Friday, July 30, 2010

Uh, oh! Plethora of Awards at Randomities!

I have to confess something. I've always wanted to use the word "plethora" but I never had the chance before, so I kind of held out some of the award announcements for a while. :P

Well, this is partially true, since the Zombie Luv Contest kept me quite busy and the majority of them was granted during the crazy times in which I was evaluating or judging the entries.

Either way, sorry for the delay! This doesn't diminish by all means how much I appreciate the awards themselves and the lovely people who granted them to me. :)

The Fabulous Flash Award, was created by Jon M. Strother, the father of the #FridayFlash community. In his own words:

I have decided to start the Fabulous Flash Award to spotlight some folks I feel deserve recognition for their, well… fabulous flash fiction.”

Gracie Motley was the amazing writer who passed it on to me. She writes the most incredible dragon serials, Fire and Water, and some flash fiction that engrosses you up to the end, making you ask for more. She's also very supportive on her comments and a great person to chat with. Thank you Gracie for this great honor!

This award rules are simple:
  1. acknowledge receiving the award in a blog post
  2. link back to the person who awarded it
  3. select four other fabulous flashers to receive the award to keep spreading the joy
  4. write one or two short lines explaining why you’ve chosen each recipient
  5. optionally (I know not everyone is on Twitter) tweet, “I just gave the Fabulous Flash Award to (name). They’re worth reading.” Include a shortened URL back to your post in the tweet.
So to the fun part. I'd like to pass on this award to:
  • Jodi MacArthur -- This woman is creepy; she writes things that will make your hair stand up. She's not limited to the darker side of the human mind though, her humorous pieces are fantastic, her poetry is deep and moving, and now she's also into a dark mystery serials that I'm most curious about. Her voice is unique, her stories are original and well constructed, I'm sure we'll hear a lot about her in the future.
  • Ganymeder -- Catherine Russel has a fantastic sense of humor. See her last flash, Pirates Don't Play Easy that you'll understand. Her mastery in pacing carries you through the story at her will, releasing you only when she desires to. It's almost impossible to have the first reading of her writings with a critical mind; it's the reader in us that take over at first.
  • Tomara Armstrong -- I had noticed her writing before, but it was her entry to the Zombie Luv Contest, Three Steps, that showed me how exceptional her writing is. It was my winning choice for quite a while. Of course this is not her only great story, she easily strolls from gruesome, to lovely, and won't shy away of curious writing challenges, coming up with fantastic results.
  • Erin Cole -- She writes mystery and horror with exquisite word choice, trapping your attention with mastery. She has recently opened submissions to her macabre anthology, 13 Days of Horror. Check out the great array of writers she collected on the previous edition.

TheVersatile Blogger Award came from the awesome Valerie Valdes. Thanks! :D

She has two awesome ongoing web serials, and man, you have to check out her story that just came out at the Birdville Magazine!

Now, I'm not familiar with this particular award's rules, so I'm passing it on to a few people I believe deserve it:

Finally, the lovely Monica Marier is the one who granted me the One Lovely Blog Award. Thank you! :)

This award's rules are also simple, although more difficult to comply with:
1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
The solution for my dilemma was to acknowledge some great people I've met through the Zombie Luv Contest, so I'm passing the this award to these cool zombie folks I had the pleasure to meet through the contest: ;)
  • Angel Zapata, from A Rage of Angel (I hope you won't mind the pinkness of the award, Angel, considering the general tone of your blog. :P)
  • David Hernandez, from Dividing Canaan (Same pinkness comment goes to you too. ;P)
Ohh, I made it to 15 people, yay! Now, those who were tagged with excessive pinkness, I'll understand if you decide not to accept the award if it doesn't fit too well the visual of your blogs. I just ask you to bear in mind that roses have thorns and the background is grey, at least. ;)

Congrats everyone! :D

Book Review - The Ainu and the Bear, by Ryo Michico

The Ainu are the indigenous people of northern Japan, mainly the Hokkaido island. They are semi-nomad hunting and fishing people that also cultivate the earth and have the unique view that our world is much more attractive than the one of the gods, which is why they visit us frequently, disguised as animals, plants and even tools.

There are the owls, the gods of the villages; the dolphins, the gods of the sea; the trees, the gods of the earth; and the great bear, the god of the mountains, which is the most important of them, along with the goddess of fire that protects each home. [1]

The Ainu and the Bear is a children's book that tells us about one of those visits, alternating between the bear's and an Ainu boy's point of view.

A small cub is taken away from her mother in her very first days of life to live with an Ainu boy, her protector. She grows up with him, creating a deep bond that is severed when it is time for the bear to go back to the land of the gods. The boy grows into the old and wise man who will teach the youngsters of his village an important lesson:

Every grain of millet, and every piece of meat and fish, contains the life of another.

We feed on the life of others. (...) We all partake in the blessing of the cycle of life.

This is a valuable lesson for all of us, children and adults equally, as it teaches us to respect the food we ingest. Being carnivorous, omnivorous or vegetarian, everything we ingest, industrially processed or not, contains the vital energy of another living being. This is the cycle of life we disrespect when we raise the animals in the poorest and cruelest conditions, when we torture and kill them without respect or consideration, when we poison our crops.

I gave the book for a ten-year-old English girl to read, fearing that she wouldn't finish it. I was surprised to know that she liked it, although she felt sorry for the bear when it was ritualistically sent home. (iyomande) I believe the book's lesson is so true that it resonates with a deeper part of us, which is why the girl accepted the difficult elements of the story so well.

The translation to English -- by Deborah Davidson and Owaki Noriyoshi -- is fluid and well written. It is clear that it remains faithful to its original language, being all the while accessible to people from a Western background. The illustrations -- by Kobayashi Toshiya -- help setting the ancient Japan atmosphere as well as the story's understanding.

I found particularly compelling the description of the boy's feelings throughout the bear's life, especially when he witnesses her demise. It is soothing to see how he learns to deal with these feelings while interacting with the nature in a positive and respectful manner.

The book comes with a audio CD containing the narration of the story and two live recordings of ceremonial chants. (Iomante upopo) Both me and my little friend found the audio boring, although all changes of intonation were in the right places, and she laughed at the strangeness of the chants, a natural reaction to a first contact with such a diverse culture.

I would recommend this book to every parent who wants to raise a highly aware human being. However, I wouldn't recommend it to an unprepared child. My reader is not a common ten-year-old girl, being very mature for her age. I'd suggest that the parents read the book first, take some time to digest it and then read it with their kids. After the reading, a good laugh can be relaxing when listening to another culture's voice.

[1] Campbell, Joseph: Masks of God I, Primitive Mythology, p 273. Edition translated to Portuguese, Ed. Palas Athena, 1992.

[2] You can find much information about the Ainu rites on this website, which is also where I found the illustration of the tattooed woman. You can read more about The Ainu and the Bear at the Project U-e-peker blog.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Random Cool Things #8 - Bookish Bookmarks

I found this awesome bookmarks with calendars on a nearby paper shop and I couldn't resist sharing them with you.

Hey Anne, talk about head monkeys, eh? ;P

Now, I know those are from past months, so I'm sharing also this one, of October. If you like, you can download and print it. ;)

The other bookmark-calendars are not bookish but some are really nice, including the ones of the incoming months.

If you're curious drop me your email on the comments that I'll send you the whole pack. :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

#ZombieLuv Wrap Up

I'd like to close up highlighting the best of what happened during the #ZombieLuv fever. There are some things -- and people -- that deserve an extra shout out, so here it goes.

Of the 37 awesome contest entries, the great winner was Tell-tale Bit, by Nishida C. It's not for nothing that it was an unanimous decision. Really.

This story was also the debut post of her awesome blog. I suggest you visit her and read her fantastic poetry. :)

Nishi, I'm still waiting for your email/DM with your physical addy to send the second prize (book), ok? ;P

The contest's second place, Dead Flames, by Angel Zapata, is up at Flashes in the Dark, where you can find more stories from this fantastic writer. Angel has some chilling stuff in there I wouldn't miss if I were you. ;)

Also, the honorable mention and people's choice, For the Love of Mike!, by Sam Adamson is up here at Randomities. What a fun story! We're still trying to figure out what the zombie mouse eats. If you have an input, please join the discussion on the comments or through the #zombieluv hashtag. Fun! heh

If you missed the contest, there's a link to all entries here.

If you're curious to know how the fun begun, you can take a peek into my interview on The Penny Dreadful website. There you'll also find some fantastic serials and even a cool webcomic with a charismatic zombie boy. Excellent stuff!

I do babble a bit about myself on the interview, so if you want to skip that part you can read how it all begun here, heh.

During the period in which Randomities was dead, a few posts lost some of their appeal due to Randomities' grayness. They were meant to be pretty things you know? I'd like to suggest you check them out under a new light. (literally, heh)
  • Oil Spill, Take Action -- where I compile some information on the Mexico Gulf oil spill, and point you to some inspiring initiatives to help dealing with its consequences. The wonderful illustrations that go with the post are part of it.
  • Breathe -- where you'll follow me in a peaceful and inspiring afternoon, with pretty pictures and all. Writing bliss.
  • ZombieLuv Webcomic -- although it's zombie related, I think this cool comic can be better viewed with the present (and lighter) background. I love it! heh
Finally, we've decided to compile a Zombie Luv Anthology, which will be a free ebook with the best entries from the contest, including the winner, second place and honorable mention, obviously, heh.

Now, selecting the stories, making eventual edits, asking permission to all writers and the actual ebook making will take some time, so I'll keep you posted when it comes out, ok?

Thank you everyone for your participation on the contest, either by entering, judging, commenting or reading. It was a blast! The ZombieLuv movement goes on! ;D

Friday, July 23, 2010

#ZombieLuv - The Honorable Mention

With no further adds, let me introduce you to the winner of both the poll and the honorable mention of the Zombie Luv Contest, Sam Adamson!

*big applause*


For the Love of Mike!
by Sam Adamson

'Ma! He's doing it again!'

Maggie sighed and, apologising to the spirits, opened a door in her circle, stepped through and carefully closed it again behind her. Picking up the candle she'd left burning on the dresser, Maggie hurried through the darkened cottage to the kitchen.

Bartholomew stood on his hind legs in his cage on the counter top, nose and whiskers quivering as Maggie snapped on the light and set the candle down on the kitchen table. Bramble sat on the floor staring intently at the mouse in its cage, swishing his tale back and forth and moaning, flexing his claws against the tiles. Mike was over by the sink, giggling.

'See Ma, Bramble's at it again,' Mike slurred.

'Bramble! What have I told you?' Maggie scolded. Bramble turned, fixing her with a pair of milky, dead eyes.

'Yes, you!' she continued. 'Leave that mouse alone. Come on, shift.' She flapped her hands at the cat, who lurched unsteadily to its feet and shuffled stiffly across the floor towards Mike, the tip of his tail hanging at a strange but jaunty angle. Midway across the floor, Bramble's left ear quivered then dropped off onto the tiles.

'Oh not again,' Maggie muttered, hunting through a drawer for the glue.

Bramble let out a low, moaning meow as he approached Mike. Mike grinned a lopsided grin.

'You hear that?' He sounds like me.' Mike stuck his hands out in front of him and shuffled towards the cat. 'M-O-U-S-S-S-S-E,' he moaned, and even Maggie had to smile. It had never crossed her mind when she'd raised Bramble that a zombie cat would retain the instincts it'd had in life.

Mike stooped awkwardly to pick Bramble up and Maggie froze. As he straightened up she released the breath she hadn't been aware she was holding, nothing important had come adrift. While Mike wasn't looking, she poked his eyebrow out of sight under the table with her toe; she'd stick it back on later while he was sleeping.

Seeing the love Mike still had for Bramble brought a lump to Maggie's throat, casting her instantly back to the night of the accident. She'd been driving them back from the vet's after getting Bramble's booster injection when their car had been T-boned by a drunk driver in a horse box. Mike and Bramble had died instantly, yet she'd walked away without a scratch.

It had taken her months to perfect the spell, Bartholomew was proof of her first successful attempt. She preferred not to think about the previous ones, and wouldn't be caught outside after dark for love nor money. Even so, it was neither as simple, nor as quiet a procedure as she'd thought, so Maggie had sold up and moved to the cottage – nothing for miles around in all directions except fields. The perfect place to re-build her family.

She'd done the best she could with Mike, even shopping online for a preparation popular among undertakers, which really did seem to help arrest the decay. It had even seemed to help Mike retain his speech, at least for a few weeks, but recently she'd noticed his vocabulary diminishing and he seemed to be having increasing trouble forming words. Regular baths of strong-smelling herbs helped with the odour, whether Mike enjoyed them or not. The only thing that saddened her was she could do nothing about the ugly gash running across Mike's face, loosening his right eye, which had ended up in his dinner on a few occasions.

Mike seemed happy to be back, though isolated as he was in their new home, he was lonely. When the nightmares had got so bad he'd stumbled into her room and tried to wrench the top of her head off, Maggie had resolved to get him another pet. A zombie mouse was hardly the pet for a growing lad she thought, so Maggie had performed the ritual again to bring back Mike's beloved Bramble.
Seeing Mike cuddling Bramble and tickling him behind his remaining ear had Maggie all misty eyed. She recalled vividly as she dabbed her eyes on her sleeve, their first night together again as a family. A pet-food commercial had played on TV featuring a small boy and his cat. Mike had dissolved into hysterical moaning, which Maggie took for laughter, and when she'd asked him what was so funny, he'd fixed her with his lopsided grin and moaned, 'My cat loves braiinnnsss, and I love my cat.' He'd even emphasised the “t” of cat, just like the little boy in the advert.
* * *

Completing the ritual for the final time, Maggie exhaled slowly as the body of her husband William, dead from leukaemia these past four years, began to twitch within the circle. As she lay down next to him, Maggie prayed this ritual would work. William had been dead longer than anyone, or anything, else she'd raised, and she'd had the devil's own job exhuming his body and driving it to the cottage by herself.

A single tear slid down Maggie's cheek as the spell took the last of her life-force to power William's awakening. It would be okay, it had to be, she thought as her heart finally stuttered and stopped, she'd built into the spell that she would join him, an undead wife to an undead husband, undead mother to an undead son. The spell had been complex to construct, but after all, a growing boy needed both his parents. William's eyes flickered open slowly, his head lolling to the side where Maggie lay entwined in his arm. Recognition seemed to flicker across his face.

'Hello, love,' he moaned softly, planting a passionate, foetid kiss on her lips, his cold, clammy tongue tentatively exploring her mouth. Maggie shuddered with elation – it had worked, it had! Her family was complete again.

We will have to do something about that formaldehyde breath though, Maggie thought as she returned the kiss.


Sam Adamson is an aspiring writer, blogger and fountain pen enthusiast from England. When he’s not enjoying a good cup of coffee or writing, Sam is engaged on the perpetual hunt for the perfect writer’s notebook and pen combination. His hobbies include medieval Britain, herbal medicine and cats…there has to be cats.

You can find more of Sam’s writing at his blog Future;Nostalgic. You can also follow him on Twitter at @FutureNostalgic.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

#ZombieLuv Contest - Winners Announced!

Today is the big day!

Besides announcing the winners and the honorable mention I'll give you an inside scoop on the judging, I'll point you to yet more zombie luv stuff, and I have an important question to ask at the end of this post, so stick around. ;)

First of all, I'd like to give a big THANK YOU to the judges, Lori Titus, Jodi MacArthur, and Jim Bronyaur, who did a fantastic job! They've helped me not only with the judging, but also with the organization, with spreading the word and whichever issue that arose during the contest. It was through Jim that we got this super cool logo and he even wrote a piece on the theme! Click here to check it out. ;)

Now for the inside scoop.

This is how the judging went: each criterion was graded from 1 to 5, being 1 the lower and 5 the highest score. The winner entry was chosen using a mixture of objective and subjective criteria, weighted as below. The judges' highest weighted averages (above 4.0) were discussed to define the winner entries and the honorable mention. For the honorable mention the judges also considered the poll's result.

Criteria and weighting:
  • Weight 1: plot, title, overall quality
  • Weight 2: grammar, spelling, pace
  • Weight 3: originality

Before the big announcements I'd like to inform you that h.lee (Charcoal Muse) formally withdrew from the contest due to website restructuration. I appreciate you submitting in the first place h.lee, and I'm sorry that you couldn't stick around to the end. Thank you!

Also, I'd like to point out that of the 37 entries, 6 were giving a first try to the zombie theme, including the big winner, and many were stretching their writing wings either for the romance aspect or the combination of zombiness and romance. I applaud you guys; in my opinion experimentation is a fundamental part of the long term writing process.

Finally, I'd like to thank two great writers who chose the Zombie Luv Contest as debut post (or almost debut post, heh) for their blogs. I'm honored! Thank you Nishi and Lexx, you guys made my day! :)

Now, the honorable mention will be published here at Randomities tomorrow. We had a hard time choosing, I gotta tell you. Since this story scored very well for all judges, showed up on almost everyone's favorites list, *and* it was the poll's winner, we couldn't award the honorable mention to anyone else but...


For the Love of Mike, by Sam Adamson

Congrats Sam! You popular guy, you, heh.

Come back tomorrow to enjoy this original and funny zombie luv tale! :)

Now to the big announcements everyone is waiting for. Yes, you have not been reading wrong and there's no typo in this post. (hopefully, heh) There were so many entries with a high level of writing skill and originality that we decided for a second place as well, which -- wow! -- is also going to be published at Flashes in the Dark!

Thank you Lori for you generosity! :D

After some discussion with virtual hair pulling and fingers in the eyes, we came to the conclusion that the second place, which comes out next Tuesday, July 26th, at FitD should go to...


Dead Flames, by Angel Zapata

Congratulations Angel! :D

It's time to present you the contest's winner! But first, I gotta tell you that despite the many high quality entries we had no problem choosing. The decision was unanimous!

Soooo, the Zombie Luv Flash Fiction Contest's big winner is...


Many congrats Nishi! *applauses and huge ovation*

Click on the story title to read it at Flashes in the Dark. ;)

Nishi, please DM me with your physical address, so I can send you a brand new paperback edition of Pride, Prejudice and Zombies. :)

*pops bottles of prosecco to celebrate all contestants, readers, judges and general zombie luv fun!*

A glass, anyone? ;D

One last thing. I'd like to ask your opinion about something. I was suggested to gather some of the best entries in the judges opinion and publish a Zombie Luv Anthology.

Dear readers/visitors: what do you think about it?

Dear writers/contestants: would you like to have your story featured on such anthology?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

#ZombieLuv - Poll's Result

That's it folks. The Zombie Luv Flash Fiction Contest is officially over.

Tomorrow I'll announce the big winner and the honorable mention, but in the mean while I'll tease you guys with the poll's results, heh. *evil grin*

The poll had:

-- 37 entries (candidates)
-- 52 voting people
-- 93 valid votes

Thank you everyone who read the entries (they were many!), who voted, and who spread the word mainly on twitter. The contest's success is due to your participation as well, dearest readers! :)

Now I'll leave you with the most voted stories. Many congrats to the most popular #ZombieLuv writers! :D

Finally, I'd like to remember that, as I mentioned, these results will influence the decision of the judges on granting the honorable mention.

However, please bear in mind that the poll is not the sole criterion. So, if your story amongst the most voted, please don't take for granted that you're running for honorable mention. ;P

The poll's result means that people loved your story, and not only, they took the time to come to Randomities and say how much they loved it. This is great by itself!

Many congrats once again! You all deserve it. :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Six Word Story -- #FridayFlash

Woman falls, dragon catches. Fight. Death.

Note1: This story was inspired by Estrella Azul, whose six words story can be read here. Thanks Estrella for the inspirational push! I never thought I'd be able to tell a story in six words before you gave it a try. :)

Note2: I found that amazing picture here, where you can find other cool dragon stuff. I almost used this picture to the story, (scroll down a bit) but I didn't want to lead your imagination as to who won the battle. ;)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Air Has Color

It's salmon.
It is no mist, no veil, no illusion.

The sun gave me a twilight gift.
It is meant for all of us.
It is on the trees, on
people's skin, on the air.

I breathe in the gift
and smile without smiling.

Note: The picture was taken by yours truly in the vicinities. I suggest you click on it to enlarge if you want to have a better grasp of what I felt when receiving this wonderful gift. :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

#ZombieLuv News!

Aye, aye! We have news, zombie lover folks!

We've got almost 40 entries on the Zombie Luv Contest, which in our view is huge! We're totally *doing crazy dance*, heh.

There's some great stuff there, which makes it all the more difficult to judge and choose a single winner, even if there'll be at least one honorable mention.

We need more time to decide, so we'll make the winner's big announcement on July 22th.

Please bear with us. It's just an extra week. ;)

Also, we feel that the poll was too large in options and too short in voting time. We'd like to give you more time to read and choose your favorites, this way you can also help us out with our dilemma. (the honorable mention one ;)

That's why we're extending the poll up until July 20th, midnight EST.

Another reason for this extra time is that the blogger widget wasn't working well for everyone, the lazy bastard! heh

The solution I came up with is transferring the poll to the comments. I'll consider all votes accepted by the widged so far, and I'll compile the votes you leave on the comments in a spreadsheet.

The poll's result will be announced on the same day as the contest's winner.

Here are the guidelines for voting:
  • You may vote for as many entries as you like. Just name them on the comments.
  • Anonymous votes will be disregarded.
  • Contestants may vote for themselves, but they must vote for at least one other entry as well.
  • If the widget has decided to work for you, please be a good sport and refrain from voting again. I have no way of controlling this.
You'll find the complete list of entries at the bottom. Have a great reading time! :D


Now, since you'll have an entire extra week to read all these fantastic stories, you can also take a peek at the my interview at The Penny Dreadful twitter chat -- Tuesdays, at 4pm EST -- where I talked about how the contest came to be and other things.

I had much fun and I hope you'll have some reading it too. :)

Psst, don't miss the chance to explore the TPD's website. Awesome stuff in there!

Finally, I'd like to show you the funny poem Tony Noland wrote on a single tweet.

I loved it and felt most honored, Tony. Thanks! :D
#zombieluv contest is done
be weeks 'til we find out who won
but lose or win
it all made me grin
Thanks, Mari, this contest was fun!
It seems you have some foreseeing ability, as originally it should take only a week to know who won, heh.


List of entries by order of submission:

-- Forever, by Angie Capozello

-- At the End, by AJ Brown

-- Island Nights, by Laura Eno

-- Love After Death, by Joanie Rich

-- Romeo and Juliet are Dead, by Tony Noland

-- Heartless, by Monica Marier

-- And Then There Were None, by Emma Newman

-- Three Steps, by Tomara Armstrong

-- Scent of a Zombie, by KeMari

-- Dead Flames, by Angel Zapata

-- Lloranda, by David A. Hernandez

-- Advantages, by Rebecca Thompson

-- Burning Zombie, by Erin Cole

-- Yes, by Casper Wood

-- Light, After All, by Mark Antony Crittenden

-- Cooties, by Donald Conrad

-- Rose, by Delia

-- Undead Love, by David G. Shrock

-- Chained Love, by Eric J. Krause

-- A Small Misunderstanding, by Gracie Motley

-- Benching a Wolf, by Cathy Olliffe

-- Tainted Love, by Melissa L. Webb

-- For the Love of Mike!, by Sam Adamson

-- Something Not Hunger, by Matt Merritt

-- The Tell-tale Beat, by Nishida C.

-- Til Death Do Us Part, by Stefanie Howerton

-- All-consuming Passion, by Barti Ddu

-- The Balad of Nate and Carla, by David D. Sharp

-- Leaving Gary, by Jason Beymer

-- Marrying the Dead, by Lexx Clarke

-- Charcoal Muse, by h.lee

-- Dead, Long Dead, by Tim King

-- The Forgotten Thing, by C. Dominique Gibson

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