The Mystic Order of East Alabama Fiction Writers, a group of six local writers, gathered Thursday evening at the Opelika Event Center to launch its new book.
Its latest book, "The Ploy of Cooking," is an anthology of humorous stories involving food.
Co-author Margee Bright-Ragland described it as "stories about food and recipes, but not a cookbook."
"Food is so important to all of our lives," Bright-Ragland said. "It's really easy to think about how food has influenced a time or a place where you were."
Recipes for foods mentioned in the anthology follow each story. The book took about a year to complete, although there was no time limit, Bright-Ragland said. Jimmy Johnson, creator of the comic strip "Arlo and Janis," independently published the book.
"The Ploy of Cooking" is the second book published by the order. In 2011 it released its first book, "Be the Flame," a compilation of short stories and poems.
Founded 10 years ago by Gale Langley, the order consists of authors Marian Carcache, Judith Nunn, Mary Dansak, Joanne Camp, Bright-Ragland and Langley.
The mystics all come from writing backgrounds in journalism and teaching. Some even wrote short stories as children.
"I wrote my first novel at 12," said Camp, an Opelika attorney.
"Writing with these women is one of my favorite parts about my life," said Dansak, a former teacher. However, she adds, "working on books is hard, especially with six women."
The order meets as a group once a month to support and critique each other's individual writing projects. Genres for each writer range from humor to Southern Gothic.
"I take what I see and what I hear and make a story out of it," said Carcache, an English professor at Auburn.
"Because I teach classes, I don't get to have much of a writing process," Carcache said. "My process is writing whenever I have a moment."
Carcache estimates that 20 of her short stories have been published, including one that was turned into a regional Emmy-nominated opera. One of her short stories in "Be the Flame" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, a literary prize for stories published by small presses.
Bright-Ragland, who also illustrated the book, has aspirations of taking the mystics beyond the printed page.
"We're waiting for Mystics: the Movie," Bright Ragland said. "If we could get a good screenplay writer, I have some ideas for that."
Meanwhile, Langley and Carcache host student friendly writing workshops whenever they can. "We don't have another one scheduled right now," Langley said. "We did our last one at The Gnu's Room."
"The Ploy of Cooking" is available at area bookstores, including The Gnu's Room and the Auburn bookstore.