Worldbuilding Wednesdays: Interior Design

It’s our worldbuilding bloghop day, and these week’s topic is ‘Interior Design.’ To see more about the blog hop visit Rebekah Loper’s blog at: http://rebekahloper.com/

Interior design. Well, my space city Tiberius Base is full of interiors. The characters COULD go outside and play but they’d have to wear spacesuits to avoid unfortunate consequences and no one wants to wear spacesuits.

The culture of Tiberius Base has not yet been established. Most of the people on the Base at story-begin are hired construction crews who are about to move on, and an administrative staff who works for Fortunate Dragon company.

Our main character, Ping Yuan, has a rather spartan apartment. He is lucky to be high enough in rank to have his own quarters. Lower-ranked unmarried persons are assigned to a communal dormitory. Since the company wants everyone working on the station to marry and have kids, marriage will provide an employee with the right to larger quarters.

The living spaces on the station are quite plain until a finishing crew works on them. They handle ‘interior design’ tasks as well as putting up walls to divide larger living quarters into rooms. Ping has not bothered to have his own quarters ‘finished’ since he hopes to marry sometime in the near future and will be changing quarters.

The Base is about to obtain some 400 low-level workers to do various tasks for the company and for the private enterprises beginning to be established on the station. These workers are pre-sorted by the labor provider so that groups of workers with the same native language and culture can be obtained. It is assumed that the workers will bring their own culture along with them. The company approves of that. Culture helps unite the inhabitants of a space city.

Individuals who arrive at the Base early in its existence can have their quarters fitted out to their own preferences by the finishing crew. Computer designs are available reflecting many cultures. It is also possible to purchase home decor items from shops, most of which are on the Dock level at the early stage.

There are some aliens living on the Base. Some are Tsanans who mostly look like balls of colored light. They can teleport, and no one is quite sure where they live or what they eat. There is a family of Mender merchants who have quite fine quarters and offices for their business, made out in Mender cultural fashion. There is also a Lizard and his staff. He has been assigned quarters which he decorates to his own specifications. He has an interest in Terran history especially the American Civil War. One of his ancestors was on Earth at the time and fought for the Confederacy. Other Lizards fought for the Union. When the South surrendered at Appomattox, the Lizards on the two sides wanted to keep fighting. The feud continues to this day.

Most of the workers about to be obtained at story-begin are Catholic Christians. Fortunate Dragon company is cool with this even though atheism is encouraged among their own people. The company provides a crucifix for all living quarters of these workers. They even turned a half-finished structure that was intended to be a museum of atheism into a Catholic church. They were very disappointed when they discovered they could not plant audio ‘bugs’ in the confessional.

Businesses also use the services of the finishing crew to create a unique look. There is an Asian vegetable-noodle shop that has a lot of Korean-style artifacts on display, based on the culture of the owner of the place. Ping, our main character, spends a lot of time at that noodle shop, because the girl he likes works there.

The Base is in a stage of transition right now, and the story, among other things, tells the story of how the people living on the station manage to form a functional community.

Foreign influences: alien artifacts are sometimes collected as a hobby. American artifacts such as American flags and portraits of most-admired presidents like Washington, Adams, Lincoln and Reagan are displayed by Terrans of many cultures to signal admiration for American-style democratic republics and American-style multiethnic nations. (Many America-admirers can sing the American national anthem in their own native languages.)

My current effort on my writing projects involve creating an outline using author K. M. Weiland’s book Outlining Your Novel Workbook. The Workbook is full of useful questions to answer to explore your proposed story in enough depth to know what to put in an outline. I have written 45 or so pages in a composition book so far doing this and I have made some useful additions to my story idea as a consequence.

 

 

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Keto Living: Dana Carpender’s new Fat Fast Cookbook

Dana Carpender the Low-Carb/Keto cookbook author had come out with her second Fat Fast cookbook and so of course I ordered a copy. I loved her other Fat Fast cookbook.

What is a fat fast? It’s not a real fast as taught by Jimmy Moore and Dr. Jason Fung in the Complete Guide to Fasting. Fat fasting is a temporary restricted diet designed by Dr. Robert Atkins, author of The Atkins Diet Revolution. The Fat Fast was designed for patients who were already on Atkins’ diet at the strict Induction level and who had stopped losing weight when they still had weight to lose. The Fat Fast was, like the Atkins diet itself, based on scientific research. It is a restricted calorie diet, unlike most low carb dieting, and featured food rich in (healthy) fats. It has been shown that people lose more weight eating more fat than eating carbs or protein.

Under Atkins there were about 3 or 4 food items you could eat on a fat fast, but when Dana Carpender tried the fat fast she started created recipes that fit the nutritional profile of fat fast foods.

In this new cookbook there are many new recipes. One problem I have with this book is many recipes have as a main ingredient Shirataki noodles. These noodles are a great low carb noodle substitute but they taste weird compared to real, carb-filled noodles. Also, they are hard to get. My local grocery doesn’t carry them so I have to go into town to get them. They also are hard to store. They can’t be frozen but must be refrigerated. In my fridge it is cold enough on the shelf I stored Shirataki on that a package was frozen and destroyed.

But on the good side there were other recipes that I do want to try. There is a recipe for low-carb chocolate milk based on full-fat coconut milk. I haven’t tried the coconut milk version but have tried one in which I replaced the coconut milk with heavy whipping cream.

There is also a recipe for Vichyssoise which uses cauliflower instead of potato. I’m going to try that recipe as soon as I can get to a grocery store that sells leeks— recipe also calls for one leek.

Now, I myself am not really planning to do a lot of fat fasting anytime soon. I do daily intermittent fasting in the overnight to morning period. But the fat fast recipes can also be a part of any LCHF ketogenic diet, which is what I eat (or should be eating) during my eating hours.

I think the best way to stick to a ketogenic diet is to have a lot of recipe books for ketogenic diets on hand. You don’t need to do lots of exotic recipes every day. Just find a few recipes you really like, and make them regularly. I personally stockpile ingredients for some of my favorite recipes so I can make them without a special trip to the store. This is important during the winter where I live, since during snowstorms we can’t always make trips to the store.


Saturday is the day of the week I cover healthy/ketogenic diet issues as well as intermittent fasting. Usually. If you want to know more about ketogenic diet and fasting, I recommend the podcasts of Jimmy Moore. He often has Doctors on his podcasts, and discusses the scientific research that backs up approaches like ketogenic diets or fasting. I listen to his podcasts on most days, it helps me keep on track.

Jimmy Moore’s Fasting Talk Podcast.

Jimmy Moore’s Other Podcasts.

Celebrate the Small Stuff: minor characters

Fiction authors all want us to identify with the main characters. But we don’t all do that. When I read Harry Potter I identified with characters like Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood. And Snape. I always thought Snape was misunderstood and not the bad guy Harry assumed he was.

Every character in a book is possibly a character that a reader will like the best. And that’s why great authors spend time on smaller characters as well the big ones. Sometimes a well-thought-out secondary character is what makes a book unforgettable.

I have always picked secondary characters to latch on to in fiction. Melanie in Gone with the Wind, for example. She was such a good and loving person. Scarlett needed someone like that in her life.

And then there was Valentine in the Ender books by Orson Scott Card. Not quite good enough for Battle School. And then her little brother Ender was chosen, so she spend her childhood with the brother she hated instead of the brother she loved. Her life turned out to be more about Ender than it was about herself. And Ender normally had bigger things to deal with than his sister.

Sometimes we get lucky and an author writes a book about a minor character we like. I love Bean in Ender’s Game, and then Orson Scott Card wrote some books that told Bean’s story.

Have you ever liked a minor character as much or more than a main character in a work of fiction?


This has been a post in Lexa Cain’s Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. Lexa has been ill and not able to participate for a while but others on the list have been doing it every week anyway. Visit Lexa Cain’s blog to see the posts— her Celebrate the Small Things participants are in her sidebar under a couple of other blog lists— scroll down. http://lexacain.blogspot.com/

Literary agents as biased gatekeepers

If you read books by a mainstream ‘big’ publisher, you are reading the work of authors who have agents. For most traditionally published authors, getting an agent is the first step to getting a publisher. So the agents function as a gatekeeper helping to decide what books get published.

My most recent copy of Writer’s Digest has profiles of a number of agents looking for new writers. They tell what they want— usually more ‘diversity’ and more LGBTXYZ characters— and what they don’t want. For some agents that is ‘Christian.’

That set me to thinking. In all the years I’ve been reading Writer’s Digest I’ve never heard an agent or publisher say, ‘No Jewish fiction,’ or ‘I don’t want to see any Jewish stuff.’ I’ve never seen one who said ‘No Buddhists need apply.’ Now, I bet some of these agents and publishers in fact didn’t want to see any work with religious content of ANY faith. But no one feels free to admit those biases in public.

But bias against Christians— no one is afraid to admit to that these days. Now, I believe an agent that has the impulse to say ‘No Christian stuff’ would be a poor agent for a Christian author— he wouldn’t have good connections at the Evangelical Christian publishing houses. But I do think it is sad that agents have no fear of admitting a prejudice in public.

Fortunately the rise of Indie fiction means the big publishers are no longer the only game in town, so getting an agent that isn’t bigoted against your faith isn’t as urgent.  There are alternatives. And there are a few agents who specialize in Evangelical Christian authors. (I don’t know that there is any hope for the Catholic authors, as far as agents go. There aren’t many Catholic publishers with a fiction line.)

For the reader the rise of Indie fiction means that there is a greater variety of books to be found. If only it were easier to find the good stuff.

Worldbuilding Wednesday: Your world needs history

History shapes us all. Even though I was born after WW2, I was affected by the events of that conflict. And so I know that fictional characters will also be affected by their world’s history.

In my worldbuilding for my WIP Tiberius Base, the Terran Empire that most of the characters are part of is not a real empire with a central governing authority. The planet Earth is called Oldearth with a certain degree of contempt, because the world has gone silly due to the continuation of anti-overpopulation measures into a time when the planet is facing an underpopulation crisis. The Terran Empire consists of a bunch of different authorities based on different colony worlds. The Emperor of the Empire, called the Asian Emperor because he unites the royalty of several Asian nations in his family tree, is a figurehead and knows it, but ‘rules’ out of some royal palaces on Oldearth. The pope also is based on Oldearth but most men who rise to that position worked on Terran colonies before becoming Cardinals and later Popes.

Terrans are part of a very loose group of humanoid races that maintain the Interstellar Archives. The Archives rate differing races as to their dominance level. A race that is considered submissive is not allowed to colonize whole worlds but must be content with being given a continent to settle on some other race’s world. The Archives determine which colonization projects are allowed/accepted but have no warships to stop an unapproved project.

There are two humanoid races that play a part in the story. The Menders have been visiting Terra since the days of ancient Egypt, usually to buy horses to add to their own breeding stock. Terrans and Menders are usually allies.

The Lizards, also called Ulangin, are a problem. A Lizard is making a claim to the whole of Tiberius Base, because the Base’s core is a hollowed-out asteroid provided by a mysterious true-alien race called the Diggers. The Lizard has permission from the Archives to study Digger artifacts and so he claims the whole Base.

Ping, the main character, and his boss, Master Liang, are from a political entity which grew out of Communist China. They are ideologically Communists and Scientific Atheists, but their main business is business and their ideology isn’t allowed to interfere with that. The core of the story is that these atheist men decide to import Christianity to use as an instrument of social control over the workers they are bringing in.

The calendar used in the story is the AD calendar based on the approximate birth date of Jesus Christ. The year of the story is about 3227. I think. Haven’t worked that out much yet. Or much of the history. I do know that the United States no longer exists, but the American idea of self-government and God-given rights live on. People who believe in these ideals are called Americans even if none of their ancestors were US citizens.

The most American of the Terran worlds is called Mayflower. Some of the workers at Tiberius Base are to be imported from that world. Mayflower is divided up into states, like the United States. Some states are founded by distinct groups but the lines blur as people move to other states. Two states are full of alien immigrants, who adapt fairly well to the American way. One unique group on Mayflower is a group of German-Americans who happen to mostly be people with African-dark skin and blond, tightly curled hair, as a result of a group of children of this ethnic mix being prominent among early settlers. These are among the people imported as workers to Tiberius Base. The other workers, also German speakers, do not see anything odd about the brown skins. But some don’t like that they speak German ‘funny’— influenced by an Amish dialect.

Rebekah Loper who leads the Worldbuilding Wednesday blog hop has given some suggested questions to answer and for a change I am not ignoring them.

  1. What historical event has lead to your inciting incident? The inciting incident is when Master Liang assigns Ping to obtain a crowd of workers for the station. The whole history of planetary and space station colonization plays a role in this, and not just the history of Terrans. It has become the custom for brokers to ‘sell’ groups of workers for colonization projects. The workers are tested for fertility, rated as to useful job skills, and the languages and trade languages they speak are noted. The groups are given monetary values based on many factors. Some groups, like the Amish, are highly sought after because of their primitive-farming skills and their ability to form tight-knit communities.
  2. What historical event has most affected your character’s life? My main character Ping is an ordinary citizen of the Interplanetary People’s Republic. The history that has most affected his life is the custom that has developed of providing boarding schools to train young workers so that parents and grandparents are freed of child care duties. (Today in China workers find jobs in the towns and their children are raised by the grandparents in the countryside.) Ping was parted from his parents in that way and has learned to look on his work superiors as father figures.
  3. Has your character witnessed any significant historical events personally? Ping has never been in the right place to witness such events personally. Though he has seen video footage of many historical events, such as the destruction of the Mender homeworld, and important battles of the American Civil War which were filmed by the Mender and Lizard participants. (A Lizard character had ancestors who fought for the Confederates in the Civil War. His ancestors adopted the surname Lee after Robert E. Lee. They are still feuding with Lizard clans whose ancestors fought for the North, especially the clan named ‘Grant.’)

This has been a post in the Worldbuilding Wednesdays blog hop. Join up here: http://rebekahloper.com/

Make a low-carb/ketogenic bread substitute

For the person on a ketogenic/low-carb diet, there are two kinds of substitutes for bread: the products that CLAIM to be low-carb but have grain/gluten ingredients and are only slightly better than regular bread, and the kind you can eat freely on a ketogenic diet and aren’t very bread-like.

The reason we don’t like REAL ketogenic bread is that we are addicted to the carb fix we get from bread. No carbs, no grains, no fix. It’s like asking a heroin addict to be content with a vitamin B-12 injection.

OK. Real ketogenic bread. The classic recipe was called Diet Revolution Rolls (and Diet Revolution Bread) in Dr. Atkins first book, Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution. Google the recipe name and you can find the recipe, even a YouTube video that shows how to make it.

Diet Revolution Rolls require separation eggs and whipping up the egg whites. I know how to do this but I dislike it. It’s a chore, and if you get one little speck of egg yolk in your whites they won’t whip up.

So I came up with a new recipe. I call it ‘Dutch Baby Rolls’ since I adapted it from a recipe that uses Dutch Baby (a kind of big pancake) as a pizza crust. I just made it in my Yorkshire Pudding Pan in four servings and it came out very well. I have a small Yorkshire Pudding Pan — well, three of them— that I bought for making Diet Revolution Rolls in a variant sometimes called ‘Cloud Bread.’

So: you will need to get yourself a Yorkshire Pudding Pan to make this recipe. You might also try searching under Muffin Top Pan. Choose between pans on the size of the holes, and the depth of the holes. My pans have a depth of 1/2 inch, but I saw one with a 1 inch depth and am buying that. I use a 4 hole size since I bake in a small convection oven with the convection feature turned off.

The rolls in a batch of Dutch Baby Rolls will poof up and be high enough that you can slice each roll in half to use in making a sandwich. NOTE: if you whip up your batter and let it sit a long time, it won’t poof. If you accidentally set your oven for 325 and not 425, they will not poof. We like poof! Get it right.

The recipe is cut down from the Dutch Baby Pizza recipe on page 270 of Jimmy Moore and Maria Emmerich’s book ‘The Ketogenic Cookbook.’ Buy the book! (NOT an affiliate link.)

Dutch Baby Rolls

2 large eggs

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 Tablespoon unflavored egg white or whey protein powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt or Herbamare (salt flavored with veggies)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Spray olive oil based pan spray on your Yorkshire pudding pan.
  3. Combine eggs, cream, protein powder and salt in bowl. Mix with electric mixer 1 minute.
  4. Pour batter into Yorkshire pudding pan. Fill holes not quite full. You don’t want a spill.
  5. Bake for about 15-16 minutes

Variations: you can substitute unsweetened almond milk or unsweetened coconut milk for the cream if you can’t handle dairy. Also, you can sprinkle a few poppy seeds or sesame seeds on the top of each roll before baking.

Reheating instructions:
I store my rolls in the fridge, by the way.
Cut roll in half. Place cut side up on a cookie sheet. Preheat your oven to 325 F. Not 425 like above. Place a small pat butter on each half on the cut side. Bake 4-6 minutes. You don’t want to burn them.

Variation: Place bacon bits and a slice of your favorite cheese on the ‘bottom’ half of your Dutch Baby Roll. In 4-6 minutes at 325 F, your cheese should become melty. Easy substitute for grilled cheese!

Taste: I used to make a cream puff recipe which called for lots of flour. I ate them like they were rolls. I think Dutch Baby Rolls taste a little like that. They are great for days when all I want to eat is a sandwich or hamburger-with-bun.

The mistake authorbloggers make

Recently I read an online article that critiqued a blog by a freelance writer. She (the blogger) set up a blog to win over more freelance-hiring customers. But most of her blog articles were about life as a freelance writer, and many were aimed at other freelance writers— her competition.

We authorbloggers do the same thing. We write for other writers and not for our readers. And that makes our blogs of less interest to the readers— our customers. A writing-oriented blog might make a reader feel bad because he himself isn’t writing stuff and most everyone has at least an idea for a novel.

We could always dedicate our blog to endless bland reviews of other writer’s books. I’ve seen blogs like that. Some, those dedicated to ‘romance’, might work well for the reader who consumes obsessive numbers of romance books. But I don’t read those kind of blogs myself.

The sci-fi/fantasy author might write about movie and television sci-fi and/or fantasy. You might get caught up in fandom wars, though. And there is always the chance that you will attract people who watch the movies and television shows but won’t read a book. Or at least not a book that isn’t based on their favorite sci-fi/fantasy movie or television series. But it may be possible to win a few over. But I believe it’s better to concentrate more on books than movies.

I know a few authorbloggers who write sci-fi/fantasy for the (evangelical) Christian market. Sometimes they review books from a more Christian point of view. This can be helpful for Christian readers looking to see content concerns addressed before they buy a book. But it can be kind of dismal counting up the swears and almost-swears, the drinking or cardplaying or absence of same, and rehashing the same old ‘is fictional magic evil’ debate.

I have a broader view of what Christian fiction might be. I not only include other followers of Jesus Christ like Catholics and Lutherans and even LDS to the ‘Christian fiction’ universe. (I am not saying that LDS theology is valid, however.) I like fiction by Christian authors that isn’t there to be ‘safe’ and non-threatening to the Christian reader.  I want science fictional universes where God can exist but where things can explode and people can die unexpectedly.

I believe we authorbloggers have to keep our reading base in mind when we blog. It’s not a sin to write something other writers might read. I participate in a weekly blog hop on worldbuilding which might mostly interest authors. But I don’t want to forget that many of my desired blog-readers are not authors and don’t intend to become authors.

Question: if you are an author-blogger, can you think of some reader-friendly blog post topics?