indieBRAG Blog

Dreaming Through Summer by Anna Belfrage

To me, summer is clogs, mosquitoes, ice-cream and lying on my back staring up at the sky through the foliage of a birch tree. “Hmph!” Matthew Graham says from somewhere inside my head. “Shows you’ve never been a farmer.” I glance at him, this 17th century hero of mine. A farmer? Yes, I suppose he is, a tall strong man who has spent endless weeks in back-breaking labour just to clear the fields he now has planted. The maples and sycamores, the huge American chestnuts – all gone, as Matthew Graham single-handedly turns American wilderness into fields and pastures to feed his family. But today, I’ve decided to treat him to a picnic, a recreation of a perfect childhood day (mine, not his. His would involve a lot of work, seeing as he was his Da’s main helper on their little Scottish manor) “A picnic?” He gives me a doubtful look. “The hay needs to be brought in, and I’ve got fences to mend, and…” I hold up my hand. “Even an imaginary character needs a break now and then.” “Imaginary?” He throws his head back and laughs. “If I don’t exist, why are you talking to me?” Good question,…

Read More

Seafood Chowder- A Southern Favorite

A Beautiful Glittering Lie: A Novel of the Civil War by J.D.R. Hawkins Susan Weintrob  indieBRAG Food Blogger Everydayhappyfoods   So many of the original Southern cities were close to the coast, where fish or other seafood was plentiful.  They were often added to chowder for a fabulous, rich flavor.  As the war between the North and South progressed, the Confederate troops suffered greatly as supplies were cut off.  The basic foods were hard to come by. This chowder can be made from corn and potatoes without seafood or fish and is equally delicious.  For troops near farms, potatoes and corn, onions and celery would have been available, as would have milk or cream. Bacon was a stock item for both armies and would have been available except when supplies were extremely scarce. Stock was made from scraps of vegetables, saved from other meal preparation. Wine was a treat, but we can think of making this recipe or receipt, as recipes were called through the 19th century, in 1861 when ingredients still would have been stocked—certainly for the officers. Recipes for stock and chowder have been found among recipes of the era. For our modern cooks, the base of the…

Read More

IndieBRAG Cover Crush: To Catch A Falling Star by Anna Belfrage

Synopsis To Catch a Falling Star’ is the eighth book in Anna Belfrage’s series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.  Some gifts are double-edged swords… For Matthew Graham, being given the gift of his former Scottish manor is a dream come true. For his wife, Alex, this gift will force her to undertake a perilous sea journey, leaving most of their extensive family in the Colony of Maryland. Alex is torn apart by this, but staying behind while her husband travels to Scotland is no option. Scotland in 1688 is a divided country, torn between the papist Stuart king and the foreign but Protestant William of Orange. In the Lowlands, popular opinion is with Dutch William, and Matthew’s reluctance to openly support him does not endear him to his former friends and neighbours. While Matthew struggles to come to terms with the fact that Scotland of 1688 bears little resemblance to his lovingly conserved memories, Alex is forced to confront unresolved issues from her past, including her overly curious brother-in-law, Luke Graham. And then there’s the further complication of the dashing, flamboyant Viscount Dundee, a man who knocks Alex completely off her feet. All…

Read More

Marketing Your Book(s) by Alison Morton

Why marketing? Publishing a book yourself is fun as well as hard work. But if you are going to sell your book, you need to adopt some commercial principles and practicalities. We often hear “sales and marketing” bracketed together, but they are two distinctly different things, although intimately connected. Marketing as a way of building awareness of yourself, your work and your brand, thus creating a demand in the customer’s mind so that they will seek you out – basically, the battle for the mind. Sales, on the other hand, is focused on persuading the customer to buy by meeting a need at the right time. But readers can be turned off by overly aggressive sales tactics. Now I love talking to readers face to face and sharing the fun and fascination of my Roma Nova books with them. But there’s a lot of work leading up to the point when you sell that reader your book, and that’s all about marketing. So let’s get down to marketing The pre-requisite is a good product. A well-edited story, with professional layout and design, a great back cover blurb and stunning cover are all taken as given. (Well, the B.R.A.G. Medallion award…

Read More

Choice of Genre by Malcolm Noble

The blurb says that I have written fifteen mystery novels set in the south of England from the 1920s to the 1960s.  However, my recent work has focused on the earlier part of the period.  It is the 1920s and 30s where I feel most at home.  I was born in 1951 My choice of detective fiction (and I am quite picky about the boundary between detective stories and the crime novel) was inevitable.  John Creasey's Hammer the Toff was the first adult book that I read (when the village librarian allowed me to borrow the book with my pink 'Junior Reader' ticket).  Since then, buying, selling, reading and writing detective novels has been an important part of my life.  Most of all, I like talking about them. When, last month, a customer was browsing around my bookshop, we realised that we were detection enthusiasts and talked, for far too long, about the good and bad in the genre.  Through that discussion, with surprising little disagreement, we moved towards defining what made a truly satisfying detective novel.  We realised that readers who come to the genre in retrospect - like us - are probably more critical than those who had…

Read More

Lizzy’s Summer Recipe: Rice Risi-Pisi

I first came across this delicious summer dish on a camping holiday with our local church group, as a teenager, which took us to the former Yugoslavia. I have made it ever since. Recipe for 3-4 persons ½ Large Cucumber - Peeled and sliced ½ Large Onion                     - Sliced ½ Large Red Pepper           - Sliced ½ Large Green Pepper       - Sliced 4 Tomatoes                          - Sliced 200g of brown Rice 2 cans of Tuna Chunks 160g net weight 3 Serving Spoons of Olive Oil 2 Serving Spoon of Vinegar ½ a teaspoon of grainy mustard Pinch of sugar Salt Pepper Mixed herbs Squeeze of a lemon   Salad a) Mix the Oil, Vinegar, Mustard, Salt, Pepper, Sugar, b) Add the prepared Salad ingredients c) Lift and mix carefully d) Drain the opened tins of Tuna e) Add the tuna f) Rinse the tuna tins with a tiny bit of water and pour over the tuna now in the dish. This will dilute the Oil/Vinegar mix and add extra moisture. g) Lift and mix carefully Squeeze the Lemon liberally over the mixture. Cover the salad with Clingfilm and store in a cool place. Rice Boil the rice in the usual manner. Place…

Read More

What would stories about Pirates be without a bit of RUM?

Our indieBRAG Food Blogger, Susan Weintraub shares Rum and Cake to go with great pirate books - The Sea Witch Series by Helen Hollick What could be better! Pirates Rum Cake Susan Weintrob, Indie Brag and everydayhappyfoods.com Blogger Pirates had limited amounts of fresh meat, greens and insect free supplies.  Rum was one thing that there was a lot of !  I picture this cake appearing at the pirates’ table. Rum helped preserve the cake and the pirates! Sharing this cake at my South Carolina table felt right with so many pirates that populated this coast in the 18th century.  Pirate’s Rum Cake should taste fantastic at your table as well!   Pirates Rum Cake Modified from Yummly. Kitchen Nostalgia. CAKE 2 cups flour ⅓ cup cornstarch 1½ cups sugar or ¾ cup Stevia 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 5 eggs ½ cup vegetable oil ½ cup milk of choice (cow’s, almond or soy) 1 tsp lemon juice ½ cup rum 2 teaspoons vanilla ¼ cup dry breadcrumbs RUM BUTTER SAUCE: ½ cup (125 g) unsalted butter or dairy free margarine ¼ cup water ¼ - ½ cup sugar or ¼ cup Stevia ¼ - ½ cup rum ½…

Read More

First Impressions… By Helen Hollick

Covers. It never ceases to amaze me how bad some indie-published covers can be. As Managing Editor of the Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews I see a lot of indie historical fiction – all UK published books initially come through my postbox (and some US ones as well) before being sent out to my UK review team. That first look at a book as it comes out of its packaging can have such an enormous influence on that vitally important first impression – and can even influence the difference between accepting a novel for review or rejecting it. A good cover – usually professionally designed and produced, can create immediate interest; “Oh, this looks good!”  Alternatively, some are ­– I hate to say this, because most authors put a lot of time, trouble and effort into self-publishing their books, but it has to be said – some covers are absolutely awful. Yes, your family member may be good at art, but this person is not a graphics designer. The result will look amateurish, and if the cover gives the impression of not being top-quality professional, then it will be assumed that the text inside is not up to par either.…

Read More

My Classy Women by J.F. Ridgley

I never thought about my first published book like this, but in a way, it is my own vow of revenge… against all the rejections I got over the years. Yes. I can honestly tell you, these little letters/emails from editors and agents are like the water-drip torture. It tears at your soul. Now not all rejections were harsh or rude. Many were very pleasant as tofu is mild. But some were just plain impolite. They ask for a submission but explain that if you don’t hear from us, consider it rejected. You don’t know if they even got your query.  Now, I don’t know if editors or agents still do this still. But I feel this should be outlawed. So I came to a breaking point and considered quitting writing. Just give up this brain fart. Who was I to think I could write anyway? Weeding gardens is easier. Cleaning bathroom etc. Well I didn’t want to.   To thwart that, I attended an RWA conference with full intentions getting recharged, finding out what I was doing wrong, and figuring out now NOT TO QUIT. As RWA conferences are, they had lots for me. Lots, And other writers who…

Read More