Wandering Away with My Uterus

Cover for My Wandering Uterus

A while ago I told you that my short story ‘In Search of Sorrow’ had been accepted for inclusion in the anthology titled ‘My Wandering Uterus’. I’m very excited about introducing you all to my new character ‘Sorrowful Jones’ and the anthology promises to be filled with interesting articles, poems and stories, all carefully curated by Kate Laity and H Byron Ballard.

My previous post looked at the history and mythology around the Wandering Uterus so I thought today I’d give a brief outline of how my story was accepted and the process to publication.

Sub to Pub

As so often happens, I saw the invitation for submissions on social media. I was intrigued by the title and decided to submit.

I carefully read and reread the submission guidelines. These can be a little vague and tricky (many places ask for stories to be for,attend in ‘the usual way’ but each have their own ‘usual’ style so it’s always important to check their preferences’).  Luckily Kate had been very clear with what she wanted so then it was a matter of writing the story!

I’d long been percolating a character, influenced in part by cowgirls in the ‘Wild West’ but who didn’t fight using guns. I’ve been listening to a lot of Amanda Palmer and so decided that my character would carry a ukulele. This being me, there would also be elements of the supernatural.

So, Sorrowful Jones was created!

I wrote my story, sent it to beta readers who also loved it, but who made a few suggestions about how to change things and picked up a couple of grammar mistakes. Multiple readings and more edits and I was happy with the story.

Then came the stressful part – submitting! After getting hubby to check my formatting, my story was flying through the internet. I obviously started hitting ‘refresh’ every two minutes on my email to see if it had been accepted. The waiting for acceptance/rejection is always the hardest part for me. I always think of it like Christmas where you have the expectation and excitement, then on the day you either get the pony you’ve always wanted or another naf jumper. Luckily for me, after waiting impatiently for weeks, I had the good news that Sorowful Jones would be out in the world.

Kate and Byron then had the unenviable job of editing each submission before deciding on the running order.  First edits are sent to the authors for their approval or rejection. More often than not, I accept the suggestions as they will often make my story sharper and ensure there there are no major plot holes. There’s also the grammar and spelling mistakes that I always manage to miss, despite my best efforts.

Once they’ve been returned, the stories are collated and checked before the final proofs are sent out. This is our final chance to check for typos or any strange formatting. I once had proofs sent which were fine in .pdf format but once they’d been put into the book formatting program had strange gaps, added spaces and blank pages! It’s a laborious process for all involved to check for mistakes and I remember a book agent once telling me that you can read and reread a piece but it’s not until it’s been printed that you’ll see a very obvious mistake, usually on page one.

So that’s in brief is the process of putting an anthology together. It’s a long process of putting a book together, but it’s exciting and different every time. Now, we’re trying to get the word out and generate interest before ‘P Day’. If you’d like a review copy, please contact Kate or Byron. Keep an eye out for more information and news, including where to meet different writers in the anthology at conferences and more.

If you’d like to read more about my Path to Publication, as well as some hints and tips for submitting your own work, click here.

While you’re waiting for ‘My Wandering Uterus’ to be published why not check out my other book of short stories ‘Weird Wild available now. (The link below is an affiliate link which means I may receive  small commission, at no added cost to you, if you purchase after clicking)

Make It Monday: Kokeshi Doll for Hinamatsuri

A belated but very happy Hinamatsuri to you all! I love Hinamatsuri and decided, now my daughter is a bit older, to make her a Kokeshi doll. Not quite as intricate as the stunning Hina (traditional dolls placed on the altar for Hinamatsuri) dolls from Japan but very adorable nonetheless. Keep reading to learn more about this fun festival.

I loved learning about all the different festivals from my Japanese friend whilst at university. The rich colours, beautiful fabric and ancient traditions seemed so far from my rather bland life (which, ironically, for my friend were fascinating). However, it wasn’t until we lived in Japan that I got to experience some of these festivals first hand.

Some of my students arranged for me to be dressed in a kimono.
Hinamatsuri (Girl’s Day)

One of my favourites was the Hinamatsuri, or Girl’s Day, festival which is celebrated on 3rd March. I loved seeing all the traditional alters, covered in red cloth with the Hina dolls placed with precision. Some of my students kindly showed me how to make some origami dolls (see below), which were certainly more practical when travelling!

A set of Hina dolls can be very expensive. We saw sets in Kyoto which were priced at well over £2,000 but other sets can be bought for less than £50 from Amazon. Many sets my students had were family heirlooms, carefully used by generations of girls.

Kokeshi dolls

I decided I wanted to make a Kokeshi Doll for my daughtervas a way to mark Hinamatsuri. Kokeshi dolls are a traditional doll, historically made from wood and with minimal features. They used to have straight bodies, with a round head but more recently they have been made more rounded.

There’s are loads on patterns online but I really liked the one by La Calle de la Abuela. However, I wanted to ensure she was a similar size to my other dolls. I tweaked the pattern in several places so my final doll was the same size as Medusa and the Wicked Witch. I chose a pale green wool because green is often associated with youth and vitality – in short, perfect for an energetic toddler!

The doll came together quickly and I loved the way a few adjustments or adornments give her her own personality. She’s one of the few crochet projects that I’ve finished and immediately want to make another, normally I like to move on to a new challenge but I’m planning on making more and will hopefully include some in my online shop.

What do you think? Have you got or made a Kokeshi Doll? Do you celebrate Hinamatsuri? Let me know in the comments below.

Origami dolls

As promised, here’s my origami ‘dolls’.

They’re very easy to make and a fun way to introduce little people to the art of paper folding.

For more information on the different styles of Hina dolls and the alters, check out this fascinating piece from the Kyoto Museum.

Women in Horror Month: Terrifying Treats

Phew! Well, after a month of movie reviews, short stories, fun makes and more, I think we all need a treat to keep our energy up.

I had planned to make something from ‘A Zombie Ate My Cupcake‘ by Lily Vanilli but the toddler decided she wanted biscuits instead. However, we did make use of the skull cookie cutter from the set, whilst also making a zombie and some bunnies (it must be bunnies!) I’ve used this basic biscuit recipe from the BBC Good Food site a number of times. I like to add some freshly ground vanilla, mostly because I always forget to buy vanilla essence at the supermarket and it seems to work equally well.

We’ve collected assorted cookie cutters over the years and so have a zombie, skull and rabbit. I’ve not much success with the zombie cutter in the past and it was the same story today as his arms broke off but the crumbs tasted good.

It’s always fun baking with the toddler and as normal it’s not until it’s time to decorate that the real mess, sorry fun, begins. It being Women in Horror Month, we used a lot of pink icing, which was fun and I think, looked good. The only frustrating thing was that the Dr Oetker icing pouch was tricky to use, hence the hole in one skull. Still, it was our first attempt and we managed to make brains, eyes, teeth and more.

Our finished biscuits! Waht do you think? Have you made anything special for Women in Horror Month?

Make It Monday: Making Medusa

Crochet Medusa by @bluebeaglebaby

I remember seeing Medusa for the first time. It was a Sunday afternoon and ‘Clash of the Titans‘ was on. In his quest to save Andromeda, Perseus had to face the vicious Medusa. She was brought so beautifully to ‘life’ by the highly talented Ray Harryhausen. With her snake hair and highly accurate archery skills, along with her ability to turn anyone who looked upon her to stone, I was transfixed.

Ray Harryhausen with some of his creations

I read all I could about Greek myths and whilst I was interested in the different gods and goddesses, it was the ‘monsters’ which always appealed to me – probably a precursor for my future as a writer (certainly, the Guardian from my short story in the Fox Pockets book ‘Guardians’ could be right out of mythology).

Medusa the Icon

As part of my celebration for Women in Horror Month, I wanted to celebrate my love of Medusa. With the current ‘Me Too’ movement she seemed a good embodiment of both a victim (one retelling of her story has her raped by Poisoiden) and as a protector, with her visage being placed on Gorgoneion amulets. Assorted myths suggest that once Perseus beheaded her, Pegasus was born and that the snakes in the Sahara were created from drops of her blood. Even in death, she created life. More contemporary writers have suggested she’s a feminist symbol and the idea of Medusa continues to spark debate and research, such as this piece from The Dangerous Woman Project. Plus, she looks pretty cool!


To create my Medusa, I used my all-in-one dolls base to create her head and the top of her body. In ‘Clash of the Titans’ Medusa lives in a dark temple and I wanted to pay homage to that so I used overly large eyes, to allow her to see in the dark. Hubby bought me ‘Edwards Imaginarium‘ for Christmas and I’ve been desperate to create some of the monsters in it so I used the ‘horn’ pattern for her tail. I inserted a short piece of wire so that her tail can move, but also stay in position. Her snake hair was a simple chain followed by a slip stitch back and I added some red thread for the snake’s tongues. The finishing touch was a skull bead necklace – perhaps the head of one of her victims?

What do you think?

Crochet Medusa by @bluebeaglebaby

Movie Review: Ava’s Possession (2015)

Synopsis: Ava has spent the last month possessed by a demon and must now start rebuilding her life: her relationships with friends and family, her job and her apartment whilst also trying to understand why she was possessed

Director: Jordan Galland (also written by)

Starring: Louisa Krause

Review: I’m not sure why ‘Ava’s Possessions’ isn’t getting more love during ‘Women in Horror Month‘. It’s a comedy, mystery, horror which follows the titular ‘Ava’ as she tries to rebuild her life following a demon possession.

We enter Ava’s world, briefly seeing her exorcism during the opening credits, then as she faces her family. It’s a world where things like demon possessions and having to go to ‘Spiritual Possessions Anonymous’ is almost normal and doesn’t carry any stigma.

I really liked the colour palette used by Galland. The mix of neon colours against dark backgrounds works well and gives the movie a slightly surreal quality. I also liked the mix of tight shots which made you feel part of the conversation against the wider shots which gave the actors room to move. In some respects, it reminded me of the movie ‘Amelie‘ although I couldn’t say exactly why.

Ava’s Possessions is listed on IMDB as a comedy, mystery and horror and certainly, the ‘who done it’ aspect of how Ava became possessed and exactly what her family knows kept me gripped throughout and the ending was not quite what I had expected, although it did tie all the ends up nicely.

The acting throughout is solid with no overly weak performances (perhaps one or two characters needed further development, but that doesn’t take away from the story). Certainly, Krause does very well as the struggling Ava, trying to battle a very real demon whilst navigating a world she doesn’t remember. How Ava’s friends treated her post-possession contrasted well with her new friends from ‘SPA’ who understood what she had been through. Ava’s insecurity and rejection by her ‘before possession’ friends clearly plays out in her interactions with her ‘after possession’ friends, leading to some poor choices but it’s these character flaws which make Ava relatable and likeable.

It’s a very self-aware movie which plays certain aspects firmly tongue-in-cheek – a nice counter to other ‘demon possession’ movies and TV shows but does doff it’s cap to those movies and one reason I’ll definitely be watching Ava get possessed again.

And a bit of geek Easter egg, if you ever wondered what happened to Carol Kane‘s witch after ‘The Princess Bride‘ keep an eye out for her here…….

Women in Horror Month: Let’s Play A Game

How are you enjoying ‘Women in Horror Month’ so far? And are you enjoying the daily challenges? I’m loving hearing about people’s favourite movies, books, actresses, characters and more. As always, I have a growing list of assorted media I need to plough through and I’m excited about being terrified by all your recommendations.

Today’s theme is ‘Let’s Play A Game’ and it’s definitely something I need your help with. I’ve never been a gamer as such and the scariest game I play is ‘Plants vs Zombies‘. If I’m honest, I was never into video games growing up and the few I’ve attempted, I’ve not been brilliant at (I generally get stuck in a corner and can’t get out or I get frustrated at slow gameplay and give up).

For those who don’t know, it’s a simple strategy game that’s free to download. You have to grow plants which have special abilities (‘pea shooter’ which shoots peas, dragon fruits which breath fire etc.) in order to defend your house against assorted zombies. I like the strategy aspect to it, plus it’s not too scary to play first thing in the morning.

However, I feel I should expand my horizons and want to know what games you’re all playing? Let me know in the comments below about the scary first player action games, strategy games or more that you’re playing and why you love them.

Movie review: Mythica series (2014-2016

Synopsis: The adventures of necromancer Marek and her band as they battle to save the world from darkness.

Director: Anne K Black (first two movies) then A Todd Smith (Necromancer), and John Lyde (Iron Crown and Godslayer)

Starring: Melanie Stone, Jake Stormoen, Adam Johnson and Nicola Posener

Review: I said at the beginning of ‘Women in Horror Month‘ that I was going to include science fiction and fantasy because, well it’s my daily challenge and I love all genre movies, books etc. Plus I find that many horror movies including elements of fantasy or science fiction.

One of the things I love about the assorted streaming services is you have access to loads of different movies and TV shows, many independently made which wouldn’t necessarily have wide exposure. There’s a downside in that there is a lot of tripe on there, but as you’ll know if you read my over-excited review of ‘Ink‘ I love discovering a good, independently made movie.

The Mythica series was funded through a Kickstarter fund, which is very impressive. It follows a standard ‘D&D’ idea where a group comprising of a Wizard, Thief, Healer and Warrior must go on a quest, in this instance to collect the shards of ‘Darkspore’ to avoid the end of the world. I’m not going to lie, there’s little originality in the idea and the inspirations behind it, including Lord of the Rings, are obvious.

Don’t let that it’s an independent movie, D&D  movie put you off. Whilst the concept may not be unique, the production is. Given this is a Kickstarter project, the passion the team has is obvious, from the costumes to the score, it’s made with care. As seen with other franchises who have changed director after the first movie, the series is a little uneven and turns strangely steampunk under Lyde’s guidance whilst Smith was a little lighter in tone. However, we’re discussing female directors and in this respect, Black proves competent and with a good eye for making the most of a restrained budget in the first two films. Having viewed the full series, I’d say the first two movies are my favourite, both for the story and direction. Black knows when to go for a tight shot and when to showcase the scenery. The editing is good and I liked the music. There are obvious budget constraints which mean some of the CGI isn’t great but it’s not used to excess, and I did prefer the use of costumes and prosthetics but that is a personal preference and didn’t diminish my enjoyment.

That’s not to say it’s a perfect set of movies. Other reviewers have commented on the uneven acting and certainly, some are weaker than others. As I mentioned above, the different directors bring their own styles, some of which aren’t my personal favourites but that didn’t make the films unwatchable for me. I also found some of the story-telling a little muddled, specifically the relationship between Merek and Teela which didn’t ring true for me. I disliked the distrust and enmity that they held for each other which was never fully explained.

I didn’t fall instantly in love as I did with ‘Ink’, but I enjoyed the premise and I will return to the world of Mythica to give it a rewatch.

The movies are: Mythica: A Quest for Heroes, Mythica: The Darkspore, Mythica: The Necromancer, Mythica: The Iron Crown and finally Mythica: The Godslayer, an extraordinary feat in two years. You can find out more on the Mythica Website.

Bit of fan-girl trivia, keep an eye out for ‘Hodor’ from Game of Thrones in the last movie.  Oh, and Kevin Sorbo from, well, just look at his IMDB profile and you’ll see at least one of your favourite shows that he’s been in.