Archive for the 'things I love' Category



What Stace had to say on Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
On Mysteries

Around 7 pm on the evening of November 30, 1948, a man and his wife took a walk along Somerton Beach in Adelaide, Australia, and noticed a man slumped against the seawall about sixty feet away. As they watched, he lifted his right arm–rather weakly–and let it fall to his side again. The two didn’t think much of this, and kept walking.

About half an hour later, another couple noticed the man. This time he didn’t move; in fact, insects were visibly flying around him. The couple figured he was just drunk, and moved on.

The next morning–around six-thirty–a group of people on horseback noticed the man, still in the same position. This time, someone called the police (actually, the person who called was John Lyons, the man who’d seen that weak wave at seven the night before; he’d gone back to the beach early, saw the crowd on horseback, and realized they were looking at the same man, in the same position).

The man was dead. He has never been identified. Nor has a cause of death ever been positively established–the autopsy assumed some sort of poison was probable, but no toxicology tests found any poison (and of course, many poisons were not able to be identified in 1948).

He carried no wallet, and the labels in his clothing had been removed. His fingerprints were taken, but no matches were found. Police distributed pictures of him to all the major newspapers and contacted relatives of all the missing persons they knew of in hopes of identifying him, but no one came forward.

None of his other physical characteristics helped, either. He had a few small scars, mostly on his inner left wrist and inner left elbow. He had attached earlobes, a very rare physical trait (incidentally, Hugh Dancy from Hannibal has this same trait, and I had to force myself to stop looking at it during the first few episodes because that, combined with the way they’d styled his hair, made him look really Hobbit-y to me. I digress, and spoil the mysterious mood). This earlobe attachment is a trait found in only one or two percent of the population, just like the way the upper cavity of his ears was larger than the lower one. His feet were uncalloused and his toes had grown close together in a way that made his feet seem almost pointy; combined with his high, tight calf muscles, this led some to believe he was a dancer.

The items in his pockets yielded nothing that led to an identification, either. At the time of his death he was carrying an unused train ticket from Adelaide to Henley Beach, a bus ticket from Adelaide to Glenelg, a half-full pack of Juicy Fruit gum, a quarter-full box of Bryant & May matches, one or two combs (I’ve seen it listed as both one and two), and an Army Club cigarette pack which held seven cigarettes of another, more expensive brand called Kensitas. When he was found, a half-smoked cigarette sat on his right shoulder, possibly dropped when he made that last wave at pedestrians on the beach.

About six weeks after he was discovered, a suitcase was discovered in a train station locker. Circumstances indicated strongly that the suitcase belonged to the Somerton Man (it had been deposited at the train station at 11 am on November 30 and never claimed, among other things) and authorities were very hopeful, but this too yielded nothing of real use; a few items in the suitcase were labeled either “T. Keane” or “Kean,” but no missing persons named “Kean/e” were reported, and it’s believed that Somerton Man, knowing his own name was not Kean/e, thus didn’t bother to remove labels that couldn’t be traced back to him.

The contents of the suitcase were perplexing in other ways, too. Some items were American, others Australian. He had airmail cards, which indicated he’d been sending–or planned to send–mail overseas. He carried stenciling equipment, but his clean, well-manicured hands indicated he didn’t do that kind of work for a living. He had a soapdish with a hairpin in it. He had a small screwdriver, and a cut-down table knife.

None of that helped identify him.

Then, in April 1949, an expert was brought in to re-examine the body. The expert, John Cleland from Adelaide University, found a previously-unnoticed small pocket in the man’s trousers, which contained a tiny, tightly rolled piece of paper. On that paper was printed, in elaborate script the words, TAMAM SHUD. Cleland immediately recognized this phrase from THE RUBAIYAT OF OMAR KHAYYAM; translated, the phrase means “Finished,” or “The End.”

However, no one could find an edition of the RUBAIYAT which contained those words in that script. Remember, this was at a time where copyright laws were not as well-enforced, and it wasn’t unusual for a publisher to simply put out its own edition of a work without permission, or for people to have their own copies bound, or any combination thereof. The edition which contained those words in that script was not found…

…until July of 1949, when a man from Glenelg came forward with a copy of the RUBAIYAT and an interesting tale. He’d found the book, he said, tossed into his car at Somerton Beach the year before. Someone had torn the words “TAMAM SHUD” out of that copy, and the tear exactly matched the paper in the Somerton Man’s pocket.

The book yielded a couple more clues, too: two phone numbers on the back cover, and indentations that, when examined under ultraviolet light and traced, appeared to make up some kind of code:

somertonmancode

…which really didn’t help them at all. Neither did discovering that although the book’s copyright page claimed it had been published by a New Zealand company called Whitcombe & Tombs, Whitcombe & Tombs claimed they’d never published an edition that matched the one that had belonged to Somerton Man.

They tried calling the phone numbers, one of which belonged to a woman called “Jestyn,” who had worked or was about to work as a nurse. Jestyn–who died in 2007, and whose real name is now known to have been Jessica Harkness Thomson–said she had once given a copy of the RUBAIYAT to a man named Alf Boxall, but not that copy. That was proven when Mr. Boxall was found alive and well, and still in possession of his intect copy signed by Jestyn.

jestyn claimed not to know anything about Somerton Man, but it’s widely believed that she did know who he was; her reaction on seeing the bust taken of his face was apparently rather obvious. And her eldest son (also now deceased) had the same unusually shaped ears as Somerton Man. But just because a genetic trait is rare doesn’t mean people are automatically related, and just because a man had a woman’s phone number doesn’t mean she knows him, etc. etc. All Jestyn could tell the investigators is that around the time Somerton Man was found, her neighbors had told her some man showed up looking for her at her house, but she didn’t see him and didn’t know who he was. (Jestyn, by the way, lived only blocks from where Somerton Man was found.)

No one has ever cracked the code written in the book.

Somerton Man was finally buried in June 1949, unidentified.

You guys, this KILLS ME. Who was he?!? How did he die? Was he a spy, as some people theorize? What was his relationship with Jestyn? Why did she look like she totally knew who he was but deny it? What was he doing there? Was he there, as some theorize, to see her, and the boy who might have been his son? Did he commit suicide, and TAMAM SHUD was all he needed as a note–but why was it hidden, then?

I’m going to talk more about unsolved mysteries and such later–this is getting long–but here’s the reason I’m specifically bringing up this case.

Professor Derek Abbot, who did this fascinating AMA about the Somerton Man and is considered the world’s authority on the case, and who runs these very informative Wiki pages, has started a petition to get the Adelaide authorities to exhume Somerton Man for DNA testing.

Please sign it. There are apparently some poor people in this world *coughtotallynotmecough* who literally stay awake at night wondering about this case (and others like it) and wishing like hell that there was some sort of closure because we seriously want to tear out our hair from curiosity.

And we’ll talk more about mysteries and the lure of them and the unbearable frustration of the unsolved later.

ETA: Just to be clear, the above is by no means an exhaustive list of the facts and curiosities in the Somerton Man case (also sometimes referred to as the “Tamam Shud” or “Taman Shud” case). There’s tons more curious and interesting info to be found if you follow the links or Google it or whatever.

What Stace had to say on Monday, June 16th, 2014
Hiding

I’m hiding from the internet today.

See, last night all you lucky people in the US got to watch the GAME OF THRONES finale. Whereas the hubs and I–and everyone else in England–have to wait until 9 pm tonight. A WHOLE DAY LATER IT IS KILLING ME BLAAAH.

*******SPOILERS! SPOILERS UP TO THE PENULTIMATE EP OF SEASON 4!! HIGHLIGHT TO SEE SPOILERS!*******

What happens to Tyrion? Will Arya find Sansa? Does that psychopathic bastard Ramsey move his sadistic ass into the ruins of Winterfell to rebuild it and, I dunno, have a place where he can grin his evil grin while he drinks blood and tortures infants and conducts medical experiments that would shock Josef Mengele? What’s Stannis going to do? What about Sir Jorah–I love Sir Jorah and I’m so sad, even though really he did ruin everything and it’s his fault I don’t get to look at Khal Drogo anymore.

Some of the anticipation is gone now that Joffrey is dead and all; I mean, I was thrilled to see him die but it felt sort of anticlimactic. Mainly because I suspect most of us–or, okay, maybe just me–would only have been happy if the show had done a one-hour “Joffrey dies the hideous death he deserves” special, in which we saw clips of all of his worst acts–okay, it’d need to be, like, a four-hour miniseries event–and the people he’d wronged each got to come up, call him names, and slap him, and then stab him somewhere painful but non-deadly, like the Death of a Thousand You’re-A-Hideous-Shitbird Cuts, until finally Sansa and the ghost of Ned Stark finish him off by ass-fucking him with Ned’s sword Ice. And also, I’m disappointed that we found out so quickly who killed Joffrey, because Hubs and I were having a lot of fun imagining it like a game of GOT Clue: was it Sansa in the Observatory with the Poison Wine? Tyrion in the Tower of the Hand with the Valyrian Sword? Cersei in the Red Keep with the Crazy Malevolent Mother-Obsession? Margaery in the Garden with some sort of Magical Ingestible Torture Device? It was fun, but sadly, we now know Emma Peele did it, along with Littlefinger, who is just as sinister as the Red Death when the clock strikes twelve.

Feel free to comment on any of the above, but for the love of all that’s holy please don’t spoil me for the finale!! Because seriously, I will be very upset and will probably put you in a book suffering some sort of very undignified and stupid death. “We have a new case, Chess…there’s a woman who reported a ghost but then we found her dead. Apparently she was masturbating with a carrot and it broke, so she sent a mouse up there to eat it, and it died so she sat on the toilet to try to douche with bleach to clean it out but it hurt, so she stood up and tripped and drowned with her head in the bleach-filled toilet and a dead bleach-soaked mouse and a half-eaten carrot inside her ladybusiness there. Her name was _____ ____, and everyone hated her guts because she couldn’t keep her spoiling mouth shut. So I say we don’t need to investigate her ghost, because she got what she deserved for being stupid and horrible and spoiling GAME OF THRONES.”

Um…sorry, guys, that got sort of needlessly graphic and horrible, huh.

Anyway. I know there are spoilers out there, and so I must hide.

Not because I’m afraid of, say, being randomly attacked by a spoiler as I mind my own business walking down the internet street. No, I’m reasonably certain that most spoilers–not all, of course–mark themselves clearly as such, as they are respectable spoilers and do not wish to be mistaken for hints, previews, or mere theories. They’re proud to be spoilers and want the world to know it. Yes, there’s always that moron or dickhead who enjoys spoiling things for others, or dismisses complaints with, “It was on LAST NIGHT, man, if you haven’t seen it by now, that’s your fault,” but in general I’m not too afraid that I’ll be accosted by a spoiler while innocently researching the death penalty in Victorian England or reading humorous anecdotes on notalwaysright.com.

I just don’t trust myself. Right now I’m practically sweating, because I know there are spoilers out there and that I could find them. Easily. Five minutes from now I could know everything that happens; it’s the digital equivalent of knowing exactly where your parents hide the Christmas presents.

But you know, one year I found those presents, and realized that it really did ruin the run-up to the actual holiday and the holiday itself. It just wasn’t as much fun knowing exactly what was coming. Same with spoilers. (Plus, the hubs hates it when I know what’s coming and he doesn’t.) At least, not when I actually care what happens. I no longer particularly care what happens on MAD MEN, frex–watching Don Draper have a meltdown and turn into an insignificant sadsack, living in roach-infested filth and failing at everything he attempts, is not really what I signed up for when I got on board the MAD MEN train however many years ago (and don’t even get me started on splitting the final season in two, seriously. Because that story moves so fast it needs to give us time to breathe? uh-huh).

I watch MAD MEN to watch Don be clever and drink and get laid a lot while being impossibly smooth in nice suits. I don’t care if the point of the whole show is how men like that are secretly miserable or how that image is a miserable facade just like America in the early 60s or how the majority of men lead lives of quiet desperation in their gray flannel suits. That’s not a show I want to watch. I want Don to be awesome, and Roger to be awesome, and Peggy to not turn into a shrew right out of the pages of a 1950s True Confessions magazine (“I had it all, but I cried every night because without a husband it’s all meaningless, which is why I became a barfly and lost all my teeth and then had a hissybabyfit in the office because my secretary got flowers”), and Stan to be hilarious, and Joan to appear in every scene being cutting and gorgeous. (I can’t complain about what they did with Pete in the S7 episodes I watched, because he’s pretty much how he’s always been, only with louder pants.) That is why I watch.

To replace MAD MEN, we started watching HANNIBAL. I said on Twitter that if you’re not watching HANNIBAL, you are missing the fuck out, and that is entirely 100% true. More than that, even. It’s more true than even the craziest stereotypical football coach would feel comfortable expressing in a percentage (“That truth is giving 469%–oh, dammit, now I just sound like a moron, don’t I.”) so s/he would just go back to shouting “WIN! WIN! WIN!” (Remember, we’re discussing stereotypes here. Please do not get angry at me if you know and love a football coach, or are personally a football coach.) Seriously, you guys, HANNIBAL is SO GOOD. SO FUCKING GOOD. I thought it wouldn’t be good–it sounded sort of dumb and pointless to me–but I was wrong. It’s amazing. It’s so good that after the first couple of episodes I completely stopped noticing that Hugh Dancy’s earlobes are kind of hobbit-like.

But of course, it’s on summer hiatus. As GAME OF THRONES will be after tonight, and I honestly do not know what we’re going to do here–at least, what we’re going to do until JUSTIFIED’s fifth season comes out on DVD and we scrape together some money to buy it and have it shipped to us. But that’ll last us, like, a week and a half if we’re lucky. (Because JUSTIFIED? Also AWESOME, and you should watch it so we can all talk about it and trade little references like, “It was in your glass,” and dissolve into happy drooling sighs over Raylan and Boyd.

And we have some episodes of THE BLACKLIST still to watch, which is also a very good show and we like it a lot, although let’s be honest, compared to GAME OF THRONES it might as well be The Teletubbies. We have a couple of seasons of THE SOPRANOS that we never finished watching (I know, I know) and–shocking as I’m sure this will be–we have never actually seen THE WIRE, although we’ve both really wanted to.

So there will be things for me to watch on warm evenings as I sit on the couch and apply lotion to every exposed bit of skin I possess. (I realized last night that I do this every summer. It’s like I’m anointing myself for some sort of ritual, or I’m about to be placed on a very hot grill. You guys know I’m never far from a bottle of lotion anyway, because I’m constantly washing my hands, but in summer it gets sort of weirdly obsessive and at any given moment I’m contorting myself oddly on the couch rubbing coconut oil into my elbows, or something. I also put it in my hair. I’m like some sort of grooming machine.) I will somehow manage to be entertained throughout the summer, aside from the time I spend working, which will be plenty.

But what I’m watching won’t be new episodes of GAME OF THRONES, which is the saddest thing…well, the saddest thing I’ve said in this paragraph, because the stuff about the lotion is pretty pitiful, really.

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011
I’m on sale!

Whee!

A while ago I found out that the lovely people at Random House were planning to offer UNHOLY GHOSTS at a special promotional price. VERY exciting. I didn’t want to say anything about it because we hadn’t set on a specific date or anything, but now that’s it happening I can shout it from the rooftops (and if you all would help me do so, I’d be very grateful).

So, UNHOLY GHOSTS is now available for Kindle AND Nook–and I assume, any number of other ebook sales sites in North America (Random House only publishes me in Canada and the US, so the special price only applies to those territories)–for ONLY NINETY-NINE CENTS.

Yes, NINETY-NINE CENTS.

So if you haven’t read the book, now’s your chance. If you have a hard copy but just got an ereader and are converting your paper library to electronic, now’s your chance (wouldn’t it be cool if you could buy the paperback, and like for an extra buck or two the ebook would be bundled with it?).

If you’re still on the fence, you can download and read the first five chapters for free, just by clicking here: UNHOLY GHOSTS sample (2554).

But wait! There’s MORE!

UNHOLY MAGIC and CITY OF GHOSTS are both also on sale, for $4.99! That’s UNHOLY MAGIC–book 2 in the series–on Kindle and Nook, and CITY OF GHOSTS–Book 3–on Kindle and Nook.

Yes, that means you can download the entire series for eleven dollars.

I’m very excited about this!

In other news, I handed in my “final” version of HOME, the short Downside story I sold to Heroes and Heartbreakers, a couple of days ago (I had a couple of minor changes I wanted to make before it went to the editor there) AND–tah-dah!–handed in my “final” draft of Downside 5, CHASING MAGIC, to my editor at Del Rey. Of course, I know she’ll have edits for it, so the book isn’t “finished” yet, but still. It’s done, and the handed-in version ran 108,000 words. I figure after her edits it’ll be around 110 at least. So, shorter than SACRIFICIAL MAGIC, but long enough that I feel you guys are getting some value for money. And I’m still quite excited about this one; I think it’s pretty fast-paced and exciting, and there’s a whole bunch of twisty-turny stuff happening in Chess’s life, and of course I just really hope you’ll all enjoy it.

So. Go forth and read!

What Stace had to say on Monday, July 11th, 2011
News!

Ah, it’s a fine bright Monday morning, just the type of day to announce some exciting news.

First, I’m going to be in French! Well, not me personally, of course. Megan Chase. French publisher J’ai Lu has bought translation/publication rights to PERSONAL DEMONS, DEMON INSIDE, and DEMON POSSESSED! I don’t have any news on release dates or anything, of course, as I’ve only just signed the contracts, but I’m still extremely excited. Yet another step on my road to Global Domination.

Also, I can now dream of entering a French bookshop and having the clerks know who I am and invite me to an impromptu party in my honor, which I will totally schedule for the night the hubs has important plans, too, thus blowing him off, but then at the last minute I can blow off my French readers without bothering to even pick up a phone or anything. And maybe later I can find the restaurant my party was at and there will be copies of PERSONAL DEMONS (or whatever they’ll call it in French) lying around with wine stains all over them. Ahh, what a glorious fantasy.

Aaaand…Remember HOME, the short story I wrote for THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF GHOST ROMANCE? I pulled it from the anthology back in March. And when I did I promised the story would definitely see publication somewhere, even if it was just here on my website.

Well. It won’t be. I’m very pleased to let everyone know that HOME will be published as an estory original on the Heroes and Heartbreakers website run by Tor/Macmillan. I of course don’t have a release date or anything like that yet, but I’ll definitely keep you all updated.

Heroes and Heartbreakers is a really cool site, for those of you who haven’t checked it out before. It’s mainly a romance site, and it’s got a great, active community and lots of cool stuff. I love their take on genre fiction, actually, and they’ve been extremely kind and enthusiastic about the Downside books in particular, so I’m even more excited to be working with them.

I believe I mentioned before that HOME is definitely a romance story, which was a bit weird since it’s a Downside story. I like it quite a bit, of course, but it felt odd writing a story where everyone was basically happy in the end. That’s a pretty rare occurrence for these characters, heh, so I hope everyone enjoys it. You’ll be able to read it free if you’ve registered on the site, and/or it will be available at all the major ebook retailers etc. if you’re not. But you really should register, since it’s a cool site.

So, more info on that as we go along. But HOME has found a home (ha! See what I did there?) and I’m really glad.

Speaking of Downside stuff to read online…you may remember a while ago where I mentioned some friends of mine have set up a girl-geek-focused website called Stellar Four? It’s a really, really awesome site, and they do some great stories.

Anyway. This week they’re doing an Urban Fantasy Week, and they’ll be giving away a copy of my dear friend Stacey Jay’s DEAD ON THE DELTA, although of course you’ve all already bought it, right?

As part of their UF week, I’m going to be posting a new, never-before-seen excerpt from SACRIFICIAL MAGIC on Thursday or Friday (most likely Thursday). So you’ll definitely want to go check that out. Read the excerpt, browse the site, laugh at the awesome posts, leave comments, and enter the giveaway (I just might be persuaded to give something away myself, if enough people comment and all).

Tomorrow we’re heading out to visit some friends etc. in the Southwest, and then to the house where we’re renting for a bit in north Wales. So I may not be around as much this week (I know, again) but hopefully by the end of the week we’ll have all our internets and all set up, and things will calm down. Plus, I’ll be able to post pictures of north Wales, which is gorgeous.

Oh! And yesterday we went to the Willian Village Fair, and saw Morris dancers. It was quite something. I’m not sure if you’ll be able to view the video, but here’s the link just in case. (Warning: the sound starts right away, and it’s loud accordion/drum/bells/etc.)

I think that’s it for today! Oh, but don’t forget the L.A. Banks auction! Two days left to bid on the custom Downside shirt and mp3, and we’re at $51.50, which is totally exciting for me since I was afraid I’d only bring in a few bucks. So thank you all SO MUCH for bidding!! I am thrilled to see that my item is so far one of the biggest earners in the auction, and it’s all down to how fantastic and generous you all are. (And if you haven’t bid yet, well, you have two days to go.)

What Stace had to say on Monday, March 28th, 2011
Pens! and stuff

A week or two ago now I was looking for white pens, so I could write on black paper. Pens with white ink, that is. A reader named Missy Ann recommended Jetpens to me, and I of course fell in love, and ordered several pens (the best part is, their prices are extremely reasonable). So for the past few days I’ve been using the Pilot Preppy and the Kuretake Zig, with blood red ink. And I started a Wish List, not so people could buy me things (please don’t) but to keep track. So if you’re an obsessive pen freak like me we can compare. We’ve had lots of pen discussion on Twitter the last few weeks.

As you can see, I am very into ink. I have a beautiful blue glass artisan pen, which I bought a few years ago and could not for the life of my figure out how to fill. I bought it at B&N, and bless the B&N booksellers, they’re wonderful, but they didn’t know how to do it either. I ended up finding the phone number for the manufacturer and calling them up. The woman on the phone was a bit perplexed, and originally told me they were just the makers and I’d have to talk to the retailers about returns etc. (she was nice about it, she wasn’t being a bitch or anything) but once I explained my problem–and we both sort of laughed–she told me that there are little holes at the top of the bulb part. You have to dip the pen into the ink so the little holes are covered, and the ink will pour into those holes, so you’ll have a little reservoir with which to write. So there you go. I don’t remember if I actually tried it or not; sadly the only things I really write by hand are notes etc. for work (I write on the living room couch, and it has leather arms; the one on my right is covered with Post-it notes).

But I still totally love pens, and paper, and really any sort of office supply or stationery or whatever.

And. I’ve just written a lovely little sex scene into the fifth Downside book, which makes me very happy. I’m behind on my word count at the moment, because the last week or so hasn’t been very good in general, but I’m hoping to make it up.

I’m also working on a little erotic romance story–well, more like erotica with romance, really–that I’m not sure what I’m going to do with. It’s very dark. Like, really really dark. I’m not sure how much people want something like that from me but I’m having a bit of fun with it anyway.

And of course we still have the New Project, a Megan novella, and another little Downside project that I’m not talking about but have high hopes for.