I have two short stories for free this weekend.
The Mirror, a tales from the crypt style story.
The Costume Shop, an R.L. Stein inspired novella.
Pick them up today and give yourself a short read to take up a night. Enjoy.
This week my boyfriend has been making fresh bread. It’s the type of bread that you bake inside a pan with a lid, and it gets a thick crust. Today was the first time he added a few herbs to the dough and it was tasty. He’s really enjoying baking, and I am enjoying eating it.
Meanwhile, I’ve been learning to cook new things, and use food that I’ve never used before. You have to make do when all the potatoes are gone at the local grocery store.
This morning I complained about dishes, and couldn’t figure out where they were all coming from. “We’ve been eating at home more,” my boyfriend reminded me, and a light bulb went off. Less fast food means more dishes. It also means healthier eating.
I hope all of you are doing well. This week I have two more short stories up for free. Hopefully it will entertain you for a little while.
It’s always interesting when you have a movie or book that is just esoteric enough that you can read different things into it depending on where you are in life, but the person who wrote it refuses to tell you what they actually meant. The Platform (on Netflix) is a movie just like that.
This Netflix original horror movie is about a man who volunteers to be locked up in a prison so he can quit smoking. In this prison you are on a floor that has a giant hole in the center. Every day a platform lowers through the hole and you have two minutes to eat whatever the people above left for you. But there are more than 200 floors, and the people above are hungry.
I almost think this is a psychological horror movie because most of the horror is dealing with the starvation, and knowing that you never have control over this fundamental need to eat every day. However, there are a lot of gory things that happen as well.
The basic premise of the story was interesting. How do you convince the people above you to eat less so that more people can eat? How do you get everyone to ration, especially since you can’t speak to everyone? Especially if many of the people locked up with you are criminals who already committed terrible crimes, and have no compunction about committing more?
If I had any complaints it might be the dialog for the film. I couldn’t tell if it was written poorly, or a translation problem. The film was done in Spanish, and we watched the English dub of it. Because it was dubbed there was, obviously, lip syncing issues. Some of the dialog sounded forced, and unnatural. It tries not to give too much commentary while giving you information on the situation. It could also be that they are trying to increase the unsettlingness of the whole situation with the way they are talking.
The whole movie seems to be a commentary on society. Those above take as much as they want and leave the crumbs for those bellow, and those at the very bottom are left with nothing. But how do you stop that chain? You can try getting everyone to ration, take only what they need, but often they just think “this is the way things are” and go along with it.
It’s an interesting thought experiment, and the movie has a brutal way of presenting it. Considering that each set of prisoners stays on a level for thirty days and there are many, MANY levels, there are probably just as many people dying from starvation as there are from suicide and murder.
Since our family is stuck inside right now we got a subscription to Netflix. That means Bjorn and I have been going through all the old movies that we’ve heard about, but didn’t have access to. Today we watched Bird Box.
The basic premise of Bird Box is a woman trying to survive a calamity that has effected the worlds population. Some sort of creature has arrived on earth and if you see it you will commit suicide in the most expedient way possible. Five years after the initial outbreak happened Malorie has lost everyone, is running out of food, and options. She has to get her two children to a safe haven miles away down a river without seeing anything.
But the movie isn’t about the creatures, or the world falling apart. It’s about Malorie and her personal journey to connect with other people amidst all this craziness. She had a terrible father, their mother left them, her boyfriend disappeared after she got pregnant, and her sister committed suicide the first day of the outbreak. She has kept everyone as far away as possible since then to protect herself. Even her children.
This is much like “A Quite Place” in that the story centers around the people, not the outside influences. I guess that is why I love movies like this. I tend to write stories with things in the background that may be dangerous or scary, but the true story focuses on the person. Footprints is about a man dealing with his fathers death, but there’s a monster in the woods. The Scarab Necklace is about a woman trying to find some confidence, and there’s a cursed necklace. Even my series, The Witch’s Trilogy, is about a girl trying to discover what and who she is, and there are acolytes trying to sacrifice her to a big sea monster.
In this sort of story telling there is definitely a monster, but it could often be exchanged for something else. In The Quiet Place and Bird Box it could have been a pandemic, or an alien, or a monster from the deep. The only thing that really mattered was the story of the family trying to find their way in a messed up world. The mechanism of the monster did make things a bit unique, one depending on sound the other on sight, but ultimately they were not the main feature.
The movie, itself, was well done. There wasn’t a lot of dialog, most of the story heavily relying on motion and action to tell the tale. What dialog there was made a point. Malorie’s inability to connect was shown right down to how she talked to her children, giving them short, easy to follow instructions, never showing them much love, and just making sure they survived. But as Tom says surviving isn’t living. You have to have something to hope for or what’s the point.
I think right now this story hit home with me. Like the people here we are cooped up in our homes, fearing an invisible creature outside. We are unable to be close to others, and things have gone a little crazy. But like Malorie we need a little hope, something to live for. There’s a point to all this madness, we just have to look for it.
My mother-in-law sent us a care package from back home today. In the box of assorted snacks, and home made cookies, she included a roll of toilet paper, and a thing of hand soap. Odd that sending people toilet paper now seems almost normal now.
The best part was she printed out memes, and faces, for everything and stuck them to the individual items. Our Cheez-its now have a big goofy smile on them, it’s great.
It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve been to the store so I don’t even know if they have any at ours. I hope you are able to find the things you need right now.
Continuing on my entertainment for those stuck inside (which is most of us right now) I have two more short stories for free, and an anthology.
Stars End: a glimpse into a possible future, and the way technology might change relationships.
Stay safe out there my friends.
We just finished watching Locke & Key, the new netflix series and… I’m torn on what I think about it.
I have the complete series of Locke & Key graphic novels, though I have only read the first one. I found the whole idea of keys that magically unlock things to be fascinating. A key that you can unlock the mind and step inside the memories. A key that allows you to step through a doorway and separate soul from body. Each key a new experience and wonder.
So watching the new series was a must for me. And I have to say I do love the way they did most of the keys. You put them in a key hole, and unlock, or lock something. Except the fire key, that one is odd because all it does is light things on fire. No locks to go with it, just fire.
The story, itself, started interesting as well. It starts with three children and their mother moving to an old mansion left to them by their deceased father, but no one knows much about this house, or their fathers past. The father kept it all a secret. Then when the youngest starts finding keys with magical abilities they start to find a dark secret that they have to unravel before things go terribly, terribly wrong.
The secret of their fathers past is locked together with the traumatic way their father was murdered, and the emotional scars it left on each of the family members. Each of them blames themselves for different aspects of the death, and each of them have to come to terms with that perceived blame.
Where I think the story falls short for me is the lack of a cohesive plot. There is an ancient evil, a “bad guy” per-se, but the reason you are given for them to be at odds with the Lockes (the desire to get specific keys) falls apart in the end. They finally have access to the key they were searching for all this time, but they don’t take it for some reason. It left both my boyfriend and myself staring at the screen just wonder… but why? What was all of this for?
So, yes, I did enjoy it. I liked the mystery, and the magic. I didn’t like the ending. It was a bit too much of a cliff hanger with the family getting closer to one another, but the over all plot left hanging. And if you’ve read many of my reviews you probably already know I hate cliffhangers for the sake of cliffhangers.
Will I watch the next season? Probably. It wasn’t a bad series, and I would like to see what it does. However, I can say that if the second season doesn’t at least give the series a purpose, and some overarching plotline, then I probably wouldn’t go for a third season.
I will give them a little credit through, adapting a comic book series to TV can be challenging, especially with some of the visuals inside the graphic novels. They managed to do some interesting things with the mind key, letting us get a glimpse inside of several characters memories. They also simplified some of the plot between comic and tv series, so I will probably go back and read the comics now just to find those differences.
A few weeks ago I stocked up on some basics. A bigger bag of rice, a large bag of dry beans, a few boxes of pasta. Nothing dramatic, but enough that I felt we we would be okay if a hurricane blew through, or an earthquake, or maybe even a few weeks of quarantine. The only thing missing from the shelves that day were ramen noodles, and a toilet paper was getting low (so I grabbed one of those just in case too.)
Today I went in for a couple of potatoes and soda. Normal weekly stuff. I was a little shocked by just how many shelves were bare.
Now, some of this is a good thing. Everyone should have at least a weeks worth of food in their pantry (non-perishables) just in case. I’ve made it a point to do so ever since living in North Dakota twenty years ago. We had a blizzard that knocked out the power for the entire state and no water. My baby was on formula at the time and we had no water to make her formula. No food that didn’t need to be cooked, and no way to heat the apartment since everything was electric. I learned very quickly that it’s just good practice to have a few gallons of water, and some non-perishables on hand in case something happened.
But this is something that’s supposed to be done over time, not everyone rushing on the stores at once, so I’m not surprised that the stores are being stripped. It’s as if everyone was told there’s going to be a really bad hurricane next week so be prepared, and they did. The trouble is they all did it at once, and a few opportunistic people exacerbated the issue buy buying ALL of a few key things…so it’s looking a little barren at the moment.
This will pass. In a week or two supply chains will catch up, and people will already have their two week pantry, so we can all get back to a….normal…existence. As normal as you can get with social distancing, at least.
I’ve been venturing out a little here and there to pick up something at the drive through, or just grab something at the store, but seeing the shelves bare like that was a bit surreal. I’m one of those people with compromised immune systems. I have asthma, and a few bad allergies, and have had complication in the last few years that landed me in the hospital on a neutralizer because I couldn’t breath. I’m susceptible to pneumonia and bronchitis already, so this thing… ya, I’m a little worried if I get it. Gregg, my SO, is worried about me, too. He has steadfastly refused to leave the house for the last week because he absolutely does not want to risk me getting sick.
So we stay home. It isn’t much different from normal, we all work from home, but it feels different somehow. I admit part of me had a morbid curiosity to see if the news about stores was right, but also I sometimes just like to go have a meal at a restaurant, or window shop, and I really can’t right now.
I’m not the only one. There are millions of people across the world right now just waiting to see what happens. I saw a picture of a woman telling her granddad about her engagement through a window because she didn’t want to make him sick. I’m sure most of us saw the balcony concerts going on in Italy. People all over the world, in every country, are hunkering down until doctors can find a solution, or the virus burns itself out.
This could be a moment for us all to come together over a common foe, like in the movie where aliens attack and we all band together to fight for humanity. Sometimes I wish life was as neat and orderly as a movie with a definitive beginning, middle and happy ending.
On the plus side, they were stocking the shelves with toilet paper as I was leaving the store today. I’m certain the shelves will be restocked in a week or two as well with most items. This isn’t the end of the world, just a really big bump in the road. We’ll make it through, it’s just going to be rough for a little while.
Till then, hang in there.
This year I’ve been trying a few things to get more organized. I didn’t have to do spring cleaning (after moving twice in three months I already purged everything I could) but I am in desperate need of organization of my time.
On that note I am starting a bullet journal. This is just a fancy calendar that has a few extras, like mood and habit trackers so that you can see a bit more in depth how your month went. It also has spaces for keeping track of daily tasks, and for mine I added a tracker to see how much time each day I was spending on writing, art, marketing, and other things I need to do.
A few years ago I started tracking how much I wrote daily, and that helped a lot. I still track that, but now I need to branch out and look at how much time I am spending on it as well. Word counts can’t go up if I’m spending more time playing games than writing.
The second thing I did last month was separate my writing from my art… for the most part. I created a new Instagram specifically for art projects, and set aside a little time each day to do a new sketch or finish an old one. This has been a lot of fun, and a boost to my accomplishments since I am completing a project every day, even if it’s a small one. Finishing these small projects makes me want to go out and finish bigger projects. It’s also encouraging me to learn new techniques, and just get better.
You can find my art Instagram HERE.
I’ve been working on making prints, or other items with the art. I’ve added a few things to my Etsy store, and I’ve been working on prints. I really do want to do a little more with my art then just show it online. For right now I’m going through and redoing a LOT of my old art to make it up to date. Crisper, sharper, better colors. I also need to figure out a printer soon so I can do even more.
Okay, now I need to get back to the writing portion of the day.
Sometimes a question on reddit really makes me dive deep and find a meaningful answer. Here is one.
[what does it mean] about marriage having a foundation when the love goes away? my partner believes that once we fall out of love and we no longer love each other, that the relationship is then dead and shouldn’t continue.
But what is love? The love I feel for my mother is not the same that I feel for my children, or my SO. Hell, the love I feel for my SO isn’t the same today as when we first got together 8 years ago. It shifts, and grows with you. Or it dies.
From experience, I was married for 15 years to a man who I passionately loved in my young adulthood. We had kids, we moved, we went through life and death experiences together… But we did not have that foundation of a steadfast relationship that grew even as our feelings shifted. We were not on the same page for finances, child rearing, and the basics of how a marriage should work. We tried to fix it, but after years I realized it just couldn’t be fixed and I no longer cared about this man at all. In short, the man I thought I married was not the man I actually married, and seeing him for who he really was killed the relationship.
Passion does that to you. It puts blinders on you and you overlook a lot of the little things, and sometimes the big things, because you want so desperately to keep that passion. But passion isn’t a foundation to build a house on, it’s more like sand, and it shifts with time.
Now, after 8 years with my current (and I think last) SO we have gone through a lot of the same things I did with my ex. Life and death situations. The raising of my children. Financial hardships. But we are on the same page. We come at the problems as a team and work together. Some days I might not like him, some days I get on his nerves, but the underlying foundation is there and we come out the other side stronger for it.
My relationship with him isn’t based on passion (though we have plenty of that, too) it’s based on mutual respect and a deep love that only comes from truly seeing someone else as who they are, and not what you want to see, and loving what you see flaws and all.