"Everything ends, and it's always sad. But everything begins again too, and that's... always happy. Be happy." — Doctor Who
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September 27, 2018

Fiction: Jerks, lords, daggers and stolen gold bars

This week's Words for Wednesday words are: bespoke, fence, poster, drained, splice, ergonomic and/or bridle, bent, wallow, derail, stoned and savings.

Fiction: Jerks, lords, daggers and stolen gold bars

The face on the poster is haggard and thin unlike Eddy who is not yet thirty but looking at the portrait, she might as well be sixty or six. Underneath is written: 'Wanted for robbery and assault. Armed and Dangerous. Contact the police immediately if seen.' She rips the poster down, crumbles it and throws it to the ground. The jerk only lost a tip of his ears, how is that assault? He doesn't deserve a name so she calls him the 'jerk.'

Just a week ago, Eddy was a guest at Lord Danton's manor for a party held in honor of his twin daughters' birthdays. The jerk had secured Eddy an invitation and it was their plan to rob his godfather, Lord Danton.

When the birthday girls were being serenaded with a three layered cake, Eddy made her way up the two flights of stairs and into Lord Danton's office where she pulled a framed painting off the wall to reveal a safe. Eddy had no trouble hearing the clicks as she turned the dial. Her one talent was that she could hear through anything and at a great distance. She had the safe open just before the birthday girls started opening their first present. Eddy gathered the ten pieces of gold into the black sack that she had previously hid in her glove. But the tenth one didn't quite fit into the sack. She stuffed it down the front of her dress. It was a good thing she wasn't well endowed like her mother. She closed the safe and hung the painting back into place and was at the door but the jerk ushered her back inside the office and closed the door. How did he got up here without her having heard him?

"You can't leave through the front," he said. Eddy almost dropped the sack. "Lord Danton had called the police and they are almost here. Leave through the windows. Hurry!" She heard footsteps climbing the stairs. They were no ordinary steps. She had heard them enough times to know they were steps of authority. The birthday girls were still opening presents.

If Eddy was caught with the gold, she would not be able to get away. She walked over to the windows. They were four stories up but outside, there was a ledge and beside it was a tree. She could climb down easily. This was her second escape route but she didn't think she would need to use it. "Go and I'll distract them," he said with a smile that revealed his bright teeth. He pushed one of the windows open. "Hurry!" The footsteps were coming closer. Outside a dog barked.

The jerk grabbed the sack from her and said "Let me hold that for you." Eddy gave him a small grin and started to climb backward out the window. When she got her feet steady on the ledge, she held out her hand for the sack but the jerk sneered at her and backed farther into the room. The door opened and five man in navy uniforms entered. "There's the thief! Seize her before she gets away!" The jerk shouted while pointing a finger at Eddy.

Eddy wanted to scream but she took a breath and let it out. She should not have gotten a partner. Why didn't she listen to herself? She turned to reach for the nearest branch when two pairs of hands grabbed her and pulled her up and back into the room where they held her arms behind her. The jerk stood there with a smug look on his face.

Lord Danton rushed into the room and opened the safe at once. "Where is my gold?" He demanded. Eddy shrugged. She turned to the jerk but he had nothing in his hand. Where was the sack? She didn't see him move.

"I believed her accomplice took it and left her behind," the jerk said with such a calm voice that Eddy almost believed him. She wanted to protest but she had no way of proving her innocence or his guilt.

Lord Danton's nostrils flared, sending a corner of his mustache shivering. Then he said, "You three, go out and find the other thief. I want my gold back." The jerk did mentioned Lord Danton was also a magistrate. Three of the policemen saluted and left the room. "Now then, Miss, I hope you will be so kind as to tell me how you got into my safe. No one have the combination, not even my wife. How did you found out?"

If Eddy had anything to say, she didn't have the voice to say it. Years ago, she had lost her ability to speak after a long illness.

"Nothing? Then take some time to think it over. Take her to the station and lock her up." Lord Danton gestured to the remaining two policemen. Then he turned to the jerk. "Thank you, Holden for..." Eddy stopped listening as the policemen led her toward the door. The jerk had betrayed her. She knew she shouldn't have gotten a partner. She twisted around and punched one policemen in the face and kicked the other in the stomach. She pulled out two daggers from her boots and threw them at the jerk. One caught the edge of his right ear and stuck on the wall behind him. The other landed on the painting. The jerk screamed. Blood gushed between his fingers as he pressed a hand over his injured ear. Eddy ran out the door.

"Fools! What are you waiting for? Catch her!" Lord Danton shouted. Eddy could hear the jerk whining like a baby.

Eddy was about to go down the stairs but two pairs of hands grabbed her and pulled her arms behind her so hard that she would have scream if she thought any sound could come out.

"Take her to the station at once and make sure to keep an eye on her." Lord Danton looked furious standing in the office doorway.

Out in the street in the cool air, Eddy had a sudden realization - she was alone and the jerk had let her take all the blame. Well, she was guilty but the gold was stolen from her so technically, she was not entirely at fault.

The two policemen escorted her into a black automobile where it immediately took off. But it moved too fast and she was not used to it like she was with a horse and carriage. Her head ached and her stomach was churning and before she could stop herself, Eddy puked on the floor. The policeman beside her shouted. The automobile stopped with a jolt. Eddy was pulled out of the vehicle. The policeman driver got out and peered into the backseat at the mess. "Will you look at this? The smell will never come out." The unlucky policeman who sat beside Eddy was wiping his shoes. Some bits must have gotten on them. Eddy almost laughed. Then she ran. She heard them calling her but she didn't stop. When she found a corner dark enough to hide, she ran into it. She crunched down on the ground and waited. The policemen ran pass her. She didn't leave her hiding place until she was sure she couldn't hear them anymore.

Eddy glances around to see if anyone notice her but no one did. She keeps her head down as she heads back to the abandon train station where she have been staying. At the tracks, she turns toward booth #7 and goes inside. She dusts a few debris from the ground and lifts up a metal plate where she pulls out a leather case from the hole in the ground. She spreads out the five daggers and the gold bar. The sixth and seventh daggers are still in Lord Danton's possession. She thought of the jerk's face and remembers how he sneered at her. The jerk drained her of patience and not to mention the gold she had rightfully stole. She wants to wallow in self pity but that would mean she had lost and he had won. No, she had not lost. Some day, she will destroy him. For now, she must find a way to get out of the city.

Visit Words for Wednesday here >

September 21, 2018

The secret methods (or madness) of a half successful blogger

'happy'
Okay, there are no secrets and I don't have much success with blogging but I like the title. Here are some wonderings (I wanted to use 'wanderings' but it didn't make as much sense) and some queries and mostly just some thoughts on blogging.

01/ When I first started blogging, I kept changing my template, kept trying to make it look nice and I guess it became a habit and I've been perfecting every little corner with each new blog, just little things like colors, alignments, text sizes etc. You have probably noticed my blog changes looks almost weekly. And yet, I see no change in other people's blogs. So my curious mind wants to know – do you care how your blog looks?

02/ I often see blog headers that sometimes hangs at the end like there is no room to contain it and this seems to happen only to Blogger blogs.  I just have to wonder maybe those bloggers don't know how to fix it?  When you upload your header, there is the 'Shrink to fit' option which strangely only appears when you upload a new header. Do you know that option?
click on the image for a larger view

03/ Do you write your post directly in the compose post space? I usually write my post using the app iText Express (I don't use Word), save the file and when I'm ready to post, I just copy the text into the post and style the text, add links and images and if I have to make any text edits, I would do it in the file I have saved and then copy the text back to the post. And if it's a long complicated post, I would click on the html option and copy and save the html text into a separate text document and in that way, the format stays and if I happen to lose that post or make some horrible mistake then I would simply copy the html right back over whatever mess I have made.
click on the image for a larger view

04/ I see mistakes a lot in blogs and that's normal and it doesn't bother me. But when I see mistakes in my blog, it kind of bothers me and so I would go and fix it. Most of the time it's spelling errors. Although I do use spellcheck, it doesn't always catch the errors. So in a way, I may have spent more time fixing posts than actually writing them (and I may have edited this post about a million times). Do you fix the errors in your posts even after they are posted?

05/ Do you know you can increase/decrease the text/image size of your web browser? So if a blogger uses small text that are too small for your liking, you can increase the browser to something like 110% or more. If you're on a mac like me and use Firefox, you can press Command and the plus or minus key together and increase or decrease the browser or you can go under View --> Zoom --> Zoom in or Zoom out and there's also the option of Zoom Text Only. I think most browsers have these options but you'll have to check.
click on the image for a larger view

06/ If you're on Blogger, your posts photos are here - https://get.google.com/albumarchive and then click on the album 'Photos from Blogger' but you have to sign into google to see it.  It used to be that you can delete a lot of images all at once but now, you have to do it one by one, which isn't very handy if you want to remove a lot of images. Since images takes up a lot of memory, I usually delete them if they aren't being used. So my previous blogs' images have been deleted or else I would have to pay for more memory. I have tried using a photos service once but I just find it a hassle to upload the image and find the url to place the image into the post which seems like I have to take extra steps when I don't have to. Also I just see no reason to use a different service when Blogger is perfectly fine at handling images.
click on the image for a larger view
If you use google, you know you are given a certain amount of memory and if you exceed that, you have to pay to add more memory or start deleting images or emails. If you're logged into your google email, you can see how much memory you have at the lower left corner below your emails and if you click on 'Manage' you can check out the details. (There are other ways to find out but I find this is the easiest way.)
click on the image for a larger view

07/ Why does Wordpress have those awful advertisements? Sometimes I see a leg or a foot and they freak me out and I have to leave that blog right away. What's up with that? I have no idea what they are advertising but I'm not sticking around to find out. Does anyone else see those awful ads?

08/ I sometimes wonder if I'm repeating myself. I have been blogging for a long while now and I usually blog about the same things — art, fiction, books, movies, tv shows, blogging and occasionally something that doesn't fit into those categories. Do you find you don't have many 'new' content as you used to? New as in content that you've never blog about before.

09/ Why do people use those manipulated puppy/dog photos on their sidebars? I forgot what they are called but these photos are headshots with (fake) puppy features, ie, ears, nose, over their own features. Some people may find these manipulated puppy photos cute but they just freaks me out and I'm not even sure why. I think they are just...weird. If you have a photo of yourself on your sidebar, you should know readers see it every time they visit so that photo should not weird people out.

10/ Is it rude to tell a blogger that their blog design makes it hard for me to visit their blog? It's not just how badly it is designed but more about how readable the text is. Sometimes the text size is too large or too small which can be amended (see #5). Sometimes the text is too colorful or the contrast between background and text is not enough. But what bothers me the most is white or color text on dark or black background. My eyes just can't take the strong contrast for long. I used to highlight the text to read it but that method doesn't work well as sometimes the text just blended into the highlight and there's no contrast. My post content text is a slightly darker than gray hue but lighter than black which I think it's the most comfortable shade to read by. If your blog is set with black or dark background with white or color text, I might not visit you as often and now you know why.

11/ I have not been consistent in my blogging schedule but I have been consistent in ruining any schedule that I sometimes made which is why I really should stop making them. But I do try to post at least once a week or sometimes if it feels like I haven't blogged in a long while, I would post something and sometimes I just don't care if I post or not. So how often do you post? How often do you think is enough?

12/ I'm a one-column blogger, well, occasionally, I'm a two-column blogger but mostly one-column. Once, someone said they don't know how to navigate my blog which looks pretty much the same as right now (with the one-column). So I'm wondering do you have problems with navigating my blog? If so, here's a map, which is really just a visual list of things to know. Click on the image below for a larger view.
click on the image for a larger view

What are some blog features or blog-related things that you just keep wondering about?

September 19, 2018

Fiction: Book Haven

This week's Words for Wednesday words are: perfume, blanket, blue, market, voltage, feline and/or exotic, throttle, oven, comprehend, toss and trespass.

Fiction: Book Haven

Today is the day she is going to die. That is what the fortuneteller had told Juliet two weeks ago. The fortuneteller was so certain that she had bet her own life on it. But when Juliet gazed into the old woman's face, she could not deny there is some truth in it. She have been ill for a long while now. There have been periods of reprieve but none that lasted long. Juliet have accepted the truth but today, her heart races at the thought. Whether she lives or dies, it should not matter, she will go on until she cannot.

After a small breakfast of toast and tea, Juliet starts to tidy up. She is certainly not going to leave behind a messy house. As she moves from room to room, she feels a lightness unlike before. There have always been a heaviness like an anvil all over her and it had been hard to move but today, it isn't there. She laughs as she takes a peek outside the hallway windows — light rain drips down in diamonds. A cool wind snakes in through the small cracks of the windows that she have a habit of keeping it slightly opened on rainy days. She have always believed the rain needs more places to go.

Her books! She must organize her books. She wanders down the stairs toward the livingroom where her books reside in the corner next to the couch. She can hear the thunder clapping outside but it doesn't frighten her. She feels cheerful and yet, there is a part of her that lingers on her melancholy side but she dismisses the thought.

As she rearranges her small collection of seventeen old and worn books that she had inherited from her family, she is reminded of when she was a child. She had dreamed of owning her own private library and had wished for books every birthday but her family was too poor. Now to her, these books have always been her haven, her escape from the every day, her escape from her illness. She would not trade them for a thousand new ones.

After she cleans the oven and mops the floors, she decides she deserves a break. She picks up an old black hardcover from her collection and sits down on the couch in the corner. Still the rain pounds down outside but she only gives the windows a few glances as raindrops spatter between the small cracks onto the hardwood floor. She flips the first few pages and starts to read.

When she opens her eyes, she realizes she must have fallen asleep. Bright sunlight fills the entire room. A cool breeze drifts in from the windows. She pokes her arm out from under the blue blanket which she doesn't remember bringing it down from her bedroom. She rubs at her eyes. What she sees amazes her - the entire room is filled with books, shelves and shelves of books. Everywhere she turns, are more books. She must have died, she thought. But as she walks around the room, picks up every third book, runs her hand over the covers, her own existent is very clear to her. The fortuneteller must have been wrong. And if not... She tosses the thought aside when a book with a gold cover catches her attention. She removes it off the shelf and takes it toward the couch in the corner and starts to read.

Visit Words for Wednesday here >

September 16, 2018

New art at society6 #5

'fly' 2018
This piece is titled 'fly' and it's a piece that I have done a while back. I've revised it slightly with brighter colors and a few little changes. This is one of my favorite pieces that I have done, well, I seem to say that about every piece but it's true. You can order the print here or framed art print here.

Starting today, 9/16/18 and ending on 9/22/18, there is all types of sales going on at Society6. Here is a list of some that has to do with art prints and framed art prints:

9/16-9/17: 30% Off Everything with Code FALL4ART 


9/18-9/18: 25% Off + Free Shipping on Art Prints, Tapestries + Posters with Code FALLWALL 


9/22-9/22: 25% Off Framed Prints, Wall Hangings, Wood Wall Art, Wallpaper + Wall Murals with Code FALLMURAL

Visit my society6 shop by clicking on the image above.

September 15, 2018

Fiction: Lost in the fog

I found this prompt from Christine's blogMuted Mumblings' Words For Wednesday — and I thought I give it a try. What you do is "Use all, some or none of the words. The idea is just to become inspired to write...anything...poetry or prose, fiction or nonfiction, sci fi or fantasy," as quoted on the blog here. You know, well, some of you, know I write fiction so today, I wrote something using some of the words from this prompt. This week's words are: left, bachelor, dripping, movies, doorway, mansion and/or bunion, forlorn, estate, plush, clump and rags.

photo from 'out & about in new york city'
Fiction - Lost in the fog
 
He looks up at the skyscrapers fading into the foggy ceiling. He imagines he is an ant in a land of giants. Something red flickers near his right side. He watches as a lit cigarette flies and then lands near his feet. He stomps the cigarette out. When he glances up, he sees only the small blur of someone's back. A woman in a black dress bumps against his shoulder but before he could say anything, she disappears into the crowd. He sighs. He have lived like this for sixty-five years but today, the noise of car horns, children shouting, phones ringing, cameras snapping, people laughing — they all sound too close, too loud for him to think. If Matty is here, she would tell him to shut out the world and enjoy his own silence. But Matty isn't here. She have left him for god or so he thinks. He sometimes believes there is a god and sometimes he just doesn't know. He is alone in the middle of a rushing city but he wishes he is elsewhere. Like in the movies — if he closes his eyes and then opens them again, perhaps he would be somewhere over the rainbow and maybe he wouldn't feel so forlorn. A young lady in a long gray coat asks for a black umbrella. He pretends to shuffle the umbrellas around and then chooses a black one buried beneath the colorful ones. He have always hope people would choose a color one instead of the gloomy black but people don't want them. They have always chosen black even when there is plenty of colors left. He smiles as he takes the five dollar bill from the young lady. He slips the bill into the storage box and turns the lock. A few more people comes by asking for black umbrellas. He smiles as usual. After they leave, he looks up again and waits for rain.

Visit Words for Wednesday here.

September 13, 2018

The blog header redesign project wrap-up

I've enjoyed working on these designs but I think I'm too opinionated so they seems to end up more toward my liking than for the bloggers. Plus I didn't ask for opinions when I designed them so it's pretty much a one-sided sort of thing. I did designed them as a reader - someone who actually reads the blog and knows what I like and don't like. Maybe it would have been better to ask for some opinions from the owners of the blogs but then, these would turn out very differently. Here are all the designs I did for this project: 

#1 (Pages for Thoughts), #2 (Christine's Blog) & #3 (Kdrama Kisses) read about them on this post

#4 — Small Reviewread about it on this post

#5 — Beauty Flows > blog link
click on the image for a larger view
Design #1
That title is my own design which I think it's pretty decent and I really like the colors of Tammie's painting here but this design is just okay.

Design #2
I don't know if the pink works but I like it and this is my favorite.

Design #3
I really like this simple one and the fonts just happens to be the same font I used for my own blog & I thought it's a great font for artists.
screenshot of the original blog
redesign tests - click on the image for a larger view
The screen tests are a bit the same but I really like white background so the artwork can still out a lot more but I did make one with a blue background but with a slightly lighter shade of blue because the original blue that is a bit dark plus the text in the post are usually red so that contrast is a bit much. Do these new headers work?

Please note: The artworks used are all Tammie's artworks.

#6 — Book Haven > blog link
click on the image for a larger view
Design #1
I had this idea that books lead to another world, another haven and that's why there are door openings and the insides of the door openings are actual space images from the Hubblesite. Since Book Haven talks about science fiction, fantasy books and movies and shows, making it a slightly darker view of haven seems like a natural fit. Now that I look at this again, I think it's too busy for a blog header.

Design #2
You could say design #1 led to design #2. Do you see a face there? - the two O's with the crows, the V is sort of the nose and the curvy branch below the words is the mouth - sort of like a wiggly, timid smile. I like this but since it's not horizontal, it's not so great as a header.

Design #3
This is my favorite. It's simple and I like there aren't any specific thing on it other than the space image.

screenshot of the original blog
redesign tests - click on the image for a larger view
The screen tests are a bit different from what the blog looks like now. I just didn't like the wood background which I think it works with the current template and the text blog title but with the new designs, it is too busy and fights for attention. So what do you think? Do these new headers work?

I was going to do a seventh design but I got lazy or perhaps I was not motivated. For now, these will be the last headers that I will do though I might pick this up later.

September 4, 2018

Books read in July & August

summer night reading
I didn't do much reading because I seem to have no patience for it especially during these hot days. I re-read a few books so technically, I would have only read three books in two months which probaby isn't bad. I actually re-read a lot more books but I don't remember which ones so I can't list them here. Book #3 I have posted about in my previous blog but since I read it during this same time, I thought I add it here. (If you like to see the day version of the above artwork, go here.)

images from www.abramsbooks.com
01/ The shape of ideas by Grant Snider  > link
This is not an advice book nor some type of how-to book, it's more like a collection of comic strips. I'm not much into reading these type of books but they are good for in between reading when you want something else to distract you from...reading. Since I have seen some of the strips on Snider's blog, they aren't as fresh to me but I like them. I think these are funny and charming and I can almost relate to everything in it.


02/ Equal rites by Terry Pratchett (part of the Witches Series which is part of the Discworld Series)  > link
I guess I had too high expectations but this book was just okay for me. It wasn't as funny or enjoyable as the Tiffany Aching books. I guess I just didn't expect that there would be very little of the lead - Eskarina - and more of Granny Weatherwax whom I liked in the Tiffany Aching books but somehow here, she doesn't seem as likeable. I also didn't like the way it is told as if someone is telling a story like a tv show but breaking the third wall so we know it's a story and probably won't take it seriously. I don't know if I'll read the rest of the Witches series. But should I really judge a series by its first book?

Favorite Quote:  "...for a moment he nursed the strangely consoling feeling that his life was totally beyond his control and whatever happened no one could blame him."


03/ The Underwater Ballroom Society edited by Tiffany Trent and Stephanie Burgis > link
The two great things about this collection is the cover image and the idea of underwater ballrooms. I know the underwater ballrooms is just a common theme and not the main focus but the stories are more like preludes, prologues, epilogues, than whole stories. Why is it that the more interesting story aren't being told? Probably because they are already in book form? The only author that I have read before is Stephanie Burgis. The other authors I have heard of but never read before so I have no exceptions about the writings, just the stories. Here are the reviews of the stories:

The Queen of Life by Ysabeau S. Wilce
Good idea but would have been better if we actually know what happened before instead of what happen after. Why did it took seventy years for someone to get to that magical land to find the rock star?

Twelve Sisters by Y.S. Lee
This pretty much reverted the original story as if nothing had happened and I didn't like that.


— Penhallow Amid Passing Things by Iona Datt Sharma
A little chapter of a partial story that probably would have been better if we were talking about the past instead of the present.

— Mermaids, Singing by Tiffany Trent
Mermaids yes but it's not their story but they might have been heroines if the story had been turn toward them which it didn't. It might be good to retitled this to 'The wolf king' or something else because the title is almost misleading but I think this is the one of the better stories in this collection.

— A Brand New Thing by Jenny Moss
I think I would rather read about aunt Dorothy's experience instead of Eve's.

— Four Revelations from the Rusalka Ball by Cassandra Khaw
Not much of a story, more like monologues but then again, I have no idea what the Rusalka Ball is anyway.

— Spellswept by Stephanie Burgis
Too much romance, too much mushy-headed thoughts, not enough story?


— The River Always Wins by Laura Anne Gilman
It's just an okay story which would have been more interesting if it didn't feel like an epilogue, like the before story should have been told instead.

— The Amethyst Deceiver by Shveta Thakrar
Kind of an intelligent, boring story, intelligent for the way is written, boring because I can't seem to get into the story or get interested in any of the characters.

— A Spy in the Deep by Patrick Samphire
I think this is more of a spy story than science fiction or fantasy and I'm not a fan of spy stories. But it's not bad but what I want to know is why is Harriet George the only one that can dismantle a certain device? Why is she the only one that can save people in that situation? Is there no one else there with a brain?

Overall, The Underwater Ballroom Society is not a bad collection but I guess I'm not the reader for these stories but don't take my word for it, read them for yourself.

04/ The Professor by Charlotte Bronte  > link
I did read it a few years back but I don't remember anything about it. I really didn't like professor William Crimsworth or the way he operates - he's a man of that era where he is probably taught that women are to be taken care of and not to have careers or even jobs. I guess it's why I can't even admire him. But mostly I didn't like his idea that his would-be wife should quit her job and stay home and be a wife and mother. I thought he would have a more of a modern mind about women but he doesn't. It is a first novel so I didn't have high expectation but it's a decent read.

05/ The tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte > link
I actually read this years ago and really didn't like it all that much but re-reading it now, I actually find it quite absorbing and more likable. I still sort of dislike Gilbert because he just seems not at all unique or a worthy man for Helen and sometimes his thoughts are just a bit too unlikable. Helen is definitely too good for Gilbert. Plus he became so dumb toward the end of the book and couldn't even take the easiest hint from her. There is a happy ending but it sort of seems like it took a long time to get there but it's a remarkable and somehow entertaining journey.

Favorite Quote: "'and if I,' said she, 'am young in years I am old in sorrow; but even if trouble should fail to kill me before vice destroys him, think, if he reached but fifty years or so, would you wait twenty or fifteen - in vague uncertainty and suspense - through all the prime of youth and manhood - and marry at last a woman faded and worn as I shall be - without ever having seen me from this day to that?"

What is the last book you have read?