Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Book signing event

Saturday, December 17 I'll be participating in a multi-author booksigning event at the PNWA Writer' Cottage in Issaquah's Gilman Village, from 1-4 PM. The address is 317 NW Gilman Blvd, space #8, Issaquah, WA 98027.

All my books are still on sale prices through December 31st. Paperbacks (The Mountains of the Moon, The Door in the Sky, The Mirror Door, Tales of the Slug) are all $8.00. The hardcover Hall of Doors (combining books one-three in the series) is $16.00. Christmas gift books are $5.00.

If you want books but can't make the signing, contact me at gramajan500@msn.com. I'll ship as many books as I can cram in a Priority Mail envelope for $5.oo S&H, with bookmarks and cat note cards (one per book purchase) thrown in for free.

I hope to see you there. Mention this post and I'll give you a free note card, whether you buy a book or not.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bread crusts and other musings

I woke up this morning thinking about bread crusts. No, I don't recall what I was dreaming, but I suspect it was related to the baby shower I attended Saturday.

It was a delightful if somewhat unusual shower. The guests included adult males and children, instead of just women. We didn't have to play any of those silly shower games I was dreading. Just lots of good conversation and wonderful food.

The buffet had plenty of sweets--little cakes, cookies, tarts--offset by plenty of veggies and cheese. But I really chowed down on the little sandwiches. There were cucumbers, chicken with cranberries, and many other tasty fillings, nicely presented in little crustless bits of bread. That got me thinking about the sandwiches my grandma used to serve.

Of course all proper kids detest crusts and only eat them under duress. My siblings, cousins, and I were no exception. It didn't help that the grownups insisted they were good for us or even that they'd make our hair curly. But Grandma trimmed off the crusts. I don't know if she always did that, or if it was special for company, but I remember watching her trimming the sandwiches.

And then the miracle happened. Once those detested crusts were removed from the sandwiches and lying in a growing pile on the breadboard, they somehow were transformed into interesting little bread sticks; all the grandchildren clustered around to beg for the treat. Of course, Grandma always shared them with us. I wonder if she found our sudden yen for crusts as amusing as I do now.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Salmon surprise

We're well off the beaten path, and rarely get unannounced visitors, so I was surprised when there was a knock on my door early this morning. It was our Chehalis Indian friend, who shows up now and then when he has extra fish to sell.

Too bad my youngest son wasn't available. He's a seafood manager at Safeway, and much more adept than I am at cutting up fish. But I cut them up in my own sloppy fashion, and had an abundance to brine for smoking, to freeze for later consumption, and to share with family. I ate the liver for breakfast--delicious.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Garden experiments and unfinished projects

I'm very thankful I don't have to depend on my garden for sustenance. Not only is the weather often uncooperative--as in the cool, wet spring we've been experiencing--but results aren't always what you hope for.

I like to use bean sprouts now and then, and have learned to do a fairly good job of producing sprouts from seeds, although they still aren't nearly as fat and juicy as commercial sprouts. The next step was growing my own mung beans, so I'd have a supply of sprouting seed and wouldn't have to keep buying it. After a couple of unimpressive crops, I finally managed to grow a healthy stand of mung beans. A fluke, I think, as they really need more heat and sunshine than we normally get. I knew they had to be harvested slightly green, as the dry pods will split and shoot seeds all over. So I harvested, and put the pods in a paper bag to dry out. And there they remained for a year or so, as I found getting the seeds out to be a tedious process.

Today, in a rare moment of enthusiasm for finishing old projects, I looked up directions for threshing and winnowing beans. The tiny amount I had hardly seemed worth beating with a flail or any of the other methods described, so I put them in a bag and crunched them with a rolling pin, like making bread crumbs.

The winnowing instructions said I could take the beans mixed with chaff outside and pour them into a basket, letting the wind blow the chaff away. Why a basket, I wondered? I tried a large bowl, and immediately answered my question. The beans bounced on the hard surface, most of them escaping to the lawn. So I went up to the storage area in the barn loft, found a basket, and proceeded with the winnowing. It worked pretty well, but I still wound up sorting the beans out individually, and discarding the ones that had traces of what looked like mold.

My persistence paid off with a handful of smallish mung beans. I put them to soak for sprouting and hope they'll produce. Even if they sprout beautifully, that was a lot of work for a small amount of inferior product. Scratch mung beans from the planting list.

Since I was trying to finish up old projects, I also dealt with the soy beans. I had noticed that the grandchildren in Colorado (now the grandchildren in Alaska) were fond of edamame. I thought the Washington grandchildren would be interested also. Our first crop was mostly eaten by the local deer, but with higher fences I managed to get a good crop. I blanched and froze them, offering them to the grandkids at their next visit. They turned up their noses at them and requested more cucumbers.

I thawed and shelled a few beans from time to time to add to salads and soups, but that was rather labor-intensive. They nagged at me every time I opened the freezer. Tired of their looks of sad reproach as they gradually became the only veggies left in the freezer, I thawed them all, popped them in the dehydrator, and then proceed to follow the threshing and winnowing process as for the mung beans. They probably shell easily enough when raised to full maturity, but no matter how dry and brittle the pods, the beans still clung to them. Again, a lot of work for a small amount of inferior product. I put my handful of beans to soak for soup.

This year, I planted sugar snap peas and ordinary old green beans--legumes with edible pods.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Take a look inside the book...

If you want to preview the inside illustrations for The Mountains of the Moon and The Door in the Sky before you decide to buy, they're posted on the artist's website at www.jwkalin.com. He hasn't put up The Mirror Door yet.

Also, if you want sort of a preview of the stories, you'll find an "extra scene" in addition to an author interview and a study guide for each book on www.janiceclark.net. They're all under "extras." Grab some recipes while you're at it, and take a look at the free picture book under "free downloads."

Friday, April 29, 2011

The "extras" for The Mirror Door are now up on my website. Help yourselves to the "extra scene" as well as the author interview and study guides. www.janiceclark.net

You'll also find extra items for The Mountains of the Moon and The Door in the Sky as well as the recipes that appeared in the first printing of Christmas Brings Joy to Every Heart.

Friday, April 8, 2011


I received a big box of books today. Most exciting, of course, is The Mirror Door, book three in the Hall of Doors series. I've been rereading it, and enjoying the interior illustrations, which I hadn't seen. Artist JW Kalin did a terrific job, as always.

I also got more copies of The Mountains of the Moon as well as Tales of the Slug. Since I still had plenty of The Door in the Sky I'm all set for sales at the bazaar in Oakville (actually the Friends of the Library's community garage sale April 16th) as well as Norwescon, and I can start scheduling book signing events.

Unfortunately, Orchard House Press doesn't have The Mirror Door posted on Amazon yet, and their own web site is still being revised, so any sales will be through me for now. But that's just a matter of time. They did get The Door in the Sky up on Amazon, and there are some nice reviews there.

Speaking of Norwescon, the little blue man alien mummy whose picture I posted on Facebook a while back is going to be in the art show charity auction, so will help fund Northwest Harvest (food bank) and Clarion West (writers' conference). Many thanks to my grandson Jonathan Kalin for the donation. (Yes, he goes by Jon, but so does his uncle, the artist, which tends to cause confusion.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Book Review: Pilgrennon's Beacon by Manda Benson

Dana is autistic, but considered functional enough to be in regular school classes. Despite the best efforts of her foster parents, she endures the cruelty of uninformed teachers and schoolyard bullies. Dana also has a secret: she can talk to computers. There’s a wi-fi gadget implanted in her brain. Unknown to Dana, she’s the product of an experiment by Ivor Pilgrennon, a scientist with a bit of a Frankenstein complex.

When an attack at school sends Dana to the hospital for an overnight stay, she picks up on a distant computer signal that seems to be offering her a safe haven: Pilgerennon’s Beacon, calling the subjects of his experiment to the isolated island where he’s hiding out. She soon finds herself involved with Jananin Blake, a brilliant physicist and the inventor of the gadget in Dana’s brain. Jananin hates Pilgrennon, and is appalled by his experiments, which included unauthorized use of her invention. But her own moral compass is as skewed as Pilgrennon’s.

The adventure that follows is like a mad roller-coaster ride, with Dana caught between the two scientists, wondering whether she can trust either of them, finding herself in circumstances that demand she stretch her abilities to the fullest. It’s a trip down the rabbit hole, with forays into the world of virtual reality.

This is a thriller, an action-adventure book complete with world-wide conspiracies, chase scenes, a dollop of fighting and explosions, mysteries and madness. But there’s tenderness as well, little acts of caring, touches of pathos. Through it all, we see the two scientists gradually changing, as Dana struggles to make sense of a world that too often “doesn’t compute.”

It’s a hard book to put down, and I’m looking forward to the sequel. Highly recommended.

Check out Manda's website at www.tangentrine.com

Thursday, January 20, 2011


This is my granddaughter Maggie's review of The Door in the Sky that her mom posted on Amazon. None of the adult volunteers who were going to post reviews in exchange for free books have done so yet. I know some have backed off because Amazon only allows customers to post, so if that's the problem, feel free to send me your review by email or in a Facebook message, and I'll put it on my blog like this one.

This is a great book, my daughter loved it so much that she wanted to do a review of it herself. I'm going to type it for her. She is 7 years old but at a 4-5 grade reading level and is always looking for new books to read. Here is her review.

This is a book called "The Door in the Sky" which is #2 after Mountains of the Moon. It's about a little girl named Sammy. At the start she's in the gym and she's really really scared to go up a rope. She goes to the back of the line slowly so no one will notice her. She tries to figure out a way to get out of climbing the rope and then the bell rings.

She goes home and decides to talk to her cat, Peaches. Even though Peaches is not even a year old yet she talks back just like her old cat, BB did just by saying meow. They both take a rest and then when they wake up Peaches gets down and pats the rug near the window and there is moonlight there. She walks up the moonbeam! They go on an adventure to go see her old cat BB. The walk through the glass in the window!

They come to a castle and she shows Peaches how to ring the bell to get Selena to come. They go to a hall full of doors and there's a dragon, but don't worry, she's a nice dragon. The adventure that they go on helps Sammy not be afraid of climbing the rope any more.

It's a really cool story!

- I had to take a lot out of her review, she wanted to give a play by play of the whole story! I didn't want her to give the whole thing away. Happy reading!-

Monday, January 17, 2011

Public Speaking for Introverts

I've been painfully shy or socially challenged most of my life, preferring to work "behind the scenes" with as little public contact as possible. The necessity of earning a living didn't allow me to be as reclusive as I would have preferred, but I did gravitate towards work that allowed me to spend most of my time hiding in a corner, working on my own.

About fifteen years ago, I started feeling prodded to do more writing and to share what I wrote. Call it fate or whatever you like--I just knew I had to do it. I began sharing poetry and songs in church, then moved on to occasionally filling the pulpit as a lay preacher. At least I could hide behind a podium so they couldn't see my knees knocking. I went on to joining writiers' groups, both receiving and offering critiques of my work. I finally went back to school to "lock in" my assorted credits by earning an AA degree, which required I take the dreaded speech class.

Now that I'm getting more serious about promoting my writing, I know I have to get out to meet the public. I've visited classrooms, sold books at bazaars, and started handing out bookmarks and other materials to anyone who will take them.

I've gradually come to understand that the best way to deal with fear is to follow the advice I put in the mouth of my character Samantha (Sammy), in The Door in the Sky. Get help if you can, practice, and finally just do it, even if you have to do it scared. I'm still doing it scared, but I'm told it doesn't show, so at least I'm learning to fake a calm I don't feel. And it does get a little easier with practice. A friend once told me that the first 100,000 times are the hardest.

This past month I've been a visiting author at the Tenino library (my second library visit) and once more served on several discussion panels at the Rustycon science fiction convention. They even gave me a time slot for reading and signing my books, and I actually had an audience. I will admit I was mildly terrified before each event, but I did it anyway, and hope to continue "practicing" on a regular basis.

I'm making myself available as a speaker for libraries, schools, scouts, or any other group that would like to listen to a story and/or discuss books, writing, and publication. Although most of my writing is focused on children, I can gear my presentation to adults as well.