It’s a Holly Jolly Blog Hop!

I love Christmas!

And to honor the holiday, I’m inviting all bloggers to join our Christmas meme!

To quote Patty Wysong (the queen of all things meme):
“What’s a meme? A meme is when a group of people get together and post on a similar topic or theme. It’s the blogger’s version of a progressive dinner…or a potluck dinner. Full of variety and fun.”

Don’t know what to post for a Christmas blog hop? Here are some ideas:

  • Post anything at all to do with Christmas! ANYTHING!
  • This is a great way to post easy-to-think-of topics during the very busy holiday. You can plan weeks ahead!
  • Include pictures of Christmases past, or present. What are you doing to decorate? Where are you going? What festivities are you planning? Church activities?

The meme starts THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21 and ends WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 25.

You can post anytime Thursday to Thursday. We will keep the linky code open for six days. You don’t have to make a month-long commitment and you don’t have to post every week. Just jump in and join us as you are able!

What’s a linky code? It’s an html code you’ll place at the end of your post so you can link up to others in the blog hop!

I do ask that you comment on at least two of the blogs that link up to yours. It’s better to give than to receive, right?

Want to know more about memes and why you’d want to participate? Check out Making the Most of Memes for more information.

If you’re joining the hop, you may add the button to your sidebar or inside your post, or both. You can grab the code below:
It’s a Holly Jolly Blog Hop

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<a href=”http://karlaakins.com/its-a-holly-jolly-blog-hop/” target=”_blank”><img alt=”It’s a Holly Jolly Blog Hop” border=”0″ src=”http://i128.photobucket.com/albums/p194/impeej/Holly-Jolly-Blog-Hop_zpse348f95c.jpg” /></a><br />

Hoppy Christmas!

 

Marco! (Polo!)

One of my current works in progress is an interactive ebook for middle grades: Marco Polo.

This dude was an amazing explorer and I’m finding it a challenge on how to squeeze all his amazing adventures into one 35,000 word (or so) volume.

Caravane_Marco_Polo

The stage I’m at right now is the outline stage.

Then will come the tons and tons of research to insert links into the text.

Marco_Polo,_Il_Milione,_Chapter_CXXIII_and_CXXIV

And then I will finally get to write the story.

But even as I write it, I’ll be researching as I go. Learning interesting little details. It’s the details that fascinate me. Such as the food, the customs, the attire.

Marco_Polo_-_costume_tartare old drawing

Marco-polo-hanbury

What about history fascinates you the most?

Q is for Quadroon Ball

My current work in progress, River Moon Don’t Cry is about a young Melungeon girl who is taken aboard a sex-trafficking steamboat in 1838 for the purpose of being sold to the highest bidder at a Quadroon ball in New Orleans.  Those bidding are wealthy plantation owners in search of a plaçage, a “comfort woman” or “concubine.”

The term placage comes from the French placer meaning “to place with.” These women were not legal wives but their relationships were recognized as mariages de la main gauche, “left handed marriages.”

FashionableMarquisB

The word quadroon refers to people of color with one white parent and one half-white parent. These balls encouraged women of mixed race to form liaisons with a system of concubinage. Quadroons were often highly educated and socially refined women who were unable to find black men of their own social status.

The Quadroon Balls began in earnest in 1805 when a man named Albert Tessier rented a dance hall where he held elaborate, elegant dances twice a week for quadroon women and white men only. At the time, race mixing was against the law in New Orleans, but white men would steal away from their white balls to mingle with the quadroons.

F190345-octoroon-webThe Octoroon or Life in Louisiana c. 1861

However, it wasn’t unknown for a poorer white girl to be sent to the Americas from Europe for the express purpose of being a “comfort woman.”

726px-Departcassettegirls

A quadroon’s mother usually negotiated with the “sugar daddy” plantation owner for the price of her daughter, but it wasn’t unknown for women of color to be sold by other owners for a generous price.

A book I highly recommend on the subject is The Strange History of the American Quadroon.

clark_strange_big

A fairly decent movie regarding Quadroon Balls is The Courage To Love starring Vanessa Williams.

The_Courage_To_Love

Sex trafficking is as old as time and unfortunately it continues today. The sex trafficking of children is particularly heinous. Please do your part to help educate others of these horrific crimes against humanity. And visit Operation Underground Railroad to learn more.


A to Z blog hop at Patterings.

Karla’s Dinner Rolls

Dinner Rolls

One of my signature items for my family every holiday season is my dinner rolls. Here’s my recipe and tips. These are fattening! But we only eat them once a year and oh are they worth that extra pound (or two!).

Karla’s Dinner Rolls
Ingredients
2 packages active dry yeast
2 cups milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup lard
5 cups all-purpose flour (or more depending on humidity)
Real butter to coat rolls
Karla’s tips:
1.      Use eggs that are room temperature. Cold eggs often deactivate the yeast.
2.      Use lard, not butter or shortening. Lard makes the best rolls, and it’s only ¼ cup, so there’s very little in each roll. If you’re going to eat a roll, eat a good one, right?
3.      Some people like their rolls a little sweeter. This recipe makes great cinnamon rolls, too, so you can add up to another ¼ cup of sugar. More than that may deactivate the yeast.
4.      You’ll need super strong arms if you’re going to mix by hand. I use my Kitchenaid mixer. It’s almost like cheating!
Instructions:
Heat milk just up to 180 degrees. Set aside and cool to between 110 and 115 degrees. (I cool mine to 110.)
·         After the milk is cool, dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup milk.
·         Stir in remaining milk, the sugar, salt, eggs, shortening and 5 cups flour.
·         Beat until smooth, adding more flour as needed to make the dough easy to handle. (This is where practice comes in. You’ll know after you’ve done it a few times whether you need more flour or not.)
·         Without a Kitchenaid mixer: turn dough onto lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. (With Kitchenaid mixer: you can use the dough hook.)
·         Place in buttered bowl and turn greased side up. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled.
·         Shape into rolls.
·         Brush each roll with softened butter. Place 3 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Let rise again, then bake at 325 degrees F for 20-30 minutes.
·         Brush again with butter.
These rolls take about 2-4 hours to make, raise twice and bake (depending on how many batches you are making at one time). They are beautiful reheated and freeze well.

©Karla Akins, 2013

A new website!

I’m very excited to share my new website with you!

It’s going to take awhile for me to learn this new platform. For example, how do I write a post? I’m still learning! Even as I work on this one, I’m not sure how to publish it. Tom Threadgill doesn’t know it, but he’s in for a lot of questions!

You may wonder why I have a “steampunky” theme when I write contemporary.

The thing is, I write a lot of different genres, and my favorite of them is history. Historical fiction is my second love after historical non-fiction. I’m also fascinated with the steampunk movement and have a few steampunk projects in the works. So stay tuned!

Here’s the latest addition to my research library. In hard copy!

Steampunk_Bible

I highly recommend this book if you ever plan to study up on Steampunk.  You can get it here.

I’m super excited to be back to blogging again. I’ve missed it while my site was down and being reorganized.

But I think it was worth the wait!

What say you?

Where is Avonte?

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

While the news focuses on the nightmare of Obamacare, there’s a much more urgent story that isn’t being told.

Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old autistic child is missing. He walked out of his school in Queens, New York 23 days ago and hasn’t been seen since.

His disappearance highlights several disturbing trends for families with autism in this country.

1. Public schools are often ill-equipped to truly understand the keen attention these children need.
autism ribbon
2. Public schools sometimes do a poor job of training and informing staff of the great importance of constant supervision of children with autism and other disabilities. Because these students often have trouble communicating verbally, every single person on staff of that school should have been informed or at the very least trained on how kids with autism do or do not communicate. One in 88 children in the U.S. have autism. 40% of them are non-verbal (National Autism Association).

3. Kids with autism are curious and prone to wandering. Why was Avonte not supervised more closely? According to the Interactive Autism Network and the Kennedy Krieger Institute, children with autism wander off at a rate four times higher than siblings without autism. As they grow older, they are at an increased risk for wandering off.

pastorswifeIn my book, The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots, one of the characters who has autism, Timmy, wanders off and gets lost. When I wrote about that, I had no idea how prevalent this habit is among children with autism.

That’s not to say I didn’t know they would wander. I have twins of my own, age 18, with autism. I’ve been blessed that their wandering hasn’t been too far. But they are insatiably curious, and I can find them in odd places sometimes.

My second son who has autistic characteristics wandered a lot as a toddler. He had no fear of anything. I had to put a bell on the door to keep him safe because he’d wander down the road and walk into people’s houses. One lady brought him home from the cemetery. Another saved him from getting lost in a corn field and crossing a busy highway.

5033250Please go to the Facebook page and share this flyer with your Facebook friends. Tweet about it.

And most of all, pray for this young man and his family.

Click to tweet:

Pray for missing child with autism: Avonte Oquendo.

Help find Avonte. Retweet.

Help find non-verbal missing child Avonte!

Silent Sunday

hallway

A to Z Meme: N is for NaNoWriMo!

nanowrimoI actually got my start writing full-length novels via National Novel Writing Month! I was a participant way back in 2005. Chris Baty even loaned me a laptop that year so I could participate. I’ve never, ever forgotten that generosity. A laptop at that time in my life was simply not something I ever thought I would own. But as I showed myself faithful to the gift, God provided later on.

I actually wrote my newly released novel, The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots during NaNoWriMo 2009! (The rough draft, people, the very primitive rough draft.)

typingI’m going to participate this year in order to finish my work in progress. September and October have been insane schedule-wise. And since I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo in the past, my husband and kids are used to Mom’s grueling word count schedule in November.

NaNoWriMo taught me how to keep writing even when I didn’t feel like it, when I wasn’t inspired, when I was bored and when the tedium was overwhelming. It taught me a lot, and I highly recommend the experience for anyone who has ever thought about writing a book.

plotNaNoWriMo founder, Christ Baty, actually quotes me several times in his book, No Plot? No Problem! The book is great, but the quotes he used are a little embarrassing…something about me being inspired in the bathroom or some such thing.

Can’t imagine that about me, can you?

helloSo why not join me and be my writing buddy atNaNoWriMo? Who knows if we get to 50,000, words?

We won’t know if we don’t try, right?

Here’s your supply list for our noveling marathon:

1. Caffeine
2. Chocolate
3. Favorite sound tracks
4. Chocolate
5. Comfy jammies
6. Chocolate

I know it will be tough gathering up all those supplies, but I promise they’re necessary for keeping writer’s block at bay.

Leave me a comment below and let me know if you’ll join me in November! Write on, dear friends! The world needs your novel!

A Father’s Love

The following video needs little explanation. But I do want to make a correlation between the father in the video and our Heavenly Father.

Oh, how very much we are loved.

Oh, what a happy day it will be when he embraces us and says “well done.”

The depth of the father’s love and pride in this video touched me deeply. Especially the way he stared at the report card like it was a dream.

We are God’s dream come true. Never forget how very much you are loved. Never forget how much God is pulling for you and dreams for your success.

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread,

will he give him a stone?

Matthew 7:9

 

tweeterClick to tweet:

Did you know that God dreams for your success?

If an earthly father wants his child to succeed, how much more God yearns for your success!

Scare away hunger this Halloween

halloweenOne of my passions is feeding and clothing the Native American children of Pine Ridge Reservation. The poorest area of the United States. That people live in such squalor in this land of plenty, is an American shame. So my post today is about how you can help feed the babies of Pine Ridge and the many elderly that are raising them.

Our church sponsored a family via this organization so I can vouch for their legitimacy. They aren’t a Christian organization, but they do the work of Christ if you ask me. They work hard to help keep food and clothes and wood for fuel and heat in homes that desperately need them.

I personally don’t “celebrate” Halloween, but I do use it as a day to spread the Gospel via flyers and tracts and as an opportunity to invite people to church. Why not use it to feed the hungry of Pine Ridge, too?

What follows is taken from their website:

This Halloween, children will go door-to-door collecting treats. Many will come to your door. This Halloween, think of the children who may have nothing at all to eat.

hunger2Participate in ONE Spirit’s Scare Away Hunger Halloween Drive, and help feed needy families. It’s a fun, easy way to contribute to the End Hunger program!
As you buy your candy, set aside $5 (about the cost of one bag) to donate to our End Hunger program. At the door, put a basket with our printable flyer, for parents who may wish to make a donation. You may also wish to put a basket out at your church or school party.

kidsinvlovedGet the kids involved!
Are your kids going trick-or-treating? Send them out with an extra bag for donations and our print and cut slips (click on the picture at left). After they get their treat, they can give a slip, and collect any donations that people may wish to give. Spare change and dollar bills add up!

When the night is over, send the donations to us here:

One Spirit PO Box 3209 Rapid City, SD 57709

Pine Ridge Facts:

  • The eighth-largest reservation in the United States
  • The poorest reservation in the United States
  • The population of Pine Ridge suffers health conditions commonly found in Third World countries: high mortality rates, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, malnutrition , diabetes and more
  • Reservation access to health care is limited and insufficient
  • Unemployment rates are between 80% and 85%
  • 49% of the population live below the federal poverty level
  • Many families have no electricity, telephone, running water, or sewage systems; and use wood stoves to heat their homes, depleting limited wood resources
  • The shortest life expectancies of any group in the Western Hemisphere: approximately 47 years for males and 52 years for females
  • The infant mortality rate is five times the United States national average
  • Adolescent suicide rate is four times the United States national average

tweeterClick to Tweet:
Help feed the hungry children and elderly on Pine Ridge.

Scare away hunger this Halloween

Participate in ONE Spirit’s Scare Away Hunger Halloween Drive, and help feed needy families.