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Thursday 31 October 2013

Allegories of the Tarot - We are launched!

Allegories of the Tarot Badass Marketing Blog Tour

Get the Allegories of the Tarot Anthology in on Amazon and Smashwords.
Add the Allegories of the Tarot Anthology to your Goodreads to-read shelf!

Swing by the Allegories of the Tarot Facebook page and enter the release-day giveaway of a custom Tarot box--complete with Tarot deck!

Allegories of the Tarot

Who hasn't been fascinated by the mysterious Tarot, writer and reader alike? For centuries, fortune-telling by the Tarot has caught many an imagination, but nothing like what will be presented here.

22 cards... each an individual splinter of the human psyche.

22 writers... honing each splinter into a story of triumph and decay, arrogance and humility.

Stories of the brightest lights and the darkest corners of the weirdest minds.

22 cross-genre worlds.

22 portals into the Universal.

Only one way to get there.

Come with us. Cross the portals. The Universal awaits.

About the book

Once upon a time, there was an editor with a fascination for the Tarot.†She was struck one day by a crazy idea. "Hey," she said. "What if twenty-two writers each wrote a story about the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana of the Tarot and were fashioned into an anthology?"

The idea would not leave her alone.

And thus, the Allegories of the Tarot was born.

Crowdfunded by a campaign on Indiegogo with the help and support of an amazing group of writers, twenty-two stories were crafted around the mysteries of the Tarot. The group includes a Pushcart Prize nominee, a Pulp Ark nominee, a former Bigfoot researcher, a journalist, an award-winning YA author, and a Rhysling Award winner. Professional writers, new talent, and a range of genres boggling the mind:†Horror, Speculative Fiction, Bizarro Fiction, Erotica, Mystery, Humor, Paranormal, Epic Fantasy, Literary, Romance, and Historical Fantasy.

What has emerged is an outstanding collection of fiction, unique and mysterious. Stories that will make you cry, make you laugh, and make you think. Stories that make you feel the touch of the Universe.

Dare to step through the portal to shadowy realms and emotional journeys.

Early readers have fallen in love with the†Allegories of the Tarot

"Allegories of the Tarot Anthology is a magical book. Magic that will keep you turning the pages. There are muses, demons, †psychics,†evil,and more! I shivered, I laughed and I even cried. Magic, I tell you. Magic." -Julie Affleck

"Reviewing an anthology is slightly more difficult than discussing a book or comic because the tone varies from author to author. However, Allegories somehow flowed together as a well-matched whole. The project ended up feeling like several beads strung together to form a beautiful necklace that were more amazing for being paired together." -Jodi Scaife

"All twenty-two stories in this volume are, in a word,†superb. I found myself scouring the Internet as I read it; every story made me want to go find more work by its author.†The ultimate compliment I can give†Allegories†is to say that when I finished it, I thought how I envy those who havenít read it yet." -Lisa Millraney

Get the book!

Allegories of the Tarot is available in e-book and paperback format on Amazon, and in multiple e-book formats on Smashwords.

Don't forget to add†Allegories of the Tarotto your to-read shelf on Goodreads.

Connect with the†Allegories of the Tarot†Anthology on its†website,†Facebook, and†Twitter.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Toilet Story - final title and cover reveal

I finally have a title (thanks to Jason Mckinney, whose family I've hijacked and put into this story), and I got the cover done and dusted yesterday.

It's in the home stretch of formatting, and should go live on Amazon in time for Halloween. It's a fun little short, and I had a blast writing it.

So, with minor trumpets and a blast of Pumpkin Spice air freshener, I present : The House of F.A.R.T.
(Hey, it's a comedy about monsters running out of toilet paper. We weren't aiming for dignity here.)

For the guys interested in the art side, it's a mix of an iphone photo (I think I took multiple pictures of every door in the flat) and straight drawing and painting in Corel Painter. The tentacle and toilet roll were done using the airbrush tools, with a charcoal base. And yes, I giggled hysterically the whole through it.

It's not often you get to visualise Cthulhu yodelling for help, is it?

UPDATE : The House of F.A.R.T is live as of now. Click on the thumbnail of the cover in the top right hand side to head straight over and download it.

Thursday 24 October 2013

WTF Wednesdays : they're back! (Moment of Aargh Part 789200)

My strange day of the week has defaulted to Wednesday again.

I started off with a stabby duvet, when my knee brushed against the cover as I climbed out of bed. After screaming and clutching my knee, I pulled the feather out of it (zombie duck's revenge, I reckon), and lurched downstairs for coffee.

An hour later, as I swung back into my bedroom to get my boots on and leave for work, I discovered what happens when the shopping bag hanging off of the bedroom door lays a snare trap.

One of the handles had drifted down from the door knob, and was resting at ankle height. I stepped in it.
About five seconds later, I was dangling from my bedroom door with a mouthful of fluff that was partially the top of an Ugg boot, and partially carpet. It took me a few minutes to extricate myself, mainly because my legs had decided pretzel twists were fun, and I wasn't entirely sure which one the bag handle had wrapped around. I was also seeing stars since I head-butted the carpet, the other Ugg boot, and a random sock that had escaped from the hidden lost sock dimensional black hole. My bag had fallen off the bed when I landed and bounced off my neck. 
(It should be noted that I may have dropped a bra size. Repeated bouncing is not good for the girls, and they have felt decidedly unperky since this episode. If I thought it worked on tummy fat, I'd still be imitating a baby seal instead of writing this.)

I got myself off the door eventually, without bringing it down on my head. I stood up, brushed myself off, said a number of the rudest words I know, and kicked the sandals I'd been yanked out of across the room, and left.

When I got home I couldn't find find my sandals anywhere. I eventually found one under the boots (no clue). The other one was under my pillow. (Really, truly have no clue, and am nervous about speculating).

Considering last week contained the highlight of the toilet seat moving out from under me like it was greased at four in the morning, it could have been worse. And I will keep telling myself that until the next moment of aargh happens. But still, WTF, Wednesday?

Monday 21 October 2013

Let's talk about religious tolerance, for a bit.

There's a current trend of dissing anyone with religious beliefs. The old trope of hating anyone who believes their god is better than your god, or has a different coloured beard, or hangs their hat in a different way is still alive and well and throwing stones; one of the pagan boards I visit had a charmer drop by threatening to rap us to dearth earlier on today. (The urge to send him a dictionary was strong. Note to fanatics : threats only work if you spell them properly, otherwise we tend to point and laugh. And debate not turning you into a frig.)

This one is slightly different, in that it shows complete and utter contempt for anyone with any sort of religious belief whatsoever. I'm not sure whether it started as a fashion statement or a rebellion. I do know that a lot of the time it descends into HYSTERICAL CAPITALS and screaming over the internet.

Nobody argues that certain powers in mainstream religion abused their positions, and still do. And of course there are fanatics in every religion on the planet. They're called bigots, and their true religion is hate. The latest group to join their ranks are the militant atheists, storming newspaper columns and comment board to proclaim everyone else's ignorance. 

The average person with a spiritual belief doesn't deserve the scorn and contempt I'm seeing. The average person tries to live their life, and carve a little place for themselves in the world, and religious beliefs - or lack thereof - are part of that. Demanding that I  - or anyone else - change a core, deeply personal belief is like walking up to a stranger in the street and demanding to examine their underwear. It's insulting, obnoxious and annoying, and at the end of the time it puts them right in the middle of the group they rant against. 

Because there is no reasoning with them. There is no room for debate in the world according to their outlook. There is no tolerance here, just the sound of heavy boots trampling reason into a mess of incoherent ramblings and the screaming of a crowd that has lost it's mind.

I have no issues with someone who wants to be an atheist. But like any other outlook, it needs to respect the fact that other people don't feel that way, will never feel that way, and have no urge to do so.

Anything else means you fit in perfectly with your own little Crusade, your personal version of Jihad; take no prisoners and to hell with the damage. But it's all in a good cause, right?

Until the morning you wake up and realise you are living your own version of Animal Farm; that there is no Us and Them because you do exactly the same things, poison the same wells, and cause a great deal of hurt and harm.

Irony. She bites.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Toilet Snippet & Open invite for bloggers - join our book launch in November

More toilet snippety stuff. There may be one more to follow; I'm hoping to have the full story up and published for Halloween.

This particular bit was inspired by Athena. Athena is a  cat and goddess/possible demon-in-training that shares living space with Annetta Ribken, Editor of Awesomeness. Annetta is the power behind Allegories of the Tarot that gets published on October 31st. I've had a peek at the e-version, and it rocks. There are still blogging spots available, so if you'd like to join the book launch and let us rock your world, head on over to BadAss Marketing and sign up here:


Nadia finished the last of her coffee and set the cup aside. "No clue how they do it, but someone always opens the door. Like they did here, during the test run."
Tabs and Jason looked at each other. That was disturbing on so many levels.
"What happens if you aren't holding the toilet roll tube when you push the button?" Jason asked.
The two installers looked troubled. "You don't want to do that," Nadia said. "It's the way your host knows you aren't dangerous."
Jason considered the button, large and shiny and very, very pretty. "I've got kids," he said.
"Yeah, hear you." Tomaz bent over and rummaged in the tool-box. He popped up holding a curved silver box with a clear cover and a metal slot at the top. "Lockable box. Only you and your wife will have the key. Nadia, pass the drill."
"The girls have gotten past every child-lock we've ever used," Tabs said.
Nadia patted her on the shoulder. "Never had a kid get past one of these. The odd cat gets it right - remember the Ribken case?" She turned to Jason. "We named the Athena protocol model after her. It's certified atomic blast and cat-proof, but it takes a fork-lift to carry it."
Tomaz paled. "Don't. That cat should've been up for murder."
"What did it do?" Jason watched Tomaz fit the box over the button with swift, sure movements.
"Figured out that slapping the button in a certain way would get it to spider-world." He shuddered. "You ever seen what a cat does to spiders?"
"The spider we had here was a bit bigger than most cats." Jason said.
"Yeah, well this one took it as a sign that the buffet was open. They sent us in to retrieve the button." He placed a protective hand over his groin. "I still have scars."

Friday 11 October 2013

New Toilet Story snippet

A brief update on the migraine side - I am currently pain-free, and cautiously optimistic that it may stay that way for a bit. The Botox appears to have kicked in. Not this is not migraine-free - I still have aura, and I doubt that will go anytime soon. I can live with that quite happily has long as I can function. There will hopefully be a reduction in actual pain and severity of the pain when those break through - paralysed muscle or not, nerves that swell up to 300 times their regular size are logically going to play the funky chicken with me on occasion - so I'm crossing my fingers and hoping.

Here's another excerpt on the toilet saga. The usual warnings apply - this is a first draft; things may change - but in the meantime, have a bit of a giggle with me.

Thursday. 06:48
Tabs opened the bathroom door and was rewarded with an indignant howl.
"Jason! It's for you."

He groaned and trudged down the passage. "Again?" He whispered incredulously.

"Be nice." Tabs rapped him on the forehead affectionately as she passed him. "The poor thing went all out for you today."
Jason hauled out the toilet roll and selected Wild Lavender from the air freshener row. "I couldn't get the mermaid grow a crush on me?"   
He opened the door and blinked rapidly at the elderly chupacabra perched on the pot. 
"Mavis," he said. "You look adorable. Are those new pearls?"
She was wearing a wig. It was shocking pink and was styled high enough to brush the light fitting. Jason watched it brush against the hot bulb and start to drip strands of melted nylon down its prodigious length.
Sharp little white teeth simpered under a muzzle never designed to showcase ruby red lipstick.  A pair of large, rheumy eyes fluttered false eye-lashes at him. The aqua glitter eye-shadow winked and sparkled.

"Y'all have a good day now, Mavis." Jason said, handing his gifts over and closing the door.
The bouffant hair bobbed precariously as a little paw waved goodbye. The claws were painted in a shade that matched the wig.
Flush. Spray. Whistle.  

Jason shook his head and headed for the coffee and his giggling wife. At least this time she hadn't tried to give him a live goat, although the last three were safely corralled out back, where they made excellent organic lawnmowers and supplied pretty good milk. Still, another one would have had the neighbours kicking up a fuss for sure.

Sunday 6 October 2013

Let's talk about hating chocolate, and triptans, and other migraine things

One of the most horrifying things about the whole migraine issue for me is that I've started detesting chocolate. The reason is simple: before the pain hits, I crave it intensely. If there isn't any chocolate around, I'll grab anything with sugar, but chocolate is my go-to fix. It means I've started to associate chocolate with an amazing amount of pain, and when I'm not craving it, I detest the thought of it. This is not a good situation. Yesterday, I found out why I have the sugar cravings, and a whole bunch of other things that hasn't come up in my research. 

I had the Migraine Clinic appointment yesterday. Thursday and Friday I'd been totally pain-free, so the end of the week was pretty good. On the way into the clinic, I had another attack. I'd known it was coming since Friday night; that awful taste of blood-soaked pennies had coated the back of my throat and mouth since about seven o'clock. 
When I found myself snarling mentally at the people around me at the station I knew it was about to hit. Mandy and Stacey were with me, and Mandy had the joyous experience of seeing a migraine settle in and start bitch-slapping me behind the eyeballs for the first time. Stacey has seen this a lot, and she's seen it worse. Mandy looked horrified. There must be something pretty bizarre about watching someone develop smudges under their eyes in the space of minutes (I've always been on the other side, which isn't much fun either) and start slurring their words/be unable to string a sentence together. While I wasn't quite channeling my inner zombie-panda chick - I didn't look like an ambulatory corpse for once - I didn't look healthy either.
On a mental level, it was so much worse for having two pain-free days. Two days out of two weeks might not seem much, but it gives you hope that you'll stay pain-free for a bit longer. Migraine is like the bully in the school-yard; the one that walks past and breaks your toy for no good reason, and then doubles back and rubs sand in your hair. Because it can.

So we went in to see the doc. Stacey came with me, because I wasn't sure how much I'd remember.

He showed us an anatomical model and asked a lot of questions, and did a lot of explaining. I talked him through the Botox I'd had previously, which now appeared to have stopped working.

What I learned

Medical science has no clue as to what causes migraines. There are numerous theories, and very little fact. They know it's a disease. They can track and expect certain reactions and changes. There is no cure. The test and possible operation (if the test is successful) is a management system, not a cure.

The nerves that come out of the eye-socket, and are connected to one at the back of the head swell to up to 300 times their size. They are inflamed. This also explains the times I channel my inner exotic-fish look and my eyelids swell up; the tissue in the eyelids is affected and swells as well. (I've had more than twenty years of medical professionals telling me this is an allergy. To be fair, it looks like an allergy. Still. Not impressed.)

I'm apparently a Phase 2 sufferer. (Yay, me. Because phase 1 is so ordinary.) What this means is that the nerves coming through the eye-socket have told the nerve at the back of the head to wake up and join the party. A couple of weeks ago I had an explosion in the back of my skull that knocked me over. I had a few seconds of thinking I'd either been shot or something had hit me. I had a lot of trouble thinking and speaking for the rest of the morning, and ended up at my doctor, who gave me triptans. More on the triptans later, but that was apparently the moment the nerve at the back of my skull joined in the fun. 

Everything I took as a warning sign is actually part of the migraine. The craving is caused by an insulin dip. That awful taste, mood swings (in my case, severe irritability), photosensitivity - this is already me having an attack. I just haven't reached the pain part yet. Ugh. Since those things can start up to two days before I get to the pain part, this means I'm almost permanently in migraine phase. Bloody. Hell.
As I told Doc, I can live with that. As long as I don't have permanent pain, I can function. I will happily look like I'm wearing Halloween make-up for the rest of my life if it means I don't want to curl up in a dark room and rock myself to sleep.

Triptans can cause migraines. The first one will knock back the pain, but most suffers will end up with a further, more severe attack a couple of days later. (Yep.) Whatever they do, these little pills actually cause more damage than they stop. I stopped taking them because they disconnected me. I felt like an automaton, and I hated it. It's no use being pain-free if you feel like a robot. 
I also had a tightness in the chest when I took one. I had a couple left in the container, and I've been ignoring them. The doc asked me about the chest tightness. Then he explained that if I took another one, I'd probably have a heart attack. In about 5% of patients they cause the heart to contract. Taking more than three could kill me. Since they were prescribed, I've taken about 5, so it's sheer luck I'm here to write this post. 
Stacey turned to me and held out her hand. I put the container into it and she dumped the contents into the dust bin behind Doc's desk. (The fact that I'd told her last week that if I die from a heart attack at least I wouldn't have any more migraines may have had something to do with this.) 
I am no longer taking triptans, because I sure as Hades don't need more bloody migraines.

Starting the test
The Botox I had previously was administered in little pockets around the forehead and eyes.

The Botox I had for this test went straight into the muscle around the nerve. A little on the left (so I don't look lopsided), the majority on the right. As everything is inflamed and swollen, this stung a great deal. Stacey held my hand, and I can tell you I squeezed pretty damn tightly.

Then I sat up and got more Botox in the back of my neck. This was distinctly unpleasant. The back of your neck and skull is vulnerable; letting someone stick a very sharp needle into it goes against nearly every instinct I have. It also bloody hurt.

It should take 5 days for it to affect the muscles. Part of me hopes it will kick in faster; I still have the migraine that kicked off yesterday. I'm functional (I can walk and talk), and as long as it stays at this level I'll cope, but constant pain is draining. There is also the very real fear that it will escalate; that I end up with another episode of blindness or unable to move without  wanting to scream.
If (and at the moment this is a very big if) there is a minimum 50% improvement in the severity and frequency of the attacks for the next couple of months, the next step is an operation to remove the muscles concerned. I have no clue if I'll get to that stage. If I do get to that stage, I have no clue how I'll finance it. 

But there is hope for a normal life for the first time in a very, very long time, and I'm clinging to it. 
And if it works, I can stop hating chocolate.