It’s Christmas (eve)!!

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Wow, it’s really Christmas! It’s hard to believe!

We both hope everyone has a safe, happy holiday and New Year! Don’t forget to eat lots, have fun and relax 🙂

Oh and don’t forget the Doctor and Sherlock over the holidays!

MLR 🙂

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Legend Unleashed Free!

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Hi Everybody! Hope you are all set for Christmas (not like Latimer running around like a headless chicken for last minute buys! She lives on the edge!).

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This weekend (21st Dec to 23rd Dec 12 midnight GMT) we are giving our own Christmas pressie (Legend Unleashed) for free!

 

Synopsis:

Temperance is satisfied with her ordinary life. Dealing with her eccentric, childlike parents is all the excitement she needs. That changes when Alastair Byron returns home.
After a failed matchmaking attempt by her father, sparks fly between her and Alastair-just not the good kind.
They are forced together though, when they are implicated in a grisly murder. Their search for the truth leads them to a secret world beneath Carwick, filled with werewolves, wizards and other magical faey.
However, uncovering the truth is far more dangerous than they’d ever imagined.
There are secrets within secrets.
Even Alastair may be more than he seems…

(Download here)

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“……She kept her eyes pinned on Alastair’s back. He flitted through the trees untouched, a dark shadow she could barely see. She was grateful for the light the moon gave. She ducked, trying to mirror his movements only to trip into the bushes. It was almost like he was prowling through the forest, not running away. That’s what she was doing.

Every few minutes he snatched up her arm and veered to the side, obeying some invisible sign. He’d drop his hold on her as soon as he could and rush forward.

When they breached the edge of the forest, she gave a haggard gasp of relief. The snarls around them died away. Her harsh breathing filled her ears. She twisted around in a circle. A ring of trees hemmed them in. They hadn’t left the woods. She took a shuddering gulp of cold air. They’d been herded into a clearing….”

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Please let your friends know too!

We’d love to know what everyone thinks of the book 🙂

So It Begins

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Latimer: And so it begins… Christmas shopping… the last ride of the Rohirrim… 

Okay, that might (might) be an exaggeration! But I saw this funny post on Tumblr and it sort of fit:

It’s Christmas, you have one of two feelings:

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Or

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I’m not totally one way or the other, but it feels like this year, Christmas sneaked up on me – then knocked me out with a sledgehammer.

As I stumbled around half-dead for three weeks, I now find myself madly shopping in a delirium of, sweat, confusion and panic, blind panic!

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Over the past few years I’ve found myself buying children’s Christmas presents for nieces and nephews. The last time I had been in a toy shop was to… well, be the one who people were buying presents for! I was the last child I knew!

Now, I have five nieces and two nephews to be buying presents for!

And I panicked. When I stepped into the big toy shop to do my ‘buy, buy, buy SOMETHING… ANYTHING’ Christmas shop last weekend, I faltered. I got confused; really confused.

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I reverted back in time. I stood staring at the Sylvanian Families, laughing; “Aww, still as expensive as ever… oh! The Badger Family, I remember you!” 

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I was a child again. I forgot why I’d come to the shop.

I started looking at all the new dolls, thinking they were cool. Asking myself if a three year old could handle the awesomeness of gothic dolls based on monsters (no, thankfully I came to my senses on that one).

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I bought myself some glitter glue; which I needed for making my Christmas present tags for the kids, but it was weird because, I’ve not had glitter glue since I was a kid!

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Thankfully I did manage to leave the toy shop without going too crazy.

Although my last giddy thought as I left was; “I have money now… I could buy things if I wanted…I could buy the Sylvanian Families cottage/barge/windmill! Oh the POWER!”

I pray the power of the toy shop will not have grown stronger by next Christmas!

I’ve a Horse in the Attic

1272874_10151647138863683_334812153_oRidley: I was at a wedding in Bellinter House in Navan recently, where a handfasting ceremony was carried out.Handfasting-1

They also had a ring warming ceremony. Both types of ceremonies were new to me, I had heard of them, but I’d never seen them carried out before, but I found it quite beautiful, there seemed to be a lot of meaning behind them. With just close friends and family, it was one of the most intimate and warm weddings I’ve ever attended.16613387

Now the house itself, Bellinter, where the wedding was held, was magnificent. It was once a functioning estate house, that has since been transformed into a hotel. bellinter_house

bal1imagesbellintertreeSet in the green rolling countryside, the grounds sprawl out either side of the house. Originally it once encompassed 600 acres of parklands. It’s situated on the banks of the River Boyne, just upstream from the Stone Age megalithic tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth (if you’re coming to Ireland, you need to visit Newgrange, you won’t regret it) It is also quite near the Hill of Tara, which was where the Celtic High Kings of Ireland had their strongholds.

Now apart from the rich history that surrounds it, the house also has some fantastic tales of its own, stories that I just drank in for the few hours while I was there. bellinterOne of the owners, a Gustavas (Gussy) Briscoe, inherited the estate in 1892 and seems to have been one of the most colourful (read mad) owners. He had a massive party one evening, with no doubt lots of wining and dining, and in order to win a bet, he rode his horse up the main spiral staircase. After which the horse refused to come back down. black-beauty-1994-movie-posterThe poor animal spent three weeks in the attic before a beam and pulley could be erected to lower it back to ground level (feel bad for the horse, but the image of him living in the attic like some giant mouse or something kinda makes me smile). Have to say, I would have loved to have met Gussy, don’t think I’d have been able to keep up with him though!! 

Indie Adventures

Latimer's Web Adventures!

Latimer’s Web Adventures!

Latimer: Somehow I’ve found myself on an indie odyssey through the internet recently, stumbling over people making really amazing art, from conception to end-product. As Ridley and I are indie writers ourselves, it’s always great to see what other indie people are up to around the web!

There are some amazing artists out there, doing really cool innovative things. The invention of Kickstarter also means that more and more people are finding ways of getting their ideas out to bigger audiences. It’s really inspiring and I’ve stumbled across some great finds as I’ve wandered and bounced around the wide-open spaces of web-land!

Here are a few of my new, sparkly treasures!

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Podcast: Welcome To Night Vale (created by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor and voiced by Cecil Baldwin), this really cool podcast about a fictional town somewhere in America, where strange things are happening, almost always… they have hooded figures, mysterious dog parks, vanishing interns… it’s all very random, but brilliantly random!  

Webcomic: Ava’s Demon – oh wow, this webcomic by Michelle Czajkowski, is just fantastic! It is semi-mixed media, in that for each chapter, there are a number of beautiful single panels, and then the very last part of the chapter is a short animation. The story is set in outer-space and on different planets, but it also has this cool fantasy feel to it. It focus’ on a girl called Ava who is possessed by a demon with a mysterious/bloody past.

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The artwork is beautiful and after running this really successful Kickstarted campaign, the artist now has the money to update the comic twice weekly and add lots more fun stuff! (Currently the comic is updated every Thursday! Check it out! It’s great!)

Webcartoon: Bee and PuppyCat, a really cool webcartoon. Bee has been fired and as she walks home, a puppy-cat falls out of the sky. This is so brilliant, hilarious and just… it’s so strange that it draws you in and you are hooked wondering – what on earth is going on?

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The artist and creator of Bee and PuppyCat (Natasha Allegri) works on Adventure Time (she created the female/genderbender version of Finn and Jake – Fionna and Cake!). And Frederator Studios, the indie studio that makes Bee and PuppyCat (and the other shows on the channel), also made Adventure Time (so there are similarities). I’ve never watched Adventure Time, but I feel like I should now!

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Currently Bee and PuppyCat is only one episode, but after a Kickstarter campaign she got enough money to make a series! Not sure when it will be out, but I’ll be subscribing to keep track!

Webcartoon: Bravest Warriors (by Pendleton Ward, creator of Adventure Time), this is also on the same channel (Cartoon Hangover) as Bee and PuppyCat and made by the same people. It’s actually really, really funny. I love the humour in these cartoons, it’s so unbelievably random and quirky!

I can’t wait for the next find! There are some amazing people, doing really cool things out there 🙂

Reading movies

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Latimer: I love watching TV series and movies in other languages. It really immerses you in the story and gives you a sense of that culture.

Having spent so much time watching anime and Asian dramas, I’m used to subtitles. Once you get into the swing of reading them, it becomes like second nature and it doesn’t distract you.

I usually have to go looking for the subtitled dramas or movies, but this week, one found me!

On Irish television I happened across the finale of a German TV miniseries called ‘Generation War’ (in German it’s called ‘Our Mothers, Our Fathers’).

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The series is a gritty Second World War series about 5 friends in Germany and their experiences during the war. It’s full of heart-wrenching moments (moments where you are shaking your head wondering how these things happen), and moments where you are screaming for one thing – just one thing to work out for someone…!

Watching this series reminded me of a few of the great foreign language series and movies I’d seen over the years. It resulted in me taking a little trip down memory lane.

Pans Labyrinth

This is quite simple a gorgeous, eerie movie; it has that supernatural gothic, dark element that I like. It also has this ambiguous feel to it; is the girl dreaming all this fantastical stuff, or is it real? Full of fairies and demonic creatures – Pan is one scary fawn it must be said! – this is one of those movies I could watch again and again. I still will randomly start humming that theme tune (epic)!

Joyeux Noël 

About a true event during the First World War where during Christmas time at the front there was a brief ceasefire, where all the men on all sides came together to celebrate Christmas. It’s in French, German and English. A very sad, but inspiring story.

Moving on from war, to romance… yeah, bit of a drop from drama to mindless fun…

My Princess

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A Korean drama that follows a girl who finds out she’s related to the defunct Korean monarchy. The story is about how a wealthy group in Korea want to re-instate the monarch with her as the Princess. Okay, it follows the typical girly love story, but – hey, that’s soul food to a fan-girl! It’s a fun series!

Hana Yori Dango

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Ah, this might well be our (Ridley and I) most favourite Japanese series! As a result of watching this series, Ridley and I knew all about the actor that plays the leading man – Matsumoto Jun (who’s in a band called ARASHI :)). And so, when we were in Tokyo and we saw some Japanese girls holding up a sign which said in English – ‘Foreigners, do you know who are ARASHI?’

Well, Ridley and I looked at each other, ‘Shall we?’.

And so we sidled up to the girls and said; ‘We know of ARASHI’. Then the girls asked us how; Ridley beamed, ‘Hana Yori Dango’. Then all of us, across language barriers smiled and started laughing (ah, fan-girls unite!).

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A Norwegian film about… a Troll Hunter. I now have a greater respect for Norwegian folklore about trolls and love saying the Norwegian word for bear (bjørn)!

And finally… Ros na Rún

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Okay, this is not technically ‘foreign’ language – it’s Irish – but it is subtitled (sometimes!)!

We have an Irish Language TV channel here called, Teilifís na Gaeilge (TnaG) (basically Irish TV).

When we were getting ready to do our ‘Irish oral and aural exams’ in school, our teacher made us watch Ros na Rún without the subtitles to practice. While I didn’t get the nuances of what was going on, I thought at the time that this was a great series (probably because there was a scandal involving a cute guy and a baby he may or may not have been the father of!).

Stephen Fry also did a cameo in it once (those two auld lads have been in the series for YEARS… and yet, they have not aged).

Plus Ros na Rún also had a cross-over with Cold Case (sort’a)!

“I told you I don’t understand English” – Daniel

“Where is this woman? Did you murder her?” – Lieutenant Stillman

“Do you understand now Daniel?” – Detective Rush

Yup, I think this post has made me want to re-watch some things! I do like me some subtitled stuff 🙂

I wonder what else is going on around the world that I should look into! Suggestions very welcome!

Irish Christmas Quirks

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Ridley: Okay, so it’s the first of December and I am now officially allowing myself to get excited for Christmas!! Yay! Mind so is everyone else, I wandered into town earlier (town being Dublin city centre) and the place was thronged with people, who all obviously decided that now it was officially December it was acceptable to begin their Christmas shopping. I’ve never seen so many bags in people’s hands or walls of children filled buggies on the streets as I did today, and of course I got bashed and thumped by everything and everyone! Though it’s all part of the fun…of course…haha. Now in the spirit of the upcoming holiday i thought I’d share some Irish specific Christmas traditions (though maybe some of these happen elsewhere in the world too. especially the food, which is also found in the UK.)

The Late Late Toy Show

This marks the start of Christmas for every Irish person. It’s an annual toy show that displays all the latest gadgets, toys and books that every child is probably going to want as a present off Santa Claus (better know as Santy or Father Christmas here) come December the 25th. It also shows off the talent of Irish youngsters, with lots of children singing, playing instruments and dancing. The auditions for these slots go on for weeks beforehand. All the adults in the audience have to dress up too. The programme is broadcast live, and is regularly the most watch show of the year on Irish television. There is also the added excitement of the Christmas Jumper Reveal, where the host (currently Ryan Tubridy, but everyone loved the original host and beginner of the Jumper Reveal, Gay Byrne) forgoes wearing his usual suit and tie for the normally serious talk show (The Late Late) and puts on a crazy looking Christmas Jumper, the picture of which often ends up in our national newspapers the next day, and is usually the topic of gossip for a few days.

Busking Bono

Now a bit of a tradition, Bone from U2, and whoever he manages to get involved (last year it was Glen Hansard, Lisa Hannigan, Sinéad O’Connor, Liam Ó Maonlaí) go busking on Grafton street for charity, and they usually get thronged by tourists (while the rest of us try to look unimpressed, but secretly we all are).

Midnight Mass

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We all pack into mass in the church, usually everyone goes (both believers and non-believers), sometimes it’s at 10pm in some places and not actually 12pm, though it’s still called midnight mass. There’s usually lots of carols sung at it, and at the end of the service, people go up to the crib, where there is a figure of a baby Jesus (along with the wise men, the shepherd, Mary and Joseph and animals) and people take a piece of straw from the manger, and they place this in their purse or wallet so that it will ‘never be empty’ for the coming year.

Christmas Food

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Sherry trifle: It’s a desert made of madeira cake, bird’s eye custard, sherry, jelly, fruit, topped with cream, and in some households there are chocolate sprinkles on the top of the cream (we don’t do this in ours). It’s beautiful tasting.

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USA biscuits: I think every household in the country has a tin of these in their kitchen, it’s either bought or received as a present, and the bickies in them are always great with a cup of tea!

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Cadbury’s Roses and Quality Street chocolates: There’s a raging friendly war in my house over which is better – don’t listen to what anyone else says, it’s Cadbury’s Roses. These tins of chocolates are bought in their hundreds at this time of year here, there’s always one open in people’s houses, usually on the coffee table, they’re given as presents, and often times shops will have a little plate or bowl of them at the till for customers to take one. My favourite is the long purple sweet in the Roses tin, which is basically a caramel chocolate with a nut in the middle. Yum.

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Mince pies: Not a fan myself, but they’re extremely popular, it is a small palm sized sweet pie, traditionally in olden times it would have actually had mincemeat or some sort of meat anyway, but not any more, it is filled with a mixture of dried fruits, sugar, spices and brandy.

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Plum pudding: It is a pudding composed of  dried fruits and is held together by egg and suet, sometimes moistened by treacle. Also, flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves ginger, and other spices. It usually has brandy poured over it and set on fire just before it’s cut up and eaten. There’s also always silver coins in the centre of the pudding, the finder of which is meant to get good fortune for the coming year.

Christmas FM

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A full radio station is set up in December which is devoted to Christmas songs for the month. Everyone tunes their car radios to this station for the few weeks its on. It gets a small bit depressing after Christmas when you hop into your car and the station has gone off air and there’s nothing but silence when you switch on your radio. *sigh*

Christmas Swim

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Some mad people go to the 40 foot in Sandycove in Dublin on Christmas day and jump into the sea, (which is freezing!!) all in the name of charity. It’s a tradition for some, not me, I like staying in my clothes in front of a fire for most of my Christmas! Any charity I do is usually in the warmth.

Nativity Scene

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The nativity scene is basically a baby Jesus in a manger, it’s set in a stables, and also present with him is Mary and Joseph, the Three Wise Men, the Shepherd and animals (usually a donkey, a sheep and a cow). This scene is in miniature form in most people’s houses here and then there is also a large version of the Nativity scene set up in almost every biggish town in the country, usually placed at the town hall or in the town square. It’s usually lit up and is extremely pretty.

Christmas Pyjamas

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I think a lot of people do this, most of my friends do it, I know it’s been a tradition in my family since I was very small. It’s always a given that you get pjs, fluffy or otherwise, as one of your Christmas presents, along with fluffy socks of course. These pjs are usually gotten from Penney’s, the best cheap clothes store chain in the country!!

Well that’s our Christmas, what’s yours??