How a Candle and a Pair of Tweezers Saved the Day

Anti-Theft Device

You can buy this anti-theft device at

“Pinned merchandise helps deter shoplifting”

“Clothing security tags trigger alarms to prevent theft”

“Unique spring gate prevents tampering”

And your twelve-year-old daughter cannot go to the party with one attached to her pant leg!

I actually take issue with claim number 2 because the security tag on the junior pants I bought at Kohl’s for my kid did not set off their alarm. Otherwise I would have taken the pants back into the store and had this %0$^ *!()# thing removed. So my hindsight compels me to tell you to make sure when you check out that all your items are “checked out” for these pesky anti-theft devices. I thought she’d gotten them all. I’m sure she thought she’d gotten them all. I wish she had gotten them all!

My choices? A–drive back to the store, in the snow, in the freezing night air, crumpled receipt in hand and have the customer service person remove said device. Or B–figure out how to get the device off myself without ruining the pants.

I chose Option B and spent about 60 minutes watching “How To” YouTube videos. First I tried the low impact actions like winding a rubber band around the pin to slowly pressure pull the device apart. And, finding the strongest magnets I own and placing them on the back of the device to disengage the device. And, using two adjustable locking pliers on either side of the device and trying to pull apart until I screamed and gave up.

What I ended up doing is as follows:

Device dismantled

This is what the device looks like when you’re done. The button/pin (left side of pic above) was on the front of the device and this is the backside view of the device (right side of pic above).

Step 1: pull back fabric from the device as much as possible.

Step 2: light a taper candle in a holder and place the candle in the sink just in case things get out of hand.

Step 3: hold the raised back of the device over the flame (not the button side) being careful not to burn the fabric.

Step 4: continue to hold the device over the flame until the plastic gets warm and melty. It may smoke and it may smell.

Step 5: remove the device from the flame and before it cools down, poke around in the melted plastic and pry the little spring out with a pair of tweezers.

Step 6: Once the spring is out the whole device separates into two pieces that you can easily remove from the fabric.

So, let’s be clear I am not advocating for you to start a shoplifting ring nor am I suggesting you burn your house down because you’ve put an item of clothing next to a lit candle. I just offer up my experience and a grateful daughter who got to wear her new pants to a party.

The Death of a Castle, the Birth of a Book

I was saddened to learn today that Castle Miranda (also known as Château de Noisy) in Belgium was slated to be torn down this month. Back in 2012 I stumbled across the gorgeous pictures from PROJ3CT M4YH3M of this heart-breaking, beautiful, decaying castle. The ceilings especially inspired me to put pen to paper and write the scene in my novel Glimmer of Steel where Jennica comes to terms with her fate while staring up at her bedroom’s ceiling.

Since I don’t own any of the copyrights for the images I saw back in 2012, nor have I paid for licensing rights, I have the next best thing… links to the owners’ sites so you can hop over a view them yourself.

The first link is for a website (in German) with historical photos/drawings of the Castle in its original state.

The second link is from Ian Moone’s and PROJ3CT M4YH3M’s website page that covered their first visit to Castle Miranda in 2012: 

Urbex: Castle Miranda aka Château de Noisy Belgium – December 2012 (Part 1)

The third link is from Ian Moone’s and PROJ3CT M4YH3M’s second visit in 2014:

Urbex: Castle Miranda aka Château de Noisy Belgium – May 2014 (revisit)

So just as I’m getting ready to release Glimmer of Steel to Kindle Scout this month, and I’m looking for Castle Miranda pictures to share as an important visual inspiration for my writing, I learned the castle is being dismantled. Pascal Dermien recently photographed the start of the demolition and shared his photos on YouTube. You can see former turrets cast upon the ground, including the weather vane that used to spin atop the highest peak. Only the blogs, and photographs, memories, videos, and the occasional book will live on.

Do not judge this book by its cover…

pinkhungergamescoverMy daughter brought The Hunger Games home from school this month. I told her she could read it since she was “almost thirteen” and I couldn’t locate my own copy for her to borrow. We’ve talked about the kid-on-kid violence in the book and the love triangle cliché. But there are themes and issues I think she’ll gain insight from: heroism in the face of oppression, the non-violent resistance expressed by characters like Cinna and Peeta, Haymitch’s PTSD. Besides, it’s a great read, written well.

No, the book’s not the problem.

The problem is the cover of the edition she brought home. This picture does not do it justice.

It’s pink and sparkly!?!

The Hunger Games is not a pink and sparkly tale. It does not warrant a fairy-tale princess cover with Dr. Seuss lettering. What are these publisher’s thinking? It’s a “girl’s” book so it needs a “girl’s” cover? Every twelve-year old girl in America has read this book so now we need to open up the market to six-year-olds? Call me crazy, but a pink cover with sparkly green lettering and the title The Hunger Games makes me think the book is a spin on Cupcake Wars.

I suppose they could use this technique on all sorts of “dark” books to trick readers into thinking they’re in for a lighter read. Word War Z with zebra stripes? The Kite Runner with a smiley face on the kite? The Shining featuring Frosty the Snowman? Too bad Amazon previews don’t take a sample from the middle of the books…

You’re off to the Hunger Games…”Today is your day…” to kill off some kids…”So…get on your way!”

Quote extremely modified without permission from Oh, the Place You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss.