The Joy of Acceptance…

The acceptance of being your own person, writing in your own style, not mimicking or falling in line.

I get a lot more rejections than I do acceptances, but I don’t dwell on the rejections.

56635085_2231045933643692_5441110500400168960_o.jpg

 

There is an art to accepting or rejecting any work. And, although any acceptance is a happy occasion, a particular nice one such as this is always a joy to receive.

To update you on my publications of late –

Heaven’s Password is about a woman who finds herself in heaven, in a line reminiscent of the DMV, and is asked for a password. She’s not the most patient person and can’t remember ever setting up a password. Just like your bank account, you can’t get in without it! This was published in the The Survivor issue of P&G.

Bowie and the Basket Case is due out any day now from ID Press. When someone breaks into her house, Anna doesn’t readily find anything missing. But soon she realizes little things are disappearing and reappearing – is someone gas-lighting her?

The Healer’s Daughter was accepted by The Ear and will be out May 15th. Self explanatory title?

And finally, or so far, Voice of Eve has sent me the lovely acceptance above for my photography and three poems – as you’ve read – June 15th.

Thanks for reading, dear souls.

Wishing you much love and happiness.

noreen

A Tribute to Poe on his Birthday

January 19th, is the 210th anniversary of Poe’s Birth.

poe4Although many people are content with the reason of Poe’s continued relevance in our society is the stereotypical tortured artist.  There is no doubt he was tortured, and for reasons of which we are all familiar; he was an orphan who lost every women he ever loved.

His battles with alcohol, I believe, are highly exaggerated. But it makes for a good story. I’m not saying he never drank – he drank to excess plenty of times, he may have officially been an alcoholic as we understand the word today; however, it was not a constant. There were many years through his marriage to Virginia that he did not drink or drink to excess. Before his death in 1849, he’d joined the Sons of Temperance Movement – to get people to stop drinking.

The reason Poe has remained relevant throughout the years is his work touchespoe our deepest fears and deepest desires. He has continued to inspire other writers

 

 

 

 

 

poe2and artists of all types.

 

 

 

 

 

 

He wrote far more than what we, today, consider horror. He wrote essays, literary analysis, investigative pieces. He wrote about street paving, Stonehenge, and he was inspired by what he read in newspapers.  Berenice and others were inspired by stories of grave robbers in local papers.

poe3

The famed portrait of Edgar Allan Poe was taken three days after his suicide attempt in 1848.

Edgar_Allan_Poe_daguerreotype_crop.png

And, Eddy, my imaginative fiction, was inspired by that suicide attempt. He bought two bottles of laudanum on a cold winter night meaning to do himself in. He’d lost Virginia and felt he had no one. (Laudanum contained opium and derivatives of morphine and codeine.)

eddyfinalredonefromtresized

 

For Poe’s Birthday, I offer an excerpt from the novella:

   He stumbles from the pub, slips, and falls on the iced over bricks of Boston’s November streets. Save for the muddled voices beyond the closed door, the street is quiet as his body thuds to the ground. His breath billows in front of him as he gasps and grumbles and struggles to his knees, then his feet, to regain his drunken balance.

   The gaslamp on the corner offers a wavering yellow glow for the struggling figure on the lonely winter night. Thin strands of hair blow in the chilled breeze; he runs his hands over his head, straightens himself before he pulls at the sagging overcoat and tugs it closed.

     Remembering the tinctures of laudanum pried from the chary pharmacist, he hurriedly shoves his hands in his pockets, retrieves the bottles.

   His heavy breath mounds in front of him and, for a moment, he can’t see; then the luminous cloud of brandy scented air dissipates. The medicines are intact. Relieved, he stuffs them back in his pocket and buttons his jacket.

   “Edgar,” someone calls from the corner; the noise from the pub trails the swarthy figure out until the door slams to a close behind him. “You alright?”

   Edgar waves him off without turning around.

   The thick shadow chuckles as he staggers in the opposite direction.

   The winter is freezing cold, but the snow hasn’t endured. Small white crystals pile in corners and fill the air. The icy rain soaks him before he reaches his chamber on the second floor of the boarding house. The room is small, impersonal, but warmer than the street. An unlit lantern shimmies on the desk as he unsteadily seats himself, glances out the window.

   A barely discernable outline disquiets the otherwise muted darkness on the corner of the street below. He knows it’s the black dog that’s stalked him his whole life. Suddenly angered, he shoves himself forward, pushes the unlit lamp aside and topples the ink jar.

   “Get outta here, you wretched creature.” The incensed command lost in the night.

      Recovering the secreted bottles of opium from his coat pocket, he sets them side by side in front of him. Unsteadily he tugs the lid from one and snorts in a single gulp.

For More Posts on Poe – click this link.

To get the book at 3.99 – this weekend only – click this link.

To get the ebook at .99 – today only – click this link.

 

edgar_allan_poe_3.jpg

 

Much love and luck.

 

Food Crimes: Don’t be Fake(d)

artifical1I tried a new drink; the front label boasted a vitamin drink. I didn’t take the time to read the ingredients. I was thirsting, it was cool and promised refreshing goodness. But, after drinking half the bottle, my stomach began to ache. I put it aside.

Later, when my daughter dropped by, I offered her the rest. (She’s worked in nutrition based stores since she was old enough to get a job – her major is public health). She said, did you read the ingredients?

I hadn’t. The front label had me convinced I was consuming a healthy beverage, but the ingredients listed three different types of fake sweeteners. I’m usually much better about reading labels, but sometimes we all forget and fall for the advertisement.

I’m not one who usually consumes anything with fake sweetener.

I’m a believer that our bodies are made to process what was put on this earth, not that which was created in a lab to fool our taste buds.

artificalPreviously, some of these artificial sweeteners had been linked to cancerous tumors in rats.

A new study shows that artificial sweeteners are toxic to our gut bacteria. Scientists are finding in more and more studies how important our guts are to our overall physical  and mental health.

I know someone, looking for an answer to their problems with anxiety, who was diagnosed with Leaky Gut Syndrome. The doctor told her that it was the cause of many of her mental health problems as well as other physical problems she was experiencing. If a product is toxic to our stomachs, imagine what it can do if it gets into our blood and neurological systems.

Don’t be fake(d). Read the labels. Avoid lab food when natural alternatives are available.  Even then, use in moderation.

ArtificalSweetenersGraphic1

 

 

Food Crimes – Monday’s Food Blog.

foodcrime

 

I whole heartedly believe our physical and mental health are related to what we put in our bodies.  wholeheartedly

When I witness food crimes, health demeanors, nutritional scofflaws, I want to share them. Therefore, on Mondays, enter my take on nutritional related topics.

I caught three or four minutes of The Ultimate Warrior the other day. The participant said, Cystic Fibrosis had controlled his life; he was on 36 medications a day and other therapies just to survive. He began educating himself and designed a program in which he took control of CF. This regimen consisted of healthy food and exercise.

foodcrime1Many people try to eat healthy and do something to improve their overall well-being; however, they are short-circuited by a food industry that play on key words and pop culture and is more interested in their own bottom line rather than healthy consumers.

So – in this space – on Mondays, I hope to review products, give links to sites I’ve found, and offer a little advice.

Disclaimer: I am by no means perfect, and none of us should try to be. But we should be informed enough to make wise choices.

For the first entry: Cashewgurt. cashewgur A yogurt made from cashews. It’s the new nondairy alternative.

I’m not sure how it happened, probably companies tracking my eating habits through supermarket club cards, but I’m occasionally offered free product samples. Cashewgurt was one of them.

The thought of a healthy, richly textured, nutty tasting, and protein filled near desert-like product filled me with anticipation.

I pulled back the tab and was met with… well… not quite vanilla looking, darker than your typical color of vanilla of yogurt.

I love cashews. Did I mention that? I love nuts. I was completely willing to give this product my whole heart.

cashewgutI dipped the spoon in the little cup and brought the not quite buoyant, not quite fluffy or even firm yogurt to my mouth. I could almost taste it before it reached my lips, and that wasn’t because of the scent of vanilla, but the overwhelming aroma of chemical manipulation.

It smelled a little funny, not bad just odd. And it tasted a little campy. No, seriously, like we’d been camping and it got left out in the melted ice of the cooler. But we hadn’t been. And this hadn’t been. This was fresh from the grocer’s cooler, to my fridge, then to my mouth.

It didn’t taste nutty. It barely tasted of vanilla. The after-taste that tortured my tongue was something like an old Tab soda burp that wouldn’t go away. The saddest part was the consistency – like near melted ice-cream. Not what I like in a yogurt, although some people do.

I felt this product, the taste, the after-taste, and the lack of consistency reinforced the stereotype – healthy food doesn’t taste as good.

The label reads:

*Made from cashewmilk. Watered down cashews. The second ingredient is sugar. (The rest of the ingredients are the experiment in how to plump up cashewmilk and sugar.)

*12 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein.

When I buy food, I have a few rules I attempt to follow:

  1. One of the first three or four ingredients should not be sugar.
  2. The grams of sugar and protein (and probably fat) should be somewhat even.

12 grams of sugar and 2 grams of protein for a yogurt inspired from a nut seems somehow disappointingly wrong.

I had high hopes for this one.

Ladies and gentlemen, we all eat food that is not great for us. I take issue with companies which market products that pretend to be healthy and are, in fact, not.  Overall, yogurts fall under deserts or snacks in my book. There are some that come close to the balance between sugar, fat, and protein, and those are the ones I choose when I desire a flavorful adventure that is not desert.

cashewgu

Forager’s slogan is “Food that’s better for the people and the planet.” I have to disagree with that one. There is too much sugar in Cashewgurt to be healthy or “better.” And both, the taste and consistency, needs work.

If you’ve tried it, let me know what you think.

Next Monday – nutritional scofflaws

Coffee and your Character – Writer Wednesday

I’ve been thinking of coffee shops. And it’s not only because I’m a caffeine addict. Coffee and coffee shops are a part of our everyday lives and, therefore, our characters’ lives. What type of coffee shop and what they order will inform our readers of who they are in ways we won’t need to spell it out.

catwithstarbucks

I, personally, savor that first sip of morning tea. For a few moments, it’s the perfect temperature and I hold it close to my face, ready for the next sip as the first drips of bitter black tea warm my throat and my body, the caffeine going to work immediately to bring me to full wakefulness in anticipation of a busy day.

A friend described a man in her carpool who stopped every day at Starbucks for a large quadruple espresso latte on their way to work and on their drive back from work. But, she added, he also complained constantly about his budget. This told me a lot about the person in just a few sentences.

Does your character rush into Starbucks and curse the line? Probably orders ahead for pick up, but what if it’s not there? Or is your character the kind that seeks out the independent coffee shop because it may be less busy or just because it’s independent.

There used to be a coffee shop on Ventura Blvd between Hazeltine and Woodman. I don’t pinkremember the name, but I do remember the walls were pink. I liked it for it’s small town charm. Local home made jams lined the shelves behind me while local artists’ paintings adorned their walls. They only had a few wooden tables, a few more outside, and a few bar-type seats at the counter. Instead of the iced black or green tea choices at you-know-where, I opted for their daily choices, which might icled iced peach or raspberry-ginger. They offered an array of vegan or gluten free cookies as well. Who could resist?

I used this coffee shop in my story “Harvey Levin Can’t Die” (originally published in Pilcrow and Dagger Sept 2016). The story really is about change. How society reflects the harveylevincan't dieindividual and how the individual internalizes society. One of the characters worked there, but felt out of place. This also represented her life, she felt out of place and hadn’t really begun to make real decisions about who she was or what she wanted. But, of course, that changed and so did her involvement in the coffee shop and the guests as she becomes more proactive in her life. The reader is left to decide the interaction between her and society and whether the influence is good or bad.

It would have implied something different about my character if she’d worked at a chain coffee shop. The chain itself would have had an influence and been a foil. She wouldn’t have been able to grow and and the readers couldn’t see the change within the coffee shop itself; therefore, the setting was important in that instance.

Each place, each chain, is different. The people who go to the local Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Company are different than those who go to Pete’s or even Starbucks. As writers, I imagine we’ve all spent time in these places. And our jobs as writers are to observe. Beyond the color scheme and coffee served, there’s a different atmosphere garnered by and at these places, and the people are different or act different.

I rarely see the impatient phone-bearing customers from the Monday morning Starbucks run at Pete’s. Nor do I see the more relaxed culture of the Pete’s “give me the multi-grain scone and flipped macchiato” at Coffee Bean.

1dollarstorysmashwordsI used another independent coffee shop for “$1.00 Stories” (originally published in The Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal April – 2016). A mixture of independent coffee shops, one of which still squeaks by in the recesses of North Hollywood. I wanted a friendly owner and regulars my character would recognize. Not that he cared about them; it was more important for the story that they were familiar with Cris, and they accepted with good-natured-humor his occasional weirdness. I didn’t want to make him completely unlikable. I wanted him to come across as a little more complex, so he went to this coffee shop where he knew the owner and sneered at the community table while the regulars chuckled.

The joy I get from using independent coffee shops (or even invented coffee shops) is that I get to describe them, which will also tell us something about the character. In “Harvey Levin”, the character hated the pink walls. But using a chain also tells us something about the character.

Our characters are going to need caffeine at some point in the story. Giving the reader their choice of coffee shops, even in one line, gives the reader an insight into the person we’re creating.

Now my tea’s cold. But I don’t own a microwave and that never tastes good anyway.

 

Harvey Levin Can’t Die is available on Kindle and at Smashwords.

$1.00 Stories is available at Kindle and at Smashwords.

 

 

How Bananas Saved the World…

6 Good Reasons to Eat a Banana Today

Just Kidding.

But Bananas are considered the world’s perfect fruit because only 2% of people are allergic to them. However, sometimes, bananas can fool an allergy filled system. When my system is filled with allergens from other foods, bananas can make them momentarily worse. There’s been research on this – btw – not just making this up. It falls under a “cross reactive food.”

My daughter happens to be one of the people who are allergic to bananas, so I’ve accidentally poisoned her a number of times. (Wow, did I just admit child endangerment in public? She’s over 18, child services won’t do anything.) Don’t worry, she doesn’t go into anaphylactic shock or anything; she just gets a little itchy. We actually didn’t learn this until she was over 18. I’ve made recipes and added bananas, then didn’t think to warn her when she picked up the carrot cake or the brownies.

Other benefits of bananas include:

  • Vitamin B6 – .5 mg
  • Manganese – .3 mg
  • Vitamin C – 9 mg
  • Potassium – 450 mg
  • Dietary Fiber – 3g
  • Protein – 1 g
  • Magnesium – 34 mg
  • Folate – 25.0 mcg
  • Riboflavin – .1 mg
  • Niacin – .8 mg
  • Vitamin A – 81 IU
  • Iron – .3 mg

Helps with: digestion problems, heart disease (cause it’s high in fiber), and anemia.

Okay, so we’re actually getting to the real reason for this post. I made banana bread/muffins today and they were sooooo good, I had to share.

I’m an average cook. I’m pretty damn good at throwing things together and coming up with something pretty wonderful. (It runs in the family – you should try my mother’s cream-of-nothin’-soup) Therefore, measurements are approximate. I learned from my grandmother, who sometimes made the world’s best fudge; she believed you had to feel the recipe. Measuring cups are for suckas. (Hence, the “sometimes” in the world’s best fudge).

Okay, recipe with running commentary, and in relative order. (Don’t you hate that recipes list the ingredients in random ways?)

 

Banana Bread/Muffins

 

2 Eggs (that’s exact, but I didn’t say small, medium, or large; mine were medium brown).

A little more than 1/3 and less than a 1/2 cup of oil – the type of oil is important. Do NOT use vegetable oil! If you have that shit in your cabinet, toss it in the garbage now. The only thing crisco is good for is slipping off a too-tight ring. Do not put that crap in your in your baked goods. It’s not good for your body. If you’re trying to be healthy, why is that in your cabinet? I used about half coconut oil, half olive oil. And make sure that’s the real stuff too. Legally (?), they can sell oils that are actually mixed and label it as “pure.” Who passes these freaking laws? I know there’s a lot of information online about the good and bad of coconut oil, but here’s why I think it’s more good than bad.  Number one rule of health is to know what you’re putting into your body, folks!

1/3 ish a cup of Greek yogurt. Make sure it’s as close to Greek as possible. It’s not sweetened, it does not have cane sugar, fructose, etc. If you have problems with dairy, you could probably use coconut yogurt, but I’ve only ever seen that with added sugars; not sure how that will work. I used Fage brand because I like their ingredients above most of the things available on the American market.

1 tsp-ish of vanilla extract. (Although I prefer vanilla paste, I just haven’t found it lately. If you haven’t tried vanilla paste – it’s fabulous. So much better than the extract with alcohol, and you can use it straight in the greek yogurt, no alcohol taste!)

1/4 to 1/3 cup of honey.  Again – watch the honey. Do not buy that stuff in the bear jar. Legally (again with that ?), honey companies can add high fructose corn syrup and not list it on the label. Buy the stuff that’s real, do some research.

3 large ripe bananas.  Mmmmm….

Mix all those things up in a bowl. I, personally, like the bananas a little chunky.

Add the rest straight to this bowl. (Screw that whole whole bowl for wet, bowl for dry, bowl for spices. Please, who wants to do all those dishes?!)

Cinnamon. How much do you like cinnamon? I added like three or four healthy shakes from the container. I’m going to assume it was more than a half a tablespoon, probably less than a whole… but, when all was said and done, I felt it needed more anyway.

2 dashes of nutmeg and cloves (then I added an extra dash of cloves). Again, these are shakes from the container. I got all nostalgic for pumpkin pie. Mmmm.  I taste tested then because, well, because. And from there, it almost went no further. I really wanted to sit down with the bowl then and there.

Baking soda. Don’t add too much! That sucks. I did a dash and a half. Most people would do a half or full tsp. Do not do more than that.

1 and 1/2 to 1 and 3/4 cup of Flour – I used Almond Flour. Do not use that bleached white flour crap. Again, that goes into trash with the vegetable oil, and you better not have any of that white sugar in your cabinet either. Throw it away, throw it away now! White flour and white sugar products are poison to your system. As is that high fructose corn syrup. Don’t do that to your body. It better not even be out on your counter – if you’re one of those people who get all the ingredients out – how cute you are – but if you took that out, get rid of it now. Don’t let it near these muffins. Back to the flour now. Coconut flour is too sweet for this recipe. You can use oat flour. The almond flour will help this come out yummy and moist. Oat flour will be a little drier, but not too much so.

Walnuts. We know the rules by now, right? No salt, no sugar, just all natural, unmolested walnuts. Check the label. I used about a handful or more of the walnuts (Hey, I’m not cooking for anyone else, it’s okay if I put my hands in this stuff). Because I used almond flour, I didn’t want to use too many walnuts.  People with nut allergies are obviously going to use the oat flour and skip the walnuts, right?!

Raisins. Weird? I guess I was thinking breakfast cereal. Right?! We got cinnamon, nuts, raisins. I got crazy. And it was yummy.  Okay, so 2 handfuls of raisins.

Cook between 15-20 minutes for muffins and 30-40 minutes for bread at 325. Keep watch. Do not let them get too brown on top.

 

 

So, end results:  I decided against the bread and made muffins. As I said, I wish I’d added more cinnamon. But they were very moist and delicious. These will not last on your counter. If you’re going to have them for more than a day or two, put them in the fridge.

There you go: no butter, no sugar, no poison to your system. Tasty, healthy, nutritious muffins for breakfast or snacks.

Consider the ingredients in this – even the honey has nutritional benefits for your body sugar does not. Almonds have nutritional benefits, as does oat flour. All of these far outweigh anything white sugar or white flour can offer. White flour is like sugar to your system. So – the basic chocolate chip cookie – poison: white flour – sugar. white sugar – sugar. milk chocolate – sugar and fat. But, hey, the egg is good for you.

Much love and let me know how it goes!