Monday, June 27, 2016

Tiny House For Sale!

Okay, it isn't that tiny, but it is definitely a small house - approximately 700 square feet, with one bathroom, living/dining area, kitchen, and a large bedroom upstairs with a walk-in closet.


Did I mention the deck that runs the length of the house? It's like having another room for part of the year!


The kitchen...



 See the little space between the cabinets? As you can see, a wine bottle fits perfectly, as do wine glasses or cook books or what have you...






 The bathroom, with the lovely blue tiles I picked out...



 Custom made vanity (sorry the gold mirror does not convey...)






 Looking from the bathroom into the living room (and see that cool lamp? I got that at work for a bargain price of $25!)



 The bedroom...








You can see my desk in the corner (I moved the ugly chair out of the way), and my cool map of the world...





You can see how big the deck is, with plenty of room to hang out.

Located on a quiet dead end road just outside of town, the location honestly can't be beat. You can walk to town and all the events - like the awesome Pumpkinfest and fourth of July fireworks - and if you're lazy, you can just walk to the top of the hill and see the fireworks set off over the river from there. There are tons of paths in the woods to walk, tennis courts next door open to the public (you can just walk over the stone wall to them if you're a player), and the highway is maybe two minutes away. I'm about an hour from Portland.

This would be a great starter home for anyone (Zillow estimates the mortgage to be $384/mo) or an investment if you wanted to rent it out for the summer and maybe sneak in a week or two for yourself in Vacationland. Oh, and did I mention the little pond? You can't see it through the trees this time of year but it's right next door and it is a wildlife haven for birds and frogs and peepers. I've seen Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, and even a North American Bittern (very secretive birds), plus the usual song sparrows, red-winged blackbirds (my fave) and the ever charming goldfinches.

Asking price is $109,000.

For more information contact Karen Farnsworth at Keller Williams 1-207-879-9800






Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Rock The Vault: Celebrating The Urban And Rural Setting Thesaurus Duo

The Setting Thesaurus DuoIt is a writer's job to draw readers into the fictional story so completely that they forget the real world. Our goal is to render them powerless, so despite the late hour, mountain of laundry, or workday ahead, they cannot give up the journey unfolding within the paper-crisp pages before them.

Strong, compelling writing comes down to the right words, in the right order. Sounds easy, but as all writers know, it is anything BUT. So how do we create this storytelling magic? How can we weave description in such a way that the fictional landscape becomes authentic and real—a mirror of the reader's world in all the ways that count most?

 Well, there's some good news on that front. Two new books have released this week that may change the description game for writers. The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to City Spaces and The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces look at the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds a character might experience within 225 different contemporary settings. And this is only the start of what these books offer writers.

 In fact, swing by and check out this hidden entry from the Urban Setting Thesaurus: Police Car.
 
And there's one more thing you might want to know more about....

Rock_The_Vault_WHW1Becca and Angela, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, are celebrating their double release with a fun event going on from June 13-20th called ROCK THE VAULT.

At the heart of Writers Helping Writers is a tremendous vault, and these two ladies have been hoarding prizes of epic writerly proportions.

A safe full of prizes, ripe for the taking...if the writing community can work together to unlock it, of course.

Ready to do your part? Stop by Writers Helping Writers to find out more!  

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse -


Welcome to another edition of the Cephalopod Coffeehouse. The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts and our books with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us:

http://armchairsquid.blogspot.com/2016/04/the-cephalopod-coffeehouse-may-2016.html


Since we last spoke, I have read three books:

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Today I'm going to tell you about my favorite, which was The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater.

This is the second book in The Raven Cycle, which continues to follow Blue (the only non-psychic in her family), who has thrown in with rich boys Gansey and Ronan, and their friends Noah and Adam (the boys all students at the prestigious Aglionby Academy) in an effort to try to find the legendary sleeping Welsh King, Owan Glendower.who will supposedly reward whoever finds him. In this second book, finding Glendower takes a backseat to a great many other things, not least among them the disappearance of the mystical forest of Cabeswater, a hit man, and Ronan's ability to bring things back from his dreams and into the real world. Booklist says it best:

"...this story of secrets and dreams, of brothers, and of all-too-real magic is an absolute marvel of imagination and an irresistible invitation to wonder."

The reason this book was my favorite is because in addition to a kick ass plot, The Dream Thieves has characters to love. And while I liked the characters in American Gods and Uprooted, I didn't love them like I do Blue, Gansey, and Ronan. And let me just say right now, Ronan can be pretty unlikeable at times. But I still love him and all the rest and that's why this book is my fave.




Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cover Reveal for Bottled by Carol Riggs






BOTTLED:

At seventeen, Adeelah Naji is transformed into a genie and imprisoned in a bottle. For a thousand years, she fulfills the wishes of greedy masters—building their palaces, lining their pockets with gold, and granting them every earthly pleasure. All that sustains her is the hope of finding Karim, the boy she fell in love with as a human. When at last she finds a note from her beloved, she confirms he has access to the elixir of life and that he still searches for her.

But someone else also hunts her. Faruq—the man who plots to use her powers to murder and seize the life forces of others—is just one step behind her. With the help of a kind master named Nathan, Adeelah continues to search for Karim while trying to evade Faruq. To complicate matters, she begins to experience growing fatigue and pain after conjuring, and finds herself struggling against an undeniable attraction to Nathan.

As Faruq closes in, Adeelah must decide just how much she’ll risk to protect Nathan and be with Karim forever. How much power does she really have to change her future, and what is she willing to sacrifice for an eternity of love? If she makes the wrong choice, the deaths of many will be on her hands.

Advanced Praise for BOTTLED:
Bottled has everything you could want in a story: humor, suspense, action, and romance. The twists kept me glued to the pages.”
~Elizabeth Langston, author of I Wish and Whisper Falls




Carol Riggs is an author of YA fiction who lives in the beautiful green state of Oregon, USA. Her debut novel, THE BODY INSTITUTE, released Sept 2015 from Entangled Teen, exploring body image and identity. Her fantasy YA, BOTTLED, will release from Clean Reads on July 7, 2016, and her sci-fi YA, SAFE ZONE, will release from Entangled Teen in October 2016. She enjoys reading, drawing and painting, writing conferences, walking with her husband, and enjoying music and dance of all kinds. You will usually find her in her writing cave, surrounded by her dragon collection and the characters in her head.

BOTTLED will release July 7, 2016, from Clean Reads.   

Connect with Carol:

Add this book to your Goodreads reading list: BOTTLED

A huge congrats to Carol and holy cow! Is that not a gorgeous cover? 

Monday, May 23, 2016

What I'll miss

There's a lot of things I'm going to miss about my house and I think of them as I drive from home to work, while I walk Jonah, or when I'm sitting on my porch steps. I'll miss driving through the twin villages of Newcastle and Damariscotta, which I've been lucky enough to have been able to walk to. I'll miss watching the seasons change and the spring migration of birds, especially the Great Blue Herons in the pond and the Blackbirds. I'll miss my lovely hydrangea, which will probably be spectacularly beautiful this year, and I will especially miss the peepers singing at night.
















Of course, I know I'll find new birds to watch at my new house, new paths to walk, and new things to love and report and take pictures of. But for now, I'm making note of these things that have brought me joy. Hopefully, the next person who lives here will find as much peace and beauty as I have.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The List & They Live

So. I have this list of all the things I need to do before I can put my house on the market. Things like paint the bathroom (completed), have the septic pumped (done), and paint the exterior trim (I bought the paint but haven't started the job). There's lots more on the list - I think I have a total of 14 items - but there's also a few check marks against things I've done. Not to mention all the stuff that isn't on the list, like raking the yard, keeping the house cleaner than normal (for practice), and getting my mower fixed so I can mow the lawn. My mantra - I can only do what I can do - is coming in quite handy.

In a way, it's a lot like revisions, or at least, the way I often do revisions. I have a list of all the things that need fixing and I go through them one by one. If I have trouble with one, I move on to another and come back. Just like the house. If it rains, I'll paint something inside (there's plenty of that to be done), and if it doesn't then I can started on the exterior.

Meanwhile, because my creative energy is at an all-time low, I'm allowing myself to do whatever, which turns out to be fanfic based on the John Carpenter movie, They Live. In my story the premise is this: Two Girls. One Big Problem. Aliens.

In the movie, it was two guys, played by Keith David and Roddy Piper. It was a pretty silly movie, especially the longest ever fight scene, so I figure I can have fun with it.



Now. Tell me what you've been doing? Something fun I hope! Ever see They Live?


Monday, May 9, 2016

Changes & Reflections

I don't know about you, but I don't like change. If I was a kid in school, my teachers would probably say I don't transition well. This means I like to plan ahead. For example, if my brother were to call me right now (it's 7:16p Saturday night) and ask me to come over and play Skyrim, I would probably say no because I already have a plan for the night, lame as it might be (in this order: jammies, a drink, and some Supernatural). It also means I don't much like like surprises unless they're like, you just won a million dollars or this is Donald Maass calling. I had a boyfriend once who threw me a surprise party and I hated it. So when I tell you I am selling my house (that I've lived in for the past 18 years) you might have an idea how I feel.

The good news is once I sell my house, I'm moving into this wicked cool Victorian with my sister...


It's about twenty minutes from where I am now, and I'll miss my location which is pretty killer, but the house I'm moving into is also pretty killer, with pocket doors, and four floors counting the basement and attic. It's HUGE. The attic actually has five rooms!!! I'm thinking library/office...? Anyway. It's a good thing, and I know that, but it means I have to move and pack and get my house ready to sell asap. This has left me very little writing time, which sucks, and it's also why I didn't get around to anywhere near as many A-Z posters as I wanted to during the month of April. The whole moving thing happened quite quickly (AGH!!!) and I've had to come up with a new mantra: "You can only do what you can do."

Anyway. That's the way the cookie is crumbling is around here. At some point (soon I hope) I'll actually post some pics of my freshly painted house. Who knows, maybe someone out there will find it perfect and we can all live happily ever after :)

So, how's your Monday?


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

First Impressions - Evergreen

Welcome again to First Impressions, whereby we (Dianne Salerni, Krystalyn Drown, and yours truly) critique someone's first page. For our second submission this month we have the first page of Christy Hintz's YA contemporary, EVERGREEN.



Everything looks perfect.  Strings of red lights drape across the ceiling and dangle from the center of the gymnasium, cloaking all the dancers in crimson. 
            Everything sounds perfect.  The music is upbeat, the bass a perfect volume, not that crass loud overbearing beat that makes everyone's ears bleed and heart hurt.  Not like last week's prom at East High--which naturally I crashed to be sure I didn't overlook any details.  Nope, my prom is nothing like that.  Everyone is laughing and having a good time.  I circulate, smiling at my classmates, nodding at their dress and accessory choices.  The food table is topped off.  The chaperons are keeping their distance.
            I approach a girl standing at the foot of the bleachers. I tap her bare, brown shoulder.  "Where have you been?"
            She's wearing a strapless, short black dress, one electric blue heel and one emerald green heel.  Her nails are each painted a different color of the rainbow, and today her eyes are a natural brown.  A thick strand of her black hair matches the electric blue shoe.
            "Bathroom."  She turns toward me.  "I sat on the seat and everything."
            "Ew."  I fumble through my purse.
            "What are you looking for?"
            "Sanitizer." I hand her a bottle.
            She doesn't take it, but asks, "And what, pray tell, shall I do with it?"
            I steer her toward the hall.  "Spread it on the back of your thighs."
            She ducks out from under my hands and moves back toward the dance floor, laughing.  "You really are crazy.  Remind me again why I love you."
            "Why wouldn't you?"  I put the sanitizer under her nose for one last try.
            She shakes her head and I return it to my purse with a huff.
            "I promise to wear sweats to sleep in later.  My germ-covered legs won't touch anything in your house."
            "What about our toilet seats?" I watch as a girl in a mermaid dress takes the last water bottle from the refreshment table.
            "Man.  I'll shower when I get there. Okay?"
            "Fine." I gesture to the transformed gymnasium. "It's all fantastic, right?"
            "Beyond."
            Ms. Fulton, the only teacher not charmed by my straight A+ average and over-abundance of extra-curriculars is glaring at me from ten feet away like something's gone amok.  All the other teachers patted my back and congratulated me on successfully orchestrating the prom-week festivities, parade, and dance.  Not her.
 ***
  My thoughts: I admit I'm a little confused. I thought at first the narrator was a guy, but then the purse indicated it was a girl, who apparently arranges proms? And then the girl who sat on the toilet seat...why isn't she named? Like so: "I approach a girl Sue standing at the foot of the bleachers. I tap her bare, brown shoulder.  "Where have you been?" It seems they're friends, or perhaps something more? I wasn't sure. Either way, one doesn't think of one's friends as a girl, or a boy, we name them in our mind. And then there's Mrs. Fulton, who is glaring at our straight A+ narrator...why? And why is our our narrator a straight A+ over-achiever? At the same time I am also curious. Are these two more than friends? Is there some secret reason why Mrs. Fulton apparently dislikes our narrator? And again, why is our narrator such an over-achiever, so obsessed with perfection?
  Overall I think there are some intriguing elements here, but I didn't quite feel as engaged with the narrator as I would like. She seems too perfect, or maybe just too obsessed with perfection. A flaw or some worry on her part might help that.

   Readers, what are your thoughts on this first page? Any helpful comments/suggestions? And do go visit Dianne and Krystalyn to see their critique of this first page. Interested in having your first page critiqued? All the info is on my sidebar, top/left under First Impressions. 

   Have a fabulous week :)





Monday, May 2, 2016

First Impressions - Overland


Welcome to First Impressions, whereby we (Dianne Salerni, Krystalyn Drown, and yours truly) critique someone's first page. This month we have the first page of a YA post-disaster adventure novel, tentatively titled, OVERLAND, by Kristen Zayon, aka AKLibraryChick on twitter.

         
           It was a seemingly innocent thing, that first flicker. We were sitting in the Anchorage airport waiting for our flight home to Cordova when it happened. The lights trembled once, twice, then went out completely. If it hadn’t been daytime, the blackness would have been absolute. There were none of those emergency back-up lights shining in the corners, no glow from someone’s iphone. Anything electrical or computerized was just finished. We heard what sounded like a few distant explosions, then an eerie silence. We looked at each other and around at the other passengers. Everyone was stabbing fingers uselessly at their phones, laptops, the kiosk computer terminals. A murmur of voices rose, as everyone began to speculate.

             Some of the airport personnel arrived with good old-fashioned battery powered or crank operated flashlights. The intercoms weren’t working either, or the little cars they sometimes drive around, so they were busy hoofing it from gate to gate, letting everyone know as much as they did, which was not much. There appeared to be a blackout that was at the very least spread across the Anchorage Bowl and Matanuska-Susitna Valley, and was most likely statewide. Perhaps it went even further. Nobody knew because communications were gone along with everything else; even old school land lines.

            We hung out in the airport for a few more hours, until the time of our flight had come and gone. Eventually, someone announced that all flights were cancelled for the day, or until the power came back on. We left the airport to go back to the hotel we had just checked out of that morning. We had to walk, because anything with a motor was simply not running. Something major had happened, we knew. Power outages don’t affect cars. Solar flare? Nuclear bomb? We noticed smoke rising in several spots over the inlet, and remembered the explosions we had heard immediately after the outage. The planes. They had all crashed. I started feeling sick to my stomach. 
We were in Anchorage for the state cross country running meet. For the first time ever, both the boys and girls teams had qualified, so we’d taken the ferry to Whittier and made the short drive to Anchorage. There were seven guys, six girls, and two coaches for the three day trip. By the time we were supposed to return, a storm had moved in to Prince William Sound, cancelling the ferries, so we had to book flights back to Cordova. This was always a hazard in Alaska when traveling in remote areas. Then we couldn’t all get on one flight at such short notice – it’s a small plane – so eight kids and Coach Ron were on the first flight, while the rest of us waited for the next one with Coach Casey.
#

My thoughts: 'It was a seemingly innocent thing, that first flicker.' For some reason this phrase bothers me. Maybe it's too vague, and too obviously not innocent. How about: "I remember we were sitting in the Anchorage airport waiting for our flight home to Cordova when it happened." I do like the rest: the brief description of what's happened and then the brief back story that tells the reader how our narrator got where where he/she is. The transition between the two felt very seamless. The only other thing I might mention is the lack of characterization for our narrator. We don't have a name or a sex, only the knowledge that our narrator runs cross country. Assuming more info is coming up shortly, not knowing doesn't bother me because the set up is good enough to make me curious about what's going on and what's going to happen next. However, everyone might not feel the same, hence the mention.
Readers, what are your thoughts on this first page? Any helpful suggestions/comments? Don't forget to go see what Dianne and Krystalyn had to say about this first page and I'll be back Wednesday with another First Impression :)

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Zombie

My theme for this year's A- Z Blogfest is DEATH (who I hope is like DEATH in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series): "...tall, thin (skeletal, as a matter of fact), and ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Generally shows up when you're dead, or just when he thinks you ought to be." Today we have Z for Zombie.

You did know I would end up here, right? 


A Zombie is a corpse said to be revived by witchcraft, especially in certain African and Caribbean religions. The Magic Island, a sensationalized account of a narrator who encounters voodoo cults in Haiti and their resurrected thralls, introduced the concept of the voodoo zombie into western culture. Since then the zombie has evolved into a mindless flesh/brain eating re-animated corpse, popularized by movies like Dawn of the Dead, shows like The Walking Dead, games like Left for Dead, and books like How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse by Max Brooks.

I definitely don't want to be a zombie and if I turned into to one I'd hope someone would off me pretty quick. However, I love zombies in movies and books and games. What about you? Are you a fan of zombies or could you do without them?




Excerpt from Hogfather by Terry Pratchett


“All right," said Susan. "I'm not stupid. You're saying humans need... fantasies to make life bearable."

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

"Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—"

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

"So we can believe the big ones?"

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

"They're not the same at all!"

YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME...SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

"Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what's the point—"

MY POINT EXACTLY.” 
 
***

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for...

My theme for this year's A- Z Blogfest is DEATH (who I hope is like DEATH in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series): "...tall, thin (skeletal, as a matter of fact), and ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Generally shows up when you're dead, or just when he thinks you ought to be." Today we have Y for...

Nada. Zip. Nothing. Not a single Y word in my dictionary that anything to do with death. Can you think of one? Are we there yet?



Excerpt from Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett


YOU FEAR TO DIE?

"It's not that I don't want... I mean, I've always...it's just that life is a habit that's hard to break...”







Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for Xibalba

My theme for this year's A- Z Blogfest is DEATH (who I hope is like DEATH in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series): "...tall, thin (skeletal, as a matter of fact), and ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Generally shows up when you're dead, or just when he thinks you ought to be." Today we have X for Xibalba.



Xibalba is the name of the underworld in K'iche' Maya mythology, ruled by the Maya death gods and their helpers. Some say the entrance is a cave in the vicinity of Coban, Guatemala. Cave systems in nearby Belize have also been referred to as the entrance to Xibalba. It is described as a court below the surface of Earth ruled by the twelve Lords of Xibalba.


Excerpt from Hogfather by Terry Pratchett


HUMAN BEINGS MAKE LIFE SO INTERESTING. DO YOU KNOW, THAT IN A UNIVERSE SO FULL OF WONDERS, THEY HAVE MANAGED TO INVENT BOREDOM.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for Wake

My theme for this year's A- Z Blogfest is DEATH (who I hope is like DEATH in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series): "...tall, thin (skeletal, as a matter of fact), and ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Generally shows up when you're dead, or just when he thinks you ought to be." Today we have W for Wake.

A Wake is a watch or vigil held beside the body of someone who has died, sometimes accompanied by ritual observances including eating and drinking. Traditionally, a wake takes place at the home of the deceased. A wake is different from a funeral in that is a less formal affair, lacks structured rituals, and is often a time to remember the deceased and share stories. In many instances a wake is held the night before the funeral.

I could go for a wake, I guess, sans the body. Do you think you'd prefer a wake over a funeral? Or would you want both?


Excerpt from Mort, by Terry Pratchett...


BEGONE, YOU BLACK AND MIDNIGHT HAG [he says to a woman that's come in the shop].

The Cook's small eyes narrowed.

"'Oo are you calling a midnight hag?" she said accusingly, and hit the counter with the fish again. "Look at this," she said. "Last night it was my bedwarmer, in the morning, it's a fish. I ask you."
 

MAY ALL THE DEMONS OF HELL REND YOUR LIVING SPIRIT IF YOU DON'T GET OUT OF THE SHOP THIS MINUTE, Death tried.

"I don't know about that, but what about my bedwarmer? It's no place for a respectable woman up there, they tried to - "


IF YOU WOULD CARE TO GO AWAY, said Death desperately, I WILL GIVE YOU SOME MONEY.

"How much?" said the cook, with a speed that would have outdistanced a striking rattlesnake and given lightning a nasty shock.

Death pulled out his coin bag and tipped a heap of verdigrised and darkened coins on the counter. She regarded them with deep suspicion.


NOW LEAVE UPON THE INSTANT, Death said, and added, BEFORE THE SEARING WINDS OF INFINITY SCORCH THY WORTHLESS CARCASS.

"My husband will be told about this," said the cook darkly, as she left the shop.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Valhalla and Valkyries

My theme for this year's A- Z Blogfest is DEATH (who I hope is like DEATH in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series): "...tall, thin (skeletal, as a matter of fact), and ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Generally shows up when you're dead, or just when he thinks you ought to be." Today we have V for Valhalla and Valkyries.

The Ride of the Valkyrs (1909) by John Charles Dollman.
In Norse mythology, Valhalla, is the hall presided over by Odin. This vast hall has five hundred and forty doors. The rafters are spears, the hall is roofed with shields and breast-plates litter the benches. A wolf guards the western door and an eagle hovers over it. It is here that the Valkyries, Odin's messengers and spirits of war, bring half of the heroes that died on the battle fields (the rest go to Freya's hall Folkvang). These heroes, the Einherjar, are prepared in Valhalla for the oncoming battle of Ragnarok, ie, the end of the world as it is.


Excerpt from ? by Terry Pratchett

Death: THERE ARE BETTER THINGS IN THE WORLD THAN ALCOHOL, ALBERT.

Albert: "Oh, yes, sir. But alcohol sort of compensates for not getting them.”




Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for Undertaker

My theme for this year's A- Z Blogfest is DEATH (who I hope is like DEATH in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series): "...tall, thin (skeletal, as a matter of fact), and ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Generally shows up when you're dead, or just when he thinks you ought to be." Today we have U for Undertaker.


An Undertaker is a person whose business is preparing dead bodies for burial or cremation and making arrangements for funeral. This would be a difficult job, I think, regardless whether one's business is preparing bodies, or making funeral arrangements. I am reminded of the undertaker in The Godfather, who comes to him for a favor, in return for a favor at a later date. The undertaker is very nervous when The Godfather comes collect, but it turns out all he wants is for the undertaker to make his son (Sonny) look presentable for the funeral. I am also reminded of the show Six Feet Under, which often began with a death and the subsequent preparation of the body, which sometimes had things to say.

I would just as soon not have anyone messing about with my body. Just shove it into the crematorium and be done with it I say.


Excerpt from Mort by Terry Pratchett:

"You really are Death?" said Kreeble.

YES.

"Why didn't you say?"

PEOPLE USUALLY PREFER ME NOT TO.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

In which I tell you about R for Reincarnation which I forgot.

Honestly, it seems like I can't get through the A-Z fest without screwing up at least once. The sad thing is I totally thought I had R taken care of. I knew R was for Reincarnation. And then I saw that everyone was writing about S and it looked like I was on T. Which told me something was wrong, and that something was likely me!

As you know by now, my theme for this years A- Z Blogfest is DEATH (who I hope is like DEATH in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series): "...tall, thin (skeletal, as a matter of fact), and ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Generally shows up when you're dead, or just when he thinks you ought to be." Today we have R, completely out of order, for Reincarnation.



Reincarnation is the philosophical or religious concept that the soul or spirit, after biological death, can begin a new life in a new body. Known as Punarjanma – it is one of the core beliefs of Hinduism that is generally accepted by many of its practitioners. Reincarnation is the natural process of birth, death and rebirth. Hindus believe that the Jiva or Atman (soul) is intrinsically pure. However, because of the layers of I-ness and My-ness, the jiva goes through transmigration in the cycle of births and deaths. Death destroys the physical body, but not the jiva. The jiva is eternal. It takes on another body with respect to its karmas. Every karma produces a result which must be experienced either in this or some future life. As long as the jiva is enveloped in ignorance, it remains attached to material desires and subject to the cycles of births and deaths (Samsara).

There is no permanent heaven or hell in Hinduism. After services in the afterlife, the jiva enters the karma and rebirth system, reborn as an animal, a human or a divinity. This reincarnation continues until mokṣa, the final release, is gained.


This makes the most sense to me except for two very small problems. One I mentioned before, which is that the laws of physics do not support the idea of a soul or consciousness that can exist separately from the body. But, as the Dalai Lama said, it would also be difficult to disprove reincarnation. The other problem I have is math. In 1682 the estimated world population was at 320 million. There are now approximately 7.4 billion people on this earth. So where did all the new souls come from?

Setting those issues aside (because who wants to dwell on anything that might quash the idea of any sort of after life, right?), reincarnation makes sense to me because of evolution, which is the natural order of things. This world, all of us, the animals, plants, insects, everything is continually evolving and maybe reincarnation is part of how we evolve, become better people who are more concerned with the good of all than all the good we can gather for ourselves.

Do you believe in reincarnation?

Excerpt from Reaper Man, by Terry Pratchett

“SEE! I HAVE TIME. AT LAST, I HAVE TIME."
Albert backed away nervously.
‘And now that you have it, what are you going to do with it?’ he said.
Death mounted his horse.
I AM GOING TO SPEND IT.”




 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for Tomb

My theme for this year's A- Z Blogfest is DEATH (who I hope is like DEATH in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series): "...tall, thin (skeletal, as a matter of fact), and ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Generally shows up when you're dead, or just when he thinks you ought to be." Today we have T for Tomb.


A Tomb is a large vault, typically an underground one, for burying the dead. I don't know about a tomb. Especially one way underground. What if you woke up a ghost and were stuck there? Forever? Plus, what's the point? Who's going to come visit a tomb? Of course, the point was to bury a person with everything they might need for the next life, which usually included all their riches, which of course led to tomb raiders...

On the other hand, it might be fun to investigate a tomb. Or it might be really claustrophobic.


Excerpt from Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett...

DEATH: WELL, MATHS...GENERALLY I NEVER GET MUCH FURTHER THAN SUBTRACTION.




 

Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for Soul

My theme for this year's A- Z Blogfest is DEATH (who I hope is like DEATH in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series): "...tall, thin (skeletal, as a matter of fact), and ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Generally shows up when you're dead, or just when he thinks you ought to be." Today we have S for Soul or Spirit.

According to Wikipedia, the soul is the incorporeal and immortal essence of a living being. According to Abrahamic religions, only human beings have immortal souls.

I like the first part, but not the second. According to my belief system (assuming the soul exists separately from the body), every thing has a soul.

Do you believe you have a soul? I hope I do. There's only one problem. The laws of physics do not back this idea up. 


Excerpt from Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett in which DEATH attempts to get War to ride out with him [Famine and Pestilence have declined]...

TALKING OF THE OLD DAYS, he [DEATH] said carefully. I'M SURE YOU REMEMBER THE TRADITION OF RIDING OUT?

War gave him a puzzled look.

"Mind's a blank on that one, old boy."

I SENT OUT THE CALL.

"Can't say it rings a bell..."

APOCALYPSE? said Death. END OF THE WORLD?

War continued to stare.

"Definitely knocking, old chap, but no one's home. And talking of home..." War looked around at the twitching remains of the recent slaughter. "Spot of lunch?" 






Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q is for ...

My theme for this year's A- Z Blogfest is DEATH (who I hope is like DEATH in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series): "...tall, thin (skeletal, as a matter of fact), and ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Generally shows up when you're dead, or just when he thinks you ought to be." Today we have Q for absolutely nothing. I couldn't find a single damn Q word that had anything to do with death.

Can you think of one?


Excerpt from Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett in which DEATH finds FAMINE in a restaurant in Genua eating Duck and Dirty Rice and tells him they need to ride out because it's the end of the world...

Famine listened, although he never stopped eating.

"I see," he said at last. "Thank you, but I think I shall sit this one out."

SIT IT OUT? YOU'RE A HORSEMAN!

"Yes, of course. But what is my role here?"

I BEG YOUR PARDON?

"No famine appears to be involved, does it? A sortage of food per se? As such?"

WELL, NO. NOT AS SUCH, OBVIOUSLY, BUT-

"So I would, as it were, be turning up just to wave. No, thank you."

YOU USED TO RIDE OUT EVERY TIME, said Death accusingly.

Famine waved a bone airily. "We had proper apocalypses in those days."

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for Purgatory

My theme for this year's A- Z Blogfest is DEATH (who I hope is like DEATH in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series): "...tall, thin (skeletal, as a matter of fact), and ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Generally shows up when you're dead, or just when he thinks you ought to be." Today we have P for Purgatory.

La Divina Commedia di Dante (Dante and the Divine Comedy), fresco by Domenico di Michelino, in the nave of the Duomo of Florence, Italy

Purgatory is another one of those places you might end up when your dead. According to Catholic Church Doctrine, Purgatory is sort of a holding area for those souls destined for Heaven who did not in life reach "a sufficient level of holiness." The term dates back to pre-biblical times when it was believed that prayers for the dead "contributed to their afterlife purification." Supposedly, no soul remains in Purgatory forever. But. Half of forever could still be a pretty long time...


Excerpt from Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett

"OH, YES, said Death. ONCE THERE WERE FIVE OF US . FIVE HORSEMEN. BUT YOU KNOW HOW THINGS ARE. THERE'S ALWAYS A ROW. CREATIVE DISAGREEMENTS, ROOMS BEING TRASHED, THAT SORT OF THING. He sighed. AND THINGS SAID THAT PERHAPS SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN SAID."