Play Find the PJ at RT16 in Las Vegas!

IBGpromo v2I’m headed to RT16 in Vegas this year to kick off my con season.

The RT Booklover’s Convention is huge, packed with great authors and readers, and incredibly fun. I’ve attended for several years in a row now and it’s been memorable every time.

This year, there’s a special gift for science fiction and science fiction romance readers. Many SF and SFR authors have contributed to Dealer’s Choice, an anthology to be given away exclusively to attendees at the Intergalactic Bar & Grille. So mark the event in your schedules, my friends!

PJ’s Scheduled Appearances on Panels and at Events:

First Timer (aka Virgin) Orientation

This convention orientation is designed for all first-time RT attendees. We’ll give you the “quickie” seminar experience. Trust us: if this is your first-ever RT Booklovers Convention, this could be the most important 60 minutes of your week! After you head to registration, get your bag of goodies and experience the initial shock and awe, you’re going to have questions. That’s where we come in. Come join us for an hour that, for some, has been a life-altering experience. We understand what it’s like — your virgin year at RT! Here is where you get your questions answered, meet other first-timers and become part of a special group like no other during convention week.

Host(s):

Tuesday, April 12, 12:15pm-1:15pm, Brasilia 6

Steampunk: The Diverse Punk

Sin City Murder Mystery!

Think fast. Love slow. Keeping great pace!

Romantic Suspense: Alpha Heroes and Kick-Ass Heroines: Romantic Suspense Characters That Make Readers Cheer

Romantic suspense is filled with super-hot alphas and kick-ass heroines, but how to craft those three-dimensional characters so readers will cheer for them until the very last page? These best-selling authors will discuss the building blocks of fan-favorite characters, the role of the heroine in romantic suspense, breaking characters stereotypes, balancing character and plot, crossing genres and more!

Moderator:

Panelist(s):

Friday, April 15, 10:00am-11:00am, Lambada

Memorable Themes and Settings in Romantic Suspense

From treasure hunts in the Caribbean, to the jungles of Central America, from New Orleans society and cemeteries to Key West intrigue: how to incorporate memorable themes and settings into romantic suspense.

Panelist(s):

Friday, April 15, 11:15am-12:15pm, Tropical C

Intergalactic Bar & Grille

Attention starship crew! Charge your blasters and get ready to repel the invasion of the dastardly alien space ducks as we drink, snack and indulge in sci-fi silliness at RT’s only sci-fi party. Win prizes! The first 200 crew members to report for duty get goody bags loaded with swag. Brought to you by Captain Linnea Sinclair and her trusty space commando authors!

Host(s):

Friday, April 15, 2:45pm-3:45pm, Brasilia 2
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Smoky Writers Retreat

I’ve known about the Smoky Writers Retreat for a couple of years now, since the first year it was organized, but this was the first year I was able to attend.
Wow. I’ll be making it a scheduling priority in future years if they’ll have me.
Every writing retreat is different in the group of people attending and the structure in place to promote a writerly environment.

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One of the aspects I’ve enjoyed here was also the coming together to share nifty ideas. I love nifty ideas.  I’ve had the pleasure of listening to an excellent audio drama in the making and some really good writing samples. I’ve played with ideas for anthologies and talked about marketing strategy.
This retreat, above all else, has been a fantastic meeting of minds. And I’m right here in the middle of it, with the rest of the week ahead of me. 🙂

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Shout out and Cover Reveal: The Ghost Rebellion

It’s here, the cover reveal of The Ghost Rebellion, Book 5 of The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences!

About the Project:

The first four books of the series were traditionally published and this fifth installment in the adventures of Books and Braun is also an adventure in incredibly successful Kickstarter endeavor. Authors Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris consistently inspire me with their nifty projects and this Kickstarter blew my mind. Do not be surprised to see a book on crowdfunding coming from these two, my friends. They’ve had a great track record and it’s because their projects are well-planned and nothing short of awesome!

Enough about Tee and Pip, lets get to The Ghost Rebellion – ebook available for pre-order now!

The Cover:

The Ghost Rebellion

Cover model: Verena Vorsatz
Photography: Michael Ward of Go ForWard
Book design: Starla Huchton of Designed by Starla
Make-up Artist: Tamara Barnett of Tennille Makeup Artistry
Additional Costuming: PJ Schnyder and Kevin Houghton
Behind the Scenes Wrangling: Matthew J Drake and Christina Payton

Blurb:

From authors Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris, the award winning steampunk series continues…

The chase is on! After rescuing Queen Victoria from the clutches of the Maestro, Agents Eliza D Braun and Wellington Books are in hot pursuit of Dr Henry Jekyll. While he continues his experiments on the aristocracy of Europe, he leaves a trail of chaos and despair in his wake. However when Eliza and Wellington run him to ground in India, they are forced to come face to face with ghosts from the past, and the realities of empire.

Meanwhile Ministry agents Brandon Hill and Bruce Campbell travel deep into Russia hunting down a rare ingredient to save Queen Victoria’s life. Amid the cold they uncover a threat from the revitalized House of Usher that comes directly from their new Chairman.

All in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences will find their allegiances in question, and their mettle tested as a new dastardly era of international intrigue dawns.

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Thai Chicken Curry (Green Curry – Gang Keow Wan Gai)

I was inspired to try making this dish after watching Full House (Thai Version). It’s with both chicken meat and chicken …feet!

This is not a common dish in the US and I don’t have many US friends who eat chicken feet, actually. Most often, I’ve seen chicken feet served braised at Chinese dim sum. They can be very tasty but are considered a lot of work and messy to eat because there’s so many bones. Personally, I figure it’s not that much messier or work intensive than eating buffalo chicken wings, so if you like chicken feet, this might be a fun dish for you.

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Ingredients

2 cans coconut milk
2 lb chicken thighs, cut in half with bone in
1.5 lb chicken feet, cleaned with claws cut off
4 – 6 Tablespoons green curry paste (to taste)
2 to 4 cups Thai eggplants, cut into quarters
2 cups Winter Melon (Ash Gourd), peeled and cut into thin slices
6-8 kaffir lime leaves
1 bunch fresh Thai basil, wash and strip off leaves, discard stems
2 to 4 teaspoon fish sauce (to taste)
1 to 2 teaspoon palm sugar (optional)
2 to 4 Thai red peppers, sliced thinly at an angle

(Note: Thai cooking is not an exact type of cooking style. EVERYTHING is give or take a bit depending on preference and taste. It turns out a bit different every time.)

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Prepare chicken feet by cleaning well in cold water and clipping off the claws.

In a large pot, add 2 can coconut milk and 2 can water (just measure water using the coconut milk can). Add a teaspoon of palm sugar and a splash of fish sauce. Add chicken feet and the rest of the chicken meat to simmer for about 2 hours or until all meat is cooked through and tender.

If you haven’t prepared your vegetables yet, this is a good time to wash and cut them.

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Spoon two to three tablespoons of coconut milk mixture from cooking the chicken pieces into a  very large pot or super-sized wok over medium-high heat. Add the 4 to 6 tablespoons of green curry paste (less if you prefer curry less spicy). Use a wooden spoon to stir the curry paste into the small amount of coconut milk until smooth and bubbly and continue to cook until curry paste changes color and becomes very pungent, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add cooked chicken feet and chicken meat. Stir to ensure that all chicken pieces are separate and coated in curry paste.

Add the coconut milk mixture to cover. Stir gently and bring to a simmer. Lower to low heat and add Thai eggplant quarters, winter melon, kaffir lime leaves, and basil leaves.

Allow to simmer for 1/2 hour to an hour. Add fish sauce in teaspoon increments, stirring thoroughly and tasting each time until the curry is salted to taste. Add palm sugar a teaspoon at a time to taste also. (Sugar should be used sparingly here, only to deepen flavor and not to make the curry actually sweet. The winter melon and eggplant already have a natural sweetness.) Add Thai peppers a few slices at a time depending on how much more spicy heat you want to add to the curry.

Allow to simmer covered for a total of 2 hours so that chicken is very tender. The longer this cooks, the better the flavors develop so don’t worry about allowing to simmer longer covered.

Notes:

  • This is a low to medium spicy curry for me. If you don’t prefer spicy curry, you can reduce the amount of curry paste and opt out of adding the peppers to the curry during cooking. Just before serving, slice Thai red peppers in half and clean out seeds (this is where the majority of the hot flavor is). Slice the red halves in thin slivers and sprinkle across the top as garnish.
  • Winter melon is also known as Christmas melon, wax gourd, or ash gourd. It might be difficult to acquire. Chayote is a reasonable substitute or even zucchini.

Serve with Thai white rice.

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In Their Own Worlds: London Undead

I am so excited to share this. I’m going to give you two pieces of information: In Their Own Worlds. By J.R. Blackwell.

More stuff to share after you enjoy the image.

The Teaser:
In Their Own Worlds: London Undead

Yup. That would be me, plunged into the world I created for the London Undead. I’m hunting zombies alongside my very own werewolf in the midst of the zombie apocalypse. I shared the In Their Own Worlds project last year and this is the follow up. A teaser image, to give you an idea of how amazing this photoshoot turned out.

Behind the Scenes of my In Their Own Worlds shoot

I arrived on a Saturday morning and was taken to get my hair washed, blown out, and done up for the shoot. The pampering definitely made me feel like a VIP. Wow!

Watching the special effects make up for both the zombies and our werewolf was a major learning experience. Two zombies had really detailed, freaky prosthetics and make up applied to their faces for their roles in the foreground. Three zombies had a bit less detail as they would be in the background of most shots. However, once we arrived on site, everyone was treated with dust and fake blood. Magnificent shambling zombies. 😀

Because the photo shoot was targeting the “magic hour” we kept our timing in mind. There’d be a limited window of time in which to complete the shoot. So J.R. took me aside with our werewolf to practice five basic poses to make sure we were comfortable and knew what we’d be doing. The poses were meant to capture action and romance, keeping in mind the way my stories feature action-packed romance. (See what I did there?) Thus we were able to get on site and jump immediately into character. Very efficient. No time wasted. And we caught a beautiful sunset in a majority of the shots as our reward.

Honestly, the sunset hours really are “magic hours” and no post-processing filters can match the impact of a real sunset when it comes to what the light does to and for people.

At one point, there was also some real terror thanks to the inadvertent discovery of a bee hive…

Coming Soon

Working with J.R. Blackwell is an honor and a pleasure. I hope I’ve been able to communicate to you a hint of how wonderful the experience was in this photo shoot. The people in this project were friendly, fun personalities. Our werewolf was kind and good-natured, considerate and almost too polite for romance. 😉

Sometime in Spring of 2016, J.R. will be displaying the final images from not only my photoshoot but also the images from Jared Axelrod, Chuck Wendig, Ellen Kushner, and Ursula Vernon. Watch for the final images. They’re so worth it.

Posted in miscellany, writing Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Kanom Krok

Kanom Krok (??????) is a Thai street food I enjoyed growing up. It was generally available in the market place around breakfast time but can be enjoyed throughout the day. These little cups have a thin, crispy outer layer with a super soft delicately coconut inner core. Some may add a few kernels of sweet corn or a few shreds of spring onion for added flavor but I find these are just as good on their own.

(recipe adapted from Rachel Cooks Thai)

Outer Layer Ingredients:

1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 Tablespoons cooked jasmine rice
1/4 cup finely grated unsweetened coconut
8 Tablespoons club soda
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Inner Layer Ingredients:

1 cup coconut cream
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons rice flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
green onion, corn, taro, or pumpkin for toppings

INSTRUCTIONSIMG_2523

Make the inner layer by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl and mixing until smooth. Set aside.

Next start to make the outer layer by mixing all ingredients except the cooked jasmine rice, coconut flakes, and 2 tablespoons of the club soda in a small bowl. Set aside.

Pound or blend the cooked jasmine rice and coconut flakes with the 2 tablespoons of club soda until they form a fine paste.

I use a traditional mortar and pestle made in Thailand but a food processor will do the job.

Incorporate the rice and coconut paste into the rest of the outer ingredients along with the remaining club soda.

Heat your seasoned khanom krok pan over medium heat. (An Ebelskiver pan or even a Cake Pop Maker can work!)

Add a drop of canola oil (~1/8 teaspoon) to each well and let it get hot. It should be hot enough that when you add the batter it sizzles. I used a silicon pastry brush to oil the little wells.

Add about 1 tablespoon of the outer layer mix to each well and then lift the pan (using a pan holder – it’s hot!) and swirl it until the batter forms a thin layer around the entire well OR use a tiny spoon or chopsticks to gentle press the batter up along the sides of the well. I used cooking chopsticks and found this safer than lifting the pan and swirling.

Add about 1 tablespoon of the inner layer to each well to fill it. If you want to add toppings, add them at this point.

Then, cover the pan with a top and let it steam for about 5-6 minutes until the bottom layer is golden brown and the top layer is fairly solid.

Using a teaspoon, gently lift each custard from the pan. They should be golden brown on the undersides.

Serve the khanom krok in pairs of two.

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What I Did This Summer…and it isn’t over yet

September snuck up on me. But summer, it isn’t over yet.

My summer started to rush by when I had a series of day job business trips taking me from Indianapolis to San Diego to Philadelphia before flying directly to Dallas for the RT Booklover’s Convention. Any one of those trips would’ve been enough to drain a person but all of them back to back left me dizzy and ready to nap for a week.

But RT Booklover’s Convention created some great memories for me. I got to support my good friend, Philippa Ballantine, as she accepted an RT Reviewer’s Choice award for Steampunk on behalf of herself and her co-author/husband, Tee Morris. I also got to know one of my favorite authors, Patricia Briggs, and her husband.

The following weeks passed me by in a flurry of deadlines and intense day job projects.

Summer Riding

PJ, CeeCee, and Patty

Then my boyfriend and I spent a few much needed rest days with Patty and Mike at their home. Patty and Mike are wonderful hosts, great company, and really interesting conversationalists. We had adventures on horseback, cooking, and driving around vineyards and various locations chatting about any number of topics. I’m afraid my inner fangirl came out a few times as I asked questions about the Mercy Thompson series as well as Alpha and Omega.

I’ve learned I am much better at walking horses than riding them but I hope to learn more about horses overall.

All in all, the weekend was pretty incredible.

 

BiteMe BehindtheScenes

Behind the Scenes of In Their Own Worlds

August hit with a fantastic dive back into the world of the London Undead as J.R. Blackwell dropped me in the midst of my own zombie apocalypse with a werewolf at my back to fight the hungry horde.

The In Their Own Worlds gallery showing will be sometime before Spring 2016 in Philadelphia and Bite Me will be one of the featured worlds.

Teaser warning: My agent returned from the RWA annual conference this summer with a few leads for me and I might be preparing an idea to pitch for next year involving werewolves. Maybe. Something all new and action-packed. I’ll leave it buried here in this post for those who might be looking for such news. 😛

And now we’re in the middle of September. The summer, it isn’t over yet. Because I am about to embark on a nautical adventure of epic proportions with such great company as Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells. I’ll be a part of the 2015 Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat on the Independence of the Seas for a Western Caribbean cruise!

Matthew J. Drake and I plan to record at least one podcast episode of Mangos & White Rice on the cruise. My alter-identity is also under deadline, so there will be many words. MANY WORDS.

I’ll see you when my ship returns to port. 😉

Posted in nifty projects, writing Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Kaffir Lime Ice Cream

PJs Kaffir Lime Ice Cream

I’ve been messing with ice cream recipes for kaffir lime for years now. The leaves of the kaffir lime tree are wonderfully versatile and fragrant. I love to add them to soups, finely slice them for salads or tea, and now I’ve got a recipe I’m really happy with for ice cream too! As a note, I do grow my own kaffir lime tree(s) so I harvest my leaves fresh from the tree. It’s harder to find them in grocery stores and using older leaves may require a longer simmer time to transfer the flavor to the milk.

Homemade kaffir lime ice cream with my morning tea and I don't even feel a little guilty. #foodporn

A photo posted by PJ Schnyder (@pjschnyder) on

3-4 servings

Ingredients:

12 – 14 fresh kaffir lime leaves, washed
6 to 7 ounces (180 mL) evaporated milk, just over 1 cup
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 mL) sugar
1/8 teaspoon (.625 mL) salt
1/2 cup (120 mL) heavy cream

Roughly chop kaffir lime leaves.

Notes: No need to be pretty. This is just to maximize flavor transfer and will be strained out of the mixture. Also, try to chop right before you go to the next step so the leaves are very fresh.

Pour the evaporated milk into a small pot and add fresh chopped kaffir lime leaves. Bring to a simmer. Be careful not to boil it or scald the milk by making the heat too high. Patience here.

Meanwhile, separate the egg yolks and place into a mixer. Add vanilla extract, sugar, and regular salt. Whisk on medium to high until the mixture falls off the whisk in thick ribbons.

Using a strainer to separate out (and discard) the kaffir lime leaves, incorporate the simmered milk into the egg mixture by mixing and pouring in slowly. Once combined, pour entire mixture back into the small pot and place on stove at a medium heat.

Whisk continuously until the mixture begins to thicken and take on a custard like texture. Be very careful not to boil or overheat the pot otherwise your eggs will begin to scramble.

Once finished, place the mixture into the freezer until it reaches room temperature (30-45 minutes)

Using an ice cream maker, add the room temperature custard to the freezing bowl and start the paddles turning. Slowly add heavy cream and allow the mixture to mix and freeze to soft serve ice cream. Store in freezer overnight for a more solid set.

Making kaffir lime ice cream to enjoy at midnight. #foodporn

A video posted by PJ Schnyder (@pjschnyder) on


Serving suggestions: goes really well with Girl Scout Cookies.

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PJ Schnyder and In Their Own Worlds

I often recommend surrounding yourself with nifty people. There’s something wonderful about being surrounded by creative minds and being inspired by them. The support and encouragement from a circle of nifty people is incomparable.

Now let me introduce you (not for the first time) to the incredibly talented J.R. Blackwell. J.R. is planning a fascinating photography project and I think her words describe best what she is planning to do:

Magnificent, strange and terrifying worlds are created in an authors mind. For In Their Own Worlds my team and I will build those magical worlds using professional costumes, makeup and the best settings we can find to stage our production. The authors will journey into the worlds of their novels becoming characters in their own adventure.

I want to create big, beautiful, complicated photoshoots. I’ve been planning this project for over a year and I’ve assembled my dream team of artists and authors. Now I need the budget to make it a reality. Through the backer-exclusive updates, I’ll take you with me as I arrange photoshoots, work on props and costumes, recruit models, complete test shots, edit photos and launch a fabulous gallery show.

photo by J.R. Blackwell

photo by J.R. Blackwell

In Their Own Worlds is funded and hit me as a stretch goal!

model: PJ Schnyder photo by J.R. Blackwell

model: PJ Schnyder
photo by J.R. Blackwell

This means J.R. Blackwell will be placing me in the world of the London Undead for a photoshoot, introducing me to my zombies and a werewolf inspired by Bite Me. o.o

J.R. assures me my chances of surviving the encounter are very good. After all, the werewolf is quite in love with me. I am all about being prepared though and my zombies come in two types: the slow, shambling kind and the super fast, voraciously vicious kind.

I should keep training for the zombie apocalypse…

In the meantime, please consider backing the project for behind-the-scene insight and photos as well as including even more authors in this incredible photography project including my dear friends from The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, Mur Lafferty, Chuck Wendig and many more!

 

In Their Own Worlds, a photography project by J.R. Blackwell.

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Butterbeer!

Yup. This is a recipe for the wonderfully tasty butterbeer Harry Potter fans might be dreaming of when they revisit Hogwarts int he nvoels or even the parks down in FL.

Ingredients for BUTTERBEER:
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
4 shots of Butterscotch Liqueur
Four 12-ounce bottles cream soda
1 pint vanilla ice-cream

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle bubble and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the mixture reads 240°F on a candy thermometer.

Stir in butter, salt, and 1/4 cup heavy cream. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once the mixture has cooled, stir in Butterscotch Liqueur.

In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Mix the remaining brown sugar mixture, ice-cream, and 1 bottle of cream soda. To serve, divide between 4 tall glasses. Fill each glass nearly to the top with additional cream soda, then spoon the whipped topping over each.

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