Find out where Christmas really came from… All 5 books in Roald Dahl and Tim Burton-inspired Christmas series “The East Pudding Chronicles” are now available!
Warning: shameless book plug ahead. (Hey, it’s Christmas!)
Now that December’s here and sleigh bells are jingling, I wanted to tell my loyal readers (including my lovely new followers) about my Christmas-centric book series, The East Pudding Chronicles — in case you’re looking for some quirky Christmas reading for your kids!
These books, which are beautifully illustrated by Emily Harper, have two main influences: Tim Burton and Roald Dahl. Neither of these creative geniuses have ever shied away from darker elements in their children’s stories.
Specifically, it was Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (a story once considered so dark and risky that Disney wouldn’t put their name on it; now it’s one of the Mouse House’s most popular films) that served as an influence for the mood, style and Christmas setting of The East Pudding Chronicles. The rest came from my own love of the season, and in particular, my curiosity about all the different traditions that are such a crucial part of it.
I therefore came up with my own slightly weird, occasionally wacky, often heartfelt origin stories for why Santa Claus visits us, why we kiss under the mistletoe, pull Christmas crackers and put up Christmas trees, and what Christmas ‘really’ means.
Forget stockings and presents and candy canes this Christmas. What about a bottle of bone discharge from the body of the “right jolly old elf” himself?
The miracle of manna, it’s called. Manna is the name of the sweet-smelling liquid supposedly coming out of the bones of Saint Nicholas, the gift-giving, 4th-century Greek bishop on whom the legend of Christmas Eve’s busiest man is based. It’s a liquid that apparently has robust healing powers. Every May 9th, the “Santa Manna” is removed by priests from St Nick’s tomb at the Basilica of St Nicholas in Bari, put in glass bottles and sold to pilgrims. It is then consumed as a drink or poured over an injured body part.
Firstly, eww. Secondly, for real?
The original mince pie scoffer earned a reputation in the 4th century for secret gift-giving. Legend has it that he famously helped a poor man with three daughters, who couldn’t afford a dowry for them to get married. Nicholas delivered 3 bags of gold coins to the poor man by dropping them down the chimney (so that he couldn’t be seen). One of the daughters had just washed her stockings that evening and hung them over the embers to dry, so the bags of coins ended up falling in the stockings.
Mmmm. Sounds familiar.
Osama bin Laden, architect of the 9/11 terrorist attacks (unless you believe the conspiracy theories), was killed in Pakistan on May 2nd 2011 as part of a CIA-led operation — wasn’t he? Not everyone’s satisfied that we’ve seen or heard the last of him…
It was headline news worldwide when US Navy SEALs took out Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as part of Operation Neptune Spear, almost 10 years after he orchestrated the world’s deadliest terrorist atrocity.
We all remember it. But what stuck out then — and still does now — is how shrouded in secrecy bin Laden’s death was. It was all telling, no showing. We all wanted to see an image of the monstrous mass murderer’s dead body. But not a single photograph was released by the government. No DNA evidence was released to the public either. And to top it off, he was hastily buried at sea within 24 hours of his death.
Here’s the official story:
Navy SEALs conducted a raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Bin Laden peered through his bedroom door to see the SEALs advancing up the stairs. Lead SEAL Robert O’Neill fired a shot at him that either missed or hit him in the side. Bin Laden retreated into the bedroom; O’Neill and the SEALs followed.
According to O’Neill, bin Laden was in the bedroom using a woman as a human shield. He had his hands on her shoulders and was pushing her forward. O’Neill was able to shoot bin Laden twice in the forehead, then again as he crumpled to the floor. Another SEAL, Matt Bissonnette, also claims to have fired shots into bin Laden’s fallen body.
The SEAL leader radioed, “For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo” and “Geronimo E.K.I.A”, which means “enemy killed in action”. Watching the operation from inside the White House Situation Room, President Barrack Obama said simply, “We got him.”
My short story Paul is now available to read! It was published today by online magazine Storgy.
The story is based on a famous pop culture conspiracy theory. The image above (used by Storgy for the publication) is a rather obvious clue as to what that might be, but if you’ve not heard of it, read the story first and then have a read of this blog article about the conspiracy. (I also wrote a follow-up article that you might find interesting.)
Click to read the story! And if you enjoy it, please do like and share it on social media!🙂
Paul was originally shortlisted in the Aeon Award 2015 and reportedly very close to making the top six. It’s the fourth Million Eyes Short Story to be published, after Who is Rudolph Fentz? (Scribble Issue 68), The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller (Tigershark Issue 11) and Rachel Can See (Metamorphose V2).
Just like those other stories, Paul is set in the Million Eyes universe.
Tomorrow: is Osama bin Laden really dead?
Just thought I’d drop by and let you know that Storgy Magazine will be publishing my short story Paul on November 23rd !
Paul was originally shortlisted in the Aeon Award 2015 and very close to making the top six (so said the editor). It will be the fourth Million Eyes Short Story to be published, after Who is Rudolph Fentz?, The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller and Rachel Can See. Just like those others, it is set in the Million Eyes universe.
Paul is based on a famous pop culture conspiracy theory and urban legend. It concerns a car accident, a much-loved musician, and some rather unexpected implications for the space-time continuum…
Storgy is an online publisher of literary short fiction that tinkers with genre and stylistic conventions. They previously accepted Rachel Can See but I was unable to offer them that one due to its recent publication in Metamorphose.
I actually talked about literary fiction in last week’s blog, because I wouldn’t generally consider the Million Eyes Short Stories to be ‘literary’. However, the definitions of commercial and literary fiction are not carved in stone, and it may be that Storgy were drawn to Paul and Rachel Can See because they have thriller, conspiracy, mystery and sci-fi elements, as does Million Eyes.
Anyway, keep an eye out for Paul on Wednesday 23rd November!
In the meantime, The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller is available to read for free in Tigershark Issue 11 and Rachel Can See can be purchased as one of 10 stories in Metamorphose V2 (a sneak peek is available here).
This week: Is Osama bin Laden really dead?
Good evening Earth. This week I’m talking about a popular conspiracy theory that President-elect Trump was assassinated by a coalition of Western governments before he could destroy Mexico’s economy, give guns to toddlers, and nuke the Middle East.
Wait—what? There’s no such conspiracy theory, you say? President-elect Trump hasn’t been assassinated?
Ah, okay. Sorry, must’ve been a premonition/dream/desperate hope I had.
Instead, I’ll give you a round-up of story updates and some tips for writers on understanding the differences between literary and commercial fiction.
Rachel Can Still See wins the Hyde Cup 2016
Yesterday I received a nice little boost for my recently completed short story, Rachel Can Still See. It won the Hyde Cup 2016, an internal Rushmoor Writers competition, organised and judged each year by the members. The story got great feedback, so my plan is to start submitting it immediately to publishers and short story competitions.
This story is one of the Million Eyes Short Stories and a sequel to Rachel Can See (though it can sensibly stand alone). Rachel Can See has just been published in Metamorphose V2 (more details below).
I won £25 and a little cup for my mantelpiece. Whoop!😀
I’m down to the last couple of chapters of my novel, Million Eyes. My copywriting busyness has skyrocketed, so I’m getting through it slowly. Planning a good old sesh over Christmas, so my hope is that I’ll have reached the end by the time we draw the curtains on 2016. Then I’ll be ready to start the final edit next year.
The Montauk Monster
Meet the Montauk Monster, a bizarre, unidentified carcass that washed up on the beach in 2008 and has dumbfounded scientists and animal experts ever since…
Jenna Hewitt and three friends discovered this hideous, hairless creature on Ditch Plains Beach, just east of Montauk, New York, on July 12th 2008. Hewitt took this photograph and passed it to local newspaper The Independent. As the story circulated through Montauk, more local newspapers interviewed other residents who had seen the creature, printing stories that were seized by the world’s media and went viral.
To be honest, mystery and controversy surround just the mere discovery of the Montauk Monster, let alone what the bloody hell it is. Nobody knows where it went after it was found on that beach. The original report in The Independent said that “someone took it away” — but gave no details of who this “someone” was. Hewitt said that some guy took the carcass and “put it in the woods in his backyard”, but wouldn’t say who or where. Another Montauk resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said she knew people who seen it at that person’s house. Again, she would not name the person or identify the creature’s location.
So the only physical evidence of the creature’s existence is Hewitt’s photo. This is why the Montauk Monster has been resigned to the realm of cryptozoology, because no scientist has been able to examine the remains to confirm what it is.
A dog? A raccoon? An escaped science experiment? An alien?
Plenty of experts have tried to guess what the Montauk Monster is from the photo. William Wise of Stony Brook University’s Living Marine Resources Institute said that the creature had to be a fake, because it couldn’t be anything else. It appears that Mr Wise did not entertain the possibility that it might be an alien or a science experiment. (Perhaps he’s part of the cover-up!)
You can now read a sneak peek of my new short story and honourable mention winner, Rachel Can See, the latest of the Million Eyes Short Stories, published in Metamorphose Volume 2. A Facebook user has already given the story a positive review: “Good story about a woman who is convinced she is not crazy.”
Here’s the link to read the excerpt!
By the way, today’s the last day you can pre-order Metamorphose V2 and get 50% off. It features 10 stories from upcoming science fiction and fantasy authors (including yours truly). Current price is only $7.50.
You can purchase a print copy of the journal here, and an e-book version here. The e-book is currently only $2.99.
Remember, once Metamorphose have sold 1,000 copies, they’re donating 50% of all profits to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) to help people suffering from anxiety and depression.