2021: Expect the Unexpected – Literature, the Common Bond

Literature was my very favorite class in school. I loved reading. I was often told I was “out picking daisies” when I wasn’t listening in class. My mother said I was “telling stories” when she suspected what I said wasn’t exactly the truth. I come by this writing thing naturally.

But literature is the common language of all mankind. Cave walls told stories, in picture form, of incidents in history. Maybe some of them were true. Stories were told around campfires when clans gathered at night. Most of those weren’t true, but stories pull us all together.

In the year 2000, my husband and I traveled to Zimbabwe for a trip of a lifetime. We stayed in a camp and my husband went out daily with professional hunters and trackers and some days I stayed in. It was a lot of hiking, and besides, I had a Stephen King novel that I read as I sat by the Zambezi River that was the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. I also watched the local wildlife from my chair as the workers in the camp went about their daily lives. I felt like it was a National Geographic special right before my eyes.

Part of the week, children who belonged to one of the professional hunters came to spend the week with Dad. They were on break from their boarding school. One little boy, about 10 years old, came over and sat with me and we talked. Most American kids would not have struck up a conversation with an adult they didn’t know. I tried to think of things to talk about as we sat there 8,000 miles from my home, when along came an inch worm on the arm of the chair.

“Oh, look,” I said, “a Pushmi-Pullyu.” I instantly thought this boy will not know what you are talking about. My kids and I used that term even though it wasn’t what the animal looked like in the Dr. Doolittle book.

He sat quietly a moment and then said, “My teacher has been reading Dr. Doolittle to us in school. Are those animals real?”

And instantly this boy, who lived a world away from my world, and I had a bond. Literature. He knew who Dr. Doolittle was! And he knew the wonderful, though fantastical, creatures of that piece of literature written in 1920–long before either of us were born.

Literature brings people of all cultures together. It is a common bond and a goal worth pursuing whether you are reading or writing. What is your favorite piece of literature?

What have you been reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – October the Transition Month!

It’s October and time for ghosties and ghoulies and three-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night. I don’t know if I’ll do the Trick or Treat thing, but I did get out the few decorations I still have and decorated for fall. It is the end of a season and the beginning of a new one. It’s October. I don’t know if I’ll do the Trick or Treat thing, but I did get out the few decorations I still have. It is the end of a season and the beginning of a new one.

For all the gardeners out there, I hope you don’t think badly of me, but I’m tired of watering and weeding. I am cleaning out the iris garden and getting ready to pull out what’s left of the herbs once we have a freeze. It is the middle of the month and last year we had a massive ice storm the end of October. It is a month of transition.

I have two works-in-progress—okay, maybe three. I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again, but here I go on a whim. In my mind, a new story arrives on the back of the change in weather. But I am ready to write throughout the long winter months. I don’t do NaNoWriMo, but I am prepared to sit and create as the weather cools and nights become longer.

Blooming Greed, the second in the Keystone Lake series, should have a release date the first of the year and I always have something else waiting in the wings.

Not a ghost story, Flatiron Death Grip, does have a zombie, vampire, and some werewolves though they are superheroes trying to get along and save the world. It’s available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format Flatiron Death Grip: Chambers, Peggy, Saenz, Gabriella: 9781953589101: Amazon.com: Books.  Pick up a copy and leave me a review. Authors love reviews. That’s how they sell books.

What have you been reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – High School Reunion

This weekend was the 50th reunion of my high school class. I have no idea how that happened.  50 years ago, I was a bright-eyed teenager with the world at my feet.  My husband and I met in high school and married young, had our children young, and then settled in staying in our hometown. We’ve only moved three times.  It would take a crowbar to get him out of this town.  We have traveled a lot, just always coming home to Enid, Oklahoma.

The Enid High Class of ’71 originally had 652 members.  We’ve lost a few along the way.  But this weekend there were about 100 in attendance.  With the pandemic, I’m sure there weren’t as many as their might have been otherwise. 

It was a two-day event with mixers that almost got rained out, breakfasts, tours of the high school which has tripled in size since we were students there, and a cocktail/appetizers/dance on Saturday night at the local country club.  A lot of us old folks were home to watch the 10 o’clock news. 

Many of the group at the age of 68 were the walking wounded.  Some couldn’t make it at all.  But when the music began with songs of the ‘60s and ‘70s it was like we were back in high school.  Some danced, others didn’t, but we caught up with old friends and some who were mostly acquaintances back in the day.  It is interesting how after 50 years; you sit and visit with people who were not your best friend back in the day but had a ton of fun catching up with them. 

With our ages, the class will have a reunion every five years instead of ten.  I had a great time and plan to attend the next one. 

“Many are good, but better are none than all the class of ’71!”

What have you been reading this week?

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2021:Expect the Unexpected – Gabriella Saenz

I recently released a new book, Flatiron Death Grip,  through Airship 27 Productions.  It is in the pulp fiction genre and the publisher always pairs the writer with an artist to bring the story to life.  The color cover is painted by Ted Hammond and the inside black and white illustrations were done by a relative newcomer, Gabriella Saenz (Gabs).  Rob Fortier, one of the owners of the publishing company, teaches a class on comic book writing and met 16-year-old Gabs in his class.  He immediately saw a world of talent  in her and asked her to do the inside illustrations for my book. Now that the book has been released for sale, I wanted to introduce her to you.  So, I asked her a few questions.  Here are her answers.  And when I asked for a headshot so you would know what she looks like, she sent me a self-portrait of the artist. Beautiful!

Here is an inside illustration created by Gabs for the book.

I give you the artist (drum roll!) Gabriella Saenz!

1. What drives you to draw/paint? My art reflects my emotions and what is happening around me and in the world. For me, drawing and painting is my outlet, my motivation, and my voice. Seeing people enjoy my creations and it’s story is the best motivator!

 2. What type of art do you draw/paint and why? My focus at the moment is comic book art and illustrations. I love to tell stories and pairing that with art in a complete book is golden! I have started to dabble in Animation, which brings my story art to life! Honestly, pen, markers, inks, acrylics, watercolor, or digitally, all are my favorites! I’ve even painted with coffee and chocolate… because why not! You can create with anything!

3. What type of art do you most admire? I’m pretty eclectic when it comes to types of art I admire. If the art moves me and grabs my attention, that’s the best!

 4. Who is your favorite artist? My top three favorite artists are Steph Luna @lunarjokster, Laylie @ukelaylie and Frida Kahlo.

5. What’s your drawing schedule? Do you draw everyday? There is almost never a moment, I am not drawing, thinking about a character design, or itching to grab a pen to create. So, yes, I draw every day, no surface is safe! Ha!

 6. Give us a glimpse of the surroundings where you create. Separate room? In the kitchen? At the dining room table? My bedroom is my art haven! Thankfully, it is big enough that I keep half of my room dedicated to art and creating. I have a big art desk that is right next to a large sliding window for plenty of sunlight. Along with my desktop computer and my Surface laptop are piles of markers, pens, inks, paints, watercolors, canvases, and sketch pads. My happy piles of artwork add to the chaos! A lighted architect’s table rounds out my art tools!

7. Are you the kind of artist who needs total quiet to compose, or are you able to filter out the typical sounds of the day and use your tunnel vision? I have a habit of immersing myself in my art. I put in my earbuds, and I do my art. I don’t notice the time passing. There is always sound in my background, whether it be movies, anime, or music.

8. Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind? If not, why not? When I write, I have specific music playlists for each mood I’m feeling at the time. The kind of music I like ranges from K-pop, indie, and R&B.

9. How did you come up with the ideas for my manuscript, Flatiron Death Grip? Flatiron Death Grip gave me an urban legend meets vigilante superhero vibe. The characters were born out of their personalities from the book. I made the decision of drawing the illustrations in black and white to have the “look” of a newsprint comic.

10. What 3 words describes you, the artist? Expressive, curious, impulsive.

11. Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to art! Not only do I do art, but I have been training in Taekwondo for about the same amount of time. Currently I’m working on a weapons form as a 2nd degree Black belt!

12. If you had to give up one necessary-can’t-live-without-it beauty item, what would it be? Eyeliner

13. What three words describe you, the person? Strong, Loyal, Kind

14. If you could sing a song with Jimmy Fallon, what would it be? POM POM by Baby Storme

15. Favorite sound– Rain

16. Least favorite sound- Chewing noises

17. Best song every written– Immigrants (We get the job done) by K’naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, Residente

18. Worst song ever written– Yummy by Justin Beiber

19. Favorite actor and actress– Simu Liu and Angela Bassett

20. Who would you want to be for 1 day and why? (It can be anyone living or dead) Batman, Because he is rich and cool.

21. What’s your version of a perfect day? If I could draw all day and no interruptions.

Where can we find you on social media? @brushstroke80 on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tik Tok

These are some more examples of her work:

Flatiron Death Grip is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle version at Flatiron Death Grip – Kindle edition by Chambers, Peggy, Saenz, Gabriella. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com. Check it out and leave us a review! 

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Book Release Party

I’m having a book release party on September 24, 2021 from 5-7 at Enid Axe Throwing https://www.enidaxe.com, 104 North Independence, Enid, OK 73701.

I’d love to have you drop by, check out my books and the facilities. There will be snacks and you can join in the fun or just watch from the sidelines.

Flatiron Death Grip is a pulp fiction novel for all ages. Teasy styles hair by day and her alter ego fights crime by night using the tools of her trade. But she soon finds out she’s not the only one. She just wanted to save her neighborhood. She never guessed; she, and her band of ragtag superheroes, might also save the world. But first they must learn to cooperate and use their talents wisely.

Flatiron Death Grip Book Release Party – this Friday at Enid Axe Throwing. Come join us!

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Flatiron Death Grip

The tag line for this year’s blogs is “Expect the Unexpected.” And I have.  I came up with a “brilliant” idea several years ago taking characters from short stories I’d written and putting them together into a novel. They were all fantasy characters, and my plan was to take them and merge them into one story.  These characters would make a band of superheroes with one main goal in mind.  Maybe not so “brilliant.” What could they possibly have in common?

I might have bitten off more than I could chew when I tried to make these characters blend. It turned out to be more of a challenge than I had imagined. When it was finished, I wrote an author note for the beginning of the book to tell the reader where the brainstorm came from.   It went like this:

The novel Flatiron Death Grip is the culmination of characters from four original short stories. These stories were the birthplace of some of the main characters. “Sarina” from Werewolves in the Park – published in Legends of New Pulp Fiction by Airship 27 Productions, “Vlad” from Red Eye took Honorable Mention at the 2016 Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. contest,  “Jeremy” from  Zombies are People Too – was published in sections during Halloween 2017 on my blog www.peggylchambers.com. Brucie was the main character from my flash fiction “What’s That Smell?” They are characters I created in the past and dredged up again to combine into a gang of superheroes. Teasy is a newborn.

But that was just the beginning of the novel.  There was also the original art.  And my publisher, Airship 27 Productions, came up with some winners.  The inside black and white illustrations were done by 16-year-old Gabriella Saenz. I am proud to say this is the first (of many) books she has illustrated.  The cover was painted by Canadian artist Ted Hammond http://tedhammond.com/. They are both so talented and made the book a winner.

I hope to have an interview with Gabriella soon and introduce you to her and her art.  Then maybe Ted will have time to talk to me too. 

I am planning a release party locally soon and will let you know about it when plans are made.  In the mean time you can purchase copies of the book at Flatiron Death Grip: Chambers, Peggy, Saenz, Gabriella: 9781953589101: Amazon.com: Books.

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Yoga for Health

When I was a young mother of a two-year-old I saw that a yoga class was being taught at a local church. I needed the socialization and time away from home—not to mention the exercise.  So, I joined and loved the class.  I began to practice it at home. A life-long swimmer, as time went on I became a certified swimming instructor and taught swimming and water exercise at the local YMCA.  I continued to practice yoga and they asked me to teach that class too.  I wasn’t certified to teach it I merely parroted what I had learned but the classes filled up.

I took my kids to work with me when I taught swimming lessons at the city Olympic-sized pool across the street from the YMCA in the summer and put them in classes. They too hung around the local YMCA and pool with mom.

Later I changed professions when my kids were in school all day and I worked in an office.  But I continued to practice yoga when I was stressed or in need of stretching. The thing about yoga is it is good for both mind and body.

Today the two-year-old is a mental health professional and guess what she’s certified in to add to her practice? Yoga.  She teaches on the UCO campus where she works and at yoga studios, churches, and even a Saturday morning Zoom class that I join most of the time.  You can find Brandi at (7) Yogaby Brandi | Facebook and join her at a class near you.  She took her years of swimming, dancing, and her mental health career and combined them into yoga as a side vocation. She knows the healing power of yoga and spreads the good word.

I’m now retired and have had three back surgeries because of arthritis, and I know how much better I feel if I exercise.  My surgeon agrees. I walk and join classes at that same YMCA and then practoce Saturday morning yoga with my favorite instructor.  It is the best thing I can do after sitting and writing for long periods. I will probably curl up and die on a yoga mat someday.  I would find it relaxing.

What are you reading/writing this week? Namaste.

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – The Light of Writing/Living

On my way out the door for an early walk I glanced back and saw this site.  My own dining room in the morning sun.  I see this room daily.  I dust the room that seldom gets used now that there are only two in the house. I often talk about getting rid of the antique furniture and turn it into a den. I gripe about the neighbor’s trees leaning on my fence and shading my grass so it doesn’t grow as it should. But this morning I stared at the way the light filtered through the trees and across the dusty table—and I saw beauty.

I took a photography course once and the instructor said, “Photography is the capturing of light.” I loved that phrase and remembered it.  Morning sun is the best.  It is brilliant and soft at the same time. Early morning light is still cool in the Oklahoma August summer though the rays can be blinding.  But through the trees that morning they produced lacy shadows that fell across the room in patterns.

“We’re all broken, that’s how the light gets in” has been attributed to Ernest Hemmingway. I often heard it as, “We’re all cracked, that’s how the light gets in,” but one way or another, we’re all damaged in some way or another—lacy and not smooth.  And that is what it takes to make us all unique. 

I find writing to be sometimes glaringly bright and other times filtered through lacy patterns.  As I make my way through a new novel, I plow through light both bright and dull, but somehow the light gets through.  Lacy patterns are still light, and they are beautiful and unique in their own way.  Shadow is not the absence of light, but the designing of it.

In your writing do you have periods of light and dark and do they show you the way—or make it impossible? 

What are you reading/writing this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Flatiron Death Grip!

I had a book release this week!  Flatiron Death Grip, published by Airship 27 Productions, is a pulp fiction that has been on my desk and the publishers for a long time.  It has finally come to fruition, and I couldn’t be happier! 

            Flatiron Death Grip was the name of Teasy’s after-hours alter ego.  She cut hair by day and made herself into a superhero by night.  She set out to clean up the crime in her neighborhood but had no idea when she partnered up with other superheroes she might end up saving the world.

            The novel Flatiron Death Grip is the culmination of characters from four original short stories. These stories were the birthplace of some of the main characters. “Sarina” from Werewolves in the Park – published in Legends of New Pulp Fiction by Airship 27 Productions, “Vlad” from Red Eye took Honorable Mention at the 2016 Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. contest,  “Jeremy” from  Zombies are People Too – was published in sections during Halloween 2017 on my blog. Brucie was the main character from my flash fiction “What’s That Smell?” They are characters I created in the past and dredged up again to combine into a gang of superheroes. Teasy was a newborn.

            The cover is beautifully painted by Ted Hammond and the interior illustrations by Gabriella Saenz. I hope to be able to introduce you to them by way of interviews in the next few weeks. 

Teasy patrolled the streets at night wearing her lime green F. U. tee shirt from Flatiron University where she wished she could have attended. Like so many people in her neighborhood she’s tired of the criminals like the Gray Wolf gang who’d taken over. Gangs had killed her family and friends and she wanted her neighborhood back. She had the tools to put an end to the criminal activity, but the air pollution in the city was getting worse by the minute. And Teasy and her new gang may have found an answer to that.

The Civil Rights Act had once more been amended, and now included all life forms: humans, werewolves, vampires, and the most hideous, zombies. And suddenly the world was full of them. But could they save the world before everyone choked to death on the pollution?

                A fun romp through a world where fantasy becomes reality and the answer to the world’s problems could be sitting in an abandoned subway tunnel just waiting to be discovered.

            Flatiron Death Grip is available on Amazon in paperback Flatiron Death Grip: Chambers, Peggy, Saenz, Gabriella: 9781953589101: Amazon.com: Books and soon available in Kindle.

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Bernhardt at the Manz

I have had so much fun lately in my writerly/readerly world.  Last week I set up at Comic Con in Enid and yesterday the Enid Writers Club presented Bernhardt at the Manz in the historical Champlin Mansion in Enid H. H. Champlin House – Wikipedia.  My writing club has been working for over a year on this workshop with William Bernhardt.  It was the brainchild of my friend Martha Draper.  When she originally mentioned it, I said “we can’t afford that!”  As usual I was wrong. We got local grants and many local businesses donated things.  Our club donated a lot of the snacks (we had way too much) and I got a chance to catch up with old friends.

The venue was gorgeous in a vintage 1938 home will all the amenities. And William Bernhardt William Bernhardt never fails to connect with the crowd.  I have learned more from this man than any other writing workshop I’ve ever attended.  He has Writer Con Writer Con coming up at the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City on Labor Day Weekend.  Look it up online. 

Friday the 13th, the day before the conference, the elevator broke. It actually broke a week prior and we had to contact our attendees to let them know. But the Friday the 13th our club made countless steps up and down the marble stairs to the Ball Room in the basement and there were no mishaps.  A couple of brave souls with disabilities came anyway and we helped them get up and down the stairs. There were no injuries!

We tried to have this event last year and cancelled due to the pandemic.  This year, as it once again raises its ugly head, we did it anyway.  We required vaccination cards and masks.  We set hand sanitizer on each table and in the kitchen. The social distancing became impossible due to the number of tables.  We had approximately 55 in attendance. 

I hope to make this an annual event.  I don’t know how the speaker, or the mansion owners, feel about that, or even my club, but I’d do it all over again.  I loved it!

What are you reading this week?

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