Wednesday, 24 December 2014

A Festive Pic of the Week . . .

Well, this is probably my last post for 2014 (A little early for Pic of the Week, I know), so I'll finish the year with this gem by an artist who goes by Brandrificus (Brandy) over on DeviantArt, an impressive US artist self-taught in the world of digital art.  Her gallery is definitely worth a visit if you like fairies and fantasy :)

So have a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous New Year, and thank you all for being there for 2014.

'Holly' by Brandificus

Monday, 22 December 2014

It's Ma Birthday!!!

Today - that be the 22nd December - marks a special day.  It was the day I came to be.  Yep, me.  Moi.  My little self.  I be a whole 21 years old (*Cough 34...).

So, for my birthday, I want everyone to give me their old newspapers because I want to make one of these paper mache masterpieces!!!  How awesome is this!!!


Check out the guy's website.  He's a master at paper mache.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Sauron is STILL trying to take over Russia...

I found this article yesterday.  Apparently Moscow in Russia were planning to build a Middle Earth monument in celebration of the release The Hobbit.  They were planning to erect a glowing ‘Eye of Sauron’ on the top of a city skyscraper.  However, plans were scrapped due to complaints from both church and city leaders.


But how awesome would that have been?  After the (not so recent anymore) eruption of Kamchatka Volcano in Eastern Russia, Russia (or that part anyway) became known as New Mordor.  I posted a blog about it almost exactly a year ago (what are the chances…lol) and had to re-share the images I posted, proving why Russia has claim to that name.

Kamchatka volcano in Eastern Russia

Mordor

So how apt would the glowing ‘Eye of Sauron’ be sitting on top of a Moscow skyscraper?  It would have been perfect!  The final touch to the New Mordor theory!  Such a shame they had to cancel that idea.

Anyway, in celebration of the release of the The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies, the last in the epic trilogy – and maybe the last visit to Middle Earth in general – I’ve chosen this picture for this week’s Pic of the Week.    

Have a great weekend everyone…and remember, the Eye of Sauron is watching (although he won’t be bringing presents regardless if you’ve been naughty or nice…)



Monday, 24 November 2014

NanoFAILmo . . .

I can already sense that Nano for me is going to be a failure.  Last week was disastrous - mainly because I had my first car accident on Monday and haven't really written since.  The shock of it seemed to sap all my creativity.  My happy place for most of last week was wrapped under a blanket whilst wallowing in front of the TV.  Physically I wasn't hurt but I just felt really...you know...meh.  Wasn't a good week.

I knew then Nano wasn't gonna happen.

Still, I'm going to finish the piece I'm writing.  I love the whole idea of it.  It's called 'Tunnel' and is a Zombie flick about a group of people trapped on the London Underground.  It's one for Amazon :)  

So for all those out there writing their little hearts out, keep going.  You have a week.  Go boost that word count!! 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Pic of the Week . . . Snow

In honor of those out in the New York State with all that snow.  Keep safe out there, and don't forget your furry friends.  They need somewhere warm too.

I couldn't find the artist of this piece, so if you know
who they are, let me know and I'll credit them.

Monday, 10 November 2014

NanoFAILmo...

*lol...nanoFailmo??? See what I did there???

Aaaand back to reality:

A few weeks ago, what with everything suddenly Zombie in my life, I come up with a fun little idea for a horror story that I just couldn't stop thinking about.  So I decided I was going to write it but I didn't want to spend that much time and effort on it, time and effort that should be dedicated to my main project, so when I was reminded of Nano I thought it the perfect opportunity.

I've never signed up for Nano.  I've always put the effort into my own work, but a month off to work on said new project?  Perfect.  It would be just the push I need to write the new piece yet not spend too long on it.  I took the plunge and signed up about 2 days before it started.  So there I was, with the briefest of outlines, no research, and a looming start date - a start date I couldn't actually start on because of a planned day out in London.  Off to a good start.  I eventually started on the 3rd November, and even though I started in high spirits, I have to report that I'm actually failing in keeping up.  Life just keeps getting in the way, especially weekends.

At an average of 1.7k words a day, today I should be hitting the 16k mark.  Yep.  I'm at 5k.  Still, with quiet evenings ahead, it's still do-able.  I could still catch up.  All is not yet lost.

I'll keep you informed...  


Monday, 27 October 2014

Zombie Evacuation Race . . .

http://zombieevacuation.com/
I had such a fun weekend.

Saturday 25th October meant Zombie Evacuation Race for us.  It was a 5k obstacle fun run with a twist to raise money for charity.  I didn't run (have you seen me run?  I'd probably frighten the zombies away) but I did join the 200 odd zombie volunteers that plagued the route, leaping out and scaring the terrified runners trying desperately to keep hold of their life tags.  They each got five on a belt and we had to steal them.  If you had at least one left by the time you crossed the finish line then you survived.  Those with none were infected.

The whole atmosphere of the day was brilliant.  Even the people working there were in army gear and protective lab suits.  Everyone was friendly and we all got goody bags at the end of the day.  Everyone loves a freebie :)  There were four in our party in total; one runner (running by herself as her boyfriend hurt his back and so had to pull out last minute.  She was terrified) and the rest of us zombies.

There were different zombie levels you could choose from.  The LIMPERS such as those from the Walking Dead who limp around certain areas in order to make you jump, or the CHASERS from the likes of 28 Days Later and WWZ who sprint after you in the Fast Zones.  And then there were zombies in between.  I was a Gorger who mingled with the Limpers, and I claimed a place between a narrow section in the path.  I crouched beside a log and hung between a V-shaped tree in my blood stained PJs, reaching out for passer-bys, and because it was a narrow section they had no choice but to squeeze past me whilst giving off high-pitched squeals (and that was mainly the men).

Make up artists were available to give you the full effect and some people looked utterly terrifying.  It was a non-contact event but we were warned that occasionally runners get so involved and so terrified that their natural reaction may take over and they may hit out.  My arm was slapped out the way a good few times, but nothing major.  However, I managed to witness this fear first hand when a women saw me, screamed, and in an attempt to get out of my reach ran head-first into the tree opposite.  She collapsed in a heap in front of me and I had no idea what to do.  Luckily the person she was running with stopped and helped her, and I managed to find her in the medical tent after the event to ask if she was okay.  She was.  She had a slight concussion though.  However, one person obviously didn't think I was scary and patted me on the head as he run past.  I had to laugh.

The day was brilliant though.  I don't know about the US or around the world, but these events run a couple of times every year in the UK, and so if you're interested, keep an eye out on their website or like them on facebook for updates on when the next event is and then register.  I'm definitely signing up again for the next one.

Zombie me in my tree nick-named
'the happiest zombie on the course'...grrrrr...)

Zombie friend looking suitably horrific...

'The lonesome runner'...and our driver so we couldn't eat her 

I'm still scouting for photos but if you want to see more of the day, check out the Zombie Evacuation gallery here.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Spooktoberfest!!! A Suitably Chilling Bloghop For Halloween . . .


Today I'm taking part in Spooktoberfest, a horrifically chilling bloghop hosted by Cover Girls.  The rules:

Write a piece of flash fiction that's no more than 300 words, and it must contain the following:

  • Chill
  • Cocoon
  • Commotion
  • Curse
  • Virus

Me being blonde originally thought it said 500 words, so I was happily writing, editing, making sure I had all 5 words, and I read it and reread it until I was happy.  Then I read the rules again.  Yep, you can imagine my panic...lol.  300 words.

Still, I did it, and here's the resulting piece.  Have fun.  And don't forget to hop over to CoverGirls and read the other chilling contributions :)

12 past 2

Word Count: 297

Her voice woke me; soft whispers from a five year old. What was Chloe doing awake at this hour?
Sighing, I pulled the duvet back. A shiver ran through me, the coldness of the night like an invading virus, and I made my way across to Chloe’s room.

The door was ajar and her night light was on. A shadow crossed by beneath. So not only was she awake, she was running around!

Calming myself and preparing not to curse at her, causing a commotion, I pushed the door open.

Chloe sat on her bed, shadows sweeping across her, and she stared at me with a placid glare. I shuddered away an awkward chill and stepped into her room, frowning. “Who were you talking to, sweety?”

“My friend,” she replied, her voice soft and sleepy.

“Oh, a friend. And who’s your friend?” I ushered for her to lie down. She didn’t argue.

“The boy who comes to visit me sometimes.”

Again, I shuddered. So my daughter had found herself an imaginary friend. It wasn’t unheard of. I tucked the duvet around her like a cocoon and thought of the shadow I had seen. “So you were running around with your friend?”

“I wasn’t running around, mummy. He was. He doesn’t get to run around much.” She nestled her head into her pillow.

“Why doesn’t he get to run around?”

“Because most of the time he’s up on the fan.”

I looked upwards to the ceiling fan that sat motionless on the dark ceiling. It hadn’t been used in a while. “So your friend likes to hang on it and go for rides around?”

Chloe was practically asleep now, looking snug and innocent, but still she replied. “No. He hangs from it with the rope around his neck…”


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Dracula: Untold . . .

I recently went and saw Dracula Untold in the cinema.  As I've said many times before, I'm easily pleased when it comes to films and this one was no different.  It was darkish, gritty, and an enjoyable 90 minutes for me.

I've been intrigued with the idea of this film for sometime.  I've always held an interest in the historical element of Vlad the Impaler (and originally thought this film was his story) but it's more about Stoker's version and tells of how Dracula became the Lord of Darkness that he's now known as.  It mixes historical points, such as Vlad's brutal upbringing with the Turks, his protective rule over Walachia and Transylvania, and the raging wars that saw thousands impaled, with Stoker's fiction.  Even though I would have liked a more historical account, I wasn't disappointed with the mix of Stoker's vampirism.

A friend of mine wasn't too keen on seeing it, thinking what could they possibly add to the vampire genre that hasn't already been done and stretched to point of ridiculousness?  But she was pleasantly surprised.  There are a few elements within it that could easily be the usual vampire cheese (I won't give spoilers), but for the most part, it steered away from the typical.  I put this down to the historical element that lends itself to the story, no matter how accurate or inaccurate that may be.  

Reading some of the reviews going around the web, not everyone shares my opinion.  Some reviews are absolutely dire, saying there's a reason why this story was 'Untold', but I have to think, does it really deserve something that low?  Ok, it wasn't the oscar-winning masterpiece that trailers often make films out to be, but it was far from wrist-slitting, awful stuff.  FAR from it.  There were points that could have been dealt with better.  I would have liked to explore the demon that gave Vlad his powers more, think Vlad should have had more interaction with him before making his decision that it was the only way, and would have liked to see his struggle coming to grips with the change.  I know the character was thrown in at the deep end and probably didn't have time to consider whether what he was doing was for the best or have time to learn about his new abilities, but he suddenly became master of his powers without having time to fully know what he was capable of.  

Other than that, I LOVED the visuals with the bats, loved the settings and generally loved the film regardless of what others may think, and Luke Evans provided satisfying Eye-Candy in the form of a man torn between his rule and his family.  The only thing that annoyed me was a scene in the beginning where Vlad rides his horse away from the mountain - a horse that looked more like a Shetland pony than the impressive steed you'd expect the Prince of Transylvania to be riding...I mean, they could have at least measured for size before shooting.  It wouldn't have taken anything extra out of the budget. Jeeeez...



Friday, 17 October 2014

Pic of the Week . . . Mark Bryan

ON THIS DAY . . . (haven't done one of these in a while) in 1091, London was hit by a massive tornado, measuring T8/F4.  It's the first ever recorded tornado in the UK and destroyed churches, houses and businesses.  Even London Bridge, which was made from wood at the time, was destroyed. It's estimated that 18,000 people inhabited London at the time, all witness to the twister that tore through, and even though around 600 were left homeless, only 2 people were killed.

This fueled a tornado theme for Pic of the Week, and I found artist Mark Bryan whose work, I think, verges on a combination of reality vs dreamscape.  I really liked this piece for its imaginative simplicity.

You can see more of Mark's work on his website and prints are available to buy.

Enjoy and have a great weekend :)

'The Tornado Men' by Mark Bryan

Friday, 10 October 2014

Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit and Crew Blogfest . . .

Today I'm taking part in the Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit and Crew Blogfest hosted by Mina Lobo at Some Dark Romantic, Jackie at Bouquet of Books and Dani at Entertaining Interests.  Go check out their blogs for more fun Survival reading.  I sure will be :)


To create my dream team, I have to choose one for the following categories below, and be as creative as I possibly can.  Oh what fun :)


Crew:

  • 1 The Walking Dead character - Michonne 'cause she's cool!
  • 1 book character - Kit from Jon Sprunk's 'Shadow Saga'. She's an entity that only one person is able to see.  We can send her forward to scout out places so that we know what we're walking into.
  • 1 movie character - the badass T-800 from Terminator.  Just 'cause...
  • 1 TV character (other than TWD) - Rick Castle from Castle.  His humor will keep spirits high in dark times.  Also we could talk writing the whole time too and plan how to resurrect the publishing world after the apocalypse.
  • 1 loved one - My Significant Other - naturally
  • 1 friend - My friend Lucy.  She's a killer at heart and is currently preparing for a charity zombie run so she'll have some good training :)
  • 1 freebie - My sister.  We make a pretty good team.

Backpack:

  • 1 comfort item - my pillow
  • 1 weapon - a sword, I mean come on!  How many thought Michonne was cool with her swords?  Silent but deadly.  Just the thing you need.
  • 1 luxury item - my duvet
  • 1 food item - Whey Protein.  Mix with water and you have a good few of the nutrients you need.
  • 1 medicine/first aid item - Aspirin.  Don't want to survive the Zombie Apocalypse only to fall victim to a measly infection.
  • 1 hygiene item - baby wipes.  They're underrated in times of need.
  • 1 freebie - Flash Wipes.  Fuelled by a dream I once had where I was running through someone's house and throwing anything I could lay my hands on at the pursuing Zombies.  Then I picked up some flash wipes, threw them and watched in utter surprise as the Zombies recoiled and backed up.  They were too clean, you see.  Too clean.  The Zombies wanted their bacteria to spread.

Background:

  • Outpost - A ship half a mile off the coast of the UK.  These Zombies can't swim through fear of becoming clean.
  • Outbreak - London
  • Cause of it - caused by 'the Bacteria Conspiracy' which unknowingly created a nation of cleanliness enthusiasts. No longer were kids allowed to play in the garden making mud pies and getting dirty.  Household germs had to be destroyed in every corner and on every surface, causing the human immune system to grow weak against the every-day bacteria of the outside world.  Then there became a point when the body's immunity grew too weak and the Bacteria, who had been waiting in the shadows multiplying and creating a race of intelligent super-bacteria with world domination in mind and wanting to prove that after billions of years they were still the master race, made it's leap for power, seeking vengeance for all those times we used bleach - and flash wipes.
  • Cure (if applicable) - the discovery of an uber-strong antibacterial soap and then forcing these zombies to take a bath
  • 1 item you NEED to find - another sword - it's that Michonne thing again :)
  • 1 item you WANT to find - more Zombie Flash Wipes - simply Throw and Go!
  • Method of travel - a boat to land followed by a flash wipe coated car...
Zombie Flash Wipes: Throw & Go
48 Emergency wipes for just £1
Complete with that fresh Lemon scent
that they'll hate!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Movie Remakes . . .

Anyone who knows me know I love a good film. I do. I can easily loose myself for a few hours whilst watching, no matter how bad (with few exceptions for the really bad…that’s just ‘slit-your-wrist-time’ painful). And I'm usually open-minded regarding remakes – although you have to admit, they are sometimes a mute point.

Ok, there's a whole new generation out there, some who wouldn't give an older film the time of day, and so remakes will often appeal more to them (and what they can achieve these days compared to the likes of twenty years ago can really make a difference) but if you're a fan of the original, then remakes aren't always a good thing.

There are three remakes in the pipelines that have won my attention recently, two of which could be good, but one with the potential of being disastrous.  These remakes are:

The Crow
Ghostbusters
Dad’s Army


My all-time favourite is The Crow with Brandon Lee. It was one of the first films with an 18 rating that I ever watched, and was probably responsible the darker side of some of my thinking. I just fell in love with it right away. And the soundtrack, which I run out and bought on CD, is absolutely crazy with the likes of Nine Inch Nails and the Cure. For me, there wasn’t anything to not love about this film.

The follow-ons, however, I haven’t been too impressed about. City of Angels was not too bad. It wasn’t a patch on the first, and I’ve just watched Salvation for the first time. For me, Salvation was definitely verging on ‘Slit-your-wrist-time’ bad. What did they do!! The killed the Crow! As for the Wicked Prayer? I haven’t seen it.

Good thing about The Crow is that the franchise isn’t just about a specific character. It can be any unfortunate person who gains the power of the crow to seek vengeance on those who did them wrong, so the story lines can change, the circumstances can change, and the characters can change. They don’t have to make a 1994 reboot – and we’ve apparently been assured that it’s not going to be, so I’m quite hopeful. Let’s just hope they can get some actors who can act this time, unlike Salvation.


The other film was Ghostbusters.  Again, I'm a big fan of the original with Bill Murray.  And as a kid, not only did I love the film, but I recorded every cartoon episode and never missed one.  For me this could go two ways.  With new CGI technology it could be visually spectacular, but will my love for the first one give the reboot an unfair disadvantage?  We'll just have to wait and see what they churn out.


And last but not least, Dad's Army.  What are they doing?!!! What are they thinking?!!!  This, I think, will be disastrous.  Ok, they have a star-studded cast lined up with the likes of Catherine Zeta Jones, Bill Nighy and more, but come on.  Dad's Army?  Really?  Captain Mainwaring was only adored because of Arther Lowe, and then with the likes of John Le Mesurier, Ian Lavender, James Beck and Clive Dunn, the cast was complete and Dad's Army won it's place in the nation's heart.  You can't recreate that.  You just can't.  It's not like a film where people spend at most two hours and walk away thinking "oh, that's was good," and then look forward to reboot 10 years down the line  This ran for years.  We grew up with these faces, followed their characters and grew to know them.  They were known in every household and still are in many - such as ours.  You can't replace that, no matter how pretty Catherine Zeta Jones may be...

So what are your views on the above?

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Cat Anthology Update and Blog Hops I'm Participating In. . .

Bonjour one and all.

A little update - one, to let you all know what's going on, and two, to let myself know what's going on.  I have a memory like a sieve at the moment.

So firstly, a huge shoutout to Kyra Lennon over at Write Here, Write Now and her Cat Anthology!  It's being released in paperback 10th Novermber and they'll be doing a whole branch book launch in celebration.  I just wish I was a little closer then I'd definitely be attending that.  It's for such a great cause - Teignbridge & Totnes Cat protection - and as a crazy cat lady myself, I couldn't be more thrilled to have been invovled.  Thank you, Kyra!!



And there are not one, but TWO bloghops that are going on at the moment.

The first Bloghop is the ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE Bloghop hosted by Mina Lobo at Some Dark Romantic, Jackie at Bouquet of Books and Dani at Enteraining Interests.

This one looks like sooo much fun considering the whole Zombie theme that's been going on for me just recently - including a charity Zombie Evacuation run where I'm actually a zombie doing the chasing as opposed to a runner running the whole 5k assault course for their lives :) but more on that topic later...



The Second Bloghop is SPOOKTOBERFEST hosted by Cover Girls.  Another great fun thing that I'm looking forward to getting my claws in - nice, deep and bloody like, if you get my meaning :)


So if any of these sound like your thing, hop on over there and sign up! :)


Friday, 26 September 2014

Pic of the Week . . . Amalia Luliana Chitulescu

Well, it's official. This week saw the arrival of Autumn. I like autumn. I like the colours on the trees, the freshness in the air (I don't like the giant spiders that come in your house though, looking for somewhere warm to snuggle up for the winter). And the first thing that comes to mind when autumn arrives is bonfire night and getting your cosy hats, gloves and scarves out and snuggling over roaating marshmellows. Yep. Love autumn.

Anyway, in celebration of this time of the year, I've found a real gem for Pic of the Week. Amalia Luliana Chitulescu. If you like this piece as much as I do, do yourself a favour and check out her gallery on DeviantArt. She has some phenomenal pieces up there. It's well worth the visit.

Happy Autumn!


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Hilary Mantel and her Sagas of 'The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher' . . .

Warning:  Small rant ahead...

I've never really been into politics and was a child when Margaret Thatcher had her day.  I know there are those who hated her and those who loved her, and I know they had their reasons, but to me, she's just a figure of British history.  I was too young to care, too swamped in my own, innocent imagination to worry about the state of the country back then.  That job was down to my parents.

And as an adult writer, that imagination is still going strong (even though it may not be that innocent anymore and with me still just as ignorant about politics).  We go about our lives with a constant stream of inner dialogue taking place in our heads, forming scenes, creating characters, worlds, scenarios.  And all around us we take in inspiration, be it from a sweet tale of romance to a barbaric story of butchery; the way the breeze blows blossom down the street to the storms that bend trees and rip them of leaves and branches.  Inspiration is everywhere we look and ours for the taking, be it bad or good should we choose.  So I feel quite shocked that a writer is being threatened with criminal charges after penning a short story that blends historic events with fiction.  'The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher' by Hilary Mantel, with a scene set in an attic home where its owner and a member of the IRA wait with a 'widowmaker' to assassinate the Iron Lady.

We all know that to write a story and put it out to the world we're opening ourselves to feedback.  Some will like it and some will hate it.  You can't please everyone, but imagine Hilary Mantel's surprise after one reader condemned her story and demanded a criminal investigation? [Quote from Lord Bell in the Guardian:  "If somebody admits they want to assassinate somebody, surely the police should investigate?"]

Erm...I know I'm blonde and I may be overseeing some point here, but Mrs Thatcher sadly died sometime back and is in no danger of assassination.  And surely people can distinguish between fiction and fact?

But having said that, I reiterate the fact that I am blonde and never been one to jump into politics, so there may indeed be points that I am missing here.  There may be a reason why this story has been branded 'in bad taste' (I only read a short clip from the Guardian, and apart from Hilary Mantel using it as a instrument to vent her opinions on Mrs Thatcher, I never saw anything truly offensive.  I'm sure there are others around the world who feel the same way about the ex-Prime Minister as Hilary, but I sadly remain indifferent).  But aside from all that, I just find it sad that a writer has found her inspiration and used her creativity to merge fiction with history, was paid to write the piece, and then abandoned and left to face the consequences - what ever they be.  I write fantasy and horror.  I write about assassination and murder and this unfortunately includes barbaric thoughts.  Does that mean I'm more prone to go out and kill someone?  Should I expect to find the police knocking at my door and me answering to a crime I have not and have absolutely no intention of committing?  

There maybe a lot more to this story that I don't know or understand, and I'm not choosing sides.  In the political world, it may be offensive, it may be seen as too soon after her passing, but in a fictional world it may make for a good read.  I don't know.  But what I can't understand is why something fictional is being branded as a crime.  What about all the other successful books and films out there about government assassins and conspiracies, about terrorists storming the White House in Washington, and of royals being put in the line of fire?  Should those script writers be investigated?  No, because what they've written is fiction.  So what makes this story any different?

Rant over.  Feel free to air views :)


Friday, 12 September 2014

Pic of the Week . . . Lest We Forget

Well, another year has past since that historical day but the memories are still just as fresh.

Always in our thoughts.

Image by Jenny Oldham who has donated a copy of this piece to the 9/11 memorial museum.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Cat Anthology Blog Hop: Adventures of a Galactic Feline...


Today I'm taking part in a CatAnthology blog hop hosted by Kyra Lennon over at Write Here, Write Now to raise money for Cat Protection in Teignbridge and Totness.  Seeing as I'm a crazy cat person, I couldn't resist and thought it a good cause.  For the hop, you have to write a piece - any piece in any genre - as long as it includes a cat.

You can read other contributions over at Kyra's Blog.

So here's my contribution:

Adventures of a Galactic Feline

Kitty’s log: Star date 70692.33
Location: Unknown star in the Hydrant Quarter of the Juduxo Galaxy

What strange world was this? Uncharted. Unexplored - or at least so she thought. Who knew if another had landed here before and discovered things that she was soon to discover herself?  Good things?  Bad things? Things that only lived in nightmares?

She took a step forward with caution, extending a single paw and carefully placing it on the brown ground that stretched out in front of her. It felt cool under her pads, and it shifted under her weight as loose ground compacted beneath. Lifting her head, she sniffed the air. It was fresh with sweet, floral scents but a hint of something decaying lay further a field. It reminded her of a rubbish bin from back home, but the scent was only slight and too far away to distinguish for sure. Maybe this was one of the things she had yet to discover.

Her thoughts wandered again to whether this was truly uncharted lands. If someone had discovered this world before, why were there no logs? Why were there no records of the strange beasts that inhabited it, and of the strange, tall foliage that flourished around her? The answer was one of two. Either it was true that no other had ever been here or the place was the habitat for larger creatures that provided a cruel end to the lone explorer. She hoped it wasn't the latter.

With rounded eyes, she peered through the darkness and studied her surroundings. An alien leaf brushed against the top of her head, disturbing her fur, and she cringed back and looked up. It stood still, its true colours hidden by the lack of light, but it could have been green. It was hard to tell. It looked like any other leaf, rounded and tapering to a point, and giving it quick sniff, she decided it harmless, but who knew, right? Uncharted, unexplored, an unknown species? Huffing, she turned away. She didn't think it the type to jump out and snatch her body, so as long as she didn't eat it, she believed she'd be alright.

Lowering her head, she held herself low and slunk from within the foliage, her eyes on guard and her ears twitching, listening. If something was stalking her on this unknown territory, she would hear it and then deal with it. Whether it would turn out good in the end, she didn’t know. All she could do was hope and concentrate on her exploration mission at hand.

The foliage parted and a wide open terrain greeted her. Did she have to cross it? The only other way was back and she had already been there and explored that. All that was left was forward – and this wide open expanse. Her whiskers brushed the ground, tickling sensory glands as she sniffed the area beneath her. There was no particular scent, no markings. It smelt acidic, alien, yet strangely familiar. Maybe this world wasn’t that dissimilar to home? With one last scout, she started forward, her paws carrying her closer to the plains.

The ground here was different. No longer did it consist of brown earth, untouched and sheltered by a forest of plants. Now it was coated with something soft and cushiony – almost furry. She gave it a sniff, deciding this was no body-snatcher either, and then scanned the plain beyond again.

It was lifeless, deserted. Even in the darkness nothing moved. But there were eyes. She could feel them, their gaze penetrating her fur. They were there, these foreign creatures, martians, watching, waiting. Would they attack upon sight? Or would they scamper into hiding and wait for her to pass and be gone?

There was only one way to find out.

Extending her sharpened claws in preparation of an attack, she sunk as low as she could and crawled into the opening. Her eyes watched everything. A breeze blew in, carrying away that floral smell and replacing it with that same scent of decay. And there was something else with it, too. Chemicals, burning fuels. She couldn’t place it, but it was otherworldly. It screamed a promise of more life she had yet to discover. There was more to this planet than just foliage and soft, mossy plains.

Movement to her left.

She froze and looked round, wide eyed and flicking her tail. The shadows didn’t stir. But there had been something, she was sure. And then a hint of a rustle. This confirmed it. Something living was over there.

Changing directions, she slowly crawled towards the sound, the soft blanketing on the ground stroking her belly as she went. She stretched out one leg, planted her paw between the blades of mossy leaves, and then pulled her body closer before stretching out her other leg, holding her tail low but curved. What was this life form? Was it going to fight or cower away?

And then it jumped, it’s long, muscular back legs propelling it in the air before her, leaping high and off to the side. Giving a hiss, her own four legs reacted, springing her in the air and away, but her eyes remained on the dark, glistening creature, with its long back feet, short front legs and wide grotesque mouth. And as it landed, it instantly gave another leap.

As all four paws touched down, her claws dug into the soft earth for grip and then pushed her back out. This alien had made her jump, but she was going to have the upper-hand here. She wasn’t going to sit back and give this creature the chance it needed to turn and attack, to use what martian skills it had to blast her back into outer-space – or to stun her and leave her helpless while it crawled over and began devouring her, just like it had done with the last explorer to land here…if he had. No, she had to attack first.

She leapt into the air, her front paws outstretched, her claws ready, and pounced on the unsuspecting thing. It scampered at the assault, darting from her death grip and disappearing among the soft carpeting of the plains. Unsure where it went, she found her legs springing her from her spot again. The thing could be anywhere preparing an assault of its own, and her only defense was to keep moving. She darted first right, then left before tearing in a sprint across the open expanse. Try and follow me now, she thought as she skidded in mid turn, her claws pulling up earth and then springing her back into the air.

A blinding light shot out from the other end of the plains, penetrating the shadows and casting light across the surrounding world. Gasping with terror, she froze where she landed, her wide eyes reflecting the source of the light, and her belly resting on the floor. She had been found! They had answered an unknown call and come. Her exploration mission had failed, her doom neigh.

“Kitty! What are you up to? Come on in!”

The voice boomed, its figure silhouetted against the light – the figure of her human.

God-damn it! She was in the throws of her game! Why did they always have to interrupt her? Giving a quick glance across the grass, she saw no evidence of the frog she had hunted. It was hidden among the blades of the lawn somewhere, laying low. There was no chance of her finding it and resuming with her game now. The moment had gone.

Irritated, she sat up and licked a paw, ignoring her human’s request to come in. But then a human request was often the prelude to food. If there was a chance of a little something to eat, then maybe going in would be worth it? Maybe her game had been a worthy sacrifice?

Giving a brief meow, she stood and trotted towards her human with her tail held high. Humans were down-right annoying but sometimes – just sometimes – they had their uses. And besides, there were always other missions to complete and other galaxies to explore inside the house when everyone was asleep…

* * *

Bio:  Dawn lives with a her husband and a cat of her own.  When she's not tending to her cat's wishes, she's working a full time job, drawing and writing.  With numerous novels and short stories under her belt, she dreams of one day being able to become a full-time writer, and with her preferred genres being fantasy and horror, it's no wonder her husband has developed a sense of paranoia.  Her cat doesn't seem to mind, though...    

*I give Kyra Lennon permission to use this piece in her anthology to help raise money towards Cat Protection.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

It's Here!!! Fairly Wicked Tales!


It's here!!  Fairly Wicked Tales is now available for download!  Click on here to go see.

Here's the blurb:


Once upon a scream… 


Think you know the real story behind those fables and fairy tales you read as a child? Stories are written from the viewpoint of the heroes, but the lines between hero and villain, good and evil, are often blurred. 

We’ve gathered twenty three tales that turn those stories you think you know on their heads by letting the villains have their say. What if Snow White wasn’t as pure as the newly driven snow? What if Red Riding Hood was far more dangerous than the Big Bad Wolf? What if Rapunzel was hell bent on revenge? Forget Disney, forget the Brothers Grimm, say hello to Fairly Wicked Tales—re-imaginings of both fairy tales and fables. 

Fairly Wicked Tales, a book for adults who harbor the wicked child within. 

Featuring stories by: Vekah McKeown,Katie Young,Gary W. Olson, Adam Millard, Suzi M, Fay Lee, Matthew Hughes, Jay Wilburn, Robert Holt, Lizz-Ayn Shaarawi, Laura Snapp, Dawn Cartwright, David Matteri,Wilson Geiger, Eugenia Rose, Armand Rosamilia, JP Behrens, Reece A.A. Barnard, Tais Teng, Bennie Newsome, Eric Bakutis, Kostas Pardias, and Hal Bodner


A huge thank you to Angelic Knight Press for the opportunity of being part of this.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Pic of the Week . . . Storms Over UK

I love a good thunderstorm.  We don't enough in the UK, but we were in for a treat in the early hours of this morning.  All across the south of the UK (maybe even further) we were graced by a mega storm.  I've waited all year for this and hopefully we're in for some more this weekend too.  Here's hoping.

So for Pic of the Week I thought I'd share a few photos taken from last night.

Enjoy.

Lightning over Newquey, Cornwall

Lightning over the Isle of Wright

Thursday, 17 July 2014

'I'll Let You In On A New Secret' & 'Damn you, Stan Lee!'

This weekend has been pretty busy and it started on Friday with a hunt for someone to accompany me to the London Film and Comic Convention at Earls Court in London. Would you believe, no one - and I mean NO ONE - could get time off work or make it. How inconsiderate they all had plans! So on Friday night I thought 'Sod It' and dragged my step-son along.

Tickets for the LFCC could be bought in advance online, but these were taken off sale at the beginning of the week, meaning my last minute decision to attend meant I had to queue and buy at the door. I was okay with this - after all I was going to meet my childhood crush - Monsieur Michael Biehn - you know, the guy from The Terminator who wasn't Arnold Schwarzenegger.



The Terminator was one of the first films I watched that got me hooked on action, and the fact that I thought Michael Biehn as eye-candy made it even better. My secret? I had it bad. I went through a Teen-Obsession, as you do, so imagine my surprise when I found out he was going to be there! I could have my photo with him and everything! I couldn't pass up an opportunity like that. I may have moved on from those Biehn days, but someone like that still holds a special place somewhere in that grey matter.

So I went. I was determined to get his autograph - but my hopes were soon doomed. Guess who else had decided to make an appearance for the first time? Yep, the big man himself, Mr Stan Lee! This revelation brought in the hoards, from Marvel fans, StarWars fans, StarTrek, Game of Thrones, you name it. Even the Stay-Puffed Marshmellow Man made an appearance (this guy's costume was fantastic). And so, a queue to end all queues was formed. For four hours I queued. FOUR HOURS!!! In the sweltering sun! The guy behind me attends LFCC every year and said he'd never known it to queue like this. It was ridiculas! And so we had no option but to blame Stan Lee. Why else would there be so many people?

I was determined though. I wasn't going to waste those hours, but when I found out that after four hours we were still only half way there, and by the time we made it to the door there was still no guarentee of admission, my hopes began to dwindle. The realisation that when we did finally make it to the doors the place would be closing, I admitted defeat. I was exhausted! The convention this year was badly planned, the court inside was rammed and hot, and the organisers obviously hadn't foreseen how busy it would get - or so the conversations went in the queue. So begrudgingly I left the queue and turned for home with my head hanging low.

Absolutely gutted is an understatement. I know there will be many more conventions to attend in the future, but when will another opportunity to meet Michael Biehn arise again?

So despite how much I love you, damn you Stan Lee! Damn you for being so darn popular!!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

'Fairly Wicked Tales' Is Almost Upon Us . . .

It's been a while in the making but now it's nearly here.  Fairly Wicked Tales!  An anthology of Fairy Tales but with dark twists.

I was lucky enough last year to have my submission accepted by Angelic Knight Press, and just last week the cover was finally revealed.  I'm so excited to be a part of this, and the cover I think captures just the right essence of the collection.

Yay!


Thursday, 19 June 2014

Zombie Binge Time . . .

I'm playing catch up.

We don't have Sky or any major TV channels.  We have Freeview instead which gives you a few extra but nothing special.  I don't watch much TV as a rule so refuse to pay out for something that isn't really going to get used to its full potential.  However, if I get into a TV series, I get into it in a big way, and if it isn't on Netflix (a godsend for filmage) then I buy the DVD and I BINGE!  I've lost days of my life.

Anyway, because of this I'm a little behind on some of the greats.  I'm literally coming to the end of Season 1 of Game of Thrones after a friend lent me the DVD and I've just ordered a show that I know will keep me locked away.

The Walking Dead


I saw the first episode round my sister's one weekend, and its hooked me left, right and centre.  So, if you don't hear from me in a while it's because I have my hermit shell in place and the remote in my hand.  With 3 seasons available to me, I may be a little while :)

It's Zombie Time!!!!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Pic of the Week . . . Dancing With Sharks

Happy Friday!

We're having a good - charitable - day at work today.  We're taking part in the Strawberry Tea fundraiser, raising money for Breast Cancer.  Lots of people in the office have baked and as I type half of the office are out in the car park with a BBQ on the go (I've just had my fill).  So even though there's still work to be done, there's plenty of food to purchase and consume and lots of fun.  I can't imagine much more being achieved today.  And it is Friday anyway...What better way to spend a Friday the 13th - and with a full moon thrown into the equation.

So, today is a charitable day, and one thing earlier caught my eye that would suit Pic of the Week a treat.

Hannah Fraser.  Ring any bells?  The model and marine conservationist has been in the headlines quite a bit just recently after dancing with a shoal of tiger sharks in protest against the worldwide killing of marine life, including tiger sharks, a threatened species after the popularity of shark-fin soup.    

I love sharks.  I think they're a very misunderstood species, as Hannah is proving.  Yeah, there was a chance of one taking a bite, and it was a risky photoshoot, but tiger sharks are known for their viciousness and did they take a chunk from her?  No.  Maybe this was just luck - or maybe it's proof that the species on a whole has been stereotyped by the movie Jaws.  I'm not saying we should all go swimming with them and cuddle them - god forbid, but...

Regardless of what people think, I support Hannah Fraser 100% for what she's campaigning against.  You can read more from this article.  In the meantime, here are two of her pictures.  Spread the word of her good work.

Have a good weekend :)




  

Monday, 19 May 2014

In Which Wiki Will Tell You Who You Were...

This fun and interesting thing is going around facebook at the moment.  Have you facebook-junkies seen it yet? :)


I tried it.  I typed my date of birth in the above format and I got:


Ironically, according to Wiki, Lesser Samuels was a Hollywood screenwriter for 20 years.  However, he also wrote and was associate producer for the biblical flop, The Silver Chalice, in which Paul Newman, who starred, declared it the low point of his career.

Interesting that both I and the person I supposedly was in a former life were both writers - albeit bad ones.  Gotta love facebook :)

Anyway, type in Google your date of birth in the above format and see who you get.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

RIP HR Giger...

I'm in a state of shock.

Today I'm posting to remember one of my favourite artists who has sadly just died.

HR Giger.

Imagine my shock after happily browsing through the news and coming across a headline that read 'Alien Designer, Giger, Dies at 74'.  A great talent lost.

For those who don't know who Giger is, he designed the Alien for the Aliens series as well as some of the settings and landscapes; he worked on Dune, AND he designed the famous microphone stand for Jonathan Davies, lead singer of Korn. These are just a few of the things he's remembered for.


Read the news article here:

So, RIP HR Giger.  You will be missed by thousands, and our thoughts go out to his family.


Friday, 9 May 2014

Pic of the Week . . . Banksy Mobile Lovers

I love Banksy.

Whenever I take a train ride into London I can't help but sit back and admire some of the graffiti on the way.  Most of it is tagging which looks messy and strongly sits under the term 'Vandalism', but then you'll come across a gem that is fantastic.  I know all graffiti is technically vandalism but the art and skill that goes into some of these pieces is often over-looked.  It's a form of art in itself.

For those who don't know, Banksy has recently been in the headlines with his newest piece.  He chose to use a door to a boy's club in Bristol as his canvas.  The idea wasn't to tag the area to say 'I WOZ 'ERE' so to speak, but to help raise money for the struggling club - a club he apparently attended as a boy (don't quote me on that bit).

The piece has been quoted to be worth £500,000.

This little piece was from Banksy's earlier days and sits on the side of the Thekla Social Boat in Bristol Harbour.  I loved it so much I had to show you.

Banksy's Grim Reaper, Thekla Social Boat

But the main piece for Pic of the Week is the topic piece of this post.  Mobile Lovers.

Enjoy and have a creative weekend...

Image from Butterfly

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Did he have blonde hair or black . . .?

I read and critiqued a friend’s manuscript the other week.  I read all of it, from beginning to end, and even though it was really good, the one major thing I had to point out was the bombshell at the end that her protagonist had black hair.  Not a major bombshell, but when you’ve read through the entire book picturing the protagonist as one thing only to find out he’s something else, it's a bit of a shock.  As it turned out with my friend, she was brilliant at describing the weird and unusual – and it was a fantasy so there was a lot of that - but anything everyday and mundane she inadvertently neglected. 

This brought up the topic of description.  Info dumps are never really a good thing.  There are far better ways to add description than by saying “He was 6ft something, blue eyes, black hair and a few days’ worth of stubble on his chin”;

“He brushed a hand through his thick black hair…”

“His blue eyes turned wide with shock…”

I won’t go on.  I’m pretty sure you get the drift.  Anyway, it also helps to actually know your character physically.  For every character I create a little bio.  Nothing mega, just height, hair colour, style, eye colour, age.  This way when you need to mention it and you’ve forgotten it, you don’t have to go hunting through your manuscript trying to find the last place you mentioned it.  It also avoids inconsistencies.

Another idea is to add an actual face to your characters.  By this I mean finding a tv/movie star and basing your characters around them (I call this a dream team).  Sometimes though, if your characters are born before you allocate them a famous face, it can be hard to find someone suitable to fit the role, and sometimes you may have to come to terms with the fact that you’ll never find someone suitable – unless you spend hours trolling the web when you should be writing!

I’ve only found one face for one of my characters.  He’s no one famous.  He’s a model for the firm I work for.  But as soon as I saw him in those images I knew. 


Meet Devon McCormick.  

Image courtesy of Brora.co.uk

Friday, 11 April 2014

Pic of the Week (coinciding with A-Z) . . . Jonas Jakobsson

Today, the A-Z challenge seems to have fallen on J, so even though I’m not partaking, what better way to contribute than by choosing an artist for this week’s Pic of the Week whose name begins with J.

Returning to Jonas Jakobsson with a double J hit.  Check out his gallery on Deviant Art.

And name me a fantasy lover who doesn’t love a Ringwaith.


Have a great weekend J


Monday, 7 April 2014

Your Novel's Soundtrack . . .

Does your novel have a soundtrack?  Is there one song that captures every essence of your story?  Or maybe even more than one?

My new piece does.  This song manages to capture everything about my main character, Reagan, including her sexuality, her darkness and her mysteriousness.  I remember when I first heard it.  It sucked me in and within an instant I knew it was my soundtrack.  I don't know the in's and out's of the song - apparently it was about an ex-girlfriend who was sleeping around - and I'm not saying the lyrics could have been written for Reagan, but the whole feel of the song and the rhythm...

My new piece now has a title:  Blood for Blood, and its soundtrack is Inertia Creeps by Massive Attack.

Enjoy :)
 


Monday, 3 March 2014

Cumberbomb . . .

I was having a pretty lame day at work today until I read the news during my lunch break and spotted this:

Most of us know it was the Oscars last night.  I haven't looked up who won what or who wore (or didn't wear) what, but one thing suddenly jumped to my attention and made me laugh.  Judging from my last post, most of you should know I've become ever-so slightly obsessed with the UK series, Sherlock - and that confession should include not just Sherlock, but Benedict Cumberbatch himself...lol.

Anyway, what better way to cheer up a dull day than with photos of Cumberbatch photobombing U2 last night.  I'm speechless...and not sure if that's due to the grin on my face or my attempts at suppressing hysterical laughter in the office :)  Hope these cheer your day up as much as they did mine.  You can read the full article here:

I love it when stars show a human side.



Friday, 28 February 2014

"No S*** Sherlock..."

Well, it's official.  I am SHER-locked!!!

I've just spent the last few days catching up on Series 1 & 2 of Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman before starting Series 3 for the first time (all on DVD) and I'm hooked.  I don't watch much TV to be honest, which was why I had to recap series 1 & 2 on DVD as there were parts I had missed when they originally ran.  And then I got to watch them all back to back.

Nothing like a bit of 'binge-watching' :)

So what do I like about BBC's Sherlock?  The banter?  The plots?  The characters?  Cumberbatch himself? All of the above and much more.  It's so well written (hats off to Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat) and the dialogue just flows - and how Cumberbatch manages to say his long stints without faltering is beyond me.  I wonder how many takes they really had to do?

Sherlock Series 3 is actually interesting.  A writer friend of mine at the moment is worried that her current WIP is too character driven and there's not much plot.  She's read one star reviews (on other pieces) that say 'brilliant characters but no plot' and she's worried that she has to change her planning to find a happy medium.  But this doesn't have to be the case - and Sherlock is a great example in my eyes.

I can't falter any of the plots for Sherlock, except the second episode in Series 3, The Sign of Three (but then it's not even a fault).  This episode is very much character driven, and you know what?  It works.  The relationship between Sherlock and Watson is so solid.  And you can feel Sherlock's fear as a third member is introduced to their circle, threatening to change everything.  So what I say to my friend - and all others out there struggling with the same issue - is yes, plot is important, but it doesn't have to be the end all.  Character driven pieces work really well too, so don't let this thought hinder you're progress.  Write what you want to write, and if at the end you feel it doesn't work, tweak it.  But you'll never know unless it's written.

So on that note, I've decided to choose two pieces for today's Pic of the Week.  I like them both very much and couldn't decide which to share :)  The artist is Alicexz over on Deviant art, and over the last few years she's been building her own gallery of character portraits for the Series.  Be sure to go over there and check them out.  They're phenomenal...

Sherlock

Moriarty
Have a good week people... :)

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Back In The Game...

I’m back on the band wagon.  My muse has returned after a year and half hiatus – and trying to work without a muse just ain’t easy.

He returned a couple of weeks ago – although he’s very shy to give away where he’s been (probably cavorting with all the other AWOL muses out there.  Just where do they go??  It's probably him in the picture, enjoying the attention of all the other female muses, the flirt!)  Still, I hope he had a good time.  I hope it was worth it after the amount of SUFFERING he’s caused.  No thought!  No consideration!  And now he’s back, by golly, I’m gonna make him pay!  I’m making him work overtime, and with 15k words into my new piece – as well as editing my previous piece – he’s definitely starting to pull his weight.  I’m not letting him get off lightly for going AWOL.

So what’s the new piece?  Well, it involves, assassins, romance, danger, everything a good read should have – oh, and a touch of necromancy to darken things a tad.  Just the way I like it J Still working on a title though, but I’m sure that’ll come within time.

So, now I’m back on the band wagon, let’s just hope my muse lets me stay on long enough to enjoy the ride.  

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Why Your Genre . . . ???

Have you ever sat down and wondered why it is you choose to write what you write? Why do you like Crime so much? Why Romance? Why Sci-Fi? Why Comedy?

I've often reflected on this. Why do I like fantasy so much? Why do I like to take myself off to strange worlds where mythical things are no longer myth, where danger of the unknown lurks around every corner? Why can't my fantasies take me to places in the real world where I can then shape them to my own desires?

Because for me, that would defeat the object of escapism.

I can pinpoint the exact moment I wanted to write, and the exact moment I realised it was fantasy. Ok, hands up here who remembers the film 'Flight of Dragons'? It's an old animated film from around 1981-82. Baring in mind I was born in the later part of 1980, when this film actually came out, I don't think I would have had much interest, but by the time it made it to VHS, followed by the small screens of our boxed TV sets, I think I would have been around 5, maybe 6 years old - but obviously at a very impressionable age and more than old enough to realise "Holy crap! This is awesome stuff!"

I remember watching it. It was a weekend, a sunny day, and I preferred to sit inside than go outside and play with all the other kids (learning to be unsociable - a necessity for a writer). This film was on and I was hooked.

For those who haven't had the pleasure of this film, it's about a time that lays between magic and logic, where man was beginning to believe in the study of science. This was making the magical folk weak, and so four magical brothers decide to create their own haven, a place where the magical can live without the dangers of science, but the fourth brother decides that he wants mankind to feel the wrath of dark magic, by making them turn against each other, creating war and weapons of mass destruction, yada yada. And so the battle ensues (although, the film does provide a theory as to how dragons can defy the laws of physics and fly - but I'll save that for another post).


I only ever saw this film once, but images of it have been fresh in my mind for years. Haunted by these images, it wasn't until about two years ago that I hunted this film down. I couldn't even remember what it was called. All I had to go by where the images in my head. But I found it :)

Anyway, after I watched this film, my mind must have been so consumed with the possibilities of fantasy that I shut myself in my room and began to write. Baring in mind a girl of six would have many distractions - namely toys. The story I had in my head never reached past two or three pages. A year or two passed and these images were still calling me, so I tried again. Still I failed. A few times I tried but the idea trailed off, until one day when I was 10. I picked up that pen, I wrote and I never stopped. After a year and a half I had my first story. 74 pages long and fully illustrated. I still have this handwritten story locked away in safe keeping.

From there, fantasy has always been a huge thing for me. I've dabbled elsewhere. Throughout my teen years, I wrote drama, thrillers, horrors, but I've always found myself coming back round to fantasy. It's who I am. It's in my blood - although I have no idea where the horror aspect comes from...

And imagine my surprise when I finally managed to track 'Flight of Dragons' down a few years back only to discover that I had practically re-written it all those years ago. Good job I had no intention of ever submitting it to agents...

So what about you? What made you decide what genre was yours for the conquering?