A Simple Hope For Writers

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To all the writers out there, whoever you are and wherever you may be, please remember to value yourselves, to respect your efforts, and to keep on writing.

Also please remember, writing comes from dedication and consistency and not from waiting for inspiration.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

 

 

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Helen Murray’s Homemade Chicken Soup

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Helen Murray, first appearing as a client and then a warrior in my horror novel Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1, has become in Gallows Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2, a full member of this society. Originally, I had envisioned this series to be three books, each featuring one of three older gentleman who made up the group, but now there will be a fourth book, and that will focus on Helen.

Continuing with my exploration of the characters’ love of food, I will offer Helen’s homemade chicken soup, a simple, but delicious, meal.

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It begins with a baked turkey!  After cooking and enjoying the bird, Helen carves all the meat, leaving only the bones.  Then she makes her own stock.  She places the bones in a large stock pan, adds carrots, onions, curly parsley, celery, and any other vegetables she might have handy.  Then she adds water close to the top of the stock pot and brings the water to a boil. She turns it to a simmer and lets it cook  for 8-9 hours. After it is finished, Helen carefully removes the vegetables and bones and strains the broth and stores it in the refrigerator over night.

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The next day Helen makes the soup!

INGREDIENTS: (all of these ingredients are included by choice, except the stock and chicken. Use the amounts you desire)

*turkey stock

*boneless chicken thighs (1-2 pounds)

*carrots

*corn

*green beans

*other vegetables as desired

*1 lb bag of wide noodles

*black pepper and salt (as desired)

*dill weed

*touch of paprika

Process:

Combine ingredients into stock, except for noodles.

Heat slowly for several hours.

Season to taste.

With approximately 10-15 minutes to go, add noodles (if desired).

Serve and enjoy with good bread!

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

 

 

Beautiful Writing: Part 7, Frank Delaney

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Frank Delaney was a brilliant writer, historian, and journalist who was born and lived in Ireland. As a novelist, he wrote, among other books, Ireland A Novel, Shannon, Tipperary, and The Last Storyteller. Delaney’s work is insightful, lyrical, and beautiful. I have used Ireland A Novel in my Irish Literature class at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, and the adult students loved it. In this novel, Delaney weaves a double narration of the history of Ireland as told by the last seanchai–the Gaelic word for storyteller– with the family history of Ronan O’Mara, a boy of nine when the book begins.

For those interested in Irish history and culture and for those who love a magnificent family drama,  I give this extraordinary novel the highest recommendation!

I offer a few quotations from the novel:

“No, I’ve never separated history from myth,” said the great voice. “I don’t think you can in Ireland.” (151)

“Here in Ireland, we’ve received most of our inner riches from Mother Nature. In olden days, the monks in the abbeys made art from natural matters. They were inspired by the sights they saw every day–a rabbit leaving its burrow; a fox running across a hillside with its red bush of a tail streaming out behind it; a horse standing in a field, its back to the rain; a hawk making its point far up  in the sky. And even their painting materials also came from the nonhuman world–bird’s feathers and colors from the earth.

So: all our expression, all our means of saying what’s in our souls, came first from the universe that we see every day around us, out under the air.” (264)

“I cannot satisfactorily explain this widespread individualism, but when I try to grasp it, or discuss it with people who have been listening to my stories, I often feel I come close to a greater understanding of the whole island; this forty thousand square miles of Atlantic land has a vivid fame the world over. What caused it? Do we talk so long and so loud that everyone hears us? Or did it come about because we put the first dent in the might British Empire?

Perhaps our writers did it. I would like to think that they did, because they came from my tradition–poetic, journeyman storytellers who may have twisted and fractured the forms of language along the way but who have always tried to get the flavor across.

Liken it to a stew, a tapestry–anything that draws a final impression from mixed and visible ingredients. The individual counties when melded give me the whole island. We are illogical–the man from Carlow taught me that. And how violent we are; to kill a British soldier matters not a blink to men I have met, no thought of how his eyes closed, where his blood flowed, if he tried to breathe at the last minute and found he couldn’t and panicked.

. . . We are seers too–or so we say. Islands appearing in the oceans of the coast surprise no one; strange birds in farmyards portend death; ghosts stride hillsides.  what I mean is–we are infinitely permissive of possibility ; we rule out nothing.” (397-398)

Please do yourselves a favor, and give yourselves a gift, and read this book!

 

Sam Sadlowski’s Chicken Paprikash–from Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1 by Charles F. French

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I thought I would continue to write about the characters from my horror novel Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book 1. Sam Sadlowski is one of three founding members of the IPS, the Investigative Paranormal Society, a ghost and supernatural investigation group, that is central to my book.

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Sam is a retired homicide detective and an avid cook.  But he doesn’t do any of “that high-class stuff served on a plate too large and a portion too small,” as he would say. A proud descendant of Polish and Hungarians, he loved the peasant food he grew up with. He loves hearty food and plenty of it.

One of his favorite foods was a meal his mother made often when he was growing up.  Here is his version of Chicken Paprikash:

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(Photo By Liz French, 2016)

Ingredients:

2 pounds chicken, either breast or thighs

2 green bell peppers

2 large onions

1 pound button mushrooms

1 can crushed tomatoes

paprika — regular or hot depending on the level of desired heat

fresh ground black pepper

garlic

pinch of salt (optional)

sour cream

either dumplings or wide noodles

To prepare:

Use a large dutch oven, preferably of cast iron.

Boil the chicken for a few minutes to begin the cooking process, then transfer to the dutch oven that has a hot layer of cooking oil in it that has been heavily coated with paprika, so that the oil looks red.  Be sure to pat the chicken dry first with a paper towel to avoid oil splattering.

While the chicken is searing, on both sides, chop the peppers and onions. Clean the mushrooms with cold water and a paper towel.

After the chicken is seared, turn the heat to low or simmer.

Add the peppers, onions, and mushrooms.

Add the seasoning.

Add the crushed tomatoes.

Add two-four tablespoons sour cream, and mix completely.

Let simmer in the dutch oven for 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours.

Cook the noodles or dumplings.

To Serve:

Serve over noodles or dumplings in a large bowl.

Slick thick pieces of good bread to place on the side.

Sam prefers to drink Hungarian red wine: egri bikaver, which translates loosely as “bull’s blood” with the meal.

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If you enjoy hearty meals, give this a try. You will probably enjoy Sam’s recipe.

 

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

Quotations on History

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“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ”

                                                                         Michael Crichton

 

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“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

                                                                        George Orwell

 

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“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

                                                                        Edmund Burke

 

Doc Chuck’s Recommended Readings–Revisited

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This blogpost was written several years ago, but I thought it was worth revisiting, especially because I love to suggest books for people to read.

I had the good fortune this week of delivering a talk at the Muhlenberg College Board of Associates Meeting on the topic of Great Books.  I spoke with the audience for about 20-25 minutes about what I consider to be great books and why they matter. The main argument I made about the importance of books is that they connect us as people.  I am an unreserved humanist; I believe that human beings have the power to improve themselves, that education is crucial to develop of an informed  society, and that books allow readers to experience the worlds of others.

The audience was one of professionals from many fields but very few English Literature majors; however, their interest in reading and books was heartening for me.  They wanted to hear suggestions about what books I would recommend.

In my classes, I sometimes do something I call — Chuck’s recommended readings.  I ask the students to write the title and author and then tell them that what they do with that information is entirely up to them.  Since several of the attendees of this talk asked for further suggestions, I decided to put together a list, very abbreviated I admit, of books I would recommend.  Some of them I consider among the best and most important books ever written, and some I simply found to be wonderful and entertaining.

Now, the list:

Doc Chuck’s Recommended Readings
Agee, James and Walker Evans. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451.

Brown, Larry. Fay.

Cervantes, Miguel De. Don Quixote.

Delaney, Frank. Ireland.

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities.

Doyle, Roddy. A Star Called Henry.

Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose.

Gaiman, Neil. American Gods.

Grass, Günter. The Tin Drum.

Helprin, Mark. A Soldier of the Great War.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Pacific and Other Stories.

Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom The Bell Tolls.

Homer. The Iliad.

. . . . . . . The Odyssey.

King, Stephen. Hearts In Atlantis.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Stand.

Lee, Harper.  To Kill A Mockingbird.

Poe, Edgar Allan.  Complete Works.

Rice, Anne. Interview With the Vampire.

Rowling, J. K. The entire Harry Potter series.

Shakespeare, William. The Collected Works.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein.

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Lord of the Rings.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Zafon, Carlos Ruiz. The Shadow of the Wind.

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief.

I am certain there are many books I have forgotten to mention.  This is neither intended to be all-inclusive, nor is it meant to be authoritarian.  I hope that someone may find a book or books from this list, read them, and enjoy them.

Happy reading!

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

Quotations on Books!

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“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

                                                                  Marcus Tullius Cicero

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“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”

                                                                 Jorge Luis Borges

 

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“Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.”

                                                                Stephen King

 

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview