Buttons, Hallowe’en and Belief…

It’s the 31st October today.

It means different things to different people.

To kids all over the world, Hallowe’en is time to dress up and collect so many sweets they’ll either be sick from eating them all at once ( I have experienced that one… never again) or they’ll be able to eke out all the goodies until Christmas.

To Teenagers, it’s time to dare each other to watch the goriest, scariest horror films that they can. To watch Pinhead torture another victim of the Chinese Puzzle Box or the Puzzle Killer slice another abductee into tiny pieces…

and yes, I have done that one as well… once more, never again.

To the Pagan community, it’s Samhain. This is the end of the Harvest true; but it’s also the night of the year when the veil between the worlds is thinnest and the Dead can visit us from the Spirit World…

…hence why we decorate our houses with ghosts and witches (not every pagan is a witch by the way) and carve pumpkins and turnips into lanterns to scare the evil spirits from our doors…

…then spend the 1st of November (Day of the Dead, All Saints Day) remembering those of our families who have passed on.

It’s also NaNoEve – the day before NaNoWriMo when those writers taking part are preparing themselves for midnight, to write 1677 words and upload their wordcount in celebration of writing without editing…

… I’m doing it again this year – did the change of Web Banner and addition of the NaNoWriMo Word Counter in the sidebar not give it away?

So in the spirit of both NaNo and Hallowe’en, I’m going to Treat you to some words  -

Firstly a couple of reviews of  “The Button Man” by Wayne DePriest

The Button Man takes a button when he takes a victim. And he takes a victim whenever he wants. The authorities don’t know he exists, though he leaves them ample evidence of his existence. They just don’t see it.

As a rookie patrolman, Detective Dan Finney met The Button Man in Maria Kuroshchepova’s apartment. Finney discovered her body, tucked neatly into her bed. A decade later the case is still unsolved and Detective Finney has seen the handiwork of The Button Man again and again without knowing it.

Saddled with a partner who seems hellbent on destroying both their careers and a girlfriend who just might take what sanity he has left, Finney gradually becomes aware of a sinister force loose in the city, a man who has gotten away with murder time and time again. As the picture of The Button Man becomes clearer, Finney comes face to face with his worst nightmare.

I’ll be adding my own review of this book a little later, but until then, here’s a couple of Amazon Reviews, warts’n’all…

* * *

5.0 out of 5 starsSerial Killer, Dedicated Dectective and a final Plot Twist makes for a good read.,March 15, 2014
By J Faye “J Faye”
This review is from: The Button Man (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed reading The Button Man, not only once, but twice. The characters were well developed, the dialogue was well written and there were even a few pearls of wisdom thrown in here and there. I have enjoyed reading some of Mr DePriest’s other works and expected a lot from this story. I was not disappointed.
If you want to read a story about a wily serial killer and a dedicated detective who match wits and ride a plot twist through to the end, this is your book.

 * * *

3.0 out of 5 starsNice story, but too many tangents., May 28, 2014
By Pelagicus
This review is from: The Button Man (Kindle Edition)
I liked this story, it was very well written, but it was detracted by the fact that it took too many tangents, and too many characters were introduced, that didn’t really add to the story. I wanted to identify with the main character, but it seemed to jump around too much chronologically, so I could never get a handle on who the character really was. His relationships with the many secondary characters attempted to do this, but even these detracted from the main story. The strongest character was the villain, the Button Man, and the one that I could identify with the best, because he was simple, straightforward, motivated by the basest of instincts. if this story was pared down and stripped to its barest, rawest elements, it would be a great story.
* * *
And here is one of my short stories -

A Dieter’s Halloween Nightmare

I have flashes of inspiration sometimes. This story is one that occurred to me during Halloween 2009 and was accepted for publication by House of Horror in December of the same year. It also found its way into their “Best of 2009“ Anthology.

The inspiration came from listening to everyone at my Slimmer’s club complaining about the amount of sweets and chocolate there was in the shops…

* * *

I’m walking down the stairs. It’s midnight on Hallowe’en and there is a noise in the kitchen. Gripping the cat tightly, I creep towards the door. An unearthly green light shines from beneath it and the rustling, crunching noise is getting louder.

I get ready to swing the cat, in best baseball batting fashion and using my foot, I push the door open. It swings away from me, creaking fit to wake the dead and the light blinds me. I tense as the noise stops and then I can see through the light…

A huge bar of dark G & B stands in the centre of the room, googly eyes whirling round and a huge Cheshire cat grin on the dark brown wrapper, “I’ve been waiting for you…” it whispers seductively and the wrapper begins to strip away, revealing the golden foil beneath.

As the eyes and grin float up above the bar, the gold foil rustles and starts to peel away. I can smell the deep chocolately aroma and my mouth begins to water.

“Eat me…” the seductive voice floats down from the grin.

“I can’t, I’m on a healthy eating plan.” I reply, dropping the cat to the floor and taking an involuntary step forward.

“Eat me. It’s Hallowe’en, you can have sweets at Hallowe’en.”

“No, I can’t… I mustn’t…” I struggle against the force pulling me into the kitchen. The gold foil drops to the floor and I can see the huge chunks of chocolate in front of me.

“No! I lost half a stone this week, I have to keep eating healthily!” I cry out weakly.

“Eat me…” the bar floats towards me, breaking apart into delectable pieces. I reach out, my feet stuck to the kitchen tiles

“NO!” I pull my arms in and take a step backwards. It tears the skin from my bare feet and I leave bloody foot prints on the floor as I step backward again.

The chunks of chocolate melt together to form a huge fanged mouth, the googly eyes resting on top of it. It opens and the deep chocolately smell draws me closer. I close my eyes to savour the aroma and I step forward again. I feel a sudden sharp pain in my hands and open my eyes to see the blood fountain from my wrists. The mouth gulps it down and I become weaker.

“If you won’t eat me then… I’ll just have to eat you!” the voice roars.

The tongue inside swipes out and curls around me, dragging me inside. The mouth closes and for an instant I am in chocolate heaven. Warm, melted chocolate pours in around me, down my throat, up my nose… and it’s wonderful.

Then pain explodes all over me and I realise, it’s not Heaven.

It’s Hell.

- Taken from:


The mind is a strange place. Darkness and Light are normally equally balanced within, but when the balance tilts toward the Darkness, dangerous things can happen…

This collection of Short Stories comes to you from A. E. Churchyard’s Darkness. Follow her as she walks the paths less trod within… just make sure you bring a torch… teddy bears optional.

A good assortment of horror (or Variations on a Scream!)., 14 Dec 2012 By Paul T.
This review is from: Darkness in Mind: A Short Story Collection (Kindle Edition)

Mention horror, and I would probably have thought ancient houses, creaky floorboards and unquiet spirits. Until, that is, I came across this collection of horror-themed short stories.

Churchyard does an excellent job of demonstrating that horror can cover a very wide range. There’s techno-horror, comedy horror, food horror, romantic horror – and more besides. There’s even a story involving a tragic death and a restless spirit that isn’t at all horrible, just to turn the genre on its head! And, yes, there are a few ancient houses, some creaky floorboards, and a fair bit of gore splashed around here and there!

All the stories, however, display a vivid imagination and a smooth flow of words that will draw you in to your doom… you have been warned!

 * * *

Well written tales, June 10, 2014 By Shari Rood
This review is from: Darkness in Mind: A Short Story Collection (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed this book of short stories. Well written and often clever and thought provoking. The only thing I would say is that I didn’t find them at all scary or frightening and the title seemed to suggest that they might be. Still, these are very good and written by a very talented author and I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted collection of stories.

* * *

And finally, here’s something I ran across the other day:

The Doctor and The TARDIS

D’ya know that feeling when you have a loose tooth and you can’t help wiggling it?

I’ve had that feeling for a while now – every time I talk about Dr Who or watch the show, my mind drifts back to the story I wrote in 2008 and I wonder where on Gallifrey I have put the bedammed thing.

Anyway, I was talking to a friend and yet again he suggested that I write a Dr Who Book.

As much as I would love to do that, I’d get into a great deal of trouble if I tried to do it myself and as yet, I haven’t had an email from The Moffat to invite me aboard to write an episode (a girl can dream can’t she?) so the likelihood of being allowed to write a Dr Who book is one of those “when-I-win-the-lottery” type dreams…

Ahem.

The conversation started that tooth wiggle off in my mind and I decided to trawl through the files on my archive/flash drive.

I found it.

After several years of discussing it, I found it. And it’s not as bad as I thought it was… memory does strange things, you know.

So I’ve posted it under the Dr Who Fanfiction section of my “Free Stuff to Read” section. It’s called “The Doctor and The Tardis” and I wrote it in 2008, long before any discussion of Gallifrey or the chameleon circuit had come up in the modern TV series.

I left it on a cliffhanger, clearly intending to write another section, but now that I look at it, I don’t want to. I don’t want to mess with the relationship between the TARDIS and her Doctor. So it’s going to stay like that.

Sorry.

Despite that, I hope you like it… and I’ll try and get round to writing a new section to the current Dr Who story I have up…

Writer’s Block- a short story

Kira Morgana:

Ever wondered how a writer sees having Writer’s Block? Take a look at this superb short story and you’ll understand…

Originally posted on Zen and the art of tightrope walking:

 

Writer’s Block

The blank page was as empty as a bank account the day before pay-day, and as depressingly familiar. Like a signpost pointing an accusing finger, the page indicated another day of failure, of emptiness and despair. Oh, words had been briefly typed upon this mocking sheet, and then erased before they had time to settle there. If this had been an old-fashioned typewriter, then a forest of paper would have been in the bin by now, and with crumpled islands of discarded starts surrounding the target. That was one small mercy of the computer revolution, no waste paper any more. Instead, the untitled page opened day after day, with all words wiped from it. Surely there was a Greek myth somewhere of someone who toiled all day writing words that faded from the page as night fell. If there was, he couldn’t remember how it ended

Well…

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Melt beads, Steampunk and Bladed Fans…

I’ve spent most of the day today sorting through melt beads. These are the sort of bead that you put onto a spiky tray and then heat with a hot iron through greaseproof paper to glue them together; rather neatly utilising the thermal properties of the plastic they are created from.

finished owl

The reason I am doing this, is that the Brownie Unit I work with are doing the Woodland Wonders Challenge and the owl is one of the activities. We had some melt beads and I volunteered to attempt the project so that we know what sort of pitfalls etc that the girls might come up against.

It’s a relatively easy pattern, but, due to some errors in the pattern I ended up rejigging it so that the poor creature had a beak. It also gave me a chance to count the number of beads we were going to need.
Each owl needs 254 beads. We have approximately 20 brownies so we were going to need well over 5000 beads. After a quick consultation we decided that it would be easier just to buy the colours separately.

But sadly, my favourite crafting shop let me down. They didn’t have enough black and no orange at all! So there I was this morning, sorting through one of those tubs full of multiple colours, trying to find enough beads to cover our needs.

I managed it, but my eyes were crossing by the end of the exercise – I’m pretty certain that I’ll be seeing multicoloured dots for at least a week…

 

Book 3 of The Finishing School Series

So having bagged up the beads, I turned my attention to a birthday present.

Gail Carriger is one of my favourite authors. I have all of the Parasol Protectorate books and I am avidly collecting the Finishing School series.
Due to the current Hachette / Amazon contretemps, this particular book came via Waterstones rather than Amazon. But to be honest, I don’t really care where I buy my books from, as long as I can get my grubby mitts on a print copy of my favourites!

I devoured it in 24 hours and would normally leave a review on Amazon, but again, because I couldn’t buy it from Amazon, I cannot review it on Amazon.

*sighs*

Waistcoats & Weaponry is a wonderful, highly absorbing book for ten year olds upwards. It links neatly with a particular incident in the Parasol Protectorate books (don’t worry I won’t spoil the story) and I loved every moment of it… especially the twist in the tail!

No, I haven’t misspelt that.

Now that I’ve finished it, my son is snapping at my heels to read it. I’ve delayed him somewhat by forcing him to at least finish one of the three books he is reading (a Discworld Novel) but I saw the gleam in his eye when the book arrived and I’m not going to let him have four books on the go at once… even when one of said four is actually a series of Graphic Novels.

The weapon that appears in Waistcoats & Weaponry is the bladed fan. I am assuming a little here that Ms Carriger was inspired by the Oriental War Fan.

There are different styles of Martial Art that use the Fan; it was an easily hidden weapon for Chinese Warriors and the Samurai, and I have no doubt that techniques were taught to women as a form of self defence.

It is an elegant weapon and perfectly suited to the female Intelligencier.

Stop the press! The Bet now available as a paperback!

Kira Morgana:

You can now read Viv Tuffnell in paperback! Get out there any buy her books people!

Originally posted on Zen and the art of tightrope walking:

Do excuse the excited tone but I wanted to share the fact that almost two years after it first appeared as an e-book. The Bet is now out in paperback.

I did a fair bit of hair tearing because it proved a bit tricky to get the print size right and the cost as low as I could. I wanted to make sure that the print was of a size that didn’t mean reaching for the magnifying glass but my first attempt, though glorious, was too big really and therefore cost more.

Then I discovered that the title and my name on the original cover picture done for my by the talented Andrew Meek wouldn’t work as the cut-off point where art gets trimmed when the book is produced was well into the lettering. Thankfully I had both the original picture and an earlier version of the cover. I am…

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The Futility of Trying to Write Something New

Originally posted on S.A. Barton: Seriously Eclectic:

Ballpoint

My writing is going to be BIG!

I have heard, and seen in various forums for writers online, the same basic question posed dozens of times. “How do I write something that hasn’t been written before?” “How can I be sure nobody’s done this story before?” “How do I get a NEW idea?”

I have good news and bad news for the askers of those questions.

You’re not going to write something that hasn’t been written before. Somebody has done this story before. Your idea is not new. That’s the news, good and bad wrapped up together in it like yin and yang.

You might find something specific to add, a new element. With the advent of the personal computer, we began to see all the old stories made new again with the addition of computers, hackers, the internet, email. But that didn’t make them new stories. It made them…

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Tinkerbell, Aspergers and fitting in…

I was watching “Tinkerbell” with my daughters today and unfortunately I’ve seen it so many times that my brain clicks into Editor Mode. It starts pointing out the plot holes and mistakes, so I find I have to go do something to distract myself from it!

This time, I decided to clean the grill.

As I was doing that, I realised that “Tinkerbell” is about girls with Aspergers. Now I can see all the Mum’s getting up in arms and shouting “It’s about a brand new fairy who is trying to find herself.”
And they are right, it is about that. But it is also about a girl who has been thrust into a new world, not understanding why she feels like she doesn’t fit.

My eldest daughter is nine. She has two years left at Primary School (they start high school at eleven around here) before she is pushed by her age into High School. She is also developing physically more quickly that her peers. To add to that, she is showing signs of Aspergers, so she is going through testing to check if it is that or something similar.

She has already admitted to feeling very out of place in her peer group.

A girl with Aspergers is difficult to spot. Girls are generally social creatures and when they are young, those in the group who are good at Social Behaviour will help their peers who aren’t. Girls are also emotionally biased, so they understand outbursts of high emotion and can help those friends that suffer with them cope. Thus a girl with Aspergers will be taught by her peers how to act.
And act is exactly what she does. By the time she hits high school, she is so well camouflaged that adults  rarely see her for what she actually is.

So why is “Tinkerbell” about girls with Aspergers?

Consider the plot:

A girl is thrust into a new world. She is told that she is a Tinker and that her life, from now on, will be about making pots and pans. But she doesn’t feel as if she quite fits in.

She makes friends who are pretty, well dressed and have more interesting jobs. Then she is told that these girls can also go off and have adventures.
Of course, she wants to do that too. She is quickly smacked back down when she tries to follow her nature and get to have adventures.

Still feeling that she doesn’t fit in as a Tinker, she tries to change who she is, to become like the other girls. Everything that follows is an obvious effect of trying to go against her nature and just makes her more unhappy.

Eventually she realises this and gives up, but not before the local bully, who is jealous of all the attention the Tinker is getting, helps her to wreck everything that the others have built.

Finally, the girl works out a way of fixing what she has wrecked by going with her nature rather than against it. She thinks about the problem from outside the box and shows why she was chosen to be a tinker in the first place.
Her reward is to be allowed to join her friends on their adventure.

Tinkerbell is our girl with Aspergers – she looks the same as the other girls physically, but knows that inside she is different. She thinks about things differently and can’t understand why, once she has learned to fit in, she still doesn’t feel right; like a jigsaw puzzle piece that is the right shape but with the wrong picture.

Now imagine our “Tinkerbell” moving from warm, comfortable Primary School (the old world) to cold, hard, High School (being reborn as a student.) She may have learned to fit in with her Primary friends, but at High School, the social scene is different. She is just different enough to garner attention from those who don’t like difference and may well get bullied (like Tinkerbell and Vidia) and her response is, more often than not, will try on different natures.
Our Tinkerbell will be Goth one minute, a sporty girl the next. She will change styles as fast as possible, trying to find that elusive hole to fit into so that she isn’t picked on anymore.
It may end up in a train wreck of a situation; or sometimes our girl will find her spot and get comfortable again. Her reward will be friends and a life she can relax into again.

Most often though, our Tinkerbell will take a long time to find her spot, her real nature.

Why have I written about this today?

Well, I watch my daughter at Brownies and School and I can see that, while she is comfortable in her current hole, when she goes to High School, she will be lost again. So over the summer, we picked one of her interests (music and singing) and sent her to a Theatre School Summer Camp.

She blossomed.

She’d found the right picture to match her shape. My daughter will still find High School difficult, but by sending her to Theatre School at the weekends, she will be able to cope with whatever the social scene throws at her and hopefully, she won’t need to go against her nature to find where she fits in at school.

If you have a child with Aspergers I can recommend the following books – they really opened our eyes to how NOS sees the world and how PT can be helped to navigate around the social scene of High School -

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Asperkids-Secret-Book-Social-Rules/dp/1849059152/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412543447&sr=8-1&keywords=asperkids+secret+book+of+social+rules

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Queen-Bees-Wannabes-boyfriends-realities/dp/0749924373/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412543622&sr=1-1&keywords=queen+bees+and+wannabes