Sort of an Update… Sort of…

Posted in Updates on March 16, 2010 by swordandsorcerybooks

We at the S&S Blog apologize for the lack of new material here.  It is not that we don;t have it- good lord is there a backlog!  However between business trips and the electrical storm that knocked out power since Saturday, things have been unexpectedly crazy here at the S&S Blog studios.  We hope to have things up and running again by tomorrow!

Dainty Dwarven Delicacies #7

Posted in Dainty Dwarven Delicacies on March 1, 2010 by swordandsorcerybooks

Ain’t ya all sweet?  Granny Redbeard goes away fer one week an’ ya’ll write in ta ask where I been.  The studios were closed last weekend, so yer Granny Redbeard couldn’t whip up a treat fer ya’ll so I’ll make it up ta ya today. 

You’ll need three eggs, 1 an’ 1/4 cups o’ sugar, 3/4 cup o’ coarsely chopped hazelnuts, 1/2 cup o’ chocolate bits or chopped semi-sweet chocolate, three cups o’ flour, 1/2 a teaspoon o’ bakin’ powder, 3/4 cup o’ raisins an’ an egg yolk, beaten.

Preheat your oven ta ’bout 350 degrees.  Beat the eggs an’ sugar ’til they’re pale yellow and thick enough ta ribbon.  Add the nuts an’ chocolate.  Sift the flour together with the bakin’ powder an’ mix gradually inta the egg an’ sugar an’ nuts an’ chocolate mixture.  Flour the raisins lightly an’ stir into the batter.  Grease a bakin’ sheet and spread the dough on it in two or three long loaves ’bout 1/3 to half an inch thick an’ ’bout three inches wide.  Brush the tops with the beaten egg yolk an’ bake fer ’bout 35 ta 45 minutes.  Cut them into one to one and 1/2 inch slices while still hot. 

Then ya’ll have a sweetie treatie from yer Granny Redbeard!  Now ya’ll run a long and check back with us again real soon!

Trail Rations #1

Posted in Trail Rations on February 26, 2010 by swordandsorcerybooks

Hi there!  Hazel Cindertoes here!  The management of the S&S Blog wanted me to talk to you all about cooking on the trail, hence the name of this series, “Trail Rations.”  Now I am sure that you all have been following Granny Redbeard’s Dainty Dwarven Delicacies closely over the weeks.  However, in the SHADOWS OF NIGHT books series, I rarely have all the pots, kettles and mountains of lard and bread crumbs that Granny Redbeard has at her disposal. 

No, often I have one small pot and must cook either trail rations or whatever Marcus and Ioan can catch or find and bring back to camp.  This takes some creativity to make food palatable.  Marcus’ idea of camp cooking is killing something, jamming it on a stick and sticking it in the fire.  This is simple, effective and brutal.  I prefer the hot rocks grilling method.  First you take as many flat rocks as you can gather and lay them close together to form your “griddle.”  Then you build a fire on top of the rocks, letting it burn for at least a half an hour.  I like to let it go for an hour if I can.  When the time is up, brush away the fire and embers off the rocks as best you can, and you cook directly on the hot rocks.  This frees my pot up for boiling water or roots and greens that I have to work with.  Sometimes I will add chunks of whatever meat is available to make a stew. 

Now, typical trail or iron rations that we buy in towns and villages tends to contain the same things; at least from human villages.  It always seemed to be a small piece of fatty salted meat of questionable origin and age, three rock-hard biscuits and sometimes a small packet of dried peas or beans.  Sometimes I will use a piece of meat in the stews to add salt and make the stew a little more palatable.  I also will toss a biscuit or two into the stew to let them soak up water, get soft and be a sort of dumpling.  I try and do the same if there are any dried vegetables in the packet. 

Now a word about fungus.  Sometimes Marcus and Ioan bring make mushrooms or other funguses, or fungi, or whatever.  Now, I know they both mean well and want us to eat, but I usually chuck the funguses away.  Frankly, I would not trust either of them to successfully identify a safe mushroom from a poisonous one, and the risk is just too great.  Roots, nuts and greens, I can sort out myself.  Mushrooms are just aren’t worth the trouble. 

It would not pass muster as food at the Sneezing Hedgehog Inn in Fishlington, but between the purchased rations and what the boys find, this is what keeps us alive and in fighting shape when we are out in the wilderness, and after a few meals like this, you can see why we all want to fight somebody.  Anyway, that’s my first trail rations.  Check in from time to time and I’ll have more cooking tips from the trail!

Arcane Enigmas #1

Posted in Arcane Enigmas with tags on February 23, 2010 by swordandsorcerybooks

Good morning/afternoon/evening/night or whenever you decide to read this.  At the request of the management of the Sword and Sorcery Books Blog, I, Lathan the Golden, am supposed to waste my valuable research time and instruct all of you mundane souls in the mind-bending, soul-rending ways of the thaumaturgical arts.  How I am supposed to convey the awesome beauty and somehow wrap your mind around the multiple complex and ever-changing formulae that constitute the very subtle yet awesomely powerful arcane forces of the universe remains something of a mystery to me.

I would like to clear up any possible confusion about arcane magic that you may have gotten from discussing advanced arcane theory around the water cooler at work, or with certain other members of the SHADOWS OF NIGHT book series characters.  I am especially referring to Marcus’ “arcane magical trick” where you tug on his finger and there is a loud explosion.  That is most certainly not arcane magic at work.  Do not let Marcus con you into saying that it is divine magic either, even though the smell is unholy.  Do not let Marcus double-talk you into believing that it is a “disappearing spell.”  People disappear because they want to breathe, so they go into the next room.  It is not magic at all, and I am deeply sorry if your mundane, non-wizarding mind was taken in by Marcus’ crude and not-so-clever ruse.   

So how does one become a wizard, trained to bring the awe-inspiring forces of the universe to heel?  I studied under a wizard as an apprentice for over seven years.  Seven years of relentless hard work, study and chores at the beck and call of my master.  Or your parents can pay for a fancy-schmancy magical college.  Either way works. 

For your simple, mundane minds, I have chosen a very basic transfiguration called the “Jumping Paperclips.”  Basically you need a dollar bill and two paperclips.  First, fold the dollar bill into an “S” shape, so from the top, the paper looks like an “S.”  Easy enough to master, even for your non-magically inclined brains, right?  Then attach the paper clips to close the “S.”  The top of the “S” attaches to the loop below it and the bottom of the “S”attaches to the loop above it.  Very basic stuff. 

Slowly and gently pull the ends of the dollar bill.  The paper clips will slide along the bill and will come together in the center.  After coming together, the paper clips will link and will leap off of the dollar bill!  How exciting.  You and your little mundane friends will be amazed and amused for hours with your new-found arcane prowess.  It won’t save your life against goblins, orcs or dragons, but you have started down the road to being a mighty wizard. 

*Sigh* 

I guess that unless I can convince the management otherwise, I will be back soon to illuminate your wretched, mundane little lives with more magical inspiration.  Thank you for reading the Sword and Sorcery Books Blog, and come back again soon!

Project Update February 17, 2010

Posted in Updates on February 17, 2010 by swordandsorcerybooks

It’s been about two weeks since the latest project update, so here at the S&S Blog, we thought that we would give everyone the latest news about the SHADOWS OF NIGHT BOOK series. 

We are in discussions with several parties regarding bringing the SHADOWS OF NIGHT books series to everyone’s book shelf as soon as possible.  We may have a better idea next week as to the exact direction we will be going, so that is encouraging, and obviously we will keep everyone abreast of where we are in the process. 

SHADOW’S CLAW had been more or less “in the can” for several weeks now, still clocking in at 105,306 words.  Again, there may be a tweak or two in chapter one, and any publisher edits as requested, but otherwise that manuscript is copyedited and ready to roll. 

SHADOW’S LIGHT is also coming along nicely.  At the last update, the manuscript sat at 64,934 words.  As of this update, the manuscript now stands at 79,207 words and is solidly in the “third act.”  Again I think that the manuscript will finish in the 110,000 word neighborhood, a 21.89% increase in size and meaning that the manuscript is roughly 72% complete.  We have included those statistics for the exactly 17.673% of your who really care.   There are a few “casting” issues to deal with, but SHADOW’S LIGHT is falling into place and depending on work schedules, should be complete by Early March. 

DARK NIGHT is also definitely starting to take shape.  It should be a wild ride.  The manuscript is not starting until after SHADOW’S LIGHT is complete and in copy editing. 

On the social media front, the Twitter account has 535 followers as of this moment.  That has been exciting, since again, the vast majority seem to be real people- writers, readers and fantasy fans, with just a few spammers.  I do try to weed the spammers out from time to time, so I have been very happy with the overall growth.  The Facebook Page still only has seven fans, but we have not been pushing that page as hard because the emphasis has been on completing the manuscripts. 

Here on the “Mothership,” the S&S Blog, time commitments have slowed some of the production of features, but the promised “Trail Rations with Hazel Cindertoes” and “Arcane Secrets with Lathan the Golden” are on the way, as well as a column for the love-lorn possibly moderated by Auric Redbeard or Marcus Severus and some other oddities.  Granny Redbeard will continue to do her worst and do it slow for the foreseeable future.  We will also roll out some introductions to new characters and some features around SHADOW’S LIGHT in a few weeks, but we will try not to spoil the fun- we won’t let you know who lives and who, well, doesn’t. 

Traffic has been a little up and down- we have had some very quiet days around here, but we have also enjoyed three of our five biggest days in terms of visitors since the last update, so thank you all for continuing to check in with us!  We hope you enjoy reading the blog and getting to know the characters as much as we do bringing them to you. 

Also, please feel free to submit questions to the characters, we will have a Q&A session with all five characters from the SHADOWS OF NIGHT book series in coming weeks.  We at the S&S Blog hope to see every again soon!

Dainty Dwarven Delicacies #6

Posted in Dainty Dwarven Delicacies on February 14, 2010 by swordandsorcerybooks

Well, it is the weekend again and Granny Redbeard is back with a vengence with yet another class in the Dwarven Culinary Tradition, probably in violation of the Genenva Convention.  Welcome back to the S&S Blog, Granny Redbeard.

Thank ya, sonny!  My Great Granny Redbeard used ta always say yer are what yer eat, so this week I’m sharin’ my Great Granny Redbeard’s “Smart Soup.”  This here was always one of Auric’s favorites. 

Fer this recipe, ya’ll need: One pair of calves’ brains, salt, flour, two tablespoons o’ butter, three cups o’ brain stock, two cups o’ vegetable stock, a strip o’ lemon peel, salt an’ pepper ta taste, white wine ta taste, one egg yolk beaten with two tablespoons o’ sweet cream. 

First yer gotta take care o’ the brains.  Wash them brains quickly under cold runnin’ water an’ then soak ’em in icy water fer two or three hours.  The water should be changed twice durin’ soakin’ an’ a little lemon juice should be added ta the last change o’ water.  After the brains soak, gently pull off as much membrane an’ blood streaks as possible but don’t ya cut the brain or break it inta chunks.  Then ya blanch the brains by coverin’ them with water in a saucepan.  Add one teaspoon of salt and the juice of one quarter o’ lemon.  Simmer ’til the brains look white and solid, which’ll take about fifteen ta twenty minutes.  Remove the brains an’ cut away any other membrane or connective tubing.  Strain the cookin’ stock, an’ let the brains cool in it ’til yer ready ta use it.

When yer ready, take the brains an’ add three cups o’ water.  Parboil fer about five minutes an’ then remoive the brains, strain the stock and set it aside.  Let the brains cool slightly, then cut into small pieces.  Sprinkle with salt and dredge lightly with flour.  Heat the butter in a two an’ a half quart saucepan an’ when the butter is hot an’ bubblin’, add the brains.  Sautee over moderate heat fer a few minutes, strrin’ very gently ’til the brains are golden brown on all sides.  Cover pot and braise on low heat fer five minutes. 

Pour in the strained brain stock an’ the vegetable stock an’ add the lemon peel, cover the pot an’ bring ta boil.  Then reduce heat an’ simmer fer eight ta ten minutes.  Season as necessary with salt an’ pepper an’ add a dash of white wine.  Granny Redbeard uses more than a dash, but really it is ta taste- ta each their own, ‘specially when it comes ta brains.  Remove from heat an’ gradually stir in the egg yolk that has been beaten with the sweet cream.  Heat over a very low heat fer a few minutes, but do not boil an’ yer ready to serve up some smart soup!  See y’all next week!

Thank you again Granny Redbeard.  May we have another?  That was a threat if ever I have heard one.  In other S&S Blog news, we will hopefully start one of our new features this week, blizzard and schedule allowing.  We also plan a project update soon, and may even be able to introduce a little art onto the site so check back with us here at the S&S Blog often!

The Extras Have Things to Say

Posted in The Cast of Thousands on February 9, 2010 by swordandsorcerybooks

S&S BLOG:  Welcome back to the Sword and Sorcery Books Blog!  Today we have a treat for you as we examine the perspective of the townspeople who participated in the first book of the SHADOWS OF NIGHT book series, SHADOW’S CLAW.  We have book extras Sam the Barkeep, Bob the Merchant and Francis the Farmer. 

SAM:  Actually, we’re here to talk about something else.

S&S BLOG:  Excuse me? 

BOB:  Yeah, We’re here to complain about you Hollywood types messing up our town.

S&S BLOG:  Um, I’m not sure I understand.  Hollywood?  You do realize that this is a book series, right?

BOB:  Oh, all you entertainment people are just the same. 

FRANCIS:  Yeah.

S&S BLOG:  I’m sorry, isn’t there a better time we can discuss this?  This is going out onto the S&S Blog…

SAM:  No, I think we need to discuss this now.  You come into our town, throw money around to rent out the place, put dirt on the streets, clutter the downtown with carts and change the storefronts for your semi-medieval setting and then you don’t pay for cleanup…

S&S BLOG:  Really, we didn’t pay for the dirt or anything else either.  We have no budget…

BOB:  You don’t donate anything to the town for the inconvenience.  Your crew kept filling up the line at McDonald’s every morning.  I couldn’t get my Egg McMuffin before work, and I get my Egg McMuffin every day before I go into work.  Every day for twenty years, I get my Egg McMuffin before I go to work…

FRANCIS:  Yeah.

S&S BLOG:  Really?  I’m sorry but I don’t see how…

BOB:  Every morning, an Egg McMuffin.  You Hollywood folks hit town, and no Egg McMuffin.  Nada.  Zilch. 

S&S BLOG:  I’m so sorry, but I don’t see how…

SAM:  And the loud parties your cast threw every night after writing were very disruptive!  People are trying to sleep.  Some of us work for a living you know, and the kids have school in the morning.

S&S BLOG:  They threw parties?  I didn’t know about any parties…

BOB:  Oh yes.  Big, loud parties.  My brother Tom who works for the town police department had to fish the Dwarf, naked and drunk, out of the pool several times, and Tommy let him off with a warning each time.  The wizard kept puking over the motel fence, and god knows how many pizzas went unpaid-for.  Our kids don’t need to see that.  That’s disgusting!

S&S BLOG:  I wasn’t invited to any…

SAM:  Yeah, and the cast and crew bought out the liquor store every weekend while you guys were here.  And you couldn’t beg, borrow or steal a donut in the whole county.

FRANCIS:  Yeah.

S&S BLOG:  Why wasn’t I invited to any…

SAM:  And I had a cart in front of my business door the whole time.  I sell insurance.  You try and be an insurance agent when people can’t get into your office…

FRANCIS:  Yeah.

S&S BLOG:  I’m the producer, director and writer of the books, and nobody invited me to any parties…

BOB:  And then there was all the bad news reports from your cast and crew parties.  We’re a good, clean family community of God-fearing people.  That bad press lowers property values.  You are responsible for that, bub…

SAM:  And what part of the profits are we getting from all these books?  You tear up our town, keep us up all night with your rowdy rough-neck cast and crew, and you don’t give back to the town, you don’t clean up.  What do we get out of all of this?  Huh?  Where’s our cut of the profits?

FRANCIS:  Yeah.

S&S BLOG:  Um, well, I guess we should cut it off there…

BOB:  You’ll be hearing from our lawyers…

SAM:  The town should get a cut of the profits, I tell you…

FRANCIS:  Yeah.

S&S BLOG:  Okay… Thank you Sam, Bob and Francis for dropping into our studios…

SAM:  Bob, um, look at this place.  I can’t believe people work in a hole like this.  We probably won’t get much money out of them.

BOB:  The coffee’s awful too.  Want to go for an Egg McMuffin?

Francis:  Yeah.

SAM:  Okay, if you’re buying…

S&S BLOG:  …And thank everyone for checking in with us.  We will have more S&S Blog up soon, so check in again really soon.  There is allegedly a blizzard on the way, and so we might have more time to produce a little more S&S Blog…