Five Things Friday: Mini-Interview with Author and Historian Elaine L. Orr

So, while all of the authors that I cajole into getting interviewed on this blog are fantastic, this week’s author is even more exciting, because . . . we’re related! Yes, really! According to her, we are “fourth cousins once removed” because my father and she are fourth cousins. It gets better, though, continue to read the excerpt from Elaine L. Orr’s most recent correspondence to me:

“Our common ancestors are Paul Orr and Isabella Boyd who never left Ireland. At least she didn’t. I descend from their son William, you from their son George . . . We’re some kind of double cousins. I also descend from Elliott Hickman and Nancy Isbell, but through their daughter Artemissa. You are [descended] via their son Temple Elliott Hickman, I believe.”

So, without further ado, please welcome my cousin, Elaine L. Orr!

Willow Croft: As you state on your blog, the “Irish Roots” references your family genealogy, of which you’ve extensively researched, and published your findings in a book. (https://elaineorr.com/orr-family-history/). So, if you could go back in time, what family member would you most like to meet, and why?

Elaine L. Orr: That’s a tough question. It would probably be Sarah Frances Reynolds, daughter of Artemissa Hickman and Jonathan Reynolds. She was a great grandmother on my dad’s side. During the Civil War, Sarah Frances’ father was killed by Confederate Bushwhackers (deserters from the regular Confederate Army). Her mother (someone I’d also like to meet) packed up her kids and drove them in a wagon to Lawrence County, Missouri, where some of her siblings had settled.

Sarah kept a brief diary of the 475-mile trip. They crossed three rivers (the Cumberland, Tennessee, and Mississippi), the latter at Cairo, Illinois. As the oldest of nine (four of whom were seven or under when her father died), I figure she had a lot of responsibility for younger kids. I imagine her keeping track of them during river crossings.

Sarah had seven children of her own and helped raise a granddaughter after her own daughter died. Despite her size (perhaps four feet ten), she was said (by one of my aunts) to have been “a ball of fire.” She learned to quilt from her mother and taught all six of her daughters to do the same. I have a tattered quilt that my own grandmother made – a skill she learned from Sarah Frances.

Willow Croft: Which of the fictional/fictionalized locations in your (multiple!) cozy mystery/mystery series would you most want to live in?

Elaine L. Orr: I finally placed a series in my original home state of Maryland. It’s a family history mystery series, set in the Maryland mountains. I might like to live there, but I’m not big on driving on curvy roads in snow – and it snows a lot at those altitudes..

So, I’d probably pick the Jersey shore, where the Jolie Gentil books are set. However, I would want it to be a town similar to my fictional Ocean Alley, perhaps the real-life Ocean Grove. I love the ocean, especially when it’s stormy – though not during hurricane season.

Willow Croft: Keepers of historical archives can be a unique class unto themselves. What’s the oddest situation you found yourself in while conducting research into your family history (either in person, or online)? Alternatively, what’s the most unusual story you’ve come across in your research?

Elaine L. Orr: In addition to my immediate family’s history, I’m also the historian for the Orr Reunion Association of Mount Vernon, Missouri. Six families from Ireland stayed in touch after coming to America. Thanks to the Internet, I’ve learned about a lot of relatives who went to Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. It’s given me a real appreciation for how thousands of people can grow from a few. We’ve also married into other race and ethnic groups, including Native Americans. It’s been neat to learn all that.

The oddest situation…Because I post family trees on ancestry, a lot of people contact me with questions. Two have been looking for parents! One had been adopted. The person she thought was her father had passed, so I couldn’t make the connection for her beyond what she had seen in my tree. I was kind of glad, because I had no idea if he ever knew he had a daughter.

The other wanted contact info for a first cousin. I said I would pass on the information (and did), but would not give her a living person’s email or phone. She did track the cousin down on her own. He let me know that, but I didn’t ask about their conclusion. I didn’t like being in the middle.

By far the ‘best’ story happened to a third-great aunt and her family. They just missed a steamer that was to take them from Ireland to the USA because they had not received a communication about a departure time change. They ended up on a sailing ship, which took much longer, and one family member died. However, the steamer was never heard from again. If they had made the first ship, they would have all died.

Willow Croft: If you have family artifacts in your possession, have you ever felt any of them to be haunted?

Elaine L. Orr: I had a teapot that belonged to my great grandmother (mom’s side). While I never thought of it as haunted, it was later stolen. I hope to heck it haunts whoever took it.

Willow Croft: If you had to pick one recipe or dish from any of your mystery series to eat for the rest of your life, which would you pick? Or, what’s the strangest recipe/foodstuffs you’ve come across in your family research?

Elaine L. Orr: Oh, heavens. It would probably be the boardwalk fries that Jolie and Scoobie eat – she with ketchup, he with vinegar. Obviously, I don’t have the recipe! In Final Cycle (a Logland series book), I include a chile recipe that is attributed to Nick, co-owner of a diner. However, I like the chile of a friend (Jodi Perko) so much, that I asked for her recipe. I made it at home; it’s great.

Recipes say a lot about the original cook. My Great Aunt Stell’s (Estella Cochran’s) fruitcake recipe has more ingredients than I would have thought possible, listed in precise amounts. My cousin Doug’s handwritten barbeque beans recipe has ingredients such as:

Various kinds of beans: pinto, lima, butter…whatever
Mustard (not much, just a dash)
Brown sugar
Molasses/sorghum
The above two are linked with a note that says, “Balance these two.”

Bottom line, a recipe is yours once you make it, so you can improvise!

***

I don’t know about you, but I sure hope that purloined teapot is haunting whoever stole it, too. Check out Elaine L. Orr’s included bio (below) for more information about her mystery series and her other literary works, as well links to her websites! Hope you enjoyed the visit from my cousin . . . I sure did!

Elaine L. Orr writes family and local histories as well as four mystery series: the Jolie Gentil series at the Jersey shore, the River’s Edge series along Iowa’s Des Moines River, the Logland series in small-town Illinois, and the Family History mystery series in the Western Maryland Mountains. She also writes plays and novellas, including her favorite, Falling Into Place. Two of her books have been shortlisted for the Chanticleer Mystery and Mayhem Awards, and The Unscheduled Murder Trip received an Indie B.R.A.G Medallion in 2021. Elaine is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Indiana Writer’s Center.

www.elaineorr.com
http://elaineorr.blogspot.com

Five Things Friday: Mini-Interview with Author Katherine Pritchett

This week’s interview is a writer from Kansas (the state where I now reside). I miss some things about New Mexico–the local cuisine, the great social support programs, and more! But Kansas has the internet access I need for work, so…here I am! But I chose to revisit New Mexico via this interview…at least by way of the first question.

Willow Croft: We’ve both been to a few of the same historical sites in New Mexico (according to one of your blog entries). Which historical site, in general, made you feel like you’ve been there before (or which most resonated with you)?

Katherine Pritchett: I felt the stories at Fort Union the most. It was probably occupied the shortest amount of time, but I felt a presence there the most, like their stories were untold or the mission unfinished. At Frijoles Canyon, I felt peace around the cliff dwellings long abandoned as though, and at Los Alamos Laboratory, I felt the weight of the history and of the future, while just a few miles away lived the old ones.

Willow Croft: I see from your blog, that you spend time watching our bird friends. If you could be any bird for a day, which would you pick?

Katherine Pritchett: I think I’d pick a cardinal. They seem to stay with me wherever I go. My sister-in-law believed they were visitors from heaven. If so, my whole family–mom, dad, Aunt Betty, my brother and sister-in-law–may be watching over me. Lord knows, I need it! But it may also be my fiance Charles Durham, my kindred soul who passed after we had only been seeing each other five months. But we lived a lifetime together in those five months, because once he was diagnosed with leukemia, we only dealt with the important things.

Willow Croft: I’m fairly new to Kansas, so I’m curious, what’s your favourite “local cuisine” dish you like to, eat, make, or have made for you? Alternatively, what local vegetables or fruits find your way onto your plate?

Katherine Pritchett: Well, I love to eat more than cook, so there are lots. My daughter and one daughter-in-law always frequent Taco Delite when they visit. It’s been a staple of Pratt for years and is consistently good and filling. I’m not that much of a cook, so I like to eat what others prepare. My youngest son is a firefighter, so he has learned to cook dishes that feed a family. My daughter in Tennessee married a great guy who cooks rich southern dishes like dump cake, and we are regulars at a Thai restaurant there. My oldest son served in the Army and married a Canadian woman he met in Vietnam. They cook a lot of fusion cuisine. Now the whole family cooks and shares recipes and cooking tips. When we are all together, which is at least once a year, more if we can swing it, each family cooks a meal. Curiously, all my best friends are also good cooks…

Willow Croft: What’s the oddest thing your pet (or pets) have done?

Katherine Pritchett: What haven’t they done? The horse I had from the time she was about 10 minutes old took up jumping fences when she was 28 years old, starting with her first encounter with an electric fence. She decided that little wire couldn’t hold her, but a few seconds after walking into it, she felt a zap. She spun around and stared at it a couple of minutes, then took two more strides back and cleared it. She later jumped a woven wire fence the same height. But when she cleared the fences, she put herself in her stall. Her mother just looked at her as if to say, “Fool!” and resumed eating grass.

A cat I had set the couch on fire trying to catch a moth. The moth was fluttering around a lamp, she attacked it and knocked the lamp over. The lampshade fell off and the bulb sat against the foam cushion until it began to smolder. Another cat follows us on our walks. I believe she thinks she is security, our own secret service detail. Sometimes I think I see her putting a paw to her ear to hear the ear bud.

They all have unique personalities. I guess I communicate with animals well because they were pretty much my only playmates when I was little. I remember sitting under the honeysuckle vines with the mama barn cats. They would nap while I cuddled their kittens. When I walked home from school, all the loose dogs in town would follow me. Now I know all the neighborhood cats and dogs by name and history. Don’t always remember the names of their humans.

Willow Croft: Your books on Amazon are crime/mystery/suspense in genre(s). Have you ever encountered a real-life mystery or true crime that fascinated you and which you wish you could solve? (Well, aside from the “missing” sandwich case you mentioned on your blog that involved a dastardly canine culprit!)

Katherine Pritchett: What the River Knows was inspired by a murder that occurred in Hutchinson, Kansas, over 40 years ago. A suspect has never been arrested. Dennis Rader, Ted Bundy and other serial killers deny killing her. Yet every time I cross the Arkansas River bridge south of Hutchinson, I remember her. I couldn’t bring her justice in real life, but tried to do so in the book. The detective in that book is in the process of getting involved in another mystery now, one that may land him in hot water. Or worse.

And there is the constant mystery of where I left my glasses. Or phone. Or coffee cup.

***

Maybe you can help Katherine Pritchett find her missing items at one of her social media sites! Here’s the links–pay her a visit if you’d like! She’s also on Amazon, but this weird inset window pops up when I try to put in the link, so you’ll just have to do a search over there for her.

http://katherinepritchett.com/

https://m.facebook.com/pages/category/Writer/Katherine-Pritchett-Author-108014189234379/

Five Things Friday: Mini-Interview with Author S. Alessandro Martinez

Flying in on bat wings is this week’s Five Things Friday interviewee, horror and fantasy author S. Alessandro Martinez.

Willow Croft: If you could be any species of bat, which one would you choose, and why?

S. Alessandro Martinez: I love bats! My favorite animal. If I were going to be a bat, I’d either choose a vampire bat, for obvious reasons. Or a Livingstone’s fruit bat, which are adorable, fluffy, and have awesome-looking eyes.

Willow Croft: What with the pandemic, I definitely missed playing board games at the local comic book shop. (I’m still irked with myself for not being able to make it to your Helminth escape room challenge event!) So, what’s your favourite board game, and do board games and/or video games ever inspire your writing?

S. Alessandro Martinez: Our Helminth live online escape room was a ton of fun to put on, but also a ton of work. I’m still glad we did it, though. My favorite board game of all time would be Arkham Horror (2nd Edition). Most people who know me know I’m a huge Lovecraft fan. I have many Lovecraftian board games, but Arkham Horror will always be number one. As for whether they inspire my writing? Definitely. A novel I’m working on at the moment was inspired by a tabletop role-playing game campaign I wrote a few years ago. I enjoyed the story I came up with, and decided to turn it into a novel.

Willow Croft: Helminth got pretty gruesome at times (not that I minded, of course!), so, in real life, what’s the most gruesome thing you’ve ever eaten (or strangest recipe you prepared)?

S. Alessandro Martinez: I don’t know about “gruesome”, but I’ve eaten plenty of things that would be considered weird to Americans like me. For example, I’ve had blood pudding and blood sausage, both good. Sea urchin, which I would not recommend ever. Whale, it was okay. Horse is one of the most delicious meats I’ve ever had. In Iceland I had hákarl, which is Greenland shark that has been fermented and hung to dry for about five months. I probably wouldn’t eat that again, but I would recommend experiencing it.

Willow Croft: As a horror and fantasy writer, your imagination must take you to some spooky, and wonderful, fictional places. In real life, though, what’s the most fantastical/frightening thing that’s happened to you?

S. Alessandro Martinez: When my wife and I visited Canada, we decided to go on a caving tour. During the tour, I somehow ended up in front of everyone as we were crawling through these narrow passageways. From the rear of the group, the guide sent up instructions to go down a certain passage. So I attached myself onto the safety line and went down that way. Well, what we found out later was that the guide had said “DON’T go down that way.” But the message had altered on its way down to me. Turns out the safety line I had attached to wasn’t connected to anything on the other end and there was a pretty significant drop right below where I had gotten to. Thankfully, only my wife and I had gone down before the guide realized what happened. We had to wait for the guide to come and lead us out a safer way.

As for fantastical, when the wife and I were in New Zealand, we got to see many Lord of the Rings filming locations, climb to the top of Edoras, and have a hobbit feast at the Green Dragon. We also went caving (again) to see the glowworms. That was amazing sight! And when we were in Iceland, my wife and I got to swim in a stream that had been recently created through volcanic activity and was being naturally heated. This was a practically a private spot in the middle of nowhere that a guide had taken us to. A truly amazing experience.

Willow Croft: And, lastly, if you could travel to any (presumably) cursed or haunted location in the world for an overnight stay, where would you choose?

S. Alessandro Martinez: It’s a dream of mine to visit Bran Castle (Dracula’s Castle) one day. Who wouldn’t, right? I’ve also been wanting to visit the Waverley Hills Sanatorium in Kentucky. That seems like a super creepy place I’d love to explore. I would happily spend a night at either of these locations. Or maybe several nights when it comes to Bran Castle.

Take a dark draught with S. Alessandro Martinez over at his blog: https://salessandromartinez.com/.

Thursday Thoughts…

…anybody heard anything from “Book ‘Em Jan O” lately? I’ve noticed that Jan O’s blog has gone quiet. https://bookemjanoblog.wordpress.com/

…did I mention that I have an eye phobia? Apparently, so does this author. https://horrortree.com/jennifer-anne-gordon-on-her-biggest-fears/ I haven’t met anybody else who has similar fears about eyeballs as I do, and for once, I’m not ashamed of it. I’m terrified of anything getting anywhere near my eye. And, ironically, I had a very similar experience as a kid when I got my eye scratched. I had to wear a patch and everything. And, in 2015, I lost part of my field of vision (more than I probably would have if the doctor hadn’t initially dismissed it as a “floater”) due to optic nerve swelling. As if I wasn’t anxious enough about going to the eye doctor before, you bet your routine eye exam that I am now! I even wear safety glasses when I’m doing anything where harmful substances can get in my eyes: changing lightbulbs, dusting, cleaning! (Okay, I’m exaggerating on that last bit. But only slightly. *laugh*)

…I wish the 21st Century lived up to the promise many authors, artists, inventors, and designers saw for it way back when. Improvements to health care, society, conflict resolution, and so many more issues that are still going on today, and which make daily life feel like the same old, same old.

…I’m hoping autumn comes soon. And I’m still not very familiar with the flavour of a Kansas autumn, so it will be nice to see it in a smaller town. It still feels like summer here…just look at all that green in this post from a cool blog about prairies: https://prairieecologist.com/2021/09/27/a-leisurely-trip-to-kansas/

…I love libraries so much. My library offers this recommendation service that I took advantage of, and my first set of recommendations were great! https://www.wichitalibrary.org/recommendations

Speaking of reading, it’s still hot here, but all I want to do is curl up under my new pumpkin-orange sheets (orange is my favourite colour!) and read books. It’s like autumn is my summer vacation.

Especially cozy mysteries: https://theglorioustrainwreckmom.com/2021/09/30/witchy-cozy-mysteries-for-spoopy-season/

But I was intrigued by the premise of this post on Tor that states that “fall…is for pensive books full of powerful change”. https://www.tor.com/2021/09/23/mark-as-read-fall-books/

I’ve been pensive about all the usual things–the environment, animals, COVID–but also about the owl I tried to save. Eventually, I’ll blog about it, but it’s too soon for me, emotionally. And also because I’m still in the process of “going to the mattresses” by way of a letter-writing campaign and such, so I hope that makes a difference in how such things are handled, in the future, here.

So, that’s it for me.

How are you celebrating autumn? Any fall-themed books on your reading list?

Five Things Friday: Mini-Interview with Author Suzanne Craig-Whytock

This week’s interview is with spooky-tale-teller (and pretty “dang” funny!) author Suzanne Craig-Whytock!

Willow Croft: Writers tend to have pretty active and wild imaginations, and I think your blog captures how free ranging our minds are. So, I was curious, what kinds of inventions have you filed imaginary patents for in your head? (Inspired by your post about the underground network of nefarious kayak thieves: https://educationalmentorship.com/2021/09/12/rendezvous-with-destiny/.)

Suzanne Craig-Whytock: I don’t think I’ve ever really imagined an actual invention—I’m more of a “MacGyver”, which is to say that I use other people’s inventions to solve problems of my own. I get that from my dad, who was a trained toolmaker, and he could make any tool you could think of with an Allen key and some contact cement. Me, I’m good with SOS pads, pushpins, and paperclips, which you can do just about anything with. Zipper pull on your boot broken? Paper clip. Screen on your hair dryer clogged? Paper clip. Feel like poking a hole in something? Paper clip. Bored at work? Paper clip. I could fashion a chain to keep my kayaks safe from those nefarious kayak thieves with paperclips twisted together, and it would make them crazy trying to undo it. Enough said.

Willow Croft: At risk of upstaging your “theatrical metal chair” *drops voice to a stage whisper*, who would you want to portray you in a stage play of your life?

Suzanne Craig-Whytock: Yes, I have to keep this on the downlow because I have several melodramatic or obnoxious pieces of furniture in close proximity to my computer. But to be honest, if someone was going to make a stage play about my life, it would be an absurdist play along the lines of Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano, and I would want Tina Fey to portray me. I think she understands how to take weird and sometimes awful things and find the humour in them. Also, in any play about my life, I have forklift arms and everyone calls me by my superhero name, Heavy Metal.

Willow Croft: As a teacher/substitute teacher, I know that the classroom environment can be pretty surreal at times. So, what’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened while you were teaching (that you can share)?

Suzanne Craig-Whytock: I taught for almost twenty-five years and loved every minute but yes, there were certainly some strange things that happened during that time. Two things come immediately to mind:

I had been studying the Greek play Lysistrata with my senior IB students. I always had my kids perform whatever they were studying, and this group insisted that they stay true to the original when it came to costumes, which of course meant togas and masks, as well as large fake breasts for the female characters (played by the boys) and exaggerated ‘manparts’ for the male characters (played by the girls). I had no problem with this and gleefully helped them use balloons, soccer balls and whatnot to get that ‘authentic’ feel. We were right in the middle of a particular scene where one of the boys was jumping up and down, accompanied by the bouncing of his chest balloons, and the girls were swinging their own balloons around quite proudly, when suddenly my principal came to the door. We looked at each other, me slightly aghast, but she didn’t bat an eye. “I’ll come back later,” she said, and we carried on.

I was also the supervisor of a summer school site for several years, and I’ve had numerous encounters with students under the influence of a variety of things, which I’ve written about on my blog (Weeks 89 and 90, when I was still calling things ‘Weeks’). Some of those encounters are incredibly humorous.

Willow Croft: In all your antiquing/Big Junk Day adventures, have you ever acquired an item that was haunted?

Suzanne Craig-Whytock: Ooh, what I wouldn’t give to have found something haunted at the side of the road! I did have an issue with a baby monitor once when my daughter was little—I actually used that situation as inspiration for a chapter in my latest novel The Seventh Devil. And I had a Wizard of Oz music box that would randomly start playing, to the point where I buried it in the garden. There was definitely a ghost in my last house, although the current one, despite it having a doctor’s office in it at one time, is remarkably ghost-free, more’s the pity. I guess no one ever died from malpractice here. We did have a few days after my husband and daughter demo’d the front porch of our 1906 house where there were some shenanigans in a back room (doors randomly opening, chandelier flickering), but I told whatever it was to cut it out, very sternly, and we’ve had no problems since. The noises in our attic are all caused by critters. Obviously.

Willow Croft: And, last, but definitely not least, if you were magically transported into one of your Paris paintings, what would you order at your favourite Parisian café? Alternatively, or in addition, what would you be reading?

Suzanne Craig-Whytock: Ah, Paris! I’ve never been there, but I dream of the day, and I live vicariously through my gorgeous, drippy, impressionistic paintings. I imagine myself sitting there along one of those streets—it’s raining lightly but I’m under an awning, sipping a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. I don’t know if I’d be reading anything–most likely I’ll be writing–but if I was reading, it would be my favourite poet, T.S. Eliot. And my husband Ken is there too, enjoying a glass of Merlot and taking photographs of the scenery. Maybe one day…

~~~

Haunted by this interview and want to investigate Suzanne Craig-Whytock’s spooky books? Check out this link, here, if you dare! https://canadianauthors.org/national/mbm-book-author/suzanne-craig-whytock/.

Also, explore another dimension of Suzanne Craig-Whytock’s “weirdly wonderful aspects” (her words) at her funny-as-all-get-out blog, “My Dang Blog”: https://educationalmentorship.com/.

Now, go find some haunted antiques. Or just drink wine and pretend you’re in Paris. (I know that’s what I’ll be doing!)

Fight Climate Change with Your Fork: Meatless Monday

Speaking of diet changes to “Fight Climate Change”–sharing this blog to follow up on my earlier post…

Platform Number 4

Source: Pixabay

Extreme weather, rising sea levels, and species extinctions are all signs of climate change. Many scientists agree that greenhouse gases are a major threat. What can we each do to make a difference? Fight climate change with your fork! The livestock industry contributes about 14.5% of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans, which is even more than those brought about by transportation. Tweaking our diets away from animal products and towards plant-based eating is one way we can each help!

Source: Pixabay

Check out Meatless Monday for more details about the following:

*Adopting Meatless Monday

*Eating more plant-based meals

*Reducing food waste

*Composting

*Eating sustainable foods

And make sure to use the links for great recipe ideas!

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Five Things Friday: Mini-Interview with Author Bibiana Krall

For this week’s interview, we’re journeying through the evocative flavours of Bibiana Krall’s “mysterious world”. Enjoy the voyage!

Willow Croft: I read on your website that Tangled Webs (Book Two of your Haunted Series), has autumn-themed recipes and cocktails at the back of the book. So, without giving away any spoilers, what’s your favorite autumn flavor/foodstuffs to include in recipes?

Bibiana Krall: I grew up on a farm in Michigan and the flavor that most represents harvest for me will always be the apple. We had our own fruit trees and pressed apples into cider at the local mill to drink with breakfast and sip on chilly evenings with mulling spices. There is nothing more comforting than a warm slice of homemade, apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. In the bonus pages of Tangled Webs, I included a recipe with a savory twist on a classic. Enjoy!

Willow Croft: I see that you’re a collector of objects. For a twist on the topic, what’s your favorite memory, or story of place, or even a memory of a particular scent, that you’ve collected?

Bibiana Krall: It’s true. I have an oddball collection of art, coins and even a few first-editions. Scent carries my strongest memories. The green-resin of a pine forest snoozing under the snow, the mellow earth after a gentle rain (petrichor) and oh… how I love gardenias. I planted some bushes in my yard, as they remind me of my grandmother. Creamy-white petals with notes of vanilla and exotic spice, what’s not to like?

Willow Croft: How does your writing transform not only your world, and the world of the reader, but the world at large, perhaps in terms of cultural, social, environmental change, and the like?

Bibiana Krall: I’ve been a storyteller ever since I can remember. The world is a mysterious and mystical place that holds a tradition of verbal and written stories that helps humans understand our past, present and future.

My hope is to change the reader’s perception that someone in another culture or a person who looks or lives differently than we do, may understand us more than we’d previously imagined. Heroines are an important part of what I do, as without strong and resilient women in our lives where would any of us be?

I gravitate towards themes of: ‘good versus evil’ ‘haunted houses’ and ‘a stranger comes to town’ to talk about fear of the unknown, overcoming and also to show that often there’s more to something than what you initially notice or believe. The greatest gift in fiction and hopefully in my work as well, is to discover that you aren’t alone in your struggle.

Willow Croft: If you could travel anywhere in the Cosmos you sky-watched as a child (as quoted from your blog), where would travel, and why?

Bibiana Krall: When I was a child, I yearned for a quick trip to Venus or to skateboard across the rings of Saturn. Now my wish is to travel to the Pillars of Creation and watch the EGGs zing across the darkness as they are born. The Eagle Nebula in the Serpens constellation is seven thousand light years away from us. To witness stars being created in real-time would blow the mind, so I included my wonder for the ‘Pillars’ in the mysticism of the Irish Phantom Series.

Willow Croft: If you were reincarnated as one of your literary heroines (or from another author’s works), who would you decide to be?

Bibiana Krall: That’s a tough one! What woman wouldn’t want to be Rebecca before she clashes with the horrible Mrs. Danvers or Jane Eyre living life on her own terms? In my own stories, I admire Ayanna in Prospect Hill for her intelligence, magic and herbal skills and Mary in the Irish Phantom Series for her courage to face terrifying situations and her ability to find happiness, friendship and true love after a breakdown.

Thank you for making space for my creative world. Your insightful questions made me think, smile and dream. Hopefully y’all know me a little bit better now. This was an honor and great fun! – Bibiana

Website: www.bibianakrall.com

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/bibianak

 

Real-Life Horror: Oh, What “Fun” It Is To Kill Birds For No Reason

What this blog post is not: a statement/judgment against, or any sort of commentary on or about the subsistence hunts, practices, et al, of Native people throughout the world.

Onto what my post is about:

I am familiar with all the nuances of bird hunting; allegedly linked to conservation, and other pro-hunting arguments like that, which are used to support and defend even sport hunting.

Here’s a prior, FAQ-style statement from the Michigan Humane Society about the hunting of doves: http://support.michiganhumane.org/site/DocServer?docID=281

Like in the below linked statement from PETA, I don’t agree that allowing hunters to go out and shoot migratory birds and other targets of sport hunting, etc. is an effective way to manage a local ecosystem. https://www.peta.org/issues/wildlife/wildlife-factsheets/sport-hunting-cruel-unnecessary/

Admittedly, I played Nintendo’s “Duck Hunt” when I was a kid. It made me sad even if it wasn’t real and I didn’t play it much after the first couple of times. And never once could I imagine going out and shooting a duck in real life.

I always hear the argument that violent video games make people violent, but it’s seemingly unquestioned that putting a gun in a child’s hand and taking them out into nature to shoot at an actual living lifeform, and terming it as a fun (or necessary) activity, doesn’t cultivate the callousness needed to commit a violent act.

Personally, I do not understand how shooting beautiful, defenseless birds is classified as a “sporting” activity–essentially considered a fun, entertaining pastime, and one that is even encouraged among young people.

Though only a handful of states have banned migratory/dove hunting, and it’s largely allowed in United States, I am sharing information about the birds my new home state allows people to hunt: https://ksoutdoors.com/Hunting/When-to-Hunt/Migratory-Bird. (There’s other wild species on the website that the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT) allows people to hunt and fish.)

(You know, nobody thought the passenger pigeon would go extinct, because it was so “plentiful” as is the current argument I keep reading about doves, to excuse/support hunting of certain doves now!)

I’ve heard firsthand accounts about hunters and their behaviors, locally. (I’m keeping the source anonymous for their safety, and keeping my relation of their account general, for the same reason.) During hunting season here in Kansas, I’ve been told that hunters routinely and knowingly trespass on private property, leave behind a swath of destruction and a mess on private land that has to be cleaned up by the property owners in question, and these hunters have deliberately shot at people in their yards/at their homes. 

If things like this happened to me, I would be raising all kinds of holy hell until something was actually done about it. I would consider that an absolutely unallowable state of circumstances. If one gun is fired, on private property, at a person/a person’s home, then why is anyone allowed to be shooting guns off out there in the name of “hunting”? Putting my feelings about sport hunting aside, I don’t understand why the KDWPT are continuing to issue permits, with these kinds of reported-to-law-enforcement activities going on. Yes, I’m from an urban area, but maybe because of that, I consider gunshots flying around in close proximity to people to be unequivocally unacceptable. To put it mildly. 

Also, if hunters are really out there disregarding known property boundaries, and are, in fact, shooting at people and their homes, what other rules and regulations are they out there flouting?

It makes me wonder why the local law enforcement/powers that be are so eager and willing to trust people who are out shooting things on a regular basis, and to reward them with hunting licenses.

Do you really think these kinds of irresponsible hunters are following other regulations as established by the KDWPT? (My common sense conclusion would be telling me that they aren’t, even as a new transplant to this sort of rural environment!)

Things like obeying the regulation for non-toxic shot, for example?

More information on the regulation here: http://www.huntingwithnonlead.org/state_info.html and on the KDWPT website: https://ksoutdoors.com/Hunting/Hunting-Regulations/Migratory-Birds/Non-Toxic-Shot-Non-Toxic-Shot-Only-Areas

If you’re interested, here’s a full list of the statutes KDWPT is regulating by law:

https://ksoutdoors.com/Services/Law-Enforcement/Regulations

How many of these are these gun-toters actually obeying these regulations? What’s the statistics on that, I wonder?

And, around the world, the following linked article states that illegal hunting continues even in countries with strong laws against hunting birds through the Spring migration period, and with an EU ban as well.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/26/conservationists-appalled-at-illegal-killing-of-25m-birds-a-year-in-the-mediterranean

https://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/the-tradition-of-bird-hunting-in-malta/

So it makes me wonder why hunting is allowed to continue, because these numbers point to a trend where hunters move through an environment where there are no repercussions for their actions, they can act with total immunity against wildlife and nature, and they grow more and more confident they they can do whatever they dang well feel like.

So, I argue that the more hunting is allowed, especially for sport and trophies, the more hunters feel like they can take advantage of the (laxity?) of it.

I believe that because they have guns, and plenty of them, they start to feel they are immune, and they have the freedom to do whatever they want to.

Illegally hunt animals. (Poaching, anyone? https://ksoutdoors.com/Services/Law-Enforcement/Operation-Game-Thief)

Conduct activities such as those that were related to me by way of firsthand local accounts.

And, gee, I don’t know, storm the United States Capitol building, for example?

While I abhor hunting and the killing of all wildlife, especially as a vegetarian, maybe there are ethical, sustenance-only hunters out there. But, as the saying goes, “a few bad seeds” and all that. And it’s time to put an end to the “few bad seeds”. It’s well past time for humans to start making sacrifices for wildlife and nature, in order to restore the balance between the human community and those inhabitants of the natural world, even if you are resistant to adopting a more sustainable diet for the planet. 

Then when that balance is achieved and continues to be preserved, and human-caused climate change and widespread extinction of non-human species is a thing of the past, then you can talk to those who make more suitably stringent, and common-sense regulations about the “right to hunt”. And the powers that be might be willing to listen.

I might be willing to listen.

But I’m not going to listen, right now. This sort of mentality has dominated human thinking for hundreds upon thousands of years. And it’s time for it to stop. Especially with the whole natural world at stake because of our bad-seed choices, as humans. Yes, even mine. And I’m working as actively and as expediently as I can to undo what I’ve been conditioned by society to believe it means to be human.

It’s time for change. It’s time for our sacrifices, to repay all that animals and trees and nature have given us over the time humans have been on this planet. It’s time for humans to curtail their space and activities–to make room–so that wildlife in all its forms has room to once again thrive.

To (partially) quote the character Lindsey Brigman from the movie The Abyss:
“We all see what we want to see. Coffey . . . sees hate and fear. You have to look with better eyes than that.”

Here’s some links to people/groups that are looking with “better eyes”.

https://www.facebook.com/lovemourningdove/

In articles like “The Mourning Dove: An Animal Rights Article”  from All-Creatures.org, click link here.

I encourage all my eco-warriors, eco-writers, and just plain anybody who wants to write/has written a similar environmentally inspired blog post, to share their links in the comments.

Weary Wednesday

It is Wednesday, isn’t it?

I can’t believe August is already almost over. It seemed to take forever to get moved in, and to get the house, well, if not entirely ready, at least set up for life on a daily basis. It’s surreal to be in a more permanent residence. And it’s also odd to be in a town this small. Especially in a town in Kansas. Hopefully, though, I’ll find at least one like-minded friend. But I work so much that making time for social activities is a bit of a lost cause.

Kitties haven’t fully acclimated yet, but I’m also hoping they’ll like their new place! They are probably glad have the house to themselves–free of lurching intruders that make lots of noise. The cats are a little hard to see in the photo, but I didn’t want to stress them more by pestering them for a better photo.

hidingcats

So, the office is set up and ready for work. I’m both glad to get back into my normal schedule, but it was nice to be offline for a little while.

I should have some new “Five Things Friday” author interviews coming up sometime soon. And I’ll get back to reading everybody’s blogs! I’ve missed them!

Olympics Are Starting!

 

The Olympics are starting! (Thanks, Host Tokyo!)

I bought a house!

Two things that seemed to be impossible are happening–Olympics and me actually being settled enough to own a home.

(Oh, and I wrote a little story inspired by my grandmother’s boyfriend, Ernie Scribner, who worked at the 1932 Lake Placid Olympics. As the story goes, he laid the flag under the ice of the rink, and escorted Sonia Henie onto the ice, as he was an excellent ice skater. Here’s his memento from that experience:

iceskater2dpi

So, I hope you enjoy the Olympics! If you’re interested in the Olympic-themed book, here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/Phantom-Games-Dimensions-2020/dp/B08KQP53X2

 

Enjoy!