Bird Migration

If you follow anything that has to do with climate change, you will inevitably come across dozens of articles and websites (National Audubon Society comes to mind) on how climate change is not only affecting bird migration, but the number and types of birds, their routes, and even their lives.

Here in North Texas, I spend a lot of time in my backyard during migration periods. It’s one of the few occasions where I can see birds from other parts of the world. We get a lot of birds heading down to coastal Texas and into Mexico.

Recently, I came across an impressive website that tracks bird migration day by day. It’s called Birdcast. It highlights the United States based on not only predicted bird movement, for live migration maps and migration alerts. On September 28 it was predicted that 295 million birds would migrate that night alone.

Go check out their website. It’s an eye-opener. Oh, and while you’re there. Map when the birds might be migrating through your town and turn off your outdoor lights at night. Light pollution is one of the largest threats to birds during their migration. A small thing we can all do to protect our feathered friends who can’t speak for themselves.

Thanks for spending time with me. Please, let’s all work together to ensure there is a future for all of us.

Friends in High Places by Rob Smales

I’ve seen Rob read a few times at Pandemonium Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His readings are always lively and memorable. He’s a talented reader as well as a masterful writer. If you get to see him read, consider yourself fortunate.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from his novel, Friends in High Places. One never knows what to expect with Rob Smales. I’m here to tell you, this novel will haunt me for quite some time. His characters, in this case, a group of young boys, are not only engaging but familiar. We’ve all been there. We all had childhood fears and phobias. And I bet we’ve all had a special group of friends to share those terrifying times with. It’s part of growing up. It’s how we learn to become adults and deal with difficult situations. If you’re like me those childhood memories are alive and well in me today. I’ve learned to keep them at bay (most of the time).

When I was eleven or twelve. I had an overactive imagination. Same as most kids. I always believed that writing horror for twenty-two years made me immune to the scares. Rob proved me wrong. His novel spooked me beyond words. This is a classic ghost story in a whole new light, or dark in this case. From the moment I opened the book, I realized Rob was taking me someplace I didn’t want to go, yet I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t stop reading because I was there in the story with the four friends. I was not only witnessing the events that unfolded I was also living it.

I knew Rob’s craft of storytelling is impressive, but I had no idea how unique and twisted his stories could get. Rob has brought my childhood fears to life once more, and I’m constantly looking over my shoulder. Thanks, Rob.

Available at Amazon. Amazon affiliate link

Sicilian Cauliflower Steaks

This dish has everything going for it. It’s hearty enough to be the main meal. It’s rich and buttery with notes of pepper from the capers and the sweetness of the cauliflower shines after being roasted. It is one of our go-to meals regardless of the season. It comes from the Sicilian region of Italy and pairs wonderfully with a crisp white wine. One of my favorite wines for this dish is Grillo, a drier wine with notes of flowers and citrus. 

Times are approximate: Prep: 10-15 minutes            Cook: 20 minutes        Serves: 4

1 large head cauliflower, stem end trimmed, but leave the stem intact.

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

8 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley (chopped)

¼ cup capers, drained

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

1 lemon, quartered

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Use parchment paper to line a rimmed baking sheet.

Place the cauliflower, stem side down, on a cutting board and cut into 3/4-inch slices. Don’t worry if pieces fall off. It’s part of the cauliflowers, charm. Place the slices and any pieces on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the cauliflower with 1 Tbs. of olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast until the cauliflower is soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes.

While roasting, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, swirling the pan, until the butter foams and begins to brown, timing is difficult due to differences in heat, just be careful not to burn the butter. Add the pine nuts then remove the pan from the heat. Cover pan to keep warm.

Once the cauliflower is caramelized and roasted transfer slices to a large platter. Drizzle the brown butter and pine nuts over the “steaks” and sprinkle the parsley and capers on top.

Place platter on the table and let people serve themselves, squeezing a little lemon over their plate.

Like most recipes, I modify them to remove anything in the Allium family. The original recipe comes from William Sonoma.

From my table to yours. Happy eating.

Putting Myself Out There

My website is officially out there for the world to see. It was a long process of self-discovery, even with a minimalistic site like mine. Putting myself out there, to be perfectly honest, is terrifying. I’m an introvert. I’m much happier behind the scenes. Sure, I’ve done my share of readings and book signings, but that’s not my natural setting. I know it’s good for me to be out in the world face to face. (At least before the pandemic). Moments leading up to events were nerve-racking. Afterward, there was a sense of unimaginable excitement. A rush of adrenaline and pride in myself for doing something so against the grain of who I am.

It, the website, and my sense of who I am as a writer are still a work in progress. I often wonder if we ever really land in one place. After twenty-three years of writing, I’ve shifted and morphed several times. Not just in genres, but also in my style, in my characters, and my ideas. If we do stay in one place, is there even a point to writing? Shouldn’t we all be striving for something different in each piece we write? A different perspective, a different way of looking at the world around us.

I hope you enjoy my website and learn a bit more about me from my various posts. I’ll be behind the scenes where I am the most comfortable. From the other side of this screen, I’ll continue to blend genres, genders, and identities in horror and urban fantasy. I will continue to work to give my unique characters and perspectives a place in the larger world.

Until next time, be well and be safe.

Bill

A walk on the wild side

My love of squirrels isn’t a secret to most people I know. I’ve been called the squirrel whisperer by many of my loved ones. It takes a while for these beautiful and excitable creatures to trust me, but once they do, we have made a connection.

There are about eleven squirrels now that I’m feeding. 3 years ago, I had 2. Yes, they talk and spread the news of the wealth of tasty treats in my backyard. I make homemade nutrition bars for them, which they love. They also get apple and pear cores that are refrigerated during the hot summer months for a cool and juice treat.

And yes, they all have names. They are my pets and like all pet owners, you give your furry ones a name. They each have their personality, or a characteristic, or sometimes unfortunately a flaw or injury that makes them unique. Stitch has his right ear split down the middle. Smudge has a very large black nose. Tim (trouble I make) well you can figure that one out for yourself.

Every morning I have my coffee on the back patio, and they join us for breakfast. Between the squirrels, butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and at current count 63 species of birds, they have kept me sane during the lockdown and pandemic. Watching them going about their morning routines not know about the pandemic gives me a sense of hope, or at least, a sense of normal.

I belong to numerous wildlife associations, preservation groups, you name it, I’ve probably contributed in some way to help support our wildlife. Let’s face it, they were here long before us. We’ve invaded their homes and their spaces. I feel it’s time we give back to them.

Keep an eye out under this category “coffee with squirrels” for interesting tidbits, and articles about preservation and habitat work that’s going on. I’ll even share links in ways in which you can help. These posts are for the creatures that can’t speak for themselves. I want to be their voice.

Garlic and Onion Free Cooking

For those who know me or have experienced my cooking, then you’ll know that I never use any foods in the Allium family. (Onions, garlic, chives, shallots, leeks, etc…) Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, trust me. I used to be just like you. I lived on the stuff. Alas my partner of 24 years, has an intolerance to these ingredients, so I’ve had to adapt and adjust all my recipes.

After all these years you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. Food is so much better without these ingredients. You can taste everything down to the herbs and salt and pepper. There is no better way to cover up the taste of food than by using onions and garlic. Trust me. I’ve never enjoyed food more, and I feel better as well.

To share my love of not living in the world of the Allium family, I will be sharing some of my favorite recipes with you. You’ll have to trust me. You’ll never miss what’s not there. I’ll provide tips and tricks to get the most flavor out of your ingredients and share some of my secret blends of rubs and spices to enjoy for yourself.

From my table to yours. Happy eating.

Malinae by Josh Schlossberg

Josh Schlossberg has done something very few people have done. He’s created not only a gripping and terrifying story but has done so with characters in their eighties. It’s a heartbreaking love story as Ward watches his wife of fifty years slip further into dementia. It’s a story many of us can relate to. But there’s something deeper at play in Josh’s story. With expert craft, he turns the tides on the reader as Ward discovers there is more to his wife’s dementia, and it isn’t human.

The story is intricate and woven together beautifully. Josh is a master storyteller, and Malinae is the proof.

This is a story that will tug at your heart on many levels. Highly recommended.

Amazon affiliate links

Kindle Edition 

Paperback

New Beginnings

After 23 years of writing and over 100 published works it feels strange to talk about new beginnings. That’s where I’m at. This, my first blog post on my new online presence. Along with writing, I’ve been working to rebuild my writing after several years away.

I’ve not stopped writing. That will never happen (until I’m dead – and even then, who knows). To be honest, I’ve not been eager to jump back into the world of publishing. There were some nasty experiences that held me back. A publisher publishing my work without a signed contract. A publisher who told me that my novella was too “gay,” and “they couldn’t afford to upset their readers,” whatever that means. And to be honest, there wasn’t any romance or gay sex. The two main characters happened to be boyfriends. That was the extent of the “gay.”

These negative experiences derailed my writing. I admit it. I let them. I gave up trying to publish even with the awards and accolades of some of my published works. I’ve even received the rights back to all my work, which has allowed me to feel a sense of renewal and rebirth.

So, here’s to my first post, and many more to come. I hope anyone reading this and future ramblings can find something useful to take away. I promise not to bore you with mundane life stuff. This is my writing life, and I promise to keep it that way. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

With thanks for keeping a watchful eye. So long as you don’t stalk me. Okay, you can stalk. Go ahead.