Archive for December 2014

Meet My Character – Talidd   Leave a comment

Daermad Cycle

Without a villain, it’s very hard to have an epic fantasy. Talidd is definitely the villain of The Willow Branch.

He’s a mysterious character who lives out in a swamp in the present timeline. His residence is by choice. It attracts less attention if he seems to be marginalized. A master of fell magicks, his physical isolation presents no bar to his power as he reaches out across the aethyr to influence events and uses his journeymen and apprentices as pieces in a chess match that only he knows the purpose of. He’s cruel and punishing to his enemies and acolytes alike, but he feels a certain unhealthy affection for the very talented among his students.

In the end, however, Talidd has been at this game of kingdom destroying and king-making for a very long time. In fact, he is the only Celdryan to appear in both time lines. You…

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Posted December 31, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Interview with Joe Attanasio   1 comment

This week’s interview is with Joe Attanasio, author of several historical fiction novels and — a new one for the blog — a book of poetry.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATell us a bit about yourself, Joe.

I am the oldest of eight siblings born in Buffalo, New York. I had five sister and two brothers. I dropped out of high school in my junior year and joined the army at the age of seventeen. I spent three years in the army including a one year tour in Vietnam from 1967-1968.


My older brother served in Nam the same time frame. What did you do after your service?

I married a girl from California and lived there for 35 years before returning to New York. I was a meat cutter and then manager for most of that time working in various grocery stores. We have a grown daughter who lives out of state. I have been married to the love of my life for almost 45 years.

When did you write your first story and what was it?

When I was a boy I loved to read. Stories like Tom Swift and the Hardy boys plus numerous comic books were a mainstay for me. About the age of 16 I stopped reading for pleasure. Except for chess books, computer manuals, magazines and the newspaper, I did not read again until I turned 60 years old. I was getting a haircut one day and talking to the barber about playing dungeon and dragon type games online. He told me if I was interesting in medieval times I should read ‘Pillar of the Earth’ by Ken Follett.

I found a copy in a used bookstore and it was 1,200 pages long. I bought it but never thought I could ever read such a tome. I put it on the table next to my easy chair and read about ten pages a day for a few weeks. My eyes and brain got used to reading and the story started to captivate me. I found myself reading while I ate lunch and breakfast and a few times a day. Before I knew it the story was done. I loved the story and the fact that I completed it.

I was on a treadmill at the YMCA a few weeks later and overheard the man next to me talking to a friend about having read some book he enjoyed. When the friend walked away I turned to the man and told him I just read ‘Pillars of the Earth.”. I did not know he was an English professor at a local college and a writer himself. He had read the same book and we talked about it. The following week he brought me a book he thought I might like from his collection.

Over the course of the next year I read about 40 books and renewed my interest in reading. However, I felt an urge to write a book myself. Since I liked medieval times so much I decided to write a fiction based in that time period but I felt strongly that it should be accurate and educational as well as entertaining. At the age of 62 I wrote my first novel called ‘A Butcher’s Tale’.

Butcher's TaleThis historical adventure is the story of a passionate and idealistic young man named Joseph in 14th century England. He gives up his career as a butcher with his trade guild in York and follows a young woman named Dorothy and her family into the border country to the north. Dorothy and her family are going to take over the farm they inherited when her uncle died. The English-Scottish war is heating up and the border region is very unstable. This is the time of Edward I, (Longshanks), and William Wallace. Every effort has been made to ensure the historical events and flavor of the times is accurately portrayed. For those that are familiar with the reference; this story resembles a 14th century version of “Little House on the Prairie” written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This story is suitable for ages 13 and up.


What is your writing process?

I make notes about some of the things I want included in the story, but it is far from an outline. I do not start writing until I have a solid idea for the start of the story. Once I start the story I let the characters and the plot drive the story. I work out the scenes in my head and write them as they come to me. I usually end up writing about one thousand words each time I write. I take the time to polish my writing as I go and my first drafts are usually very readable despite the places that need to be fleshed out more and tweaked. My wife reads all my first drafts and makes notes and comments as she goes. We discuss character behavior and description detail in addition to obvious typo’s and unclear sentences. After my rewrite I give it to a few family members for a beta read and then a third rewrite. There comes a point when I decide I fussed with it enough to be happy and I publish it.


Treasure_Trove_Cover_for_KindleYou write a lot of historical fiction. Is history a passion for you?

I love doing research and using history as a framework for a story. I like my stories to entertain and educate people and historical works seem like a natural way to accomplish this. I love reading historical works for the same reason.


Tell us about Treasure Trove. 

When I wrote ‘A Butcher’s Tale’ I didn’t realized just how many words I would have to avoid using to keep in the flavor of a 14th century novel. I wanted to free myself from those restrictions and try something modern. I had been reading a lot of Steve Berry novels where he built his stories around ancient mysteries. I happened across the fact that most of Captain William Kidd’s treasure had never been found and that was my inspiration. Since many ‘fake’ maps had surfaced over time allegedly leading to the lost treasure, I followed that idea. I decided to tie the main character into Captain Kidd’s family while doing genealogy research and discovering a connection.


Tell us about A Butcher’s Tale.

I started the novel as a short story that was going to highlight the Mystery Plays from the early 14th century in England. When I started writing the short story my mind was plagued with the idea that this could be much more. I had passion and desire but lacked the education and experience to try a novel. I literally thought to myself, “I will write it anyway, someone might read it and besides it will be fun and interesting to try.” I let the characters drive the direction of the story based on historical facts and the flavor of the High Middle Ages.


Sarah_Cover_for_KindleTell us about Sarah. 

When I wrote ‘Treasure Trove’ and researched the genealogy for the story I discovered Captain William Kidd’s wife Sarah. She was married to four wealthy men including Captain Kidd. Sarah and Captain Kidd were suspected of murdering her second husband. She was sent to prison along with Kidd in an attempt to discover the location of his hidden treasure. The idea of writing this story haunted me the whole time I wrote ‘Treasure Trove’. I had to write Sarah or go crazy!

I took all the known facts I could discover about Sarah and weaved a fictional story to showcase her life and the times.


Writing Sarah presented a lot of obstacles for me. Very little is written about that particular time and place in America. The city of New Amsterdam was just conquered by the English and what little is written was in Dutch. It took considerable research to get a good perspective of the times there. In addition this story deals with people of means and as such demanded rich descriptions of their lifestyles and clothing. As a man I was up to my ears in corsets and breeches.


I hate describing historical clothing myself and admire any writer who can.

This is an example of one of the descriptions:

Sarah wore a crimson colored mantua with elbow-length cuffed sleeves over the lace-ruffled sleeves of her chemise. Her gold and rust colored brocaded skirt was looped back to reveal her petticoat. She wore white elbow-length gloves and a cap with a high lace fontange. Mary pulled her hair back under the cap and tied it with silver ribbon leaving ringlet curls hanging onto her shoulders.


Caboodle_of_Poems_Cover_for_KindleYou also write poetry. Tell us about the poetry book.

This caboodle or collection of poems was written over the last 40 years. A majority of these were written in the last five years. My poems deal with love and nature but also social issues, science, sex and humor.

This Caboodle of Poems contains a variety of rhyme schemes and free verse. A number of these poems have been written from the female perspective or Point of View POV.

The book contains over 100 poems.


What are your future literary plans?

My goal is to try all different genres. I am learning and growing every day as a new writer. I feel like I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I am writing a fantasy adventure which takes place on an earth like planet circa 800-1200 AD. In other words swords, gunpowder, hand cannons. The story involves tribes of catlike people and nomads that resemble man. My first draft is almost done at 33,000 words but is very lean and will easily double on the first rewrite. In this case I may well require three rewrites before the final.

I am also half-heartedly working on a steamy romance to see how it feels to write one. I am at around 11,000 words and not sure if I will end up keeping it or chalk it off as an exercise.


In my opinion, romance is the hardest genre to write. I’ve never completed one. Good luck to you with it! What are some of  your writing challenges.

English was my worst subject in school; grammar, spelling and composition being the reason.
I have always been interested in words and would look up their meanings when I found a new one. I like to do crossword puzzles. I got my GED diploma in the army giving me a high school diploma even though I dropped out in my junior year. I have no credentials to write.


Some of the best writers have “no credentials” to write. Sometimes education gets in the way of writing, especially fiction. What would your advice be to others who want to write.

I have a ton of potential stories in constantly stirring in my brain. I tell them the best way I can and many readers seem to connect with that. My advice is to write, if only for your sake. Get your stories out there. Share your ideas with the world. Take the bad criticism and learn from it but then throw it away. Do what makes you happy.

My author’s page at US amazon is:

My Author Page in UK Amazon:

My Goodreads author page:

Facebook Fan page for Joe P Attanasio:

Booksie – A popular writer’s website.

My Blog-Spot Blog:

A website sharing the works and links for about 30 traditional and independent published authors called The Booktrap:

Stay Tuned for Writing Wednesday   1 comment

This week’s interview will be Joe Attenasio, author of several historical novels.

Homeowner’s karate move subdues alleged Fairbanks burglar – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Local News   Leave a comment

I’m posting this because it tweaks my anarchist leanings and I’m planning to touch on those a little in coming weeks. By posting it here, I can return to it for discussion.

Homeowner’s karate move subdues alleged Fairbanks burglar – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Local News.

Posted December 30, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Anarchy

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Fairbanks residents should see dip in electricity costs this spring – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Local News   Leave a comment

Check out the comments section, which is far more informative than the newspaper article.


Fairbanks residents should see dip in electricity costs this spring – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Local News.

E-cigarettes shouldn’t be banned – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Community Perspectives   Leave a comment

I hate cigarette smoking, but I’m a civil libertarian, so I don’t support laws or taxation created to stop people from smoking. I do, however, feel that non-smokers have a right to object to forced participation in the smoking habit. If we can find a way to balance those two competing interests without making more laws, I think that’s a good thing.

E-cigarettes shouldn’t be banned – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Community Perspectives.

What Should I Blog About?   Leave a comment

My church discipline series ended with the year and now I’m trying to decide what I should pursue in 2015. Hence the random posts. But I find that unsatisfying and I quickly run out of things to say. So ….

I’m going to continue the author interviews and Thom Stark and I are still debating. I’ve got a couple of book reviews in the pipeline, but I am not planning to become a reviewer. It takes too much time to read a book for a single post. I will do an occasional one. I’m planning to do some blog swapping with other writers.

But the bread-and-butter of Aurorawatcherak has been series of exploration of various topics – me mostly working out in public view what I believe about something and you get to come along for the ride.

My best post last year was actually written in 2013 and it was on the 2nd Amendment. Word Press thinks I should write more about that topic.


So, what do I write about in the coming months?


I’m thinking about …

  • looking into anarchy some more
  • doing some economic writing
  • maybe focusing on some historical events (and how they affect us today)
  • revisiting the non-partisan ideals I rest on
  • maybe looking into some Biblical archeology
  • 2nd Amendment

But …

I would also take suggestions. One of my best series came about because someone suggested I look into the administrative state. Another suggestion lead me into the exploration of Alaska’s colonial relationship with the United States. So, suggestions are cool!

So, what do YOU suggest?

Posted December 30, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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2014 in review   Leave a comment

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted December 30, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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A Wood Burner’s Nightmare   Leave a comment

Tis the holiday season, and my husband was flipping through Netflix to find something family oriented to watch when he found Fireplace.

It’s 12 episodes of — well, wood-burning.

We heat our home with wood. We’ve been known to heat water on the woodstove, making dinner on the woodstove. We consider wood-burning to be the equivalent of a gym membership. There’s the tree felling, the limbing, the bucking, the hauling, the rotating, the splitting, the stacking. And that’s all before you ever carry into the house where newspapers must be rolled up into balls and those former tree limbs broken into kindling and the air set right so the fire ignites with a match and ….

Yes, the idea of watching 12 hours of wood burning does not seem at all restful to us. We watched 15 minutes and felt like we should go get more wood. Then our teenager wandered in and said “Uh, wouldn’t the fire burn really fast and waste all the wood if the door was open like that.”

We decided to go shovel snow or wash dishes — something, anything more restful that watching wood burn.

My Starter Has Indigestion   Leave a comment

It’s a living organism and living organisms can get sick. Starters that are very sour, fail to double in size during feeding or grow a black crust on top while in the fridge are not feeling well.

My starter has been living now for about four years. I experimented with parts of my starter, leaving it on the counter between uses. One died. The other lived, but it became very sour. I’ve also occasionally forgotten to feed it after I’ve used it and I’ve left it out overnight in the warm kitchen. Both will give it indigestion.

It’s not unusual for a starter to develop a purple liquid on top as it rests in the fridge. It’s called “hooch” and you can just stir it back in if you don’t mind a sour sourdough. Or you can spoon it off if you prefer a sweeter starter, but it will also be a less active starter, prone to death. I keep the hooch and sweeten the sourdough other ways.

Black crust does not necessarily mean your starter is dead, but it does mean it’s not well. It sometimes forms along the edges as a sign that it’s time to clean your crock. I break the crust off the edge, throw it away and pour the starter into a clean crock.

However, when it forms a crust in the middle, your starter has indigestion and is about to die. This has happened to me three times. The first time, the starter died because I didn’t know what to do. The last two times, I recognized the symptoms and treated my starter as a pet owner would treat a pet.

I peeled off the crust from the top of the starter and ladled the starter into another vessel. I then stirred it thoroughly, fed it a half-cup of hot milk and AP flour each, and let it feed. The two times I’ve had this happen, it didn’t double. The first time, I called a long-time sourdough baker and she told me what to do next. I fed the starter in the morning, let it feed, then in the afternoon scooped out a half-cup of starter, and fed it again with a half-cup of hot milk and AP flour, then repeated the same process in the afternoon. Both times, I’ve saved my starter and the last time, it became a much better starter producing bread with better flavor and loft.

Of course, you can avoid all this by regular starter maintenance.

Posted December 30, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Common sense

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