Friday, June 28, 2013

Maters, Taters and Grits, oh my!

Greetings ya'll! I hope your weeks have been more exciting than the thought of a thousand gremlins, who have been fed after midnight, playing kettle-drums to Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart!"

Well for today's post I actually had to sit down with a glass of good ol' sweet tea and Charlie Daniels Band's "Devil Went Down to Georgia" blasting in the background.

"What would bring out Allison's not normally as obvious Southern side?" one might ask.

This is why:

Author B.S. Johnson wrote this nice little slice of Georgia peach pie and not only signed a copy for me, but allowed me to interview her as well!

"Maters, Taters and Grits" is a little homage to Southern living that is perfect for anyone wishing to revisit their roots in the deep South or for those wanting to get a peek into what "Southern Hospitality" really means. B.S. Johnson not only does a good job in her collection of essays of conveying the warmth of the culture she grew up in, but does so in a way that will leave you hankering for a huge glass of sweet tea.

Of course, what am I still yapping about, here is B.S. Johnson's world in her own words:

What made you want to start writing?

I was raised an only child, and was adopted. I had lots of things running through my young mind, and no siblings to beat it out on, so I started using writing as an outlet. I filled many notebooks in my day.

You have a new book of poetry coming out soon, can you tell my readers a bit about it?
It is actually out now. "Rhymes from Darker Times." I guess you could say it was twenty years in the making, because several of the poems in that book came out of notebooks I have been writing in since the late eighties, early nineties. These poems were some that helped me through some of the more difficult times in my life.

Side note: Look here it is!  
If you could sit and have a glass of sweet tea with any fictional character from a book, what character would it be?

Oh, that would have to be Harry Potter. I love magic. I wonder if he could make me talk to animals...

What is the single biggest difference between Southerners and Northerners?

The accent, I think. You can usually pick up on it right away. 

What song are you most likely to be overheard singing loudly to in the shower?

Probably anything by Colt Ford. I'm a huge fan.

If you had to choose between an eternity of listening to nothing but elevator music or an eternity of eating nothing but jello with vegetables in it, which would you choose and why?

Jello with veggies. Because I gotta eat. And jello is yummy. If there's veggies in it I don't like, such as peas, I'll pick 'em out. 

What has been your favorite part of the writing process thus far?

Honestly, I'd have to say being published. It was such a great accomplishment for me. I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd have a book-much less two- in print!

Thank you to B.S. Johnson for being a good sport and answering my questions! If either of those books piqued your interest you should check them out (go click the titles, I linked them) and also scurry on over to B.S. Johnson's blog!

Well "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus" has been out for about a month and a half now!

J.G. Brandt says, "This had me laughing the entire way through. The stories themselves are the kind that are so wonderfully and hilariously improbable that you know they are true. Miss Hawn has a unique style that is quite delightful for the reader and a quick as a whip sense of humor that will have you smiling despite yourself. If you have ever had a moment in your own life where you sat stunned at a situation you were in thinking "that so did not just happen...." or "no one is ever gonna believe this...." you will enjoy this book. When I finished the last story my first thought was "But wait! There has to be more!" I look forward to her next work"

Thank you to everyone who has supported me thus far, written reviews and generally just been absolutely smashing! I hope you all have a splendid week!

If you want to find out why a raven is like a writing desk, feel free to follow me on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Short List

Hello all! I hope everyone is having a more fantastic Sunday than the thought of a thousand lemmings synchronized swimming to "Bittersweet Symphony."

Well, to start out "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus" has been getting some pretty sweet reviews!

Amazon user Annie_Larlee writes, "Allison is able to write so descriptively that you feel like you are right there beside her as she experiences each story! This is a must-read if you want to have a good laugh and see a snap shot of the life Allison lives!!! I would recommend it to all of my friends, family and acquaintances!"

The book has also been making it all around the country!

Here it is in Georgia (thanks to B.S. Johnson for the picture):

Here it is with the contest winner Jill JP Palmquist in Washington:

And here it is in California (thanks to Marty M. for the picture):

Well, it has been a crazy (about two steps away from psychotic crazy) week for me. In one week I got a new job, moved to a new apartment and was called "darling" by no less than four different people.

If I have seemed oddly silent, it's not because I'm dead, though, with how my life tends to progress, that is a fair assumption to make. 

I am currently sitting in a coffee shop scalping internet, as my home internet will not be hooked up for a bit yet, as I very slowly drink a mocha that I am relatively sure has enough sugar in it to give a weasel an aneurysm.  Good thing I'm slightly bigger than a weasel, huh?

One of the things that moving has made abundantly clear is that I am short. This point was especially exemplified when I went to hang my shower curtain in my new bathroom, stepped up into the tub (which is about 6 inches off the ground) and my friend Sarah said, "Wow, even with you standing in a tub I'm still taller than you."

I was about to protest, until I looked over and realized I was making eye contact with her for the first time ever without having to crane my neck upwards, and yes, she was still a good inch or two taller than me.

Being 5'3" (on a good day and sometimes only if I stand on my tippy-toes) means that a lot of my conversations feel like this:

O.k., so I'm short, which has its admitted downsides (no pun intended). I can't reach the top cabinets without imitating a spider monkey, I would need a pogo stick to ever compete in a hurdle race and it is much easier for people to condescendingly pat me on the head than most.

Despite these issues, I think that being short has some clear advantages. So if you are short, like me, I encourage you to bring up these points next time someone mocks your vertically challenged state.

1. Short people tend to have mad hide and seek skills. Remember that box that you never thought anyone would ever curl up in?

Yeah, we've been in that box for 45 minutes and are perfectly comfortable.

2. We are built lower to the ground, meaning that when we fall it's a shorter distance to the ground. It's also a lot less effort to get back up again.

3. We tend not to have this problem:

4. These guys are short, and they are awesome!

5. Our lives spent as short people have improved our ability to climb things.

6. We have a lower center of gravity and are built low to the ground for speed an accuracy.

See, being short isn't terrible. So we occasionally need help reaching things out of our own kitchen cabinets and spend a lot of time examining peoples' nostrils, but at least we're harder to find, thwart or push over!

Well, I had best go before the coffee shop people begin to suspect me of plotting a caffeine fueled revolt. Remember you can always follow my exploits on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Back to the Smorgasbord! (And an Interview Too!)

Hello all you lovely people (or any other lovely that thing happens to be reading this page)! I hope everyone has had a wonderful week in whatever land they are in!

Today's post is a bit of a smattering of randomness. This is what happens when an already devious woman with too much coffee in her system is given the power to write her own blog. Mwahahahahahahahahahaha! (That is the closest to an evil laugh I can get via typing, so here's an additional visual for you.) 

We have a winner in the Facebook based contest to win a signed copy of "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus!" Jill JP Palmquist was chosen by the mystic Safeway bag! (I realize it's not exactly the Hogwarts Sorting Hat, but it was the only thing I really had nearby that I could pull slips of paper out of... without getting out of my chair that is.) 

Thank you to everyone who entered. If you wanted to win but the mystic Safeway bag did not oblige, don't worry, more contests are on the way! Just stay tuned to the same Bat-station (Bat-time may vary)!

Well I happened upon another independent author whose work deserves some mention; Darrin Mason's e-book "The Wicked Witch of the West Rides Again." 

If that isn't the most Trick-or-Treat oriented cover you've ever seen, then I challenge you to find one that fits the bill better.  This short work is a mix of "Who's on First," "The Jabberwocky" and the random pop culture references of "Whose Line is it Anyway?" 

What's even cooler is that Darrin Mason actually let me interview him, and all I had to do was threaten his garden gnome collection with a sledgehammer to get him to agree to answer my questions! (No actual garden gnomes were hurt in the making of this blog post.) So now, without further ado, I present an interview with author Darrin Mason! 

In writing “The Wicked Witch of the West Rides Again” what was your biggest source of inspiration? 

"The Wicked Witch of the West Rides Again" is the sequel to "The Wicked Witch of the West: Munchkin Killer" which was inspired by the title, "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters." I am also a huge fan of Stephen King and Gary Larson (The Far Side). I guess I just put two and two hundred thousand, eight hundred and sixty nine together and came up with something that will rock your socks off. 

What first interested you in writing? 

It wasn't writing to begin with as much as it was creating. I just did what I did and looking back on it I guess it was my way of escaping a pretty crappy childhood. Come to think of it, most people who escape are sent back to jail with time added on, so I guess my way out is not only a pretty cool one in its own right, but it is also something I can say nee-ner nee-ner about to all those escaped prisoners who are back in jail having been caught while on the run.

If you could have tea with one of your characters, which one would you invite and why?

My version of the Wicked Witch of the West because she don't take no sh*t from no one. She's also a very pretty thing.

Who is your biggest comedic idol? 

Undoubtedly Chevy Chase in front of the camera and Mel Brooks behind it. As a group, Monty Python.

What music do you listen to when you write?

Metallica babeee. Yeah.

Who would win in a fight; a grizzly bear or a unicorn? Why? 

They already did and the bear won. That's how the unicorn became extinct. I mean, duh.

Thank you Darrin for answering my questions, the sledgehammer is going back in my closet and Jimithy the Garden Gnome is safe... for now.

On a final note, specifically C-sharp I think, Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus, has been getting some pretty sweet reviews.

Joybelle60 on Amazon writes:  "What a fun read. Allison is funny, in an off beat way, which meets my needs for a fun read, in its entirety. If you want to read a book that will just entertain you, this is the perfect book. Congrats, Allison on book 1........looking forward to your next endeavor."

As a first-time author I truly appreciate the kind words of my readers more than I, or probably an auctioneer on speed, can say!

As always, if you wish to catch up on the latest of my misadventures I can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Free Your Mind!

Hello all! I hope everyone's weekend was more fantastic than the thought of marmots skiing over piles of glitter!

Well yesterday I had my first book signing for Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus at Monkeyboy Books!

Thank you to everyone who came out to get their copies of the book signed and to all the new readers I was able to meet! Also thank you to Marina for letting me take up a corner of your shop for this event!

Also Auntie's Bookstore has also started carrying Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus!!! So if you happen to be hankering for a copy, you can find it there now too!

And now for something completely different; Darth Vader in a kilt, on a unicycle playing bagpipes!

Prejudice. Wrote a blog post about it. Like to read it? Here it goes! (If you don't get that reference, go to Youtube and it will make a lot more sense.)

I had an interesting interaction today. I was buying groceries, a task that requires me to listen to "Eye of the Tiger" just so that the task of buying tomatoes feels more epic.

I should note that I was wearing a tank top today because Spokane has suddenly decided that Summer is happening, despite our random May "spit goes clink" cold snap. If you will note the picture above... I have some artwork, and by some, I mean quite a bit.

I was rocking out in the produce section, my headphones in but not turned up super loud, when I heard this lady right next to me say to her husband, "Look at her and those tattoos, I bet she doesn't even have a job. Such a shame that someone so young messed up their life."

I paused my lettuce perusal and turned to the woman and gave her the most sickeningly, sugary sweet smile I could muster and said, "Actually, I'm a social worker, and I've had steady jobs since I was 17. The tattoos just help me weed out the people who are too prejudiced for me to hang around. Oh, and by the way, I have a 4-year degree, so yeah, I've really screwed up my life." 

The woman's eyes bugged out and her mouth dropped open enough that I could see the half masticated piece of gum she had been spitefully chewing, and so I continued in the brightest most cheerful tone I could muster, "Yeah, I may look like a cheap romance novel to you on the outside, but on the inside I'm Shakespeare. Have a good day, ok cupcake?"

As I walked away I could hear her husband chuckling. 

Sadly, this is not the first time something like this has happened. I once was asked if I was a Satanist, which is entertaining considering the fact that I have "Psalm 23:4" scrawled on my shin, a giant angel on my chest and two other crosses. I just looked at the man who asked and said, "Yep, better keep an eye on your chickens. You never know when I might need a sacrifice."

I have also been asked, "When you get old, aren't you going to hate the way they look?"

To which I normally respond, "When you get old, are you going to look like a beauty queen?"

Plus, if I can look half as awesome as this dude does at 80, then I don't think I will have any problem with it!

I realize that not everyone likes tattoos. That is fine. The solution to that is that if you don't like tattoos, then don't get any.

I also realize that some employers are not fans of tattoos, which is why I get them in places that I can cover them easily.

It is just plain sad, though, when someone looks at a wonderful piece of art (and I'm going to say it, my tattoos are pieces of art etched by true artists) and thinks that someone's I.Q. or capabilities are somehow diminished because of its existence.

Now granted, if someone has a tattoo that looks like it was drawn by a three-year-old or has horrible misspellings in it like this:

Then I can understand where one might think the person sporting this piece of awfulness might be a few fries short of a Happy Meal.  Not all tattoos are created equal.

But when it is like this:

An actual piece of art, then I don't see why someone must be deemed less intelligent, less capable or less in any way based on the fact that they made a choice that someone else may not have. (A shout out to Em and John at Talon Tattoo. Em did this piece on a friend of mine and they are true artists over there.)

The world is full of so many other important issues and questions that we could be spending mental energy on (like how do you peel a pomegranate without making a gory mess out of it?), so why focus any energy on making negative assumptions?

People are people, some people just resemble the Louvre more than others.

As always, feel free to follow my exploits on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads!


Sunday, June 2, 2013

War is Upon Us... Oh, and There's a Contest Too!

Well happy June all of you warm weather loving folks (if you don't like warm weather, shush and move to Antarctica)!

First things first, remember that book that I drew a picture of Godzilla (or at least attempted to draw Godzilla) burning down a random city in? You know, this one:

Well now you have a chance to be the owner of that exact copy of "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus" via a little contest starting today!  I will also be signing and dedicating the copy to the winner before I entrust it to the U.S. Postal Service to deliver it right to the winner's door!

So how do you get entered for a chance to win? Well it's actually very simple to get yourself in the running, hop on over to my Facebook Page and "Like" my author page. Then, find the post announcing this contest (it will be really close to the top of the feed) and click the "Share" button on that post and let your friends know about the contest too!

Only those who both like my author page and share the contest post with their friends will be entered (you can't just like my page and then try to keep the contest all to yourself, be nice to your friends and share, your kindergarten teacher taught you better than that). That's all there is to it, so go out there and click the two little buttons that will get you entered to win your very own signed copy of "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus!"

In other news, June 8th I will be at Monkeyboy Books in downtown Spokane from 1 to 3 pm for a book signing! Don't have a copy yet? That's ok, because Boo Radley's has just started carrying "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus" in their store! Check it out (and yes, I know the camera on my chunky old phone takes pictures just about as well as a 2 year old with a disposable camera):

Isn't that spiffy?

Well, my job working with street involved and homeless youth often times means I get to meet some... shall we say, characters?

One such character approached me this week looking for food. He looked deep into my eyes and said, "You know that there is a war going on in downtown Spokane, right?"

I just kind of smirked and said, "Oh? And who is fighting this war? And would you like a sandwich?"

He stared more deeply into my eyes and loudly announced, "How can you not see the angels, demons and aliens, they are fighting in the clouds right now!!!"

I'm not sure if this person was just trying to follow George Lucas' "Indiana Jones" train of thought (three super successful movies based in religion, then you switch to hokey looking aliens just because you had set pieces left over from Star Wars, really George, come on!?), but looking up I did not see any such entities battling for domination of Spokane, Washington.

I just blinked at the man for a second, not really wanting to confirm or deny his delusion of cloud battling creatures. That was when he noticed something.

I have several tattoos (and by "several" I mean if I'm wearing a tank top I probably would remind someone of a 1930's painted lady), and the largest and most noticeable of them is a chest piece of a wonderful angel (artistically designed and implemented by Em at Talon Tattoo). I was wearing a tank top that day.

My new information sharing friend saw my tattoo and his eyes got wide enough that I probably could have driven a military Hummer leading several obese elephants through his gaze, "You're one of them!!!"

I just continued to blink for a second until he gasped out, "You're one of the angels!"

I sighed, "I'm guessing you're not a huge fan of the angels then?"

"No! They are beating the aliens, and I like the aliens."

So for my more visual readers, he was concerned that this:

 was going to beat this in battle:

I took a deep breath and said, "Ok... Well despite the fact that I'm an "angel," would you like a sandwich or not?"

He peered at me suspiciously, "But then the aliens would know if I took aid from an angel."

"Well, I won't tell them, plus if you eat the sandwich then all the evidence will disappear."

He peered at me some more then said, "Ok, I'll take the risk," and he snatched the sandwich out of my hand and skittered off down the street.

I spent the rest of the day trying to figure out why aliens, angels and demons would be so intent on fighting over Spokane. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love this city, but our biggest attraction is that we have the world's biggest 3-on-3 basketball tournament here every year. It's not like we're really that desirable of a place to invade and control. Maybe Hoopfest is just that important to the world beyond our own?

In any case, at least I'm beating the aliens right?

So, a question for my readers, if there were a war between aliens, angels and demons, who would you put your money on?

Well don't forget to head over to my Facebook Page to enter yourself to win a special signed copy of "Life is a Circus Run by a Circus!" Feel free to also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads!