Tikvenik: A Little Taste of Bulgaria

October 19, 2014

If you ever travel to Bulgaria, be sure to try a banitsa, one of the country’s most popular dishes. In Mystical Emona, this is one of Maria’s specialties. One reason for the dish’s popularity is that it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Another is that it’s simple to make. Traditional banitsa is made with filo dough, feta cheese, eggs, and yogurt. However, since autumn has arrived, we’d like to introduce you to a special variety called Tikvenik (teek-vah-neek), a pumpkin banitsa.

The recipe for this scrumptious meal follows, but first we’d like to tell you about an interesting tradition involving banitsa. To celebrate New Year’s Eve, Bulgarians make a banitsa with fortunes. The mother of the household makes lucky charms or fortunes (small sheets of paper on which wishes are written then rolled up and wrapped in foil). She places them inside the banitsa before it’s baked.

At the evening meal, each member of the family takes a piece that contains a fortune. An additional piece is reserved for God, to keep the house safe from bad luck. Each charm tells the person his fortune for the coming year: perhaps a new job, a new house, health, a wedding, and so forth. Bulgarians have many customs that focus on health and fortune, and protection from evil. Similar to this tradition is the more common one performed at Christmas. A coin (and sometimes fortunes) are baked into a bread (pitka). The person who get the coin will have good luck throughout the year. If the coin is found in the piece set aside for the house or God, then the entire family will be healthy and have good luck.

Tikvenik is made with homemade or commercially made filo dough pastry sheets, sugar, nuts (optional), cinnamon, and butter. You can also sprinkle powdered sugar on top to make it a little sweeter. And, of course, don’t forget the pumpkin.

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It’s best to place the pieces of banitsa flat while they cool, rather than stacked. If you stack them, the ones on the bottom won’t be crispy. It’s fine to pile them up on top of each other once they have cooled. If you don’t like pumpkin you can use apples 🙂

Banitsa is delicious as a dessert or for breakfast with your morning coffee or tea. We hope you enjoy it.

Here is a video showing a variation of the above recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfrRdCxFECE

Enjoy!!!!

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Fall Into Fantasy Giveaway 2014

The Fall Into Fantasy Giveaway is hosted by urban fantasy & paranormal romance author Ash Krafton…

September 17, 2014

More than FIFTY AUTHORS of fantasy and paranormal books are giving away books and swag. Hope you’re ready to start clicking and start winning because the Rafflecopters await!

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We are donating copy of Mystical Emona as well…. EXCITING!!!!

Discover Yogurt: Zucchini with yogurt-dill sauce

Zucchini with yogurt-dill sauce

August 10, 2014

Did you know Bulgarians created yogurt? Truly, they did. Way back in the time of the Thracians. I kid you not. You can find more than three hundred varieties in the country, and many popular dishes are made with yogurt.

Zucchini with yogurt-dill sauce is one of them. It’s perfect for a hot summer’s lunch.

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Creative Ways to Distribute Promotional Bookmarks

Short and sweet tips for authors on how to promote their books with a low budget.
 
June 2, 2014

bookmarksWe just got our bookmarks for Mystical Emona. Splendid image. Great quotes.
Now what? How can we get them to the people we’d like to reach and promote our book?
I was talking to my daughter. She’s a bookworm. She gave me some good ideas. Here are a few I’d like to share:

1.       Check for events at a local bookstore. If they have one in your genre, go there and hand out your bookmarks. These are the people who may like your book.

2.        Check local libraries to see if you can drop some of your wonderful bookmarks off there.

3.       Don’t forget the second-hand bookstores. A lot of readers go there looking for bargains.

4.       Gift Books – Give a copy of your book to friends and family members who like books. Put some of your bookmarks inside the book.

5.       Leave some on a commuter rail station. A lot of people like to read on their way to their job and may be looking for a good book.

Please share your ideas. How and where you are distributing your bookmarks?

Write, Research, Edit, Rewrite, Edit. Then what? MARKETING?

May 18, 2014

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As soon as I started thinking about what goes into publishing a book, I discovered I had a lot of homework to do.

On top of time spent at your day job, you have to write, edit and rewrite your novel. When you think it’s ready for the world to read, you then have to MARKET it. Well, you should consider marketing it even BEFORE you finish writing.

I think about marketing in terms of Six Sigma. For those of you who may not be familiar with this term, in general it’s a simple, practical way to solve problems. I recently finished a training course on this process. The first rule of Six Sigma is to define your problem. Then you gather information, perform analyses, and finally propose a solution.

So, how does this relate to marketing? Simple. You have a problem, and you want to come up with a solution. Start with a statement defining your problem.

Problem Statement: I have an idea for a book. I’ve written it, or I’m in the process of writing it, or I’ve even finished writing it. The problem is that I want to publish and sell as many copies of this wonderful book as possible. How do I go about marketing it so people will want to buy it?

A simple formula could be written as follows, with the question marks indicating the missing piece of the solution. The arrows designate that one event follows the other.

Write Book (Input) > ??? > Sell Books (Output) > Sell More Books

The initial input is your book, regardless of its state of completion. The end result or output is to sell the book. How do you fill in the missing information in the middle, to get from writing the book to selling the book? You need to build a BRIDGE.

To build the bridge, you need TOOLS. Now all you have to do is find those tools. The good news is, many of these tools and resources are FREE.

Once I started looking into possible marketing tools, my list grew long in a short time. I was amazed at the marketing possibilities and resources available.

Social Media: Start building social profiles on major networks. Interact with readers and writers alike. Allocate at least one hour a day to be socially active online. Build your visibility and brand. I will write more about building your online brand in a later post.

Your Family: YES, your family. Let them know you’re writing a book. They can help you and support you. Believe me, you’ll need a lot of support … and coffee.

Your Friends: People are friends because they’re here for us when we need help. Let them know you’re writing a book. Ask them to share ideas with their friends. Ask for comments, feedback, and maybe even a beta-read. If they’re truly your friends, they’ll be there for you.

Online Resources: It’s 2014. An unbelievable amount of content is available online. Search for what other authors, especially successful authors, already do, like book trailers and blogs. Ask them questions, especially those authors writing in the same genre as you do. You’ll be amazed how much further you can go if you just ASK questions. People are willing to help.

I know it sounds like a lot of work on top of writing, researching, editing, and working full time. But think of the possibilities. Use the tools of a good time-management system to automate your online posting. Then, please SHARE how you market your book and how you’ve reached out to your target audience. We all have the same goal: SELL OUR BOOKS.

Bookmarks–Old School but a good tool to market your books

May 11, 2014

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Children’s Books: Many schools host book fairs during the school year. If your local school is anything like mine, these fairs draw large crowds. This got me thinking about a simple, inexpensive, yet effective marketing idea. Create fun, interesting bookmarks that include your website and book information. Give them as gifts to the schools to use during the book fairs. Want to take it up a notch? Put together bags with your books for the teachers or donate some of your book to the school library. While you’re at it, drop off your awesome new bookmarks to the local library. They’ll love it.

Adults Books: Create fun, interesting bookmarks, then drop off a bunch of your awesome new bookmarks to the local library. Have fun and take advantage of this inexpensive marketing tool. Your readers are not only online, but they’re going to get books from the library. Please share your tips. We would love to hear from you.