worse. But it didn’t keep me from getting frustrated. And before long, my energy level dipped along with the temperature. I could barely drag myself from one chore to another. I didn’t care whether I got a thing done. Maybe it was from lack of sleep.

This morning I even considered contacting my friend to postpone our visit . But I didn’t want to do that. This past year writing and things connected with it has taken a back seat to everything else going on in my life. Sometimes it was necessary. Sometimes I just didn’t have the energy to do it. And when I tried, too often I found myself floundering. I’ve been filled with self-doubt and reluctant to take a chance on anything.

Things need to change, and I’m trying, but it’s a slow process. It takes time to find a new normal, and patience is not one of my strong points. But I am stubborn. I won’t let myself give up.

(P.S. My water’s back on! The washer, the dryer and the dishwasher are humming away. I’m at my desk with a hot mug of tea, and I’m about to begin working on my time travel sequel. I know I  won’t get as far as I’d planned, but I’m going to make progress and that’s what counts.)

Dinner and a Movie Monday – The Water Diviner

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My sister and I watched The Water Diviner  last week, and it was one of those movies that stays with you. An Australian historical war drama, it starred Russell Crowe and was also his first time directing. The film opened in Australia and New Zealand in December of 2014, with a limited release in the United States the following spring.

Shortly after the end of World War I an Australian farmer named Joshua Conner travels to Turkey where his three sons died serving in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). He travels to Gallipolli where they died so he can find them and bring them home so they can be buried beside their mother. In the end he learns far more than the location of his sons’ bodies.

What happened to his sons is told through a series of flashbacks. The battle scenes are stark and realistic. Rather than glorifying one side or the other, they show brief glimpses of humanity along with the cruelties of war. In every battle and on both sides there are young men fighting for their country, their ideals and what they believe to be right.

I couldn’t help but admire Russell Crowe’s first attempt at directing. The movie was very touching and it made me think.

 

turkish-coffee-photoTurkish coffee is a method of preparing unfiltered coffee. Coffee beans are roast and finely ground and then they are simmered (not boiled) in a pot. They can be served with or without with sugar and poured into a cup where the grounds are allowed to settle. Turkish coffee has a significant part in this movie.

Batteries Not Included

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batteries-not-includedOver the weekend, my grandson and I watched an old Netflix movie I hadn’t seen in ages. *batteries Not Included is a 1987 movie directed by Matthew Robbins. The first time I watched the movie was when my kids were little. I rented it because it looked like something they’d enjoy. Turns out the whole family loved it.  I found out was originally intended to be featured in the TV series Amazing Stories, but Stephen Spielberg liked the idea so much that he decided to expand it and make it a movie.

It was memorable to me because of the characters. Real life husband and wife, Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy play an elderly couple, the Rileys, who run an apartment building and café in a rundown neighborhood. A development manager wants to tear it down to make room for skyscrapers. He hires a neighborhood thug to bribe the couple and their tenants to move out. When they resist, Carlos and his thugs punch through artist Mason Baylor’s door, intimidate pregnant single mother Marisa Esteval and break retired boxer Harry Noble’s jar of tiles. Frank Riley refuses to move, so Carlos vandalizes his café.

Things look bleak until the appearance of a pair of small living space ships descend into the Rileys’ apartment that evening. They have the ability to repair anything that’s broken in a matter of seconds, making it look brand new. They even restore the vandalized cafe, putting Frank and Faye back in business. The two extraterrestrials take up residence in the shed at the top of the apartment building, and are dubbed “The Fix-Its” by the residents. Carlos comes back to threaten the tenants once again, but the Fix-Its lure him to the top of the building and into the shed where they scare him away.

I love the interaction between the Rileys. The story is touching and funny and a delight to watch. It reminds me of all the stories we watched on the television series, Amazing Stories. Cronyn and Tandy were such good actors. They rediscover their love for each other. The artist and the single mother grow closer and Harry Noble opens up and communicates for the first time in years. You felt like they believed the little space ships were actually real and they make you want to believe it too. Even Carlos becomes a believer.

I’m so glad I got to see it again. And with my grandson this time!

 

Hamburgersburger

Whenever I think of eating at a café, one thing in particular springs to my mind…a hamburger. There are about a million ways to cook and serve a hamburger, but only one way to enjoy it like they do at your favorite greasy spoon! Cooked on the grill with melted cheese on top and served on toasted buns with mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomatoes and grilled onions. Makes my mouth water just to think about it. In fact, I think I’ll get a hamburger for lunch!

 

FINALLY…

IMG_0420.JPG.jpegThis has been a year I would not care to repeat. And it’s not over yet. My husband died in October of 2015. In April, I put the house on the market. We had lived in that big, old house for over 30 years. We raised our children there. We had talked about downsizing, especially after his health prevented him from giving it the attention it needed. It’s far too much for me to handle alone. So it wasn’t a hard decision.

Much to my surprise, it sold within the week. And I’ve been busy ever since. I bought a little house in the country across the pasture from my kids, and we’ve been working on it nonstop. They’ve put down tile, flooring, painted and helped me move. I would never have been able to do it without them.

In the meantime, my writing has suffered. Big time. When Daylon died, I was in the middle of edits on my latest book as well as working on a paranormal romance about a young boy growing up in the Texas hill country in the 60s and finishing my 3rd book in the It’s About Time series. Xander’s Tangled Web came out in late spring, but my other WIPs have been suffering.

Adjusting to my new life and trying to finish the house has taken up all my time and energy. On top of everything, I still work at a day job. Most evenings all I want to do is come home, take a hot soak and veg out in front of the television. Weekends have been filled with work on the house. That leaves no time for writing. And I hate that. Being a writer has been an outlet for me. In recent years it gave me something to focus on other than worrying about Daylon and allowed me to verbalize all the feelings I held inside. I could get on my soapbox, laugh or cry and come away feeling renewed. I miss it terribly. So I made up my mind not to waste any more time getting back to what I love.

First I had to get my computer off the rickety card table taking up space in the corner of my bedroom. I found the perfect armoire. As you can see, I’m still working on getting it right, but I love it. I have room for everything I need I plan to put bulletin boards inside the doors and cover them with writing prompts and ideas and pictures of my grandkids. I’ll hang framed covers of my published books on the wall to give me encouragement. The desk sits right beside my window and gives me a stunning view of the countryside.

It’s funny how getting your “space” together can make a difference. It does for me anyway. Scenarios for my next book are swirling around in my head, and the characters from my It’s About Time series have been tapping me on the shoulder, trying to get my attention. I’m stoked. It’s been ages since I felt this way! I’m ready to get started!

I’ll keep you posted.

Meet my friend, Ola

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One of the unexpected perks to being a writer is getting to know people from all over the world through my books. It’s been so much fun. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Ola Adamska, a student from Poland. She found my books on Goodreads, read them, liked them, and has given me some wonderful reviews that she featured on her blog.

This gives my demographics a whole new perspective. So naturally I was thrilled and in turn I asked her to be interviewed for my blog.

Thanks for accepting, Ola. It’s great to have you here today. First tell us a little bit about yourself…a mini biography if you will.

I was born in Warsaw, capital of Poland. Now, I’m 22 year old girl, who love books. I’m 3rd year student at Military University of Technology. I study land surveying. As long as I can remember I love reading books, watching good movies/TV series and meeting with friends.

In February I hope to become an engineer and then go to Master studies. And of course recently I became a reviewer, I like almost all kind of books. There are only 3 genres I will never read or make a review.

Name one of your all-time favorite movies, the one you instantly recognize when it flashes across the screen, the one you stop and watch no matter how many times you’ve seen it, the one where you find yourself mouthing the dialogue along with the characters.

O my, I think it will be some of Disney movie, recently I watched Mulan and Frozen. Unlimited love for their movies, One old and one new. And for sure I rather say dialogues from books.

Name a book/author you can read again and again and always learn something new.

For sure, it will be Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop. I read it when I was, well, about 15 or 16 year old. And then I got to read it about 2 years ago and I understood characters a little bit better.Sometimes I quote even dialogues from this series!

What song or artist always makes you want to cry?

Song I always listen to when I feel like that is Hurt by Cristina Aguilera. I wish I will never feel like a girl in this song.

Name an author or authors who never fail to inspire you.

For sure it will be Sherrilyn Kenyon, with her 2 series: Dark Hunters and The League.

And also Anne Bishop. For inspiration I read these two authors.

Describe one of your favorite characters and tell us who you patterned them after and why.

It’s so hard to choose, but if I have to, it will be Daemon Sadi from Black Jewels. I do not know why I like him, It is just like that, maybe for his attitude and also way of thinking.

What is something we’ll never catch you doing?

Hmm… not enjoying playing with children. But, with no joke, meeting my friends with a gloomy mood.

What is something you’ve always wanted to do but don’t have the nerve?

I think it would be parachute jumping, I love air, but I don’t have well need of adrenaline to do so.

What is the one thing you never seem to have enough time for?

It will be reading. I have a list that contains, well about 200 books to read, but there is no enough time to do so. I usually read a book per 3/4 days. I still didn’t manage to reduce this amount. In fact I add more books to it.

Thanks again for letting us get to know you Ola. Readers, please take a minute to visit Ola’s blog or email her if you have a book you’d like her to consider reading and giving an honest review.

Blog: http://www.iliasviel.wordpress.com http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/16049918-ola-adamska

Email: olciaadamska@gmail.com

A new review and a new fan!!

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I received an unsolicited email a few weeks ago from Ola Adamska, a young college student. She expressed an interest in reading and reviewing Not Long Ago, the first book in my Time Travel series. I’m always delighted to find someone who has discovered my books and is interested in reading them. Especially someone who fits into my demographics. But it’s especially nice to learn I have a new fan from Warsaw, Poland. Long story short, she read it. She liked it. Afterwards she posted the following review on Goodreads and told me I had a new fan!

i recived this book for free in exchange for honest review. the begining is so misterious, that it make reader to think: omg why? I want to know more 😉 in this book we have a lot of action and plot twists. There are happy and sad moments to share with characters. I Was afraid to find Erin little and well not being able to deal with it on her own. but she Was great!! and time thing was very sirprising to me. you will find more when you read 😉 I recommend book especially to wemen wto like romances in medieval 😉 and when femele character isn’t helpless 😉 very good pice of work 😉

What a great way to start my Tuesday.