Monthly Archives: August 2011

Green Chile Ice Cream and Other Joys of Local Diversity

Every place on this planet has something that makes it unique.

It might be a local food dish like green chile ice cream. It might be a rock formation in the shape of a camel. It might be a battle that was fought there, or an eccentric person who lived there. It might be the smell of the wind at night, or a plant species to be found nowhere else on Earth.

But that uniqueness is there, waiting to be discovered, if we go in search of it. And I’ve come to believe that the search for it not only feeds the muse, it enriches our lives.

It also helps to support a local uniqueness from going extinct.

About a year ago I started to make a conscious effort to find stores that were locally owned that either had locally made or grown things, or else had a unique passion for something (like the English tearoom experience).

I still planned to shop at big box stores (and I still do), but I wanted to go find what my fellow New Mexicans were up to. Also, have you ever noticed how in a big box store you can be anywhere in the U.S. and they’re all the same, except for a few items and the tourist knickknacks in the checkout lanes? Predictability is their strength, but it means that diversity is gone. Bland and boring are in.

It wasn’t until I went searching outside the big box experience that I discovered a local farmer’s food co-op that is bringing me melons and tomatoes the like of which I have not tasted since my grandfather’s garden.

And a funky locally owned furniture store that has an egg-shaped chair straight out of a 1960s James Bond movie.

And an English-style tearoom considered one of the top five in the country. The owners say that it is the support of their local community, not tourists, that keeps them in business.

And locally owned restaurants that put the big chains to shame in flavor and pricing. Restaurants with stuff like chile relleno sushi, and green chile ice cream.

I didn’t find everything overnight. I just decided that each month I’d keep my eyes open for one new thing to go try out in my hometown. I’d get clues about things to try out by reading the local magazines and papers. Coffee shops often have the free papers that list local events and do interviews with locals.

The more I dig, the more quirky stuff I find. It’s the sort of fodder an artist’s muse loves to munch on. But I’ve also noticed I feel more connected to my community and I’m helping to provide money to pay for jobs here in town.

It doesn’t have to be big box chains or local stores. One can do both kinds of stores. But if one is doing only big box chains, one is missing out on some truly wonderful stuff hidden out there.

One just has to go looking for it.

Coming Changes over the next Six Months to this Website

I want to give a heads up now that there will be a shift in focus by my website over the next six months. I’m going to be broadening out from posting about writing issues to posting about anything life-wise that catches my interest (for example, my last post was about the struggles to manage time in an era of an endless supply of entertainment).

I won’t be posting more frequently. In fact, the post rate might go down slightly. I’m in the middle of writing a trilogy at the moment, and between that and editing a novel and dealing with short stories that are going out to various editors, at the end of the day I find the last thing I want to do is blog.

I’d rather not do a blog post if I feel I don’t have something worthwhile to say. So it’s possible I may post less often.

Also, another change that will be coming is that by winter there will be a monthly post for readers about upcoming fiction of mine. This website, more and more, will be here to serve readers as well as writers. I’ll still blog on occasion about writing, and the pages with links to posts on surviving as writers and dealing with writer’s block are going to stay up.

But as I grow as a writer this website needs to grow with me. I don’t want these upcoming changes to come as a surprise to anyone (hence this admin post about changes).

It’s going to be exciting.

Soul Cages is Getting a Much Better Cover

Okay, so I’m a bit excited. The new cover for Soul Cages is done, and is being uploaded. Some e-stores will take longer than others for the new cover to appear in (could take as long as a three weeks).

I didn’t think it was possible to make a cover that expressed the personality of the novel since it’s a strange cross-genre story, but the photo that was found nails the heart of the book so closely that I feel a bit stunned.

That’s one wonderful thing about the e-book era. It’s a lot more forgiving of a publishing startup’s learning curve in doing book covers. The cover for “Parallels” also got completely redone about two weeks ago to try and get closer to the feel of the story. Let’s just say that a magical realism story set at  Christmastime is darn difficult to convey in a cover and still have room for the author’s name and the title and some general info.

Now that this cover tinkering is over, more stories of mine will be rolling out in e-format this fall and winter. We’re hoping to be able to do print trade editions of novels and short story collections by fall of 2012–a rather steep learning curve awaits on that.