Grammar Girl may inspire a toast for the historical and fantasy writers (and how our publisher’s day job can help you grow your craft)

That title may be a bit much. But this blog post will contain a lot. We want to inspire. We want to share. We want to reassure.

Backstory: The Day Job

As a boutique publisher of craft books in its youth, Parisian Phoenix remains a part-time business (ad)venture.

Publisher and founder Angel Ackerman has retained her day job working in the Pennsylvania Stitch Fix warehouse (known internally as the Bizzy Hizzy). In her life as “a creative,” she has found that professional work depletes her artistic capacity and energy for innovation. Or, simply put, her best ideas and efforts end up benefiting her employer and not her personal projects.

During her 15 years as a journalist, she felt she used up all her words before she got home. When she moved to the non-profit sector, the situation seemed worse. So, she decided to indulge her love of fashion, follow the advice of some friends and former coworkers who already worked at Stitch Fix, and get an inside look at the company she had been following since its inception.

What’s amazing about working in a warehouse folding clothes into pretty, gift-wrapped packages all day is that it truly inspires creativity. On a personal level, Angel gets time to think (and tell Siri to set reminders that get recorded as statements like “Put out the rhinoceros” because Siri can’t hear well in the cacophonous building) and when folding the clothes, she can invent ideas about the people who might wear them. And some of those imaginary people may become characters.

And she has already used more than one Stitch Fix outfit in her recent manuscript.

So, don’t discount your validity as a writer or success as an author if you work a day job. And never apologize if you chose something “menial” or “blue collar.” (This was a topic Angel discussed in the Parisian Phoenix anthology, Not an Able-Bodied White Man with Money.)

Curating podcasts

Angel listens to at least 35 hours of podcasts each week in the warehouse. More than half of these deal with writing, and most of the hosts are full-time writers or publishing professionals. Angel curates these podcasts into playlists ranging from traditional versus indie publishing to AI for writers. Anything Angel feels could benefit writers she adds to a list (like Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about time travel, you can find that on the sci-fi info playlist). We even have a playlist on BookTok! Or how to produce an audiobook!

Writers like Rachael Herron of “How do You Write?” have experience in traditional and self-publishing and offer truly practical advice. Writers like Sasha Black and Joanna Penn have been self-publishing the entire time and seem to have a good time doing it and they support families. Podcasts like “The Self-Publishing Show” and “The Sell More Books Show” focus more on sales versus craft, while podcasts like “The Novel Marketing Podcast” from Author Media have evolved into businesses helping authors.

So. Many. Podcasts.

Here’s an example of how a brief ten-minute podcast might help a writer interested in historical fiction or fantasy.

The History of Toasting with Grammar Girl

As a December offering, Grammar Girl offered a podcast that follows the history of toast (yes, as in browned bread) and how that evolved to toasting (as in a celebratory message before sharing alcoholic beverages).

The details are fading from memory now, but apparently bread really does taste better if you cook it (a second time) as the sugars break down at the higher temperatures. And apparently, the ancient Greeks put toast in bitter wine to make it taste better. And also apparently, the act of toasting started with a host partaking of a shared pitcher to prove it wasn’t poisoned, and then developed into a way to kiss the butt of those in power.

Love that eloquent summary.

Now, these details could help writers of historical fiction if their work deals with any of the cultures or time frames mentioned. This brief podcast covers more than 2,000 years of toast history. Did you know your ancient Egyptian characters could be making toast?

OR if you write fantasy, understanding the evolution and connection between bread, wine and politics, can help you build parallel concepts and longstanding history when world-building. Small, carefully mentioned details can achieve as much if not more as long, in-depth passages.

Grammar Girl is one of the podcasts worth checking out from time to time. Her podcasts are short, concise and can really discuss just about anything. Another recent one addressed the differences in British and American English. It specifically looked at The World Cup and how the broadcasters handled whether teams should be singular or plural in regards to verb agreement.

Click here to listen to the episode on Spotify: The History of Toasting by Grammar Girl

Updates from our crew:
  • Thurston D. Gill Jr.’s The Phulasso Devotional has moved from the design phase to review by an outside editor who has an interest in spiritual writing.
  • Larry Sceurman is tweaking some of this stories and deciding what to place in this spring’s anthology, Coffee in the Morning.
  • Angel Ackerman has passed the halfway point of the first draft of her fourth Fashion and Fiends novel, has committed to speaking to The Apex Writers Group (for science fiction and fantasy writers, founded by the late David Farland) in March, attended a committee meeting for The Lehigh Valley Book Festival, and has the “cat book” on her desk.
  • Eva Parry has pitched a journal to help tarot readers interact with their deck and record their readings. It should enter design soon.

As always, you can buy our books on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble’s website, even Target.com. Our personal favorite is our shop at Bookshop.org, where you can support independent booksellers from the comfort of your home. And we would be happy to mail you books, potentially even author-signed if you contact us at angel@parisianphoenix.com.

Published by Angel Ackerman

Writer, Editor, Traveler, Fashionista, Francophile, Student and Mother Publisher at Parisian Phoenix (parisianphoenix.com) Author of the Fashion and Fiends series

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