LibertyCon: Find Your Tribe

LibertyCon has come and gone. I leave my tribe after a long weekend.

It’s a science fiction and fantasy convention that has the honor of producing more lifelong friends than any other event in my entire life. It’s my tribe– a thing you should find, and keep, and have and celebrate. It’s books and games and characters, and in the halls are people who I’ve admired for forty years– and then they’re in front of me, and I get to chat with them about the books that are, in some way, the soundtrack of my life.

This year was a bit different, and by that I mean even better. I’m writing for a truly excellent person, Chris Kennedy, in a genre that I’ve loved since I was a kid– Military SciFi. Being involved with Seventh Seal Press is sort of like joining a winning team on the first day. Chris takes care of the details, big and little, and it shows. I carry this coin proudly.

For three days, I was on panels, at parties, buying books, talking about books, science, films, and anything else associated with a fandom that has given me limitless joy since I was a kid. I was exhausted but invigorated, a curious blend of wanting to do more on less sleep, and finally convincing myself I could sleep on Tuesday, because there was too much good stuff to see and do.

After leaving friends for the trip home, my thoughts return to my family and how much I’ve missed them. It’s a good drive– mountains, sun, summer heat– and I look forward to that strange sensation of coming home to people you love more than anything, even after being among people you love. It’s an embarrassment of riches, and it never gets old.

On the way. I stopped to eat in a small town, Monteagle, Tennessee. There’s an iconic place– The Smokehouse– and I went in having not set foot there since 1977. Fond memories of being a kid with my family, seeing snow for the first time, a wooden toy my grandfather bought me, soon to be scattered across the cavernous back seat of our 1972 Cadillac. Joyous thoughts, then a conclusion as I realize that of seven people at that table, only two remain, and we’re not kids anymore.

Travel is like that for me. It gives and takes. It fills up my tank, and not all of it is pure, because I’m aware of the passage of time. I eat the food slowly, processing the past three days while thinking of the next ten.

I return home to teach, write, edit. Things that are all part of my third life, the one that has bloomed unexpectedly out of a childhood love of things that didn’t exist anywhere except the books I loved– dragons, distant galaxies, starships made of light. This is the best of my three lives, and LibertyCon is the fuel.

To repeat: find your tribe.

Terry

Hot Yoga: I Will Die With Abs

Four weeks ago, raw panic set in as I realized that I have to wear a toga this summer, so I found hot yoga.

 

I’m not wearing the toga for fun, mind you, but an author event in beautiful Frankenmuth, Michigan, a glorious little town with Christmas, Polka, giant pretzels, fudge, and midwestern charm to spare.

Long story short: I am 6′”1. I was at 250 pounds of. . .let’s call it “human”. Not fat, not muscle. Just critically forty-nine years old and in need of a boost.

Enter hot yoga.

I went. I gasped. I sweated– Lord above, did I sweat; like I was a spy under interview lights– and my heart pounded from a tortuously fluid series of motions that went on for three days.

Okay, one hour, but still.

But it’s amazing. I love it. It quiets my mind, and makes me work harder than I’ve ever done in any other workout, and all with a smooth deliberation that leaves me energized and at peace. It’s incredible.

Today I did the Crow pose and Eagle for the first time (without falling over like a giant Polish tree). It’s quite a sensation. I have three months until the Day of Toga Reckoning, and I think I will be– not beach ready, but Toga Ready.

That’s a thing, right?

ALSO!

Follow me on YouTube. I’m doing writer-y stuff.

5 Minute Author Coach

See you this summer, my calendar is up to date!

Cheers,

Terry

2018: My First Great Mistake

I made a large bowl of rather excellent pasta, if I may say so. Allow me to walk your through the process, which was chaotic but ultimately packed with flavor and excitement. Let’s begin by discussing the ingredients.

For what I’m calling “Chicken Hilarity”, you will need:

Chicken breast, sauteed in olive oil, salt, and basil. (I couldn’t find the chicken, but realized I’d left it in the car, along with eggs and hummus. Since the temperature was close to 20F, the chicken was almost frozen. I thawed it in the pan while cooking, and it came to a lively sizzle.

Ziti, cooked until tender.

Onions and mushrooms, sauteed in olive oil.

Spicy marinara (I make my own).

Combine these ingredients in a large bowl, cover with fresh Parmesan and crumbled feta cheeses.

As I sat down to eat, several events began to unfold that altered the outcome of my meal.

  1. My son began channeling Linda Blair. The stomach flu hit him hard and fast, resulting in several changes of sheets, a shower, more fresh linens, another shower, and then fitful sleep as we listened from the other room.
  2. Our basset hound, Jack Reacher, injured his front leg whilst playing in the snow. As basset hounds are known for being– let’s say, dramatic– we helped him inside, called the veterinarian, and placed him on the floor under a blanket in front of a heater. The pitiful wretch barely survived, but thanks to our care and compassion, he managed to pull through his minor ankle sprain.

It was at this point that I was able to eat. I consumed, as usual, the entire portion of pasta, which means all of it.

And then I began to feel somewhat. . . uncomfortable.

Could it be the stomach flu? Unlikely. We disinfect everything with maniacal abandon, and my discomfort was completely in my belly.

It wasn’t the chicken, despite being left in the car, because the temperature was WELL below freezing and–

Wait, what day was it? Friday?

I did some calculations. I’d gone shopping on. . .Wednesday.

Thursday, the temperature had been nearly 70F.

I’d left the chicken in the car for two days, not one, and it had been rather tropical in my car.

I write this to you from an undisclosed location, where no one can hear the sounds emanating from my stomach. If you don’t see me at the next author event, do not send help. It’s too late.

Save yourselves. And someone throw away the chicken in the left hand drawer of our fridge. It’s angry.

 

My Health Journey: Parte the Firste

I know, Christmas time might not be the best starting point for a *ahem* reshaping of my body and diet, but I’m nearly two weeks in and no going back.

Unless I eat seventy-five Oreo’s, but still.

Before we go any further, a point of clarification: Weight is not my sole concern. In fact, it’s actually fifth on the list, behind my heart, teeth, ability to live long enough to use coupons without irony, and blood pressure.

Goal: Somewhere between then and now, but with shorter shorts.

So, the grim statistics:

49 years old.

Starting weight– 260 (pounds, not kilograms. I’m an American, not some fancy European who measures out tiny blocks of cheese and carries it home in a wicker basket while laughing and listing to French jazz or whatever).

Starting blood pressure: Not bad, but not great. 121 over 90.

Hair and teeth: Present and accounted for.

General feeling: Thick, not Thicc, and vaguely immobile. This galls me in particular due to my love of sports, running (running isn’t a sport, it’s meditation while gasping), and walking up stupid hills. All hills are stupid when you’re not hiking, and even then, they’re only tolerable.

I’ll report weekly, and then in January, will go to the doctor for a general “State of the Union” exam.

If you’ve made any life changes and have found recipes or foods that scratch the itch, so to speak, I’d love to hear them.

My weaknesses are:

Sweets.

Sweet things.

Things that can be made sweet by adding sweeteners.

Sweet things wrapped around sweet things.

Gravy.

More to come as this list expands with memory.

Let’s be support buddies and such.

Cheers,

Terry (who thinks he is hungry)

 

 

Send Egg Recipes.

I’m on a super complicated diet this Spring. It’s mostly eggs, hot sauce, and eggs.

Regardless, I’m asking the internet and my bookfriends if you have any recipes pertaining to the following food items:

Eggs.

Veggies, preferably a huge amount.

I’m also doing a LOT of pushups, so anything that can help with higher protein (beans? maybe?) is most welcome.

Things I will eat: Everything on the planet except butter beans. Don’t you dare come ot me with butter beans, I will totally roll out a judo chop.

Things I REALLY like: Spicy stuff. Asian food. Mediterranean food. German food. American food. Food. Also, food.

Things I have to avoid for now: Bread and breadlike substances, although rice noodles are cool.

I used to own a restaurant, so I’ve been cooking for years, but I’m open to the wonders of new recipes.

If you submit a recipe that I go nuts over, is it alright to forward on in a new blog post?

Okay, whaddayagot?

Sincerely,

A boy, asking a pile of cauliflower to be hot wings.

 

 

My newest addiction: Annie Chun

Before you think I’ve abandoned my wife for another woman, allow me to explain.

I am currently in the spicy, flavorful embrace of some magnificent hybrid between barbecue and hot sauces, known as Gochujang. In my mind, I may or may not be able to renounce it, but in my mouth, it sings.

I am currently eating lunch, which consists of mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, celery, and chicken. I cut these things up, added ginger, then sauteed.

Then *cracks knuckles*, we get to work.

I use Annie Chun’s Miracle Nectar like a five year old with a new bottle of ketchup.

I am not sorry, nor am I planning on changing my usage since amazon delivers it to my door in a case of six bottles.

What a time to be alive.

If you haven’t bought my books, now would be a good time, because I’m down to three bottles and I don’t think anyone really wants to see what happens if I run out.

Must eat. Bye for now.

Christmas, Fried Chicken, and Michigan.

I’ve added an event in the heretofore unknown to me town of Frankenmuth, Michigan, which appears to be the geographical equivalent of my spirit animal.

This magical little town is known for (but not limited to):

  1. Christmas
  2. Buttered noodles
  3. Pretzels
  4. The “Best Fried Chicken Dinner in the World”.

Okay, let’s stop there for a moment as I tell the good people of Frankenmuth that I will most certainly put that claim to the test.

World Famous Chicken Dinner!

When my wife and I were dating, I made fried chicken. I made really good fried chicken, and my wife is somewhat of a connoisseur in that arena. She famously said, “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like fried chicken and I don’t want to know anyone who doesn’t like fried chicken.”

I could not agree more.

SO. I’m coming for you, Frankenmuth. I will have an empty belly, a stack of books, and an intense curiosity in sampling all of your wonderful fare.

Here’s the event– I can’t wait; it’s going to be wonderful. Once Upon A Book

If you’re familiar with Frankenmuth and have suggestions for me, I’ll be there from August 10-12 of this year. Drop by, say hello, or suggest the things that I simply shouldn’t miss.

I’ll have a minimum of two new books with me, and plenty of swag for readers.

I’ll bring the books, Frankenmuth, you bring the chicken. It’s a date.

 

A Bear Attacked Our House.

Last night, my bride made fresh ice cream with fresh baked honeycomb, from a recipe by baking genius Mary Berry. My bride has her own blog (http://www.buttereggs.com/, in which she’s making her way through various items from the Great British Baking Show.

Unfortunately, at some point in the night a bear (or other large mammal) pierced our home defenses and savaged the tray of ice cream (with home made honeycomb) as it chilled in the freezer. In case you would like to make this allegedly delicious recipe, here it is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03jmctz

I haven’t notified authorities, but I promised her I would be on the lookout for a bear. Or other large mammal. It should be noted, despite the savagery of the attack, that the bear (or other large mammal) was kind enough to put the plastic wrap back over the ice cream, and I think we should consider that as a mitigating circumstance in case the bear ( or– you know) is caught.

Carrots. Fuel for adulting.

Where I’m at in life today:

I plan on writing in the car at the pickup line. I arrive about an hour early to get Optimum Line Placement, assuring that my son gets in and we take off with near military precision.

Side note: If you told me to invade a country and gave me whatever resources I’d need, I would select the teachers who supervise the pickup line. I could have my forces in Moscow by noon. They do not play around when it comes to getting the kids on their way.

Ok, so I’ll write a chapter today– around 1500 words. The fuel I’m choosing is white carrots, purchased from the Hendersonville Produce Stand. It’s the kind of place that has fruits and vegetables that look real, rather than the polished, waxy approximations of food in some stores. I like the irregularity– it’s the same in people, I think. It’s the cracks that make us good, to quote Dozer from the book Heartborn.

Why white carrots, Terry? Welllll, glad you asked. I really dig parsnips, and these are rather like them. Add a touch of butter, salt, pepper, thyme. Roast until tender. Add protein of your choice. Boom. Writing fuel, or fuel for whatever you’re doing.

In my case, it’s writing. I’ll report back on the efficiency of carrots as Fictional Fuel.