Monday, August 31, 2020

The One That Got Away — Katy Perry (Cover by Tiffany Alvord & Chester See)

What's better than the acoustic version of a sad love song? A duet ballad cover of that love song. Ahhh, I could cry, listening to this 😭


Friday, August 28, 2020

Linda O'Connor's shares her creative life

They say you can't contain creativity. It's a kind of madness, in its own way, and isn't it fascinating to get a glimpse into a creative person's life?

This week, I asked romantic comedy author Linda O'Connor about her creative life.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The strangest things I've eaten

Strange foods are among my favourite life experiences to pursue. It's not that certain foods are especially strange, more that I don't come across them an awful lot, so I gravitate towards them whenever they're on the menu.

Many "strange" foods are actually very normal, depending on where you live and the culture around you. But as an Asian Australian with a predominantly Anglo Australian diet, there are plenty of amazing "normal" foods that fall into my "strange" category.

Anyway, here are three of my favourite everyday "strange" foods...

Photo by Samia Liamani on Unsplash

Onigiri
Japanese rice ball. There's nothing inherently strange about the rice, or the filling most of the time, but the presentation of a rice ball is novel and delightful if you live in Perth. I prefer a warm onigiri fresh from the kitchen, but packaged rice balls have a special plastic wrapping that keeps the seaweed away from the rice (so it doesn't go soggy) until you're ready to eat it.

I've been told my favourite onigiri filling is perhaps a little strange, even to people familiar with Japanese cuisine. I like umeboshi, aka. pickled plum.

Takeaway / CC BY-SA

Jellyfish
When my family used to go for dim sum together, every now and then we'd order a cold duck and jellyfish salad. Jellyfish tentacles don't really taste of anything, but they have a light texture not too unlike the slightly crunchy connective tissue in a chicken drumstick. They take on the flavour of whatever they're prepared with, so it's perfect with fatty duck meat and sweet salad marinade.

I've not had a good jellyfish salad in many years. This is sad in its own way, but moreover, it represents that my family doesn't go for dim sum so often anymore that we would order a "strange" dish like this. That's the real shame.


Quail Eggs
An egg is an egg, but little quail eggs are a real treat. You can get them fresh in Chinese gourmet shops here; I think they might be an ingredient for steamboat. But I get mine pre-hardboiled in a can. When I make congee (rice porridge) or cream of mushroom soup (yep, the Western kind), I like to serve it up with quail eggs. The texture is a pleasure with both dishes, and the eggy taste mixed in with everything else is simply delectable.

The last time I used quail eggs in a dish was just a few weeks ago when my partner was feeling poorly (not COVID). It's a comfort food in our household.

And now three "strange" foods that are very rare in Perth...

Photo by Tuan Nguyen on Unsplash

Sea Urchin
You find this in Japanese as well as Māori cuisine, though my Māori friend gave me some stick about eating it, which goes to show you can't just stereotype a food as being favoured by a whole culture. He can't stand it. However, I liked it.

If you can imagine a eating chilled tongue that takes on a slightly crumbly texture when you chew it, that's sea urchin. I'm not sure if you can prepare it differently. I ate it cold. It was probably cooked and marinated, but it might not have been. Hard to say, as I bought it from a fish & chips van in Queenstown while rushing somewhere, and didn't get a chance to ask.


Molokhia Soup
This is an Egyptian dish made from the leaves of the jute mallow, one of the plants that garden twine is made from. It looks like a glossy dark green booger from far away, but when you stir it, it looks like it might have the mouthfeel of a saag curry (spinach curry). But it doesn't. Molokhia soup is slippery and hearty and delicious and, if you don't mind that sort of texture, very more-ish.

While leafy soup isn't particularly strange, I've been told that it's hard to find the necessary vegetable in Perth. My very foodie Egyptian friend has managed to find one shop in Perth that sells it.

via Brandon Schabes (flickr)

Turtle Eggs
This is a food I would not choose to eat again. I had it when I was a kid, before my family moved to Australia. Perhaps it was a farmed produce where I grew up, or sustainable once upon a time, given the small population where we lived. But I was way too young to know about that back then, and I'm pretty certain it's not sustainable today.

As an adult, I still remember the taste and texture. Weirdly, even though I didn't love it when I was a kid, there've been times over the years where I've actually craved it. But given that so many turtle species are endangered, it's just not worth eating this again.

What are some of the strange things you've eaten? If you've written a blog post about it too, drop a link below so I can go check it out.

Friday, August 21, 2020

The Guy From The Wedding — Chapter 2

Aidan Donovan stumbled down the long urban road that stretched from the wedding to his hotel. That's all it took in a city this size. No running for a train, hustling to a tram, no need even to summon a ride. Besides, he was too warm to sit in a stranger's car, too tipsy to make polite conversation about sport or politics. The wedding was too depressing, the night too thick and humid. The air smelled like rain, but he'd take his chances.

At the bottom of the hill, he reached the CBD, still lit and ambient with traces of night-lifers sparse throughout the streets. He elbowed a crosswalk button and yawned. He could get used to this sleepy town. Assuming this sleepy town wanted him.

When he was three blocks away, the thirst struck. It always happened when he had white spirits, but the bride insisted on a boozy toast before she let him leave. As he checked his watch, a warm, fat raindrop landed on his hand. He looked up and saw a convenience store sign lighting up an entire corner.

The rain came down sudden and hard as soon as he got under the awning. Couldn't have timed it better if he tried. The door buzzer sounded behind him.

"Good evening," the store guy called out, barely looking up from the video playing on his phone.

Aidan caught his reflection as he walked past a rack of sunglasses. He looked like shit under this light, but hey, who was counting? As he grabbed a bottle of yellow flavoured sports drink—actually, make that two—a nearby poster ad for a packet of chips gave him a taste.

"Excuse me," he called to the store guy, and pointed to the poster.

"Back there." The guy pointed to the far aisle, his voice blending in too well against the backdrop of the rain outside.

Aidan set his jacket and one of the bottles on the counter. He popped the other one open and knocked it back as he went off in search of his chips. As he rounded the corner, a flash of black and purple came careening through. Liquid spilled from his mouth as he yanked the bottle out of the way.

"Look out!"

Next thing he knew, the front of his shirt was drenched in milk and salty-sweet electrolytes.

"I'm so sorr—oh my god, it's you."

Great. Of all the people he could bump into tonight, it had to be her. Her mouth hung open in shock as she blinked through her too-long fringe.

"I know the sign outside says 'two for one', but this was not what I was expecting."

"Did you spill something?" called the guy from the front of the store.

"I think I caught it all, thank you," Aidan called back, peeling away the wet fabric now sticking to his chest.

"Just let me know if you spilled something. I'll put a sign up."

"I'm so sorry," said Fringe-Girl.

She set the still-mostly-full bottle of milk on the floor and started patting his shirt down with her sleeve. The towel-fabric of her jumper made the whole situation appropriate and absurd.

"I don't know why I'm doing this. It's not gonna make you that much drier and..." She looked up to the ceiling. "It's probably gonna rain for a while. Do you have an umbrella?"

"Uh..." Did he look like he had an umbrella? "No."

She sighed, still clutching her shopping to her chest. "Look, I feel awful. My apartment's just next door. Why don't you come up and use the washing machine? There's a 15-minute setting and the dryer's really quick."

She was babbling. It was cute. When she gave an embarrassed smile, his shoulders relaxed. She seemed genuine, and she must have been pretty forgiving if she was willing to look past his snide remarks at the wedding. And who was he to refuse an invitation up to a nice girl's apartment. He was only in town for a couple more days. He may as well have a bit of fun.

"Sure," he replied, stepping back so she could make her way to the front counter. "Why not."

Back to chapter list

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Guy From The Wedding — Chapter 1

 Whenever Laura Lee went to a wedding, she usually hoped to meet someone. And except for one time in her early twenties, she usually left disappointed.

This time, though, when she RSVP-ed to an old friend's wedding, she decided she'd go in with no expectations whatsoever. First of all, she wasn't even close to "little Sarah Simpson", who these days wasn't so little or even went by her dad's surname any more. Yeah, they lived next door to each other for six years when they were little, but they'd barely spoken in over twenty. Laura didn't know why she was even invited. She wouldn't have gone if her mum hadn't nagged her about going out of politeness.

The last thing Laura remembered about her former neighbour was running into her at a party of a guy she shared a class with at uni, a fully grown adult male still picking his nose and eating it when he thought no one was looking. This guy happened to be Sarah's boyfriend at the time. So Laura held little hope that anyone invited to this wedding would pass a compatibility test with flying colours.


LAURA LEE:

Shame. The guy on my left is crazy hot.


BEC LAM:

Gwailo? Blue eyes?


LAURA LEE:

Yes. No, brown.


BEC LAM:

Pass. At least you know he's single. The real question is WHY.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Angels — Robbie Williams

This song was not only a romantic favourite, but a karaoke favourite for many years. Sometimes we put it on in the car, turn it up really loud, and belt out the song alongside dear Robbie.


And as a bonus, here's the Jessica Simpson version as well:


Friday, August 14, 2020

Interview with Judythe Morgan, author of "Seeing Clearly"

Today, I'm chatting with author Judythe Morgan, who recently launched her latest book, "Seeing Clearly", about a widow raising her grandson after her only child and his wife die in a suspicious car accident.

The blurb sounds incredibly intriguing, and it's got me wanting to learn more about the mind behind the story.


Judythe, tell us a bit about yourself and your writing journey.

JUDYTHE MORGAN: I'm sure you read my name and thought Judy-the? Don't worry, everyone does. There’s a story. In a family with Irish roots you can never be sure if a story is true or simply a great tale. Either way I’m stuck with the unique spelling.

I’m a multi-genre author whose stories tend to merge genre lines blending a little women’s fiction into romantic suspense, military romance, and sweet small town series. That’s why I call them “love stories that touch your heart.” All are PG rated.

No matter what book I write, whether a stand-alone set in Ireland, or a suspense with a seasoned romance, or a sweet contemporary series set in small town Texas, or a historical military romance during the Vietnam era, I will always give you exactly what I want in the books I read, a happy ending. 

My writing journey began as I typed away on my laptop between customers at my antiques shop. As my craft improved through workshops, retreats, and writing conferences, I started entering writing contests, placing in many and winning some. The rest is history. My first book was released 2012. My latest in May 2020.

For me, the most interesting thing about being an author is meeting and getting to know my readers. Writing is such a solitary profession. I spend so much time in imaginary worlds with not-so-real characters that meeting others who want to talk about my stories is exciting. I do love my readers and enjoy hearing from them.

What are you working on at the moment?

JUDYTHE: I’m currently working on my Fitzpatrick Family series. the sweet romance stories of eight preacher kids. Two are published: "When Love Blooms" and "When Love Returns". "When Love Trusts" is due out soon. It’s with editors now.

Being married to a preacher’s kid and the mother of a preacher, I have so much material to work from there’s very little research to do. I’m having fun writing the stories. While I wait on those edits, I’m moving ahead on the three remaining stories. Watch for them next year.

Now, how about "Seeing Clearly"? What's it about? What went into writing it?

JUDYTHE: I’m promoting my newest release "Seeing Clearly" today. I love Evie who is a forty-something widow raising her grandson after his parents die in a car crash that wasn’t an accident. She’s a grandmother with spunk and grit. Now that the book’s out, I kinda miss her.

The interesting part was researching Mexican cartel research. I’d watched movies and television series about cartels but digging deep into operation and organization was enlightening. And, a bit scary. Cartels are as bad as they are depicted in fiction.

"Seeing Clearly" by Judythe Morgan


Evie Parker is forty-seven, a widow raising her grandson after her only child and his wife die in a suspicious car accident.

Dawson McKey is thirty-four, a divorced, overly cautious ex-cop, who manages her shipping company. Revenge drives him since his twin sons were killed by a cartel’s bomb.

An undeniable attraction develops. But drugs show up in a company shipment at the same time mysterious emails threaten Evie’s grandson. Then the nanny she hired against Dawson's advice disappears with her grandson. Dawson suspects cartel involvement.

Their search for the toddler tests their trust, even as it binds their hearts.

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: The Danfield Press 
Publication Date: May 12, 2020

Excerpt

Darkness swirled in Evelyn Parker’s head. Dawson McKey’s voice drifted like a soft light through the blackness. She heard her name, the drone of whispered words, and other sounds she couldn’t identify. It was like trying to thread a needle, blindfolded. 
She opened her eyes and reality came crashing through her haze. Hospital. Accident. David and Mandy dead. 
A doctor lightly touched her wrist, checking his watch. “You fainted.” 
Fainted? She never fainted. Not even three years ago when her husband died in her arms. “I’m fine. Where’s my grandson?” 
Tiny bumps pebbled across her neck. Did she already know that answer? Is that why she fainted? 
“Why don’t we go in there and talk? I can check that bump.” She searched his face for any sign of hope against the truth she feared. 
Dawson, close friend and Parker Industry’s Director of Security, eased his arm behind her back. 
Evie sank into the nearest chair. The doctor rubbed the back of her head. She flinched. “Everything looks fine.” 
“Great. Now, about Michael, when can I see him?” 
Dawson’s large, warm hand covered hers. She wanted to nestle into his heat, lean against his strong body, to hide until all of this went away. She stiffened her spine instead. 
“Follow me.” 
Evie planted her flip-flops on the floor with a thud. The clip-clop of the rubber soles boomed in rhythm with her pounding heart. 
Dawson slowed his pace to Evie’s stride. He drew deep on years of training to keep his body language relaxed while his senses were on high alert after what the investigating officer told him. A witness reported another car clipped David’s SUV, causing it to careen off the road. 
Accident? Not with the gambling debt David Parker had. More likely a deliberate act by the cartel.

Buy the book

About Judythe Morgan

My name is Judythe Morgan. I was an Army brat then Army wife. I’ve traveled a lot. My start-and-then-move-again careers include teacher, antiques dealer, former mayor's wife, sometimes-church pianist, and award-winning author. My life’s rarely been dull.

My variety of experiences fill my stories with authentic characters, exciting settings, and compelling plots. My writing’s placed and won multiple contests. Check https://judythemorgan.com for details.

I also write a weekly blog at www.judythewriter.com with my urban farmer daughter Chicken Wrangler Sara.

Sign up for my free newsletter to keep up with my latest news and subscriber-only sneak peeks.

Find Judythe on social media


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

#TIL a bit about Alice Springs

Today, I learned a bit about Alice Springs, a gorgeous sounding town in Australia's Northern Territory. That whole part of Australia is a huge mystery to me. All I knew about the NT is that my primary school best friend lived there for a number of years, and whatever I've seen in season 1 of Mystery Road.

Now, thanks to Kathleen Ryder's blog post, "Welcome to the Alice", I know a little bit more. Go check it out if you've got 5 minutes to spare. It's a quick and interesting read, and she shares a gorgeous photo of the town.

If you've got a bit more time up your sleeve, here's a brief history by the Alice Springs Town Council. Some highlights:
  • The original name for Alice Springs is Mparntwe (Aboriginal Arrernte language).
  • The discovery of alluvial gold (gold deposited by water) in 1887 led to a rapid rise in the town's population.
  • Afghan camels were used to transport water and other essential supplies in the region from the late 1800 to the early 1900.
  • Today's Australian feral (wild) camels are descended from these imported dromedaries.

Friday, August 7, 2020

"Puppy Love" by Becky

Stumbled upon this gorgeous serial sweet romance:

"Puppy Love", by an author named Becky.

I didn't totally take to Fern in part 1, but her awkward charm totally won me over in part 2.

Surfer dude Ollie, however... I'm hooked 😍He sounds like a genuinely nice guy πŸ’“

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

My new avatar

I got a new avatar a couple weeks ago and am so in love with it, I wanted to share it in a post. For—ahem—posterity.

Here it is, in case you haven't seen it yet (and I hope it's showing up properly everywhere by now 🀞)...


As much as I enjoy Bitmoji action as much as the next internet user, the peaceful vibe of this new style feels a little more me 😊

Monday, August 3, 2020

Goals for August 2020

Since a ton of worky work has landed in my lap this month (and will probably carry on into next month), I'm taking it easy for August with just a few very manageable goals.

But first, how did July go?
  1. Send my July newsletter on time (10th)
  2. Draft 2 chapters for The Guy From The Internet πŸ€―
  3. Draft 1 chapter for The Guy From The Library
  4. Maintain a schedule of 3 blog posts per week πŸ™Œ
So, I didn't just draft 2 chapters for "The Guy From The Internet". I finished the whole first draft! That was unexpected. And right now, I'm high as a kite on the two sweetest words in a writer's vocabulary: "The End".

My goals for August:

  1. Send my August newsletter on time (4th—tomorrow!)
  2. Edit "The Guy From The Internet"—I really feel like this will happen.
  3. Watch a lovey dovey movie on Netflix
  4. Treat myself to avocado toast πŸ₯‘
What are your goals for this month?

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"The Guy from the Internet" is now available on Kindle Unlimited

"The Guy from the Internet" is now available on Kindle Unlimited. Enjoy this Australian sweet romance novella from the comfort of ...