Sunday, 23 October 2016

Nerd Church - Taking Responsibility

Dearest Nerdlets, can I tell you something? The human race needs to take more responsibility for it's actions.

Both on an individual and a collective level, we suck at fessing up, and fixing our mistakes. Worse than that, sometimes we sneak away from doing the responsible thing to prevent the mistakes to begin with.

And companies? Companies need to have ethics policies on EVERYTHING. The bigger the company, the more ethics policies they should make, because they have an even larger impact on people's lives.

Not only that, but those policies need to be enforced. And people who go against them need to be punished - even if it's only the proverbial slap on the wrist.

Now, I know it's not popular in some quarters (i.e. rich business people,) to insist on corporate responsibility. But if your actions are affecting others, you have a duty to keep that cr*p from hurting people.

My friends, if you are polluting, then you have a duty to minimise your environmental impact. If you are making it difficult for local businesses, you have a duty to assist the community. If you are f**king up people's lives with your banking crises, you have a duty to help relieve hunger, poverty, homelessness, etc.

Sorry, but you did the thing. Now fix it.

Because if you don't take responsibility? Let me tell you a story.

On the 21st October 1966, a coal-spoils-tip fell on the village of Aberfan. It crushed the school. It killed 116 children, and 28 adults.

Despite the fact that the inquiry came to the conclusion that the fault for the disaster lay completely with the National Coal Board (and listed several individuals whose neglect was especially catastrophic,) no-one was prosecuted. More than that, no one was sacked, and no one faced discipline within the company.

That, my friends, is what can happen when companies matter more than lives. 116 children. 28 adults.

If your actions affect people, you own that sh**.

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Saturday, 22 October 2016

Welsh Halloween Traditions

Stop the presses! She's talking about Wales again!

Look, I know, I talk about Wales a lot but that's because

a) I'm Welsh,
b) this is one of the most beautiful and magical places on the planet,
c) you guys seem to know very little about my lovely country/principality, and

So, humour me a little more, and let me tell you about Welsh Halloween traditions. Most of which, unfortunately, are now passed over in favour of trick or treating and parties.

I never went trick or treating, but that's because my parents are socialist hippies who viewed it as a disrespectful form of begging.

And I'm vegetarian and most of the sweets were made with gelatine.

(I did go trick or treating with two of my mates as a teenager - I told my parents we were just having a party at one girl's house. I'm such a rebel, lol.)


My mother tells me when she was young, they would carve swedes for Halloween. Yes, swedes. Not pumpkins.

Pumpkins actually aren't native to the UK, and in the 60s and 70s, it was easier to get hold of swedes instead (though definitely more difficult to carve!)

Also, Jack o'Lantern is an old British (yes, that includes non-Welsh Britain,) word for a Will o'th' Wisp - a dancing light sprite/fairy/spirit thing that tempted travellers into dangerous places like swamps and hidden pools.

Nos Galan Gaeaf

The Welsh version of Halloween is Nos Galan Gaeaf (not to be confused with Nos Galan - New Year's Eve.)

Nos Galan Gaeaf is the night before the first day of winter. It was thought to be Ysbrydnos - a night when spirits are abroad and able to gather at places where the worlds are close together like graveyards, stiles, crossroads, bridges, etc.


Halloween has always been the perfect time for divination here, because the other world is close. It's also one of our most important Halloween traditions.

One form of divination involved hanging clothing/underwear on a washing line at midnight.

Some stories tell of young women hanging their knickers on the line; the spectre of the man she was to marry would appear and touch them (I know, this story sounds considerably dodgy.)

Some stories say that the future was revealed by whatever ghostly image appeared by a person's clothing - a crib, for example, meaning the person would have a child soon.

The spookier stories tell of coffins appearing above a person's clothing, and death soon after.

Then there's the rocks, placed in a fire, with the names of the people in the household written on them.

If the rocks were gone in the morning, that person would die within the year. This was mainly a North Welsh tradition, I think, so I don't know much about it.

In honesty, there seem to be as many divination rituals here as there are families.

Everyone seemed to have a different method of telling the future, though even within the last 50 years it's gotten less and less.

Apple-bobbing was also a divination method; that's how it started. The first girl to actually bring up an apple was the next to be wed.

And of course, they would then peel the apple, in as long a strip as possible. You then drop the peel, and whatever letter it seems to make will be the initial of the person you are to marry (this one is still relatively popular.)

Mari Lwyd

Still occasionally carried out, mari lwyd ('the grey Mary') is a traditional costume and/or effigy using a horse's skull, garlands, and a sheet. 

It's now usually used around Christmas and New Year, but originally was used at Halloween too. It chases people (in modern times, the people have agreed to this!) around their homes in exchange for money and/or food.

No-one actually knows why.

Goblin/ghost funerals

This isn't a phenomena specific to Halloween, but I think it's probably worth mentioning here, as the worlds being closer together ups the chances of it occurring.

There are numerous stories here of processions of the dead - sometimes this is the people who will die within the year, all marching through country lanes, sometimes it is the portent of a funeral to come - complete with the mourners who will be there.

Sometimes it's a procession of Y Tylwyth Teg - the Fair Folk, (the Grey Folk, the Ladies and Gentlemen, the Old Ones, etc.) carrying out their own funerals.

(Always speak respectfully of the Grey Folk, and never thank them - they don't like it. Also an alcoholic beverage, or some sugar, or some dairy produce, will go a long way. And potentially make the local cats very happy.)

Look, we have a lot of folklore - and I read a ridiculously large amount of local folklore books, ok? ;)

Friday, 21 October 2016

Friday Fics Fix - And Hit The Party With A Gas Can

I have another Halloween fic for you! And it's still 'clean!' No pumpkin-sex anywhere!!!! I win fanfiction!!!!!!!

(Yes. There was coffee. It's cold here. Don't judge me.)

I should've known that, to find a fun li'l Halloween story, all I needed was some FrostIron :)

(OF COURSE I'm obsessed - I'm a fangirl!)

(Fangirling note: FrostIron is the name of an imagined romantic and/or sexual relationship between Tony Stark and Loki. If you didn't know that before, then you must be new here ;P )

What I really like about this one is the nerdy references, which border on fourth-wall breaking in places.

(And I'm such a nerd - I love me some references and fourth-wall breaking ;P )

So, this whole fic is based around a Halloween party, and Tony running around in a Batman costume.

It's short, it's sweet, it's a lotta fun :)

Here it is then, this week's fic:

I'm Batman by Batfink

'Batfink' sounds familiar... I might've reccd. something by them before...

I have no idea, my brain is a coffee-soaked sieve. Of course, I read a lot of fics that I don't rec to you - so that could've been it too. ;)

Anyhow, enjoy, and I'll have more fanfiction-y-ness for you next week!

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Thursday, 20 October 2016

Comics Wrap-Up - Girl Power

Single Issues

I was uber-uber-uber-impressed this week with independent Pakistani free-for-all web-comic Raat.

This features a strong female lead, who fights crime on the streets of Karachi. And with a strong style, and a distinct voice, I hope it goes far :)

You can check out the series' website @ and follow on Twitter @raatcomic

Other Stuff

When catching up on my comics-y blog-reading, I came across this post by Laura Harcourt @ Women Write About Comics.

It discusses the problems of race in the superhero TV show Supergirl - and how the diversity of the show can be expanded.

(Just to be clear - I love Supergirl. I also love this post. It doesn't undermine Supergirl, just points out places where the show can make things better.)


Also on Women Write About Comics is a post by Doris V Sutherland about a more distasteful side of comics.

Apparently there's a dude in America who likes to write comic-strip style Christian fundamentalist tracts.

Now, neither I nor anybody else would mind if these were just happy little stories celebrating the Christian faith.

Unfortunately, as can be seen in the post, they are pretty horrible things which claim that Halloween, neo-paganism, Harry Potter, etc., are all demonic and evil.

This is particularly unfair for people who practice Wicca, witchcraft, or any other type of neo-paganism (which is completely unlike fantasy-story witches - can we please differentiate between folklore, fantasy fiction, and real people who follow real pagan religions? Thanks.)

Whenever I see something as ignorant as this bloke, I really want to bash my head repeatedly against my laptop!!!

That's about it for me this week guys: be excellent to each other!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016


On October 21st 1966, 50 years ago this Friday, the village of Aberfan was changed forever.

A coal spoil-tip fell on the school.

Over 1 million cubic feet of industrial waste fell on the village, killing 116 children, and 28 adults.

We remember, and I give my small tribute here:


The heart was hollowed from the land
You left the guts to choke us.

A mountain fell on innocent heads.
You faced no prosecution.

Our children meant nothing to you.
Just a poor man's son, a poor man's daughter.

Our children were killed
By a black heart -
A company, an industry,
which cared more for profit than people.

You murdered them with your neglect.

When we screamed 'Murderers!'
you told us we didn't understand
Inferred we should defer to our betters.
Westminster ignored our anger and our pain.

You expected us to bow our heads,
Mumble 'yessir, nosir, threebagsfullsir,'
and creep away.

A father, speaking for a nation, speaking for a people, speaking for his child
Insisted on the truth.
Died of asphyxia and multiple injuries?

You buried our children alive.

You took the heart from the mountains,
Left the guts to rot on a hillside.
And buried our children alive.

And we remember.
Wales will always remember.

You murdered
the children
of Aberfan.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The Greek Mythology Tag

I was tagged for 'The Greek Mythology Tag' by both the lovely Emily @ The Paperback Princess and the fantabulous Tina @ As Told By Tina.

Go check out their awesome-sauce blogs because they officially rock!

Zeus - God of the Sky: Favourite Book of Your Own Category

I am going to pick the uber-specific category of favourite vampire detective novel (yes, yes this is a thing; a thing that I read; do not judge me until you've tried my way of life.)

My favourite vampire detective novel is the first in Tanya Huff's Blood books: Blood Price (UK - US.)

Not only is there a vampire detective who writes romance novels in his spare time, but he's also the illegitimate, bisexual, son of Henry VIII - really, what more could you want?!

Plus, this is the series that really got me hooked on urban fantasy - though, unfortunately, it's no longer easy to get hold of copies in the UK (argh!)

Hera - Goddess of Love and Fertility: Favourite Book Couple

At the moment, I'm shipping Linda and Sarah from Robin Talley's Lies We Tell Ourselves (UK - US,) to the point where they're nearly at OTP status right now (plus, canon F/F romance!)

You can read my review of Lies We Tell Ourselves here.

(Fangirling notes:

Shipping = wanting characters to be in/approving of romantic relationships.

OTP = One True Pairing. A relationship you will defend to your last breathe. Despite the name, most people have several OTPs.

Canon = Official.

F/F = same-sex female romance.)

Poseidon - God of the Sea: Book that Drowned you in Feels

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (UK - US.)

I really don't think I need to say any more.

Athena - Goddess of Wisdom and Handicraft: Series with the Best World Building

The Hollows series by Kim Harrison does such a great job of setting up a post-tomato-apocalypse (I kid you not,) urban fantasy world, where vampires, witches, etc. are living out in the open.

Plus LGBTQ+ characters! :)

Hades - God of the Underworld: Book with a Dark Plot

OK, so many I could go for here... you know I like the gothic-y-ness...

I'm going to go with Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist (UK - US.) This is definitely not one for the faint of heart.

Even those who've seen either of the film adaptations will be surprised at the brutality and grit of this book, as well as the hugely uncomfortable plot-aspect of the paedophile who is manipulated by our vampire-child, Eli.

Scandinavian horror is a step past Scandinavian noir - though (in this case at least,) exceptionally skilled. You have been warned.

Aphrodite - Goddess of Love and Beauty: 2016 Release with the Most Beautiful Cover

I don't know - a lot of the time, the UK has different covers to other countries anyway...

Oh! I know! The cover of graphic novel The Beauty, Vol 1 (UK - US.) Wow, that is still one of the most striking covers I've seen.

You can check out my review of The Beauty, Vol 1 here.

Ares - God of War: Most Violent Book you've Read

Hahahahahahahaha - OH MY GOD, do you know who you're talking to????

All of the gothic-y-ness often leads to the stabbage. #TrueStory.

It's really hard to measure one type of violence against another, but I'm going to go with The Crow (UK - US) here.

A legendary graphic novel, this includes rape, violence, and a core of pain, melded with James O'Barr's poetic skill and ability to somehow make bleak scenes beautiful.

Hephaestus - God of Blacksmiths: Scorching Hot Character

Loki. Obviously.

(When Loki is Lady Loki, she's also pretty damn hot; #JustSaying)

Artemis - Goddess of the Hunt and Fertility: Kick ass Female Character

Red Sonja - that famous comic heroine who is so often de-clothed and subjected to out-of-character actions by unskilled, misogynistic, hands - is, at her very heart, the woman who will save a kingdom and cut the hand/thing off a molester on the same day.

Apollo - God of the Light and Healing: Sequel that Redeemed a Series

Actually can't think of one right now - my brain is just throwing white noise at me. Sorry!

Hermes - Messenger God: Book with the Best Message

Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig (UK - US.)

Why? Read my review.

Hestia - Goddess of the Home: Book that's the Most Relatable

Luna The Vampire: Grumpy Space by Yasmin Sheikh (UK - US,) because I, too, am a grumpy millennial space vampire.

You can check out my review of Luna The Vampire here.

Demeter - Goddess of Agriculture: Favourite Bookish Setting

I don't know - I tend to forget places pretty easily. Narnia, maybe.

Dionysus - God of Wine and Celebration: Anticipated Release

Ummmm... nothing in particular, in honesty. I have enough books to read right now!

Ooh! I know! There's a new Robin Talley book slated for 2017 called Our Own Private Universe - and I really want to read that!

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Monday, 17 October 2016

The Writer Diairies - Learn to Love the Chase

Writing is hard.

You possibly know this - but writing is not an easy thing to do. Putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard is only a tiny fraction of the story.

(Ha, 'of the story' - I just noticed the pun!)

You've got to try and string these weird little symbols into words, and then those words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, chapters, a book!

And all of those little symbols comprising your paragraph, chapter, book, whatever, contain a plethora (woo! I have smart vocab dammit!) of worlds, characters, meanings, and cultural cues behind them. Sometimes the author writes subtext that even they don't know they've put in there.

And all of that takes time. It takes skill which you may or may not have (yet - skills are things you can build!)

I've been writing the 3rd part of my Cinderella posts (see part 1 here!) and it's going exceptionally slowly.

Because writing is a bit like whittling (not that I've ever whittled anything, so I have no idea where that metaphor came from.) A bit here, a bit there, and it can take forever.

But guess what? You have to learn to love that slow process.

You have to understand that it's ok for it to take a long time - as long as you keep working on it, it will be done when it's done, and not before.

You've got learn to revel in the thrill of chasing down the correct word. You've got to learn to enjoy weaving the words together, and letting your fingers dance almost rhythmically across the keyboard.

Because that's the way it works.

You can't create out of nothing - you have to love it, to care about it, to watch it sashay it's way into existence. If you don't love the process, you're not going to write anything worth while.

(It is however OK to also get p*ssed off at the process, and shout a string of swear-words and/or colourful insults at the screen. #TrueStory.)

You also have to understand that sometimes it doesn't work out - and that's ok too.

It's not going to work every time. But if you enjoyed the time you spent working on it, then it wasn't a waste - it just gave you something different to what you thought it would.

Maybe I made sense in this post, and then again, maybe I was talking cr*p.

What do you think? Is it necessary to enjoy the process of writing in order to be a writer?

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