Self-Publishing Tips by Aithal + My Abortion Story Podcast

Blog post title and covers of some of the novels by Aithal.
Some of the novels by Aithal.

My Abortion Story by da-AL Happiness Between Tails

#ReproductiveFreedom #Abortion #HumanRights #Women #ProChoice How much control over your body do you want to give to lawmakers? Roe v Wade is the 1973 landmark United States Supreme Court decision that ensures all women have the right to obtain legal and safe abortions. Tragically, it’s on the verge of becoming history. Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Intro to today’s topic 1:05 My Abortion by da-AL My question for you HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. About my own novels in progress. Wiki page on Roe v Wade Margaret Atwood, author and her iconic novel and TV series, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Guest blogger Infidel753 Wiki page on feminist Gloria Steinem About the infamous 40-year Tuskegee Study Planned Parenthood site Wiki page on Planned Parenthood & Nixon Wiki page on abortion in Poland — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s show is the audio version of My Abortion Story.

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. Check out the full list of 50+ places.

The right to safe legal abortions and to wield guns — given how the first is crumbling and the second is more out of control than ever — a fellow Meetup writer mused, “Guns will be used freely to hunt down anyone remotely associated with abortion. Just like in The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel and TV series).”

My heart is heavy with all that’s happening. Today’s post is brief, though it took a long time to write. Meantime, I’ve been researching whether it’s a good idea to add a podcast version of my novel, Flamenco & the Sitting Cat, to PRX’s roster (they act as intermediaries for producers and public radio stations). This week’s podcast is My Abortion Story, which you can also read as a blog post.

Tangled Locks Journal (thanks, blogger par excellence KE Garland, for the heads up) seeks personal abortion stories. The literary site featured mine. Their latest post offers an up-to-date overview.

Keep current on how to obtain safe abortions and avoid legal repercussions at Infidel753’s site. Readers of Happiness Between Tails know him from when he wrote about helping women at Planned Parenthood and being vegan. Among the many links on his Sunday round ups, he includes safety nets for abortion.

This week’s guest, Aithal, was born and raised in Mumbai, India. He immigrated to New York in 1989 and now lives with his wife and two kids in Orange County, California. He’s self-published a shelf-worth of far-ranging novels, his stories often interleaved with analogies to these increasingly frightening times.

In his own words, he explains, “I’ve written six books so far. The first book is on India. It’s called India Was One and the next four are part of a science fiction series, called The Galaxy Series. They are: Beyond The Milky Way (#1), Return To Earth (#2), Divided States of America (#3) and 2120 (#4). My last book (released very recently) is called The Man From Afghanistan. I dub it as an international adventure as the story starts at Newport Beach in Orange County and ends in Rajasthan, India. All my books are available on Amazon in Kindle as well as paperback format.”

They feature gorgeous artwork by Darshini. Check out her website and her Instagram page.

To compliment them, Aithal produced a video for the artwork of India Was One. His Beyond the Milky Way illustrations move one way to music, and then another way. He’s also been interviewed by David Pakman.

Here are his self-publishing insights…

DIY Publishing by Aithal

Being an indie can be hard. Very hard. Take it from me; I’m one. Here are some of my experiences that I want to share:

Back when I wrote my first book, I was new to the game. Now that I have put a few years doing this, I can say that I know a bit more. In no way do I consider myself an authority, but I’m sure lots of you have experienced something similar, if not the same. I’m merely sharing this so that the newbies don’t have to go through my horrible experiences.

As all indies know, there is a very limited budget to spend. So, the best, and the most economical, way to do things are free. Fortunately, almost all the tools available are free (or inexpensive). If you are serious about getting your work seen by many, and by many I mean many strangers and not friends and family members, here are a few “musts.”

  1. Website: You have to have a website showcasing your work. There are many free website builders available in the market. They will help you get started for free.
  2. Facebook: Creating a Facebook Page for your book is an excellent way to spread the word, and it’s very easy to setup one. After setting up the page, you can invite your friends to like the page (and hope & pray that they invite their friends and so on)
  3. Twitter: Create a Twitter account to tell the world about your work and then use free services like Hootsuite to automate your tweets.

These three are the minimum “musts.” And the good news is that they all are free. You don’t have to spend a dime on creating these. There are other few you should think of having. However, they can be secondary, depending on the type of book you are writing. All of them are free.

  • YouTube: There are excellent resources to produce a book trailer. Search “free book trailer,” and you’ll find many free to use. 
  • Pinterest: Even if your book doesn’t have any artwork, you should create an account here and upload your work.

Apart from these free resources, there are many free resources available that you could (and should) take advantage of.

Have you considered writing a book?

My novel is done! + Pod38: Royal Beauty + Birgit’s True Elfins

This post's title over artist Ann Newmarch's poster of a woman carrying a man. Under it is written, "Women hold up half the sky."
I can’t believe I never saw this image before, though Australians have known it for decades. It’s by artist artist Ann Newmarch.

Royal Beauty + Birgit’s True Elfins Happiness Between Tails

#Beauty #Elves #Flamenco #StoryTelling #Aging #Body How do you define beauty? Birgit, who is from Germany and blogs from Denmark shows us how ugly-cute trolls are! Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Royal beauty and about today’s guest 1:05 Birgit’s True Elfins My question for you HBT outro Spanish iconic painter, Goya Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Birgit’s Stella, oh, Stella site Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. About my novels-in-progress. About María del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, 18th Duchess of Alba About Spanish iconic painter, Francisco de Goya. Photos available at the HBT post for this show: Birgit in one of her gardens. The surprise she found in her garden. María del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, the 18th Duchess of Alba. Later in life. Earlier in life. Francisco de Goya’s “Black Duchess.” An incredible loaf of bead I baked in under two hours, with a link to where I got the recipe. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s show is the audio version of “Royal Beauty + Birgit’s True Elfins.”

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. Check out the full list of 50+ places.

Yay! It’s done! I finally finished (I know, I know it took foooor-ever!) writing my book #1 (Flamenco & the Sitting Cat) of the two novels (#2 is Tango & the Sitting Cat) that are linked, but that can each stand alone.

Ulp! Now what?!

First up is to record the beginning section of it. The book a series of letters (a.k.a. epistolary) grouped in 12 parts (a nod to the 12/12 rhythm of flamenco). There’s producing a teaser, an intro, an outro, and the first set of letters. When it’s publicly aired, there will be a press release to write.

For now, the audio sample will only be to give agents a preliminary listen, in the hopes that the audio sample will create extra sparkle. Acting experience of a prior life demonstrated that there’s a lot more to agents than merely attracting one.

The real ginormous trick is to find a phenomenal one; someone who is fair and communicates well. Most of all, someone with great connections and who’s belief in the potential success of our collaboration can motivate them to work hard. That means I need to cull a list of appropriate agents and write an enticing pitch.

My inclination is to continue listing stuff to do because I’m so excited, but I’d just be repeating the same whirling thoughts over and over. So, moving along…

But wait, I also need artwork that looks equally good as a book cover and a smartphone thumbnail. One that can apply to the podcast too, and be easily customized for each new show segment.

Thanks much, blog friends who pointed out a while ago that my old cover resembled something for kids or teens.

Moving along once more in what’s turning out as hodgepodge as my brain at the moment…

For anyone out there doing the WordPress-blog-to-Anchor-podcast two-step — is it just me or do you also have to wait an entire 8 hours for your newest show episodes to appear on WordPress’ podcast editing block’s drop-down menu? After a chat and emails with WordPress, they said they would look into it, but you know how that’ll probably go.

More on podcasting: editing podcast shows on iMovie is easier than learning GarageBand. Nervous that my shows may technically suffering in ways I can’t hear, I scrounged for official comparisons. Seems iMovie is just as good, given that I’m using only voice, occasional sound FX and music, not mastering elaborate music compositions.

Again on podcasting: in the same way that blog posts can look different, for better or worse, depending on the device, so can audio shows. I asked Anchor if there’s a way to ensure that sound levels don’t vary. Basically they answered “no,” but that they would put it on their list.

More on Anchor: grousing, but also bringing up these complaints so you won’t think it’s just you doing something wrong — why is it too much trouble for Anchor to add page numbers for one’s editing list of show episodes?

More Swiss cheese thoughts…

A couple of days ago, I finished listening to humorist/autobiographer/essayist David Sedaris’ latest book, Happy-Go-Lucky.

Cover of "Happy-Go-Lucky" by David Sedaris.

He admits his dark humor isn’t for everyone. With each book, I’m smitten with how searingly self-searching he is and doesn’t settle for “all-good/all-bad” depictions and outcomes tied with neat bows.

This time he totally blew my mind with his honesty about his dad. Like me, he had one monster of a father who in old age showed flashes of something akin to softness and a smidge of regret. But so, as the “fruit” of such a person, what does one do with that?! Like when my father got nicer yet was still creepy and came onto me a couple of years before he died? In many ways, it was easier when he was just blatantly horrible…

My review of it for Amazon and Goodreads:

One of his best. Happy-Go-Lucky hits the nail on the head when it comes to showing how things aren’t always black or white — that they can lie within the confusing rainbow in between.

Each of his books, all his thoughtful self-disclosure, brings to mind the 1970s Women’s Lib phrase, “The personal is political.” Upon googling it, turns out some criticized it for really referencing white woman privilege. I’d like to reclaim it to define how, when we get really day-to-day honest and authentic enough to strive for better, it helps everyone.

Like how blogging makes the world smaller and small voices bigger.

Included in Wiki’s information on the slogan was a reference to bullseye-scoring Ann Newmarch’s artwork at the top of this post.

Here I flit to a happy thing, a quotation I just found that dovetails with a major theme within my novel…

Director Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up): I used to think, “Oh, these are coming-of-age movies.” But I think people are still coming of age at 80 and 90.

And now I’ll trip to some thank you’s to Infidel753, who’s guested at Happiness Between Tails here and here. He’s got quite a following and each time he’s kindly featured me among his Sunday round up posts, lots of new people check out my site. His round-ups are a rollercoaster of links: from political horror to outright silliness, and glorious to nails-on-chalkboard ugly. And he keeps visitors updated on safe abortion information to use in these barbaric times. 

Thanks too, Fair and Unbalanced (in addition to blogging, he podcasts), for mentioning me in your thought-provoking roundups.

Before I wear you out with all this jumping around inside my head, here’s my Amazon and Goodreads review of, Born Hungry: Julia Child Becomes “the French Chef,” authored by Alex Prud’homme and illustrated bySarah Green.

Captivating for any age! Beautiful artwork and lovely writing. A real delight!

Cover of Born Hungry: Julia Child Becomes "the French Chef,” authored by Alex Prud’homme and illustrated bySarah Green.

Now to end with a sweet pro-old-lady clip from Disney’s Moana…

Have you scored any victories this week?

Happy Nowrooz + D. Williams’ Memoir Tips + Pod25: Caz’s Can vs. Can’t

Photo of Diane Williams, author, blogger, speaker, and more!
Coach Diane, author, blogger, speaker, and more!

Focus on What You Can Do, Not What You Can’t, by Caz Happiness Between Tails

#Chronic illness #Pain #Strength #Courage #Health Faced with challenge, it’s easy to get bogged down by what we can’t do. Caz encourages us to focus on what we can do. A blogger from England, outwardly she appears physically strong, yet inwardly she deals with chronic pain. That’s why the name of her blog is InvisiblyMe. Are you or anyone you know challenged by invisible pain? Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction About today’s topic and guest 1:00 “Focus on What You Can Do, Not What You Can’t,” by Caz2:00 My question for you 5:00 HBT outro Links for this episode: The original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. About my novels-in-progress. InvisiblyMe.com Photos available at the HBT post for this show: A photo of gorgeous sassy Caz! — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s episode is the audio version of this blog post of “Focus on What You Can Do, Not What You Can’t, by Caz.”

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. Here’s the full LinkTree list of 50+ places.

Happy Spring and Persian New Year!

Spring has sprung early here in Los Angeles. Blossoms perfumed the air, sun warms and brightens the days, and it’s official that despite some recent rain, we’re in a drought.

Spring also means that it’s Nowrooz. My husband being from Iran, we celebrate not just January 1st, but Persian New Year. Here’s a post and another post and a video I did about Persian New Year. Once the celebration of this year’s gets in full swing, I’ll upload some photos for you to see.

Between readying for the two-and-a-half week celebration (cleaning, shopping, and decorating), as well as for when my brother-in-law moves in soon, I’ve had scant time for novel-writing. Fortunately, I attended a couple of Shut Up and Write/Meetup sessions. They’re virtual opportunities for writers of all ilks to rally each other while offering camaraderie and accountability.

An author I’ve had the pleasure to meet thanks to this Meetup is Diane Williams. Working out of California, she writes, coaches, trains, and encourages audiences great and small to achieve their best and happiest. She’s published a memoir, “The Invisible Child,” along with a collection of 17 inspiring stories called, “Angels in Action.” Get to know her better and see her books at her blog as well as her Amazon pageher Amazon page.

Using herself as an example, here she shows us how everyone deserves joy and our wellbeing helps others…

Photo of Diane Williams, author, blogger, speaker, and more!
Photo of Diane Williams, author, blogger, speaker, and more!

How to Write a Memoir in Twenty Years by Diane Williams

The writing process I used to write my memoir, The Invisible Child, took me twenty years to complete. I didn’t have a desire to write a book about my life. However, my life took a dramatic change; it plummeted. My once vibrant healthy body was invaded by the disease called rheumatoid arthritis. The doctor prescribed drugs and a wheelchair for treatment. The effects of this disease on my body left me helpless, jobless, and husbandless. The most devastating of all, I had to parent our young daughters, ages seven and eleven, alone — on my back.

Through it all, I developed a fearless desire to live life with relentless faith.  Folks began to ask how I keep going while living in an immobile body. I repeated the story so many times, folks suggested I write my story, and thus it began.

I devoted three hours per day to just brainstorming and freewriting every thought that entered my mind. Some days I wrote two or three pages and other days a few paragraphs. Next, I drafted an outline by grouping topics, scenes, timelines. That whole process took a couple of years including my much-needed breaks.

Immediately after my break, I increased my daily writing from three hours to five, and I began to write chapters. I brought my work to the community critic group to be critiqued. They were graciously forthcoming with feedback on my theme, voice, character development, plot, scenes, timelines, and libel laws. Thus, I began to rewrite.

While writing, I began to feel stronger, energized — a cathartic victory. This gave me momentum and much needed motivation to push forward. I found a professional editor, and she complimented my message and emailed me a thick file with suggestions for style, edits, a guide for the timeline, and content such as how to raise conflict and when to reach the climax. I increased my writing time to nearly seven hours per day.

As I wrote the story, I began to thank Charles Babbage, considered by some to be the “father of the computer.” I am most appreciative of the copy and paste device. I had a quick thought about how long it would have taken me with the white, correction tape. 

After twenty years of writing my story, my memoir, The Invisible Child is born. And now, I am on to my next project, Unbelievably True Caregiver Stories, to be launched November 1, 2023 on National Caregivers Day.

I love to bring value to people and remind them that they matter because I want to live in a world with happy successful people; this is my main reason for sharing so much of my personal scars and victories.

I have lived a life of complete health, and life was good, then an uninvited disease entered my body, it felt like a truck ran into my home and wrecked everything and everyone. As we all know, when one family member suffers it changes the dynamics of the entire family. I truly hope this story inspires readers to care for their health and well-being to live a healthy, independent, and vibrant life, we deserve.

When does Spring spring where you live?

Co-Authors: J.L. Harland + 4 Bloomers + Pod24: Peterson’s Pub’g Inspo

Blog title over photo of “J. L. Harland,” the writing duo Janet Laugharne and Jacqueline Harrett.
“J. L. Harland” is writing duo Janet Laugharne (left) and Jacqueline Harrett (right).

Self-Publishing and Thera-Piggies by Ashley L. Peterson Happiness Between Tails

#MentalHealth #Books #Authors #Publishing #Guinea Pigs Mental health nurse and author Ashley L. Peterson of Mental Health At Home dot org blogs out of Vancouver, Canada, and writes from both a personal perspective as well as that of a medical professional. Here she talks about how her pets help her to relieve stress. What's your best stress reliever? Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Today’s topic and about today’s guest 1:00 Self-Publishing and Thera – Piggies: Ashley L. Peterson 2:00 My question for you 4:00 HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Here’s the original blog version of this podcast episode. Ashley’s website Photos available at the HBT posts for this show: Ashley and her guinea pigs. Covers of her books. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s episode is the audio version of this blog post of “Self-Publishing and Thera-Piggies: Ashley L. Peterson.”

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. Here’s the full LinkTree list of 50+ places.

Fearful of getting old? Wonder what it would be like to collaborate on a novel (working on my novels can be lonely)? Read on to meet four late-bloomers who reinvented themselves, some better categorized as “re-bloomers” with several life success! Numbers 3 and 4 describe in their own words what it’s like to be co-authors…

In the interest of learning to blog at any age, have you read WordPress’s ebook/pdf, “The Ultimate Traffic Guide”? A few chapters in, there are already some broken and rather old “additional info” links, and I’m unsure it’s worth a full $17. However, it’s got me updating posts to total no more than 15 categories plus tags each to ensure (fingers crossed) they show up on searches at the WordPress Reader. Given how important WP says they are and how our success as bloggers can only help WP, wouldn’t it be great if there were category/tag counters on editing pages and the post list pages? An alert when we go over would be all the better!

Between updating categories and tags, I clicked over to try another (here’s the first one I tried) super easy near-immediate gratification Jenny Can Cook no-knead bread recipe, this one for whole wheat. After 10 minutes of measuring and mixing, a 3-hour rise, a 40-minute bake, and an hour to cool and slice — yum!!!!…

Whole Whole wheat bread ala Jenny Can Cook's no-knead recipe.  bread ala Jenny Can Cook recipe.
Whole wheat bread ala Jenny Can Cook’s no-knead recipe.

Now meet late bloomer/re-bloomer #1: Grandma Moses…

Grandma Moses, circa 1950 by Clara Sipprell.
Grandma Moses, circa 1950 by Clara Sipprell, 31 Oct 1885 – 27 Dec 1975 – https://npg.si.edu/object/npg_NPG.81.8, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=110147052

American folk artist of worldwide fame, Grandma Moses (Anna Mary Robertson Moses, September 7, 1860 – December 13, 1961) grew up humbly; farming as a child, at twelve leaving home to work, and later giving birth to ten children, only five of who lived past infancy. She’d always loved creating beauty out of nothing, but it wasn’t until she turned 78 that arthritis forced her to take up painting. When one hand tired, she’d switch to the other.

U.S. postage stamp with art by Grandma Moses.
This U.S. postage stamp is only one of Grandma Moses’s many honors. By Bureau of Engraving and Printing – U.S. Post Office; Smithsonian National Postal Museum; Image enlarged and rendered for tone, clarity by Gwillhickers, Public Domain.

As practical as she was prolific, she told journalism giant William R. Murrow that painters should be self-taught, otherwise, “You’ll paint as the teacher paints.” When he asked her if it was hard to part with her work, she answered, “Oh, no. I’d rather see the money.”

Late bloomer/re-bloomer #1: Colonel Sanders…

Kentucky Colonel Harland Sanders circa 1974. A showman and businessman, his trademark “colonel” string tie along with bleached hair and mustache was his costume to market chicken. By Edgy01 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0.
Kentucky Colonel Harland Sanders circa 1974. A showman and businessman, his trademark “colonel” string tie along with bleached hair and mustache was his costume to market chicken. By Edgy01 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Heard of a little fast-food chain called Kentucky Fried Chicken? Harlan David Sanders (September 9, 1890 – December 16, 1980) started it when he was 65. Prior to that, he worked as everything from a streetcar conductor and an army wagoner, to a blacksmith’s helper and a fireman. After he sold KFC for boo-coo bucks, he badmouthed the new owners for cutting so many corners they ruined the food.

In 1962, Sanders taught Tennessee Ernie Ford and Minnie Pearl how to cook their own KFC chicken…

Today’s Guests: Late bloomers/re-bloomers #3 and #4…

J. L. Harland is a duo of authors, both who “turned new pages” after retirement; Janet Laugharne and Jacqueline Harrett. Check out each of the aforementioned three links, because they also write independently. Residents of Cardiff, South Wales, UK, they met as colleagues and ended up friends for thirty years.

Jan, originally from North Wales, speaks Welsh and worked as a professor of languages in education. She writes poetry and short fiction.

Jacqui says, “Writing together has been an unexpected joy as we share much laughter in the process. Plus, it’s an excuse to meet and eat cake!”

She grew up in Northern Ireland, was a teacher and an academic before she became a multi-genre author. Her writing includes an award-winning non-fiction book for teachers and recently published crime novel, The Nesting Place.

Authors Janet Laugharne (right) and Jacqueline Harrett (left), 2 halves of J.L. Harland
Authors Janet Laugharne (right) and Jacqueline Harrett (left), 2 halves of J.L. Harland

The Joy of Co-authoring by J. L. Harland (Janet Laugharne and Jacqueline Harrett)

We are J. L. Harland: two writers with one voice and co-authors of What Lies Between Them, published by Dixi Books. The name is a combination of Janet Laugharne and Jacqueline Harrett, both former academics and flourishing in retirement.

Many people see retirement as the end of a meaningful life, especially if they have left a job which has occupied every waking moment. Retirement should be seen as an opportunity to do all those things you dreamt of doing when you were a youngster, before the need to earn a living became a reality.

As academics our working lives were busy, demanding, intellectually stimulating and often stressful so when we retired, around 2014, we threw ourselves into exploring the opportunities our new freedom afforded. Academic life consists of many different aspects and requires people skills as well as writing ability. We both published academic papers, chapters in books, modules for degrees and helped students to edit their work and expand their knowledge. It was inevitable that we should both want to do something more creative. We discussed the art of creative writing and which areas we felt we had weaknesses, set targets and then edited each other’s work. Tentative beginnings. We also took classes in creative writing. 

The first class we attended was across the city, so the journey entailed two buses to get to the venue. We met in the city centre and had a coffee and a chat before heading to class. It was during one of these chats that writing together was mooted. And so, our journey began.

What shall we write about? Where shall we set it? Who are the characters? Those were our questions and starting point. Every week when we met, we talked and planned. Our recent experiences of Higher Education gave us the setting, a fictional university in a familiar city, Cardiff, South Wales.

We each had a notebook and spent hours working out the characters first. Physical, personality, backstory, friends, relatives and what dilemma our main character had to face to ensure conflict. It was so much fun, and Elin Fiorelli was created. It should be noted that we both believe so much in this fictional character that we think we’ve seen her. Elin Fiorelli is a Welsh/Italian academic, a career woman whose life starts to unravel when she returns from a research trip abroad to find her former lover is now her boss. Can she keep the secret from her past while dealing with present day problems? You need to read it to find out.

Once we had a vague plot – we knew where it started and ended, the story arc, but the middle was more muddled – we started writing. Taking a chapter each, in turn, we wrote four chapters at a time. It was very exciting as, to keep the storyline intact, we each waited for a chapter before continuing to write. Opening the computer to find that your writing partner has completed the next stage in the story was stimulating and motivating. We are both guilty of going ‘off piste’ and creating scenes and minor characters not in the planning but that adds to the thrill of the writing process.

Cover of "What Lies Between Them," by J. L. Harland.

The story was in a very rough almost first draft when it was longlisted for a debut novel prize. That gave us encouragement and hope that it would be published. We sought editorial advice from a couple of sources, tweaked, adjusted and polished the manuscript before sending it into the world. It has been edited so many times and our writing voice so blended even we do not know who wrote which bits. 

As any writer is aware, rejection is part of the journey. Our previous experiences as academics had made rejection something to be expected so it didn’t deter us. Every so often, we’d send the novel out while continuing to write other things. 

During lockdown, when we couldn’t met in person, we Facetimed and managed, after the initial panic, to write a novella, a novelette and several pieces of short fiction. We kept a record of where What Lies Between Them had been submitted and put it on the back burner while we carried on creating. A second novel was nearing completion when we found our publisher. A couple of publishers had previously shown an interest but not the right fit, for various reasons.

For both of us having a novel published is a dream we held as teenagers. Now it’s a dream realised. The fun and laughter, as well as tears of frustration, we have shared on this journey has been a joy and we have many ideas and plans for future co-authoring projects.

Although many of the skills we learnt in our working lives have been of benefit on this journey we are still learning. Some of the learning curves have been vertical and we are busy marketing in the local area, doing talks and signings at all sorts of venues. For writers who have no public speaking experience this aspect, the need to be seen and engage with people, must be agonising. For both of us it almost feels like a return to work. 

We also pursue our individual writing and are happy to support each other in these endeavours. As well as long form writing, Janet enjoys writing short stories, flash fiction and poetry, with work published in national magazines, literary journals and online. Jacqui’s debut crime novel, The Nesting Place, was published by Diamond Books UK in 2021 and she’s busy working on the next in the series.

Retirement? What’s that? We’ve found a new career in retirement, and we are relishing all the opportunities offered to carry on living purposeful and enjoyable lives.

How many times do you hope to bloom?

Critter Vids + B. Christopher’s Vet Trip + Pod20: A. Renaud’s Inspo

Photo of Blogger/Educator Brendan Christoper and a chinchilla.
Blogger/Educator Brendan Christoper and a friend.

Novelist Alice Renaud’s COVID-19 Inspo: Animals + Publishing Happiness Between Tails

#Authors #Writing #Publishing #Creativity #Covid-19 #Animals Staying home, as well as animals, inspire fantasy romance author Alice Renaud, a Londoner. Here she also details how she published her award-winning books! How's your creativity going? Share your thoughts, and questions. Record them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Today’s topic and about today’s guest 1:05 Alice Renaud discusses what inspires her writing My question for you HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Fantasy romance author Alice Renaud's website that tells about her and her books. Original blog post for this episode. About “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat," my novel. Posts regarding my bout with COVID are here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here. Photos at the HBT blog post for this show: Portrait of Alice Renaud. Alice’s photo of an amazing red butterfly. Tabitha, Alice’s aunt’s tabby, staring at the neighbour’s feline. Cover of Alice’s “Mermaids Marry in Green; a Sea of Love Novel.” — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my new podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s episode is the audio version of “Novelist Alice Renaud’s COVID-19 Inspo: Animals + Publishing” that you can read the text version of H-E-R-E.

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is H-E-R-E.

It started with witnessing utter joy between an orangutan and a hound dog. Youtube videos are pleasant distractions when one is slogging through writing a novel, no? (A bit about the ones I’m working on H-E-R-E.) As you can guess, my fave videos involve dogs, preferably ones that look like mine. Dogs absolute experts at befriending anything and everything…

When I mentioned the video to a friend, she replied, “Me too! I love looking at interspecies romances.”

Is that what they’re called? Now short breaks turned into hour-long procrastinations… add in baby goats and owls and… and so it goes with YouTube… That’s why I’m sharing just one more with you — so as not to impose on your busy day, it’s got five not-so-romantic romances rolled into ten minutes…

Cute, weird, adorable, scary… what a diverse world of creatures we inhabit! Here to show us in real-life terms about the benefits of human-animal relations is Brendan Christoper, a blogger (links to his work h-e-r-e) out of Derbyshire, United Kingdom. Besides writing, he’s a hands-on educator who introduces his wild menagerie to people of all ages at events, parties, and classes. Read on for how even his pets aren’t thrilled with veterinarian visits…

Photo of Forest, a black and white cat resting on a cat scratching tree, by Bren from Wild4animals.
Forest by Bren from Wild4animals.

I’m Taking My Pet to See the Vet (Wish me luck!) by Brendan Christopher

Forest, my cat, is suspicious, so he slinks behind the sofa. Then, spying from a safe distance, he spots me fumbling with a pet carrier. There’s no turning back now.

As I creep towards Forest, I pretend to act casually. But, in one swift move, I scoop him up, place him into the box and attempt to shut the lid.

Somehow, he always manages to leave at least one paw on the outside. When I push that one in, another pops out like a jack-in-the-box. Eventually, we’re ready, and that’s when the drama begins.

To be fair, Forest is usually compliant when going to the vets — well, except for a couple of issues. One involves the journey.

He hates the motion of travel and lets out the most pathetic meow he can muster. This noise sounds like a baby in distress and is designed to wreck my emotions.

Now I’m racked with guilt as I drive. But mercifully, the journey’s short, so I’m spared any lasting trauma.

On arrival, he’s usually calmed down. However, as we cross the car park, the howling starts again because he doesn’t like the instability.

Logo for Brendan Christoper's animal education work, Wild 4 Animals, an acronym for Welfare, Intrigue, Learning, and Dignity.
Brendan Christoper’s animal education logo.

There’s just another man with a cat in the waiting area and me. I sit opposite, but the two cat boxes happen to face each other. So, naturally, we humans start complimenting each other’s pets.     

Meanwhile, our cats hold a growling contest for no apparent reason. They clearly hate each other even though they’ve just met. I think to myself, ‘it’s a good job they’re on neutral ground and not meeting in a back alley’. (Or perhaps they have – who knows with cats?)

Anyway, as Forest prowls around like a big caged cat, we’re summoned. I place the box on the vet’s table and carefully unleash my feline.

Instantly, Forest makes himself look massive by fluffing up his fur and thickening his tail. However, he fails to intimidate the vet — on the contrary, she finds him cute.

All goes well until its temperature time. At this point, the vet dares to hold his bushy tail whilst inserting a thermometer. Thankfully, Forest is a gentle soul, so he tends not to bite.

Once the ordeal’s over, the vet declares him a ‘good boy’, and I beam like a proud parent.

On the way out, he looks at me as if to say, ‘And I thought I could trust you. Typical human.’

Finally arriving home, I open the carrier, and Forest shoots out. He sniffs the box, glares at me and flicks his tail in disgust — that means I’ve been snubbed. However, as soon as I stroke him (and open a packet of food), he’s back to his loving, purring self.

Well, almost… he gives me that look as if to say, ‘you’re forgiven this time, but NEVER trap me in that cat snare again!’

The only problem is I’m taking Forest for another check-up in six months. Even though I know it’s for his own good, I doubt he appreciates my efforts.

Do you have a favorite animal?

Vids: Let’s Dance + Do Better: S.D.Jones + Pod18: N.Socha Plays Blind

Photo of Shira Destinie Jones: Author, Educator,. Activist.
Shira Destinie Jones: Author/Educator/Activist

Making Music Blind During Covid by Noé Socha Happiness Between Tails

#COVID-19 #Musicians #Creativity #Disabilities Did Covid impact your creativity? Noé Socha, a musician, discusses how being blind makes navigating lockdowns especially difficult. Record your questions, thoughts, and/or experiences on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Today’s topic and about today’s guest 1:05 “My Experience as a Blind Musician During Covid,” by Noehh Socha My question for you and outro HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Noé Socha's website. Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. About Ernest Hemingway at Wikipedia. One of Noé’s many music videos at his YouTube Blind Selfie channel. In this one, Kenya appears as a backup dancer. Video for CBS New York News interview of Noé. Info on where Noé grew up in Carpi, Italy, and a video of the how the lovely place coped with an earthquake. Spotify, where he’s released albums and garnered top awards from the Berklee College of Music and Billboard Magazine. Breedlove, an Oregon guitar manufacturer that added him to their stellar lineup of signature artists. The oldest harmonica manufacturer, Seydel, a German company founded in 1847, invited him to collaborate; here Noé demonstrates one of their harmonica holders on his Facebook page. Video where Mastercard recognizes he’s “Something Priceless.” Access-A-Ride made it possible for him to not need to take public transportation. Photos available at the HBT post for this show: Photo of Noé playing music. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my new podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s episode is the audio version of “Making Music Blind During Covid by Noé Socha: with videos” that you can read the text version of H-E-R-E.

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is at LinkTree.

This week I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel of writing my first novel (more about it H-E-R-E)! Yay!!!!

To celebrate, let’s get moving! Can you do this?

Sit in a chair, both your feet on the ground. Then lift your right foot a couple of inches off the floor and use it to make a clockwise circular motion. Meantime, with your right hand, write the numeral six.

Gotcha! It’s an unsolved mystery why that’s so hard to do.

Now for our dance party! As you might remember from my posts H-E-R-E and H-E-R-E, I grew up with flamenco (and classical music). For my father, the louder, the better. After all, that way those neighbors yelling and pounding our walls could enjoy it too, no?

José Planas Moreno, a priest in Málaga, Spain, tears up the church floor with his parishioners. The videographer’s site shows how the province celebrates everything with dance, be it blackberry roots, or plain ole’ regional dance. (A quickie swerve off-topic: what’s your opinion and experience regarding hyperlinks, meaning the sorts in this paragraph vs. the prior paragraph?) …

Carmen Amaya is known as the Queen of Flamenco for good reason! Head to toes, she’s music and dance incarnate…

With her extended family of Romany dancers and musicians, Carmen toured the world. Hollywood (including the Hollywood Bowl) fell in love with her. Here she casts her Fandango spell… 

Whew! Dunno about you, but I’m out of breath! It’s time to sit back and meet our guest blogger…

Ever wish you could make the world better a better place for anyone and everyone? Educator/community organizer Shira Destinie Jones blogs, at least for now, from San Diego and is doing just that. As part of her plan, she’s founded, Do Better, to stop child abuse and help those who care for kids.

Volunteers Needed: Shira needs feedback on the book she’s writing about how Do Better works, as well as the project itself. Find out more at h-e-r-e.

On her way to also becoming a historical fiction novelist, she’s already published an academic text, “Stayed on Freedom’s Call: Cooperation Between Jewish And African-American Communities In Washington, DC.”

Read on for a sample of her writing. When the following incident occurred, which she titles “Standing in the Gap,” she was completing PhD studies…

“Standing in The Gap” by Shira Destinie Jones

There it was again. I knew that sound.

“Oy, they’re having a fight down there!”

That was what Mona thought. I knew better. That was an old sound, from a lifetime ago. One I thought I’d finally escaped. I should have known better.

I looked out the window, counting five men holding smart phones up toward the screams. Then my feet moved of their own accord. It was only from hearing a muffled shout as the door slammed behind me that I knew I’d left the flat. The rain had just ended, and the pavement was still wet. My feet pulled me to the source of that sound. Not the shouting, not the screaming, but the one I remembered so deeply that it still hid under the table with my inner child. The sound of a head hitting a wall.

There it was again, but this time, I could see them. Both of them. The woman’s head sounded like a watermelon when she slammed against the wall, sliding down those slimy bricks to finish crumpled on the filthy paving stones. Her eyes were open wide, looking stunned and frightened, as a giant advanced on her from the ten or fifteen feet from where he’d launched her. My stomach churned as the pain of that impact coursed through my own body, as if I had been the one tossed like a sack of rice into that wall.

Looking at the giant, I wanted to flee, abandon this woman to her fate. But my feet had a will of their own, carrying me right into the one spot where I didn’t want to be: about 5 steps between each of them.

I realized that I’d carried an old umbrella with me out the door. At least those Kung Fu lessons had had one result: they kept me from rushing in where angels feared to tread entirely unarmed. Then again, my next thought was that this flimsy brolly was more like a liability against that big drunk guy. I took a second of comfort in hoping that as a foreign PhD student, at least the NHS would cover my hospital stay if I didn’t manage to duck fast enough.

“Move!”

I flinched as the sound wave from the giant’s lips struck me. It felt just like the impact of furniture breaking against the wall that night. When the giant stepped closer to me, my feet moved me back the same step, but my body refused to budge. That brolly, I now realized, was balanced in my left hand behind me, just like a short staff. My stomach had turned into a solid ball, no longer churning. As I saw him look at me, the giant’s eyes suddenly grew wider. If he hits me, it is going to hurt. But then why did he seem to be afraid of me?

“Move!”

“No.”

Who said that? Oh, wait, that was my voice. So why did the giant look confused?

“Thank you.”

I risked a glance backward. That sobbing voice had come from behind me, as the woman I was foolishly blocking wept, her tears mingling with the rain on the wall as she’d stared up at me.

Focusing on the giant as I’d learned to do in so many sparring classes, I drew a deep breath, preparing. But the giant stood frozen himself, staring at me with some odd drunken mixture of contempt and fear. Both were clearly written in his face, as well as the frustration of being denied another chance to strike the woman on the ground behind me. What was he waiting for?

“You prick.”

He was treating me like a man? He really must be drunk. Then I realized that I’d dropped into an automatic fighting stance. He wasn’t that drunk, then.

“Ok, but you should be ashamed of yourself.”

As those words tore themselves from my throat, I began to tremble so violently that I thought I’d begin crying like the woman at my back. The giant looked so confused that I could practically see the gears turning in his drink-addled mind. Then, a tall woman stepped between us, her back to me, placing a hand flat upon the center of the giant’s chest. I found myself letting out the breath I’d not known I was holding, and heard movement behind me.

I turned to see the two young bar girls helping the woman, finally, up off of the pavement, and taking her inside the pub. As I looked back at the giant, he had backed away, the tall woman’s arm guiding him to the curb.

I stood straight, now in tears myself from the relief, and from the shock. I was still four years old, still hiding under the table, while furniture still shattered, as my mother screamed in the other room. But this time, I had not stayed hidden under the table.

This time, I had come out to help.

Lost in these thoughts, I turned down the bar girl’s offer of a drink. As Mona came over, saying something I couldn’t hear, I wondered where she had been during all of this. Recalling her nights of coming home drunk, I realized that she had been standing there, 20 feet away, the entire time. Now I could see her in my mind’s eye, standing off to the side, just watching. As the five men and two bar girls had stood by and just watched.

All standing idly by while… And all but the young bar girls were bigger than me.

What’s a problem you think people need to know more about?

Recipe: Sweet Potato Frittata + Pod 13: M. Bierman Novel’s Hidden Life

Photo of Khashayar's Sweet Potato Veggie Frittata.

The Hidden Life of, “Vanished,” a novel by Mark Bierman Happiness Between Tails

The Hidden Life of “Vanished,” a novel by Mark Bierman #Authors #Books #HumanTrafficking #Haiti #Writing #Canada Ever feel like your attempt to help the world is insignificant? When Mark Bierman, an author/blogger from Ontario began writing an action/thriller, he found that his subject ran deeper and broader than human trafficking. Within the ugly side to it, he discovered a positive message. Do you believe a book can evolve beyond the author’s original dream for it? Your questions, thoughts, and/or experiences are welcome here. Record them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction 1:00 Today’s topic and about today’s guest 1:05 The Hidden Life of “Vanished,” a novel by Mark Bierman 3:18 My question for you 7:25 HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Original blog post that corresponds to this episode. Blogger/author Mark Bierman’s site includes his contact and book info. My own literary-novel-in-progress, “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat,” is a love letter to all who believe they’re too old, young, broken, lost, too whatever for love. He’s written other guest posts for the Happiness Between Tails blog here and here. Canada’s last maximum security prison was Kingston Penitentiary. Here's a post at Bierman's site about how one woman works to help victims of human trafficking. Photos available at the HBT post for this show: Cover of “Vanished,” by Mark Bierman Photo of Mark. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my new podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s episode is the audio version of “The Hidden Life of Vanished, a novel by Mark Bierman,” which you can read the text version of H-E-R-E.

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotifyand Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is LinkTree.

Cooking is how my husband, Khashayar, unwinds — and since his work has been super busy lately — in his spare time, he’s cooked up a storm. It’s as great for my tummy as it is for allowing me time to write my novels (more about them).

As usual, he’s as interested in coming up with plates as healthy and tasty as they are appealing. It’s always best to read an entire recipe to the end before setting out to shop for ingredients and cook. Here’s his latest recipe.…

Photo of Khashayar's Sweet Potato Veggie Frittata.

Sweet Potato Veg Frittata by Khashayar Parsi

Step 1

Combine…

  • Sweet potato, 1 large, shredded
  • Parsnip, 1 medium, shredded
  • Onion, 1 medium, diced small
  • Mushroom, 1/2 pound, diced small
  • Eggs, large, 4

Seasonings to Taste…

  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper
  • Turmeric

Step 2

Mix in…

  • Cheddar cheese, extra sharp, 3 ounces, shredded
  • Tahini 1/2 cup

Step 3a + Step 3b

Add…

  • Olive oil, 2 tablespoons

…to a non-stick 12-13” sauté pan. Cook on medium heat for about 45 minutes, until browned. Flip half-cooked frittata onto a plate.

While the frittata is cooking, roast…

  • Zucchinis, 6 medium, sliced into thin medallions
  • Rubbed with olive oil and seasoned to taste

…on parchment paper in a 350 degree oven, until the zucchinis are browned, which will take roughly half an hour.

Step 4

Add the remaining…

  • Olive oil, 2 tablespoons

…to the pan, and sauté the other side of the frittata for 30 minutes, until browned.

Step 5

  • Greek yogurt and shallots…

Transfer the cooked frittata to a platter. Decorate with spirals of zucchini, dollops of Greek yogurt mixed with shallots, and sprinkles of dill.

Serves 4 to 6 people. Pairs great with a salad like this one of beets and greens…

Photo of Khashayar's Sweet Potato Veggie Frittata with beet and greens salad.

Hungry for more of Khashayar’s healthy veggie recipes? H-E-R-E and H-E-R-E and H-E-R-E and H-E-R-E and H-E-R-E are some, and for even more, type KHASHAYAR into the search bar on this site.

Do you mostly eat in or out?

Writing Humor + Tips + Podcast 12: What’s Pro-Choice by K E Garland

da-AL's face covered in mud from Glen Ivy Springs, Corona, CA.
Muddy me.

Pro-Choice: what being it actually means, by K E Garland Happiness Between Tails

#ProChoice #Abortion #Women #EqualRights #Laws When were you challenged to make a pivotal decision only you ought to have decided? In sharing her personal story, author/blogger K E Garland shows how being Pro-Choice isn’t about deciding to bear a child. It’s about whether you’d want others, namely your government, to decide for you. Got questions, thoughts, and/or experiences to share? Record them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Today’s topic and about today’s guest 1:05 K E Garland on “What it Actually Means to be Pro-Choice” My question for you: When were you challenged to make a pivotal decision only you ought to have decided? HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode, in order of appearance: “Everybody’s a teacher if you listen.” — Doris Roberts; actress, author, and philanthropist. “My Abortion Story + Jury Service Pt 2”. K E Garland’s article first appeared at PULPMag on Feb. 13, 2020. K E Garland’s prior guest appearance at Happiness Between Tails. Aanother excellent post on the subject contrbuted by Infidel753. Planned Parenthood. K E Garland's personal blog, where you can find out more about her and her books. A site K E Garland also hosts to normalize conversations about menopause. Statistics on adolescent mothers who never attended or finished college. Some of the states where women are currently faced with the strictest abortion regulations to date. States such as Missouri have only one abortion clinic, limit access, and add stress to an already stressful situation. A study showed that women who have abortions do so because it would “interfere with their education, work or ability to care for their dependents, or they could not afford a baby at the time,” yet the current political climate ignores these as valid reasons to terminate a pregnancy.  State facts about abortion in Michigan. Photos available at the HBT blog site for this show: Photo of K E Garland. Covers of books she’s written and published. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my new podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s episode is the audio version of “Pro-Choice: what being it actually means, by K E Garland,” which you can read the text version of H-E-R-E.

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotifyand Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is at LinkTree.

Now that things loosened up COVID-wise — and I’ve gotten immunizations 1 and 2 and booster, a regular flu shot, plus before the shots rolled out I got sick with COVID (and I’m still dealing with resulting sensory probs) — I’m socializing a bit. That’s less time to work on my novels h-e-r-e, but such is the push/pull of pleasure/work…

That pic above is muddy me relaxing at Glen Ivy Hot Springs’ many therapeutic pools, including natural mineral ones. Interestingly, when I searched for a link to describe it to you better than I can, turns out up Emissaries of Devine Light owned it until recently. They still have a huge track of lush resort-looking (at least from the outside) land next to it. Depending on who you ask, EDL is a spiritual organization or a cult started in 1932 by Lloyd Arthur Meeker.

Notes and tips, in no particular order…

Podcasting 1 — today’s episode h-e-r-e (original blog post for it h-e-r-e): Want to take part in keeping abortion rights legal? Volunteer clinics need escorts. H-e-r-e’s Infidel753’s guest blog post about his experience. T-h-i-s link tells about these Minnesota humanitarians who freeze their buts off to do it.

Blogging 1: Are you as utterly gratified as me that readers visit from all over the world? The latest reader to pop by hales from Madagascar. Did you know over 90% of the island’s wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth? Sadly, humans threaten their ecosystems and wildlife…

Podcasting 2: Since I’m using my current podcast of this blog to experiment before I convert my future novels into a serialized story-telling podcast, I love hearing of others who’ve succeeded doing just that. Welcome to Night Vale makes a tidy sum from selling stuff, h-e-r-e’s their Wiki page, like tickets to their show’s stage performances, novels, and merchandise!

Writing: When you write, do you listen to anything? Lyrics and tunes distract me. If they’re really good, I want to look up the artists, and one thing leads to another, none of it writing. Enter Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. ASMR has to do with how simple sounds, birds and footsteps and chatter and wind and such, can be lovely. Check out t-h-i-s seven-hour video of a Paris jazz dance club.

Blogging 2: Ever wonder why some images and posts on your site are more popular than others? I’m continually scratching my head over that one. For instance, I don’t have a way to formally calculate how many folks click on what, but it seems a lot enjoy these photos of Pinkie and The Blue Boy I used in t-h-i-s post about the Huntington Library.

Pinkie by Thomas Lawrence and The Blue Boy by Thomas Gainsborough at The Huntinton
Pinkie by Thomas Lawrence and The Blue Boy by Thomas Gainsborough at The Huntinton.

Influencing: Should I be flattered that lately junk mailers refer to this blog as a “micro influencer”?

Animation: Wanna try converting your text into animation? Great! I made a really cute one for you to see from t-h-i-s blog post of Khashayar’s healthy carrot cake recipe and t-h-i-s podcast episode, but I can’t show it to you. Whatever you do, do not use the freebie at video maker simple. Absolutely do not use it. Only after hours of learning to make and polish one using their supposed freebie, did they state I’d have to pay to upload and download it. When I complained, they basically told me not to complain. So don’t use that one.

Podcasting 3: In one way, converting WordPress dot com blog posts into AnchorFM podcast episodes is super easy. In another, not entirely. To be “read-aloud-able,” posts need massaging of image captions, links, tweaking spelling and punctuation for the sake of pronunciations and pacing, etc. To get around the incompatibility, I set up a different WordPress dot com blog where I copy posts from here, edit them at the other blog, and send the revised ones to Anchor.

For Anchor to convert them, they need to be publicly published. Rather than have the weird blog/text versions confusing people, once I finalize the audio versions, I delete the text ones.

Here’s the rub — and the solution, which took me ages to figure out when neither WordPress nor Anchor could. Once I delete the blog post, the episode shows at my AnchorFM list on my desktop computer, but gives an error message when I try to publish it. Turns out, thank goodness, I can publish it from my iPad (and iPhone maybe too?). Once published, I can further edit it on my desktop. Whew!

33 Language Funnies…

  1. A woman without her man is nothing. Sorry… A woman: without her, man is nothing.
  2. Space: the difference between a kid napping and a kidnapping.
  3. I’m giving up eating chocolate for a month. Sorry… I’m giving up. Eating chocolate for a month.
  4. A cop just knocked on my door and told me my dogs were chasing people on bikes. I told him, “That’s impossible. My dogs don’t own bikes.”
  5. I’m giving up drinking until xmas. Sorry… I’m giving up. Drinking until xmas.
  6. The past, the present, and the future walked into a bar. It was tense.
  7. Let’s eat kids. Sorry… Let’s eat, kids.
  8. I’m a grammar doctor: let’s have a look at your colon.
  9. You have a body like Adonis. Sorry… You have a body, like Adonis.
  10. My teacher told me to name two pronouns. I answered, “Who, me?”
  11. Help! I’m stranded on a dessert island. Sorry… I’m stranded on a desert island.
  12. Well done, well-done, or well, done?
  13. I like cooking dogs and kids. Sorry… I like cooking, dogs, and kids.
  14. “I” before “E,” except when either your weird feisty neighbor or his eight foreign heirs forfeit their beige heifers and seize freight.
  15. Help a thief. Sorry… Help! A thief!
  16. Irony is when someone writes, “Your an idiot.”
  17. He’s feeling your nuts. Sorry… He’s feeling you’re nuts.
  18. Q: What’s the difference between a cat and a comma? A: One has claws at the end of its paws and one is a pause at the end of a clause.
  19. Simple riddle: A word in this sentence is misspelled.
  20. Q: What’s another name for Santa’s elves? A: Subordinate Clauses.
  21. Someone posted they had just baked some synonym buns. I replied, “You mean just like the ones grammar use to make?”
  22. Grammar: The difference between knowing your shit and knowing you’re shit.
  23. Homonyms are a reel waist of thyme.
  24. A priest, a rabbit, and a minister walk into a bar. The rabbit says, “I might be a typo.”
  25. Q: What happened when the semicolon broke grammar laws? A: It was given two consecutive sentences.
  26. I’m working in a furniture factory as a drawer.
  27. I saw an accident walking down the street.
  28. A verb and a noun were dating. They broke up because the noun was too possessive.
  29. The patient was released to the outpatient department without dressing.
  30. Funny how this sentence makes sense: “All the faith he had had had had no effect on the outcome of his life.”
  31. I avoid clichés like the plague.
  32. When comforting a grammar nerd, tell them softly, “There, their, they’re.”
  33. My life is a constant battle of wanting to correct grammar and wanting to have friends…

Want to read an amazing feat of orthography (the conventional spelling system of a language), go h-e-r-e to Infidel753’s site and prepare to be awed.

Got writing, blog, or pod tips to share?

Gender Vid + Beaman’s 7 Memoir Tips + Pod 11: Girl Scouts Trans Allies

Writer/blogger/memoirist Marian Beaman.
Writer/blogger/memoirist Marian Beaman.

Transgender Rights, Coyotes, Girl Scouts, and Gaslighting Happiness Between Tails

#Transgender #Coyotes #Coyotes #GirlScouts #Gaslighting (Thanks for the photo, Magda Ehlers from Pexels) Girl Scouts turned away a $100,000 donation because the money came with a stipulation that the organization wouldn’t be allowed to help anyone who is transgender — better still, they collected $250,000 from people who were overjoyed by their integrity! In this interview, a couple of scouts work hard for their community… Growing up, did you join youth groups? How many homes did you reside in and schools did you attend? Speaking your truth combats gaslighting.  Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Links for this episode: Happiness Between Tails blog post with the links below, plus photos of the telephone pole sign the girl scouts made, and a screenshot of their website. The Coyote Crew Wikipedia’s overview of the Girl Scouts of the USA. Video of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt addressing Girl Scouts in 1937. List of vintage Girl Scouts TV commercials on Youtube. Back in 2002, the Girl Scouts aired this ad of a sassy young girl putting her dad in his place. A clever 1976 TV commercial for the Girl Scouts. Time Stamps (where segments begin): 1) Happiness Between Tails intro 2) da-AL chats about today’s topic and a little about today’s guests 2:00 3) Girl Scouts guests, Ava and Jamie 5:30 4) This episode’s question with info on how to comment and learn more about Jamie, Ava, and da-AL 12 — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my new podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s episode is the audio version of “Ableism: Discrimination Against Disabled People by The Wheelchair Teen,” which you can read the text version of H-E-R-E. (This show has a new graphic to reflect that it’s shortened from an earlier version that included information that’s become outdated. Anchor’s tools make editing easy!) 

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotifyand Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is at LinkTree.

  • By the way, check out T-H-I-S end-of-the-year round up video that Spotify just sent me about my podcast.

I go by she/her. What pronouns do you go by? It’s as simple as that. Any writer (I’m working on a couple of novels) and reader knows words are important…

Don’t let fear of unintentionally offending others keep you from interacting. Whether that person goes by they/them, he/him, ne/nem, or prefers not to be referred to by gender at all, it’s always appropriate to ask.

Thanks to the Los Angeles Public Library, this video simplifies pronouns:

Ever worry that your voice doesn’t need to be heard or that it’s too late to start your dream? Writing takes imagination — and courage! It helps to meet writers who have been our shoes yet still pushed ahead to success, such as Marian Beaman. (Also, H-E-R-E’s the site where, for free, I separated her face from the background) …

Author blogger Marian Beaman’s childhood was as a Pennsylvania Mennoite, who are also known as “plain people.” She went on to a career as a college professor, and now writes books from her home in Jacksonville, Florida. Visit her blog for more about her, her other social media, and links to her books. Here she invites us to glimpse her writing process and offers seven tips for memoire writing.

Writer Marian Beaman stands in front of a bookshop window featuring her book, "Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl."
Writer Marian Beaman stands in front of a bookshop window featuring her book, “Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl.”

How Writing Memoir is like Riding a Train by Marian Beaman

Trains take me back to grade school, evoking the fondest of memories, like this one.

My friend Wayne and I paused in our play in the woods during summer vacation. We waited for the dusty, black engine to emerge from the heat haze around the feed mill on the edge of our village. The slight curve of the train’s coal cars behind it cut a path beyond the trees. We sprinted to get a closer look and then stopped in our tracks, observing the slow, rhythmic bursts of the steam engine pulling toward us from the east. To us, the Pennsylvania Railroad train was more than a space on the Monopoly board.

Other snapshots of train travel spring from my memory, all in the present tense:

  • My Aunt Ruthie Longenecker takes my sisters and me to Philadelphia, my first recollection of a train trip. I feel the rocking motion of the Pennsylvania Railroad train car we occupy, the clickety-clack of the wheels on the rails, and the prize of the big city zoo at the end of the trip: lions and tigers and elephants, oh my!
  • When I pick plump, red raspberries with Grandma Longenecker, I hear the train’s clatter-clack over segments of track speeding from Lancaster to Harrisburg. With our round aluminum kettles laden with berries and handles that cut into the palms of our hands, we stand just 50 yards from the track, gazing in awe and feeling the vibration of the passing train through our shoes.
  • I travel with Aunt Ruthie to Temple University, taking the train from Lancaster to Philadelphia. We feel the rocking rhythm of the train when it slows and stops as the conductor calls out “Coatesville, Downingtown, Paoli” before we reach our destination at the 30th street station in Philly. 

The train trip from Lancaster to Philadelphia was not an express train. It made 5-6 stops on the 80-mile route from the countryside of Pennsylvania to the big city. By fits and starts, we made the journey in time for our 9:00 a.m. classes at Temple University. Same on the return trip. Slowing down and starting up again got us to and from our destination. All in good time.

It strikes me that writing novels, memoirs or other non-fiction is much like train travel. Lots of pausing, stopping, but sometimes even joyfully going full throttle through the countryside. The most important part of the plan: Staying on track. 

Here’s how I followed my unique route, writing my memoir, “Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl”:

Memoir Lesson 1

Be prepared to spend at least a year, or even five years to complete your book. Simply put: It takes as long as it takes. Writing is certainly rewarding, but learning a new skill (as I did) can be hard. I had done plenty of writing as an academic, but switching to a new genre like memoir required a totally different skillset. I took two family history writing classes to prepare. You? Start somewhere. Doodle or write poetry. Write prose in a journal. Begin a blog. 

Memoir Lesson 2

A memoir is a slice of your life, not a biography. Ask yourself some serious questions: What part of your life will you depict–-scenes from your childhood, a traumatic experience, a thrilling adventure like sailing around the world? Can you sketch out this “slice of life” in a series of memorable moments? Write an outline? Scribble random thoughts on colored sticky notes? Draw turning points on a timeline? 

Memoir Lesson 3

What is your theme? If it’s success after a failed first marriage, that controlling idea will be the filter through which you tell your story. Flashbacks can add dimension to writing, but only if these stories connect to your theme. I enjoy cooking, but  I don’t open up the spice cabinet or pull down everything from my dry ingredients’ shelves and dump them into the bowl. I have to be selective. Just so, you can’t tell every story that happened in your life. Select scenes to fit your theme.

Memoir Lesson 4

Memoir writing, like fiction, requires a series of steps. Here are a few: writing multiple drafts, revising, revising (Did I say revising?), and deciding whether you want to pursue traditional publishing or independent publishing. If you self-publish, as I did, I had to find beta readers for early drafts (often author friends with whom I reciprocated the favor), searched for a developmental editor, copyeditor and proofreader. A helpful tip: I looked on the acknowledgements page of authors whose books I admired and found one wonderful editor there.  

Memoir Lesson 5

Super important: Read what you’ve written aloud occasionally. Train trips engage the senses. Invite your readers to be your seat mate on the ride. Help them escape into your world. Slow down the narrative as you let them see the view from the window. Help them feel the rocking motion as the train speeds along. Let them hear the sound of wheels on the rails. Listen to strangers carry on conversations around you: making unobtrusive notes may help you write realistic dialogue later on.

Memoir Lesson 6

Plan for publication. I began blogging six years before my book hit the shelves. It’s never too early to establish yourself as a writer. From the beginning, my blog posts appeared on Facebook and Twitter. Instagram has been also a great place to share fun stuff. Personal relationships too are very important and so rewarding.  I found rekindled friendships and connections to author friends invaluable as I organized my book launch and marketing.

Memoir Lesson 7

Take breaks. The train to Philadelphia made frequent tops. At some of the stops, I got up from my seat, went to the restroom, or walked up and down the aisle. Sometimes en route, I stopped reading my textbook and just gazed out of the train window. I enjoy reading, so sometimes my break was reading an entertaining book. Like the cadence of clack-clack on train tracks, the rhythm of someone else’s words refreshed my mind.

And finally, “Celebrate!”

Be sure to party along the way, not just when you hold that newly minted book in your hands, but other times too: Finishing your first draft, receiving a compliment from an early reader, picking a title, approving your cover design. Enjoy the entire ride!

Do you fear it’s too late to pursue your dreams?

Hair Coloring 4 Men and All + Pod10 What’s Ableism? by Wheelchair Teen

Ableism: Discrimination Against Disabled People by The Wheelchair Teen Happiness Between Tails

#Ableism #Disability #Teens #Blogging #Girls #Black #Media #InspirationPorn Inspiration porn: How much do you know about real, everyday people with disabilities? Do you see them praised for doing basically nothing? What do you think about media depictions of disabled people? Comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Today’s topic and about today’s guest 1:05 Ableism: Discrimination Against Disabled People by The Wheelchair Teen 1:55 My question for you 12:50 HBT outro Links referred to in this episode: Happiness Between Tails blog post for this episode. The Wheelchair Teen – My life as a black, disabled teenager. The Wheelchair Teen’s research citation Photos available at the blog version of this show: The Wheelchair Teen in her wheelchair, her wheels, giving a presentation about disabilities to children at a primary school, with her hand over her mouth and the words: “Stop stifling disabled voices in media” on them, and The Disabled Teen having fun in front of a carnival wall. Artwork for a disabled character she created for a comic. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my new podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s episode is the audio version to the blog post of “Ableism: Discrimination Against Disabled People by The Wheelchair Teen.”

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotifyand Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is at LinkTree.

Strong + flexible + tough + soft = healthy looking hair.

NOTE: you can also listen to the audio/podcast version of what follows.) 

A dear friend recently complimented me on my hair and requested I do a blog post on hair coloring for men. I’m not a man and my husband doesn’t die his hair, but hair is hair, right? And after all, any novelist (here’s more about the books I’m working on) worth their salt can imagine, no?

In my late teens, I hated my straight hair so much that I permed it. When my hair turned into something that looked like a cheap wig, I spent the next 10 years trying to fix it with chemical treatments that all looked like hell, hell, and more hell.

Enter color! It took a while to get the hang of, but when at long last I did, my hair became something other than either limp and greasy or fried and broken. Henna in particular gives it body and shine, and nourishes the hair and scalp.

Regardless of the type of hair, the way to avoid breakage and dullness is to steer clear of toxic chemicals (I try not to put anything on my scalp and skin that would kill me if I ate it) and heat. That means keeping to a minimum stuff like hairdryers and products with strong chemicals (the scalp takes in whatever we put on it almost as readily as our mouth membrane), including ammonia, peroxide, and alcohol. Sprays of any kind are iffy because they usually include alcohol. Moreover, they’re not so great for the lungs.

Buyer beware: “natural” doesn’t always mean what it should, so read the ingredients. This beauty site lists a bunch of places where you can analyze beauty products. Products don’t have to be pricey to be healthy.

Scalp and root care are as important as hair care. Our scalps easily absorb whatever we apply. Don’t over-stress follicles with excessive massaging and brushing.

  • Hair is weakest and stretchiest when it’s wet, so gently comb it with a wide-toothed comb. If it’s too tangly to manage, detangling sprays can help.
  • Warm to cool water, not hot, helps immensely. Think fluffy wintry cats and dogs, versus short haired ones that live in hotter climes.

Many men, of course at all, have shorter hair. If one ruins short hair, it grows out relatively quickly. Keep in mind that the longer one’s hair is, the more pummeling it gets when mistreated.

Hair Repair: Olive Oil

Lots of oils and conditioners are out there, but olive oil works wonders for me. Once a week or so, first thing in the morning, I don grubby clothes that I don’t mind getting stained, slather it on, then I go about my business (as long as it’s not the kind of business where I need to look presentable) for a couple of hours. It soaks in while I eat breakfast, write, clean my house, and talk on the phone. Then I shampoo it out.

Conditioner is also great for mending hair and can be used in place of shampoo.

Dyes in General

  • What color to choose if you want to stay close to natural and are only covering grays or roots? To avoid looking artificial, first try a shade slightly lighter than your darkest strands. It’s easier and gentler to hair to darker over a mistakes than it is to go lighter, which is quite involved and can be damaging.

Everything requires gloves. Get any on your fingernails and be prepared to have to grow that tint out. Try to keep as much of them off your hairline so you don’t stain your face (some dyes stain worse than others). Many people apply a thick oil like vaseline to prevent their foreheads from getting marked.

I’ve dabbled with semi-permanent and permanent dyes. Again, read their ingredients or you’ll wind up with awful hair. Application for both is the usually same, always marked on their boxes: in a nutshell, leave it on for roughly 20 minutes, then wash it out.

Coloring: Root Touchups

These are meant more for covering what shows, i.e. temples and where you part your hair. They wash out immediately and come in many forms: sprays, crayons, powders, and mascaras. Check customer reviews so you don’t wind up one that rubs off onto hands and pillow cases.

Spray: A dear one recently mentioned they were wearing a spray. Even after they showed me, I couldn’t tell at all!

Semi-Permanent Dye

These are less likely to include harsh ingredients like ammonia, though read the ingredients. Depending on brand, color, and frequency used, they wash out in anywhere from a week to a couple of months. As a result, it’s easier to go back to natural, if that’s what you want. They fade gradually, as opposed to needing to be grown out, and the contrast between dyed hair and undyed roots is lessened.

By the way, semi-permanent tints also come as “coloring shampoos.” For the sake of this post, I tried two. Neither deposited any color I could see, though maybe it was just the type of hair I have? Worse, though, the one supposedly for men and with added conditioner made my scalp burn. When I shampooed the following day, after doing my best the following morning to make up for the abuse by applying olive oil and letting it sink in for several hours, there were quite a few more hairs than usual in my drain.

** NOTE: anything that results in hair loss and/or the sensation of burning and/or itching are to be avoided at all costs. Remember, scalp health is paramount.

Permanent Dyes

These last longer, but depending on the brand (read the ingredients), they’re harder on the hair. Also, growing them out involves sporting the zebra look.

Natural Dyes: What I Use

Basic henna is what I use. Henna, a.k.a. lawsonia inermis, is powdered tree leaves. It’s cheap and I have yet to find that one brand is superior to another, so don’t be fooled by the expensive varieties. You can buy it by the box at most Indian and International grocery stores, or online in bigger bags, like I do.

If the package of henna doesn’t say only “natural henna” and lists a variety of colors, it has other stuff added to it. Beware that often those are as chemical-laden as commercial dyes.

Bulk packages of cream of tartar, indigo, and henna can save you a lot of money.

Basic henna (which Wiki defines here) is a greenish powder that dyes coppery and translucent, meaning it shows the color of the hair beneath it, same as water colors reveal the color of papers they’re applied to. They stain coppery orange, as you can see at this site. The lighter the hair, the brighter the result. To tone down the orangy red, I continually experiment with adding stuff to it, which I’ll get to later.

It helps to keep dying powders in recycled jars.

The more frequently henna is applied, the richer and more permanent the color deepens. Hairdressers often warn against using it, because it can’t be bleached out if you don’t like it, though you can apply a darker dye over it.

Photo of henna powder.
Henna powder is green but dyes reddish orange.

The night before, I mix henna powder with olive oil (or inexpensive natural conditioner) and water. For my length of hair, I use four ounces of henna, one cup of cool (not hot) water, and roughly 2 tablespoons of olive oil. (From what I’ve read, unrefrigerated henna keeps its dying strength up to 12 hours.)

The trick is to stir in whatever liquid incrementally, so you can add enough that it’s not overly thick and stop before it’s too runny. You’ll be leaving it on your hair for a couple of hours, so you don’t want it driving you crazy by running down your neck and spilling into your eyes. Conversely, you don’t want it so pasty that you can’t spread it down to your roots.

Cover it and let it sit overnight. The dye is said to be “released,” when it turns extra dark in places. The next morning, scrape the sides of whatever container you use and give everything an extra stir.

Henna paste in an iron pot.
Henna gets darker in an iron pot.

Using an iron pot darkens henna, which is why I use this one intended for Korean cookery. The plastic shower cap I later use on my head protects the charming wooden lid, even though I use this pot only for henna.

Photo of reused gloves, plastic wrap, clothes pins.
Reusable gloves, plastic wrap, clothes pins, and tape come in handy.

Henna Add-Ins

To help it take better hold, I stir in a bit of acid, like lemon juice vinegar, or cream of tartar, which I buy in bulk at a fraction of the cost of small grocery store shakers.

Photo of cream of tartar powder.
Cream of tartar added into henna helps the color to grab into hair.

Eucalyptus oil is said to stimulate hair growth. So are rosemary and thyme.

To offset the orange color, sometimes I add a couple tablespoons of cheap instant coffee granules (no need to waste the good stuff).

I haven’t tried it, but some people dye their hair simply by mixing instant coffee granules with conditioner, no henna, and letting that sink in.

Indigo

This greenish powder from indigo, that Wiki defines here, leaves dyes blue-black. It was used to color the first jeans. It’s great for dampening the reddish hue of henna.

Photo of indigo powder.
Indigo powder dyes blue-black.

Indigo requires 10-20 minutes to get wet, but if you wait a lot longer, it loses its coloring ability.

First thing the following morning, I heap a couple of mounded tablespoons of indigo into a separate container. Sometimes I just stir it directly into the henna, but I think it stains better with this extra step. Dyes stain, so using plastic containers, like clean empties from yogurt, is a great way to recycle.

Photo of indigo paste.
Indigo paste mixed with olive oil takes 10-20 minutes to set.

Applying the Henna Treatment

Wear something dark enough to not show stains and grubby enough to not bother you if it does stain.

In the bathroom, where I have enough mirrors to see the back of my head, I clothespin old bedsheets that I use as drop-cloths to prevent staining walls and floors. (Any messes that happen anyway are easily removed with a couple of drops of bleach.)

Photo of old sheets pinned around bathroom as drop cloths.
Old sheets make great drop cloths.

Dampening hair beforehand (I spray mine with a conditioning detangler) enables the henna to slide on easier and more thoroughly down the the roots.

Gloves on, I massage the henna into my scalp and through my hair. Then I cover it with the cheapest shower cap I can purchase in bulk. Wrapping keeps the henna moist and prevents brown smears on every wall I pass. For good measure, I tightly wrap a length of plastic wrap around my hairline and tape down the end to keep it from unraveling. With the protective film on, I continue to press the henna down to ensure it nourishes my scalp as it works.

Two hours or more later (I hear some people keep on henna overnight, though I haven’t tried it), after I’ve eaten breakfast, cleaned the house, done some writing, texted friends, etc., I’m ready to wash it out.

Rather than shampoo, I use conditioner, working it in and rinsing it twice, similar to how I use shampoo. For the sake of conditioning, though, I let the second application soak for several minutes. Then I rinse it in cool water until the water runs clear.

Use a darker towel to dry your hair, so you don’t have to worry about stains.

If you can help it, don’t shampoo for at least a couple of days, for the color to intensify over time.

Comment or leave a question and I’ll use it to update this blog post.