brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

Doyle leaned against the counter and wiped his forehead on his arm, which didn’t help because his forehead was wet with sweat and his arm was wet with sweat, so nothing got absorbed. It just got moved around. Redistributed. Kory tossed him a paper towel and he dabbed at himself while Alma busied herself with drinking Gatorade.

“So I guess we’re done for now. Everything’s moved in, the bed’s set up, boxes are all in their right rooms… wanna get a pizza?”

“Pizza gives me heartburn,” Kory put in.

“What? No. What are you, an old man?”

Kory laughed, shaking his head. “It’s the tomato sauce, man! I guess I could get a white pizza or something…” he leaned over and opened the fridge, taking out a coke. He held it against the back of his neck for a moment before popping it open and taking a drink, then held it against his forehead. “We could go to Duck Burger.”

“Ah, no!” Doyle laughed, shaking his head.

“Duck Burger?” Alma looked up, curious. “What’s that?”

Doyle held up a hand.

“It’s just a burger place, nothing special.”

“But why’s it called Duck Burger? Is that just like… a family name or nickname? Do they use duck fat for the fries or something?”

Kory started laughing so hard he almost dropped his soda.

“No… no! It’s just… it’s just burgers and fries. Just a burger place. It’s not even really called Duck Burger, that’s just like a joke name Kory calls it. It’s really called McNally’s on account of it’s owned by a dude named Jim McNally.”

“Well, are they like… shitty burgers?”

“Nah, well, not shitty. They’re ok.”

“I could really go for a burger, actually.”

Kory started laughing again.

“What? What’s so funny, Kor?”

“Don’t even ask him. He’s twelve. Y’hear that, Kory? You’re immature!”

Kory wiped his eyes with the back of his hand.

“Whew. Well. Let’s clean up and go. They keep the air on real low, it’s nice there when it’s hot.”

The three of them cleaned up, and went to Duck Burger. As Kory said, the air was real low. The cool air felt good after a long day of lugging furniture and boxes and cleaning. The burgers were good, the fries a little mushy, the cole slaw fantastic. They lingered a bit over cake and coffee, tired to the bone, overly full, not ready to move yet. And then they got up, paid, and parted ways. Kory went home and Doyle and Alma headed back to their new place. They watched a little tv while unpacking a few boxes, and then turned in to bed. As they lay there, cuddled up between clean sheets, getting used to the new space and its shadows, Alma felt a pressure in her lower abdomen.

And then she heard it.



“Scuse,” said Doyle.

And then she smelled it.

“JESUS GOD,” she said, clapping a hand over her nose, and Doyle started laughing and then she started laughing and then it was her turn to fart, long and sustained.


“Oh Goddddd I get it now. You guys are so nasty!”

“Hey, it could be worse,” he said. “We could call it–”

“Don’t say Fart Burger. Don’t. Do not.”

He started laughing again, and she did too, comfortable together.

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Hansel and Gretel

Wednesday, 27 March 2013 21:40
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

I have a four year old and he is an avid story-hearer. He loves when I tell stories “out of [my] own head” so lately I’ve been obliging with retellings of Fairy Tales. Here is what we’ve settled on for Hansel and Gretel.

Once upon a time there was a family that lived at the edge of the woods. There was a mama and a tata and a boy named Hansel and a girl named Gretel. Their papa was a woodcutter, and he cut firewood and sold it, and made charcoal, and he made furniture. In good times, people from the village bought his firewood and charcoal and furniture and they lived a very good life indeed. But times had been hard lately, and the villagers did not have much money to spend on luxuries like firewood cut by somebody else, and new furniture. So the family had been tending their little garden and hunting in the forest, but their food was running out and winter was coming.

Hansel and Gretel had a long talk one night and decided that the next morning they would go into the forest to seek their fortune, or at least have an adventure. Maybe they would find a treasure, or a would rescue a prince, or would find a berry bush ready to be stripped of berries. They set out early the next morning with their pockets full of small white pebbles, and a hard boiled egg and piece of bread each for breakfast. They munched on their egg and bread as they walked, and dropped pebbles behind them to mark their path, so they wouldn’t get lost on their way home. However, before they found their big adventure, they ran out of pebbles. They decided to keep walking, going deeper and further into the woods.

They were hungry and tired and thirsty and very lost when they came upon a small clearing in the forest. In the middle of the clearing, in the thin light of the setting sun, was a small house that looked like it was made entirely of candy and cookies. They were surprised! Was it a real house, or were they imagining it? Was it real candy, or just something that looked like candy? Hansel and Gretel crept close and found that it was a real house. They touched it, and sniffed it, and licked it, and found it was real candy! They were so hungry that they started eating the house, nibbling on chocolate and cookies and gum drops.

Suddenly, they heard a creaky wavery voice calling out “Nibble, nibble little mouse… who’s that nibbling on my house?”

Hansel panicked and called out “It’s ooooonly the wiiiiiiiiind.” Gretel glared at him. “Only the wind?” she hissed at him. He shrugged. They heard a laugh from inside the house, and the front door swung open. A tiny woman with a crooked back tottered out, leaning heavily on her cane. She had long white braids down to her knees, and a long nose that curved down and a long chin that curved up. She squinted at the children and they gathered, ashamed and afraid, in front of her.

“Now, children, why are you eating my poor little house?”

“Oh, grandmother!” they said. She wasn’t really their grandmother, but she was so old they called her grandmother. “Oh, grandmother! We were just so hungry and tired that we couldn’t help it. We didn’t think anyone lived here. We’re so sorry.”

“Ah, now, children, if you are that hungry you are welcome to come in and share my dinner with me. I have more than enough for the three of us. Come in, come in.” And she gathered them into her snug, well-lit house.

Once inside, the children fell on the food she gave them and devoured it all. They hadn’t eaten so well in months! She served them beef stew and fresh made bread with butter and yellow cheese and cherry pie. They ate until they couldn’t eat any more and she showed them a soft feather bed with big fluffy pillows. They fell asleep immediately on lying down and didn’t wake up until morning.

The next morning they woke up feeling very well rested. Hansel helped the old woman cut wood and weed her garden while Gretel helped dust the house and do the other fine chores the old woman couldn’t see to do well. As they were finishing, the old woman finished making breakfast. She put bacon on the table, and eggs, and biscuits, and cold fresh milk, and roasted apples.

“I suppose your parents will be worried about you,” she said as they ate. They used much better manners this time because they weren’t as hungry.

“Yes, we didn’t tell them we were leaving.”

“Oh, they must be very worried indeed!” she said. “I know I would be, if my darling children vanished.”

“We thought we could find treasure for them, or some food. We’ve been so hungry.”

“I have just the solution for that,” the old woman said. “Gretel, go into the pantry and bring me the big iron pot with a lid on the second shelf.”

Gretel did as told and went into the pantry. She pulled the heavy iron pot with the lid off the second shelf and brought it to the table, where the old woman fussed with it and dusted it with the corner of her apron.

“You must take this pot home with you. It is a magic pot. When you are hungry tap it three times and say “Food please, pot!” and when everyone has eaten you must tap on it once and say “stop, pot, stop!” Do this and you will never be hungry.”

The children were amazed and exclaimed over this, and Gretel said “I am sure we can’t accept such a valuable gift, grandmother.”

“Nonsense,” said the old woman. “Take it and use it and think of me when you do. I hate to think of you going hungry when this pot could help you. Now, you must be on your way home. I will call my brother Wolf and he will escort you. It is a long way and you are deep in the forest. He will see you home safe.”

She went to the front door and opened it and howled a long and shivery howl that made the hair on the backs of Hansel and Gretel’s necks stand on end. Soon a wolf, the biggest grey wolf the children had ever seen, padded silently into the kitchen. The old woman stood.

“Brother Wolf, these are my friends Hansel and Gretel. Their father is the wood cutter who lives in the grey house at the edge of the woods. Please help them safely home.”

He dipped his big head to her and she fed him the last of the bacon and he licked his chops and then walked out of the house. The children quickly hugged the old woman and then ran after the wolf. He lead them quietly along a narrow path through dappled sunlight. They walked and walked through sun and shade, beneath whispering leaves, until they caught sight of their home. They smiled when they saw it, and when they looked for the wolf to thank him, he was gone. They ran as quickly as they could to their house, carrying the pot between them. Their parents were so happy to see them, and hugged them and kissed them and scolded them for running away, and then hugged and kissed them again. Gretel put the pot on the shelf and almost forgot about it as she and Hansel helped their parents with chores.

Night soon fell, and it was time for dinner. All they had was a bit of oatmeal and some dried apples. The family was very hungry and sad at how little food there was. then Gretel remembered the magic pot.

“Oh, we have the magic pot!” she said. Her parents asked her what she was talking about. “We met an old woman in the woods who fed us and gave us a safe place to sleep, and then gave us a magic pot. It creates food.”

Her father scoffed.

“There’s no such thing as magic,” he claimed. “That’s just an old iron pot.”

“No, no,” she said. “It’s magic. I’m sure of it. She wouldn’t lie about magic.”

“Old women are frequently confused. She probably just thinks it’s magic.”

“No, no. It’s magic, I’m very sure,” said Gretel. And she took the pot and set it on the table and tapped it three times. “Food please, pot!” she asked. And very soon good smells filled their kitchen. Gretel whisked the lid off the pot, and it was filled with thick beef and barley soup. Her parents exclaimed happily, and they all ate several bowls. The pot filled itself up each time. When they had eaten their fill, Gretel tapped on the pot and said “Stop, pot, stop!” and when she peeked inside the pot it was empty and clean. Hansel cleared the table and washed the dishes, and the family slept well with full bellies that night.

In the morning, the pot produced oatmeal with apples and walnuts and again they ate their fill. And then Gretel thought of the people in the village. If their family was suffering hunger, surely others were as well? She and Hansel had a long talk, and they took the magic pot into town where they fed everyone who came and asked for food.

They did this every day for months, through all of the long cold winter and into the spring. As summer came, the situation of the village changed for the better. As the villagers had more money to spend they remembered the kindness of the wood cutter’s family, and they went back to buying their fire wood and charcoal from them, and getting new furniture from them. Good times returned to the wood cutter’s family and they were comfortable till the end of their days.

The End

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The Obvious Game

Wednesday, 30 January 2013 01:00
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

First of all, I was given the chance to read an advance copy of this book for review purposes. I have not been compensated in any way (other than being given a PDF copy of this book) and my opinion on the book are entirely my own.

Second, this book contains depictions and discussion of disordered eating/anorexia and cancer and may be triggering for some people.

15 year old Diana Keller is having a really hard time. Her mom is sick, incredibly sick, with cancer and that’s a lot to deal with. Her friends are maturing and changing and she’s feeling left behind and left out. And she’s tired of being Fat Diana. She meets Jesse, a new arrival in their tiny rural town, and they start dating, and she wants to be perfect for him. So she starts doing something… she starts exercising, a lot. And she stops eating.

It… doesn’t really help.

This is a pretty unflinching look at ED and the way it impacts people. Arens really digs into the mindset of ED, the obsession, the logic and illogical. It’s beautifully written, but sometimes hard to read because it’s so meaty. Despite the meatiness, however, there’s a lot of humor in the book, and a lot of hope. Diana is, ultimately, lucky: she has some very good friends, and a very close and supportive family. A lot of people notice that Something Is Wrong and do their best to help her. Arens also draws parallels between acceptable ED (young men trying to drop weight to get into a lower weight class for sports) and unacceptable ED (young women trying to drop weight because women are supposed to take up as little space as possible).

If you’re of a certain age, you might have spent Junior High and High School inundated with “problem books” or “issue books,” edifying fiction novels usually featuring teen aged women who have SERIOUS problems in an unending stream. Their parents have cancer or are dead, they have cancer, they want to be concert pianists but break their arms on the weekend before The Big Audition, someone is beating them, someone is raping them, they can’t stop shop lifting, etc. They were depressing books. It would be easy to glance at this book and see “mom has cancer” and “ED” and assume it’s more of the same. It really is not, however. There’s far too much hope, humor, and support in the book. Additionally, giving a character’s mom cancer is usually a way to write mom out of the picture while giving the protag some big drama thing that shapes them. Arens manages to center Diana’s relationship with her mom. Her mom has cancer, but she’s still mom, and she’s still important.

There are two other things I adored about the book. One is Diana’s best guy friend. They love each other very much and trust and respect each other and are siblings with different parents, basically. They are very close emotionally and comfort each other physically (hugs, cuddles) but there’s no romantic pressure or expectations. I really hate the idea that men and women can’t be FRIENDS because SEX/ROMANCE IS INEVITABLE. So it’s super refreshing to see a positive, affirming heterosexual relationship. And speaking of sex, another thing I liked is that Diana has sex and doesn’t get shamed/punished for it. She worries briefly about the consequences of pregnancy and if her boyfriend will still respect her, but he does. She worries her parents will find out, but they don’t. (and if they did, well, they stick by her in every other way so I doubt finding out she got her bone on would be the end of the world) One of her best friends is well known for “kissing” every available guy she sees, and another has a very serious boyfriend and spends a lot of time behind closed doors with him. Neither gets in trouble/shamed for their actions. Whaaat! Young women have sex and it’s not the end of the world!?! ADORE.

That said, I think my absolute favorite scene in the book is Diana’s snippy Passive-Aggressive “attack” on a teacher she doesn’t like. She cracks open “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations” and slips a saying about hypocrisy under his door. Oh, nerdy teen angst, I adore and identify with you!


Mirrored from Thoughtful Consumption.

brigid: close up of keys from a manual typewriter (write)
Are any of you familiar with the Short Story Challenge? It sounds utterly fascinating, but I don't have $39 to throw around. Is anybody interested in doing a local volunteer/free version of this? No prizes except a sense of pride in a job well done.
brigid: close up of keys from a manual typewriter (write)

Markiss Halfweight had tried to kick a door down once. It had flown open in a very gratifying manner, but before he could step through the doorway it had swung closed again with a violent slam. He’d managed to avoid getting struck in the face by unyielding wood, but ever since that lazy, beery afternoon he’d decided that all stories of door-kicking-in were just that, stories, told to bolster the reputations of people who need bolstering. As such, he was very unprepared for the door to his gang’s club being kicked in. The admittedly not very good lock skittered across the floor, broken off of the door, and the rough wood slammed against a chair, sending it flying. The door kicker then strode confidently into the room, heels clicking on the floor.

“What fuckery is this!” she exclaimed, a beast of a woman, tall and broad shouldered, with hands bigger than most men’s. “What sheer, unbridled, fuckery is going on in this craphole?”

She had taken everyone by surprise. The gang gaped at her and then scrambled to their feet. Sinkhole Senca reached her first and then went flying back, knocking Short Mavon over, when she brought one of those giant hands to bear on his jaw. Jerome Fiflower went at her with a knife and she swung her cloak around and off and muffled him with it and when he was released, stumbling, he was bleeding and she had his knife and her cloak both.

“Listen up, you pathetic amateurs! I’m Hobbin Bellehouse and the Five Lillies gang work for me, and are under my protection. Which means when you shitfucks rough them up, you answer to me and let me just tell you that I can take you all one at a time or all together, and darling boys, I have got all night to play.”

Jerome pressed the tail of his shirt against his bleeding cheek and glanced over at Sinkhole and Short Mavon, both moaning on the floor. Markiss, who’d stayed alive this long by not charging headfirst into trouble every time it presented itself, hung back. Hob held up Jerome’s knife where everyone could see it, and then flung it towards him. It planted itself a good two inches in the floor boards with a meaty thunk, the knife vibrating gently, next to his foot.

“OR, and I highly recommend you take this option, you come work for me as well. I take ten percent of anything you haul in, and I handle your problems whether it’s another gang or the Short Swords.”

Jerome stared at her sullenly.

“And if we refuse your most generous offer?”

“Then I beat the shit out of you, take ten percent anyway, and keep doing so until you lot give in. Oh, and sometimes I might take more than ten percent. You know. If I’m feeling irritated at you little shits for bruising up my knuckles.”

Sinkhole and Short Mavon were sitting up, getting to their feet; in short, recovering. Thom the Small and Bearbiter were edging toward her, and Markiss joined them. Jerome grinned, showing the gaps between his too-small teeth.

“There’s more of us than there are of you.”

“You think you can take me down, little ones? Bring it.”

They brought it, but not very well. Hob left the gang with her purse and her obligations both heavier.

Mirrored from Fiction.

brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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I’m re-reading my Big Book of Jane Austen and wondering, yet again, why some people continue portraying her work as romantic.

I mean, sure, they involve matrimony and at the end of the story there’s a marriage and not a funeral, so technically they are romances and not tragedies, but still.

Most of the established marriages are pretty awful, formed of people who barely tolerate each other at best and despise each other at worst. New relationships are entered into with negotiation, almost as business partnerships, even when actual affection is involved. And when a potential spouse who has objected to a match based on social standing relents, it’s not because passion has swept him/her away. Rather, it’s because he/she found out something further about the potential spouse like their family isn’t as unrelentingly tediously awful as first thought and there are some Members Of Quality present. For instance, Elizabeth Bennet and her atrocious family (except for sweet, naive Jane) but wait, she has the civilized lawyer uncle and aunt.

A lot of modern readers (and, let’s face it, viewers of dramatic versions of the books) forget or never knew that a good marriage was an upper class woman’s job. If she failed at it, she (or the daughters she misaligned) could face poverty or abuse with little alternative save returning home to live with her parents. If you’ve ever read Vanity Fair you’ve seen what Amelia Sedley– a woman with a very high class education and wealthy background– is reduced to in order to survive. (spoiler: she has absolutely no marketable skills and mostly goes hungry, surviving on handouts from relatives)

Austen’s heroines are women with very little options trying to make the best future for themselves they can. Maybe, like Marianne, they narrowly escape being “ruined” (spoiler: “seduced” (possibly raped), impregnated, and abandoned therefore to be hidden away because of The Shame) by A Cad only to find a decent marriage to a man literally old enough to be their fathers; maybe, like Jane Bennet, they luck out and have a few small difficulties before snagging a congenial easily-pushed-around wealthy dude with bitchy, unpleasant sisters;maybe they’re rescued out of grinding poverty (and a very close knit and loving family) to live among people who treat them like unwanted and threatening time bombs waiting to go off, only to find a love alliance with a cousin after all (but have spent over a decade being treated like crap by the rest of the family). She writes with humor and there are comedic elements and, yes, the novels have a Happy End. But there’s a grim undertone of desperation under the social skewering and witty banter.

If these women fail at catching a good husband, they are fucked.

brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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Let’s say that you are reading a piece of fiction that is well written and enjoyable. It’s got what you like in it: good characters, good world building, action, romance, happy little elves, sparkling vampires, hard bitten cynics with hearts of gold, whatever.

Let’s say that there’s a character who is one gender, but presents as another. FOR INSTANCE: you have a biological female who dresses in male clothing, uses a male or gender neutral name or nick name, and doesn’t correct people who use male pronouns.

Do you assume this character is transgendered?

If you find, via the story, that the character presents this way for social reasons rather than identity reasons, do you feel let down? Like, the character doesn’t really identify as male, but gets less crap from people/is taken more seriously when wearing pants and short hair, but has no problem having a vagina/ovaries/menstruating/etc?

If a character IS transgendered and presents/lives/identifies as female, but is a sex worker, is that offensive because it’s a stereotype? What if the character is fully accepted by the group she lives/works with, and her clients? What if the character is a minor character who is well fleshed out and realized but ultimately is a support character only (”magical transperson”)?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please feel free to email me (brigidkeely at gmail .com) if you don’t want to post publicly.

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Wednesday, 9 June 2010 09:51
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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I’m a little peeved because I’ve had a story kicking around in my head for awhile now about 3 young women who all find out about their supernatural abilities. One of them is the daughter of Manannan mac Lir. And now I’ve seen the first (I’m assuming there’ll be more) Percy Jackson movie and I’m worried that 1) that will inform my narrative and 2) that people will assume that informed my narrative. I kind of want to read the books, but now I’m fretting about influences and… yeah. Whatever. (One of the other young women is a werewolf, although she’s always known that, and the other is a Phoenix-like supernatural creature.)


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Science Fiction

Wednesday, 24 March 2010 17:12
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If you asked me about ten years ago what my favorite genre was, I’d have told you right off the bat, no hesitation, “fantasy.” The truth is, though, I’ve always been hugely into science fiction. Ahh, sci-fi! You had me honestly believing that I’d see actual colonies on other planets, hoping that I’d have the option of being a Bold New Settler– and if not me, then my children. That I’d be able to see my children launching themselves into the unknown, Boldly Going. Books involving The Future (whether bright and shining or dingy and dystopic), aliens, robots, Space, exploration, etc were my bread and butter. I’ve read approximately fifty thousand post-apocolyptic dystopia books (current favorite apocalypse: zombie outbreaks, replacing the nuclear holocaust survivors with awesome mutations genre from the 70s and early 80s).

So why list fantasy as my favorite, instead of sci-fi? I mean, you know, sure… I love magic and fairies and vampires/werewolves/etc as much as the next person who came of age in the 90s and fell in love with White Wolf’s World of Darkness games. Or, possibly, more. So why the falsehood?

Frankly, because science fiction is the realm of boys. It’s a male realm, the books populated with male scientists and male inventors and male adventurers, written primarily by men for male readers, and marketed toward males. Until very very recently, it was assumed that only men enjoy and like sci-fi, and the only female touches are heaving bosoms and slightly parted lips sighing after the hero… or some vampy female who betrays the man but not until they’ve had hot sex. I mean, for crying out loud, the sci-fi channel changed its name to SyFy to attract female viewers. Instead of addressing the content of their shows, their advertising, their staff, they… femmed up the name.

A friend of mine sent me some really good books for my birthday and another one sent me a gift card for So I’ve been reading and enjoying a lot of new stuff lately, but also looking at it a little critically and thinking about my reading habits as a younger person, and how I identify as a reader now, and just how much sexist training and indoctrination I had as a kid about what is and isn’t appropriate for someone who was born with a vagina. It’s kind of depressing.

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Literature and women

Wednesday, 3 March 2010 16:43
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When I was of an age/interest to read Young Adult Literature, most of it was written by dudes, featuring dudes as the characters, and was directed and marketed at dudes. If female characters were present, they didn’t say anything, or were a designated love interest, or taught the Young Hero a Valuable Lesson. There were books directed at female readers but they pretty much sucked, featuring as they did date rape and cancer and orphanings and promising piano careers cut short, and did I mention the date rape and also the stalking? They were horrible, terrible, awful books.

There were a few bright spots, in my reading. Lloyd Alexander who roped me in with his Prydain books, for instance. His stuff was pretty male centric but he DID have the Vesper Holly books, books with a female protagonist who goes on adventures of the sort a male protagonist usually went on. Tamora Pierce’s Alanna/Lioness Rampant books were pretty trail blazing and inspiring, and shaped my world view in ways I’m still discovering. Meredith Anne Pierce’s “Dark Angel” trilogy (which apparently went out of print, with the final book being IMPOSSIBLE for me to find for YEARS) which flavored my dreams and my notion of what strength and love were. Robyn McKinley and Jane Yolen. Susan Cooper’s “Dark is Rising” series and sweet, strong Jane. Mary Stewart’s “Romantic Thrillers” with women who often didn’t know how to drive (my maternal grandmother, of an age with Lady Stewart, never learned to drive) but who still kicked butt and seized their own happiness.

There’s probably more, but in 30 years worth of reading, I’ve come up with what, seven names? Seven authors? And even then, most of Alexander’s work was male-centric, as was Cooper’s “Dark is Rising” books.

This is, now, changing.

Graceling is a book about a young woman “graced” with the ability to fight and kill. She hates it. She hates being under the control of her uncle the King, who sends her out as his bully and muscle. She hates hurting people. She hates herself. And over the course of the book she comes to better understand herself, and slip out from under the control of other people. She also Has Adventures and acts. She isn’t acted upon. She is a driving force. And she doesn’t end up married and with children. In fact she is opposed to marriage and doesn’t want children. How refreshing is that?

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a coming of age story focused on a young woman whose father is vanished and presumed dead, and whose mother essentially commits suicide in the first few pages. The protagonist comes to realize that the utopia she lives in is actually a dystopia built on lies and half truths, and must escape her fate and her world by launching into the unknown, leaving everything she knows behind. As she journeys, she faces her staggering ignorance and realizes the world is much larger, huger, than anything she could imagine. It’s hard to really describe this book and how much I like it without running into spoiler territory. As with “Graceling,” the protagonist acts more than she’s acted upon. She makes decisions and takes charge and runs her own life.

Lips Touch: Three Times is a collection of 3 short stories about first kisses. I am not and have never been a fan of romance, which makes me kind of a freak, I think. In the “Alanna” books, for example, when I first read them as a teen, I actively resented the romantic bits in the story. So when I say this is a collection of 3 short stories that have a common theme of “first kisses,” please understand that it’s also about a lot more than that. Each story follows a young woman at a turning point in her life. Each must take control of her destiny, her fate, her life, and make a decision about something and then live with the consequences. And each one does.

Some friends of mine are having a baby girl and, nerdishly, one of the things I’m most looking forward to is her discovering reading. I’m incredibly glad that there are books that are written for her; not just books that she can enjoy, but books that are written with her in mind, heroines that she can easily see herself as. I spent most of my childhood running around pretending I was Robin Hood and Taran Wanderer and King Arthur. In order to star in my own youthful fantasies, I had to be male, take on a male persona. I’m excited that literature is opening up and giving young women a taste of what it means to be strong, adventurous, heroic, and female.

If you’re looking for feminist/female-centric books, you might want to check out the Amelia Bloomer Project for lists and descriptions of books.

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The Cat Sìth (Scottish Gaelic: [k?aht? ??i?]) or Cat Sídhe (Irish: [kat?? ??i?]) is a fairy creature from Scottish mythology, said to resemble a large black cat with a white spot on its breast. Legend has it that the spectral cat haunts the Scottish Highlands. Some common folklore suggested that the Cat Sìth was not a fairy, but a transformed witch.

The myths surrounding this creature are more common in Scottish Folklore, but a few myths occur in Irish folklore as well.

From Wikipedia.

The Cat Sidhe, in Faerie, has two forms: a stocky, powerful, bipedal fur-covered form with large teeth, claws, and tail; and a large stocky mountain cat type form. Cat Sidhe are skilled trackers, hunters, and guards who live in the Winter Court. Like most Fey in the Winter Court, they are more reserved than the Summer Court. Unlike most Fey, the Cat Sidhe are not immortal. They have long life spans, but they still age and die. Further, Ice Trolls (which do not live in Faerie) prize their pelts and hunt and kill them when they can.

When Cat Sidhe cross Iron Side, they are consigned to either a fully human looking form (bipedal, no fur, no fangs, no claws, no tail) or fully cat. They tend to prefer the cat form, as the human form leaves them feeling naked and defenseless. The longer they spend Iron Side, the more likely they are to be stuck in that form. As a human shaped Cat Sidhe cannot cross back into Faerie, this poses a problem.

Cat Sidhe do not tend to take part in political intrigue. Although intelligent, they are not devious or overly secretive (any more than any other feline influenced race).

Cat Sidhe, with their limited life span, do experience pregnancy– which is rare among Faerie. Females have 1-3 litters in their life time, of 3-7 kits. Generally, more males than females are born and survive. Cat Sidhe are able to interbreed with other fertile Fey creatures and humans, although it’s unlikely. Their offspring generally take after the non Cat Sidhe parent, although this is not always true, and are usually sterile.

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I am working on some short horror fiction.

Is anyone interested in reading rough drafts and giving feedback?

If so, respond here with an email (or email me at brigidkeely @

036 Black Cat

Thursday, 17 December 2009 14:25
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There’s a small elementary school not far from Balmoral Race Track, in the distant South Suburbs of Chicago, not far from Indiana. Near that school was an abandoned church, which was torn down in the late 1990s after a series of disturbing events.

During the late 1980s and very early 1990s, locals were very disturbed to find cats nailed to the door of the church on what seemed to be random dates. Concerned parents set themselves up in deer blinds to try and catch the perpetrator or perpetrators, however no one was ever caught in the act. Further, nobody in the vicinity ever reported their pets going missing, leading some to deduce that the perpetrators were either using barn cats or feral cats (tricky animals to catch), or else importing cats from miles away.

Parents and teachers admonished local children about witchcraft and satanism, warned them to stay away from grave yards and strangers, and chalked the proceedings up as an unsolved mystery.

One bright autumn morning in 1991, two teens walking through the woods found a wallet. Opening it, they found no ID or credit cards, but they did find money and condom still in its wrapper. One of the pair took out the money and then pocketed the wallet, resolving to turn it in to the cops after their walk– a walk that was interrupted by them tripping over what turned out to be the nude, half-eaten corpse of a young man. Most of his face was gone, as were his hands, making indentifcation difficult. The forensic examiner determined that the majority of bite marks on him were feline in nature, but was unable to determine cause of death. No more cats were found nailed to the church door, and it stood abandoned until it began listing to one side, under the effects of winter and neglect.

It took a while to resolve ownership of the building, but it was condemned and torn down. The small cemetery attached to it remains, and continues to be a local hang out for teens escaping parental supervision.

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035 Organ

Tuesday, 15 December 2009 10:11
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The stretch of houses on St. Louis between Lawrence and the River is primarily brick two and three flats. One of these, a dark red brick two flat with the front porch converted to an enclosed sun room, and blown roses leaning limply against the iron fence, is frequently host to odd music. Passers by notice this music at random hours of the day and early evening, rarely at night. It sounds like a polka played one and a half times normal speed, on an organ. Nobody in the neighborhood plays the organ, and although pedestrians and neighbors pinpoint the music’s location consistently as being this particular house, those within the house claim never to hear it while indoors.

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I’m cutting back Secret Chicago updates to twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I just couldn’t maintain an every day schedule… the ideas clogged up in my brain arteries. The habit of writing at least 100 words every day was a good one, though, and one that I need to continue.

Does anyone have suggestions for short story publications, especially horror, that I can submit actual short stories to? I’ve been doing research on my own, but do you have a favorite magazine or webzine that you read or submit to? If so, please comment with links/info.

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In 1988, a Russian vessel mistakenly emptied its bilge into Lake St. Claire. The living contents of that bilge water migrated through the great lakes, some of it ending up in Lake Michigan and the Chicago River.

Every few summers since then, residents of Chicago notice that the water, which comes from the Lake, tastes odd. Some describe it as “greenish” tasting, or “almost grassy.” The City issues bulletins and news casters make announcements. The water is safe to drink, the water is perfectly fine. There is simply an overgrowth of zebra mussels, which affects the water’s taste but nothing more.

While zebra mussels are an invasive species that have fundamentally changed the nature of the lake, and while they do have life cycles that rise and fall, it is not the zebra mussels that change the taste of the water.

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033 CTA

Thursday, 3 December 2009 17:03
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It is somewhat surprising, perhaps, that despite the large number of deaths due to accident, murder, and suicide, that the CTA trains are not thickly haunted. Some theorize that the electrified third rail keeps spirits at bay, the live electricity having the same effect running water is said to have on supernatural entities.

Buses, however, are a different matter.

Henry Collins had the night route for the 92 Foster bus. It was a nice night, clear and calm, and ridership was low. He was heading westbound when he pulled over for someone waiting at Pulaski. The passenger boarded the bus, a girl “about 11 or 12 years old,” wearing a red pea coat, dark grey pleated skirt and knee socks, black shoes, and no hat. She laughed and dashed down the aisle, ignoring his “fare, miss.” and taking a seat at the back of the bus. Mr. Collins, a large man, stood up and went down the aisle after her. She startled visibly as he approached her, and to his utter amazement, vanished.

Although he kept his eyes open, Mr. Collins never saw his ghostly rider again on the Foster route.

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032 Knock

Wednesday, 2 December 2009 14:31
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The unseen preys most heavily on those who are alone: those who are alone for the night, and those who spend their lives alone. Prey animals are most vulnerable when separated from the rest of the herd, after all.

When alone, one might barely hear a soft knock at the door. The sound is so faint that one will pause and listen again. It is odd, how so faint a sound can carry through whatever else one is doing. The knock will come again, weak, slightly louder. There may be a compulsion to check the door, to check the lock, to check the chain. There may be a compulsion to open the door and see what brushes against it.

Do not open the door.

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It is not common, on dark lonely nights, to see the family dog rise suddenly and advance towards an otherwise innocuous spot, hackles raised and growling. Perhaps it is a closet door, a closed door on an empty bedroom, a spot on the wall, the dining room. It is of the utmost importance to pay attention to these occurrences, and to act. Invite a priest into the home to cleanse and bless it. Keep the home well lit. Do not stay there alone, but invite loved ones to spend time with you.

Conversely, a cat acting the same way can safely be ignored.

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030 Laurel

Monday, 30 November 2009 16:39
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In late November of 1941, Myrna Mitchell finished feeding her 8 month old son, Laurel, breakfast. She left him in his high chair with an arrowroot teething biscuit and a spoon “to keep him occupied” while she went into the kitchen to wash up from breakfast. Halfway through her last load, she heard a small sound. She turned the water off, and heard Larry laughing and jabbering to himself. She went back to her dish washing, wiped down the counters, and swept the floor.

When she returned to the dining room, she found a gnawed-on, still damp teething biscuit on the floor next to the high chair. His bib had been removed and placed on the seat of the high chair. The child was gone.

Myrna called the police, who found all the windows closed and the front and back doors both locked. No one in the neighborhood had seen any strangers in the area at the time of the abduction. No ransom note was forthcoming.

One sensationalist newspaper reported that a strange foot print was found beneath one of the dining room windows, and that it was shaped like a goat hoof. It’s true that a foot print was found, and casts were made of it. The police report denotes it as a shoe print, although the cast has been lost.

In December of 1941, one month after Larry’s disappearance, Myrna thought she heard a child’s voice over the speaking tube leading up from the lobby of the two flat she and her husband lived in. She ran downstairs, finding no child. The spoon Larry had been playing with was neatly laid on the bottom step, however; shining gently. Snow had fallen a few hours previously and not yet been cleared away. There were no foot prints.

In January of 1942, again on the anniversary of the child’s disappearance, Myrna discovered the shoes and romper he had been wearing stuffed into the mailbox.

In February, on that fateful date, Myrna discovered a small white envelope slipped in the morning newspaper. It contained a lock of Larry’s hair.

In March, near what would have been his first birthday, Myrna received a package in the mail; it was wrapped in brown paper and tied with string, and had no return address. Herbert Mitchell, her husband, reports that she went very pale upon receiving it and rushed out of the house. She was later found dead in an alley. The package was never recovered; neither was Larry’s body.

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