Sunday, July 30, 2017

Weekly Links: story-boarding, anti-popes, and more!

Sunset in Reno, where I attended a writing conference this weekend.


-For my fellow writers, a helpful article on how to plot and story-board with Scrivener.

-And for my fellow writers who write poetry, here's an article on how to actually make some money from it.

-And one more writing link, on when to adopt a pen name.

-For my fellow liturgy nerds, here's a helpful and interesting overview of Anglican vestments.

-This is a helpful article, and I especially appreciate the last section, which articulates the positive vision: The Bible and Same-Sex Relationships: A Review Article.

-And speaking of, here's a helpful reminder: The Church Has Always Known Theological Controversy.

-And a moving article from a parent who's further down the road than I am: On Being the Happiest Millionaire: Jane Gets Married. I really liked this part:
[Our daughter and new son-in-law] will go on an exciting trip after the wedding and we will go home, having let them go. If we have done our job well, then now we are honored parents, friends. As a result, sometimes they will choose to come home for Christmas, not out of duty, but because they wish to do so. If we made the parting easy, then the return will be easy as well! The time has come, so far as their lives go, to play a supporting role to their starring turn and this is good.

-And let's end with something funny. I've really been enjoying the D-List Saints column over at Christ and Pop Culture. This one, The Guy Who Just Decided He Was Pope, was particularly good. Here's a snippet:
No, seriously—not only did the guy write large chunks of the Western liturgy, he also straight-up invented the concept of an “antipope.” What have you done with your life?

I hope what's left of your Sunday is peaceful and restful.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Friday, July 21, 2017

Mysterion 2 Kickstarter

About a year ago, I had a chance to review a really unique book: Mysterion. It was unique both because it was an anthology of Christian speculative fiction (not many of those out there), but also because it didn't have the usual content/language restrictions that Christian publishing usually requires. From my review:

In all, I recommend picking up a copy of Mysterion .... the mix on the whole is quite good, and it has that sharp, strange, interesting energy that real life has, and I really appreciate finding Christian fiction where that is true. 

I love that Enigmatic Mirror Press is providing an opportunity for Christian sci-fi and fantasy authors to write stuff that might not fit either in traditional Christian publishing OR in traditional secular publishing...Mysterion was a really unique collection, and so I was excited to hear from the publisher that they're planning on a second volume!

It's a very particular niche of fiction, but it's a niche I love. If it's the kind of geekery that interests you, too, you can find the Kickstarter for Mysterion 2 here.  The rewards for backers include, quite properly, copies of both the first book and the second. Check it out!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

P.S. I'm not involved in this project--I really just thought the first book was cool. I totally might submit a story for this second volume though... :)

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price. I will probably use it to buy more books. (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Reviews of some Recently-Tried Recipes


Nota Bene: I'm only reviewing recipes we liked. Why bother sharing the duds?


We've made Bebimbap before (using the recipe in this wonderful children's book), but it's such a good dish that I'm always up for trying  a new version. This one was good! I really liked the sauce on the meat.

-Seafood Rice Skillet

We had a guest over for dinner the night we had this dish. Partway through the dinner, when I encouraged him to have seconds, he grinned a bit guiltily and said, "I've already had thirds." (Which, by the way, makes him the best kind of dinner guest: the kind that is infinitely flattering to the cooks.) I share that anecdote as proof that this really was a good recipe.

Changes I made: I doubled the amount of seafood (because we're trying to have more protein, and because, well, I like seafood).  I also used saffron instead of tumeric. I know that kind of defeats the "budget" part of this recipe, except that it didn't in our case, because I had saffron left over from another recipe I'd made months ago, and so it was a matter of not wasting what I'd already spent money on.

-Mediterranean Spiced Salmon and Vegetable Quinoa: 

Skipped the salmon spice mix b/c I already had one I liked,but the veggie quinoa was yummy and refreshing.

-Ultimate BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

Make sure you keep the diced red onion and the cilantro! Makes all the difference. This was good the night of, and even better the next day, warmed up in the toaster oven.

-Southwest Beef and Cabbage Stir-fry

Just super-yummy! I've actually made this a couple of times now.

I am a better cook than a food photographer! Trust me that this taste good.

-Blackened Shrimp Tacos

You could probably skip dressing the cabbage (it's a bit much), but DON'T skip the lime-smoky-garlic sauce; it's SO good!

-Viking Chicken

We all loved the fruit roasted with the veg. I made a simple gravy with the pan juices, and it was nice and sweet. Otherwise, it's basically roasted chicken w/ veg.

What have you enjoyed cooking lately?

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price. I will probably use it to buy more books. (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Weekly Links


-On a puzzling Biblical passage, this is kinda brilliant: "What About the Pigs?"

-For my fellow short-story writers, this is so helpful: "The Occult Wisdom of Cover Letters"

-From the sentence that suggested that certain popular authors mistakenly understand capitalism as a kind of "life system" rather than an economic theory, this article had my attention: "Book Review: Real Artists Don't Starve, by Jeff Goins"

-And a good reminder: "Don't Embrace the Power of the Dark Side"

-I listened to two quite good Writing Excuses podcast episodes this week, "Choosing a Length" and "Hiring an Editor."

-I also really enjoyed this week's #AmWriting episode, "What Is a Draft?"

I hope what's left of your Sunday is peaceful and restful.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Saturday, July 8, 2017

On mystery novels

After I posted a link to my review of "A Share in Death" on Facebook, my friend Fr. Don White had the most insightful comment about why mystery novels, which center around horrible crimes, also tend to be full of the most beautiful writing. I'm reposting it here, with his permission.
Y'see, I like to think that the best murder mysteries bring the horror of evil into the light, and, in conveying the beautiful setting ... in which the evil is unraveled, prove once again that the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not apprehended it, but rather is apprehended itself. Evil is overcome with wisdom and beauty, and we once again have a foretaste of that inestimable and eternal Beauty for which our every soul longs, where sorrow and sighing are no more, and where every eye is blotted.


Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Book Notes: "A Share in Death," by Deborah Crombie

I picked this up as vacation reading and it was such a pleasant surprise! The best mystery novels are, at their hearts, sympathetic paintings of a variety of human characters, and "A Share in Death" nailed both the accurate, pleasing brush-strokes and the kind-but-clear-eyed view of human foibles.

I can't remember where I heard about Crombie, but when I checked out the first page of the book, I found this lovely little bit of prose:

Duncan Kincaid's holiday began well. As he turned the car into the lane, a shaft of sun broke through the clouds and lit a patch of rolling Yorkshire moor as if someone had thrown the switch on a celestial spotlight. 
Drystone walls ran like pale runes across the brilliant green of pasture, where luminous sheep nibbled, unconcerned with their importance in the composition. The scene seemed set off in time as well as space, and gave him the sensation of viewing a living tapestry, a world remote and utterly unattainable. The clouds shifted again, the vision fading as swiftly as it had come, and he felt an odd shiver of loss at its passing. 

That was enough to convince me that the author was going to take me on a journey that I would enjoy, and I was happy to be proved right.

Our hero, Duncan Kincaid, is an inspector for Scotland Yard, off on holiday to a borrowed timeshare in an old and sprawling mansion. Of course, it turns into a working holiday when someone is murdered. All of the suspects are Kincaid's fellow vacationers there in the mansion, closing off the murderer and his potential victims in a neatly contained setting, the better for us to get to know them and try to figure out whodunnit.

It's odd, I suppose, that murder mysteries should be such delightful reads, full of sympathetic characters and interesting conversations and beautifully-rendered visions of pretty countryside locations, when they always have such  horrible crimes at their hearts.

But, the best of them are that way, and this was, if not one of the best, one of the very, very good.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.  (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Links for a Long Weekend


-"The Delightful English Tradition of Beating Parish Boundaries with Sticks"

-"'They Do Not Deserve You'; Wonder Woman and Soteriology"

-"How I Stopped Being My Own Bad Boss" - especially for freelancers.

-"Bread Is Easier" - a beautiful meditation from Anne.

-"The Mischievous Protestant's Guide to Catholic Rome"

-"Why Didn't Great Painters of the Past Reach the Level of Realism Achieved Today by Many Artists?" - Another lesson in being careful about your definitions.

-"If You Build a Robot" - I didn't know I wanted to read a sci-fi story inspired by "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," but it turns out that I did.

I hope you have a lovely 3rd & 4th of July! (Whether or not you live in the States. :) )

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell