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I’ve scheduled this to post later so, by the time you read it, I’ll be setting up my table at the Almost Famous Authors’ Faire. Greentree Mall, Clarksville, Indiana, noon-7pm. Charlie will be home with the uniformed mercenaries, guarding the homestead against opportunistic, tech-savvy burglars.

If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello! (To me at the faire, I mean, not to Charlie and the uniformed mercenaries.)

who thinks “Charlie and the Uniformed Mercenaries” sounds like the name of a band

writing prompt: Send a character to an all-day sales event, as a participant or a companion to a participant or a drop-in.

I spent the afternoon with #3 daughter, who sprained her back. Took her to the doctor, who straightened out the dosage and frequency of the meds they prescribed at the ER and who told us how to make a hot pack (directions below). Took daughter back to her place, made the hot pack, made a list of doses, meds and times, nuked her some supper and got her settled down to eat. Just as I picked up my purse and said, “Your dad will be wondering what happened to me,” her phone rang, and it was Charlie, wanting to know how she was and what had happened to his wife.

We waved goodbye and I drove home, wondering what I could make for supper that was quick and yum. Just as I walked in the door, Charlie was putting supper on the table: breakfast for supper–my favorite!

So am I lucky, or what?

Cheap and Easy Hot Pack

  • Man’s tube sock
  • cheap raw rice
  • microwave

Put enough rice into the sock that the rice can move around a little–don’t pack it tightly. Leave room to tie the top of the sock closed. Put it in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. More, if that isn’t warm enough. The beauty of this is that, unlike a heating pad, this cools down by itself, so you can go to sleep with it on and not worry about cooking yourself.


And all the daffodils and narcissus are in bloom–I wish I could post how the air smells today! The forsythia is going to pop today. It’s damp, maybe going to rain, so I’ll be back in the woods in the next day or so to hunt for mushrooms. 🙂

The Almost Famous Authors’ Faire is this Saturday, March 27, 2010, from noon to 7pm at the Greentree Mall in Clarksville, Indiana. I’ll be there with copies of Sword & Sorceress XXIII and chocolate hearts and press-on Chinese tattoos. Should be fun!

Also going grocery shopping with my Mom today. We love grocery shopping. For one thing, we always meet friends out and about. For another thing, we enjoy one another’s company. Mom says, “We think each other is funny.” It’s true. We crack us up.

I’m a lucky person. And the luckiest thing of all is, I know how lucky I am right now–I don’t have to look back in an unhappy time and think, “I didn’t know how good I had it then.” Not smug, very appreciative of my current blessings.


writing prompt: Write a character who has everything going for him/her but doesn’t appreciate it. It could be a comedy or a tragedy, couldn’t it? Or just plain damned irritating.

Going to the Leora Brown School today for lunch and a presentation on Harrison County history — little known facts — probably scurrilous — I can hope so, anyway. $10, call 812-738-3376 for more information. There will be an open house tomorrow 10-4 for free, gratis and no cost. You don’t have to pay anything, either.

Immediately after the lunch and learn, I rush home and stick fabric leaves in my hair and go to the Hawksview Gallery and Cafe for a marathon reading/signing with the Southern Indiana Writers Group.

Tomorrow, we go back to Hawksview and spend the whole day–lunch crowd and supper crowd–reading/signing. It should be fun, though. We sent invitations to a bazillion people, and the Hawksview lady said her regulars were excited about it, so there should be a lot of positive energy bouncing around. And there will be food, which is A Good Thing.

The only downside is that I won’t be able to cook lunch or supper for two days, and I do love to cook. Made some totally swoony chicken soup yesterday.


Roast a chicken–I made mine in the crockpot: rubbed the chicken with “rotisserie seasoning” and poured in some white wine. Cooked about 5 hours on high. Pulled all the meat off the bone, ate some of the meat and put the rest of the meat and the broth in separate containers in the fridge. Next day, simmered the bones, gristle and skin (YUCK!!!) for a couple of hours, strained the yucky bits out and gave the non-bones to the dog. Honey, when I get done with a chicken, you can hold the throw-aways in the palm of one hand. Anyway, I took that broth, the broth from the roast, leftover veggies and their cooking water (saved from several days) and put it together. Added some chicken bouillon, onion powder, fresh sage and a few mushrooms, cut some of the chicken meat into it, and it was TOTALLY SWOONY. Oh, and just a small hit of garlic-flavored olive oil.

I got up in the night and scooped some, cold, out of the bowl with a chunk of home-made bread. Swooned back to sleep.


writing prompt: Is there any food that makes your main character feel swoony?

With apologies to Paul Simon:

Saturday, it was my birthday.
I hung one more year on the line.
You don’t have to guess;
I’m proud to confess:
I’m fifty-nine.

dalemobile I got up at 6–yes, in the A.M.–and drove to the home of fellow Southern Indiana Writers Group member T. Lee Harris. Friend Dale had loaded books in the back of the Dalemobile. We three piled in on top of them and Dale drove us to the Indianapolis library, where we met fellow member Joanna Foreman, who brought copies of her book GHOSTS OF INTERSTATE 65. The Indy library was having an authors’ awards celebration, including a book fair featuring Indiana authors. We had one and a half tables between the three of us.

Here is a picture of the SIW table, being manned by adjunct member Cal A. Vera, a seasonal writer. We met some terrific people and heard great stories. Gave away a lot of information on self-publishing, forming and maintaining a critique group and on our 15 titles.

After the signing, T and Dale and I went to the Children’s Museum to see the Tut exhibit. When I got home, Charlie asked me, “How was Tut?” I said, “Dead. Still dead.” Howard Carter was right, though–we saw wonderful things. What blew me away wasn’t the gold, it was the wood. To be standing in front of a chair that was made 5000 years ago and looked like something out of 1932, only carved with hieroglyphs rather than birds and maple leaves…that was just stunning. The shabtis (ushabtis, shawabtis)–the little guys who were put into the tombs to do the pharaoh’s grunt work in the afterlife, were so different and so beautiful. And the alabaster–a stone that picks up light and glows with it as if the light were within it– Everything made from alabaster looked like it was fashioned from a dream of the full moon. Gorgeous. I think I have a crush on Amenhotep IV. There was a big statue of him, and he was a looker.

Then we had supper at a Chinese buffet, then we went back to T’s, then I drove home, then the clouds burst and we had a downpour, but I was snug at home. Good day.

Sunday, Mom came to church with me because we left from there and drove to Louisville. We had lunch at J. Graham’s (pretty good food, pretty good price, outrageous surcharges, never going there not never no more). Then we saw La Traviata. That needs a post of its own.


writing prompt: If you could do anything on your birthday that you wanted to, what would it be?

I love the picture that conjures up, of Dr. Wessels up to his knees in the creek, with a line of box turtles and snappers waving their little turtle heads and singing, “As I Went Down To the River To Pray”. As long as the Holy Spirit doesn’t descend on any of them in the form of an eagle, it’s a happy little scenario.

What I mean, of course, is that we are kindred spirits in that we both brake for turtles crossing the road. Then we differ. I favor moving them to the side of the road they’re facing. He favors taking them someplace where there is no nearby road. I’m like, what if they have wives and children waiting for them? Like, “Daddy went out for a pack of cigarettes and never came back.” He believes that is unlikely.

The Southern Indiana Writers had a book signing yesterday. Many of us came, but few of the people who showed great enthusiasm when I told them about it actually showed up. We did sell some books, but not many. Maybe a library is not a particularly good venue for us. We’re working with Magdalena’s on an event for July that sounds like a lot of fun. More details as they emerge. It was kind of pathetic–Karen was standing there trying to work out the details with us and we were all talking at once, mostly at cross-purposes. It’s like herding cats. We WILL work it out, though.


writing prompt: Write a scene where somebody has to baptize a turtle.

We went to the Community Unity Christmas party and I took Alu Mattar. This is the dish I posted about where I started with making ghee, then grated the ginger and garlic to make the curry…. I’m not usually so painstaking; I can’t think what got into me.

Anyway, here’s the recipe, and it’s really quite easy. It must be, or I wouldn’t have made it.

Curried Potatoes and Peas (Alu Mattar)

1/4 cup (60 ml) ghee (see recipe below)
1 Tbs (15 ml) finely chopped fresh ginger
1 Tbs (15 ml) finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup (125 ml) finely chopped onion or shallots
Salt to taste
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cumin
1/2 tsp (2 ml) turmeric
1/4 tsp (1 ml) cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
2 10-ounce (280 g each) packages frozen green peas
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes
1 cup (250 ml) water
3 Tbs (45 ml) finely chopped cilantro (coriander leaves)
1/2 tsp (2 ml) garam masala (see recipe below)

Heat the ghee in a heavy pot over moderate heat until it is very hot.
Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the onion and
salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and golden
brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cumin, turmeric, and cayenne,
followed by the tomatoes. Cook, stirring frequently, until most of
the liquid has evaporated and the mixture forms a thick paste, about 5
minutes. Add the peas and tomatoes and stir to coat them with the
tomato mixture. Stir in the water and bring to a boil, stirring
frequently. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes, until
the potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and garam
masala and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Our dear friend Jackie was there. She’s undergoing chemo and all her hair has fallen out, so she brought a bag of Christmas bows and invited us to give her some holiday hair. Here she is, all festived up.



Then, on Friday, I went to lunch in Louisville. We were going to Bourbon’s Bistro, but they’re only open for dinner, so boo-hoo for us. We went to Crave, instead, which we LOVE anyway.


They have the BEST home made soups and sandwiches! Jane got a cheesy broccoli soup and a Creole sandwich called something like Bamm, I’m Good. I got cream of chicken and rice soup and a veggie sandwich–just a few raw vegetables on sourdough bread with Benedictine spread, but it was SO GOOD! This is on Frankfort Avenue, across the street from Bourbon’s, Java Brewing coffee shop and my beloved Irish Rover.

While we were waiting to cross the street, I met these ladies who claim they were doing a tree survey. If you ask me, they were casing the joints, but they say they were surveying trees. huh! I’ve never had a tree answer so much as ONE QUESTION I’ve ever asked, and they want me to believe they’re getting trees to take whole surveys? I don’t think so.


Anyway, on Saturday, Mom and I worked the Friends of the Library Book Box book sale and then Southern Indiana Writers had a book signing. Most members were sick and only three of us showed up, but we had a great time, as always, and sold some books. Here are Jeannine Baumgartle, Joy Brown Kirchgessner, self and The Mysterious Mr. B, who said, “You’re not going to put this on the internet or anything, are you?” I assured him I was, but you never know when somebody might be on the lam, so I blurred his face for his own protection. Of course, it might just be that he didn’t want to be seen in our company…. Nah!


Writing prompt: What questions would you ask a tree?

I have no idea if that’s right or not. I’ve been listening to RUSH HOUR SPANISH, trying to pick up enough to give my new El Salvadoran sister-in-law some comfort and companionship, and the title of this post is supposed to mean, “no time to breathe”.

That’s today–and I don’t know the Spanish for “running sideways to keep from flying.”

Mom and I are working in The Book Box, the Friends of Harrison County Library book sale building, from 9-12. From 1-4, the Southern Indiana Writers and I have a signing at the library. From 7 to ?, there’s a FREE Lorinda Jones concert at the Presbyterian Church to benefit Community Services. There’s a Move On meeting in there, somewhere, but I have to pee sometime.


Writing Prompt: concoct a busy day for your least favorite character of your own or of somebody else’s. TV characters count.

I said more than a week ago that I would post pictures of our signing, and I don’t think I ever did.

“We” means both the Southern Indiana Writers and S. M. Harding and I, S. H. (Suzanne) and I both being in DYING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND, Wolfmont Press’s Toys for Tots anthology.

We approached our target:


Little did they know…. HA!

The Mystery Company turned out to be a great place, and we would have said so, even if it DIDN’T have a coffee and chocolate shop as part of it.


Jim Huang and a charming woman whose name I never got were actually happy to see us!


Suzanne (S. M. Harding) turned out to be not only a fine writer but a delightful person. She very generously donated a free cup of coffee to everyone who brought in a toy for the Marines’ toy collection box. This picture of her would be less blurry if I had partaken less of her generosity. Javajavajavajava!


We sold ALL the Toys for Tots books and people brought in so many toys the Marine had to make three trips to his vehicle to load up! Here are Suzanne, a VERY cute Marine and Old Lady Allen–in other words, me.


And a fine time was had by all.


Southern Indiana Writers’ next signing is December 13 from 1-4pm at the Harrison County Public Library.


Writing Prompt: The Mystery Company ONLY stocks mysteries, crime fiction, suspense and non-fiction related thereto. What kind of “dedicated” store would you like to visit? What kind would one of your characters like to visit or to run?

Katya (The Good One)

Katya (The Good One)

Al (The Bad One)

Al (The Bad One)

I was on my way out of the house when I caught one of the cats peeing in the front closet. This cleared up a point of contention between my husband and me, as he’s been accusing MY cat of being the Secret Pisser. So Katya has been VINDICATED and CLEARED OF ALL CHARGES.

After I cleaned up the mess and freshened the air, I left. Came back because I forgot my keys and left. Came back because I forgot the book I wanted to give Butchie and left. Stopped off to visit with Mom and have a cup of her good coffee and pick up some letters she wanted mailed and left.

I went to the Cafe on the Square and got a little writing done but Charlene Burke, the new friend I met yesterday, turns out to be an art-quality beader, and I had to go to her blog and then to her flickr sets to look at her beading creations. Drooling on the keyboard….

Gave Butchie his copy of GHOSTS… ON THE SQUARE… AND ELSEWHERE.

Then I met Joy and T and Joanna of Southern Indiana Writers for lunch at Magdalena’s and arranged for a signing there from 9-noon on November 28, the day after Thanksgiving. Pray for us. The others had to move on, but I came to the library and arranged for us to do a signing here on Saturday, December 13 from 1-4 pm.

SWORD AND SORCERESS XXIII is out and available!! I should have some copies at the library signing. Wheeee! Here is a review that I think I may frame! The author of it, by the way, is no relation to me, despite the same last name.

And now my time at the library is over and I must go home, having written a mere 712 words so far today on my NaNoWriMo book. I am, however, up to 29,000 words, so I’m fairly well on track.


Writing prompt: A person or animal accused of doing something wrong is vindicated. A simple plot, but a good, tried-and-true one.

I had a booksigning at the Harrison County Library and I’m MOST pleased! I know 10 copies doesn’t sound like a lot to sell, but some of the people who bought copies don’t even know me! So I’m happy, even if I didn’t get one single word written for NaNoWriMo.

signingReading from left to right: mug that looks like it’s a brick wall with HAPPY HOLIDAYS spray-painted on it, which I had a drawing to give away. JACKIE–CONGRATULATIONS! sheet for people to sign up to be notified of future signings. Stand-up poster of cover with price written on side. books. Christmas candy to give away and paper bag for wrappers. Behind the desk–Me, dressed to match the cover so people would instantly associate me with the book.

Mom asked me to take her laptop this morning, when we worked at the Friends of Harrison County Book Box. I expected to download her updates and then get some writing done, but then she needed a virus and spyware scan and they needed to be cleaned up, and then something else and something else so I ended up not getting any writing done.

Then the signing was great. Samantha came in and stayed the whole time, and it was WONDERFUL to get the chance to visit with her–there never seems to be time, and we had a good long visit. Jackie came in, with the cutest brown wool hat covering her chemo-bald head. Bless her heart, she is such a sweetie. Jeremiah came in with his bride Lorna–SUCH a pretty woman! Carol came in, and she and Samantha and I talked NaNoWriMo a little, since we’re all trying it this year. A woman who’s writing a children’s book that sounds like a sure winner came in, and a little girl came up to talk to “the writer” because she says she wants to be a writer–she says she makes up stories all the time and her mother writes down the words. Her first name is Danielle, and I’ve already forgotten her last name. I should have written it down. Maybe it’ll come to me. If it does, I’ll post it, and we can all watch for her in the future!


Writing prompt: Who is your main character’s favorite living author? Invent one, if you like. If your character were walking past a bookstore and saw that author doing a signing, would he/she go to it? What would he/she say?


Here is where I ramble on about whatever happens to fall through my mind. I also have a professional site, where I post about my books, stories, news and appearances. Every month, I post a “Hot Flash” there–a story or prose poem of about 50 words. I hope you enjoy your visit. –Marian Allen

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