The Flat-Out Terror of Getting Published

Okay, dear readers, it’s official. I am going to be a published poet/author. Granted, my poetry book is self-published, but’s still putting my written word out there.

Sometime this March May (thanks, Trent’s World, for noticing that/commenting on it! 🙂 ), my poems will be released (inflicted?) upon the world. Brace yourselves!

Will keep you posted re: author website, promotional events/goodies and all that fun stuff.

Thanks for being along with the ride!

I Spread Misfit Chaos at the “Celebrate Local Authors” Event Last Thursday!

Last week, The Chaos Fairy met a bunch of local authors, including Lois Duncan, at Gulf Gate Library’s “Celebrate Local Authors” event. It was great “book nerd” fun!

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Richard Hodder, the master of ceremonies (and Gulf Gate Library staffer) got things started Redfoo style! (Oh, wait, that was at the afterparty. 🙂 My bad.):

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Authors who presented at the event (which came off chaos-free, despite the attendance of The Chaos Fairy, amazingly!)

Gabrielle Lennon

Remind me to hire an actor surrogate the next time I have to do any public speaking. Because it REALLY pays off in keeping the interest of the crowd. Actor (and writer) Gabrielle Lennon gave a powerfully haunting read of her provocative, no-holds-barred short story, which relates the circumstances of a young girl struggling with life and her not-so-ideal home environment. (Have I exhausted all my purple prose adjectives yet? *laugh*) In short, I could feel a palpable emotional and visceral response emanating from the audience in response to the suspenseful arc and chilling ending of her story. To say more would be a spoiler, but check out her short story collection, Touch Me Real and Other Stories, and her poetry collection, After Midnight: A Book of Poetry, via her website: http://gabriellelennon.com/.

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Tom J. Hosted–The Naughty Red Fox

What’s the most important tool a writer needs to have in their arsenal? A SENSE OF HUMOUR! And Tom J. Hosted NAILED it with his charmingly funny presentation that detailed his journey in creating his juvenile fiction Christmas story called The Naughty Red Fox. (I apologize for the blurriness/poor quality of the photos–still haven’t been able to upgrade my camera :-(.)

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Tom with letters from his fan club in the background!

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The laughs continued with Spokes Ableman (aka Ed Hopper) sharing some delightfully snarky antidotes from his book, Don’t Push Me: Walking The Wheelchair Walk. http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Push-Me-Walking-Wheelchair/dp/1507843321

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I try not to play favourites, but I really enjoyed longtime animator, filmmaker, and children’s book writer Tanya Weinberger’s presentation. Maybe it’s because she tackles environmental causes, like in the case of her book, The Compost Pile ( http://www.amazon.com/Compost-Pile-tanya-weinberger & YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR3U5lyJhAM). Or, perhaps, it’s because she collects quirky eggcups! Or maybe it’s because the Chaos Fairy is a big kid at heart! And, as you can see from the pictures, Tanya Weinberger is very animated, herself!

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Local Florida history and culture also stole some of the spotlight, thanks to the dedicated efforts of local authors, longtime residents Jane Gill and Gene Jones. Jane Gill’s fiction novel, A Matter of Pride, is set in Florida, and Gene Jones’ historical fiction novel, Suwanee Divide (http://flcivilwarsuwanneedivide.com/suwannee-divide-civil-war-novel/), looks deeper into Florida’s past–all the way back to the Civil War. Of all the books here (I was unable to afford any books–there’s no currency in the Chaos Realm, after all!), I’ve only read Suwannee Divide, because I had a copy from a few years back. It was an excellent read–you gotta check it out, especially if you’re a history nerd like me!

Jane Gill (on the left) sharing information about the Florida Memory project (www.floridamemory.com), an online archive that preserves Florida’s history and artifacts. Visit her website at http://www.amatterofpridebook.com/

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Gene Jones (Suwannee Divide) swapping stories with fellow author Eloise Hanner:

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There were also quite a few travel authors and such (the above mentioned Eloise Hanner, for example)–another favourite topic for the Chaos Fairy!

Dennis R. Blanchard (www.dennisblanchard.com) spoke on “close encounters of the bear kind”, accidentally blinding himself with his super-deluxe seen-all-the-way-out-to-space headlamp, and many more outrageous adventures he fell prey to (no pun intended) while hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

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Let’s hear it for awesome women adventurers Jane V. Blanchard and Eloise Hanner!

In addition to her travel experience books, Jane V. Blanchard (in the middle, in photo) has her own travel blog! We love bloggers!  http://womanonherway.com/ (On the right, also in the below photo, is local suspense and fantasy author, Susan Klaus.)

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Eloise Hanner is:

1) A vibrant, kick-ass speaker!

2) A kick-ass adventurer, who traded a stockbroker career to join the Peace Corps. She was stationed in Afghanistan. In 1971. Need I say more? Live vicariously through her adventures, here: http://eloisehanner.wordsandwriters.com/.

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McClaren Malcolm also takes us on a thoughtful historical  journey through an old Georgia church, and the community that surrounds it, in her book “Spirit of the Valley” http://www.amazon.com/McClaren-Malcolm/e/B001K8PJ4S.

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Lois Duncan

I saved Lois Duncan for last, not because she’s probably the most well known of Sarasota’s local authors, but her presentation came with a message that is especially pertinent in light of recent events. It’s difficult for me to write in a way that doesn’t detract from her eye-opening presentation, and somehow cause unintentional offense and upset.

Yes, I’m talking about recent incidents that have put U.S. police departments, and their corrupt practices, directly into the nation’s spotlight. Hopefully, there are very few people who aren’t aware of the high-profile murders certain police officers have been committing against its African American citizens.

Lois Duncan, herself, has dealt with this same level of corruption and dishonesty from the police department of New Mexico, as she explained in her presentation. As she continued to relate, she has once again “picked up her pen” as the primary weapon she wields in her attempt to uncover the truth behind her daughter’s murder and expose the ongoing cover-up the N.M. police have held to, to this day, and their potential underground connections to local crime rings. New details and new information about the case, she tells us, are the premise of her book (a sequel to her earlier book on the same subject) One to the Wolves: On the Trail of a Killer.

As I lived in New Mexico for a few years, and have family there, I was already familiar with the unsolved case of Kaitlyn Arquette, thanks to articles that had been written about it in local papers. Being both a native of Sarasota, and a on-again-off-again resident of New Mexico over the years, and also having read many of Lois Duncan’s books as a kid, Duncan’s presentation about her daughter and her continued quest to find the truth, made me feel a strong personal connection to Duncan, and the things she had/continues to go through. Or maybe that was just due to Duncan’s powerfully intense up-close-and-personal presentation that seemed to move many in the audience, myself included.

For more information about Lois Duncan and her books, past and present:

http://loisduncan.arquettes.com/

Real Crimes website resource:

http://www.realcrimes.com/

Articles:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/timstelloh/who-killed-lois-duncan-s-daughter#.qvwKea6ya

http://www.copefoundation.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=32&Itemid=58

I hope I’ve helped in raising awareness about this, and others, unsolved cases, however small my effort may be…

Book Review (of Sorts): Swamp Ghosts

Swamp Ghosts (2014)

Marcia Meara

Available in Kindle and Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Swamp-Ghosts-Marcia-Meara-ebook/dp/B00K0QXLCS

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I just finished this book that I really enjoyed (although I like 99.9% of the books I read), Swamp Ghosts. Swamp Ghosts initially won me over as it’s written by a fellow born-and-raised Floridian [though she’s a lot less bitter than I am about the changes the influx of snowbirds and tourists are having on Florida (increasing proliferation of mega-homes and McMansions and an unfortunate, growing trend for perfect, albeit toxic, green lawns) and and yet still manages to capture the essence of the Florida I loved as a child.].

The book is set in a small town called Riverbend that is very evocative of  “old Florida” and captures what it was like growing up here (it’s much more than a beach playground, strip malls and multi-million dollar condos, by the way). Captain Maggie Devlin is struggling to keep her charter boat tour business operational when wildlife photographer Gunner Wolfe depends on her knowledge of the local backwoods/back river ecosystem, and hires her as a guide for his next photography quest.

It’s a mystery/suspense book, as is revealed when the residents of quiet Riverbend discover there’s a serial killer that’s come to town. It’s really hard to write about it and not give away any spoilers, but the author has done an excellent job in creating a work that navigates the evil that is disrupting their small-town life, and balances it out with an innocent wholesomeness that I really enjoyed. There’s a definite romantic bent to the book but, to me, it’s deftly woven into the story and doesn’t set off my BS meter or make me squirm in embarrassment (I’m not the most romantic of souls, in case you haven’t realized that by now. *laugh*). I probably liked that balance of innocent charm mixed with dark violence because I can watch the most gory, scariest movie without even flinching, sometimes even finding horror films comical rather than frightening, yet I am a complete softy for stray animals, injured wildlife, turtles trying to cross busy streets, and will always relocate insects rather than squish them.

Meara’s characters have a very contemporary feel; both Gunner and Maggie, for example, are largely free from the typical stereotypes I encounter in this type of book/genre. Maggie Devlin is practical, level-headed, strong, and keeps that strength without falling into the default standby, “I’m depicted as a strong woman but then I get put in a scary situation and I fall apart completely” that I see a lot of writers use. Gunner also comes across as a very contemporary man, one that reflects the evolving gender roles/interactions that also characterizes society today. I only have one little critique. It does seem that Maggie and her best friend Willow (another local businesswoman) are exceptionally primed to pass the Bechdel test, and they almost, but not quite, hit the mark on that front. With how much Meara has taken her characters outside of the typical mystery/suspense tropes, or stereotypes, I really feel like its inclusion could be a real asset to her book, and something I’d like to see in her future works (Her next book is a sequel to Swamp Ghosts, called Hunter.).

Overall, I think Marcia Meara has a real gift for writing books in this genre. I’d recommend giving the entertaining Swamp Ghosts a go! Check out her blog, Bookin’ it with Marcia Meara, and you can also find her on Goodreads.

Women Surrealist Artists and Writers

I just finished reading Subversive Intent: Gender, Politics, and the Avant-Garde by Susan Rubin Suleiman, and realized I was woefully ignorant about the women artists and writers associated with the Surrealist movement. This post is a start to remedy my own ignorance, at least.

So, while I continue to conduct my own reading/research to fill in another gap in my mental landscape, I put together some links and some articles/suggestions for further reading from a search I did on the Internet. Let me know in the comments if you have recommendations/suggestions/more information on women artists and writers from this movement.

Books/Articles:

http://www.surrealistmovement-usa.org/pages/swallmy.html

http://utpress.utexas.edu/index.php/books/rossur

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/986927.Surrealist_Women?from_search=true

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/528813.Women_Artists_and_the_Surrealist_Movement?from_search=true

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3380518-surrealism-and-the-art-of-crime?ac=1

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7232384-black-brown-beige?ac=1

Eileen Agar:

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/eileen-agar-633

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eileen_Agar

Leonora Carrington:

http://disinfo.com/2014/10/leonora-carringtons-surrealist-paintings/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46987.The_Hearing_Trumpet

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonora_Carrington

Dorothea Tanning:

http://www.dorotheatanning.org/index.php

Nora Mitrani:

https://danube.mica.edu/library/texts/EssList.cfm?Writer1=Mitrani%2C%20Nora

Meret Oppenheim:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%A9ret_Oppenheim

http://www.surrealists.co.uk/oppenheim.php

General Link:

http://surrealistrevolution.com/surrealists/

Love Letters Touched by History…

I still write paper-and-ink letters, using a quill pin and a vintage blotter…so this “Throwback Thursday” blog is dedicated to letters of love…. (Check out the charming Griffin & Sabine series by Nick Bantock, as well…)

So I chose to put together a sampling of love letters from artists and other notables throughout history. (If you have other sites/links to recommend, feel free to post in the comments. Or write a love letter to your own secret heart…):

http://www.libraryonline.com/default.asp?pID=56

http://aletterforthee.tumblr.com/

http://www.angelfire.com/realm/LadyCatherine/HistoryLove.html

http://www.romantic-ideas-online.com/famous-love-letters.html 

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/02/the-torrid-love-letters-of-famous-authors/253089/

http://classiclit.about.com/od/Love_Letters/ 

(NFSW) http://flavorwire.com/259842/dirty-literary-love-letters-written-by-famous-authors/2

Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn and others: http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/02/14/top-10-famous-love-letters/ 

Smithsonian Archives: http://www.aaa.si.edu/exhibitions/love-letters

Part of future’s history, perhaps: http://hyperallergic.com/115554/testifying-on-the-walls-a-street-artists-urban-love-letters/

The Quickie by Kitty Fine

Sadly, the last time I read any erotica was a purloined copy of Anais Nin’s Delta of Venus, way back in middle school. Kitty Fine’s The Quickie reminds me of the innocent and illicit pleasure of reading erotica for the first time. In comparison to my naïve, closeted childhood, there is nothing reserved about main character Nikki’s frank appreciation of sex, imbued with all the open wide-eyed wonder of youth. Nikki’s quickie sexual encounter is erotic and titillating, of course, but the character’s narrative voice still feels age-appropriately wholesome and fresh, in that it matches the young woman’s maturity level and personality.  Nikki does define herself as a nympho, but in a charming way that reminds the reader that we were all young, with rapacious sex drives, once upon a time (or still!).

I think what appealed to me most about The Quickie is that the writing is concise and straightforward. I’m always a fan of clean, unfettered writing, but the naturalness of Kitty Fine’s prose makes this erotica piece both comfortably enjoyable and stimulating at the same time, without that odd undercurrent of guilt that some erotic writing can evoke. I felt that a little more attention to sentence style and structure would have helped smooth over a few minor glitches that disrupted the flow of the read.

Overall, a strong, and sexy, read from a strong and well-balanced writer. Quite enjoyable!

 

 

Michael Rothman’s Heirs of Prophecy

So, I’ll try to keep from giving away too much of the book if I can help it. Like a lot of reviewers about this book, I agree that this makes a great read for young adults. It manages to pull off being both an intriguing fantasy that kids can relate to, while also exposing the reader to an informative passage on blacksmithing that might peak a kid’s interest in such an old-world craft without being too obvious. I could just see a new generation of medieval fair re-enactors being created after reading this book. It’s enjoyable that Rothman seems to have done his research on the art of blacksmithing, which makes its inclusion as the unique skill of one of the main characters seem all the more valid.

My favourite character in the book was the gentle, misfit, vegetarian ogre Ohaobbok from the Bloody Fist Clan. He was well worth the read in itself! I’m hoping that the female characters develop a little more presence in the following books (Heirs of Prophecy is the first in the series), especially the smart and independent young woman (non-traditional, it seems, in this book’s society) Sloane, but I would continue on the in the series. I have to find out what happens to the Riverton family, of course! After all, it’s set in a world where “magic is real”, and who doesn’t love that?