Thursday, September 18, 2014

It's A Sprint To The Finish

 Tortuga Thursday
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.
Thought I'd start off with a granddaughter picture. Always a high note. When Mommy is helping GrandPaPa pickle, Grandma finds ways to occupy her or no telling how the pickles would turn out. She likes to visit the Eagle (our RV) and play with some necklaces I keep there.

Speaking of pickling, we're in our final week. The cucumbers are about done producing. I'm not sure how long he plans to pickle peppers. I'm guessing we have close to enough.

Tractor woes are still with us. Lance has replaced several faulty parts and it seems to be narrowed down to
one part he's waiting on. Meanwhile, our great neighbor, Dave, brought his tractor over and ripped the area we'll be planting garlic in come October. Good thing because the fields are now muddy again after last night's rain. By the time it dries out again, Lance should have the tractor running and can do the next step in preparation. Lance is becoming quite the tractor mechanic. I think that makes his farm internship complete.

Today marks the sprint - the last two weeks of our expansion campaign on Indiegogo. If you've been meaning to get those pickles or that pirate shirt, now is the time to jump in! Please spread the word and make the last two weeks a grand finale! https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/set-sail-with-pirate-pickles/x/8465750

I've been asked for recipes now and then. Here's one that's actually mine (you know I'm not big on cooking). I wish we could keep our beautiful bells all year long, but since we can't, I made up a double batch of stuffed bell peppers and froze them.

2 packages of organic ground beef (2-2/3 pounds)
1-1/3 cups rice
2 small cans organic tomato paste

1 jar of our canned tomatoes from last year
1 onion from our garden, chopped

Mix it all together and stuff the peppers. Bake at 350 for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tractors and Toes - Tortuga Lessons

 Tortuga Thursday
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.
Farmers are also mechanics
Between Farmers' Markets and book festivals, it seems I'm standing behind a table much of the time lately. On Thursday afternoons from 3:00 to 6:00, we're now doing the Chino Valley Farmers' Market. It's much, much smaller than the Prescott market. Frank and I are manning this one. Although the vendors are the same ones we see in Prescott, the patrons are different folk. But they still love pickles.

Our peppers went wild this year. Last year we were happy to get twenty jalapenos off a bush and this year we're getting 100+. Frank
A bounty of hot jalapenos
has decided to pickle peppers. We'll add those to our product line at the markets. Prescott is going to continue the market at an inside venue for the winter season and into spring, November to April. Our peppers should debut in a few weeks when they're cured.

Stylin"
If you've followed my blog from when we landed on the prairie, you'll remember I was quite excited to get my Justin boots for working. They've seen a few months of work but not this year. My feet have problems (I won't get into) so I've had to retire them. I'm not nearly as
Not so much...
farmer stylish but I've learned comfort means a lot more when there's field work to be done...means more most of the time for me these days.

By the time the fields had dried enough for Lance to get them tilled, the tractor had broken down and it rained again. Now he's waiting on a part and the fields are still wet. He had a conversation with an old farmer the other night about the timing and what to do. The elder man told him that if the fields are still a bit wet, you work them anyway and maybe you'll have imperfect soil conditions. A farmer has to work with the conditions he's dealt each year. I think farming must teach patience and flexibility.

The greenhouse now has a new crop of okra, onions and dill weed.

The Indiegogo campaign is still running. We're down to about three weeks. We need it to pick up steam for the last stretch. Whether we meet our goal or not, I'll give you an accounting when all is said and done. Have a look, get some pickles and spread the word. Thanks. Here's the link: Set Sail With Pirate Pickles


Monday, September 8, 2014

WHAT DIDN'T MAKE IT INTO THE BOOK...

MUSE MONDAY
When I write a full length novel, each character has a history and traits that may or may not be part of the story on the page. In order to make a character come to life, I have to know about the character's life outside my book. Here's an inside peek at how this works. Below are partial character sketches about two characters from two of my books. If you've read them, you'll learn new tidbits that didn't make it into the books. (hint: what's in red)

THE ART OF LOVE AND MURDER (first of five books in my Love and Murder Series)
Heroine: Lacy Dahl
Age: 43
Description: Lacy's eyes are a remarkable light green shade. Her hair is the color of ebony and falls below her shoulder blades. She's 5'7" and weighs 135 pounds. She's half Hopi Indian and half Austrian.

Characteristics and Personality Traits: She has a habit of lifting a tendril of hair and brushing it along her chin when she's deep in thought. Her preference is for "real" things such as ceramic over paper, real stones and metals in her jewelry and leather over plastic. She is happy, self-assured, independent and responsible.

Background: She was born in Flagstaff, Arizona. An airplane crash killed both her parents when she was a few months old. Her foster parents eventually adopted her and she was raised in Phoenix. Her childhood was normal. In high school, she excelled academically and was Homecoming Queen two years in a row. Her college degree was earned at the University of California in San Francisco where she met her husband. She married and had two children. At the time of her husband's death, three years before the story opens, she was a pharmacist and he was a surgeon. She left her profession after he died and bought a coffee cafe, naming it the Lacy Latte. Her love life has been non-existent, too busy taking care of her sick mother and the cafe.

Additional Information: She drives a crimson red BMW Z4, convertible. She runs every morning then changes into jeans and filmy blouses and expensive shoes before going to the cafe. She has a special closet just for shoes. She practices yoga twice a week and has recently talked her friend Phoebe into going to the classes with her. Her son is at a chef school in Paris and her daughter owns an art gallery in Tucson, Arizona where she is going through a divorce.

SLEEPING WITH THE LIGHTS ON
Heroine: Sandra Holiday
Age: 50
Description: Sandra is a green eyed, blonde. More than likely there's gray under that blonde, but we'll never know. Her hair still brushes her shoulders in soft waves. At 5'3", she's petite and just slim enough. She prefers jeans but wears form-fitting skirts to work.

Background: Sandra was born in Phoenix, Arizona. She excelled in English class but didn't have much time for her other studies. Community College held her interest for as long as it took to get her Associates of Arts degree. She married young and it didn't last two years. One night, in Las Vegas Nevada, she met Carson Holiday who was performing on the casino stage at the Sam's Town Casino. He spotted her at the bar, playing video poker with a girlfriend on each side of her. She was twenty-seven. They were married three months later. The marriage lasted five years. Why not longer? Well, you'd have to read my notes on Carson. For the last eighteen years, Sandra has had some colorful relationships from a radio DJ that was too young for her to the Iranian who disappeared and was found dead in the Salt River. Her love of travel keeps pointing her toward careers in the field but it seems every time she gets close, some man distracts her from her goal. As Sandra says, "Always a sucker for romance, but romance never lasts and I'm left without a career."

Additional Info: Sandra hates to clean. She still has clothes from high school. Beaujolais is her favorite wine and Starbuck's is her favorite coffee. She has a sister named Abby who is taller, married and her best friend.

That's a sample of how it goes. These character sketches are the first things I write when I start a new book. I add to them as the book progresses and the characters reveal more of their personalities and pasts to me. This is my favorite part of writing a book.

Both Sleeping with the Lights On and The Art of Love and Murder were published by The Wild Rose Press and are available most everywhere!

Click HERE for all my books at The Wild Rose Press.



Thursday, September 4, 2014

PILLAGE, PLUNDER AND PICKLE

Tortuga Thursday
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.

What a week...the car is in the shop for the third time in five weeks. The tractor is broken, although Lance has the reason nailed down after taking it apart today. Should be fixed tomorrow. All the onions were ripe so I have about a hundred to tie and hang to cure in the next few days. I should mention I got NO writing done. There was some vending fun - music and wine in a lovely setting at the Harvest Festival at the Granite Creek Vineyard. And some really good news: our crops are plentiful and we've been able to donate twice to the local food bank. I LOVE dropping off food there.

In the middle of all of this, we're trying to reintroduce our Indiegogo campaign. The first ten days were disappointing. I suggested we take the remaining thirty days with the attitude that we're starting fresh. The whole idea of putting ourselves out there for fundraising is difficult for all of us. Because of that, we haven't pushed or promoted as much as we are supposed to be doing. We're pretty much do it on our own kind of people. But in order to make the business grow, funding is needed. So many people who've tasted the pickles and relish and/or seen our pirate logo marketing told us we should go for it. We redid our intro video (I've added it below), moved the long video to the end and beefed up the perks for contributing. On Saturday I'm handing out flyers at the Farmer's Market that read:

Pirate Pickling Company is embarking on a fund raising campaign. If you like our products, want to see a larger variety and be able to buy our products off the shelf, now is your opportunity to be a part of our expansion. By donating to our cause through Indiegogo.com, you will receive valuable gifts such as our limited edition T-shirts and pickle products. You will also feel the satisfaction of being a part of the Pirate Pickling success story. To donate to our expansion go to Indiegogo.com and type "Set Sail with Pirate Pickles" in the search box.

Thirty days more. I'd like to ask you all to join in the campaign and claim your pickles. If you can't, then please spread the word. You can share this post by clicking the icons below for any of your social media connections. Thanks!

Here's the new intro video you'll see if you go to Indiegogo.com.

Monday, September 1, 2014

INSPIRED by Marlow Kelly



MUSE MONDAY
Brenda, thank you for having me on Muse Mondays. Today I’d like to talk about where I get my inspiration. I’ve heard there’s a kernel of truth behind every skillful lie, and for me, there’s an element of truth in every good story. My ideas always start with a fact, either a news story or a detail from my historical research. And then I move on to the what-if’s. What if a man looked out of his window and saw an elephant in a raincoat? Or what if a woman survived a plane crash in the Arctic and then realized she had to walk through the Tundra to get help? If I’m lucky the idea grows, and can be molded into a story.
This is the case with the characters from my new release –A Woman of Honour –although they are fictional; the period in Scottish history is very real. The story is set at the time of the Scottish Wars of Independence, King Robert the Bruce is in hiding somewhere in the West of Scotland. It is known that he was helped by his kin, the Campbells, but where he hid remains a mystery to this day.
My heroine, Isabel Douglas, is sister to my fictional character John Douglas. It is documented that the Douglas family were ardent supporters of Scottish independence. William Hardy Douglas was executed as a traitor at the Tower of London for supporting the uprising of William Wallace. And his son, James, was a well-known general in King Robert’s army.

My Hero, Duncan Campbell is brother to Niall Campbell, real life laird of the Campbells and supporter of Robert I. Niall did have a brother named Duncan, but he died in childbirth.

My inspiration for this story came from watching the BBC Scotland television series A History of Scotland, presented by Neil Oliver. It is an excellent, well-researched show that covers two thousand years of Scotland’s history.
In my story Isabel must find Robert and deliver an important letter. Does she succeed? To find out you’ll have to read “A Woman of Honour.”


A Woman of Honour  by Marlow Kelly
A Woman of Honour is available at
 

Blurb
Duncan Campbell wakes to discover he is imprisoned with a woman in his enemy's dungeon in the Highlands of Scotland. The disenchanted warrior hopes his last few moments on earth will be spent in the arms of the sweet-voiced Isabel. If only she will cooperate.
Isabel Douglas has no intention of obliging the crude captive. The penniless noblewoman considers herself too tall and thin to be desirable. She intends to become a nun. But first, disguised as a boy, she must deliver an important letter to Scotland's hero in hiding, King Robert the Bruce.
Together, the pair make a daring escape that plunges them into the bleak countryside in the middle of winter. In the struggle to survive, they learn the true strength of their feelings for each other. But when Duncan's animosity towards the king becomes evident, Isabel must decide between her heart and her country.
Excerpt
“And even though we’re going to die, you still can’t find it in your heart to forgive me?”
“Maybe if you were very nice to me and warmed me with your sweet, little body, I could see my way to absolving you.”
She gasped and he couldn’t help but smile at her outraged reaction. He had no idea why he enjoyed baiting her, but he couldn’t seem to stop.
“You’re the most sinful man I’ve ever met. I take it back. I don’t want your absolution. How can you think about your carnal needs at a time like this?” The ire in her voice made him want to continue their argument, but his headache was worsening by the minute.

Marlow Kelly Bio
After being thrown out of England for refusing to drink tea, Marlow Kelly made her way to Canada where she found love, a home and a pug named Max. She also discovered her love of storytelling. Encouraged by her husband, children and let’s not forget Max, she started putting her ideas to paper. Her need to write about strong women in crisis drives her stories and her curiosity regarding the lives and loves of historical figures are the inspiration for her characters. You can visit Marlow at www.marlowkelly.com, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Special Edition - Tortuga Thursday on Sunday

 Tortuga Thursday
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.

Yesterday was my birthday and as hard as I tried to ignore it, others wouldn't. Yet I have to say, WOW what a birthday. I got to celebrate several times between Wednesday and today. But the day of my big day was...a big day.

We were back at the Prescott Farmers' Market and felt so welcome. Customers stopped and bought pickles like they'd been dying for a fix. We met lots of new people too. One woman walked up to our booth with such purpose I asked her if she'd had our pickles before. She said no but that she'd been out to eat at a restaurant in Prescott and ordered fried pickles. The waitress told her she was now spoiled and could only eat Pirate Pickles. So this lady made a point of coming to get our Salty Dogs. What a compliment.

We also launched our IndieGoGo campaign. That's the big reason for this special edition. Crowdfunding has become quite the rage. Several people suggested to us that we should try it out so we can expand and get our pickles on the shelf. We've had a couple of stores ask us if we'd like to put our Pirate Pickles and Relish on their shelves but until we have a commercial kitchen, we can't. So, hmmm...how to accomplish that with nothing in the bank but love. The answer is hopefully crowdfunding. The idea is to set a goal and then offer perks for those who'd like to contribute to the cause. IndieGoGo of course gets a cut of what we raise. We have 40 days to meet our goal. They get a bigger cut if we don't reach it. We aren't trying to fund the commercial kitchen this year - that would be too much to raise. But we are aiming to up our production, get the equipment and materials to do that, and then reinvest toward that kitchen next year. Well, look at the campaign and you'll learn the whole story. Maybe you'd like some Pirate Pickles and a Pirate T-shirt. Thanks!

IndieGoGo Campaign for Pirate Pickles

Friday, August 22, 2014

You'll Publish It When??? by Jody Vitek


FEARLESS FRIDAY
So happy to have Jody Vitek as my guest today. Jody is giving away TWO, yes two eBooks of her fantastic book, Florida Heat. Make sure you get to the end of her post and enter to win!
Thank you for having me here for Fearless Friday, Brenda. Today, I’d love to share my fearful, at first, story about my upcoming release, Texas Two Step. Texas Two Step is a follow-up to my debut release Florida Heat. Both books are stand-alone romances with cross-over characters.
I was in the process of writing Texas Two Step and in need of some motivation, so I contacted my publisher, Nancy at Melange Books, LLC, on March 17, 2014, to see what it would take to have an early 2015 release. I needed Nancy to light a fire under my butt and her response shocked me. There was an opening available for a late November 2014 release in their new Satin Romance line. She asked if that was a big enough fire and if she should send a contract.
Holy Smokes! She didn’t light a fire, she started a bonfire under my butt! The question was could I do this? Could I finish a manuscript worthy to be sent in for the editor to work on within the next ... how many months? I’d never written under pressure before. The completed manuscript would need to be turned in by August first to be released at the slated time. That meant I had four and a half months to finish writing the book. I signed the contract for a late October/late November 2014 release, but Nancy would work with me if I didn’t get it finished in time. My work ethic wouldn’t allow me to break a contract and I would do whatever I had to to finish on time.
Contract signed, it was time to look at how I was going to actually finish on time. I took my goal word count of 60,000 and subtracted the number of words I already had written. Then I printed the next four months of our family’s calendar and crossed out days I could not write, including weekends, and counted the number of days, for two out of the four months, I planned on as writing days. So I took the word count number I needed to achieve, divided by the number of days devoted to writing and I had to write a minimum of 500 words per writing day. The other two months would be devoted to editing time to polish the manuscript. I could do this! My minimum daily word count was basically two pages.
Although the story had been started and I basically knew how it was going to end, I didn’t have the ‘in-betweens’ planned out. So I brainstormed the remainder of the book and got to work on writing. The story took off and I was exceeding my daily word count by the hundreds. Having rewards, such as delicious chocolates, for meeting daily goals helps. The manuscript was completed and turned into Nancy ahead of schedule. Let the professional editing games begin.
Bio
Born and raised in Minnesota, Jody has remained close to home living with her husband of twenty plus years, three children and a cat named Holly. Growing up, she enjoyed reading V.C. Andrews’ the Dollanganger series, starting with Flowers in the Attic, S.E. Hinton, and Stephen King to name a few. Today her tastes run across the board in fiction and non-fiction, in all genres.
She has traveled throughout the United States, to the Bahamas and Cancun, Mexico. Between watching her son’s soccer games, maintaining one of the many scrapbook albums, gardening and being the COO of the Vitek household, she writes contemporary romances.
Contacts and Links
Twitter: @JodyVitek
Texas Two Step Blurb
Old family ties broken, childhood pain healed and true love revealed—one step at a time.
One phone call sends Chad Rogers back to the one place he’s been avoiding—home. Being at his mother’s side after she was shot, he faces the younger brother who tormented him during childhood and his ex-lover, Chloe Atwood. The reality of his feelings for her is stronger than ever and he confesses his love to Chloe.
Chloe Atwood is engaged to marry a family childhood friend. Chad Rogers steps back into her world, spinning it off its axis. His presence has her seeing her fiancé in a different light, leaving her to question their future life together.
Now be sure to enter the drawing!
a Rafflecopter giveaway ;