álainn e-pub

What is álainn? (pronounced aw-lin). It is Irish Gaelic for the word beautiful. As in beautiful e-pub services. I strive for perfection when I create, a perfection that comes nothing short of beautiful and unique. At álainn I also strive for affordable services for everyone. It’s one thing to strive for publication or becoming a published author but it’s another to be all that and busting the bank accounts at the same time.

I’m a mother of a rather large brood of five children. I know what it’s like to have to figure out how to do things like book trailers, manuscript editing, desktop publishing and typography settings. Formating your manuscript can be daunting let alone file extensions like .mobi or .epub or even PDF conversions. I was trained to do these things and now I want to share my skill set with my fellow authors published or not.

You, the aspiring author, should be able to be free to just write and not have to worry about covers and trailers or anything else but writing. Let me help you accomplish what you came here for. To write, to succeed and to show off the unique styles of your writing with beautiful covers, trailers, banners for your websites and much more. Let me help you get to the publishing world with artwork and documentation that puts you ahead of all the rest and gets you noticed faster!

Drop álainn e-pub a line and see where beautiful comes from!



Writing As A Career

It’s no easy task making writing a career choice. The publishing world is a difficult one to break into but not an impossible one. Now a days there are many different ways to publish your work. From content article writing to e publishing and self publishing venues. It’s a rather large industry in this day and age, so many options to be had. Being passionate about your work is the key to success. Writing every day is also key to success. It doesn’t matter what you write only that you practice your skills every day. It’s that old adage “use it or lose it”.

Here are a few tools for you writers out there:

Writer.com – portfolio and email for free. You have a whole network and community of fellow writers to help you with critiques and guidance.
NaNoWriMo – Take the challenge, it’s free, it’s fun and it’s great writing practice.
Storymind.com – Freebie writing courses, valuable on an authors budget. Especially a budding and new author.
Poynter’s News University – Not all the courses are free but the ones that are not are pretty nominal fees. Almost all the courses are webinar or self propelled courses. They are a very good source of writing practices and standards.
Problogger.net – Great source of freelance blogging gigs and jobs.

Behind The Scenes of The Chamber (C) 2010

If you have read my short story “The Chamber” you’ll have seen that it was inspired by the infamous kill box that is used to put down animals with. You see, the town I live in, Elliot Lake (Ontario) has this kill box at its city pound. It has been a sore spot for years for us animal activists in town and outside of it. It has been the towns dirty, best kept, little secret for years and years. We are the only ones left in the Algoma district with this inhumane way of destroying animals.

I’d like to bring to attention the petition that is going around to stop this inhumane treatment of animals in Elliot Lake and the sweeping away under the rug of this dirty secret. It will also be investigated by our Ministry under the Animals in Research Act as a complaint from a local activist was made to them and if you catch CTV in your area they will be here at the site of the kill box interviewing that local who made the complaint to the ministry. 1 pm on Monday, August 22.

Here is the petition that you can sign no matter WHERE you live. It should not exist anywhere. Elliot Lake Gas Chamber Petition

The Facebook Group: Elliot Lake Gas Chamber

As well as our local no kill shelter that has saved 122 animals from the gas chamber to date: SAD ELLIOT LAKE

Writing What You Know

Among the writer circles you will here the saying “write what you know”. What does that entail? Well, what do you know? When you write what you know the words flow better than trying to figure out what you don’t know. For some people this means non – fictional books for self help or technical trades. For others, like myself, genres like horror and psychology come easy because of life experiences and massive amounts of research.

It’s like telling a doctor to perform mechanical work on a truck if he has no experience when you write what you don’t know. However, it doesn’t mean that you don’t seek out that knowledge either. If a psychology class is going to help you with your current project take that psychology class. Invest in your knowledge and writing career. Make no mistake, investing in your writing is the best investment you could make at any point in your career as a writer.

Taking those plot and character development courses or that creative writing course only adds to your skills and abilities. It also adds a tremendous leg up on writing what you know. Build those skills and keep plugging forward. It a fork in the road? Take another course to add to your knowledge base, even if that course is a publishing course. Investing in building up our knowledge base and what we know is never a bad idea, ever.

The Chamber (C) 2010

Short Story: The Chamber
Inspired by a youtube video of kill boxes. Raw form, no editing – leave a comment if you wish to.

The smell in here is over powering. It permeates everything around me. It’s the smell of fear that coats another smell I can’t identify right away with a sweet yet sickening odour. My eyes dart back and forth and I pant uncontrollably.
I’m in a small cell, a cell not even fit for a dog in all honesty. My other cell mates howl and scream with indignation, screaming for freedom and howling their protests of innocence. No one listens, not even the man that put us here.
My family is gone, abandoning me to this hell hole. I don’t know what I did wrong for them to leave me in this sick and dank place. The only thing I’ve ever been guilty of is loving them unconditionally and thinking that love was mutual. The darkness is over whelming and the urine and feces around me attaching their stink to my body, suffocating me with the stench.
One of my cell mates cringes as a guard walks by with restraints in his hands. The guard pauses, looking at a clip board then at my cell mate. I scurry to the back of the cell unsure why I’m so afraid but knowing I should be afraid. My cell mate cries out as the guard steps closer to the door and stares down at him. As the guard opens the door he lassos my cell mate with his restraints, they are designed to restrain us by the throat so that we don’t thrash about as they drag us down the white corridors to the only other door in the room at the back.
The throat restraints cause my cell mate to choke back a cry as he thrashes against it and tries to pull away. I scream bloody murder, trying to tell the guard he’s choking him to death. I end up bashing against the cell door as it slams shut behind them and the guard drags my cell mate down the corridor to the dreaded white washed door at the end.
The voices behind the door are whispered under the mechanical drone of some unseen monster machine I’ve heard rumours about in here. They call is the bad room, the room that no one from our masses have ever returned from. I don’t quite know what or who is in that room that illicits so much fear from the old timers here but it’s a palpable fear that catches like wild fires of mass hysteria.
As the whispers fade I can smell that other smell. The one that the fear tries unsuccessfully to cover up. I know that smell, how do I know that smell, I’ve smelled it before. It has the same sweet sickly smell of rotting meat that’s been left in the hot summer sun too long. Spoiled meat with a sickening undertone of urine, vomit and feces. I strain to see into the room, to catch a glimpse of what fate belies my cell mate. He’s cowering in a corner, snapping and biting at the air between him and the guard that dragged him there. There are others there dressed in white lab coats, but the door slams shut with the sound of inevitable and impending doom before I can see anything more than that.
The screams and howls of anguish that come from behind the thick, white washed metal door on the end of the corridor never really get drowned out that well. They haunt our dreams, creating nightmares that can’t be imagined. The mechanical symphony of a generator comes screaming out from behind that door once a week, reducing most of us to cowering and sobbing slumps of our former selves in our cells. Huddling in the back of the cells to avoid the all seeing eyes of the guards, trying to make ourselves small and unseen. Most are never successful at it, very few escape from the clutches of that room, that evil, horrible room.
An acrid smell puffs up from under the small crack at the bottom of the door. It is a chemical smell that irritates our eyes and noses. The cell mates closest to the door end up sneezing and coughing from it. Getting the worse of the acrid smoke from the evil place. My nightmares are filled with it, torturing me anytime I may close my eyes. The nightmares dancing across the back of my eyelids like little trolls, sticking and jabbing my consciousness with fear and hopelessness. Startling me awake at every turn day and night.
The guard is walking back down the corridor, I beg an unseen, unhearing god that I’m not even sure really exists to spare me, spare my life and I’ll be better. Do better, I’m innocent, I swear that I am. I howl my protests with the other voices of the innocent as the guard unlocks my cell door. It seems my turn has come, my end at the hands of the evil room is here. I quake and shiver uncontrollably. Panting and cowering in the corner of my cell as the noose of the restraints land squarely on my shoulders and tighten around my neck. The first yank from the guard chokes me, cutting off my breath before I can scream and pull away.
I’m being dragged down the corridor, the sounds of the other cell mates drowning my own screams out. The white washed door slams open and I am shoved into the glaring lights of the florescent bulbs in the room. The two others with white lab coats stare at me with unfeeling round dark eyes. There is no emotion, no compassion, not even a glimmer of care in those dark, deep pools of their eyes. Nothing but weariness and disgust. I look around, eyes straining against the light trying to make sense of the room. My cell mate lays on a cold metal table on his side with the life drained from him.
That smell, that horrible sickening smell gags me as I struggle and bite at the air between the guard and myself. Then it hits me, I know what that smell is now and I am terrified. It is the smell of death, the smell of inevitable demise. It is my demise, my death I am smelling. Then I see it. The wire cage on wheels, three other cell mates scream and fight for space in that wire cage. Gnashing and gnawing and writhing against each other. Droplets of blood spatter on the floor from them struggling against each other and biting themselves to escape. There is no escape, none to be had. This is the end, the final curtain, the brutal exit from life.
The guard yanks me forward and I scream, trying to pull back but I am too weak to resist. He grabs me by the nape of the neck releasing the restraint and shoving me simultaneously into the wire cage of cell mates that have become a ball of gnawing sharp teeth and insanity. In the mass hysteria of that wire cage I lose my individuality, my being and become another gnawing set of teeth. Slashing and biting at anything that comes across the path of my mouth. Screaming and howling at the indignation and injustice, losing my mind to the insanity, becoming nothing but rage and fear boiling over from the wire cage.
The wire cage on wheels gets pushed into a box, it’s small and stinks of spoiled life. The smell of death and the acrid smoke that haunts my nightmares bubbling over my senses, driving me all that more insane with fear. My mind breaks from all sense of reality and sanity and I become a heap of howling tissue, muscle and bone. Quaking in my skin as the inevitable end is nearing. The generator kicks up and we all scream. Then the door slams shut behind us and the darkness is utterly complete with shear terror.
The acrid smoke fills the tiny box, choking us all and quelling some of us to silence. I feel like I am drowning, my insides are on fire and my lungs scream as the hot foul smoke fills them to over flowing. I gasp and twitch, still conscious though barely. The others are beneath me twitching and convulsing causing the wire cage to rock on its wheels with a torturous squeak. Is there no peace even in death, the shattering sound of those wheels in the small confines of the box shatter the last remaining pieces of my mind, leaving me with nothing but fear, hopelessness and insane terror. As my eyes roll back I beg for death, for mercy and for anything but this. I beg for remand even from my captors and tormentors that put me here. My howls fall on no ears, no one wants to hear it and the only answer is the hum of the generator and the whoosh of the foul smoke that suffocates me so mercilessly.
The darkness finally comes after what seems like an eternity. My vision fades behind my eye lids and my gasps for a futile attempt at self preservation of my life drain away sweetly. I grunt the last few breaths from my body and give in, let death take me away from here. Let death be my salvation. My last thoughts as my heart thuds against my rib cage for the last time are of my family. Where are they, why have I been forsaken by them, why did they turn their back on me, where did they go. What did I do so wrong that they would no longer love me and want me.
“Geeze, that last set of dogs slated for the gas chamber were rough” The guard grunted.
“Next week we have twice the amount to gas, we’re going to need to double stack some of the females with their babies” The man in the white lab coat said in disgust.
“Damned city needs to fund us for a bigger gas chamber” The other lab technician spat vehemently
“Like that would ever happen, damned crying shame about that last dog. He was a good looking dog” The guard whispered, “too bad the family couldn’t keep him and there’s no shelters to send him to anymore”
“Yeah, too bad, so sad”

The Dream (C) 2007

All she could do was just stand there, terrified and sweating profusely. The eerie sounds that were coming from the outside of her bedroom window were not human. It almost sounded like a hell hound growling from the depths of the darkness in the night. Not even the moon was visible outside her window. She stood holding her breath, straining to hear the growls and grunts again, but they were so faint that she wasn’t sure she was hearing them at all. Then she heard it, a snarl above the howling winds, it sounded evil, dark and menacing.

The trees were groaning in the wind as she saw it, the red glowing eyes. At first they were in the tree branch that was scratching against her window with its claw like branches. The eyes seemed to hover over her and size her up. They came closer to her window and what she saw terrified her beyond the definition of terrified, it was a snarled and oozing face that was blackened and the only life she could see in it were those terrible and fierce evil glowing eyes. Its claws were large and razor sharp against the window pane it hung to, and it was studded with horns and scales all the way from nape of neck to tip of tail. Black and decaying, but strong and agile the creature stared at her with an evil menace as it slowly pulled its wizened and cracked mouth into a grin, baring sharp rows of jagged teeth.

It knocked gently on the window and she could hear, not so much out loud, but in her mind as if a telepathic connection were being made between her and it; let me in little, pretty thing, oh won’t you let me in. As she started, the thing grinned more and tapped more persistently on her bay window, rattling it with a startling strength. She slowly turned to her bedroom door hoping to run for it before that thing at her window could make it into her bedroom. She didn’t want to be caught in that room with no way out, to be trapped with that thing she knew would spell doom for sure. As she turned for the door she discovered the door was not there but replaced with a stone wall that oozed thick green slime. It suddenly became dark and the over powering smell of rot and dampness filled her nostrils to the w retching point.

As she scrambled to find some semblance of a doorway to escape in she heard an explosion of breaking glass then the room was filled with a new smell, one of sulfur, decay and pure evil. She screamed as she desperately flailed at the oozing wall to find escape, her hands covered in thick, oozing and foul smelling slime. The evil creature chocked out a menacing laughter as it watched her desperate attempts at flight from it. It grinned cracking the skin around its mouth with a little puff of decaying dust and pounced for it’s victim. Her hands slid across the wet and slimy wall as the creature hit her full force digging its claws deep into her shoulders and back, wrapping its tail around her waist. It breathed in her face sending up waves of nausea from the wretched stench of its dead breath.

She struggled with it, fighting it off weakly. She begged in her mind for someone, anyone to save her. It turned her around in its grip so that she faced it dead on, and split its mouth in another evil, toothy grin. It was satisfied with the capture, the pure terror on its victim’s face as she faced it with resignation. She knew she was done, it had her now. Still she weakly tried to fight it off which only satisfied the creature more, it tightened its clawed grip on her shoulders, digging into her delicate flesh. She smelt her own blood trickling down her back and chest, smelt it. She struggled weakly as the creature leaned back then jutted forward, administering the final blow with such force it knocked the both of them against the stone wall that replaced her bedroom wall with its stench and slime. They both fell to the ground in an ungraceful heap as the creature tore her throat open, spilling her life line onto the floor. It screeched in satisfaction as she bled and gasped from the open wound in her throat, then released her and fled into the night.

Suzy woke up with a start gasping and reaching for her rescue inhaler for her asthma. She felt terrified and unsure of the dream she had just had. After settling her asthma attack, Suzy got up out of bed but whimpered as a shot of pain ran up her leg, she sat down to take a look at the source of her pain. She found a sliver of glass in her foot. She looked at her window, terrified of what she might find there, but there was nothing but the full moon and the trees gently swaying in the light breeze of the night. She looked at her hands and screamed in horror as she saw a dried green stain on her fingers and the palm of her hands. She high tailed it out her bedroom and spent the rest of the night on the living room couch, unable to sleep.

The Lies We Tell (C) 2010

*Inspired by Dr. Eckman’s micro expression work and Lie To Me series*

The Lies We Tell

Being a deception specialist made is easier by the fact that I’m deaf. My services are requested from all around the globe, I’m the cream of the crop as the saying goes. It’s interesting watching the body language of liars. They look off to the left, the small twitch at the corner of the mouth.

There’s one case in particular from a place I remember way back when. I was green, my first case. I was sent to Elliot Lake, Ontario in Canada to help the OPP determine if this kid they had as a suspect for a high profile murder was lying or not. The only reason it was high profile was because some big wig doctor was found dead. It looked like it was robbery for a motive.

The kid didn’t look more than eighteen. Scraggly, worn down in the face. The kid was rocking back and forth on the creaky chair across from the table, looking around as if something might jump out at him and bite him. Nibbling at the hang nail on his thumb he squirmed as I stared at him quietly and when my hand suddenly appeared to open his case file I could swear he nearly came close to puking right then and there.

Kid was displaying shot nerves, made me wonder how long he’d been at the cop shop in this room, sleep deprived and hungry. His case notes said he was a revolving door Juvie from about the age of twelve and a junkie, had a record longer than I was tall. Looking from the case notes I nodded and began.

“So, you know why you are here right” I said as softly as I could. You see, I lost my hearing when I was a teen, car accident with closed head trauma. Damaged the auditory nerves in my ears and obliterated the bones that help you hear. That means my speech development was on target and normal, you couldn’t tell I was significantly deaf except if I told you I was or you saw the hearing aids before I could say it.

“No, I did not do it” The kid almost screamed. The lack of contractions in his sentence told me that he knew something but what was the question. A slight twitch of the mouth and he looked away. A dead ringer for a lie but it was my job to determine what the lie was about not just that he was lying.

“Can you tell me what happened?” I asked while watching his movements and facial expression closely. His eyes hit the table losing contact with mine as soon as the question was in the air between us.

He scratched nervously and turned his body in the chair toward the door while glancing at me sideways with a weak smile. I watched as the smile waned from his mouth and fade. The smile didn’t involve his eyes or other facial muscles telling me he was about to lie.

“I don’t know” he grunted harshly as he fiddled with the papers from the case files. Moving them around to detract attention from himself even though it attracted more attention to his lies.

“Alright, how’s your sister doing then” I said, changing the subject. Liars tended to follow the change of conversation easily and become more natural in speech patterns and body language. This was always a sure sign something was up. The case files had told me he had a little baby sister about 3 years old that he hadn’t seen in some time.

“I don’t know, haven’t seen her in awhile you know” He said looking me dead in the eye.

“What if I told you I could help you see her?” I cautiously threw the bone out there, trying not to promise anything I couldn’t deliver on in the end.

“What do you want from me damn it” The kid was starting to crack a little. Starting to show his weariness and if I wasn’t careful I’d loose the perp for sure.

“I want you to tell me about the night that man was killed” I said carefully.

“I can’t…I can’t help you” he whimpered while his hands fiddled with hair.

“Yes you can, tell me what happened” I pressed watching him closely.

“I was there.” He sighed, “you promise you will let me see her if I tell you”

“Yes, continue”

“I was about to case the joint, I needed my next fix and I heard this loud popping noise. When I looked up this dude I knew from high school just before I dropped out was there. He had blood across his shirt and a tire iron in his hand. I didn’t know what to do and just ran, I thought he was gonna come after me and kill me” The kid said with a sigh.

His eyes were fixed on mine, his hands neatly folded on the table, body toward me. He didn’t fidget, didn’t look all around just dead straight into my eyes. When he frowned, his whole face followed suit with the mouth, his tone was natural. Finally, the truth of the matter was out on the table between us. That was it, he was done, I was done. Job accomplished.

Liars never get very far if the person knows what to look for. It’s the subtleties of a lie and yet the complexities that weave themselves between the lines of verbal communication and non verbal body language. I’ve come a long way from that first case but you never forget your first, just like the first kiss or the first dance. The subsequent cases always seem to pale in comparison to the first, your first is breaking the ice, the cherry if you will. It follows you to every other case and challenges you to strive harder for better, faster and bigger. I’ll always remember the kid.