Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Funny Fantasy and Silly Scifi

A nice review

Written By: Tracy - Jul• 27•15

Sherri Dean made me aware that The Wonderful Blog of Oz has been reviewing each short story from I Should Have Stayed in Oz Yard Dog Press’s Wizard of Oz themed anthology. 

The website seems to cover all media related to the OZ books. 

They posted a review to my short story, East of the Sun, West of the Moon on June 7.  

If you ever go to one convention, let it be SoonerCon

Written By: Tracy - Jul• 23•15

The last weekend of June, I was honored to be a guest at SoonerCon.  I say honored, because over the past few years, I’ve seen it grow from an enjoyable literary and gaming convention to a convention that manages to bridge the gap between old fandom and new without making anyone feel left out.  The result is one of the best times I have all year. 

Within minutes of walking through the door, I spotted a check-in booth with good signs.  I hadn’t even opened my mouth when the director of programming, Aislinn Burrows pointed at me and told her minions: “this is Tracy Morris.  Get her guest packet.”  

I’m small fish.  That right there?  Made me feel important.  Caring for other people! Treating them like people! Great job!

(I had a similar experience at Fencon once.  Which is why I love Fencon)

The whole convention is under the wing of longtime con runner Kimber Chessmore.  She knows what she is doing, and is making the effort to train up the next generation.  And it shows. 

I took lots of photos, and had a great time.  I meant to have a detailed con report, but it’s been more than a week, and details are starting to get mentally sketchy.  Needless to say, Soonercon is a keeper. 

I’ll be attending Glichcon first week of August.  This convention is practically right in my backyard, and growing.  Hope to see you there.  

More People Die From Hippos Than Shark Attacks

Written By: Tracy - Jul• 14•15

Now that Little Miss is old enough to play board games, Hubby and I thought about buying some of the classic games we liked when we were kids.

Just one problem. Since we were kids, the games have been updated.

Take Hungry Hungry Hippos, for instance. It used to be a simple game of eating all the milk glass marbles you could with your hippo before the other players could with their hippo. And the board was all one piece.

Now the game comes in pieces, the hippos tear up and the weird plastic marbles get stuck in the neck. (Thanks China)

And the rules seem to be that you want to eat a yellow marble? Or maybe you want to eat the red marbles? IDK

Hubby and I avoided all this by buying a classic Hippo game on EBay.

Little Miss is so excited to play. She’s already staked out the pink hippo for her own. Because like every little girl (who wasn’t me) she likes paaaaank. 

So now that we have the classic game, we just have to find marbles for it.  

And get Little Miss to stop walking around the house saying “we lost our marbles.”

And get hubby to forgive me for teaching her to say “we lost our marbles.” 

eta: 14mm Chinese checkers marbles work just fine in old Hungry Hungry Hippos games.  We’re in business now. 

Look what came in the mail today! 

Written By: Tracy - Jun• 15•15

It’s my contributor’s copy.

  

Success Principles You Can Learn From J.K. Rowling

Written By: Tracy - Jun• 12•15

 
I stopped blogging writing advice a while ago, because there are so many writers who blog about writing that I felt that I had nothing new or original to contribute. 

But a few weeks ago my husband asked me to give a talk to a business team about J.K. Rowling.  

I think the decision to ask me went something like this: 

“We need someone to talk about J.K. Rowling and Success.  Who would be good for that?”

“I think Godsey’s wife writes fantasy.  She might know something about that.”  

So with note cards in hand, I talked to a bunch of professional types about wizards and broomstick footsockbasecricketsport.  

But what I really talked about was J.K. Rowling as a writer.  Here are my notes:  

If I asked you to name a famous writer, you probably said JK Rowling.  

JK Rowling’s Success Principles. 

1. Get Started – it took her 7years to finish working on the First Harry Potter book. During that time, her mother died, and she was a single parent living on public assistance. She had a lot of distractions in her life, but she didn’t let them stop her.  

2. Keep your goals in front of you, begin with the end in mind, have a plan. – One of the first scenes she wrote was the final scene of the last book. When you are a writer, the first third of the book is the easiest to write, because it’s all so new. Then comes the “muddy middle,” when it feels like writing is an uphill slog. Rowling’s had a goal, the end of the book. As she wrote, she never lost sight of her goal.  

3. Don’t quit – Harry Potter and the Philosophers stone was rejected by twelve publishing houses before Bloomsbury accepted it for publication. If Rowling had given up after her first rejection, the entire Young Adult Novel industry would never have been born. 

4. Set new goals – shortly after the end of her Harry Potter series, Rowling wrote The Casual Vacancy. She also started a new mystery series under a different pen name. Whenever you achieve a goal, you need to set a new goal to strive for. 

With that being said, I had a goal tonight of not taking up too much time. I’ve achieved that goal. So my next goal is to get back to my seat without falling on my face.  Thank you all for listening. 

The ozarks At Large Interview

Written By: Tracy - May• 30•15

The interview I conducted with KUAF for Ozarks At Large went live on Wednesday.  I’m happy to report that I managed to sound fairly intelligent. 

You can hear the clip on their website

I Get To Be Scholarly All Over The Radio

Written By: Tracy - May• 12•15

Talking about these guys.

Sometimes in the name of promoting my work, I get to do really cool things. Including talking about stuff I love. 

Because I wrote an essay for The Comics of Joss Whedon, I went on my local NPR affiliate, Ozarks At Large to talk about Avengers. 

Part of the discussion veered into the history of comics, in which I pointed out that comics weren’t always as squeaky clean as we thought they were.  Before the Comics Code, comic books grew out of pulp fiction.  superman had roots in John Carter of Mars.  Batman has more than a passing resemblance to The Shadow (albeit without guns and with pointy ears instead of a fedora).  It was great to delve into some of the material that I touch on in my essay. 

My only moment of drain brammage was when Kyle Kellams asked me about my other recent work.  I was able to talk about Alternate Hilarities:Vampires Suck.  But because he asked me about recent work, I completely blanked on mentioning that I have a book series out!  So yeah, I meant to menton Tranquility, and completely forgot about it.  

If you want to hear my interview, it will be out tomorrow (Wednesday) on Ozarks at Large at Noon and 7:00 P.M.

 

Eta: due to the multiple elections in the area, my story got pushed out.  Actual news does that from time to time.  But it should air sometime soon.  I’ll post the time when I Know it. 

A Message From the Founder of Mother’s Day: Stop Celebrating Mother’s Day

Written By: Tracy - May• 04•15

 

 You have to feel sorry for Anna Jarvis.  All she wanted to do was honor her mother.  Instead she ended up creating her worst nightmare. 

Like all of us, Anna had a mom, and her mother had big ideas.  Anna’s mother, Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis believed that mothers had the power to make the world a better place. 

As Anna grew up, she watched Ann form social clubs to improve health, medicine and sanitation for children.  During the Civil War, she had the mothers in her clubs pledge to remain friends no matter what side of the conflict they were on.  After the war, she organized a Mother’s Friendship Day to reconcile those divided families. 

When Ann passed on, Anna wanted to honor her.  Her mother had hoped for a day honoring mothers, and Anna thought it was a fitting tribute.  

The first year, Anna had a few friends over to observe the day her mother passed away.  Within six years, President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday called Mother’s Day.

Then Anna watched it all go sour. 

She’d intended for the holiday to be an inexpensive observance.  She wanted people to spend time with their mothers, and write letters of thanks.  Instead they started buying cards and candy.  People were making money off of her holiday.  

There is a story in the Bible that Jesus saw businessmen profiteering off of the Temple.  He became so enraged that he flipped over their tables and drove them out. “How dare you turn my father’s house into a den of thieves.”  

 Anna must have felt the same way: how dare you turn my mother’s holiday into a day to make money.

And although Anna had no children of her own, this mother of Mother’s Day started attacking her own “child.”  She filed a lawsuit to stop at least one Mother’s Day festival, and was arrested for disturbing the peace at a war mother’s convention where women sold carnations to raise money.  

In later years, Anna told reporters that she wished she had never started Mother’s Day.  And in a bittersweet ending, she spent her final years in nursing care surrounded by the cards and flowers she hated.  All sent from fans who wanted to thank her for starting Mother’s Day.

Travelogue : Beware the Evil Oil

Written By: Tracy - Apr• 28•15

 

Quapaw Bathhouse

This weekend, for Hubby’s birthday we went to Hot Springs for a day out without the kiddos.  

I’ve been down to Hot Springs maybe a handful of times in my life.  Hubby lived there for two years while he went to the Arkansas School of Math and Sciences (and the arts) (I like to joke that he went to Special School).  

The town is built over a series of – say it with me now – hot springs.  It’s known for it’s bathhouses, and a racetrack that’s all that is left from a time when Hot Springs was the mob-controlled precursor to Las Vegas.  You can literally walk down the street and see water flowing out of the ground in places.  Some of the fountains where it flows actually put out steam in summer. 

We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast known as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which was located in a log home on secluded acreage with a front porch, porch swing and hummingbirds.  Hubby and I checked in and sat on the swing watching the hummingbirds all afternoon.  Then we found a Cajun restaurant  for dinner out on Lake Hamilton called Cajun Boiler.

DeGray Lake

DeGray Lake

There are several lakes in the region. The next day we drove over to DeGray lake and rented bycicles from the lodge.  We biked all afternoon, then headed into town for dinner. 

Unlike Branson or Vegas, there aren’t a lot of big entertainment shows.  But there is a magic show – Maxwell Blade.  We bought tickets to see him, then looked around the bathhouse row district.  

We went into one of those flavored olive oil places.  This one was called Evil O (olive spelled backwards).  We went in and sampled some of their products, which included food rubs and marinades.  Most of them were excellent, and we might have bought something if not for what I did next. 

I’m not a big fan of spicy things, but hubby gave me a chipotle oil to try.  He tried it first to make sure it wouldn’t be too hot for me. And it wasn’t.  At first. 

Then I swallowed it. 

Jesus wept, ya’ll.  It was bad. 

The Buckstaff Bathhouse

 

I don’t know if I got capsaicin on my vocal chords or what, but it burned.  And then I coughed, and the burning spread all over my throat.  By the third cough, the insides of my ears were on fire.  I stumbled out of the store and my husband and the owner followed, trying to get me to drink water and eat bread.  

Neither helped.  The oil caused the peppery stuff to stick – much like I imagine napalm sticks to things. The water just spread it.  And now it mixed with my mucus.  So just when the fire seemed to be dying down, I’d cough again and unleash a new firey hell on my throat. 

By now, hubby figured that he’d better move me, because seeing me out front of the oil business might drive customers away.  If it did, I’m sorry.  

There was a famous cupcake place next door called Fat Bottom Girls.  (At least, they were on food network).  I asked hubby to get me some milk please.  Did I want a cupcake with that? 

Nosirree Bob.  

Hubby says that’s how he knew I was in a bad way.  I didn’t want a cupcake.  

I drank a 16 oz glass.  It took the whole thing to quench that fire. And for hours after that, I had flare ups if I coughed.  And I was so keyed up that I just wanted to go somewhere and cry for some weird reason.  

Bates Motel

The Bates Motel?

We window shopped a bit longer, then wandered over to Deluca’s pizza, which is located near a motor inn that looks – I swear to Bob – like the Bates Motel. 

If anyone knows what’s up with that, please drop me a note.  

We walked off dinner in the park behind the bathhouses until time for the magic show.  

Hubby was ready to head back, but I wanted Ice Cream (wouldn’t you after a day like that?). We stumbled on Dolce Gelato.  This was my first experience with Gelato.  I’m going to have to pull out the ice cream mixer and experiment. 

We were in a hurry to get back and pick up the kids Sunday, but we made a point to stop at Burl’s Smokehouse in Crystal Springs.  It’s a great place to get sandwiches to go. Particularly on homemade bread. 

 

 

Just in Time for the Avengers!

Written By: Tracy - Apr• 23•15

This is ironic. My last post was about how I don’t watch much TV, and now here I am blogging about a media tie-in project.  Maybe I shouldn’t have stated that I don’t watch much TV.  Instead I’m selective about what I watch.  Yeah. That’s the ticket.

Because Of that sweet, sweet tie in money Avengers coming out, I have a very important announcement ™.  An essay that I wrote comparing and contrasting Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog with Watchmen  will be in The Comics of Joss Whedon: Critical Essays. 

My paper is titled “Joss Whedon, Alan Moore and the Whole Horrible Future.”  The collection will be out in the fall from McFarland.  

The details are here: http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/book-2.php?id=978-0-7864-9885-7

I don’t typically think of myself as an academic, but this is the third pop culture analysis essay that I’ve had published.  The other two were on the shows Alias and Supernatural for Smart Pop books.