Wildberry Sourdough Muffins recipe from The Boreal Gourmet, by Michele Genest

Breakfast-eaters, snackers, hangers-out:  it’s time to reclaim the muffin from the fast-food joints and even from the groovy independent cafes.

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Like the picture?  Get more recipes like the one below from our very own Yukon Boreal Gourmet, Michele Genest.  Her book, the Boreal Gourmet, just got a nice, nice, tasty review from GEIST.

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Muffins should not be as big as your head, as my friend LP observes. When I was a child a muffin was a 6-bite morsel available in the glass case in the cafeteria or on the counter at the greasy spoon. Now it is an epic that requires a whole morning to consume, and you have to mount an expedition to find the nuts and berries inside. So here are two recipes for muffins of sensible size that feature wild northern berries, are easy to make, low on fat and sugar and bursting with healthy grains. They are similar but not the same.

Low Bush Cranberry Bran Muffins

On a blazing blue day last week I climbed the clay cliffs above Whitehorse and picked a pint of low bush cranberries before breakfast. I came back home with cold fingers and an appetite and whipped up these bran muffins, based on a recipe from that brilliant standby, Joy of Cooking, but tweaked here and there. I’m really pleased with them; they remind me of my grandmother’s bran muffins, for which the recipe is lost (my mother and my aunt have searched their files in vain) and which I’ve been trying to replicate for a long time. Let us sing their praises: light, moist, not too sweet, branny but not too branny and featuring the nice tart bite of low bush cranberries.

Dry Ingredients

1 cup (240 ml) all-purpose flour

1 cup (240 ml) whole wheat flour

1 cup (240 ml) bran

2 Tbsp. (30 ml) sugar

1 tsp. (5 ml) baking soda

¼ tsp. (1.2 ml) salt

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Clarion 2011 taking Applications: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop

Announcing the 2011 Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop  @ UC San Diego

June 26 to August 6, 2011

Clarion is widely recognized as a premier training ground for aspiring writers of fantasy and science fiction short stories.

The 2011 writers in residence are

Nina Kiriki Hoffman    John Scalzi

Elizabeth Bear                David Anthony Durham

John Kessel                     Kij Johnson

 

Since its inception in 1968, Clarion has been known as the “boot camp” for writers of speculative fiction. Each year 18-20 students, ranging in age from late teens to those in mid-career, are selected from applicants who have the potential for highly successful writing careers. Students are expected to write several new short stories during the six-week workshop, and to give and receive constructive criticism. Instructors and students reside together in campus apartments throughout the intensive six-week program.

The application period for the 2011 workshop is December 1 – March 1. Applicants must submit two short stories with their application. Scholarships are available. Additional information can be found at http://clarion.ucsd.edu.

See my Page on CLARION 2011 for more info on what a Clarion can do for you.

Personally, I have to say that the chance to work with Kij Johnson would be enough to make me put on a disguise and go again, though, like Narnia, former Clarion grads can’t go home again….  Kij’s story, “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” won the World Fantasy award and was on the final ballot for both the Nebula and the Hugo.  It’s an AMAZING story and just the kind of story I hope to write when I grow up.

What is Realms of Fantasy looking for?

The Clarion Foundation (parent of Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop) has a wonderful blog.  Douglas Cohen, an editor from Realms of Fantasy, recently wrote a guest post there talking about the view from Realms of Fantasy, from its long run in the industry, including its two recent revivals with new publishers.  There is some great insight here for those who are submitting stories and poems (yes, they have started publishing poems).  Here’s just a snippet, but the rest you can read on the Clarion blog.

1)     Fantasy is a broad genre, and it’s yet to stop expanding.  In addition to writers, editors are playing a crucial role in defining what fantasy is.  I’ve read a number of stories in our pages that I consider science fiction.  Obviously Shawna felt otherwise, or at least saw enough fantasy-related elements to justify publishing these tales in RoF.  Too often, I hear about authors rejecting themselves from certain markets because their stories are “not a good fit.”  Now, if you’re writing a hard science fiction piece in the vein of Gregory Benford or Isaac Asimov, it’s true that your story most likely isn’t right for us.  But if there is an element that could be considered fantastical in your sf story, who knows?  We just might buy it.  Did you know John Joseph Adam’s recent dystopian sf reprint anthology has a story from RoF in there?  Did you know we published a story with robots that were clearly inspired by Transformers?  Did you know we had a story about molecule memory that was reprinted in Rich Horton’s Science Fiction, Best of the Year, 2008?  I could go on.  The point—and this is something to keep in mind for all markets—is that it’s not your job to reject your stories for our magazines.  It sounds like a basic thing, but too often I see authors—including experienced ones—overanalyzing their prospective writing markets.  This is not a phenomenon unique to RoF.  It’s good to know your markets, because that might help you land a sale sooner rather than later.  But don’t be the editor for them.  I can’t stress this enough.  When in doubt, submit.  Let us decide what’s right for the magazine.  The worst that happens is that we say no.  To borrow (and probably mangle) a phrase from John W. Campbell: “How dare you reject your story for my magazine?”

2)     Shawna and I have different tastes.  Yes, there is definite overlap, and these similarities (and the differences for that matter) are why we work well together.  But I hear too many authors saying things like, “Realms of Fantasy is not a market for sword & sorcery.”  Ahem.  I love sword & sorcery.  I also unquestionably enjoy this sub-genre more than Shawna does, meaning I’m likelier to enjoy an S&S tale than she is.  But since I’ve been with the magazine, we’re publishing more in this area than we ever have before.  Not an overwhelming amount, but definitely more.  The point is that magazines change over time.  Too many people stop reading a certain venue for whatever reason, and five or ten years later, when they’re telling you their problems with this magazine, what they’re saying is no longer relevant.  Again, I see this happen with experienced writers too, so I feel I should mention it here.  So not only should you never reject yourself, but it’s also a terrible idea letting others do your market research for you.  Sharing ideas is fine, but make sure your friends are up to date on what they’re saying.  If the information is coming secondhand, make sure it’s coming from a reliable source.

There are eight more points Mr. Cohen makes–equally insightful. It behooves you (I like ‘behooves’) to run over there and check them out.  Happy submitting.

Mr. Cohen also makes a strong point about Clarion graduates supplying the magazine with quality stuff.  See that top name on the February cover of Realms of Fantasy—Desirina Boskovich?  One of my Clarion buddies.  Awesome, Desirina!

I Claudius, I Gertrude, I Polonius, I Hamlet: the humanity and unity of Bhaneja’s Hamlet {solo}

I just returned from a brilliant rendition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the Yukon Arts Centre.  One man, Raoul Bhaneja, did the whole play–or an edited version of the whole play–but he did every part, not just Hamlet’s soliloquies.  He had a box of light and an edge of darkness that he ran around making us believe he was seven or eight or ten people.  It was, in a word, stunning.  You might think that it will become boring–one man doing everything–and yet, every character received the same high quality attention.  I can’t imagine the inner-acting work that went on to understand every character, embody every person.  “I wanted to give everyone their chance,” Bhaneja said during the Q & A after the show.

It is a two hour show, and Bhaneja says about 15,000 words (from his own estimation).  He nuances characters with a gesture–Rosencrantz, his arm in the air; Guildentstern, leaning on one knee; Gertrude with her hand over her chest; Polonius stooped; Horatio a bit rigid and formal; Ophelia shy and uncertain.  His voice takes on multiple voices–a Sybil of sorts–but whose accents define the boundaries of the characters well enough for you to imagine, and I kept doing this, as if there were really six or seven people on stage and they were just being revealed to you one at a time as they spoke, as if they just came through the haze to speak.

Because Bhaneja edited the work, the transitions might be a bit altered, transitions from scene to scene.  But when I watched him end one scene with Hamlet and then start the next scene with Claudius I was struck by the statement it made about their characters.  Having one man portray both Claudius and Hamlet and crossfade into them gives the viewer this chance to see the two men as more similar, more equal, two sides of the same coin.  It’s easy to delineate the characters when they are played by separate actors, but when one man does them, it actually makes you think about how similar they all are.

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Baked Café: Purveyors of Fine Coffees, Good Foods, and Perfect Days

A perfect day, and I’ve had them before, almost always contains a visit to Baked Café.  Some days I just come to sit on the black couches and look out the windows at Whitehorse going by.  Sometimes I bring a book to read.  Sometimes I plan official meetings there.  Other times I arrange to meet my friends.  Often, I run into them there unexpectedly.  Baked Café is a community hub, so naturally it’s a great venue for meeting.  There’s a lot of ambience in the wide room, and a lot of ambient noise so that you can speak frankly without being overheard.  Music on the radio.  People standing around talking.  It’s comfortable, and often crowded, but not in a jam-packed way, but more like having your best friends all over at your place, happy.  It’s probably the largest coffeeshop that Whitehorse has.

At the corner of First and Main, Baked Café serves a large range of specialty coffees and teas, cold drinks, as well as a wide repetoire of scones and pastries.  You cannot pass up a scone that is bigger than your hand.  It is a meal.  Cranberry Coconut, Cranberry Chocolate Chip, Blueberry Almond or Raspberry Walnut–they each come in three kinds: white, wheat and spelt.  Awesome soups–my favorites are any of their hearty chowders and their Tomato Basil with or without chicken.  They also serve sandwiches, beef pies, quiches, wraps, salads, cookies, and in the summer, several flavors of gelato. There is something for everyone.  It is a hot tourist spot in the summer, and just a hop away from the Whitehorse Trolley across the street.  Kids love it.  And it’s close to everything on Main Street–a place to begin your perfect day of shopping and touring around.  It’s a block away from the Museum, down the street from the Westmark, next to the river and the Whitepass Yukon Railway building.

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Martin Luther King Jr, Nichelle Nichols, and Building a Positive Future Through Fiction, on NPR

Monday, the day the US celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. day, there will be a special segment highlighting MLK’s conversation with Nichelle Nichols, the actress who played Lt. Uhura in Star Trek for both the first series and a majority of the movies.  While Trek fans are familiar with the story, most people aren’t aware that Nichols almost left the show after the first season.  She was tired of her very limited role on the series and wanted to return to the musical stage.

King said something very profound to her and I’d like to just comment on it.  When Nichols met King, he told her that he was a fan of the show.  When she said she was thinking about leaving the show, he had this to say:

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, Nichols says King told her, was showing the nation a universe where  “‘for the first time, we [African-Americans] are being seen the world over … as we should be seen’.” And ” ‘you have created a character’ ” that is critical to that, he said.

King’s assertion that imagining a future, even in fiction, was powerful enough to create that future is a concept Science Fiction writers need to take to heart. If they see it, they can make it happen.  Yes, we made cell-phones to look like Trek communicators, and named our shuttle after the Enterprise, but more importantly, we modeled peaceful relationships with different races and different nationalities.  We saw Russians, Japanese, Scottish, American midwest, American Southern, Vulcan, and African-American all working together as a team.  King thought that this image of peace was as important as the peace itself–and that an image could lead us there.  It’s natural to imagine dystopia after dystopia, and even, sadly, Star Trek, seems to mess with every Utopia it showcases.  But I think we can imagine a better place, a better us.

Writers have the ability to model the future we want.  While stories must have conflict, we can guide people towards something positive by helping them imagine it.  Blueprinting.  King thought we could too.  And his inspirational talk with Nichols kept her on the show at a time when we needed to see that we could work together.  (I wish someone would design a show with an American and North Korean working side by side.)

You can hear snippets of Nichols’ interview with NPR on their site, and listen in Monday, on the show Tell Me More.  The link has listening times.

Moon Over Manifest Wins 2011 Newbery Medal for First Time Novelist, Clare Vanderpool

Moon Over Manifest, the debut novel by Clare Vanderpool, just won the Newbery Medal.  According to the website for Newbery, “[the medal] is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”

From the description on Clare’s site about the book:

Eleven-year-old Abilene Tucker, the only daughter of a drifter, and therefore a drifter in her own right, has just arrived in Manifest, Kansas during the Depression while her father works a railroad job back in Iowa.  Having heard her father, Gideon’s stories of the town in its 1918 hey-day, Abilene looks for the sign with big blue letters but finds the sign shot up so bad, all that was left read: “Manifest – A town with a past.”   She is disappointed to find that Manifest is just dingy and dried up like most other towns.  But her disappointment quickly turns to intrigue when she discovers a hidden cigar box that contains old letters, a collection of mementos, and mention of a spy known as The Rattler.

Abilene and her friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, embark on an honest to goodness spyhunt that ends up with someone leaving a note on their treehouse cautioning them to Leave Well Enough Alone.  But Abilene sets caution aside when she ventures down the mysterious Path to Perdition and ends up at Miss Sadie’s Divining Parlor.  Abilene isn’t sure if the Hungarian woman is really a diviner or just an old woman who tells stories of the past.  But through Miss Sadie’s stories, Abilene searches for the boy her father once was and the meaning of home.

Clare is a mother of four children.  The book took five years to write, and now she’s in the New York Times talking about it.

“Ms. Vanderpool, the Newbery winner, said she wrote “Moon Over Manifest” over five years, beginning in 2001, stealing bits of time while raising her four children.

“I would write during nap times, during ‘Sesame Street,’ that kind of stuff,” said Ms. Vanderpool, 46, by telephone from her home in Wichita, Kan., where she was born and reared. “It was just a nice little escape, a nice hobby. Then fortunately this year it got published.”

This particular Newbery winner means a lot to me because Clare is my friend.

I told Clare that I’d be cashing in all my “I knew her when” chips now!   Here I was scanning the New York Times and saw that the Newbery Medal was out, and WHOP!  I jumped up from the couch and said, “The NEWBERY!  SHE WON THE NEWBERY!!”

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