Category Archives: Blogging

Lost!

For some reason or another, I googled Ian Somerhalder today (to be honest, does one need a reason?). You know, Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries. To my surprise, I found out that he was a character in the series Lost. He played the character Boone Carlyle and died in the twentieth episode due to his injuries from being crushed inside a falling plane.

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Now, I didn’t watch all the seasons of Lost. I think I managed to get to the end of season two, by which time I was fed up with the non-endings and unrealistic happenings. The only reason I watched season two was because I wanted to know what was in the hatch. Maybe, deep down, I was no longer interested because Ian Somerhalder was no longer in it.

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My kids don’t know the series Lost, they are too young. I think I need to watch season one again with them. You know, because it’s good for their all-round knowledge 🙂 .

It’s the Season of the Witch

Yesterday, I had to play the Wicked Witch of the West, a mother’s prerogative. We booked tickets to see the second Kingsmen movie. As they’re working on the freeway to go around Aberdeen, we were guided along a detour that almost got us to Aberdeen via Inverness, but we managed to get there just in time. I got my phone out and showed the lady the Q-code. “Okay,” she says after scanning it, “Can I see some IDs please.”

Now you must know that we are regular visitors at the cinema. Not that I’ve seen this particular lady before, but we are visiting this place about twice a month.  Never before have we been asked for IDs. I have, however, since my kids turned fifteen, told them to bring IDs to the cinema. We buy them student tickets and to see a 15-rated movie they need proof of studentship and being older than fifteen.

I turned to my children and they are both shaking their heads. They didn’t bring their IDs. The woman said we couldn’t go in without proof they were students and older than fifteen. I browsed my whole photo gallery on my phone, but she wouldn’t accept any photo of my kids in school uniform. Of course, I didn’t have any proof of their age either. My son looks like he could be eighteen and my daughter could pass for twelve (they are twins nevertheless).

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I ‘lost the plot’ and reacted very badly, cursing at anybody who tried to get my attention. We got a refund and drove back again. I didn’t speak a word the whole trip. I even refused a chocolate as a peace offer and the kids know it’s bad when their mother refuses to eat chocolate. My husband didn’t get it. He even tried to soothe me. I was laughing on the inside but put up a wicked face until the end. When we got home I gave everybody a hug and told them to never to forget their IDs again. We then watched the first Kingsmen movie from the comfort of our home instead.

Sometimes, you just have to let your kids know they screwed up big time for them to remember not to make that mistake twice 🙂 .

 

Images from NMgnCP.com

Nostalgia

In case you’ve been wondering what happened to my posts these last few days; I’ve been visiting my family in Holland. My sister was coming over from Curacao and my nephew had graduated and was embarking on a three-month-long trip, so it was good to be there when the family got together as these gatherings are rare happenings. I left Monday morning and returned this Thursday morning. It was a flash-visit and also a very late decision. Hence I was traveling on my own, which was a shame, but it was great to catch up with everybody. Tuesday, my Mom and I took a short trip through memory lane. We walked past my old primary school. It was being rebuilt and the whole terrain was different. We continued to the place where my Mom’s auntie used to live, to the place she was born, and to the place her Nana used to live. We walked past shops I used to do the grocery shopping as a child. Some of them were still shops but no longer the shops I visited. 20171017_171551When my Mom showed me where her Nana lived, a memory popped up in my mind. It was of an old woman in black clothing (including a very big, black skirt), sitting in the middle of a small, dark room. My Mom said that her living room was indeed a very dark one and that she did wear black clothing (as her husband had died years before). The funny thing is that I must have been only one-and-a-half to remember this as she died when I was about that age and there are no photos of her (as far as I know). I also thought there were stairs in the room, but Mom said this was untrue. My Nana, Mom’s Mom, did have stairs in her little apartment and I must have mixed up the two houses in my memory. Mom also said that whenever we passed her Nana’s home, I, as a toddler, would always point to her Nana’s house and say ‘Opoe, Opoe,’ which is the Dutch word for Nana. That, I can’t remember.20171017_170644.jpgAs we walked through memory lane, I thought about how familiar it all looked. The streets, the buildings, their style. The fact I had spent my youth here, ran around, had fun, did some mischief, it all had an impact on me. That time is gone. It will never come back. Only in my memory of course. Where I live now, my kids don’t run around in the street. They don’t visit friends on their own. I have to drive them everywhere. They will never enjoy the fun we had when hanging around in the neighborhood, meeting other kids, secretly setting fires, pulling people’s doorbells, and other kinds of naughty stuff. I felt sad, but I am so glad I have those memories. They will always make me feel good. Sad as well, but a good type of sad.

 

 

 

Twisted50 Vol.1 & Twisted’s Evil Little Sister

It’s almost Halloween and you may have been invited to a Halloween party. Not sure what to bring the host as a gift? Why not a creepy one?

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Twisted50 is a compilation of 50 contemporary horror stories.

‘A great mix of truly twisted stories to suit all horror tastes, from the psychological frighteners to the stomach-churning gore fests. Each tale brings a modern spin on horror, each author leaves their own unique imprint in your mind. It’s hard to pick a favorite as there are so many great ones to choose from.’

Mark Renshaw

Or, if you’re invited to your sister’s party, why not give Twisted’s Evil Little Sister?

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‘This second anthology from Twisted50 again showcases more wonderful writing from different writers. The range of stories – style, subject matter, and tone – is excellent; there are ‘tales of the unexpected’ moments; moments which pack an emotional punch; horror presented as something personal; there are stomach-churning moments and moments of dread. And so it goes on… In a busy world, these stories provide a quick ‘reading fix’. You’ll find, with the range of stories, there is something exhilarating, dreadful, unexpected and absorbing to tickle your horror fancy.’

M. Thomas

Both books are available here.

 

Let the Horror Begin!

It’s Friday the 13th and what better time to get you into the Halloween mood? I’ve gathered some websites for you with horror movies for you to watch until the end of the month. Enjoy!

Movie Insider lists movies for you to watch, at least one for every day

Paste has a list with 70 best horror movies this month on Netflix

Horrorfreak News has trailers of new horror movie releases this month

Movieweb actually put a My Little Pony movie on the list. How wicked! 🙂

 

How to begin writing a novel

Yesterday, I had a meeting with the local Writers Club again. One of our new members wants to start a book but doesn’t know where to begin. When I  myself decided to write, I just started. The first scene I wrote happened in the middle of the story (which I only discovered later), but this doesn’t work for everyone (and I wouldn’t suggest it either). Fortunately, I recently read about the snowflake method and could recommend it.

The Snowflake Method of Writing

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With this method, you start with one sentence which depicts the core of your story. In the next step, you expand that one sentence into a paragraph, outlining what happens in your story. Setup, major disasters, resolution. Next, you do this for each of your characters. If you don’t have a development for your characters during your story, your readers will find your characters flat and can’t connect with them which you don’t want. It also will give you more to write about as the direction of development for each character won’t always go along the same line, pace, direction. The fourth step is to expand each sentence into a whole paragraph. Next, you will be expanding what you’ve got even further. Once you’ve got the basic storyline, make a chart of the scenes. Each scene will have to depict a development. If there is no development in a scene (good turns bad, ideas change, emotions change), delete it as it is just page filler. You now put in more and more details, until you have a full story. An article in which it is explained in more detail can be found here.

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This is how I sort of began my third book, Killing A Vampire. I know the characters in it, I know what is going to happen, and how it’s going to end (I must admit this took me a while to figure out), but I didn’t know what was going to happen in between the major plot twists. I used Scrivener’s corkboard and note cards to layout the chapters/scenes.

I actually used the word count as a basis. Both my other books are about 72K words, so I wanted my third book to be at least this size. They both have about 60 chapters, so I created 60 note cards. It also meant that each chapter/note card needed to be about 1200 words. Then I started filling in on each card what would happen in that chapter. Sometimes I write more words, sometimes I write less. The good thing about Scrivener is that you can move the cards around as you please. Overal I want to stick to the 1200 words, so readers can read the short chapters while they have a little time to read and not have to cut off their reading while something major is happening.

It’s perhaps not as creative as some ‘on the fly’ writers write, but I’ve been thinking for a long time about this story and, even though I know in advance where the story is going, the how is still created only once I sit down and write. I just don’t have to think about the why and where anymore, which I feel is like a weight off my shoulders.

If you have a different way of starting a novel, let me know. I’m all ears 🙂

PS: Talking about ears, my hearing aids are working fine again after the swimming pool disaster last Monday!

 

How do we stop Sexual Harassment?

The big news at the moment is the Weinstein saga. So many actresses are coming out about being sexually harassed by Weinstein, it’s not funny anymore. It’s never funny, of course; one harassment is already one too many. Unfortunately, in this day and age, it’s still happening. To men and women alike. And people know about it but do nothing. When is it ever going to stop?

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Women think they are safe because they live in a civilized country. Define civilized. Women still earn less than men for the same job, they still are expected to stay at home and raise the children (in most Western countries), and they are still asked sexual favors in return for moving up the ladder career-wise. I don’t think this is civilized. No sir, not at all.

I’ve had this happening to me first hand. I’ve had a boss who thought he could get away with it (and unfortunately he did as I decided to resign). And I’ve been put down by a film director because I was a woman (I think, can’t prove it of course). It sucks when it happens. And worst of all, women (like me) condone it. They keep their mouths shut, afraid of being called a slut, afraid of losing their job, afraid of making an elephant out of a mouse. If there is one thing I like to teach my daughter, it’s that she never ever tolerates this behavior and will always speak up when it happens to her or knows it’s happening to others.

If we want to change men’s attitude to women, it’s up to us women. We’re 50% of the world population after all. We need to speak up. Not afterward, not to other women, but right there and then, to the men doing it. Tell them they are demeaning, that they are cruel, that they are barbaric. Tell them you won’t have it happening, not to you, not to others. Expose them for what they are; sexual predators who are misusing their position. If you keep quiet about it, you risk them doing it to others. Would you want that on your conscience? What if it’s your friend, your sister, or your daughter? Would you keep quiet then?

Monday Moaning

I know, it’s Tuesday, but yesterday was such a horrible day that I thought I’d tell you about it. As mentioned yesterday, my day started with a whole episode of IKEA contact issues.

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Once that was out of the way, I continued the saga that my husband and I were having regarding a proposed visit to the family in Holland over the October school holidays. My sister is over from Curacao and my nephew and his girlfriend are embarking on a three month trip around the world. I thought it was a good time to visit them. The initial idea was to go alone, but then I thought it would be nice for the kids to come along and see their relatives. After all, that was the reason we moved from Australia to Europe. Of course, the prices for air travel soars around this time of year and my husband was very reluctant to part with such an amount of money in return for only three days with the family (and five days of not being able to work on the house). So I made the decision yesterday. Family first. I filled in all the details and was about to enter my bank card number when my husband texted ‘what about the dogs?’ Completely forgot about them. Called the kennel, but they were fully booked already. Bummer. So I booked the trip for myself. As planned in the first place.

Then I thought it would be a good idea to ‘quickly throw out an ad campaign for my first book.’ Wrong. Took me several hours. I thought I’d try the new Canvas option of Facebook. Looked okay, until I wanted to put my images in. Didn’t want to work. the images were accepted, just not displayed. No matter what I tried, different sizes, different format, they would not show. Contacted the helpdesk. They took thirty minutes to respond and by that time I was over it. I decided to go with the one-image ad. I put in my bank details and lo and behold, my computer stalled. I’m still not sure what happened, but the screen remained blank. I probably shouldn’t have done it, but I pressed the ‘back’ button. Big mistake, because now my bank account was blocked. Yay. Fortunately, I could make it work via another route.

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To top the whole Monday disaster day off, I took my son swimming to exercise his ex-broken leg… and forgot to take my hearing aids out. They’re now in front of me on my desk, drying. A continuous reminder of my stupidity. I say drying, insinuating that they’re going to work again, but I’m not sure if they ever will. I haven’t turned them on yet. I’ll keep you posted.

Thank heavens I’m a writer and can breathe easy when I realize my characters (and many other people for that matter) are having a far worse time than I have 🙂

 

 

Header photo by Kari Shea, edited by Jacky Dahlhaus

IKEA; don’t you just hate that you love it…

My husband and I made a trip to the IKEA click & collect store in Aberdeen on Saturday. We were very happy that we finally got an IKEA store up north as we don’t have to drive all the way to Edinburgh now. It is, as mentioned, a ‘click & collect’ store. This means that the display area is extremely minimal and you can’t pick up stuff on the spot; everything needs to be ordered in first. I tried to ‘click’ in order to ‘collect’, but I couldn’t even get to the website for this store. Everytime I was redirected to the Edinburgh store. I tried to call them, but the same thing happened. It was as if this store didn’t exist.

We decided to make the forty-five minutes drive to get there in person. We had some errands to do on the way, so it actually took a bit longer. When we got there, it said on a big poster at the entrance that you could order online. Eyebrows raised. Now I really wanted to know now how to do this. So I contacted a member of staff. He showed us that it was a bit tricky. You needed to place your order without putting in any personal (location) details and on the next page, you would have the option of choosing the click & collect store of Aberdeen.

Happy to know how to now, we ordered the item why we came (a door for the wardrobe), had lunch, and, after buying some Swedish meatballs, sauce, and jam, we went on our merry way again.

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On Sunday, we figured out we needed to order three doors to cover the dryer, washing machine, and cabinet in the laundry. I know, we should’ve known the day before, but I was under the assumption that we were going to have these match the wardrobe doors (as you can’t get wardrobe doors that match laundry doors from IKEA) by a cabinet maker (sometimes communication is lacking in our household). So, I happily opened the website and put my order in the basket. Opening my shopping basket site, I found out that the option available in the store (to order from the click & collect store) didn’t pop up on my site. What did I do wrong?

I called them first thing Monday morning, only to get an answering machine stating that the website was lacking, that they were working on it, and that we won’t be able to order anything online or through a customer service center for the next four days. This means I will need to either go back to the store again (not an option) or wait until I can order my doors and visit the store again after picking up the wardrobe door. And eat Swedish meatballs for dinner another two evenings.

Don’t you just hate that 🙂

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Why vampires would have a population problem

I accidentally came across this article on the Short Sharp Science website. For your convenience, I have pasted the text here. I think the funniest part is the reactions to the article, which can be found on the website. I like Paul W.’s answer: think of bacon!

Enjoy!

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(PS: this graph doesn’t go with the article, but is from the article by The Gospel of Mac and is called ‘On the sustainability of a Vampire Population.’ Also a good read 🙂 )

by Michael Marshall, reporter

Maths blog Punk Rock Operations Research points out a major problem with the notion of vampires, which believers in our bloodsucking cousins would do well to note.

Assuming vampires are effectively immortal, and that they can reproduce by turning normal humans into vampires, their population would explode. So in the imagined worlds in which they exist, what prevents them from over-running the planet?

Colleagues in the New Scientist office suggest that there must be a high death rate caused by Slayers and other natural hazards, balancing out the high “birth” rate or mortals converted by bites. Such a mechanism could be modeled using the classic Lotka-Volterra equations for predator-prey populations. Although, of course, vampires are capable of making prey out of their supposed predators.

However, I think a more plausible explanation is the tendency for vampires to involve themselves in doomed love affairs with slightly dotty young women, causing them to spend centuries mooning around in crypts not getting much done. An extreme case of this was recently documented in a dumb emo teen movie.

This would mean that new vampires were only produced at a very low rate, allowing the population to remain fairly stable.

Empirical evidence to distinguish between those two hypotheses would be welcomed. Or perhaps you can suggest your own theory.

 

Header image: Dark Horse Comics