Vermin by Kerri Spellar

“Vermin” by Kerri Spellar

The horror short story “Vermin” by author Kerri Spellar is a moody exploration of the dark, twisting back roads of England. A young woman encounters things she simply cannot explain. The deeper we go into the story, the more the well-crafted atmosphere envelops her.

This review is spoiler free!

I heard from another reviewer that they thought this story was set in the US. I wanted to clarify a few reasons I got the impression right from the start that this story was set in the UK. It mentions the pub has a ‘landlord’ – we don’t have those in the US. We just have a bar owner. We generally don’t have “cottages” unless it’s a tiny place on a beach which is seasonal. Houses are just houses. I only know the term ‘chocolate box trail’ because I have a friend from Liverpool – I’ve never heard any US person use it.

Characters were using terms like ‘there never bloody is’, ‘freezing his bollocks off’, ‘blokes’, and ‘you can bet your arse’ – those are strong British phrases that we don’t use here in the US. I had to look up what a ‘punter’ was – a British term – and our bars don’t have ‘car parks’ – they have ‘parking lots’.

The heroine moves from her home in Kent to the Village of Dode. Both are known places in the UK. Also, we don’t really have villages in the US – we have cities and towns. And counties. So to me this story was very clearly set in the UK. I loved that about it – I loved all those phrases and details which to me strongly brought forth a powerful UK feel about the work.

Beautifully done, Kerri :).

Kerri’s story is part of “The Abyss Within” – a compilation of horror short stories!

Baba Nooa by Jeni Lawes

Baba Nooa by Jeni Lawes

I enjoyed reading “Baba Nooa” by Jeni Lawes, story 2 in the SmashBear Publishing anthology “The Abyss Within”.

Jeni’s tale is a classic theme of a group of young adults getting lost in a dangerous wood.

I enjoyed the UK environment and language woven throughout the story.

Another reviewer felt all the stories in this anthology were set in the US, so I wanted to explain why to me this second story felt quite grounded in a UK environment, rather than a US environment. Luckily, I can do so without any spoilers!

First, the main character repeatedly calls her mother “Mum”. I’ve lived in a number of states around the United States and I don’t know of any region where children call their mother “Mum” as a traditional word. The two main words we use here are “Mom” or “Ma” (or of course “Mama” etc. for non-English speakers). When we hear the word “Mum” in the US we tend to immediately think of Britain and BBC shows.

The characters head out into the woods. One of them suggests doing something, and another responds, “That will take yonks.” I have probably watched hundreds of British TV shows and even so I had no concrete idea what “Yonks” meant. I had to guess at it by context. It’s fair to say that in all the places I’ve lived in the US, nobody I know has used the term “yonks” to mean “a long time” – it’s one of those “clearly from somewhere else” terms. If anything, when I think of “Yonks” I think of Scooby Doo and an old-school exclamation.

Similarly, the story uses “whilst” which is the British form of “while”.

With this story primarily set in woods, since there weren’t many structural or locational details portrayed, the remaining types of descriptions were “generic” – trees, paths, and so on. The cultural words which were used took on much more power, since they gave that foundational power to the tale.

Iris USA 6″x6″ Plastic Project Cases

Absolutely Perfect for Origami Paper!

I have enjoyed folding origami for over twenty years. I have stacks and stacks of origami paper in the house. I have a wood sorting rack in a back closet, but there are many times that I need to have my origami paper out with me. Maybe I’m working on folding earrings on the futon, or maybe I’m traveling to a craft show, or maybe I’m doing a demonstration at a library. There are all sorts of reasons I need to carry and move the origami paper safely.

These 6″x6″ (interior) plastic cases by Iris are PERFECT. The outside is larger than 6″x6″. They are measuring the space inside, for holding the paper secure.

Origami paper traditionally comes in a 150mm x 150mm size. That equates to about 5 7/8″ square. The paper fits absolutely wonderfully into this space. I want to note that the bends in the box do NOT squash or bother the corners of the paper at all. The interior of the box is constructed so that paper 6″ x 6″ fits quite nicely in the open space. The rest of the “curved corners” simply add to the solidity of the structure so it holds up under weight.

The lids seal quite nicely and do not come loose. The pieces also stack very well into each other. In reading some other reviews, I was worried that the units would slide and fall off of each other, but I find they are very secure in remaining stacked. I don’t have any issues at all with them.

I haven’t had any problems with cracking, bending, or anything else. All units came to me in perfect condition and all have held up well to regular use.

Perfect for my use. Highly recommended both for a shelf-stacking situation and also for using as travel units.

Ask with any questions!

Pop Up Sticky Notes Pad, 3 in x 3 in Candy Color

Pop Up Sticky Notes Pad, 3 in x 3 in Candy Color

I have always been a fan of post-it notes. They make organizing my world so much better. I have post-it notes all along the bottom of my computer monitor. I put them on items I’m planning to sell or give away. The post-it notes help me keep track of the status of items around the house. But when I’m busy organizing something, often my hands are full. I want to be able to just grab a note and stick it on something.

These pop-up post-it notes are perfect for that.

I like that they come in a variety of colors. I like that their nature is you can easily grab one and start using it. I’ll note that you have to buy the holder separate, but that’s fine. These are refills for the holder.

The colors are bright and easy to see writing against. If you wanted to, you could color code the types of projects you’re working on.

I use these ALL the time. They are great. Highly recommended. Ask with any questions!

SEPTWOLVES Casual Daypack Lightweight Laptop Backpack

SEPTWOLVES Casual Daypack Lightweight Laptop Backpack

I write and run websites for a living. I also travel. I’ve had to fix broken forums from Ukraine, fight off hackers from a cruise ship, and much, much more. It’s absolutely critical that I can carry my laptop and gear with me through airports, through security checks, and through all the roughness that happens in international travel safely and securely.

This Septwolves laptop backpack is reasonably sturdy, but it’s not as good as some of the better options out there. Its price reflects that. So whether this is a good backpack or not for you depends on your budget and your demands.

First, the specifications. The backpack has the main inner chamber which has the open area plus two sleeves. The deeper sleeve is about 12″ tall while the other sleeve is only 8″ tall. Normally with my backpack laptop carriers that inner sleeve is heavily padded and where one straps in the laptop. Here, though, there’s pretty much no padding and I just don’t feel as if that sleeve is sturdy enough to handle the laptop. I would put the laptop into that main center chamber, and use the sleeves for documents and notebooks.

The outer sleeve, also zippered, holds the traditional pinched-in areas for pencils, pens, etc. I don’t know why any backpack maker bothers with those any more. Would anyone really stuff a single pencil into one of those areas and try to retrieve it? I’d rather have a zippered bag in here to hold those sort of little things, rather than try to put an individual pen and pencil into these slots. In general I find when I travel that I rarely use that front pocket unless it’s where I’m keeping my itinerary or something I need to grab.

The straps have padding – not as much as I tend to like, and I think even if this was used for a daily school backpack that you’d probably want more padding in here. But it’s worth noting that the price is fairly low so if you’re on a budget you’re getting something usable, if not extremely comfortable.

The color is basic black. It tends to hide stains and dirt.

All in all, the backpack is certainly serviceable. I wouldn’t take this on any actual travel, because I need my equipment to be fairly well protected. It’s important to me. And I have to believe if I was going to rely on this every single day to get my gear from point A to point B that I would probably want to get something sturdier and more comfortable for that, too, plus with better padding for my electronics.

The image with the TV remote is to show about how wide the base of the unit is. It’s reasonably wide to hold a laptop – but really, I would want my laptop securely in a thickly padded sleeve.

Ask with any questions.

Aoycocr Smart Plugs

Aoycocr Mini Smart Alexa Plugs

My office space is a complete mess. I admit it. I would have to climb over boxes of papers to get back into the area where I have my lights plugged in. Those plugs are not controlled by a wall switch. The only way to turn the light on and off was to climb back there and do it manually. As you might imagine, this was a royal pain day after day.

I adore the Aoycocr smart plugs.

They were incredibly easy to set up. Just install the phone app and connect them to the plugs. I could give each plug its own name. Then it was also easy to link it to Alexa. I could have used the plugs without Alexa if I wanted, but since I have an Alexa dot sitting on my desk, it was so much easier simply to let Alexa have access to the plugs.

Now I sit down at my desk, ask Alexa to turn on my office lamps, and POOF, they all come on. Quick, easy, painless, no fuss at all.

I’ve been using these for quite a while and have never had any problems at all with them. They work flawlessly. They make my daily life much easier.

The only small complaint is that the plug itself is sort of large, so you couldn’t use these on a tightly-stacked extension cord type of plug. But you’d have that issue with nearly all of these smart plugs. The solution is to get an extension cord which has widely spaced plugs to account for this sort of thing.

Well recommended.

I was provided with an Amazon Vine review set of these plugs to evaluate.

Aukey Webcam

I’ve been using the same Logitech webcam since 2008. It’s only 720p. Its technology is over 12 years old at this point. Everyone kept talking about having better quality or better light handling or so on. I decided I would bite the bullet and upgrade to a 1080p webcam. I’m an author and artist who creates videos on a regular basis, so it was important to me that the look reasonably good.

I ordered the Aukey 1080p webcam.

I was so excited when this package arrived in the mail. It was just a small plastic mailing envelope with an even smaller cardboard box within, but what mattered was the camera. I went right to my computer and hooked it up.

It was AWFUL. I am attaching a side-by-side image showing the ancient 12-year-old Logitech with half the resolution against this brand new Aukey camera. This is the exact same room, exact same lighting, both on their default settings. No tweaking at all. The Aukey is awful! The color balance is atrocious. The lighting is atrocious. There is no way I could use this for any sort of purpose, whether it’s my Zoom workshops or my videos.

And the resolution! How is this in any way twice the resolution of the Logitech? It just doesn’t make any sense.

I’m so disappointed. I had a whole bunch of projects I’d lined up to shoot with this new “better” camera. Now I have to return this and look for something else to upgrade to.

Ask with any questions.

Oxendine Lumbee Audio Book

Hurrah! The audiobook version of my Oxendine Lumbee story is now live! This is based on my g-g-etc.-grandmother’s true life. I would love some beta-listeners to let me know what you think of the narrator. I can send a FREE code for the audiobook, just let me know you’re interested!

If you prefer the Kindle version that is FREEEEE :).

What are you up to today? 

Kindle First Generation Power Supply

I have a Kindle first generation ebook reader. Not the Kindle Fire first generation, which came later. I’m talking about the original white-case, black-and-white display first generation Kindle which released on November 19, 2007 and sold out in about five hours. This was when I was first releasing ebooks on Amazon and wanted to test out how they’d look. Back in those old days, there was barely any competition in the ebook market and being an author was lovely :).

This is the Kindle model D00111. It only displays in rudimentary black and white. The plastic case has an actual physical keyboard as part of its front. The case came in one color – white. There was even a scroll wheel on the right side to move through menus. That vertical bar over the scroll wheel would light up in silvery color to show where you were in the scroll length.

I have now lost my power supply :). It’s a circular / barrel shape supply. The power connector is NOT the trapezoid in the middle. That trapezoid – a USB 2.0 Mini Type B – is for connecting to a computer. The left port is a headphone jack. The power supply is on the right and is the very small – maybe 3mm across – round hole. Beneath the power port is a symbol with one long solid line over three dashed lines. Sounds like iChing to me :). It’s actually the symbol for a DC power supply.

I’ll note the Kindle manual says: “USB port — plug in the included USB cable to transfer content between your computer and your Kindle. Your Kindle will also accept a small trickle charge over USB that may extend your battery life if your computer’s USB port or powered USB hub provides power” – I haven’t found that to work very well.

http://s3.amazonaws.com/kindle/Kindle_User_Guide.pdf

Here is a stock photo of what the original power supply looked like. I remember having it. I can’t find it now.

Someone is selling a compatable power supply for over $20 which is highway robbery. I just need to know the size of the power supply to work with this. I know from the markings on the unit that it needs to be 5VDC and 2.0A. That part is easy enough.

From an eBay listing I can see from the markings that the tip is positive and the outside is negative. Also helpful. The connector name is an A00310.

Does anyone know the actual SIZE of this connector?

Here’s a close-up of the port:

The Kindle power port appears to be about 3mm wide.