Author chatter: Why did I launch Parisian Phoenix Publishing?

Last night, I was blessed to spend the evening with William Prystauk, author of the Kink Noir series, podcast host and reviewer of all things horror at Crash Palace Productions.

Buy Bill’s books here: William Prystauk on Amazon.

Buy my book here**: Buy Manipulations on Amazon.

Or buy my book at Barnes & Noble

Or even at Target.com

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.

The bar at County Seat Spirits

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.

Overextended: Update on the Boring Stuff

This weekend was a strange blend of trying to catch up, trying to get ahead and trying to touch base with friends I haven’t seen in a while.

Love Boat

Bill Prystauk (the author of the Kink Noir book series) took the teenager and I to Jasmine for sushi and sashimi. We had a love boat where I tried and enjoyed sashimi for the first time: white tuna, salmon and some clam thing that tasted like a seafood gummy bear.

This week I have a commitment every morning and the Bizzy Hizzy every night. I don’t anticipate voluntary time off because the warehouse won’t have computers on August 2 so that will be another 3-day weekend.

The FURR Pop Up Cat Café is reaching some critical mass as FURR volunteers get more involved and excited. Tomorrow I have a 7:45 phone conversation scheduled with my cat foster godmother and an event planning meeting at 9 will Janel. Still no update on a coffee provider… I’m getting nervous.

But Joan Z agreed to take photos, Gayle is helping design some games.

Then at 10, I’ll be meeting Nan. And at 1, I’ll cook lunch and get ready for my Stitch Fix shift.

This week, I have two training sessions with Dan at Apex Training. Tuesday and Friday. As part of my recovery after these workouts, these might be my main days to do my edits and proofs on the final file for Manipulations. Official launch date is September 11.

Wednesday I visit the chiropractor (and I can’t wait to see what she thinks about my new fitness routine) and Thursday I see my primary care physicians and his residents about my anemia.

I mention all of this because these are the weeks when one has to focus on food prep, proper rest and activities to maintain mental balance.

So we shall see.

Drunk on Fish

Happy Friday!

It’s a fun, fun day for me as I not only got a good night’s sleep (although I did have a cat jump on my eye in the middle of the night when another cat scared her) but I also got to leave work early as we had voluntary early out.

At the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy, I finally got a picture of the “please use stylist” versus the correct word, stylus. I spent my 4-hour shift in women’s returns processing. I was killing my numbers the first hour— my body felt good and for the first time all week I wasn’t so exhausted my limbs wouldn’t move. But, quickly, I found myself slowing down. Could it be the heat in the warehouse?

Regardless, the teenager was working her waitressing gig and I had promised her sushi after I got home. We agreed to try Jasmine Japanese & Thai Cuisine on Sullivan Trail in Forks Township, Pa.

Many people I know have given it rave reviews and encouraged me to try it.

I encouraged my daughter to order anything she wanted— and we promised each other we would have the leftovers for breakfast. Now, I’m not a fish person so I stick to sushi rolls. I cannot even bring myself to try sashimi. The teenager on the other hand loves it all, as I even used to send her to first grade with sushi in her lunch box, preserved on an ice pack.

The cafeteria staff used to tease her that she should tell her mom to pack her normal lunches, so she came home one day convinced that meant she wasn’t allowed to bring sushi to school. But this is the girl who used to request cucumber sandwiches and other oddities for packed lunch.

I wish I knew more about sushi. I wish I could use chopsticks. The teenager did try to give me a lesson (again). You can see the video here.

I ordered Thai iced tea for both of us and the “luck bite” appetizer. The Luck Bite featured seaweed and crab artfully arranged on a Pringle potato chip. That itself was amazing enough for me to leave happy.

The teenager was disappointed by her first experience with Miso soup, something I have learned to enjoy. Honestly, we barely touched our salads of iceberg lettuce and a tangy mustard dressing because of the sushi to come.

The sashimi combo platter came first— complete with lights and flowers and other adornments. The teenager loved it all but prefers her sashimi on a bed of rice.

I got the spicy maki roll platter with two specialty rolls, and I honestly don’t recall their names. The one featured eel and avocado and the other mango and crab.

The teenager tried it all. My favorite was the mango. We both enjoyed the maki especially with its crispy bits.

Jasmine truly goes above and beyond with presentation. The sauces and flavor combinations are vibrant without detracting from the star of the show— the sushi.

We spent $92, but we also ordered enough sushi for 4-5 people. The sashimi platter alone was $30. I feel like for sushi, their offerings and dishes were substantial. I think it would be quite easy to select a satisfying meal for 2 for about $40.

More importantly, the teenager and I needed a neutral place where we could unwind together. This was perfect.

We do indeed intend to have the leftovers for breakfast, and I can only wonder what the household and foster cats will do when they smell sashimi.

Being a boss

Some days are a struggle.

The 9-month old cat “graybies” (gray babies— ha ha) broke into my room at 7:30 this morning. Fog meowed his way in, old man Opie followed, and Misty brought up the rear.

Fog curled up in bed with me making Nala the cockatoo very jealous so she was stomping her foot in her cage.

After I got out of bed (into the cold outside world), I fed the troops and decided to vacuum my room as Nala had decided to terrorize my parakeets and remove as many toys, newspapers and chunks of litter as she could from the cage.

The roomba was not picking up. He was roaming around the room happily but with no suction. So I went downstairs and carried the real vacuum cleaner to my bird-filled bedroom.

I clogged the hose.

It’s a rough morning when all the vacuums in the house gang up on you.

I got myself dressed, let the teenager fix both vacuums, and decided to try my luck with dark eyes and red lips.

Face by Baby Bat Beauty

I used my new Baby Bat Beauty cosmetics— eyeshadow in mechanical and lip gloss in trepidation. I’m pleased with the results.

Darnell (of Evolve Media) and myself (as a representative of Thrive Public Relations) had our regular lunch meeting with Sophia regarding her Lady Boss Women’s Entrepreneurial Club. The sample copy of Lady Boss magazine is available on Issuu but we are looking forward to future expansion in style and content. That’s where Darnell and I come in.

Upon arriving home from our meeting, I tripped over a shipment of cat food and scraped my hands and knees. Upon cleaning up and changing from my bloodstained pants, I actually started working on copy for the next issue of Lady Boss.

All I’d had to eat today was some sushi and too much coffee, so when the time came to take the teenager to marching band, I realized I had the shakes.

I didn’t have my wallet though. I ordered a pizza from my phone via Little Caesars and had a free soft drink coupon for Wawa.

After inhaling the pizza and a diet ginger ale with all raspberry, vanilla and orange flavors, I attended a library board meeting as I am a trustee.

Now I have just enough time to pee before I run back to the school for the end of band rehearsal.

Hospital “jet lag”

I don’t feel like writing right now. I don’t feel like doing much of anything but sleeping.

No one prepared me for how weird it would be to transition back into everyday life after 72 hours plus in the hospital.

It’s a lot like jet lag for similar reasons— your sleep schedule is screwed up and your routine in general is topsy turvy.

And I had neither major illness nor invasive procedures.

I got home on Thursday a little after 11 a.m. The cats were aloof but Nala was glad to see me.

I took one of the longest showers I’ve ever taken in my life. And I put on a pretty dress, just because I could.

And when I got out of the shower I discovered a text that alerted me to a cake on my porch.

The best baker in the neighborhood made me this coffee cake

I immediately texted my neighbor in the other half of my house and asked if she wanted to have coffee and I would bring cake.

Knowing I haven’t had decent coffee since the previous weekend, she started a pot immediately.

I left from there to go meet my daughter at the high school and help her carry her marching baritone home.

This is where I have to give my daughter all the props. Monday was her first day of high school band camp. If you don’t already know this about the teenager, she is in her fourth year of playing low brass in marching band.

So when I wandered off to the ER at 6-ish a.m. Monday morning, and was texting her “I’m not coming home.” Well, first she thought I was dying and then she suddenly became responsible for her own meals, her own laundry, and the care of 3 parakeets, 1 cockatoo who won’t go to sleep without someone in the room, our four cats and five foster kittens.

And we had a tropical storm.

And she handled it all.

Our neighbors offered an amazing support network, as did my friends, especially Gayle who brought me t-shirts so I didn’t have to wear a hospital gown.

I took several walks that first day home, including one for my medicine at CVS. I was ecstatic to see I only had a few days of Augmentin to take.

And the hand has improved every day.

Wound: about 10 a.m., August 8

My dad and stepmom came down to visit and take us to dinner at Three Mugs Pub. That almost made me cry because on Wednesday, after the doctor told me he couldn’t discharge me yet, all I could think of was a Shruty’s burger at Three Mugs Pub.

One of the best burgers around

When Three Mugs Pub was still Shruty’s, my husband and I were the first people to order the Shruty’s burger when they debuted it. It’s a really good burger topped with pepper jack cheese, shrings (tempura battered deep fried banana pepper rings) and Texas petal sauce.

In my opinion, this burger is one of the best in the Lehigh Valley, on par with the much pricier peanut butter bacon burger at Two Rivers Brewing, another favorite of mine.

And I had a Guinness to celebrate my arrival home.

They had a new appetizer on the menu— a hot buffalo chicken dip. We tried that too.

The teenager declared it her new favorite chicken dip, better than her father’s. I respectfully disagree. Her father’s is extremely good. I prefer it.

After that meal I slept 10 hours.

Now, on Friday, yesterday, everyone kept contacting me or stopping me to ask how I was doing and then Darnell stopped by to inform me of all the things that had happened while I was gone.

And everyone wanted a piece of the coffee cake Janie made me.

I shared.

And then my neighbor Jan let me watch a movie at her house, cuddling with her dog, and she even gave the teenager and I a bag of brownie M&M’s. The teenager thought they “just tasted like M&M’s” whereas I thought if you piled enough of them in your mouth at once it was like having a mouthful of brownie batter.

Not that I’ve ever eaten a bowl of brownie batter.

Or an entire pint of ice cream with brownie bits.

And then I slept 10 hours again.

I rolled out of bed a little after 8, expecting to have the last slice of Janie’s decadent coffee cake, after all, I need the food to take my antibiotics.

But then my mom told me she was bringing sticky buns.

So I made my morning coffee and as the espresso machine started steaming, I got on the scale.

I’ve gained two pounds since I got home from the hospital.

Saturday breakfast from Mimi

Lunch was a business mixer with the Easton chapter of the Lady Boss Women’s Entrepreneurial Club at Sogo Asian Fusion in the downtown.

A random young black women yelled at us from her car, “You guys look so pretty.” So I asked the teenager to take some selfies before our arrival. The teenager had just given me a haircut. I thought my hair looked untamed because of my hospital stay. I was wrong.

That random compliment from a stranger meant a lot to me as I still feel like I’ve been hit by a bus.

The teenager and I had the Out of Control roll, Fire Mountain (with scallops! and it really was a mountain, and it was so amazing) and a Philadelphia roll. The teenager squealed with delight and the staff at Sogo gave me the rubber-banded chopsticks because I was using a fork.

I guess the teenager will have to teach me to use chopsticks.

The remainder of my afternoon was spent cleaning, walking with my neighbor, and trying to earn the trust of our foster kittens.

YouTube playlist of our foster kittens

And now, I’m feeling a little nauseous and I wonder if it’s because of all these penicillin-family antibiotics in my system and the fact that I had so much more water in my system in the hospital. Every time I had an adverse reaction to the antibiotics in the hospital, they increased my IV fluids. So I’m trying to drink more here at home.

And a few minutes ago, my mom texted. She got bit by a friend’s cat today.

All-you-can-eat Japanese and bubble tea

While in Savannah, we took the girls for Japanese since they both love sushi. It was an all-you-could-eat restaurant, which meant every time you finished something you could order another dish.

My daughter ordered so much sushi and appetizers that she forgot to order an entree. And she tried to teach her companion to use chopsticks. She wasn’t a good teacher.

They had a large variety of bubble tea. Gayle got strawberry. I got melon. It was our 16-year-old’s first bubble tea. She didn’t like or dislike it.

Personally I love tapioca in every form.