Monthly Archives: April 2016

Dr Frances Summer Janney Stoddart — Faces of The Passed

Source: This photo was generously donated by Greg Gillespie, owner of Port Richmond Books. Frances Summer Janney was born on Oct 4, 1866 in Burlington County, NJ. She was the youngest of two daughters born to Dr Joshua Janney and Amanda Eastburn. Joshua was educated at Ohio University’s Starling Medical College (1865) and had practices […]

via Dr Frances Summer Janney Stoddart — Faces of The Passed

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Vida Goldstein | Historical Ragbag — First Night History

I recently saw the movie Suffragette and while I did enjoy it and applaud the important story it is telling I couldn’t help but think that I wanted to write about some of the non-violent members of the women’s suffrage movement. This idea crystallised when I talked to a few people and realised that even the […]

via Vida Goldstein | Historical Ragbag — First Night History


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Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington (1877-1946) — MU Library Treasures

By Olive Morrin, Special Collections & Archives Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington died on the 20th April 1946 and this year marks the 70th anniversary of her death. She was born in Kanturk, Co. Cork but the family moved to Drumcondra, Dublin in 1887 and Hanna attended the Dominican Convent in Eccles Street. She was a bright student […]

via Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington (1877-1946) — MU Library Treasures

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The Difference Between Surprise, Shock and Suspense

Surprise: to strike or occur to with a sudden feeling of wonder or astonishment, as through unexpectedness.

Shock: a sudden or violent disturbance of the mind, emotions, or sensibilities.

Suspense: a state or condition of mental uncertainty or excitement, as in awaiting a decision or outcome, usually accompanied by a degree of apprehension or anxiety.

All three definitions are from

Suspense and shock kitties

Shocked and surprised

I am currently writing a short story as a break from editing. It is a horror story, and so I want to evoke suspense, surprise and shock in my audience as the basic emotional responses. These three emotions are related, but shouldn’t be confused. They do have very different implications when used in the horror genre.



Dear me! A spider!

Surprise can be a positive emotion as well as a negative one. It results from something unexpected happening, be it a birthday present or a cockroach crawling out from under the bath. What flavours the surprise is its origin, and the response can vary from person to person, in that what surprises one person may be a terrible shock to another.


suspense cat 02.jpg

Just saw the new puppy… it is a Wolfhound!

Shock can be both an emotional or a psychological response. It is a stronger emotion than surprise, and generally has a more negative overtone. Hearing about the death of a beloved family member is a shock, not a surprise. Shock is not the same thing as ‘shocking’; a glimpse of stocking might be shocking, but it won’t create the same dramatic response as shock, with the sudden chills and dangerous change in blood pressure. It takes much longer to recover from a shock than it does from a surprise.



Did I hear a growl?

Suspense can be summed up with that old saying ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’. Suspense is the backbone of the horror genre; it is created by the overwhelming tension when waiting for the knife to stab or the monster to move out of the shadows. Often, your audience can create worse scenarios in their minds than if you were to give them the full details of what is happening and what the villain looks like.

Of course, the horror genre is built around the actual events like gore and violence, and a good slashfest is horrific. But by building the tension first, the release is much stronger. Make your audience anticipate the worst, and then shock and surprise them with the unexpected monster. Horrible, ghastly, and scary …

surprise-cat 02




Filed under Characterization, Horror, Horror genre, Personal experience, The Writing Life, Uncategorized, writing, Writing Style

On The Trials of Convention Costuming — Karen J Carlisle

It is convention season again. Time to rummage through the costume cupboard to rejuvenate and re-accessorise a costume. It’s the usual story: I was going to make a new costume for Oz Comic Con. Honest. I even made a new casual steampunk skirt back in December. I had intended to make a matching under-the-bust corset. Hmm. That is still… On The Trials of Convention Costuming was originally published on karen j carlisle

via On The Trials of Convention Costuming — Karen J Carlisle


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The Misadventures of Martin Hathaway — LJ Metz

The Misadventures of Martin Hathaway is a steampunk fantasy with wit to spare. Not only is Glen’s writing clever and fast-paced, her characters are unique and loveable. While Martin Hathaway is an endearingly brave but bumbling hero, Captain Daisy Fitzgerald McNamara is probably the most self-assured female protagonist I’ve ever encountered. And though it’s no […]

via The Misadventures of Martin Hathaway — LJ Metz

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Jago & Litefoot – Series 1 — Tipping My Fedora

Hurrah – theatre impresario Henry Gordon Jago and pathologist Professor George Litefoot, those two fruity Victorian investigators created by Robert Holmes and played to perfection by Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter, are back this month for their eleventh series! The CD/download box set features as always a quartet of hour-long audio adventures, courtesy of those […]

via Jago & Litefoot – Series 1 — Tipping My Fedora

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Fire Storms: the American conflagrations of the 8th of October,1871


Nearly everyone has heard about O’Leary’s cow and the Great Chicago Fire, but that wasn’t the only fire that raged that day in America. There were fires in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, in the towns of Holland and Manistee, Michigan, and Port Huron , Lake Huron, as well. The Peshtigo fire caused the most deaths by fire in United States history, with an estimated  1,500 people dying, and possibly as many as 2,500 … but that tragedy was forgotten in the shadow of the Chicago fire, where only 120 to 300 people died.

The summer of 1871 was a scorcher, with little rain. On October 8th, with winds blowing and no rain in sight, fires broke out in Chicago, Wisconsin and Michigan. The most popular building material was wood, and the forests and fields were parched and dessicated, a fire demon’s dream come true. By the time the flames subsided several days later, thousands of people were dead, and a total of  four million acres of land had been razed.

peshtigo fire

The Great Peshtigo Fire

The Great Michigan Fire  was the fire that raged through Holland, Manistee, and Port Huron. No one was ever able to make an estimate as to how many died. By counting up missing families, a total of 500 dead was reached, but this total didn’t include all the lumberjacks spread throughout the forests and realistically the total was much higher.


A commemoration plaque of the Great Michigan Fire

In 1883, the theory was put forward that the simultaneous fires across the Midwest were caused by the impact of fragments from Comet Biela. I don’t give much credence to this hypothesis, as the timing was all wrong and comets are made of ice. It is more likely that the fires were caused by lightening strikes – or even by hot ashes drifting from the Great Chicago Fire. The winds were fierce that week, which fanned the flames and made it difficult to fight the fires.

As my Steampunk novel is set in 1871 and 1872, it is unlikely that my characters would not refer to the great fires at some point. Adding details like this to my text adds verisimilitude to the narrative. It is the build up of small, believable details that draws the reader into the story … and then you can start spinning the fantastic.

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Filed under 1871, Historical Personage, History, Setting, Steampunk, Uncategorized, writing, Writing Style

My great-grandmother, Emmeline Pankhurst, would still be fighting for equality today — The Metal Hare’s Mix

Winning the vote was only the beginning. Today’s activists are uniting to tackle sexual violence, literacy and low earnings at the Walk in Her Shoes march this Sunday. Read more here.

via My great-grandmother, Emmeline Pankhurst, would still be fighting for equality today — The Metal Hare’s Mix

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“The advancement of women” — A Mermaids Memoir

This wont be all gushy. It wont be angry. It wont even be a rant about what women have had to endure for their rights… i think we all know about that. In the office today the girls were chatting about those women who they find inspirational. Of course the usual suspect cropped up. I […]

via “The advancement of women” — A Mermaids Memoir

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