Review – Twins of Orion – The Book of Keys

Review – Twins of Orion – The Book of Keys


Twins of Orion: The Book of Keys (Twins of Orion #1)J. Rose brings an engaging story of the reunion and adventures of twins separated and then reunited at the age of thirteen. The author creates beautiful worlds and a plot with multiple twists that keeps the reader wanting more. Realistic teens without cliche or preachiness appeal to readers of all ages. Plus the bad guys were really bad and the fight scenes were cool. Closure at the end, but I definitely want to find out what happens next. Yes, this is a don’t-wanna-put-it-down book – please hurry with the next installment, J. Rose! Here’s the Amazon link, in case you’d like to see for yourself :Twins of Orion: The Book of Keys (Volume 1).





It’s Not Just About Craft – How I’m Learning The Business Side of this Writing Thing

It’s Not Just About Craft – How I’m Learning The Business Side of this Writing Thing

It’s the first Wednesday of February, time for my Writing Journey post.  Thank you Insecure Writer’s Support Group for the monthly nudge. You’ll see lots of other fabulous insight by checking out the blogroll on their site here.

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeThis month’s suggested question is What do you love about the genre you write in most often?  That’s a great question, but difficult for me to answer.  I wrote all kinds of nonfiction. These days, speculative fiction, YA, fantasy, historical, mythical, old school science fiction, folklore, legend, or some inexplicable combination push their way out of my brain. And my in-the-works upmarket humorous women’s fiction. Sheesh, I recently even entered a poetry contest. My creations are not always easily categorized. I don’t swim in a single lake at a time. Read more

I Can Always Learn More About Sushi!

A Blog About Japanese Food (Sushi!) – I’m In!

So, this blog post about sushi came just came through my feed.  Those who know me well are aware of my foodie-ness and interest in what people eat in other parts of the world.  I dove right in and took a look.  You can, too, here at Pickled Plum.  Caroline over there is a foodie, a photographer, a model, and sells Japanese cooking things and a cookbook on her website.  It was inevitable her blog would show up in my stream one of these days, given my years of making Japanese food a semi-serious hobby.  Ask me about my vast and pristine bento box collection sometime. I’ve been following her blog for a short while, and have enjoyed the beautiful food photos (anticipated, given her background) as well as some more in-depth than usual facts about jJapanese food.

photo of a variety of sushi

When this sushi/sashimi/musubi post showed up, I clicked so I could read more.  As Caroline has lived in Japan and I have not, I was curious to compare sushi in Japan and sushi in the United States.

As I mentioned, I have not lived in Japan; I’ve never even visited.  My practical knowledge is limited to some (no, I’m not sharing
how many) decades of experience eating in Japanese American restaurants, living in communities with a high concentration of Japanese Americans, and dating a Japanese American guy. Can you see a theme here?  My experience is in one country, Caroline’s is in the other – I was revved to read and compare.

I’ve also read every Japanese cookbook I could find, authored by experts in both countries, and plowed through a few Food of Japan and History of Sushi reference books.  So, though not practical, some of my knowledge does come by way of Asia.

Ready to Learn and Discern? Here We Go!

What Goes into that Sushi?

  • Sushi ~ Sushi means seasoned rice, used to make various sushi dishes.  I say sushi rice is sweetened with mirin and seasoned with rice vinegar; Caroline says rice seasoned with sugar, vinegar, and salt.  Neither of us mentions that monosodium glutamate was used in sushi rice decades ago, both in Japan and the United States.  And most of the time, when people say sushi, they mean the various things made with sushi rice, not just the rice.
  • Onigiri ~ Warm, salted rice is hand-shaped, usually in a triangle about the size of the palm of your hand.  Flavorful items may be mixed throughout the rice or hidden in the center.  Sometimes onigiri are wrapped in seaweed.  Onigiri are meant to be portable, are often found in lunch boxes in Japan, and are served at room temperature.
  • Nigiri ~  I’ve always understood that nigiri refers to a small rectangle of sushi rice with a thin slice of fish or other topping on it.
    • Nope, Pickled Plum says that dish is nigiri sushi and that nigiri is the same as onigiri.
  • Nori ~ Nori is thin, dried seaweed sheets, used for making maki sushi. Actually, now that we’ve finally become comfortable in America with the idea of dried seaweed, I feel okay elaborating and sharing that nori is made with a species of algae called pyropia, which is raised and harvested by some pretty fancy aquaculture.
  • Maki ~ Maki is a sushi roll consisting of fish or another ingredient surrounded by sushi rice and wrapped in nori to make a cylinder, which is sliced for serving.  Maki is made by layering nori, then rice, then the filling on a special bamboo mat and wrapping it tightly so the cylinder holds together. Tekkamaki are skinny, futomaki are fat, uramaki are inside out, and tempi are rolled by hand into an easily consumed cone of sashimi
  • Musubi ~ Musubi on a menu tells me there is some connection to Hawaiian culture afoot.  Musubi is a big, flattish maki made with plain rice, a grilled slice of spam, and teriyaki sauce.  It is served warm.  Spam was introduced to Hawaii by our Navy.  Sailors stationed in Pearl Harbor enjoyed (?) this salty, canned meat product invented by Hormel and marketed tothe military as a shelf-stable substitute for real meat.  Spam wouldn’t spoil in the hot tropics of Hawaii, and is now popular in a number of dishes there, including music.
    • Who knew? Pickled Plum states that musubi is the same as onigiri and nigiri.
  • Sashimi is thinly sliced raw fish, and, since it has no rice, is not sushi.

Sushi often includes that effective sinus clearing green condiment, wasabi.  Alongside the little cone of wasabi paste, you’re likely to see a small mound of sweet pickled ginger.

I so enjoyed exploring Caroline’s blog, Pickled Plum.  All kinds of great stuff over there.  Hope you take a look too!


Photos in this post come from Pixabay and are released under Creative Commons CCO.


Merriam-Webster’s Messing with Us

Word of the Day – Famish

Really Merriam-Webster?  As all these nice folks enter the challenging third week of resolution diets, you have to choose this as today’s word.  I have to admit, I see a sense of humor over there.

I love Word of the Day – the origins and less common meanings and uses are more random bits of knowledge with which to fill my head.  Sometimes it proves useful, sometimes not. Online dictionaries share pretty much only the name with those heavy old hardback counterparts. Now you get audio pronunciations, a thesaurus, videos, word games, examples, and yes, even definitions.  Plus, of course, that Word of the Day, right in your inbox.  Nice.

You can get check it out here.

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for January 17, 2018 is: famish • \FAM-ish\ • verb 1 : to cause to suffer severely from hunger 2 : to suffer for lack of something necessary


1 : to cause to suffer severely from hunger

2 : to suffer for lack of something necessary

Did You Know?

Famish likely developed as an alteration of Middle English famen, meaning “to starve.” The Middle English word was borrowed from the Anglo-French verb afamer, which etymologists believe came from Vulgar Latin affamare. We say “believe” because, while no written evidence has yet been found for the Vulgar Latin word affamare, it would be the expected source for the Anglo-French verb based on the combination of the Latin prefix ad- (“to” or “toward”) and the root noun fames (“hunger”). In contemporary English, the verb famish is still used on occasion, but it is considerably less common than the related adjective famished, which usually means “hungry” or “starving” but can also mean “needy” or “being in want.”



“At first Bartleby did an extraordinary quantity of writing. As if long famishing for something to copy, he seemed to gorge himself on my documents. There was no pause for digestion.” — Herman Melville, “Bartleby the Scrivener,” 1853

“Eating healthy regularly is more important than famishing to shed a few pounds.” — Emily Long, The Daily Vidette: Illinois State University, 23 Aug. 2017

Source: famish

2017 Writing – Would I Do This Again?

So you may have seen me mention Insecure Writers Support Group.  You can also find them on Twitter – @TheIWSG.  This group of writers support and encourage one another through their blogs. The first Wednesday of the month, a question is presented.  In keeping with my commitment to put words to paper regularly, I’m participating.  Here it goes…

And the First Question Is…

As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?


Transition was my watchword for 2017.  As the year opened, I’d spent the previous 18 months dealing with commitments and unexpected situations that had been wreaking havoc with my personal roadmap. And it appeared that the upheaval was going to continue through the better part of the year.  It did.

But here’s a good thing about those circumstances that swept me away from my status quo.  I found myself in a place of evaluation.  Sometimes the inertia of day to day life shoves aside the time spent thinking about whether the hours are spent on the right things.  Those upside down days, endless hours driving to be where I was needed, and complete disruption of my activities and schedule – they provided me the opportunity to review and prioritize.

Turns out I wasn’t getting any nearer to checking items off my “get to it someday” list.  And now I had the chance to take a better look.

I Wrote.  And I Write.

I write. I’ve always written. The word compulsion could be bandied about with reasonable accuracy. The turn of a perfect phrase makes me smile, and it brings me pure joy if I happened to be the one who put it on a page.

It has been decades since I’ve been published; I was pretty certain the industry had changed.  So I decided to learn more, and it turns out there was a writer’s conference in my hometown, on a weekend when I’d be home.  That was enough of a sign for me.  I registered.

The point of attending this little local gathering was to determine if my passion deserved dedicated attention.  In my world, this is a very real consideration.  I have this embarrassing habit of finding joy in some new creative pursuit, stocking up on all the accoutrements, diving in one hundred and ten percent.  And then growing bored.  My closet full of art and craft supplies covered in a thin layer of dust accuse me every time I glance in that direction.

My goal was to take that weekend, learn everything I could, and then make a decision – to continue dabbling or to pursue this craft seriously.  Would I be able to write professionally again?

Well, That Was Unexpected

I arrived at the venue and discovered that the little local conference was actually quite the big deal, with nationally recognized speakers, and writers pitching and/or selling their latest success. The fact that I didn’t turn and run in terror gave me some confidence that maybe I was in the right place.

And It Worked!

I learned more in that weekend than I could have imagined.  And I made my decision.  I set goals and timelines and began to familiarize myself with the local writing community.  I’ve begun the never finished task of improving my craft.  I’ve learned about publishing and genres and word counts and all kinds of details that I didn’t remember from back in the day.  I’ve been fortunate to digest advice from generous experts in their fields.  I’ve absorbed all kinds of knowledge and hints and vocabulary (I never knew beats meant that). I’ve met bunches of people who don’t look at me funny when I whip out a notebook and write down a compelling phrase or idea.  I’ve edged my way into my local writing community.

Yes, Yes I DID

I even participated in NaNoWriMo 2017.  My goal was not noble – I wanted to cement a habit of regular writing.  I was successful!  I won NaNoWriMo, though I imagine only a  small percentage of the words in that document are even worthy of being recycled into something else later.  Who know, I’ll address that in January when I go and reevaluate my creation.  But I wrote regularly and reinforced my habit.

So, What Would I Change?

Are there things I’d do differently in retrospect?  Of course there are.  Perhaps I’d have sat in on the big deal agent’s headliner workshop at that conference, instead of the (understandably) sparsely attended beginner’s workshop across the hall. I probably would have purchased a couple of fountain pens sooner. I’d have been more choosy about craft books.  And I wouldn’t have considered it realistic to write a thoughtful review of every single book I read. Because, yes, I read many many books.

And What Would I Do Again?

And I’ll continue to read like crazy.  Craft books, fiction, poetry, nonfiction, magazines, blogs… Yes, I’d attend that conference (and I will again, in 2018).  Yes, I’d talk to all kinds of writers and learn about different genres and craft and style and publishing.  Yes, for sure I’d do all that learning again.  Yes, making my writing a commitment was the right choice.  And, yes, finding the Insecure Writer’s Support Group was pure happenstance, but I’d connect over there again, too.

And I Conclude…

2017 threw me over and left me discombobulated, and that turned out to be the perfect opportunity to look around, set some priorities and make a decision or two.  And I think 2018 will be the better for it.