Category Archives: Completely Unrelated

Happy One Month, Alchemyst’s Mirror!

Celebrating 1 month of The Alchemyst’s Mirror, and a full recipe for the Raspberry Crumble Bars.

Can you believe The Alchemyst’s Mirror has been out for a month already!

“Liz Delton is a wonderful steampunk author who infuses her novels with action, humor, whimsy, and charming characters set in a unique fantastical world.”

Elizabeth Chatsworth, Author of The Brass Queen

This was one of my absolute favorite books to write, and it’s definitely got one of my favorite cover designs! I’m already working on writing book #2, The Thief’s Amulet, and just started messing around with the new cover–because if I’m going to procrastinate writing, I might as well do it with another writing-related project, right?

I’ve had some awesome reviews coming in for The Alchemyst’s Mirror, had the local newspaper do a feature on me, and even got to talk about the book on a UK radio show.

“A fast paced tale of mystery, sisterhood, and tea.”

H.L. Burke, Fantasy Author

“If you enjoy steampunk or mystery adventure stories, then I recommend reading The Alchemyst’s Mirror. It was a mix of Indiana Jones and Sherlock Holmes, but with two sisters leading the story.”

The Plum Report

To keep on celebrating this book, I’m going to start releasing some of the recipes featured in the blog tour, but with more pictures! When I decided to include “tea shop recipes” in the blog tour, I test baked all of them. Today I’m going to share a really yummy one, Elliot Everturn’s Raspberry Crumble Bars.

The Recipe: Raspberry Crumble Bars

Ingredients

Flour- 1 Cup
Oats- 1 Cup
Baking Powder- 1 tsp
Brown Sugar- 3/4 Cup
Butter- 1/2 Cup (1 stick)
Raspberries- 2 Cups (fresh or frozen)
Lemon Juice- 2 tbsp
White Sugar- 1/2 Cup
Flour- 2 tbsp

Instructions

  • Mix the flour, oats, baking powder, and brown sugar in a bowl.
  • Melt the butter, and stir it into the mixture until crumbly.
  • Pour two thirds of the mixture into an 8×8 pan (or pie dish)
  • In a small bowl, mix the raspberries with the lemon juice, white sugar, and flour.
  • Spread the raspberries evenly across the crumble in the pan.
  • Sprinkle the remaining crumble on top.
  • Bake at 350F for 35 minutes
  • Cool and cut into squares
  • Top with lemon glaze: Powdered sugar with a dash of lemon juice added until it reaches desired icing consistency.

When I made mine, I used frozen raspberries, and they worked perfectly!
Just look at that crumble

The Alchemyst’s Mirror Fandom Tea Blends

With the launch of The Alchemyst’s Mirror next week, I thought I’d share more about the custom tea blends I created to go along with the book.

As you probably know, I’m a huge tea drinker myself, and since the main setting of The Alchemyst’s Mirror is a tea shop, it seemed almost required that I make up some custom tea blends.

I created the blends using Adagio Teas’ Signature/Fandom Blends function. It’s a really cool section of their website where anyone can come up with a tea blend, design artwork for the tins and bags, and put it up for other people to purchase. Adagio handles all the tea. Or you can even create blends and keep them private.

The person who designs it earns “points” with each sale which can be redeemed for a gift certificate, which is pretty cool. Adagio also rewards points for purchasing tea, and leaving reviews.

These seven teas are all mentioned in The Alchemyst’s Mirror

I first started by making a list of all the teas mentioned in the book. There happened to be seven, which was perfect considering all of the implications of the number seven in alchemy. Two of the teas are the favorites of the main characters. Petra’s is Hazelnut Midnight, and Maisie’s is Rose Oolong.

Next I went to Adagio’s Signature blend creator. Here you have to choose at least 2 teas to blend. You can also add fun little additions like rose petals, orange peels, (you can even add sprinkles if you want!). So then I figured out what each tea was made out of.

Then there needs to be artwork!

I will say when I received the tins, the designs were much darker than the original art, so I’ll have to keep that in mind for the future! But the sample tines (which are only $5 each) are a very adorable size and perfect for trying a sample or giving as a gift.

Each tea gets its own product page, and you can purchase them in the sample tin size, the 3 ounce pouch, or a 5 ounce tin.

Check out the whole collection here.

The Teas

Rose Oolong

This is a blend of a vanilla oolong tea with a lychee rose green tea, with extra rose petals. I thought the lychee would add a little something extra to the rose flavor. Oolong tea is about halfway between green tea and black tea in terms of caffeine.


Gunpowder Orange

Why gunpowder? Not just because it sounds cool and steampunky, it’s actually a type of green tea. Gunpowder green tea is named so because of the shape of the tea leaves after they’ve been processed, forming little pellets. Here it’s blended with blood orange herbal tea, with extra orange peels added.


Scitican Chai

Did you know that chai just means “tea”? It’s come to be known for spicy cinnamony type teas these days, and the Scitican Chai is a blend of spiced apple chai and masala chai. In the world of The Alchemyst’s Mirror, Scitica (I pronounce it “skit-ika”) is one of the other countries that the Everturns often refer to in regards to exploring for interesting artifacts. This is made with black tea, so it has some caffeine.


Amaryllian Mint

This is another tea named after a country in the world of the book- Amaryllia. It’s fairly close to Adonia, where our main characters live, only a three day journey by ship. The tea isn’t just a mint tea, it’s green tea blended with vanilla and chocolate flavors as well as spearmint and peppermint. Green tea is usually about 5-10% the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.


Brass Breakfast

A classic “breakfast” tea, this is a blend of an Irish breakfast with straight rooibos tea. Rooibos is sometimes called a red tea, and originates from South Africa, giving the tea more of a reddish hue.

This is one of the plainer, straight-up teas of the collection, and a black tea with caffeine.


Hazelnut Midnight

Petra Everturn’s favorite tea, this is a blend of mostly black tea, with some hazelnut flavor. It’s bold and simple, with a good amount of caffeine (black tea is usually equal to about 20% the caffeine in a cup of coffee)

It’s also based off of one of my favorite teas, too!


White Peach Blossom

A sweet and fruity tea, extremely low on caffeine, this is a blend of white tea with a peach herbal tea. Adagio’s herbal teas always have lots of flavor, and this peach one even includes pieces of apple, mango and pineapple.


Also, fun fact: It’s almost impossible to scoop tea out of these tins without spilling it!

What do you think? Are you a tea drinker? Or would you ever make a tea blend for your own fandom?

New Year’s: Done

Like many others, I can’t help but look back on 2016 and look forward on 2017.  I think it’s beginning to be a blog tradition for me, anyway.

2016 was a crazy year for me.  Crazy fast and crazy amazing.  And I can’t wait for what this next one brings!

It started off with a trip to Japan:…Which I won’t be forgetting any time soon.  We arrived just in time for the cherry blossoms (sakura).  I guess I didn’t realize how quickly they peak and begin to die: in the beginning of our trip, the sakura in Tokyo were at peak (like above in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden).  We then spent a week traveling to Gotemba, Kyoto and Osaka.  By the time we came back to Tokyo, the sakura were gone or dropping petals.  The timing was amazing!

I was more than a little inspired by Japan, and have begun to learn more of the language, as we are planning a second trip in 2017!  The inspiration reached even further, and might be finding some influence over my next book series, which is currently brewing.

Once we returned, I had to buckle down and finish up A Rift Between Cities.

Lots of things (including our trip) stole time from my writing schedule, but I managed to complete it in time!  Seeing the trilogy finished was an incredible part of the year.

Turns out I couldn’t say goodbye to Sylvia, however.

In 2017, look for a short story prequel following Sylvia’s adventures before the war.

The new series I’m working on is in the world-building stages, which I have learned is probably my favorite part of writing.  I’m tentatively planning a 4 or 5 book series, which I can’t wait to share with you!

In 2017, I’ll also be selling and signing my books in the Artist’s Colony at Connecticon!

Despite a lot of negativity and bad things that happened in 2016, I don’t mind saying that I had a great year.  The New Year gives us a chance to turn the page on the old, and start blank:

Survive in Japan with these Five Words

Now that I’m (mostly) done editing A Rift Between Cities, I finally have some time to work on this series of blog posts I’ve been dreaming up ever since our trip to Japan this spring.welcome-to-japan

It was cherry blossom season, and we visited Tokyo, Gotemba (to see Mount Fuji), Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, and back to Tokyo.  I was a bit worried about not knowing enough of the language, but quickly discovered that five staple words were enough.

Most people we encountered knew a bit of English–and several were kind enough to offer us help in English when we clearly looked lost.  Don’t be surprised if someone asks if you need help on the metro, or if you’re wandering the streets looking confused–they’re genuinely trying to be helpful.

Japan metro
The signs in the metro flash between Roman words and Japanese.

One woman even helped us put money on our Suica cards–the machines in the metro station we had stopped in were entirely in Japanese, and some of our cards were running low.  She walked us through the machine and showed us which buttons to press.  We couldn’t have been more impressed with the kindness of strangers.

In all situations, however, we discovered we needed these five words to get us by:

  1. Konnichiwa- こんにちは – “Hello” or “Good Afternoon”

    The first and most useful word you should learn.

  2. Sumimasen-すみません – “Excuse Me”

    You’ll definitely need this one on the metro.  People will kindly move out of your way if you announce your need to get through with this phrase.

    You can also use this as a greeting if approaching someone for help.

  3. Arigatou – ありがとう – “Thank You”

    In any language, this is the most important word in your arsenal.  A single Arigatou can go a long way.  Accompanied by a minuscule bow of your torso, use this to express your thanks in any situation.

    If you’re feeling extremely grateful, use Arigatou Gozaimasu ありがとうございます–the equivalence of “Thank you very much”.

  4. Kudasai-ください – “Please”

    Equally as important as Arigatou, please use Kudasai when asking for anything!

    There is also a more formal version: Onegaishimasu おねがいします, but we only heard this once or twice, as Kudasai is more widely used.

  5. Gomennasai-ごめんなさい – “I’m Sorry”

    Remember this one for the metro, especially since you’re probably carrying luggage.  It’s impossible not to bump into anyone, so be sure to offer a Gomennasai if warranted.  You might also hear native speakers use an abbreviated “Gomen”.

    The deer in Nara Park speak the language of food.
    The deer in Nara Park speak the language of food, particularly the biscuits you can buy for ¥150.

     

Bonus Words:

Though not strictly necessary, these words were also useful on our trip:

  • Ohayougozaimasu-おはようございます – “Good Morning”
    Used in greeting.  Can also shorten to “Ohayo”
  • Konbonwa-こんぼんは – “Good Evening”
    In greeting
  • Kore-これ – “This”
    I paired this with Kudasai, while pointing at something on a menu: “Kore Kudasai” was pretty easy to remember.
  • Sore-それ – “That”
    The partner to Kore, this one is also easy to remember.
  • Dozo-どぞ – “Go ahead”
    You might not use this one, but you’ll probably hear it a lot when a shop keeper uses it to call the next person in line!  You might also hear it expressed as “Hai Dozo”, as in “Yes, go ahead”.

What about Numbers?

When making a purchase, I noticed there was either a cash register which displayed the cost, or the cashier would type the total on a calculator for you.

I thought I had learned the numbers before our trip–but would often forget them under pressure, so therefore didn’t end up using them much.  Overall I would say they’re not strictly necessary.charms at Japanese temples

What about ordering food?

In eating establishments, almost always they will use Roman words alongside the Japanese.  In some cases, we didn’t even need to speak to anyone to order–several ramen shops we went to had vending machines where you purchased a ticket with the food you wanted, and these would always have pictures.  Then, you simply hand your ticket to the person waiting your table.

ordering crepes in Japan
Pictures with numbers, or often plastic replicas of food will also help you order.

That’s it!

With those five words we traveled the Tokyo metro, took several Shinkansen across the country, ate in plenty of different types of food establishments, did tons of shopping, bought tickets for parks and aquariums, visited temples and shrines, and were able to thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

For my first time in Japan, I think I can safely say those five words are all you need–though, of course, now that I want to return, I’m learning a bit more so as to interact with people more!

またね Matane! (See you Later)

 

One Month On: Bullet Journalling

Have you heard of bullet journalling?  I. Am. Hooked.

I came across it on Instagram one day about a month ago, and was highly intrigued.

It’s a combination calendar, to-do list, diary, daily inspiration, goal tracker, fitness tracker, (ANYTHING tracker), and, one of my favorites: a place to keep important info.

Did I lose anybody there?  Probably.
The first step is admitting you have a problem, and I have a calendar problem.

The bullet journal can be all of those things above because it starts with a blank notebook. I went with a grid lined spiral notebook.  Spiral, because I like to be able to rip out pages if I need to, and have no trace left behind.

bujo year

There’s lots of official terms and ways of bullet journalling, but here’s the breakdown:

You start with a yearly calendar (aka “future log”…I refuse to call it that), including big important dates, holidays, birthdays, and the like.

Then, you drill down…

bujo month

Next is the current month.  Here I put big dates that weren’t likely to change–although the erasable Frixion pen I have has been the best thing that ever happened to bullet journalling, in my opinion.

In August, I tried using a page to track things I was grateful for on a daily basis.  I started off fine, but about mid-month I starting missing days–which irritated me, because I put 31 spaces to write things.

This month, I’m going with a more flexible “happy moments” tracker.  This way, I can write more than one–or none–in a day.  The leaves I don’t fill, I can just color in later!

bujo weekThen we have the weeklies.  I’ve made five weekly spreads now, and each of them has been different.  I think this is why I like bullet journalling so much.  After a point, I figured out how much room I really needed per day, and discovered some things I could insert to fill the rest of the spread.  Things like fitness trackers, dinner planning, weekly goals or tasks, inspirational quotes, and a few times now: space to doodle or color in.

bujo booksIn between these planning pages, you can add anything you want.  Some extra pages I’ve added are a Dinner Ideas List, Books I’ve Read/To Read page, and now that I’m learning to read and write Japanese, syllabaries for hiragana and katakana.  すごい!

To keep track of all these calendars and random pages, you create a table of contents (“Index”) at the beginning, and number each page.

Only a few weeks before I started bullet journalling, I looked longingly at some planners at the bookstore, but I knew better than to buy them.  I have never had any luck using a regular planner. I always liked the idea, but never stuck with it.

The obvious benefit of using a journal like this, is (personally) when I write down a task, I feel like I’m committed to completing it.  So when I wrote “Write more blog posts” as a goal for September…well, here we are.

I can see how it appeals to bloggers and people who are lucky enough to work from home.  Perhaps some day that will be me! #AmWriting

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Konnichiwa

How embarrassing is it that my last blog post was from New Year’s?

This year has already been an intense, non-stop, time-gobbling year.  At first, I didn’t have time to write because I was buying a house.  Then, I didn’t have time to write because I was going on a two week trip to Japan.  Then, I didn’t have time to write blog posts because I was busy writing the final book in the Arcera Trilogy!  I think that last one is a valid excuse.

Since I’m in the final stages of editing A Rift Between Cities, I am buckling down and finally writing the posts I’ve been wanting to write.

As I mentioned above, I went on a trip to Japan this spring, it was すごい!  (amazing)  So, of course, I’ll be writing a series of blog posts about Japan, things I learned there, and most importantly, the best food we ate!

Also, I’m learning Japanese.  こんにちは!

I recently started using a bullet journal to keep organized.  I thought I’d give it a try, and I’m totally in love.  It is literally my favorite things combined:  making calendars, being organized, doodling, making lists, and of course, washi tape.  I’ll be talking about it more soon, after I’ve completed a whole month.

Let’s just say you can’t spell check with a pen, and I obviously can’t spell exercising.

With the impending completion of A Rift Between Cities, I feel like I’m at an awesome crossroads with my writing.  I am ready to start something new, but I will always have the world of Arcera.

Come catch me at a few events this fall, and you’ll get an early peak at the cover for ARBC!

The Big E (Celebrating 100 years!)
I’ll be in the Connecticut Building
Saturday, Sept 17- 10am-1pm
Wednesday, Sept 21– 4pm-7pm  *Connecticut Day
Saturday, Oct 1 – 1pm-4pm

The Connecticut Renaissance Faire
Saturday, October 29th
Yes, I’ll be dressing up.

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Twas the Night Before Release…

… And all through the eve’,
Liz Delton was thinking
’bout Sylvia, Ven and Neve.

Okay, I’ll stop now.

Anyway, The Fifth City will be released tomorrow, going out into the world to be read!  I can’t wait.  Oh, and Meadowcity is free right now.

So I embarked on a new creative project tonight for a little art therapy (and I’ve been wanting to try this for a while!).  Check out this sweet custom sharpie mug I’m making:

It hasn’t gone in the oven yet, because A. I don’t know what I want to put on the other side yet, and B. Not entirely sure how long to put it in for (because all the instructions differ).  If it comes out good maybe I’ll do another post on the DIY breakdown.  So far, so good; I got the Oil-Based Paint Markers everyone (aka “the Internet”) says to use.

If you’re in Connecticut, come see me at the East Granby Public Library tomorrow from 6-8 for some free food, and to get your signed copy of The Fifth City!

Saturday I’ll be at Hartford Public Library from 12-3 doin’ the same thing (minus the food).

Three hours til launch; let’s do this!

Baking Traditions

It’s that time of year again…time to make Christmas sweets!

In between formatting Meadowcity for paperback, coordinating the cover design with the cover artist, and outlining my marketing plan, I managed to make two batches of fudge and one batch of caramels this weekend, all to great success.  It mostly involved me standing in front of the stove all day, stirring!

The fudge recipe is no secret, so I’ll share it here.  My mom has used this recipe since I can remember, and it always comes out perfect.  I experimented with a different flavor for the season, and it turned out really well, if I do say so myself.

Fluff Never Fail Fudge

  • 5 Cups Sugar
  • 10 oz Evaporated Milk
  • 1/4 lb (1 stick) Butter
  • 1 jar of Fluff
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1.5 tsp Vanilla
  • 24 oz  Chocolate Chips

– Combine first five ingredients in a tall saucepan on low  (I put it on “3” out of 11).  Stir until blended.

– Once blended, increase heat to medium/low and slowly bring to a boil (I raise my burner up to between 4-5).  Stir constantly!

– Once it has begun to boil, set a timer for 5 minutes.

– Use the “soft ball” test to determine if it is finished after your 5 minutes.  Get a glass of cold cold water and drip some of the mixture in.  If it forms a small ball by itself as it falls through the water, then it’s ready.

– Remove from heat, and add the chocolate and vanilla.  {Adding the vanilla is my favorite part, because it gets all frothy for a second!}

– Stir like the wind, and pour into a buttered pan.  Let it cool for a while, then cut.

This year I made traditional milk chocolate, but I wanted to experiment with the second batch.  So I bought some white chocolate chips, and two boxes of candy canes to make White Chocolate Candy Cane Fudge!

First, I learned why crushed candy canes are $4 for a tiny container–while unwrapping 24 candy canes from their ridiculous cellophane wrappers of doom.  It was a good thing the candy canes I bought were about to be crushed up, because ONE candy cane out of all that I opened was whole and complete.  The rest were in three pieces at best.

 

I love my tiny food processor.  It has two settings–keeping it nice and easy.

And chopping things into small bits is always fun.

 

Right?

 

 

 

Anyway, instead of adding 1 cup of walnuts like the original recipe calls for, I added 1 cup of candy cane powder/bits.  It did turn the fudge a little pink, but the taste is great!  You can definitely taste both the white chocolate, and candy cane, and there are some small bits of candy cane that you can crunch on.

 Overall, I think these will go quite nicely nestled between milk chocolate fudge and homemade caramels in my goodie boxes.