Writer and editor displays her work and interests


Monday 25 March 2013 - Filed under Uncategorized

This is a “Welcome” post for new visitors, so it will always appear at the top. Skip down if you’ve “been here, read this.”

Welcome to my blog! I’m calling it a Minimag because it may blossom. It will appear unexpectedly, like other budding things do; one day it will just appear, ready for the taking.

Since I am primarily an author and editor, I’ll start with writing, reading, and recipes. Your feedback in the comments will help me know how to direct its growth. Fragrance, music, and texture are part of my nonvisual world, so they may appear among the other material. Look for something new once or twice a month.

Want to subscribe to my updates? Follow your browser’s instructions or use the contact form to get in touch.

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Penned With a Friend: Whose Ice

Thursday 16 January 2014 - Filed under Penned by a Friend + Writing

Whose Ice
by Marilyn Brandt Smith and Nancy Scott

You’re not my mother’s ice.
Hers came in big bags
she beat on the floor
turning rocks into gravel
for old-timey ice cream.

You’re not my ice either.
Mine comes from its maker
in symmetrical shapes
ready for blending
with berry, lime, or grape.

You’re clumpy, bumpy stuff.
Sun and salt chase you.
Scrapers send you packing.
Hot water thaws you in car locks.
Shovels and choppers shift blocks.

You hate our shoes
with treads and tacks
that crunch and crack
as we attack
these sheets you lay down.

We slip and grip the gate that’s stuck
and we check twice with grinding teeth
make sure that stubborn outdoor faucet’s off
while you expect to stay for ages,
weeping only as you leave.

1 comment  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-01-16  ::  Marilyn Brandt Smith

Can You Like a Bad Guy?

Thursday 16 January 2014 - Filed under Books + Writing

Review of: Slayground by Richard Stark, NLS DB-77061

This noir fiction is one of many from a series by Donald Westlake, writing as Richard Stark. His character, Parker, is a professional thief who’s done it all. In this Winter story, he finds himself marooned in Fun Island, a deserted amusement park, after an armored car heist goes wrong. The mirrors, the wax jurors, the challenging knife throws, the crooked cops, the local mafia, the snow, the cold, and the $73,000 keep everyone running, and will keep you reading.

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My Valentine

Thursday 16 January 2014 - Filed under Writing

Climb into my dream
You honey bunny;
Sing, sweat, and swear,
Make me giggle, get goosebumps;
Forget what’s missing in me
And that you wouldn’t kiss me where it counts
On a hundred-dollar bet.
You’re my TV Ouija babe;
I can make you do anything to me
And love it,
In my dreams.

1 comment  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-01-16  ::  Marilyn Brandt Smith

Penned by Someone I Don’t Know

Thursday 16 January 2014 - Filed under Recipes

I received this cool recipe, and plan to make it in the oven. My guess is, it was from a customer like me, because I had to edit it for homophones and punctuation. What the heck?

It’s almost SUPER BOWL time! Know what that means? Time to pull out the smoker and grill and fire up some GREAT snacks…Oh wait. We already do that 356 days a year.

We like food that tastes GOOD. We also love to grill. Sure apples taste good too but apples wrapped in bacon taste better, know what I’m saying?

That is why we not only added bacon to these typical Italian meatballs, but cheddar too. And then for sake of oh why the heck not, we threw them on the smoker.

If you are going to do it, do it up right! Check out this recipe:

Smoked Bacon, Beef and Cheddar Meatballs
Makes about 75

  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 1 pound diced bacon
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar grated (I gave it a whirl in the food processor.)
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 2 to 3 eggs (small eggs use 3 large eggs use 2)
  • 1 onion minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (fresh or dried)
  • 2 tablespoons crushed dried parsley
  • 1.5 tablespoons salt
  • 1/2 tablespoons pepper

Recipe Instructions:

  1. The steps to success here are, oh so so so hard.
  2. Combine everything let sit for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Roll into 1.5-inch balls.
  4. Place meatballs on a cooling rack on a baking pan and smoke at 250° for about 2-3 hours. (160° internal is your end goal.)
  5. Or bake in a 325° oven for 30-45 min or until 160° internal.

Eat as many as you can before you serve them as they tend to go faster then these next few months will. (yeah I went there.) They freeze well.


Your friends at The Great American Spice Co.

Products Used In This Recipe For Purchase from The Great North American Spice Company: minced garlic and parsley

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A Cool-Down Exercise

Thursday 16 January 2014 - Filed under Writing

Several years ago, a bunch of us participated in a workshop conducted by Margo LaGattuta. Here’s one of her great ideas, and the piece I generated in response to her prompt.

This idea is from poet Rick Jackson, Vermont College MFA Program. It is based on the idea that this series of opposites, a study in contrasts
(things both near and far, now and then, natural and mechanical, etc.) forces one to draw on the subconscious mind in order to resolve the dichotomies,
thereby generating unusual, startling metaphors one would not otherwise have considered. Write a work of your choice which incorporates:

  1. something from your refrigerator
  2. a historical, exotic location (foreign, not U.S.)
  3. an animal not of this continent
  4. some kind of downtown shop or store (in an older part of town)
  5. a foreign place not associated with the above foreign place
  6. a reference to biology or chemistry
  7. a mythological character
  8. a toy you used to play with
  9. something mechanical—an engine, electric motor, etc.
  10. a body part

Cold and Far Away
Marilyn Brandt Smith

Tomatoes, celery, onions,
Retrieved to relieve my Amana
Of last week’s leftovers;
Pulse-blending they send Me scampering,
My hand in the cabinet,
For those seasonings and herbs
I found in the Falklands
On my cruise to Antarctica.

Not the Antarctica of 1912
And the race to the South Pole.
Scott’s poor ponies were sacrificed for food;
Amundsen’s Lapland sled dogs
Helped him find the pole first.

I never knew much about that continent
Until my mother gave me
A family of toy penguins
She found on sale at Sears.
I was curious, started reading.

I should look for unusual animals
To tease my granddaughters curiosity;
A sea lion, a chimpanzee, maybe even a unicorn?
Kandace already loves “The Lion King.”

Ah! My Gazpacho is ready;
Now where did I put those croutons with garlic?

1 comment  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-01-16  ::  Marilyn Brandt Smith

Haiku Riddles

Sunday 1 December 2013 - Filed under Writing

One. What’s his Name?

He’s used to the snow;
Lean and lank, he pulls his load–
Uh oh! He stumbles.

Two. What if she drinks too much?

Grandma’s recipe.
Is it safe to use raw ones?
Should I add brandy?

What a sneaky way to get you to read my blog–answers after the recipe!

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There’s a Song in the Air

Sunday 1 December 2013 - Filed under Music + Writing

Music has always been my strongest means for expressing and celebrating the spiritual beauty of Christmas. As a good harmony singer on a school campus at the Texas School for the Blind where music played a leading role, I rose early on our day for going home. In the older girls’ cottage we donned warm clothing and took to the roads on campus to sing beneath windows and on patios at other dormitories. This rite of passage had been our dream ever since we were those little girls, cold from crisp air through open windows, but captured by the magic of Christmas harmony. Anticipating hot cocoa and breakfast served early, we serenaded the superintendent and the men in the boiler room providing our steam heat. The night before, in our annual Christmas pageant, we tried our wings onstage or sang from the balcony, open to the back of the auditorium from the second floor. We got goosebumps as three high school boys with grown-up, handsome voices walked up the center aisle singing “We Three Kings,” and joined the manger scene onstage.

Each line in this collection of haiku is taken from a song celebrating the nativity. Some songs and verses may be obscure, but most are familiar. Some mystery writers in the 1930’s used footnotes to prove they’d dropped clues here and there. I offer a list, ordered by line, of the songs from which I borrowed lyrics.

No crying he makes,
The babe, the son of Mary,
Born in Bethlehem.

Angels bending near,
What your gladsome tidings be?
So, to honor him.

Sing, choirs of angels;
Rise up, shepherd, and follow
The stars in the sky.

Peace to men on Earth!
Go tell it on the mountain;
Come little children.

Come and behold him;
Lo, how a rose e’er blooming,
Born on Christmas day.

He shall feed his flock;
The weary world rejoices;
Sheep may safely graze.

Yay, Lord, we greet Thee,
Born to raise the sons of Earth,
His gospel is peace.

Star of Bethlehem,
Guide us to thy perfect light;
Christ was born for this.


  • There’s a Song in the Air
  • Away in a Manger
  • What Child is This?
  • Children, Go Where I Send Thee
  • It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
  • Angels We have Heard on High
  • Little Drummer Boy
  • Oh, Come, All Yee Faithful
  • Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow
  • Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
  • Go Tell it on the Mountain
  • Oh Come, Little Children
  • Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
  • Mary’s Boy Child
  • He Shall Feed His Flock, from Handel’s Messiah
  • Oh Holy Night
  • Sheep May Safely Graze, from a cantata by Bach
  • Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
  • Beautiful Star of Bethlehem
  • We Three Kings of Orient Are
  • Good Christian Men, Rejoice

1 comment  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2013-12-01  ::  Marilyn Brandt Smith

Book Review: Whiteout

Sunday 1 December 2013 - Filed under Books

Review of: “Whiteout” by Ken Follett (NLS DB-59331

Mixing suspense with Christmas, Follett’s book is a bio-thriller taking place over a wintry Christmas holiday in northern Scotland, filled with family drama. Toni Gallo is the highly-driven head of security for Oxenford Medical, a research facility working on a cure for Madoba-2, an especially virulent strain of Ebola. She also has a running feud with her ex, a local cop, and is pestered by the attentions of newsman Carl. But she really wants to be with her widower boss, Stanley, whose daughter Olga’s husband, Hugo, is paying unwelcome attention to his sister-in-law, Miranda, herself in uneasy love with a milquetoast boyfriend, Ned, whose daughter, Sophie, is the object of young Craig’s budding affections. Whew!

It is not until midnight on Christmas Eve that all this soap is rinsed away, and the plot kicks into high gear, as a band of desperate, violent thieves, led by Stanley’s son, Kit, take things into their own hands in the midst of a terrible blizzard. Predictably, things go suddenly, frightfully wrong. From here on out, Follett’s high-energy writing, complete with security cameras and secret places for snooping, delivers the expected thrills in zany, scary ways, with few if any threads left dangling.

1 comment  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2013-12-01  ::  Marilyn Brandt Smith

Penned by a Friend: The Box on the Porch

Sunday 1 December 2013 - Filed under Penned by a Friend + Writing

The Box on the Porch
by Ed Potter

“They didn’t even care enough about it to come outside and get it. Let’s take it home!” Those were the approximate words from six-year-old Margaret, on the brink of tears. You’ll understand when I tell you what happened.

My wife, Sue, and I thought the children could use a little focus on someone other than themselves at Christmas time. We asked the social services folks to give us the names of a needy family, preferably with children about the ages of ours. Margaret and Edward really seemed to get into the project. They chose presents for the children; they wrapped them, then couldn’t wait to give them out. Sue and I chose a couple of presents for the adults. We also packed the box with some luscious Christmas food that they probably wouldn’t be buying on their limited income.

Well, the big night finally came. We lugged the box up onto their porch. We knocked.

“Who’s there?”

“Uh, we’re the Potters, and we have some Christmas treats,” we said very uncertainly.

“Yeah, I heard you were coming,” the male voice said. “Just set it down on the porch. We’re just too busy now to come out.”

Then came Margaret’s remark. She and Edward were really disappointed not to meet the kids.

We left the box anyway, as we knew we should. It was then my job to explain just what happened.

It could have been that the guy was just a creep. That was the easy explanation. Or it could have been that he hated to have to face people who were, in his view, a bit more successful and wealthy than he, and this was the only way he knew how to deal with it. We’ll never know.

I tried to explain to our children that what they did was good, and that the giving in itself was enough. No one can control how others respond to deeds done for them. That was, of course, all very well and good, but I couldn’t help knowing that the disappointment was still there.

I hope the recipients enjoyed the little presents, and that their children thought about the fact that their Christmas was nicer than it might have been otherwise. I wanted our project to provide an awakening for our children, and it certainly did–just not the awakening we expected. Even though the deed itself is what’s important, and not how others respond to it, somehow we just never did it again, and I really think we should have.

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2013-12-01 :: Marilyn Brandt Smith // Recipes
Taters and Beans: Made Early, Made Early
Comments Off on Taters and Beans: Made Early, Made Early