Halloween and Forget Me Not

Today I decided to look up once and for all what Halloween stands for and where it originated. My first point of call was, as always, Wikipedia. To be honest, I do not trust this site but always feel the need to click on it so I can read what Wiki and its followers have to say before shaking my head, calling it bollocks, then declaring ‘Anyone can add stuff to this! Where’s the credibility?’ Then continue to read …

But, one thing caught my eye after the ‘Halloween or Hallowe’en (/ˌhæləˈwiːn, -oʊˈiːn, ˌhɑːl-/; a contraction of “All Hallows’ Evening”),[6] also known as Allhalloween,[7] All Hallows’ Eve,[8] or All Saints’ Eve,[9] is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It initiates the triduum of Allhallowtide,[10] the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows),’ – I know, quite a lot really – but back to the thing that caught my eye. It was the bit that said ‘All Hallows’ Eve revolves around the theme of using “humor and ridicule to confront the power of death.’ And it wasn’t the missing ‘u’ that got me.

Humour? (Or ‘humor’?) On first thought I hadn’t considered the humorous side to Halloween at all. To me it meant death, ghosts, vampires (not the Cullens), werewolves (not Jacob ‘where did my shirt go?’), watching films that either make me hide throughout it, or watch the screen with a cushion gripped in readiness, my head tipped at an awkward tilt and my mouth sporting a grimace that would make Anne Widdecombe look gorgeous by comparison.

I would love to say at this point that I had an epiphany. Would love to convince you all that I tapped into my youthful side and realised that Halloween was not about scaring the crap out of each other, but a celebration of life through death; that it was a time of trick or treats, jack o’lanterns, playing pranks, dressing up as Mae West and trolling around the neighbourhood tapping on doors and scrounging chocolate. But I would be lying. I had forgotten about the joy in the telling of scary stories, or listening to them too, and mainly enjoying the fact that titillation could be found in fear.

So, on the topic of scary stories, I thought I would just explain a little about one of mine. As you are well aware, I have just released a short story in time for Halloween. Forget Me Not Forget-me-not_500x800is not the average tale to scare the crap out of the reader but there are elements that I believe are quite creepy. I am not the kind of woman that likes to read stories that are totally unbelievable and I like to anchor my imagination in reality even if the grip it holds is extremely tenuous. This is not to say I do not believe in ghosts or other phenomena I cannot explain – it just means that I have to feel it could happen. Therefore, this is also reflected in my writing.

Forget Me Not is what I believe is something that could happen, something that has happened. Since the story’s release, I have received some extremely beautiful and heart breaking mails from readers who, like me, wanted to share their experiences. These are not just about ghosts and creepy happenings. These are about loss, experiencing things we never would want to experience, but, ultimately how we moved on from that and allowed ourselves to heal once again. This may be with the help of someone else, but mainly it is how we deal with life and how we want our life to continue. Forget Me Not is not just a story about loss and heart break, losing someone who is the centre of our world through a cruel disease. It is a story of hope. Of healing. Of accepting things we have no control over in the best way we can. But I don’t want to tell you any more. I want you to make up your own mind about it.

One more thing I would like to say about why Forget Me Not is so special to me. Every single penny made from the sales of this story goes to the Alzheimer’s Society. If you want to know more about this, just skip to the end of Forget Me Not and I have explained in detail about the disease and the charity. If you have already bought a copy of the story, thank you so much for making a difference to the future of everyone and anyone, as Alzheimer’s is not selective in who will be its next victim.

I think I have chatted quite a bit today, don’t you? So, with no further ado, I will leave you to carve your jack o’lanterns, make your spiced wine, bake your soul cakes, fill your tub for apple bobbing, decorate the front of your houses in readiness for the eager chocolate grabbing fingers of the kids in your ‘hood, and let you dress up in your Spiderman outfit that you pull out of the wardrobe once a year.

Mine is Wonder Woman, just in case you were wondering.

PS Please feel free to write to me and tell me about your experience. I feel truly honoured.

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VLR Weekend Spot-on Romance

kidWell. I survived my first, and hopefully not the last, VLR. Some of you are wondering what I mean when I use the letters VLR, others already know, and they’ll even be a few who are thinking ‘I don’t really care. I clicked on this link by mistake.’ For those not in the know, VLR stands for Virtual Living Room – and I think those three words actually sum up what it entails.

This weekend, the VLR have been holding a Spot-on covering the romance genre and I was so very kindly invited to join in with some other writers of romance. The questions posed were so thoughtful, almost like a gentle coaxing, that I didn’t realise I was being questioned at all. It was like a chat with some very good friends about subjects that we all held dear. All that was missing was the cafetiere and the smell of scones baking. At one point I was asked about how I felt about promoting my work and I said how I felt very self-conscious doing it. Henriette informed me that I had been doing it all the time I’d been chatting. Trust me to then come back with something crude on the lines of the VLR taking my virginity and me not even being aware – special, memorable and painless I think I said. Kill me now! My mum would have given me a pasting and sent me to bed.

But, on a good note, and one that I am not smacking myself in the side of the head about, I had fun. I also found out lots and lots of things about other writers and how they work on their stories. It’s like an online creative writing course that deals with a myriad of different processes – some I may be having a go at. It was also great to hear what different readers want from the writers – what the writers want from other writers and their readers …

So. If you want to go and live amongst the authors, find out more in the one to one sessions with Karis Walsh, Lauries Salzler, Syd Parker, Me, Blythe Rippon, Suzie Carr, Caren Werlinger, AJ Adaire, Chris Paynter, Diana Simmonds, Cindy Rizzo and Penelope Grey, then you need to get along to https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Virtuallivingroom/info and you may be in with a chance of winning a book from one of the featured authors. I know I have put a couple up there – including a signed copy of Still Life or a signed postcard.

You still have time. It is on until tomorrow afternoon. Make sure you ask a question or complete the reader questions to let them know you are about. If not, how on earth are you going to get your hands on a free e-book or paperback? I know I’m going to be dibbing in. I wouldn’t mind a few of those books up for offer.

Also, to keep you updated, AJ Adaire – the writer with the patience of a saint – has just interview me and will be putting the interview on her website in the non-too distant future. But, instead of waiting to read my ramblings, why not go and check out her work beforehand? http://www.ajadaire.com/ It is fit to bursting with information about her and her books, and also interviews she had done for other writers – and a few she has undertaken herself. All good stuff.

Going off on a tangent …

I think the heavens are going to open here in a minute. The sky is growing darker and darker and I have realised that it is not my stomach rumbling but the sound of thunder.

Wait .. oh man. The birds are singing too. It is such a perfect moment weather-wise that I really wish you all could experience it. Booming blackness halved with light, and birdsong. It’s like wearing buggered up head phones whilst switching the lights on and off.

Okay. I am rambling. As usual. I will let you get on with logging into the VLR by cutting this blog short. I promise to write again soon.

Although if you are the person who has clicked on here by mistake, I doubt you wanted to know that. And, more importantly, why did you read to the end? Did you really think I was the writer of The Vampire Dairies … lol. That’s L ‘J’ Smith.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. And if you get questioned at the door to the living room, tell them Fingersmith sent you. If that doesn’t work … erm. Back to have a great weekend?