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admin | Category: What Causes Ed 2016 | 27.11.2013
Here’s a recipe for a classic Irish dish, Corned Beef with Vegetables, just in time for St. During the time while you’re waiting for the meat to cook, you’ll need to make two sauces and prepare the vegetables. The second sauce is a Guinness Mustard Sauce, for which you’ll need one-half cup of a good, tangy Dijon Mustard (we use Old World Gourmet brand), 2 tablespoons of a coarse-grained mustard, 2 tablespoons of Guinness, 1 tablespoon of finely minced shallot, and 1 teaspoon of golden brown sugar.
The basic vegetables for this dish are potatoes, onions, carrots, and cabbage, but we like to also add parsnips, turnips, and rutabaga.
Cut all vegetables except the cabbage into roughly three-quarter to one inch pieces and place into a Dutch oven or similar large pot.
If Irish eyes are smiling on you, by the time the vegetables are done, the corned beef will be, also–it should so tender you can shred it with a fork. In a large nonstick skillet, add some good quality, flavorful olive oil to cover the bottom plus about a tablespoon of butter. Spread slices of a good quality, firm rye bread with your preference of either Guinness Mustard or a Thousand Island Dressing (or both). Coarsely chop any remaining corned beef, combine with remaining vegetables and the Guinness broth, and freeze for a future meal.
I’ve written before on my author page on Facebook about the flock of crows Jeanette and I have formed a relationship with here on our farm. It is well documented that crows will sometimes form relationships with humans, particularly if the humans feed them regularly, and on occasion they will even even give gifts, such as some sort of shiny object, in return.
It all started one summer about two years ago, when a pair of red-tail hawks set up housekeeping on the forested mountainside just across the river from our farm. Around the end of that summer our Border Collie, Sigrid, had an unfortunate encounter with a nest of yellowjackets, which led to her developing some skin allergies. Hawks and crows are natural enemies, and we had, on occasion, seen crows attack a hawk and drive it away. We have not lost a single chicken to hawks in the past two years, since we began feeding the crows. Attacks on Amazon by Authors United—a group of authors, many of whom seem to have cozy relationships with traditional publishers—are in the news again. According to published news reports on the conference, statements made about Amazon’s “deleterious impact” on, and power over, the world of publishing include such breathless pronouncements as that Amazon is “already affecting the free flow of ideas in our society,” “now controls the vital informational market of books,” that there are potential authors out there “who may never write books because of Amazon’s policy ‘to extinguish’ competitors” (What? Preston and Authors United have previously accused Amazon of maintaining an illegal monopoly over the entire publishing industry, and have asked the U.S. Coincidentally, last week I received an email from Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing division, titled “How Are We Doing?” In the email, Amazon—sounding not at all like an Evil Empire— asked authors to complete a brief survey about their experiences with the Kindle Direct Publishing program, and to offer suggestions for things they’d like to see improved or changed. To give some context to my remarks and opinions, I’m the author of a historical fiction series called The Strongbow Saga. So let’s talk, without all of the hype and emotion, about Amazon’s impact on the world of publishing.
Except, of course, that very few authors, only a tiny percentage of those who have been published through this traditional model, actually ever achieve any kind of significant financial success under this system. There were e-book reading devices before the Kindle—Microsoft and Sony, for example, were among the early e-reader manufacturers.
Amazon began creating and selling its Kindle e-book readers that were smaller, lighter, and easier to use than the competition, and Amazon sold them at a low enough price—supposedly making no profit, or even taking a small loss on each sale—that consumers began to buy them in significant numbers. Once the e-book market came to life and began generating millions of book sales for Amazon and the authors and publishers who availed themselves of this new way to publish, many other e-book distributors joined in, and have since established their own direct publishing platforms for authors, modelled after the innovation created by Amazon.
All of these changes have brought benefits to numerous authors, including many who, under the traditional publishing system controlled by the literary agents and big publishers, might never have seen their books published at all. The big publishers, and the literary agents whose livelihood is inextricably linked to them have, of course, lost some business due to these changes in how the world of publishing works—what their claim that Amazon is “destroying the culture of book publishing” really means.
So Amazon, when you ask “How are we doing?” of the authors who choose to publish their books through the many innovative publishing systems you’ve created, who sell their e-books and audio books in marketplaces you largely brought into being, and who can get print editions of their books sold in many countries around the world thanks to you, I personally would say you are doing damn well. I have a vision of Judson wandering around his house wearing a Helm and a Brynie chatting to His Fylgja. A challenge for every author is to continually reach new readers who have not yet discovered his or her works. During the coming months, I plan to periodically post about book 5, the final installment of The Strongbow Saga. To do that, I have been rereading each of the four books of The Strongbow Saga, taking detailed notes as I do.
When I was growing up, Gumbo was a traditional post-holiday meal after Thanksgiving, both because my father loved it, and because it’s a great way to use the carcass from the holiday turkey. Then we added the carcass from the cooked turkey, from which most of the meat had already been removed, and simmered the lot for about another hour. While waiting for the turkey bones to cool enough to pick, add your vegetables to the broth.
In addition to okra, onions, garlic, celery, and bell peppers are classic Gumbo ingredients. To serve, put a few spoonfuls of your cooked rice or other grains (if you’re using them) in the bottom of each bowl.
That is still my hope and goal, but my progress is admittedly far behind where I’d thought to be at this point in time. Every month I have to process our company’s royalty earnings, pay the company payroll, pay the state and federal taxes and prepare and submit the various reports required of a small business by the state and federal governments. Book 5 has two main locations: Russia and Ireland, and digging into what was happening in both of those, during the mid 9th century, takes a lot of work and time.
While it’s certainly possible to do yourself, it takes time—most recipes recommend brining the meat for at least eight days. Coarsely chop one thick slice of onion and one carrot, and arrange them in the bottom of a slow cooker, aka crock pot. For the Horseradish Cream Sauce, mix together 1 cup of thick plain Greek yogurt, horseradish to taste (we use about a half of a cup), one-fourth cup chopped green onion, 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and sea salt to taste. You’ll need a large onion, 4 to 5 carrots, one head of savoy cabbage, and if you add them, about 2 parsnips and one each medium turnip and rutabaga.
Cut several slices of the leftover corned beef, shred, and put them in a large mixing bowl. Add the hash mixture, flatten it to a uniform thickness with a spatula, and cook over medium heat, adding oil if necessary, until the bottom browns.
Top one-half of the slices with sliced corned beef, some good quality sauerkraut (this year, for the first time, we made our own), and sliced Swiss cheese, preferably Jarlsberg.
Our own relationship with our local flock of crows involves a mutual exchange, but of a different sort: we feed them twice a day, and in return they provide us a valuable service. We keep a small flock of chickens, and during the day they free range in two small fenced pastures just off the barn, where their coop is located. Crows are incredibly agile, acrobatic flyers, and they fight a hawk by climbing up above it then diving down and swooping past the trailing edges of its wings. After we leave the area, they mingle freely, and the crows will share in any uneaten scratch or treats we’ve put out for our birds. The group was founded in 2014 by novelist Douglas Preston, during book distribution contract negotiations between Amazon and Hatchette, the traditional publisher with whom Preston is under contract. The next thing you know, these guys are going to be claiming that Jeff Bezos is actually Supreme Leader Snoke. Justice Department to investigate and prosecute Amazon for antitrust practices—a request that thus far has gone unheeded.


I did complete the survey, but I’d like to go beyond that here, and offer my own take on the effects Amazon has had on the world of publishing.
Make no mistake—Amazon’s impact has been enormous, and has in many ways turned the way publishing occurs upside down. Self-publishing, in fact, used to mean that an author paid a so-called vanity press to print copies of his or her book, because he couldn’t sell them to a ‘real” publisher.
Most books that are published are not bestsellers, and if that does not occur with traditionally published books, the author is unlikely to see much monetary return from his or her efforts. To begin with, it pretty much created, through its own efforts and at its own expense, the e-book market as it exists today. But those early devices were relatively expensive, there was limited e-book content available to buy, and what few books were released in e-book editions were priced by the big publishers so close to the cost of print editions that consumers were unimpressed, and the market for e-books remained a promising theory that didn’t catch on.
E-book content, making lots of books available in e-book editions, and at a low enough price to entice readers to buy an e-book instead of a print one, was the other half.
After the introduction of the Kindle self-publishing Program (now called Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP) for authors, and over several years of releases of successively better and less expensive Kindle e-readers, the e-book market grew by large margins, until now it makes up roughly 20% of all book sales in the United States. Today authors can directly publish their books in e-book editions not only through Amazon, but also with Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple (a major flaw, by the way, with the monopoly claim by Authors United, which seems to understand that area of the law about as well as the Malheur malcontents understand Constitutional law), and in Europe with the e-book publishing conglomerate Tolino. Authors can now directly publish their books in print editions, as well, through Amazon’s CreateSpace division, and have them sold all over the world. But it is not just authors who have benefited from the innovations Amazon has brought to the publishing world. That change is occurring does not mean, however, that book publishing is on the verge of destruction. To that end, this week Viking Warrior will be a BookBub featured deal in the historical fiction category on Wednesday, January 13th. It is not simply a matter of sitting down at my computer and banging away on the keyboard, churning out X number of hours and words per day. I have been refreshing in my mind how Halfdan perceives the world and the events he experiences, I have been reminding myself of the things that have shaped who he is, and how he grows and changes over the course of the story. A fancy chef’s version of Gumbo is going to be all about the roux, the thick, dark brown base to which a limited amount of vegetables and either shellfish or meat are added, then it’s served over rice.
Once the carcass pieces are beginning to separate, using a slotted spoon and tongs, remove all of the bones and meat from the broth. They’ll add more flavor to the soup if you saute them in olive oil before adding them to the broth. Since moving to our farm where we have a large garden, Jeanette and I now just pull out packs of vacuum-sealed frozen vegetables when making soups and stews–for this batch of Gumbo we used green beans, fava beans, corn, chopped yellow squash, chopped zucchini, tomatoes, and fire-roasted hot peppers.
In addition to the turkey, we like to add some pieces of spicy sausage–in this case some smoked Polish beef sausage made by Knee Deep Farm, a grass-fed beef ranch near Eugene.
Also, this book is the culmination of a long, continuing story that I have been working on for at least fifteen years. And this is a dish you should make a large quantity of, because there are three bonus meals you can make from the leftovers. If your grocer can get good quality uncooked corned beef, or better yet, if there’s a local butcher shop that makes its own in-house corned beef, that’s a much easier route. By now, hopefully the corned beef is beginning to show signs of getting tender, but is still a ways from being fork tender.
Dice or coarsely chop some of each of the leftover vegetables, add to the mixing bowl, and stir together with the meat. Warm in a 300 degree oven until cheese begins to melt, top with remaining slices of rye bread, and serve. In the past we had occasionally lost a hen to hawks, but that summer the red-tails caught and killed three of our birds, a rate of loss our small flock could not for long sustain. We had over half of a bag of the old feed left, so we tried putting it out for our chickens. Although I’ve never seen a hawk actually get injured by this kind of attack, after it happens repeatedly it unnerves them, and they fly away to escape the harassment. Some mornings, like today, the crows will be already there, waiting for us, and will greet us with a chorus of loud caws as soon as we step out of the house. Crows are not quiet birds by nature–they caw back and forth to each other frequently.
Just last week, as we were walking up to the barn in the morning, we saw the big male circling overhead.
They are very communal–there are always at least several together, and often they congregate in large groups, as many as fifty together at a time (especially at feeding time). When I stepped outside to take this picture, I could hear the other crows cawing in distress, but they kept their distance. The current round of attacks have been made this week at the American Booksellers Association Winter Institute, during a panel discussion sponsored by, among others, Authors United and The Authors Guild. I’m what used to be called “mid-list”: my books sell steadily, and have for some years, though not in huge numbers at any given time. But judge for yourself whether the impact and change has been a good thing, or the beginning of a nuclear winter endangering the very existence of books, writing, and publishing. The path to getting a book published was narrow and difficult, and controlled by a series of gatekeepers whose approval had to won. This was, and still is, the reality: the publisher typically will take about a year after the contract is signed to actually bring the book out into the marketplace. Two essential elements were needed for a viable e-book market to develop: e-book reading devices that provided an enjoyable, easy to use reading experience, and were reasonably enough priced to persuade a large number of consumers to buy one, and a large supply of e-book content that those consumers could easily acquire, for a price that would cause readers to purchase an e-book edition rather than a print book. Amazon believed in the potential of the e-book market, but understood that until many, many readers—millions of readers—had devices to read e-books on, that market was never going to come alive. And the big publishers were not supplying the content, nor were they pricing those e-book editions they did produce at a lower price than print. While it is true that Amazon still holds the largest share of the e-book market, that is neither surprising nor unfair, given the history of how the market was in its early years largely created by Amazon—and given that Amazon still does the most effective job of selling e-books to readers and attracting authors to its direct publishing program. Through the ACX Exchange, another Amazon division, authors can find partners to create audio editions of their books, and have them sold by both Amazon and Apple through Amazon’s Audible division. There are numerous new jobs and opportunities that have come into existence because of these changes. In support of the promotion, the e-book version of Viking Warrior will be priced at 99 cents in the U.S.
Over the years I have been contacted by a great many readers, and I have more than a few times been stunned, though certainly very gratified, by those who have told me how much the story has moved or touched them.
As the Norns weave the threads of all men’s lives into the fabric and pattern of fate, so I must weave together the numerous threads that have made up each installment of this story in order to give it the culmination it, and its readers, deserve. The Gumbo I make is closer to the dish’s roots: a hearty, backwoods, catch-all stew, which originated in southern Louisiana in the 18th century. Thyme is a classic herb used in Gumbo (thyme and sassafras root are the ingredients in Gumbo file, a powdered seasoning and thickening agent used in some versions of Gumbo), and we typically add oregano and marjoram, also, because we have patches of all of them growing in our greenhouse. The frozen tomatoes are easy to use in recipes: while still frozen, dip them for a few seconds in a bowl of hot water, which will cause the skins to split and loosen. About twenty minutes before you plan to serve your meal, add the pieces of reserved turkey meat back into the soup. As I mentioned, you should buy extra—as an example, just for the two of us, each year Jeanette and I buy a three pound corned beef roast from Long’s Meat Market in Eugene, Oregon. Add about four bay leaves, plus the following spices: 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds, 1 dried chili de arbol pepper, and 2 whole allspice cloves.


Most of what’s sold is actually a horseradish cream sauce, with much less flavor (we use Tulelake brand Old Fashioned Horseradish, made in Hillsboro, Oregon). When we cooked this dish a few days ago, we were able to harvest the parsnips from our garden, and pulled the turnips and rutabaga, which we’d harvested from our 2015 garden and frozen, from the freezer. Ladle most of the Guinness broth from the crock pot into the Dutch oven, until the vegetables are almost covered, and add more Guinness to the crock pot to replace the removed liquid. So we decided to start feeding the crows regularly, to see if maybe they’d hang around more frequently. What is fascinating is that although to us their calls all sound quite similar, the chickens have learned to distinguish them. On a few rare occasions, always close to dusk, we’ve seen a huge swarm of crows, hundreds and hundreds of birds, flying high overhead, and our flock will fly up from the surrounding trees and join them, swooping and swirling in complex patterns. This is a large community sharing resources and duties and caring for each others well-being, a far more complex thing than the natural protective instinct most animals show for their own young. The hawk sat on the fence post for a long time, turing his head back and forth, and if taunting his enemies, then finally flew off, carrying the dead crow in his talons. The first books in my series were originally published by HarperCollins, one of the big traditional publishers, but after they languished there for a number of years I was fortunate enough to be able to reclaim the rights to them, and have rereleased them, and continued the series, by publishing my books myself, including through Amazon. First, an author had to convince a literary agent that his or her book was worthy of consideration, and persuade the agent to actually deign to read the book. Once the book finally does go on sale, the author will begin earning royalties, or a percentage of the book’s price when sold—typically somewhere in the range of 6% for paperback editions, and 10% for hardcover.
Amazon had the vision and understanding of what the e-book market could be, and was willing to spend its own money as an investment to make that potential a reality.
The audio editions of my own books, for example, were created by a young man (and at my age, I’m finding myself using that description “young” more and more frequently) who has been able to carve out a successful independent business for himself by virtue of his strong work ethic, amazing talent as a voice actor (my books have lots of dialogue and numerous characters, but he performs each with a distinct voice), and the ability to connect with authors through Amazon’s ACX Exchange.
Many readers have been waiting a very long time for the conclusion of this story—Viking Warrior, its first installment, was initially published ten years ago, in 2006.
Remove the skins, coarsely chop the tomatoes, and throw them into your dish before they thaw and become messy. If you enjoy spicy heat in soups and stews, Tabasco Sauce complements this Gumbo very well.
I want the conclusion of Halfdan’s story to be a satisfying, moving finale to what has come before. To keep them together, tie the spices up in a piece of cheesecloth, or—as I do—put them in a large stainless steel mesh tea ball. Bring the liquid in the Dutch oven to a simmer and cook until all vegetables are tender, which will probably take 45 minutes to an hour. After we let the chickens out, Jeanette puts the crows’ food out on the driveway, and as soon as she steps back into the barn they come swooping in. Generally they ignore the crows’ chatter, but there is a certain call the crows make which the chickens have learned to recognize as an alert, and when they hear that, they run full speed for the safety of the barn. When I looked up to see where they were going, I saw the hawk flying as fast as he could away from our farm with several crows in pursuit. In other words, I have personal experience as an author with both traditional and independent publishing. If the author was fortunate—and a large part of that, of course, included if the book was sufficiently well written—the agent would agree to represent it, and would take it to the next level of gatekeeper: editors at the big publishing houses. For e-book editions—and when my books were first published, the e-book market was envisioned and anticipated, but for practical purposes did not yet exist—the author’s royalty is 25% of the sale price. Amazon created something entirely new in the publishing world: a system where authors could bypass the entire traditional publishing path—the literary agents, the editors, the big publishing houses—and publish their books themselves, as e-books, with a major distributor, Amazon, who would handle the entire sales side for them.
He has, at a young age, been able to build for himself a career that didn’t exist before Amazon began transforming publishing. There are many, many authors, including me, who can finally make a living from their writing, who could not under the old traditional publishing system.
For all of the readers who have been waiting for years, for all those who have been touched in some way by Halfdan’s tale, and for all those who have not yet found the story but someday will, I want to get this right. We started our broth by putting those pieces in a large stockpot with a coarsely chopped onion, a carrot, and several bay leaves, covering them with water, and simmering for about two hours.
Our Border Collie Sigrid feasted on those, stirred into her dry food a little bit at a time, for almost a week after Gumbo day.
The easiest way to use fresh thyme, rather than picking all of those tiny leaves off of the stems, is to just tie a bunch of stems together with thread into a bundle and throw the whole thing into the pot. But before we had a large garden, a quick and easy shortcut we used when making Gumbo was to just add a bag of frozen mixed vegetables (in addition to the okra), and use canned diced tomatoes.
This version of Gumbo is hearty enough that you don’t really need rice, but we often serve ours over a hearty rice-like grain such as faro or spelt. Add one to two bottles of Guinness Stout to the pot, until the meat is at least half submerged, and cook. Typically there are a number of sentries keeping watch, and they all are looking in different directions. If the agent could find an editor who could be convinced that the book, if published, would make significant money for the publisher, then a contract would be signed, and the author would have broken into the rarified world of being published, and achieved success. At those royalty rates, a LOT of copies of a book must be sold for the author to receive any kind of significant income, and the literary agent will take 15% off the top of anything the author does earn, for as long as the book is published under the contract the agent negotiated. And Amazon offered terms the like of which no author had ever seen before, or even dreamed might be possible. Similarly, there are numerous graphic artists who are now able to maintain successful independent businesses designing book covers for authors who self-publish their books through Amazon and other direct publishing platforms. Over time, as my years of research into the world of the Vikings revealed new aspects of their history and culture to me, and as characters became more vivid and took on lives of their own, the story has evolved considerably from my earliest concepts, though its core elements have remained the same. As the soup cooks, the leaves will come off the stems and become disseminated throughout the pot. The author I mentioned above just walks to her in-home office, sits down, and writes every day. To do so would dishonor myself, not respect Halfdan and his story, and be unfair to all who have been loyal fans of the Saga.
How long and what setting you’ll use depends on your crock pot—we use the high setting on ours, and it still takes close to five hours. Thousands of people benefit financially from the changes and upheaval Amazon brought to the publishing industry.
The oligarchs who used to hold total control over the publishing process are unhappy about that, because they are losing power and money as a result of the changes that are occurring. I am a man of the 21st century, but when working on Halfdan’s story I must, as much as possible, shed my own skin, my own perceptions and attitudes, and adopt his. One day by chance I happened to be looking out a window and saw what happened when someone obviously dropped the ball. Moreover, it would provide sales data to authors, telling them how many books they were selling, on an ongoing, daily basis, and would produce formal sales reports, and pay royalty earnings, monthly—a far cry from the big publishers’ practice, which continues to this day, of reporting sales and paying authors only twice per year.
Thus the overheated outcries by groups tied to the traditional model like Authors United and the leadership of The Authors Guild (and I used to be a member of the Guild, but let my membership lapse due to my disapproval of their positions). Those who have become part of the successful one percent of authors under the old, traditional model cannot see beyond themselves to realize how the changes that are occurring benefit so many.



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