At work today, by my math, I did 102% in my home department folding clothes— 159 fixes to be exact during a ten-hour shift that started with a 20+ minute meeting. Yesterday I shipped 565 packages in Freestyle, which is 113%.
Sunday we were off, a paid holiday to recognize Juneteenth. The teenager and I used the time to visit the senior community where my mom lives as one of her neighbors wanted some of my books.
Grandma S bought all three of my current novels and a copy of the Parisian Phoenix anthology, Not an Able-Bodied White Man with Money, as it contains essays by me, the teenager and her father.
Grandma S, the teenager and I had a lovely visit where I finally got to meet her mammoth cat.
And we all know I love a cat.
We stopped to see my mom and her partner on our way out — thought it would be a good surprise for Father’s Day as the teenager has good memories of my mother and her roommate that involve Yoo-Hoo and tractors and cornfields.
My mom asked for several books as well.
And then some discussions happened that made me think maybe the senior community might be the closest thing I have to a “street team” to publicize my books.
Grandma S said she saw my clumsy video of me reading from Manipulations on Facebook and wants to read more.
Mom apparently enjoyed deciphering the locales and familiar faces in the novel. One of her friends reported that the first novel jumped around too much and was hard to follow. She’s apparently reading the second now.
I have a lot of little things to say that problem don’t belong together but today is the Lehigh Valley Book Festivalat Bethlehem Area Public Library and I’m excited, a tad nervous and a bit super-focused and scatter-brained at the same time.
So the teenager and I finally came to the current end of the Marvel Comics Universe movies with Spider-Man: No Way Home. Watchingthem sequentially, and for me, many for the first time, actually made a lot more sense than when I saw some of them the first time.
I got a strange déjà vu that I had seen some of these villains before, but at the same time I was confused because the memory was vague and distant.
So let’s just say, trying not to spoil it for others like me that are woefully behind in their pip culture, that this film incorporates some older films that will be familiar to Generation X.
The primary theme of this movie, in my opinion, is time travel. The actual plot is a tad weak and melodramatic but the homage made to the previous generation of Marvel movies, and the humor employed in this movie, make it worth it.
My favorite Spider-Man is Toby Maguire. I got to see him again. And that made my heart happy. (Toby is also the Spider-Man adored and referenced by supermodel Adelaide Pitney in my chick lit/horror fiction novel, Manipulations, the first in the Fashion and Fiends series.
I had a very good visit with my chiropractor Nicole Jensen of Back in Line. She’s impressed with my progress and got things to pop and move (my right ankle that I broke more than five years ago) that haven’t popped and moved in a long time.
My Later, Andrew at Apex Training worked out every muscle he didn’t the day before (okay that’s an exaggeration) and the teenager set a new personal record in deadlifting: 225 lbs.
Finally, I get to the part I’ve been waiting for: PIE! If only I weren’t trying to be so health conscious… Because I have been visiting the amazing pie ladies Anne and Lisa at Pie+Tart for three(?) years now and their pies (and flat white coffees) have nurtured my soul through some difficult times— and a very very toxically difficult boss.
I receive their weekly email and saw their “freezer section” of leftover discounted pies included a steak and Guinness pie and a matcha custard pie. A meal inspired by two of my favorite drinks.
I was so beyond excited to eat these pies I was vibrating at “the pie hole” which is what they call their window/doorway. It has allowed them to stay in business safely during Covid because how would we survive sans pie.
I can improvise plenty of solutions for lack of toilet paper but I can’t make pie like this— not even with my Pennsylvania Dutch family connections.
I couldn’t even wait for the matcha custard to thaw. I sawed at it with a knife, broke it in pieces with my hands and microwaved a slice for 30 seconds. It was delectable.
And the steak and Guinness pie? So rich and full of meaty goodness I didn’t even have a chance to take a photo.
Oh how I love my pie friends.
And finally the updates regarding some of the cats we are fostering through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, Mars has taught Khloe to play and Minerva is becoming much more social. As is Louise.
It’s is almost 3:30 p.m. on a crisp autumn Friday afternoon. I normally would be standing in front of the daily work schedule at the warehouse, but today they offered us voluntary time off. And my body needs it.
I had a chiropractor appointment today, about ten days after my last one. I described my symptoms as a lot of back pain that made basic movements like stretching in front of me to move a pile of clothes from one spot to another very uncomfortable, to my left leg feeling immobile like a tree trunk while my right was very flexible but weak and prone to discomfort.
And she noted that my left hip was stiff and locked in a position out of alignment. And she concurs with my assessment that it’s time to ask my doctor for some x-rays.
She asked what I was doing this weekend as she moved my bones around and I answered I had some work to do for my publishing company and that I have to drop a copy of my novel off at the Mary Meuser Memorial Library, my local public library.
And she thought I meant an overdue library book.
So, I corrected her.
And then she and her staff, the three of them, engaged me in a lively conversation about my book as the bought copies.
I did stop at the library. I did give them a copy. The teenager is appearing in the Wilson Centennial/Halloween parade with the library staff as the library mouse.
Last night, I had an interesting text message from a former colleague who left my last place of employment around the same time the man who hired me also left. She apparently has landed in a much better place, two years later, at a similar nonprofit with a larger service area. She texted me as I was pulling into the parking lot at the Hizzy and asked me if I would consider a position in her office.
I sent her the resume I had on my phone and she talked to her boss on my behalf.
Because I was “awesome” and “under appreciated” at my last nonprofit position.
Regardless of if or when this goes anywhere, it’s always uplifting to see that someone acknowledges who you are and what you have been through.
We left work early last night, after shipping about 1900 men’s fixes. I have this equation I work in my head. On nights when they offer us VTO (voluntary time off), I survey the valleys of people doing my job. I count them roughly, using my journalist-surveying the crowd skills, and then I estimate, based on who I see and their skill levels, how many fixes I think we will be able to ship an hour. Then, when the leads call out our progress announcing how many we have shipped or how many we have left, I do the math in my head.
And last night, when they suggested that we could VTO after shipping 1840 fixes, I did my calculation (and gave more extra time since most of us and very inexperienced in men’s fixues) and thought we would be done by 9:30. The leads kept suggesting about 10 p.m. But I trusted my gut. And sure enough, we got the call of VTO at 9:20.
Also today, I have been editing and doing projects for Parisian Phoenix with breaks when my eyes hurt. I use those breaks to clean, because the teenager has booked a consultation with a cleaning lady for Monday. Her idea is if we have someone help me with the vacuuming, dusting, floors, nose-printed windows, and bathroom maintenance that maybe it would be easier for me to survive my bad days and get ahead on so many projects we have.
I did some furniture rearranging and my floor scrubbing and a whole lot of laundry, including I finally took the time to empty the chest on our sun porch and move the “winter things” into the hope chest we brought downstairs to sit under the winter coats on their hooks more than a year ago.
After I update my blog and the Parisian Phoenix website with the story of how I accidentally started a podcast, my next task will be to explore the handwritten manuscript that one of our authors prepared for me. I’ve been looking forward to her tale for quite some time, but I don’t have the best typing skills so I have been saving it for a day when I have a nice block of uninterrupted time.
And then, I will rest by folding laundry. And when the teenager returns home from her waitressing gig, we will have tacos for dinner.
Tomorrow FIVE of our Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab fosters are headed to Petsmart for the adoption meet and greet. These babies need homes!
We signed up: Khloe (a four or so year old female grey torbie), Slim Shady and Eminem (the bestest, sweetest kittens ever, Shady is a black female and Em is a grey tabby with white feet, male) and Mars and Minerva, the tuxedo siblings who have been in foster for more than a year.
Sometimes, as members of the human race, we have days that are full of delights from sun-up to sundown. Those days are rare, but often involve a leisurely day with the family, a vacation or a holiday.
Then there are days that are good despite— or perhaps because of — their imperfections and today was one of those days.
Maybe today was my “bones day” after all. If you don’t get the reference, it’s a prognosticating pug on TikTok (read more here).
I was originally going to blog this on the Parisian Phoenix website, but I thought I could be more honest and personal here. So here I am.
I came home from work in a lot of pain last night. I achieved 90% in my work metrics and came home, once again, in the kind of pain that leaves me crying and nauseous. Part of a marker for bad pain for me is if the pain interferes with my sleep and/or does not dissipate by morning.
I did not sleep well and I woke in pain.
But, I got up, got dressed, combed my hair and put on makeup. Because today was the Easton Book Festival. It might have been cold and rainy, but I was putting my best foot forward, even if the discomfort made it hard to put a shoe on that foot.
Now, here’s the thing.
Easton has been a part of my life for more than 25 years. Even now, I live very close to Easton. I can walk there.
Book and Puppet Company has been a part of our lives for quite some time. The teenager’s father connected with the owners of the independent bookstore. The teenager had a career as a contained character there.
Andy Laties of Book and Puppet founded the Easton Book Festival three years ago. I even appeared in the original “Read a Book” video— and they also featured a Muslim student in hijab outside the literacy center at my last non-profit job in development at ProJeCt of Easton.
My supervisor there quickly forgot the things I did well, like that placement and our involvement in the Easton Downtown Association scarecrow competition, in which they still participate. But I digress.
The teenager’s father now serves on the board of the Easton Book Festival, so when they organized a local author’s event, he invited me.
One month into Parisian Phoenix’s launch and I have a promotional spot. I didn’t sell enough books to pay for the small expenses of the event: parking, coffee, book printing (but hey, I would have needed those anyway), and the copy of the inaugural issue of the Lehigh Valley Literary Magazine I bought. And an overpriced breakfast.
But one person not only bought my book, but also came back specifically to hear me read. So that was touching.
I read a scene from the sequel to MANIPULATIONS, COURTING APPARITIONS where the villain performs a magical ritual in downtown Easton.
It was my first “reading out” in years!
I kept it very brief, because some others had run long and we were all tired.
Until the YouTube video drops— you should be able to view the Facebook live here.
I had intended to join the teenager’s father at one of the last poetry events of the festival, but I was frozen so I came home instead.
My neighbor, aka Sobaka’s mom, has now formally joined the Parisian Phoenix team as a proofread. She says we need to talk about chapters 1 & 2 of COURTING APPARITIONS tomorrow.
The teenager’s father received the copyright for his upcoming poetry chapbook so that could be going to press in a few weeks.
And tomorrow I hope to make applesauce, post some new material from Rachel Thompson on the Parisian Phoenix blog, and start typing Maryann Stephanie Ignatz’s material.
I even got to have dinner at my favorite diner with my neighbor to celebrate Jan’s official status as part of the Parisian Phoenix team.
I haven’t written in a while and I may keep this one skeletal.
I called out sick from work on Thursday and skipped my workout as I woke up in the same pain I had when I went to bed.
I thought I would rest in bed with my laptop and work more on the Parisian Phoenix website, my erotica collection, or even book four of the Fashion and Fiends series, Road Trip.
But instead I had my first Big Mac ever (which is especially odd since I worked my way through college at a McDonalds), ate too much candy and slept for 12 hours straight. The cats did not know what to make of that.
Are you curious how I responded to the Big Mac? See that here.
Friday I moved a little slow but still got decent numbers in QC folding clothes and after work ate too many cheese curls.
But, in my defense, they were amazing cheese curls— sour cream and cheddar— that I found at my local Dollar Tree.
Speaking of food, I also made my final Green Chef meal. Video here. I cheated a bit, adding beef tips, and forgot the pecans and the vegan aioli but it still tasted great.
Tonight I made Purple Carrot’s Fieldstone sausages with roasted fingerling potatoes and vegetables. Another great dish. I also made a side of “leftover sauce” pasta, mixing up every scrap from the fridge.
This morning, the teenager and I met up with Dan at Apex training and I did some lower body while Dan taught the teen to do barbell squats. He started by giving her the bar and evaluating her form and then he gave her some weight.
I think she used some muscles in her knees and legs that she has never used before, not with that range of motion. Let’s just say she was walking like me on the way home.
Then we treated ourselves to some egg sandwiches, grabbed the dog and went to the Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab Yard sale and cake auction. The child spent all my money— but we didn’t buy any cake. She got dog supplies and the massive dog now has a mermaid flotation device and a puffer jacket. And I have my third tea pot in two years. The teenager kills my tea pots.
Even the cats got goodies. See the new water fountain here.
I never saw a cake auction before and it was certainly more fun than the livestock auctions I’ve seen.
The dog was so tired she couldn’t keep her eyes open in the car on the way home.
Then I came home and made a video I’ve been putting off. I kept planning to get a little dressed up, do my makeup, set up a cozy spot on the sunporch and made a video of me reading a little of my novel.
Instead, I did it in sweatpants on the couch with the dog. See it here.
Today I did some work on the Parisian Phoenix Publishing website. (I also did two loads of laundry, emptied the dishwasher, edited a press release for anti-trafficking human services non-profit ASPIRE, and cleaned a whole bunch of cat boxes before helping my daughter with her English paper and heading to the Bizzy Hizzy.)
I should type this post a little faster as it is already almost 2 a.m. and I have my alarm set for 9:30 to meet with my personal trainer Dan at Apex Training for our 27th weightlifting session.
But I have to write this, because I had FOUR colleagues approach me about my book today. I gave them my personal business card as I don’t have the publishing company cards ready yet. This oversight was by design as I didn’t plan on printing the cards until closer to the launch of the second book, when the web site would be finished and a marketing plan in place.
So, if you are from Stitch Fix and found your way here looking for information on my novel (including links on where to buy), you can click here.
Also, I have to report to the world at large that after two fantastic, fully-performing days at work, my body took a functional nose dive. By the end of the night, I was at a seven or eight in pain physically and quite near my breaking point psychologically.
That is why I am sograteful to my “midnight society” colleagues at work who took the time to ask me questions about my creative ventures. Their interest really did pull me out of my discomfort. And it really makes me feel seen as a person to have so many random people approach me after I told one person about my novel (because she’s a cat person).
Last week, another colleague started reading my book in the break room.
I have mixed feelings about surprises. I like good, controlled surprises but I hate when people try to pull one over on me.
But I do like surprising people.
That statement came from one of my bosses tonight after she heard I wrote a novel that had been published by Parisian Phoenixand was available at major online retailers. (Like here.)
“I didn’t know you were a writer.”
I mentioned it to her because I know she adores her cat and she knows I do cat fostering and rehab work. So I wanted her to know I was donating $1 for every print book sold toFeline Urban Rescue and Rehab.
I teased her that there was a lot she didn’t know about me. Like when I traveled to Siberia for pizza. And visiting Yemen and Somalia.
It always makes me feel good to stand out for things I can control— my hobbies, my opinions, my talents— versus the fact that I walk funny and fall a lot.
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.
So let me take a moment to say today started out hard. My body was stiff and not functioning well. This made me grouchy because I felt like I should be over last week’s pain by now. (Ultrasound Sunday, BTW).
But my workout went awesome, as it usually does, and I reflected on some of the kindnesses I have noticed lately. The help with the filter from the technician that serviced the furnace and his joy in seeing the little kittens. The consideration of the woman scheduling my mammogram wondering if 6:30 a.m. would be easier than 7:30 because I could theoretically not go to bed.
And I bribed the teenager with munchkins to get my an iced macchiato with an extra shot of espresso from Dunkin.
And then I took a Bang energy drink to work.
Speaking of work, my right leg and back bothered me all night but I still hit 132 fixes QCed. That’s 101.5% by my calculations but by my calculations I got 77% last night and they said I reached 104. So… who knows?
I am thrilled with today and let me leave you with the first page of my favorite chapter…
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.
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