Saturday, September 15, 2012

Blogger Spotlight: The Cabin Goddess

Here we go!  Our third installment features that force of nature from the far northwest, Kriss Morton of the Cabin Goddess.  Alaska is the only state big enough to host her presence!  As they say in Clash of the Titans, it is time to "Release the Kraken!"  Introducing the one ... the only... Cabin Goddess herself!

Blogger Spotlight #3: The Cabin Goddess

Tell us a little about yourself, and your background.

I grew up in Gig Harbor WA on a bay called Wollochet Bay. The house was built on what was once the Women’s Camp of the NW Wollochet Indian tribe discovered by Peter Puget. This is really significant because chunks of our property were actually excavated when I was growing up by University of Puget Sound and U of W Archeology students. The women apparently were burying their pets. YES AN INDIAN PET CEMETERY I KID YOU NOT! But this did not jive with what historians and anthropologists had, so from what I can remember at the time (I was 8) it was something they were doing without the knowledge or blessing of the men. 
I spent hours swimming, swinging, fishing, and digging up the clam shells that made up our bulk head the women had buried after cooking and eating them. The men lived across the bay on Picnic Point. 

I graduated in 1985 and at the time I was both photography editor of the Newspaper and Co-Editor of the Yearbook. I managed to sneak in the most infamous double page color spread never to be caught or mentioned by faculty or parents. SERIOUSLY no flack, NOTHING came of this, how they did not notice it I HAVE no clue. So the infamy of myself and other editor only lives in the eyes of students.

I have seen Van Halen live in 1985 chugging Jack Daniels on stage, got to boogie backstage with the Rollings Stones, hung out and partied with Alice and Chains back in the party in the woods of Port Orchard  and was good “friends” with Dave Krusen. Not to mention seeing AC/DC more time than I can shake a stick at. Quiet Riot, Cyndi Lauper, the FIRST concert Madonna ever put on in Seattle WA. Oh and Prince and the Revolution. THAT was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! AND I got pictures to boot! (snuck that camera in!)

My life as a teenager was far from boring. In fact, I have lead a charmed and amusing life. Picture me if you will as a debutante! I had to go, it was expected of my father to present his daughter in the Tacoma Cotillion as the most kick ass attorney in town, how could his daughter not be presented. I finally gave in as long as they all wore red bow ties and comburbuns instead of black and I got to pick my dates. My mom said yes as long as they were college students. *waggling eyebrows* I had two of my best friends and I was wicked and bad. The tallest most amazing friend and room mate I ever had, and one of the most interesting gay man to boot and the most wonderful smart ingenious friend who was more wild than the other one and about as fresh and fancy and so incredibly and obviously gay.. and black. AND YES it was the 80’s, it was SOCIETY, and there are asshats in this “CLIQUE” they knew why I was asking and we made sure we had our shimmy and sashay synced.

Seriously though, I am conundrum to even myself. I have a lot of hidden talents and skills and it tends to make my life a bit crazy at times. I studied Medieval Literature, Film, New Media Journalism and Photography at the University. I have been a reader and lover of books for as long as I can remember. My parents used to bribe me with all the books I could read by having me read classics, if they only knew how much I loved those too. Growing up I struggled with a lot of things and therefore I tended to lose myself in the fantasy and world of the book.

Currently I live in  Interior Alaska. I ended up here as a military wife and now I am here because I am trapped by it's beauty and its borders. I have a love hate relationship for the Interior. I also life in a one room, two story (so one room stacked on top of the other attached with stairs) log cabin which is water free, as in outhouse, no running water and I am forced to shower at the laundromat. (click HERE to see a gallery of the cabin)

Some folks call it the great Alaskan Dream, I call them in need of Thorazine but I make it work and even love it at times. Occasionaly I make snow angels at -40 in a bikini just to say I did it (see photographic proof. This is mine at Chena Hot Springs!)

Since graduating, I write my blog, my books, my poetry. I am working on a cookbook and doing all the photography for it as well as writing tales about each piece or each chapter. I also am working on a Post-Apocalyptic alternative fiction urban-ish fantasy-ish dystopian … thing. One of these years I will finish them. I average about 10K in words a day through out them all which is why you all see me here all the time. 

I also am a photographer with the crappiest online gallery mainly because I had no internet at the time and people found me word of mouth. You can see just a TINY TINY sliver and most of the good work is not even up. Twisted Sistah Photography and a smattering of early ManBeast & Me for a photography class (these are all scanned images). The rest? Well heck stock me on the blog or Facebook and Instagram for iPhoneography.

I am disorganized, in dire need of minions but basically I trudge on through and make it work day to day, as long as I have bacon, Ice Tea and Netflix in the background with bad movies playing.

Oh I love bacon, chocolate and take bribes in either.

What kinds of books do you like to read for pleasure?  Any favorites?

I love post-apocalyptic dystopians. I am not a lover of YA but these days with authors writing YA’s for women my age, I end up reading a lot. I love a good cozy myster (Rose Pressey, Juliet Blackwell and Charlene Harris’ Lily Bard Series for example. I also love good Urban Fantasy. I love Kevin Hearne (his dog loves bacon), Simon R. Green’s Nightside series and of course Jim Butcher with Harry Dresden! That is one series I own all in hardback. I love Harry, he is my hero. Anything Zombie! I have decided like zombie movies, 1 out of 10 is worth the read and the rest is wading through the entrails to fid the hidden perfectly tasty brain! Though these days a lot of great zombie books are coming out! The Risen series is my newest find and actually found it from a friends short story review and found up I read all of her October Daye series under her other pen name!

I re-read Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Umberto Eco, Roger Zelazny just to name a few (and I have been known to read my French Leis when bored).

But I read a lot of things for my own pleasure.

When did you start your blog, and what motivated you to do it?

I started my blog as an experiment. I had another that was used while I was in class working on my BA in New Media. We had no Internet up her in the hills so I had to walk down a ways till my 3G picked up and I would blog via my iPhone. It was a way to share my writing and photography and pontifications about Alaska Living. I originally called it Cabin Bitch, it fit. I was snarky and wanted. My first BLOG blog was officially on Livejournal and it is 13 years old, yes it is still there and no you maynot have the link. However I have been writing HTML code and have owned my owned my own domain name for Twisted Sistah for 15 years. I got my first non-Apple machine, a 200 Intel 2 in January of 1997 and that was all she wrote.

I did not work on much building an audience, I did it for fun and to be honest until I found the book blogging world I only cared about it because I wanted to be a foodie. I joined twitter on 4 November 2008, again it was because of New Media studies.  Facebook account has been active for .. heck since they opened, and before that MySpace and before that Yahoo and before that, shall I go on? I have been part of the online world for more than two decades in BBS, mIRC chats, and inter college webs. So yes, I know how to network. Plus being a former military wife, I knew what needed to be done and just did it. I stay engaged as best I can and so far I am just growing daily and daily at an alarmingly scary and exciting level.

Now my site is focused on my book reviewing, but I was dreaming of being a foodie blog . I love to cook, I am a very good cook in the sense that I can whip out a pretty good dinner on the fly without a recipe, the chemistry and all excites me. To comprise I decided to start writing recipes with my reviews and though I do not do it for EVERY book I do try and share one as often as I can depending on the book an the engagement of the author.

How did you come up with the name for your site?  Is there a story behind it?

I am a goddess! I live in a Cabin and when I started out it was called Cabin Bitch, which ended up being a wee bit harsh for the Book Blogging world (see above I kind of overshot this question). HOWEVER Cabin Bitch was because I wanted to be this bitchy off the wall cabin hippie who was living in the woods.. wait I already am.. anyway a way for me to be myself, cook, craft, photograph and share things with everyone. I was inspired by Cooking for Assholes frankly because that is how I feel at times when someone asks me how I did that. Heck I can make it taste good with three packes of ketchup, a packet of sugar and some soy sauce! Seriously it is not hard. A little bit of creativity, a bit of experimentation and thinking outside the box. I love when folks say, “ohhh I cannot afford to cook like you do!” HAH we are broke most of the time. If you follow me on instagram or my photos on facebook you will see a theme of the week or month. Usually because we got a deal on the ingredient and it means, Kriss must be creative! ANYWAY that is why I wanted to be Cabin Bitch. Being Cabin Goddess was a given, just as was Twisted Sistah!

What kinds of genres do you cover on your site?

Quick note, one of the things about reading and reviewing indie which is a pain in the ass, in my opinion, is labeling it with a genre. Many of the books have been turned down by Trade publishing because they do not fit into one specific genre. If I read a book that says mystery, I expect a mystery for me, not just for the characters. If I read Urban Fantasy than I expect that not a horror. However with Indie it is a crap shoot at times. So I try to stay “loosey goosey!”

On that note... I do not do non-fiction and I do not review erotica but I will try everything once fiction wise, except straight up romance. Oh and.. well SCREW that, I hate that crap! I have nightmares about that horrific purple prose crap! Hey no haters! My parents paid baby sitters an extra five bucks to read to us at night. This one baby sitter would read her piece of crap books and hum through the dirty parts. I literally had nightmares, because sometimes she would forget. THINK ABOUT IT, I was young enough to be babysat. This honestly developed some serious problems later in life, but this is a fun interview. Suffice it to say I have what is called Harlequin PTSD. OK THOSE reasons and the simple fact it is shit and those writers push that crap out a dozen a week. It has its place, as does soap operas, and I never watched those either!

I said I would never read or review Young Adult either, or at least review it. However the quality of YA coming out and the simple fact that most YA is written for adults these days means I end up readig them. When I find a YA that is TRULY YA (Emlyn Chand, Jackie Gamber for example) I sing their praises to the heavens.  YA has become a world that has been Twilight-ized and it disgusts me. I want to read Harry Potter books if it says YA, which means both my kids and I can enjoy it (see Jackie Gamber). More than 80% of the YA labeled books are written with the middle age soccer mom in mind, not young adults. I certainly would not let my kids read them!

As for the rest? I cover horror, zombie, fantasy and mystery for the most part. Though I love LOVE a good procedural novel and am very inclinded to be bribed with mucho bacon for a good urban fantasy detective novel! 

What kinds of regular features do you have on your site?

Fourth-Wall Friday is my latest and I LOVE IT! I feature authors who feature their author persona’s each Friday by breaking through their world build’s fourth-wall and stepping into their stories and books looking glass. It is a chance for the authors to be creative and show off their writing that is not an excerpt or in a guest post. It is meant to entertain not only them while writing us but us and also introduce their flavor to the readers! (food always finds a way in).

Review and a Recipe was an original concept of mine that has since then morphed into a requested type of review. Basically I create a recipe to go with your book or use one of yours!  I cook, photograph and name it appropriately (GENERATION - Body Farm Pudding Shots for GENERATION,   East Meets West Ice Cream (Blackberry Ginger) for CHANGES or Dixie Diva’s Southern Sweet Tea for example

I try to feature at least one recipe that I created without any books a month. Last month it was my THE AIRPLANE CRASH SANDWICH – Charred Flesh on Toast

I feature a Sunday Short, which will be morphing into Weekly Shorts. The idea is pretty simple; a short story, an anthology of short stories, a novella, or a quick weekend read that is also short on your wallet ($2.99 and under) It is all about exposing those great short stories that seem to be left at the curb and forgotten about. I also try to spot light using Teaser Tuesdays whatever I am reviewing that week! It is is a weekly meme where you share two “teaser” sentences from your current read to try to entice others to want to seek it out. I participate in Musing Mondays which is a weekly event where a question is asked relating to books or reading. book/reading-related question.

I am also part of a Blog Talk Radio show with The Indie Exchange. I am a co-host and you can find me there on Friday's about 80% of the time with Coral Russell. It is pretty much a blast, we interview authors, discuss what we are reading and she usually is cooking dinner and drinking her drink of the week. Rather festive!

What is the hardest thing about being a blogger?

Time management and organization. I have no time for a life outside of doing this. Not because I cannot but because I have a hard time balancing. Being a perfetionist and feeling like I fall short with this most of the time I end up having nothing extra to give. Seriously. I want to have a day where I only work 10 hours. I want a day to read the books I buy for pleasure or re-read. I have a hard time balancing fun with work and yes this is a job albeit an awesome one!

What are your favorite things about being a blogger?

Meeting people and creating wonderful beautiful blog posts that make my authors and friends happy. I blog because I love to do it, simple as that. Plus it also keeps me writing actively.

If you could give a piece of advice or two to authors looking to work with a blog site, what would you say?

Read and peruse their blog, read their review policy and take a chance. Be personable, do not send a form letter and approach them as if you want to actually get to know them. Making them happy and smiling and engaging them on a personal level is what I want. Oh and bribes, bacon and chocolate like I said! 

Any last thoughts or things you might want to say to readers who are finding out about your blog for the first time? 

Start clicking. It is a mess right now, I try my best to keep it organized but I am coming up on 500 posts at the moment and I know I need things updated and organized better. Oh wait, HAVE FUN, my top menu drops down with TONS of great links to everything I think is interesting. Including all my food, recipes, photography, poems and series! Most of all? I would love to hear from you! If you like it, let me know. You never know, I may hit you up to review your book! Or we may end up great friends. I am a pretty awesome friend and person to hang out with, albiet a bit emotional and crazy, but those are good qualities at times!

Hold onto your shoes, you will end up losing one, your hat and your shirt will be inside out by the end but you will have a smile on your face! 

Be sure to visit the Cabin Goddess and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter