August Campers and Thirteen Vegan Meal Ideas

Prescott Dells on the Peavine Trail

Several in our July Camp NaNo cabin had chosen large writing projects. We decided to continue the momentum in a FaceBook group. With the 25K words I wrote in July, I can easily finish this cozy spy romance by August 31st. Keys to success: no road trips (see July’s distraction in the photo to your left), an easy menu plan for the week, a cohort to cheer us on, and keeping my eye on the prize–a completed discovery draft by the end of the month.

A friend who wants to lower her cholesterol asked if there was a supplement you could take for it. I dropped 175 points by adopting a vegan diet. Not sure there’s a supplement that can beat that.

I gave her these meal ideas. It’ll make a good August menu for me too.


Fridge Oatmeal: 1/3 cup of oats, heaping tbsp ground flax seed, 1 tsp of chia seeds, cinnamon (I like ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom too). Add water. Put in fridge overnight. (I usually do three jars at a time.) Next morning add blueberries, banana, and pumpkin seeds (or walnuts). If it’s not sweet enough, add a tsp of maple syrup. Don’t worry about adding nut or soy milk. It makes its own milk.

Ezekiel English muffin with peanut butter or almond butter. With Fruit.

Toast with mashed avocado. With Fruit.

Instead of oatmeal, I make porridge with leftover rice or quinoa or barley. I add the fruit, nuts, spices as above.


Street tacos with Trader Joe’s canned refried pinto beans&salsa or seasoned jackfruit. Add mango salsa or vegan coleslaw or guacamole or sautéed mushrooms or onions and peppers.

Hummus with veggies

Pita sandwich stuffed with baba ghanoush (or hummus), kosher pickle and salad

A big ole bean burrito with veggies, rice and mushrooms. Usually topped with my favorite salsa. Tomatillo is good.

Neal’s Happy Bento Box


Spaghetti with marinara sauce. I can add mushroom, spinach and or veggies to the sauce. I like angel hair pasta and many of the bean pastas.

Buddha Bowl: half cup of mung beans or lentils, 3/4 cup of a grain, add veggies, raw and cooked and top with a vegan dressing. I make a good/easy peanut dressing or a beet/basil/citrus dressing

Vegan chili in a baked potato with a salad

Bento Box: (see photo to your right) veggie patty topped with mustard/sauerkraut or olive tapenade or peppers or salsa. Then I fill the bento box with fun stuff like stuffed grape leaves, roasted potatoes, pickled beets, marinated potato salad, veggies with a vegan dip, pinwheels done with an Ezekiel tortilla and vegan cream cheese and green olives, etc.

Make vegan lasagna with cashew sauce instead of cheese and thinly sliced squash instead of lasagna noodles. Use diced and sautéd eggplant rather than ground meat.

Pinterest is a good place to find vegan recipes.

What are your plans (working, traveling, eating or otherwise) for August? I’d love to hear about it!

Happy writing and eating,

Michelle Knowlden

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Winner at July 2019 Camp NaNo

At 5:19 PDT, I completed my Camp NaNo project. My goal was 25,000 words covering the first half of a new cozy spy romance. My final word count today was 25,177 words.

Taking into account that NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNo manuscripts are discovery drafts, these were my first lines.

Not the crack in the master bedroom wall. Not the shattered water pitcher in the kitchen. Not the books fallen from the shelves.

It was the child’s shoe that undid her.

This was the last line I wrote tonight:

When she returned from Palomar tomorrow, she’d leave. She’d sneak away without saying good-bye.

I will be doing the following to celebrate:

Eat a large Mother’s Market pluot

Buy vegan sushi

Try a new vegan Thai restaurant

Find a frame for a Channel Islands watercolor

See the Scorpion pilot for the 11th time.

Anyone else a winner tonight? I’d love to hear about it.

Happy reading, writing and eating,


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2019 Post Independence Day FREE BOOK

Have you read Michelle Dutton’s Lillian in the Doorway? Did you know that Alice and her detective boss had a case in California three years earlier? That mystery was documented in a novella called The Admiral of Signal Hill. I’m offering it FREE Saturday, July 06 to Monday, July 08, 2019. FREE for those who like Lillian, FREE for mystery fans, FREE for our military and FREE for those who are remembering someone they lost to war. Yes, it IS FREE for everyone for the next three days. The novella includes doughboys from WWI.

Here is the book description.

In 1922, Alice and her private detective boss leave their Chicago office to consult on a bootlegger’s death in Long Beach, California. Discovering that Robbie’s murder is linked to two others, Alice and Joe meet with a housekeeper having a litany of opinions and stories, an unforgettable handyman, a rich man’s mad wife and the Admiral who lives under Signal Hill.

In the shadows of trenches and prehistoric whale bones, this mystery novella tells of WWI survivors, their friends, and the ghosts that haunt them.

Click on the title below for the deal:

The Admiral of Signal Hill (FREE for a limited time)

If you like the novella, I hope you’ll consider leaving a review on Amazon or Good Reads. Reviews really do help the author and readers.

Happy reading!

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2019 July Camp NaNo Prep and Notes on Lake Havesu

I spent two hours making these Camp NaNo Mason Jar salads this evening. Later I’ll make two jars of fridge oatmeal. If the writing goes well, I hope to convert bags of pluots and apricots into freezer jam.

After finishing a YA contemporary first draft last weekend, I worked this past week on Udemy’s Nina Farrington’s class Outline a Romance Novel Fast. After four lessons, she recommends doing a 15,000 word discovery of the first stage. I’m at 3K now. I’m liking this new novel, a sweet, espionage romance set in California.

I’m in a cabin at Camp NaNo! It all starts tomorrow, July 1st.

For those who keep asking, yes, I made some progress on my third Deluded Detective novella. Here’s a link to the first one if you’re wondering what I’m talking about.

In May, I went to Lake Havesu with my family and two dogs. We stayed in a four bedroom VRBO near the London Bridge. It had a pool and a pool table. We took the dogs to the lake for swimming, enjoyed shaved ice, and even attended an art exhibit at the tourist information center. Partly hidden behind my mason jar salads above is a sample of Irene J. Schultz’s work.

The weather was delightful and I enjoyed the desert landscape. Another highlight was taking the ferry from east shore to west shore and back again. Or was it the other way around?

These past few months I chewed through more classes at Master Class. I enjoyed or am taking instruction from astronaut Chris Hadfield, violinist Itzhak Perlman, country singer Reba McEntire, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, television writer Shonda Rhimes, writer James Patterson, storyteller Neil Gaiman, conservationist Jane Goodall, economist Paul Krugman, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and food philosopher Alice Waters. I’m getting my money’s worth with an annual all access pass!

Questions? Share if you’re attending Camp NaNo. Please leave your favorite Camp NaNo recipes and prep plans here!

Happy noveling, Michelle

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FREE Book for 2019 April: A Sweet Cozy Mystery


27 April to 01 May 2019

The Last Storyteller (Ravenscar Shifters Book One)

Michelle Dutton

Book Description:

A squall is coming.

Miri abandoned her tribe of raven shapeshifters and the only man she’d loved when her sister betrayed her. Now, fifteen years later, she returns to meet the nephew Trey raised and to investigate Elise’s death. Had her sister flown into a squall to kill herself or had someone driven her to it? No longer the storyteller her people needs, she searches the story keepers’ treasures for answers before she must leave Trey again … until a storm threatens everyone she loves and everything she believed to be true.

The Last Storyteller is a cozy mystery and a sweet paranormal novella set in Central California.

And now for the second book, a novel!

Michelle Dutton is the pen name I use for my romance line. For anyone who has visited California’s coastline, you might recognize this spot. The Foreign Story Collector takes place in central California in a raven shapeshifter community called Ravenscar that stretches from the beach to the Sierra mountains. Some of the action takes place on an island used for military defense during WWII.

The Foreign Story Collector’s book description begins with:

A story collector working among raven shapeshifters? It’s got disaster all over it. In spite of the sweet complication of a handsome widower, she shouldn’t have been surprised when it led to her arrest.

The Foreign Story Collector a full length novel, is available now.

Click on the title below for the deal:

The Last Storyteller (FREE for a limited time)

The Foreign Story Collector

If you like the book(s), I hope you’ll consider leaving a review on Amazon or Good Reads. Reviews really do help the author and readers!

Happy reading! Michelle

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Unscripted Sabbath

If I took Sabbath seriously, what would it look like? Real rest: what is that? Not answering to my demands for production and perfection. Not being on point, at red alert, watching a clock.

Am I capable of releasing the tiller?

Yesterday I took an unscripted Sabbath. I attended my Quaker church, open to possibilities. I returned home for a peanut butter and jam sandwich, a totally un-Sunday lunch. I was invited to a local art gallery. That sounded spontaneous. The showing was themed with unexpected diverse works. Nice.

From there I stopped at a market that I’d not intended to enter, turned into the parking lot when I’d meant to drive by. Bought random stuff. Stopped at the milk tea place next door and tried a soy milk mung bean tea with boba because I’d never tried that before. It was good!

I’d intended to watch a Master Class but took a nap instead. Woke ninety minutes later, refreshed. Took a walk, heading for a street I’d never tried. Saw the mallards in the picture above also taking a stroll. The light at 5:30 pm created sharply-defined shadows. Six days per week, my walks are programmed 30-45 minutes long. Yesterday I entered my front door after 28 minutes and didn’t feel a speck of guilt.

Made a dinner I spotted in NY Times this morning. I didn’t have access to the recipe so I winged it. Broccoli soaked in a Soy Maple marinade for thirty minutes and then roasted for 20 minutes in my toaster oven at 400 degrees. I added walnuts in the last five minutes, then spooned it on California sprouted rice and dusted it with sesame seeds. I devoured it in a bowl I bought in Little Tokyo years ago. I’ll be cooking this again.

After dinner, I saw Avengers: Infinity War instead of continuing to binge-watch Eureka episodes. I followed it up by watching Steve Martin teach a Master Class about gathering material through observation. Another theme I discovered yesterday. The class on comedy wasn’t on my class list to finish this year.

I enjoyed my unscripted Sabbath. I’m ready for the coming week and excited about what next Sunday will bring.

Happy writing, walking, and resting! Michelle

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Apricot Blossoms in SoCal, Forts in Puerto Rico, and Hammocks in Haiti

Walking my Southern Californian neighborhood with fruit trees filled with blossoms is effervescent. The scents of orange and apricot blossoms slap the nose. The sight is eye candy for the soul.

I see blossoms heralding an onslaught of tangerines, pluots, Meyer lemons, persimmons, oranges, loquats, apricots, and fruit trees I can’t identify. I suspect the unrelenting rain is giving us a season of abundance. An abundance of many growing things. I’ve also seen English peas, potatoes, beets, onions, beans, lettuce and ….

Well as one gardener said: weeds, weeds, and more weeds:

Earlier this month, I took a terrific Royal Caribbean cruise with three other writers. We traveled the Western Caribbean with stops in St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, and Haiti. I elected not to get off Harmony of the Seas for St. Maarten. I’d explored the island on another cruise and since I was in a good place with my writing, I remained among my pages. Places on the ship I liked to write? Central Park around the Center Cafe and Dazzle night club were my favorites. I usually hit Starbucks before Dazzle, which was mostly quiet during the day. If an artist or band members rehearsed during my writing session, it only added color to my work.

One of the writers and I took a turn around San Juan, Puerto Rico and the two forts. The photo above shows the second fort from a cemetery in the foreground. It was hot that day and I acquired a fierce sunburn. I was always aware that the island was a United States territory. Best moments? Going to the Starbucks. Seeing the feather artist I’d met on a previous visit and talked to her about the hurricane. Hearing a good-old-boy accent from the Park Ranger from Houston, Texas. Exploring the forts and taking loads of photos.

Labadee, Haiti was our next and last stop in the Caribbean, and the first time I’d been to this island. My visit was short. With my Puerto Rican sunburn and a driven need to write, I focused on lunch and a walk along the beach for a slew of photos. While half our writers picked out their hammocks, another writer accompanied me on the walk. We saw sun bathers and swimmers, zip-liners sailing over the beach, a local music group, drinks served in pineapples and coconuts, fabulous beaches and a gorgeous coastline of hills and jungles.

Other fun things we did on ship? Saw an incredible ice show twice–very Jules Verne with amazing special effects. After seeing one of the singers rehearse in Dazzle, we returned that night to watch a Haitian group perform my favorite Motown songs. We also took in the stage show Grease.

In Fort Lauderdale, two of us stayed in a hotel the night before the cruise and stayed in a different hotel after the cruise. Sure made flight and ship connections easier. That second hotel had a lovely atrium, perfect for writing. We had a great lunch at Coco, a Thai/Japanese restaurant a block from the hotel.

In case you were wondering, my four flights between John Wayne and Fort Lauderdale airports were on Boeing 737s. Just before they were grounded.

Happy writing, walking, traveling, and reading! Michelle

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Cold California Rain and Books to Warm Us

Yes, that was the Southern California sky just a few days ago. I walked the neighborhood with mittens and anything with a hood. The sight of those clouds strikes terror, doesn’t it?

Not that long ago, I rambled in the United Kingdom where rain was the norm and chilly days expected. My wimpy California self has returned. I didn’t venture out when I heard thunder or when the rain poured. Give me a few points for slogging through a few drizzles.

Truthfully it was good to stay inside, prepare taxes, write, and most of all–read! I listened to books on tape and actually opened the Kindle app and read some books. If you’re looking for books to warm your frosty toes, here’s a list of mysteries.

Sneaking in one of mine, here’s the first novella in the Abishag mystery quartet. In Sinking Ships, a college student marries a vegetative man in hospice and finds his hospice aide murdered on her wedding night. Set in Palos Verdes, California, it’s a cozy mystery for the young at heart. A steal at 99 cents.

I love medical mysteries! Just discovered Lethal Incision by Dobi Cross.

Chief surgical resident Zora Smyth is used to the atypical: the disappearance of her sister, false murder charges from a serial killer, and a brush with death. When nameless patients show up on her operating table and then disappear on her watch, Zora investigates. LETHAL INCISION is the second book in Dobi Cross’ suspense-filled series of medical thrillers. If you like page-turning medical thrillers filled with unexpected twists and intrigue, you will love LETHAL INCISION.

I’m working on a Young Adult Contemporary novel and looking for intriguing voices in this genre. Try Krista Wagner’s Intent: The Beginning.

When classmate Paul befriends Raylee, she is determined to ignore Crystal’s ploys. And when new student Billy arrives, Raylee finds herself drawn to his mysterious side, but Crystal will do whatever it takes to keep him from Raylee.

Full of deception and mind games amid a growing sense that danger is near, Intent: The Beginning will take you into a world where faith is tested, friendships are put at risk, and small town secrets are revealed.

You all know I love Rhondi Ann’s books. Here’s Lies & Promises the fabulous mystery that I’m currently reading with its brand new cover. Only $1.99!

It was bad enough Lauren’s ex betrayed her.
It was worse he got himself killed…
Now, Lauren must untangle his lies to find a promised international treasure using clues he left behind that only she can solve.
With a rescued war dog by her side, Lauren must separate the good guys from the bad, the truth from the past, and save herself before the murderer catches her too.

I was thrilled to find Greta Boris’s Sanctity of Sloth at Loved listening to this book. The narrator was wonderful. Really made me forget the dreary weather. I gave it a five star review.

There’s one thing more dangerous than testifying to a crime—staying silent.
Locked in the ruins of a California Mission, Abby Travers watches helplessly as a girl dies outside her window.

The Sanctity of Sloth is a taut, psychological thriller. Fans of Paula Hawkins and A.J. Finn will enjoy this third book in Greta Boris’s Seven Deadly Sins Series.

If you like the books, I hope you’ll consider leaving a review on Amazon or Good Reads or Reviews really do help author and readers!

One last picture to show you how far the snow has come down on slopes of the snowcapped mountains around Southern California. I took this picture from Fullerton amid a clutch of stunned Californians.

Happy reading! Michelle

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Chromatic Bells, Strings, Potatoes, and Books

Chromatic Chimes Talk at Bowers Museum

Midst the incessant cold rain dogging us in Southern California, I have bravely ventured out on the slick highways. I visited the Bowers Museum to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year (Boar). While my friend viewed the festivities, I revisited the ongoing exhibit 5000 Years of Chinese History. The ARCE lecture on the last Saturday of the month featured UCLA Egyptologist Dr. Kara Cooney. Interesting talk on the seven female rulers of Ancient Egypt. Yesterday, Sunday, February 10, 2019, I and two friends attended the lecture given by Dr Guangming Li on the Hubei Bells and more.

Although I am no musicologist, I enjoyed the physics of the talk. Harmonics and modulation evoked memories of Shannon’s Theorem and my years as a shuttle and satellite communications engineer. No bells were at the lecture but we heard recordings. He brought a Qin, a modern version of an ancient stringed instrument. I got a closer look when I asked what the ancient strings were made of. Silk and cotton was the answer. I was surprised and still trying to imagine it.

Other electrical engineering tasks this winter included installing new Fire TV equipment and flood lights around the house. Enough said.

Chromatic Deviled Potatoes

I made deviled potatoes today–a satisfying vegan replacement for deviled eggs. I boil halved red potatoes skin on for about fifteen minutes. Let cool or do a quick douse in cold water. Spoon out potato from potato skin. Fork mix potato with dill relish, horseradish, mustard, and vegenaise. Spoon back into potato skins. Refrigerate and enjoy within three days.

The chromatic part? With a light hand, I sprinkle the stuffed potato skins with black lava salt and sweet paprika, which adds a layered, fulsome taste that harmonizes perfectly with the deviled potatoes!

A Cheap Quick Chromatic Read

What I love about Found Dead in Arugula is that you can read it in about an hour and it’s got mystery, gardening, food ideas, and a touch of romance that will add color, harmony, and satisfaction to your lunch or break time. And it’s only 99 cents. Cheaper and tastier than vending  machine chips! Check it out HERE!

Happy playing, eating, and reading.

Michelle Knowlden

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A Nod to the Past

Knowlden_Cochom_River from Castle

My current work in progress is set in Ancient China. I’ve yet to set the climate. I’ve been feeling the January chill in Southern California’s nights and mornings, so maybe there’ll be snow in the forecast.

The photo to the left was taken from Germany’s Cochem castle’s balcony. The visit was on my 2015 Viking Paris to Prague trip where it was a 30 degF that day. If you missed that report, you can read it HERE.

We’re playing with flash fiction at Facebook’s Charmed Connection in anticipation of the anthology’s release. I submitted a photo of a painting I took at the D’Orsay during that trip. It was so short a time after the Paris bombings that the art museum was lightly attended. Our boat had thinned out as well so portions were huge that Thanksgiving. We had to eat for those who’d stayed home.

I attended Dr. Kara Cooney’s talk at the Bowers museum last Saturday. She’s a UCLA (rah!) professor, Egyptologist, and moderated a Discovery Channel series Out of Egypt. Her latest book for National Geographic talks about the six female rulers of ancient Egypt. Illuminates why it was possible there and not possible in modern USA.

Unlike the MC in Midnight in Paris, I’m not nostalgic for the past. I love to read books set in the past. I love to attend lectures about ancient times. History fascinates me because it sheds light on the present, a place I’m happy to live with its foibles, central heating, and vegan frankfurters.

Happy reading and sharing memories!

Michelle Knowlden


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