Friday 24 February 2012

Pic of the Week - Pancake Day and Mardi Gras...

Whilst Tuesday this week saw a percentage of people in the USA celebrating Mardi Gras, we in the UK got to spend the day stuffing our faces with PANCAKES!!! (I'm not sure which is more fun)

So, for this week's Pic of the Week I thought I'd go with a food theme - something different but tasteful (chuckle, I'm so funny) despite there being many stunning and colourful pics of Mardi Gras available.

Anyway, food. There' some real creative people in this world. To be able took at a bog-standard melon and turn it into something beautiful is a talent and a half. I'm not sure I have the skill to do it. Here's a few examples of how people play with their food...

Having said that, some food just grow like it...

And now for Pic of the Week. Believe it not, this picture comprises of nothing but cabbage. I was gobsmaked. Unfortunately I couldn't find who the artist was though.

Still, enjoy and have a fab weekend!

Thursday 23 February 2012

Warning: Google Friend Connect To Be Discontinued...

This is probably old news, but I've only just found out about it. Google Friend Connect will discontinue on the 1st March. For those who don't know what this is, this is the widget that allows you to display followers on your blog - and allows bloggers to follow you.

I'm not too sure what this means entirely. I think, if your blog is powered by blogger, you are fine. You won't lose any followers. But if your blog is powered by a third party site, say Wordpress or other such blog hosting sites, then you will lose them (please, someone correct me if I'm wrong here).

I think it also means that you won't be able to follow a blog that is hosted by a third party site. That means I'm going to lose a lot of good blogs from my list!

I only bring this up because I've read two posts today that have mentioned it. TWO. And no other mention from any other blog! There are so many other bloggers out there and I'm concerned that they don't realise what is about to happen. I may sound vein going on about the amount of followers we all have, but some blogs have hundreds of followers. They've worked really hard to establish themselves and have earned that amount. It'd be pretty shitty for all that work to be thrown back in their faces.

They're suggesting, if this is to affect you, that you create a google+ account and gain your followers through there via a widget on your blog, but this is something that will need building up again.

Here's a link to a blog where you can read more about it

If I'm wrong, if I'm being totally blonde about this, then I apologise for stirring up a fuss over nothing, but if I'm right...

I feel it's only fair that if bloggers are unaware of this event, they should know. (and if anyone else can explain this all to me in layman's terms, I'd be much appreciated)

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Writing Exercise: It Was An Odd Way To Start The Day

It's been a while, but today I thought I'd publish a piece of flash fiction that I wrote Monday for one of our Writers' Group Exercises. We each picked a random sentence and had to then let our imaginations go woth the flow...

Sentence: It was an odd way to start the day...

It was an odd way to start the day but who was I to complain. After everything that had happened recently a touch of normality was needed - but it felt strange.

I say it was an odd way to start the day; waking up to the smell of coffee and pancakes simmering away was one if the best ways to start a day - but as I mentioned before, it felt strange.

For the last few years I had been held captive by Pirates off the Turkish shores. I had originally set out with my wife in our yacht for a sail through the Med, something that wasn't unhead of. We had spent many months sailing the world but on this particular occasion, our trip didn't go to plan.

Our yacht was seized, we were captured and our belongings ransacked and sold on. I spent a month or so with my wife, chained in the brig of one of their ships before we were seperated.

After that I heard rumours of the pirates asking for a ransom. The fact that payment was refused infuriated them to the core. It was something they later loved to taunt me with, the fact that no one cared for me enough to pay.

I never saw my wife again. For years I was forced into labour on board their ship. If I couldn't earn them money through a ransom I would earn my keep another way.

Eventually I was able to plan my escape. With the shores of India in sight I waited until I was unguarded, something that now happened quite often, and I slipped overboard and swam to safetly. Once there I managed to seek help and was offered a hotel room while officials done their job.

This morning, after spending my first night in a bed that wasn't floating, I woke to the smell of coffee and pancakes. It was nice but I knew I wouldn't enjoy it. I strangely missed the rough handling that usually accompanied the rising sun - and I missed my wife.

Today, I knew, was to mark the first day of my search for her. I didn't care of the outcome, whether she was dead or sold on somewhere, but I knew I couldn't rest until I knew.

Friday 17 February 2012

Pic of the Week . . . Josephine Wall

I thought, seeing as Valentine's Day graced us with its annual presence this week, that I'd go for a romantic theme for this week's Pic of the Week - and I found a real gem of an artist.

Her name is Josephine Wall and I am astounded at how beautiful her work is. The detail is phenomenal and the colours...well, check out her website and see for yourself. This piece is called 'For The Love Of A Mermaid'.

Enjoy and have a grand weekend...

Tuesday 14 February 2012

The World's Greatest Love Story . . .

Well, in my eyes anyway.

It's Valentine's Day, the most romantic day of the year and the only day you're likely to see little chubby cupids firing their heart shaped bow and arrows. But it's not just about courtship anymore. It's also about remembering those you love.

So that's what I'm doing.

This story is very dear to me and I feel it needs to be shared. It's not about the trials and tribulations someone had to go through in order to be with each other, like the tragically doomed Romeo and Juliet; it's not the typical bitter-sweet love story that usually accompanies Valentine's Day, no. It's about the love that was shared by two people from a young age until their dying day.

It involved my Great Uncle and Aunt, two people I never got to meet. I remember being told this story by my Dad and it's one that has embedded itself in my heart.

My Great Uncle and Aunt worked on farm. They married young, had a family, and were inseparable. They went everywhere together; they worked together and grew old together. Then the tragic day came when my Great Aunt had a stroke. This rendered her paralysed and bedridden. My Great Uncle refused to leave her side and looked after her day and night. He fed her, washed her, clothed her, and every evening gave her her favourite tipple via a spoon.

While she remained in the bed, he took up residence in the chair next to her. This is where he slept every night, not wanting to leave her alone. This continued for seven years. Throughout that time she suffered more strokes, leaving her in a cabbage state, but still my Great Uncle refused to leave her. He doted over her. He done everything for her.

One Christmas my dad, being a little boy, went with his family to pay them a visit. They walked in the house but my Great Uncle wasn't around. Guessing that he may be in the bedroom where he often was, they went up to see him. They found him in his chair. He had passed away during the night peacefully in his sleep. But what astounded them was the sight of my Great Aunt, a woman who hadn't moved, had to be kept and hadn't interacted with anyone for seven years, sitting up-right in her bed.

They contacted their doctor, and the necessaries were dealt with regarding my Great Uncle. The family then passed their attentions to my Great Aunt and laid her back down in her bed. Later that afternoon, she too passed away.

It's a sad story - one maybe a little too sad for a Valentine's Day - but to me it's special. It shows the strength of love that these two people shared, something you rarely see these days, and I always imagine that my Great Aunt, even after all the strokes she suffered, refused to leave without her husband - and then the day he died, after seven years, she went too. She had waited for him. Theirs was a love that two people shared for nigh on 60 years. They lived their lives side by side, and when that final day came, despite the odds, they went together.

To me, that's love...

Saturday 11 February 2012

Pic of the Week . . . Something Chillingly Different

A week ago we woke up to a white scenery. It snowed. We rarely get snow here, and when we do it provides a day or two of entertainment and then turns into a horrible slush and an annoyance before disappearing. It never lasts, but this lot has stayed all week. Because the weather is like this, it also affected our phone lines which rendered me internet-less for the entire day yesterday.

SNOW DAY!!!! YAY!!!!

And seeing as I couldn't work I thought I'd see if I could reacquaint myself with my creativity. Low and behold I found my muse. He was playing out in the snow. After freezing my nubbins off and trying a bit of gentle persuasion - gentle persuasion that soon turned into an argument and a little bit of a snow ball fight - I finally got him in, thawed and put him to work. This was under the condition that I make him a cup of tea and provide him biscuits to dunk, though. This was easily arranged.

After, we managed to write just under 5,000 words to my WIP. I sported a big grin. I haven't actually worked on this story since August last year when I put it aside to write Son of Jack. I was feeling very pleased.

So, a day late but better late than never: Pic of the Week. Something different today. I thought instead of a piece of artwork and because of all this snow, I'll choose something with a chilling difference. Snow Sculptures! These are amazing, and I have to say my favourite pic is the last one. The detail that's gone into it is phenomenal...

Enjoy, and those with cold weather, wrap up warm!

Ha ha haaaa.... :)

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Wanted: Dead or Alive . . .

I've been duped! Duped big time stylie!!!

After finishing Son of Jack I wrote a series of short ghost stories and then decided that I could happily have a little break from writing - only for a week or so. I figured that now I didn't have any deadlines to contend with I could put my feet up for a bit. I started to draw, then that idea got a bit old; read some and then became a member of LoveFilm. I could stream and watch films instantly.

After watching god-knows how many films, I got back into the ye old faithful series of True Blood. Seeing as I'm not one to sit down religiously at a set time every week to watch a series on TV, I got the DVD, but I'm a skin-flint. I only had season one on DVD and thought I'd wait until the price dropped before buying the rest. So, after watching season one I had to get the second season. Now I've watched every episode I find myself in a rut. What am I to do now? I'm at a loss. I've ordered season three but it won't be here for at least a week. What am I going to do in between times???

Then I remembered that I'm actually a writer!!! How could I have forgotten? And then it dawned on me.

Yep, I've been duped. My muse enjoyed his little break and obviously doesn't want to come back without a fight. He's been quite happy sitting down, watching TV and becoming the stereotypical couch potato. Now I want to put him back to work, he's up'ed and made a run for it. I've tried, I've fought, and I managed to write the opening chapter of the vampire story that I had in mind, but then he got the upper hand of the fight. I'm not quite sure where he is now. He's hiding and could be anywhere. But I know he's still in the house. I hear him creeping around the shadows at night; I know he's playing games with me; I feel him peaking over my shoulder when I'm reading through previous work, and as soon as I put finger to keyboard he sniggers at me and runs off.

By allowing him this little break, I've been too soft on him and now he's running riot and doing as he pleases. I need to gain control of him! I need to put him back to work and that means discipline! He's not going to like it, but once he's under control again, everything should be fine and he'll see it's for his own good. You have to be cruel to be kind.

So, if anyone sees an unaccompanied muse wandering around, no doubt he's mine. He's Wanted: Dead or Alive. You know how to contact me if he's sighted and your cooperation is very much appreciated.

Thank you.

Friday 3 February 2012

Pic of the Week . . . La Sera

Before I start, I completely forgot last blog to tell you all that I've been interviewed by a fellow blogger. I was planning to let you know in my previous post but ended up rambling so much that I forgot. So my thanks and apologies to Nephy. Here's the link to her interview.

I'm still going to stick with the subject of Vampires this week as I'm still feeling puzzled why New Orleans plays an important role in the modern Vamp world. I'm blaming all this on Anne Rice, of course.

Anyway, I thought I'd deviate somewhat to the folklore of vampires - the REAL vampires. These date back to medieval Europe. People were paranoid back then. They didn't understand the sciences and believed that everything happened for a reason. If crops failed they blamed the last dead. If someone fell ill, they blamed the last dead. They believed that they rose after death to cause pain and suffering to others. This often resulted in them being dug up.

Back then, a horrible fact, a lot of people were buried alive. Medical knowledge wasn't available to many, and those who were mistaken to be dead often woke to find themselves in coffins. This has been proven by scratch marks found on the coffin's lid, caused by frantic clawing (something that often damaged the ends of the fingers too) and by remains discovered in odd positions where they had moved. If this was found hundreds of years before the only explanation would be Vampire. People often went to great lengths to stop the undead from rising. One was to stake them in their coffin, pinning them down to prevent them rising; another was to place a wire (or substitute) across their neck so that if they were to rise they would instantly decapitate themselves.

Another was to place a rock in the mouth of the dead. This was supposed to quench the vampire's thirst. I happened to fall upon a random blog post that explained a visit to Venice and the island of Poveglia which is over-run with decaying buildings and legends of ghosts and ghouls. Mass graves have been discovered on the island dating back to the days when the plague was in full fury.

It wasn't uncommon for mass graves back then to be reopened for new bodies, and when this happened, previous bodies were often found bloated, still full of blood and a hole in their covering shroud by their mouth. Instantly it was believed they were vampires who were eating at the material, when in fact it was normal decomposition and bacteria in the mouth that ate at the material. But still many remains were discovered with rocks placed in their mouths.

The legend of vampires have been with us for centuries, but it wasn't until the days of Bram Stoker that vampires were born into the world of fiction. No longer do we believe that things happen because of the last dead; no longer do we place rocks in the mouths of those we believe will rise again in a bid to quench their thirst. We are now a society that acknowledges the sciences, that understands how biology works, and that believe vampires do not exist.

But they do exist. Writers throughout the decades have ensured that - and they remain to be dark, mysterious, dangerous and often romantic beings thriving in the world of fiction.

So, this week's Pic of the Week is by an artist called La Sera. This piece is called 'Vampire Bride', and the one thing that struck me about this piece is the attention to detail given to the back ground. I thought it stunning and definitely eye-catching.

So, until next week. Enjoy.