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.