Kites, Kites, Everywhere

Metaphorically speaking, at least. I’ve never in my life been so high, so frequently. No, not by choice, and certainly not for fun. I was supposed to have some teeth removed on Friday. I have severe dental anxiety so they gave me some pills to combat that. They failed to extract the teeth, I ended up taking two pills and some heavy duty pain meds… and I was higher than I’ve ever been in my life (and seriously never ever hope to be again). And I was still in a lot of pain. I’m hurting more now than I was before going on, so yeah, lots of fun to be had – not. Tuesday I get to experience getting teeth removed by an oral surgeon – a first for me. In the meantime, I’m doped up and counting the seconds until I’m on the other end of this – have I mentioned just how much I hate feeling high? No? Well, I do. I honest-to-god do not understand how anyone would want to feel like this because it sucks. Big, hairy, sweaty donkey balls.

Of course, to top all this, I’ve been in pain the last little while on other fronts, too. Anyone know where the body exchange is? Because I’d like to return mine, it’s faulty.

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Dishing Out the Love

Thank you, Karin, for inviting me to post on your site, and for allowing that cooking is a craft.

My name is Jackie North and I write m/m romance. The “m/m” stands for a relationship between two men, and the romance part speaks for itself.

Why do I write m/m romance? Here’s why. Back in 1993, I went to a Star Trek convention where Leonard Nimoy was speaking. Someone in the audience asked him if he knew what K/S was and if he’d ever read any. The whole crowd (standing room only) moaned and I wondered what all the fuss was about.

Mr. Nimoy, gentleman that he was, said, “Yes, I’ve heard of it but I’ve never read any.” Then he added, “However, I know for a fact that  Bill (Shatner) has a stack beneath his bed.” That made the crowd laugh, though I’m sure they didn’t believe him.

I asked around and discovered that K/S was fan fiction about the love story between Captain Kirk and his First Officer, Spock. From the first one, I was hooked, not only by the romance but also by the passion with which fan fiction authors told the story. After that, I tried writing my own K/S and loved it. 

Today, rather than writing about a starship captain and his space husband, I’m writing a series called Love Across Time. The first book is called Heroes for Ghosts, about a WW1 soldier who time travels to present day to meet a history student who is obsessed with WW1 soldiers. It’s a match that was meant to be, and readers, I’m told, enjoy it very much.

HeroesForGhosts

The second book in the series is called Honey From the Lion, and tells the story of a young software developer who goes to a dude ranch in Wyoming only to find himself lost in a blizzard in 1891. As luck would have it, he stumbles across a cabin in the snow that is inhabited by a gruff, burly guy who only wants to be left alone. It’s a match made in heaven, of course, and they quickly fall in love. I have four more stories planned for this stand-alone series and am looking forward to sharing them with readers.

The theme that all of my stories share, from my first fan fiction to my most current work, is the idea that food is love. There are many kinds of love, of course, but to me the gift of food and of cooking is among the purest.

As to why this is so, I can, though with some difficulty still, admit that growing up I was a hungry chiid. While other kids had lunch boxes full of food, or punch tickets for the lunch lady, I had nothing to eat.

Sometimes I’d have a baggie of Captain Crunch and would beg one of my friends for a nickel so I could buy a carton of milk. Most times, though, I had nothing, and (according to friends, years later) when they asked where my lunch was, I would tell them I wasn’t hungry. In truth, I was typically very hungry.

At home, there was plenty of liquor in the cupboard, and cigarettes in the drawer. There were donuts and grape soda, and once a week, fresh white bread and margarine. I would let the margarine soften, spread it on the white bread, and smother the whole thing with sugar. That was breakfast.

Once living on my own, I would check cookbooks out of the library, or buy them used, and would try out all the recipes, enjoying each and every one, even the failures. And then I ate.

I also read, with rapt attention, any book where the character was hungry and would rejoice when the character was fed. Oliver Twist and I were bosom companions, as you can imagine. What Laura Ingalls ate, I wanted to eat. When Sara Crew in A Little Princess gave away five out of the six fresh, hot buns she’d just gotten from the bakery I always shouted, “For pity’s sake, Sara, keep three for yourself at least!” But no, she never did.

In later years I read a book called The Mirror by Marlys Millhiser. It’s a time travel story about a woman who goes back in time through a mirror, and her granddaughter comes forward in time through the same mirror. Essentially they trade places, and I adored this story with all my heart. Still do, in fact, and have an autographed copy, which I treasure.

In Chapter 15, one of the characters (Hutch) is eating breakfast, and this is how the author described it:

When his food came, he smelled in the coffee steam from his cup, let tough juicy steak linger on his tongue…The yellow of egg yolk, the warm filling taste of it on a hunk of bread. The salty tang of a fried potato followed by the smooth heat of coffee.

When I read that, I could practically smell the coffee and taste those eggs. And knew that I’d found what I didn’t even know I was looking for: that writing about food in a story allowed me to experience eating food without actually eating it. Consequently, every single one of my stories has food and hunger as a central issue and theme. Add food to an m/m romance and to me it’s the perfect combination.

Here’s a scene from my upcoming book Honey From the Lion where food is central:

~~

“Eat your supper,” said John. He pointed at Laurie’s plate with his spoon.

“I said I’m not hungry,” said Laurie with a shake of his head.

John suddenly got up from the table, scraping his chair across the wooden floor, startling Laurie into sitting up straight. But then John went past him and went to the pantry, and Laurie let out a slow breath.

John went down into the little root cellar, and when he came back up he had two canning jars in his hands, which he placed on the table with a clunk. He sat down and took one of the biscuits, sliced it, and slathered it with the white butter. Then he took a spoonful of something that looked like red vomit from one canning jar, and drizzled what looked like honey from the other. He handed the whole mess to Laurie on a small blue and white china plate.

“You can’t go to sleep on an empty belly,” said John. “So at least eat that.”

Laurie scrubbed at his chin, not knowing what to say to this sudden display of care. What if John was like one of those guys who beat their girlfriends and then apologized with roses, only to have the whole cycle start again the next day? He couldn’t deal with that, couldn’t put up with that. But he was too exhausted to leave for Farthing, and besides it was dark out.

“What’s the red stuff?” Laurie asked.

“Rhubarb compote,” said John. “A woman in town makes it, along with the tomato preserves and suchlike that I have in the cellar. Try it, it’s sweet, for she makes it with sugar.”

“Sweet?” asked Laurie. “And is that honey?”

“I save it for special occasions,” said John, and it seemed to Laurie he was somewhat defensive about this, as though a burly, strong man shouldn’t have any weaknesses, or a soft spot for honey.

“Don’t save it for special,” said Laurie, in an almost scolding way. “Now is special.”

He meant to say it in a way to explain to John how he felt about always putting off the nice things, like the people who bought super expensive towels that only guests could use, which was ridiculous. Possibly John had been planning to save that honey to celebrate with when he got his pay in spring. Except now he’d opened it for Laurie, so now it was Laurie’s duty as a guest to eat it.

He picked up the ladened biscuit, and he bit into it. The inside of his whole mouth turned into a mix of flavors he’d not been expecting, the tart with the sweet, and the fat of the butter. And he found he’d eaten the entire thing with a few swallows.

~~

The result of all my love of food is that I have a ton of cookbooks, and printouts of recipes from the internet.

Stack of Cookbooksjpg

I’m an avdid fan of Headbanger’s Kitchen you Youtube (his recipes are so delicious!), and can be quickly drawn into any cooking show that involves a lot of butter.

Lastly, I’d like to share the gift of my Dad’s Rhubarb Pie Recipe:

FredsRhubarbPie

I love roadtrips…

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And rainstorms…

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Have a green thumb…

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Take terrible selfies…

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And my writing desk is typically a mess.

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Thank you for allowing me to visit the Another Peice of Me blog. If you’d like to connect with me online and perhaps read some of my food-centric books, please join me on Facebook or Twitter. Alternately, you can sign up for my newsletter, or email me at jackie@jackienorth.com, as I love connecting with readers.

Happy Eating!

 

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Annoyed

So I’ve been sitting here all morning trying to think on what to write. Truth be told, I haven’t done much by way of crafting in far longer than I care to remember. Something always seems to be getting in the way of it, usually, my health, be it an injury or a severe lack of spoons and it royally sucks. I’m itching to knit right now and I can’t because I’ve done something to my shoulder and need to rest it for a while.

Honestly, I get a little bit cranky when I don’t get to knit for an extended period. The husband will concur if asked. For now, I’ll try to be a good girl and refrain from picking up my needles and just ice my shoulder instead.

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Lettering Shenanigans

Thanks, Naelany for inviting me to stop by your blog again!

I’ve never considered myself an “artsy” person, but I’ve always admired pretty handwriting and creative typography. After learning the basics with Gimp (and later, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator), I’ve become addicted to discovering new fonts and wished I could just write something pretty (which I’ll blame on getting an “F” in sixth-grade penmanship).

I’m a doodler (which gets me into trouble at work meetings because folks assume I’m not paying attention… which is only occasionally true, but I digress…), and have recently discovered Bullet Journaling, which prompted trips to Pinterest, and we all know how much trouble one can get into when Pinterest is open. As it turned out, since I such at being organized, I was mainly drawn to bullet journaling because I liked doodling shit and writing pretty words.

I’d share some images of my BuJo spreads, but… I can’t find the dang thing right now, which, if that doesn’t illustrate my organizational skills perfectly, I don’t know what does.

Anywho…

The BuJo thing led me to discovering faux calligraphy. I stumbled across this sweet tutorial by Karla Dornacher and thought I’d try it out.

It started out innocently enough. My vulgar brain, however, was having none of it. (I don’t think Ms. Dornacher would approve of my subject matter AT ALL.)

faux calligraphy

I shared this image to Facebook because I thought it was funny (and I’m the type of person who laughs at her own jokes because someone has to). To my surprise, a friend of mine asked me to send him “Choke on a bag of dicks” because he wanted to use it as his phone background. Because I couldn’t leave well enough alone, I told him I’d edit it first and then send it to him. Something possessed me to do a screen capture video of the process, and if you’re bored to tears and like watching unnecessarily complicated ways to do simple shit , you can see that here. He loved it. I love doing it. He created a monster.

That same post prompted a different friend to invite me to join a “sweary” lettering group on Facebook called Inappropriate Kick Ass Lettering. I decided “what the heck” and <dreamy sigh>I fell in love with an entirely new group of strangers and these folks give me life I love them so</dreamy sigh>. In addition to discovering a new hoard of peeps who Get Me, I’ve uncovered oodles of tools and techniques to feed my new obsession. The group features “units” for exploring the craft… there is SO MUCH AMAZING STUFF TO LEARN. A lot of the folks regularly posting int he group are into digital lettering, and frequently gushed about an app called Procreate that they use on their iPads with an Apple Pencil. I was envious because holy hell it looked like that would make editing my writing so much easier. Luckily for me, it was tax time, so I splurged on a pricey gadget for the very first time ever (let’s not get into how much that cost…). The Procreate app was $10, which I thought was a lot for a mobile app, but it’s jam-packed with tons of fun options and is an amazingly intuitive illustrating program… and it’s not a monthly subscription like Adobe Illustrator. You pay the $10 and that’s it. Updates are free. You can create everything from simple sketches to full-blown digitally painted masterpieces in this app, so what was the first thing I did on it?

Choke on a Bag of Dicks_LORES MOCKUP.jpg

I took that further and, using a mandala design I created with the Amaziograph app (a whole other beautiful monster) and made it colorful. Just because I could, and it lowered my stress levels like whoa.

Since I started sharing my craziness with folks, I’ve been asked to hand letter kitchen canisters, design wedding stationery, create posters, and other fun stuff.

That (and the fact that I’m hella broke and up to my eyeballs in medical debt) led to my decision to open an Etsy shop. I’m still in the process of building it up and marketing (working two jobs makes this a slow, sluggish process), but I’ve had tons of fun creating stuff and have even started working on illustrations that don’t involve lettering. I’ve also made a few bucks, so #kindawinningoverhere.

 

This piece below was a special request from my dad, who’s a Veteran Naval Air Reserves pilot. He gave me the quote and suggested I add “maybe clipart of a plane nose or something”. I decided to draw it, instead.

Flying Lets Me Feel Like God.jpg

Kinda looks like the plane has a mustache, but my dad has one (a mustache…not a plane), and he loved the final result, so it’s all good.

If you’re in the market for printable snarky inspiration, (or something you can print off, frame, and give to someone as an elaborate “Eff you, dude!” kind of gesture), you can check out my Etsy shop here.

I’m not a Da Vinci by any means, but it’s fun, and I believe I’ve come a long way since that big fat “F” in penmanship twenty-something years ago. 😊

Thanks again, Naelany, for having me!

 

 

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Life

I finally managed to finish my first story for Rough Trade, but I’m not so sure I’ll get very far with the second since it’s almost the end of the month. Which kinda sucks, because that’ll be the second time I’ll not get to that particular one, but ah well. Between the heat, watching kids, and my health issues, I’ve been much more tired and run down than I anticipated. Still, one finished is a win in my book.

Something that has helped a lot already as far as health stuff goes: we got a new couch. For the first time in our married life, we have a couch that is actually comfortable. And it reclines! Which is awesome, though it does present me with a bit of a conundrum. I was hoping to get a standing frame for my cross stitch, but this couch has a metal frame at the bottom, meaning there’s no sliding anything under it. If anyone has any ideas to still get a standing frame that’ll work, I’d be happy to hear it.

Tuesday is my birthday. We have plans for that day. These plans so do not include a dentist in any form. I broke a tooth the other day and was hoping it’d be okay to hold off going until after, but now the damn thing hurts and I’ll need to call in tomorrow. I’m really hoping I still get my day, though. I want to be able to eat whatever on my birthday, dangit.

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Scattered Threads & Perspective

I’m a scattered crafter. My interests are everywhere, and they vary in intensity by season, energy, and effort needed for clean-up. Yes, clean-up. Because, who loves cleaning up after a project? Who loves weaving in a thousand loose threads or hauling everything back to the craft closet? Not me.

IMG_6742In the early 90s, I was one of those girls you may have encountered on a college campus who wore hippie skirts, too many bracelets, no makeup, and smelled of patchouli and clove. That’s where my love of essential oils started. And incense.

Rollerballs, sachets, diffusers with various combinations. It’s fun letting my eighteen-year-old hippie self come back to life.

In my day job, I’m an author and an editor. My brain is in continual use, so crafting gives me a break. It keeps me sane. Crochet used to be my go-to thing, then coloring. I don’t do either of those as much as I’d like, and in fact, I have three crochet projects waiting to be finished. Weaving loose threads.

My office is where my craft closet is. It’s my creative room that, at times, sucks all creative juices out of me. I need to get away from it and sit in nature, listen to birds sing and waves lap against the shore to give my head enough breathing room to be inspired again.

Sometimes I do better with structure. I went to a DIY class at Home Depot the other day and made a desktop storage piece. Having that foundation actually allowed my mind to go to new places. That’s why I love graphic design as well. I have boundaries I’m required to stay in, especially when I’m designing a book cover.

North Star Trilogy

A second chance. A love worth the wait. A family to fight for.

My best friend upcycles furniture, and we worked on a table together. She bought this wrapping paper I loved that I insisted she put it on this outmoded table. Together we sanded the top to buttery smoothness, and I did all the tedious touch-up painting because I’m either a martyr or crazy for loving detail work.

Hell, I’m an editor. I obviously love detail work.

Pinterest-Table-Spark

But I love the big picture too. That table ended up in my living room because it needed to be part of my big picture. After working so long on it, that table became one of my threads.

In my writing, weaving threads throughout a novel is one of my favorite things. I love bringing a theme back, reminding readers that what happened in chapter one, despite it not seeming important, was the foundation for what happened in chapter fifteen and chapter twenty and the climax.

The repeating patterns we make in life are a lot like the repetition in our crafts. How many colors of green yarn will I buy before I have every shade out there? I’ve accidentally bought the same color several times. Or was it an accident?

As scattered as my interests are, crafting settles me. It gives me moments to appreciate details. And while I’m focused on learning that new stitch or melting broken crayons to be used again or setting up a new layout in my bullet journal, the big picture always seems to reveal itself. I may not recognize it right away, but eventually, I do.

Come find me:

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Wildlife Safari

Week before last we took our niece and nephew to the Wildlife Safari. I’d never been, but hubby had… twenty years or so ago, that is. It was way more fun than I’d anticipated, and I’d figured it would be a lot of fun, so… 😉

I’m not gonna post all the pictures I took, just some of my favorites because yeah, I took a lot of pictures.

No picture, since hubby took it and I don’t have it on my phone, but I got to do something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I saw The Mummy. I may not be a librarian, but I got to ride a camel! The ride was very brief, and I’d honestly have loved a longer one, but yeah. The camel we had (niece and nephew rode with me) was initially not having it. He had just sat down and did not want to get up again. Not that I really blame the poor thing as we were at triple digits that day, but it was funny to hear his protests. Once he was on his feet, though, he was a sweetheart.

One of my other favorite things was being able to feed the animals (technically, we only got feed cups for the kids, but still).

“Yes, I’d like to place an order, please.”

 

“Ah yes, that hits the spot.”

 

 

“Am I too late?”

Yeah, sorry buddy, but we were fresh out. Still, she was gorgeous. Love the coloring.

“What’re you looking at?”

This one had a lot to say, though I admit I missed most of it because we had our windows up at the time. Still, he was… chatty.

I have no idea what kind of bird this is, but this shot came out great

 

 

 

 

 

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