Friday, December 14, 2012

Review: Everneath


Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Synopsis (From Goodreads):   Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she's returned--to her old life, her family, her boyfriend--before she's banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists. 

 Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance--and the one person she loves more than anything. But there's just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen. 

 As Nikki's time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's queen. 

 "Everneath" is a captivating story of love, loss, and immortality from debut author Brodi Ashton.

Brodi Ashton's Everneath is a story that is loosely based off the legend of Hades and Persephone and Orpheus and Euridyce, which is exactly why I wanted to read this because I love Greek Mythology, especially the Mythology revolving around the underworld. Nikki Beckett has spent a decade in an underworld known as the Everneath, which was only 6 months on Earth. After returning home, she now has 6 months left to say the good byes she never had a chance to say before she disappeared before and also find the redemption she so desperately desires, especially with the one boy who the Everneath could never make her forget about, Jack, before the Tunnels come and claim her for the final time. The longer Nikki spends on Earth, the more of herself she gets back and the longer her bond to Jack grows, which doesn't please Cole who wants to take Nikki back to the Everneath to take over the throne in the underworld, convinced she is the key to help him achieve this. Nikki has to fight against time, and her confused feelings for Cole, to try and find a way to break all connections with the Everneath or is she fated to leave everyone she leaves all over again?

Ashton does an excellent job of making Nikki feel distant and emotionless at the start of the novel, almost draining (which was a bit hard to get into to read, but it really suited the story) and as the story progressed and the longer she remained on Earth she became more lively. This really showed how Nikki was developing throughout the story, and I love being able to see fully-fleshed out characters develop throughout the entire story. Nikki was a strong female, who knew what she was fighting for, but at times I just wanted to scream at her for the decisions she made. Some of the stupid decisions she made all revolved around a boy, which is why she is in the predicament she is in and she even admits it was her own fault, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating.

Jack, is a strong and sweet character. He is a character who would do anything for Nikki and you can't help but feel sorry for him.  He's the exact opposite of Cole who is deceiving and slick, who always has to have the last thing to say and be around Nikki. All of these characters really makes the story interesting to read, and it's not the normal love-triangle that happens in most paranormal novels. The difference is that Nikki really doesn't want Cole to be around her, but because she has spent a decade with him in the Everneath she has some unwanted bond that connects them, and he is the one very much infatuated with her.

Aston has created an intriguing debut that is full of twists and turns that will keep the reader guessing until the end and I cannot wait until the sequel is released.

Source: audio book
2012 Debut Author Challenge: #10 of 12
2012 YA Reading Challenge: #53 of 50
2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge: #2 of 11

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Inner Editor vs Inner Hinderer

Okay, I have to admit that sometimes it can take me a while to hammer out the first draft and that is because I can sometimes re-write sections three or four times and still not be happy with how that section is turning out, but during NanoWriMo I was determined not to let my inner editor dictate what to include or exclude from my story (yeah, I know that  some of my characters disappeared for long portions of the story and that I didn't introduce some of those characters until they were necessary, but I'll be able to go back and fix that in the next draft).

Once I stopped my inner editor from trying to change the story after I had already wrote it, I was able to get more of the story written in less time. I'm still not finished with the first draft, but I can at least see the ending in sight and I should be finished the first draft before the end of the year and then I'll be able to add any of the scenes or do any of the changes I need to make in the second draft without worrying about whether I'll ever finish the story.

So, this got me thinking, does the inner editor hinder the story's progress during the first draft? Is it better to write the first draft before worrying about editing the story?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Finally back!!!

YAY!!!

After a long month of busy writing with NanoWriMo, finishing writing nearly 100 reports (yep, you read that right), and working through a lot of very emotional challenges both in personal and school life I am back, and this time I promise to stay back.

Okay to report, I'll give the good news. I completed Nano :D...  I didn't even think I would make it since I went an entire week without writing anything, but I reached the 50K mark right on November 30th (still nowhere near the ending of the novel, so I have a lot of work ahead of me before I even have a first draft ready).

The past month has been quite hard to focus on anything, especially writing, I've been battling some health issues and then the school suffered a tragedy (a day before my birthday so it didn't really make me feel like celebrating) through the loss of a student, which has been tough on everyone, especially since the school is only 300 students.

But, I'm feeling much better now, there's only two weeks left of school and then I have six weeks of holidays to relax and recharge my batteries (which I feel I really need). There is also a Japanese holiday to look forward to which is coming up in a month, which I really nee to have my novel finished so I know what to research when over there.

So, in concluding, I'm glad to be back. How has everyone else been?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ready, set, go...


Can you believe it's already November? All the writers competing in NaNoWriMo were all getting ready to pounce on their novel as soon as the clock struck twelve. Me, I got up very early to get a good head start (4:30 am... yes, that hour does exist), but it all failed since I spent all morning preparing for school.

Don't be disheartened. At the end of the day I still made over 2000 words (that's a good effort for the first day). I probably could have gotten more words done if I didn't have to constantly check facts (well, that serves me right for choosing to right a novel that takes place in Japan). Oh well, I do  love a challenge and I'll love introducing readers to the fantastic paranormal creatures that exists within another culture (I've already got plans for a Shinigami, Zashiki Warashi and a Kitsune).

Good luck to all writers participating in NaNoWriMo.

If you are participating how are you going? Did you get off to a good start?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Writer or eavesdropper?

Okay, I have a guilty confession to make. Sometimes I go to a coffee shop and sit down just to hear other people's conversations. Yeah, I know, that makes me an eavesdropper, but I love listening to real conversations and seeing how people speak (and perhaps pick up some interesting tidbits that could later be used to fuel my ideas).

But, isn't this one way to help create realistic dialogue? If you don't listen to people and watch how they act, how does the writer know they are creating realistic characters? That's my argument and I'm sticking with it.

Don't tell me I'm the only one who does this. Who else loves to catch bits of conversation? Who out there catches sight of someone (whether it's what they say, what they wear or how they look) and thinks that they could use that quirk in their stories? 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review: Pretty Crooked


Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig

Synopsis (From Goodreads):   Willa’s secret plan seems all too simple: take from the rich kids at Valley Prep and give to the poor ones.

Yet Willa’s turn as Robin Hood at her ultra-exclusive high school is anything but. Bilking her “friends”-known to everyone as the Glitterati-without them suspecting a thing, is far from easy. Learning how to pick pockets and break into lockers is as difficult as she’d thought it’d be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are ostracized just for being from the “wrong” side of town, is way more fun than she’d expected. 

 The complication Willa didn’t expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, Valley Prep’s most notorious (and gorgeous) ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her-evening the social playing field between the have and have-nots. There’s no time for crushes and flirting with boys, especially conceited and obnoxious trust-funders like Aidan. 

 But when the cops start investigating the string of burglaries at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could he wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?

Elisa Ludwig has created a hilarious modern day Robin Hood in her debut novel, Pretty Crooked. Willa never wanted to move, but when her artist mother sells her art for a lot of money, a move is exactly what they do. Now Will finds herself at an exclusive prep school and instantly welcomed into the Glitterati, the popular group. Not wanting to complain about her new friends, she tries to ignore that these girls could be behind a mean gossip blog, the Buzz who aims to make fun of the scholarship students. In order to put everyone on an even playing field (that is give the scholarship girls some money and new clothes), Willa comes up with the plan to become a modern day Robin Hood, which isn't as easy as she thought as she sets out to learn how to break-in and pick pockets. Will she be able to get away with this plan while still evading the cops who are getting closer to busting her?

On the surface, this would seem like the average mean-girls-get-what-they-deserve type book, but there are so many layers to this book, including strange parental behaviour and another mystery surrounding hottie Aidan (which I won't say anything about as it will spoil some of the mystery). Willa is a sincere character who just wants everyone at Valley Prep to be treated the same, and that may include stealing and giving new clothes and money to the poor scholarship girls who are constantly being bullied because they don't have money. Who wouldn't want that?

Elisa Ludwig does a fantastic job of immersing the reader into the glamorous world of Valley Prep, which helped to get the reader to know all about the characters before Willa's big plan begins.

Pretty Crooked definitely was a great build-up for the next book, but I felt there were too many subplots and mysteries happening in the background that didn't get cleared up by the end of the story, and this is one thing that let the story down. The novel is a fun, light read, and a must for anyone who loves the Robin Hood (stealing from the rich to give to the poor) storyline.

Source: ebook
2012 Debut Author Challenge: #9 of 12
2012 YA Reading Challenge: #52 of 50
2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge: #1 of 11

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Would you be able to survive the apocalypse?

That was a question that I had to ask myself on Friday after a freak snow blizzard (yeah, it's not supposed to happen since we're in the middle of Spring here) trapped me in my small town. This is what I woke up to, which had school cancelled (yay!!!), but it also meant no power and all roads leading in and out of town were closed, and eventually I lost cell phone signal.

That's no that bad is it? With no stores open and unprepared (luckily I had boiled the kettle before the power blackout so I could make a cup of coffee), I could do nothing but stay in bed and hope the power of my iPad lasted (surprisingly it lasted a long time) before I turned around to a paperback book.

As lunch ticked around, I began wondering what there was to eat. I had plenty of microwave meals and frozen food (no good without power), I also had tins of sardines (which my brother thought was good enough to eat). Luckily after seven hours of isolation, the streets opened back up and power came back, as well as phone signal. Seven hours was all it took to question whether I could actually survive without power, phones or cars. I don't think I'd survive long if a real apocalypse did happen :(

So, I'm asking you, do you think you'd be able to survive if an apocalypse did occur?

P.S. On the weekend I purchased a battery operated light and a gas cooker (maybe that will help next time I'm stranded) :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Review: Poltergeeks

Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings

Synopsis (From Goodreads):   15-year-old Julie Richardson is about to learn that being the daughter of a witch isn't all it's cracked up to be. When she and her best friend, Marcus, witness an elderly lady jettisoned out the front door of her home, it's pretty obvious to Julie there's a supernatural connection. 

In fact, there's a whisper of menace behind increasing levels of poltergeist activity all over town. After a large-scale paranormal assault on Julie's high school, her mother falls victim to the spell Endless Night. Now it's a race against time to find out who is responsible or Julie won't just lose her mother's soul, she'll lose her mother's life

Julie Richardson is just like a normal girl, well except for the fact that she's a witch. Actually a witch-in-training. Her mother is teaching her how to harness her magic and help exorcise spirits/poltergeists from the mortal realm. When Julie and her best friend, Marcus encounters a poltergeist attacking an elderly neighbour,  and a large-scale paranormal attack on her high school, Julie knows that something malice is out to get her and her mother. After her mother falls victim to a spell called Endless Nights, Julie must learn the truth about who she is and learn to harness her full powers if she hopes to stand a chance against  defeating this evil and saving her mother's life.

Ever since the cover and blurb was revealed I knew I wanted to read Poltergeeks and I wasn't disappointed. Sean Cummings has created an interesting and original world of witches and ghosts and together with the snarky and humorous attitude of Julie, Poltergeeks is a page-turning read that will capture and hook the reader's attention from the first page.

Julie is just like an average teenager. She fights with her mother, she struggles with determining her feelings towards her best friend, and she makes mistakes (a lot of them). She is eager to prove to her mother, and herself, that she can handle things without anyone's helps. This doesn't always lead to the best result, and often gets Marcus into trouble with her. Julie isn't the only well-rounded character. This novel is full of a cast that reader's can root for and sometimes despise.

The story starts at a sprinting pace and doesn't slow down as Julie is attacked over and over again by supernatural forces, which will have the reader wanting to continue turning the page to find out what's going to happen next (trust me, lost sleep just to see how it ended). It is a fun and quick read with a few twists and turns thrown in to keep Julie on her feet. I would definitely recommend Poltergeeks to anyone who loves YA paranormal, but also anyone who loves sassy characters and strong, butt-kicking females. I can't wait to read the sequel and see where Julie's adventures lead her next.

Source: ebook
2012 Debut Author Challenge: #8 of 12
2012 YA Reading Challenge: #21 of 50

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Nanowrimo

It's that time of year again, where writers everywhere are preparing to write a crazy 50,000 words in one month. For those that don't know, November is the month of caffeine, chocolate and sleepless nights as writers push to make it past the finish line.

With there being less than a month until the hectic mayhem starts, I'm busy trying to plot my idea. October is usually the month that most of the plotters spend getting all the details of their novels worked out (while I know several who have absolutely no idea what to write up to 11:59pm on the 31st October and have still powered through the 50,000 words). So, this month is going to be exceptionally busy for me.

Okay, I'm being a bit ambitious this year. I've had this story idea brewing for a few months, but I wasn't going to start writing it until I go to Japan on holiday in January. So, what does my holiday to Japan have to do with it? Well, it's actually because the story is based in Japan and I've been researching like mad all the elements of Japanese culture (such as home life and schools) that no holiday can tell me.

It would probably be the best idea to wait, but I've been to Japan before so I know the rough locations where I'm setting the novel, and my character really, really, really wants to be written. So, here's an introduction to my Nano novel titled Shinigami Eyes (it's a YA supernatural mystery):

After an incident at a school dance almost got her date killed 16-year-old Rin is sent to live with her grandparents in Japan. Being the new girl is hard, but also being told by crazed Otaku (someone obsessed with anime/manga) Matthew that she is a character in a manga called Shinigami Eyes that he recons can tell the future is something that she can't handle. 

 She tries to ignore Matthew's attempts to persuade her that she is indeed a character until the manga shows her standing over a dead body. Now Rin, with Matthew's help, has to discover the identity of this person and why she would want to kill them, before the manga becomes a reality.

Apart from finishing my research, my planning is going to involve creating a wide cast of characters, plotting my mystery elements and even figuring out 'who did it' and 'murder victim'... even though my brother suggests to just write it and as he says "see who wants to jump under the knife". I'm excited to start planning for this because there's going to be manga, witches and murder... what else could anyone need?

So, who's participating in Nano? If you are, have you thought about what you're writing? And are you a pantser or plotter?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Review: Department 19

Department 19 by Will Hill


Synopsis (From Goodreads):  Jamie Carpenter's life will never be the same. His father is dead, his mother is missing, and he was just rescued by an enormous man named Frankenstein. Jamie is brought to Department 19, where he is pulled into a secret organization responsible for policing the supernatural, founded more than a century ago by Abraham Van Helsing and the other survivors of Dracula. Aided by Frankenstein's monster, a beautiful vampire girl with her own agenda, and the members of the agency, Jamie must attempt to save his mother from a terrifyingly powerful vampire. 

Department 19 takes us through history, across Europe, and beyond - from the cobbled streets of Victorian London to prohibition-era New York, from the icy wastes of Arctic Russia to the treacherous mountains of Transylvania. Part modern thriller, part classic horror, it's packed with mystery, mayhem, and a level of suspense that makes a Darren Shan novel look like a romantic comedy.

Jamie Carpenter always thought vampires were stuff of stories, that was until his mother goes missing and he's attacked by something waiting for him at home. After being saved by a man named Frankenstein, Jamie is brought to Department 19, a place that's not meant to exist (well, at least no one knows exists). Department 19 is a secret government organisation that is responsible for policing the supernatural and keeping the world of vampires and monsters a secret from the outside world. Aided by Frankenstein and a vampire girl who may or may not be dangerous, but definitely has her own agenda for helping them, they must attempt to save Jamie's mother and defeat a powerful and ancient vampire.

I had heard good things about Department 19 before I picked up the book, and I was not let down. Will Hill has created an intriguing under-world using the legendary vampire Dracula and the hunter Van Helsing as a starting point for his world. He has brought the terrifyingly dangerous vampire back into the modern generation which is good to see.

Jamie Carpenter is an interesting character. He knows nothing about this world or what his father did. He has been led to believe that his father was an international terrorist instead of a vampire hunter when he died. This little detail with his father helped to create a tough and well-rounded character. Together with a cast of oddities from Frankenstein's monster to a beautiful vampire who seems to want to help Jamie but everyone says can't trust her, to the ancient vampire set on seeing all the Carpenter family dead, this makes it a thrilling page turner from beginning to end.

The use of the two time lines, the modern with Jamie and the past with Van Helsing, helps to give the reader a deeper insight into the world, while still foreshadowing for events that are yet to come. I recommend this to anyone who loves vampires (especially the rip-people's-throats-out, savage kind). I look forward to seeing where Jamie's adventures goes next with the sequel.

Source: audio book
2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge: #6 of 11-20
2012 YA Reading Challenge: #20 of 50

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Procrastination Buster

I have to admit it. I'm an expert at procrastination, especially when it comes to avoiding work. I don't know what I do, but I can sit in front of the computer (promising that I'll start writing) and before I know it several hours have passed.

Yeah, I know, with the amount of time I sit in front of the computer I could have a dozen novels written right now, but alas, my need to procrastinate is still there.

So, how can one person aim to defeat that enemy of every writer, or every person with a computer? You could do something drastic like disconnecting the internet (gah) or getting someone to lock you in a small room with nothing but a notepad and pen and not letting you out until you finish that first draft you've been meaning to complete. Okay, so that's a little too drastic. What about following these tips and bust that procrastination:

  1. Prioritise your time: Know what you want to complete and what 'needs' to be completed. Some things may have more priority and so must be completed before anything else. 
  2. Set a goal: Yeah, procrastination comes when you don't know what you're working towards. Having a goal is one way to tell yourself that you must complete so many words before you can have a break.
  3. Reward yourself: Everyone loves to get rewarded, it makes completing something so much more... rewarding. Give yourself something for completing goals, even if it's ten minutes on Twitter (well, you need to announce to everyone that you completed that goal).
  4. Positive motivation: Surround yourself with positive people. Having people who can support you and congratulate you for completing goals will help power you on until you have all your goals completed.
  5. Don't be unrealistic: Don't say you're going to write the whole first draft in one sitting (even though i could possibly be done if you don't need sleep, food or any other relief), your goals need to be realistic or you'll get bored and boredom is definitely one road back to procrastination.
And here's a fantastic little video of Lisa Simpson writing a novel, and I promise you watching this isn't procrastination :D

video

So, how do you beat procrastination? Do you have any other tips?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Review: Shift



Shift by Kim Curran


Synopsis (From Goodreads):  When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he's not so average after all. He's a 'Shifter'. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he's ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.
Scott was always average, hidden in the crowd, but that was until the day he met Aubrey Jones who tells him he's a Shifter, someone with the ability to alter decisions that they make. Scott thinks this could be a cool power, but soon realises that even the smallest decision can have dire consequences and could even end up hurting the ones closest to him.

In an effort to control these powers and help him understand the effects of each decision altered, he turns to ARES, the government organisation who regulates all Shifters, but doing so he is also pulled into a battle between the rebel group, the SLF (Shifting Liberation Front) and trying to hide from a rather grotesque villain who is out to kill him. Scott has to decide who to trust, especially when everyone around him can manipulate the world the way they want it to be.

I was hanging out for Shift's release ever since I heard about the opening of the print Strange Chemistry, and I was not disappointed. Scott is an average teenager in the nicest sense. He is not perfect and he knows it, his family is not perfect and even though he would like it if they were a little less dysfunctional, he would not give them up, and this is what makes his a well-rounded and likable character.  Scott isn't the only interesting character in this book, it is full of interesting and unique characters from the mysterious  Aubrey who gets Scott involved with ARES to the young members who are training at ARES, even all the adults have fleshed out characters and hidden agendas that adds to the twists and turns of the story.

Kim Curran has written an intriguing debut that captures the reader's attention from the premise and keeps a hold. Who wouldn't want the power to alter any mistake they have ever made? Or know what path each decision will lead them down? It's not just the premise that's interesting, there are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing what's going to happen next. There was only one part of the book that felt a bit muddled, and that was trying to figure out where all the story lines of ARES, SLF and the grotesque baddie all fit together because at parts it felt as if the stories were separate and had no connections to the main storyline, but everything all came together in one finale which felt like a roller coaster of emotions. I would recommend Shift for any lover of superheroes and mysteries, or anyone who has ever faced a decision that they wished they could undo. If this is what Strange Chemistry can deliver, I'm looking forward to reading the next releases.

Source: paperback
2012 Debut Author Challenge: #7 of 12

2012 YA Reading Challenge: #19 of 50

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A bit of down time...

It's holidays here and apart from trying to get over a serious infection that knocked me out the last week of school, I've decided it's time for a bit of relaxation... Even though holidays have just started I've been trying to catch up on all my reading that I've been missing due to school obligations. I think before I even think of any more school work I'm going to take some time away and catch up on my reading and writing (things that I've seriously been neglecting).

Yeah, those are things that help me relax and I'm going to do plenty of relaxing during the first week.

So, what things do you do when you have time off?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Feeling under the weather...

What's the problem with Winter? Well, I thought I was going to survive it, but I guess I'm not that strong and I've had the dang flu for the past month. Yeah, it's not nice feeling sick, but there is always a bright side. I hear you saying, there's no bright side to being sick (but at the moment I'd rather be the 'glass-half-full kind of girl).

I've been allowed to catch up on the much needed sleep that I haven't been able to get due to being flat out with work, and hey, there's only four days left until the school holidays where I'll be spending at least one week up on the nice, sunny Gold Coast and doing nothing but writing and relaxing. See, it's always better to look on the bright side than to be a Mopey Madam.

So, who also looks on the bright side when they're sick? Or, what cold remedies do you know (that's something that I really need to know)?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Finally back!

Sorry I've been absent lately. It's been a very busy few months. I've barely had time for anything besides work and sleep (even writing has had to suffer), but now I'm catching up with everything I'm making a promise that I'm coming back and I'm going to put aside time for my writing (seriously, I've got several novels that need to be finished).

So, now I'm back... and this time I'm going to be staying back :)

What's everyone been up to?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Organisation! Who needs it?

Okay, so I'm not exactly the most organised person, especially when it comes to time. I have so many chaotic things I need to get done and I keep saying "I'll spend an hour doing one thing before moving on", but that never goes to plan.

I have a habit of getting side-tracked or becoming too focused on the one task that I lose track of time and not have any time for anything else.

One thing I am going to try and do is to force myself to stick to time limits and organise my afternoon time into four chunks (writing, school work, family and learning a foreign language... yes, that's taking up a lot of time at the moment).

So, how does everyone organise their time? Do you find you have too many things going on and not enough hours to complete everything?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Freaky Friday: Noppera-bo

A while back I participated in the A-Z Challenge and had so much fun discovering new and interesting spooks and menacing creatures that I thought I would make it a weekly feature on the blog.

Everyone who knows me knows I'm obsessed with the paranormal and horror creatures. I'm currently writing a YA Horror and thought this creature would be the perfect start to Freaky Friday. My main character is haunted by faceless ghosts, an idea that I got from the Noppera-bo.

The Noppera-bo are, in fact, faceless ghosts of Japanese folklore. Though, from behind, they do look  like normal people, the Noppera-bo's distinctive feature is their face, which lacks eyes, a nose or a mouth. Instead they only have smooth skin replacing their human facial features.

People who encounter Noppera-bo do not immediately realize that they are talking to something that is otherworldly, as the creatures are able to create the illusion they have a normal face. A Noppera-bo will wait  for the right moment before causing their faces to disappear, scaring the person they are speaking to. These creatures usually appear in lonely rural settings, although they can appear anywhere as long as the area is deserted. The Noppera-bo's primary purpose is to scare humans.

One famous Noppera-bo story is Lafcadio Hearn's Mujina. In the story, Hearn refers to the creatures as mujina, which is actually a different type of creature altogether (a sort of badger).  The story speaks of a man hurrying up an isolated road when he saw a woman crouching by the moat, all alone and weeping. Fearing that she intended to drown herself, he stopped to offer help. When she dropped her hand and turned around she had no face. The man screamed and ran away, never looking back.

He stopped at a soba-seller standing by the side of the road and went to tell his story to the seller. Once the story was finished, the soba-seller said "Was it anything like this?", stroking his own face where the features disappeared, revealing the same smooth skin creature.

Aren't those creatures fascinating? Every Friday I'll be back with a new and interesting (possibly spooky) creature. Enjoy the weekend.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Review: Alchemy of Forever


Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

Synopsis (From Goodreads):Seraphina has been alive since the 1300's, made immortal when the boy she was beginning to love back then, Cyrus, saved her from death with a strange liquid - a method of alchemy that lets them swap bodies with any human being. But now, in modern day America, Sera has decided that she can no longer bear the weight of stealing people's lives so she can keep living on. So she decides to run away from Cyrus and end her stolen existence once and for all. Her plan goes awry when she accidentally takes the body of a dying teenager and feels forced to take over her life. When the lines between Sera and Kailey's identity begin to blur, Sera finds a reason to desire to live once more. But she can't shake the guilt of having taken Kailey's life, even if she was dying. And what if Cyrus finds her?


Seraphina has lived many lives, starting when Cyrus saved her life with a strange liquid. This liquid allows people to swap bodies with any human being. Seraphina doesn't like the idea that she's taking someone else's life just so she can live forever, but she also knows Cyrus won't just let her die. She knows he will force her to take another life just so he can keep her with him forever. Sera decides that she doesn't want to live forever and plans to run away from Cyrus and end her entire existence. Her plans change when she accidentally takes the life of a dying teenager and is forced to take over her life. But how long can Sera pretend to be another girl? And what will happen if Cyrus finds her?

The idea of alchemy and having a price for all 'magic' is what drew me to the story, and it did not let me down. Avery Williams has created an interesting take on immortality and Seraphina is the perfect character to follow during this story. Seraphina is conflicted with the desire to live, but also being forced to take another one's life to be able to do so. She is conflicted with so many emotions that following the story through her eyes makes it compelling to find out what's going to happen next and what is Seraphina going to do, especially when she lands in Kailey's body and feels the added pressure to pretend to be the same daughter to the dead girl's loving parents because she doesn't want them to lose their daughter.

The story was a quick page-turner that leads to a surprising twist, but there were times that I kept wanting something else to happen, although I can see big things happening in the next book and I look forward to seeing what Sera/Kailey will do next. I recommend this to anyone that likes a different kind of paranormal.

Source: hardcover
2012 Debut Author Challenge: #6 of 12

2012 YA Reading Challenge: #18 of 50

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Procrastination or Laziness?

Procrastination, everyone does it. I'm an expert at it, and it comes easy. Just sitting in front of my computer, I can find so many distractions. There's the internet, there's games and then there's social networking. All this right in front of me, all this that I need to push aside to get some work done.

No matter how hard you try, there will always be distractions to keep you from 'wanting' to do the work. You can disconnect the internet (yes, that's a bit drastic), you can lock yourself away and ignore all the family calls (wondering why you've ended up with a dozen voice mails) or chain yourself to the computer desk.

One way to overcome procrastination for me is to set a goal. With having something to work towards, it helps to push me into completing something worthwhile and not say "I'll do it tomorrow".

What about you? Do you ever suffer from bouts of procrastination? What are some tips to overcome the want to put the work off?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review: Carrier of the Mark

Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

Synopsis (From Goodreads):Their love was meant to be. 


 When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. After growing up in America, she's surprised to find herself feeling at home in her new school. She connects with a group of friends, and she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Adam DeRÍs. 


 But Megan is about to discover that her feelings for Adam are tied to a fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that brought them together could be their ultimate destruction.


The first thing that drew me to this book was it's cover. It's absolutely stunning and Leigh Fallon has done a good job of creating an equally exciting story. Megan has never been able to call anywhere home. Her and her dad are constantly moving, and moving from America to Ireland is the biggest move of all. But here, Megan finally starts to feel at home, especially when she is drawn to the mysterious Adam. Soon Megan and Adam discover they are meant to be together, but the same power that brought them together could be the same thing that tears them apart and lead to their eventual destruction.

Leigh has created an interesting story with plenty of twists and turns, set in a different place. Ireland already has so many legends and myths, and is the perfect setting for this story. I wasn't a fan of the start of this story (don't get me wrong, the writing is vivid and created a real sense of excitement and tension). It read so similar to many other paranormal romances with a forbidden love and the dark and mysterious boy the main character is drawn to, but once the story took off, it was easy to get swept up in the action and emotions of the story.

Megan and Adam are well-rounded characters that have strong feelings for each other. They don't want to believe that it is only the power within them both that is making them want to be together, and even though Adam would do anything to protect Megan, Megan would still be able to put up a good fight to protect herself. Even the minor characters were fleshed out and had unique personalities of their own.

Overall, the story was interesting and once the action started it was easy to push aside the overused trope of forbidden love and get trapped inside an exciting story. I would recommend this story to any reader who loves paranormal romances or legends that takes place in multicultural settings.

Source: Audible Audiobook
2012 TBR Reading Challenge: #5 of 12
2012 YA Reading Challenge: #17 of 50

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What is a realistic character?

When I read I love to get inside the head of realistic characters. Even when watching movies I sort of have a habit of wanting the main character to mess up, or even get hurt while trying. Yeah, I know. I'm messed up, but if the character can achieve their goal without problem or setback, then they are really dull to watch. This is probably why I prefer superheroes that are trying to hide from the cops rather than working with them.

So what makes a real character?

  • Faults
    Everyone has faults, no one is perfect (even if perfectionism is their fault). Whether it's being a slob to having a phobia, if the character has something that people can relate to, then it's easier for the reader to believe the character and get close to the character.
  • Quirks
    Everyone has some habit, trait or movement that they do (don't shake your head, you know you do). This could be a nervous habit such as biting their lip or cracking their knuckles. One of my quirks is I have a habit of pacing when speaking on the phone. Any phone call, not just upsetting or nervous calls. Sometimes these quirks aren't even noticeable to the character and they are done by the subconscious.
  • Likes/Dislikes
    Everyone has likes and dislikes, whether it's food or music or even teachers at school. Showing the character hates something or is obsessed with a band is just showing they have a personality.
  • Secrets
    Yeah, also something everyone has. Secrets can be little like the $5.00 you stole from your mother's purse when you were 13 to big as in, my father is a serial killer big. Secrets are just a part of life, and sometimes those secrets can cause problems and hurt the character when they are trying to achieve their goal.
  • Lies
    Don't tell me you've never lied. Even if it's a white lie by telling your best friend they don't look fat in that extremely tight top, that's still a lie. If the character never says anything but the truth, then they are either very, very, very honest, or just dull. 
Realistic characters portray traits that everyone has. If they don't, then what will make the reader believe they could be real or even want to follow the story with them.

What makes a realistic character to you?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Does reading help?

I'm a writer, but also an avid reader. Seriously, I have about 500 books sitting on my shelves (yes, some of them have been read) and I love devouring new and interesting stories. It amazes me when I meet someone who says that they want to be a writer, but they don't like reading. I just can't imagine being a writer and not loving to read.

I believe reading helps, not only to show you what's out there and is currently being published, but it also helps with the skills of writing and broadens the language skills of the writer. Yes, reading can even give inspiration and help writer's block. At the moment I'm writing a YA horror and was having a bit of problem bringing the eeriness and scares into the scenes where I know what's coming. Okay, I'm obsessed with horror movies and have read some horror novels (loved R.L. Stine when I was younger), but I didn't know how to make something scary when I knew every single event and surprise that was happening. That's when I had a spur-of-the-moment impulse to read some horror books that I've heard are really creepy (none other than the Ring books by Koji Suzuki) and just the first chapter has really helped give me some ideas as to creating an eerie atmosphere so that my scenes will be super scary (which is exactly what I want).

So, I believe reading is a necessary part of the writing process. What do you think?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Review: Struck



Stuck by Jennifer Bosworth


Synopsis (From Goodreads):Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her. Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. 

Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come. 
Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

Jennifer Bosworth has created a rich dystopian society in her début, Struck. Mia is a lightning addict who has not just survived one strike, but countless strikes and she can feel when the storms are coming. Living in a world that has been devastated by a storm and earthquake and with prophecies that another storm was approaching bring the apocalypse, she just wants to stay away from it all and protect her younger brother and mother who is suffering from being stuck in a collapsed building after the earthquake.

When two cults tell her she 'must' join them to fulfil her part of the prophecy (one could destroy the world, one's supposed to save it), she has to decide which side, if any, she'll join. But what will she do when she only wants to stay out of it and stay away from the oncoming storm.

Mia was an intriguing character. She is so closed off because of her scars and afraid that she'll hurt anyone who gets close to her. Her lightning addiction reminded me of an adrenalin addiction and Bosworth created the conflicting emotions that made Mia both strong but also fragile. She was a good character to be inside the head of and follow the story.

The two cults kept the story interesting and there were enough twists and turns to make me want to turn the page. The story was interesting, although I felt that at parts it dragged on and took too long to get to the climax, but that did not make me stop reading. Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who loves good dystopian and strong heroines.

Source: Kindle
2012 Debut Author Challenge: #5 of 12
2012 YA Reading Challenge: #16 of 50

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

In the Research Zone

While I'm planning and writing the first draft of my WiP I've managed to put myself in research mode. Research is important, especially since I've only experienced so much and sometimes my characters don't want to do the dull and ordinary and how can I write of an experience if I, myself, haven't experienced it?

Research is especially important to the novel I'm planning on writing after I finish my current WiP. Yeah, I've been over to Japan (where I'm planning to have the novel take place), but I don't call myself an expert. I know it's going to take a lot of reading and even asking people who live there about the culture and family aspects of the country (and I guess even another trip over there if I must).

What sort of research do you do? How do you do your research? Do you think research is necessary?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I know I've been absent for the past few weeks, but I do have a reason. School work has got me bogged down, as well as writing, it doesn't seem like I have much time left for anything else. I really can't wait for the holidays because I've got so many characters screaming to be written.

I think I need to get a better grip of my organisation skills so I can make time for everything I really want to.

And here's a sneak peak of a story I'm in the middle of researching while I'm writing my long-overdue novels:

After an accident that happened on the night of the school dance that Rin doesn't want to think about (yeah, resulting in extensive property damage and a nearly-dead date), she is sent to live with her grandparents in Japan. She doesn't really see eye-to-eye with her grandparents, her grand father hates the fact her mother married an Australian, and her grandmother thinks she's cursed (which she really could be).


When a manga-crazed Otaku (someone fanatic about manga, anime and all things Japanese) approaches her at school with the crazed notion that she is a character in a manga, she thinks he's crazy. But when he shows her one that has a character that really looks like herself wielding a baseball bat, standing over a bloody body, Rin has to track down who is behind the comic as well as who is the person she's going to kill.

Mmm, that's a lot of research. Oh well, that's a good excuse to go overseas. I hope everyone has a good day.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Review: The Selection


The Selection by Kiera Cass

Synopsis (From Goodreads): For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks. 


 Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Life is hard for everyone who lives on the outer castes, and America (who is a five) knows all too well what it's like to watch families scramble to find food. When 'the Selection' begins, a chance for one lucky girl to be chosen by the Prince to marry, she knows this will be good for her family. While it will give her family money for food and other necessities, she also doesn't want to put her name in the lottery as she is in love with someone else. Aspen is a six who she has been sneaking around with, if the two want to be together America will have to become a six and Aspen doesn't want to see her become even more hungry and poor than her current situation so he encourages her to place her name in. America doesn't think she stands a chance of being selected since she is only a five and only 35 girls will be selected, so she agrees.

When her name is selected, and she is only one of the few fives, she has no desire to change herself for a guy that she doesn't want, or even think she has a chance of liking let alone loving. Then she meets Maxim, but it's hard for her to pretend to like Maxon and play the game when she's still in love with Aspen.

Okay, so when I read the catchphrase of "the hunger games meets the Bachelor" I instantly thought it was about girls being picked to fight to the death for the chance to marry the prince. So, I was wrong, and when I got over the fact that no one was going to die in this competition, it turned out to be an entertaining read. It's more like the Bachelor in a very distant future.

America was a strong lead who is torn between love and family. She knows this Selection will be good for her family and provide enough money for them to have enough food to live comfortably without struggling, but then she loves Aspen even though he is in a lower caste than herself. She doesn't care about breaking the rules to sneak out after curfew just to see him. Then there's Maxon. He is a bit of a naive prince who doesn't know about what happens to the lower castes and America would never have pictured being able to relate to him, but he is just a normal guy with a personality.

Keira Cass creates a compelling romance told through this messed up Cinderella story set in a dystopian world. But it doesn't stop there. There's growing tension from rebel threat, and even the strong competitive nature from the contestants you'd expect when watching the Bachelor and I look forward to seeing where the rest of this trilogy lead. I recommend this story for anyone who loves a good romance, or just want to cheer for the underdog.

Source: Audible
2012 Debut Author Challenge: #4 of 12
2012 YA Reading Challenge: #15 of 50

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

When do you know you're finished?

I'm nearing the end of my YA Paranormal and I know that once I hit 'The End', it's not really over. Even as I write I can see a whole lot of work that I need to fix, especially after my first reader (who is quite harsh on getting everything perfect) finishes... yeah, I like reading through my MS and see bright blue blocks of highlighted notes that tells me what I can do better. But I know that it DOES make my story better.

The writing is the easiest part of the novel, then you've got the editing and the rewriting. So, how do you know when you've finished that MS?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group

After such a hectic month of the A-Z challenge, and actually finishing (YAY), I learned there are so much more monsters out there than I could have thought. I even succeeded in not using the most common, no vampires, werewolves or zombies around here (although, some of the ones I did sneak in were actually described like that... but so much more cooler).

Thinking I was going to get a nice, well deserved break, I stumbled upon Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group and thought, what they hey, this is something that I need to join.

At the present time, my insecurities revolve around time. I'm only four months into being a full-time teacher and I'm already as tired as anything. Sometimes I just don't know whether my time can be split any further. I'm already devising lesson plans for 7 classes, as well as trying to figure out how to control the students (or even if I can control the students), then I'm trying to read as much as possible, blog and keep up with social networking, participate in my critique group and write. I'm sure there's not enough hours in the day, especially when all I want to do when I come home is crawl up in bed.

I'm sure once I've been at the teaching thing longer I'll be able to get my schedule in order, but in the mean time I really don't want to 'not' have time for any writing, apart from the need to finish and perfect my novels, writing is also a means of escape for me and I'd think I'd go crazy if I didn't have that.

Well, that's my insecurities on a plate. What are some of your insecurities today?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zashiki-warashi

Zashiki-warashi is a household spirit resembling a child of either gender from about three to twelve years of age in Japanese legends. It is often said that when this being dwells in a house, its family will be prosperous, but when it leaves, the house will fall into ruin, and also that the zashiki-warashi is never seen except for when it is just about to leave. Its presence however, is often marked by the mischief it does to sleeping people, such as moving pillows about and pulling on the bedding.

There are different kinds of zashiki-warashi which vary in pleasantness, with the chopirako variety being said to be pretty and white in colour, and the notabariko kind being said to crawl out from beneath the dirt flow and creep about, making noises like pounding a mill-stone and causing unpleasant feelings.

To attract and maintain a zashiki-warashi in the home, it is said the spirit must be noticed, appreciated and cared for properly, much in the manner one would raise a child, though too much attention may drive it off. It is said, and varies in different legends, that some people can see the zashiki-warashi, usually this is limited to the inhabitants of the house, mostly the children of the house.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Y s for Yuki-Onna

Yuki-Onna is a spirit (or yokai) in Japanese folklore. She is a female apparition sometimes encountered on snowy nights, usually described as a tall, beautiful woman with long black hair and red lips. Her inhumanly pale or even transparent skin makes her blend into the snowy landscape.

She sometimes wears a white kimono, but other legends describe her as wearing nothing at all, with only her face and hair standing out against the snow. Despite her inhuman beauty, her eyes can strike terror into anyone who sees her. She floats across the snow, leaving no footprints (in fact, some tales say she has no feet, a feature of many Japanese ghosts), and she can transform into a cloud of mist or snow if threatened.

She is at the same time beautiful and serene, yet ruthless in killing unsuspecting humans. In many stories, Yuki-onna appears to travellers trapped in snowstorms, and uses her icy breath to leave them as frost-coated corpses. Other legends say she leads them astray so they simply die of exposure. Other times, she manifests holding a child. When a well-intentioned soul takes the "child" from her, they are frozen in place. Parents searching for lost children are particularly susceptible to this tactic.  Apart from being a spirit that is seen in snowstorms, her main aim varies from story to story. Sometimes she is content to see a victim die, other times she is more vampiric, draining her victims' blood or "life force". She even occasionally takes on a succubus-like manner, preying on weak-willed men to drain or freeze them through sex or a kiss.

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for Xing Tian

Xing Tian (meaning "punished one or "he who was punished by heaven") is a Chinese mythological headless giant. According to the mythology, during ancient times the giant Xing Tian was originally a follower of the Emperor Yan. After the victory of the Yellow Emperor over Yan at the Battle of Banquan, Xing Tian followed his master to exile in the south.

After the Yellow Emperor defeated and executed Chi You, Xing Tian went forth with an axe and shield against the Yellow Emperor. He forced his way to the southern Gate of the Celestial Court and issued a challenge to the Yellow Emperor for a duel.

The Yellow Emperor came forth and the two engaged in ferocious combat. In a final blow, the Yellow Emperor distracted his opponent with a trick and lunged, and in a flash decapitated Xnig Tian.

Instead of dying, Xing Tian was able to continue moving and began groping about for his head. Xing Tian gave up looking for his head, and instead used his nipples as eyes that could not see, and a navel as a mouth that could not open.

W is for Wendigo

The Wendigo is a malevolent cannibalistic spirit in Algonquin (native American) mythology. It is said that a human can change into a Wendigo when they indulge in cannibalism, or that a Wendigo can possess a human. Some say that the possession causes the transformation, while others say that being bitten by one can cause it.

While hunting, the Wendigo cautiously follows its prey, eventually causing them to fall into hysteria, and once the Wendigo sees an opportunity, it attacks. Anyone who survives a Wendigo attack contracts Wendigo fever: the person will feel an intense burning sensation in their legs, and have relentless nightmares.

It is often described as a tall, thin humanoid creatures, sometimes said to be twisted, bloodstained or fanged. It has no lips, bares jagged teeth, and hisses with every breath. It's bones are visible through sickly skin, and its body is composed of ice. It is believed that a Wendigo will get bigger and more powerful with every victim it consumes, growing more and more hungry. It's hunger is never fully quenched.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

V is for Varcolac

A varcolac in Romanian folklore is a wolf demon. It is said that it occasionally swallows the moon and the sun; it's thus responsible for eclipses.

Some legends say it's a ghost tor vampire (Strigoi) while others say it's a werewolf, but unlike a shapeshifter, a Varcolac is born from the spirit leaving the mouth during sleep. Varcolaci are said to fasten themselves to the thread of people spinning at night, then going up to eat the moon and cover it with blood.

These creatures are  said to be created by:

  • souls of unbaptized children
  • children of unmarried parents, cursed by God
  • they rise upon sweeping dust out of the house at sunset, in the direction of the sun
Varcolaci are recognised by their pale faces, as well as the deep sleep they fall into when sending their spirits out through their mouths to eat the sun or the moon. If they are moved during their sleep they die as their returning spirit won't be able to find the mouth where they came.




Wednesday, April 25, 2012

U is for Uma-no-ashi

In keeping with the Japanese monsters and myths, since I have found so many fun and truly terrifying ones originating from Japan, the U monster is a Uma-no-ashi. This is a legendary beast that is said to be trees which have a horse's legs that dangles from the branches and kicks people who walk by.

The horse's leg also hides within the leaves and waits for someone to walk by to kick before returning to hide amongst the foliage. Some Uma-no-ashi are so evil that they'll kick their victim until they are dead.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

T is for Tenome

The Tenome is a Japanese mythical creature that is a man-like creature with eyes not in its face, but in the palm of its hands.

The Tenome was originally a bland man in life who was beaten up and murdered by a mugger. He returned as a ghost, but his desire for revenge was so great that his blind eyes were gone, and instead, he grew new eyes in his hands.

Now the "Pale Man" (as he was originally described in the Japanese folklore, it's not made clear whether he is pale because he stayed indoors confined by his blindness or if it is just the translation of "walking dead" or "ghost") roams through cities and villages, searching for the mugger who murdered him. He sees by waving his hands in front of him.

But Tenome never saw the face of his attacker and simply kills whoever he can get his hands on. Although he has eyes in his hands, he is still figuratively blinded by his anger.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

S is for Shinigami

Shinigami ("death god" or "death spirit") is an entity in Japanese folk lore that is responsible for seeing that a person dies at their appointed time and then guiding their spirit to be judged in the afterlife. In this respect, Shinigami are related to the Western concept of the Grim Reaper. Though the Grim Reaper is a single entity, there are multiple Shinigami which are often imagined as working together.

It is most commonly used in the Anime/Manga "Bleach" and the Anime/Manga "Death Note".

 In Bleach, Shinigamis' (Soul Reapers in the English Translation) main jobs are to send spirits to the Soul Society (aka. the afterlife) and to cleanse Hollows. In Death Note, Shinigamis are the (original) owners of notebooks called the Death Note. If a name is written in the Note, then the person of that name would die, and the responsible Shinigami would gain life.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

R is for Rainbow Serpent

The Rainbow Serpent is a common motif in the art and mythology of Aboriginal Australia. It is seen as the inhabitant of permanent waterholes and is in control of life's most precious resource, oils and waters.

Dreamtime stories tell of the great spirits and totems during creation, in animal and human form they moulded the barren and featureless earth. The Rainbow Serpent came from beneath the ground and created huge ridges, mountains and gorges at it pushed upward.

The Serpent is known both as a benevolent protector of its people (the groups from the country around) and as a malevolent punisher of law breakers. The Rainbow Serpent's mythology is closely linked to land, water, life, social relationships and fertility. There are innumerable names and stories associated with the serpent, all of which communicate the significance and power of the being with Aboriginal traditions.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Q is for Qareen

A Qareen, according to Islamic literature, is a jinn. Qareens are unique to each individual and literally means 'constant companion'. A qareen pushes a person to do evil things and to disobey Allaah, with the exception of Muhammad. Someone to whisper to that person "in the light of day and the darkness of night".

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): "His companion (qareen) will say: ‘Our Lord! I did not push him to transgression, (in disbelief, oppression, and evil deeds), but he was himself in error far astray." This is the belief that the Qareen does not force anyone to do evil things, but to seduce those who are susceptible or want to be seduced into doing those dark things.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

P is for Phoenix

A phoenix is a mythical bird that is said to live forever and it brings good fortune to whoever sees one. It is a bird with a colourful plumage and a tail of gold and scarlet. It has a 500 to 1000year life-cycle, near the end of which it builds itself a nest of twigs that then ignites. Both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix or phoenix egg arises, reborn anew to live again.

The new phoenix is destined to live as long as its old self. In some stories, the phoenix embalms the ashes of its old self in an egg made of myrrh and deposits it in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis ("sun-city" in Greek). It is said that the bird's cry is that of a beautiful song. The phoenix's ability to be reborn from its own ashes implies that it is immortal, thought some stories the new Phoenix is merely the offspring of the older one. In very few stories they are able to change into people.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

O is for Orthrus

Since I did Cerberus for C, I thought it was appropriate to do Cerberus' brother, Orthrus for O.

Instead of having three heads, Orthrus only had 2 heads. From the Greek myths, this dog guarded the red-purple cattle of the tree-bodied giant, Geryon in the "sunset" land of Erytheia ("red one"), one of the isands of the Hesperides in the far west of the Mediterranean. It spotted Hercules trying to steal the cattle and warned its owner. Orthrus fought Hercules with the help from the centaur, Eurytion, but the dog was defeated and clubbed to death.

Orthrus was among Echidna's fearsome brood.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

N is for Nocnitsa

The Nocnitsa, or night hag, of Russian, Polish, Serbian and Slovak folklore is known to torment children at night, and a stone with a hole in the centre is said to be protection from her. In some regions a mother will place a knife in their children's cradles or draw a circle around the cradle with a knife for protection. This is possibly based on the belief that supernatural beings cannot touch iron.

The Noncnitsa is known to sit on her victim's chest and draw their life energy, draining it until they cannot go on (because of this many refer to this creature as a type of vampire) and she will continue visiting. To stop her, the victim has to fight back and do not give in to her.

Many say she visits when you sleep on your back with your hands on your chest. This is called sleeping with the dead. The night hag is made of shadow but the most noticed part of her is the eerie red glow of her eyes and the horrible screech of her voice, the part below her waist is all shadow. Her smell is of moss and dirt from a forest said to be where she lives, and at times her stench can infiltrate your dreams, or linger in the room after her visit. She is also known as a demonic spirit who feeds off your darkness (namely depression and sadness), this makes the night hag stronger, more powerful and makes her harder to get rid of.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Mothman

Mothman is the descriptive name given to a West Virginia cryptid said to be a grayish-brown 7-foot tall half-human half-bird with enormous wings that resembled those of a moth and glowing red eyes that terrified those who saw it. The creature did not have a discernible head; its frightening eyes were located near its “shoulders.” Its wings did not flap or move, although it could reach racing speed; it had two human-like legs, and it occasionally emitted a shriek, reportedly similar to a woman screaming.

Mothman is a legendary creature reportedly seen in the Point Pleasant area of West Virginia from 15 November 1966 to 15 December 1967. The first newspaper report was published in the Point Pleasant Register dated 16 November 1966, entitled "Couples See Man-Sized Bird...Creature...Something". There were no Mothman reports in the immediate aftermath of the December 15, 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge and the death of 46 people, giving rise to legends that the Mothman sightings and the bridge collapse were connected.

Several hypotheses propose that the Mothman creature was really just a case of misidentification. One theory is that the creature may have been a sandhill crane, a bird that can be up to 6 feet tall with a 10-foot wingspan that glides thought the air with its wings still for long distances and can emit a loud cry. Others suggest that Mothman could really have been a type of large owl; a large bird that had mutated due to the effects of the toxic waste dump created by the now off-limits West Virginia Ordnance Works; or even a huge turkey vulture.

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Leviathan

Leviathan was a sea monster referred to in the Old Testament. The word Leviathan has become synonymous with any large sea monster or creature.

According to legend, the Leviathan was a fire-breathing creature of such immense size that the sea boils when it swims to the surface. It ruthlessly and fearlessly rules over all the other creatures of the sea. The Leviathan's skin is like a double coat of mail, with overlapping scales the size of shields on its back, and as sharp and hard as broken pottery on its under-parts. Swords and harpoons will simply bounce off such protection. It breathes smoke from its nostrils and flames from its mouth which is rimmed with sharp teeth. Its fins radiate a brilliant light and its eyes are like the glimmerings of dawn.

K is for Krasue

The Krasue is a vampiric floating head from Southeast Asian mythology.  It is a malevolent spirit that manifests itself as a woman, usually young and beautiful, with her internal organs hanging down from the neck, trailing below the head.
Since it has no lower body this spirit hovers in the air above the ground. The organs below the head include a length of intestine and are usually represented freshly daubed with blood. Her teeth often include pointed fangs in vampire-fashion.

It is believed that this spirit was formerly a rich person with a length of black gauze or ribbon tied around the head and neck as protection from the sunshine. The ghost originated with the possession of this woman by an evil spirit which turned her into a head suspended in the air with some internal organs hanging from the neck after the separation of the head from the body. This hungry ghost is always active in the night when it goes out hunting, seeking blood to drink or raw flesh to devour. It is said that that this ghost searches for her body to become whole again.

The creature will die if the intestines get cut off or if its body disappears or gets hidden by someone. If the top part of the body fails to find the lower half before daybreak it will die if it does not rejoin the other half when sunlight comes. Some traditions believe that the creature can be destroyed by burning them alive.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Jiang Shi

A Jiang Shi is a Chinese vampire/zombie that's name translates to 'stiff corpse'. It is also known as a Chinese "hopping" vampire/zombie and is a type of reanimated corpse in Chinese legends and folklore. It is a horrific creature that usually hops along, and when it comes across a victim it will suck the life force out of them ('qi').

The Jiang Shi is said to be raised by a necromancer, or when the soul of a dead man cannot leave his body due to reasons in life, such as they were a horrible troublemaker, or if they commit suicide. The body looks different due to when they were raised. If they are raised soon after death, their appearance looks like a normal human, however if they have decomposed some time before they come to life, they can look horrific and ghastly.

These zombies are usually described as a pale white colour with furry green hair, moss, or mould growing on their flesh. The Jiang Shi also has pale, long white, messy hair atop their heads. They are said to have extremely long tongues and black, sharp fingernails, and they walk along with their arms outstretched.

The Jiang Shi may be distracted if small objects are thrown about, in which case, like most vampires, it will stop to count them. Also, they are blind, and if one holds their breath when it passes, they may remain unnoticed. To deter them from entering a house a 15cm piece of wood nailed to the width of the bottom of the door will stop them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Ibong Adarna

The Ibong Adarna, or the Adarna bird, is a legendary bird of the Philippines. It is believed to have a very long, fancy tail with numerous shiny metallic colours. It knows a total of seven songs that are believed to lull anyone to sleep as well as cure any type of affliction; it changes its feathers into more colourful hues and shades after each song. After the last song, it excretes waste, then finally sleeps with its eyes wide open. It is said that its dung can turn any living organism into stone.

Though her song was believed to be so dangerous, any one can still nullify the curse-effect of her song, if and only if, that person wounded his palm and at the same time squeeze a kalamansi (a citrus fruit from the Philippines that looks just like a small lime). And by staying awake, anyone has the chance to catch her and ask for her curing abilities of any kind of sickness.

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Hell Hound

A hell hound is a dog of Hell found in mythology and folklore, usually surrounding Greek mythology and that of Hades (god of the underworld). Hell hounds typically have features such as black fur colour, glowing red eyes, super strength and speed, ghostly or phantom characteristics and sometimes even the ability to talk.

Hell hounds are often associated with the element of fire and have fire-based abilities and appearances. These dogs seem to appear out of nowhere suddenly and have been known to vanish in a blink of the eye. It is said that hell hounds have the ability to travel through the shadows. They are often assigned to guard the entrances to the world of the dead, such as graveyards and Indian burial grounds, or undertake other duties related to the afterlife or the supernatural, such as hunting down lost souls or guarding a supernatural treasure. If someone were to see the hell hound three times he or she will die an abrupt and unseen death.

The most famous hell hound is Cerberus who guards the entrance to the underworld. He has three heads and is tall enough to make men feel like ants. Cerberus also has a brother, Orthrus, who has two heads. Both brothers were said to bring the souls of the dead or dying directly to Hades.
 
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