I hope this weekend to partake in some fun activities and lighthearted blog posts, but I also need to do some administrative work for my publishing company, Parisian Phoenix Publishing.
My second novel in the Fashion and Fiends series, Courting Apparitions, releases officially November 29 (my co-founder’s birthday) and could possibly be available Black Friday. Like, damn, when did that happen?
On everyday life and health front, I went to the chiropractor yesterday and like my doctor she approved of my new technique of changing work tables to try and even out my sides. I stopped at the pharmacy and picked up my prescription for muscle relaxer. I also made my last Purple Carrot meal in the fridge: mango glazed roasted vegetables with tahini butter.
Worked went mediocre/well. The night seemed long and boring and I felt like I was getting used to my body again after the chiropractor. I QCed at about 83%.
I came home and several cats were waiting for me— including Minerva, a sweet foster who started in our second foster litter of kittens, The Roman Pride.
I took a muscle relaxer to see how it impacted my pain and my morning stiffness. It didn’t make me loopy and I think it helped with my tossing and turning.
I only got six and a half hours of sleep last night, but still managed to meet up with the teenager my trainer Dan at Apex Training to lift some weights. I felt so much more limber after. The teenager easily did 105 on the barbell deadlift and 95 on the squat. I could lift the 105 but not execute the lift. My squat form is still adjusted for my limited range of motion in my lower body so I maxed out at 85 while the teen hardly had to put any effort into it.
Or if it fits your values better, ask your independent bookseller to order it from Ingram.
But back to last night…
Bill and I got together for dinner and chatter— in part to celebrate the publication of Manipulations and the launch of Parisian Phoenix Publishing (working on the web site ParisianPhoenix.com and social media channels a little every day) and in part because Bill just really really really loves sushi.
Over a wonderful wide selection of sushi (including salmon roe and sea urchin, I did not partake in the urchin as it looked like radioactive cow tongue and I wasn’t sure how I felt about the salmon caviar) at Jasmine (read about our last visit there here), Bill and I started what ended up being an hours and hours long conversation about our hopes and dreams for our lives and our careers.
The conversation continued over cocktails at County Seat Spirits (Easton) and the ice cream at Ow Wow Cow, both at the Silk Mill.
Bill and I have exchanged writing in the past and encouraged each other so I suppose he wasn’t horribly surprised when he received his copy of the book this week and opened it. But he asked a lot of good questions— why didn’t I go the traditional agent/editor/publisher route. I love that he believes in me and believes in my writing but I have shopped this manuscript.
Every few years I dust it off and send it out and every agent I have queried asks for pages. And every rejection I have gotten features personalized statement of the first 100 pages merits but how it doesn’t fit a proper genre or have the type of structure readers want.
And I know my writing can be dark, and literary from time to time. The fashion aspects are very feminine in a chick lit way but the supernatural elements are more horror than paranormal romance. My writing can be flowery, the emotions intense, but the situations can be very gritty and real.
And I don’t want to sacrifice that.
I don’t want any editor to have control over issues I discuss in my work: marriage/divorce, jealousy, domestic violence, self esteem, body image, self confidence, infertility… and those are just the first book. And I honestly hope you don’t outwardly notice these topics in the story but that they steep into your subconscious and slowly transform you like cold-brewed iced tea.
Meanwhile, as Bill and I are talking about upcoming books ( for those of you who have read Bloodletting, Punishment, and/or Debauchery— I have not only read the fourth book in the series but I also know the title of the fifth!), I am receiving texts and Facebook posts from people who have received their copies. And poor Gayle is left working on the poppet that will adorn the cover of the sequel to Manipulations, Courting Apparitions.
Courting Apparitions is a ghost story that examines the effect grief and depression has on our lives.
** $1 of every print copy of Manipulations sold goes to Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.
Yesterday was the launch day for my novel. At midnight, the teenager and I were celebrating with cocktails and cupcakes.
I have so much hope for Parisian Phoenix Publishing.
It’s too early for me to know how many copies have sold, I don’t expect large numbers as I haven’t really implemented my marketing plan. Our small boutique publisher is a partnership— myself and graphic designer Gayle Hendricks— so the work that needs to be done, we do as we can or we ask for help.
We have lots of ideas, so this first novel may be mine, but part of that stems from my philosophy that before I publish anyone else’s book, I want to learn and grow from lessons made bringing my manuscript into the limelight.
This novel— Manipulations, the first volume of the Fashion and Fiends series—means a lot to me. I believe it breeds chick lit to horror fiction (think what might have happened if Stephen King wrote The Devil Wears Prada) and uses contemporary literature (and the mythic supernatural) to examine social issues.
Manipulations, at its core, is a book about building healthy relationships. And the proverbial lesson of “things are not always what they appear.” And I hope my readers will understand that magic, in this context, allows us to explore domestic violence.
The next volume, Courting Apparitions, (due out in late November) uses a ghost story to examine grief and depression.
And the next, Recovery, (slated for first quarter 2022) tackles disability, motherhood and women’s rights. But don’t worry, magic is still afoot.
Meanwhile, the fourth, Road Trip, is a coming of age novel. With werewolves. I’d like to release that one on June 23, 2022. The day my baby turns 18. But first I have to finish writing it.
The fifth volume, Absolution, looks at the intersection of sacrifice and love.
And the sixth volume, at least half written at this point, is FindingHooyo— a hybrid romance novel, medical drama and war story. Hopefully that should tie up the original story line but certainly not the Fashion and Fiends universe.
Currently our team of authors and interesting people have several projects in the works.
Sometime in 2022, I hope to revisit a book I wrote as part of my research at Lafayette College. I looked at the anti-Muslim laws in France and traced their roots to 19th century colonial stereotypes and considered the thesis that these laws perpetuate stereotypes that started in Algeria.
My love, as a critical theorist, of post-colonial Francophone Africa stems from my view that French imperialism during the colonial era serves as an amazing parallel to contemporary American imperialism and attitudes towards Muslims.
And now, with identity politics very en vogue, I feel like these lessons in stereotypes and prejudice are very relevant.
Speaking of critical theorists and identity politics, I have assembled a group of authors to discuss various identity issues in a special anthology, currently called: Not an Able-Bodied White Man with Money: Expressions of Alternative PerspectivesInfluenced by Experiences in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.
Committed so far is Darrell Parry, poet and writer, and my estranged husband; Eva Parry, otherwise known as “the teenager”; William Prystauk of Crash Palace Productions and the Kink Noir series; Maryann Riker, multimedia artist; Nancy Scott, blind author of essays and poems; Rachel Thompson, science fiction and alternative history writer; Joan Zachary, photographer and writer… and hopefully more.
Racing with them toward the finish line is a cat anthology to use as a fundraising book for Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab which will feature cat stories, photos, memoirs of FURR volunteers and academic research on animal welfare, poverty and empowering low-income and diverse neighborhoods to know what resources are available for themselves and their animals.
And with the new “Texas law,” Parisian Phoenix hopes to work with people on the team who have experience in women’s issues and chronicle stories as a fundraiser and historical record for groups in this sector.
Sometime in late fall, Parisian Phoenix hopes to release a full-length poetry manuscript, the poems for which have been assembled and the layout is in process.
I can guarantee this book will be as funny as it is thought provoking.
Our erotica and romance
It’s not quite clear when our erotica and romance will hit the market, but we have authors working to provide stories with real characters facing real life.
In the romance department, we have a manuscript, Trapped, that combines middle-aged love that sparks because of the skunk infestation with the joy of reinventing oneself.
There are hints of a Fashion and Fiends erotic prequel that extends the arousing feel of the horror fiction universe with more sex and no monsters.
And our goal is to offer kink/BDSM erotica, quality stories with empathetic characters who participate in safe, informed and consensual play. We have authors working on those tales, too.
Find Angel Ackerman on WordPress, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Follow Parisian Phoenix Publishing on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.
This web site started as a portfolio of my professional writing. I added some photos, some creative work and used it as a platform to blog my travels in France, Tunisia, Djibouti, Somalia, Yemen and Russia.
I added some pages for the cats we foster.
And soon I will be connecting a web page or two for the publishing house my friend Gayle and I are launching (egads! as my fellow author friend William Prystauk says) my first novel publishes in a week!
So coming soon… Parisian Phoenix Publishing and the Fashion and Fiends series. We have some other titles in the works— erotica, romance, poetry, thought-provoking identity politics/philosophy and hopefully even a book on cats.
Subsequently Gayle designed this logo before I started fostering cats and painted my bedroom this exact pink.
Yesterday I had hoped to do more editing on the bits and pieces left of the near-final manuscript of Manipulations, the first of three novels by me, coming soon from my little publishing imprint, Parisian Phoenix.
But then my graphic designer partner in crime (and this endeavor) encouraged me to start Karen by Marie Killilea. The book was in its 11th printing by the mid-sixties and I am reading a copy from about 60 years ago.
It’s part of my recent quest to understand my cerebral palsy, which ironically led to me discovering that my anemia has reared its ugly head. So maybe this quest isn’t addressing physical needs as much as emotional ones. And the neurologist’s office did return my call. My appointment is January 13. Yes, in six-and-a-half months.
While I certainly understand what these parents must have gone through (Karen was born in 1940 and died in 2020), this certainly was a different era. An era of institutions, a lack of knowledge and families and doctors sitting around smoking cigarettes together.
But so far, and I believe Karen is now 4, Karen is described as beautiful, but presented as a thing in the background. The memoir so far is about the mother and her thoughts and parenting techniques and her interactions with the medical community.
To me, the way Marie describes placing her in the backyard and going in the house to do chores… well, Karen slowly pulls herself by her arms inching toward whatever is of interest. The current chapter describes her playing in a mud puddle. She sounds like a fish caught between land and sea.
Honestly, to me it sounds cruel. I’m sure it fostered independence and strength but damn it sounds grueling for Karen. This is the beginning of the ideology of mainstreaming kids with disabilities— toss them in and let them adjust. And as young people with disabilities, emotions and intellect are still immature. So it is cruel in my opinion to let these children struggle with the physical, too. It’s this weird we get that we are different but we don’t have the life experience to understand why or how and while allowing a child to figure it out raises a fighter and someone not prone to accept help or pity, it would be nice to have some framework other than you can or cannot do something or are or are not like everyone else.
I see a potential multitude of nonfiction book projects in my future. My memoir will need to be three volumes: my childhood, my “squiggly” career (yes there is a term for people with eclectic careers like mine), and this health quest.
Speaking of non-fiction, I would like to publish my honors thesis from Lafayette College and do an anthology where I have select authors/artists to explore what I will refer to as identity politics. I have mentioned it to Nan, my blind friend, and Bill, my horror-loving freak friend, and both love the idea. I encourage you to read Bill’s novels, The Kink Noir series, which blend a dark 1940s detective vibe with kink and erotica while exploring some topics about what it means to be human.
My review of Bill’s most recent book is here: Debauchery
I had a craving for a Reese’s peanut butter cup and a chicken salad sandwich. I still had $40 left on my Grub Hub gift card from Bill, so I ordered for Quick Chek.
I was very impressed with the speed at which the food arrived, the flavors and the price.
I even got half and half for my coffee in case we really do get two feet of snow today.
The meal consisted of chicken salad on a Kaiser roll for me, with a candy cane macchiato and my peanut butter cup. My delivery driver texted me during the whole journey. And my macchiato stayed pretty hot.
I ordered a chicken Caesar wrap, fruit snacks and mango lemonade for teenager #1. They didn’t have mango lemonade so they sent an apology, chocolate chip cookies and a Red Bull.
That made teenager one very happy. And I appreciated that they did some substituons and left a note.
Teenager #2 took the Red Bull. I ordered her a Mac and cheese with chicken fingers. It only seemed to come Buffalo style, so I added ranch.
I thought today would be a laid back day doing little things around the house getting ready for the week ahead and maybe resting.
I woke from what should have been a good dream drenched in sweat and saddened— what was the dream? A friend gave me a hug. It’s been so long since someone I wasn’t related to gave me a hug that in the dream I started to cry.
And that made me wake up feeling isolated and alone.
And then my roomba tried to crawl under the bed and die— it was clogged up with so much cat hair the wheels and spinning parts had made thread out of it.
The cockatoo pooped on me. The parakeets flew out of their cage when I gave them food and water. The fluffy kittens are climbing curtains and managing to get to the top of the window molding to chase the budgies.
And now I need to take the fluffies to the vet to have them be given the all clear to be adopted. These are precious, cuddly kittens with gorgeous long hair and I fear that every day they are not listed on that web site is just detrimental to them.
So I started to cry.
I can’t even leave my bedroom until I get the parakeets safely in their cage but Boo-boo is being stubborn.
I have a headache because it’s past noon and I haven’t had any water or food yet today. a chicken finger basket from DQ would sure make my feel better but I lost four pounds with the new job and gained five this weekend.
So to distract myself, I want to tell you about podcasts.
The Actual Part that talks about Podcasts
Of course, the type of day it has been I totally forgot I had already started this blog post, and now I did it over. Sigh.
From my first attempt at this…At work, we are allowed to wear one earphone and listen to music or podcasts on our phones. In the first week, I just listened to the very random music on the speakers overhead in the warehouse.
Then I asked the teenager if I could borrow the generic AirPods she bought at the dollar store (if the kittens hadn’t eaten them). I also bought my own pair at the dollar store, so now I could experiment.
I signed up for every random podcast… after catching up with my friend William Prystauk’s podcast The Last Knock, once listed in Entertainment Weekly as one of the best horror movie podcasts out there.
I’ve rediscovered my old favorite Car Talk, which is always enjoyable regardless of your connection/experience with cars. My neighbor recommended some like The Indicator (snippets on economics) and Ted Talks Daily. The range of topics on both make it very thought provoking. Ted Talks allows me to be introspective and The Indicator gives me a chance to gain more insight into capitalist American society.
I’ve started following Netflix is a Joke because I love stand-ups comedians. I subscribed to the Daily Show with Trevor Noah because I am a huge Trevor Noah fan.
I rejected the Duncan Trussell Family Hour. I thought it would be fun since it’s new agey and edgy but the final straw was the opening song they wrote about life as an earbud singing about being thrust in the pubic hair of your ear. I also rejected Comedy Bang Bang, content and interviews were fine but it just seemed too long and not funny enough.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first episode of Seeking Witchcraft as they discussed Alex Crowley. I learned a lot and their broader discussion of building oneself and spirituality meant a lot to me.
My other favorites so far are American Innovations, where on a recent episode I learned about Alexander Graham Bell’s life and the science behind the telephone. I listened to several parts of the Do No Harm series which followed the plight of several families who wrongly had their children removed by the state.
Wondery has a magnificent program called This Imagined Life where they tell a second person account of a famous person’s life trying to get “you” to guess who “you” are. I learned about Jackie Robinson and Nora Ephron so far.
I still have many more to try, and if you have a recommendation let me know as I can listen about 7 hours a day.
Today I finally had my eyebrows done after a long hiatus from Hyperion Salon where I have my nails and waxing done. I still can’t spare the money for a mani-pedi but brows is a $10 investment that yields great benefits.
Since the teenager had to be at band camp at 8, and I was due at the salon at 8:30, I decided to go to Dunkin’ since I had a free beverage credit.
It was chilly and raining so I thought I might order a hot latte, some sort of fancy caffeinated beverage. In the end, I decided on an iced matcha latte with skim milk as I adore matcha but am not willing to pay $5 for some green powder in a glass of milk.
I got to the drive thru window and she is clearly handing me an iced coffee latte.
I’m like…. ummmmm
And she looked at the tag and it was clearly supposed to be an iced matcha latte.
So here’s the cool part… when they made it, it looked like they used a medium amount of skim milk and a large amount of matcha.
It was dark, and rich, and chunky the way I like my matcha drinks.
Then after my brows, which now look amazing, I went to the chiropractor. I listened to Thurl Ravenscroft (the voice of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and Frosted Flakes’ mascot Tony the Tiger).
I listened to “Yes, we have no bananas” four times in a row and was single along at top volume in my best barbershop quartet voice.
What fun, right?
Tonight I am having dinner with my friend Bill (the author of the Kink Noir series— next volume coming soon! More info here: Debauchery and Projects with Bill).
It’s nice to know that there can be fun summer days after all.
Many things happen in May that I look forward to, primarily the blooming of my lovely pink roses and Lily of the Valley (both fragrances I adore.)
Warmer weather normally arrives (though this year we had snow). The school year is winding down. And there’s an anticipation akin to the new year that good things are to come.
My birthday arrives smack dab in the middle of this week and I know it’s significance will be dulled by major work deadlines and the pandemic. We do have a three day weekend coming for Memorial Day, all of which was why I had hoped to take vacation the last week of May.
That issue has not been settled, so I decided to have some mild fun to at least acknowledge to myself my birthday. Which is #45.
I ordered a sit down hot meal last night, instead of my usual stress meal of 2,000+ calories of pizza. My dear friend and editing client William Prystauk of the Kink Noir series suggested that the teenager and I deserved the treat. Ironically, it was the same restaurant my husband picked for my birthday dinner last year, Two Rivers Brewing.
I ordered a crowler of the Banker’s Brown ale, the breathtaking peanut butter bacon burger, bacon apple mac and cheese, and Brussel Sprouts. My daughter and I feasted like queens.
Speaking of queens, I started watching Hulu’s The Great, loosely based on the life of Catherine the Great of Russia. The costumes and sets are amazing. The script is witty and allows much thought of life and politics in that time period. I watched 5 episodes yesterday while doing housework.
The teenager had deserved a good meal as she had resecreened one of my bedroom windows.
A friend of mine texted early. He said it was a shame that people couldn’t celebrate properly because of the pandemic. But I pointed out that really nothing has changed. The teenager plans on baking me a cake— might be trying lemon cardamom this year. Cards still come in the mail. My friends and family have phones. And most restaurants have curbside or delivery.
I think the pandemic just removes a lot of the pretentious notions of what we need to survive and highlights how outdated the 40-hour workweek is. Employment for a lot of fields could be based on project completion versus time occupied at a desk.
I treated myself to a self-purchased birthday present today and thanks to the pandemic it comes with a free mask!
And this morning my mom surprised my with a few fun edibles (not THAT kind of edible) and a pair of tights.
Mom and Nala bonded and she approved of the teenager’s efforts in the garden.
So here’s hoping I can clean up this house and get my spirits to where they need to be to start the work week— and my birthday week— with enthusiasm.
Yesterday was a frolicking good day of silly adventures and hearty chores— I feel the after effects of hauling all that trash from the garage yesterday burning in the tops of my thighs.
This morning I enjoyed coffee with my mom in my home and then sat in the morning sun and read more of William Prystauk’s manuscript, Debauchery. He asked me to edit the final manuscript before it heads to the printer as his regular editor was unavailable.
Bill and I have been friends for more than a decade now and I told him I’d love to take a look if he didn’t mind as I’m a HUGE FAN of his previous Denny Bowie novels— it’s just the right blend of counter-culture, dark crime, intelligentsia and erotica.
Bill takes on some kinky themes. His characters experience the best and worst of the human condition. They ooze love. They survive trauma. They admit their weaknesses and accept their fetishes. They explode in rage and sometimes toy with pain.
Everyone seems vibrantly alive yet always on the precipice of tragedy.
And while one person might look at the words, the events, the violence and the various expressions of sexuality and squirm in the face of its counter-mainsteam manifestations, the way Bill has crafted the tale makes the more disturbing twists easier to stomach and nothing is ever gratuitous.
The first book, Bloodletting, focused on love and acceptance— that a real relationship won’t ignore any part of a person or their desires. In Debauchery, the antagonist examines not only the motives of the people involved in his current missing person case but also challenges his own world view and his connection to his own unorthodox living arrangements.
Bill has made a valiant effort to keep each novel in the series a stand-alone, but please don’t start with this one. I think the reader needs to read at least one of his previous books to appreciate the depth of Denny Bowie’s angst.
Or shall I call him Dennison?
I know Bill was pleased with my one week turn-around on this just slightly more than 80,000 word manuscript. But when the story is this compelling, and has such a strong, unique voice, you can’t put it down easily.