In time for Halloween, Amazon has an anthology of 15 stories documenting the INVASION, including a story by yours truly!
Check it out: INVASION
In time for Halloween, Amazon has an anthology of 15 stories documenting the INVASION, including a story by yours truly!
Check it out: INVASION
Posted by CMStewart on October 4, 2013
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may have seen my last post, vaguely describing my alleged extraterrestrial abduction.
Since that posting, I’ve regained some memories of the event, and even discovered I had the wherewithal to take some photos immediately after my abduction.
(I was immobilized during my examination in the extraterrestrial spaceship, so was unable to photograph the aliens or the inside of the ship.)
On or around July 10, 2013, I was beamed aboard a spaceship from the planet Saturn. I spent the next month or so being forcibly restrained and studied, as many Earthling have been studied by Saturnites before me. I was probed with needles around my feet, ankles, and lower legs. The needles were tiny, but I suspect I had an allergy to the antiseptic, as the resulting pain was lasting. I still bear the scars from the needles:
I took this photo in night vision mode. This is the extraterrestrial spaceship which abducted me:
Also taken in night vision mode, this is the extraterrestrial spaceship landing strip across the street. During the daylight hours, it is disguised as a lawn ornament display:
My abduction and probing was stressful, but I am honored that the Saturnites chose me as a test subject, and am forever grateful they returned me to Earth in an infinitely more suitable and pleasant environment. I can now plant my garden, and include Earth’s most perfect fruit, the non-GM tomato. (Photos next summer.)
My old new abode is at 1:25
That GM tomato was evil, I tell you, EVIL. I had to do it.
Posted by CMStewart on September 8, 2013
* * * * *
Here’s how this project started:
* * * * *
Christmas New Year’s Day Valentine’s Day Easter has come and gone and I’ve finally finished my tartan jumpers. I am pleased with how they look, and proud that I made a couple outfits I can wear in polite company.
I made each jumper by sewing 2 pieces of material together- a bib and a skirt. The skirts are wrap-around and fasten with 2 buttons. I pleated the 2 tartans differently according to the pattern of stripes. This resulted in the red jumper wrapping around my waist 1 1/2 times, and the blue jumper wrapping around less than that. The result was unattached side corners on my blue bib. I remedied this by sewing Velcro to the inside of both sides of the waist, securing the bib corners to the skirt. You can see the Velcro stitching to the left of my thumb.
To go with the outfits, I altered my husband’s tuxedo shirt (with his permission). I re-hemmed the bottom and re-seamed the sleeves and sides to make it fit me better. Then I cut off the collar and sewed on a new collar I made from scrap material from the bottom of the shirt. The cuffs were floppy, so I folded and sewed those as well.
To top it all off, I sewed a couple matching headbands.
Because I didn’t use a pattern, and knew very little about sewing, I climbed a steep learning curve with this project. Many of the pleat stitches are redundant, as are some of the hem stitches. The waists don’t perfectly match up when they’re wrapped around, and I have some bare corners where I didn’t extend the bias tape all the way to the edges. On close inspection, the shirt collar looks like a mad spider sewed it. (I ended up sewing several passes of zigzag stitching to join several layers of bias tape with pleats on a curve). My seam ripper got a good workout. But overall, I’d say this project was a success!
* * * * *
Here I am extensively modeling my tartan jumpers:
* * * * *
And now a BONUS KITTY PHOTO for those who scrolled through to the end!
* * * * *
Posted by CMStewart on April 16, 2012
A medieval castle on the shore of eastern Scotland . . ancient allied clans . . a modern-day writer with Scottish ancestry and a love of tartans.
Thus was the chain of events which led me to this post.
A couple years ago, while envisioning the setting of part of a novel, an iconic image materialized- an imposing castle on the edge of a rocky cliff. This vision was so spectacular I wondered, “Is this castle real?” I immediately went searching online for images of cliff-side castles, and I found it . .
I was so enamored with Dunnottar Castle, I researched its history and layout and wrote a detailed scene incorporating my findings . . but soon realized that scene didn’t flow with the rest of the novel, so I set the scene aside, until a couple years later I found this flash fiction challenge . .
. . which is, I’m sure, the opposite side of Dunnottar Castle many years ago. So I revised my scene for the challenge.
In the meantime, thanks in part to the kilt-wearing juggling writer Christopher Gronlund, and his wife, future kilt-sewer Cynthia Griffith, I was inspired to rekindle my interest in tartans, kilts, and sewing. I researched Scottish clan tartans and picked out my 2 favorite by appearance- “Royal Stewart” (co-incidentally, “Stewart” is my married name) and “Keith and Austin,” which, to my pleasant surprise, is the tartan associated with Dunnottar Castle!
“Dunnottar Castle became the seat of the chief of Clan Keith in 1639 . . ” -wiki
Before I continue this winding tale, a few points of clarification:
1. This 2-part post is NOT meant to be a guide to sewing anything resembling an authentic, traditional kilt.
2. Back in the day, the “Keith” clan and the “Austin” clan merged and are now collectively know as the
Borg “Keith and Austin” clan.
3. Within a single or collective clan, there are many variations of that clan’s tartan. This is especially true of the “Keith and Austin” tartan.
My goal: sew a couple of kiltish jumpers using my Simplicity Trumps Everything* method. Here’s something like what I want to do:
For kilt-making instructions, Gronlund recommended Barb Tewksbury. While I did check out her kilt-making methods and found them inspirational, I ultimately decided to stick with my original Simplicity Trumps Everything method.
(For ideas and inspiration on how to make an authentic, traditional kilt, checkout Barbara Tewksbury’s and Elsie Stuehmeyer’s book, or visit Griffith’s blog about her experiences sewing traditional historical costumes.)
I searched and scoured the internet and finally found both my tartans in one place in 100% cotton (I find wool scratchy).
I preferred the darker version of the Keith and Austin tartan, so after checking several stores and finding no fabric dye, I searched online for a “home brew” fabric-dyeing method. It seemed simple enough- make a HUGE pot of extremely strong hot tea and / or coffee, salt it, and submerge the fabric in the brew, making sure there are NO air bubbles. While I did this, I don’t recommend it, unless you enjoy spending hours dunking, soaking, and wringing a heavy tartan.
Then I cut, folded, pinned, and ironed my tartans, pretty much free-style.
Next month, my mother-in-law will assist me with machine-sewing my jumpers! (She has hand-sewn kilts before, but that wasn’t fitting with my STE method.)
Check back after Christmas to see my finished jumpers!
*Simplicity Trumps Everything:
1. Is there an even easier way to do it without it falling apart / exploding / crash-n-burning?
2. If “NO,” then go ahead and proceed with the plans you have.
3. If “YES,” with the new, even “easier way” in mind, go back to step 1.
Posted by CMStewart on November 30, 2011
If you’re reading this, congratulations, you survived the REAL, FINAL APOCALYPSE as predicted by Harold Camping. (Turns out Camping isn’t much of a math person.) Now you probably think you can enjoy Halloween without the nagging worry of undead, unraptured zombies stalking and infecting you. (As for me- I knew I would survive the non-apocalypse, because I’m already one of the undead.) But before you get too comfortable, I gotta tell you zombies are real . .
For any late-comers to my blog, take a gander at my 3-part story: I got the zombie spores in me. Then the zombie spores turned me into a zombie. Did you know zombies can re-generate limbs? Yep. Lucky for me, or I wouldn’t be typing this now. And those already familiar with the above trilogy would do well to re-familiarize yourselves, because . .
If you still think my tales are safely in the sci-fi section . .
And with all the catastrophic climate change, nuclear radiation, pesticides, and herbicides causing mutations in the already genetically engineered spores accidentally / on purposely released into the open fields, human zombie spores are just around the corner.
STILL don’t believe me? Then believe the USA government’s official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It’s real. All we can do is prepare ourselves for the inevitable zombie apocalypse and the resulting mob cruelty and mass disrespect.
And console ourselves with candy.
To stock up on good karma, here’s a list of the most cow-kind, most chicken-respectful (vegan)* cookies and candy** on the USA market, alphabetized by brand:
Anna’s Almond Cinnamon Thins
Anna’s Ginger Thins
Back to Nature California Lemon Cookies
Back to Nature Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Big League Chew Gum
Brach’s Cinnamon Hard Candy
Brach’s Orange Slices
Brach’s Root Beer Barrels
Brach’s Star Brites
Chew-ets Peanut Chews (Original)
Chocolove Cherries and Almonds Dark Chocolate Bar
Chocolove Crystallized Ginger Dark Chocolate Bar
Chocolove Orange Peel Dark Chocolate Bar
Chocolove Raspberry Dark Chocolate bar
Chocolove Dark Chocolate bar
Entenmann’s Fudge Delights Fudge & Mint Cookies
Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Chocolate)
Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Oatmeal Macaroon)
Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Peanut Butter)
Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Vanilla)
Ferrara Wafer Swirls With Chocolate
Food Lion Animal Cookies
Food Lion Ginger Snaps
Food Lion Oatmeal Cookies
Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Assorted)
Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Chocolate Creme)
Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Chocolate Fudge)
Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Double Creme-O’s)
Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Duplex)
Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Mini Chocolate & Vanilla Cremes)
Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Peanut Butter)
Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Vanilla)
Food Lion Sugar Cookies
Fruit By the Foot
Ghirardelli Twilight Delight Intense Dark
Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Mix
Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews (Original)
Grandma’s Peanut Butter Sandwich Cremes
Hubba Bubba Bubblegum
Hubba Bubba Gum
Hunt’s Snack Pack Gel Snacks
Jolly Ranchers (lollipops and hard candy)
Keebler Vienna Fingers
Kozy Shack Jammin’ Gels
Lance Choc-O Cookies
Lance Peanut Bar
Lance Sugar Wafers (Strawberry Creme)
Lance Sugar Wafers (Vanilla Creme)
Lance Van-O Lunch Cookies
Landgarten Pumpkin Seed Snack – Dark Chocolate
Mary Janes (Regular and Peanut Butter Kisses)
Mike and Ike
Mrs. Freshley’s Oatmeal Crème-filled Cookies
Murray Butter Cookies
Murray Cinnamon Grahams
Murray Coconut Bars
Murray Southern Kitchen Iced Oatmeal Cookies
Nabisco Double Delight Mint’n Creme Oreos
Nabisco Ginger Snaps
Nabisco Halloween Oreos
Nabisco Iced Oatmeal Cookies
Nabisco Nutter Butter Sandwich Cookies
Nabisco Oatmeal Cookies
Nabisco Oreo Chocolate Ice Cream Cones
Nabisco Oreo Cookies
Nabisco Oreo Thin Crisps
Nabisco Spiced Cinnamon Cookies
Nabisco Teddy Grahams (Chocolate and Cinnamon)
Nabisco Uh-oh Oreos, Spring Oreos, Chocolate Creme Oreos
Nature’s Path Deep Chocolate Cookies
Nature’s Path Ginger Spice Cookies
Nature’s Path Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies
Nestle Double Chocolate Thin Mints
Now and Later
Nutter Butter Bites
Pure De-Lite Coconut Bars
Safeway Fudge Mint Fudge Covered Mint Cookies
Smarties (U.S. version only)
SunSpire Organic Dark Chocolate Almonds
Sour Patch Kids
Whole Foods Organic Chocolate Truffles
**May contain trace amount of animal-sourced ingredients.
Hopefully I’ve provided you with the resources and information you need to make it through Halloween alive . . or at least undead, thanks to a sugar OD . .
And here’s a creepy, campy, rockabilly bonus video for those who skimmed through to the bitter . . or rather, sugary end.
Have a Happy Halloween (while you can)!
Posted by CMStewart on October 22, 2011
* * *
Ahem. We of the ivy-towered writerly persuasion are known to imbibe now and again as the occasion calls, to further fuel our fevered muses, do we not? So OBVIOUS is the highbrow calling of our spirit-quaffing that I really needn’t bother with placating the proletarian OR the bourgeois masses with the tapestretical subtleties- yea, the chakra-dwelling agni of the artist-muse conduit which is called . . er . .
oh hell, where’s my beer???
So do writers tend to have addictive personalities? Or is that all hype and myth? Stephen King wrote the razor-sharp “Cujo” in 1981 in an alcohol- and drug-induced stupor, and barely remembers any of it. In 1987 his family emptied the contents of his trash can onto the floor: beer cans, NyQuil, Valium and Xanax bottles, and cocaine and marijuana baggies. So he sobered up. Some fans think King’s post-sobriety novels are notable for their comparative fluffiness.
KING’S THE KING, MAN, HE’S THE KING!!!
What was I saying? Oh yeah . . Is writerly sobriety worth it?
You know, we writerly types aren’t fooling anyone. Whether it’s beer or wine, sangria or Everclear, we like to get our drink on. And it’s not to fuel our muses. It’s to
make the loneliness of writing a tad more tolerable take the sting out of yet another thumb-nosed rejection slip drown the gut-wrenching, hand-wringing, teeth-gnashing despair OHMYMITHRAPLEASEHELPMEEEE
OK. Just had another beer. I feel better now. Where were we . .
You say you don’t drink? You’re not a writer. No way, no how. You say you have 20 published books and you’ve never touched a drop of alcohol? Well . . then you at least have tried apple cider at some point, right? Yes? Alright, we’re back in business. Apple cider counts as hard liquor on Mars. You squeak by as a Martian writer.
Anyway, whether you’re a writer from Mars, Earth, or Betelgeuse . .
Welcome to the Writers-Are-Drinkers-Club!
As a member, part of your welcome package is some dubious advice à la Hemingway and Bailey’s Bartending Guide to Great American Writers.
Funny story about my first hard liquor drink- it was Wild Turkey. I must’ve been around 10. It was at my aunt and uncle’s house. The adults were chatting in the kitchen, and my cousins were in the playroom. I was sitting at the mini-bar in the front room, looking at a bottle, and wondering why the alcohol was called ”Wild Turkey.” I also thought the drawing of the bird was interesting, and that a drink named “Wild Turkey” with a picture of a pretty bird must not be all that bad. Knowing it was a “grown-up” drink, I had to move quickly. I grabbed the bottle off the bar, unscrewed the cap, and took a swig without first smelling it (pretty fast, eh?). HOLY CRAP Lucky for me it was a small swig, and I managed to not retch or fall off the stool. And to this day I don’t know how Gonzo did it. And I’m still a lightweight. Whisky is my least favorite liquor. But I’m partial to rum and vodka cocktails. And wine. And beer. And wine and beer cocktails. I guess I’m partial to cocktails in general.
What was I saying? Oh yeah . .
Gronlund, this one’s for you:
Beastie Boys-Honored Brass Monkey
malt liquor (may substitute super-sized regular bottled beer if you’re a lightweight and don’t want to hurl after consuming)
OJ (the drink)
Drink malt liquor / beer to label.
Fill to top with OJ.
* * *
Oh my Mithra! I can’t believe I watched that video all the way through, and then actually posted it! What about my writerly reputation? Now somebody on
Ahhhh. I feel bebber. An at lease that video wasn’t funny Rebecca Black parody videoie.
OK thass mean, an I’m not mean drunk, so gonna make it up ta ya. Here go cleanse yer brain palate.
brain- get it? b-rain? beer-rain? mever nind.
Posted by CMStewart on September 16, 2011
Fiction genres may be determined by the content, literary technique, tone, and length of novels.
“Genre conventions,” as defined by Robert McKee, are “specific settings, roles, events, and values that define individual genres and their subgenres.”
So you want fiction genres? I’ve got fiction genres. The first list includes most of the popular and recognized genres and subgenres of fiction. Note that some subgenres of one basic genre will overlap with other subgenres of other basic genres. There’s no established consensus of what constitutes a “fiction genre,” so this list may change as I see fit. In deference to wiki, I excluded the categories of “Young Adult” and “Graphic Novel” from the first list of fiction genres: “Genre should not be confused with age category, by which literature may be classified as either adult, young-adult, or children’s. They also must not be confused with format, such as graphic novel or picture book. The distinctions between genres and categories are flexible and loosely defined, often with subgroups.” -wiki
We’ll start with what I consider the 2 broadest fiction genres. Not all fiction falls under these two labels- in fact, I’d say most fiction does not. But I included these at the top of my list to represent the extremes of a spectrum:
AIRPORT NOVEL / PULP FICTION- Written for maximum market appeal, with minimum consideration given to other novel elements.
LITERARY NOVEL- Written with minimum consideration given to mass market appeal, with maximum consideration given to other novel elements.
Next, we’ll move to the basic genres and their subgenres:
ANTINOVEL- Written without many of the familiar conventions of a standard novel.
GENERAL- Written with many of the familiar conventions of a standard novel. Also may fall under another basic genre label.
subgenres: Bizarro, Cross-Genre, Fabulism, Gothic, Historical, Magic Realism, Slipstream, Urban Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Men’s Fiction, Genderqueer Fiction
ACTION / ADVENTURE
subgenres: Cross-genre, Historical
subgenres: BDSM, Contemporary, Erotic Action-Adventure, Erotic Fantasy, Erotic Horror, Erotic Mystery, Erotic Romance, Erotic Science Fiction, Erotic Suspense, Erotic Western, Gothic, Historical, Paranormal, Shapeshifter, Vampire, Non-Vampire Monster
subgenres: Bizarro, Contemporary, Cross-Genre, Dark Fantasy, Fabulism, Fairy Tale, Gothic, Heroic Fantasy, Historical, Light Fantasy, Magic Realism, Paranormal, Science Fantasy, Shapeshifter, Shared World, Slipstream, Steampunk, Superhero, Supernatural, Sword & Sorcery, Urban Fantasy, Vampire, Non-Vampire Monster, Weird Tale, Weird Western
subgenres: Apocalyptic, Bizarro, Creature Horror, Dark Fantasy, Extreme Horror, Fabulism, Gothic, Historical, Horror Western, Magic Realism, Noir, Paranormal, Psychological, Science Fiction Horror, Serial Killer, Shapeshifter, Shared World, Slipstream, Soft Horror, Supernatural, Vampire, Weird Tale, Zombie, Monster Other than Vampire / Zombie
MYSTERY / CRIME
subgenres: Crime Fiction, Detective, Hardboiled, Historical, Noir, Police Procedural, Private Investigator, Supernatural
subgenres: Chick Lit, Guy Lit, Genderqueer Lit, Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Gothic, Historical, Paranormal, Regency, Romantic Action-Adventure, Romantic Comedy, Romantic Fantasy, Romantic Horror, Romantic Mystery, Romantic Science Fiction, Romantic Suspense, Romantic Western, Time Travel, Vampire, Non-Vampire Monster
subgenres: Alternate History, Apocalyptic, Bizarro, Contemporary/Near Future, Cyberpunk, Dystopian, Hard Science Fiction, Mundane Science Fiction, Science Fantasy, Science Fiction Horror, Science Fiction Western, Shared World, Slipstream, Soft Science Fiction, Space Opera, Steampunk, Superhero, Time Travel, Weird Tale, Weird Western
SUSPENSE / THRILLER
subgenres: Conspiracy, Crime Fiction, Espionage, Hardboiled, Historical, Noir, Political Thriller, Psychological, Romantic Suspense, Serial Killer
subgenres: Alternate History, Classical Western, Contemporary, Horror Western, Science Fiction Western, Weird Western
Special acknowledgement to Duotrope.com for providing most of the above subgenres.
Here’s an alternate list provided by wiki:
And lest we forget: Physician Bluegrass Fiction
Here’s the next big genre: Online (Novels about people living their entire lives online.)
Fiction writers, do you write with a genre in mind? Why or why not?
Posted by CMStewart on March 6, 2011
“Knowledge is power.”- Francis Bacon
“A little learning is a dangerous thing.”- Alexander Pope
Every year in the USA, hundreds of books are reported as challenged or banned. The actual number is undoubtedly higher, as the American Library Association estimates only 20-25% of book challenges are reported. (2009)
I believe censoring and banning books and words is morally wrong. It doesn’t matter what the book is. It doesn’t matter what the word is. The removal of a word from a published book without the author’s permission is a cousin of plagiarism. Banning a book from a library compromises the intellectual integrity of the library community.
Banning books is dangerous. Without many years of intensive education, most people are simply not smart enough to figure out how to live in harmony with others. This is where “freedom of speech” and “freedom of press” is helpful. People who are exposed to more ideas are more likely to figure out which ideas are good and which ideas are bad. This comparative reasoning is the basis of all informed decision-making.
Of course, not all books are appropriate for all people. For example, few would argue against segregating erotica away from the children’s reading room of a library. Segregation is not banning. Segregation will move a book to an age-appropriate area, while banning will remove a book from an entire community.
Behold the All-Powerful “N” Word
In modern western culture, no other word is more feared and worshipped than the “N” word. Since stripped of its trailing letters, it’s become even more looming and poisonous. Civilized people don’t say the “N” word, it’s just too raw and violent. And the more it’s worshipped and feared, the more powerful it becomes. The “N” word is even more powerful than the “G-d” word. Most people are allowed to say the “G-d” word, but relatively few are allowed the “N” word. The only people still saying the all-powerful “N” word in its entirety without repercussion are “B R” and “B C.” They are rewarded for spitting the “N” word to their “N”-immune minions, who devour it like a pack of profanity-starved sailors. But what about those of “M R”? Can you say the “N” word if you are 50% “B,” but not if you are 25% “B”? What if you are a “N-B” person raised in an otherwise “A-B” family? Is your family allowed to say the “N” word while you are not?
For more information, visit the ALA.
What is your opinion of censoring or banning words and books? Is it appropriate or necessary in specific instances?
Posted by CMStewart on January 8, 2011
‘Tis the season for well-wishing. Since I don’t know what particular holidays you do or don’t celebrate, I’ll err on the side of inclusiveness and say,
“Happy . .
12 Days of Christmas
All Saints Day
Armenian Apostolic Christmas
Chahar Shanbeh Suri
Chinese New Year
Dies Natalis Solis Invicti
Eastern Orthodox Christmas
Feast of Fools
Holy Innocents’ Day
Martin Luther King Day
New Year’s Day
New Year’s Eve
Signature of the Constitution of the Republic of China
St. Basil’s Day
St. John the Evangelist’s Day
St. Stephen’s Day
St. Sylvester’s Day
St. Valentine’s Day
Yulefest / Midwinter Christmas
. . and let you choose which, if any, well-wishing greeting is appropriate for you. Or maybe I’ll just say “Happy Holidays.”
Note: The above list names some popular secular and non-secular celebrations, holidays, and commemorations occurring sometime in October through February around the world. It is not intended to be a comprehensive or representative list of celebrations during said time period.
I’m not religious, but I’m also not pedantic. I celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve as secular holidays. Do you celebrate holidays or commemorations which fall outside your faith or non-faith?
Posted by CMStewart on December 18, 2010