Friday, October 30, 2009

Serval Kitties, & Last Call for Questions for Ana

Reader questions will be sent to Ana Darcy Mendez for her possible response this weekend. This is the last call for questions!

The picture shows the serval kittens at five weeks. (Click to enlarge) Below are photos of them at two and three weeks. Thanks to Julie of! Ana Darcy would probably love these active, fun cats. Julie says servals remind her of small cheetahs: high energy, and with long, lean bodies. Caracals, she says (see photo down the right side) are more like small cougars: more stocky, shorter and bulkier, with a completely different language, and, she thinks, more laid back than servals. Both can be great pets, but they're not for the casual pet owner! See Julie's excellent site for more details.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Recipe Challenge: Part III

Encouraged by Danielle's experiment, we obtained some authentic kamut (an historic species of Egyptian wheat, "khorasan" wheat) and tried a second experiment. The kamut berries looked like fat grains of rice (see pictures, click to enlarge), and they boiled up to about twice their size, becoming chewy, wheaty tasting grains. They have to be whole wheat, and thus nutritious, but they don't taste oily to me, like regular whole wheat does.

Anyway, we made one small meat loaf, with a half pound of ground beef, half a cup of kamut boiled al dente, red wine, a quarter cup of parmesan, minced garlic, one slice of chopped onion, a half teaspoon of thyme, and salt and pepper--no egg, no breadcrumbs, no off-the-shelf sauce. The idea was to test the basic ingredients only.

Result: as an exercise in extending the meat (which is what meatloaf is all about, after all) it was a success. We had not appreciated the power of thyme, however, and that dominated everything else. Next time, no thyme (rhyme intentional). The texture was crumbly, which was no problem, and chewy, thanks to the kamut, which was fun. You can't just pound down the meatloaf, as so often happens. You have to chew it and enjoy it.

Note for next time: try a dash of liquid mesquite smoke. For those not in the southwest, liquid hickory smoke ought to similarly add a slightly smoky, exotic flavor.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Questions for Ana: Area 51?

We have received another question for Ana. This one involves the famous Area 51. Good question!

This is the second call for questions. Ana doesn't do this very often, so if you've been saving one, don't put it off!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Recipe (Alcohol Ahead!)

Ana Darcy Mendez seldom drinks, but on rare social or celebratory occasions she's been known to sip a little. Here's a drink she loves that Matt taught her about. It's sweet (and sour) and not terribly alcoholic. Matt usually makes one for himself and gives her half.

Start with the juice of one of those little Mexican limes (or key limes) squeezed into a glass over cracked ice. Add two ounces of amaretto. You may want to adjust the sweet/sour mix to taste. That's it! This is your basic amaretto sour. Bars traditionally gussy it up with a maraschino cherry or slice of lime, but Matt doesn't bother. He says it tastes like purest tropical Mexico!

(The photo shows a Mexican decoration for El Dia de los Muertos, November 2. Click to enlarge.)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Another Reader Goes the Extra Mile

It's one thing to read and enjoy a story. It's another thing entirely to like it so much you take the trouble to write a review for others. Being a reviewer for PODBRAM, I know this well. So our special thanks go to JPMorgan for the review he posted yesterday for Distant Cousin: Regeneration!

"I just finished this forth book in the Distant Cousin Series and found it to be an excellent read. I have followed Ana through her 3 previous novels and watched her adapt to her new environment. I have watched her grow and develop her "human" tendencies. I found this novel to be especially interesting because of the character development. Ana has proved herself to be a very extraordinary woman, but in this novel we see that Ana is not without the feelings and problems of us mortals. This novel brings us closer to Ana's family and friends and the Mendez family. Toward the end of this novel I found myself thinking I was reading about my good friends and not some characters in a Fiction Novel. I'm hoping there is a 5th in the series, I'd like to know that my friends are OK. This is a fun and exciting series to read." (Amazon)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pictures: Distant Cousin: Regeneration

............................................................................................................................................ Here are some photos of an old Inca trail in the mountains of Peru, built possibly 500-600 years ago. One of the scenes in Distant Cousin: Regeneration could have taken place here! (Click to enlarge.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ask Ana: Call for Questions

............................................................................................................... Here's your big chance to ask Ana Darcy Mendez a question--about herself, her home planet, or her impressions of our planet, Earth. We already have several questions on hand. With one or two more in hand, we'll pass them to her to possibly respond to.

Just to jog your thinking, here are two questions that will be submitted to Ana:

1.I'm wondering about your natural grace, speed, reflexes, and affinity for cats and other felines. Is it possible that Thomans have used feline DNA to enhance your genetic makeup? (VP)

2. I would like to know what Ms. Darcy thinks of what we've done to our enivronment. Do the Thomans see more that we can do to save Mother earth? ("Mom")

If you have a question for Ana, simply add it under "Comments," below.

The photos are of baby servals, kitties born this month at Julie's Jungle, and reproduced here with her permssion (and thanks!). They're about two weeks old, on the right, and a three weeks old, on the left, and growing fast. As adults, they'll weigh around 30 pounds. Servals do not figure in the Distant Cousin series, not yet, anyway, but another species of cat whose picture Julie also provided, does. Try Distant Cousin: Regeneration to meet this unusual and exceptionally lovely and remarkable cat.

(Click to enlarge the kitties.)

Ana's answer to question 1.
Ana's answer to question 2.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ana's Annals Accelerate!

Distant Cousin is a proud entry in Operation E-book Drop, a loose association of independent authors who make their books available free to American and British troops overseas (and at home, for that matter).

We are delighted to announce that Distant Cousin, for today at least, is the fourth most popular novel at, and the most popular among its adventure novels. These numbers fluctuate over time, but it's clear that Ana Darcy Mendez's adventures are being enjoyed all over the world.

The point to underline, of course, is that Distant Cousin and the other titles donated by the members are a real and useful contribution to our troops who give so much for us. However small our effort is compared to theirs, we are all thrilled to make the small contributions we do.

Best wishes, guys! Our thoughts and prayers are with you!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

First Review of Distant Cousin: Regeneration

Fans of Ana Darcy & her wonderful Mendez family won't be disappointed with this latest sequel! DC#4 skips a few years since we last saw Ana, Matt & the kids hidden in New Mexico, enjoying a wonderful happy & full life. We're treated to some great chapters on how that life has developed, how the gifted children are growing, and how Ana has settled into her role on Earth, as well as developing the stories of those around Ana - Julio & Clio, Clio's new friend Harry, our old friends Rob and Michelle. And while it's natural to want our heroine to be the center of every plot, their lives are interesting enough to care about these side characters & to want to know more.

But we know from the outset that Ana's peaceful life won't be left alone for long... that an enemy from the past is seeking bitter revenge & that Ana's life might not ever be the same. How can she keep herself, her family & her own life safe? Ana might not be able to rely on her skills alone & she has to face some of the harsh realities of the world - the violence, the tragedies & worst for all parents: the fear of not always being able to protect your children.

This great story not only provides some of Ana's action-packed fighting skills, but the sensitive issues of battling insecurities, past & present horrors & even homesickness, that remind us that Ana is not an all-knowing all-fighting alien, but a human being; trillions of miles from home, here on an impulse to save the world & subject to all the same fears & weaknesses as the rest of us. And even with Matt by her side, can she handle them? (eReader1)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cue the horn! Toot, toot!

Here's a sample of reader comments over the last year:

"I loved this book. I had read so many good things on Kindle Boards that I decided to try it even though I am not a science fiction fan. I loved some of your ideas. Thank you for writing. It is such a pleasure to read a book that provides entertainment and a sense of wonder. This is time well spent!"

"I rarely read science fiction (the exception is Distant Cousin, which I thoroughly enjoyed and promptly bought the rest of the trilogy)."

"Distant Cousin may need a genre of its own. As a rule I avoid all science fiction and so...I was slow in downloading Distant Cousin. After reading the first few pages however, I was glad that I'd broken my own rule. Whatever genre it is, Distant Cousin is a good read."

"Once I finished the sample I immediately bought the book and have been reading for the last 3 hours. I was hooked after the first 8 to 10 pages. I wasn't sure I would like this when I read 'another planet.' It did not sound like a book I would choose to read. If I didn't have to get up at 5 am for work I would read all night. I definitely recommend this book, you won't be disappointed."

"You SUCK!!! Ever since I started Distant Cousin, my dishes haven't gotten done. I have an entire house to pack, which isn't getting done, and I was up till 2AM last night to finish it! I haven't spent more than ten minutes at a time online and we have been eating premade casseroles...It's all your fault! My husband thinks it's funny. I am not going to start the second one till the weekend so I can get some work done around here. Thank you for entertaining me. The characters, especially Darcy, become so real. I know I am reading a good story when I worry about the characters' well being and celebrate their successes!"

"Thanks, Al, for some wonderful books. It's always a pleasure to read a book where the character is so "fleshed out" that I feel I would know him/her if I met them on the street. Not only would I know them, I'd have to invited them to lunch so we could chat!"

"What I like about the series is the way it's written. It's a very smooth, calm style that keeps me interested. The characters are so likeable and Darcy just makes you want to hug her, she's so charming and cute."

'I'm another one of the ravers. These are 3 soon to be 4 books that I can't imagine anybody not liking. There is something for everybody in them."

"Just bought Repatriation. Loved the first one and got the wife to start it. She's giggling a lot, so she must like it." {later} "My wife is in absolute love with Distant Cousin. She told me she kept taking breaks yesterday to read it and stayed up waaay late reading it."

"I am so into Al Past's book that I have my Kindle in one hand and am typing with the other."

"I've been so totally absorbed in the Distant Cousin trilogy that I didn't even know the board was down. I logged in and all the posts said 'yesterday' on them and I couldn't figure out where everybody was."

"Okay...I'm finished with Distant Cousin and the first page of Repatriation is open on my Kindle. I'm annoyed to have to start dinner and get the laundry out of the dryer first.... It's funny, I seared my chicken legs and have them make something easy tonight.... I only get emotional when I'm completely submersed in a story. I actually found myself having to hit the 'prev page' button over and over. I was so into the story, I was hitting the 'next page' buton with a couple words lef of the last line to read...LOL. The page would turn and the sentence would continue, but I wouldn't know what it meant...I was getting too anxious to see what was going to happen next."

"The descriptions of the scenery and the people in West Texas were perfect. I had a movie running in my head the whole time I was reading."

"I am up to Book 3 of the Distant Cousin series and I really recommend these books for anyone wanting something fun and engaging. I have been reading them each night for almost a week and am becoming distressed the Book 3 is almost over. I have many books waiting on my Kindle to read, but I hate to leave Ana Darcy and her story."

"Distant Cousin.... I am hooked on our [Kindle] authors. Not my usual subject matter, yet a really good read. Looking forward to More, More, MORE."

"I just finished Distant Cousin and loved it. A great combination of adventure, human drama, and soft sci-fi. I'm now starting on the second book in the series and am just as entertained."

"I have a new fan of DC - a little old lady who is a voracious reader, had reservations about 'science fiction' but after reading #1 she called to tell me she can't wait to start the next. She loved the characters and the story and says that 'Al Past is an excellent writer!!!'"

(Even more reader comments here.)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ana Darcy's Favorite Poem

Ana Darcy is surprisingly well read for someone who grew up on another planet, and came to live on Earth as an adult. She even famously read several Shakespeare plays (in Distant Cousin: Repatriation), although she admitted they were difficult for her. In Distant Cousin, she said she loves our fiction but she doesn't understand a lot of our poetry. There are plenty of us who don't either, actually.

But she does like some of it, and her very favorite, which she holds close to her heart and tries to live by, is a poem by Diane Ackerman called "School Prayer." That poem led off Distant Cousin: Reincarnation (the paperback edition), although it had to be left out of the Kindle edition because the agreement with Random House wouldn't allow it.

The poem is on the web, however. If you'd like to read it, it may be found here.* You will easily see why she might like it.

See more of the Earthly poems Ana loves in the column on the right under the photo of the LOVE sculpture.

*NOTE: the pages to which many of Ana's poems link have been taken down. There is a workaround, however: search for the author and title elsewhere. If you do that for Diane Ackerman's poem "School Prayer," for example, you will be directed here. Try it! It's a super lovely poem.