May 24, 2017

Mrs Rochester's Attic Out Now!



Here's the text from the back cover:

"What can Father Divine do when a nun confesses a disturbing secret?
Bill has always lived in his parent’s basement. Nothing

odd about that... is there?
How can Eleanor bear watching her old love Paul, hidden as she is at the bottom of his garden?
How can Sarah’s suddenly bottomless bag be full of bees?
What can forgotten gods do? Go clubbing obviously.
The stories in this book explore secrets, doomed relationships, and madness, inspired by the sad fate of the first Mrs Rochester in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Deranged and hidden away by her husband, Mrs Rochester haunts the corridors of Thornfield Hall, and eventually destroys it.
The authors were not required to write directly about Mrs Rochester, Jane Eyre or the Brontës, but all the stories had to contain a deep, dark secret, insanity or ill-fated love.
And what a wild mix they came up with. Some of the stories in this book are fantastical and some are realistic. Some are set in the past and others are contemporary. There’s a wide mix of genres. But they all have a hint of the gothic and a tinge of strangeness.

 
Just the thing to read while hidden away in your own attic..."



Interested? You can order the anthology from a bookstore near you or get the kindle or paperback version from amazon, for example. 




May 22, 2017

A Geeky Baby Box for Dad



In Finland, when you're having a baby, the government grants you a baby box full of all kinds of things the baby needs in his or her first year: onesies, a sleeping bag, toys, hygiene products, a snowsuit etc., and the box it comes in can be used as the baby's first bed. You can see the contents of this year's box here. The only problem is, it's still called 'The Maternity Package,' which can make the future daddy feel a bit left out, so I decided to make Hubby a Daddy Box of his very own. 


I repurposed one of the Loot Crate boxes for this project. The note on top (and most of the other baby stuff) was from a webshop called www.mussukat.fi. It says: 'You have been granted a paternity package in the form of a baby box. It has been personally designed for you and executed with love. We hope the box will bring joy to your time with the baby.'


And what did I put inside? A geeky onesie, of course. This one is LOTR themed and has all the meals Hobbits like to enjoy during the day printed on it. 


I also included a polar bear bib scarf, a 'mute button' pacifier, and earplugs, of course!


Some baby toys. I'm partial to owls.


The Baby Owner's Manual: Operating Instructions, Trouble-Shooting
Tips, and Advice on First Year Maintenance by Louis and Joe Borgenicht. (Hey, they have it in English, too!)


Something to mop up all the stuff that keeps coming out of both ends. 

I wanted to add a chocolate cigar, but unfortunately they don't sell those in Finland. Coffee or an energy drink would have fit in quite well too, but I ran out of room after this stuff.

Have you made a Baby Box for your significant other? What did you put inside?












May 16, 2017

Mrs Rochester's Attic Cover Reveal!


Remember that anthology I was talking about before, Mrs Rochester's Attic from Mantle Lane Press? Here's what the cover will look like:



Pretty cool, right? 

I'll be posting details about availability when I get them, but the anthology will be available soon.  





May 15, 2017

Freedom!




Friday was my last day of work for a while. I knew it was coming, of course, but somehow it hasn't really sunk in yet: I don't have to go to work today, I can get up when I want and do what I want, and I'm not bound to anyone else's schedule; pretty cool, actually. I haven't been feeling too great for the last few months and I had some vacation time coming, so I decided to take my summer vacation a bit early this year. Best decision ever, especially now that I'm feeling better (yay for iron supplements!) and I can actually enjoy it.

This is the first time since childhood that I have a whole summer  all to myself. The baby's not due till August, so I plan to take full advantage of the summer months and get as much writing done as possible, because I have a feeling that writing time will be extremely limited in the baby's first year. I'm planning to write new stuff for a few hours in the mornings and do an hour or two of editing in the afternoon, so nothing too strenuous, because pregnancy does take its toll. And I did sign up for that University of Iowa MOOC that's starting this week.

In addition to writing, there's all kinds of baby-related errands to do from finishing the nursery to getting everything we need to keep the kid warm and fed and reasonably happy when it gets here, not to mention doctor's appointments etc. (Who knew babies come with a mountain of stuff? And where do we put all of our stuff to make room for the baby stuff?) I also have to watch what I eat and take time for regular exercise as long as I can. Hopefully spring will finally prevail and the sleet and snow will stop falling before the indoor swimming pools close at the end of May.

But all that can wait until tomorrow. Now I'm going to have some fruit and yogurt and a huge cup of tea and watch some bad TV, because first day of summer vacation!








May 8, 2017

Coffee and Cake: Tiirikkala



For our monthly coffee and cake meetup last week, we chose Tiirikkala, a café/restaurant on the bank of the river Aura, only a few blocks from the center of Turku. I'd never been there before, but I'll definitely go again. In addition to awesome cakes and pastries, Tiirikkala serves delicious, trendy lunches and dinners, including vegetarian fare, and there's live music of Fridays and Saturdays.



Here's what I had. So pretty, and tasted good, too.


Tiirikkala had a nice, relaxed vibe and it would be a great place to hang out with friends or do some writing. I'd definitely recommend it.

Here's the link to their website: http://www.tiirikkala.fi/eng

May 1, 2017

Reading the Classics: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne


Title page for The Scarlet Letter.jpg
Image from wikipedia.org
                                                         
The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 novel about sin, guilt, and judgement in a 17th century Puritan colony, is not an easy read. Hawthorne's attempt at imitating how people (presumably) spoke in the 1600s combined with a very 1800s tendency for long and complicated sentences makes this novel heavy going, not to mention unintentionally humorous at times, especially when little Pearl is speaking, and the plodding plot and heavy-handed imagery don't help things.

The novel tells the story of Hester Prynne, who has an affair and gives birth to an illegitimate daughter, Pearl. Living in Puritan Massachusetts, this doesn't go over well with the society at large, especially as she refuses to divulge the name of the child's father. As punishment, Hester is forced to wear the letter A on her breast as a sign of her crime.

Personally, I didn't find much to like about this novel, but Hester as a character was an exception. I admired her strength and how she got on with things despite being ostracised by society, and the rebellious way she embroidered the scarlet letter so it was almost more an adornment than a symbol of shame. Because of Hester's skill as a seamstress, she was offered work despite being in disgrace, which made it possible for her to support herself and her daughter, just one example of Puritan hypocrisy.

The daughter, Pearl, is continuously referred to as a fairy child and unnatural in some way, and even Hester seems afraid of her a times. A lot of the time Hawthorne uses her to spell out uncomfortable truths, which at times reduces her to more of a symbol than a character. (Not that this happens only with Pearl.)

Of the other characters, the villain of the piece, if you can even call him that, is Hester's long-lost husband who takes the name Roger Chillingworth and swears to discover the father of the child while working as the town physician. The father, the town minister Arthur Dimmesdale, is a weakling who lets Hester suffer alone while his guilt eats at him from the inside.

The novel examines the nature of sin and the injustice of Hester's punishment and questions the rules of the intensely religious Puritan society that wreck the lives of everyone involved. Hester does find a sort of redemption in the end, even if she never quite shrugs off the weight of the scarlet letter, while Dimmesdale's guilt destroys him. In Dimmesdale's case, I doubt even the Puritan legal system would have been harder on him than he was on himself.

Concerning writer tricks, Hawthorne is famous for his use of metaphor in the novel, but I found him quite heavy-handed. Every time he does something particularly clever, he seems to have a need to point it out to the reader in a very unsubtle hey-look-what-I-did-there way. For examples of this, see the bit where he compares Pearl to the roses on the prison wall to the scarlet letter and the scene where the scarlet letter appears in the sky. I did like the use of colour and light and darkness in the novel. For me, this novel also served as a reminder of what not to do: even if you're writing a historical novel, it doesn't mean you need to make the prose so archaic that it takes away from the reader's experience.

So all in all, not exactly the book for me. But hey, I did learn you can use the word "pillory" as a verb!

Classics read: 30/100



 


Apr 24, 2017

5 Very Science Fiction-y Things About Pregnancy

You might have noticed the blog's been a bit quieter than usual lately. There's a reason for that: I'm busy with the next generation. Being pregnant is supremely weird, especially when it's your first time. Sometimes I feel like I woke up in a science fiction (or horror) movie, so here's a list of weird stuff about pregnancy. I'm only about halfway through, so any veteran mommies out there, feel free to add to the list in the comments.

So, here's my list:

1. Cool new superpowers, like a heightened sense of smell and taste. At about six weeks or so I developed Witcher senses. Just like Geralt's, except I doubt he has to step into the bushes to throw up every time he smells coffee. Or maybe Sapkowski just left that part out. As a bonus, most healthy foods start to taste like poison. Well, I guess it's good to expand your palate. (This, thankfully, went away in the second trimester. I doubt you can grow a baby on ice-cream and folic acid supplements alone.)

2. Playing host to a strange little alien that moves around in your tummy. It's weird. The first kicks leave you feeling both elated and supremely creeped out at the same time. And that first ultrasound; It's like something out of Alien.

3. The vivid dreams. Virtual reality has nothing on these. Even though I've mostly been too sick to write, I've got enough material to last me a couple of years.

4. The hormones make you act very strangely, from getting overly emotional over pictures of kittens to eating peculiar things like sun-dried tomatoes with soygurt. (Yummy!) Suddenly your body has a mind of its own and you're no longer in control. I also turned into a morning person overnight. Seriously, I never thought I'd be getting up at 6 a.m. voluntarily. Very Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

5. The rampant paranoia. Your house is suddenly a deathtrap, and you worry about the baby getting eaten by squirrels while sleeping in the stroller and similar totally rational and likely scenarios.

P.S. Don't let these freak you out if you're planning on having kids. There's good stuff too. Mass Effect onesies and Death Star pregnancy shirts, for example.