Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Enter the Sandman - "Magical Creations"

[Image courtesy: Gaiman, Neil The Sandman]

It was through the dim glow of the alarm clock that he saw two strange and monstrous beings. Thin and pale, they were human in form, but their faces were pointed, with impossibly slanted eyes. No thicker than a large twig, their arms ended in hands with grotesquely long fingers that clasped around his arms, pinning him to the bed. The air around them smelled dusty...

Yeah baby - they're Sandmen!

 [Magical Creations, coming 7th October]

In the next few weeks, I'll be highlighting some of the magical beings you're going to encounter in my latest release, "Magical Creations" and today I'm focussing on Sandmen.
The Sandman, which is a relatively innocuous title, has a sinister edge I think. Traditionally speaking a Sandman is a benevolent character who brings good dreams particularly to children, and the 'sleepy dust' or 'sleep sand'  in your eyes in the morning is evidence of his visitation. However, the sandman has also been depicted as malevolent. In E.T.A. Hoffmann's novel 'Der Sandman', the sandman is quite frankly hideous, he throws sand in children's eyes, which makes them fall out. He then collects the lost eyes and feeds them to his children on the moon. Gross isn't it? Neil Gaiman's famous depiction of the Sandman in his comic series (of the same name) also has a sinister edge. This depictions seem to have tainted the 'good sandman' image somewhat. Additionally, Metallica's song "Enter Sandman" has a strangely threatening, if not exciting air to it and thus, for me, the negative imagery of the acutual Sandman has stuck.
If you want to read about the Sandman the wiki site is fairly informative and if you haven't heard "Enter Sandman" you can listen to it here; (I grew up listening to this as my brother was a massive Metallica fan!)
I won't go into to much detail about how and why the Sandmen appear in "Magical Creations" because I don't want to give to much away. Suffice to say they're there, and even in dreams, someone may be watching you!

Monday, August 29, 2011

A body as hard and hot as worked iron... enter the simile!

[photo courtesy; FlickrCreative Commons; ell brown]

I love using similes and metaphors as descriptors in writing, it adds interest and colour to the story.
For those of you who aren't familiar;

A simile is a figure of speech that directly compares two different things, usually by employing the words "like", "as", or "than". Even though both similes and metaphors are forms of comparison, similes indirectly compare the two ideas and allow them to remain distinct in spite of their similarities, whereas metaphors compare two things directly []

A metaphor therefore is; a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible thing to represent a less tangible thing or some intangible quality or idea; e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels". Metaphor may also be used for any rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via association, comparison or resemblance. []

You'll find similes and metaphors peppered through almost any story, whether fiction or non-fiction. They make an image instantly recognisable and engaging.

In my latest WIP I've been playing with a really ugly character. He's ugly in and out and quite powerful. So I've been having a lot of fun making him revolting. To do this I've been using similes and metaphors and thinking of interesting descriptors. Thus far, this charactere has a toad-like appearance, with a fat pink tongue that slimes its way over swollen lips (hmmmm kissable huh? Not!) He shrouds himself in orange most of the time, but occasionally mops rivulets of sweat from his neck with it. Its a lot of fun.

Using descriptive similes and metaphors helps the readers imagination, create the scene, and I confess I spend a good deal of my time imagining cool descriptions - what can I say? I'm a nerd.

Anyway, one of my all time favourite similes, is the one that I've titled this post with. "A body as hard and hot as worked iron..." You can really see and feel how masculine and powerful the imagery is. Has anyone out there got a favourite simile or metaphor that they've read or created? I'd love to know.

Alas, I must leave this post a short one, edits, housework and a starved rescue cat are beckoning. :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I'm on Twitter!

Ok, so I'm on Twitter without forceful coercion but the gentle urging of my friend and fellow author Shona Husk.

I'd always avoided Twitter, simply because twitter has the word 'twit' in it... and that reminds me of Roald Dahls hideous characters. None the less, images of grotesquely dirty morons aside, I have now joined to help with promoting my new new book due for release in October!

So please come and follow me, you're guaranteed to receive my sparkling wit, outrageous humour and golden nuggets of useful information at any time of day... how can you refuse?!!/NicolaESheridan

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Guest Author - Penny Ehrenkranz!

I'd like to extend a warm welcome to author Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz!

Penny's new novelette "Love Delivery" was released this month and she's come to tell us a little about it - and will give away a free e-copy of one of her short romantic stories to anyone who comments!

So...without further ado, let the interview begin!

 Hi Penny, and welcome to my blog! First of all, can you tell us a little about your latest release?
Sure. Love Delivery, is a novelette published by MuseItUp Publishing. It is a contemporary romance.

Blurb;  A waitress in a donut shop, Ann is happy with her single life and her cat, Mittens, until she finds herself interested in Tom, the handsome man who makes deliveries to the shop. Unfortunately, Tom comes with some baggage, including five cats; Maria, his vicious ex-wife; and Maria’s adorable daughter he calls Kitten.
When Maria is hired at the donut shop and learns Ann and Tom are beginning a relationship, she does everything she can to tear them apart. Will Ann and Tom’s love prevail, or will the evil ex-wife win in the end? Love Delivery is a sweet romance, which will bring tears to your eyes and a smile to your lips.

Short Excerpt; Ann pushed open the door, and the bell jingled like an added alarm to wake her up. Sometimes she wondered how she could function this early in the morning, but a job was a job. At least waitressing in a donut shop was honest. Maybe someday she’d go back to finish college and do something rewarding with her life. Then again, maybe the man of her dreams would walk through the door this morning and sweep her off her feet. The closest thing to a dream man in her life was Tom, the delivery guy, looking like God’s gift to women. She sighed. It didn’t seem fair. He would never find her appealing with the figure she inherited from her mother. The only attractive thing she could find when she looked in a mirror was her startling green eyes.

 Was there anything particular that inspired you to write "Love Delivery"?
Life is always an inspiration to me when I write. I love to people watch and see how they interact. While the story in Love Delivery never occurred, it could easily have. The people have real hopes and dreams and obstacles to overcome.

How would you describe your writing style?
I am a “panster.” I don’t outline and I don’t plan much beyond knowing a general idea of the story I want to write. For instance, with Love Delivery, I wanted to write about blue collar workers in relatively low-paying, yet worthwhile jobs.

 Are you a plotter?
Definitely not.

Can you tell us a little about some of your other works?
My first novel is a middle grade paranormal mystery, Ghost for Rent. It is currently in transition to a new publisher. My second novel, Ghost for Lunch, is under contract with 4RV Publishing. They are also publishing three of my picture books: Boo’s Bad Day, Funny Dog, and Many Colored Coats.

MuseItUp Publishing will release two more romance novelettes this year for me: Lady-in-Waiting, and Mirror, Mirror.
My collection of short fantasy and science fiction stories, A Past and A Future, was released by Sam’s Dot Publishing in January of this year.

My other work is primarily short stories and non-fiction. People can see more about what I’m doing on my web site at

 Do you write for yourself, or for your readers?
I probably write for both. I write what I enjoy reading, but I also want my readers to find relaxation, entertainment, and release from reality.

What do you think makes a great hero/heroine in fiction?
I think they need to be real in the reader’s eyes. They can’t be perfect. They have to have flaws, but flaws which they realize and want to correct. I don’t always want my characters to be beautiful people. I would rather have them be ordinary. Maybe the heroine’s hips are too wide, or the hero’s ears are too big…

 Do you get any inspiration from real life actors/models? If so who?
No, I don’t think so. I do watch movies and t.v., but I would say my character inspiration comes more from people I’ve watched when I’m out and about, or people I know who have influenced my life in some way.

 Do you have any favourite authors?
My current favorite authors are: Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison, and Devon Monk, although I greatly admire others such as George R. R. Martin, Terry Brooks, Stephen King, Anne McCaffery and others.

 Do you have any more novels/novellettes in the pipeline?
Oops, guess I answered that above, but here are some links to where they can be found:

A Past and A Future
Dragon Sight
Love Delivery, coming August, 2011
Lady in Waiting, coming November, 2011
Mirror, Mirror, coming December, 2011
Funny Dog, coming May, 2012
Ghost for Lunch, coming September, 2013
Many Colored Coats, coming October, 2014
Boo's Bad Day, coming June, 2015

Nicola, thank you for the opportunity to visit with you today.

No problem, Penny!

If anyone would like to see what Penny is up to, she's currently very busy on a blog tour, and here's where you can find her!

August 17 -- Nicola E. Sheridan,

Celia Yearly,

Long and Short Reviews: chatting on their forum

August 18 -- Su Halfwerk,

August 19 -- Lin Holmes,

August 20 -- Janice Seagraves,

August 21 -- Joylene Butler,

August 22 -- Roseanne Dowell,

August 23 -- Tina Donahue,

August 24 -- Grace Elliott,

August 25 -- Marva Dasef,

August 29 -- P.L. Parker,

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Bishop Fish - fact or weird fiction?

[Image: Brenda Rosen; The Mythical Creatures Bible]

The Bishop Fish is a delightfully random mythological beast - and to be frankly honest if I saw it whilst snorkelling, I'd probably have a heart attack. These beasties are seriously odd.

According to my well thumbed copy of "The Mythical Creatures Bible" by Brenda Rosen (pg143), the Bishop fish (also known as the 'Sea Monk' or 'Sea Bishop', looks like an enormous fish, but the tail fins resemble legs wearing fisherman's boots and the pectoral fins are similar to clawed fingers. The head of the bishop fish is cone shaped just like a Bishops Mitre (hat). The creature was first pictured in a work by naturalist Konrad von Gesner, entitled "Historia Animalium" (1551-1558). This work depicted the history of animals, and their place in art, literature and history. He based a lot of it on folklore and mythology. So in amongst the rhinoceros and other real life creatures there are Unicorns and of course the Bishop fish.There was extreme religious tension at the time Historiae animalium came out. Pope Paul IV felt that Gesner's religious convictions (he was Protestant) contaminated any literary truth or merit of the book and thus it was added to the Catholic Church's list of prohibited texts!

Anyway, I digress! According to legend, a Bishop fish was caught of the coast of Poland and shown to the King of who wished to keep it. The creature was kept alive and when shown to a group of bishops, the fish pleaded to be released with it's claw-like hands. The bishops all agreed and the creature then made the sign of the cross and disappeared into the sea. [Rosen, B. The mythical Creatures bible, 2010, pg 143]

[photo courtesy: Wikipedia;]

According to Wiki, another Bishop fish was caught in 1531 off the coast of Germany. This one apparently refused to eat and died after three days.
Then in 1546, one was apparently caught off the Danish Island of Zealand, and was described as looking like a 'monk' (hence the other name for the Bishop fish, the Sea Monk.)

Over the years there seems to have been speculation about what exactly the Sea Monk/Bishop fish actually was. Danish Zoologist Japetus Steenstrup (1850's) claimed the Bishop fish was most likely a giant squid, and he published drawings illustrating the likeness.

[photo courtesy: Wikipedia, Japetus Steenstrup].

Current discussion speculates that the Bishop Fish was really an angel shark or a disfigured walrus or hooded seal.

Could this be a Bishop fish? Freaky isn't it?!

The fact is, that there are so many fish in the ocean, the Bishop fish legend could be drawn from anyone of them.  I always wonder where the actual myth comes from, and in this case I seriously doubt any deep sea fish could stay alive out of deep water, plead for its freedom or make the sign of the cross. Not without the use of some psychodelic drugs anyway.

 None the less, the Bishop fish is a pretty cool cryptid, and although I don't intend on using one in my writing, I thought it definitely worth sharing!