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There are three reasons why this candy, from Schimpff’s in Jeffersonville, Indiana, is totally the best.

orange1First, it looks disgusting. Here are pictures of it whole, in which it looks like something that came out of the wrong end of a cat, and split, in which it looks likeOrange2 something that came out of something that came out of the wrong end of a cat.

Second, the outside is dark chocolate. Mmmmm…dark chocolate! Good for you, and decadently delicious.

Third, the inside is candied orange peel. Mmmmm…candied orange peel! Packed with Vitamin C and sugarsugarsugar.

Fourth — Oh, um, I meant to say there are four reason why this candy is totally the best…. So fourth, nobody else likes it very much. That leaves more for me, me, me!

The down side is that it’s somewhat expensive, since it’s sold by weight, and it’s rather weighty. Still, it’s worth it for a treat once or twice a year. And you really don’t need much of it. There are only so many times you can bear having your pleasure center pop and sizzle with a megadose of dark and golden joy.

Getting set to go to Corydon with Southern Indiana Writers to sell books at Halloween on the Square. Come on down and see us!


writing prompt: What’s something you love to eat that nobody else you know likes very much? If nothing, invent something for a character. Pickled herring? The fat on their steak? Tofu? Raw lemons?

HawksviewThe Southern Indiana Writers invaded Kentucky this past weekend. We set up headquarters at the Hawksview Gallery and Cafe, a fabulous showcase for local artists, an art glass factory and a restaurant featuring above-the-ordinary but reasonably priced food. They are not paying us to say that.

Hawksview JoannaSome of the SIW couldn’t make it, some preferred not to wear costumes and some–okay, ONE, and you know who you are–threatened to hurt your humble webmaster if she saw her picture up here with kitty ears on it. Naming no names, but look back through these postings for the picture of the one with the name badge stuck to her forehead.

Anyway, we were at the Hawksview on Friday for the dinner crowd and on Saturday for the lunchers. We read stories from our various anthologies, talked about the group and mingled with the patrons.

Joanna dressed as a fortune teller, Ginny is our own little Nanny Ogg, T wore a Renaissance gown she made herself and carried a cedarHawksview Ginny staff she fashioned out of a limb that fell from a tree in her back yard, Jeannine wore a beautiful Hawksview TColonial-style dress, and I claim I was dressed as October. Smart money says I was just too lazy to assemble or make a real costume. Those things in my hair are fabric leaves, stuck in with hair gel. That was Friday. Saturday, I dressed in black with silver jewelry and claimed I was Night.

We met a woman who writes poetry but had no one with whom to share her love of writing, and we were able to give her the contact information for a couple of groups near her. We met a woman who doesn’t like to read but who discovered, through our presentation, that she loves being read to–she’s going to look into getting books on tape. She also asked if we have any of our stories recorded. We don’t, but we have a new project…. We met another woman who doesn’t write, but is a creative decorator, who wants to catch us at another gig sometime. We hope she does; she was a lovely and fascinating person.Hawksview Marian

Hawksview JeannineOur next gig is, in fact, this coming Saturday, October 24th. We’ll be selling books at Halloween on the Square in Corydon, Indiana, in front of Magdalena’s Restaurant and Cafe on the Square. We may also be reading at the First State Capitol Building–that part of the plan is still under construction. We’ll be in front of Magdalena’s at the very least from 5-9, but may be there earlier. Whether or not we read at the First State Capitol Building, we can probably be persuaded to do requests. Oh, and we’ll be GIVING AWAY FREE COUPONS for Magdalena’s with every purchase. You know the routine–the more you spend, the more you save. Makes a great gift, too.

Hope to see you in Corydon at Halloween on the Square on the 24th!


writing prompt: Does your main character like to dress in costume? Pair him/her with someone with the opposite preference and have them have to work something out together.

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?

Before I went to meet Jane, I had to go to Carmichaels’ book store to pick up the Southern Indiana Writers and Dying in a Winter Wonderland books they didn’t sell. No hard feelings–we sell enough of them at our own signings that we’re glad to have them back. 🙂shopexterior

I was thrilled and delighted to see that the shop across the side street from the parking lot was OPEN at last! I’ve always been there when the shop was closed, and I’ve been pining to look inside. Seeing the interior was both a disappointment and a happiness: It’s very different inside from what I thought it was, but it’s super! From the outside, especially from across the street, it looks very like a place I’ve dreamed about. Inside the shop in my dream, shopinteriorthough, everything is all junky and dusty and jumbled, and inside the real S. Bayly Boutique it’s clean and bright and beautiful and it has dogs in. The one I used to dream about is part of a run-down beach-front collection of ramshackle buildings called Rat-Trap. The shop is about in the middle of the row, and it’s run by a tall thin old man with white hair and half-glasses. He might have a cat–if so, it’s a big tough one–but not a cutie little pup like this one.

I got stuck waiting for a train to pass, but eventually Jane and I met at Shiraz and had a lunch that couldn’t be beat. She gave me some birthday presents that are so neat, they’re going to get their own post.

As usual, we went to Java Brewing for coffee. When we got up to the counter, The Amazing Cody popped up and asked, “Do you want me to leave room for water in this?” I always wanted to be recognized in public, but not so much for being a goof. Oh, well, you takes what you gets, right? Of course, right. He suggested the Pumpkin Spice Latte, which I ordered, along with a couple of biscotti to split with Jane. Cody put a beautiful feathery design on the top of my latte–I would have taken a picsh of it, but he had a can of whipped cream in his hand, and I didn’t want to interfere with that. A schplootsch of whipped cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and heaven came to earth. Mmmmmmmm….

An excellent day.


writing prompt: Write down everything you can think of about a place you’ve dreamed about. Invent ten additional things.

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.

I brought Mom to volunteer at the Book Box today while I came to the library and did some Southern Indiana Writers stuff.

When I went in to pick her up, she told me her cat would only sit on her lap in the bathroom, not in the living room. So I said, naturally, “Have you tried dropping your drawers in the living room?” She didn’t think that was a very good idea, and she hasn’t even tried it!

So then we got in the car. There were tire tracks close to the entrance to our drive, so Mom says, “You lay that rubber?”

“Sure,” I said. “I have drag races with the other quintanarians. I’m almost too old for the category. Next year I’ll be a sexagenarian. Be some fun next year! Ten years of it–man!”

Mom said, “I’ll be an octogenarian. What’s ninety?”

I said, “Nonogenarian.”

“Yeah? And after that, I’ll be a centurion.”

“Cool! Commander of Roman soldiers. That’s sooo cool.”

“Yeah. They talk about how people didn’t live long in the old days, but the Bible has lots of centurions in it.”

“True,” I said. “But they were all Romans. Must be that Mediterranean diet. All that olive oil.”

And that’s a typical conversation. See why I love to be with my Mom? See why I grew up to be the way I am?


Writing prompt: How old are your main character’s parents? Are THEIR parents alive? How old are THEY? How do they get along and why?

Okay, so Ardis and I went to Dawn Creations in Lanesville, on St. John’s Church Road, just behind Zabel’s Hardware. At Dawn Creations, we had home-made soup, sub sandwiches and home-made lemon cake (all GOOD). The coffee was outstanding.

Anyway, we were leaving and started talking to the owner/baker, Dawn Clifton, and she turns out to be The Lady With The Cow In Her Kitchen! A couple of years ago, I wrote a story called “Home on the Range” for the Southern Indiana Writers Group’s anthology, IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING, based (very loosely) on a newspaper article about a cow that invaded a woman’s baking kitchen. This area being the way it is, I knew it was only a matter of time before I met her, and yesterday was the day.

She was very good-natured about it, and blessed us with a blow-by-blow personal account of what happened. SHE ought to be a writer–the way she told the story, which must have been harrowing at the time, had us holding our sides, laughing. She’s also a good cook and a lovely person.

Here she is, standing next to Dale the Whale–er, I mean me.


Today, I’m going back by the restaurant to take her a copy of the book with the cow story in it. To read the article in The Corydon Democrat about What Really Happened, click here.

To read an excerpt of the story, click here.


Writing prompt: Pick a story from the community section of your newspaper and turn it into a story that may or may not have anything to do with what actually happened.

Okay, so I had a web site hosted by a friend, and I had Southern Indiana Writers‘ site set up inside it and it all worked fine. So then the friend moved to another host, himself, and couldn’t host any but his own sites. So I got hosting with BlueHost and set things up the way they had been and everything still worked.

But THEN I started fiddling while multitasking on one of my dumb days, and screwed everything up BIG-TIME. I had it so that, when I typed my domain name, SIW’s site came up. When I typed SIW’s domain name, Site Unavailable came up.

I asked BlueHost to restore things to how they were before I screwed up, but I think all they restore is basics, they don’t refresh files–at any rate, things were still screwed up. BUT they have live chat (saved my life and sanity) and now (I THINK) everything’s sorted out. Now I can screw everything up again….

Tomorrow is the birthday party for our oldest daughter and for my mother. Mom asked for a carrot cake or a spice cake, so I made a sort of combination.


  • Boxed carrot cake and the ingredients listed on the box
  • extra cinnamon
  • extra nutmeg (fresh grated, if possible)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup raisins

I also got a container of cream cheese frosting, and I’ll chop or grind some walnuts to sprinkle on top.

For lunch today, I had soup:


  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes with garlic, onion and oregano
  • Parmesan cheese

Put the tomatoes and their juice into a bowl and mash or chop the tomatoes a bit. Heat in microwave. Sprinkle with Parmesan and eat with crackers or Italian bread.


writing prompt: Your character goes to a public function and his/her ex-son/daughter-in-law shows up with the grandchild.

X-rays finally came back, and I am only bruised. Much rejoicing, especially by Charlie, who wasn’t looking forward to running Mom and me around town this afternoon.

It’s time to plan what events I’m going to attend this year. Mom and I usually go to Magna cum Murder in October, but this year the director of Magna, Kathryn Kennison, is Fan Guest of Honor at Bouchercon, which will be in Indianapolis, so no Magna. Mom says she doesn’t want to go to Bouchercon, and it’s a little pricey for me, too. I’ve been told I could get a cheaper hotel away from the conference hotel and attend events outside the official conference ones that don’t require conference membership. If fellow Southern Indiana Writers members will go with me, I might do that.

SIW went to Context Science Fiction Convention last year, and might go again this year. It was VERY enjoyable and useful, and a mix-up over comping gained me a free membership, so I would like to go to that.

There’s another convention in, I think, Cincinnati–I think it’s Millennnicon–that we were talking about going to.

Green River Writers always has great writers retreats that I love to go to and haven’t been to in a couple of years….

The problem is lack of funds. My mother always pays for me to go to a couple of these professional things, and it is important as well as fun, but there’s only so much cash to go around, and much less cash now than formerly. We didn’t lose anything in the market crunch because we don’t have enough to invest, but everything seems tighter, doesn’t it?

Guess the answer is to get off my duff–rather, to get ON my duff–and write and submit and repeat until sufficiently funded. Work–Gosh, what a concept!


Writing prompt: Everybody who has a job has a choice of professional organizations and conventions and retreats they could attend. Use a search engine to make a list of five professional organizations or email lists or newsletters or publications or conventions your main character could subscribe to or attend.


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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