Update: The progress of 2019

In late October, I made a list. There were several progressive steps on that list.

1. Buy a car.

The Monday before Thanksgiving, I purchased a 2015 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8t with 21,000 miles on it. That car has been 95% as comfortable as my Nissan Ultima 3.5se. But exponentially better in the snow. The trunk is ginormous. My phone syncs.

2. Find a professional job.

I recently accepted, started the paperwork and applied for my fourth set of clearances to work with ProJeCt of Easton as their development coordinator.

I have had a great time pulling my professional wardrobe out of storage.

3. Write (and publish) more.

Okay, so my most recent publishing success was my ditty on Dime Show Review’s “Ten Word Stories.” I also have a recent essay on the horror website Crash Palace Productions. And more in the works.

In an editing related endeavor, my friend Gayle and I are advertising our joint services, editorial and graphic design, to the attendees at the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group The Write Stuff Conference.

4. Eat more fruits and veggies.

This one has been hit or miss. I eat pretty well, but I like going for the extra vegetables and more fruit. I’m not a big fruit eater.

And on the honest side, I need to stop stress eating refined carbohydrates.

5. Get more serious about bodybuilding.

Now I will never be athletic, and even my most competitive side would never have the dedication and patience it takes to truly body build. But I like working on it, and since I am changing jobs I need someway to maintain my muscle tone and weight.

6. Be consistent with the pets.

I have parakeets now. And we need to brush the cats’ teeth more.

And poor Opie, he recently had his left front leg amputated. So, yes, I now have a three legged cat.

How’s your 2019?

When your writing career carries on without you…

 

So today I got an unexpected email from the folks at SAGE Academic Publishing. About four years ago, I wanted to write some short encyclopedia entries for them and they said no because I didn’t have a Ph.D. It was one of the things that made me consider graduate school.

They advised me that if I could find someone to co-author who had the necessary credentials, I could write for them.

I enlisted my college era friend Annette Varcoe, a brilliant scholar in American history and Women’s studies who had a freshly-minted Ph.D. after her name. She allowed me the pleasure of helping her edit her final dissertation.

The topic at hand was one of my favorite places in the world, Djibouti, and the article was based on a capstone project for my international affairs degree I had just completed. She knew nothing about Djibouti but her critical eye brought life to my dream and she got hooked on this region of the world and conditions there. Our first article was on poverty in Djibouti. She approached me a few months later and asked if I would consider doing another on security.

We did. Both pieces were submitted fairly close to each other. We probably wrote them both in 2014. The poverty piece was published in July 2015. I got the email that the second has now been published. March 2018. My career looks current even if I have stalled a bit!

This refreshed my memory that I never actually saw a book review I submitted to Global Studies South. Since my husband is home from work today using up his vacation, I asked him to look me up in the academic databases to which the Lafayette College libraries subscribe.

And here I am!

Holiday Upheaval

The events of the last few months have rendered my life unrecognizable, even to me.I have a suspicion that 2016 may come together in ways I never imagined or be the year that leaves me bankrupt, homeless and destitute in more ways than one.

So far I’m leaning toward and working for the former, but the worrier in me can’t help but fear the latter.

Between my broken ankle and the medical bills I incurred (who knew physical therapy was THAT expensive?) and the fact that I paid for graduate school, car repairs and a euphonium on my American Express, I was forced to ponder refinancing the house. The appraiser comes Sunday, but, again, I’m nervous because the appraisers are never generous in my experience. Last time I did this, they wanted to loan me exactly what I need now. So we’ll see. This new mortgage would shorten the length of our current loan, pay off the car and the American Express AND not add to the cost of our monthly payments.

With this and winter and travel looming, I have decided to defer enrollment at West Chester until next semester. I won’t have to commute in the snow. I can get my finances in order and proceed responsibly and not worry about classes interfering with my travel schedule.

Speaking of travel: January 7 I leave for France; I believe it’s January 8 I leave for Djibouti and January 12 I arrive in Mogadishu. Plus a trip to Lebanon may be in the works for spring.

I’m also working on some book reviews in some World War II era memoirs for Hippocampus.

Now the good news…

My poem “This Paris” has been accepted by StepAway magazine. I don’t consider myself a poet, so it’s a tad funny that I’ve placed a poem.

I believe I got an A in my grad school history class and my professor would like to see me continue some of my work, specifically on the Horn of Africa. That’s the topic, not that she wants me to go far, far away.

Nerd news: Poverty in Djibouti/France vs. Islam

July has brought much excitement into my nerd camp. It started with a call for proposals on H-net Africa for the second edition of Sage Publications’ Encyclopedia of World Poverty. They needed someone to write an updated entry on the Republic of Djibouti, only 900-1000 words so I thought I’d take a go. I emailed the editor. It bounced. Twice.

I quickly went into journalism stalker mode and found another email address. I apologized for not using the listed email, but she didn’t mind and thanked me for my persistence. The Djibouti entry was indeed available, but as I have no Ph.D. I could not write the article without a friend, with the appropriate academic credentials to co-author.

I reached out to my beloved friend, former college peer and in some ways my role model, Annette Varcoe. She’s interested in 19th century American history, I believe areas like temperance, suffrage, and other stuff I can’t even remember. She has no interest in Africa, or the postcolonial age, or the colonial influence of France on exotic locales. Yet, she speaks some French, has an interest in women’s/gender issues and shares my type of nerdiness. Poverty, and perhaps even more so in the developing world, has a great impact on women so there we found our overlap.

The beauty of this proposed project rested in the fact that I had researched the basic statistics on poverty in Djibouti during my capstone project for my international affairs seminar at Lafayette College. I merely needed to update the facts, condense relevant info into the required format, send it to Annette, accept her feedback, and add her name.

We had three weeks to submit. I think we polished seven drafts in five days. We haven’t heard from the copy editors yet, but it was a great collaboration and we worked well together. We also pulled ridiculous amounts of scholarly info on Djibouti not quite connected to our project but stuff that crossed our mutual interests. You know a friend is special when you’re emailing PDFs on female circumcision to each other…

From that experience, I reflected on my need for my own Ph.D. It’s on my list of things to do, but hey, so is “de-clutter the house.” I think the Ph.D. is more likely to happen. I figured I’d bold send an email to _the one person I would most like to study under_ because really, what did I have to lose? I will refrain from naming the person or the school, both are amazing, because I don’t want to find myself embarrassed if when he meets me and thinks I’m an idiot.

Yes, I said “when he meets me.” He not only responded to my email but said to contact him again in September so we could arrange for a visit to campus. At that point, we could discuss my previous work and my future plans.

Finally, today, after taking a week to focus on my health (short version: gained weight and lost some physical strength/balance after breaking my dominant hand this winter) and with that on the right path (talked to my doctor! lost five pounds! feel less achy and clumsy!), I received even more “Good News for Nerds.”

The apparently unstoppable Ally Bishop asked me to drop by her class “Topics in Multiculturalism” to present France as a case study in “Multiculturalism and Religion.” I will be talking about “French vs. Islam” as an avoidance of multiculturalism in favor of unyielding universalism and the roots of the what I would term Muslim discomfort in the colonial empire. This is the backdrop for the laws of 2004 and 2010 which outlaw, respectively, headscarves in schools and face coverings in public.

Exciting stuff for a nerd, right?

Expressing Visions

I had an opportunity at the end of January to explore a position in the fine arts field, using my words to promote their art. That gave me the opportunity to spend some quality time with my scanner. I reconnected with several pieces from Lafayette College magazine.

I wrote this piece on senior art projects and even had a photo featured. (Bottom photo on the second page.)

express vision1 express vision 2

Then there was this feature on Gregory Gillespie working with Lafayette College students.

gillespie

YouTube writing advice

One of my writing friends has a daughter at one of the local arts-themed charter schools. My friend spearheaded a NaNoWrimo event for the kids and asked local published authors to come to the school or Skype with the students. My friend and her daughter asked me to get involved. The plan is to submit short videos to the teachers. So, I started a YouTube channel.

We only have a weak internet single in one room of our house and of course, it’s our messy craft room. My hope is, once I get more comfortable to start doing these on my new laptop in better locations. They are completed unscripted. And my high school English teacher previewed the “write what you know” one and implied that I make the facial expressions of a Muppet.

I did the editing myself and am using my old MacBook circa 2005 for filming, video editing and uploading.

 

 

Column: Halloween requires vampire TV (2006)

The paranormal has certainly blossomed in the mainstream during the last seven years. Spurred by the Twilight series and somehow morphing to Fifty Shades of Grey, there seems a bevy of options for fans of the supernatural. Pop culture always has monsters to offer society, whether you look at the classic fiction of the nineteenth century (Frankenstein and Dracula among them) or the mid-twentieth century soap opera Dark Shadows or Anne Rice’s successful franchising of her vampire chronicles and Mayfair witches.

As a mom and someone rapidly approaching 40, I have reached the out-of-touch generation. I’m still stuck in the era of Buffy and Angel, when YA wasn’t even a genre let alone an attraction for adults. I love some Harry Potter, but Bella and Edward make me cringe. And the best thing about Fifty Shades? Certainly not the writing or the sex scenes, but instead I’m excited that erotica is getting some attention from the mainstream. I never thought I’d see the day where erotica hit the shelves at Target.

I always loved vampires as a youngster. Vampires offer an examination of our individual struggles of good vs. evil in our own souls, a close look at the struggles of addiction, and an exploration of personality and the tendency to dominate or submit. The older I get the more I embrace more monsters: the witches who challenge their own power and their place in the universe, the werewolf who has to keep his animal under control, the psychic who must decide what to tell people and what to keep secret.

These are the themes the intrigue me as a writer and why I write paranormal fiction in my free time. I have three finished paranormal manuscripts and I am currently revising the second book in the series. I hope to revise my synopsis and get pitching to agents and editors again but that’s a topic for another day.

Today’s nugget (that spurred this whole blog entry) is an entertainment column I wrote about family friendly vampire television shows available in 2006.

vampire TV