Friday, October 19, 2012

Being scared. Every. Single. Day.

I stared at the screen for a while trying to decide how to talk about this--as that kid from so long ago or as a mom, hoping her boys never go through anything like this. Then I thought, I have to talk about the little girl. It goes without saying, I want better for my kids and I watch carefully, I talk to them, and I do everything I can to protect them. That's all I can do.

Racism used to be an every day part of my life--from all sides. Nobody was immune, though I do know that I cannot begin to truly understand what it's like to be black in the rural South. As a little girl, I didn't understand that there was racism, not really.

My first year of public school, I started riding the bus. I was a first grader. I was painfully shy. I wasn't a racist, even if I didn't know what that meant at the time. I sat with a friendly girl my age and we grew to be friends. I'll call her Lynn. The bus was all ages. 1st grade through 12th. Of course I sat with the kid my age who smiled and talked with me. There were a few others my age and eventually we grew to be friends, but Lynn was my first school friend. Ever. Wonderful, right?

Apparently not.

You see, Lynn was black. I am not. A few of the older black kids on the bus started picking on her, teasing her, tormenting her, for being my friend. She cried. Really, when a mean high school student is pinching you and taunting you for talking to the white girl, what are you going to do? As a first grader? She stopped talking to me. (Just to be clear, when I say "they" I don't mean everyone on the bus, but there were quite a few in the group.)

It didn't end there. They picked on her until she had to pick on me, or they'd hurt her. The forced her to become a bully. Eventually, she did bully me. From then on, I was physically threatened, taunted, and completely miserable every time I had to ride the bus. I was only in first grade then. I'd never faced anything like that before. I eventually did everything I could to sit near the bus driver. This helped some. But I couldn't always manage that. When I had to sit near the back, I was hit. My hair was pulled. I was made to sit on an older boy's hand and he tried to fondle me. At that age, I didn't understand anything other than it was wrong and I managed to get away.

I was truly afraid of riding the bus. I became the favorite bully target of my once-friend, Lynn. I carefully planned things so I could get to the bus fast enough to sit up front. The bus driver didn't do much to protect us other than yell. He didn't report bullying. It wasn't really done, then. It wasn't really reported by anyone. This continued through elementary school and middle school. By high school, I decided to wait hours after school to ride with a family member after work--all to avoid being bullied on the school bus. I'd rather sit in my grandfather's truck for three hours than ride that bus.

This is what I went through. Every day. Scared of being beat up, pinched, hair pulled, being taunted. I dreaded it. It had a huge impact on my life. But I was so very lucky, in the end. Because this kind of bullying, though it scared me and made me scramble to avoid being beat up (even hiding behind seats), I knew it really had nothing to do with me. Not really. They didn't know me. They never touched my self worth. I was scared, but I never thought any less of myself, not even for being scared. So yes, I was lucky, because no matter what they did, it wasn't about me.

And I hope that's what anyone being bullied can hold onto. It's not about you. It's about them--how they're striking out, how they're the ones in the wrong. Not you. Hang in there, and report it. Today, I know I should've made that bus driver face what was happening on his bus, I should have told the principal (one of them--this happened through three schools), and I should have told my dad. I didn't. I faced it alone and stayed silent. Don't do that. Speak up. We'll all listen.

Please visit more authors participating in Authors Against Bullying. There are so many stories out there, so many people who can help, just by being there and telling you what they lived through. Let's stop bullying in its tracks. Let's stop the fear.
photograph by The U.S. National Archives [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photographer: Rees, David, 1943-

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Milk-free pancakes

These pancakes work for several special diets. We made them to meet the low iodine diet (LID)requirements. We served them with apple sauce and it was a treat. Obviously, as any pancake, these would work well with blueberries mixed in.

By Brandon Martin-Anderson
via Wikimedia Commons

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon non-iodized salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 egg whites (or egg equivalent of egg white by measure)
1 1/2 cups Pacific hemp milk (this has no sea salt, no carrageenan). Use regular or vanilla flavor.
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

Mix together the dry ingredients. In seperate bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Add the liquid to the dry, stirring together. You can have lumps. Add up to a half cup more of the hemp milk for the consistency you prefer. Cook on griddle brushed with oil on medium-low heat. Pour the batter on the griddle, pancakes whatever size you prefer. Brown on the bottom. I generally watch the bubbles that form and when the top looks "dry", I flip the pancakes.

Serve with Fleischmann's Unsalted vegetable oil spread instead of butter (for LID, this contains soy oil which is the only form of soy that meets the diet requirements).

Monday, October 15, 2012

Low Iodine Diet

By Marisa DeMeglio from NYC, USA (Flickr)
[CC-BY-2.0 (]
via Wikimedia Commons
Over the summer someone close to me had to go on a low iodine diet (LID). Even though it seems as if being on a diet without iodine would be easy, its much more difficult than you can imagine and is tiring being on such strict dietary constraints for two weeks. It's hard not to crave things you shouldn't have. But we found it to be fun to try new things and I found a few new products that I will continue using.

I thought I'd share some of our discoveries because reading what others had done was so intensely valuable to us. We believe the diet was a success, so the approaches we took seemed to have worked. I sincerely hope your diet works well for you. But we aren't doctors nor nutritionists. I did my research, but you should to. And if you find that something here should be changed or updated, please let me know.

Today, I'm listing a few general thoughts on products. Then I'll share a few recipes in upcoming posts.

First. The most valuable resource we found (beyond our doctor) was the cookbook (pdf) at Go there. Listen to your doctor. But basically, for LID we cut out salt with iodine, all foods from the sea, soybean products, dairy, and most pre-prepared/packaged foods. We got a non-iodized kosher salt immediately because we didn't need to cut sodium, just iodine.

I found a few products that made general cooking easier:
  • Mrs. Dash. Great way to spice up all sorts of meats, dishes.
  • For a milk replacement, Pacific all natural Hemp non-dairy beverage doesn't contain sea salt (found in most nut milks) nor carrageen (also to be avoided and in many nut milks). Problem with this one is that Whole Foods carried this product at the beginning of the diet and discontinued it by the end. It could be difficult to find on the shelf and another company's brand of hemp milk contained sea salt. It wasn't a viable replacement. I used this hemp milk in a modified pancake recipe that turned out great. It's so delicious I intend to make them that way again. That recipe is coming soon!
  • Chicken is usually processed in facilities with water that contains salt. Considering LID is "low iodine", not "no iodine," fresh chicken can be used sparingly even though it most likely has iodine. But, when possible, we tried to go "no iodine" figuring that trace amounts would show up in things we didn't expect. And better to cut it when we could. Limiting chicken would've been difficult in an already restricted diet since it's a favorite here. Instead of cutting back on chicken, I bought the "air chilled" chicken from Whole Foods. It's a bit more expensive, but I was lucky enough to hit a sale, as well as buying an entire chicken at a time is more affordable (also good for chicken stock, recipe to come). Air chilled chicken is not processed with salt and shouldn't have added iodine.
  • Herb-ox Sodium Free Chicken Granulated Bouillon. Great to have on hand.
  • Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar. We used this with olive oil on several different kinds of salad since so many off the shelf dressings were out. It mixed things up a bit since variety helped get us through having a restricted diet.
  • Pomi Chopped Tomatoes. These come in a carton instead of a can. Iodine can leach from cans, so we used canned products sparingly.
I'll be posting a chicken broth recipe, a chicken coconut soup, a variation on a thai spring roll, and the pancake recipe as soon as I can get them organized.
Hope this helps anyone who has to do the low iodine diet and I hope you can find the adventure in trying new foods that we did!

Monday, October 8, 2012

MetalMark now available!

At long last, MetalMark is now available. It was quite a journey to bring Jazz and Lye to readers and I couldn't be happier! If you enjoy space opera or steampunk, I hope you'll give MetalMark a try.


Science Fiction Romance -- Novel (ebook)
Prince to a dying planet, Lye the Keeper has made a deal with the devil. For the price of his blood, the Drianti Syndicate offer a seat on their council...and put the end to their decade-long occupation of his planet within his grasp. Working with the Syndicate feels like betraying everything he's worked for these last ten years, but it pales in comparison to the pain of his monthly mating imperative.
The red-haired temptress who lands in his path holds the key to Lye's freedom--and an end to his pain--but the price is too high. Touching her would defile the royal line that ends with him. The lure to possess her, however, proves irresistible.
Privateer Jazzelina Eval will do anything to bring down the Syndicate, anything from robbing spaceships to kidnapping a prince. Anything but settle down and give up the revenge game. Or bed a mark who's made a deal with her enemy. But once she has Lye in her hands, she can't let him go...even if the price of keeping him is war.
WARNING: Explicit content, exploding space ships, and creepy biomechanical bugs

Available from Lyrical Press

All Romance kindle ibooks Nook kobo Lyrical Press Powell's

Excerpt of first chapter, available on my website.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Dragon Rodeo

Now available, an erotic romance anthology including my short story, Dragon Rodeo. Leave a comment & I will pick a random winner for a digital copy of the book (deadline Wed, Oct 10th, 11:59pm EST). This anthology will also be available in print (more on that soon!).
Come find a great story, a new to you author, or a tasty tidbit to tantalize.

Passionate Exhibitions

Museums. Places of grandeur and mystery, hidden corners and secrets. Walk the halls of any museum and find a past life in a necklace, an alternate reality in a painting, a terrible curse from a statue, or your wildest fantasies come to life. From the distant past to the far-flung future, these stories will titillate and tantalize. Welcome to the Passionate Exhibition.
  • Under The Lion’s Curse by Kim Knox
  • Dragon Rodeo by Ella Drake
  • Worshiping His Goddess by Voirey Linger
  • Good Vibrations by Mia Jae
  • Portrait of Passion by Maggie Wells
  • The Duke by Darby York
  • Virtual Encounters by Lexie Donovan
  • Human Touch by Evelyn Jules

Dragon Rodeo by Ella Drake

Fantasy/Alternate Reality Romance -- Short Story (Anthology)
Drawn to her local museum, Kellie can’t keep away from a certain compelling painting. The oils seem real and the scent of the scene, nearly tangible. When the artist approaches her, his touch sends them into a world of fantasy, of dragons. Their passion ignites and reality blurs. Rand, the intriguing bronc rider, is hers, if only she learns how to keep him.