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!

Fun Ways to Enliven Eating at Home! Even if You’re a Single Dweller!

In an offshoot way, I was a little inspired by Reflections of a Modern Philosopher’s post, Popular Prescription: Patriotic Porch Pie, which got me thinking about the food rituals we practice, which led to this blog’s inception.

When I was in undergrad school, I went to stay with a fellow student over one of the school’s holiday breaks. She and her mom would have theme dinners. When I was there, they had a “yellow” dinner–all yellow foods and yellow plates. It was such a fun idea, that I (almost) yearned to have friends IRL so we could all get together and have fun theme dinners like that. *laugh*

Somebody I knew, once, suggested we get together and cook dinner once a week, so that we (both single) could have a home-cooked meal. It ended up in an argument, because I was in the kitchen and I turned around to find this person sitting on the sofa, playing with my cat. “Oh, hell no,” were my exact words, I think.

So, I thought I’d post some fun ways to liven up your meals, regardless on whether you’re someone whose world is populated with hordes of friends, or a prickly loner like me. Most of these have a nerdy theme, of course!

The Geeky Chef has recipes ranging from the X-Files to Twin Peaks to Legend of Zelda! There’s even a cookbook!

Mulder: Did you bring enough ice cream to share with the rest of the class?

Scully: It’s not ice cream… it’s non-fat tofutti rice dreamsicle.

Mulder: Ugh… I bet the air in my mouth tastes better than that.

Check out this amazing database of recipes from everything from games to comic books to movies to manga/anime…can’t wait to try some of these! http://nerdyrecipes.tumblr.com/

Here’s a list of some fun cookbooks to get you started (some appeared on an earlier post): http://www.thatsnerdalicious.com/features/14-of-the-best-cookbooks-for-nerds-featured/

Here’s some menu ideas for geek-themed parties for all your (imaginary?) friends: http://www.sparknotes.com/mindhut/2012/10/04/geek-themed-dinner-party-menu-ideas

My preferences are all geek/nerd related (unless it’s Halloween!)–what sort of foodie themes would you like for your dinner-and-a-movie/TV/Book-nights? Share your creative ideas in the comments!

Letting go…

…of books.

Yes, I’m still hanging on to a lot of books. I am having trouble letting go of two books I added to my collection back when I was eleven or twelve.

I picked up these books and remembered, more than the meaning of the text within, how I felt when I first read them.

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With Audre Lorde’s The Black Unicorn (1978), I remembered that this book was a light in a very dark time, when I felt completely alienated among humanity (aka middle school LOL) and with Haiku Harvest (1962), I had forgotten how drawn I was to Japanese culture, in the sparkly imaginative way belonging to my preteen years.

Why is it so hard to let go of inanimate objects? Even for the sake of living more lightly on my B.F.F. Nature?

But the good news is that I may end up getting rid of a whole stack of coffee table books! My fear of letting go of my book friends made me take the photo without the spines. (Here’s hoping I won’t continue to hoard them. *laugh*)

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What about you? What inanimate objects do you hang onto evoke nostalgia? Or how do you let go?

(I’m not sure how this topic is going to work out–I miss Science Saturdays! LOL)

Quirky, Flavourful Mysteries!

For Misfit Monday (aka Nerdy Pleasures!), I am sharing my secret predilection for themed murder mysteries.

Yes, despite the grumbly, ass-kicker front I try to present to the world (or hide LOL), I love those murder mystery series that revolve around recipes, knitting, candle-making, cats–you name it.

Once, I went to the Gulf Gate Library and they had these brightly coloured strips of paper that listed recommendations for further reading–like “If you like…then you’ll like…” so I ended up reading every book they carried of Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swenson mysteries–with delectable titles like Blackberry Pie Murder and Red Velvet Cupcake Murder. Yum.

They stopped making those little suggestion strips, I think (sadly!), but here are some other guilty, nerdy reading pleasures!

Tim Myers, candlemaking mysteries (OMG, he’s got a lighthouse murder series, and I love lighthouses! Holy sleuthing, Batman!)

http://timmyersfiction.com/traditionally-published-novels/

If my eyeball gets better, I want to start reading some more Hanukkah and Christmas-themed murder mystery books, even though I’m pagan. Oh, I’ll bet there’s Halloween murder mysteries…my favourite holiday! Got hooked with Kate Kingsbury’s books: http://www.doreenrobertshight.com/id2.html

And read through a lot of these knitting murder mysteries, as well: http://www.maggiesefton.com/knitting.html

I am lax in my reading of Rita Mae Brown’s cat mysteries (sadly, have only read a few) but will catch up one of these days.

http://www.ritamaebrownbooks.com/

Got any other suggestions, or favourites, in this genre? Or am I alone in mystery-lovers’ Nerdville? *laugh*

Okay, now I’m going to work on a manuscript for a client, or, in reality, try not to freak out about slowly going blind in my poor eyeball. LOL.

I can’t see too well, so forgive any typos and poor/stilted  writing. ;-p

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…

Speaking of Things I’m Proud Of… (re: award question by Somber Scribbler)

…I have an article coming out in Renaissance Magazine in their February/March issue…”Human Chess Matches”! This February/March issue has lots of other fascinating articles with titles (as listed in the magazine’s teaser column in the December/January issue I have) like “Painted Wagons of Anatolia”, “Seeking Sanctuary”–which looks to be exciting tales/exploits of those who “take refuge in a church” (<–as quoted from the Renaissance Magazine blurb)–, “Tarot Readers: It’s All in the Cards”, “Recreating Historic Gems”, “Whips and Knives” (no, to a certain sector of my blog readers, it’s the vanilla-flavoured version. *wink* LOL), and lots of great regular features/columns exploring costuming (for Ren/medieval faires, medieval/renaissance gardening, art, archaeology, herbology, cooking, and book/music reviews.

Check it out at: http://www.renaissancemagazine.com/

Thanks for all the support!

(Yes, still packing and not even remotely procrastinating at all *laugh*)

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.