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The Bread I’m Not Winning

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Okay, so it’s not a gig in Beautiful Downtown Burbank.  Beautiful Downtown Beaverton’s First Friday  will have to do.


\
Next Friday – that’s one week from today, June 7 – two other authors and I will be participating in the monthly celebration of art and craft, live entertainment and refreshment that takes place in Beaverton’s core downtown area.  Look for me at Beaverton Sub Station (12248 SW Broadway) from 5-8p,[1] selling and signing copies of The Mighty Quinn and trying to be heard above the surrounding bands.

Be there or be…you know.

besquare

*   *   *

Summer preview

Aka, Department of 20-20 Hindsight

 With son K home from college and Belle with less than two full weeks of school left, I have begun yet again, to contemplate my work.  As in, I’m thinking about The Lack of What Should Get Done ® that happens during mid June through August.

Summer is a strange time for me.  The freedom I thought would get with the kids growing older – they’ll be monitoring (and transporting) themselves right? – it hasn’t happened yet.  The schedules (and interruptions) remain, and are more sporadic and unpredictable than during the school year. It’s still child care, in a different form and with slightly bigger britches (theirs, not mine.  I promise).

beach

I try to set lower professional goals for myself during the summer, both for my sanity’s sake and for the enjoy-the-time-with-the-kids-while-you-can thing.  The subject of professional goals provides a convenient segue to the department of If I’d known then what I know now:  I should have rented an office, or office space.  Or convinced MH that a condo or loft would be a good investment, and worked from there.

I didn’t need to read the recent articles on the brouhaha about working from home vs. going to the office to know the reality, for me.  In terms of professional productivity, going-to-the-office wins the mud wrestling match, no question.  Also, there is the delicate topic of respect, from both family and even working-away-from-home peers, [2] and the assumed responsibility for the lion’s share of household chores (because, after all, there you are, at home [3])…and the anecdotal but nonetheless real evidence:  the times when I have had regular opportunities (and a place) to work away from my home office, I got

So. Much. More Done.

Of course, the reality of writing literary fiction (read: pays next to nothing) does not justify the added business expense…unless you heed the adage of you’ve got to spend money to make money and with the extra time who knows how much more productive I could have been…and would that have translated into enough income to justify the investment?

Like a piece of speculative fiction written by a Gen-Y-er, this post is going nowhere.  It must be time to complain about some other aspect of The Writing Life. ©

*   *   *

Things About Which I Have Strong Opinions

I’ve said this before and will likely say it again:  the dirty little secret of writing fiction is that it is much easier to make money from other writers (“aspiring” or wannabes or actual writers) than it is from writing fiction.

ang

The various writers’ trade journals proclaim this reality with their print and classified ads and with their e-newsletters and weekly updates, all of which feature some come-on like the following, which was in a weekly e-update from one of the professional trade publications to which I subscribe: 

“PERFECT YOUR NOVEL – Writing a novel is tough, but polishing it is nearly impossible to do alone. With the Writers’ Hackathon Weekly [4]  Advanced Novel Writing course, writers don’t have to tackle the process alone!”

This is the point where any writer worth their post-it notes should slam the door shut in the face of the virtual door-to-door insurance peddler.

Polishing (your novel) is “nearly impossible to do alone” – WTF? Actually, it is quite possible.  Actually, writers do it all the time. Actually, 99.99% of novelists have somehow managed to “polish” their work themselves, without the being scammed into paying for the ripoff that is aid of writing tutorials, seminars, conferences, market trend analyses, MFA programs – all of which are relatively recent boils on the ass trends in the history of literature.

The ad goes on to tell you how the course’s instructor will work with certain chosen individuals, and concludes with this additional appeal to ego: 

“This course is not for beginners. Rather, it’s for writers who are ready to get published and want specific feedback on what’s working-or not-with their manuscripts. This is the final ascent to publication!”

The final ascent!  No wonder I feel a need to grab my oxygen mask – I’m almost to the top.  Oh, wait a minute – This course is not for beginners. Rather, it’s for writers who are ready to get published.  That sounds like a beginner’s mindset to me.  Not yet published, or not yet “ready” to be published?

My second piece of advice for writers (after the first, which is, never ask writers for advice on writing) is more warning then recommendation:  writing fiction is ultimately a solitary activity.  You do it by yourself, on your own, not with your writing tutor or your writing support group or your therapist, or your professor or your Ten Sure-Fire Steps To Success course instructor. 

“Of all the higher arts, it (writing) is the most self-taught…in the end, you have to find your own way.”   (John Updike)

*   *   *

Department of Much ado About Well, Duh

Conservative blogger and Fox News “personality” [5] Erick Erickson became the latest primitive mouthbreather to be pissing in his man-panties over the recently released PEW Research Social & Demographic Trends survey, [6]  which show that  40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family. [7]  Because, dude,, female breadwinners will destroy society as we know it.

(Cave) Men:  ooga chaka ooga ooga  chaka

Womans! Give us back our bread!

crazy-cabbie-caveman-dragging-woman-by-hair-in-hoboken

Someone pass the sourdough boule, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] The logical place for authors invited to your event is to give them space in a sandwich shop.

[2] “real work” involves leaving the house, and your working time is always interrupt-worthy because, after all, you work at home – you are your own boss and have flex hours and can set your own schedule, right?

[3] And if the cat comes in and barfs under your desk you have no choice but to clean it up, whereas it wouldn’t do that if your desk were somewhere else, and you could return home and like everyone else, pretend not to notice the mess until someone stepped in it.

[4] Not the publication’s real title.  Dammit.

[5] This is an identity?

[6] analyzing U.S. Census Bureau data.

[7]  “Breadwinner moms” breakdown:  37% are married mothers whose income is higher than their husbands, and 63% are single mothers, who, by definition (or so it seems to me) will have the highest income in their household if they have the only income in their household.

The Cufflinks I’m Not Inspired By

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 Cufflinks: these affordable imitations make you look rich at a fraction of the cost

I was thrilled to find out, via my email spam filter, that there is a more affordable way to fulfill my lifelong ambition to spend as little money as possible to “look rich.”

If I were a composer, that out-of-nowhere e-solicitation might be a source of artistic inspiration.  Odd/random snippets of information have provided the creative kick for many a song.  John Lennon famously wrote Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite after seeing a 19th century circus poster in an antique shop.  The brain nudge for yet another Lennon-penned track on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, Good Morning, came from a breakfast cereal commercial.

Most of the ideas for my stories have come from what I call the what-if? question.  Following a seemingly haphazard visual, auditory or personal encounter, I find myself asking questions and/or posing scenarios and wahoo, story outline.

Cufflinks.  What if?  Cufflinks…cufflinks…cufflinks….  Nothin.’

*   *   *

So, it’s officially launched.  The Mighty Quinn had its release date May 14, which means I was finally able to download my e-version of my own book.  My publisher, Scarletta Press,  had sent me my author’s copies and readers who’d preordered the paperback version on Amazon and Barnes & Noble told me they’d begun receiving their copies two weeks before the 14th.  I was able to get TMQ’s tantalizing icon on my ereader two weeks before the release date, but could not access it until that very day.  I wanted to e-whine into my Nook, but I’m the author; can’t I see how it looks on screen, pretty please?

And now, I know. Yikes, and with a capital Y.  Here’s how the title page looks when the screen is rotated long side vertical.:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

*   *   *

Last week was must-see TV week in this house, what with the series and season finales of The Office and Grey’s Anatomy.  And then there was this unexpected entertainment from that bastion of reasoned debate and civic discourse, Meet the Press, Face the Nation Geraldo at Large.

Confession: I’d never seen the show (which, judging from the title, I thought was a reality show about the host’s battle of the bulge), until alert media critics called to attention the episode with a certain, guaranteed-to-amuse guest.

Ostensibly on the program to dispute NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s public health initiatives, conservative political foghorn commentator Ann Coulter managed to steer her anti-nanny state tirade to one of her favorite topics: naughty gay sex.  The always blithering quotable Coulter’s best line:

“Sodomy: we all have to pay.”

That’ll be $200, in cash, up front, Ms. Coulter.  Leave it on the sink counter, next to the mint mouthwash.

Poor Ann, still paying for it.  No wonder she seems so agitated.  Someone, please, send her a link to Craig’s List Casual Encounters.

*   *   *

One prays for rain, one prays for sun;
they kneel in church together.
Which of them, do you suppose
will regulate the weather? [1]

When someone asked Humanist Rabbi Adam Chalom to pray for a friend who had breast cancer, Adam said, “I have a better idea — give me her phone number and I’ll call her. Talking to her to lift her spirits, and make her feel less alone and more cared for, will do much more for her than talking to anything else.” [2]

To many people, prayer apparently provides the illusion of compassion and intention.  “I’m praying for ____ (your job search, a cure for Nana’s cancer, the tornado/ flood/hurricane/bombing victims…).”  No matter how sincerely you may hold that thought, all you have is the self-comforting (read: selfish) delusion of doing something, when, in fact,

You. Have. Done. Absolutely. Nothing. Except. Pray.

People in trouble, people in need, need your actions, not your carefully arranged thought patterns.

My point is not to bash the ignorant praying masses, nor make light of the latest tornado tragedy.  My intention, as always, is to promote reason and look reality in the face (metaphorically speaking, of course.)

And then, there is Wolf Blitzer.

Need I say more?  No.  But I will.

In case you were on a media-free retreat in an Indian ashram this week (or perhaps busy crawling out of the tornado-flung –debris from which your Lord and Savior neglected to save you [3]), you’ve probably come across the Ultimate Newsman Fail clip, in which CNN Evangelist Snake Handler Blessings Giver correspondent Wolf Blitzer keeps pushing an Oklahoma tornado survivor to mouth the obligatory Natural Disaster Survivor’s Pious Blather ®  .  Blitzer prattles on about how Rebecca Vitsuan and her family have been “blessed,” and when he insists, “You gotta thank the Lord,” a visibly bemused and flustered Vitsmun  gives that BlitzHole more civility than he deserves by politely replying, uh, no, that’s not gonna happen, seeing as how she’s an atheist.

It would make for a fascinating on-camera moment to see a real “news” correspondent ask some religious person (preferably your average, Sally PraiseDeLawd and not Pat Robertson or other religious pros) [4] the following question:   Please explain your understanding of why all those faithful believers living in in the heart of the Bible Belt died (no doubt furiously praying their asses off as the wind howled around them), while that unrepentant atheist survived.

Okay. I understand why many people appeal to their deities and call for prayers during times of loss and tragedy.  It is something I did (with varying degrees of confidence in the efficacy of the act) when I called myself a believer; it is a cultural reflex, a part of the human struggle to attribute cause and effect – or assign blame – for events we don’t understand or burdens we feel powerless to ameliorate.

But please, leave the god talk out of natural disasters.

I was elated to see the Oklahoma elderly woman’s on-camera joy at discovering her dog beneath the rubble of her home, the dog she’d assumed was dead…even as I cringed to know what was coming – the thanking of a god for not only saving her, but her dog:

 “I thought god just answered one prayer; ‘let me be OK,’ but he answered both of them.”

I would never want to quash the woman’s delight at having her beloved canine companion back.  If I knew her personally, and had an ounce of respect for her intellect and sentience, after her recovery I’d hope she’d have the opportunity to consider the conflicting, disturbing implications of truly believing what she said on camera.

1) If this supernatural being you prayed to exists, you believe he [5] has the ability and the willpower to intervene in the natural world, which is why you prayed for him to rescue you, and your dog.

2) If you believe this god used his divine powers to rescue your dog you must also consider that he did so while allowing human beings, including children cowering in terror in their schools, to suffer horrific, crushing injuries, and die.

3) This same god is now the object of prayers of gratitude from survivors, and petitionary prayers to extend his comfort to the brokenhearted families whose dead children were somehow less worthy of divine protection and intervention than one old woman’s dog.

prayer

I am being advised, on Facebook, radio, television, email petitions, by people who don’t even know me (as well as by people who do and should know better), to pray and pray some more – this week, for the tornado survivors.  Next week will surely bring another prayer-worthy petition.

And I realize it isn’t considered kosher to bring up this Uh, wait a minute, are you really thinking this through?  issue in times of trouble – or at any time, in a culture as superficial as ours.  Pandering religious sound bites of gratitude and “comfort” are the norm, and it’s a popular move for politicians, media mouthpieces and other public figures to Thank God for ____ or announce, as one newscaster did this week, while viewing footage of a tornado-razed school,  “We pray they [the faculty and children of a Plaza Towers Elementary] were somewhere else.” [6] But true religious believers cannot be taken seriously when they (claim to) apply reason to the rest of their lives, and then perform mental gymnastics worthy of an Olympic medal when it comes to their theology or worldview.

If your deity is all-knowing, it knew the tornado was coming yet “said” nothing. If your deity is all-powerful, it watched the tornado and did nothing. If your deity is all-loving and compassionate, it did not warn its beloved followers and  it did not prevent their violent deaths by stopping the tornado as it was being formed or by redirecting it to an empty prairie.

The deity whom you believe formed the universe with a thought and animated humanity with its breath and commanded a 40 day flood to rain upon the earth, this deity was unable to affect a minor change in barometric pressure to morph the tornado into a harmless rainstorm.  And no running away from it with the “the gods work in mysterious ways” crap.  If a god is unable to act, then it isn’t much of a god.  If you believe that this (or any) god exists then you must consider that this god twiddled its divine thumbs while a school building collapsed upon the heads of terrified and screaming children.

Social media has, of course, proven to be yet another venue for perpetuating the prayer nonsense…and also combating it, or at least pointing out its ultimate inefficacy.  An example of this is comic/actor/director and atheist Ricky Gervais,’s marvelous reaction to trending Twitter hashtags #PrayForOklahoma and #PrayersForOklahoma.

When MTV News tweeted, “Beyonce, Rihanna & Katy Perry send prayers to #Oklahoma #PrayForOklahoma,” Gervais’s commented:  “I feel like an idiot now.  I only sent money.”

Gervais went on to promote #ActuallyDoSomethingForOklahoma, and suggested his 4.6 million followers give $10 to the American Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts

Oh, and back to the dog. As caught on camera, the stunned puppy peeking out from the rubble was saved by human hands.  Humans lifted up the debris.  Humans pulled the dog to safety, held the trembling, whimpering animal, and comforted it.  No matter what their supposed motivation or attribution, it is our fellow human beings who pull us from the wreckage, help us heal, and rebuild.

*   *   *

In order not to end on too serious a note, have you ever wondered what would happen if you did a search for cutest reptile in the world?

lizard1

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Variously attributed to “Anonymous”

[2] Event also cited in author Dale McGowan’s insightful, witty and compassionate blog, The Meming of Life

[3] Or caused to be flung upon you. If you believe your deity is in control of such things.

[4] or at least waiting until the professionals have finished blaming those storm-causing homos

[5] I’m using the male pronoun because the elderly women did. Although I believe all supernatural beliefs, mythologies and superstitions to be gender inclusive.

[6] They weren’t.  Seven children died.)

The Nose Hairs I’m Not Weed Whacking

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Tuesday May 14 was the Official Release Date ® for The Mighty Quinn. May I have some trumpets, please?

Ah, shucks.  Thank you.

The book’s ORD coincided with a Children’s Book Week excerpt reading/book signing event at Powell’s Books on Tuesday evening.

The event went well, despite the fact that I would rather trim my nose hairs with a weed whacker than do anything resembling public speaking.  Seeing all the beautiful, friendly faces in attendance, including RB, LAH, SCM, JG & TG, CC & SC, helped calm my cotton mouth jitters.[1]

I was totally surprised by an intended: the presence of two cherished, Bay Arean [2] friends.  MH and Belle managed to keep a secret, that the lovely and talented  LH & DA were flying up from the Bay Area for the evening.  They honored me not only with their fabulous presence but also by bearing the favorite victuals of acclaimed authors everywhere a token of their appreciation, [3] a four pack of orange Jell-O. jello

*   *   *

We shall return to Great Moments in Self-Promotion Literary History  after this word from our Feminist Free-Thinking sponsors.

Sometimes, someone else says it better.  And sometimes they said it better some time ago.  (in this case, over 140 years ago).

Reason & Science lead to atheism. Reason & Science lead to feminism. The National Women Suffrage Association was formed this date in 1869 in New York city. Elizabeth Cady Stanton said, “You may go over the world and you will find that every form of religion which has breathed upon this earth has degraded woman… I have been traveling over the old world during the last few years and have found new food for thought. What power is it that makes the Hindoo woman burn herself upon the funeral pyre of her husband? Her religion. What holds the Turkish woman in the harem? Her religion. By what power do the Mormons perpetuate their system of polygamy? By their religion/ Man, of himself, could not do this; but when he declares, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ of course he can do it. So long as ministers stand up and tell us Christ is the head of the church, so is man the head of woman, how are we to break the chains which have held women down through the ages? You Christian women look at the Hindoo, the Turkish, the Mormon women, and wonder how they can be held in such bondage.”
FEM
·         The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (Official)

*   *   *

Consider yourself a recipient of the Pretty Purple Toe award if you can guess which two of the following five are legitimate reviews of The Mighty Quinn.

An easy-to-use guide for bird owners looking to train their pets to perform simple tricks such as flapping wings, to more advanced tricks such as playing dead in the owner’s hands or ringing a bell, The Mighty Quinn walks the reader through a step-by-step process with explicit instructions and full-color photographs.
(Midwest Book Review)

 A new classmate helps fifth-grader Quinn Andrews-Lee re-evaluate longtime friendships and stand up to a bully….Parnell creates interesting child and adult characters and confronts them with serious issues, including child abuse, care for the environment, ethics and even skin color… humorously interrupted by the realities of family and school life.
(Kirkus Reviews)

Every surgeon who carries out rhinoplasty procedures will benefit from The Mighty Quinn. The beginner is guided through the performance of a standard rhinoplasty…with the latest breakthroughs in the management of difficult cases, such as saddle nose, skin sleeve problems, and dorsal grafting.
(Aesthetic Surgery Journal)

 “An absolutely delightful read and such memorable characters! Tweens will identify with both Quinn and Neally and will still be thinking about them long after they close the book.”
(Sandra McLeod Humphrey, Clinical Psychologist and children’s author).

It is curious how incest, impotence, nymphomania, religious mania and real estate speculation can be so dull.
(Richard Findlater, Time and Tide) [4]

This toe's for you!

This toe’s for you!

*   *   *

Thursdays are our pickup days for our weekly CSA share.  We’ve been CSA patrons for five years; this is our first year with La Finquita del Bujo (“The little farm of the owl”).  We get an email on Sundays which lists the likely contents of the coming week’s harvest. This week’s share will include (lots of) lettuce, plus beets and greens, carrots, kohlrabi, Chinese broccoli, dill or cilantro and chard or kale.

Daughter Belle’s AP Environmental Science class had a class project/party at the farm on Thursday.  They made and baked pizzas, topped with veggies from the farm, in an outdoor brick oven. I told Belle I’d try to time my share-picking-arrival so as not to require any M4 [5]awkwardness for her.

In anticipation of the wine and broth braised root veggies I planned on making for dinner, I started a batch of mushroom stock on Thursday after breakfast.  It made for a sensory-sensational morning.  The savory, umami (or as I like to think of it, yo-mommy) aroma of  mushroom broth wafted into the office as I performed what would otherwise have been the mundane tasks of checking manuscript submission status and fiction market listings.

No-Fuss (or a little, if you’re prone to botheration) Mushroom Stock

Hint: Keep a bag in the freezer for stockpiling the mushroom stems that are often not used in recipes.  Shitake, porcini, button, crimini – no need for varietal separatism.  A United Nations of Shrooms is best. Throw ’em all in there. [6]

1.  take a pound (~ 4-5 cups) of stems, along with a handful of dried mushrooms and perhaps some frozen whole ones, too.  Heat a medium-sized stockpot over medium-low heat, add a small amount of EVOO and brown the stems a bit (no need to thaw first), along with a small peeled & roughly diced carrot.  That’s all you need: shrooms and a carrot.  If you’re a Stock Fundamentalist who believes that the only true path to Broth must involve the trinity of carrot/onion/celery, you can add small diced portions of the latter two veggies.

From the Book of Aromatics:  in the name of the Carrot, the Onion, and the Holy Celery

From the Book of Aromatics: in the name of the Carrot, the Onion, and the Holy Celery

2. Add ~ 8 cups of water, or enough to cover the shroom bits by at least two inches.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer until stock is reduced by one half (or more, if you want a really rich flavor).  This will take at least 30-40 m.

3. Strain the stock through a very fine sieve (or colander lined with cheesecloth), pressing on the veggie solids to extract every last bit of shroomy liquid.  You now have ~ 3 – 4 cups of stock.  Use immediately, or frig and use within a few days, or let cool and freeze.

*   *   *

Several years ago our all-white cat, Nova, discovered the cache of Lego pieces in the upstairs bonus room.  We in turn discovered Nova’s proclivity for a certain kind of Lego piece, when MH put on his shoes and yelped as his instep pressed down on a hard piece of plastic.  Somehow, a Lego helmet had gotten into his shoe.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We are a barefoot-in-the-house family, and so there is always a motley assortment of shoes and sandals on our front door rug.  I was the next to step on a helmet while putting on my shoes.  A subsequent stakeout revealed that Nova, when she thought the coast was clear, would come downstairs, little white helmet in her mouth, and most definitely and deliberately drop it into a shoe.  We began to remind each other to shake out our shoes before putting them on.  We were not always consistent in passing on this reminder to guests.  I’d like to think we just forgot about it, but must admit to the possibility that our omission was intentional, as we enjoyed the delightful (well, to us) expression on a visitor’s face – the mild eyebrow elevation of surprise morphing into confusion – when they went to put on their shoes and discovered they had been honored with Nova’s footwear  enhancement.

Nova eventually tired of the shoe-game, and discovered the joys of Human-aided Helmet retrieval.  We’d be sitting at the breakfast table and she’d bring a Lego helmet [7] and drop it by one of our chairs.  A Lego helmet makes a distinctive clicking noise when dropped onto tile or wood flooring.  She’d drop the helmet, we’d pick it up and lob it into the kitchen or down the hall.  Its distinctive shape caused the helmet to skitter and bounce in an erratic manner Nova found irresistible, and she’d chase it, bat it around, and eventually pick it up and return it to us for another round.

She has done this, off and on and with variations in the game, for years.  And with no other Lego pieces; only helmets. [8]  We’ve found stashes of helmets under various pieces of furniture, and have rescued many from the central vacuum dirt canister in the garage.

Her latest variation is to find a helmet and bring it to the office.  The office carpet muffles the helmet-dropping announcement, so she has devised another routine to get my attention.  Helmet in mouth, she enters the downstairs covered litterbox, which is under the “kid’s” computer desk.  She pees in the litterbox, or sometimes just pretends to – either way, the sound of her pawing about in it alerts me to her presence.  She emerges from the box, drops the helmet in front of it, then dashes into the hallway, looking back at me with an I’m-helping-you-keep-your-promise-to-yourself-to-be-ergonomically-smart-and-take-frequent-breaks-from-the-computer expression. [9] I, of course, dutifully pick up the helmet and throw it for her.  It will be at least six rounds of fetching until she decides I need to get back to work.

Or sometimes, I come into the office and see a helmet outside the litterbox, with no kitty in sight.  Her calling card, I assume.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

*   *   *

Remember to check your shoes before you put them on, and let the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Along with the zen-like calm that can only come from knowing that I carry a whoopee cushion in my props bag.

[2] Not Aryan, but Arean, as in, “of the Bay Area.”  They flew in from San Francisco, not Berchtesgaden.

[3] A “souvenir” of sorts, from the shenanigans at MH’s & my wedding reception…which is a story best told in person, over something stronger than orange Jell-O shots.

[4] This was critic Findlater’s actual review for Lillian Hellman’s Toys in the Attic.

[5] Meet My Mother Moments

[6] Except morels.  Oregon foodies are supposed to adore morels, but moiself thinks they taste like what muddy socks smell like.

[7] It seems we had an endless supply, from years of buying Lego Classic Space sets.

[8] She will play fetch with wads of paper, but only on the staircase.

[9] Really, that’s exactly what her kitty facial expression means.  We’ve had it translated.

The Fish I’m Not Licensing

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Dateline: Tuesday afternoon, driving to lunch/errands. I change the radio (I cannot abide a certain Taylor Swift song unless it is the goat version) and land smack dab in the middle of an advertisement for Northwest Surrogacy Center.  A suspiciously animated-yet-serious female is talking about how fulfilling it was for her to serve as a surrogate for a gay couple.  Her story ends with a brief/odd comment on how handing over the baby was “…the easiest part.”  An official (male, ahem) announcer takes over, and talks about how the center is looking for women between the ages of 21 – 40 who have already had one “easy” pregnancy, and how surrogates can make “up to $27, 000.”

“HA!” I hear myself say, [1] as I pound the steering wheel.  “Like that’s a reasonable reimbursement.”  I must pull over to the side of the road and do the math.

Gestation is no 9-5 show.  It’s not even back-to-back swing shifts. When you are pregnant you are pregnant 24 hours a day (and during the last month it can seem like 48 hours a day).  Forty weeks of pregnancy = 5,720 hours; thus, being paid $27k for the gig works out to less than $5/hour, less than minimum wage.  Even less than that, when you factor in what the post-preggo Pilates [2] are going to cost. The never ending story, of how anything considered “woman’s work” is undervalued.

angrypreggo

 My short story “Maddie is Dead” has been reprinted in a new book: Joy, Interrupted – An Anthology on Motherhood and Loss.   The anthology is released…uh…just in time for Mother’s Day?  Rather peculiar timing, considering the subject matter.  From the book’s press release:

 Joy can be interrupted – but not lost. Most people think of motherhood as a joyous experience, but for some it can be an experience of interrupted joy. This anthology delves into the subject of motherhood and loss from different perspectives of authors and artists from all over the world. This anthology includes Short Stories, Poetry, Art Work, Essays, Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction and more. Contributors explore such topics as Adoption, Death, Infertility, Disabilities, Illness, and Estrangement. Various themes addressed include Coming of Age, Identity, Recovery, Connections, and Forgiveness.

 But wait, there’s more:

The internationally acclaimed contributors are: (snip snip of a whole lotta names that are not mine), Robyn Parnell, (more snip snip)…

Internationally acclaimed?  This is news to moiself.  But if it’s in writing, it must be true, right?

Still, I await the multilingual kudos.  Having heard none, I’ll furnish my own:

Συγχαρητήρια [3] Ole!   Felicitations! Chúc mừng! Pongezi! Gratulerer! Cestitke! Kung hei lei! Donadaliheligv! Comhgháirdeachas!

joy i_

May 13 – 19 is Children’s Book Week.

Get ready to Get Mighty! 

The Mighty Quinn, that is.

The Mighty Quinn is available now at Amazon , Barnes & Noble  and other online booksellers, in both paper and eBook formats.  Starting May 14 it will be available at your regular brick and mortar bookstores.

Of possible interest to you locals (local as in Portland metro area): As part of the celebration for National Children’s Book Week I’ll be doing a reading-book signing event with another local author at Powell’s Books Cedar Hills Crossing (Beaverton) on Tuesday, May 14, beginning at 7 pm.  Another Local Author is Heather Vogel Frederick, who’ll be reading from her newly released book, Once Upon a Toad. [4]

After the reading and signing my family and I will be de-stressing celebrating at Peachwave Frozen Yogurt afterwards (Cedar Hills Crossing Mall, enter by the Starbucks) – stop and say howdy if you can!

"Caveman Matt" Chapter 5, The Mighty Quinn

“Caveman Matt” Chapter 5, The Mighty Quinn

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From their halcyon days as America’s sweethearts to their current status as superstars who pioneered a genre, The Go-Go’s preside over an amazing three-decade reign as high pop priestesses….
(from The Go-Gos website, re their upcoming concert tour)

That is what I want to write, and get paid for doing so:  hyperbolized press releases.

I’m trying to imagine phrases like “halcyon days” and “amazing three-decade reign” – not to mention “high pop priestess” – being used in conjunction with my name.  Not to get all philosophical or nothin.’

I couldn't find a High Pop Priestess Picture.  But the green telephone is worthy of royalty, don’t ya think?

I couldn’t find a High Pop Priestess Picture. But the green telephone is worthy of royalty, don’t ya think?

 You may remember [5] the Halibut That Ate My Daughter’s Brain (April 19 post).  I have been experimenting with halibut chowder/soup/stew variations every Sunday since, with the apparent approval or at least toleration of our regular Sunday dinner guest, the lovely and talented (and patient) LAH.  I have been tormenting son K, a lover of all things seafood chowder-y, with information re my culinary concoctions.  Next week is finals week for K, and he’ll be home from college for the subsequent Sunday dinner, the 19th.  There is enough halibut and fish stock left in the freezer to make him his very own tastefully-sized tureen trough-full of whatever version I shall deem as the best-est. [6]

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Remember to get your pet halibut his fish license, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Actually, I hear myself say a stronger version of HA: the version that rhymes with, HORSESHIT!

[2] Or whatever exercise regimen you’ll undertake in a futile attempt to undo the damage done to your body in order to give someone else “the gift of life.”

[3] Acclamations are in Greek, Spanish, French, Vietnamese, Swahili, Norwegian, Croatian, Cantonese, Cherokee, Irish Gaelic.

[4] I have read this book and recommend it, especially for fans of Fractured Fairy Tales.

[5] Or, like my family, you may be trying to forget.

[6] Not many footnotes in this post, eh?

The Writing I’m Not Typing

Comments Off on The Writing I’m Not Typing

 “That’s not writing, that’s typing.”
(Truman Capote’s dismissal of Jack Kerouac’s work)

You, too can be an author! At least, you can share in the experience shared by authors well-known and obscure, established and wannabe: the rejection letter.

In the tradition of the preemptive strike, the literary journal Stoneslide Corrective provides a vital public service, the generosity of which cannot be overestimated.  The Rejection Generator Project eliminates the need for you to take the time and energy (and whiskey) to actually pen an emotionally searing short story, witty roman à clef or evocative poem.[1]  Simply type in your email address and a terse and snarky rejection, composed by Certified Rejected Authorial Persons, [2] will be winging your way.

drunkcapote

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Mark those calendars:

Middle Readers Night
May 14, 2013, 7:00 pm
Powell’s at Cedar Hills Crossing, Beaverton, OR

As part of the local marking of Children’s Book Week celebration, Oregon authors Heather Vogel Frederick and moiself will be reading excerpts from and signing copies of our books (The Mighty Quinn, in my case, and Frederick’s Once Upon a Toad).  I am told that attendees will may be able to receive complimentary Children’s Book Week posters and tote bags [3], not to mention the one-of-a-kind opportunity to be misted by the spittle [4] of a Real Life Author ®, should you be in the first row during the reading.

Mickey's pasta emoting (from The Mighty Quinn, chapter 4)

Mickey’s pasta emoting (from The Mighty Quinn, chapter 4)

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This Stupid Week In History…which happens to be this week

 A science project gone awry.

 From the Miami New Times :  16-year-old Kiera Wilmot, known at Bartow High School for being a “model student,” has not only been expelled from school, she faces felony charges for an “experiment” that went wrong. 

Wilmot reportedly mixed toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil, causing the top of a plastic bottle to rupture and smoke to emit.  Wilmot says she did it because a friend told her to, believing it would only cause smoke. 

Bartow High School’s assistant principal called police when Wilmot’s science teacher said he wasn’t aware of any experiment. 

Leah Lauderdale, spokeswoman for the school district, calls Wilmot’s actions “grounds for immediate expulsion” because they violate the school’s conduct code.  Section 7.05 of the school’s conduct code, Lauderdale says, mandates expulsion for any “student in possession of a bomb (or) explosive device… while at a school (or) a school-sponsored activity… unless the material or device is being used as part of a legitimate school-related activity or science project conducted under the supervision of an instructor.”

A sixteen year old girl did something most kids do at some point:  mixed up common household products in a plastic bottle because they heard that something amusing might result (how many baking soda and vinegar “volcanoes” did you try to make?). She did this outdoors.  The resulting “explosion” was not even adequate to burst the bottle, but merely popped off the top and generating some smoke.

No one was injured (save for the plastic bottle, which, as of this reporting, is refusing to comment), the principal was quoted stated that Wilmot simply made a “bad choice” and wasn’t trying to hurt anyone, but Wilmot was still expelled because school administrators are spineless fear mongers who have abdicated their responsibility to judge actions in light of context rules are rules.  Wilmot, described by the school principle as “a good kid,” who has “never been in trouble before. Ever,” will now reportedly have to complete her education in an “expulsion program” and may face a criminal conviction.

Mandatory expulsion for being “in possession of a bomb or explosive device?”  There goes every high school biology, chemistry and physics classroom, or certain students’ digestive tracts after burrito day at the cafeteria.

The student in question didn’t seem to be knowingly in possession of or trying to fabricate a WMD.  Rather, she did a dumb thing.  The punishment should fit the “crime” – perhaps a suspension, or a week of after school detention at a plastic bottle recycling facility.

The overreaction of administrators in this story reminds me of something that befell daughter Belle during her sophomore year in high school.  Ah, but when this happens to the child of a writer….  I’ve taken notes for a follow-up book to The Mighty Quinn, which just may include subplot involving false accusations brought against Neally [5] by school staff.  Let me just say that the adults involved in the debacle will not come out smelling like roses – more like a science project gone awry.

Oh yeah, and no plastic bottles will be injured during the making of the book.

"Stand back…" from  webcomic xkcd [6]

“Stand back…” from webcomic xkcd [6]

Have a great weekend, and let the (non-explosive) hijinks ensue.”

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] works which will probably be rejected anyway, I mean, whom are we kidding, are you that good, huh?

[2] Including yours truly.

[3] Assuming you arrive early enough and snatch them from the hands of children.  It’s a “While supplies last” deal.

[4] Why did I put so many S words in my novel?

[5] The title character’s friend and (unintentional) mentor.

[6]Randall Munroe’s  xkcd is a webcomic of “romance, sarcasm, math, and language.” You’d be way cooler than you already are if you’d it on a regular basis.