Category Archives: fun

Happy PI Day by John E. Stack

Happy ∏ Day. March 14th.  3.14. That is ‘p-i,’ not ‘p-I-e’.  Pi is an irrational number; it is a non-repeating, non terminating decimal that is used when solving geometry problems dealing with circles.  It is pattern-less.  Pi is the ratio of the diameter of a circle to the circumference of the same circle. 

This is not my normal blog.  I usually write about my kids, life in general and various other topics.  Today, my inner nerd comes out.  I am a middle school math teacher and everyone knows that in some form or fashion, almost all teachers are nerds of some sort.  Math nerds are a special group, misunderstood by most of mankind. 

PI.  Even though pie is how we mathematicians normally celebrate our special day, we allow others to indulge along with us.  Normally, it is with chocolate pies, but any type of pie will do.  Pizza pies will work, but only if they are round (not square) and the slices are cut through the center-point going the entire diameter of the pie.  Each slice should have edges that are the length of the radius.

In ancient days, a few years before I was born, it was believed that the circumference of a circle was about three times of the diameter, or a 3:1 ratio.  In the Bible, pi is referenced in 1 Kings, “And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did encompass it about.”

Other cultures have used different values to represent pi.  Archimedes of Syracuse, one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the ancient world discovered that pi was approximated by using a 96- sided hexagon.  Many formulas have been used to represent pi, but it wasn’t until the 1700’s that a British mathematician named William Jones defined pi as

                                                                                Π = 3.14159.

This was adopted by Euler and became the standard.  Recently, pi was calculated to over one trillion digits.

Enough of that.  I may be a math nerd, but it usually doesn’t last very long.  Normally, we celebrate each year by having the students compete by reciting the most decimal places for pi.  I believe that in the past nineteen years most students were able to memorize twenty to thirty digits.  Only a few have exceeded 100 digits.  I have had only one to go way beyond that – 240 digits.  After that, no one wanted to compete.  In order to compete students had to memorize at least 10 digits.  If no one in the class could recite 10 digits, I got to eat pie.  I only got to eat chocolate pie once in nineteen years.  Tasted pretty good and of course it was homemade.  This year there will be no competition in my classes.  Currently, I teach sixth grade.  We don’t hit circles until next year.

So, in the grand scheme of things, what does this all mean?  You can use any reason to eat pie, even math.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.

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A Day at the Beach by Steve Hagood

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My wife’s family decided they wanted to take a trip together a few summers ago. After much discussion, and making and changing of plans multiple times, they decided they’d like to spend a day at the beach. The beach they picked was on Lake Michigan. As we live on the other side of the state, it would be almost a three hour drive to get there. As fun as it sounds to travel across the state to spend a day with your in-laws, I really didn’t want to go.

My plan was to start a fight with my wife the night before the trip, and she wouldn’t WANT me to go. Fortunately, I’m an expert at picking fights, and I pulled it off just as I had planned.

So, bright and early the next morning I was in the car headed to the beach. Obviously, I had lost the fight.

I drove the car that included my wife, Jenni, who had recently had hip surgery and was still in pain, my daughter, Aley, who was eight months pregnant at the time, and my stepdaughter, Chelsea, who was fourteen-years-old. This was going to be a fun drive.

It actually wasn’t bad the first couple hours. It was straight west on I-94. As we were closing in on the state line I said, “Do we know where we’re going? What exit we’re taking?”

Jenni said, “No.”

That probably would have been good information to have before we left. You wouldn’t think that a lake that covers more than 22,000 square miles would have be hard to find. And you’d be wrong.

Jenni received a text message from her sister, who was ahead of us, and learned that we needed to take exit 33. I was in the middle lane of a three lane highway with exit 33 fast approaching. I also happened to be talking to Aley and I tend to… lose focus on my driving when I’m talking. Sure enough, before I knew it exit 33 went by in a blur.

All three of the women in my car felt the need to tell me I had missed the exit. Like I didn’t know.

“No problem,” I said. “I’ll just go to the next exit, turn around, and we’ll be back on track.”

It’s important NOT to show fear in this situation. They can sense fear.

The next exit was another four miles down the highway. Four miles is a long way when your driving is being critiqued by three women.

I made it to the exit, got off and back on headed east. I soon found, to my distress, that there is not an exit 33 headed east on I-94. How can there NOT be an exit 33 headed east, I wondered.

“Ok, no problem,” I said. “I’ll go to the next exit and get turned around again.”

As we approached the off ramp Aley said, “I don’t think you can loop around like you did last time, Dad. I think this is another highway.”

“We’re good,” I assured her.

I took the exit and off we went, headed north on Highway 31. My passengers pointed out that we wouldn’t have been driving in circles if I hadn’t missed the exit to begin with.  “Thanks for the tip,” I said, giving serious consideration to opening the door and jumping out of the moving car.

It’s funny how perspective can change one’s outlook. Just twenty-four hours prior I had not wanted to go to the beach. At that point I’d have sold my soul to be there.

Mercifully, an exit appeared and I was able to get turned around again. We merged back onto I-94, drove a mile, and there it was… exit 33. I took the exit, thus ending the debacle. Or so I thought.

Jenni was getting directions in real time via text message from her sister. She told me to go straight all the way.

“Straight until we hit the lake?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“All right,” I said, “I can handle that.” And then the road dead-ended, with no lake in sight.

Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” So I did.

The peanut gallery started up with, “Are you sure this is the right way?”

I had no clue if it was the right way, but I didn’t let on. Remember, you can’t show fear. Fortunately, God cut me a break. The road we were on wound around to the right and back to the left and there before us was Lake Michigan.

I parked the car and we found the in-laws. I then hauled about 100 pounds of crap, like a pack mule, across the sand to the spot that they had picked.

There were three boys in our group, ranging in age from 7 to 11. They were excited to be at the beach. They ran down to the shore, into the water and right back out. The water was frigid. And that was the extent of the swimming for the day.

My brother-in-law said, “How about we go get lunch?”

Go get lunch? I just drove two and a half hours and hauled a hundred pounds of crap across the beach, and he wanted to go get lunch?

He volunteered to go get pizza. When he returned, we found a nearby picnic table and ate. Then the gang decided to go shopping. It had taken longer to get to the beach than they had spent on it. Now they were going shopping.

Aley and I demurred and headed back to our stuff.

I sat back and started to read. Aley dug a hole and lay down with her swollen belly sunk in the sand.

Everybody at the beach sits facing the water. It is a beautiful site, but all the interesting stuff happens on the beach. So I did read, but hiding behind sunglasses I was able to people watch as well.

There are many interesting sights on the beach that day. Like the guy in the Speedo or the pregnant lady in the bikini – unfortunately that one was with me. An old guy slept nearby with his mouth open and his upper dentures resting precariously on his bottom lip.  A little boy cried bloody murder because he had sand in his suit, and was desperately trying to take it off while his dad yelled at him to not too. In his defense, if I had had sand in my suit I would have been crying too.

After everything that had happened, I did end up spending a fun and relaxing day at the beach with my daughter. When it was time to go, I hauled the 100 pounds of crap back up to the car, loaded it in the trunk and started for home.

We had been on the road less than five minutes when Aley said, “This doesn’t look right. I think we’re going the wrong way.”

 

Steve Hagood is the author of Chasing the Woodstock Baby from Indigo Sea Press. To learn more about Steve visit his website http://www.stevehagood.com

 

 

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Halloween, then and now! By Arhonda Luman (based on true events)

The excitement was thick enough in the air, it was almost smothering to my mom and aunt. bunch-of-kids-and-old-houseNine kids were scurrying about trying to get their chores done. It was a special day! It was Halloween, and that meant “Candy!”   The kids could almost taste it. Having candy was a rare treat in those days. It took a massive amount of work and ingenuity to feed a family of seven, and now there were twelve. We always had plenty to eat, but we ate a lot of beans and water gravy.

Aunt Dee and my mom did not know if they could survive the barrage of questions that were fired at them. Those questions were like a machine gun, pelting them from all directions. They didn’t have time to answer one before another one was asked!

“Is it time to go yet?”

“Are we ready?”

“Is it going to be scary?”

“Can I sit in the back?”

Aunt Dee and mom took it good-naturedly. After all, they had  a total of  nine children, when you added them together, and believe me when I say, “We were together!”  All nine of we children slept in the same bedroom. That room always sounded like a barnyard fullgoats-playing of goats, jumping and running and playing.  We spent a lot of time outside because of the amount of energy we spent having fun! Oh, don’t get me wrong, there was a few hair pulling and knuckle knocking incidents too, but when all the anger left, we all loved each other very much.

We lived in a house that was barely habitable but my mother decorated it with so much love; everyone wanted to come.  Mom had five children. I was the oldest and at the time had just turned twelve years old. Her youngest was four years old. Aunt Dee had four boys ranging from six years old to a baby in diapers. Well actually, she had two in diapers.

Aunt Dee was having some hard times, and my mother invited her to stay with us until things straightened out. It required a truckload of patience on everyone’s part, but we made it work.

It was cold as ice,  the day of Halloween.  Mom saved her brown paper grocery sacks for old-pickupeverything from wallpaper to kindling. This time, they were used to collect the candy. Mom and Aunt Dee put all our coats on us and put socks on our hands for gloves. They set us larger children in the back of our pick-up with our backs to the cab and set the smaller children in front of us so we could hold them while we drove five miles into town. It was also warmer on all of us to snuggle together. The two babies rode in the front with the adults, and away we went to trick.

Every time we pulled up in front of a house, it looked like the owners were invaded. Seven little kids clamored over the side and tailgate of the pickup and raced each other to the front door. Everyone wanted to be first. Not because they were greedy, but because it

candy was a game and all in fun. We all knew when we collected all the loot; it’d go into a community bowl at home. Mom could make it last longer if she budgeted it, so all of us were ok with that!

It was so cold, our noses were running and our fingers were numb but we didn’t’ want to stop. Halloween only came once a year!  I carried the sacks for some of the smaller ones and let them warm in the truck  for a while, but they could not stand missing the excitement.  They jumped out and ran with us.

Too soon the night was over. On the ride home, the sun had gone down and the temperatures dropped even more. It was a cold ride home but we looked forward to pouring the candy in the big bowl to see how much there was!  We got to pick our favorite piece. I spied a popcorn ball right away. My oh my was that a wonderful thing! Homemade cookies and caramel apples lined the bowl.

I’ll be taking my grandchildren tonight. I will take them to something called a safe house, so they will not be served a dose of meanness. The time has passed when caramel apples and popcorn balls will be served. Now, only candy that is unopened in its original wrapper is acceptable.  The kids don’t know the difference, but I remember.

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The Grim Reaper in the Queen City by Steve Hagood

September. It’s that special time when the temperatures cool off, the kids go back to school, and football season starts. It’s my favorite time of year.

Last September, my wife, Jenni, and I traveled to Charlotte, NC to watch the Detroit Lions play against the Carolina Panthers. As it turns out, September is not fall in Charlotte, North Carolina where the average September temperature is 81 degrees with 73% humidity. I was born and raised in Michigan. I am a northern boy with thick skin and thick blood. 81 degrees with 73% humidity might as well be hell.

On the Saturday before the game, we went out to explore the city. This being fall (I thought), I was wearing blue jeans. I was also wearing a black Detroit Lions tee shirt and baseball cap. This would turn out to be a bad move. Walking around Charlotte, sweat streamed off of my head, down my back and into places better left unsaid. I don’t remember Andy Griffith or Aunt Bea sweating the way I sweated on that day.

I have to take a moment to tell you about Jenni. She is a wonderful person. A devout Catholic who teaches catechism two nights a week and aspires to be a nun after I’m dead. Ninety-nine percent of the time Jenni wears shirts that have a religious saying on them, or are from the Vacation Bible School she runs every summer. However, on this particular Saturday, she wore a concert shirt from the band Styx that happened to feature a picture of the Grim Reaper, rowing a boat across the river Styx.

As we explored the city, and sweated profusely, Jenni wanted to check out churches. There are over 300 churches in Charlotte and every one of them was locked, except for one. It just happened to be a beautiful, old, Catholic Church. The door opened to Jenni’s pull, and music emanated from inside.

“We shouldn’t go in there,” I said.

“They’re having mass,” Jenni said. “We should go in.” There has never been a mass she didn’t want to attend.

“GO IN?” I thought. We were not dressed for mass. I was sweating through my shirt and she was wearing a picture of the grim reaper!

But, before I could get the words out, Jenni was in the church and an usher was leading her to a pew about three-quarters of the way back in what I now saw was a very full church.

What could I do? I took off my hat, slicked down my sweat drenched hair, and followed.

We got to our pew just as the congregation was kneeling for the first time in preparation of communion. I obediently knelt next to the future nun.

Angry eyes descended on us from every angle. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone, fearing I’d be turned to stone. Jenni was oblivious. She was in her element.

I noticed that these were some very nicely dressed people. There were coats and ties and dresses everywhere I looked. And then there was us.

I whispered, “We need to get out of here!”

Jenni responded, “No. It’s fine.”

“It’s not fine,” I said. “You’re wearing the grim reaper!”

“I’ll cover it up when we go up to communion.”

I sighed and relinquished myself to my fate.

As I knelt there, I realized it was just about noon, on Saturday. That seemed like an odd time for mass. I grew up in the Catholic Church and didn’t remember ever hearing of a Saturday at noon mass. And, as I said, these people were very well dressed. They took their church serious down here.

The time finally came to go up to communion. I stood in line, head down intent on not making eye contact with anyone, while Sister Jenni hid the grim reaper between her boobs.

Somehow, we managed to get through the communion line without incident. When we got back to our pew and knelt Jenni whispered, “This is not good.”

“Ya think?” I said.

She picked up the flyer that she had received when we entered and pointed at the front cover. It said, “Funeral Mass for Charles Turner.”

I sighed. We had crashed a funeral. And one of us was wearing the GRIM REAPER on her chest!

“Let’s go,” I said.

“Wouldn’t it be rude to get up and leave?”

Before I could answer an old lady stopped at our pew. “Uh oh, here we go,” I thought. And then the old lady, probably Charles Turner’s widow, stuck out her hand to shake ours and thank us for coming.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Charles Turner while he was alive, but I swear, I’ll never forget him.

***

Steve Hagood is the author of Chasing the Woodstock Baby

follow Steve on Twitter @authorhagood

http://www.indigoseapress.com/Stiletto-Books–Crime-and-Mystery-Authors-A-H.php#Steve

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Secret Lives by John E. Stack

Children always seem excited when they see their teachers in a different environment outside of school.  They often wonder if teachers do anything other than teach and grade papers.  They always ask teachers what they do in their off-time, because in the student’s mind the teacher lives at the school.  Even though it really seems that some do, most of us lead exciting lives, married, raise kids, and work other jobs (is writing another job?). 

What if teachers did do more than teach?  What if the middle schoolers we worked with were actually alien rather than just acting as if they were from another planet? What if….?

The above is the proposed forward to my latest submission, Secret Lives (of Middle School Teachers).  Secret Lives is my first attempt at something like a novel or rather a story other than a picture book.  We are always told to write about something you know or you are interested in.  So I did.

Let’s see, I have spent ten months a year for the last eighteen years teaching in the same middle school.  With that, I have worked around a lot of the same teachers and many new teachers that rotate through our school.  Some of the personalities are unique.  Sometimes the faces change, but the personalities stay the same.

I’ve taught close to two thousand students.  I would try to describe the normal student, but who is to say what is normal.  I have had parents ask “What happened to the sweet, little girl I used to have?  It’s like some alien sucked her brains out and didn’t give them all back.”  Or, they wonder why their sons stopped taking showers and why hygiene now means nothing.

So, I took a handful of experience (eight four-day trips to Washington, DC with four bus loads of eighth graders gives some experience), several teacher personalities, and a fascination with astronomy mixed them all together with a little humor and came out with something like a story.

God gave me a little leeway and allowed me to create a planet system around a known star.  In that system is a planet named after an Englishman named Nigel that I go to church with.  I got to determine what the people looked like and the environment in which they lived.  I also got to develop worm-hole technology.

My aliens are called Nigelians (Nigel) and they are very humanoid.  The only differences are their lack of noses and ears.  While on Earth they wear assimilation suits to disguise their differences.  They also have tufts of hair rather than a full covering.  There are other differences, but maybe you can read about them later this summer.

If you have ever been to Washington, DC, you may have passed by the Old Post Office.  I have been to the building once and even took a group of students up into the clock tower.  Most of the story takes place in DC, but the Old Post Office became the home for our school and was the center for a lot of the action in the book.

I also tried something that I haven’t really attempted since I was a boy (and that was a long time ago) — free-hand drawing.  In the military, I was trained as a architectural draftsman.  I learned straight lines and right angles.  This was something different.  I did sketches, perspectives and some doodling.  Eventually, I completed all the drawings except for one, which was submitted by a student.  I did make some changes, but gave her the credit.

I have to admit that completing this book was a lot more fun than the picture books I’ve been doing.  There was more freedom in writing, in the ideas, and my thought process felt more alive.  I also got to learn a lot about DC.

When we continue to try something new we continue to grow in our art.  And, as long as we enjoy what we do it is not a job. Keep an eye out for my new adventure.  Read, write and enjoy.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.  He is also the author of the upcoming books Cody and the Great Zoo Escape and  Secret Lives (of Middle School Teachers).

 

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How to Make Book Cover Pins

Want to try a super easy method of advertising your book? Make a book-cover pin to wear everywhere you go. It’s amazing how many people will ask you about it! Just be ready to have a clever one-sentence answer that will make them want to read your book. That may take you longer than actually making the pins, but will be worth the time spent.

I have a PC, so if you have a Mac, the instructions may vary. Before my book was published I got a photo of the cover from my publisher which I keep on file in my computer for guest blogging and other promotions. I made my pins 1 ¾” by 2 ¾” but you can make them any size you prefer.

So, go to Microsoft Word (I have Word 10) and click Insert. Find the picture of your book cover in your files, select it and insert it in Word. Resize it to 1 ¾” by 2 ¾”. Click on the picture and you will see Picture Tools at the top right-center of page. Click on that and directly below that will be Picture Border where you can select the thickness and color of your border. I picked a 4 ½ pt. border in black.

Go back to Word’s Home Page  (set the Page Orientation to Landscape) and right-click on your bordered picture and left-click on Copy. Go to a space to the right of the photo and click Paste. Then reposition it to line up with previous photo. Continue to paste across the page to total 5 covers. If you’d like, you can make a second row below this row, giving you ten book cover photos.  Now that you have your book covers all on one page, save it and print it on Glossy Photo paper.

I purchased a 9” thermal laminator at a local box store for around $30 and laminated the sheet of photo paper (just follow the instructions enclosed with the laminator) and then cut out each book cover pin. After a trip to the local craft store to get pin-backs the right size to glue to the back of the covers, I was all done!

I’ve had people ask me about my pin at the grocery store, while dining out, at book signings and talks, all sorts of places. If you wear a plain top in a complimentary color, the book cover will stand out better. Have fun wearing your new pin and give some away to fans, friends and family. If you have a contest for a give-away of your print book, include a book cover pin.

After you’ve made your pins, you can use the laminator for other purposes: for recipe cards to send as gifts, or announcements, special photos to keep in your wallet, etc. I’d love to hear some of your ideas how this project can be used! Enjoy!

Coco with Book Pin

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.

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Who would you be?

We’ve all thought what it would be like to be someone else. Or, at least most of us.

Do you know who you would choose to be? Me, well, that’s easy. I’d be someone in one of my stories. But who? I have so many characters that I could choose from. I probably would choose a wolf character, since I love wolves so much.

Actually, since my stories are still works in progress, how about I choose someone in someone else’s story? I wouldn’t want to be stuck in a half-created world.

Hmm, well, it’d certainly be someone with super powers… Someone with an amazing world. But then, I’d be stuck for hours trying to choose someone. So, do me a favor and tell me who you would be so I can make my decision. Oh, and why would you be that person? Fictitious character or real person, anyone, who would you be?

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Living In The Moment

It wasn’t long after school was back in session that I began to notice a shade of orange everywhere I went. Pumpkin spice everything seemed to have taken over.

 
It was odd, I thought, that I was still wearing flip-flops and shorts yet there were signs of fall every time I went into a store. Then the spooky things began to appear, which told me that Halloween was just around the corner.

 
It was barely Labor day.

 
Before I could get costumes and candy for the kids, I began to see displays of Christmas items. There were lights strung up, Christmas-y wrapping paper began to appear in the center of aisles, and Santas of all sizes were suddenly in my line of vision. Even the grocery stores began to display all the food items that we normally associate with Christmas. There were tins of cookies, candy canes, and fruitcakes every time I turned around!

 
Like everyone else, I shopped nearly every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, trying to make sure my children had everything they “needed” for Christmas morning. (Yes, I meant to put the quotes around the word ‘need.’ I mean, who needs a second pair of Uggs?)

 
I wrapped each night after they went to sleep, planned my Christmas dinner, and tried to think of new places to hide the presents I’d purchased but hadn’t managed to wrap yet.

 
Then it was all over.

 
But before the last present was unwrapped, I noticed that all the stores I shop at suddenly had a lot of red and pink in them.

 
Could it be?….

 
But of course. We are already preparing for the next holiday! We are doing this with such speed that we aren’t even able to enjoy the holiday we are currently celebrating!

 
Honestly, I find it a bit frustrating. It seems that we are now becoming a society with a huge case of ADHD. We can no longer sit and relax or have even just one day where we have nothing to do, no plans, no place to go. And if we are one of the lucky ones who find ourselves with such a day, we tend to feel guilty and a bit out of sorts because there is that nagging feeling that “surely, I should be doing SOMETHING.”

 
This concept of enjoying the moment seems to be a lost art. I see this same trend with my kids and their friends. They are so engrossed in taking a selfie that they forget to enjoy the event they are actually supposed to be attending! Instead of simply enjoying a delicious Starbuck’s Frappuccino or delectable coffee drink, we snap a picture of it so we can post it to Instagram for our friends to see. Honestly, every time I see a picture of someone’s dinner plate, I want to reach through the phone and choke them. Does anyone really care what you had for dinner?

 

Just eat it, for God’s sake!

 
We’ve lost the ability to simply enjoy the moment we find ourselves in and instead focus on ensuring others know what we are doing, eating, drinking and who we are with at every moment of our lives.

 
So for this new year, I vow to be in the moment. I vow to enjoy what is right in front of me instead of taking a picture of it and then tracking the number of “likes” I get. Because all that really matters is that I like what I’m doing at the moment and that I’m enjoying it with people I care about.

 

I mean, do you really care that I just had a granola bar?

 

 

Donna Small is the author of women’s fiction novels.  Her latest book “Through Rose Colored Glasses,” will be released shortly from Indigo Sea Press.  When not writing, she can be found at her home preparing for the Zombie apocalypse with her two daughters and her dogs, Charlie and Finley.  She is currently at work on her next novel.  

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You Are What You Ink by LeeAnn Elwood McLennan

I’m getting my fifth tattoo today. Some of you may smirk at the measly amount of ink adorning my body while others will wince with dismay at the whole idea. To tattoo or not tattoo — a great way to get people talking, isn’t it?

800px-Alice_05a-1116x1492

Tattoo # 1

When folks hear I’m getting a new tattoo, the natural question is what am I getting? True to writerly form, all of my tattoos are literary — specifically from Alice in Wonderland. My ink-marked road began back in 1992 with the Caterpillar smoking his hookah tattooed onto my left thigh. A few years after that, I balanced things out with the Mad Hatter on my right thigh. Later on, I added the Cheshire Cat on my back and more recently, a playing card painting roses on my foot. For my next tattoo, I’m branching out into Through the Looking Glass for the White Queen, along with her wonderful quote ‘sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast’.

I considered the Red Queen but as I explained to a friend, the Red Queen has taken on menacing connotations since appearing in Through the Looking Glass. Anyone who has read Frank Beddor’s The Looking-Glass Wars series or watched Resident Evil knows what I mean. I’m not sure how I feel about putting something sinister on my body. Would it imply I’m sinister? Reveal my dark side to the world?

This got me thinking about what drives folks to choose what they have tattooed on their skin. If you ask someone about her tattoo, you’ll hear a story in return. The story could be about the design — be it a Chinese character denoting a name, an Egyptian symbol for Osiris drawn on a napkin at a bar by a tipsy friend, or a favorite piece of art reimagined just for you. The tattooed person might choose to reminisce about the experience — perhaps the ink was drawn by a renowned artist, maybe the tattoo shop clientele was rougher than expected tinging the experience with a little fear, or possibly close friends came along as support during the session. Sometimes the story is about why she got the tattoo — it could be in memory of a parent, to commemorate a momentous event, or a reminder to be strong. The stories are as varied as the human experience.

A tattoo is more than ink cut into flesh. For most folks their tattoos express how they think of themselves, who they present to the world. I’m a fantasy author and one of the first stories I remember loving was Alice’s crazy journey though Wonderland. Tattooing her world on my body tells the world a little bit about who I am and what I like. Some folks want original art on their bodies, while others sport family portraits. A gorgeous design of flowers twining around your arms could lure you to the tattoo parlor chair while your friend would rather have words from a favorite movie coiling around her arms.

Oftentimes, a non-tattooed person will mutter, “I don’t know what I’d get” — I think that’s a sound reason not to get a tattoo. You’d better like what you pick — because it’s going to hurt and be permanent. Tattoo removal notwithstanding.

Tribal designs, Chinese symbols, family photos, movie characters, album covers, favorite foods, a lover’s name, a child’s birthdate — anything can be mined for ideas. If someone chooses a menacing, evil design, be it historical, religious, literary, or simply violent, he is embracing a philosophy, declaring an affiliation with something disturbing. It’s a deliberate choice.

Of course, the Red Queen isn’t all bad in Through the Looking Glass, but she gets bad rap since she’s often confused with the Queen of Hearts from Wonderland. You know, “off with their heads’ — that Queen of Hearts. In fact, The Red Queen even helps Alice become a queen and celebrates with her near the end of the book.

Mmmm — perhaps # 6 will be the Red Queen after all. A kinder version of the character.

I’d love to hear your stories about your tattoos in the comments.

With thanks to Amber Hettman for the title. In addition, a shout-out to Brynn Sladky at Blacklist Tattoo (http://blacklisttattoo.com) for designing and inking tattoo number five.

Tattoo # 5 or at least the original design before Brynn worked her magic

Tattoo # 5 or at least the original design before Brynn worked her magic. She added the ‘six impossible things ‘quote as well as some other wonderful details.

LeeAnn Elwood McLennan 05 Color (2)LeeAnn Elwood McLennan is the author of Dormant, the first book in the Dormant Trilogy available on http://www.secondwindpublishing.com, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. She’s diligently working on Root, book two in the trilogy. Follow LeeAnn on Twitter @atticusmcl and on Facebook at LEMWrites.

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Filed under Art, fun, LeeAnn McLennan, life, musings, writing

No-o-o-o-o! Scary October by Sheila Deeth

It’s only the middle of October yet. No-o-o-o! Not October! How did it get to be October, when it doesn’t even feel like September, and surely should still be July. I’m counting months by monthly blogposts now, and getting later preparing them every time.

So, it’s October: The month of frights and terrors and cold nights and foggy mornings and … blazing sun? I cut the grass today and felt like melting before it was done.

It’s October: The month of ghoolies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night; but I think, whatever it is, it’s still hiding under the eaves; I don’t think it’s found its way into the roofspace yet, for all that it’s trying.

It’s October: The month when the trees dress in robes of glorious scarlet and gold; the oaks cast their acorns; the birds carry nuts to the roof and deposit them loudly below; the drain blocks up with acorn pieces; the rain threatens to puddle as far as the door and invite itself in; I rake the leaves, then weed and cut more grass, and feel like melting before it’s done.

It’s October. Our local writing group gave us the prompt SCARE ME for this month’s contest. I listened to the scary rustling of leaves and wrote the following (a hundred word drabble), but what did it mean?

The trees whispered louder that year, leaves drought-dried and scorched by burning heat. Jerlyn thought they were warning her of monsters underneath, but Mom scorned her fears.

The night of her birthday, rustling shouted louder than the opening of presents, but friends were there so Jerlyn pretended not to care. When Mom went upstairs from the basement and didn’t return, Jerlyn followed, but fell back crying; the doorknob burned her hand. No one believed her though. They watched another movie till the power went out.

In the morning, ash covered the ground like snow. Sentinel trees stood silent all around.

Comments from fellow writers in the contest range from global warming to lethal moms. I’d love to know what scary scenario you think was haunting me.

Sheila Deeth is the author of Divide by Zero – a tapestry of lives torn apart by a breaking thread. Her second novel, Infinite Sum, should be released soon – watch this space! And she’s frantically trying to finish up the third while working on the fourth. Subtraction and Imaginary Numbers will soon be real, she hopes.

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Filed under fiction, fun, musings, Sheila Deeth, writing