Wow, it’s really Christmas! It’s hard to believe!
We both hope everyone has a safe, happy holiday and New Year! Don’t forget to eat lots, have fun and relax 🙂
Oh and don’t forget the Doctor and Sherlock over the holidays!
Hi Everybody! Hope you are all set for Christmas (not like Latimer running around like a headless chicken for last minute buys! She lives on the edge!).
This weekend (21st Dec to 23rd Dec 12 midnight GMT) we are giving our own Christmas pressie (Legend Unleashed) for free!
Temperance is satisfied with her ordinary life. Dealing with her eccentric, childlike parents is all the excitement she needs. That changes when Alastair Byron returns home.
After a failed matchmaking attempt by her father, sparks fly between her and Alastair-just not the good kind.
They are forced together though, when they are implicated in a grisly murder. Their search for the truth leads them to a secret world beneath Carwick, filled with werewolves, wizards and other magical faey.
However, uncovering the truth is far more dangerous than they’d ever imagined.
There are secrets within secrets.
Even Alastair may be more than he seems…
“……She kept her eyes pinned on Alastair’s back. He flitted through the trees untouched, a dark shadow she could barely see. She was grateful for the light the moon gave. She ducked, trying to mirror his movements only to trip into the bushes. It was almost like he was prowling through the forest, not running away. That’s what she was doing.
Every few minutes he snatched up her arm and veered to the side, obeying some invisible sign. He’d drop his hold on her as soon as he could and rush forward.
When they breached the edge of the forest, she gave a haggard gasp of relief. The snarls around them died away. Her harsh breathing filled her ears. She twisted around in a circle. A ring of trees hemmed them in. They hadn’t left the woods. She took a shuddering gulp of cold air. They’d been herded into a clearing….”
Please let your friends know too!
We’d love to know what everyone thinks of the book 🙂
Latimer: And so it begins… Christmas shopping… the last ride of the Rohirrim…
Okay, that might (might) be an exaggeration! But I saw this funny post on Tumblr and it sort of fit:
It’s Christmas, you have one of two feelings:
I’m not totally one way or the other, but it feels like this year, Christmas sneaked up on me – then knocked me out with a sledgehammer.
As I stumbled around half-dead for three weeks, I now find myself madly shopping in a delirium of, sweat, confusion and panic, blind panic!
Over the past few years I’ve found myself buying children’s Christmas presents for nieces and nephews. The last time I had been in a toy shop was to… well, be the one who people were buying presents for! I was the last child I knew!
Now, I have five nieces and two nephews to be buying presents for!
And I panicked. When I stepped into the big toy shop to do my ‘buy, buy, buy SOMETHING… ANYTHING’ Christmas shop last weekend, I faltered. I got confused; really confused.
I reverted back in time. I stood staring at the Sylvanian Families, laughing; “Aww, still as expensive as ever… oh! The Badger Family, I remember you!”
I was a child again. I forgot why I’d come to the shop.
I started looking at all the new dolls, thinking they were cool. Asking myself if a three year old could handle the awesomeness of gothic dolls based on monsters (no, thankfully I came to my senses on that one).
I bought myself some glitter glue; which I needed for making my Christmas present tags for the kids, but it was weird because, I’ve not had glitter glue since I was a kid!
Thankfully I did manage to leave the toy shop without going too crazy.
Although my last giddy thought as I left was; “I have money now… I could buy things if I wanted…I could buy the Sylvanian Families cottage/barge/windmill! Oh the POWER!”
I pray the power of the toy shop will not have grown stronger by next Christmas!
Latimer: Somehow I’ve found myself on an indie odyssey through the internet recently, stumbling over people making really amazing art, from conception to end-product. As Ridley and I are indie writers ourselves, it’s always great to see what other indie people are up to around the web!
There are some amazing artists out there, doing really cool innovative things. The invention of Kickstarter also means that more and more people are finding ways of getting their ideas out to bigger audiences. It’s really inspiring and I’ve stumbled across some great finds as I’ve wandered and bounced around the wide-open spaces of web-land!
Here are a few of my new, sparkly treasures!
Podcast: Welcome To Night Vale (created by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor and voiced by Cecil Baldwin), this really cool podcast about a fictional town somewhere in America, where strange things are happening, almost always… they have hooded figures, mysterious dog parks, vanishing interns… it’s all very random, but brilliantly random!
Webcomic: Ava’s Demon – oh wow, this webcomic by Michelle Czajkowski, is just fantastic! It is semi-mixed media, in that for each chapter, there are a number of beautiful single panels, and then the very last part of the chapter is a short animation. The story is set in outer-space and on different planets, but it also has this cool fantasy feel to it. It focus’ on a girl called Ava who is possessed by a demon with a mysterious/bloody past.
The artwork is beautiful and after running this really successful Kickstarted campaign, the artist now has the money to update the comic twice weekly and add lots more fun stuff! (Currently the comic is updated every Thursday! Check it out! It’s great!)
Webcartoon: Bee and PuppyCat, a really cool webcartoon. Bee has been fired and as she walks home, a puppy-cat falls out of the sky. This is so brilliant, hilarious and just… it’s so strange that it draws you in and you are hooked wondering – what on earth is going on?
The artist and creator of Bee and PuppyCat (Natasha Allegri) works on Adventure Time (she created the female/genderbender version of Finn and Jake – Fionna and Cake!). And Frederator Studios, the indie studio that makes Bee and PuppyCat (and the other shows on the channel), also made Adventure Time (so there are similarities). I’ve never watched Adventure Time, but I feel like I should now!
Currently Bee and PuppyCat is only one episode, but after a Kickstarter campaign she got enough money to make a series! Not sure when it will be out, but I’ll be subscribing to keep track!
Webcartoon: Bravest Warriors (by Pendleton Ward, creator of Adventure Time), this is also on the same channel (Cartoon Hangover) as Bee and PuppyCat and made by the same people. It’s actually really, really funny. I love the humour in these cartoons, it’s so unbelievably random and quirky!
I can’t wait for the next find! There are some amazing people, doing really cool things out there 🙂
Latimer: I love watching TV series and movies in other languages. It really immerses you in the story and gives you a sense of that culture.
Having spent so much time watching anime and Asian dramas, I’m used to subtitles. Once you get into the swing of reading them, it becomes like second nature and it doesn’t distract you.
I usually have to go looking for the subtitled dramas or movies, but this week, one found me!
On Irish television I happened across the finale of a German TV miniseries called ‘Generation War’ (in German it’s called ‘Our Mothers, Our Fathers’).
The series is a gritty Second World War series about 5 friends in Germany and their experiences during the war. It’s full of heart-wrenching moments (moments where you are shaking your head wondering how these things happen), and moments where you are screaming for one thing – just one thing to work out for someone…!
Watching this series reminded me of a few of the great foreign language series and movies I’d seen over the years. It resulted in me taking a little trip down memory lane.
This is quite simple a gorgeous, eerie movie; it has that supernatural gothic, dark element that I like. It also has this ambiguous feel to it; is the girl dreaming all this fantastical stuff, or is it real? Full of fairies and demonic creatures – Pan is one scary fawn it must be said! – this is one of those movies I could watch again and again. I still will randomly start humming that theme tune (epic)!
About a true event during the First World War where during Christmas time at the front there was a brief ceasefire, where all the men on all sides came together to celebrate Christmas. It’s in French, German and English. A very sad, but inspiring story.
Moving on from war, to romance… yeah, bit of a drop from drama to mindless fun…
A Korean drama that follows a girl who finds out she’s related to the defunct Korean monarchy. The story is about how a wealthy group in Korea want to re-instate the monarch with her as the Princess. Okay, it follows the typical girly love story, but – hey, that’s soul food to a fan-girl! It’s a fun series!
Hana Yori Dango
Ah, this might well be our (Ridley and I) most favourite Japanese series! As a result of watching this series, Ridley and I knew all about the actor that plays the leading man – Matsumoto Jun (who’s in a band called ARASHI :)). And so, when we were in Tokyo and we saw some Japanese girls holding up a sign which said in English – ‘Foreigners, do you know who are ARASHI?’
Well, Ridley and I looked at each other, ‘Shall we?’.
And so we sidled up to the girls and said; ‘We know of ARASHI’. Then the girls asked us how; Ridley beamed, ‘Hana Yori Dango’. Then all of us, across language barriers smiled and started laughing (ah, fan-girls unite!).
A Norwegian film about… a Troll Hunter. I now have a greater respect for Norwegian folklore about trolls and love saying the Norwegian word for bear (bjørn)!
And finally… Ros na Rún
Okay, this is not technically ‘foreign’ language – it’s Irish – but it is subtitled (sometimes!)!
We have an Irish Language TV channel here called, Teilifís na Gaeilge (TnaG) (basically Irish TV).
When we were getting ready to do our ‘Irish oral and aural exams’ in school, our teacher made us watch Ros na Rún without the subtitles to practice. While I didn’t get the nuances of what was going on, I thought at the time that this was a great series (probably because there was a scandal involving a cute guy and a baby he may or may not have been the father of!).
Stephen Fry also did a cameo in it once (those two auld lads have been in the series for YEARS… and yet, they have not aged).
Plus Ros na Rún also had a cross-over with Cold Case (sort’a)!
“I told you I don’t understand English” – Daniel
“Where is this woman? Did you murder her?” – Lieutenant Stillman
“Do you understand now Daniel?” – Detective Rush
Yup, I think this post has made me want to re-watch some things! I do like me some subtitled stuff 🙂
I wonder what else is going on around the world that I should look into! Suggestions very welcome!
Latimer: I’m not a sporty person in the slightest, but I think I had a weirdly profound experience at a rugby match last weekend.
Thinking back on it now, I’m feel like – ‘wow, I learned so much – about winning… about losing, and sportsmanship! Yet, I’m kind of freaking myself out about how philosophical I got about it!’ – let me take you on a journey of my weird thought process as I watched Ireland face down the mighty All Blacks!
The All Blacks are the national rugby team of New Zealand… and considered the best team in the world. I was overjoyed to get tickets to this match. And I couldn’t wait to see the All Blacks do the Haka live! (it’s an amazing Maori tribal display they do before all their matches – it’s spine-chilling – here is the one displayed at the Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand)
The atmosphere at the match was electric.
I’m not a person that gets invested in sports (hardly ever) – I don’t jump up on my feet screaming until I’m hoarse –
I thought I would be like this:
But I was actually like this:
I felt so swept up in the emotion of being proud of the Irish team on the pitch.
But okay, in the end, even though we ALMOST won, Ireland lost. And so it goes – in sport, it doesn’t always work out that the team that deserves to win, actually wins. Here’s where I learn about the bitter reality of losing.
And Ireland has NEVER, ever, beaten the All Blacks – nope, not once. This match we came the closest we ever had before – it was our best chance, we ALMOST had it.
The clock had ticked right down to the end… we were winning (22 to 17) when the game entered it’s final play! Then BOOM – swift and sleek, like a giant panther over the line, the All Blacks scored a TRY! Now, we were even, 22 a piece… Then they converted a kick and bang, it was all over for us – All Blacks won 24 to 22.
We came so close and we lost.
It made me sad, sure, but (this is where I learned about the nature of sports and sportsmanship, and got kind of zen about the whole experience) – the whole experience, coming that close to winning something, having tried so very hard – it’s life isn’t it?
I never thought I’d say this, but sports is like an analogy for life (come with me on this) – you play the game, you win or you don’t, but you keep trying and that’s the key. It’s not about accepting that you lost, it’s about believing that you’ll win next time.
Rob Kearney, one of the Irish players said that the game isn’t over until the very last moment. You need to keep your head in the game. You need to keep focus until the absolute end – because if you don’t you can lose in a split second (as we had).
In a way that’s a good thing – it means that nothing is done, hopeless or final, until the very, very, very last moment. Someday Ireland will be the ones that swoop in at the very last breath and win – we all have our day!
And, even though it still hurts me to think about how we almost won (it honestly, bizarrely squeezes my heart a little) – I think the way people in sports handle defeat is something to be admired!
Thank you for teaching me a valuable lesson!
Latimer: On deviantart I’ve seen people do this really fun ‘tag’ where they draw the contents of their handbags. I thought it would be fun to do the written version of that.
Let’s start with the cruddy bag itself.
Okay, I don’t actually have a handbag per say – I have a Ouicksilver carry ‘parcel’, the size of a trade-paperback book. I have spent the better half of ten years with a backpack – I think I’ll always have one (my laptop will go with me to the grave basically!), and god it’s hard to wear a proper handbag when you’re lugging a backpack around! For me – unfortunately, because I kind of hate it – the Quicksilver bag just kind of works.
So in the handbag department, I am very unfashionable. But I need it, for the carrying of the essentials!
First – the kindle, it goes everywhere with me. I do a lot of commuting so I need stuff to read and the kindle is just so handy. When I got it first I was dubious, but god, it’s a great thing (and it hasn’t curbed my paperback buying!).
Keys – well I have so many keys (for getting into secret places!) and swipe cards – have you noticed how many people have swipe cards these days? They make me feel all important and stuff (but not when I forget them and get locked out of the lab!).
Lip balms, several, because I have dry lips – yup! Burt’s Bees hand cream that smells like bake well tarts – really, really almond-y, it makes people around me sick or exclaim; ‘Oh what’s that lovely smell!’(It’s so powerful I’m afraid to use it on public transport!)
My glasses, because I’m blind without them!
Train tickets and money for the bus – exact change because I can’t bear the thought of Dublin Bus getting any more money off me than they should! I’m really, really anal about this – I will hand in a fist of coppers with my head held high, staring down any would-be retorts (when they come, I glare like a mo-fo!)
Wallet and separate card case (you open it and it fans out all your cards) – I thought the card case would be a good buy, you know? That it would lessen the stress of taking cards out of my wallet (which is very annoying and hard sometimes) – but actually it just means I now have an extra wallet and my actual wallet is severely under used… STUPID Latimer!!
Phone – I check my bag non-stop before I leave my house to make sure I have my phone, but… the thing I would really HATE to leave without is…
This item – I have been surgically attached to this since I bought it, in Tokyo (hell yeah! Back when the euro was actual currency, boom, boom) in 2008 – it is an iTouch and 16G. It has done me proud all these years.
It has all my random playlists from down through the years (Disney, J-Pop/K-Pop/C/T-pop, anime playlist) and a ton of indie albums. And, hours and hours, worth of Ricky Gervais’ podcasts and old XFM radio shows; and Smodcast podcasts. I really LOVE listening to podcasts (if you are looking for cheeky laughs, I love Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier’s Smodcast!). Also a really interesting podcast that is SO worth a listen is Welcome to Night Vale (which I happened across on Tumblr!).
Because the iPod is my major essential item I thought I play this: iPod song game (you put your iPod on shuffle and answer these questions!)
Will I get far in life?
Down to Earth – Wall-E… I think this is pretty positive? I think… yup.
What is the best thing about me?
Walking on a Dream – Empire of the Sun… I like this; ‘never looking down, I’m just in awe of what’s in front of me’ – not always the case, but yeah, I think that’s sometimes true!
How does the world see me?
Below my feet – Mumford and Sons… I love this song, but I don’t know – does this sound good?!
What is good advice?
My Pace – Sun Set Swish… okay, this is in Japanese, but I love this song so much… Okay I had to look this up, but this IS good advice!!
“Time passes, it’s left behind, you mustn’t forget my feelings of impatience, they say that reckless defiance is useless in the end, you mustn’t get up – Offense! Raise your voice in painful times, Offense! Go in the direction that you’re aiming for, I’m not afraid of the big wall, standing tall, I won’t lose my way in this life without answer, keep my pace!”
Where will I live?
Planet of the Apes… Oh no…. Well I already do, crumbs, it means I don’t get to go off world!! This is witchcraft!!
What will my dying words be?
The Pact (I’ll be your fever) – The Villagers… okay, so… is that a warning? ‘This fever that is killing me… it’s gonna get you, now goodbye – the pact, I’ll be your fever!’
Handbag essentials… they keep you sane during the day…. right :)?
(Aside: Ridley and I are currently working hard getting the follow up to Legend Unleashed, ready for send off to the editors! Can’t wait to show everyone!)
Latimer: Recently I did a post about my reading-list, and how it’s never-ending.
The list keeps getting diverted, or side-tracked. During Halloween, I came across a free download of Bram Stoker’s Dracula on amazon. I had never read it, so I put Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Private Life aside (again) to read something else (I feel like I’ll never finish that book, even though it’s so good!).
I spent about a week reading Dracula. I was so taken with the story that for a while all I could see was Stoker and vampires. Every time I passed Kildare Street, on the way to work in Dublin, I would look up transfixed as the bus zipped past Stoker’s house. It looks odd – the door is very small, and painted a faint lilac colour; there doesn’t seem to be anything inside; the windows are small and dark, covered by white shutters… what goes on inside that strange little house?!
Well, after reading Dracula, I was spun off into Wuthering Heights – a book I often return to from time-to-time, but have mixed feelings about. I’m a hopeless romantic, but I never could take to the Heathcliff and Cathy romance. They aren’t easy characters to like and because I can’t like them, I don’t care much about their feelings.
But, if I don’t like them, why do I always sneak back to the moors?
Ah, well…! That would be for the half-story of Catherine Linton and Hareton Earnshaw!
The growth of that sweet little relationship is so lovely. She’s a spoilt princess, but she has a heart. And Hareton – ! He is such a wonderful character, he makes my heart bled that boy. He was the ‘most wronged’ but the one with the greatest capacity for forgiveness and love (the hero of the story).
When I finish the book, I always put it aside wishing that there was more about Catherine and Hareton (always). I feel so bereft for being denied that story… I know the book isn’t supposed to be about them, and probably the only reason their story exists in the story at all is to contrast the destructive nature of Cathy and Heathcliff’s relationship.
But, oh, I know Emily Brontë could have written that beautiful book. Even though Wuthering Heights has always been stuck in my head, I think the story of the spoilt princess and the gruff uneducated farm boy, wronged by his adopted father and scorned by everyone, would have been one of my favourite books!
Is it okay for me to mourn that non-existent story :(?
Does anyone else have a half-story that they wished was the main story?
Latimer: Ah Halloween, it came and went and I am about half a stone heavier as a result (damn Trick r’ Treat leftovers!).
As it was Halloween season I had to watch ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’.
I love it, but it honestly scares me. Like, if I ended up in Halloween Town, with Dr Finkelstein, I’d start shrieking, smack him over the head with a gravestone and run, like my life depended on it (which it probably does at this point) to the forest and the Christmas Town door.
I like Jack and Sally, even the Mayor (just about), but not the Doctor… no…
The thing is, as I watched (mumbling to myself, ‘oh the horror!’), I started to think, as I always do, that the Doctor isn’t actually a bad person. He just looks creepy… So yeah, it’s a moral (don’t judge people) – ah the moral, it’s a Disney thing isn’t it?
I don’t think there are many people in the world who haven’t been shaped by Disney movies in some way. Every generation has their Disney’s.
I come from the Disney Renaissance, animation wise – to me, that’s The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast (my fave), The Lion King (such a big deal at the time my God!) and Toy Story (the first full-length CGI movie!), Aladdin and Mulan (LOVE Mulan, I entered a competition for a giant Mushu teddy – I lost but I’ve always wondered about that lucky sod who won it).
Way back when, I used to get these magazines every week, called Disney and Me.
Yup. And I never read them, nope, just looked at the cartoons and tried to draw them. Funny thing, I wasn’t a big reader in my childhood… The extent of my reading?
“I’m going on adventure today!” I’d say, packing up the essentials – bread for the eating, dock-leaves for potential nettle stings and an illustrated copy of Alice in Wonderland.
I’d precede to the climb the trees around my estate and think to myself, “Today, I will read this book”.
It was a big book at the time. And… 5 minutes later, “Yup bored now.” How many pages did I read? None, ha.
Then I’d head to my friend’s house and watch, watch, and re-watch, her VHS copy of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. She hated me for that.
My mother’s friend had a copy of Beauty and the Beast that I used to borrow and watch… I spent a whole weekend watching it once and I cried when I had to give it back (seriously).
But, even when I was young, I felt there was one MAJOR flaw in this movie… The Prince… He just isn’t a good-looking man! My heart always dropped a little in disappointment! (It still does…!)
This is a good looking ‘prince’….
Anyways, when The Lion King came out, in 1994, I didn’t get to go to the cinema to see it. Back then no one was taking child-me to the cinema. I’d only been once in my life at that point – to see Jurassic Park.
Luckily, a girl in my class in school, her father worked overseas and he got a pirated copy of The Lion King (ohh… hehe). And the teacher said we could watch it! We were astounded (now that I think of it, the teacher probably just wanted to see it too – I know now that’s what I’d do!).
With the blinds pulled down in our classroom, we all got to watch the wonder of The Lion King. I was also madly in love with Jonathon-Taylor Thomas (voice of Simba) at this point, so it was the best movie I ever saw in my life at the time.
There was a girl in my class (we’ll call her Sara) – she was one of my art rivals (Everyone had one. But she never viewed me as her rival – ah ha, oh that’s cold!). Sara was the best at drawing Disney-style animals. And after The Lion King she was like a celebrity; “Draw a Simba on my desk!” everyone would squeal.
A years later, I did manage go to the cinema to see Toy Story. I have very vivid memories of standing in line, being so excited to see this movie. I think that’s why I cried so badly at the end of Toy Story 3 – I was finally saying goodbye to them after 18 years! It was pretty heart-breaking…. The scene where Andy plays with the toys for the last time! Argh, I… I just can’t….
Disney’s stamped all over my memories.
There came a point during growing up that I threw away the Disney cloak. That’s for kids, I thought, and I am a child no more! (ha, yup, that did NOT last)
The Disney Renaissance had ended anyways. But, then, it entered a revival era! The age of the CGI animated movies (Pixar) came into being and I was pulled back in!
By about Finding Nemo I was back on the Disney bandwagon. My counterparts on the wagon, who had stayed the course, eyed me with disdain; “We stayed true!”
The Incredibles is a brilliant movie.Tangled? Oh god, love it. WALL-E – how gorgeous is that movie?
Brave, Brave… yup… Disney’s back in my heart.
And now I’m waiting hopefully for Frozen.
Really looking forward to this! I’ve even starting doing some fan-art – take that Sara it only took… err a few (a lot) years! Ah, ha…
All those memories… Disney really is King of Childhood Dreams…
Everyone has a Disney favourite! Right :)?
(When we were in Tokyo a while back, we stumbled across the Disney store! It also brought back a lot of childhood memories!)